Archaic Kinds of Fun

thor grant me strength

July 4, 2014

“Sweet Satan’s Asscrack! I love it!” Jo exclaimed as she looked up at the massive iron gate. Tony thought about asking where that particular phrase came from, realized he really didn’t want to know, and decided to forget it. Clint just whistled, and Natasha nodded at him in approval. Tony gave himself a mental pat on the back because if they’re this impressed by the front gate, they’re going to be blown away by the inside.

“Where’d you find this place?” Clint asked. They all pushed through the gate and headed up the front walk, and the four of them paused before going up the steps.

“We are at 890 Fifth Avenue. This place was built in the thirties by my father, and I inherited it when he died. I didn’t want it then so I gave it to the company, and they’ve been using it for business parties and who cares what else. A few months ago, I bought it back. It’s mine and mine alone,” Tony said with a large smile.

For once, he’s not grinning out of pride or greed. Well, maybe a little pride. The point is, this place isn’t just his. It’s theirs. The house itself is thirty-five feet back away from the street, so there’s room for a front lawn and a nice big wall for some privacy. When Tony repurchased the house, he reinforced the twelve feet concrete walls with steel. There’s also surveillance systems on every window and door that can identify who’s coming and going, because Tony still has a few anxiety and privacy issues. The whole place is wired up nice and tight to keep them all safe, and it’s built like a fortress. Maybe he’s a little more than just a little proud.

“Can we go inside now?” Jo asked excitedly. Tony glanced over at his hyperactive bodyguard and then led the way up the stairs to the front door. The giant wooden door was completely smooth, and there was a small silver circle where the doorknob should be. Tony placed his thumb against the circle and watched it glow blue for a second.

“Welcome home, sir,” JARVIS’s voice greeted as the door swung open.

“That’s different,” Clint mumbled.

“If the person isn’t approved to come in, JARVIS will put the house on lockdown,” Tony explained.

“Isn’t that just a bit paranoid, boss?” Tony looked back just in time to see Jo close the door behind her, and he shrugged.

“We can’t just let anyone wander in. C’mon, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover,” Tony said and walked farther inside. The foyer was huge, and three pairs of eyes moved around the space. Tony was watching their reactions and waiting for any questions.

“Layout?” Natasha would be the first one to recover. Tony spread his arms to bring attention to the nice big chairs behind him, and his three roommates plopped into their seats (Natasha sat down in a more dignified manner) and waited.

“To the right, is the kitchen and pantry. To the left, is the dining room. Behind the house is a pool, with a nice little deck so you can sunbathe. In the back of the house is a communal den, filled with fluffy couches and chairs.”

“And a TV?”

“Is that a serious question?” Clint just grinned up at him, like a jackass, and Tony rolled his eyes before continuing. Clint may joke around, but he’s just as much of an agent as Natasha is. So Tony is going to continue with the layout like a good little boy.

“We’re waiting, Stark,” Natasha said with a pointed look.

“The basement is where most of the fun is. The gym is now fully functional, along with the medical facilities so we can be treated here instead of in a civilian hospital. They should have finished installing the theater by now too, and I made us an arcade to play in,” Tony said with a look at Clint.

“Sweet!” He looked at Natasha for her approval, and the redhead raised a brow.

“I haven’t sunbathed in a while. Now what else?”

“All work and no play,” Tony sung. Natasha glared, so he decided to keep going before she resulted to violence. “Under that is the Assembly Room. It’s where all the secure files are going to be kept, and it’s impenetrable so it can act as a safe room if we need it.”

“How many sub-basements are there?” Clint suddenly asked.

“Just two. Under the Assembly Room, there’s a Hulk room. It’s been completely reinforced, and it’s only here just in case there’s an emergency. It was Bruce’s only condition for moving in.”

“When do we get to our rooms?” Jo huffed.

“The staircase only leads to the second floor, which is where the library is. The bedrooms take up floors three through six, the seventh floor is split between mine and Bruce’s labs, and they are only accessible through the elevator. Same for the basements.”

“Who gets which floor?” Clint asked. Clint and Jo were both sitting on the edge of their seats and looking up at him with bright eyes, while Natasha was sitting in cool composure.

“The third floor has six guest rooms. Each bedroom has its own bathroom, but there’s a common living room area. The fourth floor goes to Cap and Thor, the fifth floor goes to the assassins, and the sixth floor is reserved for science and its bodyguard.”

“You, me, and the Doc? I’m cool with that,” Jo said and leaned back in her chair with a smile.

“Do all of the floors have the same layout?” Natasha asked.

“Basically. Each bedroom has its own bathroom, Clint requested a mini-fridge but there’s no kitchen, and all of the floors have a common living room area. The whole place is still big enough that we should be able to live together without killing one another.”

