Unlikely Singularities – Chapter 85


Budget Week: Security Division

February 15, 2017

Bucky was sitting up so straight it made Darcy’s back hurt to look at him. She had been an hour late to their meeting, mmm a very Happy Valentine’s Steve, and had been dreading her final Avengers budget review. On Monday she had been too scared to cut anything from Natasha’s budget, worried that every potential purchase was really a vital, life or death essential item. Was printer a code word for ID forger? If the budget was reduced would Wanda one day be caught at the border to Pakistan with a low quality passport and shot on sight? Then there had been Clint’s proposal. He had spent so long winding her up with red herrings – “An indoor ski slope is essential to adequate preparation, do you have any idea how many good men and women have been lost for want of proper pole coordination?” – that she had almost missed his careful manipulation. And by then it was seven thirty, she was late for dinner, and she just didn’t give a shit that he had pulled one over on her. Next year, though.

Sweet, sweet comeuppance.

Working with Steve had proved challenging, because he honestly wanted to know the ins and outs of how his division would work and make sure it was adequately provided for and because he had never seen – much less prepared – a budget before. It had also been the most rewarding. The final product was solid, and Darcy now knew the stress limits for the conference room chairs. Win, win.

Tony was Tony.

It was only Wednesday, and Darcy had prepared herself for another meeting that would run long. She had assumed that James Barnes would require just as much instruction and review as Steve, with the added bonus of all of the trolling. She figured that they had four or five hours of hard work ahead of them. Enjoyable, with friendly banter, snide comments, and at least a few blackmail worthy stories about Steve, but still work.

Darcy had rarely enjoyed being wrong so much.

This is perfect,” she blurted.

Bucky raised one eyebrow, his mouth quirking in that barely-there smile that could drop panties from ten yards. Steve had given Darcy a certain level of immunity, but she still appreciated the aesthetic appeal.

Were you expecting a crayon note?” He pressed his finger to the table as if writing, “Many bullets. All the guns. And then just a bunch of dollar signs?”


I was a Sergeant in the Army before Steve ever got himself pumped up with muscles. You know what a Sergeant does? Paperwork. All of it. Requisitions and payroll requests and inventory. I was always pretty good at math, so at least it wasn’t hard. Just boring as hell – might as well get it done right the first time instead of pussyfooting around and dragging it out.”

Darcy closed out of the document, reminding herself to go through it one more time before the Board meeting, and then set down her tablet. She stood, walked around the table until she was right next to Bucky, then leaned down so their faces were inches apart. He didn’t pull away, but his posture did go stiff and tense.

James Barnes, if I hadn’t been laid twice already this morning, I would kiss your fucking mouth.”

Doll, I think you get a little too excited about spreadsheets.”

She patted his cheek, “Jimmy, just wait until we get to staff evaluations.”