|Agents of Misunderstanding ...and Clarification|
|What: Can't get a coffee in the Village without running into a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent these days, can you? Pete and Roy are cleaning up an alien incident, everyone else is just trying to mind their own business... badly.|
So it's a damp, warm, muggy day in the City of Cities, pavement wet from a downpour in the early hours, sky still overcast. The air's a bit soupy and the streets are relatively crowded; lunch is on and pedestrians clog the intersections as throroughly as cars clog the roads. In the alley between Radu's Cafe and A Salt and Battery, there are two men standing over a tattooed girl with a chelsea and a lot of piercings, crying, and an unconscious grey cloak with cthulhu-face coming out of the hood.
The man in the suit crouches down in front of the girl, unhesitatingly reaching to put a hand on her shoulder; he takes off his sunglasses. "It'll be all right, love. We'll find your girl. This was never her." He glances up at the other man. "Harper, you calling in for pickup?"
Bethany's on her way back from a private client and gets Gidi to drop her off in the Village. As she walks away, Bentley 2 sulks and rumbles at the end of the street. She swears Gidi can make the big car talk some days and he's not happy with her walking off by herself. The little scene in the alley catches her eye before she actually knows it's there.
"I got something," she murmurs so her earbud can pick it up.
Gidi says a lot of stuff in a few languages. Her ex-Israeli-Army agents know how to let loose better than just about anyone else.
"You kiss your mother with that mouth?" Beth whisks across the street to get a better look. The snarl of traffic means Bentley 2 is stuck in the distance. At first look, she's some kind of law enforcement agent coming off a really bad week.
"On it, Wisdom," Roy comments, tapping the headset and calling in for pickup. Clad in a SHIELD agent outfit, Roy fills in the details, listens for a moment, and shrugs. "Wisdom calls it a cthulhuface, so I'll take his word for it. I still say it's a tentacleface. What's the difference?" Another listen in, and then Roy nudges the body slightly just to check. Squish. Hmm. "Cthulhuface it is. Send pickup, on my signal."
Glancing over, Roy nods. "All done. How's she doing?" he asks, a second before he notices someone coming. "Hold on..." And off he goes to intercept the newcomer. "Hey, miss, this is a crime scene. I'll have to ask you to step away."
Warren wanted to get a coffee. Really, that's all. It would have been easier to just make it at home, but Warren Worthington III is actively trying to get out more. It means more stares, more questions, more people taking pictures with their cell phone cameras, but it also means more social awareness -- or so he'd like to think. Granted, going down to Greenwich Village from his place in Upper Manhattan is a schlep, especially if one can't fly. For him, it's a few minutes of flying. Landing, however, is often tricky in the city, but he manages to do so at a nearby park 'square' before making his way to the coffee shop.
There are probably many pictures going up on Twitter and Facebook of him standing in line to get his coffee and maybe even a few with him grinning and flashing a peace sign or something like that.
Finally, with coffee in hand, he steps out of the shop only to find an 'incident' in the alley next to it. Stepping a little closer, he looks at the woman and the cloaked baby before asking the closest person, most likey Agent Harper, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Mutant advocate and all.
Believe it or not, Donna does actually work! Which is what she's doing in the Village at the moment. She had been knelt down, dressed in a pair of dark hipster skinny jeans with lace on the pockets, a pair of grey suede boots that just reach her knees and a coral colored tank with an attached lace over shirt. As 'professional' looking as the young woman gets.
She had been knelt down in front of a new Boutique that had just opened a few weeks ago yet was all the talk and was to be featured in one of the magazines she works for so she had been sent out to get a few architectual shots that no other photographer than have can get. From the air at various angles.
It was her height in the space above peoples heads that let her see there was a problem. The camera is dropped and the brunette makes her way over to the alley. Touching down lightly, right beside Beth, a brow is arched. "Something wrong?" Yep. The Amazon is back in town.
Wisdom -- the man in the suit, black hair and blue eyes behind the sunglasses, ID badge clipped to his suit jacket -- glances up at Roy for the question. "She'll be all right. Just a bit shaken, yeah?" With this last, the Briton's turned back to the girl for confirmation, and she nods, wiping tears off her face with the back of her wrist and making a really unattractive SCHNLRRP sound of congestion. "Come on then, up we go," he tells her, smiling, and standing up so he can offer her hands. She takes them but mostly pulls herself to her feet, slightly wobbly. "What /is/ he?" she whispers.