“Can we go see our rooms now? Please?” Jo was bouncing in her chair, Clint was perfectly still but blinking rapidly, and even Natasha was starting to look a little antsy.

“Yeah. Come on.” Jo was the first one up, and Tony led them to the single elevator in the foyer. The only one in the house actually. They reached the fifth floor without any major problems, and Jo peered curiously into the homey looking living room. “Meet on the roof at nine!”

“Uhuh,” Clint mumbled as he walked off. The elevator doors closed, and Tony and Jo rode up to the next floor. Jo exploded out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened, and Tony watched the way her eyes ran over their living room. She took in the big couches and fluffy chairs, the big TV hanging over the fireplace, and kicked her sandals off to feel the carpet under her feet.

“Your room is this way.” Jo bounced next to him as he led the way to her room, and he let his bodyguard open the dark wooden door. She froze in the doorway, and Tony waited for a reaction.

Jo didn’t have much input on her room. When he asked her, she just said something normal would work for her. Clint had ideas out the wazoo and Natasha had a few special requests, but Jo didn’t want anything big. So Tony made it all up as he went along. Her bathroom and walk-in closet were next to each other and even connected, and he set up an area where she could exercise with her very own punching bag if she wanted to stay in her room instead of going to the gym. He also had some yoga gear close by, just in case. His biggest decision was where to put the bed. After a lot of debating with himself, he put it close to the balcony. If she sat up in the bed, she’d be facing the balcony. Her view was separated only by thin purple curtains that could easily be pulled back, but a glass wall would come down if the weather got bad. The balcony itself was huge, complete with a comfy couch and a table with a radio. In the event of bad weather, the whole balcony would be covered to protect everything. The color scheme was simple. Hardwood floors and wooden walls, rugs in purples and blues, a pink and orange lamp on the bedside table, a dark green blanket on the bed…it was a mixture of dark wood and an explosion of color.

“Tony, it’s…I don’t know what to say.” Jo walked into the room, finally, and looked around. She hip-checked the punching bag and then steadied it, and her toes curled against the shaggy blue rug at the foot of her bed. Her fingers skated against the blanket as she walked to the other side of the room, and she looked up at the fireplace. There were only three things on the fireplace, for now, and Tony watched as she took them in. The stuffed unicorn was in the center and looking out at the room, and Jo gently tapped its horn. The picture on the left came from his “One Month Sober” party, where he and Jo were the only guests. Tony had been staring into the camera with a bored look on his face, two golden party hats strapped to his head so that it looked like he had horns, and Jo was playing air guitar in the background. The second picture was a new one. Tony had thought about throwing it away, but he hadn’t been able to. Someone had snapped their picture at the carnival that night, right when Jo popped that disgusting fried sugar into his mouth. The picture showed her laughing and him choking.

“Jo?” She’s been quiet for too long, and he can’t read her. She’s just standing in front of the fireplace, staring, and it’s starting to freak him out.

“I don’t…Tony?” She turned to face him, and her eyes were just about to spill over.

“Whatever you don’t like, we can change! Really! We can change anything you want, just don’t cry!” He walked towards her with his arms outstretched but didn’t touch her, because he does not know how to handle a crying Jo. She moved forward suddenly, and Tony squawked as he was yanked against her. Her arms were tight around his shoulders, and his own arms slowly moved around her waist. She was holding him so tight that he could barely breathe, but he didn’t want to say anything just in case he made her cry.

“You’re such an idiot. If you change one thing in this room, I’m kicking your ass. Because it’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.” She pulled back to look at him, and she was smiling. A few tears had dripped down her cheeks, but she was smiling. That’s a good thing, right? Happy tears?

“You’re…welcome?” Jo hugged him to her again, hard enough to make his spine pop, and Tony groaned quietly. Not that it made Jo loosen her hold.

“Best boss ever.”

“Yeah, yeah, lemme go.” He managed to push away from her, but he made sure to wipe her tears away before taking a step back. He doesn’t like the look of tear tracks on his overly strong bodyguard. “Wanna see my new lab?”


“So…pretty,” Jo whispered. She’s sitting in a giant cushioned lawn chair on the roof of the newly dubbed Avengers Mansion, and Tony’s currently taking up the space between her legs. Her fingers absently twirled his hair, because her main focus is reserved for the beautiful display of lights that seem to stretch across the entire sky.

“Do you ever pass up an opportunity to show off your wealth?” Natasha asked. She’s in a lawn chair of her own, and her bare feet are propped up in Clint’s lap.

“Have you met me?” Natasha nodded as if to say “fair enough” and turned back to watch the show. Tony pressed a button on his phone and another firework lit up the sky. Jo grinned up at the red, white, and blue colors while Clint shouted, “For ‘Merica!”

