Not What You Expected To Get.
Both women in the lab looked up as the door opened. The redheaded woman standing there looked at both of them, focusing on the one she wanted. "It's time for training."
"I'm not training. I'm not an agent. I have all the training I need, thank you anyway."
The agent stared at her. "It really should be done however. You could be vulnerable. Plus it will make you feel better."
"I feel just fine. And I'm not vulnerable. I have all the training I need in this world to be working in this lab. If I were going for your job I may need more but that's not an aspiration I have."
"You probably can't run long enough if something happens."
"And in that case, I'd hide, as most civilians do. Frankly, even if I could run I can't run thanks to some musculature problems." She adjusted her glasses. "But thank you for visiting our lab today, Agent Romanoff. Have a great day." She got back to work, glancing at Jane. Who was clearly rolling her eyes but not facing the right way for anyone else to see.
"Most people would love to have personal training time with us."
"People have a lot of unrealistic daydreams that gets them happy in the middle of the night," Darcy said as he pulled up her current form to finish. "Mine usually include being a pastry chef in Lisbon." She shrugged, glancing at her. "But thank you for the offer."
"You could use it to lose some weight."
Darcy glared at her. "I'm at a fine weight. Thank you anyway." The agent smirked. "And your little psy-ops bullshit needs to stop. Real women don't do that to each other. Even the shallowest of bitches." She looked at her laptop again. "Thank you for visiting our lab. Have a better day doing all the man mind screwing that's your fun and games."
"Men like..." she started.
Darcy burst out laughing. "Why do I care what some generic idiot man wants or thinks, Agent Romanoff? I don't want one of them and be damned if I'm going to settle for so plebeian. If they can't want me for who I am, then they're not meant to be mine. Who wants the idiots you like to screw with the minds of? Neither Jane or I are trophy spouse material. We prefer real men with real brains. Now, anything else today before I lose my veneer of manners?" She stared at her until she left. Darcy huffed. "The nerve of some bitches."
Jane looked at her. "Some women are like that."
"Yes, most of us grew out of it when we left our teenage years. It's a shame she's backsliding to regain those feelings." She grimaced. "Absolutely horrible for her. But maybe she'll find a calling." Jane snickered but got back to work. Darcy was finishing up the application for Jane. "Here we go, one conference registration minus what you're speaking on." She printed it for Jane to look it over.
Jane filled in the last few things herself and Darcy stuck it into the envelope that had the rest of it ready to go. It got put into the mail slot in the hall then Darcy came back to go back to the work she was doing today. Which was mostly homework. Darcy grimaced but got back into her current writing assignment. Of course, the thing had been erased on her. "Aww, someone erased my laptop's memory, Jane."
"So let's go to the backup system." She pulled that tablet out and started it without her wifi turned on. She kept it off all the time because of sketchy wifi connections. She got into her data backup and got back to work with the bluetooth keyboard. "That's nicer. And if something happens here I'll know why and start a lawsuit." Suddenly, her laptop's memory was restored. "It's sweet they think they can hack me and get away with it, Jane."
Jane reached back to pet her on the arm. "It's all right. There's a lot of women who are too shallow to be real women, Darcy."
"I know and it sucks." They shared a look. "You have Thor showing up tonight. Are you guys going out to dinner? I can find a reservation."
"I think we're staying in. He'll be tired from the trip." She got back to her readings. "Do we have the ones from last month?" Darcy looked up and handed her the folder. "Thanks." She compared them and grimaced. "The city is really screwing with my readings."
"All the buildings?"
"Not sure. Could be some sort of radiation drawing things away from the standard paths." She sketched it out, nodding. "I think it is." Someone else walked in with Agent Romanoff this time. "Hi." She got back to work.
Darcy looked up. "Miss Potts." She got back to work as well. "Jane, is this something that's going to skew the bridge for Thor?"
"No. There's a target set up and Heimdall can hit the target. Stark had me set up a firm target area for him." She considered it. "If there's a misconnection we'll figure it out and fix the target to compensate by drawing that energy to it." She sketched that out as well. "Landing lights around the edge for design?"
Darcy turned to look at her. "Maybe just a mirror setting?"
"Could be, yes. That would draw the light and only bend it slightly." She designed that way. "What are you working on?"
"Lecture class." She got back to it. "While we're beautiful women, why the visit today, Miss Potts? She's got about another hour of stuff to do before Thor gets here and distracts her. Or else she'll make him huff by drawing on his abs instead of appreciating them."
"He only huffed a few minutes," Jane shot back, frowning but grinning at the other women. "She's right. I will ignore Thor and he'll pout."
"I was wondering if you needed any help with upcoming Asgardian events."
"No. The palace sends down someone to do my hair and makeup." Darcy nodded. "Brigid is pretty handy and loves to complain about my hair's length."
"You could use a trim," Darcy offered. "It's getting a bit shaggy."
Jane ran a hand through her hair. "It could use one I guess." She shrugged. "Sometime this month." She smiled at Pepper. "But if I do, I'll gladly ask you for help. They have different clothing standards on Asgard and I'm still trying to match up to his mother's style." She shook her head. "Frigga always had very elaborate updos and very floaty gowns that showed off some of her shape."
"Really? Not like gala gowns?" Pepper asked.
"No. Sleeves. Long sleeves. Frigga usually had a silk scarf around her throat." She shrugged. "My last one was light blue and drifting." Darcy found the picture on her phone to hand to her. "That's my last one." She let them see it. "The maids deal with most of that. I just show up, get put into clothes, then talk to people when I'd rather be working on math." She handed Darcy her phone back.
Darcy got into her phone to save things down, starting her weekly backups. With how her laptop had been hacked earlier it was probably a good idea. She held out a hand and Jane made a curious sound. Darcy wiggled her fingers so Jane handed over her laptop, letting her do a data backup. "Oh, that. Thank you, Darcy."
"Welcome." She got back to it. "I'm using all the methods. Your online hasn't been updated in months." She got into her email. "Oh! Jane." She came over to look so she let her see that email. "Congrats on the nom."
Jane smiled. "It's not certain. I wonder who else got nominated." She took her laptop back to read over. "Wow." She smiled. "I have an email that I'm nominated for an award. Eric will be thrilled for me." She sent him a text message and printed that email out to hang up on the wall. "That's pretty. I'll get a new frame later." Darcy was already ordering one. Jane grinned. "That's an excellent thing."
Pepper smiled. "Will you need help working up the speech?"
"Oh, no! Darcy's a skilled public speaker." She grinned then at Pepper again. "It works well for us. I might need advice on clothing since I really don't wear formal clothes, but finding something reasonable but pretty is annoying."
Darcy looked at her. "You have that black gown from the last award. You have the blue gown in the picture if they can rearrange the neckline. You have the purple and gold one from his crowning ceremony?"
"That could be. I'll have to ask if I can borrow that one. I looked fantastic in it." She considered it. "Brigid?" she called loudly. That maid appeared, bowing to her. "I've been nominated for an award." The girl squealed and hugged her. "It's not a certain thing but it's a possible. Can we fix me up for that?"
"Of course, Dr. Foster." She beamed. "The new red dress? Thor is partial to that color."
Jane blushed. "I don't look great in red. I was hoping maybe the purple and gold with a bit of changing of the sleeves or something?"
"That one was a bit warm but we can look it over tonight. How soon?"
Darcy waved slightly. "She'll know in a month and then the banquet is about two months later. It'll be formal but not needing jewels. There'll be a few royals there as they run the foundation that she's getting it from." She handed over Jane's laptop again. "You, Pierre and Jacob, Tylin's group at Harvard."