"Hell if I know," Pete says apologetically. "Shapeshifter, anyway. Don't know why he came after you. Your girl a scientist or sommat? Occultist? Weaponeer?"
"No, she's a barista," says the punk girl with the chelsea, stifling a sob, then turning away. "And now she might be-- you'll find her?"
"Do everything we can," promises the SHIELD agent, letting his hands fall so he can take out a card, offer it to her. "Here's this, you can call anytime, right? Just give me a way to contact you, we'll need details to investigate." As she's scribbling down her own number, Pete glances up to the mouth of the alley where Roy's gone-- and blinks. "Oi, what's all this, then? This ain't a media event."
"I'd deduced that this was a crime scene..." Beth stops and looks Roy over, then glances up at Donna. Hello there. "...but I'm sure Coulson has you all housebroken and well-in hand, which is fantastic." She's not too interested in gawking as long as no one's bleeding or being mugged or something.
"Just checking so I can grab a coffee in peace." From her fine collection of layered bruises and burns it seems that peace is probably in short supply in her life. She turns away slightly to speak very quietly to someone unseen--anyone who's had an earbud squawking at them will know exactly what she's doing. "That includes not hearing from you until I get some damn coffee, Agent Spiro. Ain't mama happy, ain't anybody happy."
"Well, good, glad you know all about SHIELD, but if you don't mind..." Motioning back, Roy glances towards Warren. "You too, get back. This isn't a show, and if you want to find out all about it, check the six o'clock news, when they get around to reportin' on something other than the latest Kardashian alien-baby rump-bumping, okay?"
... of course, when Donna's presence registers, Roy has the sense to look somewhat abashed. "Troia. Working a case here. Nothin' to see, and I think the victim would appreciate some privacy." There's a quick glance back, and a shrug at Pete. What was he supposed to do, shoot them?
Warren's eyes narrow briefly before he holds up the hand not holding the coffee, "Fine. But if she's a mutant, I can probably help." He doesn't stick around though, not wanting to cause any sort of scene...or rather, any more of a scene. Taking his coffee with him, he goes back around the corner of the building to take a seat on the outside patio of the coffee shop.
Donna's blue-green eyes narrow at Roy and her temper flares. A step closer is taken to Roy. "You shouldn't turn away help that's better eqipped to handle certain aspects than you are, Harper. I thought you had more sense than that." A look is cast over to Warren as he walks away before she looks over at Bethany. "Would you care to join me for a cup of coffee, Ma'am?" And yet, her eyes dart to one of the roofs above the alley, quickly, before looking back at Beth. Thankfully, Donna's got a hell of a poker face.
The girl looks uncertainly up the alley toward the others, then focuses on Donna. And abruptly her cheeks turn very very red indeed. Her cheeks, her neck, her shoulders-- goodness, going for a full-body blush, here. "Ah-- um--" she stammers, then looks back to Pete, brown eyes wide.
"Coffee with Troia or a cab home, whatever you like," the suit-clad agent says with a crooked grin; he slings an arm around her shoulders, gives her a brief squeeze. "Cigarette and cab on SHIELD's dollar, right? Come on."
"/Coffee with Donna Troy/," the tattooed girl whispers, like she's dreaming. "Um-- then a cab. But a cigarette now. Please."
Wisdom hands her his spare pack, then leads her back up the alley toward the mouth, where everyone else is-- or at least close by. "Lady'll take you up on that," he says to Donna with a quick, wry smile. "Radu's. Meet you lot in there as long as you don't let anyone facebook her. Ongoing investigation, yeah? I'll be in after the pickup."
Bethany's hard-pressed not to laugh at Donna's scolding--but the woman is right. She's filed Roy under "kids so new their badge still squeaks" and Pete under "I will not poach from Phil, damn it". Now she's off toward that same coffee shop where Warren's already sitting.
"Mr. Worthington? Warren?" She stops by his table and offers him her hand. "You don't recognize me right now but we've met. Bethany Cabe... also, Mrs van Tilburg, from the German Embassy. Just subtract the fact that I look like crap and add an Elie Saab gown and a whole lot of diamonds."
