Characters/Pairings: Darcy Lewis/Bruce Banner, background Jane Foster/Thor, background Tony Stark/Steve Rogers, background Clint Barton/Phil Coulson, past Betty Ross/Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanov, Betty Ross, Hulk
Word Count: 26,585 overall
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me.
Summary: Darcy was seven the first time she fell in love. The second time it happens, she's twenty-five, hung over as all get out, and has a real chance of getting shot, which is actually more alarming than the giant green guy who's holding her hostage.
Notes: Sequel to Living a Bangles Song. I kept forgetting to post new parts of this to LJ, so I'm bundling the last eleven chapters into three posts to keep the flist spamming to a minimum. :)
Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Parts Five through Nine / Parts Ten through Fourteen
“Coulson's House of Pain, please be concise and to the point or we'll be forced to test the new attack tigers on your face,” Darcy chirps into the phone. Coulson looks up from where he's searching for something in her filing cabinet, eyebrow arched nearly up into his hairline, which is a pretty neat trick. Darcy blows him a kiss, and he rolls his eyes, but doesn't yell at her. Darcy doodles hearts in the margins of his latest batch of debriefs.
“I'm fairly certain that's not how they recommend answering the phones during training,” Bruce says dryly, and Darcy grins and kicks her feet up on top of her desk.
“Shows what you know. They didn't actually train me.” It's true, which either makes that a hell of a lot more funny or a hell of a lot less. She can't quite decide, but she gets to make Fury look constipated on a regular basis and then handwave it away with a 'Well, if you'd just trained me...' that he clearly doesn't buy, but still lets pass.
“That explains so much about so many things.” There's a muffled sound in the background, a scruffling, whining noise that Darcy can't quite place, but Bruce makes a placating sound in the back of his throat, and Darcy's fingers tighten around the phone.
“Everything alright there on your end?” She keeps her voice even, her tone light, but Coulson looks at her with sharp eyes that see right through it. She waves him off when he tilts his head in question, and he drops a Hershey kiss on her desk when he passes it on his way back to his office. “Nothing going on that I'm going to be seeing on the news tonight?”
Another noise, this one more of a thud, and then a sharp exhale from Bruce that sounds more like surprise than pain, which isn't necessarily less worrying.
“Fine,” Bruce says, his voice a little higher than usual. “Everything's good here.”
Darcy lets her feet fall back to the floor and leans forward in her chair. “Right. Why don't I believe you?”
“I can't help it if you have trust issues.” Bruce grunts, and Darcy's on her feet before he even starts to say, “Could you come down to the lobby and give me a hand with something?”
“On my way,” Darcy says and drops the phone in its cradle without looking as she snatches her purse up. “Be back later, boss!”
“Just don't do anything that will require me to fill out paperwork,” Coulson says, and Darcy thinks it's pretty much a given that that won't happen.
Darcy steps off the elevator and stumbles to a stop. She blinks. “Bruce?”
Bruce is on the floor, scuffling with what looks like a small, dirty bear. There's water dripping from his hair and its fur, mud covering both of their coats, and when Bruce looks up there's a large streak of grime on his cheek. He's grinning, wide and happy and open, and Darcy's answering smile is completely involuntary.
“So,” she says, carefully edging closer. The little bear sneezes and leans against Bruce's knee when he scratches behind its droopy ears. “What ya got there, jolly green?”
“I found him digging through a dumpster by that Thai place you like.” There's a slightly squashed bag of take out on the floor next to Bruce, and Darcy pushes it out of the way with her toe, then kneels next to him. Once they're on the same level, Bruce leans in to catch her mouth in soft, 'hello' sort of kiss, and his lips are a little gritty from whatever it is he's gotten in to, but Darcy hums happily into the kiss anyway. He pulls back, presses another short kiss to the side of her neck, and coaxes the little bear closer to her. “I've already cleared it with Tony.”
He looks so pleased with himself that Darcy bites back the, “Cleared what, opening your own national park, complete with pick-a-nick baskets?” that wants to escape. Some of her confusion must show through, though, because Bruce's face falls a little.
“I mean, if you want. I just thought it was something you might want. We can always find it a home.”
The little Yogi wannabe yawns then, and Darcy looks down at it and sees the wide stretch of its mouth, hears the high whine that accompanies it, and when she blinks it's suddenly easier to see through the muck and grime.
