Making Good Time with a Few Potholes

“They work with my Mom; they were just giving me a ride. They offered to take my bike back to my place to I wouldn’t have to ride here, since I had all my stuff with me. It’s nice to not have to ride everywhere. I usually don’t mind it, but I wanted to just relax this morning and traveling with two bags during traffic didn’t exactly fill me with a sense of joy.” Sam buckled his seat in the front passenger seat. “Besides, why does who I spend time with concern you? I have a date later this week, are you concerned who that’s with too?” He laughed as he pulled out his phone to check his messages. There was only 1 message, from Coulson.

“Yes! With who?” Niko asked. “Dibs on the girl at the Fast Ticket grocer.” An elbow from his cousin put him back on track. “They were SHIELD?”

“Why didn’t your Mom just drive you?” Gwen asked cracking open a Snickers bar. Of course, she was using teenager logic and her relationship with HER mom as the bar for comparison.

“Funny enough, Niko, it’s the receptionist of my Mom’s office. She’s rather beautiful.” He blushed for a moment. “And to answer your question, Gwen; As much as I’m sure my Mom would like to chauffeur me around, she’s quite a busy person. She’s currently flying to the UK for a meeting of some type.” Sam opened his messages.

‘Good morning Mr. Rogers. Has your team been briefed?’

Sam typed out a reply. ‘Not mine, but they will be debriefed before noon. We are heading to the compound now. Will call for further instructions.”

“Ooo, some one’s got the hots for Miss Moneypenny,” Gwen teased.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, either of you. Going on dates when we’re supposed to be… training?” Theo couldn’t even say the word without scrunching up her face. She hated training. She was ready to start saving the world already. “Sam, from now on I think you should stay clear of those people your mom works with. We haven’t established ourselves yet and they have more resources than us. I just don’t want them trying to take our Rogers out from under us.”

“Theo isn’t wrong on this. We have zero reasons to trust them yet and I haven't finished going over all the security protocols. It’s pretty extensive plus it’s old too. So we don’t know if any changes were made and if there isn't any piggybacking going on,” Gwen pointed.

“I’m glad it’s not the Fast Ticket grocer girl,” Niko added, popping some Dorito/Almond/M&M trail mix in his mouth.

Sam’s smile quickly faded as he turned to face them in the backseat, “While I can certainly appreciate what I’m going to assume is your genuine concern and not your need to tell me what to do, I’m going to go ahead and still be around my mother, Elizabeth and anyone else I choose to be around. Now, with that being said, I’m very much looking forward to training, so how about we get moving?” He turned back around and scratched his forehead.

“Loving your mother and us trusting her are two different things. She’s a trained spy after all.” Gwen pointed out between bites. Gwen may not have realized it off the bat but MJ had instilled a level of paranoia in the girl. One doesn’t get repeatedly kidnapped by the green goblin in their formative years and not pass on the valuable knowledge of the importance of secrecy.

Theo gave Niko a look then shrugged. “Almond,” and she held her hand out. “I think we should trust Sam and his mother. I’d like to meet her.”

“We met her, Miskja. At the apartment.” Niko reminded his cousin as he handed her an almond. “Sam benched 450, his mom showed up, used his first AND middle names, and warned him not to trust us. There were no snacks offered, except juice.”

“Okay” Sam turned rapidly around and glared at Gwen, “Gwen, I’m going to forgive you for that shortsighted and, frankly, extremely disrespectful comment you just made about my own mother. But how about a new rule, gang? Noone speaks about my mother. Period. Another word and I will take my leave.” He spun around again, “Speaking of taking our leave. Erik, can we hit the highway now? We do have a timetable to keep.”

Niko glared back on Gwen’s behalf. “Ghost Spider girl didn’t say anything disrespec--” He was interrupted by his cousin.

Theo leaned up and thumped Sam playfully on the shoulder. “That’s the spirit. I like this new you, Sam. Very tough and sure of yourself. We’ll need that on our first mission. Just don’t forget who’s in charge. And… we need a driver. Thorson!!”

“Cripes, what did I say … she IS a spy.” Gwen grumbled, confused. It had been her understanding even in the heyday of the Avengers, Fury had only been trusted so far. He was second to none except Natasha aka the Black Widow. How was it not a valid concern?

