Not Into That. by voracity
Summary: Straight Avengers, Darcy Lewis centric. She basically has to find a real life when she makes a choice. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's not fun, sometimes it's not pretty.

Was named Unfinished Darcy Lewis story (to be named later)
Categories: Non Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Other Movie Characters: None
Genres: AU, Humor
Warnings: Angst, Character Bashing, Cute Kid, Het
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 17 Completed: Yes Word count: 349715 Read: 182933 Published: 2016.10.10 Updated: 2017.11.23
Story Notes:
Eventually it'll have a tiny bit of Jane bashing for her lack of adulting, and a cute kid. Not for a while actually. Some het, some mentioned femslash, mostly all fade to black so far. That might change later.

1. Part 1 by voracity

2. Part 2 by voracity

3. Part 3 by voracity

4. Part 4 by voracity

5. Part 5 by voracity

6. Part 6 by voracity

7. Part 7 by voracity

8. Part 8 by voracity

9. Part 9 by voracity

10. Part 10 by voracity

11. Part 11 by voracity

12. Part 12 by voracity

13. Part 13 by voracity

14. Part 14 by voracity

15. Part 15 by voracity

16. Part 16 by voracity

17. Part 17 by voracity

Part 1 by voracity
"I swore that I would never be the sort of parent that used a nanny," Darcy said, staring at her best friend and boss. Well, former best friend and boss. Because she was now done. "I personally think that parents that employ them are kinda pathetic at the whole parenting thing." She handed the kid she'd been told was now her job back. "Sorry, boss lady, but not my field of interest." She heard a gasp and glared at the person staring at them. "Yes? You wanted something?" she asked dryly.

"You're good at it," Stark said. He stared at her. "You take care of people."

"I may be good at taking care of people but I'm not the nanny. Nor am I going to be the nanny. Been nice knowing you guys but no. That's a parent's job."

"You've probably never met a kid raised by one," Stark said, glaring at her.

She stared at him for a minute then turned to face him better. "You'd be shocked considering your mother was my mother's bridesmaid at her wedding, Stark." He stepped back, almost flinching. "For that matter, your mom was my godmother. I've seen *plenty* of kids with nannies and then those same kids with their therapists years later. Sometimes only a few years later, sometimes many years later." She stared at him. "I realize you probably don't remember too much about the group around your house and all that. I figured it was trauma. You might want to look at the funeral pictures though since you were holding my hand when they lowered Aunt Maria's casket."

"There's no way."

Darcy sighed, looking up. "FRIDAY, would you please pull up pictures from that funeral?" she asked politely. "After the service, when they were lowering the caskets?" The tv lit up with a black and white photo. "Not that one, the uncut version. It should be in the LA Times archive." It was pulled up instead. She looked at Stark. He was gaping at the picture of a late teenage him and a young girl that was holding his hand. Basically she was keeping him from doing anything stupid. He recognized the people behind the little girl as someone he used to look up to. "Want me to be more definitive?" she asked dryly. She walked off and came back with a picture, handing it over. "At my mother's funeral." She stared at him.

He looked at it. There was him, a twenty-eight-year-old him. Fairly drunk and trying to calm a younger version of the very mad woman in front of him. "I..."

She took it back. "I figured it was trauma induced," she said dryly, staring at him. "Not that it's ever mattered to me. I know a lot more interesting people than you were as a teenager."

Stark blinked a few times. "Yeah, I was kind of shy back then when I wasn't drinking or in the lab." He blinked a few more times. "Why didn't you ever mention it?" he demanded.

"Why would I?" she asked. "Unlike what *some* people think I'm not a gold digger and I'm not here to curry favors," she said dryly, glaring at one person who had been watching them. Then back at Stark. "My only concern was Jane. Frankly, I figured you had drank it all away. I never intended to stay this long but Jane needed me." She tucked the picture under her arm. "You drove me batty back then and you still do. Always have. Probably always will reading about it in the papers. Thankfully I got to meet nice people thanks to my parents." She walked off. "Give me three hours to pack and find a mover. I'll be out of Jane's hair then."

"What happened?" Clint demanded, waving a hand a bit from the doorway he was standing in. "All we heard was Darcy had quit."

"Darcy said nannies are pathetic," Jane said, looking at her child. "I have no idea what to do about that."

"She's probably known enough of them to make a full study," Stark admitted. "I don't really remember her." He looked toward the hallway. "FRIDAY, pull up any mention of Darcy please."

"Your personal files don't mention anyone, Mr. Stark," the female voiced AI said patiently. "There's a few pictures of Miss Lewis at events." She put them up.

"Freeze that one," Stark said, squinting at it. "Enlarge it." It was enlarged. "That's my coming out party and she was in the background reading a book."

"I had finals the next day," Darcy said, tossing something from the hallway at Clint. "Your t-shirt I borrowed that night after the rain storm. Thanks for the lending." She walked off.

"You knew what we were talking about," Natasha said, stopping her by grabbing her arm.

Darcy looked at the hand on her then at the other woman. "Yeah. I speak three languages, Natasha. My school demanded. It was the last years of the cold war when I was in middle school and our headmistress had fantasies of rescuing ballet boys and gymnasts so we all took at least one semester of Russian." She stared at her. "I'm not stupid, dear. You assumed. Isn't that dangerous in your line of work?"

"Your background shows nothing of that," she sneered.

"And yet again, you assumed," she said dryly. "Any little bit of unraveling near Culver's records would've noted that I had to change my name on my records my first semester due to a death threat." She got free of her. "I went back to my maternal grandmother's name of Lewis. It was safer for me." She stared at her. Then she smiled. "I wouldn't have had to take that internship if I hadn't filed that sexual harassment claim against the chem teacher who sprayed me intentionally with something to eat all my clothes in the middle of class. I was warned taking any ever again would get me flunked." She shrugged. "So I took an internship instead."

"Why political science?" Stark asked, still staring at the pictures. "You were blonde then," he said, glaring at her.

"I darkened when I was about fifteen and the rest of puberty set in," she said with a wave at her body. "I was a dark blonde before then." She looked at Natasha again. "As for why poli sci? I thought about doing something socially meaningful. Then I realized it dealt with politics and I still hated investment banking even though I'm good at it. I'm more than happy to let Uncle David do that for me." She shrugged, grimacing some. "I was going for something better as my masters but I got sidetracked taking care of Jane because she's incapable of adulting on her own for some reason."

"I would've done just fine," she sneered.

Darcy snorted, looking at her. "You wouldn't be here right now, Jane. Do you remember the little thing that happened about six weeks after I got to New Mexico?" Jane went totally pale. "Yeah, that was me that drove you to the emergency room. Otherwise you would've died in your little lab on the floor until someone checked on you for the smell you were causing. You're welcome by the way." She looked at Stark again. "Oh, for fuck's sake," she muttered. "FRIDAY, get onto my laptop's system and find the picture of my coming out party please?"

"I don't have the authorization," the AI said.

"It's my computer," she said dryly. "Go ahead." The picture popped up on the tv. Clint snickered quietly in his seat. She looked at Stark. "You made a royal ass out of yourself that night. Thankfully, the only one that still had a crush on you was Melinda and that was mostly so she could try to charm Uncle Jarvis. She did put him on her holiday wish list every year until she was ten." He gaped at her, staring hard. She stared back. Then shrugged a bit. "It was. None of us wanted anything to do with your partying lifestyle by then."

"But..."

"Yeah, but..." she said dryly, smirking at him. "I'm actually a bit surprised you didn't recognize me. The pictures from London looked almost exactly like my yearbook one and you were our year's mentor so you had all our files to talk to us about important adult matters, like careers. You tried to talk Misty into being a mistress for someone but otherwise you didn't do too badly giving some realism about life sucking. I think you had a hangover though."

He glared. "I did not. It was a bad week."

"Sure. I had those too." She shrugged. "Anything else, Stark?"

"I want everything back I gave you."

She laughed. "What do you think you gave me, Stark?"

"I upped your taser."

"No you didn't." She pulled it out to show him. "Still the same tazer it was in New Mexico. You can check SHIELD's records since they had it for a while." He snatched it then tossed it back when he figured out she was right. She tucked it back into the holster. "Before you try to claim my phone or anything, I bought them myself. It's not even Stark gear. I may have a trust fund but my mother was practical. I'd never pay that much for a phone." She walked off. "The movers are coming in an hour. They're coming up the service elevator so they can't get near anything classified." She waved over her shoulder. "Laters. Nice knowing you all."

"Oh my god, she is just like Aunt Hannah," Stark muttered. He was shaking his head. "I should've seen that."

"Was her mother a scientist?" Clint asked.

"No. Her dad's a producer for tv shows. Her mom's ...well she comes from a banking family and I don't know what she did a lot of." He stomped off to talk to her. He glared from her doorway. "I remember your mom."

"A lot of people did and you gave a nice speech at her funeral," she said quietly, not looking at him as she threw clothes into a box. "Thank you for that and for lending us Jarvis to make sure we made it through the third bout of cancer." She glanced at him. "Otherwise Dad might not have made it." She closed the closet and moved to her drawers to toss those into another box.

"Your mother would be pissed that you threw that away."

"Actually, Mom agreed that nannies were the greatest problem that most kids had. It was the dichotomy of them being considered paid help but having control of them. Most kids couldn't wrap their minds around it effectively enough to get to the point of respect." She glanced at him again. "You didn't."

"I didn't," he agreed. "Jane's all but crying."

"I'm not her nanny. I never wanted to be her nanny. Never wanted to be any sort of nanny. If you're traveling a lot or you're having a lot of problems, someone like a nanny could be helpful. She's not having those issues. Jane's kid, Jane's problems to change diapers."

"Thor considers it a position of great respect."

"Of course he does," she said dryly. "He considers it a guard for the baby though." She turned to look at him. "I might like the big guy but I made it clear I was only an aunt. That's all I wanted to be. A sometimes babysitter for when they wanted a night together to do something but not more than that. I was getting kind of satisfied learning new things. I guess that should've been a clue." She went back to packing.

He looked around then at her. "You don't have any pictures of your mother?"

"On my bedside table." She pointed. "I'll get them into my messenger bag later so I can make sure they don't break."

"Are you going to a hotel?" he demanded.

She shrugged. "Maybe. Cindy's local and said I could have her spare bedroom last month. I haven't asked yet but I might just go straight to the next college. I've been taking some classes online at night so maybe I'll move near it." She shrugged again. "Might make it easier when I don't understand something."

"You didn't have to be such a bitch," he said. "Your mother would've been unhappy."

She laughed, looking at him, leaning on the dresser. "My mother would've clapped, Tony. If she had been able to she would've stood up and cheered with pompoms. She would've hated how co-dependent Jane and I were. She always thought I'd end up caring too much and I'd end up in a horrible predicament of a marriage that way. Proved her wrong on that point at least." She went back to packing.

"What about your stepmother?"

"What about her?" She grimaced, looking at him. "She was what my father needed to grieve with. I got that. It made me mad that he took up with a whore like her but I understood why after a few months. She made him focus on other things. And when she turned bad to my father I made sure she went down for things." She smiled slightly. "That DUI habit of hers ended rather abruptly at the hands of the CHP when I called on her. My father was livid but agreed she shouldn't be drunk driving. Then he got the Mastercard bill." She smiled slightly. "I pointed out I didn't buy new clothes or an apartment for a boyfriend." She went back to her packing. "Dad was sorry about her before all that messy stuff at least."

"I...I don't remember much about him at the end."

She nodded. "Dementia. The whore kept lacing his orange juice in the morning so she could be the sole heir. She did for over a year. By the time we figured out why he was so sick, she was already in jail. She's still in jail as far as I know." She looked at him. "I made sure Dad had somewhere he really wanted to be. He refused to let me cancel college to take care of him. Said he wanted a pretty nurse to flirt with. I found one that looked kinda like Mom and explained why," she said more quietly. "She understood and at the end, he was holding her hand and calling her by Mom's name. He took his last dose of pills and did that again then it was the end.

"I got the charming call right before a history test." She held in the sniffles. "Dad would probably hate me being sniffly over that. He considered it a reasonable solution when he was lucid. He had been talking about it for years so I knew it was coming. He couldn't take being sick. Told me once my mother was so strong because she could stand being that sick and surviving it twice." She grimaced and finished unloading her dresser. She folded the boxes closed and walked around him to get her books down. They went into the reusable shopping bags.

"I didn't hear a thing about that."

"Her poisoning him made gossip circles for a few days but after that everyone just felt really sorry for him." She grimaced again, carefully putting a few books into a bigger bag. "At the end, almost no one was there. I had him cremated and buried with Mom." She looked at him. "It's what he would've wanted."

"It is," he agreed. "You could've mentioned it, Darcy."

"Why? It's not something I intend to dwell in. I wasn't here to get favors, get a job from you, anything. Frankly, I figured if you didn't recognize me that was fine. Half of everyone doesn't. Thankfully not the attempted lothario I nearly got married off to thanks to the whore either."

"She tried to arrange a marriage?"

"Yeah. Not my thing. I had no idea about anything until they invited me to dinner one night." She gave him a pointed look. "He didn't like it either then he decided I was pretty and good enough for him after all," she said blandly. "I had a long shout at my father that night because he hadn't known. Thankfully the dude killed his actual first wife and is jail. He's still got my senior year picture in his cell from what I heard at the trial. He's blaming me for not taking him in so I could make him a better man." She rolled her eyes. "The cons are welcome to straighten him out for me because I didn't ever want that piece of shit."

Tony shook his head. "I think I remember something about that."

She shrugged. "It was a quick blip on the usual gossip circle." She finished packing her books and moved to her desk. "Here, these are Jane's notes I was transcribing last night while I babysat." She handed them to him. "That way she can't claim I took her work."

Tony glanced at it then at her. "You could smooth this over."

She straightened up to look at him. "I'm not the help, Tony. I've never been the help. I'll hopefully never be anyone's housekeeper. Frankly, I thought Jane was my friend. Turns out the whore was right, women aren't friendly to each other. When they are, they always want something." She went back to packing. Someone knocked. "Who is it?" she called, going to answer it.

"Acme movers," Steve Rogers said.

She opened the door, smiling at the movers. "Thanks, guys. Did you find me a good storage area?" They handed over the notes. She called them to arrange it and let the movers pack up everything. "Not the bed or the couch, that's originally here." They nodded, getting the rest. She packed the kitchen quickly and grabbed her messenger bag to put the important things in. Her meds, her pictures, and a few things like her laptop and phone. Then she smiled at Stark. "Nice catching up with you, Stark." She followed the movers out after their last trip, going to a hotel for the night while she figured out if she wanted to move near her newest college.

Stark went back upstairs. Thor was in a rage. He looked at the prince. "What did you expect?" he demanded. "To humans, being a nanny is worse than a lot of other jobs. It's a lot of work for very little benefit and a lot of heartache because the kid becomes yours instead of the parents' and you can't do anything about that because it's the job." Thor huffed. "To humans it's not a great job of great importance or even showing you like them. That's a job you hire for, not give to a friend."

"My friends would not have minded being the baby's guardian."

"Big difference between a guardian and a nanny," Stark said. "A nanny takes care of the baby most of the time so you're free to do things."

"I had one," Thor said, glaring at him.

"So did I. I liked her a lot more than I did my parents. I realized a few years after she got fired for treating me like a human with problems that I wasn't all that fair to her and wrote an apology letter." Thor slumped. "Darcy was your friend, Thor, not your maid. She was Jane's *science* assistant, not her nursemaid. Hell no she wouldn't do that."

"It's selfish of her," Jane said with a sniffle.

"She took plenty of care of you," Stark told her. "Always. Also, here." He handed them over. "The notes she had been working on." He walked off. "Not even you guys treat the housekeeper we have with respect. Darcy sure wasn't going to put up with that sort of thing. Her mother would've come back from the dead to beat her to death if she had. Even her gold digging stepmother might've done that from her jail cell." He went back to his lab to look things up.

Natasha was looking at Darcy's history. "We did miss the whole name change."

Clint shook his head. "No I didn't." She glared at him. He stared back. "I asked her once. She said it was still the same old thing only the problems were drugs instead of budweiser. Just as many unadjusted parents who needed a swift kick only they also had fancier cars and ways of using their kids as status symbols like their boats." He shifted, looking at Thor. "Did Darcy say she'd be doing more than babysitting now and then?"

"No," Thor admitted, thinking back. "Jane..."

"Assumed," Clint said with a nod. "A lot apparently." Jane glared at him. "By the way, the baby's overflowing and it's nasty." He pointed. Jane looked and groaned, taking the baby to change. He looked at Thor. "Would you have expected your mother's friends to be done that way?" he asked. Thor shook his head. "Then why do it to your friends?" He looked at Natasha again, who was scowling at her tablet. "Find something?" he asked.

"Her mother survived cancer twice then died the third bout."

Clint grimaced. "Strong woman. Most ones don't make it through a relapse."

Natasha looked at him. "She never mentioned she understood us."

"Why would she? You apparently didn't respect her. All the nasty comments behind her back about her outfits?"

"She was drawing attention on purpose."

"She's a normal young woman. They do that," he said. "That's how they get dates in the real world, Natasha. Not everything is baiting. Even you've had days when you dress up just because you want to be pretty." She stomped off. He waved at her back. He looked at Steve.

"I had no idea," he said. "I treated her nicely when we ran into each other or she did something nice like cook dinner after we've been on missions."

"I never heard anything said otherwise," Clint told him. "I don't think you're the problem here, Steve."

"No. How did he not recognize her?"

"Her hair is darker. Plus a lot of things he probably blocked out so he didn't have to think about it." Clint looked at Jane when she came back with a crying kid. He looked at Steve again. "We'll figure it out and if you want to become her penpal, go for it. She probably didn't want to lose all her former friends." Jane glared at him. "You two were chummy."

"Yeah. Thanks, Clint."

"Welcome." Steve walked off. He looked at Thor again. "I'll see if I can find her address for you if you want it," he said quietly.

Thor nodded. "Thank you, Clint."

"Welcome, big guy." He stood up to walk off so those two could have a talk. They really needed one. Though he'd bet real money that by that weekend there'd be an Asgardian nanny on site for the little guy.

***

Darcy looked up from getting her morning coffee the next morning, nodding politely at the man staring at her. "Do they know you're alive?" she asked.

"Maybe. I'm not sure yet." Director Phil Coulson crossed his arms over his chest to stare at her. "Miss Lewis."

"The dad act doesn't work on me, Coulson." She smiled as she took her cup to sip from. "Excellent. Thank you." She walked out, smiling at the irritated agent. "I had a great dad. Nothing like Howard was."

He followed her. "What happened?"

"I'm sure you've gotten the full story from Natasha," she said dryly. "Or Clint or Steve." She paused to look at him. "Or you've got cameras up in the tower."

"I do," he agreed. "I've heard it all. So what happened?"

"I'm not the help. Not that way." She took another drink. "I'm not the mousy little thing that some people wanted me to be and I never was. I speak my mind, I take care of my own business, and I do it like my parents taught me to." She stared at him until he nodded once. "As for right now, I'm considering if I'm moving to the college or not."

"You've been taking classes again?"

"Yes, for my masters," she said dryly.

"They stalled your paperwork for your internship."

"Phil, six science credit hours doesn't require four years," she said dryly. "And I called Culver after you guys left to tell them that SHIELD was now blocking my paperwork. My advisor told someone who told someone who called Jane to get a report on what I'd been doing for her. They agreed I had earned my hours." She took another long drink. "I didn't get to walk for graduation but I did get my degree."

"You never use it."

"How would you know? You didn't even realize Lewis wasn't my real last name." She walked off. "Have a nice life, Coulson."

He scowled a tiny bit, going to look at her files. Natasha had been inputting things all night. It was odd but then again they were talking about Darcy Lewis here. He called in Melinda May. "We have a former helper to Jane Foster out and about now since she walked off yesterday when ordered to become the nanny," he noted, staring at her.

"Good on Lewis. I thought she didn't have a backbone."

"Apparently we were very wrong about her. She was quietly handling things." He let her see the files on the young woman. "If we have to make contact, you're her handler."

"Is she an agent?" she asked dryly. "It worked with Skye but I'm doubting this one can do that."

"No, but Lewis does end up being friendly with a lot of people for reasons we don't understand."

"She's nurturing. Most of the agents and the avengers could use someone in their lives who gave a damn and listened when they needed to talk," she shot back. "It's not something we see enough of these days in some women."

"If you're sure," he said blandly. "Still, you're her contact. I'm fairly certain Thor's going to have a fit. The weather's been too pretty for hm to have had it already."

"Fine. I can work up protection strategies for her if she needs it." She walked off to do her own research into that young woman. The fact that the file had been updated yesterday with a header note saying that SHIELD had missed some important information meant it was one of the idiots she used to work with who had screwed up. When she saw who Darcy really was, she was amused. The girl wasn't weak. She wasn't mousy or just simply mouthy. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and knew how to change her mind to fit her later goals. She was only goofy when she was drinking or when it was a cover for her mind working. She could be an asset to them but not as an agent. She was too unpredictable.

***

Stark, who had been tracking Darcy around the city while looking her up for a real background check, because there were a whole lot of gaps in there for someone he used to know, spotted someone he didn't expect to. He paged Pepper, getting a text message that she was out of town for the day so was it really important. He sent back a no and paged someone else. He photo-captured from the city's camera system and looked back as Barton walked in. He was the least hot headed of the group outside of Bruce. "Look who I just spotted talking to Lewis about her decisions."

Barton stared then nodded once. "I'm going to fuck Fury up," he announced. "Then that one."

"Hey, it'll be team stress relief after earlier," Tony said dryly. "Bring him back here for that."

Clint just nodded and walked out to go back upstairs. "Natasha, Stark just found Phil alive."

She stiffened, looking over the edge of the tablet at him. "Excuse me?"

"He was talking to Darcy in a coffee shop up by Financial Row."

She put down the tablet and stood up. "Let us go find this wraith to see if he is indeed a ghoul." They walked out together. He wasn't that easy to track but she could hack the city's camera systems just as well and follow his SUV back to their originating point. They knew about that fallback base. That was very interesting. She looked at Clint. "Do we believe his death was a catalyst to HYDRA or do we believe he's in charge?"

"I can't imagine Phil Coulson being HYDRA," he admitted. "I was shocked at Sitwell and Grant but there's no way Coulson is."

She considered it then nodded. "Then we should only injure the other agents in there." He nodded, switching bullet loads to icers. They snuck in and clearly the new SHIELD was falling down on things since no one tried to stop them. They made it to the office and found one agent, Melinda May. Natasha shot her without remark then looked at the empty chair. They turned and found Coulson behind them. Clint smiled and shot him in the stomach, making him groan.

"Good, you do remember how often you nagged him to wear body armor," she said, shooting him in the upper shoulder area. He fell down this time. She and Clint carried him off blatantly. If any agents saw them, they ignored them very hard. They drove back to the tower, taking him upstairs to the common area. Steve was in there talking to Bucky on the phone. Steve paused, said I'll call back, just had a ghost show up, and hung up on his best friend. Natasha nodded at him. "Stark spotted him nagging Lewis earlier."

"Interesting. A bad choice but interesting. If he's supposedly dead he should probably stay out of the way of cameras."

"True," Clint agreed. "We would have. We all figured Stark was stressing about Lewis outing that she knew him when he was a little punk."


"Tony would be following her on the cameras to make sure she wasn't going to turn on us," Steve agreed with a nod. "Huh. Is he just unconscious?"

"I believe he's faking," Natasha said, dropping Coulson's feet onto the floor.

He winced and stood up with help from Clint. "I was not allowed to tell you. As I found out later, Fury's plot to send me out with a single problem handling team was May's idea."

Steve stared at him. "Do we know that agent?"

"His other protege," Clint said. "She got iced too. She'll probably be here tomorrow sometime." He looked at him. "May. Really?"

"I was ordered specifically not to tell you so I could be a backup plan. After DC, Nick put me in charge of SHIELD. I was his hidden ace." He stared at his two agents. "I wanted to tell you. I thought you may have heard gossip since I had been at the office more than once. Or that Melinda may have hinted at Natasha to irritate her for not being the chosen ones this time. Melinda's still working on her unreasonable irritation at Natasha." He straightened out his jacket. "You broke into my base."

"I'm going to break your jaw," Clint told him then smiled. "You more than deserve that."

"I do," he agreed. "I thought the news would have gotten back to you."

"Um, no," Clint said dryly. "All this time I thought I had gotten you killed." He stared him down. "You're going to pay for that."

Phil sighed but nodded. "I can see how I should, yes. I had no idea Nick didn't tell you."

"Fury, tell someone about his plots?" Stark snorted as he joined them. "Really?"

"He would tell agents if he thought it was important."

"Which he has never considered either of us, though we do some of the worst missions for SHIELD," Natasha said. "He has never considered us more than useful beasts of burden."

"I forgot," he admitted. "Before you ask, I was dead. Nick had some sort of alien serum that got injected into me. At one point in time I begged him to stop," he told her.

She grimaced. "I will pay him back for that later," she said quietly. "After we discuss things."

Phil took off his jacket. "We can hold any sort of discussion you want but I do need to tell the teams that I'm not actually kidnaped."

"Let's see how good they are," Stark quipped, sitting down. "We can talk after your kids there have had their talking time."

Coulson looked at Stark then at his agents. "I'm sorry."

Clint nodded. "You will be."

"We can't let you do that," a male voice said. Steve threw something at the guy, knocking him out.

"I guess a few are decent enough," Steve said dryly. "At least better than Rumlow was."

Natasha nodded. "It's not shocking that an agent so aggressive and bad at anything but aggression was picked by HYDRA." She stared at Coulson. Who walked off heading for the gym. They followed to talk to him. Stark went after them to get his time to talk too. Though he did take pictures to send to the team that wasn't there. Bruce could get mad somewhere else.

When Coulson got out of the infirmary the agents could talk to each other about how they'd never trust him again but they may be able to work together if it was that important. Their whole team could join on that talk. With Pepper because she was great and deadly in her own right.

***

A few months later, Stark opened up an email, staring at it. "A person I should check out because he's redone some of my work?" he demanded. He ran the video from Lewis, watching it with a frown. "That's not...oh, that is." He magnified it. "It's cobbled together but he did rebuild that one. Crap." He looked the kid up. Maybe he could hire him to keep him out of bad hands. Another one came in from Lewis about the strange thing at her college, which turned out was a wormhole and did he want her to report it to SHIELD instead? He considered it then told her to report it to them unless aliens were coming through. She sent him video of it. Alien ants. Really large alien ants. "Interesting." He sent that video on and told her to report it. She did that with one line about a villain being at the college teaching of all things and then signed off. He checked on that as well. "Great. How does she find those people?" he muttered.

Maria Hill, who used to be SHIELD, and really was still SHIELD in hiding, walked into his lab. "I got told Lewis sent you an email?"

"A genius kid that I need to look into and a portal that was spilling alien ants, plus a villain teaching english." He let her see them.

She grimaced. "Why didn't she report the portal?"

"To who?" he snorted. "Not like SHIELD's still around and if it was, they probably wouldn't listen to her since she left Jane's clingy side." He looked at her when she groaned. "I just wonder how she suddenly started to draw that sort of thing. She never used to."

"So you do remember her?" she asked. "The files on her say you didn't."

"I don't remember much of those years, Hill. I do remember a few events and I've checked with my personal journals. I mentioned her a few times and I do remember her mom, who was my godmother." She winced. "Let me guess, they tried to say something about it?"

"Yes."

"Well, the jealous bitches can suck it," he said, getting back to his present schematic. "I don't know what Romanoff's problem was with Lewis but I don't care either. Women are creepily mysterious most of the time and she's worse than most at it."

Hill walked off shaking her head to correct those files. Someone needed to clean things up again. It had been Lewis' job to keep down the messes but now they were having to be responsible adults. She heard the baby crying and went to look. The human nanny, the Asgardian one wasn't available for a year, wasn't anywhere in sight. She checked with security. She had left for the afternoon for a doctor's appointment. She went to check on Jane, who was in her lab. "Doctor Foster?" Jane glared at her for daring to interrupt her work. "Your nanny left for a doctor's appointment two hours ago. Where's your spouse? The baby's awake."

"I...what? That's tomorrow."

"It's today," she said. "I checked with security. We gave her a ride since one of us was heading that way on his way home." She pulled up the footage. Clint was in there calming the baby down. She looked at Jane. "I was going to find Thor to let him know since you're apparently busy."

Jane got up and huffed off. "I never get any work done."

"I'm sure you don't," she agreed, going back to her office to log in that event. She called Clint down to protect him. He leaned in a minute later. "She yelling?"

"Yeah. I handed the baby to Steve when she yelled at her for being awake and not watched over." He leaned on the door. "How much longer?"

"No clue," she admitted. "The Asgardian one won't be here for at least a few more months." She stared at him. "Is the baby all right?"

"So far. Or else I would've probably shot someone with an arrow up the ass." He walked off. "Thanks for the saving in case of screaming, Hill."

"Hold on." He came back. She printed the emails from Stark's account. "Look into him for Stark, he's doing a background check so far. The villain is teaching english and the alien ants someone has to deal with."

He looked them over, snorting but looking amused. "Great." He walked off to start that, handing Steve the alien ants email.

"That's charming," Steve decided, looking at the baby on his shoulder. "Should we respond?"

"Don't know. Hill sent them. Stark's email back said to report it."

He put it down beside him and pulled over a communal tablet to look up that college. It was presently under quarantine. "The FBI has it."

"I'm sure they're great at it," Clint shot back. "Quarantine?"

"Yes. Flame throwers too." He looked at the news, then at the baby. "You're sleeping. That's sweet." He carefully laid her down beside him on the couch, getting back to the possible problem going on.

Clint handed over the villain email. "He's hovering over his son without him knowing. Apparently the kid doesn't know he's his."

Steve looked then at him. "How does one college draw all this?"

"No idea," Clint said with a grin. "At least he's not causing problems until he catches his kid at a frat party."

"We can put him on a watch list," Steve said, shaking his head. The baby fussed and stretched but stayed asleep. "That's good, sweetheart. You nap."

"The nanny had a doctor's appointment," Clint said quietly.

"I heard. I was out here when she was yelling."

"So?"

"No idea," he admitted, looking at Clint. "Really."

"Do you want to tell anyone?"

"No." He shook his head. "They can handle it." Clint nodded, leaving it there. Steve went back to watching the news about those ants. Natasha came in and paused. "Portal spilling out alien ants. A history major already said it was less cool than the elves London had." He looked at her. She was staring at the baby. "The nanny has a doctor's appointment."

"It's nice you babysit."

"I don't but Jane was working and forgot."

She rolled her eyes but nodded. "Interesting. Lewis is still wearing a scarf. Is that a bruise?" she asked, staring at the girl walking across the campus talking to a few young women.

"Yeah," Steve said. You could see it under her t-shirt's sleeve. "I wonder what happened." He looked up the publically available police reports and nodded, letting her see one. "She protected herself and a few others."

Natasha read it, grimacing. "That was stupid. She didn't have any weapons."

"Sometimes that doesn't matter," Steve said. "The outcome could've been a lot worse."

"Point." She handed the tablet back to him. "Anything good?" He handed over that villain email. "Why?" she asked.

"His unacknowledged son is there." He grinned at her. "He's hovering."

"Charming! Just what college students need." She walked off with a huff. She decided to write Darcy an email about her lack of self defense training, still. Darcy's email back wasn't as friendly.

//Thank you for the critique of my defense of three vulnerable young women and myself. The alternative however would've been much worse when they were raped and killed and so was I. I'll keep that in mind for later assaults on our residence hall by armed frat boys who were too drunk to do more than slur and decide to do a semi-pagan sacrificial rite in the tower square. You have a great day as well, Natasha.//

Natasha winced. That was not happy to hear. She wrote back one that she was proud she had managed to save those vulnerable young women and she'd help them find a good self defense class down there if she wanted. The answer back of 'we've all had one and that's how I defeated the drunk frat boys' was fine she supposed. You had to take what you could get. She looked up those reports. The boys were still living, it was a pity. They weren't happy and one was already out on bail. Then again, his father was a senator.

Maybe someone should have a talk with his father. Though it looked like Darcy had sent a reporter that story since there was a news bit from the day before about a local reporter badgering said senator about his son's problems and attempted assaults. The senator finally quit telling her to go away and told her that those girls were making up stories. She handed him the police report, making him wince. The fact that one young woman had been horribly tortured before being saved didn't make him happy either. Pity.

***

Stark showed up at that college a few days later, nodding at a teacher. "I'm here to look for my protege," he said at the stares he was getting.

"He's locked in a lab trying to avoid the swat team," a teacher said. "Would you know why, Mr. Stark?"

"No." He headed toward where the labs were. "Guys, can I help?" he offered when he ran into the cops.

"There's a suicidal student," one of the officers said without looking.

"Mr. Stark," another one said, blinking at him. "He's got someone in there with him but we're not sure what's going on."

"Let me go talk to him. There's a thing about science that can drive us nuts." He walked around them. "This room?"

"Next on the right," the lead officer said. "Do you have a shield or something on, sir? He could be dangerous."

Stark looked at him. "I doubt he's dangerous to me, guys. I'm his science idol." He knocked then walked in. "Hey." He looked at the 'other student'. "Couldn't stay away from scientists going nuts?" he joked.

"Not likely. It was my shift at the college suicide hotline." She was cuddling the poor guy. "He somehow hooked his mind into a computer. He's in horrified shock. We were just talking about calling someone bigger in science to help him with the problems he found."

"I've seen that sort of problem. It's overload." He came over to poke the kid on the arm. "Hi. You wrote to me."

"Mr...Mr. Stark," he stuttered, sitting up. He pushed his hair back. "I don't know what happened."

"We can look it over." He helped him up. "Science drives us nuts and thankfully you ran into someone who has experience in that." He hauled Darcy up when she started to climb. He looked at her. "What the fuck, Lewis?"

"I didn't take the time to put makeup on, Stark." She rubbed a bruise on her cheek. "Some frat boys decided to become ancient pagans so they were going to sacrifice people." She walked around them, staring at the kid. She wrote down her number. "You call me if you need me. All right?" The guy nodded. "Good." She patted him on the cheek. "You're a great guy and going to be a good scientist. Learn from Stark. Not all the lessons are in science but a lot are useful. Okay?" He nodded. She smiled at him. "Good. I'll tell the officers you're okay." She handed Tony the gun the kid had. He nodded so she left. She paused by the officers. "He's all right. He's not in shock anymore. Stark has him talking about what happened."

"His gun?" the lead officer demanded.

"I left it with Stark. He knows how some unexpected things can drive you nuts." She shifted her weight. "He managed to plug himself into the internet so his mind went for a trip without warning." The officers all winced. "He's okay now and I had him calmed down before Stark got here. He was mostly in shock. That's why he called the suicide line."

"Thank you. Should I ask about the bruises, ma'am?"

She snorted. "I'm the one that was helping remove the frat boys the other night."

"They've vowed to kill you before you can testify," one said quietly.

Darcy smiled and patted him on the arm. "Yay. I've had Dark Elves do the same thing. Frankly, I worry more about them than I do some pissy little senator's son. Because I'll gladly help ruin him." She grinned. "I am not who he wants to screw with. Now if you'll excuse me, I didn't take the time to put on makeup and I have honors sociology later." She walked off after filling out the form the officer handed her. "Have a safe and better day, guys."

"Thank you, ma'am," one of them said. "You too."

***

Darcy looked at the judge a few days later. "Your Honor, there's a problem with your summons to testify in the preliminary trial," she said, handing over a form. "I got my name non-legally changed Darcy Lewis due to a death threat. That is not my natural name."

He looked at the form, humming. "That's nice, dear. I can backdate one in your actual name. Thank you for notifying this court of that." He handed it to his stenographer. "Please swear in."

She moved to the stand, putting her hand on the bible. "Say your name please," the bailiff said.

"I am Darcy Maria Annabella DeCriths," she said. "I swear to tell the whole truth, so help me God."

The judge nodded so she sat down. The prosecutor stood up to look at her. "Miss...DeCriths, why were you at a dormitory? You're a bit above the usual college age."

"I'm rooming this semester while I figure out if I want to continue to take in person classes or online ones as I started taking," she said. "I'm the fill in residence hall advisor for the second floor and a graduate student."

"That's nice. Gives you a break on tuition?"

"I turned that down. I don't need it," Darcy said with a smile. "The girls do need someone to watch out for them though. I remember doing my undergrad and how great my RA was when I needed a shoulder."

"Interesting. Where were you when the fire alarm was pulled?"

"The fire alarm wasn't pulled until very late that night, sir."

"Just answer the question."

"The just-after-3am fire alarm meant I was in front of my computer on facebook updating a few friends I met in London about my studies and a guy I had seen earlier that night for a first date."

"That's very late."

"No one gets up for early classes unless they have to," she said with a smile. "I only have longer afternoon classes and the girls don't usually need me before nine. I was about to head to bed when that unkind fire alarm was pulled."

"That fire alarm had nothing to do with the problem earlier that night?" the prosecutor asked.

"No, it had nothing to do with the assault earlier in the evening. The fire alarm was on the third floor east and it was due to a girl having flashbacks and shrieking. She ran into it and her nightgown got caught according to the hall's security cameras. All the hall's advisors were in to watch it the next morning to go over the earlier incident."

"They had a meeting?" he demanded, looking concerned.

"Yes. So we knew how to handle it in case they came back," she said dryly. "Which one of their buddies tried the next night. Thankfully the girl he ran into was on her way back from a friendly softball game and got him with a bat when she saw his shotgun and machete."

"Strike that," the defense attorney demanded. "That's not relevant."

Darcy looked at him. "It wasn't your client that did it. He was still in jail," she said dryly.

The judge cleared his throat. "We are instructing the jury to ignore that statement about the bat. That is not in evidence yet." He looked at Darcy. "Are you militant, Miss?"

She smiled. "Only in my own safety and those that depend on me for it. Frankly, I should've killed them for that attempt." He shuddered, shifting away from her. She looked at the prosecutor again.

"Did you harm them, Miss DeCriths?"

"Who?" she asked. "Please be more specific."

"The boys who broke in while drunk."

"Did I harm them? Yup, I sure did," she said with a smile. "And I made sure they were going to consider it much harder the next time they tried something like that."

"Were you aware they could charge you?" he asked with a smile.

"Of course they could but I was acting in self defense. Beyond that, I'll take that charge. It's important enough to do time for it." He flinched back.

"Miss DeCriths," the prosecutor said. "What were you doing between your undergrad and now?"

"I was doing an internship with an astrophysicist."

"You were in London when they had that invasion?" he asked casually.

"Yes, I was. I was at that college even." She had to admit to it, it had been on international news broadcasts.

He blinked a few times. "I hadn't looked at more than summary news reports," he admitted. "Are you trained in defensive actions?"

"No. I just know what I have to do when I have to do it. It's not real hard to figure out you gotta stop the guy who's trying to kill you and rape you."

"Strike that!" the defense attorney demanded.

The judge looked at him. "That is one of the charges," he noted. He looked at her. "Be less reactionary please."

"Your honor, my webcam was on," she said dryly. "I was taping a video about the date." He groaned. "Two of them stated they were going to rape us all then kill us horribly so he'd get on Dateline. There were only three on my floor and then I helped clear the lobby of the other one down there. The two up on three got handled by a member of the judo club. It's not reactionary if it's true and they said that's what they're going to do."

"Still, this is not the time for that," the judge noted.

"Sure, I get that." She looked at the prosecutor again. "I believe it's still your turn," she said when he stared at her.

"You were involved in a gun on campus incident a few days back," he said with a mean smirk.

"Yes, I was helping a suicidal student calm down in the science hall. I'm on the hotline because I do have experience in how bad college can hurt you."

"You're what?" he demanded.

"I'm on the hotline for suicidal students to call when they need help," she said. "It's a good thing and good for the kids."

"You're not that much older."

"No, but I've had more life experience than some kid who's fresh from a small town."

"I see. You went to London we heard." She nodded. "Can you prove that?"

She pulled out her phone, turned it on, and pulled up the pictures. She held one up. "There I am in front of the changing of the guards." She smiled. "It's dated."

"You could've taken that in front of that place in Las Vegas," he said smugly.

She changed pictures. "Here I am in front of the Natural History Museum in London." She held it up. "Again, dated because it's a selfie. That one's also on my facebook page because I was having a great hair day." He snatched the phone to look at then grimaced and tossed it back at her, stomping back to his seat. "Do you want to see the ones I took when we went to Wales? The ones from Scotland are a bit more rural setting so nothing identifying. We also had a weekend in Paris and I have one picture somewhere on here of us there."

"No," he said, glaring at her. She turned off her phone and put it back into her purse. "Do you think those boys won't come back for you?"

"I think they'd be stupid if they tried," she said dryly. "I think they realize that. Even if I was warned one made a threat against my life. They now know I have a tazer and know how to use it. They also know that I have a few other sneaky things I can use against them." She smiled slightly. "I'm not the easiest prey, sir. I'm not the hardest, but I'm not an easy prey to hunt and hurt."

"Yet you're bruised."

"Yes, I fought off three guys who were bigger than me with weapons. I think most everyone would be bruised. Even heros would probably have a few."

He snorted. "Most of them are made up stories," he said dryly. She shrugged. "Do you believe them?"

"I was in New York for the last three years. I ran into a few at coffee shops."

"Oh." He grimaced. "It's nice you have heros to look up to," he sneered.

She shrugged. "I have many." She smiled. "Including a supreme court justice."

He rolled his eyes. "Are you a law student, Miss DeCriths?"

"No. My present major is public policy. My undergrad was in political science."

"Oh, I see." He sneered. "So you're going to work at McDonald's then?"

"No but I may start a charity some day."

He shook his head. "I've had enough," he decided.

The defense attorney stood up. "Miss DeCriths, why did you change your name?"

"I use my maternal grandmother's name due to a death threat during my first year at Culver. I used it since then just in case the bitch tried something. She's still in jail for poisoning my father but you never know who she might meet in there. Jails are often recruiting space for more horrible crimes."

He blinked at her. "That's an urban fantasy."

"Tell that to the two attempted murderers they caught in New York after someone they served time with paid them to kill someone for him," she shot back. "Or the two that came after me but were stopped. Thankfully Culver had agents on hand in those days and they stopped both knife attacks."

"Oh." He blinked at his client then at her. "So you go by your maternal grandmother's maiden name?"

"Yes."

"Do your parents mind?"

"My mother died of cancer when I was fourteen," she said firmly but quietly. "My father died due to the dementia the poisoning gave him and he decided he couldn't take it any longer. It saved him another two years of suffering according to the doctors. His mind was at the place where he didn't recognize what a dog was, much less who he was." The attorney shuddered, shrinking away from her. "I believe both of my parents would mostly be proud of how I lived my life. They might not have liked how much I partied now and then but they would've said I was young and stupid and best to get it out of the way then." She smiled slightly. "I have no doubt my mother would've paid to have my name fully changed and me hidden from that problem if she had been alive."

"Who was that threat?" he asked.

"My stepmother. My father needed a reason to go on and a focus in his life that wasn't his grief before he followed her into the afterlife. He found one but she was a whore." She smirked a tiny bit. "I didn't do more than dislike her until I found out she was poisoning him."

"What if you come face-to-face with her?" he asked smugly.

She smirked back. "She's not due out until I'm sixty something, if she makes it that long. If they let the whore out, I'll gladly be there waiting on her. She had better not try to come near a single person I know. And everyone who knows me knows that. I got three different letters from former friends when they moved her trial date so I'm pretty sure I'll be told if she gets out by some act of some stupid politician."

"Oh." He grimaced. "Are you trained in defense?"

She smiled a tiny bit. "That was already asked but no, I'm not formally trained. I have taken a few boxing classes and the like."

"Then how did you bring down those hypothetical assailants?"

"Well, one I got with the door because he opened mine. Apparently he heard me talking to my webcam. One I got with his machete. Then I threw him out a window. The first one I pulled to the stairs and threw him down them with some help. The third one I ran after to pounce into a wall, giving myself a slight bruise on the forehead." She pointed at it. "Then I threw him out the window and incidentally onto their started fire. I didn't intend that landing spot but hey, it helped." She smiled. "Then I ran down to help after telling my girls to lock themselves in their rooms while calling to check on their buddies who hadn't been bothered.

"Thankfully it was a long weekend so a few of the girls had gone home. We only had ten of the sixteen on my floor in residence that night and only three awake. After making it down to the first floor, I kicked one of them as I came off the stairs in a cool move I learned off a movie. He got knocked into a fire extinguisher. I used my tazer on him because he tried to get back up. Then we shoved him outside while the head of the residence hall called 911 and we did a head check. They tried to get back in as the police were pulling up so we had to defend the doorway against them. The nice officers pulled me off one I was going to maim for life."

"Was my client there?"

She looked then nodded. "Yes. He was the guy I threw down the stairs." She pointed. "That one behind him is the one that I tased." She looked at him. "I don't see the third one right off."

"Thank you. No further questions." He looked at the prosecutor.

The prosecutor looked at her. "Why do you have a tazer?"

"Because being a woman in today's world is dangerous," she said bluntly. "Plenty of men think that pretty girls are ownable and want to be petted even if we say no. I've only had to use it a few times but a few more were scared off by the note that I was going to introduce them if they didn't scurry off like the unbathed rats they were."

"You got it in New York?"

"I got it in my undergrad," she said dryly. "Culver's in lower Virginia. We had plenty of trips to DC and the like."

"Oh." He sat down. "No further questions."

"You may go," the judge said. "I'll make sure any future summons have your correct name, dear."

She smiled at him. "Thank you, Your Honor, but please no pet names." She picked up her purse and walked off. She smiled at the residence hall director waiting to testify. "Maybe I should run for office."

She laughed. "You'd hate the politics, Darcy."

"Probably," she agreed. She sat down. "They're both pushy toward them being boys," she said quietly.

"Of course they are. They're guys," she agreed. "Most of them are like that." She patted her on the hand. "Go back to the dorm. You got tests too."

"Oh, I know," she said dryly. "Thankfully this gave me an extension on one test." She headed down to her car, going back to the campus. She found an officer outside the dorm, pausing to stare at him. "Huge problems? I'm one of the RA's," she said with a smile.

"Are you Miss Lewis?"

"Yes."

"You have illegal weapons on campus, ma'am."

She pulled out her wallet and held up a small card. "I have the original upstairs, Officer. Would you like to see it?"

He took the card to read, grimacing. "I did not know that."

"It's on file with the college." She smiled. "You can come up to my room to see it." She walked inside and took the stairs, smiling at the girls staring from the hallway. "Did they do a general search?" They shook their heads. "They didn't know I have permission for my tazer."

"That's because some of them think women should be helplessly crying when things happen," one of the girls said. "I wasn't that sort when the village I was working in got raided. I'm not now."

"Long live the Peace Corps, sister," Darcy said, high-fiving her. "I'm not that way either." She walked in and the officer in there sneered. "I didn't know you needed to rip apart my underwear to search for a tazer. It's not that small," she said dryly. "But let me take pictures." She smirked at him then at the campus officer. "You have the letter on file."

"We got told to ignore it, miss," the campus officer said quietly.

"I'm well aware one of the attempted rapists has a daddy that has power. He's really gonna hate me since I'm worth more than he is." She smiled sweetly. The campus officer shuddered. She pulled out her copy of the letter. "The original's in a safety deposit box with the one from the FBI." She handed that one over as well.

The officers looked, one glaring at her. "How did you get this?"

"I had a prior death threat," she said bluntly. "I was also helping defend against the Dark Elves in London. It was caught on the news," she said dryly. "Some of us aren't damsels." She pulled out her tazer and handed it to the campus officer. "You can examine it for alterations that would make it illegal. They're not illegal in this state. I also carry pepper spray." She pulled it up to hold up. "Did you need to check it too?"

A few of the girls outside laughed at that. "A girl's gotta protect herself from leeches who think with their dicks." A few more laughed. "Not like you guys are all that fast. Your office is five minutes from here and it took you nearly thirty to answer when we needed you. How nice that was." The main officer pulled out his cuffs. "You do that," she said, holding out her wrists. "We can argue about it in front of a judge."

An agent walked in. "Miss Lewis."

She smiled. "I am. Why did you show up?" she asked.

"Because the director wanted me to since this blew open your original identity."

"Yes but nothing of my past few years has come out beyond London, which was on the news."

"Fine." She looked at the officers, holding up her official ID. "Give them back, leave her alone." They handed them back and the campus officer was backing away slowly. "Yes, that senator is having a problem."

"Yes he is," Darcy agreed happily. "Including that I've put out that attack on all the progressive and liberal media sites. Especially how he got bail when others didn't." She smiled at the campus officer, patting him on the arm. "I know college's live on grants and they probably threatened it. I don't blame you." He nodded, hurrying off. She stared at the police officer.

"I can be evil," she said finally when he was still glaring. "I can be so evil. I can destroy whole lots of people being evil. Hell, I can make Loki purr in happiness at the evil." Agent Melinda May shuddered. "But I'm trying not to be. I'm being a nice, normal young woman who's finishing her masters degree. Then I'll probably go work with charities. Until then...you have a great, safe day and I hope like hell you never have to answer another call like we had here that night." He huffed off. She glared at the agent, kicking her door shut. "Way to blow my cover of being normal," she said quietly.

"You did that on the stand."

"No one on this coast probably knows a thing about my parents."

"Outside agents," she corrected.

"Even they didn't. Natasha called me a gold digger to my face in Russian more than once. She didn't realize I spoke it slightly."

"Oh, damn it," Melinda muttered. "Coulson's worried."

"I'm fine. If they show up here I'll be mean. I'll channel Banner and be extra super mean." She smiled. "I've got to protect the girls."

"They could use it. The senator's son hired some thugs earlier."

She nodded. "Let me call up a bodyguard then." She did that, she had one she knew about. They'd send someone over in about an hour. She hung up. "An hour."

"I can pause." She stared at her. "You didn't have to tell them about the name thing."

"I did or they could've thrown out my testimony upon appeal."

"Point I suppose." She grimaced. "Your stepmother's still in jail."

"I know. I have someone who gives me reports each year." She sat down at her desk. "Open the door?" She did that. "Now relax for a bit while I take pictures of the mess then clean it up." She did that and made copies on her computer, sending them to someone. That someone was her lawyer, who was more than happy to sue people. Though she didn't blame the college. They had to worry about money.

Melinda watched it, smiling some. "Vindictive looks good on you."

"Thank you." She grinned. "Sometimes I have to be a mean girl." She looked out in the hallway at a squeal. "Did someone see a mouse?" she called.

"Oh my god, it's an Avenger!" one of them shouted. "He's on campus!"

"He's recruiting someone," Melinda called. She looked at Darcy. "Barton. I saw him when I parked."

"He's good at recruiting. He's got a finely tuned bullshit monitor." She grinned. "If he wants to see me he'll pop off a text message or something."

"True. You are hiding."

"Yes I am. How's Jane's spawn?"

"Better. They fired the first nanny for daring to have a doctor's appointment. She tried to sue but Stark paid her off." Darcy rolled her eyes. "He was really generous and it came before the lawsuit got filed. Their new one is a bit...strong willed. Like a German shotput thrower is." Darcy giggled a bit. "Thor doesn't like her much."

"Sorry but I'm not a nanny."

"No you're not." She cleared her throat. "I have the feeling if something happens you're the stepmom though."

Darcy grimaced. "I'm not sure how I feel about that. I really wish Jane would name someone else. I'd love the little one. She's sweet and loving, I adore her, but I'm not ready for momhood yet."

"Hopefully it won't happen soon," she said. She looked outside at the new squeal. "They're happy girls."

"That's a great thing," Darcy said with a smile. "Happy and normal and ready to become full women who maybe do good things."

"It is a goal," she agreed. Someone knocked then leaned in. "Barton," she said with a nod.

"May. I saw the official SUV. What's happened?"

"Death threat," Darcy said. "Same punks that tried to break in here. One's daddy is a senator." She grinned. "He tried to get them to rescind my tazer authority. Then again, the prosecutor was of the opinion that they're *boys*."

Clint grimaced, shaking his head. "No, they're psychos."

She grinned. "Definitely. Want a seat?" She pointed. "I have a few."

"Why are you on campus?"

"Lack of housing," she admitted. He came in to sit down. "The nearest good one I could find, meaning had no bugs or rats, was about an hour away. The few that were nice enough but in the middle of nowhere I'd never be able to get to class some days and the grocery store was even farther." She looked around then at him. "I might switch back to online classes again."

"The girls would probably miss you," Clint said. "We do. Bruce gave us food poisoning."

She batted him on the arm with a grin. "That happens even when I cook."

"Yeah but you warn us it didn't turn out right. He didn't." She laughed. He nudged her knee with his. "Natasha's sorry."

"That she got caught being bitchy or that she misjudged me?" she asked. "Or that she didn't look?"

"Mostly, that she didn't look so misjudged you."

Darcy nodded. "That's fine. I expect to be underappreciated. Especially since I was just a science intern. Thankfully I took out the one that wasn't just a science intern back in London."

"We heard." He stared at her. "No one told Jane."

"No, I didn't feel like telling Jane." She shrugged. "She didn't need to know that."

"Fine." He looked around then at her. "Bit messy."

"The senator's trying to rescind my tazer rights." She grinned. "So they did a search. I sent pictures to my lawyer."

"That's sweet of you," he said dryly. "Did you have to admit to your real name?"

"Yup and the prosecutor didn't recognize it. Or the judge."

"That's good at least." He knee nudged her again. "Are you satisfied here?"

"Not fully but it's cool. I'm too old to party and all that stuff. So this is me growing up a bit more into a mature career focused sort of woman." She shrugged with a grimace. "It happens and I'll handle it."

"Good. It's good that you're okay," he said. "You could write."

"I have." She smiled. "Twice."

"I didn't get those. I'll have to see why." He stared at her. "Some of us miss you."

"I miss you too, Clint. You were always fun to hang out with. You and Steve both." She patted him on the wrist. "I just couldn't take being the help anymore."

"I get that," he promised, putting a hand over hers. "Barnes is MIA."

She winced. "Is he okay?"

"Not sure. He may have had a super flashback and lost it."

"Okay, well if he comes here, I'll call."

"Thanks, kiddo." He kissed her on the head. "Send me cookies?"

"When I'm sure you'll get them." He smirked and winked, heading out to talk to the girls who were waiting on him. They had all sorts of questions but only a few about how he knew Darcy.

She looked at Melinda. "Stark?" she guessed quietly.

"I'm pretty sure it's Romanoff," she admitted.

"Huh." She nodded. "That's fine." She leaned out at the sudden quietness. "If that's my bodyguard, ladies, let him in."

"No, it's not," Clint called. He closed the door and they could hear a fight.

Darcy came out to look then pulled off her shoe to hit the guy on the head. He yelped and went down to Clint hitting him. She dropped the shoe and stepped back into it, wiggling her foot some. She looked at him. "Unlike many young women, I'm not helpless."

"You're nothing," he sneered.

Darcy smiled. "Actually, I'm not. Trust fund kid I might give you but not worthless." She smirked. "You have no idea who I actually am." He was staring in horrified awe. "Yeah, you stumbled into something huge." She walked off. "Ladies, let's let the senator be arrested for bringing weapons onto the floor," she said, making shooing motions. "The cops will be here in a minute. Those of you taking pictures make sure it hits media sites so they can share it everywhere on the web." They started to take film and pictures if they weren't. When the cops showed up magically all those phones disappeared into pockets.

"You're an Avenger," one of the officers said, staring at Clint. "Why do you know anyone here?"

Clint grinned. "Darcy used to be Jane Foster's intern so I was checking on her. She makes great cookies."

"Um, this Jane Foster," another officer asked.

"Thor's sweetie," one of the girls called from up the hallway.

"Oh, shit," one said.

Darcy grinned at him. "Though I've left Jane's side, and because of reasons that weren't fully pretty, I did make friends. I made a lot of cookies. Most of the team have a sweet tooth." Clint nodded.

"You said on the stand you ran into some in coffee shops," one complained.

"Darcy used to live on coffee," Clint said. "So do some of us. She ran into most of us at the nearest coffee shop many times." Darcy nodded. "So she minimized it to cover herself and us protectively, just in case someone comes for her for knowing how we like our cookies."

"Oh," one officer said, sounding weak. "Wow."

"It's nothing, guys. I was a lab assistant. Not anything near the team."

Clint nodded. "She was a great lab assistant. We used to try to prank the science teams a lot."

The lead officer cleared his throat. "What brings you up here, Senator?"

"And why are you carrying weapons?" Clint asked dryly. "Did the girls up here invite you up to see your weapons?"

The senator was now crying. "They're going to ruin my whole family."

"No, that was *your* doing," Darcy told him. "You didn't raise your son right. You didn't take care of your obligations. You fucked up. If you had raised him to be a *man* he wouldn't have been in here. The only thing affecting you is you're trying to cover up for him instead of going 'yeah, he fucked up and now he's gotta take responsibility and pay for it like a man would' and leaving him to handle it."

She walked off. "Ladies, let's get you out of harm's way please." They went back to their rooms to share those photos and film. She looked back at the senator. "By the way I named you in the lawsuit earlier since it was your actions against me that led to the officers conducting an illegal search. They had no reason to rip up clothes looking for a tazer, especially not while fondling my panties." She shot one of the officers a look. Then she went back to her room. "Have a great life, man. I've got to post to the Daily Kos."

"Oooh," Clint said with a wince. "Progressive media site. Bummer for your career." He hauled the senator up, handing him over. "He actually tried to attack me before I did anything more than stand in the hallway answering the girls' questions," he said with a grin. "He's really dumb." He went to talk to Darcy again. "Do you have any cookies?" he asked from the doorway. She tossed him a tupperwear container with some. "Thanks." He settled in to nibble until the bodyguard got there and the cops took their senator with them.

***

Darcy came back from a new job interview, finding someone eating fries on her apartment couch. She had moved off campus after that first year and was now about halfway between that and the town. "Hey, Clint."

"Bad day?" he asked, looking her over. "Were you channeling Pepper?"

"No, I had a few interviews today with some charities I like to support. I got a lot of 'are you donating' and 'can you use your name to help us' instead of 'what can your degree bring to us'." She went into her bedroom, kicking the door mostly shut. "I'll be out in a minute."

"Sure." He went back to watching her tv.

She came out in jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. "I was going to hit a bar for dinner but it looks like you already did." She flopped down, staring at him. He grinned. "So what's up? Did you just need breaking and entering practice?"

"Not that hard with your door."

"I turned off the alarm."

"Thanks." He ate another bite but tossed over a few envelopes.

Darcy took them to look at. "Thor or Jane?" she asked, waving one.

"Thor."

She nodded, opening it to read. She sighed and put it aside, reading the one from Pepper. She had been nice to her when she had been a lab assistant. Her 'I hope you're doing well' was a nice thing. She looked up at him.

"Stark's fishing for information without doing it himself," he agreed.

"That's fine. It's nice of them to ask." She put that letter aside too. "So what else is going on?"

"We found a rogue HYDRA unit nearby."

"Yeah, I met one at the bar. He was shit at flirting and I noticed the tattoo on his upper chest," she said dryly. "Apparently it was a new one because it was scabbed over and it was covering a tiny surgical scar that looked newer."

Clint paused in his chewing, staring at her. "Really?" he asked with a grin. She smirked back. He swallowed. "Did you get anything on him?"

"Unless his name was actually Jack Lewis, it was a cover and I'm not real skilled in how to pickpocket. I wasn't about to follow him back to his base when I walked away from him. I did report it to SHIELD."

"That's how we got it," he decided. She grinned. "Are you actually safe here?"

"About as safe as I was at the tower if they showed up."

"Point." He sighed. "Jane's a miserable bitch."

She nodded. "I'm sorry about that. I really am. I'm still not her nanny."

"No, you're not," he agreed. "Though we've all had to do some babysitting."

"What happened to the German nanny lady or the Asgardian one Thor's probably had coming?"

"The German lady fled from Stark after he got roaring drunk one night after a science bender." She winced, shaking her head. "The Asgardian one hated that Thor wouldn't let her bring the baby back to her own home to raise her properly as a princess should be. Fandaral is sending a female friend of his someday soon."

"I hope it works out for them. The baby's a sweet little kid. She deserves the best and her parents."

"Thor's a playing dad but he's horrified at diapers."

"Yeah, probably not something he noted in his life too often," she agreed. "I've only babysat a few times myself before the kiddo came. I had no idea how to do most of it."

He nodded. "Neither do we. We mostly play with her when she's fussy."

"If she's like her mom, she probably needs some quiet time by herself sometimes."

"She gets some. Usually we hear her when she's screaming that she's bored."

Darcy smiled. "Sounds like she's like her mom."

"We think so but she's blonde like Thor."

"Well, maybe she'll have her mom's brains and her dad's height."

"Could be," he agreed. "So now what? Since you're graduating soon but don't have a job?"

She smirked. "I don't know yet. There's other charities I can go work for that've never heard of me. I shouldn't have went to former friends to see if their charities needed help. Even though one's hiring most of the year."

"Peace corps?" he guessed.

"Maybe but I'd rather focus on problems here." She shifted to put her feet up, using one to shift the letters out of the way. "How about you guys? Everyone good?"

"Mostly," he agreed. "Natasha sprained her ankle the other day." She nodded at that. "I'm healed again." She grinned. "Thor's fine, Steve's angry that Bucky's an asshole who told him to get a girlfriend and a life since he was being a bit clingy. Stark's...Stark."

"That figures."

"We confused the new guys the other day by mentioning you. Thor was moping."

"Aww. How confused did I make them?"

"They had no idea Jane ever had a helper. Her lab looks like a tornado happened."

"She could get another intern."

"Stark's given her two. They've both ended up crying after a few weeks and got moved to someone else."

She grimaced. "It's not hard work."

"Jane's turned into a bitch, Darcy. A total bitch."

"I'm sorry."

"No, you did what you needed to do. We all agreed with that." She shrugged some, slinking down in her chair. "What about SHIELD? You could work with them clearing up their image problem."

"If I found out some of the bad things I'd have to stop it," she reminded him. "I'm not going to sit by and let horrible things happen."

"True. So government service instead?"

"No. It's not what I really want. I hate politics. Plus that one senator would pop up to try to ruin me."

"Most thinking people would consider that a good thing."

"Then the reporters would get news from New Mexico and all that."

"Oh, yeah. That's still classified." She smiled. "Have you had to talk about that?"

"No. A few people noted London but not New Mexico. Or Antigua."

"What happened in Antigua?" he demanded, shifting so he was facing her better. "I remember a battle there."

"I remember spring break there," she shot back. "I'm the one who called you guys and defended that orphanage."

"Oh." He blinked at her. "Seriously?" She nodded. "Steve didn't mention he saw you."

"The other orphanage."

"Oh!" He winced. "Stark told us they were safe."

"Yes they were." She nodded. "I was on the nearest beach when the portal started to form. I saw a few of them going for the orphanage up the street from me so went to warn them and ended up defending them against the idiots. Then they went to the easier targets, which was when you guys got there."

"Wow."

Darcy smiled. "It happens sometimes."

"Only around you."

"No, I go through most of my life without drawing that sort of attention," she said dryly. "Outside the idiot HYDRA guys apparently. Any idea why?"

"No. We think maybe it's your former job."

"Huh."

"They captured a few actresses too."

She frowned. "Why? Half of them are airheads and the ones that aren't hide their brains because only the airheads get work."

He laughed. "That's so mean."

"So true though. Smart women in Hollywood usually hide it until they're higher up the food chain."

"I can see why." He shifted again, pulling his feet up. "Are you sure you're good at all this stuff?"

"It's nothing exciting but I didn't want to go into archeology and become Indiana Jones," she said dryly. "I thought about that as my undergrad." He grinned. "I know, I really just wanted the hat and whip, but I would've been okay at it."

"Lots of long hours of dusty, dirty work in low water countries," he countered.

"Which is why I mostly didn't. I love it but not that much."

"What about museum work?"

"Specialized degrees and a lot of politics for grants. My name would've been used there. I talked to one of the art curators in high school about that sort of work. I don't *love* art but I like history. He said I'd be bored my whole life."

"Figures." She grinned. "You seriously weren't going to cook?"

"I haven't been grocery shopping in a week."

"That happens."

"Yeah, it does," she agreed. "Especially during finals."

"It's finals?"

"Just passed," she said with a smile.

"Huh." He nodded. "Did you pass?"

"Of course."

"Honors?" he teased.

"Not likely. I had a major argument with a teacher over her dislike of aliens and how they weren't real." He groaned, shaking his head. "She knew about Jane and London so she ragged on me all semester. So the final day I told her she was welcome for still being alive and around. So no, I almost flunked that class. She couldn't give me below a D without a challenge to the grades and her teaching methods. Thankfully it was an optional class. I learned more from the book than her."

"That's good then. What about graduation?"

She shrugged. "I'm walking but it's nothing huge."

"You're graduating college, Darcy. It is huge."

"It's not, Clint, but it's sweet you think so." She smiled at him. "I figured I'd walk this one since I didn't walk my undergrad."

"You took time off for that."

"And I never made it out of the city since you guys had the city locked down due to an incident."

"Oh. Sorry."

She shrugged. "It's not a huge thing," she told him. "It's not like my parents are flying in," she finished sarcastically. "It's just for me."

"What about boyfriends?" he teased, trying to lighten it up again.

She snorted, waving a hand. "I'm not a cougar so I'm not dating college boys and I'm not dating teachers because it's a problem. I've had a few dates but nothing too serious. Most guys don't like women who can protect themselves. They consider us too hard to be soft enough to fall for their weaknesses."

"Seriously?"

She nodded. "Yeah. Got into a talk in a bar with a guy who was complaining his girlfriend wanted to take self defense lessons because it meant he couldn't protect her anymore. It was ruining his macho vibe. I had to point out she wasn't handcuffed to his side so she had to do some things by herself and he couldn't always be there to protect her. Plus sometimes you needed to protect yourself from your guy. He got horrified and told me how strong women who handled things on their own were what was ruining the male rhetoric and history of macho endeavors. I told him how the real world worked and how macho rhetoric was why most guys were single." He burst out laughing.

"He got all huffy and his professor wrote me a dirty letter saying I was ruining men. I kindly wrote him one back, with research included, that proved him wrong. He huffed and complained that the women on campus were all men haters. We had to reply to his huffy boy fit about not hating men, just their stupid times. I even got the sororities involved in fighting back against that. The campus had a good talk about gender roles and expected behaviors and how things were changing now."

"You are in a slightly conservative area," he said dryly, smirking at her.

"Oh, I know. I got accused of having California liberal ideas more than once by teachers." He smirked and nodded. "I pointed out that the rest of the world was moving that way. Even Saudi Arabia was making changes to give women rights. They didn't like that comparison."

"Guys like them never do."

"It let us up the abuse help center from a table to an actual staff member and the suicide hotline got upped too."

"Stark said you were working there."

"Yeah. The kids are young. They're untried, they have no idea about most things in the real world. College isn't as safe as home in most cases. You get a lot of kids that get in over their heads. Some recover, some don't, and some nearly get lost."

"It's a good thing," he said more quietly, smiling at her.

"Thanks." She grinned back. "They're mostly good kids."

"That's always a good thing. So now what?"

"I'd suggest dinner but you probably don't want to be noticed by anyone. I can order a pizza."

"I'm good with going out with you."

"Clint, one of the local frats has your picture up as a macho ideal," she said dryly. "They're all out partying right now to celebrate the end of the semester. You'd be recognized."

"Ashamed to be seen with me?"

"No, I didn't think you'd want the press attention."

"I'm fine with it."

"Okay." She stood up and grabbed her wallet and phone, nodding at him. "Let's go. I'm hungry, I missed lunch due to traffic." He followed, letting her lock the door before taking him down to her car. She saw the look at her car and shrugged. "I'm a college student. I'm not going to drive a brand new car and this one's good on fuel efficiency."

"It's not exciting but it's a good, safe choice."

"It is. Including in crash tests, which was one worry around a college campus." She let him in, walking around to drive. She took them to a small bar she liked and inside to a back table so they could talk and she could eat. He got a burger too. They talked about things going on in New York and how she was handling not being in a huge city. A few people stopped by to fawn over Clint but he just grinned and mostly chewed through them. He signed a few autographs then got back to eating. One of them gave Darcy an odd look but she just shrugged and sipped her drink. She looked at Clint once that guy had moved on. "Apparently he wanted to blow you for status," she said quietly.

"I get some of that," he agreed. "Not too much though. Natasha gets a lot of those."

"Yeah. That action suit of hers is really tight and she's pretty."

"Do all women get that?"

"Sometimes. Especially pretty ones. We learn to brush it off. Mostly because they're not real flattering when they're talking to your boobs."

"I get some that feel up my arms," he said.

"Same thing." She smiled. "Only they don't get arrested if they grope your arms."

"Point." He ate another bite. "This is a really nice place," he said when he swallowed.

"The bartender's a really nice guy and his sister's in admin up at the college. He's good to the decent students and throws out asshole ones personally."

"That's really good." She nodded, finishing her drink.

He finished up and they relaxed again. "So now what?" he asked with a grin.

She smirked back. "I'd suggest some clubbing for stress relief but the closest good floor is in the next town and I'm not dressed for that." He snorted, looking amused. "It's a quiet town."

"Bit boring?"

"Yeah, sometimes, but you put up with it to have less traffic."

"True, traffic is great here compared to New York." She smiled and nodded. "Did you have a car in New York?"

"No. That's a stupid idea up there. Huge insurance due to car jacking rates. Problems with parking, traffic, and other issues. Taking the subway is easier. So are cabs."

"Point."

"I'm a practical bitch."

"That's a good thing," he agreed. "Going back west?"

"Not sure. I could but I'm really not sure. I think LA would drive me nuts."

"Probably but there's other cities out there."

"True." She nodded. "Or I could go to New Hampshire and work with a charity that helps rescued slaves. It's heartbreaking work but important."

"That's a tough choice. You could still work for SHIELD in the admin areas."

"That'd require me having to determine what people were doing, Clint, and I don't want that sort of responsibility."

"No, there's admin that has nothing to do with missions."

She stared at him. "Did the big C send you? I know if I say his name he'll magically appear."

"Not exactly but May suggested it'd be a good position, plus safer for you."

"I'm not that unsafe."

"Darcy, you nearly dated a villain last year," he said dryly.

"Well, yeah, but he was a good kisser. Then someone sent me an email and we talked about it. He agreed I should do charity work, it was good for everyone, and he started because things were unfair and wrong. He just ended up on the wrong side of the strength equation."

He shook his head with a sigh. "You're welcome for the email."

"I figured it was you or Steve," she said with a grin. She kicked him under the table. "Speak of the devil and it appears."

"Him?" he demanded, looking back. "Oh, Coulson. You're right, you talk about him and he appears." He shifted over when he got to their table, letting his former handler sit next to him.

"Miss Lewis," he said with a nod and a slight smile.

"Director," she said with a grin. "So far I'm ignoring the pointed hints I should come handle your PR problem."

"We have a PR person but they're half the problem," he admitted.

"Yes, but if I heard about things like South Korea, I'd have to do something so it couldn't happen again," she said bluntly.

"That wasn't us."

"I'm aware of that," she said dryly, staring at him. "So why show up tonight?" she asked with a smile.

"We're tracking an agent who was trying to follow you earlier."

"Yeah, I turned him down in the bar." She nodded a bit. "Two of the guys he was hanging out with came in but they're at the other end of the bar." She pointed. "And they haven't even looked this way so I guessed they hadn't spotted us."

"We don't think they have," he agreed. "They could attack Clint for his job though."

She pointed. "I was going to show him the emergency exit behind us behind the bathrooms."

Clint shifted up to look that way then sat back down. "There's only two."

"There's about fifteen in their base," Coulson told him. "It was dangerous to come here, Clint."

"I was looking in on Darcy," he said, glaring at his former handler. "She's a buddy. I warned her about them earlier. Though she made him himself when he flirted with her."

"He had the tattoo over a new surgical scar," she said with a small shrug. "It's not like most people would get that as a tattoo."

Coulson stared at her. "Surgical scar?"

"About fingertip long on his upper shoulder." She pointed at the spot. "There."

"Interesting."

"New tattoo, still had scabs. Just a black and white outline so he may have been getting it colored in later."

"I can't think of anyone who'd get that tattoo," Clint agreed.

"I met some racist assholes who got burning cross tattooed on," she told him.

"Huh." Clint nodded once. "I've seen some rebel flags and the like. So yeah, that could've been that sort of I agree tattoo."

"Still not the sort I want to flirt with," she said dryly. "I'm very open minded but not that way."

"Ever dated a girl?" Clint asked with a smarmy grin.

"Yeah. She's really cute and has three kids now. It was a high school fling."

He blinked a few times. "Really?"

"Yup." She smiled. "Married a male cheerleader from USC. Two girls and a little boy. She's on facebook."

"Huh." He looked at Coulson.

"That was in her background check," he admitted. "The one we had to redo."

She smiled. "You missed the name change too?"

"We did," he admitted. "It wasn't legally filed so we did miss it." She shrugged but grinned. "We are a bit worried that they may be coming after you because you do keep in contact with a few members of the team."

"Not really. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one on facebook that has a few people on it."

"No," he agreed. "You're not but if they found out about your former job it could become worse for you."

She stared at him. "I was a science intern, Coulson," she said quietly. "Not a hero in spandex."

"Kevlar," Clint corrected. "It's bulletproof."

She shot him a look then looked at Coulson again. "I hold no strategic value to them just because I have a few facebook buddies that I used to hang out with. I haven't seen anyone but Clint in a few years. Not since I saw Melinda May due to that frat boy problem."

"Point but they're not that smart," he said.

She smiled. "I doubt they want me for that. If so, there's some fans in the midwest who are in more danger than I am."

"They're not heirs."

She shrugged. "I gave myself a trust fund so I couldn't be a kid like Stark."

"Which probably made a lot of sense," he agreed. He stared at her. "What about politics?"

"I really hate politics. I've thought about it but I'd be a fierce bitch about women's rights, education, and a few other things that would get me huffed at. Do I really want to live my life in a spotlight?"

"Probably not," he agreed. "It could do a lot of good."

"Possibly," she agreed. "I'm also on two groups that're working against Stark's agenda right now. He sent me an email saying he hated me for that and I didn't understand why. I sent back how wrong it was. He told me I sounded like Steve."

"You do," Clint said with a nod. "A lot at times." She smiled. "We could get Steve into politics."

"He'd hate that," Phil said. "Battles would get worse."

She stared at him. "Your ploy is a bit see through, Coulson."

He smirked a tiny bit. "I figured it was but being underhanded with you often gets opposite results. That's why we nearly lost funding one year."

She smirked. "You're welcome."

He rolled his eyes. Clint was staring at her. "That expose was you?"

"No. That expose was a friend I met in London." She grinned. "I didn't tip her off. She was snooping in my computer during a visit. Happened onto the same group against Stark's agenda for the list."

"Crap," he said. "That got us all a lot of attention." She shrugged a bit but grinned. "So she got into your charity network?"

"Yeah. That group tracks SHIELD and Stark's things for crimes against humanity. Which they consider the list to be." She shifted, popping her neck some. "Two of them might've been on the list but they refused and went further underground."

Coulson stared at her. "Are they still part of that group?"

"No comment." She smiled. "And here they come." Clint got kicked and she pointed behind her. "Go." He slid out and headed for the bathroom. One of the guys paused then casually started that way. She got up to get in his way, smiling at him. "Hi. I remember you from the bar." The guy glared at her. She smiled back, patting him over the tattoo, making him wince. "It's still artwork."

"That's...." She shrugged. "Damn bitch," he said. "Probably Romanoff in disguise."

"No, I'm a former geek intern. Sorry." She ducked his blow at her head. "Not nice, dude." He tried again so she tased him. He yelped as he went down. She stared at him. "Really?" She sat down and paid the check, smiling at Coulson. "I'll think about going into politics some year soon," she said quietly. "But probably not. It's just not something I can see myself doing." She got up and walked off, handing the money and ticket to the bartender. "Some HYDRA guy who hit on me at the bar," she muttered, making him huff but shake his head. "My friend was about to be bothered. He escaped."

"Thanks, Lewis."

"Welcome." She went back to her apartment to shower, relax, and think about her options.

Coulson had probably snuck out after making sure he had pictures of the agents. He could do that, he was Coulson.

***

Darcy was kicked back in her jammies a few days later when a video chat request came up. She accepted, staring at the guy on the other side. "What's up, Stark?" she asked. She sipped her coffee.

"You're not coming to my event. It's for charities."

"I'm not working with any right now. I'm still looking for a job," she said. "You should honor the ones already doing the work."

"You could network, maybe find a nice job," he said. He stared at her. "A few people want to see you."

She stared back, then grimaced. "I'm trying really hard not to get a job on my name, Stark. I've already avoided that so far. And I've got a few leads."

"I know about the group you're part of already," he said.

She smiled. "Someone's got to protect people from good intentions gone wrong." She finished her coffee and put her cup down. "I don't really want to go. Graduation's the day before that."

"So? You're just coming up and putting on a pretty dress."

"It's never that easy for women. Besides, why would I want to cause strife?"

He paused. "Yeah, Jane's going to be there," he agreed. "But we can keep you two apart."

"There's others that probably don't want to see me."

"It's important."

"It is. I've already sent up reward monies to add to yours for three of them in my mother's name."

"I saw that. Pepper asked why."

"Because they're ones I believe in. One of the others being honored I could do without but they do work which is important."

He stared at her. "Snobby?" he asked with an evil smirk.

"No. They're the sort that demand women who've been raped carry the kid. I can't personally stand that viewpoint."

"I didn't know that. That's not the focus of their charity."

"It's not, which I support the main focus of. I just can't support that charity itself."

"I guess that's a point. You could still come up for a few hours. You haven't been back to New York. There's a charity meeting at the UN the next day."

"I know. I'm going to be there interviewing with a group that works with people who were taken as slaves."

"There are?" he asked.

"Yeah, there are," she agreed.

"Oh." He looked behind him then at her. "Then you can come up for the party. You'll be here anyway."

"I'll have jet lag, Tony. I don't want to go to a formal stuffy event with jet lag. Or really at all."

"My events are more fun," he said impatiently.

She stared at him. "Yeah, if they get robbed. Otherwise they're a bunch of stuffy people in a room with too much cologne and perfume talking about things that no one cares about. Beyond that, don't have a formal gown."

"You can buy one anywhere."

She gave him a dirty look. "Stark, formal gowns don't fit women with curves. They fit skinny, tiny boobed women like Pepper. That's the fashion ideal and the reality of it. Anything I buy that way has to be altered. Usually a lot. Or else I look like I'm going to the porn star awards. I don't have a gown and don't have time to get a gown."

"Why don't you have a gown?" he demanded.

"Because I don't go to formal events," she said dryly, staring at him. "It's not my thing. The charities I support don't hold formal fundraisers. Most of them work behind the scenes. Half the ones that do hold formal events are shams and smoke and mirrors so I'd never go to those. The rest are only attended for honoring them awards. The only one I'd go to would be the annual Peace Corps event in DC but I'm not a member so I just send them money."

"You could do that," he said.

"Yeah all but the FBI has my passport locked in case someone comes for me."

"Why?" he demanded. He looked so confused.

"For the same reason that I saw Coulson the other day and he was trying to convince me to join politics."

"Oh. So you can't travel."

She shook her head. "Not without prior authorization."

"That sucks."

"Yes it does. That happened after spring break at least. I at least got one in."

"You didn't in your undergrad?" Pepper asked, coming into view.

"No, I spent my first two spring breaks recovering and sleeping. My third one I was in the hospital with the flu, and the fourth I was on my way to New Mexico."

"Oh. That's a shame," Pepper said. "Those are young people things that no one can get away with when they're thirty."

"Oh, I can go party but it'd hit the news," Darcy said dryly with a smile for her. "You look nice today, Pepper."

"Thank you, Darcy. Are you coming?"

"No." She smiled and shook her head. "I'm not prepared for a formal event and I have no need of going to it. I sent thank you money."

"I saw that. Do you want noted?"

"No. It's in the envelopes."

She smiled. "That's fine. Are you coming up for the UN meeting?"

"I am. I'm interviewing with an anti-slavery charity that afternoon."

"That's good," Pepper said with a smile. "That's a hard field though."

"Yeah, but it's an important one. Unfortunately too many people end up there every year."

"They do," she agreed, smiling at her. "Thank you for Tony's birthday card."

She shrugged. "He's doing an important one." Tony snorted but looked pleased. "Sorry about the event, but even if I had a gown ready, it's just not my thing."

"No, I get that," Pepper agreed. "You're right. A lot of the charities that do throw formal fundraisers aren't worth supporting. Or they're political."

Darcy nodded. "I made the mistake of going to one of them and they tried to latch onto me for not only exclusive money but a lot more than I was willing to give. I had to tell him I was there mostly about his wife's charity work. He was disappointed and pouty all night."

"You do have a wallet," Tony said.

"Yes but I gave myself a trust fund on purpose."

"That's a good idea," Stark agreed. "Means you can't spend yourself poor before you have kids."

"If, Stark. If. Kids aren't looking too soon in my life right now. I can't even find a guy to date."

He looked at her. "You could."

"No, I really can't down here."

"You could come back up here."

"Or I could go to Florida."

"Point," he agreed. "But you'd hate the beach culture."

She stared at him. "Stark, I rock a bikini like no one else does," she said dryly. "I can do the beach and all that easily. I know I don't fit into the stick figure ideology but that only bothers shallow little twats who can't remember to wear panties."

Pepper laughed, nodding. "True, it does. No one seems to realize you're you." Darcy smiled. "Are you going to have to come out?"

"I don't know. I might if something too huge comes up. The lawsuit and court case from that dorm thing didn't out me too much. I got some more facebook friends from high school." Stark shook his head with a sigh. "Some of us are meant to be in the spotlight and some of us are meant to do things behind the scenes. I learned it from Dad." She waved and hung up. "Have a better day."

Up in New York, Tony looked at Pepper. "She's insistent."

"She is, but she had some good points. She's got the figure that would mean major tailoring for designer gowns. She doesn't want to deal with stress and hell." He nodded at that. "She's making good decisions."

"I guess. Still boring."

"Yes but Darcy wants a bit more boring."

"Point." He grimaced. "We can send her an invitation anyway, just in case."

"We can," she agreed. She went to do that and make notes for her speech that night. Looking at the notes included in Darcy's thank you money envelopes led her to a name to look up just in case she wanted to note it. Her mother was a good woman apparently.

***
Part 2 by voracity
Darcy came out of her meeting at the UN with the charity she had interviewed with, finding a driver staring at her. She walked past him. "Miss DeCriths," he called. "I'm here for you. My client sent me for you."

She looked at him. "Why?" she asked.

"I work for Mr. David DeCriths, ma'am."

"Uncle David could've called me."

"I don't think he had the time, ma'am. He's in the hospital."

"Oh, dear." She walked over. "Prove it." He held up a picture of him and his uncle standing beside a new car. "That's good. Let's go." He nodded, letting her into the back of the car and walking around to drive them off. "What happened to him? I wrote him last month and didn't hear a thing about this."

"His wife was high and stabbed him."

"I'm going to kill that bitch," she said. "He should've stayed with his first wife."

"She's there, and she's the one that sent for you for him."

"That's nice of Aunt Mabel." She fussed at her hair in her compact and checked her makeup then put it away. She sent a text message to someone then put her phone up. When they got to the hospital, he let her out and she nodded. "Thank you. Have a better day." She walked up there to where he had told her and nodded at the nurses. "My uncle David?" she asked. The nurse pointed. She walked in there after a quick knock on the door. "Why didn't you tell me about this when I wrote you?" she asked dryly, coming in to kiss him on the cheek. She saw the new wife in there and sneered. "Do you really think you should be near him since you put him in here?"

"It's my choice, Darcy," he said firmly.

Darcy looked at him. "Mom would've killed her. I'll just have her thrown out. And not even out the window."

"No." She rolled her eyes but sat down on his free side. "Why are you up here?"

"I was interviewing earlier with a charity I like."

"For donation?"

"To work with."

"Good." He smiled. "I saw your withdrawal the other day. It was good choices." She grinned. "I'll be fine, dear."

"You'd better be. I don't want to help your son through a funeral. He's a dick but I'd never let him do it himself."

"He'd have to be released from jail for his habit."

"Hmm." She nodded. "That happens to many. I'm glad I avoided that trap after Mom died." The new wife was sneering. Darcy looked at her. "Don't make me beat you to death, Belinda."

"Betty," she said.

"Whatever." The woman started to fake cry. Darcy rolled her eyes. "You're not the actress his sister was. Or his mother." She looked at her uncle again. "Sorry," she said at his dirty look. He stared. She smiled and kissed him on the head. "You never should've driven off Aunt Mabel, Uncle David."

"I know. I was stupid in those days."

"No comment," Darcy quipped.

"Do you have a man yet?"

"Nope. I've dated some but they're not worthy of a second date, much less panty touching time as your mom used to put it."

He snorted, looking amused. "You could get a trophy husband."

"Why would I want something that uninteresting? Eww! I don't want a gold digger. I want a guy who can keep up with me and my work and what I like to do. And I want to help him with what he likes to do. I'd never take in a trophy cub. They're boring and usually crap in bed." He laughed so hard he coughed. She helped him lean back. "Easy on that. If you die I'll have to bury her under you for putting you in here." She got up and stomped off. Darcy waved at the bimbo's back. She looked at her uncle. "Really?" she asked quietly.

"We're divorcing but she doesn't know it yet," he said. "For spousal abuse."

"Good!" He smiled and patted her hand. "So coming to hide with me in case she hires a hit man?"

"I may. Did you ever sell the old house?"

"It's rented," she said. "I'm not sure I could sell it. I had a lot of good memories there."

"The last renters renovated."

"I only allowed a few things and I made sure," she said. "They pouted and I told them I'd sue them and move them out. I flew out to make sure." He smiled and patted her hand again. "Did they?"

"They tried. The lawyer stopped it. They evicted them so it's empty now."

She nodded once. "Not my fault then."

"No it's not. You could sell it."

She stared at him with a sigh. "I'm not sure I can let go of Mom that way. The last I saw my blood was still staining the concrete from riding my bike."

"It was," he agreed. "I was there last month and stopped in to stay there while I was in LA." She shrugged but grinned. "It's pitiful sitting empty, Darcy."

"I know. I'll think about it."

"Good girl." He patted her hand again. "I've remade my will."

"Cutting out the new bimbo?"

"That too. The son's got a very small trust fund he's not in charge of. I put Magnus in charge of it. Yours too."

"No. I won't let him be in charge of my money. He treats women horribly, like we're mindless toys. I'm not going to fight with him over my money. So who am I having it moved to?"

"He can fight that since I'm the executor."

She smiled. "I'm an adult now, Uncle David. Fully able to make my own legal decisions. Frankly, Magnus makes me think he's the sort that'd embezzle. So who am I moving it to?"

"You can move it to Chuck's people but they're not as good. Or you can hire someone you'll have to watch every day for your life."

"As opposed to the guy who tried to pat me on the head and said some day it'd go to my future son's college needs because women don't need college?"

"I forgot about that." She smiled. "Well, you go fix it today then."

"I can do that." She shifted to cross her feet. "Anything else I need to handle?"

"The son might be out soon and he might come after you."

"Why? I'm not giving him anything. I work for mine."

"I've admired that about you, Darcy, and I tried to use you as an example. He got all huffy."

"Pity about that but that's why he needs a therapist probably."

"Probably," he decided. "You're like your mom but not always the nicest parts."

She smiled. "She'd be pleased."

"Probably true. She'd say that's why you're still single too."

"No, I'm single because I have taste and want brains, not just a gym hard body. Most of the guys my age are pretty pathetic. Think what you were like when you were twenty-six."

"Don't remind me," he sighed. "I grew up, most of them will too."

"Yeah, and then I'll give them a try for dating."

"You'll be too old to have kids."

She stared at him. "Since when do I need to use my womb to be worthy of this family?"

"I didn't say that. Your father's will had a clause about you not adopting your only child."

"I thought that got remade."

"I'm not so sure about that."

"I'll ask the lawyer," she said.

"Good girl. I know you're smart but you're getting bitter."

"I'm at a conservative college that had a teacher who decided women knowing self defense was what was robbing men of their macho ideology," she said dryly. He snorted, shaking his head. "It's the area. I dated plenty in London and when I was here in New York. I probably will once I get back away from that school."

"Probably. You finally graduated?"

"My masters a few days back." He frowned. "Uncle David, I got my undergrad while I was in New Mexico after my first year. I just didn't walk. I finally got around to my masters in public policy and graduated this week."

"Honors?"

"Two points below."

"Pity."

"Yeah. But I had a teacher who trashed me all semester about knowing Thor."

"Oh, god, them," he muttered.

"Yeah, them." She nodded as she shifted again. "These chairs suck."

He laughed. "So people don't have to stay too long."

She stared at him. "You're my uncle. If you need me I'm here."

"No, I'm good. I'll be fine, Darcy."

"Good. Don't make me go to another funeral." She stood up to kiss him on the forehead. "Good luck with her." She stared at him. "Want the name of the group I use for bodyguards?" He nodded so she looked them up and wrote it down for him. He smiled, patting her on the hand so she could go. She went to the brokerage firm. They were horrified at who she was. "Yes, Uncle David told me he moved my executor and I want it switched." She smiled. "Isn't he here? He usually is on Saturdays."

"I'll get him for you, miss." She called back there. "It'll be a few minutes."

"Thanks." She sat down, arranging things on her phone. Including sending notes to her bank that the executor switch over her trust fund wasn't signed off on yet so he had no access to anything. After an hour he finally came out to smirk at her. She looked up at him. "You have some explaining to do about the three thousand dollars taken out of my trust yesterday. Because I didn't do that." She stood up. "And I don't want you managing my money. So let's go talk about that."

"You're pushy today," he said sarcastically.

She smirked. "I'm exactly like my mother most of the time, Magnus. I'm not a damsel, not a little lady, and sure as hell not a good girl. You're not using me for anything and you're not in charge of my money. Technically, I had control of my trust at eighteen. I have someone to look it over for auditing purposes. Do I have to call the lawyer?"

He laughed. "He'll never agree with you. You're a girl."

"I'm a woman with a master's degree," she said. "And a second bachelor's in accounting." He stepped back, glaring at her. "So let's talk nicely now about how you took money from my account without my authority. Because I never signed off on the switch so that's illegal."

"It's been a year," he sneered. "Not too careful are you, Darcy?"

"It's been six weeks by the paperwork you tried to file. Thankfully I've already had the lawyer working on it. He's due here soon. I called when you made me wait because you thought I was just a girl." He huffed off. She smiled at the men walking in. "Mr. Pritchard."

"Darcy Lewis," he said, smiling and shaking her hand. "You found embezzlement?"

"Yes I did." She showed him the entries. "He's still huffy about it too."

"Let's go talk to him." They went back to the office and they stopped him from doing anything with the restraining order they had paused to file with the bank. By that night, Darcy was in charge of her own money, Magnus was in jail for stealing from her, and being in HYDRA with one of the lesser lawyers. Apparently a few people thought she was stupid. Boy were they about to be proven wrong.

***

Darcy smiled at the reporter she met the next day. "Hello, dear."

"Who're you anyway?" she demanded. "My editor said I had to talk to you."

"Darcy DeCriths. Hannah was my mother." She gaped then sat down with a groan. "Frankly, I talked to your editor about a few things because people are trying to treat me like a little girl who's an imbecile. Pity." She smiled. "I just brought down half of my uncle's investment firm yesterday for it." The reporter moaned. "And some of them were HYDRA."

"Oh, damn," she muttered.

"Yeah. So we can talk if you'd like." She smiled, sipping her coffee. She waved at a few joggers going past, earning a smile from one.

The reporter looked. "That's an avenger guy." She looked at Darcy. "You knew them?"

"I know Sam. We met at something. He's a very nice guy. Very well read. We talked about books for almost an hour."

"Oh. So, you're Hannah DeCrith's daughter. What are you doing now?"

"I just graduated with a masters in public policy and a second bachelor's in accounting." She smiled. "Two points off honors."

"Good job. Why a second bachelor's?"

"My first was in poli sci."

"Politics?"

"I want to work with charities. There's a lot of problems in this world and if I can make it better, my mother would be cooing about it."

The reporter smile. "It's good you're trying to live up to her legacy. We noticed that she had stopped her charity giving for a few years."

"She died when I was fourteen and Uncle David had my trust fund I set up at my request. He didn't even when I asked. He's pouty about that right now and me having his business partner arrested for theft."

"Wow."

"Sometimes you gotta be a bitch to get things done," Darcy said with a shrug and a smile. "It gets things done right."

"Yeah, I can see that. So what else have you done? You look familiar."

"I interned as a science intern for a bit but we parted on not good terms so I don't really talk about that."

She snapped. "You were in London."

"I was."

"Oh." She grimaced. "So you knew Thor."

Darcy smiled. "I considered him like a brother for a long time."

"That's sweet." She took notes. "So now what?"

"Now, I'm interviewing with some charities, hoping to get in without using my name. I go by a family name due to a few death threats."

"From your work as an intern?"

"No. One's from my former stepmother and the other's from a senator who's son I kicked the ass of. It apparently ruined him enough that he lost his mind and came to the campus with weapons to kill me."

The reporter blinked. "That campus in Pennsylvania?" she asked with a wince. Darcy smiled and nodded. "Oh, dear."

"Oh yeah." She nodded. "I would've been fair to him but he got his son out on bail very fast and then tried to retaliate. He even tried to override the FBI authorization I had for a tazer. Pity."

The reporter smiled. "At least you're not stuffy or uptight."

"No. My mother was. She had that proper backbone. She would've hated how often I wear jeans in public. She wasn't republican by any means but she was just as uptight as a Bush matriarch. I live up to her myth in other ways."

"That's always a good thing for a daughter to do." She stared at him. "I looked up your mother. You grew up in LA."

"I did." She smiled with a nod. "It was sometimes fun. Sometimes not. It was pretty normal and my parents made sure I didn't grow up to be a princess by any means."

"That's good. Most kids these days aren't that way."

"I hope any future kids I have won't be."

"We can all hope so," she agreed. She made more notes. "So now what are you doing beyond that?"

"Well, I'm going to announce soon that I'm starting a limited fund grant fund in my mother's name for certain types of charities. I'm still building so up front it won't be huge grants but some of the minor ones that need it the most can turn ten grand into a lot of good work."

"True. There's shelters who'd adore that."

"I've made it for charities that work with kids, especially to get them off the streets and to get them an education so they can break the cycle of poverty. It's for small schools. It's for groups that feed kids who are homeless."

"You're focused on kids yet don't have any. Are you infertile? Usually that level of investment is compensation."

"I think that's a bit impertinent but no." She smiled. "I think that we need to start help there and then next generation it'll get a bit better. A lot of charities do a lot of work with the parents, and some day I will too, but almost no one takes care of the kids. Giving mom job training helps a lot but until she finds something, the kid's gotta be held steady and growing."

"Good point. It's something most of those groups don't want to think about."

Darcy nodded. "I've seen that. I've done a lot of research about the charities I do give to. I think it's important I agree with their goals and their purposes instead of just blindly tossing money at things. There's some groups that do okay work but their underlying ideology is something that makes me mad so I don't give to those sort." Someone walked up behind her and kissed her on the hair. She frowned up. "Oh, Steve." She smiled, hopping up to hug him. "Hi. How are you?"

"I'm okay. I can see you're busy."

"Dinner at the pizza place in Brooklyn?" she offered with a grin.

"I can do that," he promised. "Have a great day, Darcy."

"You too. I saw Sam." She sat back down, smiling at the reporter. "He's a really nice guy. I taught him how to use netflix."

The reporter blinked. "That's sweet of you. There's days I still don't understand netflix." Darcy grinned. "So...charity work." Darcy nodded, getting back to the interview.

***

That night, Steve showed up scowling. "Tony said you fibbed because he taught me netflix." He sat down across from her.

"I taught you how to move around netflix. It kept anyone from suggesting we dated."

"True. He thought it was that."

"Yeah." She grinned. "So just okay?"

"No, I'm pretty good. Still mad at Bucky taking off again to hide."

She nodded. "Not like he wouldn't come if you needed him."

"True. So happy graduation."

She smiled. "Thank you."

"And I heard taking down an investment firm?"

"My uncle's partner thinks women are little girls without need of any education. He was stealing from me. And half the law team I lean on was HYDRA." He winced. "So no clue why. Just had to happen."

"At least you're safe."

"Most of the time."

"That's good." He smiled. "Things are really boring around the tower most days."

She nodded. "They were before but if you got bored we found something to do. Like taking that kindergarten class to the museum."

"Point. I haven't done that for a while." She smiled. "Yeah, I can do that later. The new guy, Scott, he has a daughter."

"That's sweet. I hope she's okay?"

"She's fine. We protect her like we do any girlfriends."

"That's cool." She smiled. "You guys were always fussy about Jane going anywhere but it was sweet of you."

"And you."

"Because I was dragging Jane places usually."

"True," he admitted, smiling at her. The waitress came over and they ordered, then went back to catching up. Darcy had some funny stories about the campus. Steve had some about the wackiness that sometimes invaded the tower. It was good to catch up. She gave him a ride back to the tower on her way to her hotel then went to settle in for the night. No messages from her uncle so he was still mad at her. Sorry but tough. The lawyer was probably mad at her too. She really had to find a new one. Just in case they tried to screw her up too.

"It's tough being me but I gotta persevere," she muttered as she looked up law firms.

***

Clint nodded at Steve when he came in that night. "Darcy good?"

"She seemed pretty happy with things," he said, flopping down in a chair. "She had to break bad on some thugs recently but otherwise she's good."

"It was on the news about her busting the lawyers and investment firm."

"She was talking to a reporter earlier."

"That's good though," Clint said. "Because it makes her harder to take out if she's a bit more public. Coulson was worried about that."

"Think they'll try to sue her?"

"Yup," Clint agreed with a grin. "But I think Darcy's probably pretty smart so she's got it handled."

"That's good." He leaned back, getting comfortable. "It's quiet tonight?"

"Yeah. Jane's out with Pepper and Maria Hill. Thor's got the sprout."

"I thought Thor went home last night."

Clint stared at him. "No, he was at breakfast when I got coffee."

"I didn't see him. Let me go check." He got up and went to Thor's suite, knocking on the door. No answer. "FRIDAY, is Thor here?" he asked.

"No, he is not," she said, opening the door. "However the nanny isn't either, Steve."

He hurried in to look at the baby. She was a mess. "Oh, no. FRIDAY, can you do a medical scan on her?"

"She's weak but not that ill."

"Alert our infirmary please." He carried her down there carefully. The nurse hopped up as he walked in. "People thought Thor was still here."

"He left about nine this morning," she said. "We had that storm." She took the baby. "Oh, you're a mess."

"She's not waking up," Steve said.

"Let's do some checking." She walked her back to the exam room. "Doctor?" she called. "Come help me please." He hurried out of the office, swearing when he saw what she was carrying. "Not waking at all and we all know she's the fussiest thing ever."

"Yes she is." He took her to look at, letting the nurse draw blood. "She's got to be sedated."

Steve leaned on the doorway. "Her bed's a wreck too. Should I call Jane?"

"Please," the doctor agreed. "Where's the nanny?"

"She doesn't work nights."

"Oh, crap," the nurse muttered. "Can you get Mr. Stark too?"

"Definitely." He went jogging to the labs, knocking on Tony's window before walking in. "Tony, huge problem." He spun to look at him, Pepper looking up from their shared dinner. "Isn't Jane with you?"

"We broke up an hour ago."

"The baby won't wake up, she's in the infirmary, no one was with her, and she's a horrible mess."

Pepper texted Jane while she and Tony hurried off. "Jane's swearing she's just grabbing something in the lab. The baby has medicine and the nanny will be back soon."

"The nanny doesn't work nights," Tony muttered. He stormed into the infirmary. "How bad?"

"The baby's sedated," the nurse said. She looked at him. "The mother?"

"Lab," Steve said. He pointed at Pepper. "Do we need an ER?"

"If we do that, CPS will come," Pepper said. The doctor scowled at her. "Jane's absent minded. That's why she has the nanny."

"Who doesn't work nights," Tony reminded her. "She never asked me to sit or anyone else that I know of."

Scott walked in with the diaper bag. "I repacked it just in case." He looked at the baby then at Tony then at the doctor. "We've been noticing that the baby can't focus on things. I remember seeing Cassie at that age and she could focus on people."

"You're thinking autism?" the doctor asked.

"I don't know. I know nothing about it but I know I rolled a ball toward her yesterday and she just stared at it like it was strange."

The doctor nodded. "We can figure that out once the baby's awake and off the sedative." Scott nodded, leaving it with them.

