|Warbird and Hooch|
|What: Agents Danvers and Harper are introduced to each other, and then a little bit of a lecture from Fury...|
"Well, Mr. Secretary-General, I'm real sorry the Filipino government's bitching about Manila. No, we didn't set fire to that AIM compound, that was the work of a mercenary who discovered she didn't much like working for AIM. We're completely blameless for setting the fire." Pause, beat beat. "No, no. We're entirely to blame for the deaths. After the compound was set ablaze we charged in. Some of 'em tried to get out and were shot, some of 'em turned around and went deeper into the compound and got taken down by smoke and fire."
Fury's on a telephone call right now, which is undoubtedly why he's not answering the door. Yet, Fury's personal secretary -- err, sorry: "administrative assistant," in accordance with UN Circular #11834 ('Towards Workplaces of Mutual Respect') -- said to just go on in, and...
When Danvers and Harper enter, Fury looks over and gestures to a couple of empty chairs. "Well, yes, Mr. Secretary-General, we /are/ responsible for the deaths, we're /not/ responsible for the fire. We're SHIELD. We kill terrorists. We're not arsonists. We leave that to HYDRA." He falls silent again as the Secretary-General of the United Nations harangues him, and holds up a hand to mime a yapping dog. Finally, "Sir, I just realized two really important things that will maybe completely change the tenor of this conversation and put it on a more productive track. First, I realize that you bore the living daylights out of me. Second, I realize that I can hang up." *click* Then, bellowed to the administrative assistant outside -- "Agent! When he calls back, send his call to Agent Hill."
Finally, as an aside to Carol and Roy: "Sorry you had to hear that. Have a seat."
The door clicks open and Agent Danvers steps in, looking every bit the consummate SHIELD agent in her immaculate uniform and proper military poise. One would never know that she routinely moonlights in a mask and tights--well, unless one has access to her files. She's always been very open with SHIELD about her role as Warbird and, previously, Ms. Marvel.
Entering to find Fury lodged in the depths of unwanted bureaucratic conversation, Danvers offers a faint grimace of sympathy before taking the proffered chair. There is a certain air of performance review about her, the sense of someone who knows that she's being evaluated but refuses to sweat under scrutiny. Really, that's been her life ever since The Change. She may have the DNA of a super-powered Kree warrior, but she still has to show that she's a human being with the chops of a SHIELD agent. So it goes.
When Fury hangs up the phone so abruptly, she offers a small smirk and a crisp nod. "Not a problem, sir," she offers, adding, "At your disposal for the meeting, but I'm a bit unclear on one point." She pointedly glances to the third agent in the room.
Following shortly after Carol was Agent Harper. Not quite as -properly- military as Carol, Agent Harper manages to somehow convey the attitude of a punk rocker playing dress-up, despite the freshly shaved, closely-cropped look he wears, the result of a daughter who insisted on personally -inspecting- him before she'd go to school.
There was the flash of a grin as Roy nods to Fury. "Give'em hell, sir," the SHIELD agent replies, as he seats himself in the chair next to Carol. No, he hadn't really had the chance to meet up with Agent Danvers, not while she'd been busy elsewhere, but word about her was that she was -not- a woman to be messed with.
Easy on the eyes, though, he had to admit.
"Ms. Danvers. Agent Harper." There's a faint distinction of respect being given there, some subtle gradation -- so subtle, in fact, that it's entirely unclear whether it's better to be called 'Ms.' or 'Agent'. "I've cut three orders for Agent Harper and one for you, Ms. Danvers. Let's address two of Agent Harper's first."
Then, turning to face Roy: "Courier duty, son. You're to hand-deliver two messages for me. The first is to Barton." Oh, my. No 'Agent Barton', no 'Mr. Barton'. That's ... that's not good.
"Barton went down to Stark Tower, where he decided to be all Agent Harper on Stark's personal se--ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT," he abruptly bellows. (Man, Fury /hates/ those UN Circulars.) "Anyway. This did not go over well and led, quite directly, to a semi-sapient artificial intelligence probing our information systems and doing some fairly complex data mining on everything we published. This does not please me, Agent Harper. You will convey to Barton my extreme displeasure with his professionalism, and my observation that he has so far not completed this year's mandatory sexual harassment training, and that he will attend the next offered class. Your second message is for Assistant Director Hill, informing her that I am taking Agent de Soto out of rotation as Sexual Harassment Awareness Facilitator, and putting Assistant Director Hill in for the next available class. Are we clear on these two directives, Agent Harper?"
