The Handler

It was just past Noon when Sam returned to his apartment. He only just sat on the couch when his phone rang. He decided to let it go to voicemail, needing a moment to sit and recollect himself. It had been a very long and confusing day and he still had plenty of it to go. A few moments later however, it rang again. And rang a 3rd time. Realizing he wouldn’t be able to ignore it, Sam pulled the phone out of his pocket.

‘Incoming Call - Private’

“Hello?”

“Mr. Rogers? This is John Coulson. I was wondering if now was a good time to chat?”

He sighed, clearly frustrated, “Yes. Hello, Mr. Coulson. How can I help you today?”

“Sharon Carter forwarded your number, if you had a moment I thought I could introduce myself, and discuss a few things.”

“Of course. I’m here to serve.” he replied, still annoyed.

“Perfect.” John replied, in the same pleasant tone, as he hung up the phone and knocked on the door to Sam’s apartment.

Sam looked at his phone, then to the door and back to the phone, Why do I even have this? He threw it across to the other side of the couch and rubbed his forehead he walked toward the door. He opened it to see a man of medium height and average build, in a suit and tie, carrying a briefcase. “I suppose this is something I’m going to have to get used to. Fantastic.” He motioned for the gentleman to step inside.

“If now is not a good time, I would be happy to come back in say an hour,” John replied, apologetically. “I do have to say though, it’s an honor to be working with you. My father was actually quite the fan of your father, still is, in fact. Pity I’m not able to divulge that we’ll be working together.”

“No, it’s fine, I apologize. It’s just been a rather long morning and I don’t suspect it will slow down, that’s all. And, please, you don’t have to blow smoke up my ass, I haven’t done anything to be honoring anyone like that. That was Dad’s thing, I’m just...me. So what’s on the docket?”

“I have a feeling it’s the start of many long mornings, Mr. Rogers if the past is any indication.” Coulson started. He was soft spoken but direct, like his father. “But I’ll get right to the point. The Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, or S.H.I.E.L.D. has been running a skeleton crew quietly for the past fifteen years. Since the majority of our operations centered on Enhanced persons as well as global threats, there simply wasn’t a need for the full scale operation back in your father’s time, er... His second time, his time with the Avengers. Our main tasks, aside from global watchdogs, was in trying to predict and prevent the re-emergence of Hydra as well as keeping quiet surveillance on known enhanced personnel, such as yourself. So as you can imagine when the Maximoff cousins started showing up on news feeds, S.H.I.E.L.D. did more than take notice. I believe your mother provided you with the files we’d compiled on the enhanced persons Theodosia Maximoff gathered together? Suffice it to say, you aren’t the only ones out there.

Personnel on your team, if you’d like to call it that can be invaluable to an organization such as S.H.I.E.L.D. which is where I come in. I’ll be acting as your case officer. We’ve been in contact with Ms. Stark, and we’re all in agreeance that the Upstate facility would be best by way of a base of operations and training facility. According to her proxy who admittedly hasn’t observed the team in action, there were some concerns as to the team’s readiness. As you could imagine, this makes your input on the matter invaluable.”

Sam took a long while to contemplate his response. He and his friends had to tread carefully here with S.H.I.E.L.D. They could be a great asset, but they would also invite a very large microscope on their lives from this point forward. And any mistakes or scratches, may very well see them disbanded before they really ever had a chance.

“Well, Mr. Coulson. I will be honest and admit that the team could use a little more...direction, during our training exercises. Strangers being brought together to become a team can have its bumps, I’m sure you know. But it is something that I have been actively working on and I’m happy to say there has been good progress in the short time-span. Outside of that, I have every confidence that every member will do their utmost to assist where needed. We all have our hearts in the right place, sir.”

“I wish S.H.I.E.L.D. shared your credence. I’ll be honest with you, Sam, may I call you Sam? If S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to deploy this type of team, it won’t be on any milk runs. We’d be sending you because there is no one else to send. These are at all costs assignments. Doing their utmost can be catastrophic, we need to know who at this time can get the job done, which brings us to our order of business.

