Altered Assignment

Summary:
January 1, 2015: Eventide's about to have an unexpected visitor.

Hautzig's Office

This place is a dump, but is that due to the assignment or the nature of the beast?


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
None


On New Year's Eve, Ronnie Hautzig watched the Flash push a bad guy into an interdimensional rift of some kind or another. This is a problem, because the Flash is maybe kind of almost her boyfriend, and a key part of her progress in her mission.

It's now noon on New Year's Day. Ronnie has slept about two hours. After that two-hour sleep, she checked her phone for any messages from Barry Allen, then her email. (Nope, just students…) The delayed deadline for her students' term papers is fast approaching. She decided to deal with it later. She injected the day's dose of Aleph Zero Formula into her ass cheek and then worked out for a while, and finished with staggeringly intense yoga.

And it's noon, and now Ronnie is checking up on work. Reviewing progress from her students, answering questions, slapping aside lame excuses. She's wearing a hippie-ish white and blue sweater, and a pair of black panties because it's her private domicile and she doesn't have to wear pants if she doesn't want to. She's sitting cross-legged on her floor, laptop in her lap, typing with one hand while she eats ice-cold, rock-hard, two-day-old leftover 'chee-z-bred (R)' from some pizza chain or another.

*

It may be a private domicile, yet visitors still occur. Ol' man Murphy probably had something to say about unexpected company dropping in on days where a person just wants to slum it in their underthings. The sharp knock on the door comes otherwise unannounced, completely unscheduled, and to top it all off, it's by a completely unfamiliar visitor.

It's Maria Hill. ..Except that it's not. Image inducers are always in supply with SHIELD's global toybox. The woman waiting on the other end shares similarities such as height, weight, and shorter cut hair, though her skin tone is a few shades lighter, her eyes are green, and her hair has been lightened to brown with a few carefully applied blonde highlights. She's also completely without any sort of uniform. No identifying marks.

Just some lady in 'business lite' attire, warm and mobile while remaining just professional enough to get her just about anywhere she might like to be.

Such as right outside of Veronica's door. Go figure.

*

Answering the door is a multi-step process: setting aside laptop, putting half-eaten rock of chee-z-bred (R) somewhere where it won't result in ants, getting up, taking a step and then realizing what you're wearing…

Long story short, Ronnie ties a big red plaid flannel blanket around her hip like a sarong and answers the door like ~that~. "Uh, hi," she says, holding the door as if ready to close it again, and staring at the mysterious woman. "Look, I'm not really up for buying anything, or… donating, or whatever."

*

Part of SHIELD training, learning to read a situation through peripheral vision. NotHill stands as still as a statue when the door is open but she sees the state the other Agent is in, which prompts the flat-toned question "Rough night?" by way of greeting.

Whether the question is answered or not, she's quick to get down to matters of business. It's taking time out of her day to be here, after all! "You've already been donating plenty, Agent Hautzig. 'Or whatever.'" She made sure the hall outside is clear of bystanders, she's not the careless sort. Generally.

"If you'd prefer this to remain a non-public affair I might suggest that you invite me inside with a modicum of haste. Or shall I let myself in while you make yourself a little more presentable?"

*

Ronnie Hautzig, harried grad student, transforms into Agent Veronica Hautzig, SHIELD undercover agent, almost in the blink of an eye. Her expression hardens and her gaze tightens. "I guess you'd better come in, then."

Ronnie steps back from the door. She's running through situations in her mind. Basically planning for the possibility of fighting her way out. It might come to that. She doesn't like being dropped in on, and she doesn't like contact with SHIELD that's outside of the established protocol parameters.

Ronnie disappears into her bedroom for just long enough to pull on some dark leggings and walk back out. Her hands rest on her hips. "What's this about?" Her tone is clipped and direct.

*

In the short period of time it takes to get dressed the other woman surveys the lay of the land, perhaps with a slight grimace at seeing the petrified remains of what had once been chee-z-bred, of some species or another. (Why is it that every Agent's dwelling looks like this when I drop in?)

To her credit she doesn't start rifling through any paperwork which might be left out. She even leaves the laptop alone. ..Mostly. Hey, if it's already there on the screen it isn't spying!

With the next question directed her way she turns to face the other woman, finally offering an introduction.

"I'm Agent Miller. Believe it or not, I'm here for your benefit. We've been keeping an eye on your progress. (ALL..of your progress…) You've maintained cover, you're continuing to follow procedure, however we felt it ..beneficial to have someone a bit closer at hand for when things get a little awry. Think of me as your new field handler, Agent. My job is to make sure this project stays its intended course."

*

The laptop's screen is an email directed to a student named Kim Traynor, expressing concern about the rough notes she's submitted for her term paper. Nothing salacious. This is her work laptop, anyway. Not her ~work~ laptop. That's kept in a safe under the bed.