“It’s too bad Steve isn’t here,” Jo said once she got her voice back. She’ll never get over how Captain America’s birthday is the Fourth of July; Steve Rogers was destined to be a hero.

“I’m sure he can see it, no matter where he is,” Clint huffed. The display is abnormally large, so it’s not a huge stretch.

“Happy Independence Day!” Jo yelled and threw her arms around Tony’s neck. Tony reached up to pat her arm, which was just an excuse to loosen her hold just a little, and released another firework into the sky.

“I like that one,” Natasha said quietly. The giant red spider slowly faded and another one took its place. All in all, it’s not a bad way to spend the first night in their new home.

.xXx. Bonus Scene .xXx.

“Look, Mama! It’s Captain America!” Steve froze on his diner stool, but the little boy wasn’t pointing at him. Instead he was pointing at the TV hanging over the bar, and Steve leaned forward to get a better look. It’s a fireworks display, a very big one, in New York. The red, white, and blue fireworks created an image of Captain America in full uniform saluting. Steve just blinked and was amazed once more at how far everything has come. The next image was in bright red and gold lights, and Steve would know that face anywhere. Tony Stark. Not Iron Man.

“Leave it to Stark to show off his wealth,” the man next to him grumbled. A red spider was next, followed by a purple arrow, and then there was a giant green Hulk. Yes, that had to be Stark.

“So pretty.” Steve looked to his other side, where a woman with a little girl propped on her hip was talking to one of the waitresses. The little girl smiled over at him, and Steve smiled back before looking at the screen again. Another Captain America was showing above Manhattan, and Steve ducked his head.

July 6, 2014

“Oh, good, you’re wearing pants.” Jo glanced down at her attire, khaki shorts and a blue v-neck, before looking back at Tony.

“Shorts, actually, but points for trying. Why are pants so important?” Tony might complain about her lack of clothing while in the lab, but he’s learned to accept it.

“I’ve got a job for you to do.” She should’ve known when she rolled out of her fabulous bed and tripped over a small stack of books she’d taken from the library that today was going to be a bad day. She did break her pinky toe, and that’s never a good sign.

“You mean something other than keeping you alive?” Jo cocked a hip and crossed her arms, but Tony didn’t seem phased in the least. She’s been too nice to him.

“Obviously. I need you to run an errand.”

“Okay, boss, you gotta take the head gear off. I can’t take you seriously with those things on. You look like some kind of creature of the night.” Tony’s wearing his big heavy duty goggles, because he started work on a new suit yesterday. Part of Jo is freaking ecstatic because it means he’s getting better, but the other part is terrified because it means he can go and fight again.

“Buzzkill,” Tony grumbled and pulled the giant goggles off. There was a line around his eyes that showed the difference between grease covered skin and slightly cleaner skin, and Jo sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. It’s like taking care of a toddler. “I need you to go to this address and procure something for me.”

“Go wh—” Jo’s phone buzzed in her pocket (her back pocket because for some reason girl clothes don’t have front pockets) and effectively cut her off.

“We need to get some comms, with a JARVIS link up. What do you think, JARVIS?”

“It would make simple communications much simpler, sir.” Tony nodded thoughtfully and started scribbling in the air while Jo inputted the address into the phone’s GPS. Once the location popped up, everything clicked and she narrowed her eyes at the boss.

“Procure something, huh? I don’t think that’s how things work.” She’s working for a madman. She’s always known that, but it’s just so much clearer in this specific moment.

“SHIELD procured you for me.”

“I’m an Alpha level mutant with a predilection for violence. I don’t count.”

“Buzzzzzz killlll,” Tony drawled out.

“What does procure even mean in this case? Do you want me to just kidnap the poor girl?”

“Wait, Alpha? Shouldn’t the whole healing thing knock you down to a Beta?”

“It can be controlled to an extent and being able to control the telepathy bumps me up to Alpha. Now, if we could stay on the current subject?” Tony blinked at her and then rubbed his eyes, which just made them as greasy as the rest of him, and stroked his goatee. Like a cartoon villain. Thor grant her strength. (Is it weird to pray to a god that you’ve actually seen?)

“No kidnapping. I’m offering her a job.” Jo bent at the waist so she could get on Tony’s eye level, and he just looked back at her like she was the crazy one.

“What kind of a job?”

“I don’t like that judging little look you’ve got going on there. I want an assistant.”

“An assistant?”

