They’re Manly Tights: Nobody Likes a Twisted Schwartz
January 15, 2017
Once the deliveries were complete – SI security was the epitome of discretion, not even glancing at the blanket covered lump that was Steve as they maneuvered the new chaise up to the third floor and put it in place – Darcy set up the baby monitor and headed down to her apartment. Friday had assured her that it would work, even four stories away, and Darcy trusted the AI so she ate and washed her face before falling into bed with the monitor clutched in her hand.
A deep murmur in her ear woke her from a dead sleep.
“…stockings. Darcy…” That got her attention. Her name spoken with a rumble of appreciation that created a liquid heat low in her belly. She blinked into the darkness; fuzzy red numbers on her alarm clock read one-oh-six. Less than three hours of sleep.
“…run her off.” Steve’s voice rose in sudden anger, “Goddamn it, Buck!”
Darcy tripped twice in her own bedding, hitting her knee hard on the floor. She wrenched open the door to the stairs so violently it banged against the wall, likely denting the sheet rock but she didn’t have the capacity to care. Her heart was thudding in her chest before she even cleared the first floor of Steve’s place. His harsh inhalations over the monitor was a match for her own heavy breathing.
He’s okay, he’s okay, he’s okay, she chanted to herself. She hadn’t heard him get out of bed or fall – although that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Steve could move very quietly when he wanted to, but he was drugged. Oh god, and that just reminded her that she didn’t really know what he had been hit with – wasn’t convinced that anyone really knew. Friday hadn’t told her, only that Steve needed rest and someone to call a medical team in case his condition changed.
Darcy rounded the newel post on the second floor, running flat out in bare legs and an old t-shirt. Her sleeping bra was not designed for a sprint and she cursed herself for being so lax as to leave Steve alone. Bucky had asked her to watch him. If anything happened…he’s okay, he’s okay, he’s okay.
She banged her shin, tripping up the last few stairs but scrambled forward with her heart in her throat.
Steve had flung away the duvet, squashing most of it to the opposite side of the bed and pushing two of his pillows to the floor. The sheet and a thin blanket had been shoved down toward the foot of the bed. His forehead was creased in a frown but his breathing was steady – steadier than hers. Darcy gulped down air, pressing her hand to her chest to try and steady her pulse.
“…me in trouble…” he murmured with more Brooklyn in his voice than she was used to, then flopped onto his side, his scowl smoothing and his lips parting slightly.
Darcy wasn’t sure how long she stood there, bright moonlight filtering down from the stairwell skylight to wash the dark wood floor in a slick shine. Her feet were cold, almost numb, before her chest loosened from the horribly tight fear that Steve might be really hurt. Really sick. Really needing help that she couldn’t possibly provide. Darcy had been responsible for other people before. Jane – especially in the few months after Thor had first returned to Asgard – had walked the bleeding edge of sanity as she threw herself into her work. It was Darcy who had kept the woman eating and sleeping – at least enough to be considered semi-normal – until Jane had been able to take care of herself again. And after London Eric had jumped right over the bleeding edge, down the waterfall and into insanity lake. It was Darcy, with Thor and Jane’s support, that had made sure he was weaned down to just the essential meds. She took him to therapy and reminded him to wear pants outside his apartment and helped him interview for a teaching position.
She had not, however, ever been responsible for another person’s actual life. Certainly not someone who saved the world on a regular basis. Certainly not someone whom she might be, just the tiniest bit, maybe ready to think about falling for. It was a heavy weight made more real by the notion that if he were to take a turn for the worst, there wasn’t much she could do but call for help. Bruises and aches from her mad dash gradually made themselves known. Her shin throbbed, both of her knees ached, her boobs definitely needed more support for cardio activity, and for some reason her left wrist hurt.
“Well,” she whispered into the darkness to make herself feel less alone. “I’m sure as shit not running up four flights of stairs again.”
That decided, she pulled the sheet and blanket out from under Steve’s feet and covered him gently. The pillows and throw Bucky had left on the floor were stacked on the brand new lounge, so Darcy made up a little bed for herself and lay down. With her face turned toward Steve, she ignored the voice that told her it was supremely weird to watch her potential significant other of one date sleeping, and instead thumbed off the baby monitor and set it on the floor. It didn’t take long for the warmth of the soft blanket and the steady sound of Steve’s breathing to send her back to sleep.
It wasn’t yet light outside, but the sounds of traffic had picked up when Darcy next woke. She blinked heavily, staring at the lumpy pile of bedding on the floor and the empty mattress. That can’t be regular-sized, she thought sleepily. Tony must have special ordered an extra gigantic superhero regulation bed. But then he’d need to get sheets and stuff to fit and...Her internal line of thought trailed off and she became aware of water running.
What the hell?