"I don't know if..." But then again, the girl -seemed- to need the assurance Donna offers, and thusly Roy glances at Pete, who seems to have the girl assured. "Right. There's a guy who wants to be sure she's not a mutant, because if she is, he's offering a hand."
With the girl in Troia's hands now, Roy glances. Was he supposed to keep an eye on her instead of waiting for the pickup? Well hell... Off he went, falling in step with Donna, although a bit awkwardly, given their last few encounters. Right. What was he supposed to say to her? Good to see you, looking good, no, still haven't figured out what to do with a person who has memories of multiple universes?
Warren looks up at his name and blinks at the beat up woman wearing fatigues and blinks. "Mrs. van Tilburg?" He has to take a moment to try and recognize her despite her current appearance, "I...certainly didn't expect to run into you here," looking like that. "I presume you're doing well?" He's not entirely sure he should be asking that in regards to her current condition, but it's sort of instinct to start with the social niceties. There's another pause before he gestures to a seat at his chosen table, "Would you like to sit down?"
A nod and a warm smile is given to the girl as Donna reaches out to wrap an arm around her shoulder and lead her towards the appointed meeting spot. "We'll get you coffee and something to eat. Whatever you want, okay? It's on me."
Her eyes shoot to Roy for a moment. "Mister Harper. A pleasure to see you again. You're doing well, I hope." Her voice loses some of it's warmth when she address Roy and she seems far more distant than she had in the past. As if they had only met a couple of times.
Her eyes go to Warrn and Bethany next and she debates whether she should stop and let them see for themselves that the girl is alright. It certainly can't hurt anything and may go a ways in easing their minds, after all.
"I'm-- I'm not a mutant," the girl stammers, still blushing quite pink (Donna Troy! Is hugging her!); she falls into step with the Amazon pretty damn easily, making the effort to match pace so she doesn't stumble /too/. "(Sorry)," she adds in a tiny voice. As if being baseline human were something disappointing. Well-- given her obvious deliberate differences from the mainstream, maybe it is. "--um. Uh. A veggie wrap? And-- a soy latte? Um. Decaf. I don't-- I don't think I need any more jitters." Nervous laugh; she glances from Bethany and Warren at the table to Donna again, and then to Roy. And she whispers to Donna, "It's okay, he's just trying to make sure I'm okay, too. You're all so kind."
"Thanks, Warren. And it's Bethany when I'm not throwing parties for the Ambassador-at-Large. I'm doing fine--just a little rough from fast-tracking Mr. Stark's new agents and then I had a run in with a mage and a handful of fire demons two nights ago. Business as usual." Bethany gives Donna a wink and a smile as she slides into her seat, then waves at the young woman. "If you want a lift home after the agents speak to you, dear," she says to the young woman, "my car's right there. You'll be quite safe." She points down the street to where the sleekly massive armoured Bentley has made its way closer. Some days, it's like the thing is stalking her.
What Donna's new behavior means is a cipher to Roy, but since he had work to do, there was no sense following up on it now, as he grins assuringly at the young girl. There's a quick glance at Donna as if to make sure she had the victim in hand, before Roy moves over to reserve a table nearby, pausing to note to Warren, "Thank you for your offer." He tilts his head towards the girl by way of indicating that she apparently didn't need the help at the moment.
Warren glances over at the SHIELD officials before looking back to Bethany and slowly sipping at his coffee, "Should you...really be telling me this? I mean, out in the open and...-me-? Don't you folks tend to keep that sort of thing secret?" After all, he's just an heir to a hefty family fortune and successful company who just happens to have giant wings sprouting from his back. He looks over at Roy when he's addressed, "It's the least I could do."
"Nothing to be sorry for. I'm not a mutant either." Donna winks at the girl and smiles again before nodding her head. "Take a seat anywhere you want and I'll join you then we can order." There's a soft chuckle from her. "I know he is."
She looks over at Bethany just in time to see the wink and grins, nodding her head. She then looks at Warren and offers him a smile as well, meaning to reassure him that the girl does, indeed, seem to be alright.
Again the girl's eyes widen, as she looks out the window and sees the huge Bentley. And she gives Bethany a HUGE thumbs-up-- then goes and takes a window table, for two, and tries very hard not to be squirmy with embarrassed fandom crush. But it'll be an /awesome lunch/ at the very least, which she can tell her girlfriend /all about/ when the agents find her.