“Oh my god,” she says, and she feels like one of those beauty pageant contestants, but she fans her face with one hand and tries to blink back the tears that suddenly spring up in her eyes. “You got me a dog?”
Bruce's smile makes a tentative comeback, and he brushes a bead of dampness from the corner of her eye. “Only if you like the idea. We really don't have to keep him if you don't want to.”
“Are you kidding me? I love the idea,” Darcy says. She laughs wetly and takes the puppy's face in her hands. “I'm going to call you Shazam, and if anyone ever tries to throw a rock at you, I'll have your Auntie Natasha destroy them.” She kisses Shazam on the snout, not even caring that he really, really needs a bath, then turns to kiss Bruce. She licks back past his teeth to curl her tongue around his, deepening the kiss until he gasps and squeezes her hip tightly. Someone walking through the lobby wolf whistles, and Darcy absently flips them off.
Bruce laughs and breaks the kiss, though, his cheeks bright red. “You know, if you hate the idea, you could always tell me,” Bruce teases.
The puppy nudges his nose up under Darcy's elbow and she wraps an arm around his neck. “No take backs. I love him.” She bumps their noses together and says, “I love you.”
Bruce's breath catches and he swallows roughly. “Don't.” He says, and his voice sounds like he's taken sandpaper to his vocal cords. “Don't say that unless you mean it.”
She pulls him in for a slow, sweet kiss, nibbles gently at his lower lip until he opens up the slightest bit. “I do,” she says against his mouth. “I have ever since that day I accidentally degreened you in the hallway.”
“That long,” Bruce asks, and he sounds dazed, but not upset. Darcy can work with that. As long as he isn't running away, she can work with it.
“Yeah.” She kisses his chin, the tip of his nose. “Is that okay?”
“Is it--” Bruce pulls back and stares at her with wide, dark eyes. “Is it okay? It's, Darcy, this is.” He closes his eyes for a moment and a slow smile spreads across his face. “I love you, too.”
“Well, good,” Darcy says, then tackles him back onto the floor, kissing him until Fury walks by and makes an exasperated groaning noise, and then she kisses him some more. Shazam yelps and jumps all over the two of them like this is the best thing ever, and Darcy is pretty damn inclined to agree with him.
Darcy's still riding the high of puppies and 'I love you's when she gets back to SHIELD the next morning—Fury did eventually kick them out, even if he'd been smirking a little when he did it, and she's pretty certain she saw Agent Hill slipping him a twenty on their way out the door—so she doesn't stop to harass the new recruits she sees huddled like a cluster of nervous kittens in the hallway connected to the small alcove where her desk sits. Instead, she just smirks and flips a limp wristed salute at Agents Robins and Markum, who are apparently on newbie duty today.
“Fuck, please let her be my handler,” she hears one of the recruits whisper to another as she approaches them. They aren't even trying to hide the way they're checking her out, which doesn't speak highly of their subterfuge skills.
“Or I could be hers. That would work too,” the other one responds, and Darcy takes a moment to mourn the apparent fall of SHIELD's hiring standards. Her fingers are itching, twitching almost imperceptibly down the strap of her purse in the direction of her taser, because it would almost be worth having to deal with HR again.
“You're barking up the wrong tree,” Robins says, turning to quirk a small grin at her that Darcy returns when she passes by. “That's Darcy Lewis. She bites.”
“Yeah,” Markum says as he passes her her cut of the betting pool over where the villain of the week would strike. “Also, her boyfriend's a total beast.”
And Darcy smirks, adds a little extra swing to her step, and thinks fuck yeah, that's right.
GUYS. GUYS, IT'S FINISHED. ;_;
Thank you all so, so much for sticking with me through this entire thing. I still have a lot of plans for this universe, including a sequel, several side stories, and a recipe post for most of the food I mentioned in Things That Shine, so I hope you'll all hang around for that too. This has been an amazing experience and I honestly never expected that when I wrote a tiny ficlet for a kiss meme that it'd spiral out of control the way it has, but I'm so happy that it did.
Thank you to everyone who commented, kudoed, bookmarked, recced, or just plain liked this story. Every kind word and thought means more to me than you know.
Special thanks to Chaerring and The Great Spork Wielder, who have spent the last couple of weeks listening to me rant and rave and flail about this and several other Darcy/Bruce stories and have ranted, raved, and flailed back at me in return. You two rock and I'm thrilled to have stumbled into knowing you through what I thought was going to be a ridiculous crack pairing that would never go anywhere. <3