"I'm trying to get the nanny," Pepper said. "She's not answering."

"Okay, we're going to keep the baby," the doctor said. "If something's going on, we're required by law to report it to CPS as well." Stark nodded once. "Lord Thor's...."

"Home," Steve said. Clint walked in. "Thor left this morning."

"I just heard that." He came in to look at the baby. "She's making a really bad face, guys."

They looked, it was a grimace. They took a swab and ran it as well. The baby went on an IV like she had just come out of surgery and they waited to watch her wake up.

***

Darcy answered her phone the next morning. "Darcy Lewis," she said, even though she was nearly yawning. "Steve." She sat up. "What happened?" She listened. "Oh, no. Did she know?" She frowned. "Okay, so let's work on getting a better pseudo mommy for her? Yeah, I don't think it'll do much. Science is going to win. Stark's the same way, science wins over most everything. They've trained themselves to sink anything wrong or bad in their lives into science. Ask Scott. He might not know anyone who's an official nanny but he probably knows a few people who could do the work and be realistic." She pushed her hair back. "Exactly. Thanks." She hung up and got dressed, then packed and left. She ran into an agent downstairs. "Hi," she said when he grabbed her. "Get off me."

"Miss Lewis," he sneered.

She got free. "Yes, that is my name."

"It's not."

"It's not officially. I still have death threats on me so I'm still allowed to use my grandmother's name."

"You have credit cards in that name."

"No, I have full bank accounts in that name and they all know why." She stared at him. "Why does that concern you?"

"You're not supposed to do that. That's fraud."

"That's bullshit," she said with a grin. "I made sure first. For that matter, my debit card, which is what I use, is in my actual name now." He still tried to haul her off so she tripped him. "Dude, you're not an agent. You're a guy wearing a cheap suit. So don't even try."

"Your *friends* won't save you," he sneered. "You'll be of use."

She snorted, shaking her head. "I doubt that. And if I disappear, everything of mine goes to a few friends who I trust. You can't get much more trustworthy than someone like them."

"We have them too."

"Really? I hadn't heard the news that you guys kidnaped Rogers." He smirked and pulled out cuffs. "You'd better present a warrant too. Officer!" she yelled. "This man's pretending to be an agent!" He tried to pounce her but hotel security came to help her. Officers came right after them. Then a second set. The first set got arrested by the second with the agent. Darcy looked at the officers staring at her at the end. "I don't know," she admitted. "I've got three death threats against me. One from this week. One from a senator." The officer questioning her winced. "I have no idea what's going on beyond the fact that he tried to snatch me."

"That's a good idea to yell about, miss," the officer agreed. "Who're you?"

"The name I go by is Darcy Lewis. That's due to the death threats. My natal last name is DeCriths."

"Like that investment.... Oh."

"Yeah, that was my uncle's partner. He stole from me. He thinks all women are little girls who are stupid by nature."

"I know men like that," he agreed. "All right, can you sit down?"

"Yes. I'm not flying back for three hours." She sat down with her bag on the nearest chair and let them work. A detective came in to take a statement. She pulled up information on all the problems that had happened around her for him. That way they could figure out which cause it was. They had her escorted to the airport and she went back to her safer campus area. By that night she was in the middle of moving. She had heard back from one of her prior choices and would be working with them in Chicago. The move got moved up due to all this.

***

Darcy looked up from her filling out forms for a grant, smiling slightly at the woman standing there. "Yes, Agent Romanoff. Can we help you?"

"You're needed in New York."

"Why?"

"Jane's losing her mind."

She nodded once. "That's not my business any more. Jane was my friend but she made it not so."

"You could have given in."

"Yeah, I could've given in to be my boss's nanny instead," she said dryly, leaning back. "But I was her assistant and that's not who I wanted to be. She never asked, she assumed. If she had asked I would've turned her down."

"That may not be an issue now. Jane's been in a car wreck."

"And Thor's...." She waved a hand.

"Home."

"Jane's sister and mother?"

Natasha blinked. "Her mother?"

"We lived with her mother in London. They talk all the time. Jane actually gives up science to talk to her mother. I think Jane would want her daughter going to her instead. Even if I was the nanny she would've wanted that. Which is the problem with being the nanny. They become your kid then get yanked away from you."

Natasha stared at her. "I'll call her mother then."

"If you still need me, let me know. I can travel for a few days. Most of what I'm doing right now is preparing speeches and writing grants so I can do that long distance if I have to." She nodded and walked off. Darcy sighed, getting back to work. Her boss leaned out of her office to look at her. She looked up at her. "The scientist I was interning with decided I'd be her nanny instead." She winced. "Without asking. Just handed me the baby. I hate nannies and the whole nanny culture. My mom managed to work and raise me with some juggling and some babysitting now and then. I think most kids with nannies get screwed up a lot by the dichotomy of having a paid attendant they're supposed to respect like a parent."

"Yeah, I've seen that."

"So did I." She sighed. "I walked when Jane told me I was the nanny and handed me the kid. She got all huffy and pouty but no, that's not who I am. And I doubt Jane would want me to take the baby in front of her mother."

"Probably not. What about her husband?"

"Thor's at home."

"Oh!" She blinked a few times. "Oh. Really?"

"Yeah." She smiled. "I met Jane before I met Thor." She smiled. "Funny story, I actually tazed Thor once."

Her boss smiled. "You have balls, Lewis. That court case is next week."

"I know. I was planning on working from there anyway."

"I saw. It's fine if you have to go."

"If I have to go I will. She won't want me though. We didn't part on good terms when I basically told her I thought nannies were pathetic and I wasn't that way."

"No, you take care of people but not that way." She went back to her desk. It explained a lot about Darcy's suddenly going back to college. And why she had been in London during the elf thing.

***

Darcy showed up in New York with her bodyguard, who was actually Clint but she wasn't letting on that she knew that. He told her not to. They went to the hotel and checked in then settled in for the night. She looked at Clint once he had checked the room. "Okay, give. I'm used to the guys they send when I need one."

"We think HYDRA's going to do something," he said, sitting across from her on the bed. "They were involved in your uncle's partner and the law firm."

"I remember."

"So we think they're trying something against you."

"Like Magnus they probably consider me a weak little girl."

"Probably," he agreed with a grin. "We know better."

"I hope I don't turn into one."

"Me too, Lewis. Settle in. It'll only be for a few days."

"You know, they won't try it during the trial because I have to show up."

"You not showing up would tank the case and let the judge, who is related to a HYDRA agent, rule in their favor."

She nodded once. "Point. But I have anti-kidnaping things that would be released from the bank if I don't text every day. Including about all of that HYDRA stuff. Because that senator was taking bribes from them." Clint blinked. She nodded. "I looked. That was too strong of a response for his son screwing up. Showing up with weapons at the campus was a move of desperation, not of a mad father."

"We didn't think about him."

She smiled. "I'm a bit paranoid. You guys taught me that."

"Good point."

"Jane's mom?"

"Hates you."

She smiled and nodded. I know. She didn't really like me in London. Considered me hanging on her brilliant daughter's coattails as her intern. She told me Jane had a nanny more than once."

Clint shook his head. "We all thought you guys were close."

"We were. Then she ended it."

"You could've been more polite."

"Same ending," she said. "Same net effect. Being bluntly honest was nicer of me."

"Point."

"Any idea why HYDRA is wanting me so hard?"

"No. Not a bit."

"Damn. I was hoping it was something I've done that got their notice instead of them going 'she's an easy hanger on sort' about me." She grimaced. "It's sad when you want respect from the bad guys who want to kill you."

"I don't think they want to kill you. We think they want to do something to you."

She considered it. "Unless they want me to carry someone's spawn, and there's plenty that could do that, I don't know why. I'll never be the warrior Natasha is so they can't turn me into Bucky or a programmed agent."

Clint nodded. "We have no idea either. Though that's one we didn't think about."

"That's because you're not a woman."

"Point."

"And even if they married me off to someone and tried to control me, my trust fund goes to a few people. Including Steve. I know he'll use it in a way my mom would've liked."

"Probably," he agreed with a nod. "Huh. Does he know?"

"No." She smiled. "But I don't expect to die anytime soon."

"Good." He nodded. "Why don't you rest?"

"I'm fine. I rested on the plane. You should remember that since I napped on your arm."

"At least you don't drool," he quipped, going to the other room. She laid on her bed and fiddled with things on her laptop. "Don't update your facebook in case they're tracking you."

"I coded it as I'm doing something about the lawsuit," she said. "But I can remove it." He walked in. "I didn't mention the hotel. I go through a masking site so they can't track my ISP."

"Why?"

"Because I learned about being paranoid from somewhere."

"Always something useful." He walked back to the living room. He had his own bedroom in the suite. "Where are you going after this?"

"I'm meeting my boss in Paris for a UNICEF sponsored conference."

"Wow. How can you go back to the farm when you've seen gay Paree?" he quipped in a bad accent.

She smiled. "Not that hard since I've been there twice." He leaned in again, giving her an odd look. "High school trip then I went with Jane to a conference. I showed her a neat little bistro my class really liked."

"Huh." He went back to the couch, telling Coulson that. He pulled up her full file for Clint. "You went to the upper Middle East?" he called.

"On an educational thing. Mom always wanted to go and I went in her name. It gave new school books to kids."

"Interesting."

"We were there for two weeks. We played with the kids and read to them. We taught them some english words. I learned about ten phrases before I went over. I was the only one under the age of twenty-five and the kids were really nice to me. I only got hit on once by someone and I said I had to finish my own education so it'd be years before I became a wife. He wanted someone to help him with his goat herd."

Clint shook his head, making that note into the file. It was a nice story. Coulson's note back noted a few other trips so Clint brought his laptop in so she could make notes about them. She corrected one that it wasn't her but otherwise she had some good stories. Much nicer than his of going places for missions.

***

Darcy came back after her first day of testimony grumbling and swearing under her breath. Clint followed looking amused. Not even Thor could probably swear about people and goats that way with that style of phrasing. "Do women often have those problems?"

"Yes!" she complained, staring at him. "Often." She stormed into her room to change clothes and then eat a cookie. She had brought some up. She took two more then tossed Clint the bag, making him hum happily. She was pacing around muttering while she nibbled and thought. Maybe she'd have to show her ass a bit more the next day. So she pulled up more things her mother had done, staring at one. "Huh," she said. She followed that one. "I forgot all about them."

Clint knocked and walked in. "Your uncle got carjacked."

She looked up from her tablet, staring at him. "His present unfortunate wife or someone else?"

"We think it's her. Nasty divorce?"

"She's a money grubbing ho and a drug user. She's the one that got my cousin hooked." He winced. "He was cutting her off so she stabbed him a few months back. Which is why I went off on the investment people." She pulled her hair back into a ponytail. "Do we need to go to the ER or the morgue?"

He called that in and winced. "Morgue."

She nodded. "We can do that. I hope she's in jail."

"She hired."

"Have we turned over that information?"

"That's not really how SHIELD works, Darcy. We deal with terrorism."

"So what do you do with information you get that's not part of that?"

"I think we hand it to someone. I'm not involved in that."

"Can you ask if they did?"

He nodded, following her once she had what she'd need. "They said they'd hand it to the detective."

"Thanks." She walked into the morgue. "My uncle was just brought in. David DeCriths."

The morgue attendant looked. "His wife's made the identification, ma'am."

"She's not his wife. The divorce is mostly final and she's the reason he's dead." He called that back to the officers. She walked back there at an officer's wave. The woman shrieked and came at her so Darcy punched her. "That's for stabbing him a few months back, bitch." She hit her again. "That's for hooking my cousin on drugs." She kicked her. "That's for hiring someone to kill him."

"I didn't!" she shrieked. "It was his son!"

"Really? The sixteen year old kid you hooked on drugs and fucked repeatedly to groom him into your next husband? He did that? You sure? Last I heard earlier, he was still in jail." The woman got up and tried to scratch Darcy so she hit her again. "Real women punch because we worry about more than our nails. Just like my stepmom, you're a whore. An expensive one at that with the way you were trying to soak him in the divorce." The woman was sobbing while holding her nose. Darcy sneered at her.

"Watch me call someone about you. That family they mentioned that got removed by my great-grandfather? They're mobbed up. Uncle David and Mom both knew that." She was still crying. She looked at the detective. "I don't want her near her former husband. The divorce decree was signed and becomes legal in sixty days. Uncle David had preplanned a ceremony while he was with his first wife, Mabel. I can call her to see where it is." The ME nodded slightly. Darcy looked down then at her. "I'm sure you've seen plenty of former spouses in here," she said dryly.

"We sure have. Not too many nieces."

Darcy smiled. "I got treated like I was a bimbo earlier by a judge. She's my last straw."

The officer cleared his throat. "Ma'am? Who're you?"

"Darcy DeCriths, though I go by Lewis due to death threats."

"I'm going to tell them where you are," her step-aunt sneered.

Darcy looked down at her then shrugged. "So? Let them come. Some of us do more than lay there and think of the money." Her step-aunt tried to stab her in the leg so Darcy kicked her in the face. Darcy was wearing hiking boots. It made a pretty mess. "Huh, I didn't think I broke her nose but apparently I did. Oh well." She looked at the officer. "She's got two sugar daddies on the side, they can pay to fix it." She smiled. "It came out during the divorce. It was granted so fast because she stabbed him a few months back while she was high."

"Those divorces are heard faster for safety reasons," one of the detectives agreed. He looked that up and showed them. "It does say that. Also, he made a note if he died he didn't want her to do a thing about it."

Darcy nodded, pulling out her phone. "Aunt Mabel, it's Darcy and it's real bad news. Oh, on the news. Sorry. No, I'm at the ME's office. She's here too. Bleeding but here. Please. I know he had a preplanned one but not where. Thank you, Aunt Mabel, and if you talk to Auntie Cyndy and Auntie Betrice tell them I said hi and I'm sorry about his death." She smiled slightly. "You too, Aunt Mabel." She hung up. "She'll call the other ex-wives to make sure they didn't have different plans." The Detective was staring at her oddly. "Uncle Dave fooled around. A lot," she said dryly. "He was young, stupid, and a party boy. Aunt Mabel divorced him over that. Aunt Cyndy divorced him over him finding Aunt Betrice nicer than her, because she was a bit bipolar and kinda scary, and Aunt Betrice divorced him because he was a dick with power who had just started an investment firm. Long hours, thinking he was God, all that stuff. It annoyed her enough she sends most of her alimony payment to her church."

The detective nodded. "Wonderful. Would they have a reason?"

"He didn't leave them much in the will," Darcy said. "He remade it two months ago. He uses his friend Bradley. I used to use Bradley but half of his lower people were messed up in that problem with his investment firm and HYDRA."

"I remember hearing about that case," the officer said. Darcy smiled and wiggled her fingers. "Are you less mad now?"

"I wasn't mad at you guys. You guys didn't kill him, did you?" They shook their heads. "Then I have righteous anger against the whore that killed my uncle." Mabel stomped in. "Aunt Mabel." She hugged her.

"Darcy, doll." She hugged her back, sneering at the thing on the floor. "Pity you survived. I should fix that."

"I offered to call the distant cousins who're all mobbed up so were expelled from the family," Darcy said with a smile for her.

"Don't tempt me, dear. You know I'll do it. Just like your mother used to."

"Uncle David did say that you reminded him of his sister." She smiled at that. "And his grandmother."

"Often. She went to jail fighting for the right to vote and a few other times. Including for stabbing her philandering husband."

"Cheating is always wrong," Darcy quipped. She looked at the detective. "Am I being arrested for the righteous ass kicking I gave?"

"If she wants to press charges." He looked at the woman on the floor.

"No, she's not," Clint said, pulling out his ID. "We're guarding her due to the death threats and the HYDRA issue she stumbled into."

Darcy looked at him. "Don't do that, Clint. Really. You don't have to. If I go to jail for assault, so be it." She smiled. "It's a badge of honor in our family." Her aunt nodded but laughed.

"In many families," the ME quipped. "I'd do the same thing." She pointed. "I'm not required to clean up her mess."

Darcy got some paper towels and tossed them at her. "Clean up your mess. Real women can do that." She smiled at the officer again. Then at the ME, then at her aunt. "Do you need me to help, Aunt Mabel?"

"No, Darcy. You're stressed from that idiot judge. I was watching and he's a moron. You made sure payments were outlined in the trust paperwork. I remember you insisting on it." She patted her on the cheek. "Go soak in the tub and mourn him, dear. Even though he tried to screw you over, you were his niece and you have the right to mourn." She nodded, leaving with Clint. She clapped her hands. "Now that the young cub is out of the way." She turned and glared at the new wife. "I'm going to kill your pretty, stupid, greedy ass," she vowed. "I'll make sure you're *never* going to touch a cent of his money and if I can't, Cyndy can. Her uncle's got connections too. He'll be happy to help. He promised after the divorce anyway." The girl was cowering away from her. "How much did you pay them?" The woman sneered at her. She grabbed her by her hair, hauling her up. "I'd confess unless you want to join him."

"We'd have to stop you, ma'am," the detective said.

"Please don't make me more work," the ME said. "I need to make it home to my kids tonight."

She stared at the young woman. "I'd confess then kill yourself unless you want to see the rest of us. Because you will be and I can guarantee that you won't enjoy it." The woman dove for a scalpel and was stopped by the detective, who was glaring at her. "She needs to do it."

"We'd prefer her being in jail, ma'am."

"Why make others suffer by exposure to her?" she asked genteelly. "It's a horrible thing for those other prisoners." The woman struggled and tried to grab her but Mabel stared at her. "Come on if you're coming as Darcy says. I can handle your flirty little whore ass." The woman got free and panted, glaring at her. She pulled her bra gun and shot herself in the stomach. Mabel grimaced. "Really ineffective with that too. Bad in bed, bad in death. Pity you're so pitiful." She walked off to meet the other ex-wives. "She shot herself in the stomach."

"Pity she couldn't get that any more right than she could oral sex with David," Betrice said dryly. "You'd think girls like her were better in bed than she was." They came in with the paperwork for the funeral.

***

Darcy walked in the next day in a somber suit and her glasses on. "Hangover?" the judge asked dryly.

She glared at him. "My uncle was killed last night, Your Honor. No, I don't have a hangover. Nor did I drink." She watched him flinch back. "Some of us may have fun some Saturday nights but we're not the whore patrol or like our step-aunt was. Am I still on the stand? Also, I pulled out the award letters my mother received from various charities since it was noted yesterday that you didn't like the wikipedia list." She handed them to the bailiff. "That's from the last ten years of her life." She sat down and put her bag down beside her.

The judge took them, looking them over. "I see your mother was quite active in charity." Darcy nodded. "NOW, a few other pro-choice groups."

"My mother was very pro-women's rights. In all forms. She was very against the thought that women were weaker, should be weaker, and should be silent. It comes from well back in the line since my great grandmother was arrested multiple times as a suffragette."

"Interesting. So you're following her will?"

"Yes, I am, though I do tend to focus more on children's charities most of the time. They're usually understaffed and underfunded. I can pull up a list of my own donations for the last three years if wish."

"No, that's fine," he said, handing it back. "That answered the lingering question about your mother's wishes."

Darcy pulled out two other envelopes. "My mother's will, a certified copy. I had the lawyer fax it to the hotel last night. My father's will, again a certified, faxed copy." She handed them to the bailiff.

The judge took them to look over, nodding. "I see that they both said that you were their only heir and child. Your father's states you could lean on your uncle to do your self-appointed trust fund until you were ready to manage it." He grimaced, looking at her. "So why did you stop that?"

"My uncle handed my trust to Magnus, Mr. Steele," she said with a point at him. "Who believes women are bodies to be used with the mind of a newborn baby. I'm not like that. When I went to change it, he kept me waiting so I looked over my accounts. I had just graduated with an accounting bachelors degree. I found embezzlement so I called the lawyers while I waited for over an hour. If he had treated me with respect I wouldn't have found it until the yearly audit. Then again, I would've had it audited when I removed it from him as he always irked me with treating me like I had no use outside my vagina."

"Do not use that language," the judge ordered.

"Sorry, your honor, I thought the medical term was appropriate." She stared at him.

"Fine." He let the lawyers see the wills.

"Your Uncle died?" the defense attorney asked.

"Yes. His last ex-wife had him killed by a few thugs who car jacked him," Darcy said. "A few months back she stabbed him. It was during that visit that I found out he had moved me to that odious creep's handling."

"Is she in jail?" the defense attorney asked.

Darcy smiled. "I have no idea but I'm hoping she's in hell. I heard later from one of my other step-aunts that she had shot herself but it was a pathetic attempt in her stomach instead of a real one. The detectives had her confessing on the way to the ER I'm told. I can give you that step-aunt's name so you can ask her yourself if you wish."

"Did you hurt her?"

"My step-aunt or his last wife?"

"Her."

"Yes. I hit her for stabbing him, for addicting his son to drugs and screwing him repeatedly to groom him for her future spouse, and for having my uncle killed. She tried to fight back once so I kicked her. The detectives were standing right there with the ME."

He blinked a few times. "Most women wouldn't have."

"Real women worry more about their families than their nails," she said dryly. "My mother couldn't throw a punch worth a damn but she could and would have used a bat. She was aces at softball. Taught me how to catch." She smiled slightly.

"Yet you're letting a friend's child go to hell?"

"That is nothing to do with me. I was her intern, and her friend. She decided without talking to me about it that I'd be *honored* to be her nanny. And I'm not. When I heard something bad was going on, I told the person asking who she would have named custody to. We hadn't spoken since the day I walked off after telling her I wasn't going to be her nanny. If something happened and I had to take that child in, I would and I'd love her just like she was my own. Her mother was still in front of me and I told them that so they could do the proper things."

"Her mother called you a limpet."

"I was her intern and took care of her," Darcy said dryly. "She forgot to do things like eat and sleep for days on end due to being involved in her scientific work. Many of them are like that. Yes, I was staying with her half the time to make sure she didn't die. It was close a few times."

"Oh." He looked at the forms. "Is that the only time you've been to London?"

"No, I went when I was sixteen for a weekend while we gathered together for a trip overseas with a charity that gave books to poor schools in rural areas. We didn't get much sightseeing in but we did get to the spots around the hotel. I was the youngest on that trip."

"So that wasn't your first trip," he said.

Darcy shook her head. "No."

"Did your employer know that?"

"She didn't ask. I was happy to go to London. I remember liking London. I also took some weekend trips to nearby countries when she didn't need me."

"Oh." The lawyer grimaced. "Did you not have your own apartment?"

"I did. It was tiny and real estate is more expensive over there than it is here. I was a few blocks away but I had to keep with her because she got alcohol poisoning a few times when her studies depressed her and she was stuck so we went for margarita nights. I'd have the bartender cut her off after a few so she'd go home and drink some more while forgetting to eat to soak it up."

"Did her husband help with that?"

"He hadn't come back yet. That was before that incident."

"I see." He looked at the papers then at her. "What are you doing now?"

"I'm working for a very nice charity in Chicago that helps underprivileged children in the city get better educations through helping find them tutors, safe places to study, grants to some smaller schools to help them, and other things."

"Is that a precursor to public service of a different kind, Miss DeCriths?"

"It's been mentioned to me but I'm not thrilled with the idea because I don't want to live my life under a spyglass. Some day I may rethink that. Right now isn't the time for it."

"Someone applied for you to join an art council?" He held up a form.

She took it to look at, grimacing. "That's Uncle David's signature. I wish he had told me." She handed it back. "That's not my signature."

"Can you prove that?"

She looked in her bag, holding up something. "A signed statement from last night?" He took it to compare. "Mine loops a lot more."

"I see it does." He handed it back.

"Can I have a copy of that as well? I might like the art council. I'm not really into art but if it's supporting local artists I'm into that." He handed it over with a grimace. "Thank you." She tucked them into her bag then looked at him again.

"Do you still talk to any of the people you used to work with?" he asked.

"Yes, now and then I do. I have a few facebook friends from among the science staff and others in the tower. Including the bottom level receptionist that greets you when you come in."

He blinked a few times. "Is one of them an Avenger?"

"Yes." She smiled. "He's a very nice guy. He was a good friend to hang out with when I was there. We had many bored nights watching movies."

"Nothing romantic?" he sneered.

"No. I'm not his type. Even if I was I don't tend to date where I live or work. It causes stress so it's always a bad personal policy."

He stared at her. "At all?"

"No, not at all. The closest I came was going out on a single date with one of the security team in the tower. Far different department and he only saw me in the elevators every few days. He asked very nicely, he was a nice guy who I had talked to more than a few times. We went out to dinner but he was looking for someone who wanted to be a stay-at-home wife and I'm not that sort. We still chatted afterward and I introduced him to a new intern that came in who was more his sort."

"Interesting." He looked at his notes then at her. "Did SHIELD ever interview you?"

"Once. We were in New Mexico."

"You've been seen with their director."

"I met him in New Mexico when he stormed in to take all our work for a bit for daring to do something they couldn't. I remember they stole my iPod and I fussed about it until I got it back."

He blinked a few times. "Your last college had a letter from them stating you had permission to own a tazer."

"Yes they did. I've had that since London."

"What happened in London?" the judge demanded. "You're talking around it to protect someone's identity."

"We were there when the convergence happened, Your Honor. With the Dark Elves. We were on site at the college when it happened."

"Oh, I see. What did you do?"

"I helped a bit." She smiled. "It was thought someone might come after me for that so I got permission to carry and own my tazer no matter what. When they fell they asked someone in the FBI to do the same and I have a letter from them as well due to the prior death threats. I have laminated mini copies if you want to view them."

"Not necessary," he decided. "Get on with it."

"Miss DeCriths....are you going to go by your natal name anytime soon?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. I've gotten used to Lewis. All the banks I deal with know about it and why so I don't have any problems."

"Are you maybe sticking with it because you feel you don't live up to your parent's wishes?" he asked with a mean smile.

"No. I feel my parents would be pleased with most of my life." She smiled. "I use it still because in the last four years I've had three attempts from the first death threat." He gasped, stepping back. "I think that sucks and I'd like to avoid it. These last two just add to it."

"Are you going to change it again?"

"No. I can stay with Lewis. If they come for me again I'll handle it like I did the last one. Meanly." She smiled slightly. "I may not be the hardest thing to attack but I'm damn sure not going to let myself be taken out by some skinny whore's little minions. *That* my mother would be ashamed of."

"I..." He cleared his throat. "Your mother could fight?"

"No, my mother hired when she had to fight. Or when she thought my father was cheating that once. The PI told her he wasn't so he didn't have to beat my father up for it."

The defense attorney for the investment idiot blinked a few times. "Was he cheating?"

"No, he was planning a surprise anniversary present for her."

"Oh. Why didn't she look herself?"

"She was fighting her first bout of cancer."

He grimaced. "Would she have done it herself?"

"She would've locked him to the bed and talked to him in the middle of the night so I wouldn't have heard his screaming for mercy if he had cheated on her. I slept with a white noise machine back then because my mother used to snore." He groaned, shaking his head. She smiled. "It's something I've recommended to some others."

"You're not what most people would expect from a girl who grew up with money in LA," the judge said.

"No, Your Honor, some of us don't drink that often, wear panties, don't carry around a dog to talk to, and know how to drive," she said dryly. "They just get more attention because they do those mentioned things on purpose and people like paps like that. People like to see people doing bad things. That's why they watch NASCAR for the wrecks. Those celebutantes are like the wrecks of rich kids."

He looked at her. "Not all of them."

"No, some are worse and are in jail." She smiled. "I wasn't raised like that. I was taught to be the power behind the power until I had to step out and prove that I could do it myself."

"I can see that. Can you actually manage your own trust without help?"

"I can. I had plans on going to a new investment person I trust to do the minimal investments I do as I'm still learning stocks, bonds, and futures. Actually, I was handling it just fine for a year after my mother died as a way to distract myself but then I got wound up in school and didn't have the time or energy so I signed on with my uncle to let him do those things. It takes a lot of time to do that every day."

"You're still going to let someone do your investments?"

"Yes. I'll be doing a lot of hands on work with them over it but they already agreed with my ideas on how to invest and how much to invest. Plus where to invest. As soon as this is over with, I'll be turning that account over to her."

"Is she going to do this?"

"No. She's bonded and her company is a rather prominent firm that has good results. We work together on a political charity group. Also, I never let more than two percent of my net worth go to investments that aren't safe."

"I could rule all this goes to your uncle's partner." The judge smiled.

"Which would be appealed the same day," she said. "As nowhere in anything would give him that right even if I died. Also, that is not all my net worth. That is what I got from my mother's will when I was fourteen. Upon my majority I received control of my mother's funds and upon my father's death I received the rest of their marital assets. None of which were covered by that small trust fund, Your Honor." He groaned, shaking his head. "Frankly, that fund's going to be going toward my charitable donations over the next thirty years. I'm using most of it to set up a foundation in my mother's name."

He stared at her. "You're mouthy."

"No, like Mr. Steele there, you expect me to be brainless and a bimbo," she said dryly. She stared him down. "Mouthy is not telling the truth, which I've been doing. Mouthy is pointing out that you should have recused yourself because you play handball with both lawyers." She smiled. "If you wish I can switch to being mouthy instead of honest."

He spluttered. "All lawyers know each other, miss."

"I figured they do," she agreed. She smiled slightly. "Some more than others. The first judge over this had to recuse himself because he was someone's brother-in-law."

"I heard that." He glared at her. "I could still give it all to him."

"Which has no legal basis," she said. Her lawyer was nodding. "And really you'd have to fight to find some of it. I was turned paranoid a few years back." She stared at him. Her lawyer was laughing. "Sorry but truth."

Her lawyer stood up. "Your Honor, there's no precedent for moving any of her money out of her care. She inherited it. It's her duty to figure out how to spend it and save it. He blatantly stole it from her. We, and her last lawyers, all really detest his actions of making Darcy turn mean and tougher. She's usually much nicer and happier. Most people consider her to be a fluffy, happy person. Then this happened and a few of her friends are wondering where that happy person went."

Someone kicked in the door. "Freeze, hands up, guns down," they shouted.

Darcy looked at him. "I don't believe you did that."

"Do you know him?" the judge demanded.

"No. I know what he is. He's wearing HYDRA's marks." She pointed. The guy stomped her way. Darcy put up a fight. He clubbed her in the head and she bit him, making him scream. She kicked him back and grabbed her tazer, hitting him with it. He screamed and wet himself. "I don't think so." She looked around. "My bodyguard?" she called.

"In the hallway fighting with people," the bailiff noted after looking. "Can I, Miss DeCriths?" She handed him the tazer. "Thank you for the assistance."

"He was coming for me. Women have to be self rescuing these days." She grabbed her bag and a few things from it. "Your Honor, for obvious reasons I'm going to go somewhere safer."

"Go," he agreed with a hand wave. "We'll skype your testimony tomorrow, young lady."

"Yes, sir." She hurried off. She kicked one of the guys fighting with Clint in the knee then jammed her mini tazer into his neck. He screamed and went down. Clint got the other one. "We're skyping the rest of the testimony." He nodded, taking her outside. "Subway?" she suggested with a point.

"Too many people."

"For them too. Cabs are more dangerous and confining."

"Point. The rental car's probably boobytrapped too." He took her with him down into the subway and uptown then back to Bed-Stuy to his little apartment off-tower. He called in once they were safely in the train. "What was that?" he asked her, hovering over her. She handed over the mini tazer, making him smile. "Yours?"

"Bailiff. I left it in the guy's legs."

"Good idea."

"Chest armor."

"Good point." He looked it over then handed it back. "Anything more useful?"

She held up her wallet and phone. "And I grabbed the poisoned lipstick someone mailed me recently." She held it up with a grin. "I was going to give it to you later so you could figure out who to give it to."

"That's fun," he said, tucking it into his jacket pocket. They got off a few stops early and walked, Darcy looking at her feet. He looked at them. "Nice shoes," he said.

"Comfy enough but not for miles of walking. I can manage it."

"You sure?"

"Yup."

"Okay. I have bandaids for when it starts to bleed later."

"That I might need." He grinned at her. She grinned back. They headed into his apartment and he called an agent to gather their stuff from the hotel to bring to them. He went out to meet them somewhere and came back with their bags. Darcy took her laptop to look over, tossing over a small USB stick device that she didn't own.

Clint took it to run, shaking his head. "Natasha."

"That's nice of her."

"HYDRA upped your capture reward."

"Why?" She looked at him. "Why would they want me at all? We're not that close of friends. I'm not in the tower anymore. Most of you won't talk to me anyway. So why me? They can't hope to get the family money and probably don't need it."

"We've been trying to figure that out for months," Clint admitted. "Or why they kidnaped a few starlettes."

"Why would they?" she asked with a grimace.

"They're pretty, kind of curvy, and a lot more meek than you," he said.

She stared at him. "So I fit the need for something and they don't know many curvy brunettes?"

"Apparently not."

"There's tons of us."

"We don't know, Darcy. We're blind and confused."

"Has anyone interrogated?"

"Twice now. They don't know."

She considered it. "Is Bucky safe?" He looked confused. "They could be trying to take him back to the forties. Then curvy was in and meant healthy."

He considered it then nodded. "That could be but he's safe in Louisiana."

"He was in Chicago three weeks ago. I caught a side-view of him at something in the park. I didn't fully look because I didn't want to draw attention to him or me."

He sent that to Natasha. He waved his phone. "Natasha said she didn't realize that but was that a political rally?"

"Yeah. For some new up and comer who has ideas. I was listening to see what he was babbling about. We think he's an idiot against humanity but weren't sure because he says nothing when he talks."

"I've seen those," he said. "HYDRA?"

"Not that I've seen. He didn't proclaim it." She frowned, shrugging some. "He was very much all poor people are bad and going to kill us all for being wealthy."

"Those do suck on the level of stupid."

"They're the vacuum on the end of the stupid side of the line, sucking others closer."

He grinned. "Did you hear a presidential candidate mentioned you?"

"Yes, and I sent him a legal letter saying I did not want associated with him and I was against everything he stood for," she said blandly. "Then published it the next day." Clint laughed. "Eww, even if I didn't have taste, I have taste. He's the only guy I know who had to keep buying new models when he wore his out. They all age really fast, have you noticed?" He walked off laughing. Darcy relaxed, looking at her feet. They were red but not bleeding. She got into her social feed. "Hmm. Steve facebooked me to be careful today." Clint took her phone to read over as he walked off to make coffee. She smiled, pulling out a book. Clint could handle things and if he wanted her help he'd ask.

***

Darcy was on the roof that night, with Clint's permission to see if she drew anything to her. She turned at the sound of quiet footsteps, smiling at him. "Bucky. How are you?"

"Safer than you," he said, staring at her. "What are you doing?"

"Suing someone while avoiding a lot of problems."

"I heard."

She smirked a tiny bit. "I have no idea why they want me. The rest just think I think with the boobs instead of my brains."

"I knew guys like that," he admitted.

Clint walked over, bow over his shoulder. "Hey, Bucky, any idea why HYDRA wants pretty brunettes?"

"No. Not a clue," he admitted with a grimace. "No one has any idea and I've asked."

She patted his metal arm. "Thank you for trying to protect me from them." She looked at Clint then at Bucky. "I can let you guys talk."

"Nothing I can't say in front of you, Lewis."

"I don't work in the tower anymore, Bucky. I'm not privy to Avengers secrets." She stared at him. "So if I should go I can."

"You're good," Clint said. He looked at Bucky. "Any good news?"

"It's some higher up's plan but no one's sure and they're in the Belgian office." Bucky put his hands in his pockets. Darcy was staring at him. "What?"

"Belgium? HYDRA wanted chocolates?"

"Or diamonds," he said.

"That's The Netherlands," Darcy said. Bucky blinked a few times. "It is."

"It is," Clint agreed. He hit his emergency switch and pulled a knife but Bucky had already thrown something at him. Darcy had ducked out of the way and inside the building.

Bucky followed her once he had knocked Clint out. She wasn't in Clint's apartment. Or anywhere else he could track. He didn't find her phone so he could track her that way. Only she had changed her number or turned it off when he tried that. "Smart girl," he said. He walked out onto the street and into Stark in his suit waiting on him. "Awww. You're protecting her."

"No," Stark said. "Lewis is here?" Bucky glared and attacked. Stark fought back. From upstairs an arrow came down to embed in Bucky's lower back, making him scream as he fell down. "That's sweet, Hawkass," Stark called. "She with you?"

"No. She ran. She's smart that way."

Darcy looked out of the alley, waving some. "I'm still hiding because you're not the smarmy asshole you usually are." She ran off again.

"Lewis," he called. "It's safe."

"Sure it is," Natasha said as she got out of a car. She looked at Bucky then at Stark. "Barton?" she called. He came out of the building. "Track Lewis before she runs into a gang or something evil."

"Fine. Him?"

"Someone put something on him earlier and it's screwing with him. He managed to make it out of the tower while under guard." Clint nodded, heading off. "We should talk," she told them. Bucky went into the trunk with something to disable his arm. Stark's armor got opened and he got hauled into the back of the car while the armor was left there for Clint to handle. Or a SHIELD agent probably. She took them to a nice, neutral warehouse to talk to them.

Clint found Darcy in a tiny coffee shop. The owner waved at him and pointed. He walked in. "Lewis?"

"Pretty girl running like hell?"

"Yeah." He went to get her. "Hey," he called into the storage room. He looked behind the door first. It was stereotypical but dangerous. "Darcy?" No answer. "It's Clint, Darcy." He heard a muffled move and went that way. He found something he didn't want to see. Thor, a very mad Thor. "Put her down, Thor. Don't make me shoot you."

"She defamed my wife," he said.

"I didn't say a thing that wasn't true, Thor," she ground out. She could barely breathe. "I had to take Jane to the ER three times for alcohol poisoning." He roared and lifted her up. Clint stabbed him in the side and Darcy tumbled but managed to get back to her feet, holding her side. "If you had seen it, I didn't say a thing about Jane. I never do to protect her. Unlike her trashing me in the press for not wanting to be your servant." He glared at her. She stared back. "I'm done," she decided. "Fuck this shit." She hit Thor with her tazer then looked at Clint, who backed up with his hands up. "What the fuck is going on, Clint?"

"We have no idea, Darcy." She glared. "I swear, we don't."

"Uh-huh. Maybe I should go somewhere else to be safer. Let me go do that." She limped off.

"Want medical?" he called.

"No. I'm fine." She disappeared outside and headed off. She knew taking a cab was a danger but the cab driver didn't do more than give her funny looks. She paid and left, heading back home to hide. No one could find her apartment. It was inside a security conscious apartment complex that held sixteen buildings, of which three had apartments randomly spread throughout it mixed in with fake apartments. Hers was in one building and she knew she had another neighbor somewhere in the building but not where. She had made sure they had no ties to HYDRA or any other bad group. They may have a tie to the mob but otherwise nothing huge. She was safe there. She paused in the security office, staring at the head guard. "I had HYDRA show up for me," she said quietly. "Three times while I was in New York."

"Miss Lewis, do you need a medic?" he asked. "We have one on call."

She shook her head. "It's a sprained knee and a bruise on my chest right now. Just letting you know, Craig. We even had one that broke into the courtroom to kidnap me." Craig probably wasn't his name but it was on his shirt tag.

"Got it, ma'am. If you need us, let us know."

"I will. I'm going to hide and maybe cry a bit." She limped off to her building through the tunnels. She tossed out her fake phone in a recycling bin on her way. Her real one was in her apartment. It had no GPS chip. Craig's people had removed it for her when she had asked. The building wide wifi system was all shielded. It cost a ton to get in here but it was safer. She walked into her apartment, taking down her hair on her way to the bathroom. She looked at her phone and sent out an 'I'm fine and safe' message to her friends and left it there. If someone wanted to text or call, they'd have to wait until she had a bath. Maybe a good cry too. It was a good day for it.

When she got out she had three facebook messages saying she should be safe now, they had fixed their own problems. She sent back a 'thanks' and left it there. She was done. "Maybe I'll change my name again," she said. "It might be easier." She got dressed in something comforting and took some advil with some wine then sat down to watch tv. The whole complex got a huge cable package included in their purchase of their apartment and yearly fees. It was comforting at times.

***

Darcy looked up the next day as someone knocked on her door, frowning at it. She thought about not answering but it was probably someone on the security team. She turned the tv to the hall camera, wincing at who she saw. She got up and went to open the door, staring at Coulson. "No, I'm not helping with anything," she said, taking her bag. "Thank you for rescuing that for me." She tossed it onto her couch.

"Your laptop's in there," he said, staring at her from the hallway. "They rescued Barnes and fixed Stark last night."

"Steve sent me a facebook message." She stared at him. "How did you find me here? So I can warn them."

"We have two agents who live in this complex," he said dryly. He smiled at her. A real smile. "Nice job hiding, Lewis."

"Thank you. Are you HYDRA now too?"

"No." He walked in and shut the door, staring at her. "We still have no idea what the plot was. Barnes knew something about it, they were supposed to help him with something going on." She grimaced but made a hand-waving motion in the air. "The actresses were saved after being brainwashed."

"Were any of them any good?"

"Wouldn't you care if they weren't?" he asked.

"Usually. Today...." She grimaced. "I'm not really caring about much today to be honest. Right now I'm having to make plans."

"I hope the plans include more safety?" he asked.

"The plans are possibly hinging on me changing my name again and leaving the country."

He blinked a few times, sitting down on the couch. "I don't think that's necessary."

"No one thought HYDRA would break into the courtroom either."

"No, that was a feint to get you into somewhere more open."

She stared at him. "Good to know."

"You confused them a lot by hitting the subway."

"Cabs were even less safe and more confined."

"True. Uber would've taken too long." She nodded. "Your car?"

"I emailed the rental company about the death threat that broke into the courthouse and where the car was. Plus made sure to mention we couldn't use it in case they had it jury rigged somehow."

"They found it was rigged to stall after a few blocks so they could pick you two up."

"So they wanted me and Clint?"

"Clint was an added value target," he said. "Are you mad at him?"

"No. But I know I can't trust a single one of you."

He sighed. "I don't think that's going to happen, Darcy."

"I think it already has. Who told them I was with Clint?"

"We think Stark when he was controlled. What happened to your phone?"

"That was one I got out of a machine," she said. "I reformatted it and tossed it into a recycling bin. Expensive but practical."

"It was," he agreed. "Clint's idea?" She shook her head. "Oh. That's good."

"I did learn hard about paranoia," she said blandly. "You all made sure of it."

He nodded. "We tried to keep you safe."

"And you usually did. But I still learned by watching. And last night I learned not to trust anyone I used to know since Thor attacked me."

"Clint said that. Are you all right?"

"Bruises. No offense but I'm not flashing them at you since they're on my chest."

"I don't need to see," he promised. He stood up. "Someone had a talk with the judge about being HYDRA related. The head judge of the district had a talk with him about his condescending problems towards women." She smiled but shrugged slightly. "I don't think he'll need to call you back."

"I have that number forwarded to mine through an answering service so they can text or call if they need me."

"Good. Smart girl." She barked. He smiled a tiny bit. "Also appropriate. Are you safe here?"

"I'd hope so. They'd all hope so."

"Point. I'll let you recover and rest. When you're ready to go back to work, your boss knows that you'll be safe. It was covered on the news out there because of the fight." She winced. "Oh, Clint sent your heels back as well." He pointed at the bag. "Be safe, Darcy."

She nodded. "I'm trying. Just make them leave me alone."

"If I can." He left, going back to his people. He didn't like how defeated she seemed, she was usually more spunky, but he'd be upset after a few attacks that way as well he supposed. Hopefully this was mostly done with so she could go back to being a normal person again. His team had new information for him and he took it to the Tower. He walked into the meeting room. "People."

"Is she all right?" Natasha demanded.

"Yes. Paranoid but fine. She wanted to make sure HYDRA wouldn't come near her again." He sat down. "We have some information." He let them see it.

"This plan using Barnes?" Clint asked from his seat in the corner watching the doorway.

"Ended we hope," Coulson said. "What happened with Thor?"

"He decided she dishonored Jane," Clint said. "He had her in a bear hug when I found them and nearly threw her down like a football until I stabbed him. He dropped her but she rolled mostly effectively."

"She's bruised but she insists she's fine."

Natasha handed on the information to Steve. "Where is she?"

"Chicago. Her very safe speciality apartment."

"It's safer than here?" she asked.

"That one complex?" Clint asked. Coulson nodded. "Yeah, that's pretty safe and they do test for HYDRA." Natasha looked at him. "Where Berrings lives."

"Oh, there. That sounds nicely safe," she agreed quietly. Steve was staring at her. "Specialty apartment for spies and the like."

"Interesting." He handed on the information. "What do we do about this?"

"We stop the stupid as she put it," Coulson said. "Hopefully very hard and very soon. Is Barnes in any shape to figure out what they wanted?"

"He's been doing that from the infirmary all night," Steve said. "He's still not sure why her."

"She thought it might have something to do with you two's original time frame," Clint said.

"She could pass with some hair styling," Steve admitted, considering it. "The other actresses?"

"About the same style of woman," Natasha said. "Probably couldn't handle themselves. Darcy is known to have some street smarts and abilities to defend herself."

Coulson smirked a tiny bit. "She found out that senator was HYDRA related too. They're the ones that sent him after her to avenge his son."

Steve groaned. "They've wanted her for a while then."

"Yes. We don't know why."

"I can ask Bucky," Steve said quietly. "Maybe he knows." He looked at Natasha. "Did you catch anything?"

"Not a thing about her. None of them knew anything but they wanted her. Can we get her to stay inside for a few days?" Natasha asked. "So we have time to clean it up?"

"That could take months," Steve said. "She's working."

"She can do a lot of it at home," Coulson said. "I talked to her boss about what happened. She was panicking because of the news broadcast. I told her Darcy was fine, just bruised and sulking some."

"Sulking?" Natasha demanded.

"Thor," he reminded her. She grimaced but shut up. "She was considering changing her name again and leaving the US to get away from all this."

Clint nodded. "It's something that the college student Darcy would've done," he agreed. "Not this Darcy."

"It's possible it's smarter," Steve said.

"Most of the places that aid workers go are horrible," Natasha told him. "War zones and having droughts. Places that aren't always safe for women even if they're from there."

"That's not a good idea then," Steve agreed. "Can we stop all this wanting her?"

"I don't know," Coulson said. "She's proved she's not the usual target to sit down and cry."

"I can see that," Steve agreed. "Which makes her a more exciting target. They have to realize that Natasha didn't teach her anything though." Natasha glared at him. "You didn't. None of us worked on her hand-to-hand. We just made sure they didn't go out if it was too much risk that day."

"She didn't ask."

"I wouldn't ask you either," Clint said. "You were kind of a bitch to her, Nat." He looked at Steve. "She hasn't had a lot of teaching but after that campus attack she took some with the dorm's girls. The local PD and the campus sent in people to teach them how to protect themselves just in case because they didn't want to see that again either."

Natasha looked at him. "What?"

"There were frat boys who decided to do a raid and attack on a dorm," Clint told her. "Darcy was the RA on one of the floors due to lack of housing in the area."

"Oh." She nodded. "The time she was bruised." Clint nodded. "Then it's good they learned how to protect themselves."

"The campus was all about the women being protected," Coulson said. "They had to have a long protest against the teacher who thought women were there to be protected like children because otherwise men couldn't be men." She shook her head with a groan. "Darcy helped lead that."

"Of course she did. Women should be respected," Steve said. Stark stomped in. "Are you better?"

"Fully cleared," he said. He sat down, glaring at Coulson. "Why do they want her?"

"We don't know," he said. "There's a thought that the women they were kidnaping could have passed for Bucky's original time."

Stark paused. "Yeah, she could." Steve nodded. "Is she safe?"

"At home," he agreed.

"In New York?"

"Chicago," Clint said. "She's working with a charity in Chicago."

Stark snorted, shaking his head. "It's not safe there."

"She's got an extremely safe apartment," Coulson told him. "It's very hard to find; you can't get their records even with a warrant."

"There's former SHIELD agents who live there," Clint said. "Very paranoid ones."

"Good to know," Stark said. "Do we have that sort of thing here?"

"No," Natasha said. "Not that we've seen."

"So how do we help her?" Stark asked.

"We stop the HYDRA plans," Steve said. He handed over the information they had. Stark read it over, grimacing. "We don't know what their end game is."

"So it's safer for her there," Stark agreed. "For now."

"I doubt she'll want to come back," Clint said. "Last night she was looking at us like we all betrayed her." Stark grimaced. "You, Thor, Barnes. Hell, she looked at me like I was part of it before limping off."

"She's bruised," Coulson agreed. "Her leg had one. She was wearing shorts. She mentioned her chest too."

"Thor can do that to many people," Natasha said quietly. "Can we get her someone to watch over her?"

"No," Coulson said. "We can't insert someone into the charity she works with to watch over her. She'd know."

Scott walked in reading something. He handed it to Steve. "From the group's email. The judge found in her favor and sent the investment guy to jail." He looked at Coulson. "Can I help? Almost no one knows me. I've barely heard of Lewis but it sucks that some young woman is in danger."

"She's twenty-six," Stark said. "Not a college kid." He looked up. "She's tougher than she looks, Scott. She always was. She gets it from her mom."

"You knew her mother?" Coulson asked.

"Yeah. Her mother was my godmother. My mom was hers." Coulson winced. "I didn't realize it until the day she quit and told me but yeah, I knew her as we grew up. She's younger of course but I looked out for her sometimes. Her parents ran in the same social circles I used to when I wasn't partying for fun. Her mother was the backbone of steel when she wanted to be. After my parents' funeral she pulled me aside and warned me not to do something stupid to follow them. That my father would kick my ass and then hand me to my mother to finish off. Damn, that was the about three years before she went into the hospital the first time."

"So Darcy's got the same steel will," Scott said. "That's helpful. It means she'll protect herself instead of sitting down to cry."

"She'll do that later," Clint said.

"Most people do," Scott agreed. "Especially if it's too bad."

"The night after the attack in London she and Jane just got drunk," Coulson said. "Then Jane went home slightly sober with Darcy and wasn't seen for two days."

"With the way Jane doesn't eat, alcohol poisoning is very common," Stark said.

"That's what she said on the stand that made Thor mad," Clint told him.

"Great. Though we've all seen her do it."

Clint frowned, looking at Coulson. "What happened in New Mexico that nearly killed Jane?"

"Some sort of desert parasite was eating her from the inside out," he said. "We checked before going out there to handle that situation." He looked at Scott. "That's when Thor landed."

"Interesting. Was she on SHIELD's radar before then?"

"No. Not in the least. We had no idea who she was when we went out. The background check missed the name change since it wasn't legally done. We had no idea about anything until the day she quit. She wasn't actively hiding it but she never said anything so we didn't note it."

Clint grinned. "That's helpful though."

"Not really," Coulson said. "It could be dangerous for her now."

"The more we know about her, the more HYDRA seems to want her," Steve said.

"She said they can't want her family's fortune," Clint said. "They have plenty of money. I didn't think it was Stark level of money."

Stark shook his head. "Not fully. About a third of what I'm worth. Now, her uncle's estate might be a bit weird." Coulson frowned. "His last ex-wife hired some thugs to kill him. Darcy kicked her ass and his first ex-wife made her want to commit suicide but she only shot herself in the stomach. The detective's report and the ME's report both state that they don't want to run into Darcy being mad again and hope that they never have another relative of hers. We have no idea what his will's going to state. That could raise her up more." He shifted to lean back. "She's high enough up that I'm shocked she hasn't had any male gold diggers show up."

"She's dated a few times," Clint said. "She can see through those sort."

"Good. Sometimes they hide it better but good."

Steve shook his head. "I don't remember anyone being like that before."

"Remember all those bimbos that hung on my dad?" Stark asked sarcastically. "It'd be marrying one of those only male."

"Oh, them. Gold digger is their present name instead of bimbo or a loose dame?"

"Bimbo was around that long?" Scott asked, smiling at him.

"Yeah, started out as a really dumb guy but then when I was a kid it turned into a blonde dame who had curves but was kinda dumb when I was a little kid."

"Bimbos who wanted wallets," Stark said. "Same thing as a gold digger. Meaning they'd dig the gold out of the old guy's teeth when they're sleeping with him for his wallet."

"There's been women like that all the time," Steve agreed. "Guys too. Pretty, rich women always had to be extra careful of their reputation."

"Yeah, now the reputation is easier," Clint said. "Darcy at least hasn't been on anything like TMZ for doing slutty stuff."

"She doesn't wear loose outfits," Steve said. "Usually you can't see a thing of cleavage, just the shape of her body."

"Women's clothing isn't built for women with her chest size," Natasha said. "It'd usually show more than it would on other women." She looked at Coulson. Clint coughed so she glared at him. "What?"

"She compared you to her stepmother a few times," he said dryly. "Something about how women were really predators and couldn't be decent to each other."

"She wasn't like us."

"So you couldn't be polite?" he asked, staring at her. "I could be polite and I have less manners than you."

She scowled. "I did try to keep it to myself and be polite to her. If I had known she spoke some Russian I would have kept it farther from her."

"If she had been the gold digger you accused her of being, many times," Clint said. "Don't you think we would've seen cleavage a lot more often than her scarves and beanies? I started to worry she had a body issue thing going on with how covered she usually was. Then she started to pat people and didn't mind it back so I figured it wasn't trauma induced."

She huffed. She looked at Coulson again. "I was indelicate," she said at his curious look. "But I said it in Russian. Apparently her school had everyone take some to satisfy the headmistress."

"Who ended up marrying some Russian diver she rescued," Stark quipped.

Coulson looked that up, frowning at it. "She did. They still teach Russian in honor of her. She died a few years back. Interesting." He closed that tab. "I've been hoping she'd go into politics so we could have an ally."

Steve stared at him. "Being in the public like that sucks. They report on everything you do."

"Which was her reservation," Coulson said.

"Shouldn't you ask her about it?" Scott asked. "It's her life."

"I only suggested it and she gave me reasons why she hated that idea," Coulson told him. "You can't force someone into politics against their will."

"Her mother thought that politicians were worse than Satan," Stark said. "They all succumbed to power and politics eventually."

"Not like they'd listen to most women anyway," Steve said. "The ones they have there they don't listen to now."

"Good point," Coulson agreed. "If one of you wants to run for office, let us know first please?" They all scowled at him. He smirked back. "It could help."

"No thanks," Stark said dryly. "I'd never get it."

"You'd get the bimbo vote," Clint quipped.

"They don't vote," Steve said. "They're too busy doing their nails." Clint laughed but nodded. "So how do we handle this?"

"We talk to Barnes," Coulson said. "See if he can confirm anything in our theory. Maybe it'll shake something loose. I have agents keeping track of her online presence and work to make sure she's not attacked there."

Steve texted someone from his phone. Barnes walked in. "We have a few theories about why they want Darcy."

Bucky sat down, taking the information to look over. "Is she safe?" he asked Coulson, staring at him.

"Outside of maybe at work," he said. "She's already ordered a new tazer."

"Good. Though I'd feel better if she had a gun."

"I'm not sure if she knows how to shoot," Coulson said. Clint nodded. "She any good with it?"

"We made sure," Clint said. Steve nodded once.

"Good," Barnes said. He handed back the sheets. "What theory do we have?"

"They think they're kidnaping women who'd remind you of the old days," Steve told him.

Bucky frowned. "I don't know why they would but she could pass."

"Is there some sort of event that could require that?" Natasha asked.

"Not that I'm aware of," Coulson said, looking at Stark. He looked it up, shaking his head. "Nothing social?"

"No, nothing social anywhere that the press has heard. So I'm going to guess a wacky plan. Bucky's older than they probably want. Injured repeatedly. If they have him brainwashed again, they could probably brainwash someone to be his wife sort."

"Which would give them kids that they'd train with me," Bucky said quietly. Stark nodded. "That makes sense. It'd work with the original memories too. They'd only have to compress the later ones so probably easier." He looked at Steve. Who patted him on the arm.

"They might also bring in some orphans that Darcy would inherit," Natasha said. "Some supposed cousin's child."

"Because that happened," Steve agreed. "That's going to suck."

"Maybe the actresses weren't fertile?" Stark asked, staring at Coulson.

"That wasn't noted anywhere but I'd expect any woman to be on birth control these days." He typed out a message. "The after incident medical records don't note anything except one was complaining about her IUD not being there afterwards. So maybe. When they had you do you remember them introducing anyone to you?" he asked Barnes.

"No." He frowned. "Not that I'm aware of."

"Could be that you rejected the others," Steve said. "Noticed something about them that said it was wrong." Coulson pulled up their pictures, sliding his tablet down. "They're all too skinny," Steve said. "Healthy girls had some weight but not a lot. They had real curves. All these are skinny girls with fake breasts."

Barnes looked, frowning and pointing. "I remember seeing her but not where."

"We saw her last movie a few days before you got taken," Steve said.

"Oh, okay." He shook his head quickly. "They are kind of skinny for forties women. Jane Mansfield they're not."

"Which is something that drew your attention," Coulson said. He pulled up a picture of Darcy in a fifties style dress for something. "What about that?"

"Dress is a bit puffy but she's the sort of dame I'd ask to dance."

"I'd have danced with her too," Steve agreed. "Then she'd smile at you and you'd be hooked." He noticed Clint grinning at him. "She reminds me something of my mother too."

Barnes looked at him. "Not physically."

"No, but her manner. She takes care of those she likes. She bakes. She cooks, she talks to what she's cooking."

"True, your mom was like that. She was definitely a womanly woman." He nearly jumped when he heard a kid screaming. "What's that?"

"Jane's daughter with Thor," Stark sighed. "FRIDAY?" he called. "Is the baby in trouble?"

"Walking, sir," the AI reported. "Ran into the elevator door. She's frustrated."

"Can you herd her back toward her mother?"

"She didn't know how to teach her things. She said she gets on better with older children," the AI reported. "Her nanny hasn't shown up today."

"That's because her nanny's under arrest for drugging her," Coulson said. "If Thor's here can you herd the baby his way?"

"He's in the gym," the AI said after a pause. "I've let her onto the elevator and selected the right floor so she could toddle that way." Another pause. "She squealed at the mirrors and is in the wrong room. Let me tell Lord Thor where she is." Downstairs she cleared her virtual throat in the gym. "Lord Thor, your daughter is in the other gym playing with the mirrors." He quit working out and went to find her.

Upstairs Stark smiled. "Hopefully that'll keep getting better."

"Definitely," Natasha agreed. "I'm worried about the child's safety around here. We do get attacked regularly and she's never somewhere safe."

"She's got to get a new nanny," Stark said. "I'll have Pepper look up bonded nanny agencies again." He sent that message to her. "Maybe the Asgardian one will be here soon."

"Maybe," Coulson agreed. "Maybe a former agent?"

"If we could be sure of them, that's not a bad idea," Natasha agreed. "Would she allow it?" They all heard a door slam and Jane or someone stomping off. "Hopefully she would."

"I'd think she would," Stark said. "I have no idea what's wrong with her."

"Some people are not meant to be mothers," Scott said firmly. "Or dads."

"Sing it, brother," Stark quipped. "I'm one of those."

Coulson looked at him. "What about the Stark legacies? You don't have any cousins to take over."

He grimaced. "Don't remind me, Coulson. Really. I might have to leave it to Lewis or someone."

"Her will leaves things to Steve or a few others to take over for her," Clint said from his corner.

Steve looked at him. "Why would she?"

"Because you'd follow her charity work," Clint said. "And she'd trust you not to misuse it to hurt people."

"Oh."

"There's some others on the list too."

"That's weird," Steve decided. "Maybe she'll have a kid some day." He looked up the hall at the sound of crying. "What now?"

Stark listened. "One of the interns. I'm in here," he called. "What's happened!" Sometimes they were more fussy and whiny than the actual kid. The intern came walking in with someone else, handing her over. "She okay? I didn't hear an explosion."

"No, her experiment nearly exploded in her face so I canceled it on her," the intern, who Darcy had saved once, told him. "She's frustrated but we didn't want blown up today." He walked off.

Stark looked at her. "We'll talk about it in a minute. Take ten minutes until I'm done." She huffed off. "I'm really happy with him. I'm damn glad Darcy wrote me about him and saved him."

Coulson looked at him. "She did?"

"He did something screwy that sent his mind into a computer so he was in shock and called the suicide hotline. She got him talked down the day I went to recruit him."

"Huh." He nodded. "That makes sense. I can see her doing that."

"She said she had the experience a lot of the kids didn't so she was helping," Clint told him. "She and I have been writing for years. Now that no one's taking my mail from me I get cookies too."

Coulson hid his smile. "It's good you're still friends, Clint. You could both use more friends."

"She has many," Natasha said.

"In the life, you make acquaintances," Stark said. "Not friends. Friends are dangerous, just like they are for you, and mostly for the same reasons. They could use you or turn on you in a minute to get what they want to get done. It's why she didn't use her actual name to get a job. And why she refused to come to that charity award event I threw."

"That would've caused some drama," she admitted. She looked at Coulson. "What's my part in this problem?"

"Help us find their base," Clint said. "The one near her last college is shut down."

"We got it a few weeks after I visited to try to talk her into politics," Coulson said.

"Last night Barnes mentioned Belgium and diamonds but she corrected him that it's the Netherlands, not Belgium," Clint said. "That's when he attacked."

Bucky frowned. "I did?" He nodded. "Huh."

"We can look that way," Natasha said. "Let me start that." She went upstairs to start looking that up.

Clint nodded. "We'll figure it out but send me to help her. She'll still trust me."

Coulson nodded. "I can make that plan. Stark?"

"I'll help by looking but why diamonds?"

"It's what you buy your dame," Bucky said. "Your claiming mark."

"That makes that theory more likely," Coulson decided. "I'll warn her." He looked at Barnes. "Can you warn Steve if you get the urge to go see her?"

"Yeah, I can."

"Thank you. Let me go brief others." He left, calling Darcy on the way. "It's Coulson," he said. "We have an idea. Are you at work?" She quipped something and went to the bathroom to talk to him. "We think that the present plan was that you'd fit the forty's woman stereotype so they were trying to trick Bucky into thinking that whoever was his wife and bearing him kids." She quipped something. "Be serious." She said something.

"I hadn't known that. Would that matter?" He nodded once. "That's good to know. Yes, then they'd have people to train in the future. Please do be extra careful going to and from work. It's the least secure place you can be." She said something. "Good. Let me know if you get any hints of them." She told him where the local HYDRA people were in Chicago. He made notes. "I'll have them looked into. Be safe please." He hung up and sent that to Natasha and Stark then to his own people to look up.

***

Darcy's boss Shelly leaned out of her office when she heard the office door open, smiling at the nice looking young man there. "Can we help you?" she asked. It had been a quiet week since Darcy had come back to work so she hoped this wasn't a problem in the making.

"Hi, I'm Scott, your unpaid intern for the next four weeks, ma'am." He smiled.

She blinked. "I've heard nothing about that."

He grinned. "The college said they arranged it."

"Did they talk to Darcy, my assistant, about it?"

"They didn't tell me. I can call if you want me to. Is this a bad time to show up?"

"No, not really. Today's just a day of scheduling things. My assistant's at a meeting for me right now to arrange for another group to join ours for tutoring. Are you interested in working with children?"

"I'm more interested in working with post-offenders who want to go straight and are having problems. There's a lot of obstacles in their way. Including education usually."

"There are," she agreed. "And to be honest, with the current political climate, some of our kids will some day be some of yours."

"It's always a great thing if we can stop that from happening." He smiled at the pretty brunette coming in muttering at her coffee cup. "Afternoon, ma'am."

She paused, staring at him. "Do I know you?" she asked. She could've sworn she's seen pictures of this guy somewhere.

"Darcy!" Shelly complained. "He's an unpaid intern."

"That's cool. Unpaid is often a lot of fun in the end. I did that for a few years." She shook his hand. "I'm Darcy."

"Darcy, why were you muttering?" Shelly asked, looking worried.

"Marjorie said that poor kids don't matter as much as her orphans and they should all go to juvie anyway. Apparently some of her kids got jumped by some future gang members and she's against doing anything with them. I pointed out half of our kids were just as parentless as hers even if one was physically present on occasion, and that by discriminating that way she was forcing the kids into a tougher life, which they'd take out on other kids who had it just as bad but were happier. She's sobbing now that she was pushing the bad kids to attack her kids."

Darcy sighed. "Helena agreed with her but said it's good we're trying to stop them. She'd like to help us stop them, but we really had to focus on bullying problems. I told her that we were focusing on teaching them to read first. She got all huffy that her pet project isn't being covered." Shelly moaned, shaking her head. "Helena also quipped I must have PMS because my tact was missing. I noted her tact had never been inserted and was she pregnant because she was having mood swings.

"She called me a wanna-be do gooder with a trust fund. I pointed out I worked for my paycheck, unlike her. Who is living off her husband the senator. And that her husband's been known to father a few of the kids we work with. It was in the press. So she's crying that I don't appreciate her attempts to help even though she just can't understand why these parents can't get their lives together like normal people. So I laid down a lecture on her about the differences between her, who grew up richy rich, me, who grew up in a practical household that didn't worry about money, and the kids we all worked with.

"Marjorie agreed with my points but called me huffy and suggested I go find myself a nice man to help me do things. I snarled and reminded her *real* women don't need a man to make them feel better. It's great when you find one but it's getting damn hard to find a real man with real values these days and some of us don't like players like her fourth husband used to be. So Majorie's pissed I blew shade toward her pookie boo. Helena's mad that I pointed out she's the real trust fund brat trying to atone for being born rich.

"Then Sean got there late, saw the tear tracks and blamed me until I told him why. Then he sided with me and suggested those ladies both should have their husbands fix their mental problems instead of a new therapist and could we please work with the group that put therapists into schools. I told him to write me a paragraph about how, where, who was doing it, all that stuff because I'd only heard of it but never looked into it and I'd bring it to you tomorrow." She smiled. "So they're off getting their bad moods solved like the damsels they are and I got told to go find a dildo since I can't find a man to cure it for me.

"Sean laughed but said I had great taste since I didn't fall for most guy's immature BS. I told him I'd be happy to find anyone that was at least slightly decent but apparently I was hunting in the wrong places. I had better luck when I was out partying. He agreed, guys liked girls like that and when we grew up they were scared we were smarter. I pinched his little gay cheek and kissed him on the forehead then told him I'd be baking tonight if he wanted to steal a few cookies when he brought that paper to me." She dropped things onto her desk.

"Is the alliance ruined?"

"No, the Empire still stands," Darcy said dryly, staring at her. "The Storm Troopers are still wandering around the city shooting people for being not like them and the Emperor is still an asshole to everyone who can't use the Force." Scott burst out laughing.

Shelly sighed, walking back into her office. "Show Scott how things are done and write apologies to them, Darcy. We need their help."

"I know. I suggested they actually come meet some of the kids we tutor to see what they actually needed since one of them wanted to hand the kids pastries." Shelly moaned, thumping her head into her wall. "Yeah. I invited them to come help me tutor tomorrow night." She smiled at Scott. "Sorry but it's drama llama day today in Chicago." She held out a hand. "Darcy Lewis."

"Scott Lang." Her eyes widened and he winked. "So, paperwork I suppose?"

"Much paperwork as an employee and other things to teach you." She pointed at a free chair. "Pull it over so we can get to that." He did that, letting her pull out paperwork. He even had his own pen. "Smart move. Shelly has to buy the cheap pens," she quipped with a grin. "So, who referred you here?"

"The college did. One of the people in the office had seen you in your masters program."

"Really? Was it Phil?"

"No. He agreed I'd do great learning here but he's busy."

"That figures. He's a busy guy." She stared at him. "Did you find a rooming spot?"

"Yeah, I'm in a residence motel. It's pretty safe and I've got portable alarms."

"That's wise in some neighborhoods. We're practical people here, Scott. Life sucks in a large part of Chicago for many of the residents."

"It does that in most cities. New York wasn't much different."

"So how's people?" she asked with a smile.

"Worried, fussy, Stark," he muttered. She laughed but nodded at that. They went over the paperwork and she got him set up to help her tutor the next night. He even scared off a mugger.

Shelly huffed. "Darcy, our fire escape masturbator is back. Can you come be scary? He just gave me a look like I'd be fun."

Scott stood up, walking out there to stare at the guy. "Do you mind? These women have important work to do and don't need the visual from someone who clearly needs a bath. Don't make me shiv you." He smiled slightly. The man out there shuddered and climbed back up there. "Have a better day and I'd suggest you get that rash looked at, sir. It looks unhealthy." He carefully put the window down and smiled at her. "Sometimes guys like that only listen to men. Because they know they're faulty and real women make them scared because their mother couldn't fix them." He went back to Darcy's desk since Shelly was smiling at him.

***
Part 3 by voracity
Scott came back four weeks later, after another few HYDRA bases had been exploded the hard way so it was probably safer for Darcy. He flopped down, undoing his button up shirt's collar by two buttons, showing he had a t-shirt underneath. He dug two envelopes out of his messenger bag, tossing them at Clint as he walked past. "You didn't mention she drew weird people."

"Usually it's weird people like us," Clint quipped. "No cookies?"

"She's got a broken wrist." Clint glared at him. He stared back. "Two of the kids she tutors were fighting when we walked in and one of them tripped over the new baby one of the girls had. Darcy moved to save the kid. One of the boys sneered at her and hit her so Darcy backhanded him with her free hand, then punched him. He moved so she hit the cabinet but she kicked him instead while holding the kid. The mother took the baby to the other side of the room.

Darcy was holding her wrist and lecturing the little idiot until I walked in and got her to an ER then came back to tell them where they were heading and how much fun prison really is." He grinned. "They're not going to do it again. Especially since Darcy *vowed* she was going to go capture a few street rats and insert them like a suppository."

Clint walked off giggling, shaking his head. "She'll be able to bake in a few more weeks," Scott called after him. He tipped his head back, rolling it around to loosen up his neck muscles. He tossed a small envelope at Stark, letting him not catch it but pick it up off the chair he was behind. "Plea for grants from your charity arm. A new one being set up to help get gifted kids out of the sewer system of that public school hole."

"Doesn't Chicago have one?"

"Yes and no. It has one. They're not exactly fair about who gets in. They have a large gap in their racial makeup. The principal in charge sneered that anyone other than white upper class boys and asian boys were worthy. There's a promising startup magnet school."

"I can look at that. Geniuses need supported at that age. Otherwise they lose their spark and then they get bored and into trouble." He walked off reading it. "She good?"

"If I was looking, I'd date that girl." Stark grinned at him. "She's like a womanly woman. She bakes. She cooks. She kicked an ass when the kids made her. She stopped a mugger with a high heel. Then she fussed over the rip in her pantyhose and her nails." Stark grinned and nodded. "Her boss didn't seem to know who I was but I'm pretty sure Shelly's so wound up that she goes home to cry each night because they can't do enough. Darcy had a few of those days and baked brownies and kicked a wall then swore at a few less than innocent civilians who were annoying her."

"She fussed over Jane for years, making sure she ate and all that."

"I asked. She told me the basics of being an unpaid intern. She's a super nice lady."

"She is. I wish she was closer so we could protect her since we're apparently the reason she's in danger." He walked off again once he had coffee. "Thanks for doing that, Scott."

"Not a problem." He got comfortable. It had been a long month of hard truths he hated to see going on but hopefully he had helped some too.

***

A few weeks into the new funding year Darcy was wearing herself out. But she was doing it with online shopping. Well, virtual shopping to see what she wanted to look at. The job had obligations that she hated. "Hey, Shelly?" she called. "What will I need for the upcoming year in the way of nicer clothes that I'll hate?"

"Three gowns, one demure, one tasteless, and one oh my god look at me." She came to her doorway. "Better suits for meetings. We have to justify that grant in DC." Darcy nodded, making notes. "Make the dresses tasteful enough that it doesn't look prom-y but won't go out of style. Unlike stars, we can rewear ours." Darcy grinned at her. "Do you have any at home?"

"I haven't worn a formal gown since my prom," she admitted. "And I borrowed for that. My coming out dress was pretty but I doubt I fit into it anymore." She loaded a picture and let it be enlarged by hovering the mouse over it. "That sort of dress?"

"A bit prom-y and twinkly but you won't look like a showgirl and you can pull off the sequins." She patted her on the shoulder. "Go shopping this weekend."

"I had plans on going back to LA for that," she agreed.

"We do have designer places here in the city," she said with an evil smirk. "Not that they'll fit you without a lot of alterations."

"I know," Darcy said, looking at her chest then up at her boss. "Oh I know." Shelly walked off giggling. "But I have a friend who works in a good shop out in LA so she can help me pick out stuff. That way I don't go overboard." She sent a message to her phone about the shopping budget she needed to pull out of the bank and shut that window. It was no use looking now. She couldn't buy things online without trying them on. That's how you ended up looking terrible in designer clothes.

***

Darcy walked into the shop out there. "Lara," she sighed in pleasure, taking off her sunglasses to stuff into her purse. "Oh thank you god you're here, girl."

"Oh, Darcy, it's been ages!" she squealed, coming around to hug her. "What are you doing, lady?"

"Working for a children's charity in Chicago." She smiled. "I love the work but want to smack a few people who think kids are unimportant once they're born." Lara laughed. "Major shopping dilemma. I pulled out six grand. I need three gowns, I need business stuff." Lara winced. "You know my style, it hasn't really changed. I need a demure gown. I need a flashy gown that's kinda tacky according to my boss. It'll bring in donations and it's for a bachelorette auction so make it hard to get into? And I need a totally 'I'm the goddess, look at this body' dress." She stared at her hopefully.

"Can your budget go up?"

"You know I'm not going to fit into anything too designer. I have breasts. They don't like those and even Oscar doesn't make it anymore."

"Oh, I know," she sighed. "It's such a shame too. At least yours are natural." Darcy nodded with a grimace. "C'mon, let's go see what we can do. What's your official work wardrobe?"

"I have a few pants suits, a business sort of suit, a few pencil skirts. I need to testify in it at one point but look like the bitch my mother could pull up when I got into trouble with boys."

"I remember the one time you played doctor. Your mother nearly killed us all and then you quipped about at least you weren't smoking." Darcy grinned at her. "It's good to see you. Where have you been!"

"Believe it or not, a science intern for a few years after Culver. London. New York. Now I'm in Chicago."

"Sounds exciting."

"I can't even tell you parts of it, Lara," she said with a smile.

"Oooh." She smiled.

"Oh, so different." She flapped a hand. "What's that bandage dress?" She pointed. It was red but short sleeves, had rouching to emphasize the breasts, and it came to the knees it looked like. "That's different. Any color other than red?"

"No. But you'd look hot in it. Your body can carry it off." She looked her over. "No kids?"

"Not even a man," Darcy complained. "My last date was lame and a stalker."

"Again?"

"Yes!" She blew up at her bangs and pushed her hair back over her shoulder. "So stupid but it was a setup."

"Pity."

"Yup. I haven't found many good men since I got back to the US. I found a few in London but not anyone who'd be willing to come back with me or who'd I be able to put up with for years."

"Finding a forever husband is hard. Look how many only found a five-year plan spouse. I've had two of those and a one-year plan one." Darcy patted her on the shoulder. "But my daughter's kick ass."

"I saw her recital on facebook. She looked nice. Her teacher looked pissed though."

"Her dance teacher thinks she's fat."

"No, she's got a healthy shape and that shit's horrible to women."

"I told her that." They shared a grin and went to look at the dresses. The bandage dress got pulled out. A pretty dress that was dark blue but had a fifties-style tailoring came out, with one next to it that looked about the same but had long sleeves instead of tank straps to the deep 'v' cut of the neckline. The long sleeves one had a straight neckline at her collar bone. There were a few lace ones that got pulled out too. Darcy took them to try on while Lara looked over the gown selection they had. A few got pulled out for her.

Lara looked and nodded at everything because Darcy looked good. One new business suit had a lace dress under the more tuxedo looking jacket. "You can wear that over a few of the other dresses too. Or we have a few other jackets that can be mix and matched." They looked those over and Darcy picked out two, one in navy and one in dark gray to go with the black, red, and blue dresses they had picked out. They were a bit flirty but solidly capable as office dresses.

Then came the real problem, the gowns. She had ones with illusion necklines, ones with sleeves and without. She looked them over. There were fifteen to try on. Darcy sighed, moaning a bit. "Let's break this into the three categories. Here, have the demure ones." She handed over the few dresses. "We're definitely not blowing the budget here, Darcy. The short ones are all under one-fifty each and the longer ones are all under two hundred. It's the benefits of not going designer. Off the rack is cheaper."

"Wow, I can afford the expensive shoes," she quipped. She took in a few of them. One was stunning. It was white but had black line inserts from the strapless square neckline to the hem that mimicked an hourglass figure. The neckline had a small triangle of sparkly material to cover it up. "This is nice. I look smokin'." She considered it. "Maybe?"

"Maybe," Lara agreed, putting that in that pile. "Try on the red one."

"The red one?" She looked but nodded, going to try that one on. It was a trumpet style, had an illusion neckline at her collarbone but the dress started just above her cleavage. It was a lace gown but it had three-quarters sleeves and it looked nice on her figure. The lace sticking up in spires into the illusion clear lace was pretty. She came out adjusting it. "Bit tight."

"Bit too demure and maybe in five years," Lara said. "Or later, when you're thirty-five."

"Yeah, I think so too," Darcy said, going to take it off. "I see old hollywood."

"It does look like one the old screen goddesses would wear," she agreed. "That's why I pulled it. Very Liz Taylor."

Darcy came out in the gunmetal silver dress. It had off the shoulder long short sleeves and a ruched bodice that folded into a small belt for emphasis and then into an a-line skirt that flowed around her. She looked at herself, nodding some. "I look nice but really uptight."

"You do," Lara agreed. "But you wanted demure."

"I doubt it would keep the leeches who donate off me."

"No, probably not. Let's maybe it."

"Yeah, we can do that." She went to take it off and handed it out.

The next one was a simple jersey dress in navy blue that fit the trumpet style but had a mid-thigh split and a sweetheart neckline with sparkly shoulder straps. She came out adjusting it. "I don't think this could be called demure. Classic, but not demure." She turned to look at herself. "Wow, I'm falling out of this."

"I'll try to find you one that's like that and a bit more demure." She went to do that. "Even in navy," she said, handing it over. "Bit higher neckline and the slit's still about the same place, maybe a bit lower." Darcy went to try that one and came back. Lara looked. "Still a bit flashy but not 'oh my god look at me' flashy. You needed something slightly trashy so that may work."

"Maybe," Darcy agreed. "It is pretty timeless. It needs to fit me a bit better but we can put it into the maybe pile for showy." She took that off and went to put on the next one. "I think this goes in the same category." She came out in a dress that was mid-thigh but had a lace overlay over it. The underdress was white and the lace was clear with blue lace appliques all down the overlay skirt. The top of the lace overdress was more covered, almost completely with hints of the white peeking through. There wasn't a lot of twinkle but the v-neckline wasn't trashy. "It's covering. I'm not showing anything and the underdress is long enough to be tasteful." She turned to look at the back, which came up above her waist but below her shoulders. "I look good but not stunning."

"I like that for the tasteful," Lara said.

Darcy considered it then nodded. "Yeah, I can see that. It's flirty but not flirty." She went to change, leaving that one in there with her. "Ooh, demure." She came out in the medium blue scoop necked dress. There were no cutouts, no sparkling points, no cleavage by many inches. It had elbow length sleeves that were just barely off the shoulder. It fit her body well all the way down the trumpet skirt. She turned to look at the back, which matched the front's neckline. "Huh. Demure yet flashy. The color's not exactly eye drawing but nice." She turned to look at her backside again, nodding. "Yeah, we're keeping this one." She smiled at her former buddy. "I'm getting more than I thought." She went back in there to Lara laughing.

"Is that the butt ruffle dress?" Lara asked.

"Sure is. Butt ruffle and waist ruffle under the plunging backline." She came out. "Halter front's a bit awkward. It's smooshing the girls." She looked at her backside. "Wow, that ruffle really shows off my butt." She considered it. "If the back was on another gown..."

"Yeah, I can see that. Pity. I had hopes for that one."

"I look nice," Darcy agreed. "Especially from behind. Just not comfortable with the higher neckline halter and the boob smashing that probably can't be altered out. If we find that backline somewhere else, let me see it." She went in to take it off and hand it over for the no pile. "Two more in this set. Vampy-vampy and sparkly-sparkly."

"Try on sparkly. It's another sheathe style dress, just really twinkly." Darcy came out to look at herself, nodding some. It was navy like the earlier sheathe dress but it was all over sequins. "I do like it. You can pull off the twinkly showgirl look."

"You don't think I look like a bimbo?"

"No. The boobs aren't flashing at all. You barely have cleavage." She came over to adjust it. "Not showing but flashy. You look nice."

Darcy nodded. "Yeah, I think I do. Let me try on that vampy gown." She went in to change, keeping that one in there with the others. The black gown, another trumpet style, but this one had full sleeves that connected by a tiny strap to the exaggerated bodice. It looked artsy, gave a bit of interior sideboob on her, and she looked like she was going to be sucked dry and turned. She came out, doing a small turn. "Too artsy and vampy?"

Lara wiped the drool off. "No, not in the least." Darcy hugged her and looked at herself in the triple mirrors. "Wow. You can barely tell that's got the illusion lace from the front. In the back it shows better thanks to the zipper." She tugged it in one spot. "Needs a bit of altering. Really not bad for one-seventy."

"No, I like this." She turned again, nodding. "I look like the next vampire bride but damn he's getting me." Lara giggled, swatting her on the arm. "Arm's a bit tight. Can that be fixed?"

"Not sure. You'd have to ask a tailor."

"I can do that." She went to take it off, keeping it in there. "Okay, what's next?"

"Two goddess dresses. One's the more normal style with the long and flowy and the other's got some rouching to the side to draw attention to your waist."

"I don't really look good in the less structured style," she admitted, handing back the yellow gown. "I look fat."

"You're not fat."

"No but the waist always falls in the wrong spot. It makes me look dumpy." She looked at the dark green dress. A bit of sparkle in the rouching and where it joined at her side to draw attention to her figure. She tried it on, coming out adjusting the top and looking at the mid-thigh slit. "Not bad." Darcy turned. "Simple, classic. Not a color I usually wear."

"It looks nice," Lara said. "Very classic and elegant."

Darcy nodded. "I'll leave this in my demure category. It shows nothing and it's hard to get under." She went to change. "What's next?"

"Two showy dresses in the damn category. One more showy than the other." She handed them in.

Darcy came out in a long sleeve red dress that was basically a wrap dress. It looked nice on her but made her look too old. She shook her head and so did Lara. That got handed back and she tried on the other one. It had a corset like top under an illusion neckline that was dusted with some sparkly glitter. It had cap sleeves. The bodice was nearly pornographic on her size of chest. "I look like I'm going to the porn star awards," she said, coming out. She smiled and nodded at the other woman in there. "Hi." She looked at herself then at Lara, who was grimacing. "If it was higher...the cups were higher? I look good, but it's a bit prom-y and it's not the 'damn, look at her' dress I want."

"No. It's good but not great." She looked at the last two. "Those two are 'damn, woman' dresses and the green one would qualify probably. That sort of staring can come with other styles. But let's try this one. One black lace with a nude underlay and one that's black lace with a short underdress."

Darcy took them to try on. The black dress was cap sleeves to a deep sweetheart neckline. It was a simple thin lace dress that didn't have a lot of appliques but it was gathered in such a way that was slightly see through but not fully. Darcy came out adjusting a sleeve. "Huh," she said, looking at herself. "It's sultry and tasteful yet I'm guessing it'd cause some staring."

Lara smiled. "A lot of drool too. It's loose enough that you can't see things but it hints at it in shadows."

Her coworker came over to look, nodding. "You do look nice in that, miss."

Darcy smiled. "Thank you. My boss said I needed a 'damn' dress."

"That's one," she said.

"I'll put this in the maybe," Lara said. "We'll look at some more suity things and then decide."

"Yeah, put this in the quite possible category. Let me try on that last one." She went into her room to change. This one was another lace overlay with an underdress. The underdress was skin colored but the full length. Barely lighter than her tanned body. The lace overlay was black netting with large appliques that flowed over her breasts, to her right side, then down over her pubic area before trailing off until her knees then it took over most of the rest of the skirt. She came out and Lara cleared her throat. Darcy looked around then at herself in the mirrors when she didn't see anything going on. "Wow."

Lara licked her lips. "If you can't get lucky in that dress, humanity is doomed."

"If I can get lucky it'll definitely be in this dress." Long sleeves of that same netting with a few appliques here and there. "Sleeves are a bit tight again but maybe?"

"I hope so," Lara said. "Two-oh-two plus tax."

Darcy nodded. "For a 'damn' dress of this level, yeah." She went in to take it off and hand out her definitely pile. "Suits?"

"Yup, we can look at regular clothes." They laid those on the counter and went to look at other things. That black lace dress that covered nothing yet everything got added on when Darcy realized her total was under a third of her budget. They all got bundled up together to go home with her and Darcy handed over her email, phone, and facebook address with a wink. Lara smiled and helped Darcy carry to the car then she left to find shoes.

Darcy decided to drive up to her old house, getting in the gates easily enough. She parked and stared. It wasn't sad now. Maybe she was ready to let go. She found the number for the realtor that rented the house. "It's Darcy Lewis," she said quietly. "I'm up here but I don't see a problem. No, I'm staring at it and it's sad but it's not crippling sad like it usually is." She sighed. "What do you think about selling it?" Her realtor friend babbled about how the market was good right now, the house didn't need a lot of updating, and it was in a great area.

"You sure? I don't want it to linger. I'll change my mind if it lingers." She got out to look around the front yard, staring in the windows. "They left trashy furniture." She looked at the gardens. "Could use the touch of someone who can plant too." She walked to the back yard. Her former tree house was gone now, but so was the tree. She walked back to the front, nodding at her realtor friend when she drove in. "I think I'm ready."

"I think it's a great thing to move on, Darcy." She led her around the inside to note things that needed updating or fixed. They could give credit for that. It wasn't in bad shape and Darcy hadn't let anyone do anything too drastic to the original house. Darcy signed the papers and went back to her hotel. A slight cry but it was a healing one this time. So it was a good thing, a good trip.

***

Darcy looked at her boss before they had to leave for DC. "I'm packing suits, a few dresses. One formal gown. Is it the demure event or the damn event?"

"The damn event. It'll draw attention to us." She gave her a hopeful look. "Please? You don't have to let them do anything but stare and drool at you but don't beat anyone too hard if they try to look too closely."

"I think I can work up something," she said dryly. "Should I be slightly damn or fully damn? I have options."

"You bought more than one?"

"I found gowns that fit with very little fixing," she said dryly. "And all off the rack stuff from weddings so in multiple sizes."

"Wow. I need to go there."

"All under two hundred too," Darcy said with a grin. "But one, it was a few bucks over."

"I really need to shop there." She looked at her. "Got pictures?" Darcy pulled them up for her. "Hmm, mirror shots." She flipped through them. "Damn." She showed her.

Darcy smiled. "Two more, Shelly." She flipped and moaned. "That's the other 'damn'."

"Bring that and the green dress." She handed the phone back. "Wow." Darcy grinned, making her list. "Bring a business suit."

"Of course. Two just in case."

"Thanks." She went back to her own packing list. Plus gathering all the paperwork they'd need. Darcy handed her a folder already put together with most of it. Shelly included the few things she could, Darcy taking it to make copies. They got all the folders together to hand out and it was done for the day. They went to pack and travel that night.

***

Darcy looked into the room for the formal fundraising event, smiling at the guard trying hard not to grope her. "I have permission to carry a few things," she said, presenting the card.

"That's fine, they're not illegal around here, ma'am." He let her walk in there, watching her entrance.

Darcy smiled at Shelly, walking over to her. She was in the green goddess dress with the rouching to the side and a tiny bit of sparkle. Her hair was up in a loose side chignon and she had a pretty pendant that was green obsidian with matching drop earrings. "See, I can clean up nicely," she teased with a smile.

"You definitely do," she said, looking her over. "Just a bit of 'damn' and some demure thrown in, plus classic and classy. Nice." Darcy smiled and winked, strolling off to get a drink then to make new contacts. "Darcy's my assistant and she's so great." The other director she was talking to smiled, chatting about her own assistant, who was fifty but handy.

Darcy ran into a familiar face, holding out a hand. "Stark."

He looked at her over the edge of his amber sunglasses, only used for indoor events. "I don't rate a hug?"

"You'd wrinkle me," she quipped. She put down her hand but Tony swatted her and shook it. She smiled. "How's things?"

"Same old same old," he admitted. "Blowing things up and scaring interns."

"Yeah, I don't miss the explosions." He snorted but looked amused. "Like it? Lara found it for me."

"I remember her. Is she working designer?"

"No. But she's happy and her daughter's cute."

"That's the important thing," he agreed. "You ever think about kids?"

"Yeah. I've thought a few times. I'm not sure I'm ready yet. I'm still pretty young, have things on my bucket list. Maybe if I ever find a real man I might do that."

He smirked. "Maybe. Could be handy in your life too, Lewis." He looked over her shoulder. "Here comes Bruce and Coulson."

"You got Bruce to go to an event?" She turned to look at him, making him gape in awe. "I work with one of the charities being highlighted tonight. It's the only reason for the fancy dress."

"You look really nice," Bruce said with a smile. "How're you doing?"

"I'm good. I really like working with Shelly. We do a lot of good work." She smiled and shook Coulson's hand. "Howdy."

"Darcy," he said with a nod. "You might want to stay on this side of the room."

"I heard him," she admitted. "I wouldn't want to embarrass my boss, Coulson." She sipped her sparkling water. "I should probably go make other new friends for the boss."

"Can you go help Pepper distract the senator that wants us all in jail?" Stark asked with a point.

She smiled. "I can go say hi to Pepper for you guys." They all smiled so she strolled off. She smiled as Pepper caught her eye, getting a relieved look back. "Sorry, Senator, I just popped over to say hi to Pepper. She was a great mentor when I was an intern."

"You work for..." he asked, looking her over.

"One of the charities you'll be grilling tomorrow, Senator DeLores. I work with Shelly."

"That's sweet." He looked her over again. Then he smiled at Pepper. "I'll let her nag you about your hair or whatever you women do."

Darcy laughed, smiling at him. "Women like Pepper don't worry about their hair, Senator. They worry about taking over the world and having to do a lot more paperwork." He walked off laughing.

"Thank you," Pepper said quietly.

"I got asked," she said with a wink.

"How's Chicago?"

"Good. I really enjoy the work. We're doing a lot of good and I'll be going overseas in a few months for a few weeks to deliver aid and make sure things are getting to the right people." She felt someone brush against her hip and looked back. "Hands off please. I'm not for rent or sale." He backed off, hands being held up. "Thank you." She smiled at Pepper again. "It's actually pretty fun at times."

"That's good. It's good you found a great place, Darcy." She winced when she heard Thor laughing loudly. "Oh, dear."

"I'm staying over here," she said quietly. "And I'll avoid shaming my boss." She walked off. "Happy taking over the world, Pepper. We need more woman power."

Pepper smiled, going back to Stark's side to protect herself from the leeches in here. "She seems satisfied."

"She does," Coulson agreed. "Oh, that's Talbot." He hurried over to him without seeming to. "Do not go near Miss Lewis," he said quietly. "She will hit you if you pinch her, General."

He sneered at him. "I didn't know you were my parent, Coulson." Coulson just pointed. Some guy had just swatted Darcy on the ass and was now on the ground staring up at her in horrified awe.

"Women aren't toys. You don't have the right to pet me. I don't care if I have to make up our yearly budget because they take it from us for me slugging you but if you ever touch me again I'll break every bone in your arm." He got up and scurried off. "Really, someone needed taught better by their mothers." She frowned at her boss. "Sorry."

"No, I would've slapped him. You punch better than I do."

Darcy smiled. "Thanks, boss." She heard the noise coming closer and sighed, moving out of the line of direct sight behind her boss. "Blatantly hiding," she hissed. Shelly moved to cover her. The one her boss had been talking to shifted so she was even more covered.

Coulson smirked at Talbot. "I wouldn't."

"She'd never hit me."

"Yes she would. She's the one that destroyed that one senator because of his son."

"Oh, that's her." He nodded. "That was fine work," he admitted. "She yours?"

"I have hopes we'll be calling her senator some day."

"I can see that actually." He walked off to get a drink, ignoring all the avengers in there because he didn't want to start another war. Thor and Jane were blatantly sneaking out for some time together. They didn't notice Darcy. Though Thor did glance around a few times looking confused. Coulson sighed in relief when they were gone. Darcy did the same thing from her corner and went to get more sparkling juice to sip.

***

Darcy looked up from following her boss up the hallway carrying the folders for her when they ran into the Avengers. Darcy nodded cordially, smiling at Clint. "Hey." They were shown into a different waiting room and the folders were sent in ahead of their discussion and defense of funding. Darcy looked up then at her boss. "Sorry. It's my drama."

"It's good drama. There's rumors."

"I know. Long story." She shrugged. Someone knocked then came in. "Yes, Representative Harolds?" she asked politely.

"Miss Lewis, may I speak to you?"

She moved closer to him. "You can if you want. I'm here to help Shelly talk to all of you. Is there a problem with our information packet?"

"No. There's a few questions being asked about your position here."

"I work for Shelly, sir," she said with a point at her.

"I know that. It's been said that you have some unsavory contacts, young lady."

"Define unsavory, Representative Harolds."

"HYDRA."

She snorted, shaking her head. "No. I don't. I never have been part of their party of pathetic and I hope I never will be to save humanity, because that's the only way it'd happen."

"Yet they know about you."

"They tried to snatch me once because of my former job. I worked in Avengers tower then. You can go ask Mr. Stark about that." She pointed in their direction. "They were outside waiting a few minutes ago."

He sneered. "I don't think you understand how bad that looks on you."

"Them wanting to kidnap me doesn't look bad on *me*," she said dryly. "It looks bad on them. They broke into a courtroom to try to snatch me. They're that stupid. I'd never support that even if I wasn't a forward thinking liberal woman. HYDRA has nothing to offer me and if they try I'd like to kill them all. Is there anything else, sir? I know where my allegiances stand."

"You protest a lot."

"Yes I do. Frankly, being accused of being a racist bastard like them upsets me." She stared at him. "Ask one of them. I'm pretty sure you have a few on speed dial since there's at least three other members of congress who are in debt to them. I know I ended the career of one of them a few years back but I know there's more." He glared. She stared back. "You don't scare me. Your pathetic attempt to use information you only half-read isn't surprising and isn't welcome.

"Now, if you'll excuse me, we have to go prepare to swear at you under oath for cutting funding again so you can have a second house." The man stomped off. She looked up and sighed then back at her boss. "If magic was real I'd have someone do an uncloaking spell to put a huge 'H' on every HYDRA member's forehead." Shelly burst out laughing, nodding at that. "Seriously!"

"I know you would, Darcy. I remember you nearly getting kidnaped." She hugged her. "You'll be okay. They'll ask. Just be polite."

"I try, I have a bit of tact left. I think." She sighed and sat down to relax, popping her neck. Someone knocked. "If it's someone different than the last one, come in," she called. "We're just destressing."

Clint leaned in. "Did you call him a frog fucker or something? He stormed up the hallway swearing." Shelly was trying not to laugh at that remark.

"He tried to accuse me of being HYDRA," Darcy shot back. "I was a bit rude."

"Ow," he said. "Yeah, that's bad. I'll let others hear so they stay out of the way." He closed the door with a grin. Clint looked at the others. "That guy accused Darcy of being HYDRA."

Stark moaned, shaking his head. "Someone gave him half-assed information."

"That's not even half assed," Steve said dryly. Security came up the hall and stormed in there. "Clint, can you pull up her file?" Clint did that, walking in there, handing it to one of the guards. Steve looked at Stark. "She looked nice last night."

"She did. At least her boss didn't make her suck up to people for funds." The guards stomped off nagging the representative about false alarms. Clint came back out putting his phone back into his pocket. "They good?"

"Darcy got in a good yell. They're retreating to save the idiot's life."

"That's not going to save him," Darcy called then slammed the door. She was already typing in a message to her political living friends.

"Don't make messes you can't clean up," Shelly warned. "Especially before this."

Darcy looked at her. "He's up for reelection this year." Shelly sighed. "And he's not in the funding committee anyway."

"Point. Will others like that?"

"They might not but they'll hate having him throwing around HYDRA accusations even less. Like some agents, you speak of them and they appear." She smiled and finished that message, sending another one. "Let's hope this stops this bout of stupid before it starts. I don't need another few months like that."

Shelly laughed. "We all don't need another few months like that, Darcy. I hope we don't."

"Me too." She put her phone back into her purse once it was off again. It was the law of the congressional building, no active cellphones. That way you couldn't tape senators being idiots.

***

Darcy looked outside that night, opening her hotel room window to let Clint in. "Can't use doors?" she joked.

"I needed the practice." He sat on her windowsill. "You okay after earlier?"

"The two that asked, one is HYDRA leaning." She smiled. "They donate to them. It's online in some of the more political places." He winced but nodded. "The other's just a moron who hates me because I took down my uncle's partner and they were buddies."

"I heard him shouting about that. Did Shelly like that?"

"She knew. I told her that before when I looked up who was on the panel. I wasn't going to let her go into that blind." She sat down, staring at him. "How are you really?"

"It's been a long few months," he admitted. "Few nasty battles, some healing, some stupid things." He stared at her. "Thor noticed you last night."

"Figured he did," she agreed. "Thankfully he didn't want to be undiplomatic."

"Jane wanted sex."

"Sex is a great thing that comes with dating. Or if you're me, you buy vibrators."

Clint burst out laughing, but nodded. "Yeah, I know that feeling all too well." She smirked at him. "No comments about groupies. I don't get many. Scott got more than I have."

"He's cute. He did good when he came out to guard dog me for a few weeks. He has a real touch with helping others."

"I'll tell him you said that." He grinned at her. "So anyone nice?"

"No. Not really. I haven't felt like going out anyway. I think I'm about to hit my boring years of adulthood."

"Maybe but that's often a choice, Darcy."

"It's not safe. One of the gangs there got mad I was helping tutor a few of their little brothers in english of all things." He groaned. "I know, it's just my luck, but they're mostly ignoring me unless they catch me out and about. They tried to threaten me in the grocery store. I held up a nice sized zucchini and suggested he learn to like taking it for his time in prison if they came near me. They snorted and said they weren't gay. I told them everyone's gay in prison. They make sure of it. They huffed off again and I got to buy cereal."

"Yeah, so very boring," he said, staring at her.

She shrugged. "It was. Chicago is a bit more dangerous than parts of New York."

"You could move."

"I like working for Shelly."

"I know."

"I love my apartment."

"There's others in the US."

"Yeah but not anywhere I'd want to work."

"You could set up one," he said.

"That's not a bad idea but I have no head for real estate. I probably paid way too much for my apartment."

"Sometimes the amenities are worth it."

She nodded. "Sometimes. You look tired."

"We had another run-in with Loki."

"I'm sorry. Want a hug?"

"Nah, I'm fine. He scowled at me. I flipped him off. He didn't try to take over my mind this time."

"That's good." She stood up and came over to look at him. "You need to find a happy point, Clint. A happy point would make things easier."

"What sort of happy point?"

"Everyone's got one. For Bucky it was Steve. For you...."

"I have a dog."

"That's a great thing. I want pictures." He grinned. "Be safe, Clint."

"You too, Lewis. You draw trouble and this is the city for it." He stared at her. "Yell if they come for you. Steve's around here somewhere."

"Thanks." He nodded and left back up the fire escape. She closed the window, making sure it was locked, and went back to bed to rest. They had to meet with a grant gifting group in the morning. She had to look good for her people.

***

Clint looked around the next morning. He walked over to Steve. "Rescue needed?" he asked quietly.

"Not that I've heard. It was a quiet night."

"That's good." Darcy came breezing in, heading right for the coffee. She had on a slightly puffy knee length lace dress with a business suit jacket over it and heels. She waved at them as she sipped her coffee on her way out. "That's nice to see too. She looks perky." They heard a car crash outside and went to look. No Darcy and the people who had crashed were complaining at each other. One was an agent, he was wearing the navy blue FBI suit. They went back to breakfast. They'd hear if something bad had happened.

***

Darcy looked at Shelly the next day there were in the office together, Tuesday. Darcy had shown up the day before to straighten things out and handle the office things. Shelly had another meeting. Shelly came to her door and motioned her in. "What's up, boss lady?" She walked in there.

Shelly pointed at something. "What's that?"

Darcy looked then plucked it up to look at under the desk lamp. "A really old bug." She crushed it and threw it out the window. She looked for others, doing the same to them. She smiled. "They're very old. The newer ones look like thin filament wires from what I've seen."

"You've seen many of those?"

"I saw some in the tower."

"Oh. Good point. Is all that cleared up? My meeting yesterday asked about that."