"A lot of the winners are political," Jane said, looking at her maid. "So makeup hair, minimal jewels?"
"I can prepare for thus in theory. You let us know when you hear that you're getting it. We can look at how to remake that dress slightly. Though I think it's in the museum. Do we have a second choice?"
"That peach number?" Jane suggested. "It was dressy and dreamy looking."
"We can definitely do that as it's in your closet still. And it won't need much tinkering. Just maybe adjusting that stupid neckline that rubbed you oddly." She hugged Jane and Darcy then disappeared to spread that news. It was great their future queen's mind was so strong.
"That peach dress was pretty," Jane agreed with a nod. "It just had that neckline with the lace."
Darcy grinned. "They can probably remove some of the lace, Jane."
"True. I have no idea about clothes." She smiled at Pepper. "Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt. I know your time is valuable."
"No, that's fine. Do you usually shop for up there?"
"No. I wear what I want most of the time. If I have to be in the throne room they put me in something and make sure I've got something to write on in the tiny purse." She shrugged. "It works for them so I don't ask or nag unless it's uncomfortable. I'm not really a clothes or shoes woman. I never was."
She looked at her old, worn out flannel overshirt, t-shirt, and jeans outfit. "I'm in this most of the time." She looked up. "There's more important things than clothes to worry about in my life. But thank you for the kind offer. If I need a suggestion I'll gladly ask. Darcy goes for forties glam hollywood style looks and my body shape isn't excellent for that."
"You could look like Ginger Rogers. That sort of swingy gown would look good on you, Jane."
Jane looked her up. "I could pull off that dress. Would Thor and them like it though?"
"Don't know, ask next time."
"Huh. Thanks for the suggestion, Darcy." She smiled at Pepper. "Half the time she's my mother figure." Darcy smirked at her. "You do nag like my mother."
"She sent me a card for that."
Jane sighed, looking at Pepper. "My mother adores that someone reminds me about earthly things." She shook her head a bit. "But anyway, thank you for being here for the good news." She smiled.
"It's a momentous thing to just be nominated." They left to go talk. Pepper smiled at Natasha. "Maybe she needs another assistant to help her?"
"I doubt she would. Lewis looks familiar from somewhere." She shook her head.
"She really doesn't live up to the corporate image we have around here." She pushed back one perfect lock of hair.
"Yes but she's a lab assistant. No one should see her." Natasha grimaced. "She's not very interesting either."
Pepper nodded. "Girls like her aren't. That's why they're single. Well, maybe some day someone will take her off Jane's coattails." They went back to her office.
Darcy and Jane, having heard most of that, shared a look. Darcy could handle that. Especially with a class coming up.
Tony Stark strolled into Jane's lab. "Foster, welcome home."
"We're only here for six months," Jane said patiently. "And then we're going to a lab in Ireland."
"You could stay. You and your...helper." He looked Darcy over, shaking his head.
Darcy glared at him. "We already heard from the eating disorder lovers earlier."
"You're a lab assistant."
"Wrong that." She smirked. "You have no idea who I am, Stark. And quit hitting on Jane before Thor takes her to Asgard for good?" He scowled. She stared back. "You don't even know my name. So don't even try to scowl at me."
"You're Darcy Lewis."
"Uh-huh. Kinda." He blinked. She smirked. "And you forgot a title in there, dude." She turned to get back to work. "Jane, do you want to go to the Emirates embassy thing with Thor?"
"No thank you. I'd have to talk about women's rights."
"I taught you people skills?" Darcy quipped, grinning at her. "Really? Finally?"
"No!" She scowled but looked amused. She looked at Stark again. "So anyway, what about the problem you wanted us to come help with?"
"I could fund your research for years to come."
Jane nodded. "And some day I may take you up on that. Right now we're okay on funding." He looked at her machines then at her again. "Oh, no, they're like that until the final version. I'm still making changes and updating things."
He nodded once. "So your mouthy lab assistant?"
"Darcy? She's a whole lot more than that. Including the one who reminds me to eat." She winced at Darcy, who threw over a granola bar. "Thanks. I think I forgot again."
"You didn't, you're fine, it's from the traveling." She grinned at Stark. "Want one?" She held up the box.
"No thanks. Those aren't good for you."
"These are organic and pretty healthy, Stark. I don't let Jane eat too much junk food unless she's eating it off Thor's abs."
Stark walked off shaking his head. "Okay then. We'll meet tomorrow over that problem, Foster."
"Sure." She looked at Darcy, getting a second one. "These aren't so bad." She dug in and got back to setting up her work areas.
Someone else stopped in but he gave Darcy a confused look. "Do I know you?" he asked.
She looked up at him then grinned. "Yes. Somewhat." She smirked. "But don't worry about it too hard. It was a casual meeting at something."
"Oh, okay." He nodded. "Dr. Foster?" Jane smiled at him. "Thor's just now back and grumpy. He's worried you're not up there and he's too pouty to come down here."
"He's probably got sunburn from the trip," Jane admitted. "Darcy, finish this?"
"Of course. Tell Thor I said hi and I'll be on the couch later until I get my rental's keys tomorrow."
"Good. He'll love to have you help us watch some tv." She left with the blond-ish guy. "So, which one are you?"
"Clint Barton, Hawkeye."
"Oh, the archer guy." Jane shook his hand once they were in the elevator. "We're only here for six months."
"It happens a lot in the labs. People run from Stark now and then."
She smiled. "Well... After earlier I'm not sure if that was them running from Stark." He looked at her. "We had a catty female attack. Twice. They called Darcy fat."
"No, she's not. She's at a healthy weight. We don't put up with that." She got off the elevator and strolled over to where Thor was being pouty. She stared at him. "Darcy's finishing the set up and she'll be on the couch until she gets the keys tomorrow." He beamed, getting up to hug her. "I missed you too. How's home?" She walked him off. "Are you doing anything with the team tonight?"
"We had planned dinner but that's in an hour or so. Do you believe we can talk Darcy into making us muffins?"
"Probably once she's in her place." She grinned up at him. "She does like to bake stuff to make me eat them."
"It does you good, Jane. You're too skinny." He cuddled her. "Come, show me the apartment?" She did that and he hummed in pleasure at the large bed. "This shall do well." He brought her back to the living areas. "There, we will catch up."
Stark came out of the kitchen. "Your helper...."
"Darcy? Yes. She's on our couch tonight because the rental apartment's not ready until tomorrow afternoon." Thor nodded he understood that. Stark looked confused. "What?"
"She can afford an apartment?"
"Yeah. We both could. She hasn't been an unpaid intern for a while now and she's got a side gig."
"Oh, I didn't know that. Her background check was pretty blank."
"Yeah, she flies under the radar a lot." She grinned at Thor. Who smirked back. "But Darcy has a lot of skills and helps me a lot." Pepper came off the elevator and Jane ignored her. "So, Thor? Home?"
"It does well. People are wondering how you are doing with your science."
"I got nominated for a high level award." Thor beamed at her. "It's just a nomination. We won't know for about two months. I talked to Brigid about helping me dress for it earlier."
"She would be helpful. I'm glad you found a maid that appreciates helping you, my Jane." He cuddled her. "They also want to honor Darcy for her help she's given us."
"She'll hate being given a knighthood, Thor."
"She is female and we don't have knights like England did." He grimaced. "Though something like that I suppose. Women have won that one in the past." He shifted, pulling her into his lap. "That way we don't take up too many seats."
Pepper smiled at her. "Jane, are you sure you don't want more lab assistants?"
"No. Darcy does everything I need. Including reminding me of eating now and then." She looked up at Thor. "Would she stress about that award?"
"Maybe. She can do that." He shifted. "Where is she?"
