Rules of the Game

Summary:
August 12, 2014: Tony Stark and Evelyn are recovering (or slowly and painfully dying) in a SHIELD medical wing. That's just the perfect moment for Maria Hill to drop in and start throwing some sass around. (Language warning, natch.)

The Triskelion

SHIELD's headquarters based within New York City.


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
None


Tony's eyes have to be the confirmation because he's just laying there sorting through the snakes in his head. There's a lot of really horrible revelations that come with knowing that he's going to die, but all things considered he takes it better than most would. Honestly, he's been living on borrowed time for a little while anyways. Still, his eyes assure her that he'll keep it to himself, or maybe it's when he says; "I never told anyone about the hotel."

If that's not enough, he's got nothing.

Then she explains and it's everything that he's spent his whole life being very bit against. When he sees the water in her eyes, he forces a smile, but it's a sympathetic one. "I never give up. I thought everyone knew that about me?" In his experience, addressing family issues only makes them real. Right now neither of them need to face family issues, at least not head on. "You just have decide what you want, Eve. Until you know, people are going to keep telling you what they want and you'll be helpless to stop them." If he were able, he'd probably pinch her cheek or something, but she'll have to suffice with a wink. "Sorry… I think I just said; 'Only you can prevent forest fires', but not in so many words…"

*

"That's exactly what I'm saying to you, Tony. You don't have to listen to me, but.. I think you can solve it." Evelyn's voice quivers a little but as she reaches up with a hand to wipe her eyes. "Don't just give up and drink your life away, you're so much more than that."

It's late at night, an undetermined hour. The lights to the hospital room are dimmed and the wooden door is cracked, bleeding in bright light from the hallway. The T.V is on in the upper corner of the room with some sitcom on low volume and a tray of food is sitting next to Tony. Deliverances. He has a metal box on his chest and equipment around him to keep the shards of metal out of his heart.

Evelyn has similar equipment, including dedicated power lines going up into her spine (ouch). A large box with switches, dials, and more hums silently in the corner. A bunch of other equipment of other function also surrounds her bed. She's fairly high maintenance in repair. She has not a leg or an arm, but seems to be making due in the bed. This is the first time she's awaken since the fight with Loki. For a while she's been chatting with Tony.

"Just.. All you have to do is ask.. Pepper, and I are here for you." Speaking of Pepper, she begins to remember a little bit about the car. That was weird. Nevermind that for now. It's true, though, Tony has a lot of support. "Just don't give up."

*

It's perhaps one of the more awkward moments for the Deputy Director to come marching in on the two injured hero sorts. Decked out in typical SHIELD uniform of white on black, Maria Hill briskly steps into the room with a stack of paper already filling one hand.

"We'd all prefer that you not give up, the extra paperwork is a real pain in the ass." First impressions matter! Even so, she promptly follows up with "No one's dying on my watch. I've got our best on the case so feel free to keep a lid on the waterworks at any point here, people. You'd be amazed at what taxpayer money can provide when it comes to military strength and medical procedures."

*

Tony was about to assure Eve that he'll figure it out, even though he would be lying. He isn't sure that he can, though he's been working at the problem for quite some time. There's only so many elements on the periodic table and only a handful of ways he can combine them to act a conduit for that kind of power wattage. For now, the Palladium core is quite enough, but he is one of the few human beings on the planet that is even remotely possible in duplicating that kind of technology.

Oh, there are other minds that could help him, but Tony has burned his bridges with most of the scientific community through one mistake or another. At the end of the day, he really is alone. Pepper keeps him grounded, sure and she would bend the heaven and stars to help if she knew how… but she doesn't. When he's down in his lab, it's him… and he's alone. He makes it seem like he's okay with that, but who really wants to be alone?

Thankfully this little moment is broken up and Tony is able to find a cocky grin to direct at the very professional looking woman who scoots on in like she owns the place. "Oh, are you the curator of this little exibit?" Tapping a finger against the huge metal box on his chest. "Well, Im just going to go ahead and say it… I asked for pudding and a capri sun." Hand motioning to the lack of both on his dinner tray.

*

Evelyn's not as quick to recover as Tony. She wipes her eyes while sitting back in the bed. "Sorry, Assistant Director. Just.. something in my eye." The cheesiest lie ever. No one ever believes that line. Why do people keep using it? "I'll have my report in as soon as I have paper."

Of course, that's a pretty daring thing to say considering she's been out cold for so long. She's really a sleeper. During the fungal infection operation, she was offline for over twenty four hours. Just in recovery alone, she could probably sleep a week away in one of these hospital beds. Speaking on how uncomfortable they are, it should be telling just how hard she pushes herself constantly.

"How long have I been out?" Evelyn asks cautiously. She honestly doesn't know. You'd think she'd have like an internal clock or something. According to the documents on her psyche, the neural cores she uses are not conventionally giving to syntactic languages and precise time keeping. No crystal quartz or atomic clocks in her system. Just billions of neurons, and each neuron is just a simple, simple little computer with a little bit of memory. When she asks how long she's been out, she really means 'is R&D done my new legs and arms yet?'

