Mission Report

It was barely half an hour since Sam stepped out of the portal back to NYC. Over a week since he had left the city in the first place. He had only briefly spoken to his mother before he stepped through the portal, letting her know he would see her before the end of the day. He changed into his street clothes and seemed to make his bike ride home in no time at all. Before he knew it, he was hanging up his bike on the wall of his apartment and throwing out the spoiled food in his refrigerator. He found himself regretting not eating all of the eggs he made before he left a week prior.

He stepped out of the shower and put on a black deep V and blue jeans. Halfway through shaving, he received a text from Sharon, “What time should I expect you?”

“Leaving my place in 10 minutes.” He replied. He quickly finished shaving and grabbed his bike again.

It was nearly 10am when Sam arrived to Sharon's office building. He locked his bike against the street sweeping sign in front of the building and took a moment to scan the street. Cars zooming on both sides, people shuffling down the sidewalk and the sound of the hustle and bustle of the city was booming as the work day was in full swing. He ran his fingers through his hair, took a breath and walked through the revolving glass door.

"Good morning, how can I - Oh! Mr. Rogers, hello!" the receptionist smiled and blushed.

“Sam. Good morning, Elizabeth. How are you today?” He replied, leaning over the desk. He was quite happy to see her. He had thought about her once or twice over the past week, when he had time in between repairs, logging and training.

“I’m doing very well, thank you for asking, Sam. And yourself?”

“I’m much better now. You look lovely today.” He replied.

“Why thank you! That’s so sweet of you to say. May I ask what has you in such a good mood this morning?” She asked.

“I’ve been out of town the past few days on work and I’m just really glad to be back home. And if I’m being honest, I was looking forward to getting to see you when I stopped by this morning. I hope that’s not too bold, I don’t mean to be gross hitting on you while you’re at work.”

“No, please do not apologize!” She replied, “I was hoping to see you again as well.” She began to speak again when the main desk phone began to ring. She answered, but looked at him, flustered. He decided to take the opportunity and, stealing a sticky note, wrote his cell number down and the words ‘Dinner sometime?’ at the bottom. She enthusiastically shook her head ‘yes’ while she spoke on the phone and he smiled all the way up the elevator.

He walked right through the main floor area of the SHIELD office and knocked on Sharon’s door. A moment later, she opened and her face lit up as she hugged him. “I’m so glad to see you, Samuel. Come on in.” She closed the door behind him as he sat down. She rounded the desk as sat as well.

“Alright, Sam. I know we haven’t spoken much this past week and that there’s been a lot going on. So why don’t you just fill me in on what’s been happening on your end and then I’ll give you my news. Deal?”

“Yes ma’am,” he replied. He took a moment to gather his thoughts about the events of the past week. There were things he was absolutely going to leave out and other things that, for the sake of all involved, he decided to downplay. There wasn’t any reason yet to give SHIELD any negative news. “We arrived at the upstate facility exactly 8 days ago, not long after we were provided the information. I accompanied Theo, Niko, Gwen, Erik and Prince T’Chantem to the compound and were able to bypass the security. We managed to bring online a locally housed AI unit, responsible for the maintenance of the compound. With HELEN’s help, we were able to get the compound up and running within 48 hours. The time spent since then has been dedicated to repairs, team building and training. It was only this morning that our...activities were brought to a halt by a representative of Stark Industries. And, well, you know the rest.”

“I see,” Sharon responded curtly. “And is there anything else you’d like to report? Any other points of interest I may need to know about?”

Sam was fairly certain what she wanted to hear about. They spent far too long fighting to get into the facility for Stark Industries to not notice, and more importantly, to not have grabbed Pepper’s attention. But he did his best to avoid the topic at all costs. Anything involving the questioning of his safety was a hot button issue for Sharon.

“Actually, yes, there is.” He paused a moment. “I found a lot of Dad’s old gear. His suit, some of the equipment he used in the field. I also found his shield. It was all there, just like you thought.”

“Sam you KNOW that’s not what I’m talking about. You were all nearly killed.” She stared at him, very upset.

“I KNOW that’s not what you’re talking about, Mom. But what else am I supposed to say? It’s the same deal as the armored car; we ran into an issue and we dealt with it. Together. Yes, our lives ended up in danger, but we knew that was a possibility and, frankly, so did you. That’s what this job is, Mom. It’s being in and dealing with danger, with people you trust.”

She readjusted herself in her chair, “Okay. Fair enough, you’re right...So the inventory. You grabbed all of your dad’s gear?”

“Just the equipment and the suit. I left the shield in his training locker. I’m not sure it’s...a good fit,” Sam replied, unable to hold eye contact with her as he finished answering.

Sharon stood up, rounded the desk and sat on it, in front of him. “What do you mean? Did something happen, Sam?”

“Nothing happened, Mom. It’s just...that shield is so much more than JUST a shield. It’s a symbol. HE made it a symbol. Of strength, of good...of leadership. It’s a beacon. And it should be treated as such. And if I won’t be leading the charge the same as he, I would only let his image down. I can still help with my two bare hands and my wits. I can still do good without it.”

