Pizza League Initiative

January 28, 2015:

Some SHIELDies and an ally come together to talk about the forming of the Justice League.

Clint Barton's Apartment

This place is -still- a dump. But hey, pizza!

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

A day to mull things over isn't enough. Twenty-four hours on the ground, in space, where-ever isn't enough time to make all the arrangements necessary, to make-

Oh hell. Yes it is. Clint Barton is a Senior Field Agent. He lives and breathes this stuff. Phonecalls are made, more than one, and meetings that are dotted all over the city are set up. No one place for any given length of time. The first of many, however, or one of the first of many is at his apartment in Bedford-Stuyvessant, Brooklyn. Crappy, rundown apartment building that looks like it's run by slumlords (Russian Bratva, same thing) with broken chainlink surrounding most of it. Rusted doors, rusted fire escapes, stairs with broken glass lights sending out a dim glow to illuminate the wells.

Inside the apartments are a little better. Fresh coat of paint on Clint's, anyway. A fire in the fireplace has the livingroom warm and cosy. It's an 'open architecture' sort of apartment; the kitchen is only separate from the living room by a 'bar' upon which sits, of course, a coffee pot. Mugs. And a new cookie jar (in which Clint holds his 'spare' arrow tips). A wall phone hangs in the kitchen as well, a long cord twisted, dangling from the receiver.

Clint has a couple of six packs set out on the almost but not quite cleared coffee table, as well as a pizza. All out for this meeting! Under the coffee table, there is an arrow; ECM. Jammer. Precautions are being made.

Everyone in attendance has been personally asked over.

Clint sits on the arm of his chair, a bottle of beer in hand, now half gone. Casually dressed, but that's the only thing that is truly 'casual' about the archer right now. He's all business.

*

Bobbi arrives with her usual promptness, wearing everything warm she owns at this point because it's fricken 20-something degrees out. She wraps a mittened hand on the door to Clint's apartment, while looking around at the hallway with horrified eyes. "Should I have updated my tetanus shot before I came here?" she asks aloud.

*

It's tricky to blow holes in a building right in Manhattan without people taking notice, even for an organization as clandestine as SHIELD. Sam has been expecting some kind of call for a while now, as he's become somewhat of a regular guest on the group's field trips to pummel HYDRA tentacles and other baddies around the world. Never hurts to have a medic along, and apparently not that many also come with their own wings.

So when he got Clint's call, Sam assumed it was that kind of call. He arrives kitted out in the full covert suit, goggles around his neck and the wing-pack tucked into its less-than-convincing rucksack disguise. So when he spots Bobbi knocking on the door in mittens and a scarf, he starts to worry that he overdressed. "Uh… did I get the right address?" he asks awkwardly, hovering half-in, half-out of the stairwell. He was so sure he had it right: this building looks perfect for an cheap safehouse to stage an operation from and then unceremoniously abandon.

*

Hill has plenty of her own matters to deal with. She probably shouldn't be here right now. Thing is, she's got a good handle on things already. The attack on the Triskelion, that she hadn't been quite fully prepped for. But dealing with security lockdowns? She had first started making plans and organizing resources for this event -months- ago. Ever since certain Agents had thought it would be a good idea to start dragging in outsider help willy-nilly.

She's not too proud to play the 'I told you so' card. Now the ball's back in her court. Those last few months of planning had all been worth it. Control is once more falling within her hands.

Which leaves her enough time to partially pick up that cookie jar by the open mouth, giving it an experimental shake. She hasn't quite settled yet. Given the state of Barton's apartment, this shouldn't come as a very big surprise. "God knows I might have a sudden urge for a razor-tip. Jesus, Barton. There are better ways to keep people from stealing your cookies."

The cookie jar is abandoned as she turns toward the door with the knocking, though she'll let Barton answer it himself. It's his place, and she's no maid.

"Kids are back from school."

*

Clint takes a swallow of his beer and smirks at Maria's discoveries in the kitchen. "Broadhead. It's called a 'broadhead', Hill. And where else would I keep my tips?"

