Title: Not Your Mother's Alma Mater
Pairing: Darcy Lewis/Clint Barton (Hawkeye)
Rating: PG for this part, probably R or NC-17 overall. I hope.
Wordcount: ~1650 for this part
Spoilers/Warning: For the end of the movie, I guess? Also WIP and all that carries with it.
Notes: Many thanks to reccea and wojelah for egging me on and telling me that it's JUST FINE that they never shared screentime. :P
Not Your Mother's Alma Mater
It starts one day when Darcy glances at the calendar and comments, “Semester starts in two weeks.” She doesn’t know why she says it out loud except that she’s kind of used to saying whatever she thinks out loud and it’s making her kind of sad that she’s going to have to leave the super-secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base and the exciting super-secret scientific research for another boring semester back on campus.
It takes her a beat to realize that Jane and Erik are staring at her with a kind of badly-disguised shock, like they forgot this internship was for a summer and not for the rest of her life.
“Hold that thought,” Jane says, and grabs her phone off the table. She goes out the back door to make her call, which is weird, because Darcy pretty much knows everything there is to know about Jane and there’s no reason to be all secretive.
Darcy watches Jane hunch over her phone, one hand pressed against her other ear, the sleeve of her sweatshirt nearly covering her hand. She looks at Erik. “Are they not going to let me go?” she asks, because okay, there are laws against that. There are constitutions against that. She’s pretty sure. She’s a political science major, after all, and suddenly she wishes she had paid better attention during that Constitutional Effects of the War on Terror course that had been kind of too early in the morning for perfect - or even regular - attendance.
“Don’t worry,” Erik says, although he won’t look right at her and he’d fiddling with his pen. “I’m sure Jane will get everything worked out.”
There’s a reason Jane’s a scientist and not a lawyer or a politician.
There are a lot of meetings. Jane, and sometimes Erik, with Coulson, with random guys in suits, with people on a video screen, with the university, Darcy doesn’t even know.
She’s not invited to most of them.
She spends a lot of time sitting on the perpetually shifting arrangement of storage containers outside a makeshift conference room, wishing she knew who had bogarted her iPod and wondering if she was going to spend the rest of her life shifting between a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility made almost entirely of plastic and Jane’s Science-mobile. She’s starting to wish she’d taken that internship at that trade association for people who ran trade associations.
“Is this seat taken?”
Darcy glances over. The guy asking is almost as built as Thor, but shorter, wide shoulders and smokin’ biceps under a leather vest with sunglasses tucked into the neckline. His hair is almost army-short but he has a scruffy beard. Darcy’s seen him around.
“It’s a free country,” she says, then reconsiders. “Well, I think it is. They might have decided otherwise.” She tilts her head at the conference room.
The guy levers himself up onto the storage container next to Darcy with an ease that’s almost graceful. “Clint,” he says, sticking out his hand. “Clint Barton.”
“Darcy Lewis,” she replies, trying to figure out the right place to grab his hand, which is like, twice as big as her own. He folds his fingers around hers, large and tough with calluses.
“What are you doing out here, Darcy Lewis?” Clint asks, releasing her hand without breaking it. His feet almost touch the ground but he kicks them anyway, leaning back casually on the plastic container. It’s an act and Darcy doesn’t buy a second of it.
“Waiting for them to decide if I’m going back to school or staying here,” she says. The conference room pulls her eyes toward it. She can see Jane getting upset and waving her arms around. “Not that anyone’s asked me.”
“What do you want to do?” Clint asks.
“I don’t know.” It never seemed necessary to have an answer before. “I mean, as long as I could leave if I wanted to? When am I going to get to be part of a secret government coverup of really hot alien gods using some rainbow bridge to come to Earth except for right now? No one cares about my stupid political science degree here.”
“You don’t want to graduate?” Clint asks, and he sounds kind of surprised. “That degree’s a big deal.”
Darcy rolls her eyes. “Yeah? And what institute of higher learning did you matriculate from?” Clint probably has a Masters in Renaissance Lit or something. He seems like that kind of guy.
“School of Hard Knocks,” he says, reaching up and tapping his fist gently against her head.
“Nice,” she tells him, swatting at his wrist even though she doesn’t actually mind him touching her. He smells pretty nice. “What did you do, run away and join the Army?”
