Post Mortem

Summary:
June 01 2014: Shift, Natasha, Melinda, Paul, Roy, Sara and Jericho talk of cabbages and kings following the incursion into Kush.

SHIELD Helicarrier Gym

Flying Fortresses with all the comforts of home, if the comforts of home include a full compliment of quinjets and advanced long range cannon.


Characters

NPCs
*


Mood Music:
[*]


The mission's over, and not as complete a wash as May had been expecting. Having picked up the five servicemen that avoided the bomb by sacrificed 6-year-old and Cap, she ordered Jericho aboard then took them all back to the Helicarrier while the rest of the support teams brought everyone else back.

Now, they're on the Helicarrier and heading back toward New York. She sees Romanoff return with Odame and a handful of others, and turns to follow. She's one of the few that can read the redhead well enough to see that something happened.

*

None of the people on this team are his enemies. Not yet, anyway. This is precisely why, when Paul ordered him to drop the weapon, Shift did just that. Safety engaged, the weapon clattered to the floor harmlessly. He looked on as the others took al-Tawhid, screaming mad, into custody. His eyes then sought out the former hostage, virtually shell shocked by it all, and gave her a look when she found his eyes. A look can speak much more than words might translate. She's free now, she no longer needs to live under the bastards undoubtedly brutal thumb.

By the time they are back aboard the helicarrier, his expression remains resolute. His chin, though, it's drawn tightly, as if he doesn't enjoy the decision he made in any way, shape or form. War sucks, no matter how you slice it. He's offered no resistance, and so far, he hasn't said a damn word.

*

Paul's gaze on Shift is icy and the only reason he's still not covering the man with his rifle is that this isn't his command nor his jurisdiction. "I knew there was something about him back at the gym." he murmurs to Sara. Reaching into his pack, he pulls out an energy bar, offering one to his partner as well before tearing it open and biting a piece off.

*

No matter what look Shift gives the terrorist's widow, the Black Widow's long decades of experience tell her that, even in custody, the bastard will still very much be a factor in the poor woman's life. She speaks softly in Arabic to her, assuring her — though she's careful not to make promises she can't keep. But, returning to find a way to help the woman disappear strikes Natasha as a very good idea.

Before they return to the Quinjet, however, she's adamant about divesting Odame of any other weapons, despite the fact she knows damned well it's far too little, too late. But, yes. When they do board the plane, it's pretty clear to those that know her that, no matter how well controlled she is, she's not happy.

As they all settle into seats, she fixes the Ghanian with a hard look. "I get it," she says bluntly. "I get the call you made and I get why." She's been 'round this block too many times herself, not to… and in another lifetime she might have made the same call. "That's not how we do things."

*

Sara Pezzini is pissed. People died. People died who didn't have to die. And it was someone's choice. She probably could have powered down as soon as they were picked up, but it took until everyone was loaded on the helicarrier for her to calm down enough to get the Witchblade to ease back. "Something like, gee, he seems like the sort of guy who'd shoot someone dead for no damned reason?" she mutters back to Paul, taking the energy bar from him and tearing it open.

*

With the mission finished, all Roy knew was that the perimeter had been secured, and the objective reached. That there was a deadly pall from the retrieval team, seemed at odds with the mission. And so on the ride home, after the debriefing of the perimeter team, Roy went to look for Sara and Paul, the people he knew best who -were- on that team.

After a bit of guidance, he finds them… only to hesitate at Sara's pissed look.

"What happened?" Roy asks, glancing about. Was it even safe to be here…?

*

The whole situation has Kwabena feeling quite numb, to be honest. It's a natural reaction, the brain secreting certain juices to keep one from having a less desirable response. The only visible response to the quiet conversation between Paul and Sara is the slightest narrowing of his eyes. He did recognize them from the gym, and considered it somewhat ironic that only days later, fate would have it that Captain America brought them all together for this hellish mission. It does take some effort to bite back a response, but he succeeds.

Once seated, Kwabena looks toward Natasha when she speaks to him. He can appreciate how she brought the elephant in the room to its knees. There's a similarly hard look in his eyes, not at all dissimilar from his expression during the journey back to the helicarrier. "Noted," he answers, his accented voice quiet and non-confrontational, if perhaps a bit hoarse. "Are you taking me into custody, or will dis action be considahed a field decision?"

*

When Roy shows up, his brow furrows and his stoic expression is broken. Suddenly, he begins to wonder if these government types hadn't been watching him already. Sara, Paul, and Roy in that gym? Meeting Roy a day earlier? Rogers coming to his apartment to recruit him? Suddenly he seems discomforted, fingers curling defensively around the arm of his chair.

*

"Not that clear, no." Paul answers. Though he's probably as pissed, he shows it less than Sara. "The cold blooded murder of an unarmed civilian." he tells Roy, watching to make sure the archer is equally unhappy at the concept. "He should be in the brig. Is there a brig on this thing?"

*

"I ought to lock you up and throw away the key," Widow tells the mutant, echoing Paul's thoughts as she does. "But, I don't think we have any truly air tight cells empty." He did turn into smoke and choke a guy, after all. The Hulkbuster cell doesn't exactly cut off air, after all. Just brute strength.

So, she regards him flatly. "We're UN, Odame. We have to abide by the Geneva Conventions and other such important agreements. Which also means, you need to be in custody pending a full review." Since they can't exactly suspend him. "Now, I'm betting that's not going to sit with you, which could very quickly bring us to an impasse — unless you're willing to be a lot more cooperative than most people here are gonna give you credit for."