The knocking on the door sends Clint off the arm of his chair and swinging around towards the door. Two deadbolts and a chain later, and he's opening the door grandly, ready to close it and lock it behind them. "C'mon in."

The roaring fire does warm the place nicely. The furniture, well.. well used. A couple of sewn holes where bullets once tore at the fabric can be seen, but all in all?

It's a bachelor's pad. Bows hang upon the walls, dotted through the place, and the coat closet smells like cedar. Cedar shafting for arrows.

"You don't want to look in the coffee cans.." is called out in follow-up. Or the refrigerator. Please don't.

"Bobbi… Sam. Man, sorry I wasn't more clear. More a briefing than a run. Sorry."

*

"Right address, Sam. Oh dear God, it's just as bad on the inside," Bobbi mumbles under her breath when the door opens. "Please tell me you don't live here, Clint, and you're just undercover for a sting on New York City slumlords?" Without waiting for an answer she breezes by her ex-husband and unwinds her scarf from around her head. Then the mittens. Then the hat. She's still shivering. "Deputy Director," she greets. The parka she's wearing stays on for the moment, until she can warm up a bit.

*

Embarrassed at his own misunderstanding rather than annoyed at Clint, Sam grimaces sheepishly and starts undoing the straps across his chest. "Well, on the plus side, I can take the damn thing off," he says. "You'd think that a gadget to make you fly wouldn't weigh as much as a Saint Bernard, and you'd be right. It's more like two Saint Bernards."

Once the Exo-suit has been stashed in a convenient corner, he joins the rest of the group. "This isn't a safehouse," he says, catching up as fast as he can. "And…Deputy Director? Of SHIELD?" He extends a hand, wincing slightly at his stellar first impression, and introduces himself. "Sam Wilson. I'm guessing you have read a file."

*

"I -know- what it's called, thank you," Hill snaps back with an irritated look. "However, given that I'm hanging around 'one of the boys' I need to be mindful of where and how I use a word like that." Because let's face it: Arrow terminology is more than a little suggestive at times.

"I'm sure that I don't," she adds in a slightly softer tone as he goes to answer the door.

Then she starts grinning while leaning back against the counter.

"You didn't tell me it was going to be -that- kind of party," she teases.

"Morse," she offers in turn before deciding "Let's kick back on the formalities tonight. I've been getting it by the earful all damn week."

Is that..? That..looks suspiciously like a patched-over bullethole… Say, maybe a forty caliber pistol. Isn't that what Clint carries besides his bow? A curious glance is passed back his way before Sam claims her focus, stepping forward with one hand reaching out to accept his while the other remains neatly tucked at her back. "Sam, good to see you. I should know enough to not be left behind," she admits with a smile.

*

"Yes, Bobbi, I do. This is my place." Clint's not ashamed of it; he's come to like the neighborhood. The other residents in the building. "1C is the one who took care of Dog while we were in Hawaii. Nice woman, single mother. Two kids." He's something of their guardian now, and he can't and won't leave them. Doesn't mean he doesn't dream of nicer places… like when they were married. "Go warm up by the fire."

Clint doesn't have to move his beer to his left hand to extend his right to Sam once the other man has divested himself of his items. "Sam, thanks for coming. I shouldn't have to tell you that -nothing- that is said here is repeated. Nothing. High security. If anyone asks, you were here for beer, pizza and poker." Clint looks to Bobbi and nods, "She's got a mean poker face, too. Hard to read. And the Deputy Director?" Clint whistles softly, and there's a smirk there soon hidden by the bottle of beer as he takes another pull. "She's walked away with a couple of bucks."

When Maria approaches Sam, Clint nods and takes a step back before heading towards his perch; the arm of the couch. "Good. We're all acquainted. I'm gonna start the ball rolling, and it's about the JL:A."

*

Bobbi sits gingerly in a chair, careful to look for any stray arrowheads or shafts that might poke up in bad spots. She unzips her coat and leans forward to claim a beer. As if to add insult to injury, she has a Haleakala National Park t-shirt on under it, a reminder of their mission in paradise so recently. Where it was so, so much warmer and sunnier and snowless. When Maria gives the all clear to drop the formalities, Morse looks relieved. She always leads with formalities until told otherwise. "Maybe you should move in with Kate. For the dog's sake. And so you don't become the host for an all new version of the Black Plague." At the mention of the JL:A she arches a brow.