“Yes, an assistant. Someone to keep track of my schedule and help me around the lab.” This time it was Jo’s turn to blink in confusion. Isn’t that what she’s been doing? Well, she keeps track of his schedule. Sometimes. (Okay, JARVIS keeps track of his schedule and then tells her.) When it comes to the lab, she mostly just lays around on the little couch that Tony was nice enough to put in the lab. There’s one in Bruce’s lab too, so she’s pretty sure the couches are for the scientists to sleep on but whatever. The couch is comfy.

“You want an assistant.”

“Yes.” Tony turned back to his work, and Jo just watched his back expand and contract for a few minutes. Her mind is in a whirlwind, because…what just happened? “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“You’ve lost it,” Jo mumbled and turned on her heel. She’s gotta go find her shoes now; they’re probably still in the living room somewhere. Maybe she should buy another pair?

“You said I’d think of something, and I did. Now scat!”

“Aye, aye, boss.” Jo sauntered from the room and prepared herself to go procure Darcy Lewis.


Darcy was not having a good day. She was having a horrible week actually, or month depending on how you look at it. When Jane decided that her help was no longer needed, Darcy should’ve just went back home. So what if she thought her and Jane were bros? Jane’s off doing her thing, and Darcy is…working at Starbucks. Ugh, just shoot her now. No, wait, she takes it back. With the way her luck is going, someone might actually shoot her. She doesn’t have the right kind of healthcare to cover bullet wounds, and she’s definitely not making enough to cover any kind of medical care on her own. She can barely afford the hole she lives in. On second thought, maybe getting shot isn’t such a bad idea.

“Darcy?” The voice was rough but definitely feminine, and Darcy looked up through the curtain of her hair. Well, her hair was just covering the left side of her face. Her right eye was giving her an unimpeded look of their only customer.

“Congratulations on your ability to read. What can I get ya?” The woman quirked a brow and smiled, and Darcy copied the look. What? She’s working at Starbucks. She’s gotta have fun somehow.

“I’m here to talk to you about a job.” This time, Darcy really looked. The woman was tall at five-seven, with tan skin stretched over curves that looked soft to the touch. Her dark green eyes were direct but open, her brown hair was put up into a giant ball, and her full lips were a dark pink color. She was dressed simply, in tan shorts and a dark blue v-neck, but there was a pair of expensive Aviators tucked into the v of the shirt.

“Look, lady, no offense, but I’m not that desperate yet. You can try again when my rent’s due.” The woman blinked, in what looked like shock, and then bust out into laughter.

“I’m not a hooker, but thanks for the compliment.” Yup, this woman is definitely crazy. It must be Darcy’s lucky week!

“The lunch crowd will be in soon, so can you hurry this up?” Darcy moved to go restock the cups and do other important stuff, and the woman leaned nearly all the way over the counter. Darcy was getting ready to fire out another quip, but the woman wasn’t smiling anymore. She was looking at Darcy’s arm and glaring at it like it just insulted her mother.

“You’re hurt.”

“Your IQ must be in the triples. Are you going to order or not?”

“Not. I’m not a coffee drinker.” Darcy rolled her eyes and leaned her good arm against the counter so she could really look at the woman.

“Then why are you in a Starbucks?”

“To offer you a job. Did someone hurt you?” The woman was peering at the hair covering the left side of her face, like she could see Darcy’s black and swollen eye.

“I got mugged yesterday, but I’m fine.”

“Your left arm is broken.” She said it without any hesitation, but the woman is obviously crazy. Darcy’s arm is not broken. It’s just…sore.

“Uhuh, sure. Tell you what, make your sales pitch. C’mon, dazzle me with this new job offer.” The woman actually shook her head and leaned back so that she wasn’t touching the counter at all.

“Mr. Stark was impressed with the work you did for Dr. Foster and would like to offer you a job as his assistant,” the woman said with her rough voice. Her words were drawled out too, so she’s obviously not from New York.

“I’m done assisting scientists.”

“Beats working at Starbucks, doesn’t it? Mr. Stark has money to spare, and he’s living here in the city. What’s there to lose?” Funny, that’s the same thing Darcy asked herself before going to work for an astrophysicist when she was just a poli sci major. She wound up losing someone that she thought was a friend, so there can always be something to lose that she hasn’t even found yet. The woman’s face softened, like she could hear Darcy’s thoughts, and she ran her hand across her jaw.

“Why would Stark want me? I’m sure he’s got plenty of interns just dying to assist him.” Extra emphasis on assist. What? She can admit that the older man is attractive, and he is a genius. Jane might have disliked his lifestyle, but she never denied the man’s brilliance.

“You want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” This woman is so weird! She’s gotta get out of here before the lunch crowd comes in or Darcy is gonna wind up losing her crappy job.

“No. Lie to me.”

“Thor asked Tony to keep an eye on you, so he did, and he thinks that you’re wasting your potential. Tony does, but I’m sure Thor would think the same thing. Does Thor know what a Starbucks is?” Okay, now Darcy is really confused. She agrees with Stark though. Her potential is so wasted here.

