Thank goodness it's Friday, came the weary though as Steve trudged through the late autumn rain shower. The last two weeks had been insanely busy. Closing down the current traveling exhibit and then gearing up for the annual fundraising gala had about done Steve in. His only saving grace had been the Lightning Bean. He had been leaving for work at zero dark thirty every day for the past week and a half and staying until he had to leave to catch the last train of the night. With his schedule so hectic, his morning coffee and pastry were often the best thing about the day. After the first two harried mornings, JARVIS had advised him that there was an App for the shop which would allow him to pre-order his coffee and pastry. He could hit a button when he left his condo, letting JARVIS know he was on his way so it was ready for him when he rushed in on his way to the train. Darcy had it ready and in a bag for him to grab and dash with no more than a quick smile and a “Good Morning!” between them.
But after all that work everything was falling into place. The traveling exhibit was packed and shipped to its next stop, and the gallery it had occupied was now housing a new collection from the archives. The Gala had its theme chosen, and the decoration committee was scouring its way through the archive, contacting other museums and private collectors to get pieces that fit the theme and to encourage donations. He escaped early and after a quick stop home to change and grab his sketchbook and pencils strolled over to the Lightning Bean.
“Good afternoon, Dr. Rogers. Welcome back to the Lightning Bean,” JARVIS stated through the speaker mounted near the door. “Shall I prepare your usual?”
“Good afternoon, JARVIS. Yes please. Does Darcy have any kolaches left?” Steve asked as he hung up his jacket and umbrella in the jacket dryer.
“Unfortunately not, sir. However we do have a ham and swiss panini available if that would suffice?” Jarvis stated
“Sounds good to me. Could you warm it for me as well?” Steve asked as the dryer beeped to indicate that his jacket was dry.
After grabbing the jacket from the dyer, he grabbed his portfolio and settled back to wait for his coffee and food.
“Well as I live and breath, the rare Stevus Overworkis has been spotted,” drawled a female voice from behind him.
“Hey Darcy,” Steve replied, twisting slightly to greet Darcy as she came over with his order. “Yeah, work has been kicking my ass all week. Hopefully, it should be smooth sailing ‘til the Gala.”
“Gala?” Darcy asked.
“Yeah, MOMA’s annual fundraiser. We put together a special theme exhibit, pulling pieces from the archive, other museums, and private collectors to woo donors into contributing. It’s a huge time sink, but the funds do a lot of good. I'm hoping to get a young artist program approved if we can get the funds,” Steven explained while grabbing his food.
“Sounds interesting. What’s the theme for this year?” Darcy questioned.
Steve hummed as he took a bite out of his sandwich, swallowing before he replied, “Can’t say yet. The committee hasn’t made the official announcement to the museum members and press. But I can tell you more once they make the announcement tomorrow.”
“Sounds fair. That just means you will have to spend some time here tomorrow, assuming you have the day off.” Darcy grinned. “Just so you know, I have zero patience so I expect you to dish right after the announcement hits.”
“Deal, Darcy! I am sorry I haven’t had the chance to look into finding a muralist yet. Maybe if you can tell me or show me what you want I can mock up a sketch so I have something to give them as a starter.” He said apologetically.
“No worries, Steve. Nat filled me in on the insanity that is MOMA the last couple of weeks.” Darcy continued, “As far as the mural, it doesn’t have to be a real galaxy. If I wanted reality I could print one out from the internet. No, I want this to take the best bits from the Milky Way, Andromeda, Pegasus and any others that strike the artist’s fantasy. I want it to be colorful, but not cartoonish. To look realistic, but be a complete fabrication. I want it to take up that entire space on a black canvas that I can mount the fiber optics into. I will let the artist add the lights if they know how, or work with them myself if they don’t.”
“It sounds amazing, Darcy. I can’t wait to see who you pick. Let me sketch it out for a while and show you my concept to give the muralist in a bit, OK?” Steve asked, glancing at Darcy.
“Sounds great, Steve! Thank you so much for this. It’s something I have wanted to do since I designed this place, but I have about as much artistic ability as a llama,” Darcy replied with a rueful grin. Then she left to help JARVIS with the rush.
“JARVIS,” Steve queried the tablet built into the table. “Can you show me the images that Darcy has been looking at and send me an email with links I can give to the muralists?”
“Of course, Dr. Rogers. Images pulling up now. Email sent. Is there anything else you require?” JARVIS replied
“No, JARVIS. And please call me Steve. This is perfect. Thank you,” Steve answered as the images started to appear on the tablet.
With the images in front of him, Steve started to sketch. As his pencil flew across the paper, all of the tension and stress of the past two weeks evaporated. Steve missed having the time to sketch the day away. Now that he was back home in the States, the demands of his job meant that there was little time for leisure. That was one thing he missed about studying in France: Parisians worked hard, but they also made sure they had time for fun.