*

Sara gestures sharply toward Shift as Roy approaches, taking a vicious bite of the energy bar. "Target had two wives in his hidey hole. Tried to take one hostage to get us to let him go. Which was being dealt with. Could have been dealt with. Except this guy's way of dealing with it was to shoot the other wife who wasn't being held hostage. Pretty sure we could've accomplished dead wife by just calling the target's bluff." All right, the last bit might not be so much muttered. And might be a little bit pointed.

*

Melinda May hears Paul's words and her expression goes even more stony-faced than before. She silently steps up behind and a little to one side of Romanoff as if to imply that disregarding the Widow's words means having to deal with HER. And she isn't nearly as tolerant as the younger-looking agent when it comes to stuff like 'excessive force'.

*

For a minute, Roy blinks, his eyes drawn towards Shift. A moment of surprise followed by a "Huh. That was -your- graduation thesis?" from Roy, as his eyes narrow. "So you're what, wetworks? Because that wasn't what I was told this mission was going to be. We were supposed to bring back the man for -trial-. Not to kill civilians."

*

Running a hand through his hair as he considers the way this would look to the world at large, given the chill in recent years, Roy grimaces, looking at Paul, and then the others. "Who is he anyway? American citizen?" Roy remembered something about this person being from Ghana. If he were an American citizen, this could well fall within Checkmate's purview. If he wasn't, then the UN was going to have a field day with -that-.

*

Sure, Paul and Sara are testing his patience. But Kwabena will address them in time, if it's appropriate. He's still a bit shaken by the suspicion that this is all some kind of conspiracy, but while he listens to Widow's answer, it serves to help him refocus and realize what a ridiculous thought that was.

He nods his head to her proposal, and relaxes the grip on the armrests. "I made a field decision," he explains, and only then does he glance toward Sara, Paul, and Roy. "If you think I'm happy with it, think again. If you're wondahring wheddah I'll lose sleep? I will." Then he looks back toward Widow and May. "But I will coopahrate." He casts a glance Sara's way once more. "Ah you so sure about dat?" he calmly challenges her. "One of dem was going to die. Now we know dat Asilah al-Tawhid won't, and we have Ibrahim in custody." Roy gets a pointed look at that. Al-Tawhid will stand trial.

Kwabena looks back toward Widow. "Something tells me, based on how dis all went down, you're going to need whatevah you can get out of him." There is a pause before he reassures her, "I will cooperate."

*

As Roy's reaction is less outrage and more 'was that the mission?', Paul glances at Sara and shakes his head. "I have no idea who he is. I'm just along for the ride." He's so glad to know Shift isn't happy with it that he snorts in joy. Or something. "It was still murder. If you were a marine, you'd be court martialed for murder if not war crimes."

*

Widow nods to Shift, as he takes the more reasonable approach. While the tension doesn't necessarily drain from her body, the instant fight response isn't quite so high. "We will," she concedes. "But, your cooperation will help, since the death of his wife isn't going to make him nearly so cooperative." She glances to the others, understanding their ire. But, she's been in Shift's position, too. And, recently, she's been increasing put in the position of assessor, moderator, and negotiator.

That's just so very, very wrong. This keeps up and she'll start having to actually be the leader people keep pushing her to be.

And then they'll make Hawkeye a suit like Coulson and hell will freeze over. It'll be bad.

She rises, now. "Come on," she tells the Ghanian. "I'll take you to the waiting room." Otherwise known as a more comfortable holding cell than the brig might be. "And then talk to the old man."

*

"Am I sure that there was a chance someone wasn't going to die until you shot someone?" Sara arches a brow at Shift. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm pretty damned sure that's how probability and the whole time-space continuum work." It looks like she might have more to say on the matter, but since Widow is taking the man into custody, she slumps back in her seat, occupying herself with the energy bar. "I should take a vacation," she mutters to Roy and Paul. "Somewhere with beaches."

*

"And cabana boys." Paul murmurs with a sigh.

*

Melinda May steps back and out of the way when Romanoff offers to take Odame to the waiting room. Now, she's prepared to keep the others away from the man if necessary, and she crosses her arms and levels a look at the trio to prove it.

*

Paul's look is met with a sigh from Roy. "It's been a long day. A vacation would sound good. Though I'll take the cabana girls," the Checkmate agent replies, slumping down into a chair and looking up towards the others. Shift gets an eye, mostly because Roy figured he'd need to talk to him later about just what his 'project' actually was. But now was not the time.

And then there was this -woman- levelling a look at him, and Roy arches an eyebrow, followed by a wide smile. "So… let me guess, you're a mother of two?"

*

Shift doesn't ignore the responses. They were angry. He probably would be, too, and they deserve at least visual acknowledgement that he's listening. But he sees no value in engaging them further, and causing ire to escalate into something violent. "Alright," he answers, and rises from his seat in order to follow Natasha to the waiting room.

*

"Amen," Sara sighs to Paul, watching Shift go without any further commentary on the matter. She's certainly not going to go after him on a jet full of SHIELD agents. Though the energy bar wrapper is getting quietly shredded. "You can hit him," she adds to May when Roy gets lippy. "But I think he likes it. Fair warning."