*

Either she's got selective hearing or she's choosing to ignore Tony's comment about his meal for the moment. "You know what else taxpayer money is good for?" Hill continues without glancing toward either of them. "Repair bills."

Here the stack of paper that she had been carrying is lifted, allowing it to unfold in oldschool Dot Matrix fashion until it hits the floor.

"Had the boys print this one out special for me just for dramatic effect. Now, there's a slight conflict in all of this… Ah, entry two seventy-one's a good one: 'Damages to metahuman representation across the Tri-City area.' Did either of you realize that those trucks were being driven by a bunch of mutants? Got one DOA already, that's gonna be a real joy to clean up."

"The money which goes into covering these damages? That's money that -we- don't ever get to see. So if your next jumpstart's a couple of volts short of proper calibration you just think about that extra foot of railing you trashed. I'm pretty sure your Capri Sun is in here somewhere, as well… Probably somewhere around 'damages to famous landmark," she concludes while shifting the printout aside so she can finally make eye contact with Tony.

Not to be spared from the Scorn of Hill, Evelyn's next to get 'examined.' "And -you,- our level one star, account for nearly fourteen percent of the entries here and approximately sixty-three percent of the tab we get to cover. So, I'm gonna keep this part real simple. No one's dying on my watch because you both have a -lot- of work pending."

Evelyn's excuse about needing paper for a report is easy enough to solve. With systematic precision Hill folds up half of of the printout then drops it right on the side of the other woman's bed. "Out long enough for me to stamp down the headache," she cryptically replies.

*

The door to the med-bay opens, admitting one of those SHIELD Recruit Agents. They are really easy to pick out by the way they glance into the room to make sure they are in the right spot before walking in… Or to make sure there won't be a gun pointed into their face.

That works too.

Darcy, her glasses in place, lips a more sedate red than she typically likes to wear, has her hair pulled up into a neat little bun… and fastened there with black and red chopsticks. The red ends pop against her dark hair. She's in what must be work-uniform SHIELD required black business suit; a jacket and pencil skirt set. Yes, she's wearing a basic white button up underneath the jacket, and some very understated and reasonable seeming black heels. Her legs are bare, though anyone with a keen eye for concealer might spot the near-perfect match on a two by three patch on her outter right ankle.

Concealer FTW!

Recruit Lewis walks in, green eyes sweeping over the gathered group, double taking briefly at the sight of Tony Stark. But, she's a good little go-for, and she doesn't slow her steps toward Maria Hill. The coffee mug, still steaming lightly, and clip board (yes, complete with paper on it) are handed over wordlessly.

*

"Ohhhh." Tony is pointing at Maria now, grinning like he's just caught the biggest fish in the pond, "She's one of those hard ass types." Is he talking to himself, to Evelyn, Maria, or everyone in the room? He isn't exactly known for being consistant when it comes to his level of social interaction. "I didn't have a lot of options available to me…. Assistant Director?" See, he's learning things. Like that whereever he is is run by a place with a Director.

If only he had some way to get intouch with JARVIS.

"You would rather that all those protestors were run over? Or, worse, that energy accelerator was taken by some crazy ass guy in green armor and horns?" Pressing his lips together, "You know I'm a tax payer right? I mean… that's in there isn't it?"

And don't even get him started on why they had a box prepared for keeping him alive should his arc reactor fail. Historically speaking, Tony Stark has been very distrusting of agencies that know more about him than Star Magazine. Those guys are WICKED good at digging through people's trash.

"Maybe being a little more forthright with the hows and the whys would get some cooperation? Like… say… if someone was asking for a capri sun. Someone, say… with billions of dollars and advanced knowledge in robotics, machinary, and engineering? Not mention intimate knowledge of your 'level one star' over there." That's you Eve, he's jerking his thumb that way.

*

Evelyn bounces a little bit when the stack of paper hits the side of her bed. That crap isn't light, it's a block of solid, shredded tree pressed into white sheets. Iron Man himself couldn't rip this stack of bills in half. "That'll work." She comments tersely, glancing briefly at the paper.

She shrinks a bit into the bed. Sixty three percent? That's a lot of money. She knows it is. Even with all the damage that was caused, she's still the most expensive part of the bill. Ouch. Of course, she knows this. She's reamed out about it pretty consistently. Her parts are so expensive that they have to be ordered when the damage happens, they're too expensive to just leave lying around as spares.

The excuse that she was hit by a car simply can't be made. She probably should have looked both ways before running into a busy street, but common sense would tell someone that a sportscar wouldn't come wide open throttle out of a group of protestors.

At Tony's comment, her face lights up like a Christmas tree and she looks over at him. "You /do not/ have intimate knowledge about me." Shut the fuck up, Tony!

