Changing Socks

Summary:
March 24, 2015: Black Widow has a word with Nick Fury about a… problematic agent.

The Triskelion, Fury's Office


Characters

NPCs
None


Mood Music:


So she doesn't do this often, but what with Hill off on assignment and no one else being of sufficient clearance to discuss this with, Natasha has been trying to get an appointment with one of the busiest men in the world. She's shoved her schedule around to make room to talk to the Director about a particularly delicate subject, so here she stands outside his office, arms folded behind her back, staring at the wall outside the door, waiting to be let in.

"It ain't locked," comes a deep, familiar voice from behind the door. When she enters, Natasha will find Nick Fury leaning back in an sleek metal chair; one eye fixed on a television screen with some sort of radar information. His eyebrow raises as his good eye sees who it is.

"Agent Romanov, tell me to what I owe the pleasure of your company." His monotone delivery has a hint of sarcasm, though Widow doesn't seem to be on his shit list. Not today anyways. "You have 30 minutes. And that's because I like you."

"You know me, Director. Always to the point." She opens the door, of course, and closes it behind her when she steps inside. Striding up to the desk, she withdraws a tablet from her jacket and sets it face-up on the desk. There's an agent's file on it — name, rank, serial number, all that. Agent Argyle. The publicly-known information, at least.

"You're familiar with the primary situation with Agent Argyle?" she inquires, adding — just to clarify — "The deep-cover sleeper agent. So far under he doesn't even know it."

It's clear that Agent Romanov now has Nick Fury's complete attention. He swivels towards her across from his black desk, momentarily forgetting about whatever it was he was studying. His pose is the same however, propping his head up with a hand.

"I am."

"Then you're aware of my report that the Winter Soldier is also aware of his status. He's possibly unaware that we know, but given that the intelligence he acted on wasn't the best, he may have figured it out."

She's still standing. Natasha generally doesn't sit in Fury's presence. It's part of the respect thing.

"You're also aware of my reservations at the beginning of this operation. I can see the utility of keeping the situation as it is, but it's…" How can she actually put this in a politic way? Wrong? The reason I joined SHIELD? Personally aggravating because I know what it's like to have my memories and my mind messed with and because I knew the kid when he was still himself?

"You know why his situation is a personal one to me. But I want you to understand that the concerns I'm bringing today are objective, Director, based on my observations of Agent Argyle before and since his little adventure with the Winter Soldier."

"I do know all of these things, Agent Romanov. Tell me, what do you suggest?" Nick asks now sitting straight up, his head lolls from his right now slightly towards his left. He settles his hands into his lap, the leather on his gloves creaking slightly as they rub together. "Speak plain with me, Natasha."

Natasha reaches out to grip the back of one of the chairs. Some people do sit in front of Fury. She takes a deep breath and sighs.

"I knew him when his name was Sasha," she says. "He was a good kid. Seriously, a mom and dad and apple pie kind of guy, if you just shift it over a continent. They were looking for someone Americans would like, and they asked for my opinion. I said he was the best of the lot, and I was right. The most American of all the Russians they had."

She smiles faintly, giving her head a little shake. "They didn't program in details of his personality. That had to grow out of who he is. And you know that brainwashing isn't a perfect or exact science. It can change what you do, but it's very hard to change who you are. He's a good agent, and I'd say he's downright limited by his conditioning."

She takes a deep breath, lifts her shoulders, and lays it down: "The way I see it, we have a few choices. There's the easy and terminal one. I don't like that one and I'd advise against it — he is an asset. We could allow him to remain as he is, but his conditioning is starting to crack, and he knows it. Argyle knows something's wrong, and I think either he's going to figure out where he can go to find his answers. Or, worse, the answers are going to come find him. The Winter Soldier might kind a kindred spirit in Argyle, and I do not want to have to deal with both of them at once. We could try to strengthen the brainwashing, which I think is possibly a more — a more evil choice, frankly, than just putting a bullet in his brain. Or we could talk to him. Counsel him. We might be able to help him understand, and we might be able to salvage him. To have a better agent after all this."

"Fair enough, Agent Romanov. You might just have convinced me. But like my granddaddy used to say, the only thing that happens in a vacuum is lice parties and a dust storm. I need to dot my i's and cross my t's on this one," Fury replies, sitting back now in his seat. "For now, gather more information. We'll come to a decision on Argyle very soon. Very soon, given the circumstances."

Natasha looks genuinely relieved. She even breaks out into a smile. See? This is why she trusts the Man. The Man never lets her down.

"Thank you," she says. Hell, there's even a sign that there's a weight off her shoulders. "I'll collect what evals we have. Given that he's starting to feel the strain of it, he's asked for some vacation. I'll let him know that we're checking on when we can survive without him for a few days and confidentally suggest a counseling session. He trusts me a little, I think."

Fury gives a nod, "I think that's a good idea." His eye flashes up towards the clock. "You didn't even use your full half hour," he says before looking back to her. "I knew there was a reason I liked you."

"I hate having my time wasted," Natasha replies with a grin. "And I know how much you hate it, too. This is why I'm your favorite. So unless you have anything for me?" And if there isn't, she's on her way to the door.

Nick is already turning back toward his screen, "Not a thing, little lady."


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