"It had better be!" She stared at her boss. "I know I'm not one of them and they know I'm not one of them. Trying to discredit me was stupid. Everyone who knows me knows I'm not like that and my file's well enough known to prove that. Even the FBI agent I talked to in the airport on the way back knew that. He was checking to see why and which representative it was."

"They think he's dirty?"

"No, the agent called him a moron with half-assed ideas."

"Oh, good." She sighed. "What about making a statement."

"Then they'd come after me again."

"Point. You have files?"

"SHIELD watched over the Avengers."

"Oh, them." She nodded. "Is that a huge problem?"

"No. The new SHIELD isn't that bad. Definitely not as bad as the old SHIELD. They made sure to release my records to other agencies so they'd know I wasn't and why I had a file in the first place."

"That's fine. I hope it doesn't impact funding."

"It shouldn't. Did it yesterday?"

"No. She agreed that the representative was just making noise to get attention."

"Then he should've noted I ruined a senator." She smiled. "And I was pretty damn pleased about that." She went back to her desk. "Mail's got almost nothing in it outside two ads and a form letter." She walked them back in there then went back to her desk, coming back with her letter opener. She opened the window and stabbed the masturbating guy out there. It didn't hurt him much but he got the point. "Get away from the office." She slammed the window closed and looked at Shelly, who moaned but shook her head. "Strong women have to put up with bullshit and it just makes us stronger, bosslady. We all know that."

"We do," she agreed. "Thanks, Darcy."

"I didn't want to see him masturbate on the fire escape again. He's gross. I'd even put him in the category of icky." She went back to her desk to get back to work.

Shelly shook her head but read the form letter. It was a turn down for a grant and dated before that weekend. It was a pity. They really needed all the funds they could get.

***

Darcy was at a dinner for local charities so they could coordinate efforts when she ran into someone interesting. She only knew him from pictures and his four weeks of pretending to be an intern at the office but she recognized him where most of the people in the room wouldn't. She saw one old matron giving him a speculative look. She smiled at him, getting a wink back. "It's nice our former intern is doing good," she quipped, sipping her iced tea. Her boss was off with another group's boss to talk about their latest efforts to get tutors into the local schools. "You can sit with us. Shelly's busy and she hasn't needed me yet. I'm listening to a proposal soon for a tiny grant."

He settled next to her, handing over a small envelope. "From Stark."

"Thanks." She looked at it then at him. "Should I read this here?"

"Not sure," he admitted. "He looked disgusted."

She hummed but opened it to look at, grimacing. "Nice," she said dryly, letting him see it. "The others probably already know."

"Yeah I've heard but I didn't have anything I could handle right then."

She patted him on the hand. "Like Clint, you have some specific skills that can be spread into some of the damndest situations," she said dryly, cracking him up and making him nod. She smiled at the older woman walking her way. "Come on over and join us," she said with a smile.

The older woman sat at the table. "I've heard that you know how to apply for a new grant?"

"It's for children related charities." The woman smiled and nodded. Darcy wrote out the address for the application. "That's the application site. Print and mail please because I can't get the sending in automatically to work right now. It's my mother's foundation I set up in her name. Since I work for Shelly I can't give it to her, and she realizes that, but it's open to others who work with children. It's not a huge one right now because I'm still building the depth of the fund."

"That happens. They had to start somewhere, dear. Our own group started with a few thousand dollars and a lot of hard work."

Darcy smiled. "We all seem to do a lot of hard work because there's not enough funding. I'm hoping within a few years I'll be able to offer more than five to ten thousand. Right now, the fund's set up for the next thirty years of solvency but the investments are just beginning."

"That's reasonable, dear. Really. Any funding is welcome." She smiled. "I haven't met you."

"Darcy Lewis." She smiled. "Hannah DeCriths was my mom."

"Oh! I met her once. Lovely woman." She smiled at her. "I remember she did a lot of work with women."

"I do as well but I think focusing on the kids will give us a better and more stable transition to get more people self sufficient and able to live good lives that aren't filled with stress and worry about where your next meal is coming from or where the rent's coming from."

"That's a good outlook. I work with a foodbank for students."

She beamed. "Shelly's been talking to someone about that and maybe us feeding a meal during tutoring times if possible. I've brought in healthy cookies and bags of fruit a lot of times when I'm tutoring."

"That's actually a good idea. Two birds with one stone as it were. I'll talk to Shelly in a minute. I can see Amanda's bragging on her newest grandbaby."

"They're cute but I'm holding off on that until I'm in my more settled years," Darcy said with a grin. "I'm still trying to hold onto my fun, wild years." The older woman patted her hand again then left to talk to Shelly's table of people. She smiled at Scott. "I heard you have a daughter."

"Cassie. She's adorable and really smart. Not Stark smart but smart."

"Sometimes street smart is better than book smart."

"Yes it is," he agreed with a smile. "I live by that myself." Darcy grinned. "How long is this going on?"

"Another hour expected so about forty before people start to really leave and the die hards will be here for another two or three hours talking and mapping out strategies. Shelly's one but I don't have much to put in right now. When we get to an idea and formulating a strategy that's when I come in."

"Everyone's gotta have a place," he said. "Why did Clint tell me to watch out for gang members?"

"It's nothing. A few got mad I was tutoring little brothers of some members. They're still mad at me since I told a few threatening me in the grocery store to learn how to sit on zucchinis because it'd help them in prison." He burst out laughing, shaking his head. "It worked, they left me alone to buy cereal."

"I can see why, yeah," he agreed. "Thanks, I needed that laugh."

"You're welcome." She looked over and groaned. "This might be bad." She smiled at the woman walking over. "Yes, Agent May?"

"Coulson wanted you warned," she said quietly. Darcy handed over the letter. "Not about that. Someone got into your medical records, Darcy."

"Aw, shit," she muttered. "Which ones?"

"Your gyn records."

"Aww, crap. Does my doctor know?"

"Yes. He reported it to the FBI who told us." She stared at her. "So their plan is still on and you're in greater danger. Lang, what are you doing here?"

"Stark sent me."

"That's actually wonderful. Bring him back to wherever you're hovering safely, Darcy. He could probably use the same sort of place for his kid." She left, leaving a business card for Lang to use if he needed her.

"Is she always that uptight?" Scott asked quietly.

"From what I've heard, yeah, but it's slightly trauma based. She's on Coulson's personal team."

"That's interesting." He tucked the card into his wallet. "Ready to blow this pop stand since I'm ordered to guard you for a bit?"

She smiled. "I should stay for a bit longer." She looked at Shelly, who was making go away motions. "I think she thinks you're picking me up for a date," she said quietly. She walked over there, hugging Shelly around the shoulders. "You sure you won't need me?"

"Go have fun, Darcy. I remember Scott being a nice guy. He can probably even handle you in a flirty mood." She gave her a pointed look.

"He's getting back together with his ex-wife and kid." Shelly huffed but made shooing motions again. "Yes, ma'am." She smiled. "Call me if you ladies need my help arranging or organizing things." She went back to the table, tucking that letter into her clutch purse and gathering Scott to leave. "Shelly thought it was for a date. I told her you were getting back with your ex and kid so she'd quit yentaing."

Scott laughed. "I could do a lot worse than you, Darcy, but I'm not looking."

"I am but I never seem to find anyone. It's like I'm in the wrong field looking for a horse that disappeared a few years back, when I was partying now and then." He shoulder nudged her. "Seriously. I never get to go cut loose now. People are watching."

"That can suck, yeah." He stared at her. "We get the same thing. Stark put a club room in the tower."

"That doesn't really surprise me."

"Me either. It's nice though. You can turn on any music you like and just relax in there because there's no nagging or anything."

"That is nice." She linked her arm with his and walked around a guy on the sideway, giving him a sideways look. Scott pulled her closer to him and smiled at her because he had noticed the guy was openly armed and looked deranged. "I heard you live in a special place."

"I live in a very security conscious place," she agreed. "It's part of the community standards you sign that you don't bring back dates until they've passed background checks."

"That's really strict."

"It's seriously uptight but worth it. Even if HYDRA would raid the complex they'd never find anyone."

"That's nice. I do need to move the kid somewhere like that." Darcy sent a text message while they walked. "Far?"

"Another three blocks to the back entrance." He smiled. "The front one's much farther." She got back a request for her to go to the security office. "We've got to pause to sign you in." He nodded, holding open the gate she opened with a press code and fingerprint. She made sure it was firmly closed behind them and they walked off. It looked like a dumpy alley but apparently it was more. Darcy took him to a building, nodding at the head of security for the whole complex, not just the security teams. "This is Scott Lang. Stark sent him to me with some information and SHIELD said to let him have my couch."

He stared at him. "I can't fault or worry about an avenger member," he decided. Scott smiled. "If you have a problem, teach him how to hit the emergency switch."

"I can do that. Thank you, Caesar." They left, going through the tunnels to her building. "He's the guy that heads the whole security system. There's a guy in charge of the security response teams under him. He's really nice too. They both are. They even disable all GPS chips for me."

"Could that be a problem if you're captured?" he asked.

"I figured they'd throw out my phone so I couldn't be checked."

"They might. I'm not fully up to date on that sort of thing thankfully."

"I'm trying not to be," she admitted. She let him into her apartment, smiling at him. "Really expensive but worth it. All the wifi is shielded from tracing. The cable's included. So's the phone. And the water, electric, and gas so no one can trace us by bills."

"Wow." He took off his jacket and sat down, looking around. "You can't hear the neighbors at all. Nice soundproofing."

"There's thirty-eight apartments in the complex."

"There must have been eight buildings we walked past," he said. She smiled and nodded. "Very secure then. Yeah, we need one of these in New York."

"I have no idea where you'd put it with how crowded the city is." She went into her bedroom. "Let me get less pretty."

"Women like you are always pretty, even in t-shirts and jeans. My ex is that sort too." She shot him a smirk before closing the door. He got up to browse her bookshelves and kitchen area. She came out in jeans shorts and a t-shirt plus barefoot. "You really settled in well here."

"It's been a long time since I had more than a transient space. My apartment in London wasn't meant for more than maybe a year. The one in New Mexico was a small trailer that Jane put up. I lived in the tower in New York and I knew that was a matter of time until someone realized who I was or something huge happened that meant Jane had to move her lab. It's nice having a home again."

"I get that. I had that same feeling in prison. It's like you're floating in a shark infested water and there's not even a rock to stand on."

"Exactly! That's why I was so happy someone told me about here. I can't call for takeout when I'm working anymore but I can go out and bring things home. It means I don't just study or work like I did with Jane."

"So what happened anyway?"

"Jane assumed I'd go from her assistant to her nanny."

Scott winced, shaking his head. "Did she ask?"

"No. She just handed me the kid and told me to bring her back when she was done for the day." She shrugged. "I'm not the nanny and I'd never be a nanny. I laid some harsh truths at the same time and it made her cry a bit, I'm sorry but it had to be said."

"Her newest nanny's better. Live in downstairs. The kid's better protected and happier now."

"That's good. Has Thor been told dads do more than play with kids?"

"Yeah, I've been bragging about all the stuff I'm doing with Cassie."

She nodded. "He's not stupid. You can't rule a realm and be stupid. He's just...willfully ignorant."

"Does Jane never come out of the lab?"

"Hardly ever. A lot of my job was making sure she ate, slept, and all that regularly." Scott shook his head. "Some people learn to sublimate and push things away by burying it in something. A lot of times that's work. For Jane it's science work. Stark does the same thing when he's upset. They were taught or taught themselves how to bury it all while they worked. Because of all the science I had to deal with, I nearly ran to Philosophy but I got too confused and changed back to what I know best."

He settled in his chair again, staring at her when she sat on the couch. "Stark sent me a text message saying he yelled back at the reporter bitch that suggested it had been your job to be everyone's stress relief."

"There's a few of you guys I wouldn't have minded banging but most of you guys needed friends. I'm good at that. Not that I'm not good at sex stuff but I'm great at being a fussy friend. I'm never going to be stress relief. Maybe some husband's stress creating wife, but not stress relief. Even if someone offered while drunk I would've only flirted with most of you."

"Thanks."

"Welcome."

"So you knew Stark when he was a kid?"

"Yeah. He's just over fourteen years older than I am. His mom was my godmother I was told and mine was his godmother. He was there when I needed someone steady and I barely remember his parents' funeral. I know more from the pictures and what my mom told me. I saw him sometimes but we weren't hanging out sort of friends. It's like you live in the same building with someone so you see them occasionally in the halls."

"That makes sense. Any stories that'll make him quit bragging?"

"He set his underwear on fire once. My mom caught him drinking a flaming shot when I was five, so he was just barely twenty probably. He spilled it on himself when she made him jump in surprise and it caught his panties on fire." Scott burst out laughing. "I swear. Hand to god swear." She grinned. "My mom gave me the don't drink speech that night. For the longest time I thought if you drank alcohol it meant you had to go to the ER for burns."

He cracked into louder laughter. "Was he naked?"

"Trying to impress a girl at some party that he was throwing." She shifted to curl up some. "I remember Mom saying something about if he wanted to be gay that much she'd introduce him to some nice boys. He protested but she said it was obvious since he was trying to ruin his dick. And I heard something about not even Howard had managed to burn his dick off with all the whores he had."

"Wow." He wiped his cheeks off. "That's....that's just so Stark."

"Yeah. Thankfully he's settled down some from those days."

"He has. He'd probably blame Pepper."

"Maybe. She's good for him."

"She is." He smiled. "Any other juicy stories?"

"No, not really." Someone knocked. "That's odd." She got up to answer it, looking at the guard. "What's wrong?" she asked. He held up the package. "I don't get mail here."

"It was couriered over from your boss."

"Shelly's at an event. She's working on strategies for joining forces with a kids foodbank program." She looked at it but didn't touch it. "That's not her handwriting either."

"Crap. We needed to make sure."

"I know the rules. All my mail goes to my PO box downtown. Did it get scanned?"

"I hope so," he said, calling that in. His bosses showed up to grab the package and take it to be tested. "Thanks, Lewis."

"Welcome. Thank you for telling me someone found me here. So far all I knew was the director for SHIELD had found me through an agent who lives here."

He grimaced. "We'll talk to them and him about that. Be safe." He walked off, following the package.

Darcy closed and locked the door, staring at Scott. "That's super weird."

"Do you want to move to a hotel for the night?"

"No. I'm safer here. Even if they had something to track where my apartment is, there's shielding stuff in all the buildings." She sat down again. She got a text message so looked at her phone. "It had chemicals to make us screw like dogs in heat."

Scott shook his head. "I'm not like that."

She looked at him. "It's kinda potent. Jane got a report about it to see if one of the ingredients was a space dust."

"Was it?"

"Something organic that was identified on an asteroid by Venus thanks to a satellite."

"Huh. Interesting. How bad is it?"

"Screwing like dogs in heat. They stole the formula and made some to test it. They took volunteers who were married to test it on." She shifted to curl up around her knees. "They spent a few days in medical at SHIELD recovering from the two hour dosing and four days of screwing hard each time they were awake."

Scott winced. "Then yeah, let's not try that."

She smiled. "You're cute but I know you're taken."

"I think we're more staying friends than ever getting back together."

"If you're sure but I saw how you looked at her in DC."

He grinned. "She's pretty." Darcy grinned. "We're mostly just friends. Those are hard to come by."

"Yes they are. Which is why I never screwed anyone in the tower."

He nodded. "It's a good policy to have." Someone else knocked. "Want me to get it?"

"No." She flipped on the camera channel then went to open the door. "Who sent it?"

"Not really sure but it's dangerous."

"Yeah, Jane got a report on that to look at one of the ingredients for SHIELD. It's a space dust of some kind."

The guard grimaced but nodded. "That's nice. Probably hard to find thankfully but nice." Darcy smiled. "Are you settled in for the night?"

"Yeah. We're good. I can make dinner. I'm actually a pretty decent cook."

"That's handy. Who could've sent that to you?"

"Not sure. The death threats probably don't want me to screw. The HYDRA thing probably wouldn't want me to screw since they want to breed me to someone specific apparently." He grimaced but nodded once. "Other than that? No idea. I gave the head guy a list of threats when he asked why I needed such security. Unless it's someone like my attempted arranged marriage from my stepmom the whore, no idea really."

"Okay." He patted her on the cheek. "Be safe, Lewis." He walked off. "I'll let them know."

She shut the door.

Scott looked at her. "There's something on your cheek." He hopped up. "Q-tips?" She pointed and her hand was shaking. She stared at her hand oddly. He gathered it and some plastic wrap to put around it. Darcy got put onto the couch while Scott called the number that had texted her. "It's Scott Lang for Darcy Lewis. The guard that just showed up patted her cheek with something liquid and now she's shaking. I did take a sample, yes. Thank you." He hung up and moved to her, checking for a fever. "They're sending over their medic," he said quietly. "Are you feeling sick? Dizzy?"

"Unhappy," she said, shifting with a wince. "A lot of muscle pain so far."

"Okay. We'll make sure you make it through this and figure out who that guy was."

"I have no idea," she muttered, gritting her teeth together. Scott got up to get the door, letting in the guard commander he had met earlier and a guy carrying a medical tackle box. "He was one of you guys. I've seen him a few times."

Scott pointed. "Sample. I took three so Stark could have one in case it was needed."

"Good thinking." He took one to run. The medic was checking her over. He came back. "It's half that formula."

"It's not making me horny, it's giving me muscle cramps," Darcy complained. "I'm going to kill them. Or maybe just ruin them. Phone!" Scott handed it to her. She sent a text message to her boss then a few other friends. "I like the liberal sites that spread information." Scott took the phone from her hand when she moaned and shifted to curl up.

The medic looked up at him. "Do you want her at the ER?"

"Will they be able to help?"

"No. Probably not." He looked at his boss, taking the readout. "I've never even heard of street drugs that do this."

Scott called someone from his phone. "I'm going to send you a picture, tell me how to treat it, Bruce." He took a picture of that report and sent it then listened. "No, a supposed guard got Darcy. She's having muscle cramps and spasms and she's chattering like she's cold." He listened. "Warm bath? Anything to ease it? Yeah, it's related to that formula. They tried that earlier." He listened. "I can do that. Can I do tylenol or anything? I don't know if she has tea. Darcy, do you have muscle relaxing tea? Bruce said you used to have it." She pointed a shaky hand so he went to look.

"You have a tiny bit." Bruce gave him instructions for how to brew it. "You're sure it's safe? Okay, thanks. Yeah, I saved out a sample for you guys. Thanks, Bruce." He hung up and put the phone back into his pocket. "Bruce said to start with a hot bath for now. It can only help. If it gets dangerous I'll take her to the ER." They nodded and made notes, leaving him alone. "Okay, let's do the unusual stuff." He helped her up, walking her into the bathroom. He whistled. "I've never seen a tub that big." She fell to her knees, setting up a hot bath with jets.

"Sure." He went to make the tea then came back to help her into the tub. "No offense but I doubt the clothes will help. I won't look though, I promise." He helped her strip off and into the water then went back to save the tea. Darcy got helped to sip the first few swallows and she sank into the water. "Good, we'll figure it out." He pushed her hair back, getting a hairband to put it up for her like his wife used to in her soaking baths.

Then he went to email Stark about things and having a sample for him and SHIELD both. Coulson himself showed up to get them. He handed over the report. "That's what their machines said. Earlier someone tried to deliver a package here for her and they found some sort of putting you into dog heat drugs. Their security team was really good. Fast, they had a medic on staff. The security guy that patted her cheek and spread whatever that is she identified as having been here."

"I'll look into it. Thank you, Lang. Is she going to be all right?"

"As far as Bruce thinks it'll taper off. She's in a hot bath with some tea. That was his order."

"Good. I'll have Fitz-Simmons run it immediately and let you know if they should do anything else. I'll also find out who sent those." He left, sending one sample to Stark with a robotic courier drone. He walked into the lab, holding the q-tip up. "Sample of something that got spread on a vulnerable woman's cheek. It's causing muscle spasms. Could be related to GR-859." Simmons took the swab to look at, nodding at it and shaving some off to test. "Scott Lang took the sample."

Fitz looked at him. "Darcy Lewis?" he asked. Coulson nodded. "How does she get into these things?"

"She's gotten into strange things since she was a young teen. She was twelve and nearly bought by a sheik who was in to do a deal with some producers in Hollywood."

He groaned. Simmons winced but shook her head. "That's bad," she said. "Is she going to be all right?"

"Banner's advice was some tea and a hot bath to help her come down. Give me anything else they might have to do." They nodded, getting back to work. "I sent the third sample to Stark in a drone. Half hour flight time." They nodded, calling up there to warn him and so they could go over any files they had on that original formula. He had a file on it just in case. They sent a suggestion to Coulson, who grimaced but passed that on.

***

Scott walked his phone into Darcy's bathroom, letting her hold it to read it. She grimaced. "Want me to go stand in the hallway?"

"It'll take a while," she said dryly. "My bedside drawer, the multi-vibe and the pink one please?" she asked with a grin. He took his phone back, bringing her those sex toys then closing the door of the bathroom so she'd have some privacy. She worked to fix her own problems with the vibrating toy and the dildo. The cramps kept interrupting her focus but she'd get there. She usually did.

Scott sat on the couch and tried not to listen, sending messages to Stark. When she finally broke he relaxed. He could hear her redoing the hot water but she sounded all right. No more pained moans. He shot back at Stark's 'take one for the good of humanity and the team' message with 'she asked for a vibrator so I'm not her type'. Then he asked if he had any scars from that burning incident. Stark growled back, making him smirk. "Jackass," he muttered as he smiled and relaxed. Darcy was getting breathy and moany again. It was a beautiful sound but she was right that he was interested in someone. She abruptly stopped and he winced. Those interrupted orgasms sucked a lot.

"Maybe I should hire someone," she complained. She could hear him laugh and it was a nice sound. She got back to curing herself. She wasn't going to count on anyone to help her with that problem.

***

Clint Barton walked into the lab zipping up his casual jacket. "So why do you really hover over Lewis?" he asked as he picked up the carrier with the antidote. Stark shot him a dirty look. "You treat her like she's your long lost daughter, Stark."

"I was only fourteen when she was born, Barton." He tossed down his pen to look at him fully. "Her mother would've killed me if I had suggested it and though a few wondered if she's my sister, her mother took a bat to one of them's plastic surgery face and ruined it for that. She was only a few weeks post-delivery though so they all thought her coming to the charity softball game was a bad idea." He smirked a tiny bit. "She was still a bit hormonal." Clint just stared at him. "Fine. Aunt Hannah was a lot like her little girl is. She took care of people.

"After my parents died, she was there checking on me every few days, trying to get me to quit drinking. She made me go back to college and she did make me quit partying so much. Hell, the woman used to nag me about table manners that my parents never cared if I learned," he said dryly. "Between her and Jarvis, the old family butler, they were more like real parents at times. Her husband wasn't too bad. A bit more standoffish but he was absolutely the dad that would stand there and cheer at his kid's baseball games and all that sappy dad stuff.

"He even cut filming for a tv show early one day to get to Darcy's kindergarten graduation. The studio chewed him a new one and penalized him but he had words about them being bad parents and using a nanny more than was advisable for healthy kids. Darcy got her feelings on that subject from them both." He smiled a tiny bit. "The first time I met Darcy she was six months old, grabbed onto the mustache I was trying to grow, and would not let go. Her mother laughed and took pictures. She would not let go for anything. My mother praised Darcy for being strong willed like her mom, and hopefully at least as compassionate.

"My mother's charity foundation didn't come around until Aunt Hannah suggested it and gave me ideas, plus helped me set it up. She was the first charity's president and had to rebuild it once because I screwed up the funding structure. She was the mom of the area. The other nanny-raised kids went to her for mom advice. Some day Darcy's going to be one hell of a mother, just like hers was. Her mom was my godmother. I was nearly as lost as Darcy when she died.

"Her dad scowled at me when I called his second wife, the evil bitch, a rented sex toy but he told me I was right when he finally kicked that habit. He needed something to take the grief out on. She complained at her trial that he called her by Aunt Hannah's name all too often. She tried to get him to call her Darcy instead but he was horrified and sent her on a cruise for six months. We think that's when she started to poison him. They were really great people. The sort that raise strong, uptight, helpful kids. Frankly I'm shocked Darcy partied at all. Her mom wasn't big on drinking, said it was nasty tasting and did bad things to her mind. She wanted to keep it for as long as possible."

"Wow." Clint stared at him. "So she's really a chip off the marble of her parents?"

"Definitely. Her mom used to nag her all the time about how often she fussed over others and not herself. Darcy wasn't one for the trappings that could go with their lives. Darcy's coming out party was six months late because she didn't want one because it'd be boring and she'd have to wear a gown. She kept trying to talk her mother into a picnic for it." Clint grinned, nodding a tiny bit. "She was one hell of a kid. I wish I had kept in better touch with her but it ultimately saved her from Obidiah. He would've match-made really fast and then tried to ruin her by making her do rich wife things." He flapped a hand around. "It would've driven her nuts and she would've went to charity work sooner." He grinned again. "Darcy would not have put up with that shit."

"She doesn't put up with much shit," Clint agreed. "So now what?"

"Now, she's like my cousin." He shrugged. "She's struggling a bit. I can see it in her facebook posts. She wants to do more and to help more and knows she's one lady who can only do so much. She's seeing how deep the pit is for the kids she works with. How many of them won't make it or will end up at the level of lifetime offender. She's already lost two of her mentoring kids to a gang and one to a cop who shot him for daring to be on his front stoop with a cigarette. They said he thought it was a joint and the kid had a gun. Darcy had a long scream about that in the press."

"Good. The kids could use it."

"They could. She's also helping one young girl who has a six month old kid. She's fourteen." Clint winced, shifting his weight. "Yeah, so she's seeing the stuff she was sheltered from. Aunt Hannah made sure Darcy knew there were bad things, that people suffered, and that Darcy had a responsibility to make the world a better place as an adult. Aunt Hannah worked with some abuse shelters and the like when they were first setting up. I remember asking her if I should hit her husband since she had been crying. She hugged me and told me why and made sure I'd never hit my partner. No matter what." He swallowed. "She was a good woman."

"That's good. Want me to bring her a letter?"

"Nah. I checked with Scott. She's got some battery operated friends in the tub with her. That antidote should at least ease it off if she's managed to break some of it. Thankfully they didn't give her the full formula."

"Why do it at all?" Clint asked.

"Have you noticed Steve's panicking? Bucky went to the park earlier by himself." Clint winced, nodding slightly. "So yeah, they were probably hoping she'd jump him and do their dirty work for them."

"Fuck 'em," Clint decided. "Should it be refrigerated?"

"It's a climate controlled carrier. Call Scott when you're in Chicago so he can lead you there or come get it for you."

"I can do that. I know about her apartment building. I think we should put one up here in New York."

"They'd never allow a bunch of empty buildings that way. Housing's too precious around here." Clint nodded, taking the carrier up to the landing deck so he could take their quinn jet to Chicago. Stark looked at Jane then pointed at his mirror. "We both saw you, Jane. That's why I put that mirror up. So what's up?"

"Darcy's sick?"

"Someone dosed her with half the formula of that super inhibitant remover. She's somewhat stuck at the moment trying to fight it off." He stared at her. "Why do you care?"

"She was my friend for years before she huffed off."

"If her mother was still alive, she would've pulled Darcy from you in New Mexico because it was getting co-dependent," he said honestly. "She was taking more care of you than herself. Darcy can get lost that way but it's a bad thing for anyone to get that deep and needy-fixing." He shrugged. "It's unhealthy when we dive into science to take care of the wrong things in our lives. It pisses off our spouses and lovers and it doesn't do much to encourage others into science either.

"It's a problem, nearly an addiction, but it's our coping mechanism. Darcy was helping you with yours but she couldn't keep doing that, Jane. Would she have given up her life for you? Never gotten her degrees? Never done anything?" She pouted as she walked off. "Go home. Thor's probably missing being snored on." He turned back around, looking at what he was tinkering with. "That's good advice I should take," he decided, locking down all the labs so everyone had to go home. It was a bad habit he needed to solve for himself. Pepper hated that he did that and he hated disappointing Pepper.

***

Scott found the security office, leaning in with a grin. "Someone's bringing Darcy an antidote."

"Do you want escorted to where you'll meet him or are you suggesting he come here?" the head of the security teams, Carlos, asked with a smirk.

"It's Barton."

"He's a nice guy according to Darcy's facebook," he agreed.

"He's also a former SHIELD agent and an Avenger."

"I know." He stared at him. "We'll meet him at the gates. Did you tell Darcy?"

"Yeah, she was worried you guys wouldn't let him in."

"We might make an exception," he admitted. "SHIELD already knows we're here." He nodded, texting Clint to meet him at a certain address up the street. He showed him. "That's nice. A block from the main entrance. I'll send some guards with you."

"Thanks. Darcy's a sweet lady. I hate to see anyone dealing with this." He left, going to that address. Clint got there about a half-hour later and the guards took the carrier to check then Scott nodded and Clint followed, hands in his pockets. Scott grinned. "They're the building's security team."

"That's a great thing," Clint agreed. "We're still trying to figure out why HYDRA wants Darcy."

"I thought we knew."

"Yeah but this is too huge. Why her genes specifically?" Clint asked, looking at him. "Why just her?"

"Maybe Barnes didn't ping on anyone else?"

"Maybe," he agreed. "Still seems odd that they're so focused on her and only her. There's plenty of busty, curvy brunettes out there."

"But he'd trust her because Steve does," Scott reminded him.

"We thought about that. If they're going to do the brain thing again, why would that matter?"

"I don't know," Scott admitted. "I'm just a guy. Did you ask Stark?"

"And Banner. They're brainstorming about it but quietly just in case."

"That's good."

"Did you actually let Darcy go out with a super villain?" he asked as they walked through the gateway.

"He seemed decent. He was nicely dressed, had good manners at dinner, was interested in her work. He didn't flirt too hard with her. He wasn't showing any evil signs. He was just a nice guy that I hope she finds soon. Then she found out thanks to your email and they talked about it. He still writes her. I found a letter in her mail." Clint groaned with a head shake. One of the security team was looking back at them. "That new warlord wannabe? Him. He was really nice when they went to dinner those few times. I had no idea he was a villain at all."

"I remember filing that incident," one of them complained, shaking his head. "He was nice. A very nice guy, who just wanted to reorder the world so it worked better to how he thought. Without genocide, which we all thought was nice of him."

Clint nodded. "He is that. I'll give you that but Darcy needs a great lover and friend sort of boyfriend. Or girlfriend. I heard she dated one."

"High school," Scott quipped with a grin. "She's married now. I asked to make her quit moping about one of her tutoring kids disappearing into a gang."

"Yeah, that'd suck," Clint decided with a nod. They were let into Darcy's building and brought up on the elevator. "We need a system like this in New York but Stark thought it'd never fly with so many empty rooms."

"We tried," one of the guards said with a grin for him. "Didn't get passed."

Scott stared at him then punched him. "You're the guy that dosed Darcy earlier." Clint grabbed the carrier from one of the guards so he could pounce the other guy. Scott nodded and took Clint up there. He knocked before walking in. "We're back," he called. "Her bedroom's that way," he said with a point. "She's sweet but I'm not going to go help," he said quietly. "I don't treat women like they're meaningless to me."

Clint nodded. "I've had to do that on assignment a few times." He took off his jacket and tossed it onto a chair before walking in there. Darcy was moaning in the tub. "Hey, Princess."

"Fuck," she muttered. This is not the way she wanted this guy to see her naked.

"We worked out a partial antidote." Her hand flopped out with a 'gimme' hand motion. "Sorry, shot time." He pulled out what he needed, injecting it into her arm. She winced but shifted to face him better. He brushed her sweaty hair back. "It should decrease it if you've broken some of it."

"I hope I have. My batteries are dead and I'm sore from the vibrator." She blinked up at him. "They sent you?"

"No, I flew it out." He grinned. "I grabbed the lucky straw first." He settled in next to her. "How you feelin'?"

"Bad. Aches." She swallowed. "A lot."

"Okay, well, do you want help to fix that? Scott's kinda noble that way but I think you're hot enough to be one of the groupies I sleep with." She glared at him. He grinned. "The offer's there if you need the help." She splashed him but threw her vibrators out of the tub. "That a yes, Lewis?"

"Please? I can't take too much more of this, Clint. It hurts so I lose focus and lose my place then the problems grow and I hurt more from them."

"I can handle that for you." He helped her out and dried her off, taking her to her bedroom. Scott took a book to read in the hallway so he didn't have to eavesdrop. It was polite of him.

****

Darcy wobbled out for coffee the next morning, looking at the guy on her couch. "I don't care if you masturbated to us. I realize I was making bitch noises last night and that was hot. So if you did, great. Because being on the team means you're always under stress. If not, go for it and clean out the shower, Scott. I'm not uptight and my guests are more than welcome to blow off some steam in my super shower." She poured cups for her and Clint, walking off. "Also, I have no manners so if you want coffee, slurp before we get to the second cup. Because Clint and I keep Columbia in honest business some days." She closed the bedroom door with a kick since Clint was in the shower. She settled back on the bed to sip her coffee and wait on the awkward conversation.

Clint came out in a towel and nothing else, staring at her before taking his coffee. "It was just helping out a friend, Darcy."

"I'm going to say thank you for that and it was really good for that helpfulness." She grinned. "I have no problem with anything we did, Clint, and you're damn good at it." He blushed a bit, ducking his head. "So I'll leave it at thank you and we're not going to get awkward about it. Or clingy. I'm not a groupie so I'm not going to tell everyone."

"Thanks." He took a kiss. "Let me get dressed. Scott?"

"Couch. Watching Good Morning America."

"Cool." He slid into his clothes, letting her go shower off her sweat and do the same thing while he went to talk to Scott and check in. "You good?" he asked as he came out for a second cup of coffee.

"I've been fine. You okay?"

"I'm fine." He grinned. "It's not going to become that awkward, weird thing that some people do after one night stands."

"That's good. Darcy really could use more friends in her life. Not too many people would've told me to go ahead and masturbate to you two."

Clint grinned. "I'm spectacular at it. Of course you want to."

"Are you a Stark?" he joked with a smirk.

"Not hardly. I'm not that smart." He sipped his coffee and looked in the fridge then at the bedroom. "You don't have any food, Darcy."

"It's in the freezer," she called. "I made breakfast burritos ahead of time for my late mornings."

Clint got some down to microwave and handed Scott some too. They sat down to wait on Darcy so they could call in for a med check of her. That way they knew it wouldn't be coming back again. Neither one wanted her to have to go through that again.

****

Darcy was walking around the convention center, grimacing at what she was seeing. She had been allowed back to work after her dosing, almost three weeks now. "Drama princesses without a degree," she decided, sidestepping a problem man who had paused to take pictures of a piece flesh...er a woman with a gun wearing a bikini because apparently that's all he understood as art. She grimaced at the woman, who almost seemed to shrug. For her it was probably a paying job.

"Can't fault a woman for needing a job," she decided, making the woman smile a bit. "Even if it does objectify her. Stay strong, ma'am, I'm sure you'll find something better soon." The man she had walked around glared at her but she ignored it. She was there to meet with one of their bigger donors so she was a bit gussied up in a business suit. Nice shoes. Hair back in a french twist. Tasteful jewelry that wasn't anything fabulous but a simple set of chains and earrings.

She rolled her eyes at the staring one guy was doing from his booth. "Not into you, dude. Eyes left." He quit staring, blushing a bit at being caught. She smiled as she saw her target. "Mr. Daliens." He smiled at her. "Darcy Lewis, Shelly's assistant." She pulled out the papers. "Here you go. She said you needed new copies to bring to your wife, sir."

"Thank you, Darcy. I've always admired the work you and Shelly do."

She smiled. "Thank you. We're expanding past some of the tutoring to include food banks with our students. Even though now and then I sneak in a few homemade, healthier cookies, we're working with a new group that gives fruit products to the kids."

"That's an excellent ideas. Healthier eating and they can do it while they study." He walked off with her. "How is Shelly?"

"Miserable. That flu of hers is really knocking her down. She was in the ER last night for the fever that would not quit."

"Poor lady. You both probably work too hard." She smiled and tipped her head a bit. "It's good that someone cares."

"It does seem to be more rare these days," she agreed. They ran into the wife and Darcy smiled, holding out her hand. "Darcy Lewis, ma'am. Shelly's super assistant sort."

She smiled and shook her hand. "Poor Shelly, the flu must be terrible."

"She was in the ER last night for the fever that wouldn't go down," Darcy told her.

"Tell her we said to get better, Darcy."

"I can do that. Also, since I know this is our prospectus of the coming year's works, I included the two projects pitched to us that we're considering for the upcoming year and a half. One of them local and one is reaching out into the more rural areas outside the city. I hope I didn't overstep but at least you'd know where we were looking."

"No, I like that. That way we know where you two are putting your energy."

Darcy smiled. "We've recently teamed up with a food bank that gives fruit products to our tutoring kids. And of course I make healthy cookies sometimes. They really help around test times."

She laughed but nodded. "They did when I was at Vassar."

"Me too at Culver. Those were more fun days though." She smiled a slight bit, nodding at someone she recognized then at the woman again. "One of the consolidation team. Shelly asked me very nicely to quit giving him real information on the harm of consolidating schools."

The husband laughed. "I can see how it'd be worse. You have a nice afternoon, Darcy."

"You two as well. Let me escape before someone expects me to be that poor woman with the gun." She smiled and left the alone. She ran into a problem out in the entry to the convention. Someone grabbed her by the ass. "Get off me!" she ordered, turning to hit them. "I did not give you permission to feel my ass up. Nor did I give you permission for your fingers to try to enter my anal column, sir."

He glared at her as he got up. "Arrest her for assault," he ordered.

"And I'm going to counter sue as you tried to rape me." She stared at him. He laughed. "Intentional, unwanted physical contact with my anal cavity is rape by definition. The rest of us also call it tacky and unmannerly behavior." An officer came over. "Arrest him for trying to finger my asshole please. I did not want him to touch me, did not ask him to touch me, but he sure as shit did grab my ass as I walked past him."

"Pretty girls should be flattered by my attention," he sneered, trying to loom over her. His hands were balled up at his sides as he moved toward her. She pulled her tazer and hit him with it, making him scream. Now people were coming to help.

"No woman should have to force herself to be flattered by your presence." Guards came running. "Nor am I. That's why I sent the legal letter to make you stop trying to flirt with me on air. You're not worthy of anything. And aren't you married to your third trophy toy? Or is it the fourth one?" She considered it. "No, I think you're still wearing out the third one. Like a dementor, everyone looks older after having been near you." He tried to lunge at her so she hit the trigger again, making him scream. "Don't make me feel more threatened, sir. I will shoot you. Stand your ground law," she quipped with a smile. "Just like you push for."

"Ma'am," an agent said. "Come with us please?"

"No." She looked at him then at the crying idiot. "Not until he's under arrest for trying to finger my ass. I didn't want him to touch me yet he did. If I have to shoot him, that's fine. He's threatening my safety." She stared at the agent. Who was calling that in.

"Who are you, ma'am?"

"Darcy DeCriths, sometimes Lewis," she said with a smile. The man tried to lunge at her again so she had her gun out. She stared at him. "Not even blind people could miss at this range." He backed off, hands held up. "You don't have the right to touch anyone against their wills. Yet you still pushed it hoping to humiliate me. Pity, but I'm actually worth more than you are and I'll destroy you." She smiled slightly. "I'd consider it a public service to get rapists off the street." An officer pulled out cuffs. "For me?" she asked. "That's fine." She held out a wrist.

"No ma'am," the agent said, hanging up. "The security tape backs you up. He actually followed you to get your ass."

She grimaced. "How distasteful. Especially after I filed a restraining order against him mentioning he'd like to bang me on international news during a press conference," she said dryly.

The man sneered. "I doubt I said that. Not like you're worthy. You're fat."

Darcy snorted, shaking her head. "No, real women have curves. It's how our bodies are supposed to be. If you don't realize that, you have fun picking up your next trophy spouse at an eating disorder clinic." He huffed off. "Have fun sliding off on your slime, sir." She smiled and waved at his back. Then she glared at the agent. "So help me God if he comes near me again I'm going to end the threat to my life," she vowed. "You can tell the Secret Goddamn Service I said that too."

"I... we'll make note of this in his file." His supervisor was having a fit in his office about all this. It definitely looked bad on them.

She ejected the used tazer cartridge and put it into her holster under her jacket then her gun. "I deal with real men all day. Ones like that I don't put up with, especially when they try to assault me."

"Yes, ma'am. Can we escort you out?"

She smiled. "Gladly. I took a cab though."

"We can make sure you get out of here safely, ma'am."

"Thank you. Can you make sure he doesn't molest the models with guns in there? I doubt he let them load them for their own security. They're vulnerable because no one can run in stiletto heels."

"I'm sure we're going to be on guard for more assaults, ma'am. Who are you?"

She smiled. "I do charity work with inner city youth to help them get an education so they can get out of the hellhole they've been forced into."

"That's a great thing," another agent agreed, coming forward. "Miss Lewis, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, SHIELD agent guy. Why?" She stared at him.

"You shouldn't have to shoot men like that, Miss Lewis."

"But I am perfectly capable."

"I know, ma'am, but we just got an alert that we had to come save you."

"No, you could've written the judge a statement," she said dryly. She smiled at the agent then at the second one. "Let me get a cab so I can go take down my hair and tell my boss that I just had to hurt someone. She hates it because it brings the wrong attention, but...I doubt she wanted me to be raped either." The agents smiled and helped her outside, getting her a cab so she could go tell others in her political and social media groups.

The SHIELD agent looked at the other one. "There was a restraining order filed," he agreed. "I can have it pulled up for you."

"No, our boss saw it and the legal statement in the paper. Is she for real?"

"Yeah. She tazed Thor once."

"Oh, wow."

"She also destroyed a senator for his son's bad deed at a college in Pennsylvania."

"Oh!" He nodded with a smile. That explained his boss's fit. "That makes more sense about her. At least she's not evil."

"Yet. She'll go there if she has to." He walked off. "One of our people under guarding is in here. I'm going to evacuate him."

"Have fun. I've got to follow the huffy thing and if he gets arrested I get the day off." He went to follow his guardee, who was complaining to a reporter.

"Why didn't you stop her from assaulting me," he demanded to the agent.

"Because I'm not to interfere in matters of self defense, sir. She was defending herself and her right to not be molested." He called in. "I need to switch out with another agent," he reported. He hung up and put his phone into his pocket. "I'll stay until the new agent gets here, sir. That way you're not vulnerable."

"I have guns," he sneered.

"Yes but she was still faster on the draw." The reporter was choking. The agent stared at them then at his guardee. "Shouldn't you be heading for a safer area, sir. That is protocol. There are other threats in here."

"Get out," he ordered with a point. "You're fired."

"No, sir, I'm relieved of position. Only my director can fire me and I can sue him and you for that." He walked off happier. He stared at one man. "Hands off the model, sir. They're like art, to be looked at but not touched." The man huffed off. The model smiled at him. "Tell an agent if you get molested, ma'am. That wasn't the first incident today." He met up with his replacement in the security room. "Have fun, Bradders."

"Great fun," he said dryly. "That woman?"

"Charity worker. Here to drop off papers to a donor for her charity."

"Oh."

"He started it. Women do have the right to not be touched against their wills. She would've kept it at hitting him if he hadn't escalated the threat."

"I guess," he complained. "We still have to guard the target."

The first agent looked at him. "I'm not going to stand by and let him rape someone. If you are, I'll let the higher ups know." He walked off, going to report, with a copy of the tape. "Sorry, sir, not going to stand by and let a young woman be raped," he said as he walked into the office. "I also noted if he tried to force someone to fire me for that I'd be suing so he's sneering about me probably." He handed over the DVD.

The supervisor ran it, wincing. "She was right, she has the right of self defense. He's an arrogant asshole." He looked up. "You'll still probably have to transfer."

"He doesn't live in this city, sir."

"He could be elected."

"Then I'll move to Alaska. At least their loudmouths up there aren't that stupid." He looked up that name, finding that file to hand over. "Same woman." His supervisor read it with a wince. "I doubt JFK's guards had to deal with this, sir, but I'm not going to stand by to let someone be raped. Braggers didn't feel like she should have protected herself but if it was my wife or daughter I would've killed him."

"Me too," he admitted, handing back the phone. "I should still transfer you."

He called his wife. "I'm being transferred. Is there anywhere you want me to ask for?" he asked nicely with a smile for his boss. "Sure, by your sister's fine as long as we don't have to babysit. No, it's probably on the news." He hung up. "She wanted Houston or Alabama, sir. She has sisters in each place."

"They're both hot, sweaty offices," he said dryly. "You like cold weather."

"Happy wife, happy life, sir," he said dryly.

"Good point." He filled out the paperwork, letting him sign it with a smile. "An hour away so close enough to visit but not be asked to babysit often." His agent smiled and nodded, going to pack his desk so he could be moved. He sent an email to his director, who showed up later to see that footage. He had pulled up all the files on that young woman. She was spunky, mouthy, and wealthy. It was a deadly combination in some fields.

***
Part 4 by voracity
Darcy came in to work the next day, smiling at her boss. "If you have to fire me, so be it," she said before Shelly could do more than stare at her.

"You still have a tazer?"

"Yeah. I believe in non-lethal means first when possible."

"That's a nice ideal. Would you have shot him?"

"Yes. That was my safety at risk." Her desk phone rang so she frowned at it then smiled at her boss. "I'm betting that's a nagging someone."

"I'm sure it is and it went to voicemail," she said dryly. "I honestly should make a statement of some sort."

"One of the kids I tutor called up last night to tell me to shoot first and then mouth off. It was safer and he couldn't hurt me that way."

"Yeah," she agreed. "I can agree with that in many ways. It's going to cause a huge stink, Darcy," she sighed.

"Actually I have a restraining order against him because he mentioned he wanted to bang me during a speech. His oh-so-classy words."

"Eww!"

"Yeah, my feelings exactly. All I knew is someone grabbed my ass and used their finger to try to push into my ass."

"Wow. Yeah, that you deck someone for and he escalated it. Make a statement."

Darcy smiled. "I can do that." She went to her desk to write something up. She dialed into her voicemail, inputing her code and putting it on speaker.

"Eww," Scott's voice said. "That man is disgusting, I'm glad you hurt him, you should've hurt him more, Darcy. Next time, just shoot the asshole then taze him. Barton's all but livid and wanting to come out there to guard you again. Even Romanoff walked off swearing, in English this time! About his greasy, tiny hands and gross being. Are you all right? You'd better call within minutes, young lady. Before more than just Barton comes out there." He hung up.

She dialed him, smiling as she kicked back. "If he had tried one more thing I would've shot him, Scott. He was threatening me and you know I don't whimper and cry when I'm threatened." She laughed, listening to him rant. And Clint in the background. "I'm fine. Shelly hasn't had to fire me yet to save the group's donations. It's all good and I'm okay. Yeah, I heard his complaining about me at his speech that night. About pretty girls who feel entitled to put admiring men down. I already made a press statement to that on my twitter.

"No, I'm okay, Scott. I had enough layers on I barely felt his tiny, shriveled finger try to breach my ass. No, Clint's not allowed to snipe him, Scott. We have to play nicely sometimes. Though ask Clint who sent the SHIELD agent?" He did that. "Huh. That's just coinkydink then, huh? Yeah, one showed up. Thank him for me for the offer but if I want him sniped, I'll go do it myself. That'd at least free his latest trophy toy he's sucking the life from. You hadn't noticed all his wives come out of their marriages looking older?

"He's a dementor, he sucks the life from them, Scott. I promise, it's okay and I'm fine. Calm Clint down. I made fudge I mailed on the way in this morning. It's coming to you since Clint's mail is being kept again. No, I'm fine. I promise I'm fine. One of the kids I tutor, Julio, remember him? He called me up last night and told me to shoot him instead of taze him, it'd be safer. So yeah, I'm okay. Tell everyone I said hi. Talk to Cassie about self defense stuff too. She's at the age where skanky pervs start to come out of the woodwork. Or the fire escape in our case, but I had him arrested the other day.

"No, he had barely legal kiddy porn out there with him. I ran him off the damn fire escape and ranted at a cop. They said it was barely legal so not kiddy porn but they did arrest him for lewd behavior in public. I warned them to take the magazine since we're a children's charity or else I'd have to burn it and his stash upstairs. They went up there and found his mail order teenage hostage bride, who was pregnant, and his kiddy porn stash. So he's in jail." She smiled. "Thanks, man. Yup, see you at that convention. Have fun." She hung up and got back to work on that statement.

"I remember Scott being here but who is he really?" Shelly called from her desk.

"Um, the guy in the other suit that shrinks," she said with a grin at the paper she was working out the wording on.

"Oh, god, he's an Avenger."

Darcy leaned over to look in there. "He's a really nice guy. He didn't even hit on me when I got hit with that aphrodisiac stuff." She sat back up to go back to work. "You have a dental appointment at two."

"I rescheduled due to the flu and you, dear," she said dryly.

"My mother would've complained I used the word ass instead of buttocks."

Shelly burst out laughing, shaking her head.

***

Stark came out of the lab after two days of tinkering, glaring at everyone. "What is going on with Darcy?" he demanded. Thor scowled at him. "Shut up, Thor. Anyone? She's been trending on twitter for three days and that's almost unheard of unless you're a music star that died."

"A presidential candidate tried to get handsy so she trounced his ass," Bruce said with a tiny wave and a grin. "Nearly shot him."

"Excuse me?" Stark demanded. They found the film for him, it was all over the internet in edited and non-edited format. He stared, glaring at what was happening. "That man has to go." He stomped off. "PEPPER!" he bellowed. "We have to ruin someone! Put on the mean shoes!"

"Too late," she called from the kitchen. "We've already publically expressed great displeasure with how he tried to treat that young woman and said if he was like that with women no wonder he had to buy a wife or three." She smiled when Stark stomped in there, kissing him on the cheek. "I've already checked on her. She's grumbling about the attention issue and someone asking her to run for public office, but she's happy she could fight him off." She stared at him. "She's okay. She even told Barton he couldn't go shoot the slimy asshole." She pulled up Darcy's statement to the press about it, letting him read it. He burst out laughing. "I agree, her mother probably would've liked her to use more lady-like language but the guy probably wouldn't have understood that either. So can you calm down?"

"I guess." He handed her back her phone. "Is that dinner?" he asked, frowning some.

"Only if you go shower and all that good stuff. You stink, Tony." He huffed but went to shower and change clothes. She smiled at the others, who all tried not to smile back. Pepper carefully had Tony wrapped around her fist and she used the power well.

***

Darcy flinched when someone jumped out at her. "What're you gonna do now, lady?" the male voice sneered. She struggled and stabbed him. He screamed and went down.

Darcy pushed back her pony tail. "Not put up with it. No woman should put up with it. Women have rights. Including the right not to be touched."

"Cut!" the director yelled. "Great take, Miss Lewis."

She smiled. "Thank you. I never saw this from this side of the camera." The director looked at her. "Oh, sorry, Donald DeCriths was my dad." He moaned, smiling at her. She grinned. "I'm often compared to Mom, yeah." He laughed but nodded. "Thank you for letting me help film that PSA. I think it's really important." She helped the actor up. "I didn't hurt you, right?"

"The padding made sure," he said with a smile.

"Cool. Thanks, guys." She walked off, going to go home. She had a dinner date tonight. Hopefully this one wouldn't stare at her like she was about to kill him like her one last week.

The director smiled. "I never noticed it but she does look a lot like her mother. She was a sweet lady that did charity work too." He got things wrapped up and called Stark to tell Miss Potts that the commercial was done so she could view it in two days when it was stitched together. Everyone else got to go home too. It was nice Darcy had gotten it in two takes. She took instruction well. Must've gotten some training from her dad.

***

Darcy looked up from her typing as someone walked into their office. "Yes?" she asked the guy. He looked like an agent. He was in a medium-poor suit in navy blue and had sunglasses in his pocket. "Can we help you?"

"Miss DeCriths, we'd like to talk to you," he said.

She smiled. "Go ahead. My boss isn't here at the moment. She's downstairs for the next twenty minutes."

He stared at her. "Are you aware that our agents should have arrested you?"

"If he touches me and I hit him, that's self defense," she said. "If your *agents* are that strong to stop me from defending myself, then that's a problem that should be addressed." She stood up. "I'm not the average little girl, Agent.... whoever." He sneered. "If your job is to protect the rapist instead of keeping him from raping, then that's a problem of priorities. I'll be sure to let others know that."

"Miss, it's not nice to threaten us."

"I haven't threatened you yet." She smiled slightly. "You'll know if I threaten you. By the way, I also don't believe you're an agent. Real agents show their ID's before they talk. I've met plenty. Should I call one?" He stepped back, looking pissed off. She stared at him. "You have a great day," she said with a smile. "And please, next time send a real agent who does things properly." She sat down, smoothing out her skirt. "Have a good day and thank you for visiting us." He stomped off. She reached up to grab down the camera to download the footage. It was a bit blurry. "I have to find out how to set that up better." She downloaded it and sent it out to her progressive media friends and social circle. One of them reported it wasn't an agent. She smiled and sent back a 'thank you'. That was very interesting. She was putting the camera back when Shelly came back. "We had a fake agent show up."

Shelly stared at her. "You sure he was fake?"

"Someone identified who he was." She smiled. "I can ask for a favor to identify his agency." She tapped her fingers on her keyboard and then typed in an email to someone. She got back one almost immediately about having seen that video on the progressive media site she blogged at. "No, he's not an agent. He's a privately paid bodyguard." She smiled. "So he's in trouble for pretending to be an agent." Shelly walked off shaking her head. "You know, people like that might just make me run for an office so I can decry their type." She made sure the camera was plugged back in properly and was doing a good video capture. It was much clearer now so he had a jammer of some sort. Charming!

Someone stomped in, staring at her. "Lewis."

"Clint." She smiled. "What's up?" She leaned back.

"You got a death threat."

"Oh, wonderful." She smiled. "From the same little troll? Or someone else who sent someone to threaten me?"

He blinked. "Excuse me?" She turned her monitor so he could see it. Shelly came out to watch too. Shelly got to moan about what she saw. Clint stared at her. "How do you attract that sort?"

"I don't know. How did I attract Ian?"

"We thought he was targeted to get closer to Jane but we're not sure." He smiled. "Someone tried to snipe the wannabe rapist."

"Woohoo! Means I don't have to," she said sarcastically.

He snorted, smirking at her. "He's blaming you and threatened he'd be seeing you not only in court but dead at his feet."

She waved a hand, picking up her coffee at the end to sip. "I didn't hire anyone. If I wanted him to die, I would've killed him myself."

Clint smirked. "You're not that good."

"I can pretend."

"Point." He stared at her. "You're still under death threat. He can hire people and probably isn't against it."

She smiled. "Are you suggesting I call an ex-boyfriend?"

"Or move," he said.

"I doubt they could find my apartment."

"Me too. I popped in to talk to the security team about that. The head guy, Carlos, he just groaned." She grinned but nodded. "I'm sure he's seen worse. Can you make note of it?"

"Yeah, I can do that." She dialed the phone and put it on speaker.

"Daily Mail, how can I direct your call?" a female voice said.

"Rachel Devorin's desk please?" Darcy asked politely.

"Just a moment." Hold music came on then a voicemail message.

Darcy rolled her eyes. "Rachel, it's Darcy Lewis. I've just been told I'm being accused of hiring someone to kill the tasteless moron who tried to molest me. I did not hire anyone. If I wanted him dead, I'd do it myself. Can you call me back later about that if you think there's a story there? Thanks." She hung up and looked at Clint then turned to her computer to make a new blog entry. She let Clint and Shelly read it, making Shelly snicker as she walked off. Clint nodded and she sent it in. She sent out a statement on her facebook and twitter account too. That way someone could find it. Her cellphone rang so she answered it and walked off talking to that reporter.

Clint sat in her seat, shaking his head. Darcy was still real full of life, and full of pissing people off when it was needed. Clint looked into the office. "Darcy's superpower is irritating people until they give in and do what she wants them to do," he quipped, cracking Shelly up.

"I heard that," Darcy called from the hallway. "I'm not making you fudge again this month."

"Sorry," he called back, looking at the remarks coming in. "Wow, some hateful cunts on here. Hey, Darcy, you should see some of these comments."

She came in to look then snorted and answered. She read a few and noted what she replied as she walked off. She and the reporter were both appalled and horrified but oh well.

Clint shook his head, sending a text message to Natasha and Stark. They could handle it if this came back on them.

***

Steve got tossed the phone from Natasha, reading the text message. "How mean can they be?"

"Very stupid," Natasha said. "But they're the same sort that would vote for that odious creep."

Steve looked up that site, frowning at what he read. "He did what?"

"That's not that unusual," she said, coming back with a bottle of water. She handed that over and held out a hand but he kept the phone to keep reading. He scowled at her when she cleared her throat. "Can we help?"

"I can easily go point out that real women do protect ourselves and others when possible. Such threats prove he's not a true man."

"Let me help you do that." He stared at her.

She smiled slightly. "We may be able to do that."

Thor stomped in. "Why are they talking about Darcy now?" he demanded.

"The creep that tried to grope her so she nearly killed him is now threatening her life," Steve said bluntly. Thor growled. "Apparently he doesn't think he should be stopped in anything."

"If we had a way he'd make an interesting infant. He moans like a toddler," Natasha said as she walked off. "Let me make a statement on our team twitter."

"I'll post one after you," Steve said, looking at Thor. "Did you not see how she had to defend herself?"

"I did. It was worthy of her to do," Thor agreed. "I still do not like that she snubbed my family."

Steve sighed. "Thor, what you were thinking was a bodyguard for the baby, right?" He nodded once. "That's not what a nanny is. A nanny is the caretaker. The one who changes diapers and does all the mom things instead of the parents." Thor frowned. "That's a servant. Darcy's also had a point that they end up with problems. The kids end up with problems because they're being raised and taught to respect someone their parents hired to do that for them. The nannies can be removed after years of taking care of the kids. That causes a lot of pain. Would you really want someone to do that?"

"No." He frowned. "I know not how to handle this. What of our current nurse?"

"The current nanny's good. She takes good care of your daughter." He stared at him. "A lot more than you do. Dads on Midgard, they're there for kids. They play with them, they teach them, they change and feed them, all that stuff. You're letting her be raised like Stark was because his parents were always busy," he finished more quietly. "Will she be worthy of your mother's legacy?"

Thor considered it, frowning. "I would hope so. I can make sure of it however."

"Please do. Your nanny's got a cold right now and could probably use a day off to rest."

"Jane...."

"Hasn't come out of the lab in days, Thor. Her current assistant is allowing it and encouraging that because it means more science coming out." He patted him on the arm. "Do what your mom would want you to do. That's what I do when I'm trying to figure out the right thing. Our moms raised us to be good men. We have to raise any kids to be just as good as they'd want us to be." He walked around him.

Thor nodded. "My mother would be upset at all this," he agreed with a sigh. He went to gather his precious little spawn. The nurse jumped up and grabbed a weapon when he walked into the baby's room. "I come to play with her so you can rest. Steven said you were ill and need to rest."

"It's just a cold, Lord Thor," she said quietly.

He stared at her. "Which can turn worse if you do not rest," he said, smiling some. "You go rest and I'll handle her needs unless we have a battle. I'm not doing much today."

"She's actually napping."

"That's even nicer. She is like her mother, they never sleep." The nanny tried not to smile. "Go rest. I'll bring her to the living room to rest and play with me." He carried her bag and crib out there, putting it next to the couch so he could watch over her. He thought about how he had expected Darcy to want to do that same job. It wasn't fair to her. Darcy needed children of her own and his would suffer if she had to do the nurse's job. No, this was better for them all. Even if Jane's mind had been taken by science again. Someday soon he was going to have to stop that. Stark walked past reading. "Stark, tell me of these nannies you grew up with?" he asked quietly.

He looked over then at the baby then at him. "She was the greatest almost-mom in my life. I really hated when my parents sent her away and I wrote her an apology letter because I didn't realize what a shit I was to her sometimes, and how hard it was to guard me." He flopped down to stare at him. "My dad was a lot like Jane. He was lucky to see me once a week or so. My mom was there more often but she found things to take her attention since my father wasn't." Thor nodded with a grimace, looking at his daughter.

"She did good with me. She taught me a lot about how to be a man. I wasn't getting it any other way." He shrugged some. "She was a great woman. I adored her once I grew up enough to realize that she had taken good care of me. I was lucky that she was so good. I've seen some kids have some seriously damaged women as nannies. There's still problems with being raised with one.

"I had a lot of problems learning to respect and admire a person my parents hired to keep me out of their way, like I was a burden. That's probably why I'll never have kids of my own." Thor nodded at that. "She gave me the love I needed but it wasn't the same as others got. I knew some kids who had mothers who did mom things. It seemed...it seemed nicer and more normal to me than going to ask the lady in the kitchen to do it."

"So it was good for you but not as good."

"In a lot of ways, yeah. It was. Your nanny's a good one. We made sure she's a good woman and she'll treat your daughter like her own. We made sure she understood about Jane and science and our battles, all that stuff around here. We like the little sprout. Sometimes she reminds us of your brother, but we like the little one." He grinned. "She's done great with her."

"She has. I worry that this will take most of her life from her."

"That's her choice, Thor. I know she was married, recently divorced. No kids of their own."

"What if she wants one?"

"Then she's an adult so she can come tell you. We'll work on how to get the little sprout there to like the new one if she feels she has to leave. Really, she should be around kids more often. It's not as safe but she needs to learn about people. Isolating her will cause later problems."

"I..." He nodded once. "I can see that. Have you looked at her focusing issue?"

"Most of that was the drugs the last lady was feeding her but she's like her mom. She'll focus on things and if you interrupt her she'll be annoyed and ignore it." He grinned. "She's very much like her mom."

Thor nodded, smiling at her since she was awake and staring at him. "Good afternoon, Emma." He pulled her out to cuddle. She patted his nose, letting him kiss her fingers. "Would you like to spend time with me today?" She bounced a few times, grinning at him. "Do you have toys?"

"She has a ton of toys," Stark said, getting up. "I'll send some up from the room near the gym she hangs out in most days. It's got a lot of windows so she can watch things," he said at Thor's odd look. He sent the robots to do that and went back to finding lunch. Thor got onto the floor with her to play with the toys. She liked that. Her father was being wrapped around her fingers, finally. It was good to see. Stark got an alert from his twitter and looked at the followed person's comment. He snorted, making one back that if she couldn't kill him, others would've helped her, but she didn't usually need it. Pepper blocked that one and put up something nicer. He rolled his eyes but Pepper was fussy sometimes.

***

Darcy walked out of the office, finding a few reporters standing there. "What's up, guys?" She put on her beanie and buttoned up her jacket. "Problems? Waiting on Shelly? Or one of the others in the other offices?" She walked off.

"Miss Lewis, who are you?" one of the reporters shouted, chasing after her. "Who are you?"

She looked back, shrugging some. "Who do you think I am? Not like I've changed since I was eighteen." She kept walking, shrugging some to get her purse into place. "I'm not anything hugely special, guys; just a lady who gives enough of a damn to make a difference."

"You threatened agents!"

"That guy that showed up to threaten me in the office wasn't an agent." She stopped, turning to look at them, seeing the sneer. "Little boy, that guy wasn't an agent. I asked an actual agent. He's a hired bodyguard playing dress up. I had two agents there helping me get away from that slime. I can tell agents from fake ones usually." She stared at him, he was still sneering. "Beyond that, I doubt that agents are mad at me for defending myself. If they are, they're not doing their job. Because their job isn't to let people they're guarding assault others."

"He only groped you," the reporter sneered.

"Did you think he was going to stop there? Because he probably wasn't. Men don't grope you in public, which is beyond this point, but they also don't try to stick their fingers up your asshole if they're just groping." He glared. She stared at him. "Now, is there anything else?"

"Someone said you're an heiress. Do those kids you work with know that?"

"Yeah. One asked. They know my dad used to be a tv producer. My mom came from a banking family. I grew up practical and knew it was my job to help people who didn't have what I have. I was tutoring the scholarship kids back in high school, people. It's a small part of what I do to help others." She turned and walked off. "Have a better night, people. I don't do anything that interesting right now." She waved. "Have fun."

She heard an explosion and ducked, pulling her gun. Someone was running toward her with a gun out, making her stare at them. "Back the fuck down!" she ordered. He pointed the gun at her so she shot him in the leg. "No! Not allowed!" She grabbed her phone but police were pulling up. "Guys, there was an explosion then he was running toward me with a gun," she called. "I got him in the thigh."

"Ma'am, we need your gun," an officer said. Darcy handed it over. They pulled her out to handcuff her. "Any other weapons?"

"Knife and my legal, allowed tazer on my back." She looked at him. "Can you confiscate their cameras?"

"No. That's a violation of the press."

An agent came jogging over. "Let her go!" he ordered. "She was the damn victim! He was hired to kill her." An officer stopped him but he got around the officer. "FBI, boys. Back the fuck away from the victim."

"She shot someone," that officer sneered.

Darcy looked up at him. "Yay. He was threatening me." She shifted her wrists and he grabbed them harder. She stared at him. "You're not an officer. You're higher than fuck." The officer smirked but tapped his badge. She looked at the agent, who shrugged. Then someone shot at him, grazing him on the arm. The officers laughed. The reporters were still filming. Darcy shifted to hit her emergency button on her belt with her forearm. The officer dragged her toward a car. She saw a kid. "Brad, no! Go, they're not officers!" she called. The kid she tutored ran off. The officer punched her.

She stared at him. "I've had worse than that." He tried to hit her again so she kicked him in the nuts. Then there was help. She sighed and shifted her stance, kicking that guy back toward them. "He's not an officer." The other two gang kids hauled him onto the ground, holding him there. More agents showed up and Darcy moved her jaw, making sure it was all right. She nodded at one of the agents she knew. "The agent tried to get me from them because I shot the guy running at me with a gun in the thigh. That one hit me. They're helping. Please don't touch those kids."

"I don't care about those kids, Lewis. They're good to help a young woman." He checked her jaw. "You'll be fine with some ice."

"I realize that. Can I be let go of?" They let her go, letting her rub her wrist. She sat on the stairs, after hugging one of the kids. "Thanks."

"Welcome, Lewis. You're too nice to fall to that slime."

She smiled. "I've seen worse but the last one was a senator's son." They snorted but walked off. She looked at the agent staring at her. "I came out to reporters and walked off. They quipped something stupid so I stopped to correct them. Then I walked off again, there was an explosion, I ducked behind the trash can for cover and looked while pulling out my phone. The guy with the thigh shot was running at me with a gun."

She looked and pointed. "His. I called out a warning and he pulled up the gun so I got him in the thigh. I started to call that in but cop cars showed up so I let them handle it." She wiped her nose off, glancing around then at him. "I wasn't going to fight being arrested for it but I did suggest they get the tapes from the cameras. The guy sneered and that's when I realized he was high as fuck by how dilated his eyes are."

"You let him get close?"

"He was handcuffing me and until that point I thought he was PD," she said blandly. "Are you an agent?" He glared. She stared back. "Call me paranoid but yeah, I am." He pulled out his ID so she could see it. She handed it back. "Thank you." She stared at him. "The fake cop took my tazer and my gun." An agent found them, holding them up. "And the pretty knife was a present too."

"That's not a usual design," the agent who found it said. "Where did you get it?"

"It was a present from Thor." He stared at her. She shrugged but grinned slightly. "It was." She accepted them in a bag, tucking them into her lap. "So, now what, agent guys?"

"Now, miss, we take a formal statement in the office."

"Sure." She looked down and hit the button on her belt again, calling in. "It's me, agents showed up to handle the fake cops." She listened. "Yeah, I'm there. Okay. Thank you." She hung up, taking a deep breath. "Can we do it somewhere more neutral?"

"No, ma'am. We have special cameras in the office."

Darcy looked at him then sighed and pulled out her phone, taking his picture, sending it on. "According to an agent I'm meeting later to talk about the death threat, you're not FBI." She looked at him. "Do those cameras even have film?"

"No," he said with a smile. "And we unloaded the gun and tazer." That agent held up the batteries and clip.

Darcy pointed. "And that guy has a camera on all the time. There's at least ten cameras on right now." She put her hand down. "Do you really want to do this?"

He laughed. "Your psychology training isn't going to work here, Miss Lewis."

She smirked. "That's not actually my last name." The agent stared. "It's DeCriths." He smirked harder. "Oh, you're not here about that latest death threat. Cute. So which one are you here about?"

"You have uses," he sneered.

"Oh, you're HYDRA," she said with a sigh at the end. "So trite. Really, really overdone."

"No one's coming to save you. We blocked your emergency signal. We're better than you are."

She stared then shrugged. "If you're sure, dude." She stood up, tucking the bag into her bag. "If you're that sure you have me, take me." They grabbed her. And an arrow hit the guy in the brain. "Thanks," she called. She sat back down. "Need me further away?"

"No," Clint called. "Stay, Lewis."

"Yup. Not moving a bit until ordered to." The other agent was scanning around. Darcy threw her knife, hitting him in the stomach. It didn't go real deep but it distracted him from looking for Clint. The building's security team showed up to help evacuate her. "Thanks, guys." She grabbed her knife, following them to the SUV. "How bad is it?"

"Very," they agreed.

"We can clean it up. We'll take you to a neutral location in case the PD or someone wants a statement," the driving agent said. "Barton can follow you."

"Okay. Can I have coffee and maybe a valium?"

"If we can," the driver agreed.

The one next to Darcy patted her on the hands. "Medical?"

She rubbed the spot on her jaw. "Ice pack?"

"We can do that," he promised quietly. She nodded, leaning against the door. They drove her to an office they rented for such needs. Clint walked in and they let him have her for now.

"You good?" He tipped her cheek up to look at. "Ice?" She held it up then put it back. "You okay?" he asked more quietly. She shook her head. He settled behind her on the desk, patting her on the shoulder. "We're not sure why they were after you."

"If they were HYDRA, would it be the usual reason?"

"Not sure," he admitted. He patted her again. She leaned into his hand. "We'll figure it out."

"I'm going to pretend to be a Stark tonight and drink like the world's ending," she said quietly. "While I'm locked in my super safe apartment."

"I'll be in the living room on the couch. I'll make sure you got something for the hangover."

"Thanks. That's a great friend."

"I know I am."

She looked up at him. "Do you have funny feelings?"

"Not yet," he admitted. "Then again I'm usually more paranoid." He stroked over her hair. "Rest for a few. Cops were only pulled up to talk to the security team."

"Should I hire a bodyguard?" she asked.

"Probably won't fully solve anything." She grimaced. "At least those idiots on the social media sites won't get too much complaining about all this. They can't doubt you'd protect yourself even from a death threat."

"I should edit my earlier one," she complained, frowning at her phone. Clint handed it to her. She got into it to add on to the earlier diary she wrote about how the new death threat was now getting stupid. Clint looked at it, then snorted and edited her complaining, handing it back. She fixed a few word choices then added more to it about waiting on the police to come question her. She sighed and looked at her now broken nail, turning on her speak-to-type program to get back to it. Clint was trying not to grin at what she was complaining about. Someone knocked so she put down the phone. "Come in. We're calmer now."

An officer walked in, nodding at them. "Ma'am."

"Darcy Lewis," she said, holding out a hand. Then switched the hand to look at the bruise on it. "Sorry." She put the ice pack on it.

"That's fine. We expect bruises from days like today, Miss Lewis." He pulled out his tape recorder. "All right, let's go over what happened this afternoon."

She nodded, telling him what happened. About the 'agents' and the 'officers' and the death threat she was warned of earlier. The officer nodded as she talked, making notes on his notebook. Clint waved. "I got there in time to save her from one of them," he noted. "And her building's security team showed up then to help evacuate her."

"All right. Who're you, sir?"

He smirked. "Clint Barton."

"Oh. All right. Are you an agent?"

Clint nodded. "Used to be SHIELD."

"That's good. Are you retired?"

Clint shook his head, pulling off his sunglasses. "No. Now I'm an Avenger."

"All right." He made that note. "What are you going to be doing now, Miss Lewis?"

"I'm contemplating getting shitfaced drunk tonight while I consider hiring a full time bodyguard," she said. "Because right now I'm not sure if I want to break out crying or just have a fit."

"Crying is often useful after very stressful situations."

"I didn't cry after London got invaded," she said dryly. "I just found a margarita special and took advantage of it. I think this is a bit worse than an invasion by idiot evil elves."

"Probably, yes. It's more personal," the officer said. "Crying is still a normal response."

"That's good to know. Now what happens?"

"We're arresting most of them," he said. "A few of the reporters are claiming they weren't involved. They actually had cameras with film."

"I hope they get to release it in the unedited form," Clint said dryly. "That way no one can twist it."

The officer shrugged. "Not my department, sir." He looked at her. "Are you safe?"

"Unless my building's owned by HYDRA, yeah. I hope so. I live in a security conscious building, Detective...."

"Almonds. Please no jokes about candy," he said with a small smile.

"I'd never do that. It'd devalue the holy Almond Joy," she said blandly, making him laugh. "Am I under arrest?"

"No. You are not at this time. People are throwing up fits."

"That's one good reason to release the tape without editing," Clint said. "Can she get a copy?"

"We can arrange that. I think. Let me check." He got back to his notes. "The PD people, were they in official cars?"

"They looked like the ones you see on the tv shows about the CPD, not the actual ones," Clint said. "Close enough but not perfect."

"I wasn't watching the car. The uniform the guys were wearing looked right," Darcy said. "I thought they were real because they looked real. Though thinking back they were better built than a lot of officers I've seen are. Not a lot of CPD guys I've seen are gym rats."

"Some of us do have some padding," he agreed. "Not all of us though." She smiled slightly. "Let me turn this in then I'll be right back." She nodded, putting the ice pack on her wrists.

Clint noticed the phone was still running. He petted over Darcy's hair. She relaxed until people came in with guns. "Let's go," the thug said. "Now."

Darcy looked at him. "Are you CPD?" she demanded. "Let's see some ID please."

"Not necessary," he sneered. "They'll never miss you. You're nothing."

"Not hardly. People will miss me."

"No one that matters." He pointed the rifle at them. "Let's. Go." Darcy picked up her phone, sending that diary into the site. Clint gave her a sideways look. She shook her head. He grinned slightly. That was a bit sneaky. They were being dragged out until someone stepped in. An actual currently employed agent.

Agent May was standing in their way, hands on her hips, one right over her gun. "I believe we at SHIELD want them first," she said bluntly. The guy threatened her with the gun. Clint hit him on the neck, making the guy groan and fall down. "Thank you, Barton. Lewis?"

"Bit pissed off. I need tequila."

"Tequila is a good thing sometimes," May said, escorting them out. They were put into an SUV and taken off. May looked back from the front seat. "We've checked, the building's publically noted owner isn't HYDRA but a few of their guards might be. We've talked to the heads of security."

"That's good," Darcy said, nodding some. "That's really good. Am I going there?"

"Yes you are," May said calmly. "We can have someone bring you some tequila." Darcy just nodded. Clint shifted to pet her, keeping her calm until she could break down. May and he shared a look. The driving agent sped up at her poke. Another agent met them there with the requested bottle of decent, but not great, tequila. Darcy wouldn't want the really good stuff, just the really strong stuff tonight.

Clint escorted her up to her apartment and helped her settle in. He kept the bottle until she threw a fit in the bathroom, throwing things around and screaming. By the time she got quiet, he was pouring her a drink. May was waiting for them on the couch. Darcy took the glass, the bottle, and walked back into the bedroom.

Clint sat down, staring at her. "I have no idea," he admitted.

"We got the film. Unedited. Skye decided to release it unedited onto the same sites Darcy likes to lurk on."

"She was editing her earlier diary on one of them. Including with the speech typing app going."

"Oh, dear."

"Oh, yeah." He grinned. "Some nice stuff."

She called that in. "It's May. Lewis was editing her earlier complaint and it caught some of the earlier talk." She hung up. "Skye said that she's already linked that video onto it and she's made sure it's copied a few places as well. Coulson was scowling verbally in the background."

"He never had to scowl at us like that." Someone pounded then walked in, stomping past them. "She's got tequila, Nat," he said dryly.

"She needs a guard," Natasha said blandly as she walked into the bedroom. She yelped and Darcy rushed over to help her since she had tazed her. "Nice," she said, patting her on the arm. "That is an excellent reaction time while drunk and what I'd like you to do whenever you are troubled." She sat up, wincing a bit.

"I'm sorry."

"It's a good thing," Natasha said, taking the bottle of tequila. "We need vodka."

"Vodka is for happy drinking. Tequila is for when you want to forget." She took the bottle back, pouring more into her glass then handing it back. She sat on her bed, getting cuddly with her pillow. Natasha sat next to her, patting her on the arm. "I know it's not my fault."

"Good."

"It's his fault for not respecting women."

"Yes it is."

"I'm going to kill him."

"Perhaps we can talk about how to do that." Darcy glared at her. She smirked slightly. "I'm much better than you would ever be at that, Darcy."

"I have anger. That's better than sneaky spysassin stuff."

"Not always."

Clint came in and took the bottle to pour himself a drink then went back out to the living room.

Darcy grinned. "If you're going to hit on Melinda, close the door so you have privacy."

"It's not the night for that," Clint said dryly.

"I don't date agents," Melinda said.

Clint gave her a smug look. "I'm a retired agent, May."

"Uh-huh," she said dryly. "I don't date Avengers either. They tend to have clingy friends I don't want to meet in the kitchen after sex."

"You'd probably only run into Bruce," he admitted. "The rest of us sleep and Stark doesn't remember to eat that often. Thor won't wake up without the act of another god." She snorted but looked pleased. Clint drank some of his liquor. It was a good night for it.

***

Coulson was the reason everyone woke up the next morning. He knocked and didn't get let in so he picked the lock and went in to make coffee. Clint glared at him from the couch. Coulson waved a cup, getting a shrug back. Melinda woke up next, glaring at him. He pulled out a cup for her too. Clint held up two more fingers. Coulson made two more cups. He blinked when Natasha opened the bedroom door. He poured sugar into her cup and handed it over. She poured her own coffee and one for Darcy, going back to the bedroom.

Clint sat up, taking his cup from Coulson. May took hers to sip slowly. "Tequila. It solved the nerves."

"That's a good reason," Coulson agreed. He sat down. "Her speech-to-text program is very good. It took down all that information." He took a sip of his own coffee. "We have routed out the HYDRA people on the local staff with their help. One of them was watching over Darcy but he wasn't sure why he was supposed to." Darcy came to the door, glaring at him. "You're safer now."

"I should move," she said.

"Perhaps but they've cleaned out most of their staff's problems," Coulson said. "So you should be safe enough here. Not like they didn't already know you're here."

"Great." She sipped her coffee, coming out to sit on the couch with Clint. "Now what?"

"The person who put up the hit on you is now arrested," Coulson said. "It was officially their butler that put the contract out." She grimaced, but sipped some of her coffee. Natasha came out to take the last seat. "We should upgrade your tazer."

"Probably," she agreed. "I've got a stronger one but I don't tend to carry it when I've got tutoring that night. The kids have seen it, they asked to see it, and they liked how it worked when they tested it against a wall. By the next week, the girls in the class all had one, and one was even legally bought." She took another drink. "So now what?"

"Now, we've talked to Shelly, who was panicking. She caught your story and panicked, calling me. Then the edit came in while she was on the phone with me."

"Melinda and Clint were my heros. They deserve huge rewards for that."

"They should," Coulson agreed. "We have a new bow for Clint to test. It was confiscated but has a weird pull so we wanted his opinion on it." Clint nodded while he gulped coffee.

"Melinda just got in their way, even without her gun in hand, and made the guy frantic," Darcy said. "I want to be scary like her some day."

Melinda smiled some. "Thank you, Darcy. You're scary enough in your own way though." She looked at Natasha. "You did good with how you trained her."

"I cannot take credit for that," Natasha admitted. "I thought her a simple intern. She proved me wrong."

Coulson nodded, smiling at her. "That's fine, Natasha. You were busy handling everything else and having sense. It's something lacking in Stark tower since JARVIS was lost." Natasha smiled into her coffee.

"I do miss having JARVIS just a question away," Darcy admitted. "It made it easier to avoid problems. Or grumpy people." She finished her coffee, getting up to make more. Clint got given some first, then the pot got offered around. Darcy took the last and made a third pot before sitting down again. "So now what? Beyond work?"

"The kids heard you nearly got killed last night by the boys that helped you," Coulson said. "They were huffy you were missing without warning before they got told. Then one of them threw a desk and they all told him you were fine, just hiding. So you can go on your next usual night." She nodded, putting her cup down to stare at him. "Shelly was a bit frantic but calmed herself down by talking to Skye. She's most happy to talk to Skye about how things were going." Two phones beeped, making Coulson and Natasha look at their phones. "Stark just heard. He's pissed."

Natasha sent back a report. "I've told him you're fine, Lewis." She got a new text and she answered it. "He's now complaining about them. How many of them were HYDRA?" she asked without looking up.

"The supposed agents and the one that came to get her out of that room," Coulson said. She nodded once, typing that in. "The rest were about that contract. Thankfully that's been ended."

"Formally ended?" Darcy asked. "Or just the guy's arrested so he can't pay for it? Because I'm guessing the idiot has fanatics who like him." She looked at Clint.

"I don't think a bodyguard would help that much, Darcy. He'd probably be waiting in the car real often when you're tutoring or delivering things," Clint said.

"Pity." She grimaced.

"You could switch jobs," Coulson said. "Switch cities."

"All this attention would probably count against me," she said. "And I still don't want to run for office. Though I might like that platform to stop some stupid things."

"You'd have to go along to get along," Coulson said. "At least at first."

"Which sucks," Darcy agreed. "Nothing ever gets changed that way."

"True," Coulson agreed, staring at her. "Do you want to switch cities?"

"I...I like working with Shelly and the kids?" She looked unsure. "I'm worried I'll have to move because all this attention on the building."

"They haven't said anything about that," Coulson said. "You could ask."

"Yeah, later. When people are in." She picked up her cup to take another drink. "So now what am I doing? How long am I hiding for?" she asked at Melinda's odd look. "Any new precautions?"

"Driver," Coulson suggested. "Two days of hiding to make sure it's safe."

"Okay." She sent that message to Shelly. She looked at her twitter, wincing at what she saw. "Oh, great, I'm being called a coward... and other pretty names. Aww, it's the obligatory male jackass rape threat too. I'm so honored," she said sarcastically, answering them. Then she put up a new tweet that slammed them all for it. "If they really wanted to traumatize me more, they have to work harder than to threaten to have me raped by *real* men."

Clint snatched the phone to look over, grimacing. "Gross."

Natasha nodded. "Many women are threatened with that for exposing the fact that men aren't all that virtuous."

"Or that human," Darcy agreed. "I'm still getting sniveling from the group at my former college about pointing out women being able to defend themselves has been happening since the beginning of history because men weren't there and it doesn't make men less macho to not be forced to defend us. Frankly, most of us needed to know how to defend ourselves from those sort of men."

"The idiot has tape of that talk," Melinda warned. "He laughed about it."

"I heard," Darcy said dryly, looking at her. "I also noted he was pathetic for believing that women were too fragile to protect themselves. After all, someone had to defend the family and lands when guys were out being macho hunter sorts." She rolled her eyes as she shook her head.

Melinda smirked a tiny bit, watching Darcy be outraged. "We should share those videos."

"Yes we should," Clint agreed. "Because real men know that their women can protect themselves but should never have to do it against them."

Natasha smiled slightly. "True. We hope she'll never have that sort of man."

"Had one as a teenager and he ran from the house crying when I grabbed his dick and twisted it for being a jackass." Darcy looked at her. "He wanted to go all the way and I wasn't about that with him. It was only our second date. It was a study date with three other people staring at him and he still tried to get into my panties. They all clapped and made sure *everyone* knew so he couldn't try it again."

Coulson looked at her. "Is he still around?"

"Not that I've ever checked," Darcy quipped. "He was the guy on the lacrosse team."

Coulson looked at her school's yearbook for her junior year, finding him. "He was pretty."

"But he was a stupid fuck," Darcy said dryly. "Really too stupid." She looked at him, then pointed at the other one. "Him."

"Not as pretty," Coulson said. "Did you break his nose?"

"No, his dad hit him with the car one year. Supposedly by accident."

Coulson looked him up. "Hmm, he sells cars." Darcy broke out giggling. "High end ones. Oh, he married into the dealership."

"Stacy?" Darcy guessed.

He looked. "Stacy's sister if they're Morrats."

"Yup. That's the one that I was thinking of. Stacy was there when I nearly ruined his tiny dick. So he knocked up her little sister? Who was probably....six years behind us?"

"Yes, it appears so. Her sophomore year."

"Awww, technically juvie rape," Clint said dryly.

Coulson nodded, closing it out. "He's on the site that does the yearbooks waiting on others to connect."

Darcy shook her head. "I looked but there's almost none on there I'd want to talk to. Those I'm on facebook."

"That is a good way to weed out people you don't want to remember," Melinda said.

"I have many of those I ask 'who the crap are you' and have to look them up," Darcy agreed. "Half of them I work with on various charities." They all tried not to smile at that. "Oooh, the idiot hasn't figured out who I actually am yet. He still thinks I'm not the one that sent him that restraining order letter. Awww. Tiny little mind."

"I'll talk to his guard agents," Coulson said, shaking his head and taking a sip of his cold coffee.

She pointed. "Microwave, Coulson?" He went to warm his coffee up after refilling the cup. She got back to her statements on her various medias then put her phone down. "Before I throw it. Some people are cranky that I survived. We may be progressive but there's still plenty of bitches with bad ideas." She looked at Coulson. "Want me to put a final edit on that diary and point out SHIELD agents saved me?"

"Go ahead," he agreed. "No naming them. She's got a following from teenage boys." Melinda glared at him but didn't move to stab him this time.

Natasha looked at Clint. "Don't even mention them," she warned before he opened his mouth to tell her about Natasha's fan club.

"The only ones I know in your fanclub are women who needed a strong role model to look up to," Darcy quipped as she typed in that edit. "Here we go. The next morning's edition and explanation. Last night, SHIELD agents saw the diary and managed to save myself and the agent with me in time before we got taken by another idiot who was wanting to kidnap us. I really heart all the SHIELD agents I know of, but I don't know them all, and they were really helpful last night. They even got me tequila after all that was done with so I could recover in peace and quiet without screaming too long. But seriously, thanks to the people who alerted people I was being kidnaped and the SHIELD agents who protected us. It was really sweet of them. Now we're making plans to make sure I don't have to go through that again. We *think* it's ended, but you know how some fanatics are. So peace, people, and at least we all survived it. And if you're my kids I tutor, I'll be in at my normal time on Saturday."

"Put this weekend," Clint said. "For safety." She corrected that with a nod. "And you can put that on your facebook too."

"I put it on my twitter. Most of them consider facebook lame white people things." She shrugged a bit as she shifted position to put her feet up. "I've already gotten one response that they're glad I'm okay and a slight blush over being noted as saving me last night during the first thing." She let Coulson see it, getting a nod so she posted it. Then she answered the new comments.

They settled in to talk about how to handle things. Darcy was cool with that. As long as someone kept making coffee. Bringing social justice took a lot of coffee.

***

Stark showed up at Darcy's apartment that night, staring at Melinda when she opened the door. "There's still two people who think it's a great idea," he said, walking around him. "Lewis?" he called. "There's still idiots."

"Of course there are," she agreed, coming out of the bedroom putting in earrings. She turned. "Zip me up please?" He grimaced but did that. "Thank you." She went back into the bedroom, coming out to put on her shoes. She stared at him. "How did you find me?"

"I hacked Coulson." He smirked, handing over the sheet of paper. "The idiot at your college is wanted in connection with four attempted rapes and for encouraging guys like that guy in Santa Barbara." She grimaced. "He's taken up the call to have you killed. There's another one that's out of LA." She flipped to those, grimacing. "Yeah." He sat down. "So what're you doing tonight?"

"Dinner with a few people and Shelly." She stared at him. "Have they come near Pepper?"

"No. Thankfully not. Someone tried really hard last month but she got him back for it." Darcy grinned. "Anyway, are we sure it's safe?"

"Pre-arranged by months, Tony. I can't get out of it."

"I can go."

"Then you'd be expected to donate a lot. We're all tiny groups with low budgets."

He waved a hand, grimacing back. "I know you do."

"I know I do too." She smirked. "You can come if you want but we'll be talking about a rollout of a new collaborative project."

He sighed, shaking his head. "No. I'll donate but I don't know anything about putting things into place if they're not electronic."

"That's fine." She pinched him on the arm. "If you're looking for Clint, he's already scouting the area. When Shelly called to remind me, Coulson went back into scowling man persona."

"He made expressions?" Stark asked.

"Yeah, whole ones instead of small ones. He was not pleased."

"Well, hopefully nothing will happen tonight." He held out something with a smirk. "Stronger. Needs to charge for a bit but much higher stream of electricity and tougher to break if they step on it." She smiled, taking it to look over then plug in. "You going soon?"

"About twenty minutes so I'll bring both. That one can go on my thigh." She grinned. "The advantages of a purse."

"Yeah, that's a good thing."

"So how's people?"

"People are...usual," he admitted. "Bruce is having a good week. No code greens, no big dramas. Only the kid scared him this week. She was wandering when she should've been sleeping on dad so she went to find Mom but found Brucie to squeal at from the doorway. He yelped, which we heard. She squealed back at the odd sound, and ran in to cuddle him. We're starting to think the kid is actually Loki's." She burst out giggling, shaking her head. "Yeah. It's been that sort of week. I had to make sure she couldn't wander into my lab area. Her nanny has a bad case of the flu, again. She got the shot."

"Was it sent at her? There were stories of a few people getting weaponized flu recently thanks to a runaway experiment at NYU's labs."

"I saw that," he admitted. "I don't think so. We typed the strain and it looks different so I'm hoping not. Thankfully the kid hasn't gotten it yet."

"Kids are stronger than adults. They bounce back from a lot of stuff."

"Yeah, they do. Including walls in her case. She keeps running into the elevator."

"Shiny surface, Tony. Jane did the same thing because her brain didn't process that the shiny hallway was a mirror."

"Yeah, that could be," he admitted. "I can put stickers up or something. Jane walked into the other day again and nearly broke her nose. Then her foot kicking it."

"She is her mommy's daughter."

"Yes she is. With her daddy's hair." He stood up. "You should finish doing your hair."

She looked at it in the mirror across from them, patting down a few pieces. "It was mostly done." She looked at him. "Thanks. Be safe?"

"Of course."

"Did you pass this intel on to anyone?"

"Not yet."

"I'll make sure Clint sees it. Thank you." She hugged him. "Go be safe, Tony."

"Yeah, you too. You keep getting this shit piled on you."

"It's the boobs. Men don't respect strong women. Apparently I'm threatening because I stand up for myself and others. They consider it *dangerous*." He snorted, shaking his head. "I know, and so do you, that they're whiny babymen who have mommy issues. The world could use some more therapists."

"You could get a degree for that."

"Yeah but I'd rather help in other ways." He nodded, leaving her alone. She tucked those papers into her purse with her original tazer and hid her knife and new tazer on her. She made sure she had everything, grabbing her good jacket to put on as she walked out. Maybe she'd have to do something like move. The security people she ran into gave her strange looks. "Work, guys." They all groaned. "It's been scanned." She let one of them see those pages of information, getting a grunt but he called it in. She took it back with a grin and left. A cab wasn't too hard to get. So she got there about five minutes late. She spotted Clint, patting her purse. He nodded once. She walked inside, taking off her jacket to put over her arm. "I'm with Shelly," she said with a smile. The maitre'd escorted her over.

"Darcy, I didn't think you'd make it tonight," Shelly said, standing up with a smile to hug her.

"I nearly didn't but this is too important to miss." The nice guy pulled out her seat for her. "Thank you," she said with a smile. Her jacket went onto the back and she settled in. "So, how is everyone?"

"We're good," one of them said, staring at her. "Are you?"

"I calmed down last night. Had a small fit, had some tequila, talked to some friends this morning." She nodded a bit. "I'll be okay. Just a bit more paranoid."

"It sucks that you have to be," Shelly said. "Or respond to those haters." Darcy smiled and nodded. "Are you sure you're up to this?"

"Yeah. I've been the one doing all the planning so I need to be here. If they show up here, there's at least six bodyguards in this place right now. We're two blocks from a PD station. We'll get help really fast." They all nodded. "Unless you think it's too dangerous to have me here? I can go sit on my couch in my jammies and phone it in."

"No, it should be fine," the others decided. They got to work over salads about how to roll out the new program and how to get kids into it. Darcy did a lot of work with the kids so that'd help get the news out. They all paid attention to the windows and the people around them but they could handle it. Darcy could hide a bit better after this.

***

Darcy walked into her tutoring room, taking off her scarf and jacket, smiling at the staring kids. "I told you I'd be here tonight. The weather's crappy." They all nodded. "It's okay, guys. They won't come here." One of them pointed at a corner. Darcy looked then smiled and waved. "Hi. Who're you?"

"I'm the principal where these children go. Are you sure it's safe for you to be around them, Miss Lewis?"

"It has been so far. Actually I'm really thankful that a few of them helped save me that day." He glared. She stared back. "They've been arrested."

"I'm sure but there's people who might still try to take you out. They could get these students hurt."

Darcy shook her head. "No, they won't come here. Why would HYDRA want to come up on students? They hold no tactical advantage for them. They can't look any worse to humanity so coming here won't make any bit of sense. They're more kidnaping you off the street sorts." She looked over as someone walked in. "Scott." She smiled and shook his hand. "Can you get the kids started?"

"Of course. I've missed you guys. My daughter's giving me bad looks for not helping you guys most of the time from New York." They smiled and let him come over. One of the kids in the room squealed loudly and ran for him to hug him. "Oooh, so strong!" he cooed, cuddling her. "You're so strong and you're going to be very smart some day, sweetie."

"That's Bethie," Darcy said with a smile at the mom, who grinned back but got her daughter back.

Scott winked and shifted so they noticed his holster. They all relaxed and nodded. "I have a Stark tazer," he hissed to one, getting a moan back.

"Did you just suggest something filthy to her!" the principal complained, stomping over there.

"I seriously doubt Scott is going to do that," she said dryly.

"We don't know who this man is!" he thundered.

"Hi, I'm Scott, better known as Ant Man," he said with a smile and a held out hand for a shake. "I've worked with Darcy a few times because the program like this in New York is a bit less set up." The principal was glaring at him. He smirked a tiny bit. "I've also grown up around kids just like these. Not all of us were rich princes. I grew up hard and learned how to handle myself outside a gang but on the streets. I've been plenty of bad places and I'm hoping I can help these kids and others not follow me."

"You were in prison."

"Well, yes," Scott agreed dryly. "And so have three of the kids in here. I doubt they want to go back so we're working on that." Darcy nodded, staring at the guy coming in. He grinned at him. "Hey."

"Steve," Darcy said. "Hi. Long time no see." She held out a hand.

He pulled her over to hug. "We miss you around the labs. You had sense and got people to handle their own things." He let her go with a grin for the kids. "We got really upset with the people who tried to take Darcy out."

"Well, one was HYDRA," one of the girls in the corner said dryly, trying to get her kid to quiet down. She stared at her. "Must you? You're making a bad impression in front of important people." Her daughter was still fussy.

Scott took her to look at. "I'll cuddle if you want, precious, but you don't have to whine. We're good boys, we like you for being a smart little one. Okay?" She settled down, smiling at him. He grinned back. "You're a good girl." He cuddled her. "My daughter used to be your age. She was adorable too. A lot more drooly than you are though."

Steve smiled. "She'd be horrified if you told her that." He smiled and waved. "We're here to make sure Darcy's okay and share information about the people who tried all that stupid stuff. We can do that after we do some helpful things here." Darcy pulled out cookies, tossing the bag to someone. "Oooh, you're baking," Steve sighed. "I've had to steal Clint's cookies a few times."

"Mine too," Scott quipped. He looked at the baby. "You're too young for cookies but you need a teething biscuit."

"That I don't have," Darcy admitted. "I have dried fruit leathers if that'll help." She dug one out. "That's my midnight snack but I made them myself."

The mother took it to look at and nodded. "She can suck and drool on that until she can swallow it." She let her daughter have it. The baby grinned and stuck it into her nose then her mouth. "That's better. You need better aim."

"That happens later," Darcy quipped. The principal was still glaring. She stared back. "Babies get good hand-eye coordination around the age of two." He stomped off. She waved at his back. "It's great you're worried about these kids too, sir, and I hope you have a better night." She pulled out the books and they settled in to work on things. The other two kids in the room came over to play with them and get some attention while their parents learned. Shelly walked in and paused, staring at Scott and Steve. Darcy grinned at her. "You guys remember my boss Shelly, right?" They all nodded and a few waved. "You can come in, Shelly. We're working on the GED english portion tonight."

"That's cool." Shelly came over, looking at Scott. "You pissed him off."

"I didn't say a thing to him," Scott said with a shrug. The baby flinched, looking at him. He patted her on the back. "It's okay. Go back to your nap. I've got a comfy shoulder, kiddo." She yawned and fell back asleep. Steve grinned at him. "I do."

"He's good during movie nights too," Darcy quipped, grinning at the kids. A few blushed. "Nothing like that. He's a taken guy. I don't touch taken. My mother would've been ashamed if I became a mistress. She'll come back and beat my ass."

Steve smiled. "My mom would if I became someone's mistress too." The kids laughed. "She was a great lady. She was a nurse. She handled a lot of hard things back in the day."

"Did you work when you were a kid?" Scott asked him.

"When I could. I was sick an awful lot. That drove my mom nuts. During the summers I always did because it easier not to have asthma or tuberculosis during the summers."

"You were that sorta sick?" one of the girls asked.

"Yeah. I had TB, I had severe asthma, I had a heart problem, I had yellow fever one year. My mom had me given last rites six times one winter." He shrugged a bit. "She was stubborn enough to get me through it, her and Bucky's help with his family. My mom went without a lot of stuff to make sure I made it."

"Back in those days, Brooklyn was where the poor immigrant families lived," Scott said. "Even back then Manhattan was for people with money."

Steve nodded. "Yup. We only saw Manhattan when we took a train or hiked across a bridge."

"Wow," one said. "I know things cost less then."

Steve nodded. "It was relative. You could eat pretty decent on fifteen bucks a week, maybe a bit less depending on sales, but she only made about thirty a week as a nurse. So that, plus housing, plus my medicines and anything I needed for school."

"Wow." She looked at the others then at him. "How did you work?"

"Back then there were more jobs for kids. Newspaper kids, if you could get onto their gangs. Helping on the docks if you were old enough or looked old enough. Maybe running errands for stores if you knew one of them that was good people. I did a lot of doing small things for the neighbors when I could. I worked at one of the local stores and sometimes got the stuff that was just about to go bad but you could cut it up for a soup or stew."

"Back then refrigerators were rarer, right?" Darcy asked.

"They were getting popular but it was real expensive so it was for middle class and up at that time. We had an ice box, the old style were you bought ice for it every so often."

"What happened to your dad?" one of the boys asked. "Most of us have a missing persons case father."

"My dad died in during a mustard gas attack in the army. I was about seven. Mom nearly followed him but she held on and she told me it was because of me. Moms who have to do it on their own are some of the strongest moms ever. My mom didn't take any shit. She took a belt to Bucky once for his mouthiness." A few grinned, including Darcy. "My mom didn't take it from patients, from us, for anyone. A few of the old biddies in the neighborhood kept nagging her to get remarried so I'd have a dad. She told them off about how she still loved him and if they were that interested in how I was raised they could give her advice. They still gossiped but it was less in front of us. Bucky's mom told us what they were saying."

That kid shook his head. "At least yours had a good reason."

Steve nodded. "There were deadbeat dads back then too. Ones who knocked up girls and then didn't ever see them again. Ones who just walked off after their marriage was falling apart. There wasn't really divorce so a lot of people just went to live with others somewhere else. I know of a guy who walked off from his wife in Brooklyn and she found out about his other two he had before her in the midwest and his next one in Florida a few years later. Without divorce he kept just marrying and having kids he didn't want to deal with. If you were lucky, your Ma had family or you landed in a decent orphanage."

"That's like group homes only run by nuns or another religious group," Darcy said quietly.

"Your mom?"

"Died when I was fourteen from cancer. My dad when I was twenty-two from mental deterioration thanks to being poisoned by my whore of a stepmother. She's still in jail for it and still has a death threat against me."

"Wow." He blinked at her then at Scott.

He shook his head. "I didn't grow up good but my parents were together, mostly. It was hard enough but not to the point where gangs or drugs were my only hope of making it out of there. I was the step up above that. That's why I learned to steal things. Which is why I did time."