There's an unspoken message there, too: something about what's happening to Barton is /pour l'encouragement des autres/ and all that, with Harper being one of the /autres/.
Danvers inclines her head in an attentive nod when Fury references orders, and she lets the "Ms." pass without comment. Apparently, if that's ever been a point of contention between them, that particular battle is past; or, perhaps she simply recognizes Fury's somewhat dated but often sincere attempts at respect. Respect, after all, is a thing to be appreciated. For the moment, Danvers remains silent and awaits the orders that involve her directly. Maybe, she reflects, this is just a double meeting to save some of Fury's time in an obviously heavily impacted schedule.
"Sir... yes sir," is all Roy can say with regards to his orders. That there were -three- messages in the two presented to him didn't go unnoticed; if he wasn't on his best behavior, -he-'d be in the next class as well.
Adjusting his posture to be more like Carol's ramrod-straight pose, Roy nods. "Perfectly clear, sir."
"Now for Ms. Danvers' order," Fury says, looking over towards Carol and giving a cock of his head towards Roy. "Agent Harper and I had a conversation down on the shooting range a couple of weeks ago. He didn't want to trust the bureaucracy to assign him a partner: he was afraid he'd wind up with Squirrel Girl or whoever else some dumb bureaucrat thought would adequately convey SHIELD's commitment to a diverse workplace. None of that for him, Agent Harper said, he wanted to be assigned someone who'd kick his ass, make him a better agent, never let him get away with phoning it in, someone who was as flat-out balls-to-the-wall as he is, screw diversity, we're SHIELD after all, and all that hooah. I agreed with him wholeheartedly. Screw diversity! That's why I'm assigning you to be his partner, Ms. Danvers. Agent Harper holds some small, faint glimmer of promise, and your job will be to see what we can make of it."
The reference to Squirrel Girl does earn a slight tick of a smile at the corner of Danvers's mouth, but she remains generally quietly attentive until the intent becomes fully clear. At this revelation, her mouth compresses to a small, hard line, and she glances pointedly from Fury to Harper and back. Then, somehow squaring her shoulders even more than before, she offers a perfectly calm, polite, "Permission to speak freely, sir?" Though, there is clearly an edge to her voice that was not present before.
Roy's expression shifts as Nick describes something very different. He could have sworn that the meeting a couple weeks ago was basically to call him on the carpet for something similar to what Agent Barton was about to undergo... and yet, here the Colonel was describing something that might have focused more on his -objection- to dealing with the bureaucrats at his old job.
What was the old coot up to?
And then Carol requests permission to speak freekly, and Roy's face clears, as he considers the other thing discussed at -that- meeting. Oh right. There -were- other 'misfits' too. Which probably meant...
Huh. Maybe the old coot wasn't losing his marbles, after all.
"Granted." Nothing further: after all, nothing more needs be said.
Carol draws a slow, deep breath, glancing down for a moment as if to compose herself, and then raises her head with a distinct gleam in her eyes that Fury will recognize, a kind of warning sign that her "brooks no bullshit" side is coming out to play. "This is where I'm supposed to give the 'Why the hell do I need a partner?' speech, right? I'm supposed to make it clear that I view this as a slight on my professional capability, my autonomy, or whatever else?" She shakes her head slightly. "I'll admit, part of me feels that way, but I'm not enough of a bad movie trope to fall into the trap. What I want to know is this: what exact kind of ass-kicking does this pup need? Let's put it all on the table. I'm here to be a team player, but just to complicate the hell out of that metaphor, I don't play games. What's this kid need, Fury?" This said, she folds her arms across her chest almost primly and leans back in the chair, awaiting response.
"This -kid- has been around a few years working with the CBI," mutters Roy, though not terribly loudly. Mostly because it would be wiser to let the Colonel field those questions.