*

"There's something I've been wanting to tell you ever since Barton persuaded you to sign up with us here at the Triskelion," Hill continues as she rests her hands upon Evelyn's bed so she can bring herself in that much closer. "-You're expensive to repair, stop falling apart!-"

The timing is spot-on. Point for Lewis, there. By the time she stands upright all she need do is turn a few degrees to the side and..hey, coffee! It's like magic. The idea of smacking Evelyn upside the head with the clipboard briefly passes through her thoughts but she decides to slap it down atop the Printout Pile instead. "Hope you didn't lose your dominant hand, Agent. Call a med tech if you need more paper."

Back to Tony without skipping a beat, she counters with "Better than being a sloppy ass." -Glare.- "Oooh, right," she then feigns surprise while pointing at Tony. "And you're that famous billionaire guy, too! Great, I'll forward the bill to your address."

But wait, there's more! Tony talking about having intimate knowledge of Evelyn is responded to with "So long as it isn't on the grounds or on the clock. Now, Mister Stark, I would have preferred that the man, or -God,- or whatever the Hell that had been responsible would have been -stopped,- if that's not asking too much of a stupidly rich taxpayer with advanced knowledge in robotics. But hey, tell you what, maybe you can build me a robot which gives a damn."

Mm, coffee.

Turning now to Lewis, Maria says "Make note that Stark Industries also owes us one Give-A-Damn-Otron. Oh, and welcome to SHIELD. We're one big happy family around here."

*

"Give a damn?" Seriously? Tony is staring at Maria now, the smarm melting away until all that's left is the frayed nerves, "Are you kidding me, right now?" She's not… She's being serious. "I just stopped a…. God? Seriously? He was a God? Like a real God or a 'I'm a god' God? They are different things…" At least in his experience. Lots of crazies claim to be gods, it happens, let's not dwell.

"Anyways, I stopped him from killing those people and almost died in the process. You clearly knew enough about me to have ''this'' ready.." Motioning to the neodymaism magnet attached to his chest, "And him.. if you had, I don't know.. had your people share some information on what I was dealing with?" SHIELD… Keep that in mind, Stark.

"Let me guess, you're some sort of intelligence gathering organization with an alphabet soup of a name that was deliberately designed to spell out SHIELD? Yeah.. send me the bill. You can pretend this is my fault if you want to, but if you knew so damn much about him, I just cleaned up your mess.. I might as well make a habit of it."

*

Oh God. Hill is testing her, trying to see if she's mastered SHIELD's patiented Poker Faces. Darcy's brows twitch, as do her lips, as she struggles not to break down into snickers, as she holds in what she'd like to add to the conversation. Thankfully, much of what she'd like to add are imgur pics.

Right now, a fluffy puppy with cut up plastic water bottles covering him in places so he looks vaguely robotic drifts through her mind, with the caption: We can fix him, make him faster, stronger, better. Not want to spend much.

Darcy presses her lips together, flattening them more than a little, while the want to quote the caption burns in her chest like a cheap cigarette. As she's relieved of her ''burden'', Lewis stands at Hill's side, trying not to give the impression that she hasn't a clue what to DO with her hands. Quick! WWJD? (Not, Jesus. Jane. GOD!) Darcy ponders that, then dismisses it when her mind goes over how BADLY the scientist can open mouth and insert foot. Really, it was a good thing she got stuck with a PoliSci major. We know how to deal with…. umm… bureaucracy, or some crazy sh- schtuff. Crazy Schtuff. Darcy flicks her green eyed gaze toward Hill then to Tony as Hill glares at him and makes that crack about forwarding the bill-

TO BUCKINGHAM PALACE!

Oh my God, Darcy. Your inner twitter is stupid.

Yes, it does. X)

"Yes, Director. Thank you," Lewis says as she settles on linking her hands behind her back for the moment. She can't keep the cackle from her voice or the smirk from tugging at her painted lips. Her green eyes, lined with far less liner than she likes (because this is like a REAL Professional Office or something), sparkle with that hidden desire to just bust out laughing.

While we're at it, can he make us an Effing Harvester? Not that it would matter, since it appears that Hill's field in which she grows her fu- …uh… eff's is barren and doesn't yield crops anyway.

Have you SEEN that meme? Hilarity!

And Darcy loses hold on herself and snorts a snicker once before she turns away from Hill to cough. DUCK AND COVER! I didn't laugh, I swear! I am like my CO, Agent May. HONEST! See? I can haz straight face.

Okay, maybe not.

Darcy clears her throat, still grinning.

*

For the brief moment that Hill's thoughts include hitting her with something, she flinches. It's almost like she's in her brain. Ew. Looking between Tony, Darcy, and the co-Director, Evelyn makes a note to be ignored. Yes. Ignored. At least for a little bit. The attention is no longer on her.

That's almost a blessing. Later, she'll turn in her report on the back of these sheets of paper and be yelled at for not filling out a proper 786 and for taking orders during yelling too seriously. Or atleast, the debriefing which this yelling match is basically called.

