May 17, 2014: Agents May and Romanoff arrive in Evelyn's infirmary room to ask her a few uncomfortable questions.

Triskelion - Infirmary - Observation Wing

The room is a single-patient care facility. One wall is nothing but a series of windows overlooking a view of the city. The opposite wall also has a bunch of windows, though these are for observers to look in. Not so much about the privacy, here, though there is a curtain that can be pulled around the bed to provide the illusion of such. The rest of the room is filled with analysis machines and other bio monitors.



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Mood Music:

Evelyn is back in her hospital room. It's about 10PM and the view is spectacular. It would be of the starry night outside, and how calm everything is now that the infection has largely been dealt with, or is in process of being dealt with. Instead, the blinds are drawn over the window. There are a few machines scattered around the table, moved from the mechatronics lab so that between repairs, Evelyn can be in relatively safety with backup systems. She is a SHIELD agent, if one in a lot of trouble for her earlier actions.

At the moment, she's laying in bed with her eyes closed. A couple wires run from her wrist to a nearby machine which hums silently. The room smells like flowers, new electronics, and like a sterile hospital room. Her leg still hasn't been attached, and she's also missing an arm which was removed to be repaired later. Though her leg socket is covered, her arm socket is not. Inside, all the various linkages and wires are visible, including a couple uncoupled connectors and pipettes which are sealed with a few medical clamps. She's a complicated machine.

She's also in an observation wing, which means there's a glass wall and a place where people can stand and watch procedures. In that space, outside the room proper, the Black Widow stands. She's had an interesting conversation with Fury, between now and when the droid careened down the elevator shaft into elevator. If she was chided by the man, she shows no hint of it. Indeed, her expression is observant, peircing, even, but otherwise flat and neutral, devoid of any emotion save evenhanded professionalism. It's a look most of her fellow agents recognize, since it's the look she uses with anyone not at her level and for whom she doesn't have to put on any sort of show. She watches the monitors, listens to the soft sound of the droid's 'breathing', and studies her.

May strides down the corridor toward Evelyn's room about as quietly as Romanoff would be capable of (but not quite as quiet) under similar circumstances. She stops next to the red-haired agent to also observe the droid on the other side of the glass for a few moments, then steps around to just flat out open the door and walk right on up to Evelyn's bed. "You need to answer some questions." Whose questions? Maybe that's the first question on the table.

Evelyn is as peaceful as can be. Does she know people are standing on the other side of the mirrored wall? Maybe? There's not much a file on her, but enough to know of her capabilities. A long list of military campaigns, an accomplished killer and hitwoman. She's deadly, trained, intelligent, and a rogue element. A lone wolf. How much of that is true? How much of it is false? Just last month, she took down Azziz, a black market weapons dealer from the East, alone. The building he was at was in ruin, all of his body guards obliterated, nothing left but red gore. Could she have done that? She looks so innocent here.

When May approaches, she doesn't react. It isn't until she speaks up that Evelyn opens her eyes. She doesn't sit up or do anything besides lay in bed and look at May. The silence between her reply and May's statement is filled with the silent humming of the machines beside of her. "Okay."

Natasha has read the dossier from the CIA. She's even seen the redacted stuff. And all the photos. She knows full well what the machine is capable of. Is she impressed? Perhaps. But Evelyn has done nothing Natasha herself hasn't done, and will probably do again. Defector. Traitor. Prone to act on her own judgment. Liable to compromise the mission, if her conscience dictates it. There's a dossier out there that says all of those things about the Widow, too. But, it also says she puts the mission first more often than her own emotions and that she's very, very thorough. On some level, she and Evelyn have an awful lot in common.

As May comes to stand beside her briefly, the Russian glances at the Chinese woman faintly reflected in the glass. It's an acknowledgement. Between them? It's actually a greeting. When May then moves away and enters the room, Romanoff stands there for a moment or two longer, but then follows her in. She'll play observer, for now.

Melinda May crosses her arms and stands her ground, her chosen spot very carefully planned to NOT block Romanoff's view of the individual in the bed. She honestly had not expected the Russian woman to actually follow her into the room, but it truly does not bother her either way. So. let's start this off.

"Why did you help that mercenary escape the building?" Yeah, start with the easy questions first, why don't you?