They all nodded at that. Darcy patted one of the girls on the wrist. "I ran from home right after my mom died, guys. I spent two weeks in the worst parts of Hollywood. Which is not the pretty part of LA no matter what the news says. I barely got saved from hooking up with a pimp. He tried to hook me on drugs and I ran when being high was so damn wrong feeling. I still hid for the next few days. The only reason I went home is because someone dragged me there. I was seriously mad at my father. He needed something to take his grief and focus so he was dating not six months after my mom died."

A few nodded at that. "I can't say I wasn't lucky. Kids like me get hooked and killed every day. I nearly got stabbed, which is why the cops picked me up. The hooker trying to bring me in to get a reward got hit with a thing I picked up so she tried to stab me. I was pretty, innocent, and didn't realize what sort of fish food I was. I had a few parties that I got invited to but I managed to just eat and hide from being passed as a party favor. Even if you grow up a Stark, you can still end up in the trash real easy. It's as easy as one choice that went wrong."

"We've seen a few of those," one of the boys said. "My sister nearly was. I went after her."

"I didn't have someone to come after me. My dad was wrapped up in all that stuff he didn't want to feel. My friends were worried sick and reported me missing. They told my dad I had left because he was out of town for a weekend." A few shuddered. "Yeah, it was bad. He was being totally wrapped up in his own grief and I had no outlet of my own. Thankfully I managed to escape. I probably wouldn't have lasted another week. The other homeless kids sneered that I was a runaway from a good home. I heard plenty from them and I helped a few of them get help for their problems.

"A few of them were right, the streets were harder but better than their homes. That sucks since one was seven." One of the boys shrank in on himself. "I knew kids got hurt. My mom worked with some of the earliest abuse shelters. I went with her and saw some kids that I was horrified that no one stepped in to help them. My mom always told me it was my duty to help people who need it. Even if it's giving some drunk guy on the street a few cents or a card for a shelter. If it's helping you guys make sure you don't end up in the trap your parents did, then that's even better. I have plenty of time to give these days and it's a lot harder than just giving money."

"So you actually volunteered?" one of the girls asked.

She nodded. "Yeah. You guys need me. I can do that. I'm good with helping people and taking care of people."

"She did at the tower all the time," Steve agreed. "She took care of most of the science team sometimes. Jane Foster all the time."

"Jane's addicted to her science," Darcy said. "She's chasing that high from a new find or a new principle. She'll do anything to get it. It's her addiction. The only thing that stops that was Thor's abs."

"You know Thor?" one asked, gaping at her.

Darcy smiled and nodded. "Yeah. I was there when he landed on earth. Jane hit him with a car, I tazed him. We introduced him to poptarts and coffee."

They looked at each other then at her. "So you're kinda a normal woman's hero?"

"No. I'm not a hero. I'm a lady that jumps in when I have to." She smiled, shrugging some. "It's a choice you make. The same as I'm hoping some of you become teachers because no one else is truly going to understand your siblings and what they're going through. Some of us will try," she said with a point at herself. "Some of you know though. It's important that you guys someday step in and help some kids get better."

"Some day I'd like to turn over my job to some of you," Shelly agreed. "It'd be great if we could."

"It takes a degree to be a teacher," one of the girls complained.

Darcy nodded. "You can start at a community college with a GED and transfer if you want to do something that takes a degree. You're more than eligible for financial aid, and the form to fill that out is free. Just need employment and tax records. You may come out in debt but you'll come out of it with a future."

"One of the best docs I've ever worked with in New York came out of the projects," Steve said. "He's still doing a lot of good work with the kids. Nearly got shot by a gang member last year for encouraging the kids to leave that area and do something with themselves. Nearly ruined his career from it." He leaned on the table. "He's still doing it and he's a great man. He's the guy that gives a lot of time to charity docs and did a years as a doc overseas after he graduated. He's a high priced surgeon now but he does a lot of work with kids who can't afford his reconstruction services. He's an orthopedist, a bone doc. He helped set some of my ribs recently so they'd heal."

"That's an anomaly," Shelly said. "Being a doc is an anomaly. Being a teacher isn't. Being a business person isn't. A lot of kids start their own business because they know what people will buy. What they need. Some of them end up doing secretarial stuff."

"I know one who went art history," Darcy said with a grin. "She stares at art all day for a job."

"I thought about that," Steve admitted. "There wasn't financial aid in my day but I was good at art and I could've apprenticed somewhere maybe. I just had to be a bit older."

The kids looked at each other then at them and nodded as a group. "That's so weird."

"Art stuff can be therapeutic," Darcy said. "Art therapy is real popular. A lot of artists are using it to get emotions out. Including some of the graffiti artists. Find something you want to be and work towards it," she said with a smile and a pat on one girls' arm. "Find a reason to go on, to move on, and to do what you can so you're not the kid killed by a cop, or shot by a gang member, or even the baby daddy that disappeared. Sometimes that's a choice. Not always because there's been plenty of bystanders shot, but some of it's a choice.

"You made one already that may not have been the most reasonable but it worked for you at that time. Now it's time to reevaluate that choice and maybe, just maybe, there's an off ramp to a new site. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised at all if you guys started up a farm. There's all sorts of city farms that could use help and people who can just take care of plants. They go to farmer's markets in poorer areas so the kids can eat better veggies. None of you are against plants, right?" They shook their heads.

"I've seen the one in New York that's a huge barge," Steve said. "It sounds neat and they have an art deck on it too. They're looking for volunteers."

Scott smiled. "I donated. I'm allergic to some fertilizers. I helped with the farmer's market part instead with Bruce."

"Bruce gets a bit sea sick," Steve said. "I don't think he wanted to be on a barge to throw up in the compost pile." Darcy giggled, shaking her head. "Pepper brought Stark out to work on some of the community farms that are popping up on bare lots. It's helping a lot. Plus makes things prettier."

"We have a few of those," Shelly admitted. "I give to them because I don't have time to donate. I do buy from them near the end of the day so the residents near there get the best stuff first."

Darcy nodded. "I shop at one shop that does export to the richer areas but they use those funds to funnel back into the program so I don't mind spending so much for carrots. I still can't stand kale but I will eat other veggies. I've also donated recipes to their cooking project."

Steve nodded. "I shared some of my mom's recipes. They're good, strong food that lasts and is hearty. I can't stand stew most of the time anymore because we spent six months eating nothing but stew but her recipe is great."

Scott smiled. "I'd do that but I don't have any. My ex-wife doesn't really cook a lot at home. My daughter's learning how to cook though."

"I sent her a brownie recipe," Darcy quipped with a grin. "Healthy brownies so she could binge during test times."

"I'm sure she adored that. She's at that age where chocolate is almost holy." Scott smiled at the kids. "Everyone has it tough. Some kids have it tougher. Some kids don't."

"Stark doesn't."

Steve shook his head. "He had money, but not a bit of people who gave a damn. His mother never did much with him. His nanny gave him more affection than anyone, kids. He loved his butler more than his father because he was there."

"Kids like that grow up rich in things and nothing else," Darcy said. "It's nice in some ways, not having to worry about where things come from, but it's also soul destroying. My parents raised me as a practical person. We didn't worry about much but I also didn't have a nanny. I think they're a huge problem with a lot of kids. It'd be like your cousins hiring your mom to raise their kids and them having to try to respect her for that. You can't do that."

"That would suck. At least most of us have an aunt or a mom or someone," one of the girls said, looking at the others.

Darcy nodded. "Yeah. That's why I hate nannies. My mom had me babysat a few times but otherwise she was the hands-on mom of the group I knew about. She was the mom that the kids came to when they needed advice. She walked up to a few parents to suggest that they talk to their kids about how they needed to learn respect. You don't learn a lot of love when it's the help doing it. You don't love the waitress that brings you food. Or the person who cleans up the building's hallways."

"I didn't think about that," one of the boys said quietly.

Darcy nodded. "I hate nannies. If your parents are having problems, they're traveling a lot, they're in the middle of a divorce, they're handy. It's good to have a stable person there. The rest of the time? No. I've looked oddly at a few friends who do nothing all day and complain that they had to hire a nanny. I've told one she could take the baby to the gym with her and she could actually spend all that time doing her nails helping the baby. Hell, I left Jane because she wanted me to be a nanny for her kid."

"Caused a huge problem," Steve said. "But solved some. It took a few but Jane's new one is a lot safer, steadier, and happier."

"What about hiring on as a nanny?" one of the girls asked.

Darcy pointed at the kid. "Don't expect to have one of those. Your job is to raise their kid, not yours. You're always with the kid. They become like yours but you can be kicked out at any time. So you have to try to get close but if you do, it's like your kid being taken from you. If you want to do domestic stuff, clean houses. It's safer, easier, and less soul destroying. Nannies get shot in divorces so they can take out the kids. No one really ever goes after the housekeeper."

A few of the girls nodded. "It's low paying," Scott told them. "But sometimes it's a safe choice. My mom did that a few times when my dad was out of work."

"There's all sorts of temp agencies," Darcy said. "You can start at them easily, get a good rep, trade up, get more of a good rep, trade up again. If I had a place where I was allowed to have cleaning help, because I throw things everywhere in my bedroom and hate to do dishes, I'd be using one of the start ups that young women just like you started up after working for a few years. One even shares my name."

"I know her," one of the boys said with a snap. "They all drive blue cars with aprons on them."

"Yup." Darcy grinned. "She started with a temp agency then moved up until she started her own with a few of her family. She's bonded, got insurance, and all that. I really appreciate what she's been able to build and hold onto." The kids shook their heads but were smiling. "Now, get a cookie, get a piece of fruit, and let's work on english." They got down to work, the little kids in with them being cuddly with people.

Darcy poked one boy that was giving the baby trying to cuddle him a funny look. "Sometimes you can be a role model even if you're not a daddy," she said quietly. "Some day she'll date just like the guys in her mom's life."

"Yeah, she needs better than I am."

"Maybe but maybe you're gonna be the guy that teaches her what shitbags some guys are. I keep running into those sort," she said dryly. "Way too often. I didn't realize guys weren't honorable and kept their words until high school. I was naive."

He picked up the kid to cuddle, letting her nap on his chest. "Yeah, boys need to be better."

"Lead by example, like Steve does," she said with a wink. "He even makes Stark behave."

"That's a chore," he said.

Steve looked over, nodding quickly. "Often." The boy grinned and got back to his studying.

***

On her way home that night, Darcy stopped in the security office. "Carlos." He smiled at her. "A lot of people know where I live."

He nodded. "Unfortunately but it's not been your fault outside your Avenger friends." He stared at her, judging if she had made up her mind yet. "There's a waiting list for apartments, Lewis."

"That's good. Is there anywhere that has the level of security I'd need?"

"It's possible that regular security would work for you but not totally likely. You'd have to do background checks and the like." He shifted in his seat. "Let me consider it."

"Thanks. I'm looking at a budget of about what I'll sell this one for. I can go higher if I must but I don't want to."

"Which should be enough unless you're going very high end."

She grimaced, shaking her head. "I don't need a golden mile penthouse. It'd look wrong to the kids I mentor. Oh, the principal came in to complain about us tutoring."

"Of course." She smiled, leaving to go home. He called the head of the building complex. "Lewis is thinking about moving because too many people know where she lives." He listened. "Exactly. Well we did have HYDRA here. She got dosed with an aphrodisiac in her apartment because they sent it here. SHIELD knows about us too." He listened, nodding some. "I can arrange for someone to buy her out. She's okay with that. She was wondering if we knew of somewhere safe from HYDRA." He listened, grimacing. His boss was sure nowhere was safe from HYDRA. That was setting off bad thoughts in his head. So maybe he'd help Lewis find somewhere safer. And maybe bigger so she could have guests. Right after he did a background check to make sure of who he worked for.

***

The next day, Carlos showed up at the end of his shift, handing her a simple piece of torn notepad that had a name and email on it. "You need to talk to them," he said quietly. "And they'll help you get safer. Because I just found out who owns here," he muttered. She hugged him. He patted her on the shoulder. "You be safe, all right?"

She nodded. "You too. There's not enough good guys out there."

"Thanks, Lewis." He winked and walked off. He had to talk to his security teams. They had probably left at least one HYDRA leak in the security team.

She sat down behind her tablet to write an email to that address. She'd ask Clint later after she found out who that email belonged to.

***

Darcy stared at the guy she was meeting at the donut shop, frowning some. It had been a week of talking to him to make sure he was actually safe for her to talk to, but he understood that because he was making sure she wasn't going to drag him into something bigger. She sat down across from him once she had some coffee. "When you said you looked like someone I'd recognize, that's kinda freaky," she said then sipped her coffee while pulling off some of her donut to nibble. He was even wearing a ballcap and fake glasses like Steve did when he went out and hoped not to be recognized.

He grinned. "It's been noted a lot recently," he said dryly.

She smiled. "That's cool. I have a huge problem. I'm not sure if you've seen it...."

He waved his cup, nodding some. "Yup, and I cheered for you, sister."

"Thanks." She smiled, nibbling on a bite of donut. "There's another problem. For some reason I have a huge threat over my head from a huge problem that your look-alike is fighting hard with his best friend."

He stared at her. "Why?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "There's a few ideas floating around but no real, solid clue. My problem is that they know where I live, which is in a secured compound complex." She took another sip of her coffee.

"I've heard about that place."

"They had some there that were guards," she said quietly. "I got drugged while I was there. Thankfully I had a friend in."

He grimaced. "That totally sucks and I know why you went looking for better help. I'm not sure what we can do about it. We can't handle a huge problem that way. Already got one to handle."

"Who's mixed up in the problem you guys are having."

He grimaced. "Doesn't surprise me any but how do you know?"

She pulled something out of her purse and handed the picture over. "That one?"

He looked, nodding. "Yeah, that's him." He looked at her. "Why do you know?"

"I asked someone I know if they had anything on him. They looked and got mad at him too, and he works with someone you look like." She smiled slightly. "Apparently there were some links in common at one time."

"Damn it. It figures though." He turned the picture over. "What sort of help do you need?"

"I have three formal things I have to go to. One's in DC with that idiot attending but it's for work," she said quietly. "We have another testifying in front of Congress about that incident two days later so I've got to be in DC for a week. I also need help finding an actually safe place. I don't have a huge budget but I have a decent one."

"We can work on that. There's some quieter places. Your current one can't move you?"

"We could but I'm not sure if that'll still be safe."

He nodded at that. "That's a good point. If they know about it... Yeah, that's a very good worry." She handed over another paper, letting him read it. "Oh, hey, I know that name...and he's probably messed up."

"The head of the security team mentioned that," she said quietly. He winced, nodding once. "I like the guys. They're good guys, they're helpful guys. They taught me a lot about being paranoid. The only complaint I had was minor because I couldn't order in groceries or food when I was sick. Which is whiny of me." He grinned, sipping his coffee. "But I think I need to be safe. Especially since they keep trying to drug me with an anti-inhibitant."

He paused while drinking then groaned. "Fuck, they think you're a wife sort."

"Yup, we think so. We think it's related to a few ideas that escaped too." She stared at him. "I like my job. I love my job. I love the kids I work with. I even put up with their principal who was sneering that I'm a white lady. I don't want to give that up."

"I know that feeling. I used to love my job too." He put the cup down. "I can help with some things. Are you okay? You look shaky."

"I spent most of last night listening to people trying to raid the building," she said quietly. "And not finding me at least."

"Crap."

"I'm told I can sell my place within hours of informing them."

"Good."

"But that means I have to have somewhere to move."

"Point. Yeah, we can work on that. Can you make it home?"

"Probably. I'm calling off work today and I told my boss why. She's been *real* understanding since I can do a lot of working from home. Especially after the fake agents the other day." He stared then looked it up on his phone, groaning and looking at her. She nodded. "Yeah." She sipped some of her coffee. "Just...yeah. It's a frantic point right now that I find somewhere safer. Though I'm thinking a Motel 6 might be safer."

"It might be," he agreed, typing out a message. His boss sent one back agreeing she needed the help. "So we think we can help you. We can find you somewhere today and someone to help you move quickly." She smiled, wiggling some. "There's a few places that meet up to paranoid standards. You'll have to set up a few things."

"The present place has special routers that go through don't-see-you sites."

"That's a great thing," he agreed with a grin. "We can handle that too. We will have to charge you." She tossed over a card. He looked at it then called in the balance, nodding. "More than reasonable."

"My safety's something I'm really paranoid about anymore," she said. "It's been a huge problem. There's people online who have threatened me for daring to stand up for myself. Apparently I should've let him rape me."

He shook his head. "We thought you should've shot him."

She smiled. "Me too. It would've stopped some of this. Four attempts on my life now, all from him. With some others jumping in for their own attempts once." He winced. "Which is why I'm rightly paranoid." She glanced outside. "And that's a security guy from my building," she muttered, finishing her donut and coffee. "Shall we walk?"

"We should," he agreed, tucking things into his jacket and walking out the back door with her. They ran into another security team person out there. "Hi, guys." He smirked.

"Jensen," one of them said with a nod. "Stand down, kid. We have three suggestions for Lewis. None too tiny though."

"I'm not against having a home office," she said, looking at Jensen. Then at them. "You guys realize I'm super paranoid woman now?" The security guy nodded. "Did you catch whoever was breaking in last night?"

"Yup, sure did. CPD is still real mad at us. And they were HYDRA."

"Great," she muttered. "So now what?"

"Now, we go look at apartments," Jensen said. "So we can get you moved." She nodded. They went with the security team, who were all nice former commandos. Jensen called that in and why. Clay was having a fit but understood why after having looked them up. Jensen looked at her. "Why is HYDRA after you?"

"Well, not totally sure. The current suggestion is something to do with Barnes. For a while they were kidnaping brunette actresses." He winced. "They broke into my gyn's records. We think it may be a 'give us future soldiers' thing but no one's sure." She looked at him. "Apparently I could pass for a forties' lady."

"You probably could," he agreed. "Wow." He rubbed his forehead, thinking about it. Clay was muttering something in his ear. "Is Barnes in the wind?"

"No one's sure. He went for a walk and disappeared. He's done that before. They managed to get him for two weeks then but he had been gone for six months."

"So maybe." She nodded. "Do they try harder when they have him?"

"Not necessarily," she said. "From what we know about what he went through it could take months to prep me for the brainwashing machine."

"Huh." He nodded once. "Okay. We can look into that and pass on what we find. Is there anyone who's allowed to come visit you?"

"Barton, Lang. I've been visited by a few SHIELD agents too. Coulson was really helpful when I got drugged that time and some others."

"I doubt the three of them are security risks," he decided, frowning some. He rolled his eyes. "My colonel doesn't like them that much. Thinks being heros is a bit dumb."

"Someone's got to stop the guys like Loki. Is your colonel going to do that?" she asked.

"No."

"Does he expect normal people to do it? We helped some in London but Thor still did the majority of the fighting." She looked at him.

"He just laughed, he knew he recognized you from somewhere." Jensen smirked a tiny bit. "He thinks the military should."

"Yeah but they're not. All they want are test subjects." She shrugged. "Which isn't good for anyone. You do that to your enemies and they get worse."

"True." He patted her on the shoulder. "We'll handle it and then talk about the week in DC you have to pull." She nodded. "Anything good with what you're doing?"

"One of my kids told me I should've shot him. Another few helped during the last death threat situation the other night." She smiled. "I adore the kids I tutor. They're good kids, they deserve to get out of the hellhole. I really hope they make it out of there." He smiled but nodded. "But if their principal is huffy about people helping them learn stuff it's because someone's putting pressure on him. Why would he care who helps the kids learn anything."

"We can look into that tonight. Your next tutoring time?"

"Saturdays and Thursdays."

"Okay."

"I need to be back at work day after tomorrow because we have a meeting."

"We can handle that too," he promised. "The douchebag's team is out of the area right now."

"I was hoping it was stopped since the SHIELD guys said it was."

"He has a few fanatics who'd help."

"I thought there probably was," she agreed. "I got told I was paranoid."

"They're out to get you so it's a good thing to be," he quipped back. She relaxed again. "Will you have any problem letting someone pack you so it goes faster?"

"I have clothes in the dryer."

"We can note that," he promised. She nodded, looking around. "How far is this one from her job?" he asked the driver.

"Few blocks. We're riding around because we had a tail." He went through an alley then onto a less crowded street then around a sudden corner. "That helps." He headed back to the first apartment.

It was nice but had almost no windows. The second one was nice but out of the way for her usual traveling needs. The third was a richer place and a penthouse. It had huge windows. She walked around moaning in pleasure at all the light. It had four bedrooms so she had an office and room for a guest. They had a good security team in the building and passcards for entrance to even see the doorman. It was a bit more than she wanted to spend but she had it.

She listed her other apartment while doing the paperwork for her new one. The realtor pushed it through faster. The building's board turned her down because she had so much attention on her. Thankfully there was another one they could go look at immediately. The realtor knew of one with the same benefits. It was a small duplex inside a planned community. They had gate guards and all sorts of amenities, including all bills included. Jensen pointed at one room. "That can easily be a safe room. It's easy enough to reach from most everywhere in the house."

The realtor smiled and wiggled a finger, showing him the actual safe room. "This group specializes in places for government workers."

"Will they mind me?" Darcy asked.

"Not like they have gatherings and their security team was alerted I was bringing you specifically. I got a small groan but an agreement they were safe here." Darcy nodded, looking around again. "It's not as cute as the last one."

"No," Darcy agreed. "It's not." She looked up and then at her. "It's sterile. It's got no character. No light. As a method of last resort it's okay but I liked the last two much better. This is third out of the four."

She nodded. "Four?"

"We saw one that had no windows," Jensen said. He nodded at the guy that came in. He knew he was a SEAL but nothing else about him. "Hey."

"Hey." He looked at Darcy. "Getting both those requirements together would cost you probably eight hundred thousand. I know of a place."

"Her last place just sold for closer to a mil," their security guy said.

"That'll work then." He handed the realtor the address.

"We were just there, they didn't like she had to defend herself," the realtor said.

The security guard smiled. "Let me call, Miss Lewis."

"Thank you. Even if it was halfway between this one and that one in the same sort of building is great."

"That's a good thing." He walked off calling someone. "It's Herat," he said in greeting. He listened. "I am. Yes, that's her. The one who had to defend herself."

"And four attempts on my life since then," Darcy said dryly.

The guy nodded, repeating that. He smiled. "I can send them there. You sure they won't fuss? Oh, that's good. Yeah, I can do that." He hung up. "There's one he knows of that's almost as nice but it's owned by someone who used to be mafia." Darcy's phone chose to ring. "That's convenient."

"I'm going to smite me an agent if they're hacking me," she said. She pulled it out to look at, holding it up to him.

"The building with the penthouse is owned by HYDRA," he read. "Scott Simmons is a regional procurer." He sighed. "That's bad. Who is that?"

She looked then at him. "SHIELD."

Jensen snickered, taking the phone to text back. They sent two addresses. "Here, try those," he told the realtor.

She looked at them. "They're both in a not really good neighborhood," she said with a grimace.

"I don't have many problems with that," Darcy said. "My last one wasn't in a great neighborhood, it was just really safe."

"We can go look. Thank you, Herat. I'll bring the other one by later. He's a judge."

"That's a good thing," he agreed. "We have a few living here. I hope you find something, Miss Lewis."

"Thank you for helping." He smiled and let them go, locking up behind them. They went to the next apartment. It was in need of some renovation on the outside but the inside was decent enough if she could paint it. The other one was better and in a slightly better neighborhood. Though one of the other apartments had police tape on the door. That one was a corner apartment. Almost no windows that opened but they were bulletproof. There were plenty of them. The kitchen wasn't big enough but she could have that fixed if she had to. The bedroom was tiny but the closet was huge. The master bedroom was huge and had almost no closet. "So that other room will be my dressing room," she decided. Jensen nodded. "Two other bedrooms in case of guests. What sort of security?"

"Electronic with a team backing it up," the realtor said.

Darcy looked around then nodded. "I can handle this if it's safe enough." She looked at Jensen then at her security guy friend. "Is it?"

"Mostly," Jensen said. "We can put a film on the window to make sure they can't take pictures or see inside but you can see out. We can put the same sort of router in for you." She nodded, hugging his arm. "Go ahead and do the paperwork."

Darcy took it to look over. "Is that high for this place? Not that I don't understand why," she said, looking up at the realtor.

"A few thousand high. You could probably offer ten thousand less."

Darcy nodded, filling that in. They finished everything and she took it to offer for it. Darcy took Jensen back to her place to let him see what they'd have to pack. She didn't have a lot of stuff to pack, and the few things in her storage area were mostly still in plastic tubs. She looked around. "The only thing I want to keep is the bed and the couch," she said quietly. "The washer and dryer were already here. The table was already here. So was the dresser set." He nodded, making that note. "Then I need to find more I guess."

"We can do that or you can look at second hand stores," he offered with a grin. "People like these would never think you'd be there since you're an heiress."

She nodded. "They know I work with the kids."

"Still probably won't expect it." She nodded, looking up things. Craig's list had a few too. Jensen smiled when she arranged to have things dropped at a storage building with the story she was moving to the area that weekend. She paid using paypal and that was good. The moving team could pick things up from the storage area for her. That simplified her disappearing into the city again. At least until she got visitors.

***

Darcy looked at her current guard, who was shrugging some but silent and deadly. He was cute too. She got a text from Scott and wrote back, telling him she was okay but in the process of moving. Her guard looked. "Scott. He's not as well known so he shows up now and then to check on me." She smiled. "He's a really nice guy and he does the tutoring stuff really good too."

"That's good," he agreed. He looked around then at her. "You need to pick up things, don't you?"

She nodded. "But I can lie and say I'm mid moving to the area."

He shook his head. "Too known."

"Crap." She considered it. "Well, I'm going to impose on a student." She sent out a twitter and got some help from the kids. She smiled at him. "Two of the kids want to go with me. I'm paying them a bit but not that much."

"That's fine," he agreed. "They're protective."

"And have taste, which Shelly does but she really likes modern stuff that's uncomfortable." She grimaced. "I spent the night on her couch after a late meeting. So uncomfortable." She went to grab what she needed, including her debit cards. One was locked up for some reason she'd find later, and the other one still worked so she withdrew some money from inside the bank. They were happy to help her. They went to meet up with the kids, Cougar watching as she hugged them. "Hi, guys. Thanks for the help."

The boy with them shook his head. "Why do you have to shop?"

"I have two bare bedrooms and one's going to be my office." He moaned. "I need to do shelves. I don't need clothes help, I need someone with taste to help me pick out stuff."

The kids nodded and the girl patted her on the arm. "With some of the scarves and beanies you wear, you certainly do need some help, Darcy. Let's go somewhere fun." She let Darcy drive while she navigated and the two guys got into the backseat of the sedan.

The kid looked at Cougar. "How do you become a bodyguard?"

He grimaced. "I'm former Army. We're protective."

"The usual bodyguards I get, when things aren't quite as serious as they are now, generally have wanted to be officers and couldn't do the full academy or they're former officers," Darcy said, glancing back at him with a grin. "Or they're former agents."

"Oh." He grimaced. "I'll never make that."

"You never know."

"They won't accept people with a record, Darcy. Be realistic."

She grinned at him at a stoplight. "Juvie records can be sealed and they will accept those." She went on at the honking, turning the corner since the light was still red and she was in that lane. The girl pointed so she pulled in and they went inside. The salesman gave them an odd look. "My kids are going to prove that they have great sense," she said. "I need a home office and a spare bedroom plus maybe some little things like a coat tree and shelves."

"We don't really do credit," he said.

Darcy smiled and held up the money she had taken out. "That's fine." He swallowed and nodded, taking them to look at some semi-nice things. The kids proved they had a lot of taste.

"What's a coat tree?" she asked.

Darcy pointed. "That. It's for when you don't have a front closet."

"Oh. Huh. You need some hooks or something for your scarf and beanie habit." She looked and picked out a few things. "What color's your couch?"

"Blue plaid with a thin thread of green." The kids stared at her. She smiled. "It's really comfy. I can always cover it later."

They nodded and picked out a few cuter things. Darcy paid and they delivered to one of their addresses so she could have it picked up by that moving company; Cougar called them for it. They went to pick out sheets and the curtains she needed too. Thinner curtains for the living room. Blackout ones for the bedroom. She even took them grocery shopping. They stared at a few choices but she told them how she used them and promised to bring in samples the next class time. They nodded, took their fees, and went home to watch the quiet moving company pick up their stuff to bring to Darcy's house.

Carlos looked at Darcy once everything was in, shaking his head. "At least it wasn't multiple places."

She pinched his cheek with a grin. "Most real women don't shop like that." She went to the kitchen. "Anything you won't eat?"

"No," he said, shaking his head slowly. He was honest, she was a good cook. Jolene would be proud he was eating so well with this client. And Jensen couldn't pout he didn't save him anything since he was tracking someone for another client. They needed to raise the money so they could go back to chasing Max. Darcy handed him a plate with silverware before going to check the safe room they had helped her set up.

One of the bedrooms now had a sealing door with an independent air circulating system. No matter what someone did, she'd be safe in there until help could get to her. The building's security team was off-site but not that bad in their team's estimation. Darcy had stocked the safe room with bottled water, snack food, and things that might be necessary in case of a long assault.

She was nearly fully set up so it was safer.

***
Part 5 by voracity
Darcy looked at her guard/date/helper as they walked into the fundraiser, smiling slightly at her boss. "Hey, Shelly." Clay had to do this part because the others were working on a bigger lead. Plus he was tougher in case things went south among all the suits and gowns.

She flinched, looking around then at her. "You've got two problems," she hissed. "Thor's here with Jane because they're raising money for a science oriented project and the dickhead's in the other corner holding court," she said with a point.

Darcy looked then at her guarding date. "The only reason I can see for going over there is the bar's there."

"Do you drink at these?" Clay asked.

"No. I drink sparkling water at these." She smiled at someone she knew.

"He's handsome, dear. Where did you find him?" the man asked sarcastically.

"I hired him," she shot back with a mean smirk. "Yours?"

"He's my brother's new in-law who's looking to start working for a charity," he said with a hand-wave. "Boris, this is Darcy."

She smiled and held out a hand. "Hi, Darcy Lewis. I work with a group that does tutoring and helps at risk teenagers get at least their GED, if not higher."

He shook her hand with a smile. "I'm hoping to work with newly fired or outsourced blue collar workers," Boris said.

Darcy looked at Shelly. "Is that Horey or is that Davil?"

"Horey does more of that," Shelly said. She looked. "And of course he's not in here."

"He's due later. Look for the Asian guy with the bad toupee and the suspicious mustache, that's his senior social worker."

"Thank you, ma'am. I hope some day we don't need your jobs."

"We all hope that," Darcy agreed with a smile. "Oh, watch out for the politicians. They've been known to glomp onto you for photo ops to prove they do charity work but that'll stick you for a while."

"I can do that. Thank you for the advice." He frowned, looking at one group then at her. "Oh, that's you."

She smiled at him. "And I'd never touch him even with someone else's pole. If he tries again, he's going to get it again. Otherwise he can stay in his little corner full of morons who only care about others if it gives them a tax break."

The guy smiled, nodding as he walked off. She looked up at Clay then at Shelly. "Do you want to brave the bar?" she asked Clay.

"Why would Thor be mad at you?"

"I was Jane's assistant until she needed a nanny," Darcy said. "Which I wasn't going to be."

"Ah!" he nodded. "So they're mad."

"Yup."

"You think it'll cause a problem?"

"I think it'll cause a loudness," she said quietly, turning away from someone walking their way. "Damn."

"Miss," one of the agents said. He was staring at Clay. "Is she yours?"

"My date for tonight," Clay said dryly. "Why?"

"One of the donors in the corner wanted to talk to her."

Darcy looked at him. "If it's the douchebag, no thank you." The agent glared at her. She stared back. "This is work for me. If it's another donor I'll gladly go talk to them. I love talking to our donors about our work and projects we have coming up."

He swallowed hard. He recognized her now. "No, I don't believe that's a great idea, ma'am." He nodded at Clay then left. He hissed that the one who had defended herself was there with an obviously former military guard and they were staying out of the way.

Shelley giggled. "Thank you," she said quietly. "That was very polite, Darcy."

"I do try sometimes," she said dryly. She groaned. "It's coming," she muttered. "Oh, and the loudness," she sighed, looking up at Clay, who smirked a tiny bit. "Jane," she said with a smile since the woman was heading right for her. "How are you and Thor? This is my boss Shelly. Shelly, this is Dr. Jane Foster and her intended, Thor."

"Pleasure," Shelly said, smiling as she shook their hands. "I hope your native people don't need people like us, Lord Thor."

"We don't usually. We have more equality than some areas down here do." He looked at Clay then at Darcy. "Your intended?"

"My date for tonight," she said quietly, glancing off to the side then at him. "It's always better to have someone to talk to at these events."

"It is, they're boring," Jane agreed. "Which area are you working in?"

"Shelly and I run a group that helps at risk kids get some education and hopefully they go for more than their GED's." She smiled. "I work with a lot of really nice teens, Jane. I tutor and I taught a few some simple dishes to cook, and I helped one who hadn't slept for a day due to teething. I shot down a teen mom who thought welfare was good enough for her and her kids to survive on." She smirked at Shelly then at Jane again. "It helped a lot. Her mom agreed with me and told her that's why she was there for tutoring, so she could get her GED and do something beyond be a mom."

"That's actually really important work," Jane said with a nod. "One of the last few math geniuses came out of a poor village in India and he couldn't read at all before they found out he understood math that way."

"I'm just hoping my kids get to go on and do stuff," Darcy said. "They all really are good kids. A few who got sucked into worse things but they're still really good kids."

"That's great," Jane agreed, smiling at her. "I saw that video."

"Which one?" she asked dryly. She glanced at the idiot slowly making his way toward her while pausing to suck up to others then at Jane again. "I have to have tact," she said quietly.

Jane looked up at Thor then at the idiot then back at him. He snorted and looked pleased. "Saw them both. Stark was watching them in his lab to see if you could use something new like an updated tazer."

"I have one. Which I wrote him a nice thank you letter for."

"He got it and he was happy it helped when someone tried to mug you," Jane assured her. "Are you two being honored tonight?" Shelly smiled and nodded. "Good job. It's a great thing." She patted them both on the arm.

The wannabe politician finally made it over to them. "Lord Thor," he said happily, holding out a hand.

"Mortal," he said seriously, shaking it.

"Are you here about the excellent charities we're honoring tonight?"

"I am. One of the ones we help is being honored so Jane's delivering an award to them."

"Hhmm, Stark's new PA?" he guessed, looking Jane over.

"Dr. Jane Foster," she said smugly. "Astrophysicist."

"The one who rebuilt the Bifrost bridge," Shelly said with a smile. "We hold her up as a 'see, women do science' example all the time to the kids we work with."

Jane beamed. "Thank you. There's still not enough women in science these days. My own daughter included. I think she'll want her father's cape."

"Someone forwarded me film of her," Darcy said with a grin. "How's her eyesight?"

"I..." She looked at Thor. "We've checked everything but that. It'd explain why she keeps running into mirrors."

"It would," he agreed, patting her on the back. "Thank you, Darcy."

"Not a problem. The kid's a cute little thing from what I've seen."

The politician sneered at her. "What are you doing here?"

"I actually work at one of the charities they're honoring tonight, sir." She smiled at Shelley then at him. "I'm very involved in it, including doing a lot of the tutoring jobs."

"She arranges everything for me," Shelly said. "I'd be a lot more hard up if it wasn't for Darcy."

"You said you're wealthy," he sneered.

"I am. That doesn't mean I don't believe in putting my time where I put my money." She stared at him. "Some of us work because it's the right thing to do. We don't use it to prove ourselves to anyone." She sipped Jane's drink when she held it out. "Thank you, Jane. I was going to head to the bar soon to get my own sparkling water."

"Real women drink."

She snorted, staring at him. "Real women do many things and know that drinking at events like this looks bad on us. Thank you anyway for your concern." She looked up at Clay.

"Let's go talk, Darcy. Dr. Pym's here," Jane said.

"I haven't met him but Scott said he was a mostly nice man." She walked off with them, with Clay guarding them with Thor.

"You know, girls like that get people in trouble," the politician sneered.

"Or they make a great difference in the world," Shelly said with a smile. "Which she's already doing, just like her mother did. Her mother worked with abused wives and set up shelters, but Darcy knew that you needed to start a bit younger to build a firm base to build from. She's made a world of difference in our agency, even though she's not allowed to donate to us by tax laws. The woman does the work of two others and doesn't ask for a paycheck. I adore Darcy." He huffed off. She stared at his back then went to talk to a few constant donors. They all avoided the idiot as well. The few that didn't avoid the idiot in that group sneered but then again they didn't donate to charity out of more than a tax break.

Poor Darcy was being all but pawed by someone until Clay growled. She hoped they didn't have another incident here. She really did. Of course, someone ran in with a scream, heading for Thor until Clay pointed his gun at them. Then they quit running, quit screaming, and started to beg for mercy.

Clay smirked. "Quit threatening people. Now," he growled. The man tried to run off but the agents in the room got him. Clay put up his gun and smirked at Darcy, who grinned back.

"You're a nice guy, Clay. I appreciate that about you. That and you're faster on the draw than a few others I know." He snorted but looked amused. "But I'm still going to try to keep Jensen. He's neat to hang out with."

"If I need to hide him, I'm sending him to you anyway," he shot back. She grinned.

"Oooh, boyfriend?" Jane asked with a smile.

"No," Clay said, shaking his head. "One of my people."

"Pity."

"He liked my cartoon curtains," Darcy quipped. "He's like a fun, cute thing to hang out with who doesn't even stare at my chest."

"I made sure he wasn't an asshole to women," Clay said dryly. "Boys like that in the military get into trouble. We had enough without that sort of trouble." Darcy hugged his arm. He smirked at her. Then he felt someone coming up behind them and that one tried to move Darcy and Jane away from the men to talk to them.

Jane looked at the man, smiling some. "I'm sorry, my giant brain is busy doing science so I'm leaning on my boyfriend's arm while I consider how to destroy a nearby planet to get the resources." The man spluttered.

Darcy considered it. "Just mine the asteroid belt, Jane. Not as many explosions but it'll ease the way for later space flights or if we find other people like Thor from other planets."

Thor nodded. "There are some," he agreed. "We don't associate much but I've heard stories of them." The donor stared at him, looking confused. "There are many other peoples out there that don't come from our nine realms," he said. "My mother had met many before she married. She told us stories of the people she met and was diplomatic with."

"Bedtime stories?" Shelly asked as she joined them. It looked like an interesting conversation instead of the one she had just had. "Not to insult your mother but most humans consider aliens weird and unreal. Outside of you of course because you seem closer to what we'd see as a human, Lord Thor."

Thor nodded. "We are close to you Midgardians," he agreed. "Though the elves were not much the same." Darcy nodded at that, grimacing. "Many of them do appear humanish but may be different colors or slightly differently shaped. My mother noted one race of warriors to us who are blue. Strong, fierce conquerors but blue. Wear symbolic makeup and have good weapons."

Darcy frowned. "Someone saw a picture of...." She looked it up on her phone, showing Thor. He nodded. "That's coming out in a movie soon so apparently they've been visiting."

"I shall pass that on," Thor said, staring at her. "Make sure they are recognized as sentient if they should show up soon."

"Dangerous?" Shelly asked.

"That may depend on which member of that species and why they come," Thor said.

"So in other words not one that's going to show up and decide 'hey, you're humans so therefore roaches'," Darcy decided. "So better than the Dark Elves!" She smiled.

"Much," Thor agreed happily.

"I hope another convergence never happens again," Jane complained. She sipped her drink. "Once was enough." Thor stared at her. "What?"

"They're timed events," Thor reminded her. She winced. "I would hope not to lose you by then," he said quietly.

"I have no idea on that, Thor," she said, squeezing his hand. "We still have a lot of things to work out." He nodded, pulling her closer to hug.

"I hope you guys do work it out," Darcy said. Jane smiled and nodded. "We should go talk to other donors," she said, looking that way then at her boss.

"Don't," she warned. "They're all like the idiot that tried to molest you."

"Damn. It figures though," she sighed.

Clay looked over then at the two ladies. "Maybe some aren't? They're staring over here."

"Yeah, two of them are ones that write nice twitter rape threats," Darcy said dryly, smirking at one and lifting her glass. "Read your tweet," she mouthed. He flinched and turned away. She looked at Shelly, shrugging some with a small smile. "I hate bullies."

"Good. That's a good idea to hate," she agreed. Someone else came over to them. "Yes?" Shelley asked with a smile.

"Miss, is this lady bothering you?" he asked.

"No, this is my assistant," Shelly said with a point at Darcy. "This is Dr. Jane Foster." The man winced and backed up, not looking toward Thor. "I have no problems from my assistant, but thank you for making sure."

"We know her...reputation," he said dryly.

"Yes, some women can protect ourselves from unwanted groping," Darcy said dryly. "If he hadn't escalated it, he wouldn't have felt the tazer at all." She stared at him. "I made sure he wouldn't be bothering me tonight. But thank you for assuming I'm here to kill everyone in the room. Never was like that but gee, thanks."

The guy flushed and walked off shaking his head.

Shelly looked at Darcy, who sighed. "I should go," Darcy said.

"No, you should stay," Jane said. "It's the only way to get them to stop it."

Darcy looked at her. "Did you see what I had to do to defend myself the last time?" she asked quietly. "Even the SHIELD agents that showed up to help were thrilled that gang kids helped me first." Jane winced. "I probably wouldn't have made it out of the second attempt if it hadn't been for them because I saw the uniform and assumed, Jane. Then help got there." Jane hugged her. "Thanks."

"You need to come home. I won't even make you make sure I eat. My new assistant sucks at that but he does the science better."

"I like what I do," she said.

"Can you do it in New York?" she asked, giving her a begging look.

Shelly looked at her, wincing some. "There's a group in New York. They're almost completely downtrodden by the locals and they're seriously overrun by need. People went to other charities because they decided that educating the masses isn't as important as making sure they eat. Which I can see the point of; we just combined those functions recently."

Jane stared at her. "They...food banks."

"Supposedly for a week's worth of food, you can go once a month, and some of them give out a ton of candy," Darcy said dryly. "And a lot of them think a week's worth of food is actually three day's worth because donations are down." She grinned. "We've recently hooked up with a program that gives school kids fruit and weekend food packs. We give them out during tutoring sessions. And sometimes I bring in cookies." She smiled. "Healthy cookies because it's important but sometimes it's a good thing."

"Aww," Jane said with a smile.

"Ask Scott, he was most helpful when he was there," Shelly said with a smile for Jane and Thor. They were a cute couple. "And when Mr. Rogers showed up for a night, he was very helpful too. He explained how things were at least slightly better now and yet slightly worse."

"Yeah, back then younger kids could get jobs," Darcy agreed. "The kids were amazed that people were kinda the same sort of poor back then. Thankfully he wasn't there the week that the mom decided welfare was enough." She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "We had a talk about reality. She thought she could live poorly but well enough on it. I pointed out with a little exercise called 'how do you pay for that'." Shelly laughed. "One of the boys complained to his mom about her and her mom knew that one's mom, who showed up to tell her daughter just how hard they had it while she was trying to get somewhere with her own life.

"And then we went over some simple, easy, cheap recipes that kids might actually eat without complaining." She grinned. "They loved that stew. I did a cooking thing the next meeting to go over fractions and measurements." She smiled a tiny bit. "The kids were great with it. We baked some bread, and that mom showed up and showed them how to make biscuits. We made stew in the crockpot for them. I showed them how to make cobbler from frozen cheap fruit and biscuit mix. It went well and the kids ate good. We made enough that everyone brought home seconds. I got a few tweets of thanks from some moms. The boys fed their moms."

"That's sweet to see," Jane agreed.

"Oooh! One of my kids just got a baby brother. Mom's still sick so he called off to take care of the kiddo. I sent him a happy baby kit," she told Shelley. "With a few diapers, and some really soft baby washclothes, and a few pacies."

"That's sweet, Darcy."

"The girls helped me set it up."

"Aww," Shelley agreed. "That's so sweet of the kids you work with."

"It is. They're good kids."

"They are," Shelley said, patting her on the arm. Darcy smiled. The dinner was announced so they went to their seats.

Jane looked up at Thor. "She seems really happy," she said quietly.

"She does. She's making much of a difference and helping more than you with things."

"She is. I'm proud." They went to their seat and found themselves at the same table as a few of the donors. She had nothing to talk with them about. They were all talking about money. She smiled at Thor. "Do you think she'd come visit?"

"We can arrange that," he agreed. "She should see her godchild relatively often." Jane smiled and nodded. He nodded at the people staring at them. "Good evening."

"I haven't seen you at this event before," one woman said.

Jane smiled. "We're giving an award later from the Maria Stark foundation," she said. "This is Thor."

"Oh!" she said, blinking at him. "That's charming, sir. It's good that you support charities as well."

"I do. Much can be done if people consider it and put themselves to it. Many of my teammates also do charity work and have brought me to see if any of them find my skills useful. My lady Jane is someday soon going to be helping with science related charities." He smiled at her.

"I'm working on a small grant for a few science oriented groups. I'm not sure how that's going to work out but Pepper Potts is helping me with it."

"That's a great thing," that woman said, smiling at her.

"My former assistant is here. We were talking with her about her at risk teenager education group."

"They still do that instead of just giving them computers with a program?" one of the men asked, looking confused.

Jane looked at him. "Most of those kids don't read very well because education's already failed them. They might not be able to read the computer."

"Oh, I had no idea. Which one does she work with?"

She looked and pointed. "There's Darcy with Shelly. Darcy was my assistant for years."

They looked then one winced. "That's that pushy thing," one sneered.

Jane stared at him. "I would've shot the man who groped me without my consent." He flinched back. "I'm really proud that she used a non-lethal method. Darcy was with me when Thor showed up and in London."

"Plus protected her dorm when men who should not be called such broke in to hurt women," Thor agreed. "We were most proud when we heard she helped protect them all and then had to deal with the senator who came to defeat them for having his son be so dumb."

"That was her?" one of the other men hissed. "At that college?" Jane nodded. "Oh, dear." He looked at his friends.

"They broke in to harm them," Jane said. "We're glad she managed it with a few other adults there. Otherwise it'd have been a massacre."

"We heard that someone attempted to kidnap her," the woman said, glancing around. Then looking at Jane again.

"Yes, there's apparently a price on her head for defending herself and her body," Jane said, grimacing. "That one I'd like to talk to with Thor's hammer."

Thor patted her on the hand. "As would I." A few of the men nodded at that urge. "Thankfully Darcy has managed to save herself to this date. I hope she won't need to keep saving herself but one never knows how things will work out in this life."

"True," Jane said. "Or else your mom would still be with us nagging you."

"Quite," he agreed, smiling at her.

Darcy jogged over, handing Thor her phone. "Problems."

He watched the video, grimacing. "What is that?" Darcy ran the video back, pointing at it. He peered. "Can we enlarge that?"

"It came out earlier and I caught it on my social media feed. Someone who was in London was freaking out."

Thor frowned but nodded. "That is him."

"Yeah, that looks like Loki. Does he have a son?"

Thor shook his head. "Not that looks like his twin." He sighed. "I will call the others. Thank thee, Darcy."

She punched him on the arm. "If he's reformed or leaned from things, maybe it's a good thing."

"Perhaps but I thought him dead."

Darcy shrugged. "Loki's a master of illusions, Thor. Who knows how he survived."

He nodded. "True, he could have healed there or he could have limped to an ally. I will look into that." She smiled and went back to her seat. Thor looked at Jane.

"If he's alive, I get to slap him before Sif takes off his head," Jane quipped.

Thor smiled. "I get the first blow, Jane, but I will try to save you and the Lady Sif some." She smiled and patted his hand. Food was brought. Thor looked at the artfully designed bits of food on his plate then sighed. "We will eat a proper meal later."

"Yes we will," Jane said, looking at it. "I can't identify what two of them are. Are those...parsnips?"

Thor tasted them, nodding. "One was, one was a radish."

"Oh, okay." She tasted all but that one, letting Thor have it.

The others shared looks but they weren't their kind anyway. They wouldn't understand an artful meal.

Jane looked at the tiny plate, shaking her head. "At least I won't be up all night in the lab."

"True," Thor agreed. "You have a few days before you go back to your grueling schedule." She hugged his arm. He smiled. "I do not mind. Science calls to you as many other things do and you must heed it." She nodded, relaxing again.

Darcy suddenly kicked the table, wincing as she rubbed her knee. She kicked something under the table and the small lizard ran off. "That's not a usual pet kept in some woman's handbag," she said, looking at her leg.

Shelly looked at it then at her. "Are you all right, Darcy? Did it injure you?"

"Yes, but it's not hugely problematic. I can bandage it." She used her napkin to tie a temporary bandage over it. "Excuse me while I go to the lady's room." She limped off, Clay escorting her. She looked at Clay in the hallway. "I can't believe someone brought a biting lizard to this event."

"I'm just happy it's not the precursor to an attack or an assassination attempt," he complained. "Are you going to need stitches?"

"I can clean and bandage it. I'll let you check if you want," she sighed, looking at him.

"Not the team's field medic, sorry, kid."

"Take a picture and send it?"

"I can do that." He did that and helped her clean up the mess it made. They both heard the gunshots and groaned. Clay stared at her.

"It follows me," she agreed dryly. "Let's tie a bandage." He nodded, helping her do that. She handed over her hidden gun. He smirked and got up to go check on things, calling in what he saw. She limped after him. "Oooh, Thor's mad," she hissed. "He's got the full cape. Mew-mew's mad. Someone's going to go boom splat." Yup, there was someone trying to menace them and they went boom into the wall then splat onto the floor. A few tried to run out and spotted her, sneering. She zapped one. Clint shot the other two. She looked back at him. "Fancy meeting you here."

He grinned. "I was watching Thor's back since Stark saw a video that showed Loki was somehow back."

"I showed him a few minutes ago." She looked. Smiled and waved at the guy staring at them. That one stared at Clint, who smirked and waved too. The guy yelled something and they came out. Thor stomped after them. Darcy stabbed one that tried her. Clint got another two down and out. Clay got another few. Darcy sighed at the end. "Thank the Goddess that dresses that aren't designer are built to dance in so you can move comfortably."

Clay looked at her. "That's off the rack?"

"Bridal," she said with a smile. "Designer stuff never fits the boobs."

"I don't need to know that," Clay said. "I'll never have breasts. I hope."

Thor looked back. "I would beware of my brother. He may be able to do that."

Clint stared at him. "Thank God he thought I wasn't that sort of pretty," he said dryly. Thor burst out laughing, clapping him on the back hard enough to make him stumble into Darcy, who yelped as she shifted her weight. "Did you get hurt?" he demanded, looking her over.

She pointed. "Someone brought a biting damn lizard."

"Excuse me?" he demanded.

"Looked like a miniature croc," Clay said. "It's not too deep. Pooch said she might need a few stitches but just bandage it."

Clint stared at her. "How do you have these things happen?"

"I'm thinking sometime in my family's history, a chaos god blessed us." He burst out laughing. Jane ran out. "Are you okay?"

"I'm good. Are you? You got bitten by a lizard! You need a tetanus shot!" She hauled her off. "Let's go clean it up. I don't have any bandaids but we can make sure it'll be okay."

"I'll drive her to the ER in a few minutes," Clay called. "Put some pressure on it if it's bleeding." Jane waved a hand back. He looked at Clint. "By the way, she moved."

"I got the card with the pass for her sensor."

"Good." He walked off. "She has a guest room now too."

"Wonderful. She could use one." He watched him go. "Where do I know him from?" he muttered. He shook his head.

Thor shrugged. "I know not other than someone said he was military."

Clint straightened up, looking back there, seeing Clay smirking. "Tell Hat Boy I said hi?"

"Already have, Barton. Took you long enough."

"Yeah, my head's clouded by fussing Starks." Clay snorted but looked amused. Clint helped tie up the people that needed it until the cops got there.

"Who're you?" one of the officers demanded.

"Well, that's Thor," Clint said with a point. "And I'm Hawkeye. I was guarding Thor at this charming event. Then people decided to show up to rob people." He handed over one of the idiots. "This one's got a stab wound. He tried to run over someone." He looked at Thor. "Want me to shadow them? I doubt Jane's going to let Darcy go to the ER by herself."

"We can both go," Thor said, calming himself to the point where his hammer shrank back into his pocket again. It let his clothes fade back into the suit Stark had gotten him.

Clint's phone rang and he sighed, looking at it. "Stark, she's on her way to the ER. Before all that happened, some sort of lizard bit her." He spotted it and shook his head as he hung up, walking inside to pick it up by the tail and carry it out. "This is going to the ER with us so they know what to treat her bite mark for." The officers all stared at it. "It bit someone just before this happened and I know it's not hers. She's the one who stabbed the idiot." He carried it out. Thor took it to carry properly. "Thanks. Didn't want to lose a finger to it. Might make it hard to use my bow."

Darcy glared at it. "You need to be a pair of ugly shoes for Tony." Jane laughed. "You're not big enough to make some for Thor but you might fit Tony's feet." Clint helped hold Darcy up. "I'm okay. It's not deep."

"Yeah, they have all sorts of funky mouth diseases, Darcy," Clint said. "Don't make me carry you."

"I'd never make you carry me. You're not my husband and he should only carry me if I'm drunk or in labor."

"I'll pass that on when you find one," he quipped.

"Please send one and tell him first," she shot back. She winced as they went down the few stairs to the valet parking. Clay got their car and them evacuated to the ER. An officer followed to get a statement from Thor and Jane. Darcy's statement that she had been in the bathroom cleaning the wound made the nurse wince. Darcy smiled and pointed at the creature. "That bit me at a formal awards dinner."

She looked at it then at Darcy. "How did it get in?"

"I don't know," Darcy admitted, moving the dress's skirt. "It's not totally deep, my leg's not falling off, but it might need some stitches."

"She needs a tetanus shot," Jane said firmly. "You always do for animal bites."

The nurse smiled and nodded. "Quite often, yes. I'll get someone to swab the ...lizard's mouth. Do we know who owns it?"

The officer nodded. "He's complaining it got confiscated."

"He can have it back once we make sure it's not carrying a poison," Clint told him, giving him a look.

"That's what we've told him so far, sir."

Darcy looked at him. "He's a former agent."

"Oh. All right."

"He's the bow guy on the Avengers," she said more quietly. "It's sweet he's protective of people."

"Yes, ma'am, I'm sure it is. Are you his girlfriend?"

"When I was a lab assistant we shared many a late night movie but otherwise no. He's not into dating."

"Oh. Fine."

"Friends do for friends," Jane said firmly, glaring at him.

"Yes they do," he agreed to keep the peace. The ER didn't need more work when Thor stomped on him for upsetting his girlfriend.

"I'd just really like some novocaine shot into the area," Darcy told the nurse. "Please? Soon?"

"Relatively soon," she admitted. "Go ahead and sit down. You don't want to stress that leg right now, Miss Lewis." She nodded, being helped to a seat. The nurse went to tell the shift supervisor. "We have a weird one. We have a pet lizard of some sort that bit someone not the owner at a formal event. The police are here to question what happened when people showed up to rob the event after the biting. The lizard's here so we can make sure it's not poisonous."

The head nurse looked at her. "What?" The check-in nurse told her again. "All right. How bad?"

"Minor, she thinks it'll need a few stitches, asked for some local anesthetic. The police are questioning the two Avengers members with them."

The shift nurse looked out there, then sighed and got some swabs to bring with her. "Let me swab the creature's mouth please, sir. The tests to make sure of any weird germs or debris in it will take a bit to run." Clint and Thor held it still so she could swab the mouth a few times. Then the officer got handed the lizard to hand back if he wanted to. The nurse sent the swabs up to the lab with an explanation written by the check-in nurse and orders for the testing. Then the nurse got to tell the attending doctor, who was so confused looking it was almost cute. Even though he was an asshole.

Darcy got taken back to a room. The doctor looked at her. "Wedding?"

"Awards dinner that was honoring the charity I work for." She moved the dress out of the way. "It dry cleans."

The doctor nodded, removing the bandage. "That's not too huge."

"It's got a few deep puncture spots and it aches like a bitch. They thought I might need a few stitches in this deep part here," she said with a point.

"Who?"

"My escort tonight is former military and he talked to a friend who was a medic in the army."

"Ah."

"He took a picture to send since I couldn't really cut out. They're honoring my boss. I was just going to bandage it but he asked."

The doctor nodded. "That's not a bad idea if you can't get to an ER right away."

"I was figuring in about two hours," Darcy admitted. "Long before it was too old."

"Good." He pressed gently, watching the blood that came up. Darcy hissed and grabbed the edges of the table. "Sorry." He pressed a few more places. "It looks like you could have two or three stitches and yes, I can do some local," he said, looking up at her. "I'm not writing you pain killers."

"Good! I don't take that shit." She stared at him. "Doc, I'm rich enough that if I wanted to go find drugs, I'd go buy drugs. I don't want drugs, don't do drugs, and am not looking for drugs. I don't want drugs. Just a bit of local so I can get to sleep tonight since that's the side I sleep on."

"All right." He went to get what he needed, coming back with a needle, a stitching kit, and a nurse. "Here we go." He looked up at the complaining. "Yours?"

"Yes, she's my friend. She's insistent that I get a tetanus shot if I need one, which I'm all for if I need one."

"How long since your last one?"

"Five years."

"It's not a bad idea," he agreed. "We can do that after this." She closed her eyes and grabbed the table when he draped her leg. She took a deep breath as he injected her leg, then got to work on the stitches. "You've had many stitches?"

"A few," she panted. She swallowed hard. "Not that many. Jane chases science like that guy on A&E chases bail jumpers." The doctor laughed. "Seriously. She's an astrophysicist."

"That's interesting." He finished up and applied a new bandage. "There we go." The nurse left to get the tetanus shot and came back with a lab report. He read it over. "The lizard's mouth had a bit of mouse fur but nothing too huge. We'll do an antibiotic pill and the tetanus shot."

Darcy nodded. "I'm good with that."

"Allergies?"

"No."

"Good." He wrote it out for her, letting the computer take a copy for her records. He handed it over then hit her arm with the tetanus shot. "There you go. Try to have an easier night."

"I'd like that," Darcy admitted, sliding off the table but holding onto it for a few seconds until she got her balance. "How long should I keep it covered?"

"Until it seals."

"Gotcha. Thank you." She shook his hand and limped out. "All shots given, a few stitches, and some local so I can sleep tonight." They escorted her out to her hotel and Clint stayed to tuck her in while Clay reported to the others.

***

Clint was in the living room of the suite when his phone rang. Darcy had graciously allowed him the couch so he didn't have to get a room for himself. He read the all capital letters 'SHE WAS BITTEN BY A LIZARD! WHO BRINGS A LIZARD TO THOSE SORT OF THINGS!' from Stark. Clint answered back patiently that she was fine, had some antibiotics in case, had a tetanus shot, and was sleeping. He got one back that was calmer about who he got to yell at about carrying a lizard to that thing. Clint gladly gave over the name. They deserved the hell they were about to get. Stark sent back a growl and didn't write back again.

Clint looked up the lizard, finding it was the Mexican Bearded lizard. Interesting. Biting definitely. Nerve toxin... He snuck in to check on Darcy but she was fine so far. She nearly woke up when he touched one of her hands to see if it'd move. He went back to the couch to text that factoid to Stark. He got back a growl from Pepper, who apparently knew who the lizard belonged to. Great! She could deal with petty annoyances like that instead of Darcy. Darcy had too much to deal with right now.

***

Jensen walked Darcy back into her apartment when they got back to Chicago, stopping to sniff. "Someone cooked."

Darcy looked around slowly, then went to look in the closets and bathroom. Jensen checked other places. They found the reason in the bathroom. "Sif," Darcy said, hugging her since she was only washing her hands. "Thank you for coming. Did you make dinner?"

"I brought you dinner," she admitted, coming out wiping off her hands. "Thor was worried about you when I came to check on him." She stared at Darcy then at Jensen. "New mate, Darcy?"

"This is Jake Jensen. He helped guard me the last few weeks because there's idiots who don't understand the meaning of the word no."

Sif smiled at him. "Sometimes a true warrior needs backup," she said, holding out a hand.

"It's a pleasure, Lady Sif. I've heard a lot about you, and not even from mythology, which said you were a blonde."

She laughed, nodding. "They confused me greatly," she agreed happily. She smiled at him. "There's enough for you if you want to join us."

"I've just escorted her home to make sure she made it here since someone tried to grab her at the airport."

"Really stupid reporter," Darcy muttered, shaking her head. Jake patted her and nodded at Sif before leaving. Darcy dropped her bag on the couch and looked at her. "I saw Jane and Thor in DC."

"I heard. You shouldn't be on that leg, Darcy." She sat down at the table, dishing out food for them. "Thank thee. Not as good as yours but very nice."

"It is good. Bruce did a good job." Sif smiled at her, looking smug. "It's the spices. He always uses those in pork dishes." She ate another bite. "Are you mad at me like Thor was?"

"If you had turned down being a guardian I might be but I learned that it was not what you were being asked to become. A caretaker is different. I had a talk with Thor about those as well. One of his mother's maids used to help her with the boys when she needed some but otherwise she raised her sons herself."

"My mom did the same thing with some babysitting from friends," she agreed, smiling at her. "I think the kid's a cute little thing but I... I'm not giving up my life for that, Sif."

"I understand, Darcy, and I agree. It's not a healthy thing they asked of you. You already served that purpose for Jane."

Darcy nodded. "Some days, yeah." She ate another bite. "So how are the Warriors Three and yourself?"

"We are tolerable. A bit bored without things going on, but tolerable."

"That's cool. Tell them I said hi if it won't make them mad?"

"I will do so," she agreed, eating some. "What are you doing now?"

"I'm working with a group that helps teenagers get an education if they had to drop out of school." She smiled. "I work with some great kids who I hope find a way out of the bad parts of the city."

"That's special work. Plus taking care of others is something you do good at." Darcy smiled at her for that, stuffing her mouth again. "Why are you limping? I heard you got injured but not how."

"Someone's pet lizard bit me." She looked at her. "Totally stupid but at the formal event I ran into Thor and Jane at." She stood up to let her see the bandage. "Not exactly a heroic injury." She sat down again.

Sif giggled. "A lizard?" Darcy pulled up the facts on those lizards on her phone so Sif could see. "A big lizard. Not too dangerous though."

"No, not too dangerous. Apparently it didn't have much toxin when it bit me. So I've got some antibiotics because it had been eating a mouse before it bit me." She grimaced. "And it got us out of there after someone tried to rob the event."

"I heard that had happened." Darcy took her phone back and tossed it at the couch once it was off. Sif grinned at that move. "Are you happier here?"

"I'm really kinda happy with my job and most of my life," she said with a smile. "I miss some people but I see a few of them real often. And I talk to them online."

"That's good then." She patted her on the hand. "The Warriors Three would say hi back you know."

"I know. They're nice guys." Sif nodded. "You know, there's people who make up stories about Thor and them having fun times together in bed. Not as many as with you though." Sif burst out laughing, shaking her head. "I ran into some the other day and nearly wrote back that they hadn't put in Fandral's chest hair." Sif's peal of laughter got louder. "Seriously, the fictional stories thing? Lots of fun sometimes." Sif gulped her water to help her not choke. "I showed one to Jane and she muttered about making her Thor gay."

"Oh my Goddess Friga," she snickered, shaking her head. "Thank you, Darcy. I needed that."

"Welcome." She smiled. It was good to catch up with old friends.

***

Darcy was out and about when she saw someone slightly familiar. She smiled and nodded slightly at him, getting a nod back. She went back to picking up vegetables for dinner. Plus some extra to bring with her that night. She grimaced at the citrus selection. "I was hoping to bring in oranges tonight," she muttered, searching for a better bag of them.

"It's better to buy singly," Bucky said quietly from behind her.

"Not always. They have some moldy ones there too," she said with a grimace. She went to look at the other type of oranges. "Well, the tiny ones are easy peel and you can eat ten of them in one sitting," she decided, loading those into her cart. She turned to smile at him. "How have you been, Bucky?"

"I'm good. This isn't where I'd expect you to be."

"Even I've got to grocery shop."

He nodded. "True. It was too easy to follow you though."

She smiled. "I knew someone was but it didn't feel like a threat." She moved closer, adjusting his shirt's collar on him. "I'm still pretty paranoid but nothing's happened recently. Unless you're following me because of that?" she asked quietly. He shook his head. She smiled. "Then that's great. I'm tutoring tonight if you wanted to join us. Scott and Steve both have."

"I don't think I can help much," he said. He stared at her. "They're still going to try to come."

"I know. They're insistent on some things, even if it makes no sense to anyone else." She waved a hand around. "It happens."

He looked at her hand then at her. "We didn't get a letter about that?"

She let him see it. "It's got an emergency key."

"Oh. That's neat." He let her hand go. "Pretty too."

"Thank you." She smiled. "Someone made that specially for me." She looked at the oranges then loaded another box into the cart. She looked at him. "If you need a couch...."

"I could just to make sure you're safe. We heard they're definitely going to try again soon, Darcy."

"That's fine. I have a couch and a guest bedroom both." He nodded, shifting closer. "Let me check out and I can bring you there. I've got about a half hour before I need to leave for the school." She went to get a few more things with him following, then going back to her apartment. She did text the security team she had a friend in from New York. "Want me to tell Steve you said hi?"

He shook his head. "He's moping. Again."

"He and Sharon need to man up and screw, yeah," she said, making him smile. She grinned back. "He does."

"Yeah, he does." He looked around the apartment. It was nice looking. Windows had some sort of stuff on it so it was partially darkened. "What's this?"

"It's an anti sniper film. The other side's more shiny so you can't get a good look in." She smiled. "The people I had help from finding this place put it up for me." She pushed her hair back. "You sure you don't want to come with me? The kids won't mind."

"No. You go do good things. I'll watch some tv and maybe I'll toss Steve a bone and say hi."

"Okay." She kissed him on the cheek, carrying the oranges out with her once she had her purse.

Bucky sat down, checking his email from her system. It was a nice one and had protections against being hacked from the outside.

Darcy called from the car. "Hey, Steve, it's Darcy," she told his voicemail. "I'm on my way to tutoring but I thought I'd let you know that I've got a couch guest and he's finally gotten a haircut. Yes, that one but I'm being subtle in case someone hacks your voicemail. Laters." She hung up.

***

Steve looked at his phone when the voicemail notice popped up. He had been texting when the call came in so it didn't interrupt him. He listened and smiled. "Bucky's visiting Darcy," he told the others. They were in a meeting room.

Stark looked at him. "Is that safe?" Steve glared at him. "We don't know where he's been since he hiked off with a huff at you. Could they have retriggered him? Because if he's there to take out Darcy I will kill him."

Steve shook his head. "She said he's on her couch, not that he attacked her."

"She's usually pretty safe," Natasha said.

"There's still three prices on her head plus HYDRA," Clint reminded her.

"Point," Natasha said with a grimace. "She should be fine. She'd know if Barnes was acting like he used to when you first brought him here."

"Point. That doesn't mean he can't act," Stark reminded her.

"Darcy is not helpless."

"She's trusting," Natasha said. "If you think he's acting, would she see through that?"

Stark sighed and pulled up the cameras he had installed in Darcy's apartment. One had been taken out but the others showed Bucky surfing the internet on her computer. He got into his special little thing to hack her, he had Jensen put it on there just in case, and looked at what he was doing, showing Steve. Steve winced and texted Darcy back as he walked off. Her 'don't break the couch' was enough to make him laugh.

***

Darcy came back that night and found Bucky unconscious and Steve looking pissed off. "So what was it? He seemed more quiet than usual."

"They sent him to hit on you, had him retriggered and convinced you were his true soulmate." He stared at her. She grimaced. "Darcy...."

"Yeah, it figures with the way that they got my gyn records," she admitted.

"Gyn," he said, looking confused.

"Girl doctor stuff, Steve."

"Oh!" He nodded once. "Why would they?"

"To find out the state of my birth control and uterus?" she guessed then shrugged. She handed over the last few oranges. "The kids were oranged out."

"Thanks." He sat down to peel and eat one. "I'm pretty sure I untriggered him because he gave me this horrified look when he seemed to wake up." He ate a bite. "But I didn't want to take the chance and he insisted I knock him out."

She kissed him on the forehead. "That's nice of you." She went into the kitchen. "Want dinner?"

"It's nearly ten," he said.

She looked out there. "I don't have to be at the office tomorrow until noon and I doubt I'm getting to sleep very shortly." She went back to making a quick dinner, coming out. "Besides, I need the stress relief. I had to dispute the fact that we don't help the kids past their GED's. I pointed out if they wanted more help, it wouldn't be the first time I had helped someone learn how to write college papers and all we'd ask for was them to help tutor while we worked on their own homework. The kids both agreed and got to work with the others, showing them how hard the GED actually was. It worked out well and whoever is paying off the principal is getting my heels up his ass." She dug in with a sigh. "So, how's things in New York?"

"Still really boring without any life," he admitted. "We all want you back, Darcy."

She looked at him. "I love working with the kids, Steve."

"I know. It's a hard choice but we'd want you closer."

"Even if I moved back, I'd be doing the same sort of work and not being Jane's assistant."

"Pepper needs help, a lot of help sometimes," he offered.

She stared at him. "I like what I do."

"I know. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to guilt trip you, Darcy." He shoulder nudged her and ate some of the nice dinner. "You got anything fun coming up?"

"An interview on live tv through a supposed news station?" she offered.

"Eww. Like that Piers guy?"

"Yup, him."

"Oh, well, at least you can confuse him a lot."

"Probably true." She leaned against his arm. "It'll be okay."

"It might not be. We have no idea how to save Bucky and he wanted me to put him back in ice earlier."

"Isn't mind screwing one of Wanda's powers?"

"She's not sure if she can help him."

"Huh. Well, ask Thor if they have mind healers."

"I...I actually hadn't thought about that," he admitted. "Maybe they can give Wanda ideas."

"Maybe." He smiled and hugged her. "Aww, I need a teddy bear built like you." He laughed but shook his head, digging into his dinner again. "I made the sleeping beauty there a plate too since it looks like he's waking up."

Steve went to get it and brought it back, settling in to feed Bucky by hand since his own were tied. Darcy had to admit it was hot to watch but she wasn't going to even dream about getting between those two ancient friends.

Bucky looked over. "Liking what you see, Doll?" he taunted.

"Yup, you look great as his captive," she said with a smirk. "The whole hand-feeding thing is really hot too." She ate a bite of her dinner. "So, why did they decide I was your fated soulmate sort?"

"Not sure," he admitted. "They were insistent that you were mine and meant to be mine, but I had to make you want to join us."

Darcy considered it then sighed. "I'm going to make sure my IUD is in place. Just in case they get super sneaky."

"Please do," Bucky agreed.

"I'll make that appointment tomorrow." She went back to eating. "You're pretty and all but I doubt dating me is going to make anything in your life easier."

"No, probably not," Bucky agreed quietly. "But you're very ...perky."

Darcy smirked a tiny bit. "Especially when I have to protect myself?" He nodded. "Yes I do try."

"Have there been ones we didn't hear about?" Steve demanded, staring at her.

"Did you hear about the lizard?" she asked dryly. "Because the owner is society scum who said it was wrong of me to protect myself and wrong of the agents to step in to protect me." She gave him a look. "I kindly made fun of him and his lizard the next day."

"GOOD!" Steve insisted. Darcy grinned. "Are you okay now?"

"More or less. A bit bored sometimes because I never have time enough to do more than watch an hour of tv." She shrugged. "That's the price you pay for adulting too well I guess."

"Maybe," he agreed. "Can you look into jobs like yours in New York?"

"I still wouldn't be at the tower, Steve, and who said that they'd leave me alone even if I moved back?"

"Point. But we could watch you better."

"Or they could try stuff while you're out avenging something," she shot back. "It's not a good idea to attack someone you'd protect while you're there."

"True," he agreed. "We'd still like you closer, Darcy. We miss the fun you used to have with us."

She got up to hug him. "Maybe some day soon we'll have some fun again." He nodded. "But really, I have to leave for Central America in about three days." He winced. "But I'm taking a helper-slash-bodyguard with me."

"Excellent idea," Bucky agreed. "Can they protect you if HYDRA comes?"

"Damn I hope so. Down there women are sneered at for being strong enough to beat the living fuck out of a man. They have an even worse rape culture than the US does." She grimaced. "We all think it'll be fine."

"We'll be listening just in case," Steve said. She grinned. "Does Coulson know?"

"Yeah, pretty sure he got the paperwork I have to file each time I want to leave the US. He has my passport under watch so I can't be stolen out of the country."

"Why would they use yours?" Bucky asked. "That makes no sense. They probably have someone who can legally get you a new one."

"Probably," Darcy agreed. "But that's what they demanded to do after Antigua and my spring break that got interrupted."

"You never have it easy," Steve complained.

She smiled. "I have a lot of easy things, just not free time. I think it's some sort of plot to keep me busy so I can't complain or make plans for world domination."

"We'd have to stop those, Darcy," Steve joked, smiling at her.

"Sure, you give me nubile young assistants to hit on like I'm a Stark and I can tone them down," she quipped back. "The more helpful those boys are, the less I'll want to take over the world to make it a better place."

Steve stared, mouth open slightly. "How many do you need, Darcy? Most women only need one."

She gave him a dirty look. "Most women only get one and have to substitute their own hands for the inadequate one they have. Finding someone fantastic in bed is nearly impossible these days. Too much attention span problems popping up in the bedroom. Hell, I've had more than one guy tell me foreplay took too long and wasn't a benefit to his sex life anyway. I told him foreplay made sure I wanted a round two."

"He was young and stupid," Steve said.

"He was thirty-five!" she said dryly. "And did the same sort of work I do, Steve. Men these days don't take their time and they definitely don't take their pleasures with ours."

"You could still date Bucky," Steve said dryly, staring at her.

She smirked. "I heard you had Sharon on your penis hotline."

Steve shook his head. "No, we're just dating. We haven't gone that far yet. Thanks for asking though. Much less subtle than Natasha's been trying to hint to get intel."

"Really? Most of the bets have gone by. Did you do that on purpose?"

"I knew Tony would bet on it if someone started a board," he complained but he grinned at her. "She said I'm not getting in her panties for at least another few dates, flat out told me because we all know I wouldn't ask that sort of question."

"Yup, real men don't have to ask, they just wait patiently," Darcy agreed.

"Used to be you could wait years," Steve complained. "Until the wedding night."

"Or later if she was on her cycle," Darcy quipped.

"Or that. Though any extra days might've killed the guy."

She smirked a tiny bit. "Blue balls doesn't kill anyone and all guys have at least something they can use as a friendly hand or a hole in the wall."

"So do women."

"Yes I do and I'm really too familiar with it. It's starting to get creepy how it works without my conscious thought now," she said dryly. "That and I'm a member of the dildo buyer's club, every two months they send me a special new buzzing friend in the mail." Steve burst out laughing. "Not totally kidding but yeah, I'm all too familiar with ways outside having a boyfriend."

"Try girls yet?" Bucky asked.

"Back in high school. It was good too. Haven't found one I could stand recently though."

Steve was shaking his head while he laughed. "Jesus," he muttered. He looked at her. "Would you hit on Natasha?"

"No, because she insisted that I had to be a gold digger the whole time I was in the damn tower," she said bluntly. "Tolerate, yes. Maybe forgive her some day, maybe. Fuck her? No. She's pretty but no. Not my type. My girlfriend would have to be supportive of my career the same way I would be of hers and I doubt she could do that."

"She does support charities," Steve said more quietly.

"Yeah, but she still doesn't like me and she can't be the sort of girlfriend that you'd lean on for comfort. Missions would get in the way and so would a lot of other problems. I don't mind being the one leaned on but I've had plenty of days I could use some for myself and I really can't see her doing that. It's not the lady she is."

"She does care."

Darcy nodded. "About her teammates, yes." She stared at him. "If there's an assault she'll care if you're trapped. She did the few times someone got into the tower. I can't see her being the quietly cuddling on the couch girlfriend."

"No, I can't either," he admitted. "She's got stuff still to settle in her life."

"Which will always take precedence because that's a choice you make," Darcy said. "Sometimes living well is the best revenge."

"True," he agreed. "She's settled down some."

"I'm happy for her, truly happy if she's found a niche and a happy spot. I think that's great and I hope she gets to keep it."

"I hope so too. She needed the peace now and then. Bruce has been having her help him meditate."

"Sometimes that helps you clear your mind and work out problems. Mine would only be solved if humanity suddenly started to care about the weaker humans, and that's something that hasn't happened yet."

"True," he agreed. "Even with support it just keeps getting worse." She nodded. "Are you okay?"

"I'm good. Most of the kids are doing okay."

"No, just you. Not the kids. You sound depressed, Darcy."

"It's just been some long weeks of mostly hiding," she admitted. "Because last time I had to get free there was an agent there. He was a skinhead, but he was an off-duty agent." She smirked a bitter little smirk. "And the officers tried to blame me for ducking him shooting me from a moving car for some reason. When I pointed out what happened and that I habitually wear a body camera to work because of threats, they were horrified. He's still free but the officers decided it was just a misunderstanding and I was conveniently in the way coming out of work. One of them geniusly mentioned our fire escape masturbator and decided he was there for that pedo."

Steve shuddered. "Scott told us about him."

"I finally got him arrested. He had escalated to where he was using supposedly legal porn."

Steve shook his head. "Guys like that need help. A lot of help. Some of it should even come from a few boots."

"I got him with the letter opener," she said with a slight smile. "He didn't come back for two days then. He came back on my day off. Shelly pepper sprayed him." Steve laughed, shaking his head again. "Yeah, things aren't always that boring. Just private life boring."

"It happens, Darcy. You should go rest. You could use the sleep. You look tired."

"I am, a tiny bit." She went into her bedroom, coming back with pillows and a top sheet. "Here you go. For whichever doesn't end up in the spare bedroom." She went back to get ready for bed and climb into it.

Steve looked at Bucky then got him onto the couch, still in cuffs at his insistence. Steve got the nice, soft guest bed for the night.

Around two or so, Darcy snuck out to look at Bucky, who was staring at the ceiling anyway. "We should talk," she said quietly. He stared at her. She sat in front of him on the coffee table, staring at him. "Why me?"

"I don't know. Maybe they think I'll trust you even without remembering you," he said quietly. "Steve does and I've instinctively done the same thing before realizing."

She nodded. "And what's their usual method? Beyond kidnaping and drugging?"

"That might depend on if you're brainwashed first," he admitted. "Probably drugged and taken. Or just plain kidnaped off the street." She nodded at that. "They might do medical checks first, make sure if you're on something it goes away."

"I'm actually on more than one method," she admitted. "And my doc agreed that I could go on a hormonal and an IUD."

"I don't need to know."

"You may need to know," she admitted. "Because it can take up to 90 days for the hormonal one to go away."

He blinked a few times. "That's handy."

She nodded. "Very. Which is why he agreed." She stared at him. "If they do take me and lock me somewhere with you, are you they going to trigger you automatically?"

"I don't know," he admitted. "It'd be more psychological fun for them if they didn't wash either of us."

"They'd get off from making you rape me," she said with a nod. "That's classical sadism yeah." She sighed, grimacing. "In that sort of situation, I'd never blame you, Bucky. That or death is a bad choice. I'd rather block and then if I had to give in."

"I'd...I'd try to make it not horrible."

She shook her head quickly. "No. No you will not because that's for chosen times, not for forced or else you die times. You only make it good when you want them to come back, not to keep us both from dying." She stared at him. "You will make it cold, clinical, and just get it over with," she said very quietly. "Because that'll hurt us both the least."

He nodded. "I can do that," he agreed, sighing at the end. "I can see that point." She leaned over to pat his hands. "I don't want to make this plan."

"Neither do I. But we all know they're persistent and it'll be a while before Steve and you and whoever can make them stop it. It's stupid not to and I may be nice but I'm not dumb."

"I find you nice and not dumb," he agreed, smiling slightly. She grinned back. "I still don't want to see you captured."

"Me either. I'll do everything I can to make sure they can't. I also realize I work in an area of town that's not that safe. I've nearly been a shot bystander a few times thanks to the local officers and gang members. Once in the office." He grimaced but nodded at that. "So I'm realistic. Is there anything we can do if they do get me beyond me kinda expecting you to help me get us free? I'm not great but I'll beat a bitch if I have to."

"I can do more than that. Can you shoot?"

"I can. I'm not great but I can hit the broad side of a barn. Clint made sure of that."

"He's a good shot."

"Yeah and I might be if I practiced every day of my life and got laser eye surgery. My depth perception is a bit off so I'll never be a marksman."

"Not everyone can be," he agreed. "Can you fight?"

"I've taken self defense lessons. I'm not great but I can get free of being held and the like. Usually I can't punch worth a damn but I can pick up something and hit them with it."

He nodded. "I can make plans for that," he agreed. "Have you put in a tracker?"

"The last one they tried, when we first moved into the tower, made me seriously sick. They had to remove it before they had to remove my forearm from the infection."

He grimaced. "We'll see if we can get you one that can't be found by a scanner. I know someone's working on a chemical one."

"That might be nice. If it won't make me sick I'd like that. Thank you."

He nodded. "You need it. You have more than HYDRA after you."

"You guys have federal level morons after you too," she reminded him. "It sucks and I hope like hell we suddenly get a real hydra here so they can eat the assholes. And so they realize that hydras and octopuses look different." He burst out laughing. "They do."

"They do," he agreed. "Thanks."

"I figured we needed to work something out before hand. And you need to find some way to let me know you're not your normal self. Earlier I wasn't sure."

"I probably won't call you anything cute if I'm triggered. The Soldier isn't about mushy things."

She smiled. "You called me Doll earlier."

"I did?" She nodded. "Damn. I was thinking I was more separated."

"They could've uploaded that into the last triggering," she offered. "Given you some of that personality. Because they knew I'd never go for someone cold and unemotional."

"Could be," he agreed.

"I'm still wondering why they're focusing on me."

"You're a dame I would've fallen for back in the day."

"Yeah but there's plenty of us out there, Bucky."

"Not who could handle it if I went off. Or who would know how to handle it if I went off. Some of that's instinctive. Probably can't be washed out."

"Point. So I was the easy choice that fit the best?" He nodded. "Wow." She grimaced.

"Like I said, I could've fallen for you back in the day."

She grinned. "Thanks." She got up. "You should try to get a few hours of at least resting. I don't have to be up until nine." She went back to her room.

Bucky shifted until he got comfortable again, thinking about that problem. He had to make sure they couldn't take her. That was a fate worse than death and she had ways of handling it that he didn't want to see her have to use. HYDRA just might have underestimated this young woman because she wasn't an easy target by any means. He looked toward where Steve probably wasn't sleeping and caught his eye, shrugging some. Steve grimaced but nodded he had heard. So yeah, they'd try to make sure they didn't pick her up.

***

Darcy was walked onto the stage, pointing at a seat and getting a nod so she sat down and let the assistant put the microphone on her shirt. She pushed her hair back. "Okay?" she asked the assistant.

"Just fine, Miss DeCriths," she said quietly. "It's going to be about five more minutes." She left her to sit there.

Darcy smiled at the two men coming out. "Pleasure to meet you both," she said, holding out a hand with a smile. "I can tell you're an agent by the suit."

"Former Secret Service," he admitted, shaking her hand. "The agent that helped you?" he asked quietly.

"I'm told he got moved but he got to ask where."

"That's nice of his supervisor." He sat down and checked his own microphone but Darcy caught it when it fell and hooked it onto his tie. "Thank you."

"Welcome. My first time wearing one but those things are tiny." She smiled at the host, shaking his hand. "Thank you for helping me stop that crappile of stupid that keeps showing up."

"If it's warranted," he said with a smirk.

She smirked back. "I brought tape."

"Good. I asked you to. Do they have it?"

"Yes. I handed it over first thing."

"Excellent." He sat down and his own microphone was put into place. "How long?" he called.

"Two," someone called.

Darcy looked around. "I used to wonder why my father liked his work. Now I see it's a lot more hectic than I thought from his stories."

"You're...that DeCrith was your father?" the host said. Darcy smiled and nodded. "Oh!"

"I never got bitten by the acting bug. He wasn't disappointed I was more like my mother. We've seen a few actresses that basically got eaten by the system until drugs seemed like the best idea in their lives. A few, rehab saved them from suicide from all the judgmental crap."

"I've seen some that have gotten to that point," the host agreed. "It's sad."

"It is. And it never really seems to happen to guys." She frowned. "Or at least not as often or as vocally."

"True. People don't remark half as much on the actor's weights and all that."

"Unless you're Steve and then they think he's a dorrito," she quipped.

The host cracked and nodded while laughing. "Yes, I've seen those memes online."

"I sent him one and got a picture of him blushing back."

"Five, four," someone started to count down.

The host looked at the camera over Darcy's shoulder. "Welcome to our talk tonight. We're talking to Miss Darcy DeCriths, who had the unfortunate problem with a political candidate at a charity event and we're talking to a former Secret Service agent as well. He's a political contributor to CNN, Retired Agent Howard Stultz. Welcome to you both. Let me start off with the film. It's been all over the internet." He let it run on the monitors, watching Darcy's grimace as she watched it. "Howard, what is the proper protocol there?"

"The agents guarding him's job is to keep him from touching anyone and anyone from touching him. Frankly, I fault the agents for not protecting her from the primary incident."

"So they shouldn't have been able to touch her," the host said with a nod. "Darcy?"

"I was just really mad that I got slapped on the butt and his finger tried to get...intimate with my body orifice in the rear. To be polite since we're on camera. It was a deep enough touch that I could tell through my skirt and slip and hose. Which is pretty bad considering how short his fingers are."

"That's sad," the agent said. "He shouldn't have been able to touch you at all, Miss DeCriths."

She smiled at him. "You can call me Darcy. I'm not going to be formal tonight." She looked at the host. "I'm pretty sure the agents with him were just shocked. They didn't step in until he escalated it and I pulled my tazer." They rewatched the video from him getting up to menace her. "I was certain he'd be hitting me and then I would've reacted with lethal force. He wasn't going to suddenly pull back and hold his hands up going 'just kidding'."

The host looked at the agent. "She's right," Stultz agreed. "He was going to punch her. By now the agents should have stepped between them, one of them removing the protected person and one of them walking her off to take a statement if she wanted to press charges."

"A few agents have told me I should've been arrested," Darcy said dryly, looking at him again. "Including an agent that took over after the agent that did step in removed himself from the event." She smiled and handed over the tape player the assistant in black next to her handed her. "Someone handed it to me from the security room." She let it play.

Stultz shook his head. "I would've fired any agent that didn't follow protocol and if he had let that person rape someone he would've been in the jail cell with him for being an accomplis." He leaned forward to look at the video monitor again. "I can't fault the agents for more than stopping him from touching her in the first place and for not reacting fast enough. We're trained to step in the way of someone punching our protectees. I'm really upset they didn't step in to stop her from hitting him but not that she hit him. She has every right to hit him. I told my daughter when that came out I wanted her to do the same thing."

"I got nagged by a few people I know I should've pulled my gun first instead of the tazer," Darcy said. "I always want to try to use non-lethal methods first unless I absolutely have to."

"Have you ever had to shoot someone?" the agent asked her.

She nodded. "A few weeks after I went back to work after this, we found out there was a contract out on my life. Two of them. I had to shoot the guy running at me with his gun out and a manic grin; I hit him in the leg. I know, and was taught, if I have to pull my pistol I'm to aim to kill but I was in a major metropolitan city and even Chicago people call 911 when there's gunshots. I was hoping that was the end of that event but it wasn't that night."

"Who had the contracts out?"

Darcy handed over the papers that were sitting beside her. "From the bulletin board where those things are put out. I believe Agent Stultz's people arrested one of them for it. The other...I'd rather not talk about at this time as it could become a problem almost immediately."

He looked and winced. "Yes, that second group would be more of a problem and it's not related to this?"

"No. Not in the least. It was there a bit before then. They just jumped in when they saw their chance during that attempt on my life."

"I saw the hastily edited and removed diary on that blog site," the host said, looking at her. "How did you do that one?"

She smiled. "Talk to text software. My hand hurt so I was updating the earlier one when that problem burst into the room. It was fortuitous."

"I guess that would be." He stared at the agent. "Should she have shot to kill instead of wound during this first event?"

"Yes," he said. "With the way he was menacing her and kept getting back up to escalate it, she should have shot him instead of tazing him the second time. It would've been safer for her if she had. I like how the agents handled it at the end to get her evacuated safely. That was textbook training. I'm glad they could evacuate her safely. I know there were two other attempted rapes at the same event, by different men."

"I saw their childish exhibition problem," Darcy said dryly. "I told one of the," she coughed, "models that I hoped she found a better job soon as I walked past her."

"They had models there?" the host asked, looking confused.

"Yes, scantily clad women in really high heels with semi-automatic rifles," she said dryly. "So very charming as living statues and oh so classy," she finished sarcastically.

The host grimaced. "That's so bad," he said.

"I saw a few taking pictures," Darcy said, shaking her head. "I was only there to hand over some information to one of the charity I work with's donors. I was in, handed it over, and was walking out when that happened. And frankly, I didn't want him the first time he tried to hit on me during a news broadcast." She handed over her statement with a grin. "I pointed that out during that altercation, he said I couldn't be that woman I was fat."

He looked her over. "You look healthy and curvy but not overweight," he said. He looked at the statement and put it onto the screen that put it onto the monitor. "I think we all saw that."

"Yeah. I go by my grandmother's maiden name most of the time to not only not live with people wanting me for my parents but also due to my stepmother's death contract on me that started when we got her arrested for poisoning my father. Which he died of. It was attempted twice when I was in my undergrad so I had some help from the agents on the campus at that time to informally change my name without having to go through the legal proceeding."

"That makes sense," Stultz said. "Why were agents on campus?"

"I went to Culver." She smiled. "I really liked Culver."

"Oh!" He nodded once. "Yeah, there's still probably an agent settled on campus just in case to this day."

The host looked at her. "Why did she try to have you killed?"

"Because I had her arrested for poisoning my father," she said. "She wanted to be his only heir. She was a money-grubbing bitch to put it bluntly but she'll probably be happy I remembered her unfondly if her prison is allowed to watch tv."

"I remember hearing about your father dying of dementia."

"No, my father was declining mentally to the point where he didn't recognize himself but it was induced by that poison she gave him every day in his fresh squeezed orange juice she insisted he drink because it was good for him. He was poisoned daily for about two and a half years. Dad, well like most dementia cases he did have lucid days."

"Why did he remarry?" the host asked. "I remember he and your mother were the sort of gooshy lovers that made everyone smile when your mother gave him that look in public."

"Mom died and Dad really needed something to take his grief out of focus, give him something new to think about and worry about and all that. At that time it pissed me off but I understood that need. I needed the same thing when Mom died but I wasn't old enough to even date back then." She shrugged a bit. "He just needed someone he could focus on instead. And he picked an easy choice, which was a really bad one. Including trying to force me into an arranged marriage with a guy who later killed his wife. Running up the bills so much my father nearly had a heart attack when he found out she bought her boyfriend a condo on the mastercard." She smirked a tiny bit. "After that fit was when I nicely told a CHP officer we knew up the street about her and her DUI habit. They originally arrested her on that and then found out Dad had been poisoned when he ended up in the hospital for a week during the trial."

"Oh, dear."

"Yeah. Dad...he was pretty strong willed about a few things. I offered to come back home, go to a closer college, to take care of him. He refused. He didn't want me to see him like that as he declined. Which I understand. His order to me was to find him a pretty nurse who would remind him of my mother and to visit on holidays after making sure he was having a good day. And I broke it by visiting a lot more often than he thought I should. Some of his last few lucid days he decided he was getting too bad.

"He and a few professional people talked about his options and he didn't want to go to a nursing home. He was getting to the point where good days weren't coming even once a month sometimes. So his last lucid day, when he realized that, he gathered some things and he curled up in bed beside his nurse, who was sobbing on him as he called her by Mom's name, and took a handful of pills. I was on my way home for a visit when I got the call."

The host blinked, staring at her. "That's..." He cleared his throat. "I'm not sure if I should be upset or not."

"I think that's a personal choice and I can see both sides, but I know my dad didn't want to spend another two years slowly fading into nothingness." She wiped off a tear. "He had mentioned it a few times when he was more healthy so I wasn't totally caught off guard. I had kinda thought that if he still had the facilities he might've been planning it after that visit." She shrugged. "It hurt a lot but ...his doctor said he probably would've spent another two years that way."

"I can see why you would make that choice," he agreed. He cleared his throat again. "Your mother...."

"Probably would've taken a broom to him," she admitted with a small smile. "She fought cancer three times and only lost once. My mom was a strong, subtle woman. She would've hit the bimbo with her car probably. Mom couldn't fight, she couldn't throw a punch and I inherited that from her. She was a mean hand at softball, as proven after I was born and she went after some idiot with a bat. She was at the end of the mood swings," she said with a smile, laughing a bit. "Mom had her ways of making sure people knew she was mad at them."

"I remember her doing some snubbing at times," the host said with a small smile. Darcy nodded. "We have to go to commercial for a minute then we'll talk about this interesting statement and a few other problems. Like the hate levels online." The producer pointed and he sighed, looking at her. "I had no idea," he said quietly.

She patted him on the hand. "Most people didn't. I understand why he did. I'm not sure what I'd do in that situation." She shrugged. "Generally I'm a lot more like mom and I'll stubborn a problem to death but sometimes you just can't do that."

"True. I'm sorry." He handed her a tissue. She smiled and blew her nose then tossed the tissue out. He looked at the agent. "Have you seen any of the other footage?"

He shook his head. "Not really."

Darcy waved a hand. "After that one incident I started to wear a body camera more often. I used to wear it to tutoring, not when I was in the kids I tutor, but going there and home. It's a dangerous neighborhood. I'm just really happy some of the kids helped me that night. That was a run of luck."

Agent Stultz looked at the information she had. "Did the FBI get this?"

"That's why they finally arrested him," she said with a small shrug. "It was brought to me by a former SHIELD guy."

"Wow." He sighed. "That's bad."

"Yeah but bad is relative. That SHIELD guy? He's a really nice guy and he spent that night on my couch so I didn't get alcohol poisoning. Because by the time I got home I just really wanted tequila to make it all go away for a night."

The producer pointed. "And we're back," the host said. "With Former Agent Stultz, who is a political commentator, and Darcy DeCriths." She smiled at him. "We're going to look at the second incident's film. Where was this?"

"Around the corner from my work actually. The reporters caught me coming out of the building I work in and I walked away, going to tutor."

The film was run. It wasn't great quality but it was clear enough to tell what was going on. The host paused it. "So the three reporters?"

"One reporter," Darcy said, holding up a finger. "We found out later two of them had no film in the cameras and were there as a diversion." The host winced but let it go on.

"Pause it," Stultz said. It was paused. "Are those CPD cars?"

"I didn't realize it at first," she admitted. "But those are the tv version. They're really close but not perfect. Which is why I let them handle it. I thought they were the real CPD officers." It was restarted and they finished watching it.

"Who was the sniper?" the agent asked.

"The same one who brought me the information earlier that my life was threatened."

"Oh!" He nodded. "So a former agent." She nodded. "Huh." They went back to watching it. He looked at her. "The security team?"

"At that time I lived in a very security conscious building. I had pushed my panic button I wore on my belt with my arm. They brought me to a neutral location so the actual police could come take a statement, and I went with the agent in question, he showed up there. Then we got broken in on after that by someone wanting to take us hostage. It was not a good night."

"Wow," the host said, shaking his head. "Your phone being on speak-to-text was pretty fortuitous."

"My hands hurt and I was updating that earlier entry," she admitted. "When he broke in I didn't turn it off. I was kinda hoping someone would see it and report it. I hit send as we were being hauled up to be walked out."

"Who trained you how to get out of incidences?" the agent asked.

"A few people," she admitted. "Including picking it up here and there, and I took a few classes at the college I did my masters at."

"Your college," the host said, staring at her, smirking slightly. "Where did you do your masters?"

"At a small college in Pennsylvania. Yes, there was an incident while there too. That's when I seriously started to get politically more conscious and more active in the 'that's wrong, stop it' part of my life. I knew before then I didn't want to run for an office but someone has to stand up and go 'stop it, dude' about the wrong stuff."

"That college," he said, pulling up a police report. "Yours?"

She looked. "Yeah, he was a HYDRA agent who had hit on me a few days earlier. I had an agent there checking on me due to their nearby base so I gave the guy a cover to get out of the pub. The owner's a really nice guy, very good to the students, and made one hell of a burger that I adored. It was coincidence that we were in there when he came in. It was just after finals and a few days of interviews so I had no groceries." She shrugged. "I noticed him coming in and got in his way to give the agent a chance to sneak out the back door."

"I can agree with that action," the agent said. "I'm surprised he didn't mention the other incident."

Darcy grimaced. "I did what I had to do," she admitted. "And that did break open the dual identity thing since the summons to testify was in my use name instead of my actual one."

"Do you still use that?"

"Yeah, I do. It's a lot easier doing things when no one has expectations of you or wants to suck up to you because of your name. I can do good for everyone in any name but it's easier for myself and others to do it in my use name."

"I've heard that before from children of famous people," the host said. He pulled up that incident. "How did the national news hear of that?"

She smirked a tiny bit. She pulled up the second report. "Because the senator showed up with weapons to take out anyone who had been there that night so no one could testify against his son, that he got out on bail," she said dryly. "He also paid the college a bribe to tear apart my room, supposedly in a search for my legal, allowed by the FBI, tazer. I didn't know that the seam of my panties were big enough to hold it, but they thought so."

The agent read it, then looked at her. "Who?"

"An agent; I was in my room being talked to about that initial incident. There was one on the campus recruiting and was on the floor answering questions when the senator stepped off the elevator and sneered at him. He handled it when the geezer attacked. I nicely got the girls on the floor to go hide with their new pictures of the fight and asked if they would post them online." She smiled. "I thought he deserved it."

"I agree," the host said. "The fool proved himself stupid doing that. They were going to ..."

Darcy pulled up film from her thumbnail drive. "I had been recording a video about a date for a facebook friend in London." He watched it and gasped. The agent was wincing. "It had to be handled. I was the floor monitor at that time. The girls were having a long weekend so thankfully most of them were at home. We handled it and the next day the college's residence hall staff all gathered for a meeting to see how they could stop it next time." She pulled up that footage. "That's from the fight itself. Cut into floors." He selected the one on her floor and they watched it, but it had no sound. Then the main floor's was switched to and it still had no sound but they could tell some girls were running and screaming from the lounge area.

The agent looked at her. "Nice moves, but clearly untrained. But you did an excellent job with the other hall monitor."

"Thank you. The girls needed to be protected."

"They did," the host said, staring at her. "You mentioned London," he said dryly.

She smiled. "I adore visiting London. Such great museums and historical sites."

"That's not what I'm thinking about, Miss DeCriths."

"And colleges," she agreed with a grin. "Had to happen."

He groaned. The agent stared at her, mouth open. "That was not in your file."

"I'm kinda shocked at that," she admitted, looking at him. "It happened and we were there. Did you want us to faint and scream?"

"No," he admitted. "But you worked in Avengers tower. That was in your file."

"As a science intern, yes." She grinned. "I adored the years I was there. I got in a lot of fussing time."

He cleared his throat. "Did you do that after Culver?"

"The incident you're thinking of was about a year after I left Culver."

"Wow. Okay." He stared at her. "Some people are once again screaming for a certain former scientist's turning over."

"Yes, I hate those racist assholes, sorry to use such language but warranted in this case I think," she said bluntly. "And I hope they die a death they deserve thanks to the hate they live with every day." He gaped. "Why would they want to capture Dr. Banner? Beyond to treat him as a science experiment."

"He's dangerous," he said.

"So am I. And?"

"He's more dangerous. He can do a lot of damage."

"Yes, when he changes due to his anger problems. Unfortunately there's a lot of operant conditioning going on there. They attacked so he defended himself. They attacked and he had to defend himself and others. He tried to run away and doing that did cause some damage, yes. Would you have stood there and let the problematic people like Ross take you in? I mean, it was Ross that screwed up his experiment on him. It was Ross that tried to kill him. It was Ross that taught the Hulk that he had to fight to protect himself. Personally, I hope Ross has a fun time in hell because he's earned it repeatedly."

"He's...influential."

She shrugged. "I don't care because if he comes after me, I'll handle it if I have to. I know Bruce fairly well. I worked up the hall from him. I brought him tea sometimes. He attended picnics when the team held one. He's a pretty nice guy. Yeah, he has an anger issue and thanks to that experiment it has a solid form instead of him hitting walls. Or if he does it dents the walls. Would your anger at things be any prettier? Or mine? Or our host's?"