Following a break in the argument, Evelyn opens her big mouth to say, "I'll make a note to add in my report that I covered the God's face in seering polymer. That chemical mixture of the suit, too. Shouldn't he be dead soon? Those chemicals were hazardous." Maybe he is stopped. Had anyone considered that? The offsets of the chemical exposure are delayed.

*

"-Security,- Mister Stark," Hill is quick to correct. "And the safety of every citizen in this country. Yes, you've saved lots of lives, I'll make sure to send a gold star along with your bill. I'm sure it'll look bitchin' cool on your armor. Now understand here that when you throw mad amounts of money around and build yourself a powered suit which turns you into a superhero that you aren't playing Cowboys and Indians out there. Cops are taught a long time ago to account for every shot which leaves their weapon. So, yes, thank you from the -bottom- of my twisted little heart for saving all of those people, now start accounting for your collateral damage. You play with the big boys you get treated like the big boys. You want SHIELD intelligence -then you join SHIELD's ranks.-"

Aaand back to Evelyn again. "That would probably explain the 'unexpected melting' of that experimental and -extremely expensive- piece of armor you had been attempting to field-test at the time. Thank you for proving that we need to up the thermal resistance of that piece, sure that saves the kids down at R and D a few cases of Mountain Dew."

So, about that headache… Hopefully caffeine will kill it this time around because that's what she's got. Hill eyes the two injured individuals before looking back to Lewis. "Heads up, Rookie. If you're a part of the team then you're a part of current events."

Shifting position so that she might be seen by all three at once (and so she can make sure no one's making faces at her,) she addresses everyone at once. "We're still figuring out just what we're up against but he goes by the name of Loki..same one as you'll find in mythology..and has been stirring up a good bit of trouble in our backyard of late. He has powers of an undetermined nature, though current belief suggests that it may be …" Sigh. "Magic..in nature."

Which she has a seriously hard time of accepting.

*

"Ohmygod. Tazer-butt's brother?" Darcy blurts out. Because let's face it, three minutes was really good for her somedays. Her attempt at professional stance falls away, leaving her slightly slouched, shoulders canting a bit away from Hill, hips shifting to add sass to that mental vomit.

"Seriously? Didn't Goldilocks take care of it already?" she continues, then lets her eyes drift across the room. OOoh man. Super Nanny's gonna be pissed that she's sassin' at the Assistant Director.

Ass. Direct. God, the puns write themselves some days!

"I… mean… after that freak storm in… maybe I should.. go get ..um… Acid-Gal that form. 786, right? Right!" Back peddl! Back peddle! Oh, and thanks for the iPOD back. YEARS of curating that playlist, thank you!

*

"Horse shit." Stark states flat and pointedly at Maria, "None of ''my'' shots caused any collateral damage, that was all caused by your magical 'Loki' as I reacted to a situation. I get it, everyone assumes I'm jumping into a metal suit and acting out some dramatic play for attention, but you clearly don't know the first thing about me. So if you want to go by what you read in the tabloids, be my guest, but don't expect me to take you seriously as a -security-" Yes he does finger quote, "Agency when you clearly cant gather information that isn't staring you in the face."

Where is Pepper. Suddenly, Tony doesn't feel like being here anymore. He knew he was in some underground, probably hidden, facility. That much was evident by the walls and the fact that his nurses had all called him 'Mister Stark' with a very professional clipped tone, now he's more intrigued by who SHIELD is than he is interested in sticking around for a lecture by momma hen.

"And now you're scoffing at magic." Tony throws his hands and flops his head back. It's probably kind of odd that the most advanced mind in technology is throwing 'believes in magic' in his hat. "Do they screen you before you get a job? Because I kind of have my doubts, at this point…"

*

"Oh. Thanks." Evelyn says, blinking kind of blankly. Glad to have helped R&D. Even if that was sarcasm. Hey, usually you don't expect your text subject to catch on fire. At least the data collected out of the smash remains of the suit's computer provided excellent data or weakpoints and where the suit could be improved. It was design for combat, but it was also just a prototype. A combat unready prototype. Maybe they'll let Eve test the next one. If SHIELD doesn't go broke before then.

Technically, hitting her with a car was collateral damage to SHIELD, even if it wasn't Tony's fault. Poor guy. Not possible to win this fight. "I am pretty sure magic exists." Evelyn throws out on the floor. Shit. The highly advanced military android and billionare playboy both believe in magic. Better call the presses, this mystery is solved. "I mean, it's not like we haven't seen everything else." That's true.

She shrugs a bit and looks at Darcy as she blurts out some mental garbage. She stares, not really getting any of the references at all. Confusing girl. Evelyn really isn't that much of an internet user. At all. She's sure somewhere there are other people who like to read who probably collaboratively write stories together online. There has to be, but it would just be too much effort to find those communities. Besides, she enjoys -reading- stories more than writing them.

Atleast her ratio to missions where she's damaged to missions where she's not is skewed in her favour. London went well. Now if she could only take on a Norse God without being torn to pieces.

