Field Test

The sounds of landing planes and honking cars were everywhere as Sam pulled into the ‘pick-up’ parking at the LaGuardia terminal. He got out of the unmarked black SUV that SHIELD had allowed him to take from the compound over an hour ago, wearing his blue jeans and his dad’s jacket, and made his way to the baggage claim area. He took a moment to scan the shifting crowds before spotting Darius. Sam approached him with open arms for a hug, “Looks like someone made it back in one piece!”

Darius accepted the hug. “Hey man, and yeah… mostly.” Darius said the last bit as he massaged his leg and looked a bit pained.

“It’s really good to see you. How was the flight?” Sam smiled.

Darius quickly moved his hand, disappointed that Sam didn’t take the bait. “Eh it was fine. Crying kids, angry moms, fun times ya know?”

“If you feel like it, we can talk about it once we get some food in you. What are you in the mood for?” He asked, trying to raise Darius’ spirit.

“There’s my guy!” Darius threw his arm around Sam’s shoulder as they walked toward the exit. “Haven’t had a good burger in a while.”

Two hours passed and they finished their burgers outside of Burger Heaven on Lexington Ave. Sam wiped his mouth with a napkin and looked over to Darius, “So what are your plans while you’re in town?”

“Oh, you know me. Probably go to a bar next, flirt with some ladies,” Darius covers his mouth and mumbles the last bit, “try and find a place to sleep.” He picks his head up and quickly tries to change the conversation, “So what about you? What’ve you been up to?”

“Wait hold on, you don’t have a place lined up already? No hotel or anything?” He asked, confused.

“Well I mean, they offered a hotel but eh. I’d probably do better on my own. What about you man? How’s everything?” Darius again brushes off the very serious fact that he’s homeless.

“No no, that’s not gonna do at all, man. Here, take this.” Sam reaches into his pocket and hands Darius his apartment keys. “Stay at my place awhile. It’s comfy, you can shower, stretch your legs and figure out what you want to do next.”

“Dude I swear to-” Darius quickly sees the apartment key instead of money, which he wouldn't have accepted. “Oh, thanks man.” He reaches for the keys but stops himself. His hand goes back down and he stares at Sam. “So, where are you guys stayin’ at?” Darius says with a sly smile.

Sam looks at him, confused. “What do you mean ‘guys’? I’m on the road for work and I’m technically supposed to be upstate right now, but I’m also technically on down time. Besides, if I’m not using my apartment, there’s no reason you can’t. Unless you’d rather find a place by yourself.”

Darius eyed Sam quizzically, “So you mean to tell me you’re not kicking it with the Maximoff’s? You’re just ‘on the road’... for work?” Darius tried to catch something in Sam’s eyes, but he was never good at that sort of thing.

“You do realize I’ve been working for my mom and SHIELD going on 3 years now, right? How else do you think I pay for my apartment?” He replied, dodging the core of the question. Years of SHIELD training and a masters in communication has taught him to guide a conversation in any way he needs to, to avoid giving away vital information.

“Oh, I did not. So you’re a SHIELD agent now huh? Makes sense.” Darius answers feeling a bit stupid. Sure Sam didn’t answer the question directly, but the answer he gave made enough sense. “How’s that life?”

“Well...lonely for the most part. Though if I'm honest with myself, it’s more so on me than the job. We spent so much time moving around and then I spent so much time studying at school. Then all the SHIELD training and work, I just find it hard to make….well, normal friends. I mean it’s either I lie about who I am and have to maintain a cover for the foreseeable future, or be honest and have people poke and pry and obsess.” He said, running his fingers through his hair. “Still, it keeps me busy, keeps me fit and keeps money in my pocket. So I suppose I can’t complain.”

Darius notices Sam run his fingers through his hair and chuckles. “You still do the…” Darius attempts to mimic the motion but it’s a lot harder to do with short hair. “But you got friends though? Normal or not?”

