Delegation Regulation

June 27, 2014: Maria Hill calls Melinda May to her office, who then calls Natasha Romanova and Clint Barton into her office. (Mild language.)

Maria Hill's office, Triskelion NYC

The lair of the beast.



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Mood Music:

Another glorious day at the Triskelion. Maria's already missing standing on the bridge of a Helicarrier, the view had always been so much more inspiring. She's gone as far as to change the digital window display within her office to closely replicate the view she used to have from the skies above, for what comfort it might provide. Once she calls May up to her office the view fades back to normal scenery, however. She's had all of the inspiration she requires for now.

She'll still be turned toward the window while she waits for the Agent to arrive, hands neatly tucked behind herself. All she needs to do is listen for the door, no one else is scheduled to come through here today and she's got good reason to believe that the Director himself is out of the building for the evening.

"Agent May," she starts then hesitates while pulling her thoughts back together. "It's becoming much more difficult to find anyone in this damn division that still believes in protocol."

Turning to face the other woman before continuing, "Barton's been off his game lately. I -know- he's been holding out on me, and he's not a high enough security level to start keeping secrets of his own. You're one of the only people I can count on in this whole damn place to do the job you're given. I want you to keep an eye on him. If he acts strangely or starts editing his own field reports, I want it brought to my attention."


May arrived promptly as she was bid, and listens to what the Deputy Director has to say without interrupting, and without bothering to claim one of the chairs in the office. When Hill finishes speaking she merely nods. "I'll do what I can." Translation: Her missions don't always coincide, but she'll monitor as best she can. On an unrelated note…

"I have some intel I'd like to request permission to persue, with assistance if it's deemed necessary."


With the first response given Hill merely inclines her head in acknowledgement. She's aware that the two aren't often running parallel to one another. Part of the trouble with trying to handle so many solo operatives, teams virtually don't happen. All the same, that's one more set of eyes and ears out there and, hopefully, a set of eyes and ears that Barton won't be quite so guarded around.

Then things take a turn for the interesting, Hill's expression shifting to what may well be curiosity. It's just another reason why she still has some faith in May. She turns fully around and places her hands upon the back of her chair, eyeing Melinda from across the smartglass table. "What have you got for me, Agent?"


"If possible, I'd like Agents Barton and Romanoff to be here to listen to this as well." If that's allowed, she'll wait for the others before relating what she's learned.


It takes a moment of thought, Hill's expression remaining perfectly level when Romanoff's name is brought up. She had been looking for an excuse to break out the hard drinks this evening… "Granted. See if they're available or if they're too busy pretending to play shadow ops to do their jobs again."


Melinda May nods to Hill, then turns slightly to use her commlink to ask both agents to meet at Hill's office, and then they likely wait in that usual uncomfortable silence.


Romanova's arrival isn't long after the comm call comes through. She's on campus, for once, and not so far away. Her knock on the door is sharp and smart. She even waits for it to open before she comes in, rather than barging through. Though, in this case, it's not so much respect or protocol as it is a perverse tendency to make Hill work for things.


No coffee for the weary, for the support of the constant stream of paperwork that his job entails. The -moment- the hot, steaming cup is in hand, Barton catches the message that he's wanted, though he's under no illusion that it's for anything -good-. How can it be? He's in the middle of trying to have a quiet cup of coffee!

Making his way, putting his head and arm out in order to sip hot beverage as he's walking, Barton catches at least a couple of small swallows before he finds himself in front of the door in the corridor. Steeling himself, Hawk follows behind Natasha, kicking the door closed with a foot once he's entered, seemingly oblivious to the games being played.


(Of course. Of all the times she could have been asking for permission…)

Fortunately for Hill, SHIELD has some excessively fancy tech. Such as the ability to open the door to her office remotely. Less legwork, more poking and jabbing a fingertip at the screen which makes up her nice clean desktop. At least the two made good time, though the Deputy Director is not looking pleased. Not if her slightly hunched forward posture across the back of her chair is any indication, folding her arms together as she stares down the two new arrivals as they enter.

"Now it's a party." She doesn't say it again but ultimately her attention is centered on May and this news she has yet to share.


Melinda May looks at Romanoff and Barton for a moment, then simply starts speaking. "I learned today that there is an individual known as the Red Master conducting a series of surgical strikes against the members and leaders of the Triad in Gotham City. My sources suspect his next target is going to be Miss Megan Zheng, a sophmore attending Advantage, a private school in the Bristol suburb of Gotham. Her father is the head of the Northeast Triads, but she is completely unaware of what her father does." She glances at Hill, then focuses her attention on Romanoff. "I want to make sure Ms. Zheng does not suffer for her father's sins."


