Imagine: The List
Fic posted by members of Vo's Imaginings YahooGroup

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."


"Yes!" She blew up at her bangs and pushed her hair back over her shoulder. "So stupid but it was a setup."


"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."


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."



"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 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."


"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.

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