“You know Thor? Prove it.” Darcy went to cross her arms, winced at the pain that shot up her left arm, and leveled a look at the other woman.

“He’s got these big blue puppy dog eyes that make you want to hug him.” Damn! Thor does have puppy eyes, which most people could never guess because he’s so huge. And, you know, a Viking god.

“I don’t trust you.”

“Fair enough. Will you come with me now to meet Mr. Stark?”

“How do I know you’re not trying to lure me out somewhere and kill me?” The woman frowned, actually frowned, and propped her hands on her hips. Her fingers must have hit against something, because she plucked something from her waistband and held it out. A harness. With a gun in it. “What are you doing?! You can’t pull a gun out here! You could start a riot or something!”

“Tony closed this place down before I got here. There’s no one here but us. Just, take the gun. If I make you uncomfortable, shoot me.” The woman placed the gun on the counter and pushed it towards Darcy, and Darcy gripped the butt of the gun before looking at the woman again. Stark shut down a Starbucks? That does explain why it’s so empty.

“Are you insane?” The woman smiled enough to show a dimple in her left cheek and nodded.

“Little bit. You coming?” Darcy tucked the gun into the waistband of her pants and made sure her shirt covered it, and she moved her hair so she could keep both eyes on the woman as she walked around the counter. The woman’s smile disappeared once she saw the black eye, and Darcy watched a muscle in her jaw tick.

“Muggings are kind of common,” Darcy said as they walked outside. The world was still carrying on as usual, so that’s one good thing.

“So is murder.” The woman has her Aviators on so Darcy can’t read her eyes, but her jaw is ticking again. Darcy touched the gun and felt a little better. “My name’s Jo, by the way. Well, Josephine, but I prefer Jo.”

“I guess you already know my whole name?”

“Darcy Kent Lewis. Interesting middle name.” The woman, Jo, smiled at her. It’s a little creepy, to be honest.

“So, do you work for Stark too?”

“Sure do. I’m his, uh, head of household?”

“Like his top maid?” Jo snorted out a laugh, but Darcy couldn’t figure out what was so funny. Being a maid has to suck. Probably not more than working at Starbucks, but it’s still not the best job in the world. Then again, working for Stark, normal rules probably don’t apply.

“Yeah, something like that. Before we get there, I want to prepare you a little. Tony is an asshole about ninety-eight percent of the time. Underneath the ego and narcissism, he’s an alright guy. He can be a little grating at first, but he grows on you after a while.”

“Like a benign tumor?” Jo tossed her head back as she laughed, but Darcy still doesn’t get it. Stark’s maid is weird.

Darcy stared up at the giant iron gate and swallowed the small lump in her throat. So this is Stark’s place? It’s massive. She totally gets why he needs a top maid now. He must need a whole army of maids to keep this place clean. Jo led the way up the front walk, up some stairs, and paused in front of the door. There’s no doorknob. There’s definitely a door, but there’s no knob. Jo placed her thumb against a small silver part, there was some blue light, and the door swung open.

“Welcome back, Miss Jo. Welcome, Miss Lewis.” Darcy looked around for the owner of the voice as they walked inside, but she couldn’t see anyone. Jo must have noticed her confused searching, because she stopped walking across the massive foyer to look at her.

“That’s JARVIS, Tony’s AI system. JARVIS is the best. Boss still in the lab?”

“Where else would he be?” Okay, the talking computer is sassy. She can dig it. Jo grumbled something under her breath and started walking again, and Darcy followed along behind her. Well, at least she wasn’t lying about working for Stark. They rode the elevator up to the top floor, and they stepped out into a room filled with blaring music and loud banging sounds.

“Tony! Turn it down, will ya?! We’ve got a guest!” The music immediately dropped to a more tolerable level, and Darcy looked around the lab. There were tables and machines, metal everywhere, and it looked completely disorganized. Is that a couch in the back? A small robot streaked past her, and it’s either wearing a blue sock with pink hearts on it or she has officially fallen down the rabbit hole.

“Jo! Why is Dum-E wearing a sock?!” She couldn’t see Stark, but she could definitely hear him.

“It’s a sweater, and it makes him happy! Don’t take his happiness away from him! And get out here! I brought Darcy!” The little robot, Dum-E, zipped by again in his sweater. Is this reality?

“You got her on the first try?” Tony emerged out from under a car at the back of the lab (and how did that even get up here?), and Darcy watched with wide eyes as he stood up. Well, she wasn’t wrong about him looking good for his age. The engineer was wearing holey jeans, a black tank top, and nothing else. The man had grease on his toes! His dark hair looked wild and his eyes were clear, and Darcy’s eyes traced over the lean muscles of his biceps.