"Finishing the lab's set up work."
"Hmm. She should join us for dinner."
"I doubt she'd be comfortable," Pepper said. "It's a team event."
Thor stared at her. "Darcy is like my own sibling." Pepper nodded once.
"She said she's getting chinese to work on the current book list."
Thor nodded. "She does have some interesting books." He cuddled her.
Pepper looked at Tony. They didn't like that sort of person around them. She ended up being distracting. "So, is she dating or do we have to worry about setting up security clearances for someone in her life?"
"She just broke up with someone, he didn't want to leave London," Jane said. "Ian was her former intern." She looked up at Thor then at her again. "Though she is internet dating someone at the moment. She's not sure if it'll become something or not. She and Ian's breakup was friendly and she still talks to him too. She's got three ex's she still talks to and one's a good person to ask about electrical and computer stuff."
"Thad is that," Thor agreed. "Her current date is interesting. He's an anthropologist."
"She's a humanities person," Jane agreed with a nod. "She'll be mentoring me about people things for years."
Thor kissed her on the cheek. "You'll do fine but part of the Council got you two confused. We laughed long about them."
Jane looked up at him. "Is that the same idiot who tried to hit on her?"
"Yes." He rolled his eyes. "He's still addlepated from Darcy's lightening box."
Pepper looked at them. "So we don't have to worry about her drifting around the tower?"
Jane stared at her. "How toxic that suggestion was, Miss Potts. My assistant and near sister is not some little money grubbing whore."
"I didn't mean that. There's agents and others here as well."
"Yes, and they'd do well to stay away from us since SHIELD is on our shitlist permanently." She looked up at Thor again. "Do you want to go to the dinner with me if I win that award?"
"I would not mind."
"It's a formal event. So formal clothes, minor jewelry." Thor nodded. "With two sponsoring royal families there."
"Then I'd have people to talk to beyond the scientists that try to make my brains dribble out my ears." She elbowed him. "They do!" She gave him a dirty look. "Fine. I would adore going and seeing your brilliance in action, Jane."
"Thank you." She snuggled in. "Is your father still grumpy?"
"Yes. He still believes you too delicate. He suggested I take Darcy in to slake my appetites so when I come to our bed I don't break you in half."
Jane huffed. "Thor, I'm not that delicate."
"He considers you too wispy, Jane."
"Yeah, I'm skinny. I can handle whatever you throw out in bed."
"I did not enlighten him to that fact. He does not want to hear such facts."
She grinned. "You should. That way he blushes when he sees me and wanders off before he calls me worse than a goat."
Thor cuddled her to calm her down. He was not liking this temporary lab position in the least and he was sure Darcy was already upset as well since Jane was. During dinner, the talk went back to talking about them poorly. So when Jane and he retired and found no Darcy, Thor went to gather her. Then they all went to a hotel when they refused to let Darcy have her couch. Jane followed to the hotel.
Stark walked into Jane's lab the next day. "We got off on the wrong foot, Foster and Lewis."
"That's because your girlfriend sent her bestie to all but call me useless and fat," Darcy said. "Not even knowing who I am." She looked at him. "Then she showed up with said bestie to all but tell Jane to dump me for someone better." Stark winced. "Yeah, we don't do that shit. We're real women with real women ideals. Now, that problem. Is that the laser problem you've been having so I know which checklist to pull up?"
"Jane works from lists."
"Oh. I don't have any idea." He pulled a chair over and let Jane take his notes.
"That is the laser focusing problem. But also the energy is too scattered." She pointed. "That's too unfocused." He grinned, taking notes on that. Darcy handed over the checklist on a tablet. Jane went over each point to make sure they were set. Stark had to add in an extra bit so that was handy. Darcy handed over coffee cups and poured for them then got back to work.
"How did you know?"
"The air in here is dry," Jane said. "I live on coffee. I have a three pot a day habit."
"That's a lot. Pepper doesn't let me have more than one pot all day."
"Darcy nags a bit but I get more water to stop that." She pulled up the other checklists to see if any applied. One did so she went over those areas. Stark went back to his lab happier. Jane looked at Darcy. "Is your lecture this weekend?"
"Yeah. Friday late afternoon." She grinned. "You know you can come."
"I know. I probably will." They got back to work, Jane making notes. Physical notes to make sure they didn't get erased. Darcy was doing the same thing. "Do I have emails?"
"As of lunch outside the tower, nope. Sorry. It'll be weeks."
"I know," she sighed. "I hate the waiting."
"We all do. I thought for sure I'd die waiting on my fellowship's notification." They shared a grin. "The blue outfit?"
"Yeah, that could be nice," Jane agreed. "You look nice in that and comfortable. Are you starting out making a point?"
"I am. Like usual." She made notes on her notecards about that. She was working on her speech. When someone from another lab came in, they smiled and were nice to her. She seemed really nice. And she warned them about the catty female problem. They had forced her to go on anti-depressants to deal with the problems they gave out. Darcy handed over a name with a grin and a wink. The lady looked, eyes wide but nodded. She clearly recognized Darcy so that was nice.
Darcy walked onto the stage in her usual intern outfit of scarf, beanie, big jacket. "Evening, people. How're you? As you know I'm Darceline Lewis." She grinned. "Who here thinks I'm not smart enough to be up here?" A few hands raised slightly. She took off the outer layers. "Now how many do?" They stared. "Yes, it's a flaw we've built into ourselves. We believe the lies we tell ourselves and others.
"Women, especially, do this to each other. We use our looks to lie about who we are. How intelligent we are, if we're duplicitous, if we're capable. And we do this to ourselves and each other!" She smiled. "Was I any less capable in the coat and beanie?" A few shook their heads. "Yet I looked like a warm up intern." She smiled. "We need to stop doing this to each other and ourselves, people! The outer is a lie we tell each other and it leads to a lot of social inequality."
She walked around, going over her speech about how fashion was actually a disease that was feeding this, and the propaganda around it made it worse. Then she unveiled her newest academic work, which got some applause. She grinned at Jane. "As usual, my all-but sister proofread it so can we also applaud Dr. Jane Foster?" Jane stood up and waved with a smile.
"Proof positive that ugly, worn out flannel can hold a genius in disguise." Darcy smiled. "My final reminder, be happy with who you are! With how you are! Quit trying for unobtainable goals and reach for the inner goals that actually mean something to everyone." She clapped her hands. "And have a good, safe night everyone."
They clapped and she waved as they walked out. Jane came up to help her gather her few things together, letting her slide into her jacket and beanie again. It was chilly outside. They walked out together and someone ran up to them. Jane pulled her self defense weapon. Darcy had her tazer. The guy screamed as he went down and thankfully there were officers nearby.
"Miss, should you have that?" the officer demanded.
"Yes. This is Dr. Jane Foster. Thor's girlfriend. I'm her lab assistant and Dr. Darcy Lewis. My talk was here tonight." She pointed at the building. "He decided to run up on us with a gun." She pointed at it. Then looked at him.
"Those are illegal in this city, Dr. Lewis."
"And I have a card allowing it from the FBI." She grinned. "I'd pull it out but you look jumpy about me reaching into my bag."
"Please do." She pulled out her wallet and the card to show him. "I see you do. Please holster it?" It got put back. So did Jane's weapon. "Did you know him?"
"No. But she's gotten death threats," Darcy said with a nod at Jane. "A few of them. Mostly about Thor."
"Great." He looked around. "Um..."
"At the tower with the team," Jane said. "Humanities make him sleepy."
"That's fine. He's very action oriented. Can we walk you to your car?"
