Advise given - Advise taken

“That’s right.” Coulson said on the phone, as he was making his way from the compound to his car. “No, apparently it’s very popular even though it’s almost a hundred years old. I think it involves singing little people. No, not children, little peop…. I’ll call you back. Did you need something Sam?”

Sam ran to catch up with him, “Yes, I’m sorry. I was hoping we could take a walk down to the containment cell, make sure everything is up to standard. Assuming you had the time, of course.”

“I’m sure the facility is fine, Mr. Hogan would have had it inspected, but I have time if you’d like to double check. It’s never a waste to make sure all of your bases are sufficiently covered.”

“I would appreciate it.” Sam looked around for a few seconds, then continued, “It’d also give us time to speak. If I’m frank, I’m in need of some advice.”

“What sort of advice, Mr. Rogers?” He asked, earnestly. “I may not be the best qualified.”

“Well...let’s head inside and we’ll talk.” Sam motioned for Coulson to lead the way back inside.

Coulson shifted his briefcase between hands as they walked back into the facility. “I hope you’re finding everything accommodating,” he offered, small talk not being his, nor his father’s forte.

“The facility itself is very impressive, I’ll give it that.” Sam chuckled, “Though the rooms aren’t as comfortable as my studio back in the city. You come to miss high count thread sheets and memory foam mattresses when you’re thrusted back to military issue pads. Still, I can’t complain. Helen has been a tremendous help maintaining things. I doubt we’d be very far if she weren’t online.” They entered the main lobby and Sam called the elevator to take them down. The doors slid open with a rapid, near silent glide and the bell quietly chimed. They entered and Sam called to Helen, “Helen, sub-basement 3 please.”

Coulson tapped his fingers across the handle of his briefcase as the elevator made its way to the sub-basement. “This containment facility was originally designed for David’s father.” He explained along the way. “But through the years, it’s held many of your parents’ nemeses”.

“Yeah, I took some time and read as much as I could of the archive records. Still some footage I need to sift through, but I’ve seen the majority.”

The elevator came to a smooth stop and the doors slid open. They stepped out into a long, wide hallway. There was no noise other than the echoes of their footsteps. They approached a large door and Sam placed his hand on the biometric scanner.

“Identity confirmed: Samuel Rogers. Access Granted.” HELEN stated in a soft voice. A large clang rang out as the locking mechanism unlocked. The doors grinded fiercely as they opened, the lights inside activating, revealing a massive circular room, in the center a large containment cell. There were half a dozen large metallic tubes jetting from the top, leading into the ceiling.

They walked towards the cell and Sam began to speak, “18 inches of metallic glass, isolated gravity control, vents capable of filtering 24 gallons of aerosol sedative in the chamber within 10 seconds, additional security shutters, internal deployable limb restraints, voice activated electrified floor tiles and full air control to deprive any visitor of oxygen within 8 seconds - truly a testament to Dr. Banner and Mr. Stark’s genius.”

“You’ve done your homework.” Coulson complimented.

“Thank you. Needed to do my homework if I was going to call this place my second home.” Sam tapped on the glass half a dozen times as he looked at himself in the reflection. “How do I get them to trust me?” he asked, still looking into the chamber.

“How do you get who to trust you?” Coulson asked warily.

“The rest of the team.” Sam replied. “They aren’t happy that they have to work for SHIELD and they’re even less happy with the fact that we spoke directly instead of you speaking to all of us at once. I always had a feeling that my relationship with SHIELD and my mom was already making them wary of me. But with this? With David? This puts me further into the dog house in their books.”

“So let me ask you a question in response, Mr. Rogers. Do you trust them?” Your father who practically personified trust believed in transparency. It was his biggest sticking point with SHIELD in their day. I don’t have all the answers, but from my point of view, why would I trust someone who didn’t put their trust in me as well?”

Sam thought a long while about it. He chewed it to the bone. “There’s only one I’m not fully sure I trust. And I think we both know who that is. And why.”

“Then maybe the question isn’t how you can get them to trust you, but rather how you can get you to trust them. Also, full disclosure, if the goal for you is to earn trust, maybe meeting alone in the sub-basement with someone they consider the enemy isn’t your best option.” He offered half of a smile. “I understand, I do. SHIELD isn’t always known for being forthright, when you have the security of the nation at stake, sometimes you have to play your cards close to your chest. Your father didn’t fully subscribe to that school of thought, but then again, he was from a different era when things were a lot simpler in that regard. He who does not trust enough will not be trusted. Trust yourself, and you’ll start to trust others. Does that help any?”

“Mmm. I suppose it does.” Sam turned around to face Coulson, “Thanks for your time. I have someone to speak to. HELEN, inform Theo I’d like to meet her at the rear courtyard fountain.”

“Good luck Mr. Rogers.”

“Fits like a glove,” Theo muttered to herself as she literally put on a pair of gloves. She gave her fingers a wiggle and drew quick pictures of red umbrellas in the air. She already had on her white leather uniform and it had been adjusted to size. Happy Hogan had really handled everything and in only 48 hours! He’d make one hell of a butler. The only augmentation Theo made to the uniform was the addition of a red cape which, she was prepared to consider, might be slightly over the top. But those were decisions to think on during prep for the next mission. Right now she needed to stay focused. This wasn’t really what she had in mind for a mission, but it was infinitely more useful than what she’d been thinking. She gave herself a quick look in the mirror and spun around twice. Shit that cape was awesome.

HELEN: “Theo, Mr. Rogers has requested a meeting at the rear courtyard. The fountain has been marked on your HUD.”