Darcy slipped off the chaise, congratulating herself on an excellent selection because she wasn’t nearly as stiff as one would expect after sleeping on a couch, and tiptoed down the hallway. The water was running in the master bathroom, the door cracked open a good eighteen inches. She could hear an occasional splash and caught the quickest flash of movement. If Steve was taking a shower, he must have woken up feeling better. Relief thrummed through her, followed immediately by awkwardness. She was standing a few feet from his bed in nothing but a bleach-stained Arctic Monkeys t-shirt and her most comfortable, least attractive sleeping bra. Not exactly the morning after impression she wanted to make with Steve.
As quietly as possible, she crept toward the stairs. Darcy had one foot on the first step down when she heard the moan.
It was a tone of absolute agony. Desperation and pain marked the words, followed by a sound that could only be described as concession. Darcy had turned around and pushed open the bathroom door before she could think twice.
There was no steam in the room, and a definite chill to the air even as water poured out of a rain shower head and straight on to Steve. He was still fully clothed, even wearing his socks, and soaked clear through. The skin of his face and hands was bone white; deep blue shadows swept across his cheeks and tinted the beds of his nails. His eyes were closed and his mouth lax. He looked resigned. It was painful to see.
He didn’t react, so Darcy carefully opened the shower door and reached in to turn off the water – getting a face full of the spray in the process. It was icy cold. “Fuck,” she spat out. How long did it take to get hypothermia? Shock? Could Steve go into either? She didn’t want to find out. Didn’t want to think about how long he had been in there and how long he might have stayed if she hadn’t woken up.
She cleared her throat, trying for light and soothing but fearing it came out shaky and frightened. “Come on, my man, let’s get you dry.”
Steve’s eyes opened, and he blinked at her, staring at her face, but Darcy was certain he wasn’t seeing her. His big hands fumbled clumsily with his clothes – Darcy had never seen Steve do anything with less than athletic grace. What am I supposed to do? She tried to remember anything about first aid. Getting dry was a priority, she was certain. He was reaching for her, his worried frown heartbreaking even as his mouth moved soundlessly.
“Okay, Steve, okay,” she soothed. Darcy took his hands and he followed her mechanically out of the shower, his socks squishing on the bare tile and a puddle forming around them both. His sweatshirt had a zipper – thank god, there was no way she could have pulled anything over his head without more cooperation – and she yanked the clinging fabric down his arms swiftly. Under any other circumstances, Darcy would have been delightfully enthusiastic about stripping Steve to bare muscles and taut skin. The situation only left her with more worry. His usual golden glow was absent, replaced with pale flesh and a purple undertone of chill. Goosebumps prickled his arms and chest – even his nipples were blanched white from the cold.
“You’ll tell Howard,” he mumbled as she pulled down his soaked pants and boxers, forcefully ignoring everything she revealed. “Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em, Darce.” She wasn’t sure if she should be flattered he was hallucinating about her, or worried that whatever he was seeing seemed to be scaring him so badly. “Find Buck..gotta…you gotta…sweetheart…” He lifted his feet with gentle prompting, taking halting steps forward as she peeled off his socks with everything else. His toes were like ice, and that scared her more than anything. Steve had always seemed to radiate heat, but full body shivers were wracking him now. She yanked a towel from the rack to drape over his shoulders and an another to briskly rub his legs – trying to get the circulation going.
“Okay, Steve,” she murmured as she worked her way up, unable to control her own blush but concentrating on his need which was as far from sexual as possible. “Shhhh. It’s okay. I’ve got you.” His weight was heavy against her as she coaxed him back to bed. Steve clutched at her almost desperately, not letting go even as she had to reach awkwardly to swing his legs onto the mattress and pull the blankets over him. The duvet was a mess, but she at least managed to get him covered. He still felt cold, so she rubbed her hands across his shoulders and chest, looping around to his spine and neck and hoping he never remembered that the first time she saw him naked was like this.
He settled down with a whimper and a sigh, his expression finally easing as his cheeks gained a bit of color.
“There you go,” she murmured, feeling her own anxiety release with the warm flush returning to his skin. “You’re okay, Steve.”
She was reluctant to leave him again after that. The shower had been bad enough, but there were were worse places he could sleepwalk. Down the stairs, for instance. It probably wouldn’t hurt him much, but his weight was liable to snap right through the railing on the way down. It would be worse if he went up to the roof. She didn’t think that fall could kill him – but it would definitely let his neighbors see a side of Captain America that Steve probably wouldn’t appreciate. They would – certainly. Anyone would.
Darcy was worried, sure, but she still noticed a fine ass when it was bare and staring her in the face.
She only ran down to her apartment long enough to change and pack a bag with essentials, and after that stayed on the same floor as Steve except to heat up food and get coffee. He sat up once more that morning – mostly awake – and ate a grilled cheese sandwich she made for him. Most of it had even made it into his mouth. The same couldn’t be said for the tomato soup she had heated up. At her prodding, he made it to the bathroom again, eyes glazed over and unfazed by his own nudity. Darcy used the opportunity to exchange his stained sheets for an unopened set that probably cost more than her last laptop. He had even stepped into a pair of boxers when she suggested it, although he muttered about Tony and stage lights the whole time.