“Don’t stare too much. If his ego inflates anymore, we’ll have to build another floor to contain it,” Jo whispered.

“I’m standing right here,” Tony pointed out.

“Which is why I didn’t shout it,” Jo said with a sweet smile. Darcy just watched them go back and forth while trying to figure out how she got there. Oh, wait, a strange woman found her at Starbucks. Right.

“Did you tell her about the job?” Stark was looking at his maid, and Darcy bristled just a little. She flipped her hair away from her mouth and straightened her shoulders.

“Standing right here, so you can talk to me.” Tony’s eyes narrowed on her face, and Darcy cursed. Mentally, of course. She’s gotta hold on to all the dignity she has left. Tony turned his glare onto the maid, who crossed her arms and glared right back.

“She got mugged.” So, they’re not glaring at each other? They’re just glaring at the same time and happen to be facing one another?

“Yeah. Asshole stole my iPod.” She should probably be more upset about her eye, or arm, but people just keep messing with her music.

“Tragic. Do you want the job?” Stark’s looking at her again, so Darcy straightened up and met his eyes straight on.

“I’m not even sure what the job is. Your maid just said you wanted…an…assistant.” At the word “maid,” Stark fell apart. Literally. He had to hold himself up on a steel table, and Jo crossed her arms and huffed angrily.

“Laugh it up, Tin Man! I couldn’t tell her I was your bodyguard, could I? She never would have believed that,” Jo said quickly. Wait…bodyguard? Jo, with her soft curves and pouty lips, is Stark’s bodyguard?

“Still don’t believe it,” Darcy added.

“Maid, really? Really?” Stark was wiping tears from the corners of his eyes, and Jo was tensed up all over.

“Might as well be,” she grumbled.

“Can I buy you an outfit?”

“Can I kick your ass?” Tony nodded at her and straightened up, and Darcy felt completely lost. They’re insane!

“The job is to be my assistant. Keep track of my schedule, take notes for me, and help me around the lab. It’s all very simple.” Simple, right. Darcy’s got a feeling that nothing is simple with Stark. Going by the small snort that just came out of Jo, the bodyguard agrees.

“Will I get paid?” She was just an intern for Jane, not an actual assistant, which is why she’s hurting for cash right now.

“Oh yeah. Also, as a Stark employee directly under me, you’ll get a protection clause. Jo will be your bodyguard too.”

“I will?”

“She will?”

“You’ll get a pay raise,” said to Jo. Stark turned towards her, looked at her eye, and forced a smile. “She’s really good at her job. Don’t let her appearance fool you.”

“Yeah, she looks positively deadly,” Darcy drawled.

“Where’s Natasha when you need her?” Jo whispered to the ceiling.

“Miss Natasha is currently by the pool,” JARVIS informed them. Jo hummed, and Darcy blinked. How many people live here?

“So, the job is pretty easy, you’ll get paid more money that you’ll know what to do with, and you get to live here.” She has a feeling the job will not be an easy one, she knows exactly how to spend money, and she’ll be living where? “Don’t give me that look. I work weird hours, and no one should live in that hovel you call an apartment. I’ve got six empty guest rooms. Pick one.”

“Can I think it over?”

“Do you need to?”

“Thor’s going to be living with us when he gets back,” Jo whispered out of the side of her mouth. Darcy does like Thor; he’s a big goofball slash god slash really good guy.

“Alright, I’m in. Don’t I have to sign contracts or something?” Tony snapped his fingers and documents appeared in Darcy’s face. Holographic documents, of course. Tony tossed over a stylus, Darcy caught it with her good arm, and Jo smiled over at her.

“First document is a general job description and salary.” Darcy looked it over and felt her eyes pop. Okay, Stark must be out of it, because that’s too many zeroes. “The salary is right. You should see how much Jo makes a month.”

“I get paid to save your ass, and your ass is very valuable. Looks reasonable to me.” The last part was directed at Darcy, who just blinked.

“You can’t mean that much. Five thousand is ridiculous.” Stark looked confused, so she was right! She loves being right.

“Oh, no, five thousand is the start-up bonus you’ll receive as soon as you sign. Your monthly salary is ten.” She’s gonna pass out. She can feel all the blood rushing from her head, and Jo lightly gripped the bicep of her hurt arm to keep her steady.

“Are you cr-azy?” Her voice broke, because she’s still trying to regulate her breathing. Slow deep breaths.

“Little bit. Hurry up and sign. I’ve got work to do.” Darcy signed and tried not to think about signing her soul over to the Devil. Then again, with that goatee, Stark could be the Devil for all she knows.