*

Melinda May's eyebrows go up briefly at Roy's question which Romanoff would recognize as about the most surprise she would ever show around strangers. Then Sara draws her attention and she simply nods before taking a step in a direction other than where the Widow and Odame went. "This way. Debrief in one hour." Maybe later she'll get a chance to show this red-haired punk why Hawkeye chooses when to mock her VERY carefully.

*

"Hey you never hit me," Roy rejoins to Sara, followed by a straightening up of his back as he sits straight up, and the widest possible smile. "Yes, mom," he says in a very bright, peppy voice.

*

Wow. Is it actually possible that there's an archer on this planet MORE obnoxious than Barton? May is SORELY tempted to swat this punk upside the head so hard he eats his knees. But. Interagency cooperation and all that crap. So all he gets for now is a narrowing of her eyes. Next time, Harper. Next time.

*

Paul watches stonily as Shift is escorted out by Natasha. "And who was the genius who brought him along." It's not at all a question. "They should get busted in rank at the very least."

*

"Well at least no one's patting him on the back," Sara says with a mouthful of energy bar, slumped in her seat. The Witchblade may do the hard work, but that doesn't mean this whole experience hasn't been exhausting on its own. She takes another bite, chewing and glaring at the floor before the glare slowly starts to fade. "I jumped out of a plane today. I mean, you jumped out of a plane," she bumps her shoulder against Paul's. "But, you know. I went with you."

*

"Dunno, that's a question to ask whoever's been in charge of the mission. Which I think is our good Captain," Roy drawls, watching Melinda in that way one has when one is trying to assess someone. Mostly because she totally acts like a den mother. His attention, however, shifts back towards Sara as she talks about jumping out of a plane. "So how did it go on your mission, aside from the fubared ending?"

*

Melinda May simply stays where she is, arms crossed and watching the trio chat. None of them are sHIELD agents, and thus technically should not be allowed to wander the Helicarrier hallways unattended. So, yes, for the moment, she is a den mother. Damn it.

It's actually a short while before the Widow makes her way back along the corridor towards where May stands playing 'den mother'. Truthfully, she's tired. She's got too many missions, lately, it seems, that are ending in a draw — or at least, not a clean win.

It's beginning to irritate her.

May's likely the only one that might pick up on that, however. Her steps are crisp and efficient on the deck plating, but not any harder than they need to be, nor quickened appreciably. Merely… highly precise. Just short of 'marchy', really.

Yeah, it's been a bad day.

*

"Not something I ever enjoyed but my unit was sent to jump school." Paul tells Sara with a shrug. "Wrong place at the right time. And then I never had to jump once till just now as a cop. Go figure. You did well." Which is to say, she didn't do anything to screw things up. "You'd have been fine on your own. That's why I made sure you knew how to roll." Balling up the energy bar wrapper, he stuffs it into his pack. "Reminded me why I didn't sign up for a second tour." he answers Roy.

*

"Uh huh. Thanks, but I think I'll figure out the wings thing before the next time I jump out of a plane," Sara smiles faintly to Paul, looking back up at Roy's question. "Well enough, if you don't count the ending," she admits, grudging. "Nobody made a fool of themselves, no one on our side of things seriously hurt. Al-Tawhid's alive for trial. Could've been much worse. Also, I'm not the person who has the write up the report, which is a nice change. You guys?"

*

"Perimeter coverage. Got to admit, the other archer knew his stuff. Even if he goes for kill shots," Roy replies, lifting up his fingers and wiggling them at Melinda May the next time she flashes that death stare, following it up with a wide, totally totally totally sincere smile, before turning his attention back to Sara. "Wonder who does write these reports…?"

*

"This time," May finally speaks up, and wow. No surprise that her voice is currently as deadpan as her expression. "You do." When she hears the particularly precise footsteps approaching, she turns to look at Romanoff and simply nods once. She can guess what's making the Widow 'blacker' than normal, and she fully agrees. It would actually be a bit cathartic to throw someone or something around successfully for a change.

*

Widow's steps slow as she approaches the erstwhile assault group. She glances to May and gives a tight smile that more or less reads, 'prisoner secure'. Though, in this instance, 'prisoner' is a bit of an overstatement. She cants her head slightly, perhaps quizzically, after that, trying to catch up with the conversation.

*

Paul snorts at May's answer. "See what happens when you poke a bear?" he asks Roy. He nods a greeting to Natasha when she returns but doesn't ask about Shift. "I assume there'll be a debriefing when we get back?"

*

"When people are shooting at you with automatic weapons, kill shots are sort of not a bad decision, Roy," Sara points out with a flicker of a smile for the archer, tucking what's left of the energy bar wrapper into her pocket. See? Respect the helicarrier! "What were you trying to do, shoot them in the knees?" She knows better than to say anything about Roy having to write a report, though she falls silent when Paul asks the next relevant question, looking to Natasha.

*

"So is bringing down the roofs on them. At least that way they stand a chance of still being alive," Roy comments, lounging back, before grinning at Paul. "Hey, at least she shows emotion. Don't worry, I'm done teasing the mama grizzly. She can go back to hibernation now."

*

A smile back at Melinda, and then Roy glances at Natasha, running his hand through his hair. "So… y'mind if I ask a few questions? We were wondering about that guy… we ran into him a few days ago, and, welll… how did he end up on this mission?"