Evelyn looks over to Widow when she enters. Their profiles may very well be close. SHIELD knows a lot about her, maybe not as much as the CIA, but probably a damn good bit. About the labs she came from, her makeup, her capabilities. She's not super human, in fact she's more human than anything. Just tougher. When May asks Evelyn that question, there's a visible tinge in her expression. Of guilt. Of confusion? Of perhaps sadness.

"She asked me to help her." It's a pretty simple reason, everything considered.

SHIELD does indeed know quite a bit about Evelyn. The CIA, however, knows damned little about the Widow. And that's just how she likes it. Her expression remains neutral, however. She moves beyond May, choosing to lean against a nearby wall. Once again, her arms cross over her chest, but shoulder to the plaster as she is, she appears less the gargoyle and more the casual spectator. Believing her to truly be so, however, would be a mistake. She hears the machine's answer, watches the expression on its face. There's no change to her own expression, but if there were telepaths around, they'd know she was far, far from impressed by that answer.

That answer earns a frown from May. "That is a really piss poor reason," is what she says aloud. "Did you even stop to consider the repercussions to more than just yourself?" Oh, she could SO go on and on about the risks involved in letting Domino walk. But, she wants this simpleton of an AI to figure it out for herself. If she wants to become a SHIELD agent, she'll have to do this kind of figuring out all the time. And instantly. Not AFTER the fact.

For a second, it seems like Evelyn's about to say 'Piss off' or something to that extent, because she lifts her head. But then she just re-situates herself a little on the pillow. She stays silent, not responding further. No one in this room is amused, not even Evelyn.

Natasha lets the sullen silence hang for several seconds. Then, however, she pushes off the wall and strolls toward the bed. She stops at the end of the bed, arms still loosely crossed as she studies the android. Her eyes linger on that exposed socket for a moment or two. Then, she meets the synthetic's eyes. "Do you consider yourself a person or a machine?" she asks. There's no accusation there, no disgust. At best there's a mild curiosity, though there's a weight to the Widow's gaze that suggests she's keenly interested in the answer.

If possible, May's frown becomes even more disapproving as Evelyn chooses to sulk instead of answer. She's about to tear into the bed-ridden individual some more when Romanoff steps forward, and in a show of respect for the other agent, she lets her interject. Though the question posed DOES catch her by surprise. THAT'S what she wants to know? Seriously?

Evelyn's eyes shift from May to Natasha. Her eyebrows curve inward a bit, pinching above the nose as she blinks a few times. It's not an offensive expression, more just a moment of hurt, which fades just as quickly as Evelyn realizes she's doing it. Noticing the stare to her shoulder, she reaches up with her good hand and clasps it. "Person." she answers clearly, a hint of sadness in her voice. Seriously.

The moment of hurt is as telling as the clasp to the shoulder and faint sadness in the voice when the woman in the bed answers. All of those things are possible to replicate, of course. Natasha does it whenever she needs to, herself. Nevertheless, there's the faintest purse of her lips and the barest hint of a nod as she acknowledges what she sees and hears. She glances briefly at May, and the other agent might sense an almost imperceptible shift in the Russian's demeanor. It's like a shifting of weight, except it's a psychological adjustment. "Why do you believe you're here, Miss Wolstenholm?" she asks now, her arms loosening and her hands falling loosely to her waist, rather than crossed over her chest.

Melinda May does indeed catch that subtle shift in Romanoff's demeanor and even in the way she's holding herself, and follows the Russian woman's lead. She's still got her own arms crossed, she still looks ready to be very loudly verbally displeased, but she's deferring to the younger-looking agent. Good cop bad cop routine? Possibly. But doubtful.

Evelyn looks up a little bit. "Because SHIELD rescued me." That's not entirely accurate, but it's one way to see why Evelyn's here. She chose to be here, rather than stay with the CIA. Reading the dossier and report of what happened those couple nights ago, it was SHIELD that extracted Evelyn from the SWAT attack. According to Hawkeye's report, it was also a few hours after he had asked Evelyn to leave the CIA for SHIELD. What a complicated and long 72 hours it has been.