"Cab," Darcy said. "Or Uber." She used her phone to summon one. The guy on the ground was groaning. Darcy nudged him with a foot. "Dude, who sent you at us and which one were you aiming at?"
The guy blinked at her. "You're damn tough, Lewis."
She grinned. "Yes I damn well am. So who sent you?"
"I'm not telling you."
She looked at the officer, who grinned. "I can ask him officially. There's the uber."
Darcy looked. "Unless SHIELD agents moonlight...." Jane moved her behind her. "I'm good, Jane."
"I'm still waiting to beat something." The agent walked over. "What is SHIELD doing here?"
"We're protecting you both," he said bluntly. "Because there's idiots."
"Yes, and a lot of them are SHIELD," Darcy quipped. "Or in the tower."
He nodded. "True. Officer, his supervising agent will come for him later to help him make bail." He waved a hand. "Let's go, ladies? We canceled the uber for you and I'll bring you right to that apartment complex you're in. Maria Hill is waiting on you there."
"Great, another bitch," Darcy complained. "Is she going to tell me I'm fat like the redhead did?"
The agent blinked. "You're not fat, Miss Lewis."
"It's Dr. Lewis," Jane said firmly.
"I was not aware. Come on, Doctors. Let them clean up his mess." He walked them to the car and took them back to their apartment. He watched them go inside and then took a deep breath. He called someone. "Sir, I just had to bring Drs. Lewis and Foster home." He listened to the orders. "No, they're upstairs and Hill is waiting. You may want to, yes." He hung up and moaned, hitting the steering wheel with his forehead. This was not good.
Upstairs, Hill put up her phone, looking at the two walking in. "Your file doesn't list the doctorate, Dr. Lewis."
"Or the MacArthur Fellowship?" Jane asked. Hill winced. "Or the books?"
"No, none of that." She stared at Darcy, who grinned and wiggled her fingers. "We apparently failed hard."
"Yes you did. Was it your idea to send the redhead who told me I'm fat?" She took off her jacket, beanie, and suit coat, hanging them up. She sat down to take off the sneakers she wore.
"No, that was on Pepper's orders probably. She hates anyone who isn't like her."
"Yeah, we met a chemist who got driven to depression from it," Jane said, settling in her own chair. "So why the private talk?"
"Because I couldn't get to you at the tower." She stared at them. "We've noticed you're not using the internet there?"
"With the level of spying and the way our machines got erased?" Jane asked. "No. Hard pass. Some of her notes disappeared. Part of the next book. Our laptops got invaded by the AI too."
Darcy nodded. "Thankfully I use a safe and secure backup for everything and a non-touchable one that said they won't let the AI near it when I asked. Their spiel specifically said that Stark's AI could not invade it." She grinned. "And our usual hard drives. Jane losing work would compromise her lab."
"It would." She grimaced. "We should get you ladies some support. Some guarding."
"We're only here for six months," Darcy said.
"Still. Potts has taken a dislike to you for some reason. It's not safe."
"We can work from home a lot," Jane offered. "Only the machines are there and I can have them self destruct if I have to."
"Explosive?" Hill asked, wincing a bit.
"Dissolving, not explosive," Darcy said. "My mom's design."
"I didn't know your mother was into science."
"My mom's into a few things," she said with a grin. "By the way, tell Sammy to call my mother this weekend please? She's missing her newly adopted son's voice."
"Does he know he got adopted?"
"I'm assuming so." She smirked a bit. "I'll let him tell you that story." She looked at Jane. "I've got to go beat a cousin this weekend."
"That's fine. Have fun. Where?"
"Hmm. Well, have some fun. Bring me back cookies?"
"Of course. I'm busy feeding your tapeworms." She looked at Hill. "She never keeps on weight. Odin thought Thor would break her."
"I heard that story from Thor." Hill stared at her. "We misjudged you a lot, didn't we?" Darcy grinned and nodded. "I'll do a better background check later, Dr. Lewis."
"Sure. Have fun. Just don't interrupt my current classes?"
"Fine. Not something I want to do anyway." She left them to hang out and talk. Hill went to meet with Coulson, who stared at her. "Who is Lewis?"
"Darcy Lewis?" She nodded. "She's up here?"
"Stark got Foster for a six month gig."
"I'm wondering if her mother knows."
"They apparently talked earlier."
"Hmm. The best piece of advice Nick Fury ever gave me was if an Althea Gibbs ever got in my way, to walk the other direction if I was in her way. He had just gotten out of a seventy-two hour hold for some reason. I can only imagine it was her doing because he was in her way." Hill looked so confused. "That's Darcy's mother."
"Oh. Okay. Is she in an agency?"
"No and they're all worried about what she'll do if she feels they're wrong. That woman is the reason two HYDRA bases got invaded by mice that were tampered with. And it killed everyone on it by the plague they carried."
"Lewis doesn't seem like that."
"Yes, which is worrying." He stared at her. "I had no idea who she was outside in our way. And then everything of ours broke down in New Mexico. And then we had a battle without warning, which we don't really blame on her but things like that happen around Lewis."
"Understood, kind of. Should I worry?"
"Guard them. A lot."
"She's doing something for her mother this weekend by visiting a cousin in DC?"
"I'll alert agents down there to be ready in case whatever chaos follows her shows up. Why the interest?"
"Potts took an instant dislike to her."
"Darcy's a pretty young woman. Potts is probably jealous that she can't be curvy that way." He smiled. "You should read her books, Maria. It's all about how society's view of womanhood affects not only your gender but it mirrors back on how they're pushing on men's ideology."
"I may do that later. When I do a better background check."
"You won't find anything." He smiled. "I didn't. Then I got a note that said 'get away from my daughter before I come visiting' and the name of one who should be feared."
"Okay. Anyone else realize? Potts sent Romanoff."
"Well, she's failed at being subtle and good at getting in with others. She clearly needs a vacation. Though Potts' problems have led to a lot of scientists leaving Stark over the years."
"They mentioned a chemist. Thank you for that advice."
"Welcome. Have a better night." Maria nodded, going back to the tower. Coulson moaned and sent one single email to one of his former agents. "Remember that advice I said Nick Fury gave me? Her daughter is in the tower and do not get in the way unless you're saving her." He sent it, then went to his rooms to moan about all this.
Clint read that email, looking confused. "I don't know anyone with the name Gibbs," he muttered. Natasha made a curious noise. "Something got brought up." He looked at her. "Coulson once told me that Fury himself gave him one good piece of advice. Never get in the way of a woman named Althea Gibbs. Apparently Fury learned the hard way. Someone told me her daughter's in the tower." He shook his head. "But sure."
"There's no one by that name here."
"I know. Huh." He considered it. Could it be Foster? "What lecture was Darcy at tonight? I know it was something academic."
"Probably something for her classwork. She's stated she's working on a thesis at the moment for some reason."
"The lady's smart. I saw her diploma from high school. She was fifteen." He got comfortable, turning on the tv. Natasha frowned but let it drop.
That weekend, Darcy walked into an office building in DC, getting let up with her note of needing to talk to an agent signed by the director of the FBI's local office. She walked up to the right desk, staring at the man. "Well, Mom said you've made a mess, Cousin Jethro."
"Do I know you?" he demanded, staring at her. "You look familiar."
"Yeah. The last time you saw me I had a pony tail and braces and barely had the boobs." She held out the folder. "Mom sent that and an ass chewing of the ages she said."
"Who are you?"
"Althea's youngest Darcy." She grinned. "*Mom* sent that."
He looked at the notes in the file. "You can't prove that. And some of that's old." He stared at her. She sighed. "What?" he snorted.