Romanova listens to May's summary. Her head cants faintly and a brow arches. "Triads," she muses. She's not tangled with them extensively. Russian mafia, hell, yes. But the Asian gangs have been lower on her hit lists for the past couple of decades. "That's a challenge," she agrees. "If you want to keep Miss Zheng ignorant of her father's business, you're going to need to find some way to get close to her that won't arouse either his suspicious or turn her off. You could try posing as a tutor or infiltrating the school as a faculty member. If we had a suitable agent young enough, I'd suggest a plant in her personal circle, but I'm not sure that will work in this case." It's not smart for Natasha, personally, to be involved, however. She'd stand out just enough to jeopardize the operation.


Hawk moves around Tash and settles on the edge of Hill's desk, cradling his coffee in both hands, taking that sip as if it's the elixir of the gods itself. A shrug lifts his shoulders as he looks to the women in the office. "I'm not willing to bet the farm that she doesn't know at least something. It's a hell of a thing to hide. 'Dear, can you leave the room while Daddy orders a hit on a bad man?'." Still, it's not his intel, not his work, so he can't completely say it ain't so. It's just, well.. gut.

"Is there a place where we can put her and put a look-alike in her place?" Barton looks around at those gathered, taking a swallow of the brew with brows raised.


Maria hears out May's verbal report on the situation, already trying to recall if any of the names provided sound familiar to her from any previous scenarios. 'Red Master' is the only one that comes close but it's still not the same individual she's thinking of.

Two more pieces of this puzzle leave her feeling curious. "It sounds like you have a bit of a personal stake in this one, May. I'm going to assume that if there's any truth to this that it won't affect your judgement."

The other part of her curiosity is the nature of the job itself, and why May felt that Romanova and Barton should be a part of this. It could easily be argued that such matters are beneath Natasha, in particular.

And that's exactly why she's going to let this happen.

"Given that there's a bit of a lull in shit being anywhere within throwing distance of a fan around here, I'm willing to play along with your request to include two additional high level agents." Not only will it help May out with her 'other' current assignment but it should also annoy Natasha. In fact, it could also help serve Hill in a -third- way. She can afford to have all three of them working on the same milkrun for a few days. Should be a win-win-win for Hill.

Barton's commentary gains a wry smirk of amusement from Maria, though she doesn't bother to be the one answering his question. "Agent May, you're now assuming responsibility for this operation. I trust you'll have everything well in hand."


"There is no risk of compromise, Agent Hill. I don't know this girl or anyone directly affiliated with her." It's simply May refusing to let an apparent innocent end up in the crosshairs. She nods to Hill, then looks at the other two agents again. Luckily, she took the time to have one of the data crunchers pull up all the data SHIELD has on the individuals mentioned in her earlier conversation with Trent and Drakonovski, offering each of them the small tablets that are typically used for mission briefings. And so long as no one asks where she GOT the data, she's not going to say who her sources are.

"The school she attends is a private academy, getting a look-alike or even someone to act as a student or tutor might be… a challenge. Personally, I would not be opposed to just plucking her off the street and keeping her safe, but that runs the risk of tipping off the ones after her and making matters worse for everyone."

Since her initial thought on how to resolve this already sounded unfeasible, maybe they should come at this from the opposite direction. "Barton, would you be willing to shadow her and stop anyone that does try to go after her or if nothing else pull her clear when the Zhí shaizi hits the fan?"


"If I can help, I will," Romanova says. Of course, she will. It's what she does. And, besides, Hill's looking entirely to smug and sure of herself. That means the good Deputy Director is up to something. The best defense against that is to simply play along and keep her eyes open. And, if they prevent an innocent from getting caught in the crosshairs, in the process, so much the better.


It was worth a try. Out in the world, there's got to be a shapechanger or three that SHIELD could pull in, yes? Not that Barton knows any personally, but names could be pulled off a database and the 'usual suspects' could be brought in?

It's not to be, however, and the request to track the girl gains a nod as the coffee is given a baleful look. Barton nods his agreement and acknowledgment. "I'll do my best," which means that he'll be pulling out all the stops to be sure Megan stays safe. Granted, the body count may get a little high in the time spent, but thems the breaks (or is it the perks?). "I'll get a copy of her file and get on that tonight." He chuckles, the sound bemused, "What else would I do on a Friday night in the City?"


With the assurance voiced Hill looks directly at May in turn before ducking her head in a gesture of acknowledgement. "Good."

Listening in on their options for how to proceed doesn't do much for a show of sympathy, either. "You're all highly trained operatives, I'm sure that collecting one unsuspecting woman without raising any red flags should be a straightforward matter."

She can't help but take a shot at Barton's rhetorical question regarding his Friday nights, either. "Netflix does get old after a while, doesn't it?"

Once it seems that everyone involved is on board with the assignment Hill pushes away from the chair back and stands at her full height once more. "Usual protocol applies. Quiet, contained, minimal footprint. I've got no love for those Triad fools, if there's an opportunity here to dig into their core then we'd be stupid to miss the chance."