"No," the host said. "Mine would probably be pretty ugly. Though probably blue instead of green. I look better in blue."

The agent nodded. "I can see that point."

"Can you see the point where Bruce's experiment was tampered with?" she asked.

"I can," he said. "I've heard that and that he got caught in it while trying to stop it." She nodded. "Is he dangerous in general?"

"Bruce has a pretty good handle on his Other Guy as he calls him. He knows his triggers, he tries very hard to avoid them. If people like Ross didn't provoke him, would we have the sort of problems we had when he had just barely been changed? If Ross had asked, wouldn't Bruce have probably told him what he wanted to pull him apart to find out?"

"He probably would have," the agent agreed. "They were trying to contain a public menace."

"That he made," Darcy shot back. "The same as he made a second one to go against Dr. Banner. Do we do the same thing to that guy?"

"No," he agreed. "I thought that was voluntary."

"Ross had the experiment's equipment, information, and any leftovers. So how did he volunteer?"

"I hadn't thought about it," he admitted, looking at their host. "Is he safe?"

"Yes. I've been in the same room with the Hulk twice thanks to lab accidents from other people's mistakes. Once he patted me to make sure I woke up. The other time he was glaring and growling but we were treating a small cut he had on his leg instead of him going to stomp on someone. I'm pretty sure the Hulk is only a threat when you make him be or if there's an attack that he's helping defeat. The same as most of us are."

"I...yes, that's when I'm dangerous as well," the agent agreed. He looked at the host. Then back at her. "What do you think about the Accords?"

"I think that someone higher up prompted it and it's a pile of shit that leads to conscription," she said bluntly. "I read the Stephen King length document. In there were provisions to send people to fight, even if they didn't want to. To forcibly train anyone who was found to have those gifts and then make sure they joined the same incident response team. Also in there were provisions to torture, though put more genteelly, anyone who had the gifts and doesn't want to do that sort of work." She stared at him. "If they had actually managed that, I would've helped the rebellion and I know I wouldn't have been alone."

"What about Steve Rogers?" he demanded.

"What about him? He's a really nice guy. He really likes chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies but likes my peanut butter ones the best of the ones I make."

He blinked a few times. "He was made by the government."

"He was made by his parents, he had his health fixed by the government program. Which they never stopped by the way." The agent gaped. She stared back. "They didn't. There's been a few noted in history, though covered up fairly well. One of them happened to be from near where I went to high school and the teacher knew him. So we talked about him and he came to talk to the class."

"I didn't know that," he admitted.

She took the keyboard from the host and pulled up a site, letting him see it. "That one?" she asked with a point. That was put onto the main screen and was read over by both men. It was also suddenly reloaded and disappeared. She smirked. "Some people are still trying to hide that."

The host blinked a few times. "They died."

"Yes, a lot of them did. A few survived but apparently didn't show a useable enough gift."

"Do you think he should be property of the government?" the host asked.

"I didn't know we went back to slavery," she said sarcastically. "When was that passed?" He spluttered. "That would be conscription, which is slavery. If he *wants* to work for the government, he can and probably will. Not like he didn't do the work for SHIELD and still does some of the work taking down HYDRA. Someone's got to do it and our government sure isn't. Not like anyone's paying him to do it anymore either. You can't have it both ways.

"Someone's got to do the job, but if you make them conscripted slaves then no one does the job because you can't force someone to go to battle for people. I sure as hell would fight back if I was conscripted. They'd have to torture me to get me to do that for them. I might do it on my own but not when I'm being used as a warrior slave. I don't speak for Steve, but I'm pretty damn sure he wouldn't let himself be conscripted that way. He kinda fights against that thing since that's HYDRA's plans."

The former agent blinked a few times. "That was?"

"Yeah."

"He destroyed parts of DC, including the SHIELD headquarters building."

"Those helicarriers had a program that would've killed thousands who would oppose HYDRA. Which did you want?"

"He couldn't stop it beforehand? Before the launch?"

"Apparently not," she admitted. "You'd have to ask him. I wasn't in DC then. I was locked in the tower like everyone else in there."

"Oh." He slumped, shaking his head. "He still made a mess."

"Did *he* make a mess or did he make a mess *fighting back*?" Darcy asked patiently. "Big difference."

"The one on the highway?"

"Yeah, did you watch where they were? They were in a single car. So who made the mess?"

"That metal armed man," the host said. "Who is he?"

"Ask Steve. I'm not at liberty to talk about him." She looked at him. "Not even thinking about all the NDA's I signed but that's something that Steve has to talk about because I do not know everything."

"I can see if someone will ask him," the host admitted. "Did you hang out with the response team?"

"No. I worked with Jane. I was her lab assistant and helper. Sometimes I made food. Sometimes I fed others when I made food. I helped pick out movies sometimes if someone wanted something new to watch. I had ideas about things that could be done if they were bored. I helped a few set up their facebook and twitter accounts." She shrugged. "I did some personal assistant type stuff for some and sometimes I was there during movie night with Jane and sometimes I made food. I wasn't a best friend or anything, I was just there."

"I can see how that happens," the host agreed. He stared at her. "You've managed to be a secondary character at a few very important places."

She smiled. "Being subtle is sometimes the best thing in life. I've never wanted to be the guy in front." She shrugged. "That's a lot of stress I don't want to deal with. I like what I do, I like the charities I work with, I love the kids I tutor. I'm happy with my life. Until things like that attack happen. Then I turn into a bitch."

He blinked but smiled. "Well said."

"Thank you."

"And let's go to commercial." He looked at her. "You do swear."

"Sorry. It's a bad habit, I know that. I don't mean to."

"It's all right, it's been the moment for it," he said, staring at her. "We're going to have to take calls about that assault."

"Okay. I've got a pretty thick skin. Especially after all the 'you should've been raped by him there for fighting back' comments I got online. Including by the guy that had his lizard bite me at an event."

The host winced. "I heard." She smirked a tiny bit. "Did it heal?"

"I have a tiny scar."

The former agent shook his head. "I heard too. So very weird."

"Yes it was," Darcy agreed.

They came back. "I think we should take some calls about the assault incident. I'm told the first one is David from Omaha. You're on the air."

"I think she should've been arrested for hitting him, much less tazing him," the guy on the phone said. "That's illegal."

"It's not illegal to protect yourself," Darcy said. "Would you have expected your sister or daughter to let him grope her?" The man hung up. "Apparently he would've." She shifted to cross her legs, shrugging some. "I don't understand that sort of attitude. I know plenty of men see women as useless accessories but still."

The host shook his head. "I know better." He took the next caller and they actually had a question.

"Is the tazer a legal weapon in all states?" she asked.

"No," the former agent said. "In some states, and a few individual cities, it's illegal to own one. Though you probably won't be charged if you use one in self defense. Most officers would rather not clean up a horrific murder scene instead of writing someone a tiny ticket for owning and using a tazer to defend themselves."

"How did Darcy get hers overseas?"

"I had federal permission," Darcy admitted. "It's illegal in London too but I didn't have to really use it over there. There was one guy who tried to follow me home from the club, and had a bat to convince me I'd like him, but the officers didn't respond to his pleas to come make me quit kicking him."

"If you call your local police department's regular line, they can tell you if it's legal where you are," the former agent finished.

"Or pepper spray is always legal," Darcy said. "It's non-lethal and can give you enough time to get away from an attacker."

"Thank you."

"Welcome and I hope you never have to use it," Darcy said.

The host took the next one and it was a male who was more interested in Darcy's charity work so she smiled and told him what she was working on presently and the few she gave time to. He hung up after a note he'd be looking into them to make sure they weren't militant like her. Darcy rolled her eyes but shook her head with a sigh. The host winced. "Some people are annoying that way," he admitted.

"They'd probably never support it anyway because 'omgee, poor people!'," she mimicked. "How can we put up with poor people getting somewhere!"

He cracked a tiny laugh. "Possibly. I know a few of those. Next caller?"

"I think the agents should've held her down for him," he started and the host hung up on him.

"I don't think we need to hear rape threats on the line. There might be children watching," he said with a glare at the camera. "I think that's out of line for humans and especially on this show."

Darcy nodded. "But I got plenty of those after that incident and after the death threat." She shrugged. "I don't know why. I didn't study psychology, I studied societies and public policy. Frankly, I hope those sort never breed but it's probably too late to save their abused spouses."

The host winced. "That's a stereotype."

"Probably," she agreed. "I haven't met one that wasn't yet though. They might exist but I've never met one."

The host nodded. "Quite plausible then." He took the next caller and had to hang up on them nagging that women should be subservient to men. "I don't think we need that one."

"I think they misread their book," former Agent Stultz said dryly. "I also think that they're not God to judge anyone. Judge not lest you be judged," he said patiently. "If they lived by that cardinal rule the world might be a better place."

"Amen," Darcy agreed, giving him a high five. "I try very hard not to unless I'm kinda pushed to it."

The host looked at her. "Yet you just did."

"I said I try, not that I'm perfect. I feel I can judge racists because they do things to be judged for."

He nodded. "That could be." He took the next caller. "We have someone from the nice state of Ohio."

"Miss Lewis, are you going to be writing a book?"

Darcy recognized that voice. Natasha. Interesting. "No. I am not a writer and I haven't done anything weird or important enough to have a book about. I might write a book on how to work with various charities and integrate them into a working project but otherwise no."

"You sure? You have done important things."

"No, I was present when important things happened," she said. "Until a few years ago."

"If you're sure." They hung up.

The host looked at her. "You'd turn that down?"

"Who'd want to read about that? Let those books go to people who've done things. Or Oprah since so many like her advice."

"You don't?" he asked.

"I'm actually not going to comment. I don't know the woman; I don't really watch her show. I know she's an influential woman, she's done a lot of good, she's helped a lot of people, but I don't tend to read advice books. If I need advice I think about what my mother would've done."

"Your mother would've yelled about that incident?"

"My mother would've yelled about my language," she admitted. "It's a bad habit I picked up somewhere and I apologize for the few I've let out tonight. As my mom said, swears are basically mouth farts."

The host burst out laughing, nodding. "I've heard her say that when I was younger." He shook his head but was smiling. "We have time for two more callers." He answered one of the lines. "You're on the air."

"If she's so uninteresting why did you put her on a show?"

"To clear up all the threats and misconceptions, plus to highlight the conversation about women being able to protect themselves if needed," the host said. "As proven by some of our callers tonight, a lot of people think that women shouldn't protect themselves. Or shouldn't have to protect themselves because a man would do it for them." Darcy shook her head with a sigh. "Yours?"

"One of the people at my master's college," she admitted. "That was his idea and he was a teacher. That women being able to protect themselves ruined the macho factors most guys had."

"I think he was right," the caller said. "You're a pushy broad."

"Thank you," Darcy said. "Pushy women get things done and I hope I do that with my daily work." The guy slammed down the phone. She shrugged at the host.

He shook his head. "I think a man's ego needing a woman to be weak for him means he's got a weak ego," the host said dryly. "And our last call tonight." He pushed the button. "You're on the air."

"Miss Lewis," the voice sneered. "How nice of you to mention us."

Darcy looked at the phone, grimacing. "Who are you?" she asked. "I don't recognize the voice or the phrasing as one who's threatened me before."

"I'm one of those other groups."

"Oh, you're HYDRA," she said dryly. "You have a nice night, dude."

"We will be talking," he said before she could hang up.

"Bring it, dude." She hung up on him and pushed another button. "We have another minute and you're not a threat, right?"

"Um, no," the man said. "I wanted to say it was great you could defend yourself that way. Many women couldn't. I think more women should be able to."

"Thank you. I hope more women don't need to but learn just in case guys like the other caller was. You have a good night and thank you."

"Welcome, Miss DeCriths." He hung up.

The host smiled at her. "Thank you for handling that."

"I won't be giving in to the fear that HYDRA tries to shove at us. I'm not like that." She grimaced. "They're cowards. They prove it by that call."

"I hope you're okay if they come."

"Me too," she admitted. "But I will be eventually." She smiled. "Thank you for having me on."

"Thank you for answering questions," he said, shaking her hand. "And thank you to former Agent Stultz." They shook his hand.

"And cut," the producer called.

Darcy slumped, shaking her head with a groan. "Damn them."

"They're the other group?" the agent hissed at her. She nodded. "Why?"

"I don't know. I don't really truly care," she admitted. "I just hope they go away soon because I'm not the sort to give in to idiots. Especially not fear raising, hate mongering idiots." She took off her microphone and took back her thumbnail drive and papers. He took them back with a smile. "Sure." She pocketed the thumbnail drive with a smile and headed back to the green room to grab her purse.

The host looked at the agent. "Can she?"

"There's hope," he admitted. "I'm hoping her former friends get it done first."

"True, it's possible." They went back to their own rooms to clean up and leave.

Darcy walked out with her phone to her ear, looking around for her hired car. No car. She winced, looking at the guard. "My hired car?" she asked him.

"No idea, Miss." He moved closer. "Who're you?" She held up her pass. "Oh, you're just off camera." He took a swing at her and she kicked him in the stomach, making him hiss and get back up.

"HELP!" she yelled. People came running. He attacked her again. Darcy put her phone into her pocket as she moved away from his swing.

"Hail HYDRA," he sneered before running off.

Darcy panted, staring at his back. Someone patted her and she flinched, looking at him. "Doug?"

"Darcy," he said with a nod and a smile. "Are you okay? I was up the row when he attacked you."

"Yeah, I'm okay. He only hit my arm when I blocked." She took a deep breath. "Damn it."

He nodded. "Let me have the real security guards check on your car."

"Please," she said, looking around. "I hired a bodyguard for this."

"It's a shame you need one." He called someone. "It got sent away by the lot security. I can give you a ride to your hotel."

Darcy looked at him. "I hired a bodyguard, Doug. That would violate the contract I signed with them. But thanks. It was good to see you again. Are you on facebook? We can catch up some night."

"We can go out to dinner."

She shook her head. "I'm flying out in four hours to go back to Chicago."

"Pity." He patted her again. She went limp against him. He looked at the others, who were his team.

"Freeze," a real guard ordered. "We saw that." They got shot at and called that in. Then suddenly there was a gas canister and commandos. Darcy got taken from the choking people. The guard got in their way.

"I'm her bodyguard," one said, smiling at him, holding up his letter. "It's okay. I'm going to take her to the alley and make sure she wakes up."

"We have an on-site paramedic," the guard said, calling that in. The others were coming out of it so he led them there. They pulled Darcy inside to check her over. One of the paramedics shot the guard and the commando with tranq darts then his partner when he started to protest.

"Hollywood PD," a male voice said, walking into the trailer with his gun up. "Put it down." The paramedic stepped back with his gun raised and other hand up. "Put it down now!" He dropped the gun and it went off. Into the bed. The officer hauled him out to handcuff him and called that in. That got them some help. He kicked the commando awake. "I thought you were dead," he said bluntly.

"It was that damn arms dealer that did that," he said. "Not us. He shot down the chopper and had us declared traitors." He sat up, rubbing his head. "I hate sedative darts."

"Uh-huh." He stared at him. "So what are you doing here?"

"I'm Darcy's bodyguard tonight. She has nice people like HYDRA after her."

"Damn." He stepped back. "The others?"

"Waiting at the hotel," he admitted. "Pooch's around here somewhere to back me up. He showed up when they called the show she was on."

"Fuck. All right, take her and go. I can tell you most of the ER's around here are overcrowded. Can you handle it?" He nodded, getting up with a moan. Pooch ran in to help him. "Nice to see you're alive too, Pooch."

He punched him on the arm. "If we could get Max down, we'd be alive again to everyone."

"I heard, man. Good luck."

"Thanks," Jensen quipped. "We might need it." They carried Darcy out and to the rental car, taking her back to the hotel.

The officer got backup there and had them arrest the ones that needed it up the street and these ones that had started to kidnap the young woman. He explained that her bodyguards had removed her to keep her safer. They could talk to her in the morning. The host of the show she had been on stomped out to talk to them about what had happened. He got really pissed and released the transcripts from that night in case it helped.

***

Darcy woke up to a poke, groaning and holding her head. "I hate sedatives." She sat up and heaved but kept it down. "Gross." She blinked, looking at Clay. "Am I okay or am I going to wonder why I'm missing parts?"

"You're not missing anything you weren't already missing." He helped her adjust herself. "You better?"

"Maybe?" She blinked at him. "Was it a nightmare?" He shook his head. "Was it HYDRA?"

"At least some of them. One of the responding officers was a fellow commando and let us bring you out before you got taken to a hospital."

"Okay," she said. "Thank him for me?"

"Yeah, I can do that, kid." He handed her a bottle of water. "You okay?"

She blinked at him as she sipped. "Did HYDRA really call in?"

"Yup," Jensen said with a nod. "Huge idiots or trying to install fear and scare the others who called in."

"Great." She took a sip. "Do I have to stay extra?"

"Probably an extra day," Clay said. "We called Shelly to warn her but she was watching and was horrified at the ones who called in." She grimaced but nodded while sipping again. "You gonna be okay if we go into the other room?"

"I might puke but I can hold my own hair. I had many nights of drinking in college, guys. Thank you." She got up to hug Jensen and Pooch. Then the others. "You guys are really special guys." She went to the bathroom to wash her face off.

The guys went into the living room. "Congrey find us yet?" Clay demanded.

"He called," Cougar said, holding up the message. "He recognized the grunt." He held up two more. "Clint's mad. So's Stark."

Darcy leaned out. "Why is Stark mad?" She came out to get the notes. "Awww, but suck it." She went back to the bathroom. Clay laughed a bit but she knew her own mind on those things. She'd call them later. After she was more awake and less pukey.

Cougar shook his head, looking at Jensen. "She's like your sister would be," he said in Spanish.

Jensen grinned and nodded. "She is. It's cute on her too."

Clay shook his head with a sigh. "Don't get attached."

"I'm not."

"Good." Clay looked at Pooch.

"I agree, she's mouthy like Jensen is," Pooch said. Darcy came out to raid the mini fridge. "You're going to pay five bucks for a water? There's a machine up the hall."

"Am I allowed in the hall?" she asked.

"Yeah, you can go to the machine, kid," Clay said. "We can watch from the doorway." She put the water back and went up there to get some water and came back trudging while drinking with someone nagging behind her. Clay glared at that one. "Who're you?" he demanded.

"My highschool girlfriend," she said, walking her inside to talk to her.

Clay blinked but nodded. "Okay then." He shut the door, not seeing people coming off the elevator but something made him reopen it. "Aw, fuck," he muttered. "That's Roque." The guys armed up and Jensen went to move Darcy and her former girlfriend.

Darcy stormed out to get into his face. "I've faced down the Hulk three damn times," she sneered. "I'm sick, I'm tired, and I'm being hunted by things that's a nightmare for most everyone. Back the fuck down until I'm out of here or I'll make your little Max friend a pitiful goddamn wreck."

"You're just a girl," he sneered.

Darcy zapped him. "Yeah, I'm a girl with the personal number of SHIELD agents. Watch me call them again." He backed off, hands up. His people backed off with him. "I'm not part of your shit. I don't want to be part of your shit. So back the fuck down and go the fuck away until they're not under contract protecting me from slime like HYDRA and those who wanted to kill me for daring to protect myself. Before I make a few more calls." Roque glared but waved his people to leave. "Good idea. Now, anything you wanted to ask about?"

"You've made a powerful enemy, little girl."

She sneered back. "I have fucking HYDRA looking for me, dude. Seriously, yours is a pussy compared to that." The guy winced. "I need these guys more than you need a pissing match. Which I'd win anyway because urine is a good conductor of electricity." She stared at him. "You're not shit compared to staring down the Hulk. Got it?"

He nodded and stomped off. "I'll talk to them once there's not civilians."

"Thanks." She waved at his back. "On the way, go screw someone, it'd make that growl disappear for a bit. Then you might be able to think for yourself for a change." She stared at him. "Have a great life, dude." He glared again but huffed off. He wasn't going to mess with HYDRA. She looked at Clay, who was giving her an amused look. "What?" she demanded. "He's not!"

"He thinks he can be that scary but yeah, he's just a growly mutt," Jensen agreed, walking her back inside. "Our job, Darcy."

"Yeah but you guys can't guard me if you're fighting with him." She called the agent she had on speed dial, Clint. "It's me. No, Jensen and Pooch saved me from HYDRA when I came out and I just sneered at some scarred guy that he's not as scary as Brucie when he's greenish. Yep, that one." He complained to her. "I'm coming down from a sedative dart or something. Be nicer to my ear." He complained some more. "Well I can go looking if you want. Really." He growled and said he sent her something. "Thanks, Clint. I miss you, buddy. You have ways of making this gross headache going away faster." He told her how. "Really? It's not working so far. Yeah," she pouted. "Thank you. Sure, fudge or cookies?" She grinned. "I can do that. Show up, Clinty." She hung up and went to get more water and came back to sulk in her room. "Check my email, Jensen."

He got into her email address he had helped her set up, reading what he had. "We had some of this." Clay took it to read, growling in happiness. "Thanks, Darcy."

"Welcome, Jensen." Her former girlfriend giggled. "He's a really nice guy. I need a nice guy like him but I know he's off limits. Which is a pity, he's hot." Her former girlfriend laughed again.

Jensen printed things off for everyone to read. Max's ego wouldn't let him work with HYDRA because they'd want to be on top. HYDRA wouldn't want Max as more than a pawn so they were pretty safe about the two not combining. Hopefully they could get Darcy home without a new incident. They really had to teach her not to bait the bad guys verbally. It had taken a while to teach Jensen that but he could tell her how that was a bad idea most of the time. It got one tortured and other unpleasant things.

***

Darcy got her mail the first day in the office, smiling at the thank you card from Bruce. It went onto her desk beside the one complaining from Pepper that HYDRA had dared to call in that night. She settled down to do the daily tasks, nodding at Shelly when she came in.

She dropped her bag and came back. "Darcy, are you safe to be here?"

"Yeah. It's no more threat than usual, Shelly." She stopped working on the calendar to look up at her boss. "It's gonna be a while before they try again."

"That politician's personal spokesbeing said she thought you should've been beaten and raped. In that order."

She nodded. "She's the same one that threatened to wear a fetus necklace too," she said dryly. "She doesn't worry me. The fanatics that follow the asshole worry me a tiny bit but I'm almost nowhere usually. Here, tutoring, sometimes the grocery store."

"You could work from home more often."

"I can't do tutoring that way, Shelly."

"No, you can't," she admitted. "The principal is still throwing fits about you."

"Yeah, he got paid ten grand by the mayor. Who is a friend of that jackhole." She nodded slightly. "His mistress put it in the paper yesterday."

Shelly winced. "Great."

"Yup." She grinned. "It'll be okay."

"They might not care about collateral damage," she pointed out.

"Yeah but you and the kids aren't worth the stress that the press would bring," she said. "To be honest, there's been some press about the threats and if you suddenly showed up dead or they tried when I was tutoring, they'd be eaten alive by many people. And I'm good enough, and have plans for just in case, to get the room cleared in an emergency. Even if they do have the kids in they're usually with someone instead of in the corner. I go over it every month with the kids and anytime they seem worried they'll ask me to make sure. We have an alarm we put on the main door to tell my phone if anyone else comes in, and it activates the camera."

Shelly sighed but nodded. "That's a good plan."

"Thank you. I actually had that same thought and then I figured out how to get around it." Shelly nodded, going to her desk. "It'll be okay, Shelly, I promise."

"If you're certain."

"I'm certain. I really am." Someone stomped in. She squealed as she bounced up to hug him. "Jensen said to pass that on," she quipped.

He stared at her. "You almost looked like a cheerleader."

She grinned. "Thanks and for the advice."

"Welcome." He stared at her. "Are you okay?"

"Really mad that they called in and then tried to grab me," she said quietly. "How dare they!"

He nodded, staring at her. "They got awfully pushy and even Steve went into fussing overdrive over that."

"I thought it was to remind people that they're boogey man in the shadowy corners again," she said, sitting back down. "It was mostly to raise fear and taking me after defying them by hanging up on them would've sent a message for that."

He nodded. "Stark went into nitpicking details about how you had to come back to New York."

"I like my job and the kids, Clint."

"I know." He grinned. "He's going to sponsor three workers to come help."

She stared at him. "He's bribing my boss to fire me?"

"To transfer you to one in New York," he corrected.

"Just got shut down," Shelly said from her desk. "I told him that when he called me at six this morning." She leaned out. "I promised I had things they could do here with me but that you wouldn't have a job out there."

"I like being here," she said, looking at Clint. Who was pouting at her. "I liked being with you guys but if I go back I'll just get sucked back into Jane's lab."

"Oh no you won't," he said dryly. "Jane's now locked out of the lab for the next eight months because she nearly biobombed the city. That's by order of SHIELD." She winced, shaking her head. "We won't even make you live in the tower, Darcy. Please?"

"What would I do there, Clint? Here I'm making a difference. There's nothing like this job there and I wouldn't be doing the same sort of making a difference."

"There's a ton of charities who'd adore working with you," he said. "Especially with your experience here. They're trying to rework the one like this one. It's definitely needed."

She sighed, staring at him. "Someone's packing up my apartment on me, aren't they?"

He shrugged. "Not that I'm aware of. If so, it's probably HYDRA," he said dryly. He stared at her. "Please? We worry a lot about you and we can keep you safer. That way you don't have to get into a pissing match with a commando that went evil for his version of Caesar."

"I told him he's not half as scary as the Hulk," she said, staring up at him. "I have to tell my kids. I can't tell them over twitter. "

"I brought Scott and he was looking over your safe room set up. You go tomorrow night. We can do that."

"She has a safe room?" Shelly asked, looking out at Darcy. "You do?"

"Yeah. It's necessary sometimes. People can still break in and what happens if we end up with the Purge movie."

Clint shook his head quickly. "If so, you'll need more than a safe room and a few hand weapons." She smirked at him. "You do."

"I know I do. It's in the safe room because I'll probably need it in there."

"True," he agreed. "Are you even carrying your tazer?"

"Both," she quipped, patting them. "Thanks for asking."

He leaned down to stare at her. "We're going to kidnap you."

"I'm realizing that."

"If you're really unhappy, in about a year, you can come back to Shelly." Shelly nodded. "By then hopefully we'll have a good chunk of HYDRA gone."

"That'd be nice," she agreed. "But probably not practical."

He grimaced. "Please don't fight about this?" he asked quietly. "We're all really worried, Darcy."

She sighed, staring at him. "Shelly?"

"You can go tell the kids." She came out to stare at her. "It's probably for the best, even though you have plans in case they come for you when you're near the kids." Darcy slumped. "You can still work from home for me. We can arrange something." She stared at her. "The only thing that won't be easy is the tutoring and fussing over the kids. I'm hoping one of those new three will be the sort to make healthy cookies instead." She came out to hug her. "I don't want to lose you so you're working from home for now. We'll work out any testifying thing or anything like that. You go be safe. It's the smart and wise thing. You can probably find something as safe in New York."

"Yup," Clint agreed with a grin.

"I'm not living in the tower," Darcy told him.

Clint shook his head. "Good idea with all the stress going on around there. Or in the facility upstate for Avengers members." He stared at her. "There's four apartments, I sent Jensen to go look at them for you." She stared at him. "We listed yours last night." He grinned. She scowled. "Sorry?" She glared. "Sorry but it was this or Stark was going to show up in a limo and kidnap you off the street." She sighed. "Plus you'd be able to spend more time with your mom's foundation; you were saying you haven't had a lot of time to do that stuff."

"I only need a few more hours a week for that."

"Yeah and now you'll have it." He pulled her up. "C'mon. We'll pack stuff and cookies hopefully." He helped her pack her desk and let her hug Shelly. "We'll talk to the kids tomorrow night."

She nodded. "We can do that. I'm sorry, Shelly."

"No, it's the smart thing! I'm shocked they didn't do it a few a few months ago." She went back in there and gave Darcy stuff to fill out so they could forward things to her. They went back to her apartment once her things were packed. Shelly was a bit teary but it'd be okay and Shelly would show up for the tutoring time because she'd have to take over for a bit.

***

Across the city, Scott had rounded up the kids at a local pizza place, they were mostly there already studying for the GED test that weekend. "Guys." He slid into a chair, staring at them.

One of the girls looked at him. "You guys are repossessing Darcy?"

"We're outright kidnaping her," he admitted, nodding some. "We listed her apartment on her, someone's packing her up right now, and Clint went to tell her at work. She'll be working from home for a bit probably but we're giving Shelly a grant so she can hire three more people. Clint's got a huge fight on his hand and I have an ear on it." He tapped his earpiece, which looked like a bluetooth. They all stared at him. "Seriously, did you guys watch her interview?" They all shook their heads.

"HYDRA was the next-to-last caller." They all moaned. "And then she was nearly kidnaped from outside the studio. If she hadn't hired some bodyguards that were super tough, she probably would've been missing for good." A few nodded. "We're sorry. We don't want to pull Darcy and Darcy's been arguing with Clint for a good half an hour about staying. He just told her we listed her apartment on her and she's kinda huffy. She's going to be at the tutoring tomorrow."

"We take the test this Saturday," one of the girls said, cuddling her daughter. "We really could use her, Scott."

"Can I fill in?" They all stared. "It's not like they'll try to kidnap me and if I have to I'll vid call her on my tablet so she can talk to you guys from her computer. Would that work?" They nodded. "Then that's cool and I'm buying lunch."

"Don't try to bribe us," one of the boys said dryly.

"I'm not. Stark got me up at three to rant at me about them coming for her again and put me on a jet at five. I really need something to eat for lunch by now." They laughed but included him since he was buying and it was good. He wasn't as perky as Darcy was but he was just as good and he was still encouraging. He knew that they could fail when Darcy kept telling the they couldn't.

***

Darcy showed up in the tower that Sunday, staring at Stark. "That was underhanded."

"You should've come sooner," he complained.

"Those kids needed me, Tony. They're having their GED's yesterday and were cramming for the test. They've worked their asses off to get to this point and they needed me to help them." He nodded, waving a hand around. "No, not whatever. Scott and I both helped them all week. And really, I needed the time anyway to arrange for a new apartment and selling my old one." She stared at him. "By the way, crappy forgery, Tony."

"We're trying to help. Why are you avoiding that!"

"You're smothering," she said. "Like you did when I was little and you were a teenager." He scowled. She stared back. "You are. I'm a big girl, I can make decisions."

"Yeah but they were all bad." He walked off.

"Maybe but being scared of them doesn't make them go away. They're not bogarts, you can't laugh at them."

"True, if it was that easy I'd do that," he shot back. "They had three snipers in town."

"I know, I stabbed one yesterday." He stopped walking to stare at her. She stared back. "The other two were actually stopped by cops for walking through a barrio with a shotgun." He groaned. She stared at him. "It's sweet," she said quietly, moving closer. "But you're pushy."

"I may be but it was needed. They actually called CNN!"

"Yup, and I hung up on them. And apparently they had been planning to snatch me after that interview anyway since there were a lot of them in place dressed as security guards and things. And a paramedic, which is why others were knocked out." He growled. She stared at him. "Do you need ear scratches?" she asked, smirking at him.

"No!" He scowled at her. "It's not safe out there."

"I'm still going to be traveling for work and stuff, Tony."

"I know but we can get you better bodyguards than some supposedly dead commandos."

"Actually, they've been great to me. Jensen helped me when I was moving, he helped me find the right spot to move to, he got me movers to help me, and who picked up a couple of things I needed to fill the bigger apartment. He set up the specially shielded email stuff for me again, and they set up my safe room setup completely." He blinked. She smiled. "Jensen's a geek like you, Tony, only he doesn't build AI's."

"I didn't think that commandos that had tech ops skills went into the field," he admitted.

"Yeah, Jensen's a full Delta guy. His team's kick ass. Clay was great in DC."

"He's...huh." He nodded and sipped his bottled water. "Still, you can...."

"If Clay has to drop Jensen off somewhere suddenly to hide him, I'm so going to steal him for myself," she said dryly, smirking at him. "And he'd be respectful about it when I kept him in soft stuff in the closet."

He snorted but looked amused. "Sure, you do that, kid."

"I'm not that young."

"I'm old enough to be your dad."

"Yeah but my mom wasn't into young teens so you're not." She stared at him. "I can make choices for myself," she reminded him quietly.

"I know. Quit nagging. Before I demand cookies in tribute."

"I have to find an apartment to cook."

"You can stay here."

"The hell I can." She stared at him. "It's less safe here than if I was in a roach motel uptown."

"Whatever."

"Thank you for the caring, and helping Shelly, Tony."

"Not a problem." He looked back at her. "It's the right thing to do anyway." He smirked. "You still owe me brownies for my birthday." He got onto the elevator and went to talk to Pepper. Darcy protested and it made him hurt but he knew she would. Pepper had reminded him she would and why. So she could make him unpouty now.

Darcy went to her hotel for the night, sinking into a tub of bubbles with her tazer next to her on the tub rug.

***
Part 6 by voracity
Darcy sent a single picture to Jensen from her window, getting a smiley face back from him for it. Then she went to arrange her furniture. Clint had done it for her and things were...a bit weird to her sense of style. So she arranged things and threw quilts of the back of the couch instead of in the closet. She moved her desk completely and sighed in displeasure. She had no room to work at a desk. This apartment was tiny compared to even her first one in Chicago. She got a text message to go to her closet and push on the button. She did that and found a spare hidden room. That was nice and her desk wouldn't fit in there at all.

It was good for a safe room but not her work area. She sighed and decided maybe she didn't need enough seating for anyone but her. She sent Jensen a thank you for finding her a new safe room and asked where she should put her desk. He sent a suggestion to get rid of a chair and the coffee table to put it where the chair was. She took a picture and he made another suggestion so she tried it and nodded, but it meant she had a couch that had to be given away. She went to answer the knock on her door, staring at Clint. "We couldn't find anything bigger?"

"If you wanted to live in Brooklyn, yeah." He held up the bag. "I brought ice cream."

"My cable's not on yet but c'mon in, we can unpack movies." He grinned, coming in to put the ice cream up and help her move a few things around. She ended up keeping the chair and using it for the desk while it was shoved next to her tiny sliding window onto the fire escape. It wouldn't block access but it was funky looking there. "Sure, I like funky," she decided, making him grin. "Thank you." She went to get the two boxes of movies and tv shows, bringing them out. Of course, she had no room for bookshelves either so they'd probably have to stay packed somehow.

He looked around. "You did have a much bigger apartment before."

"Yeah, and I had to upgrade some stuff when I moved from the first one." She looked at him. "Did I rent or buy?"

"Rent, six month lease. We figured you'd want to move somewhere less straightlaced."

She smiled and hugged him by leaning over. "That'll be great. Thanks, Clint. You can help me by reminding me I need shelves." He laughed but nodded. "And I'm paying movers." She got up to get the ice cream while he picked the movie. She brought the ice cream back with his six-pack of beer, earning a laugh and them sitting together on the couch. Halfway through the movie he paused and switched the couches around with her to the more comfortable couch. That worked and they settled back in to watch the rest of the movie and a few more.

***

Darcy heard something and frowned, calling Clint. "It's me. Sit down if you can. No it's serious. I just heard though a weird grapevine of someone in London that Max is out to get you out of the way." He burst out swearing and stomped off. "I don't know, Clint. The source in London is a good one, it's Eric's new helper, but I have no idea who told her. She wasn't totally sure but what I've looked at showed that she was right. No, I haven't asked them yet. I don't know.

"I have no idea of why or anything, Clint. All I know is that I got a head's up I'm passing on." She smiled at his assurance he could handle that. "Okay. Remember, if you have to go A-Team too, call me. Sure, you be more careful than I have to be. Yuppers." She hung up and sent back a simple thank you. She got back to figuring out what Shelly was angsting over and how to fix it for her. Somehow Shelly had double-booked herself for a conference and a speech on the same day across the country from each other. She had no idea how Shelly had done that to herself. Then Shelly IM'd her to tell her. The conference had been moved. Wonderful! Oh, and it had changed cities too. Even better.

***

Scott was pouting as he walked around the upstate center for the Avengers. "Darcy can't babysit," he complained when he ran into Clint. "I thought she would, she said she would."

"Yeah, we just got a call out for her house," he said, staring at him. "Barnes is there and acting weird."

"Oh! No wonder." He winced. "Do we think he's gone again?"

"No idea and she didn't have one either. And Steve's in DC testifying." They walked off together, grabbing Natasha on the way. "Barnes," he said at her look when he pulled her off by her arm.

She groaned. "Where?"

"Darcy's safe room," he quipped with a grin for her. "Darcy said he was acting really weird and quiet but not shy or blushy."

"She didn't mention it to me when I called to see if she could do some emergency babysitting," Scott said.

"We can evacuate her to your house," Clint offered. "Maybe she can watch her there."

"Maybe," he said, texting Darcy that and he hadn't known about Barnes when he asked. She sent one back and he sighed, showing it to Clint.

"Sure, quin jet it is instead of a helicopter," he decided, heading for one to start takeoff procedures. Natasha made sure they had tranquilizers on board. Scott made sure his suit was on there, just in case. It didn't take more than twenty minutes to get to the city in the quin jet and they had parking spots near Darcy's apartment. By the time they got there, Barnes was free, Darcy was locked in the bathroom humming as she did her nails, and Barnes was in a foul mood.

"I'm not triggered," he said, stomping back to the safe room. Scott took one of the tranq darts and shrank, running after him so he could sneak inside and dart him suddenly.

Natasha knocked on the bathroom door, letting Darcy know she could open it. The girl had her hair in a messy pony tail, like it had been pulled, and had a black eye. Clint touched it and came off with smudged dirt. He held it up. She held up the container. "I didn't know bruise cremes came in black."

"It's got some sort of wood ash to help bring up the blood. The stuff works well." She wiped it off to show him. "He and two thugs jumped out of the SUV. One of them grabbed me by the hair and James nicely turned around to hit them then stalked toward me with that murder strut as they call it online. So I ran up here and he followed. He's clearly not normal."

"No, he's not," Natasha agreed. "Does that work well?"

"Yeah. It also helps clot. I got it from some west coast hippies when I was in LA and looking to cover up a bruise from someone in the airport's elbow." She let her see the jar.

"Huh." She nodded. "That's nice. Ice could help."

"I'm going to start tutoring tonight."

"No wonder you couldn't babysit," Clint quipped. Scott opened the safe room door, the only way it opened was from the inside, and came out with a clearly knocked out Barnes behind them. "She can bring Cassie to tutor."

"Ummm." He winced. "The kids here are a lot more rough, Darcy."

"I know." She stared at him. "I'm not scared. They went thug to be safe and to be protected. That doesn't mean they can grow up and go do other things with only lip service to the old ways since they're not eighteen."

"Point," he agreed. "Keep your emergency button on you?"

"The HYDRA guys had it. One grabbed it when the other grabbed my hair. He has my whole purse actually."

Clint called someone and it was brought to him by a SHIELD agent. "Thanks. I knew you guys were raiding today."

"Well, gee, that would've been nice," Darcy said. "They would've brought me back just after they left." The lower agent spluttered but Clint nodded.

"Quite probably because no one would expect them to be doing that today with that raid," Natasha agreed. "Since it was spilled online that SHIELD vehicles were heading somewhere as a group." She looked at the lower agent, who huffed but left. "It's sad they had to scrape the barrel so hard," she said in Russian, cracking Clint and Darcy up. Scott gave her a 'tell me too' look. So Natasha repeated it.

"They had to squeeze the wood to get the pulp out," Scott said dryly, taking off his helmet. "Because some of them have to be wood pulp with how stupid they are."

Clint nodded. "I do feel sorry for them. Sometimes." Barnes groaned. "Let's get him back with us. Be safe, Darcy, and text us when you're due home."

"I'm going at seven, I'm there for three hours, might stop to get coffee or breakfast on the way so I'll be home by midnight," she said with a nod.

"Okay, I can stay up that late." He helped Natasha carry Barnes out and down to the car they had driven over. Barnes was waking up. "Stay still," he ordered. "We're taking you back to the facility."

"No! She's mine!" He struggled but Natasha nerve jabbed him.

"Damn it, he's still triggered," Clint muttered. Scott stuck him with a second tranq dart. "Thanks." They loaded him into the trunk under Natasha's glare and went back to the jet to go back to the facility.

Darcy settled in to make sure she had clean jeans and a t-shirt plus a good jacket, and then checked her tazers she'd be bringing later. And the cute little bra-mounted pepper spray that shot off when someone touched the pressure keys that went into her bra on each side.

***

Clint stared at his phone the next morning. "Okay," he said, texting her back. "Sorry, I got hit by Bruce's tea," he admitted. "Nat stayed up. Nat, did you check on Darcy?" he called. He was on the main lounge's couch, she was somewhere nearby. Or FRIDAY would tell her.

"I did," she admitted. "They tried to menace her so she patted one on the cheek and told him he was a cute puppy but she liked cats more. The thugs laughed but she settled in to tell them how her former program had worked and how she was doing tutoring for GED classes, it was expected to be under a peace truce, and she didn't put up with stupid shit but she welcomed light hearted fun.

"Plus how she had accepted the little kids they had to take care of in the class too because it meant they got read to and taught that education was a good thing." She came out of the kitchen, handing him a cup of coffee. "She also pointed out how many more things you could do when you had at least a GED and it was a good stepping stone. Even if you didn't plan to go on from the point where they were, a GED meant that you had accomplished something in your life that a lot of others hadn't.

"They glared about that point but she told them the facts of where she had been working and how many dropouts they had. The locals agreed they had higher because the schools in the city are worse funded. She agreed and said she was open to tutoring very often because right now she was still looking for a new job and after she found one it'd be at least three days a week. They agreed that would be fine and most of them had siblings that had been trapped and needed out of their lives to be safe.

"She agreed that was a great start because with a GED they could go to community college, start in a better class of job than fast food, or even try the military if they wanted." She showed him the text message she had been reading from. "A few didn't like it and one threatened her so she pepper sprayed him and said she didn't take no shit from anyone."

Clint grinned. "It's good she's still spunky. Did they figure out who she was?"

"One did. Her later text message said one of the girls had paused her after the meeting to tell her thank you for sticking up for girls protecting their own assets." She showed him that one.

He smiled. "That's good." He sat up to drink his coffee, wincing some. She handed over a tylenol. "Thanks." He drank it with the full cup of coffee, getting up to get another one.

Natasha shook her head. Darcy was clearly interested in making a good change in people's lives. Thankfully she might be more protected now.

***

Darcy looked at the guys who had her hostage, had gotten her on her way out for danish that morning. "Why do you care that I'm tutoring kids to get their GED's?" she asked bluntly.

"We don't," the one sneering at her said. "You're just worth a lot to someone."

"Most of my family's dead," she said dryly. "So you're talking to the only one who could pay you a ransom. All I have are a few stepaunts left." She tried to shrug.

"We can do that but I heard others might want you too," he sneered. "Until then we can have some fun." He grabbed her chest and got pepper sprayed.

Darcy coughed a bit, then spit off to the side. "No thank you. Because I'll kill your ass when I get free." The others were laughing. "Not like I haven't before, guys." And that was a bad day for her, but yay, she could handle this. They may have her tazer, her gun was still hidden and near her hands anyway with the way they were tied. The guy that got pepper sprayed came back and slapped her hard enough to knock her on her side. He spotted her gun and sneered, grabbing it.

"What's this, little girl. Do you have a license for this?"

"Yeah, I have allowance for it by the FBI personally because I have a few death threats on me," she admitted. "Not that they'll pay you either. They'd just kill us all and have fun with it." She stared at him. "Anything else you wanted to know?" He kicked her in the stomach. "Well, good thing that only hurt a bit." One of the ropes was loose and she was getting free. Then the cops stomped in. "Help," she called. "Before I have to quote Monty Python please." They stomped in to grab all of the thugs. One of them helped by untying her hands and she got up and kicked one of them in the chest then slugged him. "And that's for the rape attempt, mother fucker."

"Girls like you swear?" he sneered. He spat some blood.

"Girls like me, we call in people to so we only have to swear." He stared up at her. She smirked evilly. "And then we go to your hideout and tell your guys there how you went bitch and cried and begged the cops." The others hissed. "Then we help ruin them as well because I've never been rude to anyone who wasn't rude first. My mother taught me right." He struggled to get up.

"Ma'am, please quit baiting him," an officer said, walking her off. "Are you all right?"

"No," she admitted. "He has my gun, which is licensed, and my tazers, which are allowed by the FBI due to death threats. They decided to take me hostage because they thought someone might pay ransom for me."

"You don't look like a celebutante," one of the cops joked.

"Hell *no* I've never been that brainless," she said with a glare.

"You're the lady that popped that politician," one realized. Darcy nodded with a grimace. "Oh, crap. You're in Chicago?"

"I got moved by blackmail from my friends," she said bluntly. "I'm still doing charity work and I'm still tutoring people who need their GED's to get somewhere in life. Which was their original problem." She glared at them. "I'm good at making people sorry, dears. Sorry about your lives." She smiled and waved. "Have fun with that in prison since you're all bitches." One struggled to get to her but she kicked him when he got free of the officer. He went down with a groan, curling up around his now-sore balls. "I'm sure they'll love to ice that for you in jail," she said dryly. "Tell them I said hi." She waved.

"Ma'am," another officer complained.

"Sorry but I'm that sort of woman." She looked at the officer questioning her and moved him. "Shit! Move!" They moved out of the way of the spray of bullets through the window from the attempted drive by. "Mother fuckers," she muttered, glaring out there. "Sorry, guys, I only saw the windows come down and a gun barrel. Green four door with a rusty back plate over the wheel." An officer called that in and the officer escorted her home. Just in case. She was muttering about who it could have been this time. The officer was giving her weird looks but he could handle it and they probably wouldn't go after him again if she wasn't there.

"Ma'am, can you stay inside for a few days," the officer asked as he walked her to her door.

"No, I can't. I have things I've promised to do and if you give in to fear, they just grow stronger. If you act scared they win." She opened her door. "They shouldn't try it again if that was about me. Thank you for the help and the saving earlier, Officer." She went in and locked her door, leaning on it. She stared at the guy on her couch. "Hey, Phil." She put her purse down. Her tutoring kid was there staring at her. "Sorry, I went out for danish and ran into stupid."

"I, um, heard someone was going to try something."

"Yeah, they tried for a bit. I would've managed to get free even if the PD hadn't shown up, and then someone showed up to drive by them." She got them both some water, handing him a bottle before sitting on her chair. "So, you came to warn me?"

"Yeah, I did," he admitted, staring at her. "Why do people want you?"

"My bimbo whore of a former stepmother still has a death threat on me because I got her arrested for poisoning and killing my father. There's a few guys at the college I went to that thought women being able to protect themselves made them less macho. The politician dude that's still worthless tried to put a hit out on my life for telling him no." The late teen winced but shook his head. "Yeah, I know he lives here somewhere. He can stay in his shiny gold plated apartment sucking the life out of his newest bought trophy wife." She looked at him. "Thank you for trying to warn me. It's sweet of you."

"Yeah, you're welcome." He sipped the water. "That's not normal."

"It's got lemon in it. It's all I could find on the way home last night." She grinned at him. "It's cool though. A bit different but different experiences can help stop the boring in your life."

"Have you ever lived hard?"

"I ran away. I made it two weeks avoiding the pimps in LA." She looked at him. "I admit I grew up unconcerned about things." He grimaced. "We weren't truly greatly rich but we were comfortably enough that we didn't worry about sudden bills. My dad was a tv show producer."

"So you got to see a lot of kids that just got forgotten but weren't living hard," he said.

She nodded. "A lot of those. A fourth of my graduating class in high school has been to rehab for more than being fashionable." He grimaced but nodded. "And a few have went to jail for the same reason. As Whitney said 'crack is whack' and rich kids get higher level drugs. We had one teacher that OD'd in class. She thought her noon bump was cut more than it was. It was a lot more pure than she thought and a few of my fellow students knew what to take to bring her back from the OD from the illegal drugs." She stared at him for a minute. "Just because life was easier doesn't mean it's any less screwed up, filled with drugs and alcohol, and people aren't just as soulless. It's only we have more things to buy to show off. Our bling is bigger and shinier. And sometimes more subtle." She looked up a picture on her phone. "That's a piece of crown jewelry. What people like my mother grew up with. She married down into Hollywood from a banking family." She let him see it.

"That's very...boring looking."

"Yup, and worth probably three mil."

He handed the phone back. "For ours, you show it."

"Yeah, I've seen that. And fixed a few chains in my day." She smiled. "New money buys. Old money doesn't have to buy because we're secure in it. The same as new money buys limos. Old money buys safe cars with a driver and a nice backseat."

"We'll never be old money."

"You'll never be old money this generation," she corrected. "Even my mom's people started out poorer. I'm told that they were merchants. So they bought stuff and sold it higher, and they invested that money into their business so their kids could take it over, and build more wealth, and on and on until one ended up running a saloon bank during the gold rush years. Old money takes generations. You gotta work for it at first and make sure your heirs know that they'll probably have to build it up too, but any wealth is that way. Everyone who has money now had someone who worked for it. A lot of them don't understand that."

"So you're going to marry well?" he joked.

"No, I don't need to. I need to invest," she said dryly, smirking some. "I'm at the point where I can do what I feel is right for the world and not have to worry about being paid for it. Then again, I spent five years as an unpaid intern to a woman that became my best friend too." He blinked at her. She smiled. "I made sure I wouldn't run out of things."

"Then why are you living here?" he demanded. "It's tiny and dark."

"When I got...talked into moving back to New York by a few friends, meaning they moved me and then told me." He burst out laughing. "Seriously. Due to the death threats." She shrugged and sipped her water, looking at it. "Raspberry. Okay." She took another drink and put it down. "I'm thinking about moving somewhere bigger and maybe a bit brighter but more windows means more chance of someone killing me. I would like at least an office though. I need somewhere to put my books and movies."

He looked at her. "That's weird."

"Yeah, but I like my books. Most of them are even textbooks."

"Wow." He shook his head. "We have libraries."

"I donate a lot to libraries but if they don't want it, they sell it to make money."

"I didn't know that." She nodded. "Huh." He looked around then at her. "You probably have gowns and stuff."

"Charities do fund raising things that way. Plus sometimes people award charities with money for doing good work. I bought bridal stuff. Less than two hundred each." He gaped. "Phil, designer duds only fit women who look like crack hos. I don't have that body and most designers would hate my body because I do have curves. It's not fashionable anymore. So I find stuff that makes me look great and choose that. That's how real women do it. We find what makes us look good and dare people to say that we're not good enough."

"Oh. Huh. My girl's got a Macy's habit."

"I like some of their stuff but a lot of it's way too uptight for me. That was a whole other social class to mine. My mom's uncle wouldn't have shit on Macy's, he only went designer. My mom bought stuff that made her look hot and wanted." She shrugged. "I personally tend to shop in second hand stores because I don't have to break in new jeans and I find interesting stuff."

"I noticed the beanie. We all did," he admitted dryly, staring at her.

"Knitting was actually my mandatory art class in my undergrad." He burst out laughing. "Seriously. It was that or pottery and I hate playing in the dirt." He shook his head while laughing. "So I have a few beanies and some scarves."

He let it trail off, looking at her. "Could you shop like a celebrity?"

"Yeah. I'm worth more than enough to do that. Why would I want to? I don't have a job where I have to please people with how I look. I don't have to be conscious of that stuff due to the paps or other sleazy reporters. I don't care if they talk about me not shaving my legs for weeks on end. I don't have a job where it matters."

"You don't?"

"There's no biological reason for shaving," she said.

"Girls have stuff that happens if they don't."

"No they don't. Just like you guys don't." He gaped. She nodded. "Same body structures, Phil." She smiled. "Women don't have to shave, and doing some shaving is actually not encouraged because it can cause problems like ingrown hairs, it's just a social construction. Coco Channel created it when she made sleeveless shirts fashionable."

"Women used to shave."

"In Egypt, where it kept down fleas. In Asia, where they were delicate maidens who had to pluck out each hair individually. Egyptian women of all classes used to due to the heat and the flea problems. They also used to shave their heads and wear wigs because of it."

He grimaced. "That would suck."

"Yeah. Women back then didn't go anywhere without their wigs. Much like some older women in church." He snickered, nodding. "They could have a fire and the woman would put on her wig before grabbing her kids to evacuate them. Again, a social thing."

"Huh."

"People like my grandmother make those sort of rules. She never cared, she went to jail a number of times so women could finally get the right to vote."

"She did?"

"Yeah. Got arrested six times for protesting for the right to vote. It's a family badge of honor. My mom lived up to her standards and so do I."

"Wow."

"Some people do charity work because it's the right thing to do. Some people do it because it gives them notice. Some people give to them because it gives them a tax break. I'm in the first group because my mother trained me that I had things that could be used to help people. My mind is my best asset and I can use it to help others."

"Why not become a doc or something?"

"Eww, insides." She grimaced. "Gross." He smirked at her. "Seriously, insides are nasty. I've seen enough of insides, thanks."

"True, they are gross and blood is nasty." He stared at her. "You could become a politician."

"Yeah but I'd hate to live in the public eye so often. It's annoying and I'd hate to play reindeer games to get help with what I need to have done."

"I can see that." He stood up. "Thanks, Miss Lewis."

"It's Darcy. I'm not the formal, stick up the ass sort, Phil." She smiled. "I've seen heros with the flu and bad guys wanting to take over the world. I'm more than strong enough to be called by my first name."

"Sure." He smiled. "I'll tell the others you're not the usual do gooder sort."

"Thanks. Twitter me to tell me what sort of cookies I'm making too. I know I need to bring healthy ones but that doesn't mean they can't have organic chocolate chips." He smiled and nodded, heading out to talk to the others.

Darcy settled in to read her emails and stuff. It was a good day for it and if someone tried to take her again they'd have a lot of problem getting in there.

***

Melinda May limped into Darcy's apartment when she opened the door.

"I'm just heading out," she said blandly. "I've got tutoring in a bit." She stared at her. "Get comfy, don't order anything on pay-per-view please. Or you can come with me and then cab from somewhere," she chirped when she saw the glare.

"It'll take ten minutes, Lewis."

"And I'm already running late." She hefted the cookies. "C'mon. We can talk in the car. At least it's secure." May huffed but followed her, letting Darcy lock her door. They went down to the car and Darcy got in to drive, putting the cookies on the back seat. She checked everything before turning on the car and driving off. "So, why the visit?"

"Why was there a gang trying to shoot you?" she asked patiently.

"I have no idea and are we sure they were after me and not the gang that was trying to hold me for ransom?"

"Um...hadn't heard about that."

Darcy shot her a grin at a stop light. "Yup, sure was. I was getting free so I could make them miserable." She went on at the honking, making sure the light was green first. May typed that into her phone as they kept going. She was still answering someone on the other end when Darcy parked. "Tell Coulson I said hi." She got out and got the cookies and her bag, hurrying inside. "Sorry I'm late. I lost an earring in the sink." She walked in and put the cookies down, smiling at the staring people. "Aren't I supposed to be here tonight?" They all nodded. "Did you think I forgot?" She looked at her watch. "I'm seriously sorry about the five minutes late thing. I overshot my nap." The kids came to check the cookies and settled in to go over what the GED was and the prep test books. She started them on some simpler exercises to see how good they did. A few got frustrated but she moved them up to a harder thing. The test had some light equational math and geometry on it. That was going to be harder.

"I'll never get there," one of the guys said, grimacing at what his friend was doing.

Darcy patted him on the hand. "Never say never. It's only never if you give up trying. If you can't do it today, maybe in a few months you can. That's something you build up to. Or like growing your hair out," she said with a smile. "You get a little today and you build up as you go until you finally get supermodel hair."

He snorted, shaking his head. "None of us are model material."

"You're not skinny like them but you're fairly well built." He smirked at her. "Not hitting on you. Sorry. But you are. It's clear you're working out. Those things are subjective." She shrugged. "Who'd want to be someone so uptight about every little thing anyway? Do you really want to have to worry about a single zit ruining your career because it might scar?" Everyone shook their heads. "Me either. It's a horrible way to live." They smiled and got back to work, Darcy shifting to help a few with their simpler maths. A few needed reading help too but that was normal. "Everyone, the cookies are actually pretty healthy cookies. I usually bring fruit, since we used to work with a group that gave kids food baskets on the weekends, but I didn't get a chance to go out after I got home today." Down the table Phil was shaking his head with a sigh. "Who were they anyway? Someone asked me."

"No clue," he admitted. "Rumors don't state anything."

"That kinda sucks. I like knowing when people threaten me." She got back to work. One of the girls stared at her. "Someone decided they'd like my company at knife point and tied me up then nagged me that they'd get someone to pay me." She smirked. "I abused that notion really fast and was getting free so I could kick them around, but the NYPD got there and then a drive-by."

One of the boys shuddered. "I heard they tried and they got sorry."

"They're damn lucky I didn't get my hands on my tazers," she said. "Because that would've been a mess to clean up." The guys stared at her. She smiled. "What?" They groaned but got back to work.

One of the girls tossed her pencil. "Why do we have to do problems like this?" she demanded. "It makes no sense."

"It's kinda like making you do mazes," Darcy said. "It makes you think about how you order what's important and why it's important." She took the form to look at. "Oh, the train sort of question. Okay, these are easier if you make a drawing." She took the pencil to draw it out. "If you have two trains, on two tracks, because otherwise they'd hit each other and end up on CNN for the wreck, draw that. You have one going east, one going west, and one's going 40mph. One's going fifty mph. The distance between the two cities is ...." She reread it. "It doesn't say." The girl nodded. "Huh. That's weird. Well, we'll look it up." She pulled out her phone to do that. "Google maps said that there's a hundred-thirty-two miles between the two towns." She put her phone back into her pocket. "So if this one's going forty miles an hour, how many hours will it take to get there? This is the long version."

"So forty for this one, fifty for this side," she said, making pencil marks. "Them meeting halfway is thirty-six. No, sixty six." Darcy nodded. "So them meeting there would take just over an hour for both of them. But it says where do they meet?"

"So break it into portions. Where do forty on one side and fifty on the other meet up?" She marked them off proportionally. Then marked the center point. "How far is that?"

"Um...mile sixty-six, which is one hour and ..." Darcy handed over her phone with the calculator pulled up. "About two and a half minutes." She did it again for the other train. "So they're both going to be meeting up just past an hour." She looked up. "Still makes no sense."

"It's to make you think and reason it out, like you did. Now, on the test, you'll probably have a multiple choice from what I heard. It's a bubble form."

"Huh." She made note of that and went to the next one. Darcy's phone got passed down to someone else who needed the calculator.

"This isn't new," one said.

Darcy nodded. "It works and does what I want it to do. Why would I spend money to upgrade it?"

"It's not new though."

"New doesn't mean better. You guys ever hear about new coke?" They all shook their heads. "It happened about when I was a toddler. Coke's people did a huge research study talking to a bunch of people about what they wanted in coke to change. A lot of them apparently said they thought the taste should change more, be more like pepsi. So coke changed the formula completely and came out with new coke. Which no one would buy because they didn't like it. They associated coke with the old taste and couldn't stand the new one. They had to write off a ton of loss thanks to that and about four months or so later, they reintroduced original coke." She smiled. "And then later on diet coke, which is a diet version of new coke." They all stared. "Sometimes new isn't better. It's just new. If it's working for you, why change it?"

"I get that. But it's still dinged up."

"Yeah, I dropped it a few years back while running away from those mechanical spiders. Nearly into the sewer but I saved it." She smiled. "I'm lucky I saved it with how many pictures I have on that thing that I need to save down later."

The girl got into it. "I'm being nosy."

"If I objected I would've snatched it back," she promised with a small grin. "Go ahead."

She looked. "Who's... that's that Captain guy."

Darcy looked. "Yeah, we had been up all night watching older monster movies. He used to really like those."

She looked at her. "How did you do that?"

"I worked in the tower with Jane Foster as her science intern."

"Oh." She flipped through a few more. "Thor's got perspective issues. That's a huge zit on his nose." The others looking laughed.

"I taught him how to focus better after I saw him taking selfies with my phone. Sweet guy until you piss him off. He's also a pretty good dad to their spawn."

They looked at the other ones. "Where's this?" she asked, holding it up.

"Where I finished my studies. That's in Pennsylvania. A small, kinda conservative college." She took it to look at more closely. "That's the science and arts building in the background so that's from the dorm quad. I was a floor monitor for a year because housing near that campus sucked. And good thing I was. The next few are probably girls on my old floor." She nodded, flipping through them.

"She's hot," one of the guys said.

Darcy smiled. "The Asian one? Yes she was. She's still hot, but now she's hot in a lab coat. She went into molecular biology." He shuddered. "And had a small wreck a few years back that gave her a scar on her face but she survived. She's trying some new things to heal brain cells."

"Huh," the girl said. She went forward. "Hey, something I recognize."

Darcy smiled. "That's the first meeting of the kids I was working with in Chicago. Great kids. That's Macy," she said with a point. "She's just turned four a few days back. I sent her a few books and a new blanket. She loves blankets."

"Then why are you here?" the girl asked, sliding the phone back.

"Because my friends got really worried about the stupid going on over there. So they kinda told me I was moving back here. I got ambushed at work and told I was moving back here and that they were packing up my apartment for me. They're great friends and I miss the ones I was working with in Chicago. I still do work for Shelly, my old boss. She's hiring three people to take my place."

"So you're still looking for a group to work with out here?" Phil asked.

"I am. I did a lot of good work in Chicago and I'd still be working there if it wasn't for that problem I had with the death threat thing."

"Death threat thing?" one of the other girls asked.

"Yeah, that politician I tazed to get him off my ass has one on me and so does my bimbo whore of a former stepmother. She's still in jail but every now and then she talks someone into trying me. Not that it'll get her out of jail for killing my dad."

"Wow. That's way tough."

"She was poisoning him. She wanted to be the only heir. Tried to force me into an arranged marriage with a guy who ended up killing his first wife and vowed if I had married him instead I could've straightened him out. Pity but I'm hoping his cellmates fixed him for everyone."

"I saw that interview. It's rough to lose your parents."

"It is," Darcy agreed. "I still miss my mom. She would've kicked my ass good for swearing so much while I was getting that scummy thing off my butt." She smiled at Darcy, shaking her head. "Seriously. My mom was the practical mom in the neighborhood. She baked, she gave advice to the kids who only had nannies. She was a good mom. If I ever spawn I'm super going to be like her. But that's not looking realistically soon."

"When I watched that, that one group called in," she said.

"Yup. And they're interested in how I'd be as a mom too." That got a wince. "If we have someone bust in here, do we know how to get out safely and fast?" They pointed at the exit. "Good. I'm sure you guys know how to scatter to protect yourselves." She smiled. "I also don't mind if anyone's watching their kid," she said, looking at one of the boys. "Reading to little kids makes them smarter and we can start them on a lifetime of learning too so they manage to go do something beyond these walls and this neighborhood."

"I don't got none," he defended.

Darcy smiled. "Which is good. You're too young. You still have your wild years in front of you."

"Nah, had those as a teenager," he admitted. "Damn glad I wasn't the daddy the one scare I had."

"Yeah, I'm glad neither of mine came true," Darcy agreed. "I was enjoying the clubbing and stuff." They all groaned. "London has some *great* clubs. I dragged Jane to many of them to relax from science."

"Why were you over there?" the first girl asked.

"Jane wanted to be over there and I was her flunky. But not a minion because I had self will and made sure she ate."

"Wow." They went back to work. Then one of the boys suddenly stared at her.

"You were there when the elves were," he said, staring at her.

"Yup, I was helping Jane." She smiled. "Scary shit, really. So much scary shit. That ranks right up there with staring down a gang in lower Mexico when I was down there helping an aid group that my mom used to support. I'm not sure which is worse really. Dark elves or Mexican drug gang members. Probably the elves. They wanted to kill me. The drug gang members probably would've sold me into slavery with someone scummy." She shrugged. "Probable death is always worse than possible death." They groaned, staring at her. She smiled. "It is." They nodded, getting back to work.

"Did you ever do any of those crazy white people things like bungee jumping?" one of the girls asked.

"Twice with a boyfriend who was into that. One tandem one where he wanted to make out at the end while I was trying not to puke and the other one we landed in the lake thankfully. I don't have the stomach for that. We broke up because I wouldn't go fully naked and bungee jump tandem with him for the sex rush. I told him it wouldn't have been sexy when I threw up on him."

She shrugged. "He called me a chicken. I pushed him down a flight of stairs and he howled I was evil. His uncle the cop told him he was an idiot and no woman with sense was going to do that shit with him, verbatim thank you, and that he needed to straighten up before he died doin' it. Or before his uncle had him turned into the local minister as suicidal and possessed. He did not like that exorcism a few weeks later. I got asked to testify in front of their board of helpers about what had went on."

"I would've been prayed over by everyone in the church while my mother and aunt went 'oh Lord Jesus, protect this baby' in the background over and over," she said.

"I was a senior in high school and he was a freshman in college. I wasn't legally old enough to go on those trips," Darcy said with a grin. "I think that's the only time the bimbo whore told me I had sense."

"Did you have a housekeeper?"

"No. My mom had someone who came in twice a week to do windows, the bathroom, and vacuum for her," Darcy said. "Even when she was sick, it was our job to take care of everything else. She just hated those jobs so she hired someone."

"No nannies?" one of the boys asked.

"Nope. Mom and I both hate those with an ever-fiery hatred. It leads to a lot of problems for their kids. And a lot of pain for the nanny. Most of my family was very against those unless it was something like the parents had to travel and the kids couldn't or they were going through a messy divorce so the kids had someone to cling to."

"So you guys didn't have any help?" the first girl asked, staring at her.

Darcy shook her head. "No, I had parents who actually did parent things. I had some babysitters now and then. They had to go out and do things for his job and her social position. Dinners, awards, one week they went to France and I was ten so I got to stay with my uncle and his...let's see, he was in the middle of divorcing his second wife to marry his third, who was his mistress. She was a bit bipolar. Textbook definition bipolar. She screamed at me for being there so I told her about these new wondrous drugs that had come out recently then I went to his first wife's house and hung out with her for the rest of that week. That first aunt made sure the others knew about them all and that they could at least be polite with each other. She had given him a son. Who his last wife got drug addicted and molested while grooming him to be her future sugar daddy. He's getting out of jail in about a month I think."

The girl blinked at her. "Wow."

"Yeah, his last wife, number four, killed him." She grimaced. "She got high and stabbed him once too. They had just finalized the divorce when she had him carjacked and killed. My first aunt and the second one stared her down in the morgue with me until she shot herself in the stomach then confessed. My aunt is not the one you wanted to screw with and I knew that. My uncle said she reminded him of his own mother. Who was a harsh woman about women's rights. She went to jail six times fighting for women's votes. And nearly once for stabbing her husband for cheating on her visibly. She died when I was six."

"Wow." She frowned. "Did some women really hate on the idea that they could vote and stuff?"

"Yeah. You've seen those brainwashed fundie women in churches?" She nodded. So did a few others. "Just like they'd fight now not to have any rights, back then the same sort and some higher society women who thought it was crass that women might think about politics, did fight not to have the right to vote. Back then the suffragettes were seen a lot like the Rise Up groups now."

"Wow."

Darcy nodded. "A lot of things got pushed down onto us. Did you know that at one point in time it was thought that women were only incubators for the kids? According to the Catholic church, which was basically the only one around outside the Orthodox ones, thought that babies were in men's sperm and just got shot into us to be carried." She giggled. "Yet it was still our fault if we had too many daughters. One of those things you learn in college is there's history, there's women's history, which isn't always the same, and there's minorities history, which is never the same. We live through the same events but not in the same way. It affects our lives differently."

"When Loki invaded with those alien whale things, rich people went into hiding and hoarded gold and gems," one of the guys said.

Darcy nodded. "It's considered universal currency. You can trade it with nearly anyone. What did you guys do?"

"We put up emergency food closets," one of them said. "And a few extra weapons if we can get our hands on them. What did you do?"

"I was with Jane and we got tricked into going to the Northern end of Europe by SHIELD. We made emergency plans to evacuate people we liked and knew. Jane called her boyfriend to bitch him out for not calling her since he was back on this planet with her. I baked and knitted for a while to calm down and then we went into 'fuck this, it won't happen again and if it does we'll handle it' land so our plans went into the filing cabinet. Some of them got used to evacuate us after Ultron." The kids all stared at them. "I cared more about the people than I did the things. I could replace most things and my go bag had most of the important things in it already. I had to get Jane out of it if necessary. Plus anyone injured in the tower."

"So you didn't stock up on things like food or money?"

"I already have a lock box with some ready cash and my go bag has a bit too. My kitchen's stuffed because I can cook, guys. It may not all stay good for a hugely long time but I also took a gardening class in my undergrad for an easy credit and to get out of gym for a semester. It was a filler but it worked. I'm horrible at it but I know how to do it properly if I have to start a garden. I just really suck at it and I hate playing in the dirt. I support the local farms and the empty lot farms by shopping there and donating."

They grinned and got back to work. Darcy moved to help a few more kids with their word problems. They were annoyingly hard. "Is it true the prep tests are harder than the real one?" one of the guys asked her.

Darcy smiled and nodded. "Yup. Same as the ACT and the SAT are for college admission or the GRE for graduate school is. I haven't taken the ASVAB or MCAT so I can't tell you from experience."

"What're those?"

"ACT and the SAT are for college admissions," Darcy said. "To get into a good school you often have to take the test somehow. If you go to community college, you don't have to usually and you can transfer so you may not have to take it at all or you'll be taking it after two years of community college. GRE is for graduate school, getting a master's degree or a PhD." They nodded. "The ASVAB is for the military, it's their entry test. The MCAT is for medical school. There's one for law school too."

"How do you even get to law school?"

"You do really great in your undergrad, take the LSAT, and apply then hope like hell since there's so few spots," Darcy said honestly. "I didn't have the focus for the law. But basically it's excellent grades, recommendations from instructors who know you'd do great, and then a great test score and move up. Four years as an undergrad, four years in law school, then years of working your way up from the bottom of the shit pile of new graduates." They nodded. "Same thing for med school."

"You could've done that," one of the boys said.

"Insides, ewww!" she said with a grimace. "They're nasty. I didn't want to deal with that every day."

"I get that. It is nasty," he agreed. They got back to work, taking more cookies to nibble on while they worked. Darcy ran out to the car and came back with the bags of juice and plastic cups. "Thanks."

"I forgot, sorry. Bought them earlier so they're pretty warm. They were in the car." They shrugged, they'd had warm apple juice before. She'd worry why Agent May was still in her car later, when she was going to use it to get home.

***

Agent Melinda May walked into her boss's office, staring at him. "She's only gotten perkier."

He looked up, smiling until he saw the new bandage. "Darcy has always tried to make the best of it. Why are you injured?"

She touched it then grimaced. "We had a small realm breach incident. It unfortunately happened right in front of Miss Lewis. And Mr. Stark was happily nearby to help." Coulson winced, leaning back in his chair to hear this one. "For a short time of twenty-three minutes and forty-two seconds, we had two Clint Bartons on this plane." Coulson let out a tiny moaning sound. "Darcy did greet him and wondered what had happened. She and that Clint Barton shared information and she showed him internet memes of himself while she was waiting on our version to answer the desperate text message.

"Though she did get one from someone and noted that 'what, do you think I'm Jane Foster suddenly' back at them." She looked up from reading her notes. "That second Barton was most amused at our fan culture for his arms and bow. And Miss Lewis' list of his favorite things since it included his dog, coffee, and his bow, in that order. But before the cookies and fudge."

"He can have a sweet tooth, yes," Coulson said dryly. "How did this lead you to being injured?"

"By the time Stark got there to happily undo the lab accident that happened on that side, Clint told her he was not with Natasha, he had his own dame as he put it, and she didn't seem to notice his staring at her chest or rear end." Coulson's eyebrow went up. "Apparently, though I did not ask. Stark got there with something to reverse the stream or however they do it and it reopened the portal. Miss Lewis was keeping him busy by making sure that they hadn't had some events yet. Apparently they hadn't had Loki at that time. So she said she didn't want to be nosy or hurt him but in the interest of comparing she made sure his brain hadn't been put into a blender by said chaos being.

"Barton was horrified that it had happened to him here, and possibly in other versions of himself, and vowed not to let it happen this time. She let him see the news reports that had access to classified information about that series of events so he was warned. Stark did put in a warning not to change their timeline too much but Darcy quipped back that it's one possible reason why he was thrown over here in front of her, so she could tell him these things so they could change it on their realm, and wouldn't they all be better off without that incident.

"Stark agreed it's a plausible reason but quipped and said that Barton probably landed in front of her to get cookies. She handed him some and Stark grabbed one too while working on the portal generator. Rogers showed up about then and demanded to know what was going on. He was on his motorcycle and blocked Darcy's sedan in by parking in front of it, and nearly pulled a weapon on Stark because he thought he was the problem at that moment."

"Ours?"

"Yes. Darcy told him what was going on so he told that Clint about his current self's goings on and Darcy quipped something about needing a date beyond his puppy on Saturday nights. Rogers gave her a dirty look for it but she just offered him a cookie for that dirty look that the rest of us flinch from. Stark finally got it open and we find out that they had an open mic basically while working frantically to get their agent back to their labs. Darcy smiled and waved at a few people she knew from the labs and told Stark 'look, it's Meathead from Biology', which made Stark growl at him for the lab accidents that one had caused over the last few years. They managed to get the second Barton back to his own realm before ours died from having two of them here."

"Then why are you injured?" he asked.

"You know how Barton feels about me, Coulson. That one called me your ice princess." He let out a tiny smirk. "Though the cut on my cheek is because I tripped over Rogers' bike on the way to the agent SUV there to pick me up so I could have this headache in peace and quiet." She handed over the report she had typed up on her tablet and had printed as she walked into the building. "I'm going to rest in a dark room and ignore the rest of you for a bit." She limped off, going to her bunk to lock herself in.

Coulson read that report, smiling at the facts. "That's interesting," he decided, calling Rogers. "May I have a report on what went on?" he asked politely. "I have one from Agent May but she didn't note what sort of incident brought the second Clint to our realm, Captain. Please. Thank you for that. Did someone lock Miss Lewis in her apartment?

"No, I'm more worried that the gang that kidnaped her for ransom this morning when she was getting danish will come back," he admitted. "Yes, that's what I said." He winced as Steve Rogers bellowed Darcy's name. He heard her quip back that she was fine, just going home. Rogers hung up as he was stomping over, because you could hear him stomping over the open line, and nagging her about having someone kidnap her for breakfast. "I do not need to know what happens," he decided. "Yet. I'll get a report from her in the morning."

***

Steve Rogers hung up as he stomped over to where Darcy was filling out the NYPD paperwork. "You were kidnaped this morning?" he demanded.

She looked at him. "They weren't great at it. I was getting free when the nice officers busted in there." He scowled. She smiled and held up a cookie, letting him take it. "I'm okay, really. The rescue by the nice officers was even interrupted by a drive-by, but it had nothing to do with HYDRA, Steve. They wanted to ransom me off."

He scowled while he chewed. "It's not a good thing," he noted.

"I know. That's why I went home and put on all my locks and took a nap."

He huffed, staring at her. "You're not safe."

"Is that my fault?"

"No," he admitted, rolling his eyes. "I'm almost thinking you were safer in Chicago after all."

She shrugged. "Not my doing, Steve."

"Uh-huh." He stared at her. "You need to go home and be safer."

"I will be. I need to change a few locks. One of my tutoring kids managed to break it this morning."

He blinked at her. "That door had three locks."

"He was waiting on me when I got back from the kidnaping to warn me."

Steve huffed again, walking her off. "Let me make sure you get home safely, Darcy."

"How are you going to do that from your bike since I can't ride a motorcycle." He stared at her. "I have in the past and my boyfriend wanted me to grope. I don't know how to ride one without groping and you aren't one that wanted me to grope you, Steve. So I can drive home and you can follow me."

He pointed at the car. "Do that. I'll be right behind you, Darcy." She nodded, climbing in and starting her car while he got on his bike and kicked it into life.

"Helmet," the officer yelled at him. "Or get a ticket and you'll have to chase her." Steve put on his helmet with a nod at the officer and a short wave, then followed Darcy home. The officer looked at the ticket. "She gave the tower as an address," he complained. So much for his second boss's desire for her new address. But HYDRA could trace Rogers' motorcycle across the city's cameras. He went to call that in. He could see why the higher ups wanted the girl. She was strong yet perky.

Steve walked Darcy up to her apartment, nodding at the young guy in there. "How did you get in? We'd like to up her locks on her so I'm asking." The kid choked, staring at him. He smirked a tiny bit. "She's a great movie watching buddy."

"Top lock's loose, Captain sir. Middle lock's crap. Bottom lock's not locking at all."

"I'll have that fixed tomorrow. Thank you."

"Steve, this is Phil, one of the kids I tutor."

"I'm not a kid," he complained.

"I'm nearly thirty," she told him. "I'm old enough to be your big sister." He snorted but looked amused as he got up and left them alone. The one in the kitchen came out to leave too when Steve spotted him. "I'll bring more food next class," she called after him with a wave. "If you want something like banana bread let me know on my twitter."

"Yes, Darcy. Please."

"Sure, I can do that." She went to lock the door, and he checked it. He came in to grab a screwdriver to fix the locks. Darcy went to check her stuff, finding it all there. Including her gun and the two tazers the cops had confiscated off the idiots that morning. "I have to hug those boys." Steve gave her an odd look so she held up her tazer. "They got them back for me. It's sweet."

"It is," he agreed. "I don't want to know how but it is sweet of them." He went back to fixing the door. Clint showed up to stare over his shoulder. "Two of her tutoring kids were visiting but I'm a bit upset with things since she got kidnaped this morning for attempted ransom."

Clint looked at Darcy. "How do you get into those things?"

"Don't know. Isn't it sweet they got me back my stuff?"

"It is," he agreed patiently. "You need a nap."

"I took one earlier before I went. That's why I was a bit late when Melinda was suddenly on the couch too."

"Did the other me get home okay?" Clint asked.

"Yeah. He waved from that side and said it was good and he was home."

"Cool. Was he with his Natasha?"

"No, he said he had a nice dame but that they should get a dog. I told him what you told me about how you got Lucky."

Clint grinned. "I'm sure he'll have fun with that." He walked over Steve's legs, going in to check the rest of the apartment for her. The safe room too. Then he hauled Darcy up and carried her into her bedroom to toss her onto her bed. "Nap. We'll watch over you tonight."

"I'm perfectly fine, Clint. Really."

"Uh-huh. Seeing two of me so close together must've browned your brain out at my magnificence, so rest." He went to check her security system. "Do you not turn this on?" he called.

"I have it on all the time." She came to the bedroom doorway. "Isn't it on?"

"It says it is." He popped the faceplate off to look at the inside. "Melinda bypassed it. That's SHIELD's method." He took the clips off and then reset the system. "Now it reads right." He looked at Steve.

"I got asked for a report on the second you," Steve said. "I can add that as a note. She was limping and tripped over my tire."

"Good, she needs paddled for leaving Darcy so vulnerable."

"Guys, be nice," Darcy warned.

"Go get comfy," Clint said, grinning at her.

She sighed but did that. "Oh, hey, I thought the web guy was a myth," she said, watching him swing past. She fought off the urge to boob flash him to shock him. She wasn't that young anymore.

"No, met the kid. Stark's mentoring him," Clint called. "He's a bit mouthy and all that but he's a genius somehow."

"Ah. That makes sense." She closed her curtains and put on jammies, reopening the curtains when she heard a thump. She smiled and waved at the web guy, pulling on her sleeping t-shirt. Then she opened the window. "Hi, I'm Darcy. You?"

"Spiderman," he moaned, trying to move. "I hate that guy."

Darcy smiled and grabbed something without looking at it. Then she hit him with it. He shrieked and fell off the building. "I'm going to pretend I'm MewMew and zap you so hard you'll wish it was before electricity, mother fucker," she called with a smile and a wave. "Don't piss me off. I'm not the nice one." She looked at the guy. "Are you okay? I have a first aid kit." She turned but ran into Steve.

"Captain," the guy said with a nod. "I didn't mean to intrude. I just got slammed into the window.

"Clint, my first aid's in the bathroom closet, can you get it for me please since Steve's in my way?" she called. He brought out the soft sided gym bag. "Get in here so we can treat them."

"I'm kinda hiding who I am," he said, trying to ease away.

She hauled him in by his ear, pushing him onto the bed. "I'm not an Avenger, kid. I do charity work with underprivileged kids to help them get their GED's." He slumped. "Now, I can treat the injuries or Steve can treat the injuries."

"She's more gentle," Steve said and walked off. "I won't look, kid."

"Um, thanks."

Darcy pulled his mask off, closing the curtains and working on his injuries. Then she went to get him a few of the cookies, smiling at him. "I welcomed other Avengers with cookies. You just missed out on my baking in the tower years."

"You said you're not an avenger."

"I'm not, I was a lab intern." She grinned. "I'm super fantastic at it too."

He smiled. "I've heard about you. Jane's complaining she still misses you."

"I miss Jane too but I couldn't keep doing that." She pinched his cheek. "Go home, rest. Elevate that wrist and keep it wrapped tonight. Don't make Steve tell Bruce to check on your injuries. Most of the Avengers go to him instead of the docs because they hate doctors."

He nodded. "I've heard. Thank you."

"You're welcome, kiddo. Have a good night at home. And if they show up here I'll tase the asshole again." He laughed but took off out the window, going home for now. She cleaned up the mess and made a long note for Steve. "Here, for Stark about his mentoree. He's got bruised ribs too."

"He probably shouldn't be out doing his thing then," Clint said as he installed a new lock.

"I told him to go home and wrapped his probably fractured wrist."

"Good," Steve said, tucking it into his pocket. "I'll have Stark talk to him about safety things." She pinched his cheek. "Go rest?"

"I've had a nap today and I don't have to get up until almost noon tomorrow, Steve. My interview's not until the afternoon."

"It'd be safer if you were in there. You never know who might come in."

She went to close her window and closed the curtains, going to read in bed for now since they were so fussy. Men, just the fussiest things ever even when you weren't dating them. She did kinda miss all the big brothers she had when she was working with Jane but this was getting weird and bordering on creepy, stalker stuff. Now all they needed was Scott there to stare at her until she gave in and did what they wanted. She checked her bed just in case he was hiding to make sure she was all right. No tiny red suited guy so she was okay. Because that would be super creepy.

Or she might fart in her sleep and send him into a wall or something. She didn't want to hurt him by accident.

Clint looked at Steve. "We should tell Scott," he said quietly.

Steve smiled. "He'll frown at her again."

"Yeah, but it might be a good idea." They nodded and Steve texted Scott that she was all right again. His one back from Scott's ex-wife wanted to know why that was important. He told her it was a friend Scott had worked with in Chicago. Her 'oh, Darcy' back was telling. Steve confirmed that and that she was fine again. They had made sure of it. Scott clearly took the phone from her to ask why they had to make sure. Steve gave him a list. Scott groaned and promised he'd introduce her to people in the morning that she could be safe around. Steve smiled because that might be a really good thing. He showed Clint, who sent his own suggestion.

***

Darcy showed up at the address she had been texted to meet Scott at. The woman in there stared at her. "Scott Lang is supposed to meet me here."

"Do you need a PI, lady?"

Darcy smiled, holding out a hand. "Darcy Lewis. I work with underprivileged kids so they can get their GED's and I'll find a regular job in a few weeks to go with that."

The woman shook her hand. "Jessica."

"Scott told me about you a few months back." Scott walked up behind her, brushing her hair off her shoulder. "Hey! Don't touch the do. I know I need a haircut."

"You could trim it, yeah," he agreed, smiling at Jessica. "This is Darcy. I'm introducing her around to the lower level people. She used to work with Jane Foster as a lab flunky." Darcy nodded. "Now she's got an accounting degree at the bachelor's level and a public policy masters."

"Wow," Jessica said. "Those go together?"

"I have another bachelors in poli sci," Darcy admitted.

"I know there's some groups down this way that could use her help so I'm helping her introduce herself around."

Darcy stared at her. "By the way, I know about all this stuff. I knew Thor pretty well for a few years when he came back finally. So nothing like this will freak me out if something happens around me and I tend to react if they do. I'm not the damsel so you don't have to worry about me, okay?"

Jessica nodded. "That's always safer."

"She tazed Thor when he landed after being thrown out of Asgard the first time," Scott told her. Jessica laughed, nodding once. "So yeah, she was in the tower for almost three years before she left to go back to school."

"I'm also a champion baker and I can knit," Darcy said. "It was an art class alternative."

Jessica smiled a tiny bit. "That's weird but sure. If I hear about a group hiring I'll gladly pass your name on."

"Thanks." Darcy handed over a card. "Let me know if you need my help with something. I'm not the squeamish sort and I've hidden more than one person in my safe room."

"I can do that. Are you going to introduce her to Gerdy?"

"I am," Scott agreed. "I figured they were at the diner. Oh, this is Clint's cookie source."

"That makes a lot of sense," Jessica said. "He always brags that he got new cookies." Darcy giggled, smiling at her. "Go have fun, guys. I'm not scenic by any means. And warn her, Lang."

"I will." He walked her off, telling her about a few of the bad problems down there. Who probably wouldn't come near Darcy anyway. He walked her into the diner, spotting a few people that were more scenic attractions and one he wanted to introduce her to. "Gerdy, I have a friend you should meet."

Darcy smiled and held out a hand. "Darcy Lewis."

The woman stared at her. "I saw that video."

"Until I got moved via blackmail I was working with Shelly in Chicago with the tutoring program and other things."

"You do charity work?" she guessed.

"I do charity work," Darcy agreed, sitting down. "This is what I worked on with Shelly, and was helping organize a few other co-projects between us and a few other groups." She let her see her list of projects worked on. "Since I got moved to New York for my own safety," she said with a glance at Scott then smiled at the other woman. "I'm looking for a new job."

"We can't afford to hire right now, hon."

"Who said I needed a paycheck?" she asked. "I have money. My mother taught me it was my job to make something of myself that would help others. She worked with abused women. I work with teenagers so they have a stable base to grow from."

"That's a good thing. I heard someone restarted the tutoring center." Darcy nodded with a smile. "We hated that it got funding cut and had all those threats."

"I'm not scared of much," Darcy admitted. "It's all fun and games until you get blown up in a lab so you wake up to the Hulk checking your leg by poking it." Gerdy stared at her oddly. Darcy smiled. "This is my resume," she said, handing over that.

"Oh." She read it over, nodding. "That's actually a handy thing. The accounting, you're certified?"

"I haven't looked into the CPA exam yet. I was really using it to up my own trust fund. I can do basic bookkeeping through tax and all that stuff but I'm not a CPA. If it's something I find I can use on the job I'd probably be going for it in my spare time. I have a few nights free when I'm not tutoring."

"Wow. I know a few people who could use you." Darcy slid over her card. "Thank you, hon. If you're as good as you say you are and seem you are, you're a blessing. We're all exhausted here."

"Shelly and I were too but I had to do it because no one else was and those kids deserve a chance to build up from there."

"They do," she agreed. "Thanks, Scott. I'll pass her along to a few others who could desperately use her help."

"Welcome, Gerdy. We'd like to see Darcy in a nice job that makes her happy. She loved working with Shelly but it wasn't as safe in Chicago."

"The kids you tutored?" she asked Darcy.

"No, they were great to me!" she said with a smile. "A few even helped the night I was nearly kidnaped by HYDRA and some assholes the politician jackhole hired. I adored the kids I worked with. They're great kids. I'm hoping they all get really great scores because they all took their GED's right before I left."

"That's good," Gerdy agreed. "So why wasn't it safe?"

"HYDRA," Scott complained. "And the politician douchebag."

"Oh, please, Scott. He's not even fun enough to be a single use enema bag. Don't give douchebros a bad name." Gerdy was choking but shaking her head. "Sorry, I'm a bit blunt. I speak my mind. I can do polite more often but some subjects just bring up the bitch in me. He's one."

"Good," she panted, sipping her coffee. "Thank you, Darcy. I know a few who'd love to have someone blunt to help them and I'll call them once I find my card file." Darcy smiled and shook her hand then they left together. Scott had been talking to that nice lawyer boy in the corner but Gerdy had just found a gem. She looked back at one of her coworkers, who shrugged. "Betsy?"

"Banger," she said. "He could use the most help and he does work with at risk teens. She any good?"

"She's got all the creds we could want. We can ask Shelly." She walked off with the resume and information, going to do that from her car. Shelly waxed poetic about Darcy and how much she did and arranged for her. Yeah, Darcy would love working with the teen's shelter.

***

Darcy smiled, meeting her new boss that night. "Hi. I'm Darcy."

"You're more perky than I expected, love."

She smiled. "It's a perky day. I had super coffee this morning."

He smirked. "That's good. You work with other teens?"

"I'm formerly Shelly's super assistant out of Chicago."

"Oh! We heard they were doing good with the GED program."

"I did a lot of tutoring with that and I'm restarting it here three nights a week."

"You can't get funding for that."

Darcy shook her head. "Why would I need funding?" He blinked a few times. "The library's not charging us for the room. I bring snacks and sometimes cookies. I have the workbooks we used before run off in multiple copies. It's an open meeting so more can show up if they want."

"I...most people would want a paycheck. How are you doing that?"

"I have money. I have a small trust fund. My mother taught me I was to make the world a better place and I'm living up to her wishes. She started a lot of abuse shelters back when I was a little kid."

"Huh. The woman I heard about doing that...."

"I'm naturally a DeCrith," she said quietly. "I go by my grandmother's maiden name because my stepmother has a contract out on me for putting her in jail for killing my father years ago. It was thought to be safer."

"That explains a lot." He stared at her. "Your mother wasn't real tolerant."

"Mom only knew gay people in Hollywood. Not any in regular life. Then again, she would've hated my girlfriend in high school but would've gotten over it fairly fast. My mom was tolerant, but it was the eighties and no one knew anything."

"Good point." He tipped his head to the side. "Do you have that problem?"

"I'd never make my ex ashamed of me."

"So you're bi?"

"I am. I'm kinda picky. I haven't really seen any women seriously since then. A few times fooling around during my masters but they didn't want anything serious. I'd like something serious some day soon and I'm not against whoever they are unless it's someone like Loki."

He snorted but smiled. "Good answer."

"I miss my wild young days sometimes. There's been no time to go club and get loose and happy. It used to be my stress relief."

"Is Captain America gay?"

"I never asked him," she said honestly.

"Huh." He walked her off. "We run a shelter for runaway gay youth."

"Okay. That's cool. I was more focused on the educational end before and I'm not a psych major by any means but I'm a damn good big sister if they want to talk to me informally and I can help with things like homework and normal kid problems."

"That's a good thing. Mostly we're monitors. We've had some that got aggressive thanks to their problems."

"Because someone did it to them and they don't want to be prey again?" she guessed. He nodded once. "That does suck and something that can be worked out in therapy. Do we have a therapist on staff?"

"We have two. One of them takes the night shift to help with nightmares."

"I tutor three nights a week from seven to ten," she said, handing over a schedule. "I'm good with working longer hours but I need to be able to get to that."

"That's fine, we're used to people who can only be here a few hours at a time."

"I can be here during the day if any of the kids aren't in school and need help."

He looked at her. "We don't insist on school. It's hard for some of them around here."

"I can understand that. Do you want me to bring in my GED prep supplies?"

He blinked a few times. "You think you could?"

"I don't think it's a huge problem," she said. "You can't get much of anywhere without an education. I doubt most of these kids are the sort that can go home if they ran all the way up here. I know a minority came up here because they thought it'd be easier but at home wasn't horrid. I saw one kid that had his dad set him on fire for it."

"Wow. I've only seen a few that bad. Um, yeah, that'd be great. We could use some office help too."

"Sure, I can do that too. A few hours of tutoring makes a nice break from the paperwork and letters."

"We have a secretary to do all the thank you letters. We do need bookkeeping help."

"I can do that. That's not a huge problem. Do you do it on computer or in the books?"

"We try to do it by computer."

"Okay. Show me?" He took her to the office, letting her look around. She frowned at something. "We have a statement here." She let him see it. "Is that a problem I'll have to watch out for?"

"No. That's someone broke in. We're not sure who."

"I can see that happening. I had one of my tutoring kids show up on my couch this morning to warn me that a gang was thinking I was pretty." He winced. "Oh, no, not an issue." She looked over things, nodding. "I can get started on that tomorrow if you want."

"I'd really like that. Say a thirty day trial?"

"I can do that." She smiled and held out a hand, letting him shake it. She saw the big red plus on his arm and covered it. "I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I know a few who were lost."

He nodded. "I know a few too many around here. The city was hard hit and I was teen when that started."

"I was a little kid but I grew up watching the news and seeing the ones that my dad worked with disappear." She patted him over it again. "Let me know if I need to bring in anything special for celebrations of marking off another year. I'm actually a really great cookie maker. I can even give references." She grinned.

He smiled. "I've got one in a few months so we'll talk about it closer to that." She nodded and left, going to pick out what she'd need. He went to talk to the others. "I hired us an unpaid office helper," he announced as he walked into his office. His secretary, his son actually, stared at him. "She's young, she has money, and her mom used to work with abused wives so instructed her she was to do good."

"That's good. Will she set people off by not being gay?"

"Had a girlfriend in the past, isn't all too picky now but too tired to date."

"Even better," his son agreed with a smile. "She can do a lot of paperwork tomorrow."

"She's also offered to work on GED prep for the kids who want it." He handed over her resume.

"Wasn't she the lady that got that politician?"

"Yup. She seems nice. Was a bit perky because of too much coffee." He sat behind his desk. "She'll hopefully fit in well here."

"That's good," he agreed, filing it in the employee file. "How did we hear about her?"

"Someone introduced her to Gerdy."

"Great. That's a great thing." They got back to work and went to talk to the kids when they came in for the night. Hopefully this new girl wouldn't freak out anyone.

***

Darcy's new boss found her the third day hugging one of the girls who was sobbing. "What happened?" he asked quietly, squatting down next to the couch. "Hey, Patrice? What happened?" he asked her when she looked at him. She sniffled and told him about the asshole who grabbed her on the street. "Yeah, there's a bunch of those in this city," he sighed. "Did he hurt you?" She shook her head quickly. "Just scared you?" She nodded. "Okay. That's good. If they try to hurt you, you let us know."

"I will," the young teen said quietly.

Darcy tipped her face up. "Sometimes guys are uncultured animals. We all get that. One that tried to grab me earlier today by the hair got my fist in his nose." The girl blinked at her. "I shoot back at them with sarcasm. A lot. Also, headphones. Even if you're not listening to anything, having them on makes them think you can't hear them. It's not safe to walk around with them playing music thanks to all the crunchy mugger sorts, but if you're wearing headphones they tend to give up faster. Also, don't look at them. If you give them attention they'll eat it. That's their food source. Like giving vampires blood."

Patrice straightened up, nodding. "I get that."

"Also, try to run in packs. They're less likely to try their shit on a girl that's in a group of more than three. Duos can still get it but trios don't. Duos also get asked if they're together and can the idiots watch. I got that a few times with some friends who were female." She wiped the girl's cheeks off. "There's men like that everywhere. They just don't have anything better to do in this city so they congregate. If you and the other girls keep track, they can probably track where they are so you can avoid them if you want to try. They don't tend to range far from their own stoops."

"I can talk to them about it, though they won't like it. They'll think I'm weak."

Darcy tipped the girl's face up again. "I get the same damn thing. They're just too stupid to see that we're more than pretty. Men like that are wastes of their mother's time. You're thirteen, you shouldn't be more than scared of them at your age unless you've been taking martial arts since you were a baby. Being scared is nature's way of telling you that shit's gotten bad and it's time for you to get out of there. That's a direct quote from my mom. Most of it was. That's what she told me when I nearly got mugged at twelve because the guy thought I was fifteen with my boobs." She gave her a look. "If the girls can't see that you're thirteen, that's a slight problem but they're mostly seventeen and older so that's kinda nature's split. Like how girls your age are all about certain things and girls their age are all about other things."

"True. Thanks, Darcy."

"You're welcome, Patrice. I make a great big sister. I was never lucky enough to be one so all those instincts are going to waste if you girls don't need it." She smiled and went up to talk to the other girls. "Remind them I'm going to be bringing in the GED prep stuff tomorrow if they want to go over any of it with me," she called.

"I can do that," Patrice promised, skipping up the stairs. "Guys, Darcy's seriously into the big sister stuff. She cuddled when I cried," she told them.

Darcy smiled, helping the boss up as she stood. "I'd make a great big sister." She went back to the office.

"Most of the girls won't let anyone touch them."

She looked at him. "I'm non-threatening. I'm about their own age and I seem to be just a sweet lady who bakes a lot. Which I am until someone makes me be something worse. The girls asked me about stuff and I told them about myself. They know I'll give out hugs if it's a bad day. They know it's not flirting too. We talked about actress' boobs." She went back to her office.

"Females are so weird," Banger complained as he went back to his own office to make a note in the daily log.

"Yes we are. It's the extra hormones," Darcy called. "Come in here please?" He came in. She handed over her spreadsheet. "This is just from the raw papers." She pointed. "I have no idea why that's happening since that's this thing," she said with a point at it. "And that's...." She handed over the form. "Is that allowable?"

He read it, shaking his head. "No. Who did that?"

"I don't know," Darcy said. "It was dated last month." She looked at him. "I went back six months and there's always a reimbursement form that takes that amount." She showed him the others. "One's a clear forgery by what I've seen of your other forms." She pointed. "I have no idea who that is."

"Did you get one this month?"

She pulled out that folder to look through it, handing it over. "Two." She handed over a second. "I'm not a CSI like on the show, Banger," she said quietly. "I can't compare signatures."

"No, but I can figure it out." He took that with him. "Get this month's done?"

"I was waiting on the donor letters from your secretary." She flipped tabs. "This is this month's in progress."

He looked and nodded. "We have a birthday?"

"Janey's turning eighteen next week. The girls wanted my opinion on how to bake cupcakes. Which I paid for but they filed for reimbursement for the other stuff like balloons." She let him have that form.

"That's fine. We like to celebrate the big ones."

"Trisha's not doing her sixteenth," she said quietly. "One of the girls asked and she said she didn't want a party then walked off to cry in the bathroom." She looked at him.

"Her home was pretty horrific," he agreed. "I'll make sure, Darcy. Thanks."

"Welcome. Let me know and get me that donation sheet so I can finish this up today?" He nodded taking all that to his office to go over it. The donor list went back to her and she got back to work on the budget mess they had while he figured out who was taking an extra fifty bucks a month. Sometimes that was a huge amount.

***

Darcy stepped into her tutoring class, looking at them. "Guys, this isn't for the ladies. Guys, why is it that some of you pretend that women are actually wanting you when you know they don't?" They all stared at her. "Because I had to kick the living shit out of a man just now who thought I'd appreciate his touching my breasts as I walked past paying no attention to him." A few winced.

"And yeah, he looked a lot like you," she told one of them. "Sorry if he's a relative. Maybe he needs to find some reality." She looked at the guys. "You guys don't do that, right? You know that women aren't objects, we're real human beings?" They nodded. "You sure?" They all groaned but nodded. "Good." She dragged in one of the other kids and pushed him into a seat. "Sit there and learn how to be a man from others who have those qualities.

"Because I'll be damned if I'm going to let you harass a girl who's twelve because you think she's hot. You nearly attacked her and I would've killed your ass to get you off her. You wouldn't be the first person either." He flinched but slumped down. "Now, let's get back to work, guys." She handed over new worksheets. "English today. It sucks but they'll want you guys to know grammar stuff."

"She was twelve?" that boy asked.

Darcy looked at him. "Yes she is. She's also healing from multiple cuts and broken bones thanks to her father trying to beat her for daring to look at a boy on tv and think he was cute. Not hot, but cute." The boy slumped some more. "That girl spent over ninety days in the hospital, twenty of them of them in the ICU and you just sent her into a panic attack by nearly raping her for thinking she's hot. Real women don't appreciate that. Hell, even hos and money grubbing hos don't appreciate that! Even the prostitutes that get that sort of problem thanks to their job don't appreciate it."

"She's probably gay," he sneered.

"So? I'm bi. And?" Darcy shrugged. "If she is, she is. Though her fundie parents would probably kill her for that instead." The kid gaped. She stared at him. "Yes, Darcy's had a girlfriend. She's also had boyfriends. She's also had stress relief and even rented some once when it was so bad she just really needed a cuddle and had no one around. I still wouldn't have went anywhere near you even if you were selling it because you're just a little boy playing dress up.

"Do you think you're ever going to get anywhere with that sort of disrespect? Hate to point this out but women make up fifty-one percent of humanity and I doubt you treat your mother that way. Real men treat all women, even the ones that have to work on their backs, with some level of respect. Trying to get your hand up her skirt isn't respectful. And really I should've kicked your ass like the guy I got downstairs that tried my breasts, but you're underage." He glared at her. She stared back. "You can comment back. This should be a dialogue so you learn something. Then maybe you won't want to try to molest a little girl." He got up and stomped out.