*

"'Taser-butt,' what..?" Hill starts in with a blank stare turning toward Lewis with the comment. "Is that code for another project down in R and D? Oh..-Thor.-" Some of the other agents got her caught up on the basics of mythology, thank goodness. Though here she puts the rookie on the spot with "Define 'took care of?' Because if this is Hammertime's idea of 'taken care of' then he and I need to have some words."

Stark's turn (again.) "Because all of your shots fire kindness and you fart rainbows. You've turned yourself into a -flying weapon,- Stark. You're also on my list of 'notably powerful entities which I have zero control over,' so you'll understand if I'm feeling a bit sketchy over this. You, and -every other- Jack with a lot of money and tech that want to cut in on this superhero vigilante nonsense, goes on my radar and -stays- on my radar. And frankly I couldn't care less if you take me seriously, though before you start blaming -me- for security issues you might want to take a look at your own operation first."

One datapad and a few pokes at the screen later and she holds up a report on a certain convertible registered under Stark's name, apparently the vehicle in question is connected to a string of robberies, violations, and felonies across several nearby states. All dated within a matter of hours.

"Hopefully you can gather information better than I can when it's staring you in the face," she's quick to point out.

"In the meantime, I'm going to continue to scoff at magic because it's something the -bad- guys have and -we- don't. But as someone that always needs to have the fanciest toys on the block, I don't need to explain this any further. Fortunately, we at least have an Agent who is passingly qualified to address the situation," she points out while pointing out Evelyn. Sarcastically.

*

Darcy freezes as Hill medusa's her. She swallows nervously and smiles as winningly as she can.

"Well… he did sort of rainbow it up with his posse to go deal with it so… maybe you should?"

Why? Darcy, just why? Why can't you just keep your big mouth sh-

"Though I ran into someone that says he's a jack of all trades and get sort of hand-suck his twin brother into himself, so if you want, Acid-Chick, we can totally team up."

WHAT!? Darcy!

"…um.. if Super Nan-" Eyes go to Hill. CRAP! "..Agent May is okay with that." Not that you've TOLD May yet.

I was saving it for Hill?

Real smart there, Lewis.

Shut is, Sass Mastah. May was totally there. It's not MY job to make sure she files her reports! not yet anyway. Maybe that would be a promotion from Supply Closet #14 and a half.

"Great. And now I'm talking to myself," she quips, looking at Tony.

"You ever talk to yourself? Probably not. But do you at least Scrooge McDuck it, once in while?"

In for a penny, in for a pound.

*

Usually he would be lax in accepting anything that's handed to him, but he'll make a very special exception in this particular case. As the thing being held out to him shows information regarding his vehicle, which was apparently stolen, and has been on a tri-state stealing spree while he's been laid up in bed.

Tony furrows his brow at this information, "I left that car with Pepper…" Which was weird, even then. How had Pepper gotten in the back of his car? He'd been puzzling over it for a few hours, but had no reason to suspect much more than 'strangness' until Maria informed him the car was no in the care of someone with sticky fingers.

Tony starts working that tablet, first connecting it to whatever browser is already on the device. "I'm going to use a backdoor into Stark Industries and connect with JARVIS.." He doesn't explain what JARVIS is, but he's telling her, so it can't be ''that'' bad.

"JARVIS, hey buddy… I'm downloading a list of locations, see if you can get camera feed?" The AI is unable to speak through the device, but it beeps at him in reply. Several seconds later, files are coming in. Not all of the listed locations, but at least two or three of them. One shows Tony Stark himself, robbing a liqour store, the time stamp indicates that it was about twelve hours ago. A time that SHIELD security would most assuredly say he was still here and another shows some random woman. Facial recognition software, helpfully preformed by JARVIS, indicates that she's one Sara Langdon, mother of two, prominent member of the PTA, and house wife. Address is 627 Malibu Point, California.

"If you want, I'm sure I can get you feed from the Langdon house? I bet she was there at the time…" Said as he hands her the tablet back. "Thanks JARVIS."

"And I just woke up from dying. Imagine what I could do if you… actually… got me in the know? That person, whoever it is, looked like Pepper Potts when I left her the car. Either she's using facial recognition masking software, or she's a changling… Probably a mutant, since you said that all the drivers were? Makes sense to me…" No smugness… he's trying to make amends here.

He even skips all the 'right infront of your face jokes'. He's thinking them though.

*

Evelyn's so nice. When she's promoted to the lead of the paranormal department (they probably have that), she decides now would be a good time to shut up. She sinks a bit into her bed and pulls the clipboard over onto her lap. Maybe if she just starts writing her report, people won't continue to yell at her and she'll get her limbs faster. Just a dream. She also wants her stomach back. It's a bit of a bummer not being able to eat.

Taking the first sheet of the expense report, she turns it over and clips it on the clipboard. The pen attached to the clipboard is removed and she begins scribbling down her report. Should probably use the correct form, but she isn't.