It's around then that Wisdom comes into the cafe, scanning-- and he locates Donna and the girl, looks satisfied, locates Roy, and Warren's hella easy to find, and the roughed-up fatigues woman; he wanders that way, leaving the girl alone with her personal hero. "Hey," he says in a low voice to the two he doesn't know (or doesn't know personally, in the one case), as he pulls up a chair and slides into it. "Sorry about the fuss. Ms. Sacco's girlfriend was replaced with a shapeshifter who got frisky and then tried to go all hentacles on her. Rotten situation."
The alarm on Donna's watch beeps and causes her to frown. "Damn..." Looking up at the woman, the Amazon smiles. "I have to run. I'm late for an appointment." She grabs a napkin and pulls a pen from her pocket. Her number and name is scribbled on it and passed to the girl along with a fifty dollar bill. "Lunch is on me. Help yourself. That's my cell number. If you need /anything/, give me a call." Standing, she nods her head at the others gathered and makes her way over to Bethany. She stops for only a moment to meet eyes with the woman and nods her head once more, smirks, and makes her way out of cafe.
"Don't worry, Warren. I'm not spilling anything that hasn't been on the news. Stark Industries put out a press release about CMS working with Mr. Stark some time ago, and the fire demon incident made the news... I'm sure it's shown up on Agent Wisdom's radar what with the demon summoning and the hostages and whatnot. That sounds highly unpleasant for the poor girl." Bethany offers her hand to Pete. "Bethany Cabe, director and owner of Cabe-McPherson Security, Agent Wisdom. Nice to meet you. As I was just saying to the young lady you rescued, I'm happy to take her home after you're done." She waves at Donna as the other woman heads out.
Warren actually casts a glare at Donna despite her smile, "There's nothing wrong with being a mutant and certainly nothing to apologize for. This is what propogates the fear and distrust of anything perceived as 'different'. Would you say 'Nothing to be sorry for, I'm not gay either'? Or 'Nothing to be sorry for, I'm not...insert different race here... either?" He then looks back to Bethany, "I'm sorry for that. You shouldn't have had to have seen that." He then looks to Wisdom as he pulls up a chair nearby and looks as if he's going to say something but just shuts his mouth then.
As Donna prepares to leave, Roy tilts his head towards her. He seems about to say something, but settles for a nod to her, instead taking her seat, and smiling reassuringly at the pink-haired girl. "Can't say I'm as good as Troy, but if you need an ear..." he begins, before Warren responds, and Roy turns to him. "I don't think she meant that as a negative, mister..." begins Roy, trying to pacify the winged man. "She's just... special." Which she rather was, because she defied explanation.
".../thank/ you!" the pink-haired punk girl -- Ms Sacco -- says to Donna, eyes wide. She darts to give the Amazon a hug before the woman leaves, and then Warren's glaring at her hero, and her eyes narrow. She scoops up the number and the fifty and pockets them, then stalks over to the table everyone else is sitting at and looms, tattooed and gauged and pierced and showing her teeth. "I *am* gay, /Mister/ Worthington, and I'm sorry I'm /not/ a mutant, because when I show up for support rally meetings I get the kind of flack you're giving /right now/. I'm not /good/ enough for snobs like you. I know from fear and distrust, and as long as people spout that kind of shit--"
"--Terrie," Wisdom says, half-standing with a wince.
"No shut up I am FINISHING this country has FREE SPEECH," Terrie Sacco says passionately. "As long as people spout that kind of shit on *any* side of the playing field, there's not gonna *be* tolerance and acceptance! You offered to help me if I was a mutant. I'm NOT. So I'll take the help of the people who don't care *what* I am. Agents Wisdom, Harper, you know where to find me. Mrs-- ma'am, I don't want to take you away from your conversation; the offer was very kind, but I'm going to go stop off at work and go home. I don't live far, you don't have to worry. I'm *leaving* now."
Wisdom glances sidelong at Bethany, gives her a quick, tight smile as if to say 'I'll respond once the scene's over, it's a bit... loud.'