"Are you going to make me prove you have the mole she mentioned? Really?" He glared. She stared back. "I can do that. Clearly you haven't. Which is why your whole agency is compromised and Uncle Billy sent me too." She held up the letter to talk to Gibbs. That made him wince. "Yeah. Should I go find that mole of yours? Not the one you're obviously thinking of, who if she moves again I'm going to taze.
"The other one from the same people. Who is her niece." She glared at Ziva. "Stand down." She looked at Gibbs again. "By the way, Mom said I'm to kick your ass for abusing so many agents to get your rocks off because you can't rule without fear. Dictator much?" She walked off manipulating her bracelet until it was a mini tazer. She found her target and smiled. "Hi. Come talk to Gibbs." She hauled her up and over there, putting her in front of the desk. "So, who's your father, dear?"
"Ari Stepleson. Why does it matter?" Darcy pulled out a picture to show her. "Yes, him. He's dead."
"Yeah, he was a terrorist and so are you." She held up another picture.
"I was working!"
"Not for the US I'm sure."
"What is going on?" a female shouted.
"Shut up!" Darcy shouted back. She glared at her. "Uncle Billy at the FBI sent me to handle this mole who'd reporting back to a few different info sellers." Darcy stared at the nervous looking agent. "So, tell us all what you're really doing. Before I hand you to an ex-boyfriend in the BND." She grinned. "I'm sure he'd *love* to meet you, daughter of Ari."
The director gasped, trying to step in but Gibbs stopped her. "Let me go."
"No. Stay out of it." He looked at her. "Were your always this mouthy? Your mother's got charm and class."
Darcy hauled off and punched him, knocking him down. "Yeah, I am, because men of her generation had skills and class. Nowadays women have to be stronger because of douchebags." She glared at the agent again. "So tell us all how you're selling secrets, dear."
"You can't do that. I'm a US citizen."
"Well, no. Your identity goes back to a dead infant in the seventies. You miscounted your own age. No one looked very closely because the director vouched for you." She smiled. FBI agents came off the elevator. One of them stepped over Gibbs. "Hey, Uncle Billy."
"Darceline." She grinned. "Is that her?"
"Yeah it's her." She handed over that file. "Mom sent Cousin Jethro that and an order to kick his ass for abusing so many agents."
"We'd all love to see that," Uncle Billy, the head of the local FBI office, said happily, grinning at Gibbs. "We can't find anyone to press charges against him though."
"Ask some who left." Darcy glanced at Gibbs then at him. "Need me to find more?"
"No, I got the file you found when your mother looked her way, dear. It's very thorough and made the case for her and a few other agents." He glared at Ziva then at the director. "The President was most amused." Darcy grinned and hugged him, strolling off. "Oh, found the last book. Damn sweet, girly."
"Thanks, Uncle Billy." She grinned. "I'm just happy I'm not a boring writer."
"No, it was interesting even to me. Worked well with profiler training too." She winked as she got onto the elevator. He looked at Gibbs. "So you're related to Althea's family? I never would've guessed with the bastard you are and the sweet, dangerous angel Althea is." He hauled the agent off with him. And the director too. "Agent David, we'll be talking about you later. You're technically not in full trouble but whoever lied about you is. You're still counted as a foreign national." He gave her a pointed look. "Your citizenship is helping that but not by a lot." He got onto the elevator with his prisoners. It was a nice day. Everyone hated Gibbs anyway.
Gibbs got up, staring at his agents. "She's a distant cousin. I haven't seen her since she was thirteen." He touched his tongue to his split lip, getting handed a tissue by his senior agent. "Thank you, DiNozzo."
"Welcome." He knew about Althea Gibbs. He was not getting in that in any way.
Darcy walked up to two men, squealing a bit as she hugged one. "Mom said I should spank you, Sammy. You haven't called. She thinks you're hiding that you got adopted by my mother. You should do it this weekend before she shows up for tea." He shuddered but nodded quickly. "Great! Mom had me delivering information to a distant cousin who abuses his lesser agents."
She looked at the other guy. "Hi. Sorry to interrupt. Mom is really mean when her kids ignore her, even the newly adopted ones." She pinched him on the cheek. "You should call the tower. They're all assholes and need some sense and ass kicking." She looked at Sam. "Can I tell her you'll call?"
"Yeah, tonight. When we're resting." He nodded. "Is it a bad thing?"
"Well, Mom found an information seller in NCIS that was related to terrorists."
"Ooh. Glad that's not us."
"I have no idea. Mom didn't tell me."
"Uh-huh. Sure, Darcy." She winked and strolled off. "You going home?"
"Jane's in the tower being a geek for six months. I'm avoiding all that shit that women give to each other because they thought I'm just an intern."
Sam snorted, shaking his head. "Yeah, not likely." He walked off, Bucky following looking confused. "You met Peggy Carter, right? Some of her SSR people?"
"Yeah, and I remember a girl named Althea that was her assistant sometimes."
"That's Darcy's mom. Not sure if it's literal or if she was adopted," he said quietly, staring at Bucky. He stopped them moving with a hand on his arm. "Althea and the others didn't retire at the end of the war. Peggy kept running her little underground of women who could handle stuff if necessary and people talked to.
"I ran into Althea right after the helicarriers fell. About a week after Steve got out of the hospital. She showed up, clucked her tongue, and said 'if only that rude little asshole with the eyepatch had listened last year he could've solved that'. Which I overheard." He grinned a bit. "Woman's a fierce warrior who bakes cookies and makes tea. Darcy's not like her mom. She's a hacker, she's a people person.
"She's an academic in gender studies actually and has a minor degree in political science. You run to Darcy if you have a huge issue that she can help with. She, like her mother, makes a lot of friends. No little black book of them, they remember them without a trail. Peggy trained Althea and I'm pretty sure she trained her daughter and two sons."
"So she adopted you?"
"Yeah. She remembered me from the battle. She pinched my cheek that same way, said I needed cookies and handed me one from a bag in her purse, and then walked me off talking to me about all that should've been found. Althea had someone make contagious mice and sent two bases of HYDRA down due to them."
"Yeah, you call your adopted mom then. She sounds interesting."
"Very. Steve saw her, had a flashback, and went pale so she fed him tea and told him to calm his tits down. Literally." Bucky grinned, that sounded like Steve Rogers. "I'm pretty sure she could tell us a lot about a lot of people."
"Probably," he agreed quietly. "Will she?"
"Yeah. And she'll swat you on the ass and tell you that you're cute. She did that to Steve then told him that you were prettier."
"Is she local?"
He looked at Bucky. "Yeah, he knows that. Why?" He nodded. "We're working on it." Bucky looked confused. Sam shook his head, walking off. "So what else is going on?" He paused his walking and kicked the wall. "Sure. Yeah, I can tell them that. Great. Sure, send me cookies there, Mom. Thanks for the head's up. I'll try to call next Saturday. Yup, you have a good boyfriend night." He hung up and huffed, looking at Bucky. "She hacked your files."
"Because she found another that they tampered with. Whatever thing is making Inhumans turned theirs back on. She was looking for them." Bucky grimaced but nodded. "She has contacts in Wakanda. Said they said to say hi." Bucky went limp. "And that there's a HYDRA hunt team nearby. They're heading this way."
"So we're leaving DC?"
"I need to warn Darcy if she doesn't know." He called her.
"Human Rental Service," she answered.
"Your mom said there's a hunt team coming this way."
"Yeah. I saw. I avoided. They're in the Potomac at the moment. Something about a laser into the driver's face. Have fun with that. Tell your sister I said hi and hug her babies. I'm being a vicarious aunt and they're out of the area too for the next week."