*

Is Maria done dealing with Darcy, the new rookie agent that's come to her with coffee and an award-winning hair bun? Why no, no she isn't. When the rookie starts talking Hill sloooowly turns to look at the other agent again. It's one of those rare moments where she truly says nothing at all, simply listening to the ramblings and self-arguments which ensue. She can almost see the ping-ponging of thoughts in Darcy's mind written across her expression.

"Talk to yourself somewhere else, Rookie. Us sane..and -not- so sane..people have important matters to deal with. As should you, or are you telling me that your workload isn't yet challenging your skills in a sufficient capacity?"

Stark, naturally, earns most of her attention. He's not an agent, he's in the Triskelion, he doesn't have a permit for that mouth of his, and he's ..connecting..unfamiliar hardware to a SHIELD-issued datapad. Explaining what he's doing is pretty much like telling her nothing. (The Hell is a 'JARVIS?') Standing silent with arms resting upon her hips, she watches. And waits. And then? She has her answers.

"Consider this 'getting you in the know.' Your Iron Man trick isn't the only thing you've put a lot of resources into modifying, Stark. When I say 'counting every shot' I don't mean it in a literal fashion. Someone, some..-thing-… had a very good time with something which should not be in the hands of anyone else. At this point I'm still uncertain if it should belong in the hands of its creator, for that matter."

Claiming a deep breath, she states "Langdon's already been accounted for. Your vehicle is on its way back to our motor pool. You can take it with you once you're mobile." Having said all that she comes to stand beside Stark's hospital bed, eyeing the inventor for a moment. "You want me to trust you enough to share intel? Prove to me that you're worth it. I may not be able to stop you playing as a superhero until you start breaking the law but I don't have to trust you because you consider yourself a good guy." She can't very well justify spying on him at this point, either. So..secrets.

"We can have ourselves a strong alliance together or we can remain at each other's throats. The latter is not a solution to any of our current problems."

*

One can almost hear Darcy's spine click as she straightens up, mouth going still, green eyes locking on Hill. Her shoulders go back, and while it's not parade rest, for a civvie, it's pretty acceptible, sort of.

"No, ma'am. I mean, yes, ma'am. Um… Going back to my supply closet, ma'am," Lewis gets out before turning. Her eyes catch sight of Eve writing a report on the back of an expense report and her Must Organize Paperwork Because Grants Don't Write Themselves sense start to tingle.

And by tingle, we mean Tac-Nuke.

She glances at Hill, then turns to the door while making a mental note to ghost the floor until Hill's clear so she can sneak back in, with the right forms Eve needs, and an offer to fill it out for her.

Damn! And she didn't even get Tony Stark to sign her boobs. Guess that's still on her bucket list.

*

That look isn't as secreative as Maria might think it is. Pepper gives it to Tony just about every day. The one that says she's interested in what he's doing, but is terrified that he might be about to start some interstellar war with yet unknown interstellar beings. He's gotten pretty good at reassuring Pepper, maybe it will work on Maria too? Can't hurt to try.

"JARVIS is an AI I created about ten years ago. He is connected to my home computer. Don't worry, I accessed him through an encrypted backdoor program. He'll have no more access to your files, then you will access to mine." So he's not just covering HER bases, but at least the door swings both ways, right?

"Everyone has a part to play…" He informs her of this with a shrug, pointing his fingers at the box sitting on his chest like in the sci-fi movie pictures. "I came back from my accident and everyone treated me like I'd lost my mind. So I kept playing the part…" It gave him room to work and tweek his armor.

When the Jr Agent departs, Tony looks her way and raises a brow… not his business, really, but… "Is she a special needs case? Nevermind.. Not important."

He sighs and rubs his hands back over the dark hair atop his head, "I've done everything I can to assure that Stark Weapons are destroyed, world wide. I've given the US Government an older model of my armor so that THEY can do the same.. I haven't hidden my tech away from the public because I'm stingy, I've hidden it away because people aren't ready for it. You have to appreciate that, right, Assistant Director of SHIELD?"

If they've done their homework, or hell… if they've been listening to his and Eve's conversation, they know his Arc Reactor is failing. "If you have enough information about me to build this.. then you have the resources I need to fix my reactor. Help me… and in exchange, I'll help you. Consultant… and I'll even wave my usual consultant fee." Adding, "And foot the bill on helping her." Nodding over to Eve.

*

"Does this mean I'll get my own repulsors?" Evelyn comments, looking up from Darcy as she comes back with the proper forms, "Oh. I have it, thank you." Her voice is sweet as she turns down Darcy. The report is hers to fill out, and there's a lot of details that she needs to put in there. Things that she noticed that other people wouldn't. She has a good memory when it isn't completely and utterly fucked from electrocution, being shot, or smashed. In fact, her reports are usually so long and formal that they provide just wonderful intel.

Usually her reports even include a shorter cover version for execs like Maria who only want the brief version. They don't have time to read her crazy reports. Maybe they do sometimes. It makes her worth her weight in paper, at least. When Tony mentions his arc reactor she looks up, then at Maria. Staring. What.