"That said, this is currently a low priority operation. If things get ugly again, and I'm just holding my breath here because I know it'll happen well before I start to turn blue, don't be surprised when you all get reassigned to more important matters. Until then I'll be expecting regular updates."


Melinda May nods to Romanoff, honestly glad to have the Russian assassin's support even if only indirectly, but at Hill's dig at Barton's comment she turns and levels THAT flat stare at the Deputy Director. She's heading this mission, don't FUCK with the agents assigned to work with her. "We understand the parameters, Deputy Director." And then with a single look at each of the other agents, she pulls open the office door and waits for them to exit.


Natasha listens to Hill's jabs impassively. Looks like the DepDir's own insecurities are showing again. Shame, really. The woman has such potential. She gives a simple nod, and glances to May as the other agent levels that flat stare at Hill. She suppresses her own desire to smile, keeping neutral for the time being. When the door's opened, however, she takes that as her cue. Exeunt stage left.


'When' they get reassigned. It's a guarantee they will. It's just a matter of who makes the most noise and when.

Barton slides off the edge of the desk and finishes his coffee in a couple quick draughts and crushes the cup, sending it flying towards the garbage can. Two points! "And I even upgraded my account so I could get DVDs in the mail too. Guess that was a waste of money."

Looking to May, Hawk's got the 'anything I should know that may not be in the files' sort of expression as his brows rise in silent inquiry. "I'll be in my office.. until the janitor needs his closet back. Need me, you know how to call."

Filing out, Barton takes hold of the door from the outside, holding it open for the other two ladies. "After you."


While it's left unspoken, the stare that Hill levels at May in return would express her response in a sufficient capacity. 'I'm the Deputy Director, I can fuck with whomever I like.'

Barring a very, very exclusive list.

Barton may be heading toward the door but his following remark still hangs heavy in the air. Hill allows the other two women to step out first, though it's when Clint turns to follow that the single word "Barton" is nearly barked out in that 'sit, stay' sort of tone.

Natasha is right in her thinking, at least in part. There's potential, though there's also extensive training which Hill -does- make use of.


Melinda May glances back at Barton when Hill calls him back into her office, but there's not much she can do at this point. So she catches up with Romanoff to discuss mission possibilities.


Damn. So close… so very close, but so far. (Go on without me!) Barton stops as if a rope was just thrown over his upper body, his back throwing backwards where his legs simply want to keep moving. Spinning around while taking a deep breath, his expression is wary, though not uncivil. He doesn't have quite the amount of professional (or personal) animosity. (Must be a 'too many women in the office' thing.)

"Yo?" To his knowledge, he hasn't done anything -too- wrong, in the cosmic scheme of things. And if he truly did screw up? He'd hear it from the Old Man, screaming about how he had to personally vouch for his Agent, and demand to know -why- he was put in that position to begin with. "What's up?"

The door closes and Hawkeye moves to perch on the edge of the desk once more, hands in his lap for the lack of anything nearby to fiddle with.


With the other two gone and the door closed once more Hill comes around to take a seat in her chair, white gloved fingers lacing together with an almost robotic precision. Now it's Clint that receives her full attention. Her expression is hard, which isn't all that unusual. Fortunately for him, he's not the reason for her irritation.

She'll still give it a few seconds to make sure that the others have progressed down the hall before saying her piece. She'll watch them go via security camera feeds if she must.

Keeping her voice notably lower than before, she says "I don't trust that Cold War relic, Barton. The Director's a damn fool to have her on such an open leash. Whenever you're working in proximity to her I don't want her escaping the peripheral of those keen eyes of yours. Whenever she withholds information or starts pulling her little games, you're going to tell me all about it. She's keeping important details from me and I cannot have that. I have a job to do and I cannot do it effectively without having all of the info. Sooner or later this shadow op stunt of hers is going to get one of my agents killed."

May to watch Barton. Barton to watch Romanova. Either she'll get some important information or she'll find out which agents she can actually trust around here.

As for making it seem like Barton was in trouble? She didn't want Natasha getting suspicious as to why Hill held him back.


It's when she starts to speak, however, that Clint actually -stares- at the woman, the Deputy Director. "Um… I think you probably have the wrong person for that. I helped bring her on board. I vouch for the woman, and she's a damned good Agent. She gets into things that no one could get out of, and we're all the better for it."

He slides off his perch, and shakes his head slowly. "And she's my partner. There is no way I'd jeopardize that. That one moment I need her to pull my ass out, and she thinks I've got a dossier on her to hand over to you? No.." Can't and won't do it.

"You're probably going to make my life miserable, but I'll give you one thing. I'll forget this conversation ever happened." Which means as far as he's concerned, it won't go past the door. He, however, will… and before he opens it, Barton looks back, "Find another spy."

Then, it's out and the *click* of the catch sounds in the corridor behind him.

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