“If I’m really honest, I don’t know that I’d call them ‘friends’. I have a few other agents I'm on assignment with, I spent a few months with them. I mean, we get along okay enough, don’t get me wrong. But there’s sort of a layer of tension all the time and I find myself on edge a lot. I thought it would have gone with time, but I think it’s still there. I don’t know if it’s because of who I am or if it’s just the way they are.” Sam starts laughing after rethinking about Darius’ mimic. “Hey, I have my mom’s hair and it’s soft as hell, I can’t stop touching it.”

“Couple months? How long does a SHIELD assignment usually take?” Darius asks, now wondering if maybe his Maximoff question wasn’t so off base. But he won’t pry about them anymore, it’s clear that Sam is tense… well more tense than usual Sam.

“Well some can be a day, some a week or so, sometimes its months. It’s whatever they ask of me, really. But I’ll stop boring you with my job. What about you? Any idea what kind of work you want to get into?”

“Well,” Darius scratches his head, “not really. I had a plan but it doesn't look so hot anymore. I’d probably just end up working some security detail or maybe as a bouncer.” Darius says this as if it disappoints him.

“Well what was the original plan?” He asked, standing up and stretching.

“Eh, forget it. It was stupid.” Darius says, brushing it off.

Sam laughed, “Ah come on, I wanna know, man! It’s the least you can trade me for a meal and a place to crash.”

“Ugh, fine. I was kinda hoping you were with those Maximoff people. It… it might’ve felt right. Helping them out and all.” Darius also gets up but avoids any attempts at eye contact.

“Ooooh, so that’s why you’ve been asking about them non-stop. Do you even actually know anything about them, Darius?” Sam asked him, amusingly. “Or has it just been random gossip on base?”

“I asked twice… and mostly gossip. I know the chick’s weird and the dude has abs. Pretty much it to be honest. But c’mon, you’re really gonna tell me seeing them doesn’t give you any memories about back in the day?” Darius asked.

“Oh it did.” Sam began as he sat in the driver’s seat of the SUV. “But it wasn’t exactly pleasant memories. Not to mention, immediately after they pulled their TV stunt, my mom called, freaking out and I had to hear her overreacting the whole day.”

“Point taken, but you’re mom was usually like that to be fair.” Darius followed Sam into the SUV. “So, where to?”

“I’m gonna drop you off at my apartment so you can get some rest. I have to check in on something but I should be able to swing back later tonight if all stays quiet.”

They drove for just over 20 minutes and arrived at a large high-rise. Sam pulled into the private garage in the back of the building, showing his ID to the man at the gate. He pulled up to the door leading inside to the complex and idled the car. “I’m at 7G, you can give my ID to Martin, he works the front desk. Just let him know I gave you the keys.”

“Alright, dope. Thanks Sammy, nice seeing you man.” Darius exits the car and gives a little salute before watching the SUV leave his sight.

Sam pulled away and got back on the highway, heading north. Close to half an hour into the drive, his phone went off. He pulled it from his pocket and saw a text from the Prince, 'County General Hospital'. He took the next exit and looped back to the city. Once he made the roundabout, he texted Darius using speech-to-text, 'Meet me back downstairs in 20 minutes.'. He set his phone down and floored it.

Sam made it back to his apartment and came to a sudden, screeching halt.

Darius waited at the same place Sam left him, now without his bag. He saw Sam pull up with ferocity and couldn’t help feeling weird. Darius opened the door and got in. “Uhh, what’s up?” Darius asked, confused.

Sam peeled off and headed toward the hospital. "I got an update on the assignment I'm on. I may not need your help but...I want your help. We will more than likely have to break a law or two, but there's a chance some young lives are in danger and they may need our help. You okay with that or should I take you back to my place?" He looked over to his lifelong friend.

“Shit bro, that’s all you had to say.” Darius said while putting on his seatbelt. He couldn’t hide the fact that he was excited. Sam and Darius, breaking some laws. Feels good. “And this isn’t SHIELD is it? SHIELD isn’t ‘break the law’ type stuff.”