“Okay, next document is a privacy thing. You can’t discuss any of the experiments with outside sources, you can’t discuss the people who live here in the mansion with any outside sources, blah, blah, blah. You’re sworn to secrecy and all that. Breach contract and suffer the consequences. Sign please.” A secrecy clause, huh? At least this is kind of familiar. She had to do the same thing after New Mexico and after what went down in London.

“Anything else?” she asked as the air in front of her cleared.

“Jo is a mutant with super strength, super healing, and telepathy. Two assassins live here and they work for a secret government agency. I think those are the only big things for now.”

“SHIELD?” Tony nodded, and Darcy looked over at Jo. A mutant with super strength, super healing, and telepathy.

“It’s weird, I know,” Jo shrugged.

“Did you read my mind earlier?”

“Only for a few seconds. Your mind is very calm and relaxing, which is really rare,” Jo said with a little smile.

“Right, okay. I’m gonna go pack up my apartment.”

“Already sent someone. Your stuff should be here soon,” Stark said with a bright smile.

“How’d you know I’d say yes?”

“Why would you say no?” Tony countered. It’s a good counter, but he still assumed a lot. He’s also Tony Stark though, so he’s probably not used to things not going his way. Wait…yeah, that’s right.

“Tony?” Jo waited until Stark was looking at her before continuing. “I’m pretty sure her left arm is broken. She needs to see a doctor.”

“Like at a hospital?”

“Yeah, like at a hospital.”

“Can I just call one here? I don’t feel like going out.” Jo sighed, pinched the bridge of her nose, and leveled a look at Stark. This is a weird thing that’s happening.

“Yeah, sure, go ahead. I’m gonna show Darcy to her floor and let her pick a room. JARVIS, do you mind directing the movers to her room?”

“Of course not, Miss Jo.”

“Oh! Before you go, Darcy, can I have your iTunes info?” Darcy looked over at Stark, who was looking at her with a very good poker face. What’s he up to?

“Why? It’s no good without my iPod, which was stolen, when I got mugged.” Tony shrugged, so Darcy rattled off her username and password. Tony blinked when she was done, like he was saving the information, and then grinned at them.

“JARVIS, I want the best orthopedist in the city here within the hour. Also, order some pizzas for dinner tonight. Dining room at six?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Yes, boss.” Wait a minute, is she dreaming? Is she gonna wake up back in her one room apartment with a leaky ceiling and a rat staring her down?

“Ow!” Darcy rubbed her side, which was stinging. Jo pinched her!

“At least now you know you’re not dreaming. C’mon, let’s go pick out your room.” Darcy followed Jo out of the lab, and they rode the elevator down to the third floor. The elevator opened to show a giant living room, with plenty of seating options and a TV that looks bigger than her bed back at the apartment. Jo walked her around all six bedrooms, and Darcy picked the one with a small balcony that had a small garden growing on it. What? She likes the smell of flowers.

“Why are you guys doing this?” She was sitting on a king sized bed, with a mattress softer than angel feathers, and trying to figure out just what was going on. This morning she thought her life couldn’t get any worse. Now she’s apparently living in a mansion and just had five thousand dollars deposited in her bank account. She got a text to prove it.

“Who knows why Tony does anything?” Darcy just gave her a look, because the woman is a telepath. A real telepath is standing in her new bedroom. “Trying to read Tony’s thoughts is like trying to ride a hurricane.”

“Can you do that?” Jo’s laugh lit her up, and there’s no way she can picture this woman as a bodyguard. She looks too…nice.

“I don’t know, I’ll give it a try one day. Do you want me to stay here until the movers get here? Or the doctor?”

“No, that’s okay. I think I need some time to think things over. I feel a little…”


“Stay out of my head,” Darcy said with a very menacing finger point.

“Don’t need telepathy to figure that out. Don’t worry, Darcy, you’ll be safe here.” Jo smiled at her one last time and then started for the door. She was almost completely through it when Darcy felt something poke her hip.

“Wait! You forgot your gun!” Jo paused just outside of the doorway and looked over her shoulder.

“I don’t need it.” With one last wink, the woman was gone. If she didn’t need it, then why did she have it? Oh. She brought a gun specifically to give to Darcy, so that she would feel safe. Yep. The word of the day is weird.


“What are you up to, boss?” Tony was moving things through the air at a rapid rate, so Jo hopped up onto a table and watched the way his fingers moved. He’s kinda graceful actually when he’s in his element. Ha, element.

“Darcy settled in?” Tony asked. He normally sounds distracted when he’s working, but he sounds completely focused right now. So he’s multitasking.

“Yeah. She wanted a couple of minutes to herself, so I thought I’d come see what you’re up to.” Everything that just happened was really fast. Two hours ago it was just the four of them, and now there’s a fifth member in the Mansion. Hey, Tony has an assistant now! That means she’ll have a little more free time, which she’ll probably spend on the couch in the lab.