She smiled and looked at him a moment. “Sam. Your father was a fantastic leader and a fierce friend. He didn’t need the shield to lead others. And he was using that shield long before he fought with the others. He was a symbol on his own. It was through that, he gave the shield meaning. I’m not saying that you do or don’t need it. I’m only saying that, if you choose to pick it up; you will carve your own meaning and it will resonate the same. And others will flock to that meaning, just as they did to him.”

He felt a tidal wave of relief hit his chest. He had been pushing himself so hard the past week, trying to prove himself worthy of something he didn’t even need. But he realized how right she was. He could be his own person, while still honoring his father. The shield was his to use to forge a new symbol.

“So overall, you’d say the mission was a success?”

“I would,” he replied. “We accomplished all objectives and made real strides in our individual and collective training.”

“Excellent, I knew you would,” she said, with a smile. “Which brings me to my news, my first order of business as it were. SHIELD has some…concerns. And I think the majority of them would be assuaged if we had someone on the inside, someone we could pass intelligence to, and someone who we could trust to provide intel to us. Does that make sense?”

The tidal wave of relief was immediately eclipsed by a larger wave of discomfort. “Exactly what ‘concerns’ does SHIELD have at this time?” he asked, adjusting himself in the chair. “And who exactly do they have in mind for ‘passing intel’?

"There's no need to be defensive, Samuel," Sharon said lightly. "I know you're a bit young to remember the spirit of the Sokovia Accords, which showed how quickly things can spiral out of control if left unchecked. So I'm sure, being rational, you can understand why SHIELD has concerns. For example; you and the Maximoff boy stopping the armored car robbery. While I agree, that was commendable, it was also a bit reckless, and you were both very lucky no one innocent was injured. All of you fall into a category of enhanced humans; people with amazing potential and power. SHIELD is just concerned that it be utilized properly, responsibly. As to who we have in mind, I can't think of a better candidate than yourself. You've trained alongside SHIELD, you have a level of maturity far beyond your 25 years. And there's no one I personally have more faith in than you."

He sat there, pondered for a long while in the chair and finally got up and looked out the window, just able to see his bike down below. “I remember what Dad said about his feelings towards the Accords. How it would do more harm than good. How they would be stopped from acting where they were needed most, and sent to places they felt they shouldn’t be. And how that use of our power should only be left to us. I’m not blind though. I know that oversight isn’t all evil. It can still be done with good intention. But...I don’t want to lie. Not to them, Mom. They are the closest thing I’ve had to real friends. And I can’t just sneak around and report their day to day like that. It would go against everything we are trying to be.”

"While that's very admirable Sam, it's also foolhardy," Sharon chastised as she crossed to the front of her desk, leaning back against it. "Your father, before he became an Avenger, was a soldier in World War II. Tony Stark, a scientist and industrial leader. Bruce Banner had several Phd's. They were older, and they'd experienced more. Even so, the Avengers Initiative itself was a SHIELD project. No one is asking you to lie or to even skew the truth. You've had what, a week with this team? Tell me, who has that kind of experience? Give me a reason SHIELD shouldn't be concerned. It's not as though…" she picked up a file from her desk "a Quinjet was crashed, or a billion dollar MK 44 is now serving as a… what exactly is an Iron Spider?"

“That's-” Sam hesitated, “That’s not what it looks like.” He ran over to take the file from her off of the table and sat back down. “Okay look...if I’m able to be up front with them about me making reports, then fine. But I’m telling you right now, that the moment you all start tightening leashes and barking orders, the others aren’t going to stick around and even I can’t do anything about that.” he opened the file and scanned through the documents, shaking his head at the absurd, non context filled report. No doubt a large portion of the info came from HELEN. Sam never thought he would be disappointed in an A.I. but he came to trust her. “What do you mean ‘Liberal use of explosives for area breach?!’” He said aloud, still reading. “Oh come on! It was ONE grenade used on a security door.”

“From what we understand, the compound is in quite a state of disarray, I believe an entire crew has been called in for repairs. Sam, if the lot of you can’t control the damage during training exercises, what will happen in the real world? SHIELD at least would provide guidance, an umbrella as it were. No one is looking to tighten any leashes or bark any orders. Just provide a little… direction, structure. And we can’t do that if we don’t know what’s going on. We want to ensure that you’re utilized correctly. You wouldn’t remove an appendix with a broadsword, would you? You’d use a scalpel. Right now - your team is like the broadest of swords."

“Point,” he begrudgingly responded. After a moment, he began again, “Okay, so...how would this work?”

Sharon smiled, the prideful smile of a mother whose son was making a wise choice. "You'd be assigned a case officer from Shield; they'll be your point of contact. Once we're sure your team is up and running - if a situation requiring any of the team's skill set arises - we'll see to it that they have Intel and resources at their disposal and decide who, if anyone should be deployed. For your part, the information you provide to your case officer will be invaluable in deciding who should be deployed and where."

“I understand.” he replied simply.

“I knew you would. You’re doing the right thing. I’ll see if John Coulson is available to meet with you before the end of the day.”

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