Budget Week: Operations Division
February 14, 2017
“Steve, you hardly have anything in here for support personnel.”
“The fewer people on the ground, the fewer people can get hurt. Tony’s been reworking the Iron Legion with new, direct command protocols. By next year I think he’ll have something I am comfortable with having in the field.”
“And what happens in the meantime?
Steve shrugged, looking both professional and erstwhile in his dark suit and tie. He had a pocket square – because of course he fucking does – and Darcy had been three seconds away from saying to hell with the budget and pulling him across the table – two weeks and I think I’ve contracted some sort of nymphomania from his cock, maybe super serum enhances pheromones – when she saw his idea of backup for the team. The only thing that kept her from yelling at him about his own safety was the knowledge that Steve honestly hated to put anyone in danger. She thought maybe it had been different, with SHIELD, when everyone around him had been buff, skilled operatives who were stuffed to the gills with volunteerism, firearms, and duty. Even the HYDRA plants, although their duty was misplaced. And homicidal. But then he spent a year on the run, planning ops with nothing but his own team and whatever tech T’Challa was willing to lend him or Natasha could steal. It had given him the sense that not only could he go it alone, he should go it alone.
Not on Darcy’s watch.
“Steve,” Darcy paused and took a breath. She could just tell him to take his ridiculous, self-sacrificing bullshit and to come back when he had a real proposal or she would set the budget for him. She technically had the authority to do that. But she was planning on sleeping at his place, and she suspected that he might be making something special for dinner too. It was amazing how quickly she had gotten used to regular home cooked meals and enthusiastic orgasms. Maybe there was some substance behind the old adage that you shouldn’t date co-workers. You definitely shouldn’t date subordinates, if that was the case. And you should never, ever date the person responsible for feeding you if you were also planning on overriding their work decisions. Darcy liked her roasts with potatoes and silky gravy and her foreplay long and zealous. Maintaining her regular supply of both while still treating Steve like any other colleague was tricky. Conflict resolution, you can do this, Darcy told herself.
“Steve, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable if you knew the people handling crowd control and clean-up for the team? I mean, it isn’t exactly my forte, but I’ve watched some of the footage of your previous missions. Including the Invasion of Manhattan. I’d think it would be easier if someone you trusted could liaison with LEOs and take direct orders from you over a comm if civilians needed to be relocated or something. And afterward, they could be the first line of communication with the press. I’m not planning on sending my people into a war zone – I mean, have you met Tommy?” Darcy rolled her eyes and snorted. “Sweet mother of pearl that guy would be hit by friendly fire, assuming he didn’t just fall down an open manhole or something – but PR could give some topical training to your support people. It would keep questions off of the team while you are dealing with important stuff and let us get an immediate handle on media coverage.”
Steve sat back in his chair, looking thoughtful, but not completely upset or stubborn. Well, no more stubborn than usual. Darcy decided to press her advantage.
“I’ve only seen a very rough draft of Clint’s training requests, but I don’t think he would put anyone out there with you that couldn’t handle themselves.” She smirked, “And I think he asked Nat to help screen candidates, so loyalty and basic decency shouldn’t be an issue.”
Steve responded slowly, “I wouldn’t want anyone who wasn’t fully vetted and trained.”
“Understandable. And doable.”
“And I’d want to clear them myself.”
“That you can take up with Clint. You two can duke it out for who gets to hand out the badges and graduation certificates.”
“Maybe I should get his input on this. See how many he thinks he’ll have in the first class. It would certainly open up some possibilities on the field…”
“How about I reschedule your division for tomorrow afternoon? That should give you time to talk to Clint and take another look at your numbers.”
“Yeah. I…yeah,” he nodded decisively and gave her a small smile. “I don’t want you rearranging your schedule just for me though. No special treatment.”
“I already reserved all day on Thursday for rewrites. If nothing else, I figured Tony would need the extra review.” Darcy saved the documents they had been working on and closed out, laying her tablet to the side. “And believe me when I say,” she bit her lip and looked at Steve in his dark suit and that stupid, adorable, fucking hot pocket square, “you definitely get special treatment. And, hey, look,” she widened her eyes in mock surprise, “my morning just opened up! So I could pencil you in for that sort of thing right now.”
Steve glanced behind her at the glass wall that had been turned opaque for the meetings, seeming to consider how likely it would be that they would be overheard. Although, given how her own imagination was running rampant, Darcy was having a tough time pinning down his expression. He might have been thinking about appropriate workplace behavior or the best way to use his tie to keep her hands out of the way. Maybe both. Steve had depth.
A slow, almost bashful smile had her panties feeling suddenly too warm. That cocksure fucking tease. Darcy loved it.
“Well, if you’re sure I won’t be inconveniencing you Ms. Lewis…”
Darcy pressed an icon on her phone to lock the conference room and ensure total privacy. She slipped her suit jacket off her shoulders and reached for the hidden blouse zipper under her arm. “Captain Rogers, the only way you could inconvenience me is if I have to take off your pants myself.”