You and I are going to have to establish a level of trust, and we may not have a lot of time to do so, because your first assignment is coming sooner than you think. We have an important but potentially volatile package to be retrieved. Are you familiar with the term Broken Arrow? We potentially have a similar situation. Who am I sending in?

Give it a little thought. I’ll be in touch with you again shortly. It truly is an honor to be working with you.”

Coulson handed Sam a business card and let himself out without giving Sam much time to reply. He figured that the real danger would come soon, but not this soon. Broken Arrow, he thought to himself. It wasn’t good. S.H.I.E.L.D. was about to bring a metaphorical nuclear family to handle a legitimate nuclear situation. And the time had to be brutally honest with himself. Who REALLY could handle something like this?

First, their was Niko. He still had occasional tendencies to act somewhat below his age. And though Niko has made progress with his patience for things slower than himself, Sam still worried that Niko would not be on his best behavior when speaking with any S.H.I.E.L.D. representative. But he couldn’t deny, if you wanted someone in and out quick, there was no one better suited to the task.

Gwen came to mind next. Her agility, intelligence and creativity are going to be major assets to the team. She listens, she can quickly assess situations and if pushed herself a little harder, would be an absolute powerhouse. But then, as it oddly usually happens, Sam had to remind himself that Gwen is still a kid. A kid who can do incredible things, yes, but a kid nonetheless. This was absolutely not the mission to bring her on. Even if he could be 100% sure her mother wouldn’t find out, it would still make him feel uncomfortable. How would he be able to focus on coordinating the mission if he was worried about her safety the whole time?

Erik had an immense amount of raw strength in him. No surprise of course, being the offspring of a demigod. But it seemed Erik’s life was spent hiding away from most of his abilities and history. He seems almost scared to really let himself use his power. Perhaps Sam could find time to spend with Erik, one on one. Maybe he could figure out what makes Erik tick and get him to have more confidence in himself.

Prince T’Chantem was obviously a no-brainer. High degree of fighting prowess, very intelligent, a great tactician and, dare Sam admit, a sharp dresser. The only possible downside is the fact that he is a Prince. He has his own set of obligations to an entire nation. Obligations that may very well be placed above the needs of the team. Sam couldn’t blame him for this, of course. It was T’Chantem’s birthright and burden to lead his country to continued prosperity. Like with any similar situation, having to constantly choose between two major responsibilities can be daunting. But Sam knew that, if they really needed him, the Prince would stand by them.

Sam poured himself a glass of orange juice and as he put the jug away, a thought hit him; And then there’s Theo.

Sam had rather mixed feelings about Theo. She was responsible for kicking all of this off. For reaching out to Sam, trying to find others. She gave them a place to rest their heads before they found the upstate compound. And she has an incredible drive. But he couldn’t deny that her mental state, if not properly taken care of, would be catastrophic to not only the team, but to anyone else nearby. He knew she would never intentionally hurt anyone. He found her to be rather sweet and charming, despite her more loud expressions. But if her mind began to slip from her control, there’s only so much they could do to stop her. And how will S.H.I.E.L.D. react when they find out that she’s placed herself as the team’s leader? Best case, they tell her she can’t go on this particular mission. Worst case, they ask her to step down until she’s better. Either way, it’ll be really ugly. Sam couldn’t image Theo would take any of the situations well. For all of her talk about wanting to do good, he worried that she seemed rather determined to insert herself into whatever is happening. And that doesn’t bode well for the greater good.

About an hour had passed since Coulson had left Sam’s apartment. He paced back and forth by his weight bench with his phone in one hand, the business card in the other. Making this call may mean upsetting some of the team. But he had to have faith that everyone will understand his decisions and trust in him. He dialed the number on the card and sat on his bench. After a few rings, the call connected.

“Coulson.”

“Rogers. Should ‘Broken Arrow’ be confirmed, Myself, T’Chantem, Erik and Niko can be ready to deploy.”

“Copy that. I’ll be in touch.”

*click*

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