Bethany watches in some amusement because she knows Warren didn't mean it that way. "My driver, Gidi, will take you if you like, Terrie," she says, rising the moment Terrie finishes. She points over to a quiet man with a strong build and wild black curls standing at the edge of the patio. "Wherever you need. There may have been more than one of those things. It's probably a good idea for someone to check your apartment before you enter, especially if your friend had access to it. Gidi's quite competent."
Warren stands as the girl glares at him and gives him a piece of her mind, he responds with, "I don't care if you're gay. I don't care if you're a mutant. But you obviously had everyone else offering help that I figured that if you needed anything in particular...because some mutants do need some extra support, I was going to offer it, but you know what? Screw it. I try to help and every single goddamn time, I get reviled for it. I stand for equality, whether one is gay, straight, male, female, black, white, pink, or purple. But obviously you don't want to see that. I'm just some rich kid seeking attention." He shakes his head and grabs his coffee, "So fine. Think whatever the hell you want. You're right. It's a free country." With that, he decides to leave first. He'll make sure to get out of anyone's way before he lifts off into the skies of Manhattan to make his trip back that much quicker.
Just about ready to stomp off, but waiting to see what Warren *dares* to say to her-- Terrie glances to Bethany again and gives her a grateful look, before her eyes shoot back to the winged guy-- she stops short at what he says, obviously taken aback. And then she steps in front of him to block his path, expression abruptly different, apologetic and grimacing. "Please," she says with a hiccup, then claps her hand over her mouth and looks furious with herself. Some people get wibbly when they're ashamed. Some people get hiccups. "Please, I'm sorry. I was just reacting to what you said to Troia. And digging. And, um. *hic* Digging myself deeper. I'm sorry. Thank you for the reality-bludgeon. It's been a shitty *hic* day." And then she steps aside, hunching her shoulders in, jamming her hands in her pockets, bright red again. And hiccuping.
"All right," Roy begins to say to Terrie, before Warren responds in turn, which causes Roy to raise a hand. "Speaking as a non-persecuted non-minority, can I just say that you both are just talking past each other and..." And Warren's leaving, and Terrie's leaving and Roy's now talking to, basically, Bethany and Pete. "... I guess I think I should just order the decaf," he sighs.
Warren offers a quick nod at Terrie's apology, "I'm sorry your girlfriend's gone missing. If there's any way I can help, I will." But he's still taking off and he's still a bit pissed off.
Stewing in a cloud of misery, Terrie watches Warren go, and then her eyes flick over to Bethany, head still a bit downcast, shoulders still hunched. *hic*. "Thanks, ma'am. I'll-- thanks." And then she slinks off to go eat crow pie and be ashamed in the back of an amazing car with an awesome driver who will kick the ass of any monsters lurking in her apartment.
Wisdom, for his part, has slouched into his chair, one arm over his stomach and elbow resting on it, hand half-covering his face. He's peeking through his fingers, mouth twisted in embarrassed sympathy; he does the girl the favor of not actively watching her leave.
Once she's gone, he exhales, then laughs ruefully, a little breathlessly, like there's a sigh in there. Finally, he sits up and reaches over to very belatedly offer his hand to Bethany. "Sorry. Yes. Pleasure to meet you, Ms Cabe. Just Wisdom'll do fine." Even as he's saying so, his other hand's unclipping his badge and sticking it in his jacket pocket, as if emphasizing 'just Wisdom'. His accent's straight-up Estuary-after-good-university; not money, but enough of the scruff worn off that he could probably pass for upper middle class if he had to. Like, /had to/. "Your company's well-regarded by the intel community, but I'm sure you knew that."
"Not bad for a bunch of girls," Bethany says, giving Pete a wink as she sits back down and graciously offers Roy a chair. "But thank you. We do our best to stay sharp and also stay out from under the feet of the big dogs." She pulls out a business card and passes it over to Pete. "You're far from home--not that I'm one to talk. It's nice to hear a voice from across the pond, I must say." Her own accent is hard to place for the average person but definitely not American--she speaks with the particular precision of someone who was very well educated, in this case in Switzerland.
With the situation apparently settled, Roy takes the proffered seat, flashing a grin. "Hello. Name's Roy Harper." Offering a handshake, Roy settles in, glancing at Pete. "Sorry, I only just transferred in from the CBI. 'Fraid I don't know anything about Ms. Cabe." A tilt of his head towards the woman in question. "From overseas too? That how you two know each other?"