Melinda May sees Romanoff's nod and turns back to the trio. They ask about the debrief and about Shift, and at Roy's sass she glances to her fellow agent again as if silently asking for permission to wipe the floor with the mouthy little archer. She doesn't wait for a response, though, before she turns back to Roy and Paul, as they've both been mocking her to varying degrees. "Too late. You woke the bear, now you have to deal with her. Come on, all of you. Now." She tilts her head toward one of the doors, then starts out of the room without bothering to gauge their reactions. Or Romanoff's.

*

Paul works a brow at the agent's reaction then glances at Sara. "Think there's time to make popcorn?" If May intends to beat on Roy a bit, he's not going to miss it and stands, leaving his pack where it is.

*

Sara is much more used to being called to the captain's office than not, so she's up and walking before it hits her that Roy is the one who's mostly in trouble. That's new. Hands in her pockets, she watches May's back as she follows. "I'm going to take the fifth on that one," she murmurs to Paul.

*

Running a hand through his hair, Roy shrugs, gets up, and then starts to follow. "Ok, mom. Though at some point, you really should smile. Unless it's going to crack your face."

*

There's a soft beep, as May starts stalking off. Widow slides a SHIELD com from her belt and glances at it. Her lips thin and she gives a wry smile. "Try not to kill anyone," she calls to May. Then, however, she turns and heads back the way she came.

No rest for the wicked.

*

Melinda May leads the trio through to one of the training gyms and over to an open area with benches along the wall. She stops in the middle of the open space. "All right, then, Harper. What's your problem with me?"

*

Paul follows the agent then moves over to sit on a bench and lean back against the wall to watch.

*

Sara looks around the gym as they walk in, curious about the place. Might as well enjoy the tour before things get ugly, right? And be as far out of the way as possible when things get ugly. She sidles her way toward a bench all her own, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees to watch.

*

"No problem," Roy replies as he walks up to the middle of the open space… and then squats down, indian-style. "Well, maybe -one- teensy weensy problem… I mean, you're the host, right? Would it kill you to smile -once- instead of just giving us the death-glare like we're messing up your pretty, pretty floors?"

*

Melinda May very promptly smiles at Roy, but it's a shark-smile — all teeth without the slightest hint of emotion reaching her eyes. And just as promptly the smile disappears again. "Also, I'm not your host. I'm here to make sure that you don't end up anywhere you shouldn't and at the wrong end of a taser. If I had realized that you expected a Barbie Tour Guide to show you around this boat, I would have left this job to Coulson." Who is even MORE straight-faced and deadpan than she is.

*

Paul just shakes his head then turns to looks around the gym. Lots of equipment that could be turned into obstacles to go around, over and under. Not that he's looking to work out after combat but it's an automatic thing.

*

"I wouldn't tell him there are things he's not allowed to see on the ship, ma'am," Sara notes academically. "It's just going to encourage him to start looking."

*

"I sure wasn't asking for a tour," Roy replies, keeping his seat. "And I got to admit, you've got a great smile…" For a shark, he'll amend mentally. Pausing, Roy considers Melinda. "So, SHIELD's even more straitlaced than Checkmate?"

*

Melinda May offers aside to Sara, "That's what non-disclosure agreements are for. I mean places that could get you all killed. Like the engine rooms or Director Fury's office." She turns her attention back to Roy, even if her eyes never left where he's seated himself on the floor. The smile comment is flatly ignored. "That depends on who you ask, but after a disaster of a mission like we were just on, people are going to be short-tempered." Like Romanoff. "And maybe looking for someone to point fingers at." And on a SHIELD boat, who better than the non-SHIELD folk?

*

Disaster indeed and Paul's glad to hear it considered so. It's not just the killing of the woman but the loss of the other jet and all hands. Some he's known would think accomplishing their objective mitigates all that. That the two agents obviously don't is a plus for SHIELD in his eyes. Despite bringing Shift to the mission.

*

"We're all short-tempered, ma'am," Sara points out with a grimace. "And we're all adults capable of not starting a fight with the other people on the ship who know how to use firearms, fists, and God knows what else just as well or better than we do." She pauses, glancing at Roy with an arch of her brow. "Right, Roy?"

*

Flashing a look at Sara, Roy just comments dryly, "Yeah. Assuming you're not going to lecture me on not taking any kill-shots." There's -almost- a follow-up comment about shooting hostages instead, but remarkably, Roy holds his tongue there.

*

Melinda May turns to look at Sara at that. She didn't see what the woman's specialty is, so she doesn't know what she's capable of. "Good to hear. Wish I could say the same of all SHIELD personnel. I'm here to keep them away from you as much to keep you away from them." She then turns her attention on Roy again. "Did you stop them from shooting back?" She doesn't wait for his reply. "Then I don't care how you did it. You did your job."

*

"Why?" Paul asks curiously. "Why can't we fraternize with SHIELD personnel? If you can't trust them from leaking secrets to us, you can't trust them period. If it's not secrets you're worried about, then why keep us apart?" He sounds genuinely curious as to her reaosning.

*

Sara's specialty is…very special. But aside from that, nothing about her says anything but lifetime NYPD. Which probably at least partly explains why she doesn't want to butt heads with the SHIELD personnel. "I don't think it's the SHIELD personnel she's worried about, Paul," she murmurs. "And who lectured you about kill shots?" she arches a brow at Roy. "I don't count, I give you shit to keep you honest."

*

"Psh… yeah, they stopped shooting," Roy replies, leaning back and watching Melinda, before turning his attention back to Melinda. "So… is there anything you can tell us about that guy who just went and shot a hostage? When did SHIELD start using people like that?"