"Thanks, Darcy." He hung up and tossed out the phone, heading for the street. Bucky followed. "Let's get out of dodge."
"She makes some excellent cookies. So does Darcy actually."
"Huh. Cookies are always nice."
Sam stared at him. "I'm not sharing. I only share cookies with whoever I'm sleeping with, and I don't mean just sharing a bed." He got into the car, letting Bucky get in on the passenger's side so they could leave the area.
Darcy watched as people tried to get Jethro. "To save the asshole or not?" she mused. She turned and got the one trying to sneak up on her then decided she might as well. She was already here. And they were mean idiots. Then she hit her car and went back to her apartment in New York.
Jethro could handle the rest or have his agents help him. She called one of them. "Hey, DiNozzo, it's Jethro's baby cousin. I was going to show up and punch him again but I ran into HYDRA agents trying to break in. Have fun with that. One was across the street in that empty house." She hung up as she hit the interstate on-ramp. Yeah, it was a pretty night for a drive. She could stop in Delaware if she got tired.
Darcy showed up Monday with Jane. Security would try to keep her out if she wasn't with Jane or Thor. Potts had gotten snotty already. She nodded at Hill. "Have a good weekend?"
"Mostly. Did you?"
"Yeah, Cousin Jethro had a problem that Mom heard about." She shrugged. "She told me to kick his ass but I only punched him in the nose."
Hill nodded. "From what I've heard about him, he deserved it." Darcy grinned. "Go up to the lab, ladies." They went up there. Someone had tried to look in their data safe. Nothing was in there, Jane had a hidden safe they used instead. Jane got her stuff out and got back to work while Darcy handled the mundane things like coffee and schedules and ordering things. Stark came in looking pissed. Hill came by before he could say anything and pulled him out of the lab to talk to him. Darcy and Jane shared a look and Darcy winked. Jane got back to work with coffee.
Stark came back ten minutes later. "Your paperwork doesn't list your doctorate, Lewis."
"I know that. Why would it?" She looked at him. "It's not pertinent to here and since I'm a lab assistant it doesn't count towards anything here. My doctorate is in a sociology field, not a hard science."
"Still, it's a lie of omission."
"No, I listed it on the 'any other information' section. It's there if you looked. That section you read states a pertinent degree to your job. That's not."
"Still," he ordered, putting a copy down. "You have a MacArthur."
"I did, yes. For my thesis on gender roles and how it affects society's structural inequality." She grinned again. "You should read it. I try very hard not to be dry and boring. It might help when you keep losing geeks to being run off." She showed him the email they had been sent from the next lab over. He groaned. "So yeah, doesn't matter here." She pushed the papers aside. "If they can't look me up, then they clearly believed their thoughts and misconceptions. Which means I get underestimated. A lot really until I stun them with my mind."
"What's your new degree in?"
"Astrophysics. Jane infected me when her machine switched our minds for six weeks."
Jane laughed. "I had fun. I've never had a guy who stared at my body before. I realize now why you don't show a lot of cleavage." She grinned at Stark too. "It was educational."
"I'm sure it was. She still has to fully, correctly fill out the forms."
"They're as filled out as you're getting, Stark. It's listed on there. Whoever didn't do their research. I know Darcy's a common name so they probably got me confused." She shrugged but smiled. "Anything else? I've got to go over Jane's packing list to move her stuff to her apartment in the corporate rentals I'm in."
"She has a suite here."
"Yeah, with listening devices and things that ate our phones' hard drives, all that shit," Jane said with a flick at her hair.
Darcy looked, then got up to fix it for her. "You're horrible with that stuff." She sat back down. "There." She looked at Stark again. "Also, we've had to tell security someone tried to get into the data safe we aren't using because it's too obvious."
Stark blinked. "When did this happen?"
"We took this weekend off. I had to go punch a distant cousin. Jane and Thor spent the whole time using my bedroom for nookie."
"It's a squeaky bed. Fair warning if your internet date is coming over anytime soon."
"I was talking with Helmers. So an ex not a new one." She looked at Stark again. "It's filled out in a way that is consistent with the orders on the paperwork. If you want it filled out differently, change the paperwork." She shrugged. He huffed. "Sorry!" She got back to the email. "Ooh. Jane, AAAS!"
"Me?" she asked.
"No me!" She grinned. "My last book!" Jane got up to hug her. "Wow." She showed Stark, who patted her on the shoulder. "Thanks, bossman." She answered back. "I'm on the short list."
Jane grinned. "So we're both waiting on news?"
"Yeah. Though mine's not given at the same sort of dinner. I won't need anything too formal. I've got to tell Mom. She's going to squeal." She forwarded it and added a note. "There." She smiled at Stark. "So anyway, why else did you visit today?"
"You're a hacker."
"I'm out of practice."
"Uh-huh." He stared at her. "How hacked were your things?" Darcy handed over her old phone. He noticed things were reinstalling. "JARVIS isn't that slick. JARVIS, put up an order log in my lab."
"That is covered under privacy protocols, sir."
"No. I'm overriding that." He looked up, handing the phone back. "Jane, was your work compromised?"
"Someone tried to hack and virus before we got erased," Darcy said. "Jane's stuff is saved in various online places. Including one that says your AI can't get to it."
"I've seen that and tested it for them. No, we can't. Good choice, ladies." He handed that back to Darcy too. "So what are we going to do?"
"We're going to do astrophysics and you're going to find out that there's someone fucking around in your playground."
"Probably true. Do you prefer Dr. Lewis?"
"No. No one ever does."
He nodded, leaving them to work while he figured out what his AI had been doing. And why. Why was very important.
Natasha stepped in later that morning. "You were seen at NCIS?"
"Yeah, my mother had me go punch the distant cousin who's abusing his lesser agents by smacking them on the head repeatedly. He's being a dictator instead of a leader." She went back to typing. "I split his lip and knocked him down so I was happy. Mom got film of it to remind him he's a dick. Why? It's not that odd to see a distant cousin to punch him in the face."
"He's a full agent, has been for nineteen years."
Darcy looked at her. "He's an abusive dictator. Even the FBI said so. Mom was upset that he was giving the family a bad name."
"You met with Sam Wilson too."
"Yeah, Mom adopted him and he hasn't called recently. I passed on that message since I ran into him on the way to find tea and scones. It was fortuitous."
Jane shook her head. "Your mom does make good cookies."
"She's sending me some next week." She grinned. "Some just for you too."
"Thank her for me." She got back to work with a hum.
Natasha looked at her. "You could train to do that better."
"I don't need to do that better, Agent Romanoff. I'm fine the way I am."
"It could help you tone yourself up."
Darcy snorted. "I don't need toned. Just because I don't flaunt my body doesn't mean it's not worthy of being seen. Some of us live on more than our tits. My mother would be ashamed of me if I wore too many boob centric outfits because she'd have to keep bailing me out of jail for punching the ones who stare."
"It's a flattering..."
"No it's not," Darcy interrupted. "Maybe if you're using them for some reason it might be. I don't tend to use the men in my life that way. Anything I get I earn on my feet, not on my back." She stared at her. "No one needs to stare at my cleavage to entertain themselves. If I feel like showing them off, I can easily do that. I believe in tasteful at work and anywhere outside the club." Natasha walked off rolling her eyes. "Have a great day." She got up and locked the door. Then sat down with a sigh. She had to calm herself down before she threw a fit. "I'm glad I'm body secure. That shit's sick and damaging."
"Yeah, it is," Jane agreed. "I almost wanted to go to the gym but I know I'm super skinny again." Darcy scowled. "I know!"
"Uh-huh. Some day you'll want to give Thor baby Thors and you can't do that at your present weight. It's too low and your fertility is off since your cycle is, Jane."