One of the boys sighed. "His dad's the same way."

"That happens a lot. We mirror the attitudes and problems we see from those around us. I'm a lot like my mom. Though she probably would've hit him with something. My mom couldn't punch worth a damn but she was a fierce woman and she would've had both of them on the ground and begging for what they did." A few of the girls smiled. "You guys treat women better, right?" They all nodded. "Good! Now let's get back to english grammar. Which often makes *no* sense so we all learn it and forget about it after the test." They laughed but got back to work.

When the boy's father showed up to yell at her she got into his face about his son nearly molesting a child and how he was a horrible boy who wasn't growing up. The man took a swing at her so she kicked him in the nuts. She stared down at him and lectured him quietly about women and how he wouldn't have treated his mother that way and real men didn't treat women any differently than their mothers. He got up and stomped off. He tried to get a cop but Darcy told him why and the officer told the boy he was going to jail if that girl pressed charges and that dad huffed off. The officer finished the statement, letting Darcy sign it then go back to class.

One of the girls looked at her. "They would've shot us," she said.

"The dad or the officer?" Darcy asked. "Though possibly. That's one reason why I did it for the girl. She wasn't strong enough to and it would've gotten her hurt." The girl stared at her. "I'm well aware of the ethnicity gap in what's considered acceptable, Bertrany. I knew that even when I was a kid. It's in LA too. It's why kids who aren't white in Hollywood have to be *so* much better. And twice as much if they're female. There's always been one and it's been closing, it's a lot smaller than it was even when my mom was a girl.

"She was a teenager in the sixties. She was helping with voters registration and those things until her father pulled her out of a registration booth by her hair, literally by her hair, and yelled at her on the way to the car with a state sheriff standing there with a shotgun in his hand. Someone caught it on film. After that, she went with her brother so she was supposedly safer. Her father couldn't say anything about that because it was right after the Selma march."

A few of the kids hissed. "She was doing the right thing and her dad didn't understand and thought she was too weak because she was a woman. Her dad lived long enough to see her defending one of the first abuse shelters from some guys that the cops had told where it was with some privately paid bodyguards. And her own shotgun she had no idea how to use." The girls smiled. "She said he called up to scream at her about it but she pointed out women weren't weak. If we were, the kids came out weaker and weaker every generation. Strong mothers with strong skills made the best mothers. Because we're the ones that influence the kids and teach them right from wrong. And also education stuff."

"Smart moms make smarter kids," one of the boys agreed. "Was she in the south?"

"Texas. They were there for a few years while her father rehabed a company. That's what he did, going in to reorder companies so they worked better and more economically. One idea of his was that female workers cost less, which they still do, and work harder because they had to prove themselves. Therefore better for the company. Which is true, but still a shitty opinion for those reasons given."

The boy nodded. "Yeah. They say girls make like a quarter less per dollar."

"Depending on the field it's as much as forty cents per dollar." He winced. "And it starts right out of college. Someone actually tested that with HR managers and a set of identical credentials on a resume. The women got offered jobs for far less. Apparently having to wear extra clothes to be considered polite holds down our IQ too."

"What?" one of the other girls asked.

"If women go out, we have to put on a few more pieces of clothes than the guys do to be considered polite. Things like a bra."

"OH!" She nodded. "Yeah, they suck."

"Yes they do and the larger size you have the worse they are. I bawled the day I had to start wearing underwire for real because of how sucky it is." A few of the girls nodded and one adjusted her chest since she was braless. "I'm with the ladies in Europe who think that if guys can go topless we have the right as well. It's just that men sexualized women's bodies. Really, they're the same as guys have only ours sometimes give out milk and they're bigger. Though I've seen some guys who seriously needed a bra."

She shrugged. "But at least we're not treated like cows anymore." A few laughed but they got back to it. "I've got to check but next time's history. I'm not sure if the local test has more than US history on it so I'll check on that tomorrow on the way to work. It might mean a few extra history lessons." She put the fruit on the table and let the kids get their own.

***

Darcy looked at her boss about day twenty-eight of working there. "What's up, Bangers?"

"I just got an uncomfortable letter, Darcy. I just really can't turn it down." He let her see it. It was a promise of a donation if they dumped her, immediately. He stared at her. "I don't want to."

"Did he actually deliver? He's brushed off donations he's promised in the past." She handed it back.

"He did. The copy of the check was in there." He let her see it.

"Ten grand's nice and it'll do a lot of good work." She looked at him. "Let me go say goodbye to the girls." He smiled and nodded. "And then I'm going to work on ruining him a bit more." She smirked. "If you know of someone who needs me, send them my way."

"I can do that." He shook her hand. "I wish like hell I had two more of you, Darcy doll, but I can't turn that down."

"I know, and if he doesn't come through, call me back." She walked out, going upstairs. "Ladies?" she called. A few leaned out of their rooms. "It's a meeting, guys." They came out and got others that weren't listening. "Listen, girls, someone upper crust but underhanded just handed Banger a donation he can't turn down but they want to get rid of me."

"Because of that politician's slimy paws?" one asked.

"Yup. It's also why I got bit by a lizard during an awards dinner." They all groaned. "Banger can't turn it down. It could shut the shelter." They all nodded. "So you guys know where I am and if you want to talk to me or stuff, email or tweet me." They nodded, giving hugs. "I'll miss you guys." They smiled and a few sniffled. "Hey, I'm still here in the city and I'm about to go make a *huge* stink on social media." She winked at one. "Okay?" She nodded.

"Remember, teenagers are strong because they have to rebel against their parents and stuff. The only time you'll be stronger is in your early twenties when you're getting stuff worked on so you can adult properly." She tipped one's face up. "You, don't rebel too hard where I can't see it. Got it?" She quit sniffling and smiled, hugging her again before going back to her room.

"Okay, well, if you guys want to see me, let me know. I'll miss you guys." She went to pack her few things and then went home to sulk and sell off all the stock her investment person had said was a good idea. She sent him a nice letter first about why she was going to try to tank some of his stock prices. He agreed it was underhanded and he could help with that. She did get happier when someone, Clint or Scott, she couldn't tell, sent her a donut pop 'tree' as a 'quit sulking' present. It was sweet of them.

***

At the upstate Avengers facility, Pepper Potts was stomping into the kitchen to make some tea. Tony was actually eating without nagging so he paused when he saw his woman stomping that way. "Did our stock plummet again?" he demanded.

"No. That underhanded creep struck again in Darcy's direction. Gave her boss a ten grand donation to fire her immediately." She stared at him. "Darcy's nicely firing back by tanking some of his stock but how underhanded can you be!"

"In his case, a lot. What're we doing to support her move?"

"I've already sold off all ours. We only had a few experimental shares that went back a few years. I've also put out a note that any *good* employees shouldn't have any trouble finding jobs with *real* companies." She poured the boiling water into her cup and put in a tea bag, turning to look at him again. "I don't know why that idiot's even doing any of this."

"He's a classic narcissist," Natasha said as she came in. "It's all about him and she proved him wrong by not giving in to his nasty wants and then telling everyone about it so they knew he wasn't worthy."

Clint strolled in and paused. "Darcy?" he guessed. "We sent a donut pop 'tree' as a feel better."

Pepper smiled. "That's a sweet thing, Clint, and yes. I really want to ruin that man."

"Have someone in the IRS audit him?" Tony offered. "Infect him with a mutant virus?"

"That's a bad idea," Natasha said.

"Fine." He looked at Pepper. "You're much more wicked than Darcy could be. You learned how on the board."

She smiled, kissing him on the nose. "Yes I did." She strolled off with her tea to formulate evil thoughts.

Tony sighed and relaxed, grinning at his teammates. "At least it wasn't something I did this time."

Natasha stared at him. "Thankfully. You would've taken the slap with a joke about her being too tough for you after all."

"I did learn better."

"Pepper has trained you admirably," she agreed dryly.

He finished his lunch and went to tell Jane this newest thing. He came out laughing, going to talk to Pepper. "The idiot has stated if there's a trade mission going to Asgard to set up trade relations, he's probably going to be on it."

Pepper looked up at him. "Really? What did Thor say?"

"Jane told me it was unintelligible even to All Speak, unless you were his mother, and then she'd be washing his mouth out with soap."

Pepper smiled. "Wonderful. Has Thor talked about a trade mission?"

"No. I made sure but Thor's back off-world again."

"Lady Sif's down here."

"Is she with SHIELD?"

"I can call, Tony." She smiled as she picked up the phone. He walked off humming with some dirty ideas. Pepper in that mood always gave him dirty ideas. Pepper called Agent May's phone. "It's Pepper Potts. Is Lady Sif there?" She listened to her telling about the tour of the military base she had asked to go on. "That's charming. You might look up what the great idiot that's fighting with Darcy has done this time and what he's said about going to Asgard for her." May looked it up and choked. Pepper waited through the spluttering. "Yes, then Darcy bought and sold a bunch of his stock to plummet the price by twenty percent. Someone taught her well." May groaned but found what he said about Asgard. That made her growl. "Exactly. Thor's off world so he can't smite him. You have fun with that. We're going to be doing the same thing." She hung up. That was a bit of fun. She had to be evil more often.

***

Lady Sif looked at the phone the agent with her was holding out. "From?" she asked, taking it to look at the message. She snorted. "He would not be welcome, we have standards," she sneered, handing it back. "I will formulate an answer for my prince on the way back. Thank you for alerting me. Darcy?" The agent asked that question and showed her the answer. "Hmm. She does that well. We knew she was a warrior in a few fields." She handed the phone back.

"I'll deal with that as the representative later." They walked on to see what their military bases looked like. The single general who had went up to Asgard had been enthusiastic about their military bases. So she would tour this one. It got Thor out of something he'd probably hate anyway and let her ogle many fit young warriors who were mostly pretty. She stopped at one, touching the marks on his arm. "Does that have meaning? It's pretty."

He smiled. "It's my dog. I lost her right before I enlisted, Lady Sif."

"Dog friends are good. I enjoy playing with Clint's dog friend Lucky." She patted him on the cheek with a smile. "Hopefully you will find a new one someday soon." She walked on. The guy was blushing but that was cool. She was a wanted Goddess of Warriors. She knew that and enjoyed it quite a lot sometimes.

***

Darcy looked up from tutoring lessons when the power went out. "Okay," she decided. "Let's pack things up by cellphone light and we'll go home early tonight, guys." They all nodded and grunted as they packed things. "I've got the little guy. He's hugging my thigh. I'll meet you by the door, Momma."

"At least the sign is still lit," she agreed. "I cannot find my phone." Another of the kids shined her's that direction so she found it and packed it. "Thanks." They trooped out together, Darcy having to pack a few last things before she could follow them.

Darcy ran into the kids in the doorway, watching outside. "Aww, fuck," she muttered. The kids stared at her. Darcy looked. "It's cracking the pavement so the subway tunnel isn't going to be totally safe. Library ladies, is there a doorway out in another direction? We have giant mechanoid crabs out this one."

"We're under a shelter in place," one said. "And please watch your language, young lady."

"I try," she promised with a smile. She leaned out to look then huffed. "Not the Avengers handling it." She looked it up on social media, putting out a report that there were people trapped in this library, tagging the NYPD's twitter too. They ordered her to move them. She showed the librarian, who nodded and got the others to join them. Darcy went to check then waved. "We can get past the giant mechanical panda.

"There's only one and an actual Avenger is fighting it so we won't get hit by accident with the way Wanda's firing on them. Go to the right, run down into the subway station, there's a shelter down there," she said with a point. "Not the one on the street corner, but the one up this way in three blocks for the other line." They nodded.

Darcy tweeted she had ordered them moved but hadn't checked the building for stragglers since the librarians had told each other. They were going to the nearest subway shelter up from the library. Darcy went with the last lady out, hurrying her up that way with a nod at Wanda. "We're probably clear in there," she told an officer as they jogged past the battle line. "Guys, down," she called with a point. They hurried down into the subway. One of the officers stared at them. "We were at the library, tweeted we cleared, the librarians told each other so I didn't do a room search," she reported.

"Thanks," the officer said, calling that in. "Why do they have to come here," he complained.

Darcy smiled. "Because New York hasn't been more than fractured yet. DC and LA are so much easier to break, much less somewhere like Seattle and all the coffee addicted hipsters. Breaking New York is major cred. Do we have a med station? I can help bandage."

"Not yet, Ma'am."

"Okay. Guys, if you're injured, let's get back against the wall," she called with a point. "Any kids without 'rents, hang out with the kids I came in with please?" she asked them. Most of them nodded. "Okay, come hang with these guys if you're here without a parent so we can make sure no one tries anything stupid. C'mon, sweetheart, you're injured. Back against the wall so you have somewhere to rest," she said more gently to one older lady.

"I can handle it! I've lived past every other incident in this city! I can do it now."

"Of course you can. Women of your generation were stronger than mine are because you had to handle more things for yourself and make all the things we rely on now, but I can wrap that broken wrist for you if you want." The old woman huffed but let her wrap it with her scarf for now. The roof shook and a few people screamed, including one of the officers. Darcy looked up. "Guys, no dust. It'll dust before it falls," she called. "Like in earthquakes, it's stronger around doorways and against walls. They have support there." She checked a few more and one made her grimace. "Officers, we've got someone here with what looks like a stab wound," she called.

"Paramedics can't get near here," one of them called back. "It'll be the end of the battle. Can they hang on?"

Darcy looked at him. "I'm gonna have to move the shirt to look, sir. I'm not groping or anything." She looked then winced, pressing gently, making him moan. She got up and went over there. "He's gonna need a trauma surgeon," she said quietly but bluntly, staring at the officer watching her. "There's bile coming up with the blood." He winced. "I need something to stuff the wound with. Do we have any bandages?"

"No, ma'am. I'm sorry. All the official shelters they've put up have been uptown and Harlem because that's where they were before."

She nodded. "Okay. Can you check anyone else for serious injuries while I put some pressure and use my shirt to hold the wound closed?" He nodded, going to do that with a word to his partner. She looked at the signs then tweeted the NYPD twitter again about needing a trauma team for a stab victim in this shelter since they hadn't put any supplies in it yet. She got an ETA of about an hour for the battle to stop. She put her phone up then took off her outer shirt, then her tank top, putting on the outer shirt again. She bundled up the tank top, smiling at the guy.

"It's gonna suck," she told him. "It's gonna hurt. I'm seeing clear fluid as well as blood, sir. I'm gonna put direct pressure on it and use my shirt to hopefully staunch the bleeding. Okay?" He moaned but his hand twitched. "Okay. Let's do this. By the way, my name's Darcy. Who're you?" she asked. He was trying to stay awake. "Just listen to me babble, it'll ground you and keep you slightly awake. We need you to stay awake. This is hopefully going to be the worst night of your life but at least you have a pretty nurse helping for right now. Remember, stay with me, even if you're staring at my tits, it's okay." He snorted, his eyes opening slightly.

"See, I knew you could do it. Just hold on. Battles usually last less time than they say and they said only an hour. Not like the blitzkriegs in London that lasted for hours on end each night." He nodded, trying to swallow. Darcy checked her bag, coming out with her diet pepsi. "Here, I know it's foul but I needed caffeine and the coffee shop was already closed. Sorry." One of her kids came over to help him drink. "Thanks."

"Welcome, Darcy. I've seen my brother come home cut up more than a few times." She moved so the guy's head was in her lap. "It'll be okay. Darcy's one of those people who fuss over others so we can handle this until the guys in ugly spandex are done fighting whatever happened this time."

"Giant mechanical crabs could I guess cut you in half with their pinchers but they don't have teeth to bite," Darcy said. "The giant Panda's a clear knock-off of a movie." The girl laughed, making the injured guy smile. "What's your name, Handsome?"

"Dave," he said, trying to move. "Sorry."

"No, just stay as still as you can," Darcy said, checking the wound. The roof shook again and this time there was some dust. "Oh, come on, guys," she muttered. "Which one was it this time?" she called.

"The giant panda fell," the officer on the doorway called back. "That leaves a crapload of crabs on the next block."

"As long as they don't get the roof," the old lady said.

"If they do, I will *so* find the villain that did this and go kick his ass," Darcy said. "It wouldn't be the first one I've kicked." The kids she worked with chuckled but they knew how Darcy was. Nope, there was part of the roof. The officers got people away from there. "Damn it, I need some super artillery," she complained quietly. "Then we could drive them away from the shelters." Someone fell down the hole but they got up with a groan and ran up the stairs. "Yay, Steve's mad," she quipped, cracking a few people up. "Hey, Cap getting mad crashed part of DC," she said. Dave winced but coughed. "Uh-uh. None of that. No death rattle. At all, Dave. I didn't want to hear it when my mom died, and I'm not letting you die down here so deal with it and let's take a few deeper breaths." He coughed but was trying to laugh.

An officer came over. "Will he live?" he asked quietly.

"I'll be damned if I'm just gonna give up," Darcy told him. She let him see the wound and he grimaced. "I know, but we've got less than an hour hopefully." Someone else came crashing through the floor. "Natasha, I need your first aid kit," she yelled. "Please!" She tossed it over as she ran up the stairs to the outside. "Thank the Gods," she said as she opened it to look. "Clotter," she said, using it on him. He moaned. "I know, it sucks, it hurts, it burns, but hey, saving your life. It only feels good if you're being saved from a hanging from what I've been told." The guy let her repack his injury with gauze and her tanktop. The officer nodded, going to check the others. Darcy looked at her helper. "You're good, Shinin. Want to think about becoming a nurse?"

"That's really hard."

"Yeah, but it'll mean you get to do less dramatic things than this all the time. There's always a shortage of nurses. Even at the lower levels you can get through vo-tech as an LPN or whatever. A year of vo-tech and then you can decide on being an RN at a later date."

"I....it'd pay good," she admitted, brushing over the guy's hair and cheek to make sure he was still alive. She looked at Darcy. "Can I do that while I'm taking my GED?"

"Have to ask them. I know some have a GED program as well. Of course, you're still welcome even if you join one of those." The girl smiled and nodded. "Nurses make a real difference. When my mom had cancer, I remember more about the nurses than I do her docs. Patients see nurses more often."

"I...yeah, I might think about that." She looked down. "He's really pale."

Darcy nodded. "That's from the bleeding," she admitted. "He needs a surgeon pretty badly." The girl nodded. They all looked up at the thump and one green arm hanging through the hole. "Hey, Bruce is here." She noticed the girl looked scared. "Hulk will only attack you if you try to scare him or attack him. I've seen him cuddling a kid who was sobbing hard on her teddybear because she was scared after a battle. Just treat him like you would anyone else and be nicely polite. He might look confused and maybe even yell but he's just out of tea."

Shinin stared at her oddly. "You act like you know them?"

"I was a science flunky for a bit." She grinned. "They forget to eat a lot while they're busy. Or drink, or sleep. Jane lives on poptarts but only certain flavors."

"Wow." She pointed. "He's changing back and his body's starting to fall."

Darcy looked. "Hold him." She rushed over. "Guys, help me before he falls and concusses himself." The officers came to help pull him down and Darcy took him back to her corner. "Hey, Bruce," she said when he moaned at her. "Stay there. It looks like you're pretty banged up and I'm helping this nice guy here with a stab wound." Bruce flinched, staring at her. "Hey, Bruce." She smiled. He held his head with a moan. Darcy pried open an eyelid. "Concussion?" Bruce nodded slightly. "Okay. Then you lay there and tell me how to help this poor guy with the liver stab wound."

"Hospital," he said. She pointed around them. "Oh, hell." He sat up slowly, moving to look at what she had done. "Is that Natasha's med pack?"

"Yeah, she fell through earlier and I yelled to see if I could have it. She threw it on her way back out."

"That's good. The clotter's set up for her unique body but it'll still work on humans." He looked at the stab wound. "That's nasty and needs stitches." He looked in the med pack. "Which she didn't repack. I need to check those this week." He winced, holding his ear. "Damn it," he muttered as he stood up. Darcy held onto his hand. "I have to. You guys be safe. We're nearly done." He changed as he ran back out.

Darcy smiled at the girl, who was staring in awe at her. "He really likes this tea by the Lotus tea company." She burst out giggling and it was good stress relief because she ended up crying on the poor guy they were helping. Darcy checked the wound. The bleeding was slowing but she wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not. Paramedics rappeled down a line from the hole. "Oh, thank you, God, whichever one you are," she muttered. The officers were briefing them and one was heading to them. "This is Dave."

"Thank you, Miss. We can handle it."

"I've got pressure on his bleeding liver spot." Darcy stared at him. "Get the gloves and stuff out." He did that after a glance. Shinin got out of the way for him. "Ready?"

"Two more," he said, pulling out more gauze. "What's that dark thing?"

"My formerly army green tanktop. It was the cleanest I had since my scarf went to wrap the nice old lady's broken wrist."

"You sure it was broken?" he asked dryly.

She stared at him. "The area above the wrist joint was at a ninety degree or so angle to the rest of her arm. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it wasn't just dislocated, dude."

"Okay, that's a good reason." He nodded and she moved, taking the tanktop and gauze with her. "That's nasty. And that's bile."

"I noticed," Darcy said, holding Dave's shoulder down. "We've got a paramedic, Dave. So just a few more, okay?" He groaned but blinked at her. She let him have another few sips of her soda. "You survived a giant mechanical crab invasion, no jokes about STD's in special armor please, and a giant knock-off movie panda out to destroy the city," she said with a grin. "So you'll have stories to tell others at least."

He nodded slowly. "Free drinks at least," he said, coughing some blood up. The paramedic looked at her and nodded for her to go.

"Behave, Dave, and don't pinch the pretty nurses." She got up and went into the bathroom to clean up, catching her breath in there. She stared in the mirror once she had the blood off her hands and forearms. "I'm *so* going to kick whatever mother fucker did that and make them beg me to hand them to Pepper," she told herself in the mirror. "Because damn it are they too stupid to live." She took a few deep breaths then went out, grabbing her bag. The paramedics were evacuating people. She waved at Dave's stretcher. "Be safer, Dave." An officer stopped her. "Hey. Thank you for the help," she said.

"Who are you, for the records, miss?" the officer asked, looking polite.

"Darcy Lewis."

"I know that name. Actress?"

"Activist and I socked a stupid motherfucker who thought my ass was his playground," she said dryly, staring at him. "I was tutoring some people who need GED's at the library up the street."

"Ah! Okay. Thank you and good form for what you sent. The higher ups said that you handled that well."

"Not the first time," she admitted with a smile. "Let me go calm down with the sacred margarita I've got waiting on me at home."

"Have a better night."

"You too." She walked out and found some army guys heading for a downed Bruce. "Nope, not gonna work," she muttered, sneaking around because Clint had just fired something to block their way. She grabbed Bruce with a grunt, hauling him up and into the alley then to the next block so they could go home. Her car was only a few blocks up and not destroyed for once. It wasn't even stripped for parts. That was sweet of someone.

Bruce got a shove into the backseat and she got in to drive, taking him to her place. She got him upstairs and into the safe room. If someone showed up for him she could close the door. It had to be opened from the inside. Darcy went to make the sacred margarita and settled in to sip slowly tonight while she finished calming down. And then she'd find out which villain had that sort of bad idea and kick them until they begged for Pepper Potts to save them.

Clint smirked as he saw who was saving Bruce, giving her some more cover. He had noticed her evacuating a library so that was good. She could handle things. He called that in. "Our favorite intern has him," he called then hung up.

Stark looked over from his flying perch, nodding. "Not that bad of an idea." He flew off to go back to the tower to change back into regular clothes. FRIDAY, his new AI, was following all the reports and no one had been reported trapped. A few pretty bad injuries but no one was trapped and needed his help yet.

***
Part 7 by voracity
Bruce woke up somewhere weird. He was in a tiny room on a twin sized bed. He stood up and went to the doorway, staring outside cautiously. A living room. He frowned, going to look around. A picture on the wall made him pause, and then he remembered running into Darcy last night. He glanced in the bedroom but she was clearly asleep since she was snoring. He smiled, going back to the safe room. He spotted the button to release the door and knew he'd be safe enough here. Though he did sneak into her bathroom to take something for his headache. The concussions had healed enough to become a throbbing mess. She came in and stared at him, giving him a hug. "Why am I here?" he asked quietly.

"Because army guys were coming for you. Clint fired off some cover so I dragged you to my car and here." She pulled down the bottle of better painkillers, handing it over. "Cold water in the fridge, Brucie." He nodded, going to get some. "Want the couch instead?"

"No, it's probably safer if I stay in the safe room, just in case."

"Okay. I'm going back to bed." She went back to bed.

He came to the doorway. "Did that guy make it?"

"Not sure. Paramedics got there a few minutes after you ran off again. I'm hoping so. I also hope I can find that asshole who made those creatures and kick the living fuck out of them."

"You remember that science guy you introduced to Stark?" She groaned but nodded. "His girlfriend."

"Hey, I can girl fight with the best of 'em," she said dryly. He smiled. She listened. "Someone in boots." He went back to the safe room, locking himself in. Darcy went to check the door, staring at the guy standing there. "Hey, Clint." She hugged him. "I'm going back to bed." She went back there.

He smiled. "Charming offer," he called after her. "But I'm here to gather our missing guy."

"He's safe." She waved a hand.

"That's fine." He went to knock on the door. "Bruce," he called quietly. He opened the door. "I even stole Stark's sports car."

Bruce smiled. "Thanks. Thank you, Darcy."

"Be safe, Bruce," she called.

"I'll try." He went out with Clint, sneaking down to the car so they could leave. "Will she get into trouble for that?"

"No. The army didn't get to track her. They might have by now but I didn't see any watchers. If they are, they saw you leave."

"It could hurt her to be known by us."

Clint looked at him. "You think they don't know she already knew us?"

"Point." He sipped his water while Clint drove him back to the facility they all used. Bruce was rubbing his forehead so Clint let down the windows a tiny bit for some air. "Thanks."

"Welcome, Doc. Had plenty of those myself."

"Remind me tomorrow I'm checking every single med pack. The one she got off Natasha was only half packed and there was a guy there that needed it desperately."

"How bad?"

"Stab to the liver."

"Eww."

"You could see bile if I remember right. It's going to need to be a miracle."

"Miracles happen in the hospital. Look how many kids are born."

"True." He tipped the seat back, going back to sleep. It was a few hour drive.

Clint grinned, turning on some quiet music. It was a good way to calm down.

***

Darcy got up the next morning to someone pounding on her door, stumbling that way. She glared at the army officer on the other side. "I'm too old to join up, I don't like the current military-industrial complex's plans for world domination, and I'll be fucking damned if you step foot in my apartment without me reacting by killing you." She stopped him from pushing his way in with her gun. "Didn't understand the english? I thought all of you were anti-immigrant."

The man stared at her. "You did a dangerous thing yesterday, Miss Lewis."

"Yes I did, I protected a group of civies who were trapped with me in a library until we could get to a shelter, then I helped with one who was critically injured." She stared at him. "Then again, it's New York, living here is dangerous." He tried to push in again. She cocked her gun. "Please, keep trying," she sneered.

"I'm a general, miss."

"I'm a tax paying, one percenter," she said dryly, sneering back. "I have the number to a few senators. And the address to *all* the liberal media sites online." He glared. She stared back. "Say your pieces and go. I'm not in the mood for stupid this morning."

"You took a wanted...."

Darcy let out an amused sounding snort. "Really? Did I? Since that's been rescinded and if you were going to take him into custody, that would be illegal. Especially since your little general friend, Thunderbolt, which seems like overcompensation for his premature ejaculation to me, can't take him into custody the way he wants. The Supreme Court said so." He stepped back, looking alarmed. "Also, be aware that torture and conscription are also illegal in this country."

"We can ship you to one where it's not."

"You go right ahead, General," she sneered. "And all my assets go to someone just like Steve Rogers to help fight all this problem. I'll die for what I believe in. Are you going to? Oh, I'm sorry, your type get deferment from any active war zones. You stayed in the peaceful parts of the world. Real military guys wouldn't be taking someone in to torture. Especially one that they kinda made since it was Ross who screwed up his experiment in the first damn place. Now, you have a nice day, I have to talk to a lot of people online about you....General Nools," she read from his name tag.

She slammed the door in his face. Someone tried to kick it in so she called the police to come get them. "There's a military officer here harassing me because I know someone they hate," she told the dispatcher. "He just threatened my life for removing a victim from the mess last night to get them to safety. He's presently trying to kick in my door.

"General Nools, it's reinforced. I have bigger enemies than you can ever be." She listened. "Please. Just make them go away. I had to calm down last night with the sacred margarita and I'm not really in the mood to do more than harm someone for annoying me this early." She promised police were on the way. Darcy hung up and got some juice, going to hang out by the door until she heard 'NYPD' and then opened the door. "Please remove them before my hangover has kittens that're mean."

"Miss, you called?" one asked.

"Yes I did. They were really rude and annoying and now they're trying to break in my door. It was you guys or a morgue."

"Ma'am, they're military."

"And I'm not. They have no right to come rolling up on me to bitch about anything. I'm not subject to military law, I'm not subject to their stupid moments being forced around me, none of it. They're trying to get pushy because I saved someone in that mess last night who had a concussion."

"Are they here?" the other officer asked.

"No, they're upstate by now. His buddies came to get him early this morning." She sipped her juice. One of the military flunkies tried to hit her so she hit him with her gun. "Don't make me do this in front of nice guys like these ones." She stared down at him. "Make me turn into a super villain instead. I have much better plans than the one last night." She took another sip.

"Can you put down the gun with the safety on," the second officer asked, hand on his own gun.

She did that and came back. "It's in the living room. Better?" He nodded. "I wouldn't have hurt you guys."

"Still, accidents happen, miss. Your name?"

"Darcy Lewis."

"The one you saved?" the first officer asked. Darcy walked off sipping her juice and came back with a picture, handing it over. "Ooookay," he said, sharing it with his partner, who gave it back with a wince. "Is he here?"

"Upstate by now I'd assume," she said with a smile. "So these nice flunkies came to threaten me. They apparently didn't realize that slavery was illegal in this country, taking someone into custody to rip them apart at the seams is illegal in this country, and trying a civilian who isn't under military authority isn't legal either." The general made a grab for her so she threw the glass and then kicked him when he ducked it. She ended up biting him to get free, making him scream in pain. "The shit you learn in prep school," she said dryly, staring at him. She smiled at the officer again. "Can I fill out assault charge forms too? I just wanted them to leave. Apparently the military is falling down on recruiting people with brains."

"Not in my day," the second officer said. "We all had to have brains. He's an officer, they're universally college boys without sense."

Darcy walked out and hugged him. "Thank you for your service, Officer." She went back to her doorway. "Most soldiers deserve a good thank you for doing the hard things while the rest of us worried."

He smiled. "My wife would say the same thing, ma'am."

"Oh, that chip on your neck? It's been known to have a high failure rate. It was in the Chicago Sun yesterday." She pointed at her own neck. "It's sticking out and red."

"I saw. I'm getting it removed soon, miss." He called in for his supervisor to hear this going on. The military was a touchy thing with the NYPD. He blinked, looking at her. "Miss, do you go by another name?"

"Death threats, guys." She waved a hand around. "Including the tiny fingered little troll uptown." She shrugged one-sidedly. "Yes, my natal name is DeCriths."

"As in the investment firm that went down?" the first officer asked.

"That was my uncle's. I turned his partner in for embezzlement. And a few HYDRA people. His partner thought women were open vaginas with a newborn's brain behind it and perky boobs. He really needed a personality transplant. He couldn't pull off the playboy swagger any better than most fratboys can."

The first officer nodded. "I heard about that trial."

Darcy smiled and nodded. That same officer got up to try to threaten her again. She grabbed his dick and squeezed. "Keep it up," she growled. "You don't need this in the military. You're not supposed to be fucking while in uniform anyway." She yanked on it, making him scream. "You sure you want to try to move while I'm holding your family jewels for you?" she quipped.

"Miss Lewis, please," the first officer said. "We'll gladly escort these people off."

"Thank you." She smiled and wiped off her hand once she had been made to let go. "You have fun with them. I'm sure they'll love to listen to you guys more than a woman."

"Yes, ma'am, the local base's superior officer is a female general," the second officer quipped.

"Go woman power," she quipped with a smile. "I'm so happy we finally made it up there."

The officers smiled at her like she was a bit demented but they did walk the military guys off.

Darcy slammed the door, looking around. "I need to move," she decided, going to look up real estate. This was getting way too stupid to stand. Someday soon someone was going to stand up to her when she was pushing them back.

***

Darcy looked around the apartment she was viewing then at the potential landlord. "It's smaller than my present shoebox. Your ad said it was a three bedroom."

"It is," he said with a point. "Three beds."

"That doesn't mean it's a bedroom, even in New York or London. Thank you for your time." She left, going to talk to the nice guys at that diner. Gerdy was there. She bought them both some coffee as she sat across from her with a huff. "I've got to move. My place is a shoebox. I just talked to one landlord that thought three beds against the walls meant three bedrooms." She sipped her coffee with a moan. "Thank you, I needed this." She looked at her. "I know he got another charity he thought I was working with. Do some of them want to use it that way or does anyone legitimately need me?"

Gerdy patted her on the hand. "Hon, that's immoral to use guys that way."

"Hey, if he's payin'," she said dryly. "Which I don't think he will."

"He hasn't your old boss yet." Darcy grinned, she knew it. "What did you do that pissed him off this time?"

"A while back I inherited some stock from his company, which isn't actually his. All he owns is his name like Tina after her divorce," Darcy said dryly, smirking back. "So I nicely sold them all right after I got handed that letter by Bangers. I'm told his stock went down for a bit."

"Yeah and it hasn't really recovered yet," Gerdy admitted, smirking at the young smartass.

"Then smart business people would have their company buy their own stocks to reinflate the price. Clearly someone bought his way into his college of choice." She took another sip. "Any idea on either problem?"

"I got a few. Especially since you're not taking a salary. By the way, I heard about that incident by the library. Good work."

"The getting them to shelter? That's what you're supposed to do, Gerdy."

"It is, doll." She patted her on the hand again. "You should go be young for a bit."

"I need to find a better apartment. Mine's giving me stress wrinkles. It's so tiny I can't even bake properly."

Gerdy smiled. "That's sad, dear. Where are you looking?"

"Two or three bedrooms. Two with an office, three without. I don't care where as long as I can get to tutoring easily and work the rest of the time, and markets. I'd like clubs but I seem to have aged out of that somehow."

"You're not even thirty yet."

"Yeah but I haven't clubbed since I went back to college." She drank the rest of her coffee, smiling at the waitress that was coming over. "Are there any decent apartments in this area of the city?" she asked her.

"They're expensive, you have a roomie?" she asked with a grin.

"I can afford an apartment," Darcy said with a smile. "And no, roomies I'm not up for right now. I'm keeping weird hours."

"You into drugs?"

Darcy laughed, shaking her head. "No, I do a lot of charity work. I tutor a few nights a week as well."

"Oh, that's sweet." She smiled. "You should talk to the blind guy. His landlord has a ton."

"They're not secure," he called from his seat. "But they can be made better. You might talk to Barton."

"I would be he's outtie."

"Figures," the blind guy said, smiling a bit into his lunch. "I can give you my landlord's name and number, Miss Lewis."

"Thank you." She got up to go give him a hug and get the number. She touched something on his cheek. "You need some ambesol," she said when he hissed. "Works wonders on those." She smiled. "I learned that in the lab." She took the card he pulled out. "Ooooh, am I being sued?"

"Probably soon. That moron's getting huffy."

"He's about to learn too." She laughed lightly. "I have Brian Dandiwist as my personal law slave." He moaned, shaking his head. "Exactly, I needed an evil lawyer, not a good boy. But I'll keep it in mind if my kids need one." He handed over the other card. "Thank you. Let me know if you need stuff I can help with."

"I could use a few days of filing if you're that bored," he quipped.

"Actually, I am," she admitted. "Seriously, seriously bored. I nearly pulled out a textbook to try to learn chemistry again bored." He choked but laughed, shaking his head. "Hey, Jane tried awfully hard. Science just isn't my field. Let me know if you really want me to come file. I'm not against it. You do good work for the community too." She went back to her seat, smiling and tipping the waitress for the advice and the refill. She giggled and walked off. "I really have to get a few things across to that putrid slime monster that's attempting to run for office as an ego stroke." She sipped her coffee.

"I know a few others that wouldn't mind being paid if you'd work there for a month or so, Darcy doll. I'll call around you for you while you go file for poor little Matty."

"I can do that." She winked and got back to her coffee. A sandwich got put in front of her. "Ooh, lunch," she moaned. "I forgot breakfast. I'm turning into a science geek somehow." She dug in and put money on the table for the food. The waitress took it off to ring up for her. Gerdy smiled and called some folks who came to get to know Darcy. She was a nice girl, as long as you didn't try to grope her or threaten her.

***

Darcy looked up from filing, smiling at the man in the doorway. "Matt asked me to file for a few days since I'm so bored."

"Who're you?" he asked semi-politely.

"Darcy Lewis."

"I've heard about you. Are you hiring us?"

"No, I'm just temping. I'm seriously so bored I about went to learn science stuff again." She got back to it. "Matt said to file by name, not by year," she said since he was still staring.

"Yeah, we try to but sometimes it just gets shoved in."

She smiled. "You use the top one to shove into and then you sort into the bottom three when you have time," she said. "It works easier. That way you have the filing equivalent of a junk drawer in the kitchen."

"I have one of those," he admitted, coming in to talk to her. She was efficient and Matt was taking a nap apparently. "That's weird, he can't usually sleep with others he doesn't know."

Darcy smiled. "I'm getting too well known for my own good. I really have to stop the reasons for that." The new guy snorted but looked amused. "I do."

Clint leaned in. "Why are you down here?" he demanded.

"I'm temping," she said with a smile. "Until Gerdy finds another charity I can work with until that idiot tempts them with a nice sized donation to fire me." She went back to filing. "I've left the six files on the desk that he said were current alone," she told him. She looked at Clint. "I found somewhere bigger but it needs some serious cleaning since it's got blood on the floor. So I'm semi looking because he's not sure how long he has to hold the apartment for the nice PD people. I said if it was done in under a month I'd take it. He's got another few that might come open in a few months but nothing more than two tiny bedrooms. The guy joked I needed to move into Stark mansion."

Clint shook his head. "Tony might let you," he said.

"No, that would get those weenies in uniform to show back up because omg, I know Brucie."

"Point," he agreed. "Anyway, lunch or are you not taking one? You look like you lost weight, Darcy."

She held up a hand and finished up. "There, Matt, all finished and all that. Want me to start some coffee?"

"No, that was really fast, Darcy. Thanks," he said from his couch. "You guys have fun. You're too young to be all boring this way."

She laughed. "You're not boring, Matt, and I'm glad I could help when that idiot troll came up to me the other day on the sidewalk."

"I heard," he said dryly. "Thanks for the tape."

"You're welcome. I don't know why he thought all those raised in Hollywood did drugs." She grabbed her sweater and purse. "Have a nice day, guys, and let me know if you need stuff." She walked out with Clint, smiling up at him. "You have good timing."

"That's because you've lost twenty pounds," he said dryly. "And I heard you were down here."

"I've been helping Gerdy arrange things for a huge meeting with the local charities coming up soon. It lets her focus on other huge problems."

"That's good."

"Actually, I'm so bored I'm nearly picking up some old textbooks and trying to learn science again." She opened the diner's door with a grin.

"What would Steve say about that?" he taunted with an evil smirk.

"Women's lib means that women can open doors for guys. We're equal now," she dryly. "After you, hot ass." He snorted but walked inside after him.

"Darcy! Can we talk?" the waitress demanded, walking her off. "You sent me a bill that was phony."

"Someone faked fives?" she asked. "I only pay with small bills when I'm out so I don't spend so much."

"You sent me two hundreds in a letter."

Darcy shook her head. "No I didn't." She took the letter to look over. "Uh-uh. Something like that I'd hand over money orders for you," she said, looking up. "That way they can't be jacked from you." The waitress frowned. "That way I can keep track of my giving for the end of the year. Checks can be copied off and stolen. Money orders are harder than hell to cash if you're not a business." She handed it back. "I can make up for that but it wasn't me, Daisy. If you had told me I could've helped."

"You didn't know?"

"No. Not in the least. I've been busy with Gerdy and I haven't been paying attention the way I should. Clint just accused me of losing weight too." She shook her head slowly. "I can help if you want but I didn't send that."

"Then who could've?"

"I don't know but they misspelled my last name." The girl looked then at her, frowning. Darcy showed her the official ID she had with her actual name on it. "That's how it's spelled."

"Huh. That's really weird."

"I can make it up for you, that's not an issue," Darcy said. "But that's truly weird. You might ask someone if they've heard of anyone sending things like that."

"I haven't," Clint said, taking the letter. "Cheap printer paper and ribbons," he said. "That's really weird." He looked at Darcy. "Your handwriting's more loopy. I remember it from the cookies you sent us. Speaking of, you haven't baked?"

"I can't bake. My oven's broken and my countertop is peeling up. The landlord said the oven's fine, it goes to one temperature, four-eighty." Clint shook his head with a sigh. "I will once I move. She should take this to a lawyer."

"She should take that to the cops," Clint corrected. "Because whoever's trying to discredit you is passing funny money."

"I'll talk to the one that comes in for coffee," Daisy said. Darcy handed over her card. "Thanks, Darcy."

"Remind me when I go and I'll hop down to the corner and get those for you, Daisy. Let me know if you're not sure if I've heard stuff. Please!" The girl nodded, going into the back to tell the cook. She and Clint sat down. "Do you think it was the slimy one?"

"Nah. He's fake all over but this is beneath his notice. Who was it that you got on tape?"

"Think white, fat, round babyman."

Clint winced. "He's not to be trifled with, Darcy." She gave him a pointed look. "You're going to end up coming out soon."

"I know. That's why I've needed stuff to do when bored. So I could think to it since I can't bake right now." Daisy brought their lunch and hers was clearly spit in. She looked back at the glaring cook. "I didn't send that letter because I wouldn't have misspelled my last name." The cook groaned. "But if I find them they're going to wish they had found God instead." She pushed the plate aside and paid for it anyway. This diner was a local place and a lot of good happened here. Clint split his with her. She smiled, eating a few fries. "I'm almost at the housing point where I'm going to have to buy something and renovate," she said quietly.

"You could, that way you get it the way you want."

"Remember all the problems I had in Chicago when I had to move suddenly? And my last one still hasn't sold."

"Really? I thought we had a buyer that weekend."

"Couldn't get funding."

"Damn." He ate while he thought. "You don't need something huge. Just a good sized kitchen." She nodded while she chewed one of the fries.

An officer came in and sat at the counter. "Daisy, bring that letter, hon," Darcy said, getting up and going to him. "Someone's sent her funny money in my name," she told the officer. "Which is pretty wrong."

"You sure you didn't send it?" he asked dryly, staring at her. "You make a whole lot of noise, Lewis."

"I wouldn't have misspelled my natal last name," she said dryly, pointing at it. Then she pulled her ID.

"Then what's with the Lewis?"

"My grandmother's maiden name because of death threats. It's unofficially changed and the Feebs know."

"That's weird." He stared at her. "Could be illegal."

"Not even close. I have notice of the death threat and all the banks and cards I have know that." She smiled. "Beyond that, I'm not the sort to send money in an anonymous, or semi-anonymous, letter. I use money orders so it can be tracked by the IRS at tax time."

"Most of us around here file the short form," the officer said.

Darcy pulled out her phone and got onto a magazine's site, showing him. "I don't. It'd be nicer but my accountant freaks out."

He read the article, wincing at what he saw. "So why are you down here?"

"I do charity work," she reminded him. "I work with at risk teens. It's the work I want to do."

"I heard someone wrote one of your bosses and offered major donations if you got fired," the officer said dryly.

"Yeah, and that slimy politician wannabe hasn't made good on them yet either." She stared at him. "I'm suing him in court for that." She smiled. "Can you help Daisy figure out who it was?"

"Yeah, that's something we'd have to report," he agreed, looking at his favorite waitress. "You okay?"

"I'm good, but I thought it was her too."

"I wouldn't have misspelled my own name," Darcy said. "And I wouldn't have given to you in that name anyway, Daisy. You don't know me by that name."

"Good point," she said. "I guess I didn't think about it after I saw that phony bill."

"We can file it and see if the Treasury has any notes on that forgery series," the officer said. "I'll need statements from both of you."

"Of course," Darcy said. "Want me to fill it out while I nibble Clint's lunch?" He handed over forms for them and Daisy filled hers out next to him while Darcy sat at the booth to fill it out. Clint helped her do that. Scott came in during it and Darcy told him what happened.

Scott looked at her. "I heard you had to get someone on tape."

"Yeah, he thought anyone who grew up in Hollywood did drugs," she said dryly, smirking at him. "I taped it on my phone then went to that nice boy I was filing for so he could save it down for use."

Scott smiled. "Why would he come after you?"

"I'm pretty," she said dryly. "Apparently those who think they have influence in this city consider prettiness something they want to conquer and own. Which is why I'm suing the other one. They're probably golf buddies or something." She shifted over. "Sit. Clint might know somewhere I could bake again."

"That'd be great," Scott said, smiling at her then at Clint.

"The building next to mine has the penthouse open. It's not huge."

"Can I fit my desk, my couches, and my coffee table in the living room?" she asked. He nodded. "Can I make a new safe room?" He nodded again with a grin. "Do the locks work since mine don't anymore?" He growled. She smirked. "Everything's in paranoid prepper people sort of storage, Clint. Calm down."

He sighed. "Why?"

"Landlord probably. Or the military broke in and put bugs in my house since I saved Bruce from them." She looked at him. "By the way, they really hated it when those bugs went off in the microwave. It was worth buying a new one." She got back to filling it out while the two guys groaned. Someone came in and she smiled. "Hey, Brucie."

"Darcy." He hugged her. "Thank you for helping me that night."

"Of course I did. You had a concussion. You weren't in any shape to handle that and everyone was too far away handling the last of the problems." She patted him on the hand. "You can sit and talk to us. We're talking about me moving."

"One of Ross's people left me an email stating you're going to be arrested for helping me."

She smiled. "Can I have a copy? I've always wanted an actionable threatening letter." Bruce stared at her. She stared back. "The Supreme Court told him to leave you alone," she said quietly. "That's the top law in the land. He has to obey it." She stared at him for a second then got back to filling out the form. She climbed over Scott to hand it over. "There you go, Officer."

"Thank you, Miss DeCriths."

"It's Lewis for the most part. Before someone else tries to take me out or kidnap me." She gave him a pointed look. Then she went back to her seat. Scott got up this time. She pinched him on the cheek. "I'm punishing your daughter by making her learn how to bake once I finally get a new place that has a working oven." She sat down and he slid in too.

"Why?" Scott asked.

"She accidentally sent me dirty texts," she said with a grin. "Which I have erased after pointing out I wasn't the friend Darcy she knew at school and did her mom know she was sending dirty texts about eating pussy."

"I wouldn't care if she was gay," Scott said.

"I knew that." She whapped him on the arm.

He smirked. "You're mean today."

"I got kept up last night by the new neighbors. Apparently she's an official ho. She was talking loudly about how the guy last night stiffed her two hundred so she's a high ho." Scott shuddered. "Yeah, she just moved in." She looked at Clint, batting her lashes at him and leaning closer. "Is there a good kitchen in that place you know of?"

"Probably not since it got ripped out. So you'd have to restore it. It's not in a great neighborhood."

She shrugged. "It's NYC, Clint. There's no good, safe neighborhoods anywhere unless I make myself move to Connecticut."

"Point," he admitted then grinned. "We can go look. I know the landlord and I reserve the right to let you watch my dog."

"I can puppy sit. Lucky's a sweetie. He curls up with me when I have nightmares."

"Why?" Bruce asked quietly.

"Elves showing back up and making me wear the pointy shoes and tights," she said dryly. "Right before they stab me like I'm in a play." He shook his head with a sigh. "Sorry but truth. One of them was misquoting Romeo and Juliette last night in my nightmare as he slowly stabbed me." She shrugged. "They were very British, just like Loki sounded on the news."

Clint nodded. "He did," he agreed, sipping his coffee. He shook his head. "One huge problem in the neighborhood. There's some Russian mob guys who misuse the word 'bro'."

She smiled. "I tried to club and met one of them. He was really impressed I had a mind *and* boobs and then I ground his nuts into the floor because he was choking from my pepper spray bra protector." She grinned at his spluttering the sacred coffee. "Clint, be nicer to our ancestor's Juice of the Ancients. It's a precious resource."

He groaned. "Why did you do that?"

"Because he grabbed my boob and that set off the pepper spray canister I keep in it with pressure pads to set it off whenever someone grabs me against my will," she said dryly, putting his cup down for him. "Then he complained as he choked and rolled around on the floor so I nicely put my stiletto into his delicate underside and gave him a piece of my mind since he was clearly lacking some of his."

Scott hugged her. "You're like the sister I would've tormented," he said, getting hugged back.

"Aww," Bruce said dryly, looking at Clint. "Are they that annoying?"

"They're why I have Lucky," he admitted. "He used to be theirs."

"Yay, you saved the doggy," Darcy said, smiling at him.

"You need a nap," Clint shot back.

"Actually, I need my every-other-month delivery from the dildo of the month club, Clint. I'm honest, it's a need now. It's been *way* too long."

He stared at her. "I'm going to set you up with someone."

"Please do. Are they breakable?"

"Maybe."

"Sure." She grinned. "I can be gentle for the first few times. Get me a kitchen first so I can wow him with gooey fudge made that way on purpose so he can spread it on my tits to lick off."

Scott felt her forehead. "You're warm, Darcy. Are you coming down with something?"

"No, I just need some D, Scott."

Clint paid for his lunch and they went to look at the apartment together. Darcy was happy and babbling. She could have a kitchen installed within a few days of getting the keys. The landlord agreed and they signed that day. She called the other guy to say she had found somewhere and then they went to Home Depot for appliances. Clint was texting someone he knew who was moving to Chicago. They really liked Darcy's old apartment when they saw it. So that was another thing that was going well for her. Now all she had to worry about was the job thing and the slime bucket she was suing.

***

Darcy smiled at her lawyer as she led the other parties in. "Good afternoon," she said smugly from the head of the table. Her lawyer sat next to her. "I believe we're here to hear you whine that you got caught being an infant about things."

"I don't believe you're doing this, little girl. I'll ruin you. You're just a chick."

"I'm not short, fuzzy, and yellow," she said dryly. "And I doubt that." She smiled. "Remember, I helped your stock tank before." He glared. She stared back. "Some of us don't count our worth on our stock." She shrugged. "Nor did we *buy* our way into college."

"I went to Wharton."

"You bought your way into it. What building did Daddy have to renovate for them?" she quipped.

"You're still nothing and I can keep this in the courts until you're broke."

"Wrong way around, princess," she said, flipping out a magazine article. "I'm sure you're aware of that magazine and that list." He nodded. She pointed at the highlighted name. "That was my uncle." He looked and winced. "There were two main heirs. Myself and his son, who his last wife hooked on drugs." She stared at him, flipping out another one. "I believe you're smart enough to know who that one was too. She was my other godmother." The guy blinked at the name then at her.

"Yeah, she was the sort, with my mother, who could call up politicians for lunch and they'd show up. Thankfully no one expected me to marry a Republican." She put down another one and pointed. "I believe you can read. There's yours in the pink highlighter. There's mine in the purple. You don't know own anything like I do." She stared at him, leaning back. "You're kinda worthless actually. I've already ruined you and you're going under another suit for those nice letters to those charities with promises that you did not keep. There's six of them as far as I know." She looked at her lawyer, who nodded, laying them out in a stack in front of the idiot.

"I'm sure if you actually got into Wharton on your own merit, like most of them, you can read." She waved a hand. "I also have proof of many other misdeeds. Frankly, you've made me stretch a bit and remind myself who my parents were and my grandparents were. My grandmother would chastize me for being so openly evil but I'm enjoying it now. Thankfully I'll never be an Avengers level villain." She smirked at him. "Should we go on with the proof against you?" She pointed at her lawyer. He put down seven sealed envelopes. "The threats against me.

"One of those is the online ones you've made that have been answered by your minions. Two of them are proof that you had your sons put a contract out on my life. They've already had copies handed over to the FBI." She patted one. "This one is the one I believe that has the SEC charges that I've had filed against you." She smirked a tiny bit. "See, unlike your lawyer, mine went to a real college on a full ride academic scholarship. He *earned* his way here. The same as I earned my reputation for helping others by doing the real work that needed to be done. The only question I've got is are you working with HYDRA yourself or are they using you as a minion? Since the same people want me for them as well."

He stood up. "I don't have to listen to this. I can get it dismissed like that," he said with a snap of his fingers. "I know all the judges."

"Yes, and they've all had to recuse themselves because of that." She smirked at him. "That is the law." He glared. She stared at him. "By the way, the class action suit started against you by those charities is in Federal court because half of them are federal level charities." He stomped off. She smiled and waved at his back. "You have fun with your remaining few weeks of peace and quiet." She smiled at that lawyer, who was swallowing hard. "Can you handle him?" she asked her lawyer with a pat on the hand. "I'm going to get away from the windows since I can see a sniper scope," she said with a point at the red dot on the table.

"I can, Darcy. Thank you for hiring me."

"I adore your credentials and you're a lot like what I hoped to be, only in the law instead of charities." She got up and walked off. Someone did try to shoot her when she walked past another open office's doorway but missed and hit the door. That shut the building down and she got escorted to her hired car by the security team. She went to the library a bit early but that was fine. She walked in. "Morning, guys," she chirped with a smile.

One of the girls looked her over. "That's designer. Damn."

Darcy winked at her. "I had to show my ass with the idiot who told charities he'd give to them if they fired me. Of course I made up the deficit. I'm suing him for that money back so I can donate it to them again." She sat down, unbuttoning her jacket to get comfy. She smiled. "My new kitchen will be in this Friday so I can bake again for our Saturday meeting." They smiled and got down to history today. It was a good day for it because she was happy.

Evil but happy.

She finally went home to find Lucky on her couch so she cooed at him. "How's my favorite furry buddy?" He barked and lapped her, making her laugh. She cuddled him for a minute. "Help me get undressed, Lucky. I could use some help and some cuddles before I go fully evil and make Clint handle me." She walked into the bedroom, finding Clint asleep on her bed. "Hmm." She pulled off the business suit and kicked off the shoes, standing there in her panties and bra. She looked at the dog, who seemed to shrug. She went into the bathroom to take a shower.

Clint woke up, blinking at the bathroom. "I really needed that nap," he told his dog. "Living room. Bark if Katie Kate shows up." He ran out to hog the couch all to himself with his new chew toy. Clint walked into the bathroom. "Are you still evil?"

"I probably am," she agreed, rinsing off her hair. She looked out the curtain at him. "Why? Gonna hit me with something harder than a pillow?" She grinned.

"You're so asking for a spanking," he taunted back.

"I don't mind them sometimes, Clint." He turned red but she went back to her shower. "Sorry, I'm playful."

"You are and it's nice," he agreed. He waited until she got out, staring at her. "You're still losing weight."

"I'm fine."

"You're going to the doctor. You never go to the doctor and we worry about you."

"Yeah, I haven't went to any of them outside my ob/gyn appointments to get my IUD put in." She took the towel from him to dry off, wrapping it around her hair at the end. "I'm pretty healthy."

"What if it's serious, Darcy."

"Don't you even think about it," she warned. "I got tested for the breast cancer gene and I don't have it. I have every other year mamos. I'm fine, Clint. I'm just stressed and living on takeout."

He hugged her to him, nestling her under his chin. "I get that. Did you get through to his dumbness?"

"He was horrified." She grinned up at him. "Then someone shot at me."

"Did we get 'em?"

"NYPD got 'em."

"I'll have someone ask." He led her out to the bedroom, laying down beside her. "I'm not here for more than nightmare help. I could use it too." She cuddled into his side, letting him nap with her. She eventually fell asleep when Lucky came in to help them nap. He was a great helper.

***

Scott came in the next morning with danish. "Guys?" he called. Clint came out of the main bedroom, making him blink. "I should knock," he said.

"It's not like that, Lang," he said dryly. "Not that she's not hot and all." She poked him on the side as she walked around him to get coffee. "She nearly got sniped yesterday and had nightmares. I've had nightmares. The dog's a great chaperone." He looked around. "Lucky?" he called patiently. "Want out for a walk?" No bark or fur. "Any idea?" he called. Darcy found a note on the coffeemaker she waved. He took it to look at. "Kate showed up to get him for her morning run. Sure." He tossed the note and out before taking the box of danish to dig into. "Thanks for the food."

"Welcome." He sat down at the table with his cup that Darcy made him. "You awake?" he asked with a grin.

"No." She sat down and sipped her coffee, staring at the box of evil danish. "Those are mean, Scott."

"You're underweight," Clint said. "Eat something before I have Bruce drop an NG tube."

She sighed but plucked out one to pick at and eat. "How long did it take Natasha to realize it was me who asked for her med pack?"

"I don't think she's figured it out yet," Clint admitted. "Bruce did go through all of them to make sure they were fully packed. He and Stark were working on what an emergency pack in shelters should have for the untrained."

"I hope he remembers the epi pens," she said. She ate another piece of flaky evilness.

Clint stared at her. "I'm sure he will. Eat for real, Darcy."

"It's early."

"I don't care. Eat or I'm calling Bruce." He stared at her. She sighed but ate. "You never used to mind eating."

"I was twenty-three, Clint. I'm not scared of my weight but I'm tired of the thin whore committee sneering for a bit." She shrugged. "That and the stress."

"I get that. Real men won't have 'em so they're all sour," he agreed. "Eat two, they're tiny and so are you." He looked at the grinning other guy.

"Don't look at me. I don't hire stress relief. I borrow your dog to play fetch with." He heard a bark and looked. "Awww, Lucky can climb fire escapes."

"Yeah, Katie Kate taught him." Darcy stared at him. "My other persona," he said dryly.

"The teenage girl you always wanted to be?" she guessed. "Real friends use the damn door," she called. "But let the dog in first then walk around before I taze your young ass!" The dog got let in the window and the young woman did indeed walk around. Lucky ran over to lap her, getting cuddled when he hopped into her lap. Clint groaned when Lucky ate her breakfast for her and nearly spilled the sacred coffee but he moved the cup away from the hyper tail of doom. Darcy cooed and petted Lucky, making him a happy puppy. "Did you have a good walkies, Lucky?" she cooed. He barked and nuzzled her then leaned back to let her favorite human pet him.

"I'd say you had a good run and got to sniff a lot of butts," Clint said, petting his ears. Lucky went back to lapping his Darcy friend. She didn't shoot arrows like the rest of the family but she was pretty good at petting and spoiled him rotten. Kate knocked then walked in. "Thanks, girly."

"Welcome, Clint." She smiled, holding out a hand. "Hi, I'm Kate."

Darcy reached over Lucky to shake it. "Darcy Lewis."

"I've heard. You're apparently becoming the woman with balls measuring rod."

"I break all measuring sticks, the same way all women should," she said with a smirk for the young one. "Sorry, Lucky's having lap lovies."

"It's cool. I already got some of that when we were in the park watching all the bouncing asses." She stole a danish from Clint's plate and sat in the free seat, smiling at Scott. "Hey, Lang. How's the kiddo?"

"She's pretty good. How's school?"

"Sucks ass. And now they're changing things."

"If you need community service hours, I work with some people getting ready for their GED's," Darcy offered.

"Got that already by wearing the spandex," she admitted. "My principal faced me down about it and I had to admit it, she had it in pictures. I'm going to cream that Parker creep." Clint laughed, shaking his head. "I am!"

"He's a nice kid," Darcy told her. "If you met him for real you might figure a few things out that's not standard. Including that Stark's mentoring him in the sciences."

Kate shook her head. "No thanks. Stark's creepy too."

"Sometimes," Darcy agreed. "Those days he's usually lacking sleep from a science bender or Pepper's walked off from him again because he was a jackass." Kate stared but the other two guys nodded.

"Are you a telepath?" Kate asked. "I'm sorry if any thoughts I had upset you if you are."

"I'm not, kiddo. I was a science intern for a bit."

"Oh!" She nodded. "That's cool then."

"But I don't mind if you stare at my tits too. A lot of people do and I don't mind that until they try to touch without permission."

"Show me how that bra thingy with the pepper spray works?" Clint asked, smiling at her.

"It's just a trigger pad system, Clint. I tuck them inside my bra at strategic points and if they're pressed too hard they go off and spray whoever's in front of me with pepper spray."

He blinked a few times. "Who made that?" Scott asked.

"I did in London because people had non-grabby hands but the clubs were even worse than here. I miss clubbing," she sighed. "I have to go to the older lady clubs now." She slumped, cuddling the dog.

"You're still young and hip," Kate told her.

"I'm almost twenty-seven. It doesn't matter. I get sneered at by the little 'it's not whoring if you only get presents' crew. And for having real breasts and real curves."

"Yeah, I don't like them either and they're the same. There's a huge double standard for women."

"There is," Darcy agreed, smiling at her. "Like poli sci or sociology? I'll lend you books."

"I'm taking sociology now and I'm kinda confused."

"We can help. I don't have a whole lot to do right now until the kitchen's in. Well, I have tutoring tonight."

"Last night," Clint corrected.

"Tonight too. A few are doing a first attempt at their GEDs this weekend."

"Awww." Clint grinned. "You so spoil them."

"Yeah. I do." She smiled. "They deserve it. They're working really hard. They're even getting the non-healthy cookies Friday if I have a working oven."

Kate looked at the kitchen then at her. "I'm glad the DEA gutted it from the meth the guy had been making."

Darcy shrugged. "I looked at one that someone had been nicely painted with blood."

"Eww," Kate complained. She nibbled on her stolen pastry. Lucky made whining noises at her. "No way. Dogs don't eat pastries unless you're a wolf in Chicago from what I heard."

"I met him! He's so sweet," Darcy said with a grin. "Really, really polite. He'll stand there for hours holding a door for people. I had to tease him to get some skank off him when he was on statue duty then apologized to him but admitted I was just getting her STD'ness off him. He blushed a bit but his boss came out to see what had happened so I told her. She thanked me. We talked about educational opportunities in Canada for underprivileged youth."

Kate shook her head. "You're damn amazing."

"I try. Women have to be more amazing than guys. Otherwise we're just called names."

"I think you've been amazing since you were getting Jane to eat," Clint told her. "How you managed to get her to believe hot pockets were real food was truly incredible."

"They are if all you eat is pop tarts like she did. Hot pockets have meat and veggies in the same handy carrying format. It worked a lot."

Someone pounded on the door. "That sounds like Stark," Scott complained. "Who is it?"

"Let me the fuck in," Stark ordered.

"It's open, Tony," Darcy called.

He came in and stared at her. "That slimy toad just accused you of being my daughter on HNN."

"Excuse me?" she demanded. He nodded, turning on her tv then her computer when he realized her cable wasn't up yet. She watched and groaned, calling in to that show. "You can tell that slimy toad that I'm adding libel to that suit and he just added another entity suing him," she said when they answered. "No, this is Darcy DeCriths, Senator. Yes, that slimy toad you helped by giving a loan yesterday. By the way, how is your mistress?" She got hung up on and she smirked a tiny bit. Ten minutes later she reloaded the page. The senator was still spluttering but his wife was there and she was going to kill him for the mistress and the loan. She smiled at Tony. "Someone's going to have to find me a reason to not go evil soon. You know that, right?"

He stared at her then pointed at the table. "There's two, pick them both if you want. Are you suing him?"

She looked then pointed. "Briefcase is on the table but locked." He went to pop the lock, getting shocked and yelping. "Sorry, it's security monitored too. The key's in my purse."

He dug the key out and opened it, pulling out the folder to look at. He took pictures to send to Pepper. "Pep's having a martini breakfast over this." He looked at her. "Want to make a joint statement?"

"I can if you want." She smiled. "Think I can go more evil? Are we doing it in public or online?"

"Public. It'll be faster." He looked at her. "Go get out of jammies, put on something cute yet unfashionable like usual."

She snorted, waving a hand. "I was wearing designer yesterday, Tony."

"Yay. It was a business suit by the pictures that the pap got as they walked you out and arrested that sniper."

"HYDRA?" Clint asked. "Or his death threat?"

"Worse, stepmother whore," Darcy quipped.

Clint groaned, shaking his head. "We've got to ease those threats. Three is too many."

"Hey, get HYDRA," she said dryly. "I've dealt with one for years and the other will slowly fade off after he's not elected and they have time to vent." She put Lucky down, getting a pouty puppy look. "I have to put on clothes. C'mon, you can help me pick out a bra, Lucky." He followed her because he liked her.

Kate looked at Clint. "If I ever turn that evil will you remind me I'm not usually like that?"

"I'll tranq dart you and drop you at someone's house so they can screw it out of you," he told her. She smiled and nodded.

"I don't think that's going to work on Darcy's level of evil," Scott said, shaking his head. "She's gonna need more than a convenient access point."

"I know a few very nice houses of ill repute where everyone's clean and all that," Tony said from the couch. "I'll drop her there and let them have her for a few days. That should cure most of it."

Darcy leaned out of her bedroom, clearly topless since they could tell. "I don't need a whorehouse, Tony. If I get that desperate drop me in a club and I'll find some dick or something." She went back to getting dressed. Her hair needed to be pulled up. It was all knotted after her shower and she didn't have time to fix it.

Kate looked at Clint. "Can I be her when I grow up?"

"Sure. She's a good role model and she's tazed a number of people," Clint said with a tiny smirk. "But you'd probably have to give up your bow." She made 'eeeeh' noises then shook her head.

"Darcy's last female lover is twenty-two and a hot ass supermodel looking bitch on a motorcycle," Darcy called. "You don't always need a dick, Clint. Sometimes you don't need one at all."

"Very true," Kate agreed. "Being bisexual is very realistic for many people." She smiled at Darcy. "Do you prefer one side more?"

"No. I prefer personalities." She hugged the girl. "You're underage." She went into the kitchen to get more coffee.

"We have time to do your hair, Lewis. Go fix it," Tony said with a hand wave while reading.

"We don't have two hours for me to use the detangler," she said. "Then rewash and blow dry and then brush and style." She stared at him. "That's why there's beanies, Tony." She put her favorite one on.

"Fine." He got up, taking the folder with him. "I'll send back the originals after I make copies." She handed over the card to her lawyer. "Oooh, evil. Wasn't he a former intern at the Supreme Court?"

She smiled. "Went to Yale on academic full ride all the way through law school."

"So he earned it," Tony said with a nod. "Good. Evil can be nice. We'll be back with bagels or something."

Lucky came padding over, nudging Darcy's hand with a hopeful look. "Sure, I'll walk you again. We can go stare at the pretty, stupid things that are too dumb to do anything but breathe, Lucky. You don't want to hump them, they'd make dumb puppies with you." She took his leash from Kate's hand and they went out together. Stark was shaking his head about the dog but he let Lucky into the car.

Kate looked at Clint. "Are you tapping that?"

"Not at the moment. It's breakfast." She gave him a dirty look. "Once when she was drugged by HYDRA."

"Huh. How underage am I?"

"Two years at least. Darcy likes them about her own age," Scott told her.

"Pity. Damn I need a new lover." Kate pouted, picking at another danish. Clint handed her that one and put the box into the fridge. Darcy would want one later.

***

Darcy got out of Tony's car with Lucky at a dog friendly pastry shop and they walked in together, Tony following shaking his head.

"You're Tony Stark," one woman shouted, staring at him. "Is that the one they said is your daughter?"

Darcy looked at her. "Tony was fourteen when I was born, dear. My mother never looked at another guy beyond my father and she certainly wasn't into teenagers. From what my whore of a stepmother said, my daddy had skills in the bed." She got her turn to order and smiled, ordering a whole bunch of food. "I'm having my kitchen remodeled today," she quipped. The saleswoman smiled at her and let her pay for it then went to bag things up for her. Tony got his own food and they went back to the car. There were press there. Darcy looked at one. "How old am I?" she asked one. The woman blinked a few times. "I'm sure you've looked it up."

"You're about twenty-seven."

"Um-huh. And Tony's how old?"

"Forty-two?" she guessed, looking at Tony.

"Close," he agreed. "I was fourteen when she was born. A few people accused her of being my sister but she's definitely not mine."

Darcy laughed. "My mom hit the last one who tried to say that but she was a few days post birth. Thankfully someone did take that bat from her." She put the bags into the back with the dog. "Don't eat those. That's for later, Lucky, and I'm trusting you not to eat Clint's lunch. I know he'll share with you since he's your human, but you have to let him have some first." Lucky settled down to sniff the bag instead. She smiled. "I have to get back there. People are coming to put in my kitchen today." She got into the car. "Laters, peeps."

Tony got in to drive, honking before pulling off. He paused at the office to hand Pepper those files and came back to take her back home with the food and the dog. Lucky lapped him before hopping out and Darcy laughed, wiping some off to kiss him on the cheek before grabbing the bag and getting out too. He shook his head, wiping the rest of the slobber off before going back to the office. Pepper thought Lucky was cute too so she'd like that story.

***

Darcy came out of her apartment that night, heading for her car. "Miss Lewis!" someone yelled.

"Yeah," she called without looking. "What? I'm going to be late to tutoring."

"You're being tutored?" one of the press people asked.

"No, I do a tutoring circle with some people who're getting their GED's. Unlike many who say they do charity work I do more than give money." She got in and drove off. The library was packed with people so she sighed and went in the side door and immediately up the stairs. The kids were already hiding. "Sorry, guys."

"Are you Tony Stark's kid sister?" one asked her.

"No. My mom and his mom were friends. Maria Stark was her bridesmaid at her wedding."

"Oh," the group said with a nod.

"Tony was kinda like a weirdly older friend at times." She set things down. "The slimy one put that out there." They all nodded they had heard. They got down to work until a librarian came in then Darcy smiled. "Cookie? They're not the healthy kind because a few of them are testing this weekend."

She took one to nibble on. "We had the press removed."

"Thank you so much, dear," Darcy said, giving her a quick hug. "It was clear most of them had no idea what a library was for." The librarian laughed but let them study in peace. Darcy got back down to the most pertinent parts that they'd need quickly. It'd go okay. She looked at a few. "Remember, if you even pass one part, you only have to take the parts you messed up on next time." They all smiled and dug back in with their cookies and juice.

"Why is this so hard to understand?" one of the girls complained, tossing down her pencil.

"Grammar rules suck," Darcy said, looking honest. "I have a masters degree and two bachelors and I still don't fully understand all the little nitpicky rules that only work in certain circumstances. I go by what sounds right. If it sounds right then it's probably correct." She smiled and nodded, getting back to it. She looked around. "Is she sick?" she asked one girl.

"Her mom," she said bluntly. "She walked out earlier to her mother complaining she was spending so much time doing this and it won't amount to anything."

"Bullshit. This is a stepping stone. Unless you want to be doing the same thing that got your parents trapped, this is a way up at least a bit higher." A few glared at her. "Why are your parents stuck down here?" she asked one of the glaring ones.

"I came along," he admitted.

"And you're not doing the same thing, right?" He shook his head. "Did they get to graduate?"

"My dad did. He's an electrician."

"Which is a good paying job but having a family is expensive," Darcy agreed. He nodded. "If your mom had her diploma could she have done more?"

"Yeah, probably, but she said it didn't matter. Girls just became wives."

"In her day, probably. Nowadays, no. Now we're girls and women and wives and mothers and we work and all that other stuff. Yeah, some will just become moms. Some of you though, you'll start businesses. Even if it's something like a fast food place you work your way up until you buy a franchise. Or a home cleaning business or even a bigger thing like a construction firm. Girls do work construction." They all nodded. She looked at the kid still glaring. "What're you going to do if you can use this to find a real job that pays good wages?"

"Move," he said. "The city's getting too dangerous."

"It is," Darcy agreed. "Otherwise I wouldn't have to wear a pepper spray canister. And I wouldn't have had to yell at that one kid who nearly molested the little girl." He nodded. "Is this a stepping stone for you or an end?"

"A stepping stone. I can get into the vo-tech program I want with it."

"Good!" She smiled at one. "Did you talk to them?" She nodded. "And?"

"I need my GED or diploma first then it's a year and they have financial aid. Did that guy live?"

"I haven't seen him in the papers," Darcy admitted. "If you wanted to you could track it backwards to the hospital to see if he's still there. Sometimes they'll give you some limited information of 'yeah he's a patient' if you tell them why you're asking."

"I might." She looked at the girl staring at her. "During that battle I helped Darcy with that guy that was stabbed. She talked to me about a nursing program at the vo-tech."

"It's a good field. Good pay, nurses get respect," the girl agreed. "Don't be a CNA, it's all bedpans and bed baths. LPN's do home stuff and some hospital stuff and it pays pretty good. My mom was until she blew out her back." The girl smiled and nodded. "You can come ask her stuff if you want. She'll be honest about how sometimes she had shit hours and bad people above her."

"That can be any job," Darcy said. "But if you love the job it doesn't matter as much. I used to spend a few days at a time awake when I was a science flunky. But I loved my job and I loved Jane so it only annoyed me occasionally when I really wanted to go date and stuff. If you're doing stuff you hate it'll just wear you out faster or make you sick. Though there are some cases where you'd love to do something and you suck at it. I'm that way with painting. I'd love to paint for stress relief, I can't even do it on the computer." The kids giggled and got back to work. At nearly the end of the session someone knocked on the door. "Who is it?" she called. An agent opened the door to look at her. "Hi, can we help you?" she asked politely.

"Miss Lewis, can we talk to you please?"

She took a picture of him and sent it then got up and gathered her things. "You guys give me back the cookie box tomorrow and I'll bring real food if my kitchen's finished." They nodded, eating another one. "Don't forget to give the librarian back the key please." She handed it over. She put on her jacket as she walked out with him and put her bag over her shoulder but across her chest. "What's up, agent guy? And who're you?"

"Miss Lewis, we need to talk to you about some militant moments you've been having," he said patiently.

"I don't have militant moments. I have moments when I have to prove myself. Big difference."

"Fine, whatever. You're disrupting the political process."

"He made it about me. I'm fixing the shit and I'm not the only one. There's a lot of people suing him. We're just the newest and the more powerful ones." She stared at him. "Was there anything else?"

"Yes, young lady, we still need to talk."

She stared at him. "I'm not that young."

"You're younger than I am."

"You're probably twenty-five, I'm older." She stared at him. "For that matter, I have a lawyer, use him. I think we're done here since I'm not going to be cowed. It just makes me more mad." She stared at him until he backed off a step but his eyes said he wasn't scared. "You have a nice night. I've got to go babysit a friend's dog." She walked off. He shot something into her and she had time to hit her panic button before she fell.

He plucked it off her and turned it off. "That won't help you," he said. He hauled her up, nodding his partner to help him. They carried her down to the car. The kids would never realize it. There were others who would fill in.

Of course, one of the kids had seen and taken video so he put it up online like Darcy had taught them to do if something ever happened to her. The others got a nod and they left once it was clear, one of them making sure they handed the key back. The kid with the key smiled at the librarian. "Miss Darcy left something. Do you have another contact number for her? She said her phone was dead when she left with that agent guy."

"Of course, dear." She let her have the rental card.

The girl wrote it down. "Thanks." She walked off calling it. Everyone had cellphones these days. "Hi, this is one of Darcy Lewis' tutoring kids and some agents just darted her and carried her off. They didn't say. We got video of them and I know she took a picture of the one that knocked on the door. Yeah, from her phone. Thanks. We're kinda worried since that slimy thing is causing even more problems. I hope she's okay." She hung up and went home to tell her mother and put it on her facebook page. That Stark guy had people who monitored the internet, right? And he was close to Lewis by the news....

***

The agent who had answered Agent May's phone looked at her. "Who the hell is Lewis?"

"She's a special case we're watching out for. She's the one that hit that politician. Is she all right?"

"Some agents took her." He put her phone down. "You can tell them later."

"If I don't tell them now she could die and she's the one that's getting kids into their GED's and things." She stared at him. "She's also an indirect line to Stark."

"Hmm. Fine, call that in but nothing else."

She took her phone and dialed it. "It's me. Lewis got kidnaped." The agent nodded. "Who?"

He took the phone. "I answered Agent May's phone," he said dryly. "The child on the other side said some agent had taken her and darted her. They were really worried. No idea why. No idea who she was until this one told me. Thanks." He hung up, staring at her. "Feel better?"

"Yeah. A lot," she admitted. "Darcy's a sweet kid but hell when you piss her off."

"Sounds like my sort."

"She'd destroy you. Hard." He hit her. "Is that the best you can do?" May asked dryly. "I've had worse sparring with newbie agents." He hit her harder. "Well at least that's slightly better. You might even make it up to the level of effective but not getting anything from me by the time people get here to rescue me."

***

Stark and Clint's phones both rang. "Fuck," Clint said. The others, who were going to an emergency they needed to work together to solve, all looked at him. "Supposed agents took Darcy." Natasha winced.

Stark was growling. "We have it on video." He let Natasha see it. "HDYRA, hitter, or idiot?"

She took it to look at. "Low quality cellphone video. HYDRA though." She handed it back. "He had been FBI and got outed by Ward."

Clint nodded, sending a message to someone. "Kate's local."

"She can't handle HYDRA," Natasha said firmly.

"She can find out where they are so I can help her handle it on the way back."

"She'll be fine for a few hours. They don't want to kill her," Natasha said.

Clint stared at her then shook his head. "I'm not going to get into this argument with you, Natasha. You have fun with your thoughts." Natasha glared, he stared back. "Really."

Steve cleared his throat. "Darcy?" Clint nodded, letting him see the message he had gotten forwarded by Stark's AI FRIDAY. "Oh, great." He sighed. "This could take us as long as a day or more." He looked at Clint. "Are there others who could help her?"

"Do they have Barnes?" Clint asked. "Because their usual plans for her include him. Not that they'll have much luck right now."

"Problems she hasn't explained?" Stark asked impatiently.

"Yeah, she found out last week her IUD went through her uterus," Scott said quietly. "I was snooping and found the information sheet. They'll have to remove it surgically and only two docs in the city area are good enough to do that without leaving scars that would prevent conception."

"She's been in a crapload of pain, that's why she's not been eating right," Clint agreed. "I knew something was up and asked her bluntly that night after snooping and finding the same info."

Stark winced. "Can your little friend guard the docs?"

"That may be more possible," Clint admitted, sending that in. She agreed they could put out a warning to them that they might be kidnaped to help a hostage that HYDRA had. Plus try to track Darcy. She had some friends who did the same work. "Kate'll tell the others she knows. She's made some real friends."

"I saw her with Peter," Steve said.

Clint grinned. "Scott and I introduced her subtly to a few who do the same thing less openly than Peter."

"There are?" Stark demanded. "Do they do the same sort of damage?"

"Have you seen it happen?" Clint shot back. "Then no." He called one directly. "It's Barton, I need a favor, don't hang up, HYDRA just kidnaped Darcy Lewis." That got an interested grunt. "Seriously. From her tutoring class. One of the kids put up a video of what happened. We're on our way to a problem," he said dryly. "That could take up to a week. They'll have to be importing a good GYN surgeon for her too because of a slight issue with her birth control method.

"Yeah, them. That's them. From the library she tutors kids in yup." He leaned his head back. "Please. I've already asked Katie and she'll tell the docs that they're a kidnaping risk. Hey, if you guys can find her and remove her from them, go for it. If not, we might not be back for a week and by then Darcy might get herself killed by mouthing off to them. They're probably not real fond of that. Thanks." He hung up. "The others in the know will see if they can find her. HYDRA's too big for them to take on but if they find her they'll let others know."

"How bad could that be?" Stark asked, looking at Bruce.

"Could cause a lot of damage depending on how far it went through and if she's got leaking fluids into her abdomen." Clint shook his head. "Just through?"

"Most of the way through. It happened when they had to save her from CNN. She was cramping that night and said that was the first night she had a problem."

"Then it's not been a long time so there's probably not a lot of scar tissue forming already," Bruce said, considering it. "But if they don't get it out soon she'll have a lot more coming and more problems. Was she going in soon?"

"They just did the ultrasound to find out what the cramping was and she's got a follow up in three days with one of the docs," Clint said. He sent that text to Kate's phone too. She could call her off. "So probably surgery soon."

Bruce nodded. "That is something they'll have to correct if they want to knock her up by Barnes."

"Okay so huge problem that could give us time to rescue her," Steve said. Clint and Bruce both nodded. "Which we can do on the way back if we're walking. Because I don't want to leave her there either but this is to huge to risk with a partial team."

"Could this be a diversion?" Natasha asked.

Steve nodded. "Could be. We'll know in about two hours." They others nodded and got into the battle mindset. They could handle Darcy problems later.

***

Kate showed up on the doctor's doorstep in uniform, scaring the crap out of his wife. "Ma'am, I need to talk to your husband. One of his patients was kidnaped and we think they're going to come after him as well."

"Why would they?" she demanded shrilly.

"Because HYDRA are stupid that way and they're trying to start a breeding program." She winced, going to find her husband. "Sir."

"You're...."

"The other Hawkeye. One of your patients," she said, handing over the appointment card she had found on Darcy's desk. "Was kidnaped earlier by HYDRA. They've been trying for over a year to start a breeding program using her and she's been able to get around them to protect herself until tonight."

"If I remember right, she needed surgery."

"Yes and you're one of the two in this city who can do it well enough," Kate reminded him.

"I can't just not go to work, young lady."

"I get that, I really do. You do important work. I just have to warn you, which is why I'm here, that they may be coming so if you've got a handy bodyguard sort of people, that might be a good idea, sir."

"I...yeah, I can find one."

She smiled. "Good luck and if you do get taken we'll try to rescue you with her." She ran off, merging into the shadows.

He shut the door. "That is the strangest thing ever. So very weird." He went to call his partner, the other doctor who could do that surgery to warn him. They could have a few paranoid days with a bodyguard around. He went to talk to his wife about what she had said, just in case so she could call the authorities if he disappeared.

***

Darcy woke up with a groan, staring at the man at the foot of the bed she was chained by the ankle to. She smirked at him. "It won't work even if you tried," she sneered.

"We took out your birth control device," he said, looking at his clipboard.

"I doubt that since I'm not hemorrhaging." She looked at herself then sat up, staring at him. "You can't do that since it's presently stuck in a uterine vein." He glared at her. She stared back. "Sorry but the IUD went through thanks to your people in LA. I'm a few weeks from having it removed and I was told if it moved on its own I'd be bleeding to death very quickly. So I doubt you did what you think you did."

"You had something we removed, Miss Lewis."

"That was probably a tampon. Haven't you ever seen a woman having her period?" He tried to hit her so she bit him. "Nah-uh. You don't get to try that." He sneered and snapped, calling over bruisers. She shrugged. "I'll kill you and them when I get free. Yay. No matter what you do, you're still gonna die."

"We'll be brainwashing you once we know it worked," he said as he walked off making notes.

"Yeah, that'll mean a miscarriage from the energy spikes," she said. "Sorry, someone studied that in case you guys got a female agent." She smirked at the bruisers. "Do you want me to bite you too?"

"We can pull out your teeth," one offered. "The docs would like the DNA anyway."

Darcy smirked, then spit the blood at him. "Try, mother fuckers. Just you try." One reached for her and she broke his arm then she looked at the other one. "I'm not cooperative. Ever. Even if I was brainwashed I wouldn't be cooperative. I'm not that sort of girl." They sneered.

"She can't conceive if she's too injured," the doctor called. "Put her in a cell. With him. Maybe it'll work the natural way."

"It'd still kill both of us when the growing kid pulled it out," Darcy said dryly. "And hey, with my cycle going on, can't happen for at least another few weeks anyway. Even I know that and I only took college biology." They dragged her up the halls to a cell then threw her inside and slammed the door shut. Thankfully she landed on top of a slightly soft person. She blinked up at him. "Hey."

James Barnes pushed her off him. "Why are you here?"

"Their crackhead plan to give you kids, Barnes. They kidnaped me from tutoring. Though my kids know to tell everyone they can to protect themselves." She settled against the wall, staring at him. "How long have you been in here and are you James or Winter?"

"James, they haven't tried yet," he said quietly. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. They just found out there's a hitch to their plans called I need GYN surgery soon. There's very few people who can do the procedure without leaving a huge scar that would mean I'm probably not going to be able to get pregnant. That plus me being girlish? They can't do a whole lot of anything for at least a few months."

"Months?"

"Yeah, months. The recovery from the surgery will take about a month by itself. Plus it can take up to ten or twelve months for the pill I take daily to fully wear out of my system." She smirked a tiny bit. "My original doc agreed I could have both because I told him about this plot." She tipped her head back, thumping it a few times. "What day is it?"

"Tuesday." He saw her wince. "Why?"

"I got captured on a Thursday and a few of the kids were taking their GED's this weekend, and I should've been there to cheerlead and stuff." She looked at him. "If you can get us out of here, do it," she said quietly. "I'll gladly stab people as we go too." He nodded once, curling up some. "Relax, James, even if I was needy I wouldn't jump you. It'd give them happies and I'm not into giving the bad guys good thoughts."

He nodded. "All right. Are you sick?"

"Bit sore. Some cramping. Thankfully I think my period's stopped for a bit." He nodded. "Just be cool, James. They can't do anything for months and triggering you too early would probably get at least one of us dead. We have time." He nodded, relaxing again so he could listen to the hallway.

"They heard."

"Good. They still can't do anything." She smirked and waved at the doctor that stomped in there. "What?"

"You're on the pill and an IUD?" he demanded.

"Yeah. Because I was avoiding this. And it can take nearly a year for the pill to get out of your system and you to regain normal egg discharge." He slapped her and she shrugged. "I had worse in high school from my girlfriend." He growled and Bucky hopped up. Darcy stood up too. "No, let me. They don't think you're going to do anything, Bucky." She moved closer to the doctor, sneering at him. "You still won't win. Because if I have a kid, it'll be mine, not yours. The balls are genetic and you trying to brainwash me won't work. My mind's not going to take it. Therefore you'll have to train him to fuck a lifeless body on a bed on life support." He stepped back, still glaring. "You have not a clue of what you've stepped into."

"There's others who wanted you out of the way."

"Yay, you're working with the slimy frat boy who couldn't keep his hands to himself. You know, my suit against him still goes on and my estate's already guarded in case I disappear due to you guys or him. I'm pretty damn certain that Captain America will follow along with my wishes for my charity work. He's kinda like that." The doctor glared. She stared at him. "You're not shit and you're annoying me. Leave. Now." She pointed. He tried to punch her in the stomach but she blocked it and threw him against the wall. Guards came in to protect him and make them get away from him. "Aww, look, you need bullies to protect you," she sneered. "How sweet, you have friends."

He glared. "I can find another one that'll work just as well."

"If that were true, you wouldn't have waited this long to pull it, douchebag. A year and you couldn't find someone else. Guess you've got issues there too." The doctor tried to hit her and a guard tried to hold her in place but James hit the guard and the doctor ran off before he hit him too. The guards dragged the injured one out. She looked at him. "So," she said dryly. "What do you do for fun in this thing?" She sat back down.

"Not a lot. Swear at my own stupidity."

Darcy nodded. "Yeah, they knocked on the door and I thought it was an actual agent. Thankfully I taught my kids how to use social media."

One of the guards sneered from outside. "We've taken all copies of that video down, Lewis."

"You can't really remove everything from the internet, douchebro. People make copies of those things. Including my lawyer as soon as he saw it." She looked at Bucky. "If I die and my kid lives, there's provisions made," she said quietly. He nodded once, grimacing. "Being practical and all that."

"I understand why but most dames would be sobbing and stuff."

"Most dames don't hit the guy grabbing their ass and nearly shoot them." She smiled at him. "We're going to stay practical, James. Totally, coldly practical. Even if they force it with drugs, it's practical to save ourselves." He nodded, grimacing again. "Not that I might not want to ride your fun stick on the outside but that's a real thing, not in here where it's a threat."

He looked easier. "Thanks, doll."

"You're welcome. Are you okay? Any injuries?" He shook his head but relaxed against the wall. They didn't have anything soft to sit or sleep on. The cell was chilly so they'd have to huddle together for warmth. Being practical was good, he could focus on that and not on her. He had to get them out of here. "Steve and them?" he asked quietly.

Darcy shrugged. "Probably heading off to some sort of battle that's a diversion."

"Damn it," he muttered. She patted him on the wrist, getting a dirty look for it. She stared back. "Fine."

"You're pretty mean but that's just how you are at this moment, James," she said quietly. "We can talk if you want to." He shook his head, looking at the door. "With our luck they have a telepath on staff."

"That would suck," he agreed. "It'd definitely ruin plans."

She nodded. "That's probably why they'd do it." He nodded, pulling her closer. She rested against his arm. It was a good time for a rest. They couldn't harass them for a bit. It'd be nothing more than annoying and the head doc needed to regain his masculinity first.

***

Clint answered his phone the second time it rang. The first he had been busy shooting at aliens. "What's happened, Katie?" He listened. "What do you mean they managed to kidnap the doctor!" he complained. Scott stared at him, glaring a tiny bit. "Yeah, private bodyguards wouldn't have let you help. Hey, tracking where he was taken is great. A moving...that makes some sense. Moving them inside the back of an eighteen wheeler is harder to take out." He considered it. "If you can. I have no idea. We have most everyone with us, girly girl." He bit his lip, then nodded. "If they're willing to help, tell them I said thank you. Yeah, we've got at least another week here. If this was a diversion it's a really good one. Aliens, yup. Thanks. Keep me informed even if it's my voicemail. Good luck." He hung up and looked at Scott. "They have them in some sort of mobile lab unit inside the back of an eighteen wheeler."

"Harder to find," Scott said with a nod. "Do we know anything else so far?"

"Not yet but Katie's got my phonebook and she's calling a few of my old friends to see if they've heard." Steve stomped into the room. "So far they think they're fine. The doctor did get kidnaped." Steve winced but nodded. "Kate said that they tracked where he was dropped off to a mobile tractor trailer setup."

"That's going to be really hard to pinpoint," Steve complained, staring at him.

Clint smiled, calling someone. "It's me, I'm calling in that favor you owe me because it's for Darcy and it'll be a battle," he said. He got an irritated grunt. "HYDRA has her to breed her to Barnes. They're in some sort of tractor trailer setup. Just got the doc that'll have to do her needed surgery. Yeah, that pretty brunette with the boobs, that's Darcy, Wade. Yeah, her, the one you bonded over Queen songs and margaritas with." He smirked as he paced a bit. "Yup, them. Some sort of a mobile setup. Please. Just let us know. We're in the north of England. No clue but you know people who know people who can listen too, Wade. Thanks, man. Yeah, she'll probably even give you a kiss in thanks. If you want her to grope you, you've gotta ask her yourself, Wade. Thanks, man." He hung up, rubbing his forehead. "Sometimes Wade's a bit weirder than usual."

"Sword guy?" Steve asked, looking confused. Clint nodded. "Why ask him?"

"He's well plugged into the merc's network so he'll hear things. He can call others who'll hear things."

"Oh, that's great then. Tell him I said thank you?"

"I can do that. I don't have one number that would be great but he's at home as far as I know. Wade can get word to him and he knows most everything that goes on down south by New Orleans."

"They'll need a port," Scott agreed. "They can't brainwash them into thinking it's right after the war in the US. Too much technology. So the easiest place is...." He looked at Clint.

"Eastern europe," he said. "Plenty of rural farm land, not quite as technological as the US in some areas. Some are downright almost Amish with their levels of tech in farming villages. So they'll have to move that shipping container they're in somehow over there without them realizing it. And without anyone else realizing it," Clint said with a nod.

"Would a ship do that?" Steve asked. "Or would flying them be easier? They could gas them while they're in transit."

"Could be," Steve agreed. "They can't have a full troop because a convoy would be noticeable."

Scott nodded. "So a few thugs, the doctor, the trailer's set up to be self contained." Steve nodded. "So the major shipping points where they could move a trailer is?"

"New York, there's a few all the way down the coast. New Orleans, a few in Texas," Clint said. "Most of the mercs are in major cities so they'd be nearer to the ports to hear it going on. Because we know Darcy's not going to be quiet about being kidnaped."

"Thanks," Steve said. "I worry about them." He walked off frowning.

"Steve, if they get them set up, they're probably coming for you next," Scott warned, looking at him. "Because Bucky from back then would've expected you two to live in a shared household with your dames."

"Yeah, they would have," he agreed with a sigh at the end. "But they can't get Peggy."

"Doesn't mean they can't convince you Peggy died, because your subconscious would accept that, and that you moved on with a cute dame you met overseas," Stark said as he came in. "We know more?"

"They're in some sort of eighteen wheeler that's renovated," Scott said. "The surgeon got taken." Stark winced but nodded. "We're thinking they're going to have to ship them somewhere that could look more like the post-war era."

"So probably parts of Africa or Asia," Stark said.

"Eastern europe," Clint corrected. "They didn't serve in the Pacific part of the war, Stark. Why would they retire over there?"

"Point. And Africa's probably not going to be too safe." Steve nodded, hitting a wall a few times. "Cap, calm down. We'll do a search for them. We can find them. Even if they tried to trigger him again or tried to revert him to the old Barnes he'll be fine. We know how to reverse it."

"And if they make it and knock Darcy up?" he demanded, looking at him.

"Darcy said if that happens, it's hers," Clint said. "She'd let him have visitation if he wanted and it wasn't detrimental. When she started to make just in case plans and we figured it out, I asked."

Steve nodded. "That might be okay. I don't know anymore." He walked off to talk to Bruce. "How long do we have before they try to knock her up?" he asked quietly.

"Surgical recovery time is probably about a month at the least," he said. "I had to look it up but it'll have to be laproscopic or it'll cause more scarring. So smaller incisions but the same amount of pain. A lot of healing time."

Scott leaned out. "Clint said Kate found pills in her bedside table when she was looking for her appointment card to find the doctor."

"Birth control?" Bruce guessed. Scott nodded with a smile.

"Then it could be take up to a year to take. It'll take some time to weed that out of her system and there's nothing like dialysis that'll work against it." He smiled slightly. "She's devious."

"She claimed she was going evil," Scott told him. "Clint and I were figuring out how to stop the evil if she went further." He looked at Steve then at Bruce. "Also, if she's gone and we find a kid, she's got provisions in her will," he said more quietly.

Bruce nodded. "She's a sensible young woman most of the time. It figures she made plans."

"When we had to get Bucky from her place they had a talk after I had went to sleep. I heard them talking about it. She asked what their normal operational methods would be and told him...she put it bluntly that he wasn't to make it seem more than what it was. To be bluntly practical about it."

Bruce nodded. "Making it better for them would add intimacy and I doubt that won't hurt her more. And him." Steve nodded once at that, lips pressed together tightly. "Right now, let's see if we can find the moving cell they're in."

"I'm hoping Wade's calling some of his contacts," Clint said as he walked out to join them.

"Sword guy?" Bruce asked. "He gave the Other Guy a headache."

"Yeah but he's a merc and he knows most of the mercs, and they know people too."

"Point. Well, let's hope they hear soon so we can finish this and go save them." He went to look at the biological samples he had taken from the aliens.

***

Wade Wilson, better known as Deadpool, called someone who hung up on him. "Quit," he said when he tried again. "Barton had me call," he said at the third attempt. "He's searching for a friend that got taken by HYDRA but they're mobile," he said at the fourth attempt. "Yes, that Barton. You know that dishy looking dame that was working with Thor's sweetie? Yeah, the brunette with the scarves. Her. HYDRA apparently wants to use her to create their future master race. All we know is she's been snatched, the film's online.

"We know they're in something mobile. They have the doc that she'll need to fix something that's going to stop their plans. No clue," he admitted. "I can give you his female half's number," he offered. "Yeah, that Hawkeye. She's cute. She's babysitting Clint's dog too. Please. Barton's so worried he's nearly missing shots wherever they're handling a huge issue of aliens. Thanks, Remy. I know he'd say the same thing. Yeah, she's not that sweet. Look up Darcy Lewis. That's her use name apparently.

"Yeah, the lady that nearly killed that politician. Her. Yup. Same chick. No idea why HYDRA fixated on her but Kate told me that they've been trying for a while according to Barton's notes. No, that new film's from where she was tutoring some kids getting their GED's. Oh, that one. Yeah, that was the idiot she nearly killed, HYDRA, and a few others that wanted her out of the way. She's like the queen of sarcasm when she wants to be but she's the goddess of 'damn' when she's dressed up. Thanks, Remy. Let us know. I agreed I'd help since I'm kinda bored." He hung up and popped his neck with a sigh. "This is so going to suck."

The mercs at the bar with him looked at him. "That lady that took out that slimy ass with the tiny hands got kidnaped by HYDRA?" one demanded.

"From what I got told, somehow they want her bred to Barnes." He looked at them. "They got her from her tutoring some kids in a local library." That got a few nods. "We know they're mobile in some sort of tractor trailer rig. That's all we know." They all nodded. "That's the same chick that Lang was introducing around so they all knew her when something happened. She's not helpless, she's got a tazer too."

"I heard about her having some sort of bra pepper spray system," one of the guys said with a nod at Deadpool. "She's hot but I heard mean."

"Probably," he agreed. "Then again, mean can be fun." He looked at the bartender. "Give me a blowjob." He got handed one and paid for it, lifting the bottom of his mask to slug it back so he could go talk to others.

The mercs called around to see if anyone had heard. One called his bosses in HYDRA but another guy heard him and hit him with the thick beer mug to knock him out then stabbed him. "HYDRA sucks," he slurred at the guy he had killed. "Pity you did too." The others in the bar got happy that someone had finally won the deadpool so they could start another one.

***

Bucky got handed Darcy after her surgery. "She's gonna infect if you don't give her what she needs, then all your plans are gone."

"She got antibiotics," the doctor that was in charge sneered. "She'll be fine." He walked off. He wanted to pump the nicer doctor's mind about his plans before they killed him. The truck shuddered and he stared. "What's happened?" he called.

"Road block up ahead," one of the guards called back. "State police looking for someone."

"They won't get in here." He went to the lab to look over the pictures they had taken after the surgery but before she had been sealed back up. Her uterus looked in perfect condition. He looked around then at the thug. "That surgeon?"

"Bathroom, sir." He pointed. "He's got some sort of calming down ritual after surgeries. He can't escape from there."

The doctor nodded when they started to move again. Apparently they hadn't wanted to search this truck and find the fake back with the fake boxes.

Outside, the doctor was panting on the side of the highway. He made himself get up and ran toward traffic, waving his limp hands at the cars. "Help!" he called. One of the cars stopped. "Help, I was kidnaped and escaped. That trailer," he said with a point. "Has other hostages."

"I'm sure we can handle that for you," the agent said. The doctor stared at him then ran off. "Great. He lost his hostage," he muttered, parking and heading after him. Unfortunately not before he ran into the stop and search area. "Fuck," he muttered.

The doctor ran into a cop car and grabbed the officer that turned to look at him with his good hand. "I was kidnaped. The trailer that you let pass by has at least a few other hostages. I'm a ob/gyn from New York City and I got taken to do a surgery so someone in HYDRA could force a pregnancy."

The officer helped him into the car, getting an ambulance for him. "Sir, what's your name?" he asked. The doctor calmed down and told him. "Do you know anything about the trailer?"

He pointed. "I got him stopped right after I managed to escape but he was going to call them." The officer looked then ran after that guy, his fellow officers mostly going after him to help. The doctor looked at the paramedic coming his way. "My wrist is broken and one of my fingers is too I think. I managed to escape through the ventilation system between the inner and outer trailer systems."

"Okay, that's fine, sir. What's your name and do you have any allergies?"

"I'm Dr. Santisburg. I'm an ob/gyn surgeon. I was kidnaped so someone in HYDRA could pull off their breeding plan. Their chosen mother had a ruptured uterus."

The officer still with him stared at him. "Did you know that hostage before then?"

"She had just been referred to me to fix it. My partner and I were the two best in the city to fix problems like that without further complications," he said quietly. "My wife has got to be frantic."

"She reported you missing and told the police up there what you had been told by that young woman," the officer assured him, patting him on the arm. "How many hostages do they have?"

"At least two, one of each gender. One of them was the guy on the tv at that battle in DC a few years back. I saw his arm when I came to get her for surgery under armed guard." He stared at him. "She's got some healing to do but I was allowed to talk to her first about the upcoming surgery and she told me it would give them more time before they tried to force the breeding and I was not to risk my own life to save hers."

"Do you know her name?" the officer asked.

"Lewis. Darcy Lewis. She's the lady that smacked that politician."

"Oh, okay. Why would they want her?"