*

That's the look exactly, right there. 'What are you doing and how badly am I going to regret handing you anything with a power button?' With the explanation offered Hill noncommittally states "You've been busy." This may also explain why he had been in such meaningful conversation with the synthetic agent before she came in and interrupted everything.

He's also been acting..? (Hey, it's impossible for her to know -everything.- She does have an entire Division to run on top of keeping tabs of individuals!) "So you -haven't- lost your mind," she replies as a statement rather than a question. As in, he had -better- not have lost his mind…

When Darcy is brought up Hill first wants to jump to the defensive, the other woman is an agent of the Division and all, but..well, there are times where even she doesn't have any ground to stand upon. "She's new," is the best that Agent Lewis will get in her defense.

When he asks her the next question, she responds with "More than you probably realize."

The matter of Evelyn is something which has come up several times already, before Clint had brought her into the fold in fact. The lady's built off of tech which is too fancy to trust in the hands of any other organization, including the one which had originally built her, though ..simply put, she's expensive as hell.

Oh, and as much as Hill doesn't trust freelance superheroes, they -do- serve an important role. One which SHIELD can, and does frequently, use. It's in her better interest to see that Tony doesn't die. How's that for being twisted?

"One step at a time," she promptly counters Evelyn's repulsor request. "I'd like to start with you not falling apart like a damn Missus Potatohead every time you get smacked. Upgrades can wait, if you're psychologically prepared for them." Because last Maria heard, Evelyn hadn't been all that thrilled about being 'not normal.'

Another deep breath leaves the Deputy Director with arms folded together, returning her focus to Tony in that 'what am I going to do with you…' sort of fashion. "We'll need copies of your notes so we're not wasting our efforts reinventing the wheel. If you happen to find a way to make her less of a financial impact for us, so much the better," she finishes while motioning toward Evelyn.

It's as close to a handshake's agreement that she's going to offer today.

*

It'll do.

If the Organization that is currently holding him has information involving Gods, they'll certainly have files somewhere about yet undefined elements. Elements that Tony can then turn into an Arc Reactor that wont lead to him having a heart attack, which is really not going to do anything or anyone. They may not trust him, but he's one of the smartest men on the planet…

That has saved his life more times than he can count. No reason not to let it keep doing so.

"Three things, my work stays my work. Just because you don't trust me with it, doesn't mean I can't be trusted. That isn't your judgement call to make until I start going off the reservation. When it involves something that might impact the world, I'll give you as much information as I think you need to know." They're setting the rules, he's just playing by them. So far, every he knows about them amounts to what he's pieced together from what they've said. And given that he's sitting with a magnet on his chest and the metal in his heart was not public knowledge… he'll just assume they have eyes in places he doesn't want them to.

He'll find those.

It was a mistake to let him figure that out, but he's pretty sure Maria knows that.

"Second, I'll give you every piece of information about what I do to Eve. Both fixing her and any ideas I have for upgrades to her system. Everything goes through her… she might be a piece of equipment to you, but she's a person to me." Much like JARVIS, who he has continuiously refered to as HE, not IT.

"Third. We really need to work on our canter…" Waving his hand back and forth, "I'm being upfront here… but if we're going to keep each other at arms length, I'm going to need some leway. Either you want to talk to Tony or you're asking to talk to Stark… I need you to tellme which one, so I'm not wasting time figuring the social interaction out here… it's exausting and I don't have a lot of time left." Tapping his metal box chest accessory emphatically.

*

"It was a joke, mostly." Evelyn comments. Maria's right on, and if the annual therapy session for her introductory screening was any indication.. Well. Any long term modifications to her body could cause undue psychological stress on her self image and dysphoria. A fancy way of saying any modifications could really fuck her up. That's not even considering the technical implications of modifying a system as complex as Eve. The fact that the laboratory that created her was able to create what appears to be -sincere life- is just a miracle of science. It shouldn't have been possible, yet here she is.

Speaking of that laboratory, "..I could.. I could maybe give my.. Well.. Maybe Doctor Gray and Doctor Bretel a call.. Maybe they could help you, Tony." It's the first time that she's said those names in a long time. A damn long time. Usually she has significant reason to keep those names classified but SHIELD already knows them, and Tony is part of SHIELD almost. He probably won't know who they are, but he might. There's certainly news on either of them.

On the other hand, she seems to do very well with short-term modifications. Food for thought. "Thanks, Tony." The inventor gets an appreciative look. Mostly because of genuine appreciation. "She is right, though. While I am a person, my 'healing' process is incredibly expensive. Just a small drawback, I guess, for the price of immortality." Also true. Saying that drives ice into her heart, because it's a genuine admission of her non-human features. But again, if ever there were a time to be frank, it's /right now/ with Maria and Stark here.