After completing the initial sketch in black and white, Steve began to flesh it out with his colored pencils. Time slipped away and before he knew it Darcy was back.
“Steeeeve, oh, Steeeeeve,” sang Darcy as she approached. “We are closing in fifteen minutes and you haven’t eaten since you first got here.”
“Huh? Oh sorry, Darcy, I was just…” Steve stuttered.
“No biggie. Jane used to lose herself too when she was doing SCIENCE!” Darcy struck a pose giggling. “I'm used to pulling people out of their heads for things like food, sleep, and showering.”
Steve blushed slightly. “Yeah, I don’t have time to just sit and sketch lately, it was great. Thanks, Darcy.”
“Want another panini for the road? I hate to waste them, I usually give the day's leftovers to the soup kitchen a couple of blocks from here,” Darcy asked, smiling at Steve.
“No thanks, Darcy. I have leftovers at home I need to finish. I'll come back tomorrow afternoon, OK?” Steve replied while gathering up his things.
“Sounds awesome, and you will be spilling all about the Gala theme too, Mister!” she threatened mockingly.
“Ma’am, yes Ma’am!” Steve saluted as he walked to the door. “See you tomorrow, Darcy!” he called as he exited.
When he got home Steve reheated the chinese from the night before and ate as fast as he could. Now that he wasn’t in a sketching-induced haze, his body was screaming at him to get some rest. After a quick shower, Steve changed into his PJs and fell asleep.
After sleeping as late as he possibly could, Steve finally pulled himself from bed. Rubbing his hand over his chin, he grabbed a quick shower and decided to hold off on shaving since he wasn’t needed at work and his face could use the break. Glancing at the clock he saw it was eleven-thirty. If he left by noon he could make it to The Lightning Bean by twelve-fifteen. The Gala announcement from MOMA was set to be released at one, giving him time to get settled and do some more sketching before he needed to spill the beans to Darcy.
Feeling more relaxed than he had in weeks, Steve strode into the shop a few minutes after twelve. As soon as he passed over the threshold, JARVIS told him his coffee would be ready shortly and that his chair was currently reserved. Steve laughed quietly to himself.
“Is she trying to grease the gears, hoping I would spill early, JARVIS?” Steve inquired when he reached his seat.
“I believe Miss Darcy would phrase it more,” JARVIS paused, “More subtly. But yes, I believe that was her intention,” JARVIS confirmed.
“JARVIS!” came an indignant shout from the counter.
“I apologize, Steve. Miss Darcy would never stoop to that level,” JARVIS intoned in a flat, wooden tone.
Steve held back a snort and grinned over his shoulder at Darcy, who was glaring at the computer screen in front of her. When she came over a few minutes later with his coffee and a croissant drizzled with chocolate, he knew she was barely able to keep herself from asking so he decided that telling her a few minutes early wouldn’t hurt and motioned for her to take seat.
“So the theme for the Gala this year is set design,” Steve announced. “Specifically, the set designs from the movie The Wizard of OZ. They are calling the Gala Follow the Yellow Bricked Road,” Steve finished. Darcy didn’t say a word. Instead she seemed to be vibrating in her chair.
“Are you kidding me?” she asked so intensely Steve actually flinched slightly.
“No,” he stated.
“Oh my goodness, that is one of my favorite movies of all time!” Darcy started to bounce in her seat.
“Mine too,” he said. “I'm excited to see what the committee finds either in the archives or from loans from private collectors and other museums. I know Mr. Stark has a large private collection of memorabilia from the movie. Hopefully he'll be willing to allow the museum to borrow it for the event. He has rarely allowed it to be seen by the public. If he does let MOMA borrow some items it should make for a larger crowd.”
“I bet he will,” said Darcy. Steve thought he heard her mutter, “Mom will make him.”
“The only bad part about it is finding a date,” Steve added. “I haven’t been back in the states long and I don’t know many people outside of work yet.” His face lit up right after he finished speaking.
“Hey Darcy, wanna go to the Gala? I, umm hmmm, I get a pair of tickets and I would love to go with you, ya know if you would like to?” Steve blushed and stammered without looking at her.
“Steve,” she squealed. “Are you kidding? I would LOVE to go to the gala with you! I love the Wizard of Oz and I like you so it seems like a perfect date to me!” She grabbed him in a quick hug.
“The Gala is in two months on the 17th. Will you be able to get someone to cover for you here?” he asked.
“I should be able to,” Darcy mused. “I have interviews set up for tomorrow, since it's getting too busy for me to keep up with solo anymore. As awesome as JARVIS is, he can’t do everything on his own. I should have a few employees by the end of this week. That gives me over a month to get them into shape and ready for a solo run. I love this place but I don’t want to live here.”
Steve nodded, relieved that he had a date and that it was with someone he really liked versus the blind date Natasha had threatened him with.
“It's a date then!” Steve declared happily.