*

Melinda May nods toward Sara while addressing Paul. "She's wrong. I do worry about the SHIELD personnel. There are way too many people on this boat for every last one of them to see logic and realize that none of you three have any to do with the Quinjet that got shot down or with the one individual who chose to take matters into his own hands and go about it very badly. I worry you'll get blamed for what he did. And I can't tell you anything about him. I'd never seen him before this mission." If she had, she would have vetoed his presence in a heartbeat. That is very likely why Romanoff chose to saddle herself with him, to keep him at least somewhat under control.

*

Paul nods, satisfied at the answer. He can understand that the friends of the dead might blame the strangers. "I've seen that happen." Both marines and cops are like a large family and there are those who'll lash out at those outside it.

*

A guard opens the door and Jericho's voice can be heard. "Is this, really necessary? I mean where are you even taking-" He gets shoved into the room by a guard clearly tired of hearing him speak. He's cuffed, of course. "-me." His eyes scan the room, lighting upon May. "Ah." The guards take the cuffs off and depart.

"So…" He addresses the assembled group. "Hi."

*

"Yeah, that's what I meant," Sara says with a rueful smile. "Not so worried about the SHIELD personnel as that they'll get around to taking a few pieces out of us. And I don't think anyone wants to have a fight here," she sighs. "Bad enough the way things went out there. Don't need to add our own fights to it." She shifts on the bench, drawing one knee up toward her chest, though she arches a brow when Jericho gets dropped off. "Who'd you shoot?"

*

"I dunno," Roy drawls. "It might loosen up tension a little but here, especially after what happened on the—-" His voice trails off as a guard is brought in.

An eyebrow arches at Melinda. "Handcuffs?"

*

Melinda May looks over when the doors open and huffs in clear annoyance when Aspect arrives in handcuffs. At least the guard took them off quickly enough or she'd have had WORDS with him. "A misunderstanding," is all the explanation she gives to Roy. Though maybe this proves what she's been trying to explain all along, and what Paul and Sara seem to have grokked finally.

*

Paul just nods a hello to Aspect and doesn't comment on the handcuffs. In fact, he's starting to look bored at the little show going on which is more and more turning into the 'Harper being an ass' show. "They just lost a lot of friends, Harper. Give it a rest and let them deal with it without your mouth going."

*

"So that's a no, he didn't shoot a hostage. One up on one of the other independents," Sara says with a thumbs up for Jericho. "Actually, the Partisan didn't even go that far. Which is kind of telling." She pauses then, making a face. "Except we're going to have a talk about her new recruit the next time I run into her. Which will probably be as effective as previous talks, but there's something to be said for persistence."

*

"Good, I suppose…?" Roy sighs, leaning back on his heels, before stretching his legs, standing up. "Anyway. I suppose I'm gonna head back to the debrief room." He tilts his head at Melinda. "So, I'll need an escort. Please?"

*

Melinda May nods to Roy and calls for an escort to see him to some guest quarters to rest before the debrief, whenever that happens. A SHIELD agent in a suit and tie arrives to lead Roy out, and then she looks at the others as if waiting to see if they have any other questions, requests for food, anything. And yes, Jericho is included in that look.

*

Paul just shakes his head at the look. He's good.

*

Jericho is rubbing his wrists. He doesn't appear to have any questions though he does indicate he could really use something to get rid of a pounding headache. "Yes. As Detective Pezzini said, I didn't shoot anyone." Beat. "That you care about. My um… security status seems to be a bit on the non grata side though." Almost as if someone somewhere in the building doesn't trust him. Odd, that.

He makes himself comfortable near a padded bench, sweeping his gaze around at the remaining people, only two of whom he knows. "I'm Jericho." He says for the benefit of Paul. "So what's this? The post op went so pear shaped it could have been a fruit salad bull session?"

*

"You and the rest of us," Sara smirks at Jericho's talk about security clearance. "And that's about the size of it. On the other hand, it sure beats flying commercial."

*

Melinda May nods slightly at Paul's non-verbal reply, then studies Jericho for a moment. "Wait here." And she actually leaves them unattended. Though maybe that's not a bad thing. This room seems pretty devoid of SHIELD personnel. She's gone for a few minutes at least, but when she returns, she's carrying a tote bag that apparently contains several objects. Stopping by Jericho first, she offers him a chilled bottle of water and a little single-dose packet of Advil. Then she silently offers water bottles to Paul and Sara as well.

*

"Detective Manning, NYPD." Paul responds and takes a bottle of water. Never hurts to hydrate now there's actual bathrooms available.

*

Jericho gives Melinda a nod, a smile and a quiet 'thanks' before downing the pack and half the bottle in one go. "Ahhh. Sorry. Harmonic feedback. Side effect of long term Polymorpher use." He nods at Paul's introduction. "Pleased to meet you Detective." With a couple of ocular tics he adds Paul's picture and name to his ever growing database of people who seemed to be mixed up in these things. He'll do a full network search on him later. It's just reflex to him now, so long has he lived doing it.

"You all seemed to handle yourselves pretty will out there. Shame about the rangers." He seems to mean it. "Any word on what happened out there? Or what the next move is?"

*

"Thank you," Sara nods to Melinda as she takes one of the water bottles, cracking it open to take a long drink as she shakes her head to Jericho. "Polymorpher?" she echoes, quirking a brow. "That's the…" And the finishes by gesturing toward her shoulder in what could be wings, then making claws with her hands.