Erik had been frozen watching the back and forth while picking up Niko and Theo’s bags. At being called out though he reanimated and got both bags on shoulders. “Uhh yeah...once everyone’s stuff is in we’re good to go.” He quickly tried to excuse himself from the standoff and placed both bags in the trunk, making sure to look as busy as possible to avoid any further awkward moments.

“According to the Google, sitting in the front seat make you in charge of music, Sam. But I do have some songs already on my phone here in case you need some tunes. That’s right, everyone,” and she showed her phone around like it was a trophy, “I now have a phone and can operate some of it. When we get back to the Compound the computer lady stuck in the walls will have some explaining to do. Sam, do you want the music?”

“Thorson picks the music.” Niko corrected. “Driver picks the music, shotgun just gets to be shotgun.”

“Agreed. It’s Erik’s truck, let him cruise to his own music.” Sam chimed in.

“But we don’t use guns,” Theo was clearly confused.

“It’s an expression, like how sometimes you say ‘Bird Shit’, when there has clearly been no bird or no shit, but something is really awful,” Niko explained. “Can you move your seat up, Foster- Thorson?” The only thing worse than being in a slow moving vehicle was being in a slow vehicle while crowded in the back seat.

“Oh uhh...sure thing just gimme a sec....” Erik reached down and slid his seat up, now with plenty of room for Niko, but a serious lack of room for himself.

“It’s not too late for me to Sling Ring us upstate. Oh hey! I can try creating a portal right in front of the truck while we’re driving down the road and we all just go ZIP! The truck too, so Thorson? Can we?”

“No magic!” Niko asserted. “Remember, we talked about how much fun it would be to road trip, like… team building. You like team building, Miskja.”

“I do like team building. It’s an important skill for us leaders. But I said that when I thought I’d get a window seat.” Theo elbowed Gwen.

Sam pulled out his phone again and scrolled through the contacts. He found T’Chantem’s name and started typing a message.

‘It’s Sam. Please meet us at the facility A.S.A.P. We all need to talk.’

Niko leaned his head back, hitting the glass of the window behind him. “Are we there yet?”

“You have a phone … open google maps.” Gwen snickered, peering over her game. Niko could flick her in the ear if Theo wasn’t buffering.

"I spy something - imaginary." Theo snorted and slapped a hand against her mouth. "Or do I? Let's roll Daddio." She leaned forward to whisper in Thorson's ear. "That's you, Daddy."

Red Faced, Erik put a firm foot to the gas, half due to his embarrassment and half due to his cramped seating arrangement, sending Theo back into her seat with an excited squeal of ‘Weeeee-hmph’ and the entire truck in motion down the street.

Theo assumed Erik had done that on purpose, to give her a fun jolt. That Thorson, he could be so caring; he really was going to make the perfect -

Erik’s voice broke the moment. “Seat Belts, please! Right! Music...going to work on music.” He flicked the radio to life.

“-And I tell you another thing about these supe-”

“-nd we caaannn’ttt stooopp-”

“-nty roooaddss-”

Finally a few strong guitar chords seemed to indicate something positive to Erik and he left his hand off the dial as the music grew, near silently humming along as he made his way uptown and following his gps Eventually a man’s voice cut through the sound, “Get your motor running”

Niko dropped in his air pods, folded his arms across his chest and turned up his own music.

Theo immediately felt ignored. She looked left and right; Niko was sulking, Gwen was immersed in her game or whatever it is she did on that thing. Erik was focused entirely on the road, finding it the safest way to avoid being dragged into any funny business. Sam was sitting on a shotgun in the front seat trying not to touch the bird shit. Theo still didn’t fully understand that expression, but Niko had assured her it was a thing. She drummed her long fingers atop her knees and stared at the clock on the dash. It must be frozen in time because it hadn’t changed in eons. Oh, nope there it went. It had been another minute. Only one minute.

“You know,” Theo chimed in excitedly, “I could just use my-”

“No!” came the harmonious response from four voices.

Theo looked at them each with pride. One minute into the trip and she was already shaping them into a unanimous team. She was a natural leader and they were responding to her influence. They’d all be in white leather uniforms in no time. She was not delusional at all.

OOC: Joint Post between the Team

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