Pete takes the card, glances over it, pockets it with his badge; his expression takes on an incredibly wry cast. "'A bunch of girls'," he repeats in mild incredulity. "Right. Female combatants have the tremendous advantage of being sorely underestimated. I would *never* want to be on the wrong end of your operation because I'm /not stupid/." Then he shakes his head and spreads his hands, after a quick glance in Roy's direction; he looks back to Bethany. "The SIS is cross with me, so I won't be going home for a while. I have this terrible habit-- I mean aside from smoking. Tend to get illegal in-house operations shut down, me." Then he snorts at Roy, slouching back in his seat again. "No, mate. We just met. I've heard of CMS, is all."
"Hi there, Roy." Bethany shakes Roy's hand. "My company keeps a lower profile in America than in some other zones. Don't worry about it."
"I hire whistle-blowers. I appreciate personal integrity as much as skill, if not more," she says to Pete, but then she holds up her hand. "Not that I would ever poach from S.H.I.E.L.D., of course, also not being stupid. Agent Coulson might give me his 'disappointed in you, Beth' look, and I'd rather get set on fire." Oddly, she sounds like she means that with total sincerity.
"Huh. I'm all for a company filled by women," Roy grins, as he settles back in his seat, before a more serious expressoin crosses his face and he sits up a bit more attentively. "Whistle-blowing, Wisdom?" There's a note of respect. "Hell... if they gave you crap for that, they don't serve you."
Tilting his head at Bethany, Roy grins. "Yeah... though I'd probably run through a brick wall first."
One-shouldered shrug, and the corners of Wisdom's mouth turn down for a second, uncomfortable. Then he laughs at the last thing she says, letting his head fall back against the back of the chair, grinning at the ceiling. "I'm fairly certain not wanting to disappoint Coulson is a universal constant." Head straight again, and his smile's crooked. "The man's a paragon of how to do it." Then he adjusts his sunglasses and gives Roy a faintly embarrassed smile. "I'm still loyal to my country, and to Her Majesty's Government. But there were members of the House of Lords involved in the last fiasco, so--" He trails off and shrugs again. "SHIELD was more than happy to have me." And then he kicks Roy under the table lightly. "Why, pray tell, are you all for a company filled by women? You realize if your answer ain't 'because it'd be more badass' you're looking for a right good kicking."
"I have to agree with Wisdom here." Bethany gives Roy a slightly wolfish grin. "I've got quite the list of reasons we have a primarily-female field crew. I should note that it's been extremely successful, especially in oil country." And everywhere else, but the money's just ridiculous there. "My male agents and staff will be happy to tell you what it's like to work with all of us." ...usually not very kindly.
"Ow!" Not quite glaring at Pete, because he knows he's been busted, the redhead grimaces, rubbing his shin. Taking a brief moment to consider carefully what might be the safest way to answer the question without getting a right kicking, Roy returns the wolfish grin at Bethany. "It just sounds like more -fun-."
Of course, he had to admit, he -really- didn't want to be around them if they ... synchronized.
Pete rolls his eyes and waves a dismissive hand at Roy, lopsided grin still in place. He inclines his head at Bethany, inquisitive. "Oil country especially, I expect; do you hire local talent as well? I can imagine there being quite a number of applicants. I read a study recently on the theory that oil export economies actually--" He spins a hand in the air, looking for a word, brows furrowed. "Basically, that it's not just strong patriarchal norms, religious and otherwise, that pull the rug out from women in those places. That it's the imports of things that've traditionally been poorer womens' gateway into the workforce that further takes their voices from them."
Bethany refrains from rolling her eyes at Roy, though the look she does give him is the equivalent of a whack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. Give her another twenty years, she'll have a repertoire of signature looks as big as Coulson's.
"I'd say that's accurate on some levels," she says to Pete. "I hire internationally, I take anyone who can do a job I need. We employ mostly women in support roles as well as we can find them. Worldwide, we tend to get jobs because we're good at what we do. A few specific places, including America, we get the lion's share of our work because of the sex of our agents -and- because we're good at what we do." She doesn't sound as pleased with herself as she might.
Roy has the sense to look sheepish. All things considered, he had no positive female role models, and so this subject was new, and frankly, beyond his experience. That he cared now was solely because of Lian.