"I asked and she told me she'd been avoiding them now for over a year. They just managed it the other day. She said they took her on a Thursday and I got warned a Thursday night. I have no idea what day it is."

"It's Friday, Doctor," the paramedic said. "Can I see your hand?" He let him grope it. "I think you're right. A broken wrist and finger. Some good scrapes. We can get you to an ER so you can call home." He nodded, letting himself be helped up. A few officers came back. "We're taking him to the ER."

"I'm going with you," one of the officers said. "So we can get a full statement. Hopefully we can stop that truck."

"He said one of them was the guy that was fighting with Captain America in DC a few years back," the first officer told him. "And the lady that smacked that politician."

"Wonderful."

"She's been avoiding it for a year," the doctor told him. "She told me I was not to risk myself to save her. The surgery would give her extra time before they tried anything. She needed it, it would've killed her soon."

"Cooperative hostages don't get killed," the officer agreed. He climbed into the ambulance with the paramedic and the guy on the bed. "She'll be fine. We'll be putting out a call to find them. Do you remember anything about the trailer?"

"It had an inner and outer compartments. I made it out through the bathroom ventilation grill to the small space between then out the back door. I rolled into the grass. The door had some sort of magnetic close because it wasn't flapping when I hit the ground."

"Okay. Good to know. We can look for that. Silver?"

"White. Blue trim. Yellow lock bars."

"Got it." He called that in as the ambulance took off. The officer looked out the window then at the paramedic next to him. "This isn't the way to the nearest ER."

"We're taking him to the better one, Officer. He's a doctor, he'll need good orthopedic care for his hands."

"I'm sure he will." He called that in. The paramedic tried to shoot him with something but the doctor stabbed him with his own IV needle.

"I hated learning those lessons when I did the National Guard for college money," the doctor said quietly. "I don't like to waste lives."

"Me either, Doctor. Me either." He went up to stop the driver by pulling his gun on him and making him pull over. More officers showed up but he only let the one he trusted come in to handle things. That one he knew wasn't HYDRA. He had killed two of their unit who turned into their soldiers. There was another one in the responding officers but the shift supervisor shot him when he tried to kill the rest of them. They let the agents they knew from working with them show up to gather the doctor to take to an ER and handle putting out the call on that trailer and the hostages.

***

Darcy moaned, blinking awake. "I hate anaesthesia." She tried to sit up and held her stomach, laying back on Bucky's thigh. "Never mind." He stroked over her hair. "What happened while I was out?"

"The surgeon got away," he said quietly. "We're in a trailer of some sort."

"Great." She blinked up at him. "Did they give me anything more?"

"No. They tried to say they implanted an explosive in case you got too mouthy but I reminded him that would ruin his plan. Apparently whatever serum they used isn't totally compatible with everyone. You've got the lucky DNA."

"That explains why me," she said. She yawned. "Thank you for watching out for me."

"It's nothing, Darcy. We need you stronger." She nodded, going back to sleep. He tested her forehead, frowning at the warmth. He'd keep track of it in case she got an infection. When one of the thugs stomped in he glared. "She's running a fever and she'll need water and food to heal," he growled. "Unless you want to waste his idea?" The thug threw a thermos at him with a smirk then left.

Bucky sniffed it and sighed. Drugged. He dipped his finger in to taste some, wincing at what it did to him. "It'll be at least a month before she can do that," he said quietly. He put it aside. They could handle it.

"If that's the same thing they tried to drug me with last time, you'll have to wear it out," she muttered. "I wore out a vibrator, made myself sore, and then had a helpful person who gave me an antidote then helped me finish wearing it out." She blinked up at him. "If you have to, I don't care and I'm not going to watch, Bucky. You do what you gotta do so we both survive."

"You're going to infect."

She nodded. "I've never had any surgery where I didn't get at least a small infection. Even oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth." He nodded. "Just handle it. If it gets in my hair I'll figure out how to get it out of there." He snorted but pushed her head back down and covered her eyes. "Okay." She drifted off again.

Bucky could handle this for both of them. He was not going to give in to petty ploys like this. The Winter Soldier was stronger and tougher than that. He had lived through worse than this when they were testing that drug on him.

***

Steve made it back to the US first, on a stretcher because he had been shot in the upper stomach by one of the aliens. He was in the hospital, wincing as he tried to sit up against nurses' orders, when someone stomped into his room. "Who're you?" he demanded.

She smiled. "I'm Kate. The other Hawkeye." He relaxed and nodded. "We have some news on Darcy. We have no idea where she is. They managed to lose the trailer." She handed over the notes she had. "They're definitely heading down south toward Texas or Louisiana."

"Clint said he knew someone down there."

"I wish I did," she said dryly. "Then I'd call them."

"Clint's on his way back today. They just finished the clean up."

"Good." She patted him on the hands. "Get better, Rogers. The world needs more guys with manners because most of the guys these days have none. Even when their mothers tried." She went to call Clint. "She's going south. The trailer got lost by the Georgia State PD," she reported as she walked. "They reported that highway was heading toward Louisiana and Texas." She hung up. Clint had voicemail for things like this. She got onto the elevator and left, mentally swearing at the problems. She had to take Lucky out too. Plus check on Darcy's apartment. By now they surely had her kitchen done. Though it looked wrong to her untrained eye.

***

Darcy blinked awake, staring at the man leaning over her. "Who're you?" she asked in a hoarse whisper. "Water?" He helped her drink some. "James?"

"He's safe, Cher. We need to get you out of here but you're in too bad of shape to not wake first."

"Just get me out of here please. I'll gladly let you grope me later for it but damn I want out of here."

"A charming offer but not one Remy will take you up on."

She grinned. "Most guys would. I keep running into people who want my boobs so I have this bra system with pepper spray. Wish I had it when I was taken." She got helped up and held her stomach. "Ow. Okay, let's go. I'm tougher than this and you'll have to stab people for me."

"They're all unconscious and probably begging God for mercy." He walked her out, helping hold her up. James got free of those helping him and came to help her by picking her up. "She yours?" Remy asked.

"No. They wanted her to be. She's a friend. She's infected, we need to get her to an ER."

"I know a doctor. He can come when I call. We'll get you somewhere safe, James." He led his team of cousins off into the night so they could disappear. The legal ones could handle HYDRA minions when they showed up from his cousin's call. One of them stayed back to make sure they showed up promptly. Remy got them to a safehouse and called in a doctor he knew of. It took a while but he showed up with antibiotics in liquid form and some things for them to eat and wear. "Thank you."

"Welcome. They need it." He looked at James. He was looking slightly overprotective and kinda panicked. "I need to examine her. What sort of surgery was it?"

"She said her IUD punctured her uterus. They kidnaped a surgeon to fix it so HYDRA could have our kids."

"Okay. How long ago was the surgery?"

"Four days. She said she's never had a surgery that didn't infect. Even tooth removal ones."

"That's not that unusual." He looked at her stomach, nodding. "She had an excellent surgeon."

"I told him not to risk himself," Darcy said, moving some. "Ow, please quit. I don't have my tazer on me but I will kick and bite."

The doctor smiled at her. "It's good you're spunky. It means you'll heal, young lady. I'm not with HYDRA."

"Oh thank you, God," she moaned. "Antibiotics please? And maybe something for the ripping pains?"

"I can do that. Open." She did and he measured out a dose of both liquids, letting her suck them off the spoon. He handed them to James. "One spoonful of the antibiotic every four hours. The other stuff every six. Even if it wears out it's real strong." He nodded. "Good boy. You injured?"

"That wouldn't have served their purposes. They only mildly played with things like a drug that caused lust when they gave us some soup."

"Same stuff that they got me with when I was in Chicago. Coulson or May knows what it was and I got some sort of antidote." Darcy waved a hand and yawned. "How long before I can go home? I have to check on the kids I tutor."

"A few days at the least, young lady, and I need you flat on your back. Your friend can watch you if he wants." She nodded, looking up at him. He nodded back, staring at the doctor. "We can call someone to get you home quietly. Who was this stupid?"

"HYDRA," James said. "I was their asset once."

"I remember that news, son." He patted him on the metal shoulder. "You're safer now. There's people they don't want to go up against."

"I'm going to be one of those," Darcy said, nodding some. The drugs were making her feel light headed. "I probably already piss them off by avoiding them. I lasted going on two years."

"That's a good thing," Remy said. He tucked them in, looking at the doctor. "I can call up there."

"The news I heard on the way over said that team's on the way home and half are seriously injured this time. Call some mutual friends." Remy nodded, going to do that. He smiled at her. "You'll be fine, little one." She nodded, yawning again. "Good. You rest." He left, pointing at the food then giving Bucky a pointed look. He nodded he'd get her to eat something soon. The doctor left, listening to Remy try to talk to someone. "Agents or otherwise?"

"Remy not know any SHIELD people worth anything," he said bluntly.

"Point. You know others who might know one."

"They won't like Wade much either."

"Call Barton," Bucky called. "She's friends with him and still has numbers."

"Remy can do that but he's knocked out. Natasha became a growly spider."

"She hates me anyway," Darcy called. She wobbled out to look at him, then took the phone and dialed a number from memory. "Matt? It's Darcy. I got saved with Bucky. I'm sick as shit and somewhere safe. Can you let others know and thank them for helping me and Clint? Thanks, man." She hung up. "His office voicemail." She wobbled back to bed and climbed back in, making Bucky move. "Go eat. You haven't eaten in days and it's already affecting your weight. I'm going to sleep the sleep of the heavily drugged."

"I can watch over you," Bucky said.

Darcy blinked at him. "If you want to, go ahead, but eat! Before you end up sick too." He nodded, settling down to eat most of the food that was brought. He saved the soft things for her. Remy brought in some rolls and left with a small grin. She was definitely spunky.

***

Kate got met on top of a building by a guy wearing a mask. "Hey. News?" she asked hopefully. "Clint's still unconscious and Natasha's being a bitch about anyone seeing him."

"She left a message, sounded pretty drugged up, but she said she's rescued and safe and so is Bucky."

"YES!" Kate cheered, jumping up and down. "Finally, something good happens!" He smiled and left her to it. "Thanks."

"Welcome."

"You might warn someone that she's going to sue the guys that screwed up her kitchen. They somehow put upper cabinets on the floor with a really ugly countertop on it that I know she wouldn't use and no upper cabinets. I checked earlier."

"I know people who'll love to help her with that," he agreed, smiling back at the perky young thing. He remembered being her age.

Kate found what she was needing to hit and shot an arrow at the asshole, in the butt too because she was feeling generous. That let her go rescue the SHIELD agent that was hostage. She brought her to the same hospital the Avengers were hiding in, handing her to the nurse. "She's an agent. She was hostage for over two weeks. I think her name's May. Last name is May. Someone asked me to deliver her."

"Thank you, miss. We can take it from here."

"Sure." She walked off, listening in case the nurse turned out to be a problem. She called others to come get their newest admit.

Kate walked off the elevator on the Avengers unit, nodding at an agent she knew. She paused in front of another one. "May's downstairs." He ran off to check on her. She went into the captain's room, staring at him until he blinked at her. "They're safe. She called and said they're safe." He smiled and drifted off again. "Must be good drugs." He nodded. She smiled and went to tell the other fussy sort. She could hear Clint complaining his dog was nicer to him than Natasha was. "Thankfully he loves my couch and pizza just as much as yours," she said from the doorway.

Clint stared at her. "You have news. You're perky."

"I rescued the SHIELD lady. She's in the ER."

"Is that why you're perky?" Natasha asked dryly.

"No, I'm perky because I'm not a bitch to my friends," she shot back. "She's safe. She called Matt and she's safe somewhere with him."

"Thank you," Clint sighed, smiling and relaxing. He winced, holding his arm that was cramping. Kate came in to work on the knots. "You're good at that. You should do that instead of this job, Katie."

"Shut up, Clint. Before I feed your dog something to give him the runs the night you get home."

"Don't be mean to him," he complained. "He's a good dog."

"He's a very good dog," she agreed, smiling at him. "I like Lucky more than I like you most of the time. That's why I steal him for my morning runs." She got the cramp out and stared at him. "Better?"

"Much. Thanks." He kissed her on the forehead. "Anything else I should hear?"

"She's going to freak the fuck out about her kitchen being messed up."

"They did?"

"Yeah, it even looks wrong to me. They *so* screwed up and the landlord came to check since I was there and he knew she was missing. He saw it and told me why it was wrong and moaned she was going to freak the fuck out."

"Hell."

"I warned Matt she was going to sue someone."

"Probably. Anything else we know beyond she's safe?"

"She called Matt's voicemail."

"Why not my phone or Scott's?" he demanded.

"She might not remember the number since you're on speed dial and when I tried to call to tell you I got the wicked bitch over there." She head-nodded at Natasha. "She growled at me for daring to try to let you know."

Clint glared at Natasha, who huffed off. He stared at her. "It's complicated."

"Natasha's jealous," she said. "She's a woman and having a womanly moment of jealousy because you're Natasha's bestie and Darcy's getting close to you. It's how we work sometimes, Clint. Trust me, I am a woman." She stood back up straighter. "Now, you, back in bed. Right now." He huffed but climbed back into the bed. "Good. Let me go finish my patrol." She climbed out the window and out the fire escape, waving at the nice webbed guy she had met and figured out who he was. He wasn't as big of a prick as she thought he would be.

Clint shook his head, staring at the hallway. "You know, I can have other friends and it doesn't hurt our friendship," he said quietly. Natasha glared at him but stayed out there. "Fine. We can talk once I'm out of here." She walked off shaking her head. Clint shook his own head and rested again. He hated hospitals. He spent way too much time in them. But at least Darcy was okay. He could relax about one stressful thing in his life.

***

Darcy woke up when someone opened the door, staring at the woman there. "Who're you?" she mumbled.

"I'm Marie," she said, coming in to test her forehead with her gloved hand. "You're warm, sweetie."

"Infection. I'm being good and taking the drugs." Bucky woke up with a flinch. "Hey. Calm down. I know about this one. Someone told me about her." He stared at her then checked his watch, grabbing her meds. "Thank you, James."

"Welcome," he said quietly. He helped her take them both then looked at the young woman. "Who're you?"

"Marie," she said with a smile. "Remy sent for me in case she needed more girlish help."

"Not having my period yet," Darcy admitted. "Just a few days post surgery and I was having it the day they kidnaped me."

"That happens. You rest. Want some food soon?"

"Please," James said. "And weapons? Just in case?"

"If they come in here, they've made one hell of an enemy since the Queen Assassin owns this house," she said, smiling at him. "She's flirting with Remy right now but said she enjoyed guests and hated HYDRA already." He nodded. "I'll see what I can do about weapons though. I know you're still paranoid."

"Telepath?" he guessed.

She giggled, shaking her head. "Not my skill, sweetie." She went to get them some soup and brought it back, her making sure she ate first so he wouldn't be paranoid about her poisoning them. "There, you eat and rest some more. We'll get you removed up north again pretty shortly." She left, going to talk to Remy. "She's resting again. He's eating," she told him. "He wanted weapons just in case."

Remy nodded. "James is paranoid for a good reason. We can get them up north. She's got a place in New York."

Darcy came wobbling out, hugging him and Marie then smiling at the woman on the throne. "Thank you for your help, ma'am."

"You would've made a fine one of mine, dear."

Darcy shook her head but was smiling. "My mother taught me to care for people. Taking them out was only if I had to."

The Queen of Assassins laughed but nodded. "The world benefits from that approach as well, Miss Lewis."

"Thank you. I can call someone to arrange for us to get up north to New York."

"We can fly you out," Remy said. "Fake ID's and all."

Darcy shook her head. "I have a SHIELD file or two. Plus I'm pretty well known after having to deal with the idiot slimeball politician. It'd be safer if we went up in a camper so we could hide."

He nodded. "Not a bad idea. I have no idea how to get one of those."

"I call my step-aunt and have her rent me one. Then I'd need someone to drive because I sure can't and James needs to stay out of view too." He stalked out, picking her up and carrying her off. "I'm fine, James. We're working on how to get back to New York."

"I shouldn't. It'll cause more problems."

She swatted him on the head. "Shut up. I can't make the trip myself and Steve wants to nag you for a few hours, then you can escape." He snorted but looked amused. "Frustrated Steve draws. Worried Steve paces and doesn't eat."

"Damn it, the punk's screwed up," he muttered.

"Yup. And somehow when he's worried he jogs twenty-something hours a day by gossip I've heard. So you need to come up for a few days."

"Fine. Nag."

"Yes I do." She smiled. "I honed it on Jane." He snorted, tucking her back in and went back to talk to those people to see how he could help get them home. He was tired of being helpless. He had to do something he could control.

***

Darcy met up with someone on her stoop five days later, leaning on the railing as she looked at the girl playing with the dog. "Should I worry that you're hanging out here instead of next door?" she asked.

"Darcy!" She hopped up to hug her. "No. Clint's upstate and they're fighting again so I'm protecting Lucky." She smiled. "Until you got here." She pulled back to look at her. "You look like shit."

"I'm coming off the infection. Is that doctor okay?"

"He's good. He spilled far and wide about what happened and why he was taken and how you ordered him not to risk his life for you. Some people thought it meant you were going with it, most don't."

"There's always people like that, Kate. Most of them are men."

"Mostly this time too." She looked at her. "Don't yell and scream about the kitchen. I've been working on it with your landlord and we have people for you to call since you're home. And your lawyer's already suing them."

"They didn't put in my kitchen?"

"Not all of it and they screwed up what they did do." Darcy winced but nodded. "C'mon, let's go upstairs. Lucky, inside time." He was growling at a guy staring at them. "Oh, great. You guys."

Darcy looked at him. "I'm just now home from being kidnaped and I'm pretty homicidal. Go. Away. Please." He stepped back, holding up his hands. "What do you want?" she sighed.

"You're that mean chick with the tazer."

"Yes I am."

"You got it now?"

"Do you really think my kidnapers brought it with me?" He smirked. She pulled a gun instead. "I picked a little something up on the way home." He nodded and strolled off. She leaned on Kate to get upstairs, Lucky against her free side. "I hate most men right now," she decided.

"Don't blame ya there," Kate agreed. "Most of them suck. You know a few who don't."

"Yeah but they're taken."

"Point." She got her inside. Darcy paused to stare at her kitchen and moaned. "We're working on it."

"Where's the other half of my cabinets!"

"They decided you were probably dead so they kept them to sell," Kate said. "Your lawyer knows. He found them in their workshop area when he went to yell for you." Darcy sighed, nodding as she trudged to the shower and then into bed. Kate settled next to her with the dog. "Guard duty," she quipped. She took a picture of Darcy and sent it to Clint's phone. She got back a terse 'tomorrow' and shrugged. "He's in a bad mood." She showed Darcy the message.

"That's a Stark message."

Kate smiled and sent a second one saying that if Clint was turning into Stark, she'd have to do an exorcism. She got back a 'not funny' and 'tell Darcy to rest'. She showed her. Darcy nodded through a yawn and fell asleep there. Lucky shifted over to get cuddled so that was sweet of him. Kate sat up reading something from Darcy's shelves while she watched over her. She heard the door open and looked out there. "Crap, who is that," she muttered, going to check. She ran into Steve Rogers. "She's back."

"Good! Is she okay? And is Bucky with her?"

"I didn't ask that part." He walked around her and she shot him in the butt, making him scream. "Captain America has a bounce worthy ass that people would pay for. You have flab. So I doubt you're him, dude."

Darcy blinked awake, sitting up to stare at him. "That's that evil dick that was after Pepper." She laid down, petting Lucky. "You're a good boy, Lucky. Thank you for the puppy cuddles. The auntie feels like crap." He lapped her and she quit holding him so tightly. He relaxed, she fell back asleep, and Kate took pictures for Clint. Including of the guy on the floor.

Upstate, Stark glared at the phone that was going off again. He stared at the new picture then at the guy across the room, holding up the phone. "You have a twin?"

"No," he said, coming over to take the phone. "Isn't that the guy that was going after Pepper?"

Stark snatched it back, nodding. "It is. Great. Well, Bishop shot him in the ass for her." He forwarded that picture to Pepper, making her shriek. He forwarded the earlier one and that got a happier noise but she was going to stomp on the guy that was bothering people she knew. "Pep's mad," he quipped. "She'll go handle that and Lewis."

"She was kidnaped, Tony," Steve reminded him.

"She let them do the surgery."

"They would've killed the doctor," he shot back.

Clint walked in. "Steve's right, it was to save his life and hers." He snatched his phone, staring at it. "Huh." He walked off texting Kate, who quipped funny things back. "She's still really sick, she's clutching Lucky like he's stuffed. I need to go save my dog." He left, going back to the city. Natasha was still huffy but he couldn't cure that for her and she wouldn't talk to him.

Stark shook his head. "You sure she didn't have plans?"

"If she had wanted Bucky she could've jumped him any time he showed up in her apartment while triggered," Steve said, sounding bitter. "I'm very sure she didn't want him, Stark." He walked off. "Aren't you supposed to be close to her? Or is that the liquor talking?"

Stark stomped off to talk to Bruce, who told him Steve was right. If he had been in Darcy's place you go along to stay alive and you try to keep the other hostages alive as well. It's how people were taught to handle hostage situations. You didn't make waves and you escaped at the first chance. Stark went to sulk in his lab instead.

***

Clint walked into Darcy's place just after dawn. He had paused to shower and change at his own. Lucky barked so he went to save his poor dog. Who was between the two napping women and being cuddled. "Aww, are you being girl cuddled," he said with a grin. Lucky barked and nipped Darcy's hand gently, getting free of her so he could run over to bounce around his master and get his rightful pets. Clint settled in to pet his poor dog. "Did they nap on you? You're a good friend, Lucky." He got lapped and his dog settled next to him on the couch. Barnes came in off the fire escape. Clint stared at him. "You okay?" he asked quietly.

"I'm good. I'm watching over her. And the young thing."

"That's Kate, she sometimes takes my call sign and bow."

He nodded. "Stevie?"

"Upstate at the facility."

"Damn."

"He'll be here soon. Stark pissed him off earlier and he's friends with Darcy too."

"Thanks. I'm..." He pointed. Clint nodded so he went back outside. It was safer and easier out there.

Clint relaxed, idly stroking the dog while going through his phone to erase things he didn't need. He was running out of room for new numbers.

***
Part 8 by voracity
Kate went to the tutoring class that night, all smiles and carrying cookies. "Guys, Darcy's officially back but she's still fighting an infection so it'll be about a week before I turn her back over to you guys." They smiled and settled in to get to work while nibbling. "Darcy also said thank you," she said with a nod toward one. "For the number to the local vo-tech carpentry class. They'll be installing her kitchen the right way later this week. She's seriously pouty about her kitchen. Thankfully the stove and fridge work even if it's a wreck. She was making bread earlier but it was so tough you couldn't even use it as croutons. Then she made the cookies for tonight and she hugged me for keeping you guys going. She's kinda cuddly when she's sick." A few giggled. "Thankfully Clint didn't mind that she hogged his dog to cuddle all day."

"Think she'll get a society dog?" one of the boys asked. "I can't see her with a yappy purse thing."

"Nah. She's more likely to go adopt something huge that's going to die in a shelter." Kate smiled. "Clint suggested that earlier so he could get his dog back."

"What kind was it?" that kid teased.

Kate grinned. "It's a husky looking thing. She found it online. Clint was telling her how much problems that smart of a dog could be. His retriever mix is really too smart for anyone to deal with some days. This afternoon, Clint ordered lunch and Lucky decided to sneak most of the pizza for himself. He carried the box off to the bedroom without us realizing and went to eat on the bed like a teenager. I think the only one who noticed when he was sneaking off was Darcy. That's when she switched to cookies."

One of the girls smiled, hiding it in her workbook. "He was cute when you brought him, Kate."

"Lucky's really sweet. We go to jog in the mornings so we can stare at cute people in the park. He's even picked me out a few to flirt with." The kids all laughed but got back to work.

Clint strolled in with a box of pastries, putting them down. "Vegan fruit stuff, guys, so supposedly healthy while still having frosting." He handed Kate her phone. "You dropped it outside."

She hugged him. "Thanks, Clint. Guys, this is Clint Barton." A few of the kids were staring at him. Clint grinned back. Kate looked at her messages. "Oooh, I have a meeting tonight. Thankfully my stuff's in the car."

"You're *working*?" one of them asked.

Kate leaned closer, winking at him. "I'm an archer too," she said quietly. He shivered. "Yeah. It's cool though. Don't worry about it." She sat back up. "No dog?"

"I'm getting her a dog of her own," Clint said. "She'll enjoy it and the landlord agreed it'd be cute. So if she has to travel for something you'd get to watch two sometimes."

"That's fine, as long as they get along."

"I told her she could bring Lucky when she went to pick them out to make sure they could get along." He patted Kate on the head. "Go. I can do this. Scott's coming too because he picked up new workbooks for her earlier on his way over to nag her."

"It's sweet he does," Kate said.

"How does Darcy know avengers?" one of the girls asked, putting down her book. "I figured she'd know Stark, they've been photographed together and she said she grew up near where he lived and all."

"Nah, we met Darcy when she was a science intern for Jane, Thor's girlfriend." He grinned. "She had to do a lot of nagging to make sure Jane was eating and all that good stuff. Then she gradually started to bake and cook for the rest of us."

"Movie nights," Kate agreed. "For the whole team."

Clint nodded. "She's really good to talk to so we kinda used her to talk out problems. We didn't always appreciate her, including Jane, but she was a sweet lady then. Then she had to get stubborn thanks to HYDRA and all that stuff. We kinda miss her being the sweet lady that just walked up to you and hugged you because you looked pouty according to her."

"She is a bit hard," Kate agreed. "But it's healthier with the things she's been through."

The kids all looked at each other then her. "She's still mostly sweet."

"Yeah but before she left Jane, she'd just taze you," Clint said. "We made sure she could shoot in case something happened. Now, she'll fight back a lot harder because she knows that they're coming for her instead of her being a civilian in the way."

"She probably had some of that before," one of the girls said. "She said she had that death threat back in college. Plus she was a runaway for a bit."

Clint nodded. "I heard. Sometimes it's safer if you run. I did at one time and it saved me, plus taught me a lot."

Kate patted him on the arm. "You had some fun."

"I did. It was hard but I did have some fun." He sat down. "We do try to be just normal people most of the time. Darcy made sure we remembered we were more than avengers by reminding us of normal things like really good coffee and just sleeping in some mornings." They nodded. "I know Scott worked with her in Chicago a few times. Mostly we sent him to guard her when the threats got too bad because he was less known. He worked with her tutoring group out there too."

"That's nice of him," Kate agreed. "He's a nice guy though. His daughter's a pisser."

"I do like Cassie. She's a bit mouthy but smart. She's the greatest friend's kid we've seen. Even Stark likes her."

The tutoring kids all shook their heads. "Darcy's been emailing with Cassie over her ideas for the holidays and making her own presents this year," Kate said with a grin. "She squealed through one earlier when she heard Darcy was home."

"How does a lady like Darcy end up looking like a hipster?" one of them asked.

"Darcy was never hung up on that stuff," another kid said with a shrug. "Like she said, old money just is and they're comfy with it. New money spends to show it off."

"Yup," Kate agreed. "We do." They smirked at her. She grinned back. "Darcy's a good role model with Clint for me." Clint messed up her hair. "Hey!" She hit him on the arm before straightening it out.

Clint grinned at the kids. "It's cool, guys."

"Is that slimy guy gonna make her bankrupt like he has others who're suing him?"

"No," Kate said, shaking her head. "She's worth more and she might do it to him." They all grinned and got back to the workbooks with more cookies. Scott came in and put down workbooks, getting a few shy smiles back. "Thank you, Scott."

"Welcome. Darcy said she can come back in about two weeks, guys. She's got to let the infection die off first and she's got a thing next weekend for a friend's wedding." They all nodded, passing out the new workbooks. "And if you need me to help her, let me know," he told Kate. "I worked with her kids in Chicago a lot."

"Thanks," one of the girls said quietly.

Scott smiled. "Guys, I'm not the saint that Darcy pretends to be. She's sweet and all but not angelic, but I'm not that way at all. We all know I have a history." He smiled at the kid in the room, who grinned and waved back. "You're cute. Are we reading stuff to you?"

"Sometimes," the dad said. "I'm babysitting."

"If it's your kid, it's called being a dad," Scott told him, patting him on the shoulder. "We all do it for our kids. Darcy's former class used to have a lot of kids that came in to work with their parents so they understood that learning's a good idea. She'd never mind if you're doing dad duty during it. She'll even sit there and read to the kids if you guys are working on something."

"That's good to know. She's kinda goofy about the sprout."

"Darcy loves kids," Clint said with a slight shrug. "She's womanly that way. She might have a few some year if she can get HYDRA off her ass."

"Why would she let them do the surgery?" that boy asked, putting down his pen.

"If you're being mugged do you fight back if they've got a gun on you?" Kate asked. He shook his head slowly. "They had them hostage. They were going to do the surgery one way or another. They could've tortured her then done it. If the doctor had protested they would've made him do it after probably taking someone he liked hostage to make sure he did it right." That guy slumped, grimacing. "Her words to him were 'don't do anything heroic'; it saved him. It saved her some torture. It saved them capping the doctor."

Clint nodded. So did Scott. "That's what they tell you to do when there's a hostage situation. You go along quietly so they don't pay attention to you and you don't get overly hurt. You escape when you have your chance. You try to protect your fellow hostages if you can or the vulnerable if you can't," Scott said. "She was protecting them both and the doctor was able to not freak out so he didn't get capped."

"NYPD stopped HYDRA from taking his wife a few days after they got him," Clint said. "They're not against torturing her with him being forced to watch. The only thing they couldn't do was torture him in a way that would've meant he couldn't perform the surgery. Darcy could've kicked up a fit but that would've gotten her tortured and that would've made it harder to escape when the opportunity came."

"Darcy said she shot back a lot because the doctor was an idiot," Kate quipped with a grin for them. "He didn't understand that a woman's cycle meant she wasn't fertile then. That they couldn't have gotten her pregnant without the surgery, because they threatened to try. They tried to drug Barnes into taking her right after the surgery. She said it was the same stuff she got hit with in Chicago."

"We can make sure he's got the antidote," Scott said. "That's some nasty stuff."

Clint nodded quickly. "Very." He looked at the kids again. "Sometimes you gotta play the game a tiny bit to make it easier on yourself. In this case, she stayed calm and plotted. She used the surgery to avoid their plans, and the cycle thing to give them more time to try to get away. She had to give them facts and she said the doctor got *really* mad about it. He sneered that she had reasons to stall."

"So if they had gotten their way, she would've come back pregnant," one of them said.

Kate nodded. "It would've made it harder to get away but yeah. That was the end plan."

"It could've been anyone."

"Actually, they've figured out something about genetic compatibility," Scott said. "It'd make their kids stronger and possibly pass on the serum somehow." He shrugged. "I don't know why but she fit a narrow definition but she did. They've been trying now for just about two years."

"Two years?" one of the girls demanded. Scott and Clint both nodded. "Why?"

"Because they wanted something specific," Clint said. "She fit a tiny little list of things and there's not many who would. They took others to see if it'd work and it didn't. They had a rash of kidnaping actresses at first while trying to get her."

"Let me guess, they were going to make it seem like the forties for him?" one of the boys guessed. Everyone nodded. "Not many women have that sort of class these days." He leaned back in his chair. "I might not have let them fix that problem at all."

"It could've killed her," Kate said.

"Oh. That sucks. Darcy's a nice lady." Scott grinned and nodded. "Does she bake for you guys?"

"Used to make us cookies and fudge after things," Clint quipped. "If I got to keep them before someone stole it, it was a great day." They snorted but ate some of the pastries so they could get back to work. Scott settled in to help a few of them with a few problems. Clint got to read to the kid and Kate was texting with her buddies before getting back into tutoring in english.

***

Darcy walked into her lawyer's office, smiling at the receptionist, who stared at her oddly. "He told me to show up today for an update."

"He's in with a client but I'll let him know you're here, Miss Lewis." Darcy nodded, going to sit down. The receptionist sent back an IM to her boss. He had forgotten she was coming apparently. He had a client back there and another one working on a bit of paperwork in the conference area.

When Darcy finally got back there, she looked amused. "Thanks for working me in."

"It's all right and you're one of the bigger clients I have right now." He pulled out two folders. "We have the two suits. One's been settled by that company. They paid back all the money you paid them." He slid over the information and check.

Darcy looked it over, nodding as she tucked the check into her bag. "That's good. I got the vo-tech kids to fix it. They even moved the misplaced stuff really fast. It took them a little over a day and one noted that a window was a bit crooked so they've fixed that too and I paid them for it." She smiled at him. "How's the other one?"

"He sneered you probably wanted it."

"I can only imagine what would've happened if I was gone long enough to get knocked up." She grimaced. "Is he sorry yet?"

"Not exactly but he's sweating some. We have enough on him to put him in prison." She smiled and patted his wrist. "Are you going to have other problems?"

"They tried to cancel my accounts and things but they couldn't without my consent. I've spent the morning talking about that problem and making sure it was all right and going to my usual GP to check on the infection. He called that other doc and he apologized but I apologized back for being a patient of his that got him kidnaped. So I'll be okay in a few weeks."

"Are we putting up more protections against your kidnaping?"

"I've got a lot in place and I'm putting up a security system and a safe room today while I'm out and about." He smiled. "The people who're doing it were recommended by a commando team and they've done my other safe rooms."

"That's good. Should we be worried about you getting a bodyguard?"

"Honestly, they'd be really bored most of the time and I hire one whenever I need to."

"That's a smart thing. You're probably safe most of the time."

"I usually am. I've barely had to use my panic button to my security system. My life's become hugely boring thanks to this problem and trust me if I could end it, I'd have blown them up by now."

"I understand that, Darcy. Are you okay?"

"Still a bit fevered from the infection but it's clearing up." She signed a few things and handed them back. She paused, reading one then ripping it up. "I saw that." He winced. "Your senior partner?"

"Likes the slimebag."

"Ah. Pity about his taste but I know you have better taste than that."

"I try," he agreed. "Anything else for today?"

"Two things." She smirked evilly as she dug out a file. "The doctor behind the kidnaping and breeding plot. I'm going to make him miserable. Would you like you to help?" She grinned. "On both mine and Bucky's behalf?"

"I'd love to get him in trouble," he agreed, looking that information over. "Ooooh, I think that'll be a nice thing to start with his licences. He's a vet."

She grinned. "Which is why he didn't understand how female humans worked for breeding purposes." She pointed. "The second's on the last page." He read it and moaned, looking at her. "He does more than like the slimebag," she said quietly. "And I've already told someone else but they're a bit busy so you have maybe a day and it'll mean you can move up."

"I could definitely like that, Darcy. Thank you."

She air kissed his cheek. "You have fun with the happy evil moment. I'm going to go grocery shopping. I'm out of things to nibble." She winked and got up, strolling out.

The lawyer went into the boardroom. "We need to talk right now," he said. "Because my client's being vindictive against HYDRA taking her." He snorted but looked amused. "Yeah, she found out you're HYDRA." He blinked, staring at his junior lawyer. Who just stared back. "And she knows SHIELD agents. So you've got maybe a day."

"Stupid meddling idiots," he muttered, getting up. "It won't change anything."

"It will," he said. "She's very vindictive and she knows Avengers as well."

The higher up snorted and waved a hand. "They won't stop me."

The agent in the doorway smiled. "Yes I will be. I've got agents showing up to gather all your files." She looked at the junior guy. "We knew she was going to tell you. You passed the background check. Pity both of the senior partners are infected though. I'm not sure what'll happen with that level of infection."

"I need to tell the other lawyers," he said. "We can stay out of the way."

"Yes you can," Melinda May said with a smile. "Thank you for that." He nodded hurrying to get the others together. The agents were already coming in to get into their files. The two HYDRA people were arrested. That lawyer came back to hand her that file. She read it over, humming. "That's very nice to know. What did Darcy want you to do with that?"

"Make him miserable."

"Please do," she agreed with a smile. "We can arrest him when he comes out to defend himself." He smiled, going to work on that with the other lawyers. Darcy's case was clearly not going to be tainted by that. Their reputations would have to be rebuilt but they were all known to be excellent, ethical lawyers.

Melinda May looked at what the agents were gathering for her, nodding at some of that. "That's very interesting. That's how they got her new address. From the lawsuit's files." They got back to work while she called that in.

***

Coulson was there when Darcy came back, nodding at her. "I have the antidote for Barnes," he told her when she opened the door to find him.

"You had better not have bypassed my security system the same way May did. Clint found out she disabled it."

"I did not. I told them I was an agent coming in to talk to you about your kidnaping. I watched them put in the last of it." He sat down on the couch. "The kitchen looks nice."

She smiled. "It does. It's my poor baby I need to clean." She came in and dropped her bag on the dining table then went to open the fire escape window. "James?" she called quietly. He looked down from the roof. "Coulson wants to see you. He has something for you." He nodded, coming down. She got out of the way, going to change and closing the door to give them privacy. The saferoom setup was on her bedroom so she looked at it, nodding at what she saw. There was a slide out metal door that would block the regular door from opening plus make it bulletproof. The walls had something laid over them that was probably bulletproof but at least it was white so it didn't make the room dark. She went into the bathroom to wash her face then came out to change her shirt and get comfortable.

Coulson looked at him. "I'm Phil Coulson. I'm the former agent over the Avengers and now the head of SHIELD. Do you know anything about that drug they gave you after her surgery?"

"Just that it keeps popping up to make me horny," he admitted, sitting across from him. Phil handed him an envelope, letting him read it. "I only tasted it on my fingertip."

"I can give you the antidote shot. It'll work if you've broken the need at least twice."

"By myself."

"That works. It did when they tried to dose Darcy in Chicago." Bucky stared at him. "She got a larger dose of half the formula, just the part that reacted to your body chemistry. The other half that makes it stick around was in a package that they managed to avoid."

"That's good to know. Will it work with the serum?"

"Yes. We made sure. I have a science team on my personal team and they did all the work on the antidote when we found out HYDRA had that." Bucky nodded, moving his shirt so he could get to his arm. Coulson handed over the syringe. "It's into the muscle. I figured you didn't want someone else to inject you with anything ever again."

"Not really," he agreed, giving himself the shot. He sighed. "How long before it works?"

"A few hours at most. Go wear it out and it'll help. Even by yourself." Bucky nodded once. "I can watch over her for a bit until someone else gets here. I like Darcy. I always found her quirky but sweet."

"Darcy, I need to go for a bit," he called.

She opened the door, staring at him. "That's fine, James. You go do what you need to do and do James things. I'm fine. I'm here and it's safe. My safe room's in." He nodded at that. "I need to get groceries but I was too tired so I'll get them tomorrow. I was about to order dinner from the mob place up the street. We know they're not HYDRA." James snorted but smiled a bit, escaping again. "Thanks, Coulson."

"Welcome. Thank you for finding that out about your lawyer's coworkers."

"I'm sorry if it hurts his career."

"It shouldn't. He put out a statement that most of the lawyers in the firm weren't aligned with the senior partners and their bad habits." He shifted to look at her. "Are you better?"

"The infection's clearing up. My GP put me on a stronger antibiotic. I talked to the surgeon. He's not mad at me. He said I shouldn't need another follow up and referred me to another GYN who can put me on something that's not an IUD."

He nodded. "That's safer just in case. With your luck they could put someone in a club."

"I haven't been able to club in a while, Coulson. I'm so bored sometimes but it's safer."

"We do pay for safety," he agreed. "Maybe we can get them down sooner for you."

"I'll gladly turn in any I find."

"Thank you. Those two led to a whole unit of HYDRA soldiers and the rest of their law team plus a few higher ups. It was a good bust and Melinda is smirking in evilness." She grinned. "It's good they found you. We'd have missed you."

"I had a nightmare last night that we didn't get free until I was six months along and I had to fight against the stupid slimeball who said me keeping the kid meant I wanted it."

"Some people will always think that way. We both know that," he said. She nodded. "How is that suit going?"

"Good. My lawyer's a good guy and he's having fun helping me be evil." She shifted with a wince.

"No painkillers?"

"No. I don't need any. If it's too painful the infection's picking up."

He nodded. "Point. Is there anything that'll make you safer?"

"Find the rest of them and end them?" she asked.

He smiled. "I'm trying, Darcy. You know that." She nodded. "I promised I'd stay until someone else showed up."

"I don't have a babysitter."

"Clint's going out of town so you're probably getting Lucky again."

"Clint scowled I was cuddling Lucky too hard."

"I'm sure it'll be fine," Coulson promised. "Clint gets scowly a lot recently." She gave him a pointed look. "It's the battles," he agreed.

"I used to be sweet and fluffier until they started around me too," she agreed.

"And much more quirky but less quiet," he said.

"I can't really get loud when there's people hunting for me. That's stupid."

"It can be but you're safe enough usually. You could go out to some higher class clubs."

"It's probably safer if I went to a rave," she said. "More people but the crowd can get a bit protective if they see someone be dragged off."

"Point. If you want, that'd probably be fine." Someone knocked on the door and he stood up.

She got up and shoved him back onto the couch. She checked then opened the door, hugging the young, blond man there. "Hi, Jensen."

"Darcy." He looked over her shoulder with a nod. "Coworker?"

"Director of SHIELD," she said. She let him and Pooch in, smiling and waving at the baby Pooch. "Hi, snookums." The baby grinned at her and waved back. "You're so smart, sweetie." She took him to cuddle, going back to the couch. "Phil Coulson, Jensen and Pooch."

Coulson blinked at Jensen. "I knew someone said that Steve Rogers had a nearly identical twin."

He grinned. "I get asked that a lot and the army really did try very hard to figure that out." He flopped down beside Darcy, hugging her. "Are you okay?"

"Nearly off the antibiotics, and look, my kitchen's actually in," she said with a grin and a point.

He laughed. "That's good. How are you really?"

She stared at him. "I'm kinda really pissed and upset and I'm ready to buy some nukes and hit HYDRA with them. But I shouldn't do that, it'd lead to collateral damage and I'm not the great evil Darcy today." She cuddled the baby. "It sucks ass, Jensen. It really does. And they endangered my kids by showing up at a tutoring session as an agent!"

"He was an agent," Phil said. "Just not of the agency he was pretending to be. We've since gotten him and his partner arrested. And no, no nuclear devices, Darcy. At all."

"Fine."

"Thank you. Make them miserable."

She looked at him. "It'd be hard of me to give them food poisoning to make them slower."

He smiled. "Not a horrible idea. We should try that before the next raid." He grinned at Pooch. "I don't bite and I've fed your team some information recently about that Max thing. We'd really like him to go away as well."

"Wow, now I have three assholes I want to take out," Darcy complained. "Stupid politician guy, Max, and HYDRA. Whatever shall I do, guys? Should I turn evil?" The baby cackled so she grinned at him. "Yes, I can be evil. All women can be evil when we're pushed to it, little guy, but you never have to worry about that because your daddy's a good guy and he'll teach you how to be one too."

"If not, his momma sure will," Jensen agreed. He took the baby to cuddle but he wanted Darcy so he handed him back. "Okay, cuddle the evil one there. She could use baby cuddles."

"Jensen, there's homemade danish in the fridge," Darcy said with a smile. He went to get him and Pooch some snacks. "So, am I honored to be dropped in on or are you here to stop me from becoming more evil?"

"Just checking up on you," Pooch said. "Son, want me?" he asked, patting his lap. His son scowled at him. "You look just like your momma when you do that." The baby grinned and played with Darcy's hair for her. "You're good," he told Darcy.

"I'm trying so hard to stay that way," she said with a grin for him. "I'm hoping it's all ended soon but I know it's going to take a while."

Someone kicked in the door and Jensen shot him from the kitchen before Darcy could move. "Huh," Jensen said, eating a bite of danish. "That's cute of someone. Pooch, there's cherry danish." He came in to get some while Coulson called that in. NYPD showed up and was not happy but then agents got there and they got less happy.

Darcy waved. "All we know is he kicked in the door with a gun pointed at me," she said with a slight shrug and a cuddle of the baby. "I really need to set up some sort of system that will electrocute people who shouldn't open the door. Jake?" she asked, looking at him. "Is there one or should I beg Stark to create one?"

"Not that hard. I know about one. It's got a keypad like a normal security system. You punch in the number then open the door."

"Can they make the number pad the lock keypad?" she asked. "Maybe with a fingerprint thingy?"

"I don't know. You'd have to ask the security team we referred you to."

"They just got done with my saferoom setup," she said with a smile. "It's excellent." She sniffed, looking at the baby. "That's not a good scent." Pooch came to get his son so he could change him in the bathroom. "Use mine, Pooch," she said with a point. "It's got the bigger countertop."

"Thanks, Darcy."

James came in through the window and stared at the person on the floor. "He wasn't HYDRA," he said quietly, looking at Coulson.

"No, he's a contract guy," Jensen agreed, eating another bite.

"Stevie?" James demanded.

"Jake." He grinned. "I'm told we're nearly identical." James nodded quickly. Jake came out, holding out a hand. "Jake Jensen, Tech Ops Delta."

He shook it. "How do you know Darcy?"

"She hired us to protect her after HYDRA found her in Chicago. We set her up with the people who did the saferoom stuff for her."

"He's really nice and lets me think out loud to him," Darcy said with a smile. "If he ever has to hide in a mundane life, I'm letting him live in the closet for a few weeks at least."

Jake smiled at her. "Gee, thanks."

"I'd let you have the bed if you asked. I can't assume that you want the bed."

"Point. Yeah, I'd probably want the bed. You look cuddly."

"I usually am. Clint complained I cuddled his dog too much."

Jake shrugged. "He's got pouty pet syndrome and thinks Lucky might like you more."

"Nah, Clint saved him from Russian mob guys." She shifted to curl up some and pointed. "Is that the ME? They don't have a gurney or anything." Coulson looked and had to shoot this one. One of the officers got injured and Darcy had hers out by then too. The guy died. She sighed. "I hate them. I really hate them."

Jake carefully took the gun, smiling down at her. "Let me. I'm really good at it when I have to be," he said quietly. She hugged him. "Thanks. Go hang out in your bedroom with Pooch and the baby." She went that way and they all heard the saferoom door slam shut. Jake looked at the officers, smiling and waving his gun hand. "Delta trained."

"Do you have any idea why they showed up?" one of the officers demanded.

"One of the prices on her life went up," Jake said. "We noticed it last night. Slimy politician wannabe upped it by another two mil." He went back to the danish, handing James some. "You should try it. Darcy's an *excellent* baker."

James ate and nodded. "She is good," he admitted, looking at it then eating it. He and Jake sat facing the door. "Coulson?"

"I'm fine. Just livid." He looked perfectly calm and reasonable. He was going to fuck someone up. He called in a favor. "It's Coulson," he said in greeting. "Someone upped a price on a friend's head. Lewis, yes. You heard? We've now taken out two assassins."

"Not like he'll pay them anyway. He stiffs everyone else," Jake said dryly. He smiled and waved at the ME's team. "Hey, guys. Sorry there's two but the other one tried to shoot these nice officers."

"Better we have two than theirs," one of them said, looking at the officers. "Can we remove them?"

"Please, CSU is on the way." They nodded. It wasn't too long before the crime scene team got there with the federal ones. They weren't even arguing over whose job it was. Coulson had a word with one of the federal team, getting a grimace but a nod back. They could handle this. Coulson sat back down so they could watch them work. The officers got statements and then they could go. The bodies were removed quickly enough. The crime scene team agreed the blood could be cleaned up since they had all they needed. They left and Darcy came out of the bedroom/saferoom with the baby cuddling her and Pooch behind her. They settled in to make plans in case that happened again.

Jake agreed with Clint, Darcy could use a protective dog sort of creature and friend in her life.

***

Jake looked at Darcy once they were alone. Pooch had went to cuddle his wife with his son before they had to check in with Clay. Coulson had went back to his office to do evil Coulson things. James was back on the roof. "I looked at a breed selector site. It spit out seven breeds. One of those popular designer crossbreeds and six other normal ones. Aussie sheppard of course because they show up on all searches. The designer cross is called a goldmation."

She considered it. "Dalmation and goldie?" He nodded. "Clint's dog Lucky is kinda goldie like. What're the others?"

"Pembroke Welsh Corgi?"

She considered it. "I can imagine a HYDRA goon laughing that a corgi was attacking them but they're cute. I can see that."

"Chesapeake Bay retriever," he offered.

"Water dog.... No, not really into water most of the time outside my tub. I'd hate to have to fight the dog for my bath."

"Black Russian terrier," he said with a grin. "Very strong dogs. Kinda stubborn."

"I'll keep that in mind. I've known a few and they were cute. Protective and cute. Not too little." She nodded, sipping some coffee. "Some grooming but not too bad."

"Two big mountain dogs. A Golden Pyrenees and an Estrela Mountain Dog."

"Hmm. Fluffy dogs. Too big?"

"Not really but hefty." She nodded at that. "Some brushing needed."

"That's an interesting list. I only know something about a few of them." She came over to sit next to him to look at the list. "Oh, good, a compare." She made her list and looked. "Let's remove the aussie and the corgi. I love corgis, they're cute and make great pet vids, but that'd be a society dog for me and I can't carry a corgi everywhere. Aussies take a lot of playing and I don't have the energy to let it run for hours on end." He grinned but nodded, taking those off. "Oh, that Pyrenees is a designer cross too." They stared at the description then shook their heads together and took that off the list. "I'm going to look at the Russian Terrier last based on comments about them being territorial and a former breeder saying they're hard to groom and trim. The goldmation seems like nice happy dog."

He looked up the local adoption societies and smiled, pointing at one. "They have a part Estela and part something for adoption." She looked and cooed. It was fawn colored with a bit of shading in the long coat. A dark mask on his face. It was adorable. "Probably a lot of brushing."

"I have nothing to do but tutor the kids." She looked up. "Wanna go adopt a dog?"

"Sure." He put his laptop into his bag and they went together. She popped over to Kate's to grab Lucky, and they ended up bringing Kate too. Jake smiled and waved at her. "Hi. Jake Jensen."

"Kate Bishop. Pet sitter sometimes." She looked at Lucky. "You're a mooch." He lapped her for that compliment. "So, where are we going?"

"We've found a dog for her to adopt," Jake said. "It'll be pretty big but it seems sweet."

"Sure. We need to make sure that they get along with Lucky." Darcy parked and they got out, heading to the shelter with Lucky on a leash, which he didn't totally mind but hated somewhat. He was good at staying with his humans. Though he smelled other dogs so it was probably to make sure they couldn't hurt him.

Darcy smiled at the woman behind the counter. "I saw your had a pretty little fawny colored half Estrela. The breed selectors said I'd probably get along well with them."

"He's going to be a huge dog, miss."

"That's okay."

"Do you have a yard?"

"A park up the street. This is Kate and a mutual friend's dog so we need to make sure that they get along."

"We can get you something smaller and easier to work with."

Darcy shook her head. "I need something to take care of. So brushing is great and all that."

"Okay. We can introduce you, see if they like you." She looked at Jake.

"I'm just the friend making sure she only brings home one."

She smiled. "That's a good idea. What other breeds popped up on the breed quiz?" she asked as she led them into the back area.

"The Black Russian Terrier." Kate burst out snickering, shaking her head. "Yeah, that was my thought too," she told her with a grin. "But they looked really stubborn and hard to train to cuddle at night from the former owners' comments on the site. There was a goldmation noted. A golden pyrenees, a pembroke welsh corgi, and an aussie sheppard."

"They seem to pop up on every breed selection quiz," Jake agreed. "With some sort of golden retriever."

"They can," the woman agreed. "You wanted alert, yet friendly, and maybe a bit of a guard dog?"

"Yeah. But they have to get along well with people because I tutor some GED needing kids."

"Okay," the shelter worker agreed. "Then it sounds like that little one's a good pick. You'll want some obedience training."

"I'm good with that. I used to scientist wrangle. It was like herding cats." The shelter worker laughed but nodded, letting that dog out of his cage. Darcy cooed, going to her knees to let the little one sniff her. "Boy?" she asked, looking up. She got lapped for it. "Aww, that's sweet, sweetheart." She cooed and cuddled him, making him a happy boy.

"Fixed, male. Just under a year so a good age for training. He's a sweetheart but he's going to be huge."

"I have a three bedroom apartment," Darcy said with a smile for her.

"That's a good bit of roaming room." She looked back at a frantic barking. "What?" she called. "Don't upset the friend's dog. It's being a good dog."

Kate went to look, smiling and petting it through the bars. "Hey, sweetie. It's okay. I promise it's okay." The dog barked at her, staring at her. "Can I see this one? My dad will shit cows but he's so cute!"

"That's a terrier mix, and is a Russian terrier mix," she said, letting Kate have that dog. Lucky came to sniff and sneezed on it. The shelter worker looked down. "What happened to your eye, little one?"

"His daddy saw him get hit by a car so he carried him to a vet and adopted him then," Kate said with a grin. "He's just out of town at the moment so I'm a part-time babysitter."

"That's sweet of you."

"I'm home," she said with a smile. "I'm the chosen puppy sitter." She brought hers back and they settled in with Lucky sniffing and licking the tinier dogs. "That one good for me, Lucky?" she asked. Lucky seemed to nod and sniffed her again, then licked her, earning a few barks from the puppy.

Darcy looked over. "You are so like her," she said with a head shake.

"Yeah, she is like the redheaded one," Kate agreed, smiling at Jake. "One of Lucky's human's friends is Russian."

"Dogs do tend to take their owner's personality," the shelter worker said.

"Wow, some day you're gonna bake then," Kate quipped to Darcy's new dog, getting lapped. Then her dog lapped her. "Thank you both. That's sweet of you." She smiled. "Do we have to do a huge application? I know some places require references and home visits."

"We're not that picky, miss. You're going to be a great pet owner or you wouldn't be the chosen pet sitter." She got them out front with the dogs on leashes Darcy bought. She paid for their fees and Jake drove them to a pet place to pick up food and toys. And some for Lucky because he was a good dog.

***

Clint came home and found a note from Kate saying that Darcy had Lucky to help civilize her new dog. He sighed but went over there. It was only in the next building. He saw the keypad being installed. "What's that for?"

"To electrocute anyone who shouldn't be opening the door," Jake said with a grin for him. "We found her a very protective dog, but he'll be pretty big and need a lot of fussing over."

"That's good." He knocked and heard dual barks. "Did you guys take Lucky with you?"

"Yeah. Kate got a part Russian Terrier. Darcy got a part Estrela Mountain dog."

Darcy opened the door with her dog in her arms. "See, he's cute."

"He's very cute," he agreed, letting the dog sniff his hand so he could pet him. "You're fuzzy too." He walked in and Lucky hopped into his lap to get his rightful cuddles. "Were you good for Kate, Lucky?"

"He was a very good boy but Kate had to go do archer things," Darcy said. "And avoid telling her dad she got a dog." She pointed. "I'm puppy sitting tonight until she gets back."

Clint looked at the quiet dog napping on the windowsill. "Okay."

"The dog gave her the same look Natasha gives you when you burst out laughing for no reason," Darcy said with a grin.

"Awww." She grinned back, petting her new dog. Jake came in to install the inside button. "Jake, how strong will that be?"

"About tazer strength," he said, smiling back at them. Darcy's dog ran over to pounce him, letting Jake play with him for now. Then the puppy ran to play with his new friends again. Lucky got down to play tug of war with the puppies.

Clint looked at her. "How big?"

"About twenty-eight or so inches high?" she said. "Purebred. No one was sure what his other half was. Or what I'm going to name him."

"He's not blond enough to be named after Thor," Clint quipped. "Or me." She grinned at him. The puppies ran back to come hop up on him to sniff him and then lap him until he had to try to get away and petted them to stop it.

Darcy snapped and the dogs stared at her. She handed over treats. "Good dogs to listen to the Darcy mommy. Very good dogs." She petted them both. They went running to Lucky, who came to get his own treat. She winked and gave him one too. "We know you're a good boy, Lucky. You're a special little guy." Lucky lapped her hand then ran back to play with the dogs. Clint rolled a ball with his toes, finding out it jingled. The puppies all stared and ran after it to bark and chase it. Darcy grinned at him for that. "The dog's going to drive you nuts. Lucky does it to me sometimes."

"I love the guy, Clint."

"That's good."

"Kate asked if he was going to bake some day if he started to take after me."

Clint nodded. "I can see you teaching your dog how to bake, yeah." Lucky ran back to leap into his lap, settling in to nap. "Did you get worn out, Lucky?" He petted him, looking around. The puppies were under the table on the footrest cuddled together. "At least they're friendly."

"They are. They love each other."

"Awww." He smirked at her. "I should take Lucky home."

"You can stay for dinner. Jake's been recalled tonight at ten."

Clint grinned but nodded. "I can do that."

Jake grinned. "The assassins early this morning pissed off your former handler," he told Clint. "He walked out looking perfectly calm and reasonable."

Clint shivered. "Wow, someone's going to pay when Coulson finds them." He looked at Darcy. Who smiled. "At least you have something to do now."

"Yup. He's a good boy. I just need to name him."

"What's their nationality?" Jake asked.

"Portugese," Darcy said. She looked up a naming site on her phone to search through. "Conor, one 'n'. Means dog lover or wolf lover. It's mythological and Irish in origin."

"Good," Clint said. "Easy to call. Not going to give you odd looks. Dog license?" he asked.

"Got the form, we'll file it tomorrow." She smiled. "Kate said she wanted to name hers after Natasha. I told her to name it something less deadly thanks to the rule of names."

"She'd be creeped out by Kate naming her dog after her." He looked at Lucky, who stretched out and shoved at him but he shifted to keep his dog on his lap. "We have food and all that stuff?"

"We hit petco," she said with a nod and a grin. "We have *everything*." Clint grinned.

"Seven bags of stuff for three dogs," Jake told him as he finished up the instal. "Okay. That should work. Now all we need is someone to test it."

"Use a piece of metal," Clint said. Jake found one and went to test it outside. They both heard him yelp and something small drop to the carpet.

"You okay, Jake?" she called.

"Yeah, it works and it's mean." He came in and kicked the piece of metal in. "That's better. Let me go clean up." Darcy hopped up to hug him, getting a grin back. "Usually I'd be doing it for Jolene but Pooch is massively overprotective of his wife." He went to clean up and get ready to leave later that night. He came out and Darcy had dinner coming out of the oven. Clint was setting the table. The dogs were staring at them from their little hidden area. Jake smiled at Clint. "One of the breeds the quiz spit out was a corgi."

"I think they're cute little wiggly balls of fur but are they more than that?"

"They hunted ground critters," Jake said. "And they're protective."

Clint nodded then shook his head quickly. "My thought was the first time someone broke in and saw the dog barking at them," Darcy admitted. "I'd get to hit them while they laughed."

"Yeah, it's likely." He got handed another plate. "James," he called. "Dinner." He came in from the roof. Darcy pointed so he went to clean up. He looked at Jake.

Jake grinned. "He did ask."

"It figures." They settled in to eat the nice pork chops baked under a pile of stuffing with mixed vegetables on the side. James came out to settle in and eat with them. "Everything okay out there?" Clint asked him.

"Yeah. I saw that smartass kid with the webs again."

Darcy nodded. "I helped patch him up one night at the old place."

"Why did he know where you live?" James asked.

"He got slammed into my bedroom window," she said.

"Oh." James nodded and stuffed his mouth.

"He's young," Darcy said.

"Yeah, I can tell," James said. Someone knocked and the dogs ran over to bark at it. James went to look, opening the door. "Does Darcy know you?"

She leaned over to look. "That's Cougar." Jake started to eat faster. "Slow down, Jake, before you choke." He slowed down and waved at Cougar, who came in to stare at the dogs. "The fluffy's one's mine, he's Conor. The darker one's Kate's dog, not named yet, and the bigger fluffy one's Lucky, Clint's dog."

Cougar nodded, letting them sniff him so he could pet all three. "You're good dogs," he said in Spanish. "Very protective." He came over to stare at Jake. "Our mission has changed some. Max has Aisha and Jolene," he said quietly. Jake inhaled dinner and Darcy got him stuff to go with him and some for Cougar too. He tipped his hat with a smile and a nod.

"Let me know if one of you guys needs to hide in my closet," Darcy reminded him.

"We will," Jake said, giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek before following his teammate and making sure the dogs didn't join them.

"How did you find them?" James asked.

"I got given their name by someone when I was living in Chicago. HYDRA had found me in my supposedly super safe apartment so I had to move. That was after HYDRA dosed me with that lust drug and after that whole kidnaping thing they tried. They helped me find a safer apartment while guarding me and one of them went with me to DC when I had to go to an awards thing where my boss was being honored. Where I got bit by a lizard."

Clint smiled. "You looked hot."

"Thank you. Shelly said I needed to look hot for some fundraising things." She grinned. James still looked confused. "No one pays them to clean up their names from that arms dealer's thing."

Clint shook his head. "I looked that up and got pissed on their behalf." He kept Darcy from dropping pieces of pork chop to the dogs. "They don't get people food."

"It's meat."

"No."

"Fine. Sorry, guys. Daddy Clint said no food." She looked at him. "Hold on. Lucky gets pizza."

"He steals pizza." She gave him a pointed look then gave each dog a bit of pork chop. "You're setting a bad precedent."

"They know they have to earn treats." She grinned. "We're already working on the training stuff."

"Good. I need to do more of that with Lucky."

"He's been helping me with Conor's all afternoon."

"That's sweet of him. Did you teach him any tricks?"

"A few. He taught the puppies about fetch. I taught Lucky about using the shower handle by accident when we had a bath because he got into the ketchup when he was browsing for pizza."

"Well, if my dog tosses me in the shower I'll know why," he said dryly, eating something. Lucky was whining pitifully and lifted a paw while staring at him. "It's not pizza." The pathetic got turned up with the application of two others trying him. He groaned. "Guys, c'mon."

"Guys, only Lucky can beg Clint," Darcy said. "Settle down." She went to put down food for them. They all ran to snarf it down.

Clint looked at her. "Feeding during dinner. I didn't think about that." They went back to eating. James was staring at the dogs but eating. Then Darcy's new large breed dog ran over to pounce him, knocking his chair back some. Clint laughed. "Lucky does that to me too, James."

"He's just cuddly," Darcy said. "His other parent was part teddybear."

Clint shook his head but James was staring at the dog while petting it. The dog settled into his lap to nap. James stared at him but went back to eating. "I think he's comfy. He's snoring." James shook his head with a sigh.

"Yeah, I get that a lot," Clint said, looking at his innocent looking dog. "Don't I, Lucky." Lucky wagged his tail and got happy as he came over to beg his father for more food.

Darcy grinned, but pulled out dessert for them, and Steve when he got there. James was still being a comfy lap so he didn't leave fast enough.

Steve caught him before he could move. "Stay." He looked at Darcy. "Are you okay? We heard you had assassins earlier."

"They tried but the guys got them. Coulson was here when I got back. Oh, that's Conor, he's my dog. One 'n'."

"He's adorable and fluffy," Steve said, looking down at the dog. "You're going to be a big dog. You have huge paws."

Darcy grinned. "He is but he's a good dog." Conor's head popped up over the edge of the table. "You are. You're a good boy. So is Kate's doggy. She's a good girl." That one barked at her from the floor. Darcy smiled, handing her a dog treat. The other two got one too and they settled in to nibble and rest. James still didn't get his lap back but Conor was apparently comfy.

Steve smiled at his best friend then at Darcy. "Do we know who they were?"

"No, but Coulson got really pissed off. He went totally unemotional."

Steve blinked a few times. "Okay. I can ask him if it's related."

"He didn't think it was HYDRA related. It was likely related to the politician slime."

"Ah," Steve said with a nod. "He is an idiot." He sat down in the free chair, looking at the dog. "He seems very comfy." He grinned. "Bucky, you okay?"

"I'm fine. I'm not used to being napped on." He was staring at the other two dogs, who were hogging the couch, then at the one in his lap. "You could go nap with them." Darcy reached over. "No, he's fine enough, Darcy."

"Okay." She patted him on the arm. "If it's raining you can borrow the couch," she said patiently. "Instead of hanging out up there getting a natural shower. The city's water isn't that clean, even when it rains." He snorted but smirked a tiny bit. She grinned at Clint. "So, are you home for a bit?"

"Six weeks. Lucky and I can go jogging with you in the mornings."

"We'd go walk. I don't run."

He smirked at her. "Yours might need that sort of exercise."

"He'll be good with walking. I asked."

"Fine. You could jog."

"Sure, if I put on three sports bras," she shot back. "So I don't rip a chest muscle." He winced. "I workout at the gym, Clint."

"Fine. We just worry."

She nodded. "I know and it's sweet." He ruffled her hair. "Finish your dessert." She snorted but dug back in. James was eating with one hand while his other was petting the dog.

Steve grinned at the subtle fussing his buddy was doing. He remembered Bucky petting him that way when he had fevers.

James looked at him. "Mind out of the past."

"Sorry."

"No, it's good," James said. The dog woke up to stare up at him. "You don't get sugar stuff. It's bad for you." The dog yawned and stretched, heading for the door. Darcy hopped up to grab leashes so the dogs could go out together. Clint came to get his dog's leash. James watched them go then looked at Steve. "Just showed up to check on her?"

"Yeah. She's swell but I've got a girl I'm chatting with."

"Finally!"

Steve rolled his eyes. "How about you? Any dames in your life?"

"No. It's not safe."

"They wouldn't take her."

"They would, Stevie. They really will." He looked toward the window, hearing squealing. He got up to look out there, opening the window. "What happened?" he called.

Darcy looked up and waved. "Got splashed by a car. We need to do puppy baths in a few minutes, guys." She walked back inside, smiling at her landlord. "The brown one's mine. The other's Kate's puppy but she's out and about."

"That makes a lot of sense." He looked, letting both dogs sniff him. Kate's dog huffed but her dog sat and panted at him, tongue hanging out. "He looks nice, Lewis."

"Thanks. He's a good dog so far. We adopted today."

"The lease has a size limit, you remembered that, right?" he asked.

Darcy winced. "No?"

He sighed. "Any damage, you have it fixed." She nodded with a grin. "Will he be huge?"

"He's half large breed. Part mountain dog."

He nodded. "That'll be huge. Fix anything he breaks. Or any slobber before it warps the floors please."

"Thanks." She walked them upstairs. "C'mon, guys. Times for a puppy bath!" They barked and raced her up the stairs. She hit the code and went in, the dogs heading for the kitchen. "No, bathroom, guys. Not the kitchen sink. C'mon." She pulled them into the bathroom and shut the bathroom door before they could escape. She started with Kate's smaller dog. She frowned when she checked the fur. Color was coming off. "Were you dyed, sweetie?" She kept scrubbing and her darker black dog was more gray. "Huh."

She rinsed her off, then dropped her onto a towel to shake off. Her dog got a stare and she pointed. "C'mon. Bath. Really." The dog barked at her, tail going. "I know, but you're spreading mud around the bathroom, Conor. Into the tub." She patted it. He barked again, looking happy. She lifted him up with a groan and put him into the tub, running water to bathe him. He tried to escape but she blocked him with her chest, letting him wiggle against her.

"Yeah, then I'll need my own puppy bath," she said dryly. She got him cleaned off and out of the tub. Her dog didn't have any color fading. "So weird." She dried them both off then stripped down to take her own shower. Of course, the dogs hopped in to help her take a shower. "Of course, guys," she said. They finished up and she dried them off again then they all went to change into jammies. The dogs ran out to bark at Bucky while she was pulling on clothes.

"Why is Kate's mutt a different color?" James called.

"I think she had hair dye on," she called back, coming out adjusting her shirt as she walked. "No clue but it faded as I scrubbed her." She took a picture with her phone and sent it to Kate's phone. Along with a message why her dog was so weird looking. Kate sent back a 'that's so weird' and 'I'll be back in about two hours'. Darcy dropped her phone onto the coffee table before sitting down. Her damp puppy hauled himself into her lap and collapsed, panting hard. "Yeah, you're a good boy, Conor. Yes you're a good boy." She petted him until he was snoring. She grinned at Steve. "They both snore."

"So does Bucky," he said. He was watching Bucky absently pet the snoring terrier mix in his lap. "You look good with a dog."

"Thank you." He looked outside at the sudden lightening. "Let me go get my pack." He put the dog down and hurried out the window to grab his pack and come back inside. "You sure you don't mind, Darcy?"

"No, I don't mind, James. You can have the couch." He nodded, putting the bag in the corner so he could sit down again. The dog was giving him hurt, pouty looks so he let her back into his lap.

Steve grinned at Darcy. "Done anything else fun recently?"

"I got to tease Jake earlier." She grinned. "You know I'm on low activity so I'm safer."

"You could go out. You just have to be careful."

"I tried to go to a museum and an agent nearly threw a hissy at me for being out and about for unnecessary reasons. They tried to complain about grocery shopping too but I pointed out having them delivered wasn't as safe as me doing it myself."

"I didn't even think about that." He tipped his head to look at the dog. "He's very comfortable."

"He really is." Lightening went off outside and she scowled up at the sky. "Thor's local." He went to look for him to see what was going on. She looked at James, who shrugged. Clint and Lucky came back. Darcy pointed. "Mine destroyed the bathroom if you want to go rinse him off and then rinse out his fur."

"Thanks." He took Lucky to dry off and came back to throw the towels in the washer. Even the ones she had left. They all smelled like wet dog. "Why did they get a bath? And why is Kate's dog gray?"

"It looked like hair dye washing out," she told him. "We got splashed by mud so we needed a puppy bath."

"That's a great reason." He sat down with Lucky halfway on his lap to nap. "Tired, buddy?" Lucky woofed and fell asleep. He shook his head, looking at Darcy's dog. "He really does snore a lot."

"They both snore," James said. "She's got huffing snores."

Steve came back in with Thor, who was barely damp. Steve had a damp t-shirt now. Darcy pointed. "Towels in the closet in either bathroom, Steve." He grinned, going to get one. "Hey, Thor."

"Darcy." He stared at her dog. "It's small."

"It's young." He nodded. "It'll be about twice this size by the time he's fully grown." She pointed. "That's Kate Bishop's dog. She hasn't named her yet. Mine's name is Conor."

"After the Irish myth?" he asked. She smiled and nodded. "It's a nice thing." He sat down, nodding at Clint. "I needed a break."

"Stark, Jane, or the kid?" Clint asked.

"Natasha and my daughter. My Jane is trying to introduce her to science and failing."

"Science is pretty big thoughts for little kids," Darcy said. "Maybe she'll like art instead."

"Mayhap," he agreed. He smiled when Darcy's dog woke up. "Good evening, Conor." The dog looked so confused. "He doesn't know his name yet?"

"I only adopted him earlier." She held him up so Thor could pet his ears. "This is Thor, Conor. He's a nice guy most of the time. The rest he's drunk." Thor snorted but looked amused. The puppy went back into her lap and settled in next to her to sniff noses with a sleeping Lucky then curl up next to his buddy.

Clint looked at him then shook his head. "Remember, you live with her and Lucky is my dog, Conor." He petted him anyway. The dog sighed and went back to sleep. He looked at Darcy. "Is his breed protective?"

"Supposed to be. They used to be a herd watching type of dog."

"Then that's a good thing," Clint agreed. "I still can't imagine you with a corgi."

She grinned. "They're protective and they can hunt."

"Yeah but still, tiny dog."

"Easier to carry to tutoring with me."

He stared at her. "I'm pretty sure your dog can fit into your usual bag since it's the size of a weekender bag." She grinned. "The kids will love the dog too." Scott knocked and was let in. "Hey. Come meet Conor."

He came over to pet Lucky then the other dog. "Hey, Conor." The dog woofed but went back to sleep. He turned, staring at James. "Wow, the dog nearly matches your arm."

James scowled, shaking his head. "He's Bishop's dog."

"She'll have fun with it. She could use something to fuss over." He sat down in the last free seat. Steve came back out dried off and settled on the floor next to Bucky. "So the kids?"

"I can go back in another week and a half. The doc wants me to be fully out of the infection. I have a week of antibiotics left and I see him the next day so I can go back Wednesday."

"Cool. I'll let them know that." She grinned at him. "Kate and I have been filling in."

"Aww. Thank you."

"You're welcome. The kids do need it." He looked at Thor. "Stark?"

"My daughter."

Scott nodded. "I have those days too, Thor. My daughter's almost a teenager soon and she drives me nuts."

"Boy bands," Clint quipped.

Darcy nudged Clint with an elbow. "Dating."

Scott shuddered. "No! She's not allowed to date. Never allowed to date." She grinned at him. "That's evil."

"She's how old? Group dates usually start going on about fourteen. After begging for makeup and trendy clothes starts."

"Shut up," Scott begged. "Please?"

"Sorry. Just teasing." She grinned. "You got a few years."

"Gee, thanks." He looked at the smiling god. "Your little girl will get there soon enough too."

"Nay, she'll have a guard to go with her," he said with a smirk. "I have been promised one to protect her vulnerable years."

Darcy shook her head. "It's not that hard to lose a bodyguard, Thor. I managed it without really trying." Thor scowled at her. She grinned. "And the warrior coming down won't be used to things like the internet."

"I will have him briefed so my daughter cannot get into those sort of problems. Perhaps I'll encourage her to turn into her mother so she focuses on science instead."

"Science doesn't stop puberty," Darcy said.

"What is this puberty?" Thor asked.

"The time when a teenager, or younger, turns into an adult body shape," Clint said. "Kate said one of the girls in her class's little sister has her girlish cycle and she's eleven."

"Paper yesterday had a brand new mom that had her kid on her eleventh birthday," Darcy said. "I've seen major boobs on sixth graders in the mall. They were in the same bra shop I was."

Thor shuddered. "I do not wish that on any child, but especially not mine."

"Have Sif teach her how to be a woman of Asgard that's picky and respected," Darcy said.

Thor nodded. "She would. She thinks my daughter sweet."

"She probably is," Darcy agreed, grinning at him. "Jane is when she's not busy."

Thor nodded. "True, she is the most like her mother." He shifted. The dog on James' lap woke up with a stretch and a bark for her lap then she got down and went to lap some water. "That one is tiny."

"It's young and a smaller breed," Steve said. "Have you seen the tiny dogs that get carried around by some women?"

"I have and wondered why," Thor admitted.

"Me too," Darcy agreed. "My only other dog friend was a german shepard we adopted from the LAPD when they retired it. I was little but it was a good friend. Nearly bit Tony once."

Clint shook his head but he was smiling. "I think a few more should try."

"Pepper mad at him again?" she asked him. Steve nodded quickly. "Okay. Have we talked to Pepper?"

"No. It's not our place," Steve said.

Darcy smiled and nodded. "They'll work it out. They've been together now for decades."

"True," Steve said. "It's just stressful right now. That and the same old arguments are coming up." He stared at her suddenly. "The ones that protested the accords?"

She grinned. "Chewing him a new one weekly for something stupid he had an idea about from what I heard. Not sure what though."

"His plan to robotic farm?" Clint guessed. Darcy shrugged. "Huh. We all thought that one was weird."

"If he can get it to work, they could use it to do sampling on Mars and the like," she said.

"Point," Scott agreed. "But not something we want to think about. We're still pretty creeped out by all the robots. Not the lab bots, they're cool. Even if one does keep pinching me on the butt."

"One got me on the breast and I swatted it and yelled so it went to hide in the corner and JARVIS said that he would correct that behavior," she said. "I do miss JARVIS."

"Us too," Clint agreed. "FRIDAY's...kinda sweet and syrupy."

"And sounds like my mother," Steve muttered, shaking his head. Bucky looked at him. "It does."

"Why?"

"No idea," Steve admitted. "It's just enough off that it's weird." He looked toward the door and pointed. Darcy shrugged. Steve got up to answer the door, staring at Stark. "Hey. We're having a meeting after all." He hauled him inside and then Bruce since he was there.

Stark glared at Darcy. "They are not chewing me a new one."

She stared at him. "You sure?"

He huffed but nodded. "They stopped last week."

She leaned over to grab her phone, looking something up. She held it up so he could see it, letting him snatch the phone to read. "They're the ones bothering Pepper probably."

He groaned, handing it back as he walked into the kitchen to get some water while calling Pepper. "No bottled, Darcy?" he asked her.

"Used it earlier. Look in the pitcher. It's a filter pitcher. I changed the filter three days ago." He looked and grimaced but pulled it out to get himself and Bruce a glass of water.

Bruce came out, staring at the dogs on Clint. Then one walked past him and hopped up to nap on Lucky's stomach fur. Lucky shifted but she snuggled into the warm, fluffy spot. "Adopting?" he guessed, sipping his water.

Clint pointed. "Mine, Darcy's, Kate Bishop's."

"That's why Lucky's so familiar, we had to shoo him out of the labs once." Stark looked at Darcy's dog then at her. "Lonely?"

"I could use something to fuss over," she said, staring at him. "So why the visit?"

"I'm bored," he admitted. He sat down under Lucky's tail and Bruce got a dining room table chair to sit on. "I heard you got an assassin earlier."

"I was on the couch. Jake and Coulson got them. I went into the bedroom with Pooch's baby when the second one showed up."

Stark nodded. "Pooch?"

"On Jake's team," Darcy said.

"Huh. I've only glanced over that stuff to make sure I'm not tied to it. Thankfully that guy's a psycho and I never would've sold to him, and Obidiah probably would've sneered at him for being so psycho." He sipped his water. Lucky woke up to stare at him. "Yes, I moved your fluffy tail. It was in the way, Lucky." He petted the dog's side. He yelped when a small gray blur pounced him to lap him. "Hey!" He tipped his head back, trying to fend off the tongue of doom. "Don't drool on me. That's Pepper's job."

"Hey," Darcy said with a snap. The dog stared at her. "Be nicer. Get down." She pointed at the floor. "Down." The puppy came jogging across everyone to her. She petted her. "You have to be a good dog, not attack the Tony with your tongue, dear." The dog settled in to be petted and adored. Someone knocked and the dogs all hopped up to bark at the door.

"I don't know why there's a keypad," Kate called. "Will it kill me?"

"Zap you pretty hard," Darcy called. Clint got up to let her in. She limped in and scooped up her dog to cuddle. "You good?"

"I'm fine. I tripped while running." She sat down against Darcy's chair with her dog. "You really did fade a lot."

"I swear it was like hair dye," Darcy told her. "She's pounced Tony to tongue ambush him too."

"We can work on that." Lucky and the other dog came over to sniff her, getting their own petting in. "You guys are good dogs." They ran to Darcy, who fed them a treat with a smile. "Good, you're appropriately spoiled." She waved at Stark. "Hey."

"Bishop," he said with a nod. "Who were you chasing?"

"One of the local mercs got hit with a drug by some idiot in all black spandex and no eyeholes in Harlem. I was chasing him to get him down so they could take him to an ER. I tripped over a kid's bike."

"It happens to the best of us," Clint assured her. He patted his lap and Darcy's dog came to sit on him. "Hi. I was looking at my dog but sure, I can pet you." He petted him. The dog flopped down with a sigh of pleasure, snoring almost immediately into Clint's abs. "I must have magic." Lucky came over to hop up to get his own petting. Clint grinned, petting his own dog. Darcy got up enough to grab her dog from his lap. "Thanks, Darce."

"Welcome." She smiled. "Silly, you sit on me and I'll let you nap." She petted her dog until he fell back asleep.

Stark shook his head. "You look good with a dog." He looked at Thor. "Do you guys keep pets?"

He nodded. "Some do. Mostly practical beasts."

"Kate's is a guard dog type for half of it. Mine's the sort of dog that would guard a flock of animals in the mountains for half of his lineage."

"Clint's is probably mostly hunting dog," Kate agreed. "Not too many dog breeds aren't useful in some way, even if they were meant to sit on lady's laps and bark if anyone annoyed them."

"Some of those also hunted mice," Darcy said. "They were just pretty." Her dog looked up at her. "You're pretty too, Conor." She picked up the brush to brush him for a bit. He liked that, he flipped over for tummy brushing. "Good boy, Conor."

"That will be the biggest, most spoiled purse dog ever," Stark said dryly.

She smirked at him. "Do you still have the scar where Cujo bit you?"

He snorted. "Yes. Thankfully it mostly bleached out." He shook his head, looking at Bruce. "They adopted an LAPD dog when she was six. It was very protective of her and her mother." Bruce smiled at Darcy.

"It was also a former drug dog and hated alcohol," Darcy quipped. "It bit Tony because he was drunkenly wobbling in the driveway. That was after he nearly burned his dick off."

"No comment," Tony said with an evil smirk at her.

"You know, for the longest time, I thought that drinking meant you'd get burns. That was Mom's don't drink speech."

He shook his head with a sigh. "Your mom was kind of a bitch now and then."

"Yeah, and I get it honestly," she said with a sweet smile.

"Burns?" Steve asked her, looking at Tony. "What were you doing?"

"Flaming shots to impress a few women," Tony said dryly. "Her mother burst into the house because there was a party I was hosting that I forgot about. I yelped and dropped said flaming shot in my mankini wearing lap." Darcy giggled, nodding. "How long did you think that?"

"Until Gloria got extra lit on her parent's bar when they forgot to get her a sitter and she had a sleepover. Thankfully one of the girls was smart enough to call an ambulance for her. That Monday, the teacher had a talk about alcohol drinking and I realized then that the flaming part was all you, Tony."

"You were nine!"

"Yeah. Not like I was drinking before then."

"Point." He shook his head quickly. Thor was smiling at him and patted him on the back. "Her mother had that reputation as a mom sort of mom that nagged."

"Mom had to go sit with those kids at Gloria's while the cops found parents that were mostly out of town and nannies hadn't realized there wasn't a parent available there. They couldn't hand them to nannies by law." Darcy grinned. "Sixteen girls. One massive bar that the girls sampled a lot of. Including some really expensive wine they were saving for the worth." Kate was giggling. "Parents were in lower Mexico for their anniversary week. Didn't realize their nanny hadn't come back the week before they left. None of the nannies checked when the kids said 'of course her parents will be there'."

She nodded a bit, smirking some at James. "Whole lots of drunk little girls. Two with alcohol poisoning. Gloria was in the hospital for three days from all the booze she sampled. Thankfully her parents got home the next morning after she got out and my mom babysat Gloria on the couch for a few hours. Dad had a long talk with her about how alcohol ruined some famous people's lives. It wasn't fashionable back then. He got through to her because she now knew that booze made you feel miserable. And the nurses were mean to her because of it."

"Mine or Stevies' mom would've beaten us senseless," James said. Steve nodded to back that up. "We would've been dead from it. Honestly dead from it. And if she couldn't, my father or the local priest would've."

"Father Michael," Steve said with a shudder. "He was judgmental anyway but he beat a few kids for their parents, even without them asking."

Darcy patted him on the head. "Now they get put in jail for that."

"He could've used it back then." He straightened out his hair, scowling at her. She grinned back. "You're a tease."

"No, I'm not a tease. I'm just in a petting mood and my dog isn't obliging yet. You're as soft and fluffy as any dog is." He snorted but looked amused.

Stark was shaking his head. "I remember hearing about Gloria being in the hospital for alcohol poisoning."

"The LAPD officer in charge got to walk into a country club during brunch on Saturday," Darcy said. "To arrest three sets of parents. I'm sure that was one of the happiest arrests of his life," she said dryly. "Because a few of those parents were downright snotty to everyone. Oh!" She snapped her fingers. "Remember Marcy?"

"Marcy?"

"You usually called her Macy. Red pigtail girl." He nodded, remembering her now. "She's a nun."

Stark gaped. "No way! She had half the football team and the both the softball and the baseball teams."

"Yeah. Carmelite nun. It came with the alumni update letter for our reunion. She's an honest to god nun."

"Wow," Stark said. "Never would've considered that for her."

"Apparently her brother went into the military against his father's wishes and when he got killed, she went to God. And you missed a team in there. She had more than half of the chess team on a dare one night at a party."

Stark winced, shaking his head. "Wow." She nodded. "Any other huge shocks?"

"Remember Bradley?"

"Pop culture boy? Followed all the fads, looked like a wannabe member of Wham?"

"Yeah, him. We were all right, he's gay. He's married, one of the first in the state when it became legal. His husband's a lawyer. Bradley runs a bookstore."

"He ran a petition to get rid of the school's library to give the room to the chess team so they were out of view of normal kids."

She smiled and nodded. "Yup, him."

"Did you go to the same school?" Steve asked Stark.

"No. I was her senior year's mentor. They always asked someone who wasn't an alumni but was in business or law or something steady as a field so we could break the kid's expectations of walking out the door to find Prince Charming waiting in his coach for them. I swear, a few of them didn't think about needing to work for a living. Even if they were rich, they had no plans."

Darcy nodded. "Many of them. Every year we had a run on the SAT test and filing for college admission after the first speech by our senior year mentor. Mine, half of them had no idea what they were going to do and none of them were rich enough to sit around all day. He told one of them to become a mistress because she wouldn't make it as a trophy wife. She's a vet now. Decided you were right, she wasn't worthy so she went to college."

"That's good," he agreed. "The world could use more people who gave a damn."

"Her former husband was found diddling six eighteen year olds. He wanted to be Hef."

Tony snorted, shaking his head. "Compensating?"

"Yeah but he paid things for them."

He nodded with a grimace. "Figures. She win the divorce stakes?"

"Yup. And she did it by exposing his health reports from bloodwork." Tony winced. "Not HIV but still pretty nasty and the girls didn't know before she presented it in court with the judge ordering them to be there."

"Damn."

"Yeah. The judge is the brother-in-law of one of the year before mine." She grinned. "She asked specifically if the judge could order that."

"That was nice of him. I hope the girls got smart."

"Me too." She looked at Steve. "I had a bunch of semi-worthless people who I went to school with. A few came out okay. A lot....are still trying to figure out what the rest of us got when we were eighteen. One's an escort. He has his own agency. Does pretty well. It was in the newsletter too."

Stark shook his head with a sigh. "He bragged?"

"The reunion committee must've decided he was the least worst story."

"Are you in there?"

"I didn't send back my paperwork because I don't really want to go."

"That's a good idea," Stark said. "You'd sneer at everyone."

"Maybe. I can pretend to have manners for a few hours. I might sneer at a few of the teachers. Oh." She smiled. "One of the teachers is still hitting on the barely legal kids for their eighteenth birthdays. But it's not against the law so they can't stop her."

"You'd think they'd get rid of her for the bad taste," Stark said, shaking his head. "Do I know her?"

"She was the one that nearly blew you at the dinner table that day."

"She wasn't too bad. Kinda hot," he admitted.

"Had a thing for barely legal virgins," she said.

"Don't their parents mind?" Bruce asked.

"No, because being a male virgin is seen as an embarrassment," Darcy reminded him. "Unlike for women."

"Point. I forgot about that double standard." He stared at her. "You could go."

"I don't think I want to go."

He nodded. "I wouldn't either. Mine would just annoy me."

"I wouldn't mind but I don't want to deal with the people. There's a few in my class that would be on that slimy fucker's side." She tipped her head, looking toward the door. Someone kicked it and screamed. "Hey, the zappy pad does work," she quipped. Steve looked at her. "If you don't put in the correct code, the door shocks you like my tazer." She grinned. "Jake put it in earlier for me after we got back with the dogs."

"I need the code," Kate reminded her. Darcy wrote it down and handed it over. "Thanks." Clint stared at her. "In case I need to come get her dog to puppy sit like I do yours."

"Point."

Steve got up to see who was on the ground groaning. He stared. "Darcy, he's wearing a uniform."

"Really?" She looked. "That's a fake one, Steve. Wrong shade." She pulled out her phone to call. "Hi, I have what appears to be a fake officer that was stunned by my security system laying in my apartment hallway. This would be after someone tried to assassinate me earlier twice, with officers present the second time. My security system has a shock system," she reported. "He's groaning and moaning and his uniform is navy blue with silver trim. Thank you. Yes, that's mine. Am I on a 'bad things happen here list'?" She nodded. "That makes sense. Thank you, ma'am." She hung up. "Few minutes, Steve."

He nodded. "He's not waking up yet." All three dogs came to sniff him and Kate's dog sneezed on him before trotting off. He stared at her. "You're so weird."

"She's part Russian terrier," Kate said with a grin.

"She does remind me of Natasha somewhat," he decided, still looking confused.

James burst out in giggles, nodding. "Yes, she does." The dog gave him her version of the offended look. "You do. It must be the Russian parts of you," he told her in Russian. She barked, sounding smug, then cuddled with her human again. "We should find a way to let you meet her."

Kate grinned. "We're doing a cross-training thing in a few days with their team." She gave him her best good girl grin.

Stark looked at her. "I'd almost pay money to see that. She'll be huffy for hours."

Clint shook his head but he was grinning. "We can do that. I'm bringing Lucky that day too since it'll be a long day."

Stark stared at him. "Do we need pets at the facility?"

"Yes. It's not cheery," Clint said smugly. "He can hang out with Bruce to mooch his sandwiches."

Bruce looked at him. "I don't get along well with dogs."

"Lucky, come meet Brucie," Darcy called. Lucky came back to sniff the person she pointed at. Then he stared at Bruce before licking him and seeming to grin. He went back to teach the puppy about bad people. Officers ran up the stairs. "I called on the idiot," she called. "That's not a you guys uniform. It's an LAPD colored one."

"It is," one of them agreed. "What sort of security system do you have, ma'am?"

"It shocks you," Darcy said with a grin. "It got put in earlier after two assassination attempts, one with you guys on site to handle the first one."

"Just a shock system?"

"Like a tazer." She grinned. "I have three prices on my head, Officer. It's safer."

He nodded. "Have you thought about a guard dog, miss?" She pointed at the puppy with a grin. "He's cute."

"I just adopted him from a shelter today."

"That's great. Who's after you?"

"A slimy politician sort. His price just raised today. HYDRA kidnaped me. And my stepmother whore is getting out of jail in another month, somehow twenty years early."

He winced. "That's just wrong."

"Especially since she went away for murdering my father."

"Very wrong."

"She's had ones who took that one?" James asked her.

She nodded. "Every now and then a con that she served time with shows up. There's been seven that I'm aware of and got away from. Well, six I got away from. I was informed of one being at my undergrad's campus after they arrested him on top of the dorm I didn't live in."

The officer blinked. "You're that lady that smacked that guy, right?"

"Yeah, and his price on my head went up today."

"Crap."

"We figured the ones earlier were his."

"We can make sure. How strong is it?" She pointed at the metal bar on the floor. He shut the door and touched the bar to it. It took twice but it shocked him pretty good. He let Steve reopen it for him. "That's a good, strong strength and might be illegal."

She grinned. "I'd hope not. I'd hate to have to boobytrap the doors."

"Us too," the other officer agreed. He stood up and looked at Steve then threw something at him, making Steve bat it and put the officer into the wall.

"I didn't know you were dirty," the first officer told his partner. "Pretty stupid to attack Captain America." He called that in so they got a supervisor and an ambulance.

"Hail HYDRA. We'll still get you yet, Rogers."

Darcy stood up and walked out there, smiling at him. "Really? You so sure of that?"

The man stared at her, mouth open. He blinked a few times. "Oh," he said quietly, trying to get free. "We must bring you in." She slugged him in the jaw. "You hit like a girl."

"That's because I am a girl." She smiled at the other officer. "They wanted to knock me up with super soldier babies." She went back inside with his dog. "Lucky, c'mon, he's a super bad guy even worse than the Russian mobsters that work around here." Lucky followed her, hopping up to sit on his parent again.

Clint smiled and waved at the officer. "I found Darcy this place."

"That's sweet, Hawkeye." He looked at his superior officer. "He spat out Hail HYDRA, sir."

"Wasn't he stupid." He looked at his person and who was holding him. "Sir? May I?"

"Of course, Officer." He let him go and pointed. "He tried to throw that on me. I have no idea what that is."

Tony came out to look at it. "Chemical, not sure why." He put it carefully into the bag the senior officer had. "Smells like burnt sulphur actually." He went back to his seat after getting some water. "Russian mob?" he demanded, looking at his teammate.

"Yeah, they say bro a lot," Darcy quipped. "Wear track suits."

"Are really, really stupid," Kate complained. "Brain hurting dumb."

The local officer nodded. "We've run into them, miss."

She smiled. "I'm so sorry they bothered you guys too."

Clint nodded. "Yes, we are."

The officers nodded and took their former coworker with them while the ambulance got the guy on the ground. They'd handle this soon enough.

Darcy looked at Clint. "If I have to move again, I'm moving into a fortress and putting in my own club I'll allow people into by invitation only. I'll even invite decent DJ's."

He grinned. "I can help you find one if you really need one but it won't be downtown."

"That's fine." She nodded with a sigh. "Don't put me around yuppies. Have to have a bookstore and grocery stores nearby."

He grinned. "We'll take care of it, Lewis."

"Thanks. You are a very shiny knight, Clint."

"I try." Tony's phone rang. "Stark, you dropped your phone," he said with a point. "That's Pepper." He got up to get it, walking into a corner to talk to her.

"Darcy, your online friends are evil and making Pepper cry," he complained.

"Why?" She looked at him. "Over what?" He asked Pepper that and she told him. He groaned. "I'm guessing that's a good reason?" she asked. He nodded with a grimace. "You can talk to them. They'll probably open a dialogue with you, Tony."

"I can ask that later." He sighed. "Let me go talk to Pepper. Bruce, going home with Clint?"

"I can go to the tower, Tony." He smiled. "Be safe, Darcy."

"You too, Bruce." She gave him a hug and he smirked but left with Tony. That way he didn't have to take a cab.

Clint grinned at her. "You're sweet."

"It's all the baking I do. Someday I'm going to turn into the doughboy."

Clint snickered, shaking his head. "Probably not. You hate to be poked and you'd never wear the hat." She grinned so he looked at Kate. "Why are you avoiding your father?"

"He wanted to have a serious talk. I don't want to have another stepmother and I'm avoiding telling him about the dog."

He rolled his eyes. "Personal responsibility, girly girl."

"Fine." She got up and clipped her dog's leash on. "Have a good night, everyone. Let me go make my father confess he's dating or whatever." She walked out talking to her dog.

Darcy looked at Clint. "Do we think it's something huge?" she asked quietly.

"I think so but I'm not certain." She nodded at that. "If so, you might have a second dog for a bit."

"That's fine. We can puppy sit."

"Thanks." He grinned. "You do it so well." James was shaking his head but slightly smiling. So was Steve. "Let me hike the long way next door with Lucky so we can settle in for the night and order dinner."

"Do the Russians own the Italian place?" Darcy asked. "And the chinese one?"

He nodded. "Yeah, they do and pay them protection. This whole block is basically owned. Including the small grocery store on the next corner," he said with a point. "So it's probably safe if you order from there."

"That's what I was figuring. No one's said that they're working with HYDRA."

"They'd never take these guys, Darcy. And be careful of them? They're not exactly respectful."

"I have a tazer," she reminded him with a smile. He shivered but nodded. Steve was grinning at her. "I do."

"You do nicely with it too, Darcy." He stood up. "I should go home too. James?"

"I'm hovering," he admitted. "It's safer."

"He's got couch rights when it's raining because he kept escaping when I fed him," Darcy quipped with a grin for James.

"I'm not going to be leash trained," he shot back.

"He can't have a bed?" Steve asked her.

"There's only two and he never takes a shower." She stared at James. "If he did take a shower he could have the guest bed I guess."

He rolled his eyes. "Thanks. I'll stick with the couch for now. I fit in better."

Steve shook his head with a sigh. "Fine. Can you call in to check in?" Steve asked him.

"Probably," James admitted.

"Thanks. I worry about you, jerk." He hugged him around the head then left.

Darcy looked at him, a pointed, mom sort of look. James shrugged a bit. "I hate the disappointed look," he said quietly. She smiled and nodded. "Let me go shower." She pointed and he went to the guest bedroom to do that. Darcy was already washing most of his clothes on him. She had unpacked his backpack onto the bed and left the weapons there in the open for him. He sighed. She was such a mom sometimes.

He came out of the shower and found the dog hiding from his clingy human petting slave under his pillows. So maybe it'd be an interesting night.

***

Darcy was unintentionally meeting with a reporter the next morning and stared at her. "Do you really think I'm the stress relief for the whole team?" she asked dryly. The woman flinched. "Really? Considering I don't see them very often."

"Women like you...."

"I was a science intern, dear," she said dryly. "Living on my trust fund because I was helping my best friend."

"You're nothing," the reporter sneered.

"Actually, you're wrong. I'm a Duchess if you want to be formal about it. My grandmother was one." She smirked a tiny bit. "First born in the second generation and my cousin's not really fit for the title. Do I want to push it? No. It's not my sort of thing." She smirked at the reporter. "And just for that bit of sneering, you've won yourself a libel suit." The reporter stomped off. "You have a better day with your drug-induced fantasy world, ma'am," she called with a wave at her back. "Because that's the only reality you live in." She looked at the guy next to her. "I did get asked."

Her cousin, her uncle's son, nodded. "I know the conviction could be counted against me."

Darcy hugged him. "At least you got clean and we got you away from that bitch." She looked at him. "Are you better?"

"It hurts sometimes. The need's real and it's an ache sometimes."

She nodded. "I've seen other addicts say that. Are you at NA meetings or anything?"

"I'm not allowed according to my probation officer."

She frowned. "That seems counterproductive."

"I'm not allowed around other former offenders."

"Well, gee, that means you can't grocery shop either."

"I know." He sighed. "I've asked specifically about those. He sneered and suggested someone would buy me a rehab spot."

"We can arrange that if you want. There's some really pretty ones that have some decent results. The ones with the best results tend to be a bit more harsh."

"I'm used to harsh but I'd like not to go back there." He sipped his coffee, looking at her. "I'm shocked you're still talking to me. Grandmother would've thrown me out of the family and your mom would've bitched."

"Mom was a lot more liberal than a lot of people thought, Craig. You can't see what she did in the shelters and not be. She saw plenty of addicts, and a number that didn't start there on their own or by their own free will."

"Good point." He slumped again. "Are you okay?"

"I'd be happier without HYDRA being around," she said dryly, smirking at him. "But it happens to some of us. Real women are goddesses and we prove it by steamrolling over all the problems that get thrown in our way," she said, making him crack up at that quote from her mom. "Mom would be pissed that I swear so much though." She sipped her own coffee. "Are they going to let you live on your own soon?"

"Yeah. Did you sell Dad's house?"

"No and I told the lawyer not to because you'd need somewhere to live when you got out. If he did, I'm going to start stomping on him like he's grapes." He cracked and laughed, patting her on the wrist. She smiled. "It'll be okay. We'll get through this. I don't forget people unless they're evil. You're not evil, you're struggling. I'm all supporty."

"Thanks." He grinned. She smiled back. "You know there's someone filming us, right?"

"Probably more than one." She smiled at the person stomping over. "Yes, miss editor who let people tell blatant lies?" she asked dryly.

"Your newest client?" she sneered.

"My cousin actually. By the way, that adds you to libel suit."

"We can prove you've slept with them."

"I doubt that. I've slept with one person who's lived in the tower and that's it." She stared at her. "You're just pathetic trying to raise readership so you don't lose your paper. I'm not the one that's going to do that for you and I don't play nice." She smiled. "You have a great day in that reporter's drug-induced fantasy world since you both apparently live there."

"You slept with Barnes," she said smugly as she walked off.

Darcy burst out laughing. "No I haven't. I slept *on* him, and he's got a really comfy shoulder, but I've never slept *with* him. Sorry. You're just looking for attention and I'm not going to give it to you." The woman glared and stomped off again. "Great, more people my legal buddy gets to talk to."

Her cousin shook his head. "You need a new boyfriend. You're going evil."

"Yes I am and I need to calm down before I become a super villain." He laughed, nodding while smirking at her. She grinned back. "I'll be a good one too. No stupid plans. Worthwhile minions. Nothing that would destroy a town." She waved a hand around with a grin. "I'd have fun too."

"Please don't go evil around me. I don't want to go back."

"I know, sweetie. I'd never let you help. You don't need to go back there." She patted him on the hand again. "Let's go for a walk."

"Sure." He got up and let her grab her dog's leash so they could walk. He looked down at the puppy then at her. "Not fashionable."

"But cute, sometimes cuddly, gives me something to do all day." She smiled at one kid. "Hey."

"Are you coming back soon?" she demanded.

"I am coming back next week. I'd be back this weekend but a friend's having her wedding in Maine on Saturday."

"Pity." She looked at the dog. "You're huge."

"It's sometimes cuddly and a bit protective and it gives me something to give attention to," Darcy told her. "This is Conor. One 'n'."

"Hi," she said, letting the dog sniff her hand. It lapped it then stared at the baby, sniffing at it. She let the dog sniff the kid. "It's my baby sister. You can sniff her as long as you're nice." The dog barked, making the baby flinch. So he whined until she calmed down and nosed her foot.

"Good boy, Conor," Darcy cooed, petting his ears. "Such a good boy." She smiled. "Hi, sweetie. Are you being a good girl today?" The baby squealed.