His cheek twitches and he looks a little sheepish. “Actually,” he says. “I ran away and joined the circus.”
So then some black helicopters show up because S.H.I.E.L.D. is all about the cliche, and there’s a new guy around base, a General Fury, who is possibly the most badass human being Darcy has ever seen, and that includes Sif.
“Is the eyepatch for real?” she asks Clint one afternoon when they’re loitering outside the conference room. “Or does he just wear it to scare people?”
“It’s for real,” Clint says mildly. “He caught some shrapnel from a grenade in the jungle and then it got infected and - “
“O-KAY!” Darcy cut in. Infected was so the magic word there. “I get it. He’s legit.”
“As legit as it gets,” Clint quipped.
“Please stop,” Darcy requests. “You’re making me cry with your oldness.” Not that she actually knows how old he is, although he definitely seems to be past the thirty mark. And he looks awful good for someone pushing geezerhood.
Clint’s return shot is lost as Fury slams open the conference room door and Jane, Eric, and Coulson scurry out. “Miss Lewis,” he says in a tone that is entirely too smooth for Darcy’s comfort. “May we speak?”
“Uh, sure,” Darcy says, sliding off her storage container and trying to brush her hair out of her eyes. “Is my, uh, bodyguard coming with me?” She cocks her head toward Clint because she’s pretty sure Clint won’t let Fury kill her.
“This is just between you and me,” Fury says, then glances over her head. “Hawkeye.”
“Boss.” Clint waves two fingers in the general vicinity of his temple and Darcy guesses that’s his version of a salute.
Great, Darcy thinks. My one friend on the inside is on the big man’s payroll. They’re all on the big man’s payroll, she knows, even if Clint’s gruff rasp makes him seem honest and reliable. She walks past Fury and looks at the long table of the conference room. Fury closes the door behind her and walks to the far side of the table, sitting down in a chair dead center.
“Have a seat, Miss Lewis,” General Fury invites when Darcy doesn’t move.
She sits down opposite him, her back to the outside and she wonders if Clint is still out there watching. She folds her hands in front of her and then put them in her lap, and then shoves them in her pockets.
“So I hear you like it here,” General Fury says like this is a conversation.
Darcy shrugs. “Ya’ll still have my iPod around here somewhere,” she says, because the iPod has become a symbol of - something, she’s not even sure what. That S.H.I.E.L.D. wronged her, too, she guesses.
“Could be,” Fury says, glancing around and apparently not seeing in the conference room. “I can have Hawkeye take a look around the labs.”
“Yeah, I don’t know if he can recognize music that isn’t Neil Diamond or the Bee Gees,” Darcy mutters and sees a flash of white in the area of Fury’s mouth. Her eyes widen as she realizes she just made him smile.
“Think he’s more into the Sex Pistols and the Ramones,” Fury says, like he’s sharing a secret. “But I’m not here to talk about Hawkeye’s secret wish for a purple mohawk.”
“Okay, then,” Darcy says, pleased with Clint’s musical pedigree nonetheless. “Whatcha got?”
“Way I see it,” Fury says, folding his hands on the table in front of him, “is that you got two choices. One is that you sign our standard non-disclosure agreement, a few addendums, and admit that we have probable cause for monitoring your communications for...no more than five, ten years maybe.”
“It’s addenda,” Darcy corrects. “Not addendums. And didn’t I already sign like, my firstborn away in paperwork six weeks ago?”
Fury didn’t answer the question. “Your second option,” he says, opening a leather folder, “is to stay on.”
“You’re not going to let me graduate college?” Darcy asks even though she kind of thinks that would be okay with her.
“Never said that,” Fury counters. If she cranes her neck, Darcy can see that the top paper in his folder is her college transcript. She hopes he’s not going to hold that C- in World Religions against her. “Says here you need twenty more credits. Your work with Drs. Foster and Selvig will give you eight of those. You need six more government credits for your degree. Fortunately S.H.I.E.L.D. is a government agency and I’m sure Agent Coulson can provide you with some practical experience in budgeting and human resources management to make that worth your while. You need a 400-level writing course, but your advisor tells me you can coordinate that through email with her. And that leaves - “ Fury looks up at her and frowns. “You failed phys ed, girl? What’s wrong with you?”
“It was ballroom dancing,” Darcy admits. “I thought it would be easy but it turns out? I like to lead.”