*

"Yeah. Everyone at SHIELD has always read a file," Sam says with a flicker of amusement, giving Maria's hand a single firm shake before releasing it. "I'm starting to think that somebody in that building might be spying on people." He turns to Clint with an easy smile and confirms, "No problem. You think I want to admit to people that I lugged the wings up all those stairs? My lips are sealed." He doesn't join in with Bobbi's ribbing; mocking the host is probably best left to ex-wives. And there are people at SHIELD on friendly terms with his mother; he does not need her hearing that the people he's hanging around with are rubbing off on him in that particular fashion. Instead, he just grabs a slice of pizza and a beer, finding a seat close to the fire and the conversation.

*

"Would we do such a thing?" Hill asks Sam with a grin. "That sounds so terribly underhanded."

With the crowd moving away from the door and closer to the fire she follows suit, claiming a beer of her own. It's all black jeans and big, comfy sweater for her today. Despite all of the chaos that's been taking place in the area and around the globe, she's in oddly good spirits. Maybe that comes from being handed the keys to the kingdom.

Though, it's Clint's show so she lets him lead without getting in the way. This is all something that she wants to hear, as well.

*

"Yeah, we're not at that point. It's only been since Christmas." And look! The apartment still looks like a bachelor's pad; there isn't much if anything in the way of 'female' things that could make it seem that a female lives there. Not even in the bathroom. Kate bitches all the time about the $.89 bottles of shampoo. The black plague, though… well… "The rats are down a block. We've got 'em pretty much controlled here." Pretty much.

Clint grins at Sam as the other man takes his seat, nodding at Maria as she moves to sit down as well.

"Right. Again. This doesn't leave this apartment. Not a mention to Stark, Coulson, no one. I don't care if it's the President of the United States." Clint is dead serious; he's getting down to business. Even with the mostly finished beer in hand.

"The JL:A. I don't know if you all know exactly what's going on with it, but I'm gonna fill you in. It's an autonomous group sanctioned by the UN and backed by SHIELD. We get techs from SHIELD, and technology from what used to be the Justice League. We're merged, and we're gonna go public and soon. But, before we can, I was asked a favor by the Director." Does he even have to say 'who' the 'Director' is?

"Running backup for SHIELD. While they're doing what they need to do," see how Clint's avoided saying anything regarding the status of SHIELD? Senior. Field. Agent. "We have to step up our game and get out there." Now, the archer looks to Sam, and blue eyes level on the darker ones of Falcon. "I'm asking for your help on this one. Full time. No one knows what we do, what we're talking about." There's a moment of silence before a smile begins to creep across Clint's face. "We have a spaceship in orbit." Which is just the coolest.

*

Bobbi grabs a slice of pizza and begins to nom it. At least the blizzard was underwhelming and the deliveries are back on. Not that she stressed the storm. She spent it in a bubble bath drinking martinis and reading saucy, sultry books on biochemistry. Ok not so saucy or sultry. Nerd girls. She listens to the pitch from Clint and purses her lips a bit. She doesn't comment, just looks to Hill to see what she thinks.

*

"I helped! With the rats, I mean," Sam says, lifting his beer when Clint mentions their extermination efforts. He quiets down to listen to the rest of what he has to say, sipping thoughtfully. As the speech draws to a close, he sets his beer down beside his plate and sits up. "So. The JL part of JL:A, though — that's your Superman, Wonder Woman sort of situation," he says, as though confirming that Clint isn't talking about the Junior Longboarders of Amsterdam or Java Lovers Anonymous. "Not that I don't want to see the spaceship, but… where does the regular guy with metal wings fit in to a picture that big?"

*

Natasha — who was here the whole time, honest — is eating a piece of pizza folded over on itself, proper New York style. She's leaning against a wall, chewing her pizza and perking her eyebrows at the conversation. "Space, huh?" she inquires. "The JLA are pretty high power. I'm curious, though. What's going to be the difference between them and SHIELD? Who's in charge of the other, or are they supposed to be sister organizations?"