"Mmm," noncommittals Pete, suppressing a smirk, looking away from Roy and at the fascinating saltshaker on that table over there. But before Bethany can answer the redheaded man, Wisdom takes his sunglasses off again and puts them in his jacket's breast pocket and notes, "As long as you're being paid the right amount for the effort you put in and the results you get, you're doing it right. It's not selling out to take advantage of idiots willing to lay cash on the barrelhead unless they're paying a highly-rated security organization to be eye candy at Charlie Sheen's birthday party."
"Chauvinists?" Bethany does actually laugh at Roy. "Same way we deal with bigots and misogynists. Heavy artillery." Her smile suggests she might be joking but the look in her eye... not so much. "Well. If education doesn't work. What's interesting is that inside the agency, once you reach a certain majority of female agents, it simply ceases to matter. Appearance is only a tool, like anything else. General biochemical responses aside, it's irrelevant between agents. Even dressing and sleeping areas only have segregation for those with religious or cultural exceptions."
"Yeah, well..." Now Roy rubs the back of his neck. "Guess I can't blame you, really. But man... the biochemical responses are... hard to overcome." So very hard, especially when one was raised by Ollie Queen. Liberal though he might be, there were certain... habits that didn't quite bear scrunitizing until Lian came into his life. "I just can't picture not responding." See: Cheshire.
"Then you might want to work on that," Wisdom says bluntly, taking out his pack of cigarettes and tapping it in his palm, then standing up. "Otherwise you're a liability." See: Cheshire. "You might try thinking very hard about Margaret Thatcher doing a striptease. Or Madeleine Albright. Or George Burns. Or eye surgery." He waves the cigarettes. "I'm away for a smoke. Be back in if you lot don't come outside."
"We'll see you in a bit, Pete. He has a point," Bethany says to Roy, shrugging. "Of course, Americans are very -off- about sex and bodies. I'm not saying my people don't have sex on their own time or that they're not attracted to each other, simply that they don't get distracted by each others' biology at work and they certainly stop factoring it in when judging another person. I'm a big advocate of getting it the hell out of one's system, personally and professionally. Actually having sex is not nearly as big a problem as lack of focus and misjudging your peers."
“Later, Wisdom," Roy says, before shifting his attention to Bethany. He can't help but assess her assets for all of a moment, before shuddering. Right. It was easier to picture Betty White than anyone else. "Okay, so... right. So what _are_ you good at?" he asks, doing his best to stay focused... up there.
"You mean other than protecting people?" Bethany laughs quietly. The scrutiny doesn't bother her. "I've run a successful business since I was eighteen, I'm a pretty good shot, I'm hell on wheels in a fight, I've run the Badwater Ultra Marathon in under 30 hours... and I throw a whale of a party... shall I go on?"
"I've got no clue about the Bad Water Marathon, but being a pretty good shot..." Now that's -something- in Roy's territory. "That's something that's -definitely- in my area of expertise." The whole fish out of water look has vanished, replaced by a cocky grin again on Roy's face. "Although fightingwise? Hard to top Coulson." A rueful grin, as Roy rubs his chin absentmindedly.
"I'm not brilliant with a gun, but I get the job done most days," Bethany says honestly, then her expression shifts to something thoughtful. "...you know, I should throw down with Coulson next time I see him. He's -mean-, which goes a long way in a fight. I should get him to help me with my blind training." She indicates her bruises absentmindedly. "I put on a blindfold and let my agents try to beat me. They do, especially if there's more than a couple of them. So far."
"Most days, hmmmm..." Pity, Roy would have happily shown off his shooting, and made sure to illustrate that he was actually -competent- at what he did. Still, the notion of blind training made Roy grin a bit. "... Sounds like something a friend of mine would have to do. I still think it's insane - you might as well use every option open to you." There was a thoughtful look. "Although blind shooting I've had to try before. Listening for the sound of the swish of an arrow..."
And coming back within earshot just then is Wisdom, pocketing his phone. He looks approving. "And the longer you last against them before going down, the better you know you're doing." Once he's there and listening to Roy, he's got his arms braced against the back of what was his chair, leaning forward slightly, propped up. "What's next, tactile? I've heard tell of people who can feel disturbances in the air and defend and attack using it as direction. I mean, without enhancement."