"Okay," Agent Hautzig says, after a long moment. She seems annoyed. Another long moment passes. "So how does this change my reporting schedule — /does/ this change my reporting schedule?" She breathes out, probably through gritted teeth.

"And if 'awry' is some cute euphemism for 'if I get hurt or killed,' you can just say it. I'm a grown-up, I assure you." Her apartment is a /mess/.

*

Any intel might be useful intel, even if it's about poorly done notes for an assignment. Right now it's best served as proof that Veronica is doing what she's supposed to be in one of her many roles.

"Your reporting schedule isn't changing," she confirms. Such a change in procedure would be unexpected back at the Triskelion, she'd rather not give anyone reason to suspect the situation has evolved.

"In fact, the only thing which is changing is adding another set of eyes and ears. I'm not trying to interfere, Hautzig. And by 'awry,' I mean 'if that temper of yours gets out of hand' it's my responsibility to make sure you don't do something stupid like put a news reporter in the hospital or flip a car full of puppies in the middle of Manhattan. We're well aware of what you're dealing with, and that if anything did manage to hurt you there's probably very little which any of us could do at that point. We'd rather not see anything result in additional complications."

"In addition," she smoothly continues, "having another set of eyes and ears means that I can get you intel directly which might aid you in your operation. I'm an assist and an extra measure of safety, not a punishment." So far.

*

Ronnie has to bite back a "fuck you" after the car full of puppies comment, mostly because of how it'd prove Agent Miller's point exactly.

"Fine." It's entirely possible that Ronnie is annoyed because she's embarrased: after all, she's a grown woman who answered the door with a blanket tied around her waist. (Still, it helps her cover, that she's just some doofus grad student the real world will one day eat alive.) Still, she's professional despite her obvious annoyance. To a degree, anyway.

And if this is some kind of HYDRA scam, Ronnie can always just beat this woman to death.

"I'll include the details of what's going on right now in my next report," Ronnie says flatly. "But for now… if you're going to be eyes and ears… be a distant set of them. There's stuff going on right now. I don't need someone getting spooked. Pun intended."

*

"Just continue the op as normal, Agent. I'm sure a woman in your position can respect the need for discretion and plausible deniability," 'Miller' states. (So please don't mention me in any of your reports. That would be bad.) "My involvement comes from up high. I'm not here, except for when I'm needed."

That said she pulls a card out with nothing but a phone number, one of those 'remember it then torch it' sorts of deals. "Just don't forget that I'm here, because I'm here for you. So long as you keep me in the loop I won't have to make any further unexpected housecalls," she explains with a thin smile. "So you can continue living in your chosen lifestyle." (And not risk traumatizing me any further.)

"If you have questions I will answer them now. Otherwise, I look forward to working with you."

*

"My assigned lifestyle," Ronnie says, with a subtle raise of her eyebrows. It figures some SHIELD intelligence wonk would have run statistical analysis to let her know just how much of her dark roots she should leave showing.

Ronnie reads the phone number and then crumples it up in her hand. She walks over to the kitchenette area, grabs a box of matches. Then over to the window, which she opens to avoid setting off a fire alarm. It's freezing outside. Ronnie then strikes a match and lights the card on fire, holding it outside the window. She holds onto it well past when a normal person would let go, and then balls her fist around the burnt-black card to snuff the fire out. She closes the window and then sets to scraping off ash now stuck to her palm, into the trash can.

"I'm gonna need something to call you other than 'Agent Miller,'" Ronnie finally says, still picking at the remnants of the card on her skin. "It'd be a bit of a giveaway if someone heard Eventide say that."

*

"Of course," Miller replies with that thin smile remaining intact. 'Assigned' out of character, 'chosen' in character, it doesn't matter so much as the discomfort it seems to be causing the other woman, which is funny.

While the process of burning the card goes underway she crouches down beside the box of chee-z-bred and experimentally picks one up at the very end, pinched between thumb and fingertip. There it hangs in the air, as rigid as a piece of rebar. (I'm pretty sure this defies physics somewhere. Maybe if the labrats get bored I can send one their way tagged as evidence.)

She knows better than to attempt crushing it within her own palm, quietly discarding it amongst its solidified peers and returning upright about when Ronnie's done taking care of other evidence.

"Amy," she replies. "I like to keep things simple."

Of which this operation is anything -but.-

*

"Okay, Amy," Ronnie says, letting the sound ride out on a breath, "And just so you know — in case you didn't already — if you ever have to talk to me on the street, make like you're an old friend from California. Coast City U alum or whatever. And if you /do/ do that…"

Agent Hautzig looks over, having just about finished getting her hand clean. "Call me Ronnie. Not even my mother calls me Veronica. Or Agent Hautzig." She makes a wan smile, like 'hey, it's a joke, but I'm not going to try very hard to point that out to you.'


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