Selective Specialists

Summary:
July 19, 2014: Clint Barton and Maria Hill pay Lara Croft a visit regarding her particular skill-sets.

Waldorf Astoria Penthouse

A very fancy joint that Lara's been calling home for a time now.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
None


Lara Croft has been spending a great deal of time in New York lately, investigating the untimely death of her fellow archaeologist, Rhys Bale. She's been staying in the penthouse of the Waldorf Astoria almost full time these days, so she's not hard to track down for anyone who wants to find her. The Duchess of Abbingdon is not sipping tea and eating crumpets as some might expect, however. She's in workout gear and using a portable standing bag to deliver kicks and punches to. Her hair is in a ponytail, and her butler, Winston Sinclair, watches disapprovingly from a distance.

*

This is about as close to getting 'dressed up' as Agent Clint Barton cares to get. Slacks instead of jeans (or leather pants), button-down short sleeve instead of a more comfortable light t-shirt. He still has boots, but no evidence of a quiver, which also probably means he doesn't have the bow. But, he does have a sidearm- just not obviously.

Standing on the threshold of the door, Barton takes a deep breath and exhales as he looks to his 'boss' and partner in this particular 'mission'. "Okay.. just a reminder. She knows her sh-tuff. We need her as much as she may want or need us. And she does." Lara just may not know it yet, is all.

Once done, Hawkeye does the honours and raps on the door in short, staccato notes. (Oh look.. the front door again!)

*

It isn't every day that a civilian gets a face to face with the Deputy Director of SHIELD. Such situations tend to dictate that the person in question is either quite good, or quite bad, and has ended up within Maria Hill's crosshairs for more immediate intervention. Unfortunately she can't demand that everyone get dragged up to her office, as much as she'd like to be able to. Life would be so much more simple if things went her way.

It had been by Clint's report, and recommendation, that Hill did some digging of her own. She's dressed in that 'woman in black' sort of fashion, complete with the shades that are impossible to look through unless you're wearing them. It stands to reason that she's also carrying a weapon, she never leaves home (or her office) without one.

"Thank you for the reminder on how to do my job, Barton," Hill replies in a flat voice. "These personnel evaluations can be -so- daunting." With the rap to the door she claims a deep breath and slowly lets it back out. Not because she's nervous. More because she's bored. Still, it beats doing more paperwork.

*

The aged and bent old butler answers the door. He gives Clint a squinted glance, recognizing him. "Mister Barton. Thank you again for using the door. May I inquire as to the name of your companion and the nature of your visit, so I might let Lady Croft know?" He and Alfred Pennyworth should get together and swap stories.

*

"Welcome. Don't mention it." Clint looks straight forward at the closed door, and adds just before the portal opens before them, "Really. Don't mention it."

When the door does open, Barton waits for that glimmer of recognition, and when it comes, he actually cracks a smile. "Afternoon." He takes a step to side, taking a glimpse inside to see if Lara is about before he returns his attention to the butler. "Deputy Director Maria Hill. We're here on official business with SHIELD. We'd like to speak to her about the whole business of keeping the world safe, secure and free." Barton actually said that with a straight face, though it is hard. (How many training videos has he seen, then, that pushed those concepts for recruiting purposes? Apparently too many.)

*

'Inquire as to the name-'

Hill just wants to pull the shades off of her face and -stare- at the butler. (Who the hell has a -butler- these days, anyway?) Who is she..? -Really?- Pride is definitely one of her sins, though one doesn't get to be the second in command of the Division by being subtle and uknown. Particularly if you're anyone other than Fury. Doubly so if you're also a woman.

It's only through a desperate act of will that her demeanor remains as level as ever. At least she can count on Barton for a -proper- introduction, Hill's head inclining slightly as she watches Mister Sinclair. "If we wouldn't be interrupting."

She held out for as long as she could.

*

"Let them in, Winston. I'm in the drawing room," a feminine, British voice calls out. There is the sound of staccato thuds and whaps coming from the direction of the words. Winston grunt and opens the door wider, gesturing them in and towards the room that's currently an impromptu gym for the woman.

"Lady Croft! Agent Barton and Deputy Director Hill of SHIELD are here to talk to you about world-saving and other such new world propaganda," he announces, before closing the door behind them. "I will bring some tea shortly." With that, the old man turns on his heel to head for the kitchenette.

They are left free to roam towards the sound of Lara's workout.

*

Barton turns to Hill with one of those *-eating grins on his face and gestures with a hand to the now opened door. "Ladies first." Whether she goes in first or not, he will wander in and nods his thanks to the butler before following it up with, "Thanks."

Now, Barton doesn't need to look around too much; he's been here before, so he crosses the room to where Lara is with little difficulty. Stopping at the door, he simply can't help himself. He leans against the doorjamb and crosses his arms across his chest, a smile ghosting on his face now. "Wondered how you managed to climb that stalactite so easily. Thought it rude to ask, though."

"Ms. Croft," He should probably straighten, but… why? "May I introduce you to Deputy Director Maria Hill. Hill, this is Ms. Lara Croft. Stalactite climber par-excellance."