"I know. I'm working on it. Though, no babies yet." She got back to work, nibbling on whatever Darcy put in front of her. She knew some day she'd have to give Thor an heir. Her health had to be better then. Or else Darcy would nag her in her afterlife while taking care of her kid for Thor.
Jane heard about her award and smiled, calling Brigid down to let her know when she'd need the help. She brought down the dress to be altered, and it wasn't the one from the investure but it was similar. "Oh, that's pretty!" She took it to hold up against herself. "It's a bit uptight, Brigid. Can we lower the neckline without insulting anyone?"
"Of course, Mistress." She came to pin it. "You really should try it on."
Darcy walked in with one of the security guys. "Thanks for the escort."
"Better that than letting someone out there be beaten." He put the carrier for lunch he was carrying for her onto the desk. "The windows have a mute function." He showed them how to use it then disappeared.
Jane got into the new dress, letting them stare at it. "Misfit on the butt, on the top line," Darcy said with a point. "And the neckline is too high." Brigid got to work pinning it. "That's pretty. Very svelte, very simple yet elegant. Could use a bit of fitting but otherwise that's great, Jane. You did great, Brigid."
"Thank you, Lady Darcy. Are you attending with her?"
"Only her and her work partners, not her lab staff." She grinned. "I'm waiting to hear on one of mine. But it won't be as important." The young woman nodded. She took film of it so they could fix the little things. One more pin and they helped Jane out of it so it could be arranged. "Jewelry?" Darcy asked.
"I have a rose quartz pendant necklace," Jane said. "It came from my grandmother."
"That'll fit with that color," Brigid agreed. "Let us know if you need aught else, Jane." She bowed and disappeared.
Darcy grinned as Jane got dressed. "Looked pretty."
"Thank you. They do great work up there." She printed it and put it in the frame Darcy had waiting on it. She relaxed and smiled, getting back to work. Then she passed out. Darcy called security for help, moving to check her pulse and everything. The med team rushed in. "She's known to have blood sugar dips and sometimes blood pressure too. She's getting better on eating and did eat breakfast. I have no idea. I just got her lunch but she hasn't eaten yet." She looked, sniffing the coffee. "Here, have that. It smells off."
They sniffed and nodded, taking Jane to the med area to be looked over. Darcy locked up things and grimaced, heading after her. One of the guards got in her way so she stared at him until he moved. "Thanks. Can one of you tell Thor?"
"Why would we?" the guard demanded.
"Um, they're dating. That's Jane Foster." She walked around him, calling Thor's phone herself since he couldn't. "Oh, it's you. Can you tell Thor that Jane just passed out in the lab? Thanks." She hung up and growled. Maybe she'd suggest Jane get a guard from Asgard too. No Thor. At all. For hours. So she got to ask him about it afterward. She stopped Thor when he tried to walk into the lab, pushing him back out. "Jane's in the infirmary. Has been for hours. I called your phone. That female answered."
"She did not tell me, Darcy. Is she well?"
"No. Someone tried to poison her, Thor." He hurried off to find her. She got back to looking at everything in the lab to find more poisons. The sugar had some. So did the coffee creamer, it had made it separate. She decided to purge everything in there. She couldn't trust anything. Pepper stepped in. "I'm throwing things out since Jane got poisoned."
"Are you sure?" she asked with a smile.
Darcy stared at her. "Yes, the medical team was certain the future queen of Asgard got poisoned in this lab. From whatever got put into her coffee." Pepper's eyes went wide. It was fake but a cute attempt. "I do fake surprise better, Potts. Have a great day." Pepper huffed but stomped off. "Brigid?" she called.
The young woman showed up. "Jane got poisoned food. Someone got half her coffee stuff." She held up something. "One of the ladies in the kitchen sent that to her and I'm going to have to purge everything to make sure it's safe for her. Tell them I'm sorry and why?"
"I can do thus, Lady Darcy." She took it to sniff. "That smells off." She closed the lid. "Let me tell them thus. Is she well?"
"Mostly. Just really sick to her stomach right now. She didn't get much, her lack of weight made it act pretty fast and she passed out a few minutes after you left."
"I'll make sure the healers know to check her the next time she's up, Lady Darcy." Darcy gave her a hug so she left. She went to the kitchen with one of the guards. She made him sniff it. "This was in Lady Jane's care?" She looked at the kitchen staff. "She was poisoned. Lady Darcy said she was going to be all right and they got her with poisoned coffee but she wanted me to tend her apologies for having to throw this out as well. She's throwing out all the food they have stored."
"It's a good idea to do so just in case." One of the kitchen women took it to sniff and grimaced, looking at it. The guard nodded. "Please find out if there's more?"
"Gladly," that old woman agreed. "Jane needs all the food she can get." She went to ask the others. One of the lesser guards got found and taken into custody as well. Heimdall got asked but he didn't know who had poisoned the coffee things. Their watchman system wouldn't say either. So they'd have to guard her better and bring her things to tempt her to eat. Lady Darcy was good but they were experienced mothers and Jane clearly needed some mothering.
Jane blinked awake, staring at the big, blond shadow beside her bed. "Thor?" He nodded, helping her sit up. "Am I okay?"
"Yes, Jane. Someone poisoned your coffee. It was found and Darcy has been throwing out all the food. She sent apologies to whoever had made the pastries in your icebox." She nodded, resting against his shoulder. "One tried to blame Darcy but the security film backed her up that she didn't even touch the icebox today." He patted her on the shoulder. "We will figure it out."
"I'm about to say we can go to Ireland sooner, Thor." She looked up. "I know they're your friends."
"Friends would not have withheld the knowledge you were in here from me." She nodded with a sigh. "We will figure it out. If you wish to go to Ireland faster, I can travel back and forth."
"I know. I have no idea. And I have that awards banquet soon. Brigid did an amazing job on the dress with the seamstresses."
"That's good. She's a strong, good woman." He petted over her hair. Darcy stomped in. "Calm yourself, little sister."
"I am calm." She stared at them. "But we're going home. Before the nurse out there demands to dose Jane with birth control."
"I'm already on some," Jane complained.
"Hmm," Darcy agreed, staring at her. Then at Thor, who just nodded. "So let's go home?"
"The machines? The notes?" Jane asked, making herself sit up without help.
"The notes?" She pointed at the bag with a grin. "And both our laptops and the tablet." Jane nodded, getting up with help from Thor. Who picked her up and carried her off. Darcy followed, helping by getting the elevator buttons and the like. They went back to their apartments to rest for the next few days. Jane's phone got notice of tampering so she set off the self destructs. That meant a lot less things to move to Ireland.
The next time Darcy ran into Stark, it was at her event. She was in a black dress that had an elbow length, knee length scalloped lace overdress overtop the strapless black dress that had a slight shimmer to it. It was semi-formal and she had made sure they meant a shorter formal dress instead of a longer less formal gown. She was wearing nice heels, had her hair down but pushed over her shoulder to show off the diamond stud earrings she was wearing. "Mr. Stark," she said with a nod.
He looked her over. "You look great." She smiled, tipping her head. "You did a great job to be getting this one."
"Thank you, Mr. Stark."
"Figuring out her speech for her award tomorrow night." He sighed. She smiled. "She did get it, yes. We're all very proud and we'll have a party after her formal dinner." She looked back at the music starting, then back at him. "Have a nice night."
"You guys didn't have to leave, Lewis."
"Yes we did. Someone was tampering with Jane's machines, Stark." She walked off. "Have a great week."
"You too, Lewis." He watched her go then went to find Pepper. Pepper was glaring at her. Stark wasn't sure what her problem was but it was annoying him greatly. "She looks fantastic."