*

"There's a model SHIELD agent, keeping tabs of the local rodent situation while off-duty," Hill comments from the side. "He's probably tagged a few with eyes and ears already in order to listen in on their conversations. Not..that we do that sort of thing. Ever," she adds with a smirk toward Sam. Nope, no spies here. Honest!

What Clint has to say isn't completely unknown to her already, and she knows that it comes from the very summit of Mount Fury. Thing is, it's not something which she's in one hundred percent agreement on.

To her, this is the Division outsourcing its business. It's proof that they don't have what it takes anymore and need to tag some superheroes in to handle their dirty work. It is a hit to her sense of pride, but when she pushes past her own feelings on the matter it's also something that they happen to -need- after all that's happened. At the moment her pokerface isn't in full swing, Bobbi will see the frown.

It's necessity. Nothing else. Probably nothing else. If this means all of the 'outside contractors' can get shoveled toward a handful of allies that can turn people inside out with a well-timed punch and stay that much further out of SHIELD's grill then it can't be all -that- bad a thing, right?

She doesn't like dealing with the paperwork of -hiring international terrorists- for something. Anything. Anything at all!

"You'll be able to take those wings when you go base-jumping from -space,- Sam," Hill replies in sarcastic humor.

*

Hawkeye tips the bottle's top in Sam's direction in acknowlegment, the smile in place. "Down in the sewers, yeah. Bird helped a lot too, actually." What's left of the beer is killed, and Clint swings his leg off the arm of the chair and leans to set the empty back into the cardboard six-pack holder. He walks towards the fireplace to lean, a hand finding its way into a jean pocket. "In the same place some carney with a bow is," comes back dryly. "We need the best, and we need people to step up to the plate. Yeah. The JL:A has Superman, Wonderwoman, me…" and he looks over towards Black Widow, brows rising. She'd been in the first pull for the Avengers Initiative, and he's been reminding her about a spot on the JL:A team. She's assumed a 'founding member'. At least he assumes it. "Kate. There are a couple other people I want to talk to, but here, in this apartment, these are the people who are pretty damned important. My backup." And Clint's not stupid; every agent has someone to watch their backs.

"The JL:A is its own creation. I say 'backing' by the UN and SHIELD so we can operate in any country in the world. Diplomatic immunity, and every country in the UN is bound. I'm not saying this gives us free rein, but when we go into airspace, it doesn't have to be 'plausible deniability'. We're up and above board." Public. Except when they have to go undercover, which, hopefully, is rare.

Maria's frown is to be expected. All Clint can do is hope that she trusts him enough to have their backs, because in some cases, he may be going out on a limb to give SHIELD the time they need. And the backup. "No, but is there really an organization for Java? As in the bean?"

*

"I know this is approved by the Director but I have to ask, what's there for SHIELD to do if the JL:A is in on our work? Who needs someone like myself or Natasha to spy on the bad guys if Superman can look through walls and hear them from space?" Bobbi asks. Point. "And won't having those big guns as our allies just make us a target for powers we have absolutely zero ability to defend against? Sound to be like we'll just be the grunts doing the busy work for the big guns." She frowns. Looks like she's on Hill's side in this matter. "I mean I know you found a newer, better model than me for your personal life, but a newer, better model for my job too? That hurts."
note sounds to me

*

"I know this is approved by the Director but I have to ask, what's there for SHIELD to do if the JL:A is in on our work? Who needs someone like myself or Natasha to spy on the bad guys if Superman can look through walls and hear them from space?" Bobbi asks. Point. "And won't having those big guns as our allies just make us a target for powers we have absolutely zero ability to defend against? Sound to me like we'll just be the grunts doing the busy work for the big guns." She frowns. Looks like she's on Hill's side in this matter. "I mean I know you found a newer, better model than me for your personal life, but a newer, better model for my job too? That hurts."