*

Melinda May nods to Paul. "Melinda May." She doesn't have to say which organization she's with, the patch on her sleeve should be obvious enough. She claims the last bottle in the tote bag for herself, then moves to stand leaning against the wall between the three of them and the main doors. Still on guard duty, apparently. She IS paying close attention to Sara and Jericho's conversation, though, as the NYPD officer has already garnered more information out of the kid than she could. Impressive.

*

"Yeah" He nods, confirming her gestured questions and rolling up the sleeve on his shirt for just a moment so that the traceries, inert at the moment, can be seen on his skin. "Though it's got nothing on whatever you were using to kick that door down." He glances momentarily over at Melinda, curiously. He's got her face and name too, but that's all. SHIELD's got her network trace buried so well he couldn't turn up a single damn thing.

*

"Huh," Sara muses, leaning forward to get a glimpse of the tracery. "Nice trick. I'd ask how it works, but I'm smart enough to know it probably wouldn't make any sense to me," she admits, smile flashing briefly. She takes another drink of water, considering. "To be entirely honest, I'm not one hundred percent sure how what I used to kick the door down works, either, though, and I get by."

*

Melinda May sips quietly at her bottle of water and appears to be contemplating. What's really going on is that she's listening to Jericho and Sara very closely. They’re sharing useful intel with each other that they likely wouldn't share with her. So she's entirely okay with being a fly on the wall for the moment.

*

"I'm going to guess yours isn't exactly manufactured in the USA? Cause if it is…" Jericho chuckles and runs his hand through his hair. "I'm writing to my Congressman. They're always giving the army the bad stuff." Running is hard and not trusting people is hard. Everything that Jericho found out about Sarah suggests that she won't turn him over to Hydra. He forgets, for the moment, his reservations about the building they happen to be in. Another glance over to May. He was going to ask her where she learned to fly like that, but she seems lost in thought. Some other time perhaps.

*

"Countries weren't really a thing when it was…made," Sara answers with a flicker of a smile, shaking her head. There's a flicker of a glance toward May, but she doesn't seem to object to the listening in. "Besides, you want to talk equipment." She gestures around them. "I've got a feeling construction on this thing could run NYPD for two years if they doubled the feet on the street. I've been threatened with a month of night shifts if I don't return the kevlar in pristine condition."

*

Melinda May's eyes flick over toward Sara at that, as if taking stock of the woman's kevlar. Standard NYPD issue, not nearly on par with SHIELD issue, but effective enough despite its weight. And, close enough to pristine condition. Good. There's nothing that primitive on this boat to replace it.

*

Jericho also glances over her kevlar. "Mmmm. Yeah, SHIELD seems to get pretty fun toys. I've not seen anything even close to these since…" He pauses, thinking. "Well, it's been a while. Really, you'd think they'd be a bit more lenient on you though. I mean, imagine the PR and ego boost to the Watch Captains and Chief that Captain America asked for two of their own." He chuckles and shakes his head. "Brass are brass, no matter what uniform they wear."

*

"We're not exactly advertising," Sara shakes her head to Jericho. "SHIELD may be used to people with polymorphers, or super serums, or whatever else, but NYPD pretty much runs on standard procedure. I'm pretty sure my dad wouldn't think twice if we walked into a precinct today, aside from the computers. So admitting to this? Not on the docket." She sets both feet on the ground again, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees. "So the fancy equipment didn't come from SHIELD or your local Congressman. Are you one of those billionaire genius inventors, then?" she grins.

*

Now May's eyes flick over to Jericho. She's at a bad angle to see the delicate electronic tracings on his arms, but she's seen them before. Knowing what they do, though, THAT is what she's been wanting to know since Evelyn led him back to her car.

*

Jericho folds his arms, just in the manner of someone making himself comfortable and shifts his back against the wall, not noticing May's glance over at him. "This is not the face of a billionaire." He laughs. "Nor, sadly, a genius. I'm just smart enough, I suppose. Smart enough to program this thing, maintain it a bit, but advanced digitally controlled power-field manipulation is a bit above a staff sergeant's pay grade. Er, I think that's what the eggheads called it, anyway." He chuckles again at the thought that he might be some underground Tony Stark. "And you? I gather that… metallic thing isn't really NYPD standard issue. Cause if it is, I'm applying for a job." Jericho smiles ruefully. Applying for a real job seems so normal, and thus so foreign right now.

*

"One of a kind," Sara assures, smile slipping crooked. "And sort of accidentally acquired, when it comes down to it." With one finger, she spins her bracelet around her wrist. "Takes less smart than guts to operate it, though. How do you program something built into your skin, anyhow?" she asks, peering at him as though searching for something. "You got a USB port in there somewhere?"

*

Okay, enough fly on the wall stuff. She steps over to join their conversation. "Staff Sergeant," she all but barks, mostly to see how fast Jericho will react. That's her way of gauging how long it's been since the kid was in the military.

*

"Yes ma'am?!" Jericho stands and starts to go to attention, banging his head as he does. "Owwwwwwww." He gives May a very mild 'what the hell was that for' look. Apparently she makes a hell of an impression.

Before he can say anything he hears Sara's question. Jericho hesitates and glances over to May once more and then shrugs and smiles a little. "Oh what the hell, you've already seen the Polymorpher at work. What's one more thing?" He holds up his left arm. The tracery on it starts to glow blue and within moments its spread to his chest and up his neck. This is probably why he wears thick coats, hoodies and the like.