"She does," she agreed, sipping her drink. She was there to supposedly head hunt for their labs. "I thought she didn't like to conform to stereotypes."
He looked at her. "This is a semi-formal event. Not like she'd show up in pajamas. Her thing is about being realistic about yourself and not having to use your body as a weapon or for gain." He got some water and walked off. He ran into one of his former chemists and saw how she reacted to him. "Relax, Marjorie. How are you?"
"Much better now that I'm not needing anti-depressants just to make myself go to work." She stared at him. "Did you know about the toxic things?"
"I had no idea. I'm sorry that it happened, Marjorie. Now that I know, I'm going to work on fixing it."
She nodded. "That'd be great. I wasn't the only one that had to go on meds to withstand working in the labs." She stared at him. "While I loved working for *you*...." He nodded once. She smiled. "I hope you can. My sister's going to graduate next year." She smiled, walking off. She ran into Darcy, whistling, getting a grin back. "It was one of your lectures that made me finally give up and go somewhere less toxic," she said quietly.
"I'm glad I could help you." She gave her a hug. "I hope the newest position is great to you, Dr. Chambers."
"It is." She grinned. "A lot less stress. In all meanings." She noticed a redhead walking over. "Congratulations."
"You too. I heard you're up for one in a few weeks." Dr. Chambers grinned but walked off to get more water. Darcy pasted on a smile and looked at Pepper. "Ms. Potts. I didn't know you'd be here tonight."
"We're hunting for lab people, as always." She sipped her champagne. "I must say, it's different seeing you in adult clothes."
"If an adult wears them they're always adult clothes. Even if they have cartoon characters on them," Darcy quipped back. "Just because someone wants to be happy and cheerful doesn't mean they're childish. It means they want some joy in life." She smiled at someone she didn't know. "Excuse me. Have a great night." She walked off. She texted Jane to check on her but she was doing a spa treatment tonight so she looked fantastic tomorrow. "Dr. Halmers," she greeted, nodding her head. "It was your work that led to my own thesis. Thank you for being the groundbreaker for me." He smiled and tipped his head. "Are you doing more work on gender roles?"
"No, not any longer. I've switched to post-war violence."
She hummed and nodded. "Also a lot of important truths that need to be exposed. I hope we can find a way to stop that." She shook his hand. "Have a great night."
"You too, Dr. Lewis." She smiled and walked off. He smiled, watching how she handled things. There were some awful people in here and they always tried to upstage the winners. Though that wasn't who was going after her. Interesting that Potts and her assistant were trying to talk to the girl but she was avoiding them. She got more sparkling water and walked off talking on her phone. Which was totally rude of her but it helped avoid the bitches apparently. He noticed someone and nodded them over. "I didn't think we had headhunters here tonight."
She looked then at him. "They're terribly toxic," she said quietly. "Dr. Chambers had to sue them because they nagged and bitched about her weight being normal." He winced. "She ended up having to take medicine to combat the stress." He sighed but nodded once. "I've warned my undergrads about that. I know the rest of the company is run right. It's just that problem. Which Lewis probably had too. She's a beanie and scarf girl from when I had her in classes." She sipped her wine. "Totally flumoxed me a few times because her undergrad was in political science."
"Hmm. That makes her more interesting in my field."
She smiled. "She's enjoying playing intern for Dr. Foster. Who is accepting her Nobel tomorrow night in astrophysics."
"Oh, that's marvelous. That's the bridge woman. Right?" She nodded. "Wonderful. I didn't keep up with who got it this year." He finished his glass of alcohol. "But an intern?"
"She's being her assistant. It gives her time to work on her own research at the same time. She always credits Foster for proofreading the books for her."
"That's sweet. It's great when harder and softer sciences work together." He went to get a new drink and take his seat. The awards were coming up and he'd need a drink to get through the speeches. He wasn't the only one. Lewis was getting more sparkling water he noticed. Smart since she had to give a speech later. Someone tried to intentionally spill something on her but Darcy danced out of the way. Then she walked off sighing in relief. That idiot frowned but oh well. She was still pristine, had very little anxiety because she'd given plenty of lectures, and was over the moon about her award. Thankfully she was on the other side of the table from Pepper Potts instead of right behind her and Romanoff.
She'd go stress cry about the put downs later that night but she could handle them, she had before.
Jane smiled as she got up to accept her award. Her pale purple and gold gown was fitted excellently and she looked stunning. Brigid had done a fantastic job on her tonight. Darcy's speech for her was to the point, short enough, and easily memorized. "I'm going to dedicate this to many that don't get acknowledged. The interns and the undergrads that help in the labs, that do a lot of the boring work so we can be brilliant, who do the baseline work so we don't have to." She smiled at the group.
"We've all had some. Mine has been with me for years, though I don't fully understand why. Mine's a brilliant researcher in gender research but she's my intern for astrophysics." She shrugged but smiled. "And I dedicate this to Thor, who fell and proved my theories right. And then I realized he was very pretty." She smiled at Thor. Then at the group. "May we all have our theories fall into our laps with proof so our work inspires others." She took her plaque back to her seat to the polite applause.
"You have an intern that long?" the economist next to her asked.
"Yes, my intern is actually Dr. Darceline Lewis." She smiled. "I got her before she got her doctorate and she stayed. It gives her plenty of time to do her own research too. And I get to go to all her lectures for free." She grinned, taking Thor's hand to hold. "Darcy's a great intern. She actually figured out how to arrange my lab so I quit losing everything. And did it before I noticed."
The economist smiled at her. "That's always great. My sister read one of her books."
Jane smiled. "It takes a strong woman or man to be who they truly are and accept all their flaws and faults but celebrate them as what makes them unique."
"It does," he agreed. He nodded at the one across the table from them, who nodded back. "What's your field, dear?"
"I'm a biologist." She smiled at Jane. "Congratulations. And on having science fall in your lap."
"Thank you. I actually hit him with the van first." Thor nodded, laughing a bit at that. "Darcy tazed him because she thought he was a belligerent drunk. When science hits you it really creates a dent in your bumper."
The biologist giggled, but nodded. "It seems to, yes. And he would create a huge dent." She smiled at Thor. "Are you allowing scientists up there to study in Asgard's colleges, Lord Thor?"
"We're working out a way for some to come down here. One of our major colleges took much damage during the battle for Asgard. It'd be easier to bring them down here so we can repair things without them making lists."
"I can see that. Any particular college?"
"My Jane and her assistant Darcy both went to Culver so perhaps there. We've just opened up discussion on that so there's no decisions made yet."
"That's great. I look forward to hearing so I can go hear them lecture. It can only add to my own field." He smiled and nodded. The next recipient got up to give their speech. There were two of them so they both got some time.
Thor looked at Jane. "Remember, we leave for that weekend tonight, my Jane."
"I remember." She smiled. "It's good that they could slot together so well." She smiled at the staring biologist. "Pre-wedding dinner for his cousin."
"Aww. I wish them the best and most happiness." Thor smiled and inclined his head. He and Jane got comfortable together until they could be taken to Asgard by Heimdall.
Darcy met them up there, smiling at them. "Nice, Jane!"
"Thank you! You look nice too. The black floor length sheath dress with the sequined batwing sleeves looks great on you." They hugged carefully. "How did it go?"
"Pretty good." They walked off together. Thor followed so he could watch Jane's ass. It was good to be the king tonight. His people adored Jane. His little sister was there looking fabulous. They had both won awards for their academic work. He'd probably have a whole night of Jane being happy and wiggly. It was good to be the king tonight.
Not What You Expected To Get.