"Well you know how SHIELD loves operating in the gray area. We need to dig up some information on a Doctor who used to work at a nearby hospital. We haven't been able to get what we need from the outside, so we're going to go inside and see what we can dig up." Sam said as he was swerving effortlessly through traffic.

“Ok, and what’s happening to the kids?” Darius asked as he watched the cars behind them honk. A few angry drivers thought it necessary to flip them the finger.

"Uh...we're not sure." Sam said as they drifted around a corner. "But it can't be anything good if these kids are in comas."

“So we don’t know the mission, the cause, the victims, or the perp?” Darius turned to Sam with a quizzical eye. “Yeah, sure sounds like a SHIELD mission.” Darius said sarcastically.

“True” He laughed, “But we know enough. We know these kids are in comas and the doctor looking over them also fell into a coma. Whatever this is, it stinks to high heaven and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.” Sam continued to move between cars, even passing a cop car while at high speed. Oddly, the cruiser didn't pursue or turn its lights on. “Oh, there may be some of my team there as well, so just be cool. I’m not entirely sure they’ll be okay with it, but that’s for me to deal with, not you.”

“Oh I’m cool. I’m always cool.” Darius was now even more excited. Going on a mission with Sam and meeting some members of his team? It’ll be cool to see who Sam’s been dealing with these past couple months.

After a few more minutes, they pulled up to the back of the hospital and parked in between two unattended ambulances. Sam reached behind his seat and pulled out a small bag. As he exited the car, he opened the bag and pulled out a small lockpicking set. He called out to Darius,
“Keep an eye out.” and began picking the backdoors to one of the ambulances. It took him less than 10 seconds to get the door open, then he jumped inside and began looking through the drawers and boxes. “Perfect!” He yelled as he opened a box containing spare sets of EMT jumpers. He began stripping down to change into the jumper, calling Darius to come inside.

Darius exited the SUV and strolled around nonchalantly as Sam started picking the locks. He followed Sam inside and looked inside the bag of clothes. “Hold up, we have disguises?” Darius wasn’t used to this ‘espionage’ type stuff. He thought this mission would be more force than cloak and dagger.

“Well we can’t just kick open the doors and stroll down the hall, can we? Going through the front would only waste our time.” Sam said, kicking his leg through one of the pant legs. “If any of the others are here, I’m sure they would have already done something involving the front door or the roof. So back it is. Besides, It’s most likely the section of the hospital where they keep what we’re looking for anyway.” He finished dressing and put his own clothes in the box as he exited the vehicle.

Darius grabbed one of the shirts and just buttoned it over his marron shirt. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Canvas the whole place to get info. Guess you got the short straw.” He finished putting the rest of the outfit and it… wasn’t very flattering. To Darius at least. He respected EMTs but sheesh. Get some better looking outfits. “So what’s the plan?” Darius asked.

“We need to locate their file room.” Sam answered as he made his way to the backdoor of the hospital. “We need to find out the name of the Doctor and anything else about him. His information is the only clue we currently have to go on.” When he reached the door, he saw a key fob device next to the door and realized he wouldn’t be able to pick it. So he stood casually by the door and pulled out a cigarette from the bag, lit it, but didn’t smoke it.

Darius just followed Sam through this. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing but when in doubt, follow the SHIELD agent.

Sam heard the light thud of footsteps and muffled voices coming from the other side of the door. He raised the cigarette as if he was smoking it and started speaking casually, “It’s bad enough that the damn MTA buses are in our way half the time, but even the fuckin PD refuses to move our of our way the other half. Then wonder why we’re always the last to arrive at scenes.” As he finishes the statement, 3 other EMTs come out of the door and all give quick statements, agreeing with him. One man asks for a drag of Sam’s cigarette and Sam let him have the whole thing. With the door open, Sam and Darius quickly walk inside as the men leave back to their vehicles.

As Sam and Darius walk in, Darius just feels weird about this whole situation. “Is stuff like this usually that easy?” He asks.