Generally, Romanoff trusts Barton's judgment. Generally, she respects the man's instincts. She's done more, however, than just read his reports or the compiled SHIELD intelligence, the lifts of the CIA records, and the analysis summaries by the R&D boys. She's spoken to most of those R&D folks to get their assessment of the technology upon which the woman's personality matrix is based. She wanted to know just how 'human' the matrix really was. As far as the researchers can tell, the matrix mimics the organic closely enough that they really don't see any distinction. So, the questions she asks are actually important to her assessment. "Why do you think we rescued you, Miss Wolstenholm?"

Melinda May looks from Evelyn to Romanoff and back, then it's her turn to step over and claim a section of wall to lean against. She is still observing everything alertly, and her own posture isn't as seemingly casual as the Russian woman's had been in the same place.

The question is difficult, and this is perhaps signaled in Evelyn's facial expression. Her hand leaves her shoulder socket and pulls up the blankets a little bit as she sits there. "Are all of these questions necessary?" They're not what she's used to. They're personal. Not logical questions that are easy to answer based on facts. "I helped Domino because I owed her. I trust her. She saved my life when SWAT attacked, and she helped me in Siberia, where she and I picked up the fungus by accident. She's… Had my back.. Like Barton."

Of course the questions are personal. Personal questions elicit reactions. Honest reactions, even when they're meant to be deceptive. Again, Natasha knows this. She relies on this often, on almost every op she's on. This 'interview' is no different. Natasha doesn't bother to answer whether or not the questions are necessary, because it's a foolish question from someone who's a trained agent — even if it was the CIA that trained her. "Why do you think Agent Barton rescued you, Miss Wolstenholm?" she asks again, aware the woman hasn't answered her question, only May's.

Melinda May also cottons on to the fact that Evelyn answered her question and not Romanoff's. But in this instance, that's okay. She got her answer finally. And, sadly, it's still not a satisfactory answer. But, she's let the Russian woman take over this 'gentle questioning', and she not going to butt back in now. Sorry, Ev, you're stuck having to answer the difficult personal questions.

Evelyn stares at Natasha. Daggers. Knives. Fireballs. Why was she pushing on this further? Why _this_ question of all questions? Questions about her past are easy, about the researchers only wanting to use her for observation and testing. About people were scared of her or wanted to control her. About the CIA forcing them to work with her. About why she was disappointed to wake up after the fungus was removed and again when she was repaired from her fall. She stares at Black Widow intensely, cheek muscles twinging into a bit of bared teeth, eyes narrowing. Finally her eyes water and she breaks, unable to hold it in. She breaks the stare to bring up her arm and cover her eyes with her inner elbow, burying her face in her arm as she starts crying. "I .. don't know."

Natasha meets the glare levelly. She doesn't flinch, doesn't back down, but doesn't press it, either. There's no challenge in her eyes, at all. There's simply inquisitive study — except it's not a researcher's inquisitiveness, nor is it the curiosity of a freak-show spectator. There's a frankness to it, instead. She sees the bared teeth, but does not retreat. She's not the type to show throat. And when the tears begin, she stands there for another moment or two. A slow breath fills her lungs and she glances over to May again. A small smile touches her lips. She reaches out her hand. The other agent has worked with her long enough, it's really no more than a moment before the Chinese woman has passed her a tissue. The Russian woman moves to the side of Evelyn's bed and places the tissue into her hand.

An act of kindness, perhaps?

"Why do you think Agent Barton rescued you, then?" she asks now. "You must have some speculation."

Melinda May has indeed worked with Romanoff enough to anticipate this and after she hands the tissue over she retreats to lean against the wall again. She tries to make it seem like she's not taking sides over here, but she's honestly starting to lose patience with this whole process. But. It's Romanoff's show currently, and she'll let her continue.

If given that little bit of time, a minute or few, she'll eventually come down. When she does, she take her head out of her arm and use the tissue to wipe her eyes. "I.." She starts. She wipes her eyes a bit again, "He.. thought I would be useful. I'm pretty sure.. he thought SHIELD already knew about me, and would want me as an agent." She sniffs, clearing her nose a bit. "..He thought it'd be better for me here, because I didn't like being with the CIA."

Natasha is beginning to get a much better picture of this girl. Her eyes narrow some — a thoughtful look. "Do you want to be an agent?" she asks now. She's not convinced. "Do you think it's better for you here?" Really not the interrogation she was expecting, is it?