Light show aside, his left arm starts to project a holographic display above his forearm. A number of keys and blank readouts appear. "That's how. I can see and manipulate more on my HUD too which… I can't show you. You'd have to be physically in my head, but you get the idea."

*

Sara looks up when May barks, but Sara is definitely not military. And besides, she's a New Yorker. Yelling is just another means of communication. Jericho's demonstration, though, draws more interest, her brows rising as he lights up. "Well if that isn't one hell of a show," she murmurs, impressed. "Must make physicals go faster."

*

And, FINALLY, there's a genuine hint of an amused smile from May at Jericho's reaction. What a shame Roy isn't here to see it. "That explains how you took to the protocol and jargon so seamlessly. Which branch did you serve with? Or are you still active?" She pulls another of those single-dose packets of Advil out of a pocket to offer to Jericho, even though those things usually say not to take more than X amount within a Y span of time.

*

The lights fade and Jericho sits back down rubbing his head. "Army. Eight years, three tours." He glances over at May and accepts the advil with a wry, slightly embarrassed smile. "Got out four years ago. I also haven't been scared like that since boot."

The soldier turned hacker takes a moment to collect himself and nods over to Sara. "Much faster, considering I don't really have them anymore. Though, heh, the look on a civvie doctor's face would probably be pretty priceless. Could do without the special effects show most days though. Makes blending a bit tough." He eyes the bracelet Sara was spinning just a few moments ago. "Kinda imagine it's a bit hard blending with your toy too." He looks up at May again for a moment. She probably has a hard time blending too. Because she's freaking terrifying. Oh not now. She's smiling and it's actually kind of nice to see, but he's had her glare directed at him before. Recently. Weapons grade, that.

*

"Depends on what's going on," Sara shrugs to Jericho. "I've been working with it for about six years now, so I'm pretty used to working around it. Being in special cases helps," she admits, smile flickering. "Whether this thing draws the weird or is drawn to it, it's hard to get away from things that don't make a lot of sense to other people." She drinks again, then caps her water, leaning back to rest her head against the wall and close her eyes.

*

Melinda May nods to Jericho. Okay, not as much of a kid as she'd pegged him for originally. Good reflexes, though, if he's been discharged for that long and can still jump that fast. No reason to stand on formalities anymore, though, so she moves to sit on the bench as well, though turned sideways so she can chat with them both more easily. "Apparently I missed all the fun tonight, except for Trent here doing his best Legion imitation." She looks at Sara. "What exactly does your bracelet do?" She more than figured it's something beyond just being an ornate piece of jewelry.

*

Jericho inwardly winces. Of course they know his last name. Ah well. At Sara's comment about the weird he makes a small, sympathetic sound. "Sorry to hear. Got my own introduction to the world of things regular folks don't deal with about a year ago. Can't say I've particularly enjoyed it." Okay, he hasn't enjoyed it at all. About the only even mildly rewarding part is the grim satisfaction that comes of rolling up one of the Snake's damned cells. He quiets down at May's question. He'd seen it briefly look like a suit of spiky armor, but really, he's been wondering the exact same thing.

*

Sara opens her eyes, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "A whole lot of things," she answers, a faint, rueful smile quirking. "More than I knew, apparently. Warning, about to look weird, don't shoot me." She gives that a second to sink in, then holds up her hand as the bracelet…grows. There's something distinctly organic about the way the metal twists and twines until it's a gauntlet over her forearm. "The Witchblade. Balance between the forces of light and darkness. Sentient in its own way, though it's not much of a talker with me. Keeps the memories of previous bearers all the way back to prehistory."

*

If May has ever openly shown surprise since she started working for SHEILD, it would be now. She studies the way the bracelet's metal has changed and reformed around Sara's arm without so much as leaning closer, because leaning closer could be dangerous. Hm. Breaks the law of conservation of mass. R&D would get a kick out of this.

*

On Jericho's weird crap chart, this goes off the scale. He looks… impressed is not quite the word. Closer to shocked. "Sentient?" He doesn’t even want to think about what would happen if the Polymorpher had a personality. "That's got to be… rough." Witchblade… doubt that's on google but it may be worth doing a bit of digging through the darker corners of cyberspace just in case. "So the forces of light and darkness. This is… well, magic, basically, isn't it?" He glances over to Melinda as if to say 'tell me I'm not nuts, that's the word right?'

*

"Best description I've been able to come up with," Sara agrees with Jericho's assessment. "It does the armor, it does various weapons. Nothing too mechanically complex. It's done fire before, though. And the other day, it did wings. Which was definitely new." She drops her hand to her lap, where the gauntlet lingers for a moment before slowly retracting back into the bracelet. "Healing. That's how I survived getting it. Got shot. Repeatedly. The Witchblade healed me." She lifts one shoulder, smile rueful. "It's not always easy, but with it, I can make a difference. And I sure as hell wouldn't trust it to most of the people who've tried to take it, so."

*

"We have that in common." Jericho says wryly. He knows exactly who wants what's in him and he'd rather die before giving it to them. The fact that the one would almost certainly follow the other is just incentive to stay one step ahead. "Ah, wings, so that was you I saw gliding down to the UN building the other day. I'd wondered."

A thought suddenly occurs to Jericho and he looks pensive for a moment. The functions of the Polymorpher are not quite the same as the Witchblade's… but they're damn similar. Chicken and the egg, yes? Perhaps. Maybe something worth doing a bit of digging for as well.