*

"I'm, uh —" Sam had a point to make before Bobbi tossed in the comment about Clint's personal life. Now he's flat-footed, and it takes a second of obvious discomfort to regain the thread of what he wanted to say. "Uh. Superman… he's not… um. Sorry." A short cough. "Okay. It's like saying that Captain America makes the rest of the military redundant. I don't think that's quite how it would work. Superman's not going to be spying for people, he's just there to deal with the powers you have absolutely zero ability to defend against." He glances at Clint for confirmation. "And I'm his pet Falcon, I guess. With my own pet falcon. Russian nesting pet falcons."

*

Naturally that makes Natasha snerk. She glances over to Clint — oh yeah, she's heard the arguments before, and she's made her own back at him. "Don't look at me," she adds. "There's still people in SHIELD who think I'm a double-agent. Dividing my loyalties sounds like a bad plan. Not that I'm with SHIELD to make friends." Finishing off her pizza as she listens, she wipes off her hands before folding her arms.

*

Yeah..and it's here that Hill knows exactly what's on Clint's mind. Though, does he have any idea what's currently on -her- mind? Like that time she asked him to do something for her and he turned her down because a certain friendship had been more important to him?

'Trust' here is still a slightly fluid concept. On the upside, now she knows the kind of play he'd be likely to make. Now she can counter it. If it ever happens to become a reoccurring problem, that is.

There is another upside to this, for SHIELD as a whole. Free intel! If they're all going to be playing buddy-buddy with one another then they should be getting some absolutely fantastic reports from the world's hotspots. More eyes, more ears.

"No one can handle every situation," she replies to Bobbi's voiced concern. "No one in the Division is going to lose their job over this. Think of it more as creating a strike team to extend our own reach. Invading aliens? Send the JLA. Other matters, such as mutated trees, won't need to be outsourced."

Translation: SHIELD still gets the fun trips to tropical islands! Though, she completely agrees with everything Bobbi's telling the group. Unlike Bobbi, she can't voice her own opinions on the matter.

*

"Bobbi, we're walking targets to everyone. You know that. It's not going to put a bigger target on your back than there already is. The moment we stepped into this life, fate drew this giant red circle with a sign that says 'Shoot me'. With all the vigilantes around, wouldn't you want a group that you actually -get-? That actually understands the way things should be done?" The 'replacement' thing really digs at Clint, and he's trying not to rise to it all. Trying. "There are some things Superman won't do that I will. You know every mission has its perameters. One doesn't just fly in with a hammer and smash."

Clint points at Falcon again, a nod following it. "You're no one's pet, Sam. You're the best, as far as I'm concerned. And you don't make me redundant, and the other way around."

Natasha's 'rejection' does take Clint by surprise, and for a moment, he stands in silence. Shoulders drop, and what comes is a quiet 'awww'. "It's not dividing loyalties. It's more… adding." And he needs the help.

Maria's own thoughts on the matter- trust? Okay, no way was he going to spy on Natasha and give Maria a full report. Not happening. Ever. There's loyalty, and then there's loyalty. Clint's got 'Widow's back and gives her waaaay more benefit of the doubt on things than most do. Including Fury. There's always reason.

"Exactly. Every mission is different. Every circumstance."

*

"I worry this is going to make us complacent, Maria," Bobbi notes to the Deputy Director. "We should be working on improving our tech to defend against these threats, not relying on flying Amazons or capes who are bulletproof or Thunder Gods to take care of anything a little above our heads, regardless of how nice his abs are." She shakes her head. "But if this is what the Director wants, there's not much I can do about it. I guess I don't like the idea of supers playing in our sandbox and leaving us with the fluff jobs. Sue me."

*

"Jesus. You really want to put me on a team with those guys. Actual super-heroes." Sam sounds like he's trying to convince himself that this whole conversation isn't a weird dream. He's gone from overdressing like a dope to a formal invitation to play wingman for Earth's first line of defense — and in less than half an hour. It's not pushback, at least — just disbelief. At a fundamental level, Sam just thinks of himself as a medic.