It was nearly four in the afternoon before he fell into a deeper sleep again and Darcy felt comfortable turning on the monitor while she took a shower. Her hair was still damp on one side from her impromptu soaking that morning, there was tomato soup staining her shirt, and she was sure she smelled. Steve was flopped on his back and snoring, so she grabbed her bag and headed for his bathroom so she would be close if he needed her.
The shower – when hot – was magnificent. Body sprays, a handheld wand, and a rain head that could be turned on individually or all at once. She might have felt guilty over the water use, but she was certain Tony had integrated the latest in water saving, reclamation, and gray technology during renovations. The bench that ran along one wall was wide enough to actually sit on, not just a ledge for shaving, and Darcy took full advantage. She washed and rinsed her hair, left her legs and armpits silky smooth, and resolutely did not neaten up anything else in an attempt to remind her less noble hormones that naked Steve was currently also non-consenting Steve. She had just broken out her favorite body wash and a brand new sponge she had found in Steve’s linen closet when the man himself stumbled into the bathroom.
Regardless of social norms for personal relationships and cohabitation, Darcy had never been the type to feel comfortable sharing a bathroom routine. Or maybe she had just never dated anyone she felt comfortable enough with to share a bathroom routine. Either way, she was so shocked when Steve lifted the seat and hummed to himself she just continued to stand there – expensive vanilla suds foaming out of her suddenly clenched fist and disappearing down the drain.
He turned towards her, cooler than gelato in January, and smiled as he tucked himself back into his boxers. Darcy stared, sponge forgotten.
“Darcy,” he rumbled in a sleep-roughened voice. “I like you.”
I like you too, she thought dumbly. Closely followed by, what the fuck, and, Satan, please take me to hell now, and then, yum, abs.
“So pretty,” he sighed with a stupid smile. His eyes traveled over her body with clear appreciation, and Darcy wasn’t sure if she hoped the steam had made things blurry – or if she really wished it hadn’t. He laughed, and it was easily the nicest sound Darcy had ever heard. “Smell like ice cream. So good…love it. Tastes like pink.” With that declaration he sighed again, still smiling, and wandered back out of the bathroom.
Darcy tested the quality of the water heater as she was unable to move for another ten minutes, wondering what the hell had just happened. And if she should be as pleasantly tingly over it as she was.
She spent the next two days camped out on the chaise lounge in Steve’s bedroom. His periods of semi-lucidity grew longer and more coherent, interspersed with heartrendingly sad nightmares, rather flattering innuendo, and hilarious dreams. Darcy hoped half of the things he said about Bucky were true. It would be enough blackmail material to keep her in favors for years.
“And what did Jimmy boy say?” she asked softly as she held another cup of soup – chicken and stars this time, she had learned her lesson with tomato.
“Jimmy,” Steve frowned and took another sip, his eyes beginning to flutter closed again. “Hated, hates, hates bein’ called that. Jus’ Buck, ya know. Jus’ Buck.”
“And?” she prompted again, setting aside the empty soup cup and helping Steve to ease back to the pillows.
“Said…said if he’d known…knowed…known they were sisters, he woulda…” His blue eyes fell fully shut and he snuffled into his pillow. Darcy gave into the urge and smoothed down the hair that stuck up in the back. She thought he was completely out when he spoke up again. “Woul’na tried to set me up with their cousin.” He wrapped his palm around her thigh, just below the old shorts she was wearing. Steve was a cuddler, that was obvious. He liked to be touching her as he fell back asleep. It made Darcy eager for him to get better so she wouldn’t have to force herself to feel bad about taking advantage of him.
Her phone dinged with an incoming text and she eased her leg out from under Steve’s warm hand to check her messages.
MoneyMaker: Mission complete. ETA 2 hrs. Status?
Still improving. So you dated sisters? You scoundrel.
MoneyMaker: Drugs can make you say all kinds of weird shit.
Jane had also texted.
DrQueen: And he was naked?
DrQueen: Like naked-naked or just naked?
DrQueen: How good? Good?
DrQueen: Not that its any of my business.
DrQueen: But good, right?
DrQueen: Pic? For data comparison?
DrQueen: I miss Thor.
DrQueen: How naked?
Darcy snorted and closed the app. There was a reply from Pepper in her inbox as well.
I believe I have an appropriate venue to suggest for your intended course of action. Please see the attached. If you need any further assistance, I am at your disposal.
Maria would like to have you over for dinner soon. Please let me know when you might be available – after you are finished humbling Tony, of course.
Darcy smiled to herself, glancing back at the super soldier snoring behind her. She really did have a great life.
She also wondered if playing Florence Nightingale counted as date number two.
And maybe three?