"And this is where I tell you that you /don't/ need a partner, Ms. Danvers," Fury answers in a tone that's absolutely droll. "I'm giving you Agent Harper in the hopes that someday he will be worthy of a fedora, a cigar, and calling /Mister/ Harper. We both know what your rep is, Ms. Danvers. And I'm certain that in very short order, Agent Harper will know it, too, and be in fear of it."
He looks over towards Roy for a moment, as if to size the fellow up, then back to Carol. "So. Now that the bad movie trope is dealt with, Ms. Danvers. Agent Harper's well-versed in weapons, tactics. He's either courageous or an idiot, right on the line between the two. What he doesn't understand is teamwork. He got abandoned by his first major partner and father-figure, and it's given him a permanent bone to pick with the world. He likes to fancy himself a lone wolf. But SHIELD doesn't work with lone wolves. We're a unit, a team. What Agent Harper needs, Ms. Danvers... is someone he can respect, someone who won't let him get away with anything, someone who'll hold him accountable. And someone who can teach him how to be part of a team again. Because, really, that's the major thing holding him back from being one of my go-to guys like you or the Widow."
Somewhat in spite of herself, Carol lets slip a faint smirk at Fury reversing her point on her. Point to him--but in fairness, it's what she expected, even what she was pushing for to a certain degree. She is here because she's NOT interested in playing lone wolf, because being part of a team is something she values. So, even though breaking in the newbies isn't her favorite thing, it's a job she can accept without too much complaint. "All right, sir," she says with a nod, returning easily to her manner of brisk professionalism. "I'll do my best to bring him into the 'pack,' sir." There's more that she could say, but it's implicit in the acceptance. It's a job, a duty--and for all she might play the Queen Bitch card at times, Carol takes her duty very seriously.
Eyeing Fury, Roy coughs. "Begging pardon, sir, but unless fedoras and cigars are -absolutely mandatory-, I don't have interest in either of those. Hats just aren't my thing." He glances at Carol, then, and quirks an eyebrow, flashing a saucy crooked half-grin before turning back to Fury. "So, I got to bring her up to speed on the cases I've been working on, or do you have something assigned for us?"
"Barton," Fury says with great deliberateness while looking straight at Harper (oh, now there's a warning for you), "life is short and it's hard and it's painful. It's shorter, harder, and hurts more if you're stupid. I said her job was to make you /deserving of/ the fedora and the cigar. Not that you were required to actually enjoy them."
Then, towards Carol: "Your best, Ms. Danvers, has always been sufficient in the past. Now, I'll let the two of you decide how to go forward from here -- whether that means Ms. Danvers is now working on your cases, Agent Harper, and/or vice-versa. No, I have no new taskings for you. You've already got messages to deliver to two people, Agent Harper. I figure that's enough for one day."
Carol seems untroubled by Roy's boyish grin, just as she fails to even bat an eyelash at Fury's deliberate use of the "wrong" name. She gives another crisp nod at Fury's instructions. Then, prompted by the rhythm of the meeting as much as by any particular military decorum, she asks, "Do you have anything else for us, sir, or shall Agent Harper and I adjourn to a space other than your office to work out the particulars?"
"Yes sir," Roy says crisply, somehow managing to convey the tone of a sigh in that quick answer. "I'll deliver the message quickly, and then I'll bring her up to speed on what I've been working on." No mention is made of what Carol's working on, mostly because Roy's not thinking about -that- part of the deal, yet.
There's a quick grin at Carol, then. "How about the mess? We might as well get acquainted over lunch."
"Dismissed, you wacky kids," Fury says as he looks down to his inbox, pulling the next folder out of the stack. "Now, get out of here. There's a mandatory UN Questionnaire on the Use of Torture and Abuse of Detainees that I have to certify here, sign in blood that SHIELD doesn't do that Abu Ghraib stuff. And, of course, the current chair of the committee is Syria. And I sometimes think God has no sense of humor. Dismissed."
Carol stands at the dismissal, nodding to Fury, and says, "Understood, sir. Good luck with the UN business." She turns, glancing at Roy, and says, "All right, Harper. I'll meet you in the mess. Now's as good a time as any." She won't rise to the temptation of taking issue with the mealtime rendezvous, but even so the presumed attempt at being somehow suave is tucked away for later reference.