But if there's one thing he's pretty firm on, it's the discussion about superheroes. He's had this conversation with people before, owing to an enthusiasm for the capes-and-tights set that goes back to his childhood. "I don't buy the 'fluff jobs' thing," he tells Bobbi. "Like, if your thunder god wanted to do your job, my job, whoever's job? Yeah, maybe he would be better at it than we are. Thing is, he's a little busy thunder godding. Like, if we're in a situation and a thunder god shows up, chances are it was beyond us before he showed up. And if we don't need him, why would he bother? I mean, you don't do your kid's homework just because you're better at multiplication than he is."

*

"Somehow I think Superman would have trouble doing a tenth of what you do," Natasha agrees with a nod toward Bobbi. She snags a soda and opens it as she goes on. "And I don't go to Asgard and Thor doesn't try subtly infiltrating compounds to stab the guy in the middle, not that I would ever do that or SHIELD would ever ask me to."

Her eyes flick toward Hawkeye. He's her friend, and that's a word she puts on very, very few people. Yet she still has some resistance toward the idea: "I don't have a good rep outside SHIELD either. Do you think they'd really want someone like me as part of their PR? We're the good guys, particularly the questionable Russian assassin?"

*

"And we are," Hill says to Bobbi's remark. "We aren't just shrugging our shoulders and tossing all of the hard problems out the door. We have -every intention- of improving our own means so that we -can- handle every degree of situation."

How can she put this in a way that Bobbi would understand? A fellow Marine would be easy, she's already got several comparisons to work with there.

Oh, screw it. Go big or go home. Though she does motion to Sam, he does a good job of summing it up.

"We have an entire fleet of helicarriers, but we don't always use them. We could end plenty of conflicts by way of orbital bombardment, quick as you please. It's all about using the right resource at the right moment. This means having fully rounded out resources to work with. Don't think that a couple of capes are going to keep you on the sidelines, I wouldn't allow it."

"Besides, I could never trust someone like Superman to belittle everyone in a sufficiently motivational and sarcastic manner. Be all 'zounds, this report appears to be in error! Kindly correct it at your earliest convenience.'"

*

"Yeah, I really do, Sam." Clint's dead serious; any hint of joking or humour is gone from his expression. "It's a formal invitation. You can say 'yes' or you can say 'no' and either way, you're still the same guy I know." No harm, no foul. "But security's gotta be tight for a bit."

When Natasha speaks up again, blue eyes linger on the Russian, and he nods, allowing something of a smirk to rise, "And if someone goes looking into my redacted background? C'mon, 'Tash. I tried to kill Iron Man." Is he serious? Like… really?

Maria pretty much sums it all up in a nutshell, and Clint shrugs, but it's not a dismissive action. "She's got it in one. Just like Sam. It makes both of us stronger. And c'mon. I know enough to know where jurisdictions lie. Give me a break. It's not as if I'm just gonna stop being SHIELD and go off, completely ignoring what's going on. If anything, you should be just a little hopeful that there's someone around who actually knows what's going on, and has experience doing it."

There's a moment when Maria's gained Clint's attention, and the smirk that had disappeared returns as a full on grin. "Zounds? Really? Zounds? Oh god, if he really does say it, I'm gonna spit coffee all over the orbiter."

*

"Apparently you've never been a parent, Sam," Bobbi retorts. Because parents sure as hell do their kids homework all the time. And their science projects, their history papers, their stupid baking soda volcanoes etc. "And these supers have not been SHIELD trained, they are not signed to any legal documentation to corral them, we don't even know their real names for the most part, let alone their home addresses. So why should we be letting them in on our information systems and give them access to our resources? Why should we trust them? What's in this for us other than making it look like SHIELD is completely absent and being derelict in their duty when the JL:A shows up to a situation instead of our people? Or will we be assigned clean up duty? And if you're splitting your loyalties, Clint, why should we trust you, or invest in you anymore? Did SHIELD train you so you could go out and play with another group?" She zips her coat up, clearly intending on leaving as she's said her piece and then some. "I'm Agent 19. Nineteen. I've been with SHIELD since I got out of school. I just don't like this, on the record or off, but it's out of my hands. Thank for the heads up at least. And the pizza."