“Fantastic, HELEN. Now please tell me what is a HUD.” Theo was checking the fit of the uniform around the chest and gave it an approving nod.

HELEN: The eyepiece on the top shelf of your locker.

“Ah, yes. Technology. I have a phone, HELEN.”

Silence.

Theo positioned the eyepiece over her left eye and blinked, throwing her head back. “Whoa, it’s right there in your face. She turned left and right, watching the marker on the screen shift. “Hey neat.”
------

When Theo approached the outdoor fountain and saw Sam standing there alone, she looked behind her to make sure it was just the two of them. She made sure to swish her cape a bit extra as she stepped up beside him. “What’s up, Sam?”

“Will you have a seat, please?” Sam asked calmly.

“Oh kay,” she drug it out. “But you know we’re trying to stop a broken arrow, right?” Theo sat down sideways, holding her cape to keep it out of the water. No one ever warned you about that kind of thing.

“I know, but this is important. This will get in the way of the mission and we have to deal with it right now.” He took a deep breath and continued, “Let’s recognize the fact that, since this all started, there has been tension between us. I thought at first it was just figuring out each others groove, but it’s become more and more apparent that we deal with things in different ways. We’ve already seen where that kind of head butting can lead a group like ours. And the last thing anyone wants is us at each other at an airport.”

Theo interjected, “I’m not allowed in airports, TSA said so.” She’d sat with an expressive face, lips and eyes and scrunched up nose as Sam laid it out. She felt like he still had more he wanted to say. “But yes, there’s been some strain.” She reached up and pulled the eyepiece off, blinking her left eye like she’d gotten mascara in there. “Did you want to offer an opinion on the source of that tension?”

“Well,” Sam removed his earpiece, “We both think we should be leading the team. We each think we know what’s best for us and we both want the team to succeed. But we handle things different ways”

“Well let’s look at that. I want to lead the team, because it’s my team. I found each member, from an on-purpose list, and put you on a team. Including you. I know what’s coming, I know how to stop it, well I will when the time comes. SHIELD has been sitting around for 15 years watching everyone watch each other. They don’t know what happened or what’s going to happen. They train soldiers and spies, but that’s not what the world needs right now. The world needs superheroes.” She wiggled her cape.

“You’re being narrow minded and over idealistic, regardless of what you know may know. You brush aside information and support when you should be looking for every advantage you can get. You obsess about Erik’s body but haven’t taken a day to train with us. You’re more worried about making sure your cape can stay a part of your outfit, than doing your simple reading. You make us look bad.”

With red ears, Theo retorted as calmly as she could. “On the contrary. I am utilizing the knowledge and support of SHIELD. I’m just not relinquishing authority to them. I’m thankful for your aid as well, but I’m not relinquishing authority to you either. Why do you think I must hand over the role of leader in order to make use of other’s knowledge and support? And this cape makes me look good. The white leather uniforms make us all look good, like a team. But who is it exactly that’s looking at us? SHIELD? Am I supposed to impress them? Is that who you’re trying to impress?” She tapped her foot and looked up at the sky. “But I will admit to being caught up, occasionally, with Thorson. I will work on refraining from making those comments out loud. I feel like you made another point that I wanted to - ah yes, training. I have not attended any of the training sessions because I did not feel it would be safe to do so. I cannot pull punches with magic. I maybe should have watched you guys from a window or the closed caption TV’s, but I cannot participate in the same way as the others. You would not like the impact it has on your mind. Ask Thorson. But if you want to practice Judo on one another, that would be agreeable.

“Maybe after the mission. I don’t think either of us are in a calm enough mood to do a non lethal practice right now. And it’s more than that. It’s being there, with us for training. None of us even know what to expect when you do actually start using your abilities. How can we properly plan and improvise? You don’t think about any of these things.”

“Magic worries you. I get it. You want to know what each of us can do, but none of us really know what those limits are yet. We all read the files you brought in from SHIELD, but they don’t know what we can do yet. I won’t lie and say I think about those things all the time. There’s a lot of other stuff going on up here,” and Theo thumped the side of her head twice. “Maybe after we fix the arrow I can magic you, will that make you feel better? What if I magic all of us? It’ll be like team building. That’s assuming we don’t die from gamma rays.” Theo looked down at the eyepiece in her hand then over at the one Sam held in his. “Son of a bitch, that part goes in your ear?” She lifted it up and positioned it properly this time. “Oh wow, that does fit better. What do you say, Sam? Ready to go be shield toting superheroes?”

Sam stood up and faced her, “Look, If you can show even 30% more maturity, I could actually trust you.”

Oh we’re standing up now? She quickly stood up and assumed a more mature stance which to her meant a straight posture and chest out. “I wouldn’t even know how to measure something like that, but if I smile less, join in on beating up robotos - fine, if I join the training routines and keep my comments about Thorson’s godlike body to myself, that’s probably 50% more maturity right there. But I keep the cape. Deal?” Theo held out her white gloved hand, red mists of magic floating from her fingertips.

He looked at her hand and finally relented, shaking it. "50%. But you also need to take Niko's earbuds away during meetings."

Theo gave his hand a quick pump. “That would mean you owe me 20% back in humor. Lighten up a bit - when the time is right. Now’s not the time. Serious face. I’ve got a radioactive teenager to find.” Theo turned back towards the compound’s border and wandered out a ways, muttering. Then she turned back and crossed the fountain again. “If I was a broken arrow, where would I be?”

< Prev : Some Assembly Required - Part 2 Next > : Dissension in the Ranks