The lazy drag of the question tells Darcy that Maria isn’t just getting here. It makes her lips tick upwards in a quick smile – had she gone through what the other woman has in the past few weeks, she’d be drowning herself in alcohol. She picks absently at the stripe of dried blue paint around her nail beds as she answers.

               “Definitely not an op. More like a business meeting.

                                             –What brings you here? The whiskey isn’t that great – I know, I’ve tried it.”

                  Don’t be fooled, the Director is far from being incapacitated by the two fingers of alcohol she’s allowed herself this evening. If there’s an unspun quality to her words, diverting from her normal, business-like clip, it’s only because she’s ( for the moment, pretending that she’s ) off duty. Taking a night off is almost never a certain thing, but if she’s going to make a play at it she may as well take her drinks early ( give them enough time to burn off before the inevitable goes down ).

Convenience. For the most part,” Hill answers, lifting a brow skeptically when fronted with an answer that seems.. interesting. 

              “Business meetings at this time of night, in this sort of place never fail to get my attention.” Though she won’t investigate further if she doesn’t have to, instead pursing her lips at the mouth of her glass, the swirl of whiskey emanating a sharp scent that speaks to its quality ( Lewis is right- it’s well below great ).



Darcy freezes, eyes wide. A moment passes before she realizes she should probably pull herself together, but when she finally clears her throat and rolls her shoulders, she looks as carefree and easy as she wishes she felt.

              “I really can’t even deny that. Oops.

                                                                  My bad?”

It’s a surprise, to say the least. Not exactly like she’d been expecting to run into anyone she knew here. Ignoring the other woman would’ve been detrimental ( not to mention embarrassing for them both ), but Maria’s not above making the first move ( it’s advantageous ). When she speaks again her tone is dry, a bit of a drawl in the aftermath of a glass of whiskey:

   “What’s a girl like you-” [ If she’s noticed she’s not obvious about it. ]

                     “—doing in a bar like this if you’re not running some sort of op?”


    “Hey. Go for it.” She ducks her head, shrugging almost with embarrassment. “Probably smarter that way. Safer.”


         All the fire and steel she’d had in her blood the day she walked into SHIELD demanding to see Tony is nowhere to be found now. The last time she saw Maria, she’d felt proud of herself, proud of what she was doing. She felt deserving of the other woman’s respect.

        Today she just feels foolish.

       Gaze still lowered, she nods, swallowing hard.

     “If they fail then we’re all fucked and you and your goons will have your hands full.”

      She’d have to be stupid not to get the DIG aimed in her direction. Maria laughs, but it’s short-lived.


      Fuck- she doesn’t have to explain herself to Darcy Lewis. Come back at her with a lifetime of experience in tactical strategy and handling worldwide shitshows on the daily and then maybe she’ll accept whatever JUDGMENT Lewis is dishing out that day.

                   “Call it what you’d like, but I don’t know of ANYONE who’s ever complained about having a safety net.”

      “Have a good day, Ms. Lewis. It’s probably about time for Stark’s midday nap– hopefully you won’t have to fish him out of a planter this time.”


      Darcy nods, considering Maria’s point. She understands it completely.    

                 “I can see why it would. But. I have faith in them. Both of them. I think they know the greater good is more important than their respective egos. And if they don’t… well. That’s what I’m here for.”

      She realizes she’s in a very unique position, most people stand on one side or the other of the Stark or Osborn fence, but Darcy can’t choose. Won’t choose. So far it’s been innocent enough, but something tells her there may come a time when it’ll become a serious problem.

                “I don’t mean everything everything. I don’t think you have to be concerned though. They’ll have people watching them, you and the rest of SHIELD included, I’m sure.”

                 There are people who see the best in others. Who refuse to think anything but positive thoughts in regards to the capabilities a person might or might not have. Valiant, sure. Admirable, yes, but Maria Hill didn’t get her job by thinking Tony Stark shits marshmallow fluff. 

     “I’ll be concerned,” Maria affirms. “It’s my job to be. People aren’t exactly one hundred percent trustworthy.” She’s not sure if them having supervision is advantageous or NOT.

               “There’s no harm in my being cautiously optimistic. Or pessimistic, depending on how you look at it. Either way– something goes wrong? S.H.I.E.L.D. is waiting in the wings, ready to sweep up the pieces.”

She sighs.

                     “I’m not saying they’ll fail– but if they do, you know where you heard it first.”


 Darcy’s surprised that Maria even comments on what she’s said. The Director has demonstrated on more than one occasion that anything to do with Darcy that isn’t somehow also to do with S.H.I.E.L.D. is not just outside of her interest but… almost beneath it. The words aren’t particularly… sentimental, but they’re meant to comfort. She appreciates it.

         “Yeah, I guess that’s true,” she agrees with a shrug. “Thanks.”

  An amused huff brushes over her lips. For two men who dislike each other so much, they are so eerily alike. Which makes her think that’s why they don’t like each other.

       “I think they’re past it now; they’re using me as a go-between to keep things nice and smooth from here on out. But… if they can work together on this?”

 She’s afraid to even imagine it; it’s too good, too important. And the last few months have been proof that their lives don’t work like that.

     “The two of them working independently change a disgusting amount of lives every day. But if they combine forces for this? For anything. Everything changes.


      She’s not here ( on this planet, in this foreign city ) to make people feel good about themselves, but every so often a comment lands and it’s just a result of the fallout. It’s not so much she doesn’t CARE, but more that she doesn’t have the TIME to be doing things like that which aren’t a part of her job description. Maria Hill delegates. She nods anyway as a response to Darcy’s gratitude.

             “Honestly, putting the two of them together makes me MORE nervous, if anything. We’re both extremely aware of what they’re capable of ALONE.”

      Stark is more troublesome than Osborn, but she wouldn’t put it past the kid to ascend to a new level of assholery in an attempt to match or even SURPASS the older billionaire. Just the thought makes her want to roll her eyes. Just what this planet needs, yet another dick-measuring contest in the name of SCIENCE. She desperately hopes this won’t be the case.

                    “Not sure if we need EVERYTHING to change. That’s what concerns me.”

    Because people that step in with the aim to change it all in one fell swoop are, in her experience ( and history’s ), dangerous men.


    Darcy shrugs, understanding the sentiment though not exactly sharing it.

        “I guess it depends when and where you catch them. Here? At stuff like this? They kinda suck, yeah. But… Tony and Harry are two of my favorite people. Like, ever.”

            She looks over at the other woman and shakes her head, mumbling under her breath to herself as her gaze drops to her shoes.

          “Not that that matters to you at all, way to sound like a fangirl, Darcy…”

     Her voice is louder and more direct when she speaks again.

          “Normal will be nice. I think I miss almost being run over by taxis.”

Fair enough. Stark and Osborn actually LIKE Darcy, as far as she can tell. And while Maria might have a working relationship with Harry, she’d never be so presumptuous to assume that he holds any sort of FAVOR for her. Maria exists in a world where people like Tony Stark live to make her life difficult, and while Harry hasn’t exactly broached that yet– the Director is waiting for the inevitable. 

She hears it, presses her lips together. Something encourages her to comment on what Darcy’s said, even if she doesn’t need to hear it.

         “Once they know you personally, I think you fall out of the fangirl category, for what it’s worth.”

A one-shouldered shrug ( because it’s all she can afford, injury or not ). Maria agrees, for the most part. Normal will be nice, but the trip hasn’t been all THAT bad.

         “Hopefully when this dick-measuring contest is out of their systems they’ll start working toward joint ventures that’ll benefit everyone with much less pushback. It’d make both of our lives easier.”