"I think she realizes you're the one that gives me healthy cookies I give to my mom," she quipped. "Be safe, Darcy."

"You too, sweetie. I'll see you guys at the normal time on Monday." She nodded and they walked off. She walked off with her cousin. "I work with a tutoring group she attends."

"That's great. I think it's great you're doing that, Darcy." He spotted a problem. "Reporters with cameras," he groaned.

Darcy looked at him. "I am not ashamed of you. Quit." He rolled his eyes but nodded. She tightened the leash a bit so Conor couldn't get so far ahead of them.

"Miss Lewis!" the reporter said, shoving toward her.

"Don't get near my dog," she said impatiently. "He's little and doesn't know who he should bite yet." She backed off after looking at the dog. "What's up, people?"

"What do you say about that report that said you've screwed all the avengers?" the reporter asked with a smirk.

"I'm saying that the lying whore and her lying whore of an editor need to quit taking drugs. I've only slept with one person who lived in Avengers Tower. Sorry." She shrugged. "Their drugs are apparently laced with something since them and reality had a huge breakup."

The reporter blinked, staring at her. "That's not very polite."

"Yeah, I don't do polite when people try to attack me, especially with such stupid rumors that never were a thing even when I was living there. Beyond that, most of the avengers members have significant others or at least someone they're interested in. I can't *wait* until that reporter and her editor, who came over to sneer at me a few minutes ago about that same rumor they started, runs into them."

The reporter blinked a few more times, staring with her mouth open. "Wow."

"Yeah, well, I'm not a whore. I'm actually pretty damn picky about who I sleep with. Not that it should matter. That's a huge double standard thing that's really dumb. Anything else?" she asked with a smile.

"It's not a double standard."

"How many times did you call someone like Hef or Stark a whore for sleeping around?" she asked dryly. "As opposed to at least one semi-famous woman every week, even if it's false and might affect their careers or private lives? I personally think that harmful rumors like those should be open to legal action." She gave her a pointed look. "Anything else today?"

"Is this your boyfriend?"

"This is my cousin. My former uncle's son."

"Oh. We heard about him."

"Yes and if his stepmother hadn't started by shooting drugs into his arm while he was asleep then it might've been easier for him. We're catching up."

"That's sweet of you to support him with his rehab," the cameraman said. Darcy smiled at him for that. "New dog?"

"Just adopted him a few days ago. His name's Conor, after the Irish myth."

"Aww. He looks cutely confused."

"You're the first reporters he's run into." She smiled. "Let us get back to our stroll to catch up, people. Go find *real* news please? The world's full of real news and while entertainment news is stress relieving to all that, I'm not news." They nodded and went off to bother others in the park. She looked at her cousin, who was staring at her. She grinned. "I've seen a few of them over the years."

"Wow. You do that good." They walked off together again, the dog sniffing most everything. And peeing on a few. When he got back to his halfway house, someone was waiting on him. "Yes?" he asked his probation officer. "Is something wrong?"

"You were with a known convict."

"I was with my cousin who's never been arrested."

"She has a federal file, kid."

"Yeah, because HYDRA kidnaped her," he said firmly. "Because she took down a senator who had his son try to kill most of a dorm." The guy sneered. He stared back. "You need to get a warrant if you want to take me back. I know my rights and my lawyer's already on the way. I saw your car outside and I needed to talk to him anyway."

"You can't profit from a crime you committed," he sneered.

"I didn't have my father killed. I would've stopped her if she had tried to get my help." He stared at him. "If you're taking me back, you'd better have a warrant."

"Fine." He produced one with an evil grin. "You're going back, jackass."

"That's fine. We can talk to a judge." He let himself be cuffed and they walked off. They ran into his lawyer outside. "Can you get my stuff? They're saying my cousin Darcy is a convict."

"She's not," he said. "I know her pretty well." He went to gather the boy's things and followed him to the hearing, sending Darcy a desperate text message.

***
Part 9 by voracity
Darcy showed up the next morning at her cousin's hearing, back in a bitch business suit and heels, with everything properly done up. She'd make Pepper cry with how business bitch she was.

"It's sad, Your Honor, but the young man was associating with convicts not even a week after he got out," the DA said blandly.

"Prove it," the other lawyer said. "He was with his cousin. She is not a former convict."

"I'd like to hear that from her since I believe she's behind her cousin," the judge said.

"Yes I am," Darcy said as she stood up. "I have never been convicted of anything, Your Honor. I've spent exactly one night in jail my entire life, and two hours in a drunk tank because I was protecting my boss and wouldn't let her be taken in alone since she had alcohol poisoning."

"Why weren't you convicted if you spent a night in?" he asked.

"They were trying to find my father when I was a runaway." The judge blinked at her. "After my mother's death, Your Honor. My father was wrapped up in his grief, I was deep in mine, and I ran for two weeks. I spent the night there because the cops rescued me after I beat someone with something I picked up because she stabbed me. I was young, innocent, and unprotected. She was going to turn me in to her pimp for a reward. I fought her off. The officer that found us fighting took me in to return me home but he was out of the city at that time."

"I see. Why would she do that?"

"Your Honor, you may not see it much on this end of the city, but unprotected kids out there are often taken in by force by pimps. Usually drugged up until they need the drugs and then sent out to earn money for it," she said firmly. "I narrowly avoided that for two weeks then she caught me and stabbed me in the side. I have the scar if you need to see it."

"No, I don't," he admitted. "No convictions?"

She handed the defense attorney a file. "My file from SHIELD, Your Honor. Where I used to work as an unpaid intern for someone associated they had a file on me. It was corrected because they never realized the name thing due to death threats."

He read it over, nodding some. "Huh. No, no convictions. No arrests. A note was made about that drunk tank incident and the police officer said it was welcomed since they didn't have the staff to watch her."

"The local hospital was five hours away and that town had two deputies on each shift," she said. "She had just had her work break down for a bit."

"I can understand how that happens." He looked through the rest of the file then at her. "Why are you listed as a kidnaping risk?"

"HYDRA apparently wants the fruit of my loins," she said dryly. "I'd like to summon a real hydra to introduce them to it. Preferably up someone's behind."

"I heard about that incident." He kept reading and nodding. "I don't see a problem with you seeing your cousin. You appear to be a fine, upstanding young woman who's doing some good in this world." He looked at the DA. "Why did you think she's a criminal?"

"She's a rich heiress who does nothing all day, Your Honor. We all know they take drugs and things."

"You can drug test me if you want," Darcy said dryly. "You might find some poppyseed dressing from yesterday and some muffins from a few days earlier but I don't use drugs. That wasn't ever my thing. Not *all* heiresses are like those you find on tv entertainment stations. My mother would've beaten the whole group of them and I'm *very* like my mother."

"Was your mother a slut?" he demanded with an evil smirk.

"No, and neither am I. That was a desperate gasp by the person I'm suing for making me defend myself against him. His little lies are catching up to him and I've already added that charge to the lawsuit." She smiled. "Don't worry, you can join them since I know you're a *personal* friend of his." The guy spluttered. "Your Honor, I believe that supposed man's problems have made this supposed man act rashly against my cousin to try to get me back for suing him." She handed over a few society pictures of those two hanging out at parties while drinking. "You can see they're good friends at least."

"It looks like that may be a reason," he admitted, handing the file to the bailiff. "For her." It was handed back to her. "I don't see a reason to send him back."

"Your Honor, can you clear up a point?" she asked. He nodded. "Can my cousin go to NA meetings? His probation officer told him that'd be associating."

The judge stared at her. "Not that I've ever heard and I believe it's a great idea for most people recovering." He looked at the DA and the probations officer. "NA has been exempt from that since it was put on. The same as going to the same grocery store or mall has if you're not doing more than nodding at someone in passing," he said firmly. He looked at the cousin again. "If it'll help you, go for it."

"Can I travel out of state to a rehab?" he asked quietly. "I have one I'd like to look at more closely but it's in New Hampshire, Your Honor."

"Is it a reputable one?"

"Sixty percent rates of not needing to go back," he said, lifting his chin up.

"Then hell yes, it'll be good for you, son." He looked at Darcy. "You'd send him?"

"If he needed me to because his trust wouldn't, of course I would. I'm all for helping my cousin do whatever he needs to do so he's the nice, sane, sweet guy he used to be, or as close as he can get to it."

"Good. I like supportive families." He banged his gavel. "Motion dismissed." Her cousin got unhandcuffed and released. "I hope you make it, kid."

"Me too, sir. I don't like to disappoint Darcy." He walked out with her.

"The New Hampshire one?" she asked. "That looked nice."

"I was thinking maybe the regular therapy might help some too," he said quietly.

She hugged him. "If that's what you need, then you need it, and I'm there for you." She stared into his eyes. "Got it?" He nodded, hugging her back. "Good. Let's get you back there."

"Sure. If I can, I'm going this weekend."

"That's fine. You can email probably or write." He nodded. "We can talk to the lady over your trust on the way there if you want. I had Brian tell her about all this."

"Sure. Thanks."

"Welcome. We can check on your dad's house too." He grinned. "Have you seen your mom?"

"She's out of the country. She's been sending frantic emails for the last few weeks."

"That's sweet." She got them to her car and let him in then got around to drive, taking him to the group that helped both of their trusts. Where they supposedly couldn't find the paperwork and Darcy had to call in the Treasury. Agents got there in about twenty minutes, they were about to raid anyway. One of the senior partners was an idiot who embezzled. Darcy and her cousin's funds were locked in a fund that couldn't get removed from without signatures. Darcy was super careful about that.

The lead Treasury agent came in, staring at her. "Miss Lewis, can we have a word?" he asked politely.

"Sure. As long as you're not HYDRA. The last time I heard an agent say that I got kidnaped."

"No, I'm not, Miss Lewis." He held out some papers. "There's a problem with your name."

"The fund's in both names," she said, pointing at that. "Because Lewis is a family name but I adopted it due to death threats. We have formal notice from the FBI about all of those with the firms I use."

He blinked a few times. "I was not aware of that."

"If you closed my trust I'm going to have to get mean," she said.

"No, I have not. We put a note on it about that."

Darcy looked at their money manager, who only handled the funds for her mother's charity foundation for her. She pulled out that information file for him. Darcy handed it over with a smile. "I went through the FBI and every financial institution I go through has that notice."

He looked through it, nodding. "That's reasonable. You could have done it formally."

"Then they could've traced that."

"Oh. Good point." He reread it, nodding again. "That would a good reason and I'll remove that note, Miss Lewis. Thank you." He handed it back to her.

"Thank you for being calm. Most of the agents I see about problems are huffy."

He nodded. "We at the Treasury don't usually have to do that. Or if we do, we bring an FBI agent since they're trained to be huffy." He smiled and left to go remove those holds on her accounts.

Darcy handed the papers back with a grin. "I hope that they cream that political slimeball that tried to get you," the financial manager said.

"Me too," he said. "I can't believe you tazed him."

"A lot of people told me I should've shot him," she said with a smile.

"That might've caused more problems," he warned.

"Just for a bit. Then it would've been solved."

"Maybe," he agreed. "His kids would've tried you."

"Yeah but they would've lost." She shrugged with a grimace. "But that's a possible other history."

"Point." He smiled at the financial manager. They wanted to check on that one facility and his father's house. She had information on the sale, that the judge ordered. "I thought that was the family's choice."

"The mayor's cousin wanted it," she said with a small shrug. "The lawyer couldn't stop it and we did get everything out of it. It's in secured storage that we made the court pay for since the estate didn't want that house sold. The judge got huffy but the appeal of the mandated sale said that he had to since he had went against the family's wishes but it was too late to stop the sale by about four months. He had to pay us back for those fees and the new storage fees plus legal fees for the appeal."

"Can we get him a new place and set up those things there?" Darcy asked. "After we search it in case she left any drugs?"

"We can, and the lawyer was there with the drug dog they paid to come in to search for more drugs."

"That's good," Darcy agreed, squeezing her cousin's hand. "How did they sell that since the house was still partially in the first ex-wife's name?"

"I have no idea," she admitted. "I know the lawyer pointed that out but the judge was in debt or something. He retired right after the decision with a back-dated letter."

"Great," he sighed. "Mom's going to be livid."

"She nearly capped the judge but I didn't hear why," Darcy admitted. "I think that's why she's been in Europe."

He sighed, shaking his head. "I love my mother."

Darcy laughed. "I love her too, but yeah, she's sometimes got a temper."

"Yup." He nodded.

"Your dad did say she reminded him of his mother."

"Very. I only knew the old bat from old movies but yeah, a lot alike." Darcy grinned and nodded. "Wow. Okay, so I need to find a place to live when I get back."

"It's cheaper if you move outside the city," the financial person said. "Plus you'd get more room."

"Yeah, I might be doing that once I'm off probation. They said I had to stay in the city."

"You're going to be in rehab for a few months," Darcy reminded him. "So you have time to look."

"Point."

"And see if they will let you live outside a halfway home," Darcy added.

"I hope so. I only have six more months of probation." She smiled. "Thanks."

"You're welcome. Don't worry, I'll always point out problems." He snorted but looked pleased. "So he can afford to go?"

"With his yearly limits, he can afford to go for at least ten months this year," she said. "And we're in May so you've got some wiggle room there." He smiled and nodded. "We can arrange that."

"Please."

"Okay, let me talk to them and we'll arrange a direct draw for their fees. We'll get the statements you'll need faxed to the probation office here. I'm sure they've had to deal with it before." He nodded, smiling some. "And we'll get you set up in their care for now."

"Thank you." He leaned over to shake her hand.

"It's not a problem. What she did to you was wrong." She smiled slightly. "And I've known Darcy now for five years." He laughed but nodded. They got things set up and they had a bed coming open in about a week. Darcy took him back to the courthouse so he could present that to that judge for his approval. Darcy had their site pulled up on her phone for him. The judge looked it over and signed off on it. They went to probation so he could hand that to the supervisor.

The supervisor looked it over then him. "Why tell me? You have an officer."

"Who just got disappointed because he was trying to put me back because he's in league with the person my cousin's suing."

"Oh. I heard that." He looked the information over. "It's a pricy place."

"I have a trust. It'll pay for it. We made sure first."

"Okay," he said, signing off on it. "How soon?"

"A week," he said. "They'll have a bed open in a week."

"Okay."

"When I get back, am I allowed to live on my own?"

"You have a better chance of staying clean if you're in a sober living environment."

"I can figure that out then. I'll be out of probation probably."

He looked up his file, nodding. "I do see that. You technically could but it might be safer." He looked up. "Let them figure that out."

"If I need it that much I might move up by them. Do outpatient."

He nodded. "That's not unreasonable. They can help you set that up when you're ready to graduate their program."

"Thank you." He shook his hand. "I'll be on my cousin's couch for a few days?"

"That's reasonable. I doubt she'll let you get into trouble." He grinned. "Good luck. I'll have your new officer check in up there."

"Thank you, sir." He left, gathering Darcy from the waiting area. She was telling someone she's not a lawyer. "She's here to drive me around." She smiled at him. "We're set and can I have your couch?"

"Of course." She smiled at the other guy. "I hope it works out for you," she said quietly. "No one deserves that sort of treatment." She walked out with her cousin. Who was staring at her. "Okay, mass murderers but I doubt they'd be on probation."

"Good point. Let's go play with your dog." She nodded, taking him home so he could shower and change clothes. She could shower and change into something more comfortable, and she could call Kate to bring her dog back. Two of those three happened but Kate was on her couch already with both dogs sulking. He glanced at Darcy, who smiled and nodded it was fine.

Kate looked up. "My dad's filing bankruptcy."

Darcy settled in to hug her. "It'll be okay. They can't touch your trust." She sighed but leaned against Darcy's arm. "Did he like the dog?"

"He met him and said this is really not a great time for that since we're selling the house," she said bitterly.

"You'll figure it out, Katie. It'll be okay and you've got a great lineage to live up to."

"I know. You should go get out of the bitch gear. You look mean." Darcy smiled, going to do that. She looked at the dogs. "She's really good and should be a mom someday." They both snuffled her and let her pet them. She looked at the guy coming out. "Sorry, but I needed a girlfriend."

"It's okay. She's my cousin and I know how caring she is." He smiled and held out a hand. "Craig DeCriths."

"Kate Bishop." She shook it. "You can sit, I'm just sniffly."

He sat down. "Will you be okay? I have no idea how to handle girlish troubles."

"I'm fine. It's a dad thing."

"I can understand that. Mine kept remarrying."

"Mine didn't but he owns a newspaper."

"Ah. He didn't transition fast enough?"

"Not really."

"Well, maybe he'll sell it, restructure, and it'll be okay."

"I hope so." She settled in to cuddle the dogs until Darcy came back out. "Are you doing anything today?" she asked when Darcy walked out to make coffee.

"Only if I have to shoot back at stupid reporters."

"You probably should. That rumor hit the London papers. My dad was groaning over it when I spotted it and groaned earlier."

Darcy waved her phone. "I'm about to blow up twitter." She made coffee and brought out cups for her and Kate. "I don't know if you drink coffee," she said at his amused look. "And you're family so serve yourself. She's a guest, she gets served."

He smiled but went to get his own coffee. "At least you don't treat me like anything more than what I am."

"That'd be stupid of me. Neither of us was raised to be the weak heir sort, Craig. Our parents would've killed us."

"Did your dad take your mom's name?" Kate asked her.

"For work purposes. It gave him a better 'in' with people thanks to her family name." She sipped her coffee and put the mug down. "Danish in the fridge but it's two days old." Her cousin got some and came out to sit and watch her ruin some people's days. Darcy got onto her twitter and saw all the requests for comments. She commented, and commented meanly. Including linking the full statement on her facebook page. Then she put her phone aside and drank some coffee with a grin. "Those two are going to be *so* sorry."

Her phone beeped the 'new message' sound so she looked at it, answering that one. "Oh, now they have me pregnant by Stark." She tagged Pepper into that response too. Then added one. "I have never slept with Tony Stark, don't want to sleep with Tony Stark, and he's like an odd cousin I grew up with," she muttered as she typed, being sure to link Tony in. "Also I don't poach, especially not from Pepper Potts." She made sure she tagged her too.

"Just at my character limit," she said happily and sent it. Tony quipped back, probably via his AI FRIDAY, that he felt the same way, she was his weird little cousin. Pepper's answer was 'I knew you weren't and if they think you are, there's a lack of education in there. Please fix it'. Darcy laughed and sent her a private email that she was good but they'd have to start with elementary schools. She put her phone back down.

Kate looked at her own. "Now they're speculating which avenger you slept with."

"Who said I slept with an avenger?" Darcy asked dryly, sipping her coffee. "I said I slept with someone who lived in the tower."

Kate laughed and put that up, tagging in the idiots. "Good point. Have you?"

Darcy smiled. "Only under extreme circumstances of me being drugged."

"Oooooh." She stared at her oddly. "Clint?" she mouthed. Darcy smiled and nodded. "Was he good?"

"Yeah. It was excellent."

Kate shivered. "Good to know." She put up a statement about how wrong it was to want to judge Darcy on who she slept with instead of what she does. Then she put her own phone up. Her father called so she pulled it back out. "Yeah, Dad? I'm on Darcy's couch actually, Dad. Sniffling about our talk. No, she cannot have my dog, Dad."

Darcy looked at her. "I know you'll probably have to move."

"Yeah, he's saying that too. Dad, I have a trust, they can't touch it, I can get my own apartment. It'll be thin but I can do it. I know that's for college, Dad. I can make up college fees later if I have to. I can go extra hours or whatever."

"Going extra hours past a certain point can cost more. It's more cost effective to go during the summers and means you keep everything like dorm rooms," Darcy told her.

"Darcy said it's practical for me to do up to a point and then it's cheaper to go summer school for a few extra so I won't have a housing gap." She listened. "She'd know, Dad. She's got three degrees." She listened. "No, my college fund wasn't with them. I asked the family lawyer to please move it somewhere I could learn to manage it. Yes, it went there. No, it wasn't, it was moved after Darcy shut down her uncle." Darcy winced. "Not your fault and I would've done it anyway." She shifted and listened.

"Yes, that's who has it, Dad. They're decent people. We talked about how it was my college fund and I'd need good returns in about five years when I had it moved to them. Actually the Treasury agents shutting down that firm during the trial helped me move it. Yes, it's with them. So I know I'm poor but not broke, Dad." She nodded. "I can accept that. No, it's not in the family's hands at all. The lawyer signs off on my yearly interest statements after I do." She rolled her eyes.

"It was suggested I get a guardian ad litem to protect myself during that stuff, Dad. That way my trust wasn't touched or anything like that. I know they'd want fees, Dad. Yes, that reason. I have no idea, Dad. Right now...I don't blame you, Dad. Trends changed and newspapers went down. You tried to transition but you were a smaller paper. These things happen in business. That's why it's a risk. It was going to be changing when I had to take over because of your future heart attack from the stress anyway since I don't really know a thing about the newspaper business, Dad." She sighed. "Exactly. And hey, less stress so you don't die from it."

"Does he know about your hobbies?" Darcy asked quietly. Kate shook her head frantically. "It'll come out. And ask Matt if he knows of someone good but cheap."

"Not a bad idea. No, Dad, Darcy had an idea of who I could ask about a good, inexpensive lawyer to help me guard my trusts. Grandmother's, Dad. And we gotta talk because otherwise you'll have that heart attack in the court room. No, Dad, I'm not being a slutty ho," she said dryly. "Dad, I haven't had more than a girlfriend," she said dryly. "Though I am bi and that's not what I was going to talk to you about. No, Darcy reminded me of something that'll definitely be dug up. Yup, I'll be back soon." She hung up. "Damn it, he's going to die from that."

Darcy nodded. "Better at home than in the courtroom when someone brings it up."

"True." She looked at herself then sighed and went to get her kit from the backseat of the car so she could spiffy up in Darcy's bathroom. She even went for the full makeup look to give her smokey eyes and a pretty lipstick. Darcy handed her a pretty scarf. "Why?" she asked.

"Windy. It'll mess up your hair."

"Point." She put it over her hair before going out with her dog. They went home. Kate took off the scarf as she grabbed her bow, carrying it inside. Her puppy followed like the loyal sidekick she was. "Dad?" she called. She heard something in the office and went in there, shooting the three people in there with him. "I don't think you need to be around my father," she told the one she knew was a thug. "Really."

"Hawkeye," he sneered.

She smirked. "Yes, I damn well am." She kicked him in the temple to knock him out. "Hi, Dad." She smiled.

He stared, drink halfway to his mouth. He cleared his throat. "You were hiding that, Pumpkin?"

"Yeah, Dad." She nodded, sitting in a chair. Her dog was trying to pull an arrow out. "Leave it alone, Cutey. I'll get it in a few minutes." The dog barked at that person and ran over to hop into her human's lap. Kate smiled, petting the dog. "You're such a good dog, Cutey." She petted her, smiling at her dad.

He finished that drink. "Well." He stared at her. "That's...." He cleared his throat. "I know you're not the one on that team."

"No, I'm the one that took his place when he was out of commission healing," she said. "And I'm on the other team."

He blinked at her. "Oh. Okay." He stared at her. He looked at the people that had been threatening him then at her. "That's going to get messy."

She leaned over to grab the phone, holding the dog in place until she leaned back. She called in. "Hi, Officer Trax. This is Kate Bishop and I just had to harm a few people threatening my father in his office. Yes, we're at home. Please do. Three and one I know is a thug that works with that crime boss that's hugely fat and wears all that white. Fisk, yeah, whatever his name is. Him. Thanks. No, he tried to threaten me once so I planted a tazer button in his dick that time. This time, I used my bow. Thanks." She hung up and put the phone on the free chair with a grin. "You remember Trax, right, Dad?"

"I do and I heard he had become an officer. His parents were worried but proud he made his own way that way." He poured himself another drink and stared at her. "How long?"

"Few years." She stared at him. "I do the name proud, Dad. Even he says so. He's working on my few last rough spots now and then. Our team trains with his sometimes too."

"That's good." He took a large drink. He realized he was in shock but what else were you to do when your daughter came out as a hero in training? "You're right, I should not have heard about this in a court of law where there was nothing for me to do but have the heart attack." Kate held up her dog with a grin. He petted her. "You're a good friend for her, Cutey. That one you puppysit? The blond one?"

"Lucky is Clint's. I puppy sit sometimes when he's out on missions for more than a day. Or Darcy Lewis does, she lives in the next building. She used to be the assistant for Thor's girlfriend."

"That's interesting. She doesn't...." He waved a hand at her. Kate smiled and shook her head. "Good. You have a strong female role model who doesn't wear spandex."

"Partially and it's partially kevlar. It cost less than my coming out dress too." She looked at the black outfit then at him. "My old one was purple but a bit baggy on me."

He nodded. "Don't share, Pumpkin. Not yet." She grinned and stayed there petting her dog. He went to let the officers in. "We're all in the office."

Officer Trax walked in first. "Kate?" he demanded, staring at her. "Oh, I heard, but that's better than the purple outfit."

"It is," she said with a smile. "Now that I've finally quit growing I could go with something nicer and that fit me better. And I don't trip as much when I run in it."

The other officers stared. "Um...Hawkeye," one said. "Girl Hawkeye."

She smiled at him. "You don't have to designate, we know which one you're talking about. He's still got skills I won't have for years. He's been doing this almost as long as I've been alive."

"Sure," the officer agreed. "So you rushed in to help Mr. Bishop?"

"He's my dad," she said with a smile. "He didn't know this and I came to tell him about all this magnificence in action," she said with a wave at herself, "and found them threatening my father."

"They were trying to force me to sell my newspaper business to them at a loss," he said. "They heard I filed for restructuring."

The officers nodded. "So she walked in, found them, and then handled it for you?" he asked. Kate's father nodded, finishing that drink. "At least your daughter's good. She's helped a lot. She doesn't cause any damage like some of them do, and she handles bigger problems than the small-time people do but less than the Avengers team does."

"Oh, yeah, Dad, that's why I flunked that english test that made you scowl. I was in Canada," she quipped. "Helping handle a rogue Asgardian who wasn't Loki." He held up his hand with a grunt as he drank that comment away. "Sorry." She looked at the officers. "That one arrow's going to be wet," she said with a point. "My baby Cutey here is learning how to fetch arrows for me."

They stared at the dog then nodded. "We've seen Lucky," Officer Trax admitted with a grin.

"I puppysit and Lucky helps me train Cutey, and Darcy Lewis train her new dog Conor."

They all nodded and called in the proper people to handle the not-dead bodies while they took statements. At one point her father went to lock himself in the kitchen to rant at God and his dead wife, but otherwise it went okay and Kate calmed down from her nerves. Coming out was hard on a person.

***

Clint showed up at Kate's house that night, not in uniform. Her father answered the door. "At least you're not wearing your uniform like her," he said, staring at him.

Clint winced. "You found out?"

"She told me so I wouldn't hear it in the courtroom, Mr. Barton. Let's go talk about what my daughter needs to do to train for real." He led him to his office. The dog was in the hallway staring at them. It barked at Clint, who stared back. "That dog is so weird."

"She's a lot like Natasha," Clint admitted, handing over a dog biscuit he had in his pocket. It was stale but she got out of the way and followed them. "We laughed about how much she was like Natasha actually." He sat down. "Kate's a good girl. I tried to talk her out of it. Rogers tried to talk her out of it."

"I heard. We talked about it after I got those thugs off my carpet. She nicely walked in and found them so shot them."

"Probably not how she wanted you to find out, no."

"No, probably not. By the way, she's grounded for the next two weeks for being in spandex for three years without me finding out. It would've been longer but I'm realistic enough to know she'd break it."

Clint grinned. "That's a very dad thing to do."

"She does train?"

"We train weekly when I'm around and she takes her own private archery practice as well. Plus her other fight training." He nodded. "She's good. She's at the top of the bottom tier and probably olympic quality. She's learning things that are elevating her into the upper tier. She can handle most things unless they go really bad."

"Has she had to kill?"

"Not that I'm aware of and I probably would've found her drunk on my couch with my dog."

"Good point." He relaxed. "I don't want her to do that."

"Neither did I but she felt someone had to."

"Or as that one guy with the webs said, great power comes with great responsibility?" he asked.

"Yeah, that sums it up too. She's got the skills and she knows someone has to. She also keeps telling me I'm getting old. I told her to go taunt Logan about that." Kate's father cracked a smile. "She's well liked and well respected but most of the adults won't listen to her team at all due to their age. Some of the younger X-Men get the same thing."

"Do they associate?"

"I think they've met up at the same clubs a few times. You'd have to ask her if she hangs with them."

"Fine." He stared at Clint. "What can I do to make sure she stays safe?"

"Make her quit," he said. "Because there's always going to be an injury waiting. Being honest, I take a lot of punishment some missions. Some not at all. She'll never fully be me. She doesn't want to take assassination missions and isn't sure she'd like to end up a SHIELD agent to be honest. It's possible she'll find someone to back her up beyond her team at times. It's possible she'll still be doing this once she graduates college and goes to a full time job. A number of the smaller handling people do."

He nodded. "That would be a good thing but tiring."

"Yeah but if we don't do it, no one else will." He shrugged. "Think what New York would be like without us handling some of the problems. We're here because they're here, not the other way around, Mr. Bishop."

"I get that." He sighed. "What will we need to make sure she's got set up when we have to move? I'm presently restructuring everything and we're moving sometime soon."

"I practice basic archery in my apartment with a target against my brick wall," he admitted. "You should probably put in a safe room area that'll hold up in case of an attack if you get another house. If not, an apartment farther from downtown might be a good idea. I know she likes her school and they have an archery team." He grinned. "The teacher there doesn't know about her but that's because she's said he goes on a few anti-hero rants now and then and complains a lot about me being an archer on a team with Iron Man. Thinks it's dumb."

"I think the iron suit might make her less vulnerable," Kate's dad admitted.

"Tony gets banged up too," he assured him. "And it's hard to get him out of the suit if he's injured or knocked out." He grinned a bit. "Katie Kate hates engineering too, so no go there."

"I get that. I want her to get into safer things. She used to really like horses."

"We'd all like that. Every one of us in the field hates that someone else joins and most of them have the reason that it affected them or it's the right thing to do. Kate's not alone in that and she does have a decent team with her most of the time. She's helped a lot. When Darcy got kidnaped, she warned the doc and his wife, plus liaisoned with a lot of the local talent to see if they could help us track her."

"That's good," he agreed quietly. "Is there some sort of supervisory position? A guild or something?"

"No. We're all independent and that would probably be suggested by someone like Xavier, who'd never let her help his teams because she's not a mutant."

"I thought he would've been more inclusive."

"No. Not really. He's not 'humans yay' as Darcy put it. He's more 'humans aren't beasts to be struck down and are okay in the natural order of things' than everyone working together unless it's something huge. And if it's something that huge, we're all screwed so leave the city as fast as you can however you can."

"I can do that," he agreed, blinking a few times. "I didn't realize there were inter-team relationships beyond nodding at each other."

"We don't hold friendship meetings but now and then we do talk to share information about big problems. Mostly we have one or two people that won't set them off so we send them. Logan comes to us usually, or Hank McCoy if they have to talk to us or the F-4."

"Is Reed Richards really as arrogant as he appears?"

"Yeah, he's got genius syndrome pretty bad. Stark has recurring moments of infection but Reed's never come out of it and his wife's pretty nice. We talk to Sue most of the time when we have to talk to them. Thor goes to talk to Ben because he's the only one that can arm wrestle Thor and win." He shrugged slightly. He looked down at the sneaking dog, patting his lap. "You know how to jump. Conor taught you." She hopped up and stared at Darcy's father. Clint shook his head. "She has Natasha's stare too." He grinned. "Kate brought her up to a training weekend when I brought Lucky. Natasha was amused by Cutey but still gave her such weird looks for being a dog. Lucky knocked down a few people to lap them silly and then decided to nap on Bruce because he felt comfortable."

"You guys are weird," he said.

"I know." Clint grinned. "It happens. Normal people don't do things like this."

"True. Should I just find her a training center to work on her fighting skills and give her archery practice?"

"She could use some of both. She's not bad with smaller hand weapons like a baton and small staves. She gets plenty of running practice right now when she steals Lucky or Conor." He got an odd look. "Darcy doesn't run and I have a gym."

"Ah. So she takes the dogs to the park?"

"Lucky helps her pick out people to flirt with."

He snickered quietly. "My girl is very unique." He stared at him. "Can I stop her?"

"Probably not. She waved off Rogers' glare of 'don't piss me off' that most of us walk away from. She nearly laughed at him when he said she'd get hurt then gave him facts about civilian casualties."

"I can understand why. Her mother was much the same sort of stubborn."

"I almost asked her if she was related to Lewis when we first met. I also made her prove her skills by stealing my bow back. Rogers had given it to her after something and I stole it from her. I made her prove she wanted it by stealing it back."

He nodded. "That's reasonable. Thank you for trying."

"We all hate that people get affected and join up. A lot of them give up after their first injury or their first loss."

"Not my baby girl. The only thing she's ever given up on was ice skating." He stared at Clint. "Can you take her dog home?"

"I don't really want a roommate so probably not."

"I'd hate that too," he admitted. "If she has to end up living by herself can you help her find somewhere safe?"

"Of course. There's a few near me." He grinned. "The only threats there are the Russian Mob."

"I've heard. Don't tell me any more about that please."

Kate came in with tea and coffee cups, handing her father's over with a kiss to his temple. "They're kinda stupid, Dad. They called me bro." She handed Clint his coffee and took her dog. "C'mon, we've got to go study for the history test next week." Her dog whined. "I know, I don't like it either but I have to graduate. So if I have to suffer through history, you have to suffer through me reading it to you." She walked off.

Clint sipped his coffee, but was smiling as he shook his head. "She's one hell of a girl."

"Yes she is." He stared at Clint. "If something happens to me please make sure she keeps being one hell of a girl?"

"Of course. She's like a kid sister."

"Thank you for alleviating the fear that you two will date."

"Probably not. She's too young for me. Drunken tapping after emergencies to blow off stress usually happen inter-team so not likely then either."

He smiled. "Thank you. Are her teammates nice?"

"Yes. You'd have to ask her if you've met any though."

"I can do that later. Do you know of somewhere I should sign her up for?"

Clint wrote down a name of a training center and slid it across the desk. "A few wannabe heros workout there and they do have an archery range. They had me test it out. Including some training for things like having to shoot around objects in the way. I think it'll do her good and it'll let them see how real heros do it to break some expectations. They also won't accept excuses for missing practices."

"That's probably a good thing for her then." He put it in the center of his desk protector pad. "Thank you."

"It's not a problem, Mr. Bishop. We'd all like Katie to be safer. She's a good girl and she needs to be safer. Or Darcy needs to teach her how to bake so she can do that stuff too." He grinned but left. He ran into one of Kate's teammates outside, staring at her before walking over. "Mer," he said with a nod.

"Barton," she said, blinking at him. "What's going on? Kate mumbled something about being grounded but she can't sneak out this time."

"She came out to her father earlier because he's going to court to fix some things. She didn't want him to hear in the courtroom."

"Oh." She nodded with a wince. "Yeah, that could be bad."

"She and Cutey are in her room doing history homework and practicing eavesdropping if I know her."

She shook her head with a sigh. "Is Cutey a girlfriend?"

"You haven't met her dog?" he asked dryly.

"Oh, that's what she named it." She shook her head slightly. "At least it likes to fetch used ammo shells."

"And arrows. Lucky taught her." She snorted but grinned. "He wanted to know about her training and stuff. I gave him the name of that gym where the wannabes hang out because she could use the gym and they could see the reality."

"That's not a bad idea," she admitted. "We could all use one." He nodded. "Go do archer things. I'll sneak in to see her."

"You could knock on the door. Her dad wanted to know about you guys."

"Maybe. It's subtle at least." She walked over there. Clint got into his car and drove off. She knocked on the door. Kate's father answered the door, blinking at her. "Hi, Mr. Bishop."

"Kate's grounded, America."

"I'm here to give her our armory key because I'm going to be out of town for a few days."

He blinked. "You are?"

She smiled and nodded. "I are." He sighed. "Surprise?"

"Actually, just a tiny bit." He looked at her. "Have I met the rest of your team?"

"I think two others, both guys."

"That figures. She's upstairs. No hanky-panky please. She told me she was bi earlier too and I haven't even asked about a girlfriend yet."

"She's not dating. We go out to try to troll together but we both suck at it." He walked off shaking his head. She jogged up the stairs, listening for her teammate. Kate opened the door to look out at her. "Armory key? I'm out of town for a few days." Kate took the key and grinned at her. "Nice. He didn't have a cow as you predicted."

"I walked in and found thugs threatening him so I shot them with my bow. He didn't have the time to freak."

"That's good." She winked. "See you in a few weeks, kiddo."

"You be safe and call if it's an emergency. I'll break this one for that."

"Got it." She left, going to tell the others that Kate was out to her dad. That might make things a bit easier. Certainly a lot less sneaking around and making up rumors to get them some time together to train.

Kate gathered the leash to take her dog outside in the back yard for a few minutes. She needed a break from history and a pee break was a good idea anyway.

She'd pretend to not see her father watching her from a window.

***

Darcy showed up and smiled at the kids. There were a few less in the room. "I should've come instead of going to a friend's wedding this weekend," she quipped as she put her bag down. "I would've had more fun and not had to break up the fight between the mothers. Would've been *so* much better." The kids in there grinned. "I didn't realize I was late, guys."

"You're not," one told her. "We were gossiping."

One of the girls looked at her. "There was a story saying someone was sending people funny money in your name."

"They did it to a waitress I know. Misspelled my name and I helped her turn it in. I'm guessing it's from the same slimeball."

"Yup. One of his assistants got arrested for it last night," that girl said. Darcy grinned at her. "You're seriously catty, Darcy."

"Only when I have to be. If people like that didn't push me to be, I wouldn't be."

"There's a huge picture of you with a bow and wearing a pretty dress wondering if you're the female Hawkeye," one of the guys said, holding it up.

She burst out laughing. "I have no idea about how to use a bow. That's one I fell into and found. It's Asgardian. It was talking to me. I brought it back for Kate and Clint."

"Knew it," one of the girls quipped, slapping the table. "It is her!"

"Yup, and she just told her dad so she's grounded for now," Darcy said dryly, smiling at her. "She's kinda pouty too."

"That figures," one of the guys said with a nod. "Girls her age pout."

"She's your age," Darcy said dryly.

"That's how I know! The girls around my age pout!" He smirked at her. "And some your age."

"Yeah, we totally never give up the pouty puppy eyes look if we're good. It gets us treats from boyfriends." The girls all laughed but nodded. "Okay, what're we on today, guys?" Scott walked in. "Hi, Scott." She hugged him.

"We weren't sure why you had the bow so I decided I'd come help tonight," he quipped back.

"I was getting away from the arguing about how much wine the mothers were drinking and fell into a hole that had some neat stuff from Asgard."

He winced. "Does Thor know?"

"I told Sif. She's going up to look at it. She told me to take the bow since it's a weapon and possibly a bit sentient."

"Is it?"

"Yes, it asked me if I was an archer."

"Wow. Is M'jolnir sentient?"

"Enough to pick a wielder."

"Huh." He nodded at that. "Okay." They settled in to work with everyone, the others coming in late.

Darcy smiled at one, who was frowning at her. "I should've come to help you guys instead of watching my childhood friend get married. It was *such* a huge argument from the end of the ceremony on."

He stared at her. "Seriously?"

"Seriously. The mothers got into a cat fight - hair pulling, dress ripping cat fight. The bride and groom nearly came to blows over which mom was the most drunk. The bridesmaids were having an argument about who told the bride to get them the dress no one looked good in and *why* were they wearing flats. Two of them had to keep defending they weren't pregnant, the PCOS meds they were on were making them gain weight. Repeatedly. I ended up walking out of the reception and falling into a hole and I thought that was the highlight of the weekend. That and Conor stole my cake because it was flavorless. He sniffed it after the first few bites and walked off in a huff because it wasn't good cake."

"You've so spoiled that dog," Scott complained, shaking his head. She grinned at him. "Was Maine pretty?"

"Pretty rainy. It's the rainy season up there for this whole month apparently."

"Why did they schedule it then?" one of the girls asked. "Even if she was knocked up they could've done it in a month. You can find dresses that won't let you show."

"He's from up there and she gave into mother-in-law pressure to try to get along with her," Darcy said. "Her mother-in-law was already drunk at the ceremony and when asked if she gave her son to her, she said 'I guess she'll do, someday, but we'll put up with her for now'." The kids all laughed. "Seriously, I got back at ten this morning, guys. That's why I didn't come bearing cookies." They smiled at that admission. "The drive up was pretty. The area was pretty but muddy. The drive back was okay, except near Boston. The wedding...I'm hoping they move countries so they never see the families again. It might keep them from a divorce. Either that or she's gonna kill him.

"We had *four* ambulances called at the hotel we were all staying it. Only two were for alcohol poisoning. One was domestic but no one said who." One of the girls shuddered. "Yeah. It was a *fun* weekend. There was not enough alcohol during the reception. They ran out of champagne, wine, and whiskey within an hour of the reception starting. The food was good. It was really great. I liked the hotel, their people were wonderfully nice. It was just the wedding." She grinned. "I so hope my friend's going to move."

"What if he abuses her?" one of the girls asked.

"She's a social worker. She knows she can get away and she knows she only has to call and I'll help her move. He's a new doctor. Just out of his residency. He's not *bad*. He's pretty stressed and he's a bit tired most of the time, but if one of them beats the other I'll help the one that's getting abused." A few of the guys looked at her oddly. "Women can be the abusers, guys. Really. We can do all sorts of bad things. The same as some molesters are women. It's not just guys who do the bad things."

One of the boys nodded. "My momma has a huge right hook. Dad shouldn't have been cheating on her but he learned."

"Which is abusive," Darcy reminded him.

"I know. We had a talk at school about that and I turned her ass in. The cops got all huffy at her for it, and me for telling on her, but Dad pointed out that I had done the right thing and I wasn't in trouble for that. Mom went to a group thing for six months and she never did it again."

"That's good she didn't," Darcy said, patting him on the hand with a grin. "Sometimes it takes a kid to point out the right thing. We learned from our parents but sometimes adults have filters on what we see and how we see."

"True. I was eight. It kept me from getting my ass kicked but my aunt *still* yells at me about it."

"Point out that you'd have done the same thing if her husband hit her," another girl said. "It stopped when my mom was nagging her sister about leaving a husband that had a decent enough job." She looked at him. "It was the right thing to do and one of those founding documents said life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We got a right to that too."

He grinned. "I'll have to use that line next time." She grinned back.

"You guys know if you need to hide because of something serious like that, I have a couch," Darcy said.

"Yeah, but Bed-Stuy's kinda far away," one quipped. "Even by train."

"It can be," Darcy agreed. "Train's faster than a car." They all nodded at that. "I'll bring in the puppy next time. I left him on the couch with Lucky so Clint'll come looking at the bow."

Scott sent a text message. "He's upstate until the morning."

"That's fine." She grinned. "Lucky's guarding it by sleeping on it. It was complaining about smothering dog fur."

Scott added that in a second text message then put his phone up. "Did you bring this sort of life to the tower?"

"Hell no. I was in the lab all the time with Jane. Jane comes out of science more now than she did then."

"Damn." They got back to work with the kids, who were laughing about that.

Darcy held up a hand. "Jane was giving a talk in France to a bunch of scientists while we were in London," Darcy told them. "She got hit with an idea just before she went on. She was hastily scribbling math while waiting and when they pushed her onto the stage. Most of the people there realized that state so they were tolerant for a few minutes. Jane put it onto her overhead project by accident and turned, then spotted it. She frowned at it and mumbled about how she got the math wrong.

"I had to sneak over to turn off the projector, nudged someone to call up to her they were taking it down for her, and that they're fixing the blown bulb so I could put up her actual slides that she forgot to bring up with her." They all groaned. "For some, their work is their addictions. Jane didn't come out of the lab for three, four days at a time sometimes if I didn't stop her. Doing math that leads to wormholes while sleep deprived and starving because she forgot to eat, again, led to some really interesting problems happening in the lab. But then again, Stark blows things up." A few laughed, a few shook their heads, the rest groaned. "Yeah, it was like that. Now she's a mom and the future queen of Asgard."

"She has a nanny, right?" one of the boys asked. Scott nodded quickly. "Good. I'd hate to see what Asgard thought of CPS."

"Yup," Darcy agreed dryly. "That would've caused a huge diplomatic stink."

"If I get wrapped up like that, even in a man, someone stop me please," one of the girls said, looking up. "My mama would not be impressed at all. Even if I won a nobel."

"That's how you know you're meant to go into science. You like it more than most everything else," Scott said.

"Because it's a mini warground out there," Darcy agreed. "You fight others for grants, for research space, for publishing. To make sure people don't steal your work."

"I'd hate that," she said.

Darcy nodded. "Me too, that's why I went into social sciences. I knew I wasn't going for a PhD but I liked it well enough to at least teach it sometimes and I figured I'd need to use it someday."

"So you knew you were going to be doing charity work?" one of the guys asked her.

"I knew I was going to be donating time to ones," she agreed. "I thought I'd have a normal career maybe working for a larger national one and then donate time to programs like this one."

"Do you get paid to do this for us?" one of the girls asked.

Darcy shook her head. "Nope. The group that used to run these got shut down due to lack of funding. I just restarted it." They all stared. She grinned. "When you've got things to not worry about, it works. I can do the same paperwork to make sure you guys don't have to pay to take the tests and tutor."

"Point," they all agreed. They had all talked about how Darcy was a strange lady before, and now they were sure of it.

"I heard the last group got threats from some gangs," one of the girls said quietly.

Darcy nodded. "I heard that. I haven't gotten any yet and I'm not really scared of them. I mean, I've had to fight off assassins. Are they worse? There's *more* of them but they're not as scary as HYDRA. The one that threatened me in Chicago I told them to learn to like gay sex in prison if they came near me and suggested a few nice zucchini." She shrugged but grinned a tiny bit. "I'm not scared and I'm not going to bow and scrape or give in. What're they going to do, kill me? I've had better that wanted to kill me. I mean, hello, HYDRA." She shrugged again. "Groups like that, you show you're scared and they feed on it. You don't show you're scared and they get mad but then you prove it and they at least think you're too hard to deal with right then."

"That makes sense. Like with guys. The easy girls get all the harassment and the harder girls get ignored." Darcy nodded. "Do you do that with guys?"

"Hell no." She smiled. "I'd like someone there more often. Just hasn't happened recently. I can't even club thanks to HYDRA and I used to really like to club. At least then I could find a few Mr. Right Nows whenever I needed one."

"Guys like that aren't worthy of women," Scott said.

"Sometimes you need something easy, Scott. If you're single, sometimes it's the best thing in the world. Though I have rented a cuddle now and then. And only cuddles. I'd never touch something I paid for. How gross they can be." She grimaced. "Way too much chance of diseases. But cuddles they can do and it's a nice change in their lives."

"You actually rented a guy to cuddle you?" one of them asked.

Darcy nodded. "Nightmares after the invasion in London."

"Girl pros get people like that. They just want someone to talk to them and hold them sometimes," one of the girls said. "I go to school with a few of them. They got it hard but they said those are the nice clients. They don't try anything against them and just want someone there."

"Lonely guys go to strip clubs too," Darcy agreed. "Some guys go for bragging rights. Most go because they're lonely."

"I didn't even think about that. Usually guys go in packs," one of the girls admitted.

"That way they can prove they're normal guys who only stare and sometimes tip instead of one of the guys that drools," one of the guys told her. "You have to prove you're the right sort of guy in most guy groups."

Darcy shrugged. "To each their own and that's something I can't judge. Everyone goes for things like that for their own reasons. Mine was nightmares about losing to dark elves."

"Those freaky guys were elves?" one of the boys demanded.

"Yeah, Dark elves. They came from another of the nine realms. Apparently they were majorly against Thor's people." She shrugged. "It was seriously bad. Thor lost his mom in that battle. He and Loki worked together to avenge her. Then they showed up in London at a college where we were putting up things to divert the portals. It was kinda freaky while they were up. You could throw a car like a baseball."

They all blinked at her. "That's major science brains," one of the girls said.

Scott grinned. "She had Jane there."

"And Eric," Darcy quipped. "Thankfully he had on pants that day."

"That figures," she decided. "Science is okay for that sort but science kinda sucks."

"Science is cooking and baking," Darcy said with a grin. "It's just a physical science." The girl whined. "Seriously." She pulled up a video for her to see. "A major science geek who does cooking stuff. He even explains it." She let the kids watch the video, smiling at Scott. Who was shaking his head. "I suggested it to your kiddo too."

"She's getting good. She made us cookies and they were nearly as good as yours."

"I don't tend to do more than eye my add-ins like chocolate chips. She measured."

"Great." He took the phone back since the video had been paused. "Kate wrote."

She took the phone to look at, then sighed and sent one back. Kate agreed and settled in with the dogs. "She just got back. Her dad's a bit drunk so she's crashing on the couch." She handed the phone back after restarting the video. She grinned. "We're doing cooking stuff to teach you guys fractions." They all groaned but she grinned. "Last time I made stew and cobbler with my kids."

"We might like that," they agreed in a mumble. They could check out those videos later since they were on a major streaming site.

She smiled at Scott. "Did you see the tweet from the kids in Chicago?"

"No, I didn't. I was off my phone all day because I can't find it."

"They all passed, all but one passed everything and she just has to retake the math portion." She smiled.

"That's great news! Did you tell them I said congrats?"

"I did and said I'd tell you by tonight. I knew you were out and about thanks to FRIDAY answering back for you."

"I can do that when I find my phone. I think I dropped it while I was shrank." She shook her head with a grin. "Steve keeps hearing it ring in the practice room but can't figure out where it's coming from and I didn't have time to go down and look for it."

She nodded. "That's cool."

"It's going to take me hours to climb all over the training room to find it."

"Or you could make it ring and then track the noise so you only have to look in an area."

"I'm hoping so." He looked at the kids. "If you shrink down to ant sized, you sometimes lose some stuff."

"Don't even get him started about people who sneeze near him at that size," Darcy quipped.

"Please don't. Clint nearly sneezed me off a building. I had to expand really fast and grab a flag pole then wait for someone to pull me up. How did you hear about that?"

She grinned. "When you were protecting me, I used to worry you would shrink and stalk me into my room to stare at me while I sleep and I'd fart so you'd hit a wall."

He burst out laughing. "I don't think you're that strong but sure. I'd have stayed on the pillow or the headboard, Darcy." She grinned at him. "I can just hear about that if it happened." He shook his head but he was laughing. "I'd never get to live that down."

"You? I'd somehow have it as my sig line thanks to Tony."

"True, he would." He hugged her. "I like protecting you, you're neat."

"Thank you." She lapped him on the cheek. "From the dog." He grimaced and wiped it off. "Conor likes you and how you play fetch."

"He's a good dog. Just very lap happy."

"He won't cuddle at night."

"Sucks," he agreed, grinning at her. "What's he doing instead?"

"Sleeping on the spare bed. Unless Bucky's in because it's raining then he'll nap on the couch."

"So he's cuddly all day and guarding at night."

"He didn't wake up at all when someone tried to open my bedroom window."

"Did you?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, I woke up when the guy screamed and fell down the fire escape holding his hands because the shock system's on that window too." She smiled sweetly and innocently. "I don't think that bro dude is going to try to visit again."

"No, probably not," he agreed. "One of those guys?" She nodded with a grin. "You sure?"

"James leaned over the roof and told him his Russian was lacking in skills because all he could do is whine."

"Ah." He nodded once. "Did you tell Clint?"

"No, but came out to talk to the poor idiot. He was deluded into thinking I'm lonely enough to allow that. I pointed out how many humming friends I have that're *so* much better than him and cleaner because that guy needed a shower. Then I told him I'd seen bigger D's on people and he needed a bra as well. I wasn't into guys that wanted to compare cup size." Scott tried not to laugh too loudly, they were in a library. "James came down to force me back inside, which woke up the dog, and went to handle the guy himself. Apparently he spoke his sort of Russian too." Scott got up to go to the bathroom to laugh in private. She grinned at the kids. "Sometimes it's the little things that you need to laugh at."

The kids all shook their heads. Darcy just wasn't right in so many ways it seemed.

***

Kate looked up as Clint strolled in. "Darcy fell into a cave or something and found this. Lady Sif's going to look at it for her. The bow doesn't believe I'm an archer, Clint."

He took it. The bow asked him if he was an archer. "I am. I'm Hawkeye and she's my protege." The bow groaned. "I'm sure you want to see Thor or something." The bow told him how only the best archer could hold him. Clint stared at him. "I am the best archer down here as far as I know. She's my protege." The bow seemed to pout. "I'll call Lady Sif to see if she's ready for you to go home." He put it onto the dining room table and shook his head as he sent Thor that message. "Ah! It's cursed!"

"As long as the curse doesn't transfer to me," she said dryly. He looked at her. "Dad's drinking."

"Sometimes that happens," he agreed. He got an answer back from Steve, making him frown. "Thor's in the infirmary with the sprout. Okay." A new message. "Lady Sif's on her way here." He sent back an 'okay' and settled in to talk with Kate. She was still pouty about a few things. Going to be suddenly poor was a hard transition for many people.

Darcy walked in and put down her bag, letting her puppy greet her. "Hi, Conor. Were you a good boy?" He barked and wagged his tail. "Want some walkies?" She got the leash and he went frantically rushing in circles. "Sit." He sat so she could put on the leash and they went out with Kate's dog and Lucky. Kate's dog had the leash over her back and Lucky was carrying his leash himself. She snapped them on and took them to the park to walk them. Someone tried to approach her with a knife but Conor spotted him and barked, lunging toward him. Lucky started up too and Kate's little dog tried to rush the guy.

"Guys, behave. Thank you for guarding me though." She glared at the human. Who sneered back but backed off. She and the dogs headed back to the apartment. Someone tried to grab her arm so she hit them with that backhand. They hurried inside. Lucky ran out to pee and the other two helped with him holding their leashes while Darcy waited inside the door. Lucky walked them back into the building and they ran up in front of her, barking at the door. Darcy got up there as Clint opened the door. "Sorry, guy with a knife in the park. They all barked at him and Lucky held their leashes while they peed on a car outside."

"That's good of him," Clint agreed, looking outside. He grabbed the new bow, pulling out an arrow to use it on the former agent outside. "Used to be SHIELD even." The bow pulled up an energy arrow but Clint poked at it until it went away. He used his own and the guy went down with a scream. That drew the neighborhood problems to see who he was. "The mob guys can have fun with him." He looked at the bow, who was huffy he hadn't used the specially blessed arrows. "That's only for the one you go to, not me apparently." He put it back down. "Not even my dog gives me lip like you do, bow." Kate was giggling and cuddling her poor dog. Darcy got them dinner and it was nicer until Sif got there.

Darcy grinned. "Welcome, Lady Sif."

"Thank you, Darcy." She looked at the bow. "No one really liked the former wielder."

"That happens sometimes," Darcy agreed. "Clint had to use it for a second and it hated that he didn't use the energy arrow."

Sif grimaced, then looked at him. "If you had, and it had not accepted you as a user, it would curse you."

"Thanks for the warning."

"Who was that person?" Kate asked.

"A warrior we banished for having dark ideas about how to protect the kingdom." She sat down and Darcy put a plate in front of her. "Thank thee, Darcy." She dug in and they talked about that warrior. Sif could hand back the uniform and bow so their death was noted. She had found his and his mate's body buried nearby. James came in to tell Clint about the guy he had shot in the shoulder and got fed by Darcy and Kate. It was a pretty normal night. James even got flirted with by the goddess. It delighted her that he blushed at her innuendos.

***

Sif showed up at the avengers facility the next morning with Clint driving. She walked into the living area, holding up the helmet and bow. Thor grimaced but put his daughter down. She was fussy and Jane was napping on the couch. "Darcy fell into a hole with them. The bow decided Clint was better than his former owner but was human so not worthy."

"There's many on Asgard that have that feeling," Thor reminded her, taking the helmet to look at. "Is he alive?"

"He and a female body were buried near where he buried his armor and bow." She put it onto the table and the bow beside it. The bow complained.

The baby glared at it. "Shh!" she ordered. "You mean!" It shut up. "I sick and you mean and you stupid! Bad bow!"

Sif smiled at her. "Are you sick, little one."

She pouted and nodded. "Me sick. Mommy sick too."

"That happens sometimes." She took her to cuddle. Thor relaxed and nearly fell asleep again. She smiled at the cuddly baby. "You'll be all right." She nodded, pouting up at her. "I know not what you want."

"Story?" she asked hopefully.

"I will tell you about how your father met your mother." She settled in to tell the baby that story. It was a good one. It didn't glorify a battle but the baby needed to know how to be a proper adult. The baby giggled at her mother hitting her father with a car and then taking him to the hospital. Then him learning about poptarts. She liked them too.

Thor smiled at his best friend and let himself drift off. Sif could handle his precious one for a half-hour hopefully.

She looked over then up at Sif. "He nap," she said quietly. "We go?"

"We can go look outside," Sif decided, taking her that way.

"She's allergic to flowers," Clint said as he walked past her with the rest of the armor.

"Thor's resting."

"That can happen when you've got kids," Clint agreed. "I've done plenty and I don't have kids." Sif smiled but they talked about many things the child wanted to know about. She was very curious. When they went back to check on Thor, he was waking up. She sat down across from him again, the sleepy baby on her shoulder. "There are many who would wish to get to know your child," she said quietly.

"There are many who would wish to know her to harm her," he corrected.

"Yes, there are those as well but your other friends sulk that they have not met her yet."

Thor smiled. "I'm not sure if I could bring her back with me, Sif. I would not have her hear slurs against her mother's species."

"There are always some of those, Thor."

"Point. I would need to get guards."

"We would guard your child with you."

He looked at her. "You would. Hogun is at home. Fandaral is somewhere."

"We would gather to meet her." She stared at him. "She should hear stories of her grandmother."

"She should," he agreed. "Thank thee, Sif. I will come back with you for a few weeks."

"Good. She should know of both her peoples."

"That is true. I will bring her for a visit with my father. If aught should happen..."

"I will bring her back myself or die trying, Thor. I would hand her to Lady Darcy."

"Thank three, Sif," he said quietly. He looked at Jane, who blinked at him. "It has been asked if I could take our daughter to Asgard to hear about her other family. It would be a few weeks, Jane."

"Do I need to come? I don't want to spread this flu up there." She yawned. "Sif, don't let her get you sick."

"I have not gotten this flu yet," she said patiently. "We are mostly healthy people, Jane."

"I wouldn't mind coming up then. I'd need to clean us both up and pack."

"We can do that," Thor agreed. They got up and went to clean up and pack while Sif got a box for that armor and bow. Who was still complaining about humans being better archers. Thor came out to stare at the bow. "I honor him for his skills and his loyalty. Should you sneer more, I shall lose you on the Bifrost." It shut up. Thor went back to getting cleaned up.

Sif covered a laugh, sending word to Heimdall to pick them up soon.

***

Little Emma looked around at the throne room then up at her father. "Shiny," she said.

He nodded. "It is," he agreed, smiling at her.

"She is not as advanced as most of our own children," one of the courtiers hissed.

Emma heard him and stomped over to glare up at him. "I'm only three. Do you mind?" she demanded. The man flinched back away from her. "You're rude and rude people are mean people who need a hammer upside their pointy heads." She stared at him. She tipped her head to the side. "You have stupid looking hair."

"She is very fierce," the courtier told Thor.

Thor came to gather his daughter. "You will find many who want favors from you, daughter. Ignore them." He let her walk ahead with him by holding his hand. They walked into the throne room and he bowed. "Father."

She looked at him then at her father. "I thought Grandpa had white hair and a beard."

Loki reappeared, staring at her. "Very good, niece."

"Loki," Thor growled. "This is not the time."

"I only meant to meet my niece, Thor." He stood up and walked down there, looking at her by getting down closer to her level. "How old are you?"

"Three."

"Hmm. A good age to start learning."

"Mommy tries to teach me science but it's not shiny."

Loki smiled. "It is not usually," he agreed. "You will learn what you want to learn. Your mind is strong, like your mother's." He stood up to look at his brother. "Does she age as you do or as her mother does?" he asked quietly.

"Halfway between. Why does it matter?" he demanded.

"Mother's spirit has shown up recently, Thor."

"She would not say a word against my child."

"Odin would have her prove herself yours," he warned.

"I see. Then why are you here and free?"

He smiled. "It does suit me more." He waved a hand. "Mother?" She floated in, glaring at him. He stared back. "Meet your granddaughter?"

She smiled at Jane and Thor. "You adopted Jane's daughter, son?"

"She is ours, Mother."

"Oh!" She smiled at the child. "A true daughter of the line." She floated lower, staring at the young girl.

"Why are you a ghosty?" Emma asked.

"Your grandmother died protecting your mother," Thor said quietly. "We miss her greatly."

"Oh, that's sad. She shouldn't be gone. That makes people sad and sad isn't a good thing."

"Sometimes sad things happen, child," Frigga said quietly.

"Yeah but they don't always have to." She stared at her. "I need a grandma. Mine from Mommy's mom isn't really that patient."

Jane rolled her eyes. "She's got a caretaker in case I get lost in science again," she said when Frigga stared at her.

Frigga stared at her harder then at Thor. "Who are her guardians?"

"None were there when she was named but I named Sif and Darcy. Though we had a large misunderstanding about a few things right afterward so she does not see her often."

"She does not love my grandchild?"

"She did not want to be a nursemaid to her instead of a guardian."

"Ah. Yes, that could be a problem. Young women such as her should have their own children." She looked at the baby then at Thor. "Are you taking the throne, Thor?"

"I was not aware I needed to, Mother." He glared at Loki.

Sif strolled in. "Loki," she growled.

"Hold, Sif," Frigga ordered. "You didn't realize he was here before now." She looked at her son. Who winced. "It is your time, son."

"I..." He looked at Jane and his daughter then at Sif. "Did you know?"

"No! I had no idea, Thor. I can only figure out why." She glared at Loki, who gave her a smug look.

Thor winced. "I would not give up my wife or child, Mother. But I will do my duty and they will be with me."

"There are many that would be upset with that decision."

"Yet we're halfway through the rituals to name her one of us," Thor told him. His mother blinked a few times. "I would not leave my wife or child behind. My daughter will have at least half my lifetime. My wife will match my own lifeforce."

"I..." Jane said, staring at him. "That's what that was for? I thought it was to change how my cellular aging went."

"It does both," Thor told her. "Did you not read that book?"

"You didn't give me a book, Thor. I don't want to decrease your life."

"Yes, love is like that, so said many of your plays," Loki said dryly. "So many about love are tragedies." He stared at Thor. "Should you keep her, appoint her guards."

"I would anyway," he agreed. "She is not a warrior. Though I do not need that suggestion, brother."

"Fine. Just noting a few things that need to be handled." He smiled at the child. "We should announce you."

"We will do that if and when I take my throne," Thor told him. "Not before. It would be a risk." He looked at Sif. "I may still be needed for battles."

"Your father may still be found," Frigga said dryly. "We know not where he went in his grief." Thor glared at Loki, who looked smug but shrugged. "Yes, that was him, son."

"I should smite you."

"No smiting your brother," his mother ordered.

Emma burst out giggling. "Now she sounds like a mommy." She grinned up at Sif. "Are there more rude people who called me deficient out there?"

"Yes," she admitted. "Some are convinced they're gods and they're not worthy of that title. It's sad but some people have an ego they have not earned."

Emma grimaced. "That sucks donkey butt." Jane swatted her. "Hey! Don't mess up my hair!"

"Be more polite," Jane ordered. "We had a talk about that, Emma."

"Yes, Mommy." She sighed, looking up at her father. "Does that mean I can't have piggyback rides?"

"Around the house you may. Not in the throne room."

"I meant from Uncle Steve, Dad."

"We'll go back now and then, Emma. You'll see them."

She huffed. "If you're sure." She walked off to look out a window. "Oooh, horsies." She looked back. "There's horsies. They're *huge*!"

"They are," Sif agreed, smiling at her. "You can learn how to ride."

"No I can't. They're *huge*."

Thor smiled. "When you are older, you may learn how to ride, daughter."

"They're still *huge*, Daddy."

"You'll be bigger when you're older. The same as you're not the same size as a newborn," Jane said patiently. "Some day they won't seem so huge."

"If you're sure." She looked back out there, smiling and waving at the people staring up at her. "Hi. Are those your horsies?" One nodded. "They're pretty."

Sif went to look over her shoulder. "Tis Thor's daughter, Emma," she announced. A few looked upset. "She's a toddler, people." They sighed but let it go for now. She rolled her eyes, looking at the family. "The test?" she asked Loki.

"The test. Odin would have made her. I would not."

Frigga sighed but nodded. "I would not either but there needs to be a male heir, son. Soon."

"Many queens are great," Jane said.

"Our treaties all state the king," Loki said. "Father never really liked women."

"Some of us prove our worth," Jane told him. "Including your own mother."

Frigga smiled. "If that were true, I would not have let my son take over." She stared at Loki, who changed back to Odin with a smirk as the doors were pounded on. "Go settle them down." She waved a hand. "I want nothing near my grandchild."

Loki opened the doors, staring at the people. "Are you truly interrupting myself and Thor catching up while I meet his daughter?" he demanded.

"We demand to meet this child," one sneered. Thor glared at him. "She will not be fit to rule, she's like her mother."

Emma stomped over to stare up at him. "You're an idiot," she said bluntly.

"Emma Jocelyn Thordottir!" Jane ordered. Loki snickered at that. "Quit, now!"

"No, mother." She stared up at him. "Just because I'm half human doesn't make me futile or anything. It means I'm special and great and smart. If you don't like that, blow yourself." She walked off, going to hug her father's leg. "They're mean and idiots, Dad."

"They're allowed their prejudices," he warned, staring down at her. "That does not make them stupid, it makes them undereducated. Quit. Acting. Out," he finished quietly. She sighed and just hugged him. He looked at his mother, who was smirking back. "She's as stubborn as we ever were, Mother."

"Clearly so." She smiled, rubbing a hand over the child's head. "Her mind is strong, Thor, and her body will slow down as she ages until she's closer to our aging than her mother's." She looked at him. "I find her worthy." The courtiers let out a few swears. She looked back. "Just because I have passed on does not mean I cannot punish those who use such language in *my* palace." They fled because others were coming, especially Heimdall.

Fandral stomped in. "Thor, why was I not sent pictures?" he demanded. The baby stared up at him oddly. He smiled at her. "I'm one of your father's best friends."

"I know that. He told me about you." She smiled and held up a hand. "I'm Emma."

"I'm Fandral." He shook the tiny hand.

She giggled. "He told me about you and telling stories. Do you know any about my father?"

"Of course I do. I know many."

"Nothing too risque," Jane warned. "She is three, Fandral."

"Yes, Jane Foster." He smiled at her, kissing her hand. "I would never tell her something too dirty."

"She'll hear those from the rumors," Hogun agreed. "Jane Foster," he said with a bow.

She smiled and patted him on the cheek. "Hi, Hogun." She smiled at the other one. "You're pouting."

"I didn't get a picture nor a note," he complained, glaring at Thor.

"I sent notes," he said. "I had them given to Heimdall." He looked at the older man.

"I had them delivered to them with warriors."

"That may be the breakdown then," Jane admitted. They all glared at her. "Not everyone is happy Thor has a daughter. Or a daughter with a human. We've already run into that today. Emma told him off before I could slap the living fuck out of him."

Hogun laughed, hugging Jane. "We admire your strength, Jane Foster. You will be a queen like his own mother."

Frigga nodded. "Quite." She smiled.

"I'm still going to be working on science things," Jane warned. "I'm not meant to sit around and listen to people complain."

Thor hugged her. "We will figure it out. I'm not truly ready to sit on my father's throne. I still have duties to Midgard."

An older woman walked in and bowed to them. "I'll take the child, Prince Thor. That way she's properly attired and coifed."

Jane looked at her. "She's already got a nanny, miss, and she's fine in her present clothes. I did put her into something pretty so she could make a good impression."

"They're Midgardian clothes, not Asgardian clothes. She should wear the clothes of her people."

"She is. I am her mother."

"Yet you are on Asgard."

"Enough," Frigga warned. "Jane is correct, the child is appropriately dressed and I'm sure Jane takes much care of her child."

"Unless Jane's in the lab," Jane agreed with a nod. "Then Thor or her nanny does. She's fine until her next meal. Which she does eat with us." The nursemaid looked horrified. "We're not that sort of family, ma'am. We do tend to keep our child with us unless there's a battle." She looked at Sif. "What would your mother have done?"

Sif shrugged. "My mother was much like that one in that she wanted her children older before they became underfoot. It's why I got in so much training before she learned of it." She gave her a smug look. "As we'll be training your child, Jane."

"Please do. She could use the self defense work, Sif."

"True, she could." Emma walked over to stare up at her. "What?" she asked quietly.

"Your panties are in a twist," she said bluntly, grinning at her. "Over me. I kinda like that." She hugged her. "You're neat. You're my second favorite auntie after Auntie Pepper because she taught me about clothes stuff."

"Pepper is very good at such things," Sif agreed. "It is something most queens learn sometime."

Emma grinned. "You still can't play in dresses."

"No, you can't," Jane agreed. "You can only sit and read in dresses."

"Which can suck since I'm still learning my letters," she said with a grin for her auntie.

"We can show you where you can play in the dirt later," Sif promised. The girl gave her another squeeze. She looked at the guys then at the parents and the former queen. "In the gardens, My Queen?"

"There's a nice area out there that the boys did that to many times," Frigga's ghost agreed. "She should enjoy it just as much. It probably even has bugs in it again."

"Bugs?" she asked with a grimace.

"Bugs in the ground help plants grow," Jane told her. "Like the worms Uncle Scott introduce you to. Or his ant friends."

"Oh, them. I guess they're okay but they're bugs. That's kinda icky."

"They're usefully icky," Frigga assured her with a smile. She looked at Jane. "Would you consent to have your next one up here? There's ways we can support it so it's closer to the father's aging."

"I'm not against that," she agreed. "Though I'm not looking forward to another pregnancy. I had an awful time last time with morning sickness and headaches."

"Because we're so different?" Sif asked.

"We're not that different," Thor told her. "I checked to make sure. We're much the same only we age more slowly. The morning sickness is something that runs in her family."

"About ten percent of women in the world get extreme morning sickness," Jane told her. "It didn't help that I ignored myself in the lab," she admitted, looking at her daughter. "You hated math back then. You kicked each time I started to work on math stuff."

She grinned. "It's kinda icky now too, Mom." Jane rolled her eyes.

Jane looked at the former queen. "I'm not against having another child, but I had a *horrible* pregnancy and I was told it was probably going to happen again, though with less morning sickness. That hits the most often with first time mothers. My mother only had one because of hers. The doctors ordered her not to have a second. Mine suggested it but didn't order it."

Frigga nodded. "He really needs a son. We'd have to redo treaties and many would see a queen as a weak ruler. One who could be influenced by her husband."

Emma cleared her throat. "Boys are even more icky than math and bugs. You don't know that I won't like girls instead."

Frigga stared at her oddly. "Do you?"

"How would I know? I won't know that for years yet," Emma said dryly. "Mommy said so when I asked her about a lesbian auntie I have."

"Oh. I didn't know you were that open, Jane."

"I have a few friends who are bisexual or fully gay," she said. "Some humans it still bothers but I think it's stupid to be concerned about who someone I know sleeps with unless they're kids or dead people or animals. Or stuffed animals, that's kinda creepy," Jane admitted.

"It's not something we as a society are against," Hogun assured her. "Though there's many who would assume a queen would marry a king to have heirs."

"We have IVF," Jane said. "You can use a donor's sperm and make the baby then implant it."

"It's not something we talk about but some infertile people do go for that," Sif admitted. "Or some other sorts of magical treatment for the problems. I had not thought about those who like their own gender doing so but I assumed they had donated sperm sent in somehow."

"We have things that can do that if you wanted to do it without a doctor," Jane agreed. "Turkey basters in the old days. We have some suction tube sort of things to do that with if we want to use them."

Sif nodded. "That's reasonable and privately done without those who would gossip."

"Gossip only comes from some women having surrogates to carry your children for you." Jane picked up her daughter with a groan. "You're yawning. Are you sleepy?"

She nodded. "The sparkly bridge wore me out." She put her head on her mother's shoulder after moving her hair out of the way. "I'll nap now."

"If you wish," Thor agreed, taking her. "She'll get heavy, Jane." He patted her on the back, letting her nap with some of his hair in her fist.

Jane smiled. "He's good to sleep on," she told the guys who were staring at their buddy.

Thor looked at his mother. "My shoulders fit her well."

She smiled. "Does your hammer like her, Son?"

"Yes, Mother. She plays with M'jolnir many times. It even let her pick it up a few times to swing it around. It even helps her play house with her dolls because they use it to protect their house as the hearth."

She smiled. "Will it go to her?"

"Perhaps," he agreed. "I can't be sure of that. She's still innocent."

"True, but it is a good omen," she said. "She can carry it after you when you're crowned, Son." He nodded once, glancing at Jane.

"We still need to go home to finish packing," Jane said. "And to say goodbye for a while."

Frigga nodded. "That would be best. It may be much time before he can go back, Jane."

She looked at the former queen. "And if the team needs him, he may need to go because we get worse and worse evil coming for us."

"Point. We would work that out."

"Please do not suggest we send warriors," Thor said, rolling his eyes. "They are not respectful and they tend to become great asses who get whiny when someone beats them."

"We were hoping you could beat manliness into him," Sif assured him. "I couldn't. My arm's not that strong."

Thor smirked at her. "I did teach him what a man was and then sent him home begging for mercy. Before I had to smite him for real for bothering Wanda."

Sif winced. "Did she do her thing with his mind?"

"To make him quit trying to talk her into his bed," Thor said. "Then he got pouty and tried to blame her for him not doing well in battles. So we sparred." She laughed and patted him on the free arm.

"I remember him. He was very weak in anything that would be counted as manhood. He couldn't read, he couldn't cook, he couldn't talk about things, he couldn't fight really well, he hated women fought. He made fun of Wanda a few times behind her back for fighting. He tried that with Natasha and spent the day in the infirmary drooling from her Widow's Bites." She looked at Sif. "Was he considered a teenager?"

"No. He should have been. We were hoping Thor could impart lessons into him."

"We all tried," Jane told her. "Including Steve."

Sif smiled. "Steve is goodly at battles and many manly arts. It's a pity he is not taken by a proper warrior."

She grinned. "You never met Sharon did you?" Sif stared at her oddly. "Yeah, that one. They're not *dating* but they're talking about dating. Sharon's still pretty busy and Steve's off on missions so they don't get too much time together."

"I remember meeting her," Sif admitted. "She seems nice enough. Is she a warrior?"

"She's a former SHIELD agent," Jane told her. "One of the top agents who hadn't been turned."

"Huh. Then she would probably suit Steven very well." She nodded once. "I hope he finds leisure with her soon so they can figure that out. If not, perhaps Darcy?"

"No idea," Jane admitted. "I haven't done more than email Darcy in a few weeks. I think he likes her dog."

"Conor is a good hound," Sif agreed. "Very protective of her. Cuddly until she wishes to sleep. I spent the night as her guest and the dog huffed at me being on his usual spot but slept on the couch instead."

"She pouted about that," Jane agreed.

Sif smiled. "It's good she has something to do all day. Conor needs much brushing and some training. She's doing good with him and Kate's dog Cutey."

"I heard about that mess. Is Kate staying with her?"

"Not often."

"That's good then. I know she lives near Clint."

"You can see his apartment from her bedroom," Sif said with a smile. "He and Lucky were playing fetch that night I stayed."

"That's so cute. Lucky's a good dog. He likes to pounce Bruce to lap and nap on." Sif smiled. "Totally knocks him down if they're outside and lays on top of him. He'll sneak into Bruce's lab and knock his chair away from his table so he can hop up to lap him. It's Lucky's way of making him take a break. It's less subtle than Darcy did but more fun to watch."

Sif giggled. "I do like dogs, yes." She tipped her head to look at the child then at Thor. "She can nap on a couch."

"I'd rather have her at hand. She has a habit to wander when she's first awakened."

Sif nodded. "That can be a problem."

Loki as Odin nodded. "Yes it could be with some of the people around here. Go to your room, Thor. We will talk later tonight." Thor arched an eyebrow up at him then looked at his mother.

Frigga smiled and patted his cheek. "Go rest, dear. We'll talk in a bit. Take your friends so you can catch up." They nodded and bowed at them then left. She looked at her son. "I truly wish you hadn't done that. You could have found another way than taking your father's spot when he walked off."

"I know but it's necessary. With all that's going on, it's more necessary we have him now." He walked off. "Let me go rest for the usual nighttime meeting."

"Fine." She watched her son go and made plans. Because she was not a weak queen and things were going fast toward a bad point. They needed her actual heir to the throne back.

***

Darcy looked over as someone knocked. "Who is it?" she called. She heard a muffled 'Steve' and got up to look then open the door. "Hey, Steve. And Scott. And Stark." She let them in. "Don't sit on the dog, Tony." She checked the hall then shut the door. She looked at the three grim men. "What's happened?"

"Thor got recalled to Asgard," Tony said. He sat down and looked at the napping dog. "Is he sick?"

"He's worn out. We played earlier for a few hours in the park." She yawned. "So problems on Asgard?"

"It looks like it," Scott said. "We're not sure if they're going to be able to keep Emma with them. If it's a war coming...."

"Jane can't stay. Parts of Asgard are not very human friendly," Darcy said. "We went up for a week before we came back to New York because Thor had to do something official. Most every single person in the palace sneered at Jane and I was just seen as her handmaiden and guard so therefore not as good as theirs would be. One tried something drunkenly and got tased, which made Thor laugh, but Heimdall stepped in to send that idiot drunken warrior wannabe off for Jane."

"Okay," Steve said. "I wouldn't have expected that."

"They live *really* long lives," Darcy reminded him. "Thor was about three thousand when he was kicked out for being a teenager suddenly put in charge of his kingdom and army. He did what his father had fed him for years and got blamed for it."

Stark nodded. "I remember him saying that. Is he going to be all right?"

"Yes, probably. I'm more worried about a few other things. Did Odin call him home?" Everyone nodded. "Because Odin's probably dead. The one on the throne is wearing an illusion. I can see through those while slightly lit on Asgardian mead." Steve winced. "So whoever's taking over is over their head probably. Also, his hammer picks the wielder. Will it like him if they have another huge war? The last one on Asgard was before he was born."

Steve winced but nodded at that. "That's a possible problem. Can it happen?"

"Yeah. The myth of his hammer says that if he becomes unworthy to it, it'll pick a new wielder."

"Wow," Stark said. "Okay. That's a huge problem. Who would it pick?"

"I'm kinda scared that Jane sent me pictures of Emma playing with it."

"And that could cause problems with their people if they don't like Jane," Scott said. She nodded. "Any other concerns?"

"Is that army going to listen to Thor?"

Steve blinked. "He's going to be their king."

"And the last time he ruled the army they had a huge problem battle," Stark reminded him. "So maybe."

"But if he's the king and he's the only one left, and they don't like Emma anyway, they could assassinate him," Steve realized. Darcy nodded, grimacing at that idea. "Does he have backup?"

"The Warriors Three and Lady Sif. Maybe whoever's being Odin."

"If it's his brother, they've got bad blood," Stark said. "But they worked together to avenge their mother."

"Loki got given hell by Odin," Darcy said. "I heard a lot of stories of Loki doing something and Thor being praised."

"Sounds like my father had a prototype," Stark said, sipping the water he had come in with.

She nodded. "Which could cause a problem." She got up to get a cup of coffee and put something into the cup then took a sip. Huh, illusions. She was right, that wasn't Stark. She set off an alarm in the kitchen to Clint's apartment. She came back and looked at Scott, who shrugged. "Can you take Conor into the bathroom, Scott? That way he's not in the way?"

"Sure, Darcy." He got up to lift up the dog, who started awake but sniffed and licked him. "Let's go into the bathroom, Conor." He carried him in there and Darcy hit the saferoom door, which made him wince. "Oh, damn it. Darcy?" he called.

"Stay," she yelled back. "They're wearing illusions."

He put the dog on the bed and looked at the door. He found the switch and tried to get it open but she had it locked on him. "Darcy, let me help!" he called.

"No! Stay. Stuff's in there, Scott."

He looked and frowned, going into her closet. He opened the fake back and found weapons. "Yeah, we want this in here." He heard someone stomping in and smiled at the scream. "Clint, I'm in here with the dog. She locked me in," he called.

"That's fine," Bucky yelled back. "Stay!"

"Sure." He called Clint. He was grocery shopping and hurried over to help. With Lucky as it happened. He could hear Lucky barking and Conor got up to bark back. The door unlocked and Scott put the dog in the bathroom then hurried out, hitting the door key to lock the dog back in but tossed Lucky in there before it fully closed. He attacked the people who weren't Clint and Bucky or Darcy. They went down under their group attack. Scott sighed at the end, looking at Bucky. "I had no idea they weren't Steve and Stark. They picked me up at the facility."

Darcy waved her coffee cup. "I put in a touch of mead." She took another sip. "Is my dog in the bathroom?"

"Yeah, with the door barely closed so he can get it open but I had time to get out." He stared at her. "That's not a good idea, Darcy. You could've gotten him and let me handle it."

"Scott, no. They're not HYDRA. They've got to be Asgardian."

"Crap," he muttered. "Well, they know we're worried about Thor and Odin."

She smirked. "I'm pretty sure they think I'm still really close with Jane." She sighed as Clint looked at her. "We have to give them back."

"We do," he agreed. "Somehow."

"Let me go change," she ordered. "Diplomatic things take real clothes, not jammie pants and a t-shirt." She went to do that and came out in more battle oriented clothes. Not leather pants, because she couldn't fit into them, but something nice enough but tough enough for her. She grabbed her tazers and a few other things then nodded at Clint. "Uniform?"

"Yeah, let me pop next door." He went to do that and came back. "Kate's on her way to watch the dogs."

"I can watch them both," Scott said. "That way no one attacks here."

"Okay," Clint agreed. He put his bow on his back and they hefted up the two main guys and let Steve get the other two to drag onto the roof with Bucky's help. They waited inside the circle Darcy drew then looked up.

"Heimdall, there's a huge problem and they want to attack Thor and Jane!" she bellowed. The bridge showed up and Heimdall walked down to look at her. She pointed. "Wearing illusions of Thor's teammates. The other two," she said with a point. "Ran in to help them attack me."

He grimaced. "There's many who do not like his choice of mate."

"Yeah, there's more than that. We were brainstorming about why call Thor back *now*." She stared at him. "Did you know that a touch of mead in something makes me able to see through illusions?"

"I did not," he admitted. "But I have seen others."

She smiled. "Me too that night." He winced. "Can we deliver them to Thor?"

"Yes, you may." He nodded at Clint. "Noble Hawkeye and Captain," he said with a nod at him. "I will help you drag them. They are not worthy to walk." They carried them in, Darcy following them. She got the doors though.

Darcy opened the throne room door. "What are you doing here, human girl?" Odin sneered.

She smirked. "A few of your people came to attack me to get information on Thor, Sire Odin." She stared at him. "It's a great thing that some Asgardian mead makes me see through illusions that I caught them at it." He blinked at her. She stared back. "I saw through some lady's beauty illusion when I was last up here." She smiled, giving him a pointed look. "Would you have us litter your throne room or some other room, Sire Odin?"

"In here is fine, Chit," he said smoothly. She smirked and bowed, helping drag them into the room. "Hmm. Did you use your lightening stick on them?"

"No. I used a kitchen knife and a kitchen chair on them. They're not worthy of my lightening sticks. They wanted information on Thor and his family plus why they recalled him now."

Odin nodded once. "That is tactical but stupid of them." He got up to walk down there, staring at them. "That one's brother sneered at Thor's daughter. Interesting."

Darcy snorted. "They sneer at that child and they'll face me. I may not be with Jane any longer but I'll gladly protect Emma."

"Good. The child has quite a mouth on her." His mother floated in. "These ones went to Lady Darcy's house to inquire about Thor."

"Under illusion as Stark and Steven," Darcy said with a point at Steve. "Thankfully we had some help when they showed up."

"She didn't let me hit them very hard," Clint admitted. "I should've hit them more often."

The ghost of Queen Frigga smiled at her then at Clint. "It is very stress relieving, Clinton." She patted him on the cheek. "You are a good friend."

"Yes I am."

She smiled at Darcy. "Are you well?"

"Yeah. For right now. It's just a mean day for me."

Frigga smiled. "That can be a good thing sometimes." She looked at the unconscious bodies. "They should suffer as only Odin can make sure of from his high seat."

"They should," he agreed, looking at Darcy. "You have the right to suggest a punishment."

"I barely read over Asgard's laws," she admitted. "But I'm not sure if treason is punishable by anything other than anger."

"It would be treason if they had harmed Thor," he admitted.

"Or his spouse or child," Darcy reminded him. "They are married by Midgardian tradition and you refused to accept his suggestion they marry up here, therefore that tradition does stand by what I read."

"It does," he agreed, smirking at her. Steve stiffened so he looked at him. He raised an eyebrow. "We would rather not do anything too...inhumane."

"Then make them a story told to children to scare them straight," Darcy said. "It can even be funny if you wish. After all, Emma would love some protective guard dogs. I'm sure you have other mages on this realm that can do that. A punishment to protect her and a punishment of form."

He smiled. "I like that idea," he said, chuckling as he walked back to her seat. "I will consider that option, chit."

Jane walked in boldly and hugged her. "I just heard. What happened?"

"Supposedly Steve and Stark," she said, pointing at each. "Showed up with Scott to talk about why Thor got recalled suddenly. I pointed out a few worries I had about why. Then I realized they weren't them because Stark wasn't staring at my chest in the nearly see-through old t-shirt I was wearing after my shower. I took a sip of mead with my coffee and saw the illusions like I did that night. So I sent Scott in to protect my dog and himself while I threw a kitchen knife at them."

"Scott can fight," Clint reminded her patiently.

"Yeah but he's got a daughter," Darcy said. "That's more important because this wasn't the fate of the world. If they had gotten past me and gotten back up here, Thor would've stomped them flat."

"True," he agreed. Thor stomped in. "We helped Darcy defeat them, Thor. They wanted intel on you and the family."

"I had a worry about who'd get your hammer if you fell," Darcy said quietly, touching his arm. "Especially with the pictures of Emma Jane sent me."

He blinked at her. "That is a worry I had not conceived of," he admitted. "But a good one. She...she's much too young." Darcy nodded, smiling up at him. "What other worries did we have?"

"Illusion seeing. Why now." He winced but nodded. "I didn't realize they weren't Stark and Steve until after that talk. I'm sorry."

"It is not a problem, Lady Darcy. You should have been safe in your own home to talk about your worries about your friends." He sneered at them then smiled at her. "We will be careful."

"I suggested they should be very protective dogs for Emma," she quipped.

He laughed, hugging her. "That would be a fitting punishment for coming after you."

"As she pointed out, that's bordering on treason," Clint told him.

Thor nodded, pulling him over to hug him as well. "It is, Noble Clint. Thank you for helping my lightening sister." He looked over and shook Steve's hand. "We will not be back for a while. We're needed for now and they wanted my future son to be born up here."

"That's reasonable, Thor," Steve said. "If you need us, you'll call. If we need you, we'll try to call."

Thor nodded. "Thank thee, Steven. We'll see each other again soon and I do not want to see your funeral instead." He stared at him. Steve grinned and nodded, backing up. He stared at Darcy. "Be safer, Darcy. Those who are after you are dumb and mean."

"I know but they can't knock me up, Thor. I took even more precautions now. It'd take them having me for over a year before it could work." He smiled and nodded, hugging her again. She hugged him then Jane. "Be safe, Janie, and remember to eat with the science."

"I can do that. Thor will remind me if Emma doesn't. I can get a lot of star research done up here."

Darcy winked at her, subtly handing her something. "For my future clone." She winked and they left together with Heimdall.

Jane put the tazer into her pocket and looked at Thor, smiling at him. He grinned at that subtlety. He looked at the ghost of his mother then at his 'father'. "We are needed for their hearings?"

"No," Odin/Loki said. "Not in the least, Thor. We can ask them ourselves. Go back to your rest before dinner." They walked off and Odin looked at the miscreants. "Darcy is quite a human," he noted. "Very spicy."

His mother nodded. "Quite. She is quite the young woman." She floated off to tell the jailers that they had new residents. Though their hearings were quietly done, they ended up as dogs to guard the young princess. Former Queen Frigga laughed but smiled at his decision. Emma came running in at their order to fetch her and stared at the dogs. She came down to teach them how to sniff her and her how to pet them and treat them well. It was good for her to learn anyway. Plus protective. They were spelled to serve no master other than Emma and 'Odin' in his true form. Just in case the original Odin showed up and hated his grandchild.

***

Darcy walked back onto the roof first, nodding at Kate, who looked upset. "Did we miss more than a few hours?" she asked as she walked in and pulled down her hair.

"No. Just tactless bitches at school."

Darcy gave her a hug. "There's always future trophy moms in the world, Katie. They'll always hate those who have more of everything like class and more skills. You have both so of course they're jealous. If they had to lost part of the family money they'd never survive it." She went to get changed. "Have the dogs went out recently?"

"Yeah, they're still exhausted from you playing earlier but they peed on the manager's car. He huffed but couldn't really stop Lucky from peeing on his tires again."

Clint shook his head, flopping down in a chair. Darcy went to change. Steve sat down next to Scott and Kate on the couch. Darcy came out holding up something to them. "Well, it's cute, Darce, but I'd rather see that on you in private," Clint quipped dryly.

"It was laying on my bed like I was laying down wearing it," she said. "I didn't know my dog could lay out lingerie I don't even own."

Kate looked at it. "Not mine either. I'm not that tiny."

Darcy looked at the tag. "It's a six, Kate."

"Yeah but I'm an eight and I have a generous 'b' cup. I'd be stuffed in that thing."

Darcy looked at her. "Don't ever wish for bigger ones. They're a hassle." She looked at Scott, who shook his head quickly. Bucky came in off the roof scowling. "Who laid out the trashy lingerie I didn't own?" she asked him, holding it up again.

He stared at it. "Not a clue. The only one that was in here was the manager, he was dropping off a note on the table." He pointed at it.

Kate grinned at him then at her. "You have a package down there and it's heavy."

"I didn't order anything," she said. She sighed, going down there with the nightie. Maybe he knew. She knocked on his door. "Sorry about Lucky."

"It's fine. It's not the first time and it'll rain tonight to rinse it off. You have a package."

"I didn't order anything." He winced. "Also." She held up the nightie. "It was on my bed like in the spot I'd be laying down."

"That I have no idea about. I can ask the other single lady in the building for you. Your friend next door?"

"Was with me when I was gone for a few minutes," she admitted.

"Huh." He shook his head. "No clue, Lewis."

"Okay. Tell me if you find any others." He pointed at the box. She stared at it. "That is huge. Heavy?" He nodded. "Over sixty?"

"Probably just under." He helped her lift it and she grunted but carried it back upstairs. He went to talk to that other lady. She lived on the other side of the building but you never knew.

Darcy kicked the door, getting it opened by Scott. "Heavy." He got out of the way so she could put it onto the table. "He had no idea about the nightie and I have no idea what this is." Steve got up to come look. She frowned as she looked at the address. "That's the empty building next door to the halfway house my cousin was in," she said. "They had empty houses on each side of it."

The manager knocked and Clint let him in. "She hasn't gotten any tacky presents," he said, handing it over. "But she said she saw those mob guys hanging around earlier."

"I'm going to smite them like Thor smites pastries," Darcy said. The manager smiled. "Thanks, Bob."

"Welcome, Lewis. Be safe and call the police if that's something wrong."

She nodded. "It probably is since it's addressed from an empty house." He grimaced. "I'll call them in a minute, after I call the place next door to that address. Thank you."

"Welcome." He let himself out.

Darcy called the halfway house. "Hi, I'm Craig DeCrith's cousin Darcy Lewis. I know he's not there. I got a rather large package mailed from, I think, you guys. It's from 1503 instead of 1505 so I was checking to see if you guys sent me something of his." She listened to him ask his boss. "So definitely not you guys then. Okay, thank you. No, I'm calling the NYPD because that's probably not a good thing. Have a great night and thank you."

She hung up and looked at the guys, who all nodded. Darcy called the local station. "Hey, Officer Bob. It's Darcy Lewis and I have a suspicious package that was delivered here," she noted. "Yeah, I wasn't going to cause a panic. About sixty pounds and it came from the empty house beside the halfway house my cousin was in. I called them and they said they didn't send me anything. They'd send his stuff up to him in New Hampshire.

"Yeah, I think so. I've got a few friends here but I'm not touching it. No, large, like about sixty pounds. Really dense too. Feels like it's full because nothing moved when I hauled it up the stairs. No, I don't think it's a bomb but I have no idea what it is. I didn't order anything. Hell, for all I know it's another biological thing like HYDRA tried to get me with once." She looked over. "No, doggies back," she ordered with a point. "Don't get near that." Kate's dog barked and Kate looked then at it.

"Its got blood," Kate said. "She barks at knives and blood."

"Heard that?" Darcy asked. "Please. Thank you." She hung up. "They'll get someone over. I didn't want to get bomb squad here," she said at Scott's look. "It'd cause a lot of attention for probably not a good reason." The little dog was still snarling at the package. Darcy picked her up to look at. "Cutey, what're you doing?" She wiggled and tried to get at the box to bark at. "No, not for doggies." She put the three dogs into the bedroom and shut the door while Steve was letting in the officer. "I didn't want to cause a huge panic. There's no telling what it is."

The officer nodded. "We like that. This the only package?" She held up the nightie. "Where did that come from?"

"It was laying on my bed when I got back."

"Does your bedroom have a fire escape?" Scott asked. She nodded. "So they probably did that. Doesn't the window have a shock system?"

"It's down right now. The lightening strike last night knocked out the fuse and they can't replace it until tomorrow."

"Huh," the officer said. "If that works like I think it works that's dangerous."

"There's an ID scanner under the one outside the door," Kate said. "It'll scan badges." They nodded at that. "So you guys and fire department."

"Good idea," he decided. He came to look at it. The dogs went nuts. "Thank you for putting them up."

"Kate's dog barks at blood and knives," Steve said. "It was really trying to get that box."

The officer looked it over then took pictures to send in. He got an order. "We've moved it?"

"From the manager's apartment floor. I carried it up," Darcy said.

"Okay," he decided. "We can probably move it safely then." They got it down to the police car so they could take it to the right station. "We'll let you know, Miss Lewis."

"Thank you, guys. It's freaky it came from the empty house next door to his former halfway house. I called them and they said it wasn't them."

"That's a good precaution and weird," the officer agreed. "Let me take this in and we'll see." She nodded, shaking his hand and filling out the forms for him. He drove it off to that station.

Darcy went to fix dinner shaking her head. "Very weird." She looked at Clint. "Would the mob guys give me the nightie?"

"Maybe," he admitted. "They're all rough around the very sharp edges."

"I met smarter and nicer guys in prison," Scott said with a small shrug.

Kate looked at him. "Are they like snobby bitches that run in packs in school?"

"No, they do more than cut you with words, Kate."

"So will these. One tried to stab me the other day for wearing shoes she wanted. Apparently they were too good for me."

Scott shook his head. "I'll never understand those sort." He went to let the dogs out. They all sniffed the couch then the table then went to beg Darcy for treats. She put down dog treats for them and they carried them out to suck up to owners or friends in Conor's case. He did like Bucky.

***
Part 10 by voracity
Darcy came out the next morning with her dog. Lucky and Clint, and Kate and Cutey, were behind her somewhere. She ran into an officer who didn't look pleased. "Please tell me that officer last night is okay," she begged quietly.

"He's in a quarantine ward. It was some sort of biological substance that made him horny. Would you have any idea?"

"You need to call SHIELD," she said. "HYDRA tried to dose me with one before. It has an antidote." The officer smiled and relaxed, nodding some. "Clint, call him someone," she called. "I don't have my phone on me. Conor hid it under the fridge again."

He came jogging down the stairs with Lucky. "Why?"

"That box, it had something that made officers suddenly and dangerously horny," the officer said.

"That shit's nasty," Clint told him. He looked up the number and called. "May, Barton. Someone shipped Darcy a box with what we think is the same inhibitant remover. She handed it to the cops when she didn't know what it was so they could check it and a few officers are in quarantine somewhere. Please. The officer we're talking to is from the 113 up the street from us. Thanks, May." He hung up. "She'll tell the boss and the geeks. They'll call in to the station within an hour."

"I hope they're okay," Darcy said. "You kinda have to wear it out somewhat. I did when I got hit."

The officer nodded. "I'll let them know that and someone will call. Are you all right? Any new presents?"

"Not yet," she admitted. "I woke up last night to a weird noise but no one was outside the window and I wasn't in my bedroom just in case."

"Okay. Thank you, Miss Lewis. And good instincts." He left to tell the boss that. And his other bosses who wanted to keep track of her. Pity she hadn't triggered it when it had been opened. Then maybe they'd finally get the kid they wanted to train to be their next asset. His boss wasn't pleased about what they thought it might be but that happened sometimes in this city of weirdness.

Around lunchtime, two geeks walked into the station together, smiling at the desk sergeant. "SHIELD sent us," she said politely in a British accent. "To handle the officers that got dosed by that box last night. Is the captain or whoever available?"

"I can call back, ma'am."

"I'm Dr. Simmons, this is Dr. Fitz."

He nodded and called that back. The captain came out to talk to them. Fitz shook his hand first. "That formula is highly nasty," he said in his cute little accent. "We've worked up an antidote but it has a few clauses that have to be met," he said quietly.

"You have to at least started to try to wear it out yourself, by yourself or with someone," Simmons said quietly. "We can give the antidote over easily. We would like to look at what they sent however. There's two parts and we need to see if they got both."

"I can arrange that. Let me take you to the station that has the box in quarantine and we can go to the hospital?"

"Of course," she agreed, smiling at him. "This is the third known use they've used."

He led them out to a squad car. "We kinda figured what it was for when we opened it to find about forty pounds of restraints and sex toys." Both scientists groaned and shook their heads. "And a leaking balloon tied to he box's top that let out the smoke looking stuff."

"That's obviously an idea in the making," Fitz agreed. "Why would they send her restraints?"

"They want her to be knocked up by Barnes," Simmons reminded him. "It's probably for her to feel safer."

"Or they thought she was bouncy," Fitz suggested. "She probably was when they had her kidnaped. She tends to get bouncy when she's agitated according to her files."

"That's true," Simmons said. "Who was there last night?"

"Cap'n America, both Hawkeyes, and that guy that you see sometimes on the team," the captain said.

"Probably Lang," Simmons decided. "Barnes?" He looked clueless. "One metal armed guy?"

"He's been noted hanging out in that neighborhood but we figured he was watching over the avenger and that girl. She's spunky as hell."

Simmons smiled. "Yes she is. There's a large note in her SHIELD files about her being spunky and liking tazers."

"She's got one on her door now," he agreed. "We all hope it helps. That and the dog." He got them out and into the station. "SHIELD sent 'em to look at the box."

"Just the balloon," Simmons said, pushing her hair back behind her ears. "There's two versions of the formula and we need to know which one." They led them to the room where the box was inside a plastic safe box they used on bombs. She carefully stuck in the test pad she taped to an extendable probe then counted before taking it back out and letting Fitz reseal it. "The non-lasting version. That's a great thing." She smiled at the staring officers. "There's something that can be added to it to make it last in your system even with the antidote. If you get overly excited it can come back for days on end."

"That's nasty," the captain said.

"Well, it is HYDRA," Fitz said quietly.

The officers all nodded. "We hate 'em too," one said. "The rest of us need shots?"

"No, only the exposed and if you do get exposed in the future, start to wear it out," she instructed. "Even by yourself. You have to break it at least twice for the antidote to work." The officers all nodded. "They're sneaky sorts."

"The doctor that had Darcy and Barnes was a vet so he didn't understand female human reproductive systems," Fitz told them. "They probably don't understand male ones either." The guys all laughed and the captain took them to the hospital so they could brief the doctors, running into Bruce. "Doc...Doctor Banner?" he asked.

Bruce looked and smiled. "Drs. Fitz and Simmons, this is Dr. Whelmin. He's treating those officers."

"It's the non-eternal version so the antidote will work very well as long as they've started to wear it out," she told him, shaking his hand.

"Who made this thing?" the doctor demanded.

"HYDRA or someone they stole it from," she said with a wince. "They've tried to use it a few times."

"Thankfully this version doesn't have the hiding portion that would let it pop up later," Fitz told him. "That's even nastier."

"Yes, that