Melinda May becomes more alert as Natasha asks the ultimate bottom-line question comes out, though she remains leaned against the wall so as to not crowd Evelyn. So come on, kid. Out with it already.

"It's… The only thing I can do. The only time in my life where I have any control." Evelyn says back, wiping her eyes. She lowers the tissue, not looking at Natasha. "And sometimes, I'm the only one that can do the work that I do." It's true, she can survive in places where most people can't. Say, for example, bunkers in Siberia full of hallucinogenic zombie fungus. Or hazardous waste tombs. The CIA saw fit to send her on tens of solo missions, and she completed them where normal CIA operatives could not. She's not just capable, she's /good/ at it. "If.. I didn't think SHIELD would be safer for me, I wouldn't have come.."

Natasha nods simply to that response. Her expression drifts back to agent neutral — though not entirely. There's a sharpness in her eyes. "I don't doubt you could be a great asset to SHIELD," she says evenly, now. "But, if you are a person, and not a machine, then we have a problem. Machines can be reprogrammed to ensure they follow orders. People, ultimately, can't." She ought to know. "You chose to jeopardize the life of one of our top agents, aiding in the escape of a woman who is patient zero for a disease capable of wiping out the whole human race in the span of about two weeks, four at the outside, if the projections down in medical are to be believed — a woman who must now be considered both a fugitive and a significant public threat. You're both very fortunate Agent Coulson survived the elevator crash," she notes. "Regardless, because of Ms Thurman's escape, we now have containment and decontamination crews scouring the East River, hoping to high heaven we can get enough of the spores out of the waterways that we don't have any further outbreaks." Because Domino dove into the river, still filled with infection.

The senior agent pauses a moment to let all that sink in. "I understand Ms Thurman was uncomfortable here; people in her line of work often are. But by 'having her back', in this case, you completely undermined everything this agency was trying to do to safeguard both public welfare and Ms Thurman's own well-being — never mind yours, Agent Barton's, and Agent Coulson's. By having her back, you failed to have the backs of those who will be considered you fellow agents and expected to have your back in the future, should you be permitted to actually join the ranks of this agency. That calls into serious question your judgment, Miss Wolstenholm."

A beat.

"I trust Agent Barton with my life, Miss Wolstenholm. I trust his judgment, and I would like to believe he's right about you." She knows Clint doubtlessly considers the synthetic woman a fully actualized person. "But, by rights, we should lock you away and throw away the key." She says it entirely matter-of-factually, no rancor, just statements of fact. Damning fact, perhaps, but fact nonetheless.

She called it. Well, in her own mind, anyway. When Romanoff starts lecturing Evelyn, she keeps her expression neutral for multiple reasons. First reason: If the Russian agent is being this verbose, there are some REAL emotions behind those calm words. Second reason: May's own vehemence is not nearly as effective as being put in place by such almost-deadpan delivery. However, at the mention of Coulson, May's expression becomes a full-power GLARE for a few seconds before she manages to school her features back to a semblance of calmness that still somehow looks WAY more annoyed and angry than Romanoff.

Evelyn pauses, her eyes are still wet. She doesn't look at Natasha, she doesn't seek to challenger her, either. The silence is a welcome one for a change while Evelyn tries to carefully formulate her response. "You need to trust me." Is all she can say, "She said she knew someone who could help and that she was going to die if she stayed here." Evelyn bites her lip, sort of stumbling on her words, "I trust her."

Natasha's brow arches. "Trust you?" Her tone goes down at the end, not up, lending it weight rather than incredulity. She's been an intelligence agent for 70 years. There's no such thing as trust. Particularly not when strange technology is involved. "Trust is earned, Ms Wolstenholm. Pray Ms Thurman is worthy of your trust, or this will be the friendliest conversation we ever have."

She glances at May again and her shoulders square. She's done, here. She's said all she is willing to say, and heard all she's willing to hear, for this moment. Perhaps they'll have another discussion, later. Maybe it'll be friendlier. Then again, maybe not.

She turns and leaves without another word. She has an assessment to give, after all. And Fury's going to love this one.

Melinda May gives Romanoff a nod as she takes her leave, then gives the woman in the bed a solid minute to think about the lecture she was just given. Then, she steps forward again and says calmly enough, "So. Do I need to say anything else, or will you answer some questions for me now?"

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