"I go by things like breathing, the floor shifting, clothes moving, the way a foot sounds coming through the air, wind on my skin," Bethany says to Pete. "It's amazing all the things you don't realize you know, that you're not using, until you start doing work like that."
Beth smiles at Roy--he's much more bearable the moment he switches gears and starts talking to her like a person and not a Female Of The Species. "My business partner, who basically made me, used to make me take blind shots when we were doing sniper training. Not in the sense of me being blindfolded, but only getting a look at the target from a few places and then not seeing it from where I was firing. Through walls, roofs, sheets, whatever was in the way. I once had to hit a mark she set me... through a donkey. I swear to God, there's always a freakin' donkey screwing me up in that part of the world. I didn't even feel bad about it." Bethany has a grudge. Yes. "I still suck next to her, but I can usually make the shot if things are copacetic."
Now Roy looks thoughtful, as blind fighting really wasn't something he'd had to put himself through, and it wasn't necessarily part of his training. Maybe Coulson would try that. "Yeah, you know, it's a little bit of having to use all five of your senses," Roy remarks to Pete in a 'distracted, thinking and talking at the same time is hard' way.
His attention shifts to Bethany's face, in a much more calculating way. "Huh. I'd like to compare notes with your partner, see if she's all that." Cuz -he- was the bag of chips, dammit. Even if it was empty calories.
"Five senses, five wits, and vestibular sense," says Wisdom with a really big grin at Roy, straightening up and running his hands through his hair, leaving it a mess. His eyes are faintly visible behind his otherwise-black sunglasses, just as featureless eye-shapes. "Not to mention kinesthetics. Put all of it together and you might come up with the modern definition of instinct. Maybe. Either way, none of it can be discounted. Even in combat, pattern-finding's an invaluable skill, and the more sources of input one takes into the sum of one's understanding of a situation, the more patterns match up." Then he waves a hand, as if dismissing his own ruminations; he glances back down to Bethany. "I'm sure the donkey never knew what hit it. At least you weren't shooting through the Hellcow."
"Oh, no, the donkey--well, I was firing at a small cache of explosives. So. Yeah. Mercy killing and sweet, sweet revenge on all its kind." Bethany flashes Pete a mean, toothy grin. "I don't know what a Hellcow is though I've eaten places where they'd kill to serve something with that name."
"I don't know if I'd call it 'instinct' as much as, well... a kind of ESP," Roy replies, musing, lowering his shades in turn. "And you know... trying to shoot through a donkey would require a hell of a rifle, because of all the resistance..." Eyebrows goes up as he considers 'revenge'. "Whatever did -that- donkey do to you?" he asks, before quirking an eyebrow at Pete. "... and you know, I knew you brits had some seriously mad cow disease, but ... Hellcow?"
Here, Pete just shakes his head. "Vampire cow. Wish I were joking. Fangs and like that, wretched beast." Then he glances down at his watch and lifts his eyebrows, then his head again; glances from Roy to Bethany. "And me I've a date in Brooklyn tonight, and I'm -not- taking a bloody flying car, so I'd best get going. Ms Cabe, lovely to meet you; I'm sure we'll see each other again. Harper, see you again when shit explodes, no doubt."
"Have a good date, Wisdom. Gidi got the girl home okay. If you don't have her address, I sent it on already." Bethany waves at Pete. "Call me if you get bored. You know. With work." She's kinda... not kidding.
"Enjoy, Wisdom," Roy says, after taking in the notion of a Hellcow, and then shaking his head. When Pete's left, the redhead grins at Bethany. "Is he putting me on about that, or are the Brits just cuckoo?"
"After getting burned fighting fire demons two nights ago and taking a couple runs at the undead in the last month..." Bethany tips her head and thinks about it. "I'd say he's telling the truth. I think he'd have blown up the story more if he were putting it on. World's a weirder place than I'd ever imagined. And I have a hell of an imagination."
"Tell me about it. I've taken a poke at the undead a couple times myself," Roy sighs. "Though fire demons... that's not it. I -am- plagued by a demoness, though, if that counts." Although he really didn't know how literal that was.
"So... if I wanted to raise my daughter to be like you," Roy adds, arching an eyebrow. "Where do I start?"