*

Oh sure, she'll take point, thank-you-very-much. Now, Hill could take the direct route like Barton seems intent on doing. It's the indirect route that tells her that much more about this woman they came here to interview. There's plenty to be had in the database already, Miss Croft has an interesting, and well documented, history. All the same, official records never provide the full picture. Being inside of someone's home gets her that much closer to understanding what makes them tick, gives her that much more of an advantage when dealing with them. Just a glance here, a glance there…

"I'll have you know that world-saving is both full time and -very- important," she snipes back to the butler. "Your crumpets won't save themselves."

When Clint makes his remark about Croft's ability in climbing ceiling formations Hill's quick to reply, "Well thank God for that. You wouldn't believe how quickly we go through agents due to spelunking-related accidents." Plucking the shades clear of her face, she adds "You seem to be holding up quite well, given the circumstances. Lot of responsibility on your shoulders."

*

Lara lands a final kick onto the bag before she straightens to face the door with a faint smile. She works on unwrapping the tape from her hands. "I work hard to survive my expeditions, Agent Barton. Though I believe hiring you helped me survive the last one." She dips her head to Maria in a respectful nod. "Director Hill. To what do I owe the honor? Please don't mind Winston. He feels I should be back in Britain, looking for a husband and spitting out an heir." She finishes unwrapping and grabs up a towel to wipe her face. "My father made sure I'd be well prepared to face any circumstances, I'm thankful to say."

*

"Crumpets have no hope in this world," Barton offers sadly, and checks the table to see if such sweet bread is around. Rats.. not yet.

Clearing his throat, Hawk rocks his head forward and lifts a hand for that 'cough', and takes a deep breath, letting it out softly. "Was my pleasure. I'm thinking next time, though? Hawaii. I understand it's nice this time of year." And all year, every year.

Twisting around to face the direction the butler has departed to, Barton shrugs. "It's not that bad a life. Heck. Tried it once." Now, he spins back around, "Though you won't find anyone fun in England. I'll show you the sights around here, though."

Okay, he really should be a little more serious, but… it's not the easiest thing for him. Not given this situation, anyway. "We were— oh, Hill.. why don't you go ahead. I'll just be over.. there." Barton crosses the room to check the punching bag, checking the weight.

*

The clearing of the archer's throat earns him another look from Hill. "Barton. We're on my schedule." If he wants to talk about going to Hawaii with this gal then he can do it on -his- time, darnit.

..Huh. Alright. The lone adventurer manages to string the right collection of words together to bring a thin smile to the DepDir's features. Lara's remark even seems sincere rather than something offered because it's what Hill wants to hear. "The troubled collision of the old ways and the new."

Despite the spiffy dresscode she's far from ramrod-straight in the spine, her weight shifting to favor one leg as she lightly holds the sunglasses between both hands in front of herself. Before she gets started she gets to dismiss Hawkeye. This seems to be a trend. When he says he'll be 'over there' she flatly agrees. "Yes, you will."

To Lara, she says "You've certainly found other means to keep yourself occupied. We've got a list of documented discoveries made -by you- that's nearly as long as my arm. You've shown clear proficiency in ancient history and mythology, and apparently you aren't too shabby at organizing and leading your own team. Quite an interesting assortment you took with you on your last expedition, by the way. Were you aware that some of your team had fairly extensive criminal records?"

Not that she's here to interrogate poor Croft, just try to shake up her game a little. It's a power thing.

*

The bag is a standard 250 pound water-filled weight, the sort used by kickboxers for training. It looks like it's seen a lot of love in the time it's been in Croft's possession, as does all the equipment in the room.

Winston appears with a tray bearing a shiny tea set, cups, and a covered platter. He sets it all of it out on the table and uncovers the platter to reveal hot buttered crumpets. Though most American's just call them "English muffins." He's a saucy old man, that one, showing that his crumpets are just fine, thank you very much. He gives Maria a smirk and pours the tea.

Lara offers a seat to the two SHIELD agents and takes one herself, adding a sugar cube to her tea. "I was aware of their records, yes. But they were the proper people for the job. And I made sure to have a SHIELD agent on board to keep me apprised of their histories and their movements before and during the expedition. Even the traitor behaved as expected."

*

Barton is more than happy to stay out of the conversation for the time being, wandering around before Winston appears with the tea and crumpets. He crosses the short distance to take a cup (albeit a little awkwardly) and one of the toasted English Muffins, and raising his brows questioningly at the butler, he smirks and sits down, trying hard not to spill the melted butter all over himself. (Napkins!)

"See? I was useful." So there. A tentative sip is give the hot tea, shortlived due to the temperature. If only for the moment. "We got the badguys and have a closer and better idea where the bad guys who were with are and what they're doing." Put 'em back on the radar for SHIELD.

*

(Awesome. I haven't had lunch yet.) If the addition of crumpets had been meant as a silent jab it seems to be ignored, all Hill cares about is that she now has something to eat. And a seat. And something to drink. Definitely beats paperwork.