*

"I think gliding is overly generous for what happened there," Sara laughs, sheepish. "But yeah. Though I'd take an easy show duty with the PD escort, and of course it didn't quite work out that way." She leans back against the wall, closing her eyes again. "Speaking of, I'm beat. Think I'm going to rest for a bit." And, with the ease of practice that comes from plenty of long nights at a desk, she drifts right off.

*

"Sleep well." Jericho says in the tone of one used to just dropping off. He'll be up for a while yet before he too decides to get some shuteye.

*

Melinda May watches Sara nod off like a pro, then looks at Jericho and tilts her head to one side, silently indicating that they should let her rest without disturbances. They have an entire gym after all, they can sit and chat somewhere else, like the bench press stands. "Thank you for the assist out there. I hadn't had a chance to say so before."

*

He stands and follows her. Sara put in a good days work today. She deserves her rest. Melinda's thank you draws a genuine smile from him. "You're welcome, Agent. Whatever the deal between SHIELD and I, I think this supersedes all of that." He chuckles. "I guess I mean to say I was happy to help." He gives her a curious looking over. "You're one hell of a pilot by the way. Don't think I've ever seen anyone juke four SAM sites at point blank."

*

Melinda May shrugs at the compliment. "Helps that I had a hand in designing the controls." This does, though, explain why she was so miffed about the car crash. She doesn't DO crashes. Not if there's any possible way to avoid them. "You did some impressive flying yourself. Especially considering you said you've only had that Polymorpher for about a year."

*

Jericho runs his hand through his hair. "Mmmm. Well not quite. I actually field tested it for the army for three. So I'm pretty used to its operations. It was supposed to have been taken out when I left the service. Clearly, that didn't happen. I found out about that a year ago. That's when I started running."

*

Melinda May nods slowly at that. This almost sounds like the kind of merde that General Ross would have his grubby mitts all over. "So who IS chasing you? You've never said in so many words. "

*

The hacker regards her for a long moment and she can almost see the moment he decides to trust her. He still, however, doesn't trust the building, so he leans close and murmurs in a voice so low it's barely audible. "Hydra."

*

Melinda May's eyebrows draw together and she frowns at that. Not what she was expecting. That answer is way, WAY worse. And possibly even to prove the man's (not a kid) paranoia, she simply nods. "We'll have to talk about that more. Later. There are a few others I think should be in on that conversation." Like Romanoff. And Coulson. And Fury.

*

He makes a noncommittal motion with his head. "I'd be happy to talk to you about it. After this I trust you. Being paranoid is pretty draining, believe me. But the fewer people involved in this the better. I've learned the hard way to be very careful who sees me and who hears and knows what about me. They've got people all over the damn place." His voice is one of quiet frustration. "And what they can't infiltrate, they spoof. Police departments, hospitals, telecommunications companies, you name it. I've been chased by SWAT through a few cities after landing on 'terrorist' watch lists. And that was before I was doing things that might legitimately get me labeled such."

Jericho sighs. "And I'm just not sure how much I trust your co-workers. No offense. I mean Rogers is probably on the level and that Evelyn lady could have wasted me and didn't. But I think the op tonight makes it pretty clear SHIELD has a security leak somewhere. And if there's one… Well, I just have to wonder how many ones they don't know about are in place."

*

Melinda May nods with a slight tilt to her head, conceding that he does have a point. "I know who I trust. And I wouldn't let it go beyond that. But, you're right. There's a leak here, and until that is dealt with my list of trusted people and places gets even smaller." She misses her Bus. She had the great bird swept for bugs regularly, and there was nothing on there she wasn't aware of… the last time she was on board, anyway. She'll have to start all over again. "Who else knows about…" she gestures at Jericho's arms.

*

"Full details on the device?" Jericho shakes his head. "DARPA and presumably someone at Hydra. That I have it? Only you and Detective Pezzini over there. That I know of, anyway. Oh and the one who called herself Evelyn I guess, but she didn't get my name. Plenty of people have seen me use it, I'm afraid, but most of the ones that could identify me get pretty dead shortly thereafter and I'm very careful to destroy things that can be traced back to me. Well, when possible."

*

Melinda May nods again. "Best to keep it that way for now. Just in case don't trust anyone that isn't introduced to you by either me or Romanoff." That ought to help at least a little bit. "How the headache?"

*

Jericho cocks his head at "Romanoff". He's met her before, but didn't know it was her. Just the way she wanted it. "Don't think I know a Romanoff. Headache's better, thanks." He rubs his eyes. "That's one of the reasons the Army didn't green light it for production. And I'm way beyond the 'known' effects window. So far as I know, no one's had one for this long so I can't really say what else it might or might not do." He quirks a little smile. "Thanks for the advil, by the way."

*

Melinda May nods. "Romanoff, the red-haired agent." The one that took Shift to a 'waiting room'. "And you're welcome for the Advil. Let me know if you need more." She glances over at a clock on the wall, then moves to stand. "You should try to get some shuteye while you can. I'm going to find out when to expect the debrief."

*

"Will do. If I can find a rack without getting handcuffed again." Jericho eyes one of the padded benches. "Mmmm. Maybe I'll just catch a few here." He looks back at her. "Thanks… and be careful, Agent May."

*

Melinda May nods and stands, walking over toward the doors again to have a quiet conversation over her commlink there.


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