"Yes sir," Roy begins to depart, only to stop short at the mention of the Torture and Abuse of Detainees. There's a quick glance backwards, a quick study of Nick's face, before Roy sighs, slumps his shoulders, and turns back. "Sir, I have something to bring to your attention..."
Carol pauses halfway to the door, turning back to regard Roy with an expression of vague curiosity, and waits to hear if this might concern her before she resumes her course.
"And would you please bring Agent Wisdom and Agent Hill to my office at your earliest convenience, Agent Harper." Oh, my. Agents, the lot of 'em. Not even 'Assistant Director Hill'.
He looks up towards Roy. "Syria chairs this committee," he repeats quietly. It's a voice utterly at odds with his usual gruff garrulousness. No, this is Fury when he's serious. This is the Fury no one ever wants to hear. "/Syria./" The word is repeated, emphasized subtly. "Whatever I put in this report Syria is going to spin us as being tyrants and despots in order to distract international attention from what they're doing in Aleppo. Everybody knows that. The plus side is that we can confess to assassinating President Garfield and even when Syria announces it from the hilltops nobody will believe them. Because it will be so /obvious/ that Syria is making things up to distract the world from what they're doing in Aleppo."
He studies Harper for another few moments. Then, again in that quiet and very disturbing voice, "Do you know what they're doing in Aleppo, Roy?" Roy. 'Roy' humanizes things. 'Roy' makes it clear this isn't official business, not any more. This is personal.
"What they're doing in Aleppo right now, Roy, is an abomination against God and man. I hate the fact that we have to sometimes work for the Syrias of the world. The North Koreas. The Latverias. But there was always a big difference between Them and Us. Now, though -- now I'm finding myself wondering which side of those lines we're now on."
He continues to watch Roy for a moment. "You tell me, Roy. Where's the line, and who's standing on which side of it?"
Roy doesn't even call out to Carol to wait, because the world has shrunk down to him and Fury, at least, over the new shift in the topic of conversation.
"Yes, sir. I take it you're already aware, then," Roy replies in regard to summoning Agents Wisdom and Hill. Because the -way- the topic had been brought up was so perfectly timed as to not be coincidental, which meant Fury -knew-.
Tilting his head, frowning, Roy lowers his head. Not daring to look at Nick in the eye, he says it, anyway. "They're killing civilians and children, sir. They're... violating moral codes, at the least."
"Killing. Civilians. And children. So neat, so ... bloodless, those words are, Roy." Fury turns the manila folder around so that Roy can see it, then opens it to reveal --
-- an 8x10 glossy of Lian.
Without further ado, and quite calmly, Fury picks up a red felt-tip pen and draws a giant X across the photograph, from one corner to another. Then, in full view of Roy, he picks up Lian's photograph and feeds it into a crosscut shredder -- making sure that Roy has no choice but to watch as Lian's face disappears into the maw of whirling metal blades.
"When you decided to play go-along get-along, Roy, you sided with that." It would be easier, really, if Fury were just to shout. Fury, calm, is ... almost unbearable. "And that's why before you come back for your next shift, you're going to sit Lian down, and you're going to tell her what Daddy did. Why it was wrong. And why Daddy will never, ever, ever do it again. Do it or don't come back, Roy."
He lets the sentences hang there in the air for a few moments, and then -- "Dismissed."
There is the faintest flicker of sympathy on Carol's face as she stands there in the doorway, but she says nothing. Instead, she turns on her heel and walks out of the office, just as one would expect from an officer who has realized that the present discussion does not concern her. Whatever she will have to say to Harper about this later, for the moment she is very clearly respecting Fury's position--both on the subject and, of course, in the organization. There is no room for comment at present.
... oh ouch, that was hitting below the belt. And Roy -knew-, yes, that he could have done a lot more to prevent it. But watching Lian's picture -shredded- like that...
... Head hanging low, Roy nods. "I'll do that," he says in a low voice, almost a whisper, as he turns, practically -fleeing- from the shreds of Lian's photo being torn asunder by the unforgiving metal blades.