"Still quite a gamble. Though I'm told that you managed to pull through with minimal loss, not bad." (For a civilian.) That Lara had known about all of it in advance and had been watching, -and- making contingency plans, doesn't go unnoticed. Lara's got 'specialist' written all over herself.

"You have your moments. Don't let it go to your head," she nonchalantly tells Clint.

Right then, to business. "I'm sure you've heard about SHIELD." (And if not you should be slapped upside the head then strapped to a chair in front of the evening news. "We occasionally sift through the 'private sector' for individuals who have proven themselves out in the field, traditional recruitment can only account for so much talent. Barton here claims that you're damn good, which has my interest because we happen to need someone that's damn good. The upshot for you is that you won't have to give up your life of adventuring and raiding long dead men's dormitories for fun and profit. You agree to be on call for SHIELD, follow the assignments when given and stick to our rules, we make sure that you're paid, supplied, and given first crack at some very special digs."

She's a fan of the straightforward approach.

*

Lara sips her own tea, settling back in her chair. Her hazel eyes sweep between Barton and Hill, studying the interplay. The rigid, structured leader and the wildcard of a soldier. Interesting. The offer from the Director has a brow arching upwards. The last bit definitely has piqued her interest. "That sounds like a more than reasonable trade off, Director. I'd still get to do my archaeological work, but act as a special consultant of sorts for SHIELD?" she asks, for clarification. "I'd have to run it by my lawyer to make sure I'm not violating anything, but it sounds like something I'd definitely be interested in." She smiles and nods to Clint, "As I told the team on the expedition, I do rather fancy myself one of the good guys."

*

Barton pauses in his attempt to not drip butter on his shirt and offers a quick, lopsided smile. "You do know I have a recording device on, right? That'll get played all over the Triskellion." He doesn't, really. But, never hurts to dig at the DepDir.

Now, he takes a bite and is quiet long enough to actually finish the small bit of crumpet. With greasy fingers, he tries to wipe them on a napkin, but it's not anywhere near enough.. so it's a quick wipe on the trousers before he remembers he's not wearing jeans.

Damn.

"It's a sweet deal, Ms. Croft. Pretty much mine, but without the desk detail. Can take jobs away from SHIELD, but they will ask a few questions, to make sure that you don't unknowingly have info they might need. Debriefings are usually painless." Usually. Mostly.

So far, however, it's looking as if Clint's batting a little better than the other agents in terms of bringing people in. "We may need you on a moment's notice, though. It seems they particularly enjoy Friday nights to call up."

*

Sigh… Maria really expects nothing less from Clint, right down to the messing up of his 'good' clothes. (SHIELD's not paying the dry cleaning bill, Barton.)

"That's exactly what I am offering," she confirms. "You won't even have to hire a bunch of shady gun-hands, I've got more than enough of those to spare." Here she passes a subtle glance back over to the archer. "'Good guys' are becoming more difficult to find these days." Particularly with all of the other groups and organizations trying to lay claim to anyone yet unaffiliated.

Clint gets a chance to add his piece, which fits in perfectly as far as timing goes. She had just been getting to that point. "That's correct. Any such operations with SHIELD will be of a classified nature. Any discoveries made will need to be documented, and processed, before getting the green light for the History Channel. We don't make a habit of being an open book."

A security clearance is practically required just to read the menu in the mess hall down at the Triskelion. Asking about the 'soup of the day' is a level two all by itself.

*

"Perhaps they just like calling you up on Friday nights to irritate you, Agent Barton?" Lara offers with a quick grin. She sends Hill a wink conspiratorially. "Regardless, I am definitely intrigued. If you can have the paperwork sent to Nelson & Murdock here in the city, I can have my lawyer peruse things before I make any commitments." She glances at Hawkeye's faux pas with his hot buttered pants in amusement. Definitely not Earl of Abbingdon material there.

*

Hill is certainly -not- referring to him when she says 'shady gun-hands'. Barton's brows rise and he mouths the word 'bow' to his 'supervisor' before he finishes fumbling with the wadded up napkin. Not wanting to put it down, he sticks it in his pocket instead. (Probably to turn into messy pocket fluff when left in the laundry.)

Lara's teasing actually brings up a rueful chuckle, and the archer nods. "See, I wouldn't doubt it. Matter of 'Ol' Clint's not doing anything special anyway'. I think it's why I keep missing openings of different movies. Always on a Friday." But! If Lara joins 'the team', then he might have the chance to hit a movie- she'd be called too (maybe, probably not.). Yeah… so not in her league.

*

This lady's got some snark. Hill can appreciate this. Clint can consider himself lucky that she doesn't take a shot at his (lack of a) personal life at this moment, it's tempting. So tempting that he rags on himself! As a strategy to avoid bullying it might see some success.

Instead she just makes a point of using the napkins. For their intended purpose, even. It's like magic! There's also a look of 'like I would -ever- forget that you use a flippin' bow, get over yourself already.'

With a rare smile, the Deputy Director says "Certainly." Then to Clint, she asks "If you're done flirting with the specialist..?" Before the question can be answered Hill's back to her feet, leaving a business card behind on the tea tray.

"We look forward to hearing from you." (Some more than others.)


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