“Just doing a little research. I’m gonna go down when the doctor gets here to make sure he doesn’t mess up.” The doctor, right. Because some asshole roughed up Darcy and stole the girl’s iPod. Sometimes, Jo really hates people. The black eye was enough to get her boiling mad, but the asshole actually broke her arm. Darcy probably fought back. Maybe she should give the girl some self-defense lessons.

“Sounds like a good idea.” Tony looked over at her, and Jo had to forcibly unclench her jaw. What? Yeah, she’s known for her violent ways but she’d never hurt someone without a good reason. Well, not anymore. She’s sure SHIELD had good reasons.

“You’re really upset.” Tony was looking up at her, but she couldn’t read the look in his eyes. She’s not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

“The asshole broke her arm.”

“Wanna make a house call?” Okay, she wasn’t expecting that. Jo glanced at the hologram and saw an address pinpointed.

“Did you hijack Darcy’s iPod and find the mugger’s location?”

“I don’t like the skepticism in your tone. I’m Tony Stark.”

“Of course you are. Send that to me,” Jo said and slipped off the table.

“What if he’s not the mugger?” Tony called after her. Jo felt her back pocket vibrate and smiled.

“I’ll know,” she said and tapped the side of her head. “Don’t scare away Darcy, and I’ll be back in time for dinner!”

Her GPS led her to an apartment building that had seen better days, and thanks to Tony it even led her right to the possible mugger’s door. She could hear someone thinking inside, just one person, and she didn’t like his thoughts. He was thinking about a woman, not Darcy, and the fear in her eyes as he took her purse at knifepoint. Well, even if this isn’t Darcy’s mugger, it’s still a mugger. Jo stepped back, rolled her shoulders, and kicked the door in. She heard the guy yelling as she stepped over the fallen door, and she tucked her sunglasses into the collar of her shirt.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!”

“Did you meet a girl yesterday about yea high,” she held her hand up in front of her face because Darcy’s only two inches shorter before continuing, “thick brown hair, big blue eyes, kinda curvy like me?”

“Fuck you!” Eh, she doesn’t need a verbal answer. She can see Darcy’s face in his mind, and she was right. Darcy did fight back. This asshole held a knife to her throat, so Darcy kneed him where he counts. Then he sucker punched her and slammed her arm between a brick wall and a dumpster.

“Wrong answer.” Jo stepped forward and paused in front of the small coffee table. A small red iPod was sitting off by itself, minus headphones, and it was screaming up at her. Jo grabbed it and stuffed it into a pocket, and the guy charged her. He pushed her up against the wall, held one forearm across her throat, and let his little knife touch against her stomach.

“You broke into the wrong place, bitch,” the guy growled. Dude, this is so cliché that she can barely contain herself.

“You mugged the wrong girl.” She head-butted the guy, laughed as the blood from his nose made him gurgle, and grabbed the hand holding the knife in her stomach. She twisted his arm behind his back as she slammed his face against the wall, and then she pulled him back so she could slam him one more time. His face against the brick wall made a satisfying sound. “Bitch.”

“Wha’ ‘oo ‘an’?” What does she want? Jo pushed on his arm until she heard a quiet crunch, and the guy wailed through the blood clogging his throat. Even Darcy didn’t scream that high when he broke her arm.

“I’m just doing my civic duty to keep assholes like you off the street.” Her phone beeped, which is her cue.

“The cops will be here in five minutes, and we both know that they’ll find all kinds of illegal stuff in here. Next time, think before you act, okay? Because I really don’t want to come back here.” Jo let him go and took a step back, but she paused when something in her stomach pulled. Huh, in all the excitement she didn’t realize she’d been stabbed. She pulled the knife out and dropped it, because thanks to her time working for SHIELD her mutant-like prints don’t exactly show up. “You got blood on my shirt. I liked this shirt.”

“I—” Jo slammed his head against the wall hard enough to knock him out but not nearly enough to kill him; she’s not in the killing business anymore. She stepped over his unconscious body, stepped on the fallen door, and calmly left the apartment building. She was turning a corner when she heard the sirens, and she couldn’t hide her smile. She loves the smell of justice in the morning. Or afternoon. Evening? Whatever. Job well done.
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I'm sorry to everyone who doesn't like overly long descriptions. I like being able to picture things, I'm a visual learner, so that's why I described Avengers Mansion and Jo's room. Feel free to speculate on everyone else's rooms though!

I had way too much fun writing in Darcy's POV, so you'll get to read things from her perspective pretty regularly. There was also a Cap cameo, because I just couldn't resist myself.