*

Everyone has a role to play… Whether that means being a complete hardass or letting certain bits of information 'slip,' Hill plays a dangerous game. She's made mistakes before, she'll make more during her time here. Some have been quite costly, too. But, as a former Marine and very skillful spy of all things, she's no stranger to the game of give and take. Stark would have found out about their eyes and ears sooner or later, that much is a given. Now she knows the exact point at which it became clear to him, which means she knows what to watch for, and where.

More or less. She's still one person, she can't possibly catch everything.

The bigger concern is if they'll be able to keep the situation contained, should Stark decide to get particularly involved with their systems at some point.

The remark about how she acts toward Evelyn puts her on the defensive, however. "An -Agent,-" she corrects. A resource more than a piece of equipment, granted, though one of the single redeeming qualities on Hill's record is that she has a history of not leaving anyone behind. That would include people like Evelyn. It just happens to be true that Evelyn also has a habit of falling apart and losing limbs, it is what it is. If Fury kept losing eyepatches she'd probably bitch at him for that, too.

As for her thoughts on the information going through Evelyn and not Hill directly… It's a double-edged situation. Evelyn's proven to be quite robust at her core, limbs aside. Her reports have always been written with an OCD level of detail. Really, the big concerns are her current lack of security clearance and that Tony's planning on helping to improve her, which means he's going to know more about what makes her tick than the SHIELD techs will. This could become a problem down the line.

Fortunately, she's certain that a twenty millimeter Quinjet-mounted railgun would still be sufficient enough to deal with that matter if it ever came to pass.

"Are you trying to say that you'd rather be called by your first name?" she pointedly asks. "That's not something I make a habit out of. Tell me this, what's the difference in your eyes? Because I see it as a dividing line between you picking up random protestors for a night on the town versus being hyper-focused in your work, in which case I would much rather be speaking to the latter."

Evelyn's given the proverbial floor for her moment before Hill adds "If she were nothing more than a 'piece of equipment' I wouldn't have her cluttering up one of these beds. However, if you're going to insist that she be the go-between I'd be hard pressed to find a more qualified agent for the task." So, congratulations on the promotion, Evelyn!

*

"I regret nothing." Tony says of his original intentions for the night inquestion being to pick up women. That it just so happened to put him in the right place at the right time to where he could stop a GOD from getting away with an energy accelerator is happenstance. Chances are he would have made it there as soon as JARVIS informed him that there was a situation on the bridge. He ''does'' have satelites, afterall.

"So… do I get a badge?" He asks, looking between Maria and Eve, grinning like the playboy has slipped back in and the Billionaire genius has taken a backseat. It works like that. "I think I deserve a badge? Maybe you could wait to take my picture until I've picked out something smart to wear, though?" It's a temporary thing.

He had already started to think there had to be an organization that kept track of these heroes. After the Gala event, the sheer number of powered individuals was staggering. He'd known there were some and given what he's been informed about the S-mutates? Yeah, he can appreciate someone keeping tabs. Now he can keep tabs on them… sorta. It's a work in progress, regardless.

Rich as he may be, Tony has always fancied himself as looking out for the little guy. It's ironic because nobody would have ever considered him as rooting for the underdog, given his particular set of talents.

*

Part of Evelyn's list of mental disorders are includes a dysphoria regarding her mechanical condition. She feels human. Acts human. Thinks human. Looks human. But when she doesn't, something becomes unaligned in her mind and she withdraws or strikes out. Like just who she feels she is doesn't quite align with what she actually is. Maybe that's always been the problem of full human to machine interface. Maybe not. It would explain the lack of humanlike non-LMD androids in the world. They had the capability to produce her. If it were easier, others would have done it too. The technology is available, as they say.

The result of this condition also usually involves a degree of paranoia, thinking that those she trusts probably don't see her beyond what she physical is. A reaction to not being normal. It's hard for her, and would probably be enough to discharge her from service with her other mental disorders if this weren't her entire career. There are exceptions that are made to have a machine soldier on your side. AIM would kill for her. They've tried. So has the CIA to try and get her back. It was until now that Evelyn was convinced that Maria likely felt that she was equipment too, despite piling evidence otherwise.

So it's understandable that Evelyn looks floored when Maria says what she does. Her eyes are wide and eyebrows raised as she double-backs in her head to hear that again. Did she really just say that? Respect +100. Ding. Level up. It melts the ice in her heart and she wears a stupid grin at the complement. Like a dog with a well-deserved treat. The appreciation is unsaid, but most likely noticed.

*

"And we're back to dealing with 'Tony,'" Hill mutters while dipping her head long enough to rub at her hairline. Where did that coffee of hers run off to, anyway..? "You can have a badge once you've joined the Division in an official capacity. Until then, -she's- your badge," the DepDir declares while pointing at Evelyn. "Techs and medical will get you both reassembled and back in the field. I'm counting on you both, here. Don't make me regret it. And Wolstenholm? You let me know if you can't keep this together, -before- we run into any unexpected hangups."

Lord knows the last thing they need is to be at war with one another while the God of Chaos kicks his feet up and enjoys the show.


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