Sam quietly laughs, “Actually only like 30% of the time. I thought we’d be waiting at least half an hour or so, but we got lucky there. Now let’s just hope our luck holds. I’m not sure how long we can just stroll around before someone starts asking questions.” He said in a low tone. “Let’s try down here” He pointed to a fairly empty hallway leading toward the back corner of the building. They made their way down the hall, scanning the names on the doors. Most were offices for individuals and small stock rooms used by the cleaning staff. They reached the end of the hall and found a door marked ‘Employee Records’. They double checked that no one was behind them, and then Sam began picking the lock. Ten seconds later, a pop noise was heard from the lock and Sam pushed the door open as he smiled. “This is fun.”

“Well, yeah… kinda. It’ll be fun when something goes wrong. Be honest, something’s probably gonna go wrong right?” Darius looks back at Sam as they continue to search for… well for anything really.

“Was it the Army who turned you cynical or was it a broken heart?” Sam asked, laughing again as he closed the door and relocked it behind him. He pulled the window shade down and started looking through files, “Look, we’ll be fine. Just do what you can to find any deceased files, the more recent, the better.”

Darius looks down for a beat. “Jessica.” He whispers. He quickly shakes it off and continues searching, “Nah man, it’s not me being cynical, it’s me being anxious. I know you like all this sneaky type stuff, but I’m waiting for someone to come in and catch us so we can…” Darius punches his hand to finish the sentence. “You telling me you don’t wish for your missions to go wrong so you can let out some steam? Especially a guy with your… abilities.”

“I’m not saying I don’t get enjoyment out of what I can do, but that doesn’t mean it’s what’s called for every time. I’m using some of my abilities now; my brains, my ears, my common sense. If it’s a throwdown you’re after, I’m more than certain you’ll get your chance. But let’s try to not make today the day you get your chance.” Sam continued to look through the cabinets. Most were sorted by position, but the groups of files were not arranged alphabetically. He finally came across a row of files that all belong to the Doctors of the hospital. He took out a large stack and placed them on the table, quickly skimming through them. He shook his head, chuckled and spoke to himself, “Do I wish my missions would go wrong...”

“God you’ve aged 30 years in the last 5.” Darius chuckles. “Not saying it’s bad though, could always use a voice of reason.” Darius closes another cabinet and opens a new one. A sigh of frustration leaves him as he realizes something. “I have no idea what I’m doing.” He mumbles under his breath.

“Then help me look through the rest of this drawer. Looking for any current male employee who was admitted to this hospital within the last 2 days.”

Darius closed the current cabinet he was searching through and went to Sam’s. After a moment of searching, Darius pulled out something interesting. “Uhh here. Dude was a doctor and is in a coma. Admitted 36 hours ago.” Darius handed the document to Sam.

Sam quickly read through the file; Juden Hilt. Male, White, D.O.B: 3/12/91. After skimming the rest of the file, he closed it and unzipped the top of his jacket, sliding the file inside. “Jackpot. Time to go.”

Darius nodded and they both went through the door. A guard was nonchalantly walking past and Darius just decked him, knocking him out instantly.

Sam stood in disbelief for a moment. He was sure they would walk in and out and he was sure the passing guard was unsuspecting. “Ooooh my god, what is the matter with you??” He quickly grabbed the guard and started dragging him back inside the record room.

“He was gonna rat us out. You think EMTs are allowed in the record room?” Darius asked, helping Sam drag the body.

“Well of course there’s the chance that he would have figured out that WE weren’t supposed to be in there, but he wasn’t alerted yet. We still had plenty of time to get out before he added things up.” Sam said, annoyed, as he put the unconscious man behind the desk where no one would see through the door window. “I asked you to be cool on this, not go firing from the hip, Sheriff.”

“Now we can leave and it’ll be hours before he even knows what the hell happened. Sounds like a successful mission to me.” Darius patted the unconscious man before following Sam.

“Good lord, no professionalism these days.” They quickly exited the building through the same back entrance and got back into the SUV. Sam drove them around the corner before parking and pulling out his phone. He sent a message out to the others; “Got something.”

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