*

Sam snorts with laughter at Hill's impression. "Yeah, I don't think we're in any real danger there," he agrees, before shaking his head at Clint. "Except for that spit take. There are delicate instruments in there, man! You want to make us crash?"

His grin fades as Bobbi delivers her sobering verdict on the project. "I'm not SHIELD. Trained, hell — I'm not even on the payroll. I do work for Stark, but I could quit tomorrow, and that doesn't stop him from coming up with the Exo-8 and the Exo-9 and whatever number he's on now. As far as we know, I'm the only guy on the planet who can fly the stupid things, and he just keeps cranking them out whenever he gets bored." He gestures over at his definitely-just-a-backpack with his beer bottle. "At a certain point, you just have to take a chance on people. And not because they're all good at heart and never let you down. They're not and they will. But SHIELD can't do what SHIELD does without greasing a few dirty palms, or working with the lesser of two evils, or the occasional quid pro quo. It's the cost of doing business in the real world. By comparison, a guy in tights and a cape seems like a pretty easy deal to make."

It's the most he's said all night, which is unusual, but he seems to care about this point. He takes a deep breath, wanting a moment to be sure of his conclusion, but when he continues, his tone is decisive. "Alright, I'm in. I can't promise you that I'll be able to keep up with all of these guys, but I'll be kicking myself for the rest of my life if I don't give it a shot. I mean, Steve turned out to be cool. Maybe Superman doesn't say 'zounds' at all."

*

Bobbi has apparently and very clearly got other issues than not liking the nonexistent JLA, but Natasha isn't touching them with a ten foot couples therapist. She just drinks her drink, because it's not any of her business.

"They're going to do what they're going to do, I suspect, regardless of whether we really like it. I'm basing this on they have a space ship already." She flashes a tiny smile. "So they're going to be needing people training them, observing them, teaching them how to work as a team. The biggest problem I see that they're going to have is exactly that. How often does Superman have to coordinate with other Supermen? They're going to need tacticians, people who know everything about them and can train them. They're going to need leaders who aren't the big shiny faces. People who have organization, training, and teamwork in their blood."

She eyes Bobbi's back and shrugs slightly before glancing at the rest. "Otherwise, they're just going to make a mess."

*

Here Maria shrugs back at Clint, "I really have no idea. It just seems like something the guy would say. I mean, have you -looked- at his hair? If that doesn't just scream 'zounds' then I'm not sure what does."

She does occasionally attempt humor! It also doesn't always work.

It might also not be the best of times for such an attempt as Bobbi proves to be anything but settled by their attempts. It's a losing struggle, here's a woman who is ready to walk. Trying to persadue Bobbi here and now just isn't going to happen. So, Hill offers the only remaining piece of information which she can.

"Fury tasked Clint with this matter personally. At least try to have some faith with the Director, he's gotten all of us this far."

Hill's been working this gig for a while, herself. She's fought all the way to the very peak of her career. Fury's right-hand. There is no way in -Hell- she's going to let something like this jeopardize everything that she's worked for. The sum parts of her entire life. Not happening!

*

Clint looks at Bobbi, and there is the decided expression that he probably once wore when papers were served. Where he believed that perhaps things would work, there's ruin. Russians doing a burned retreat is probably as close as this comes. This meeting is, was, supposed to be with those that Clint could -trust-, and where along the line did he lose professional trust in his ability? His loyalties?

"I can help." SHIELD. The JL:A. It's the fact that Maria has to invoke the Director in order to find some of that faith in him stings. He's not going to say anything more, however. Where once he thought they'd found some equilibrium, they're way off kilter again. Hunter? Oh, god…

"I'm not going to crash the orbiter. Hell, every time I look down on the planet, I have to look away. Give me a building, sure. But it gives you a whole new perspective when waaaay the hell up there." Sam's acceptance does give the archer some measure of hope, and the encouraging words from 'Tash allows clint to take a breath where one had stalled in his throat. "Great, Sam. And yeah, 'Tash, you're right. There's gonna be a few shakedown cruises. We all will have to learn how to work as a team, and what can be expected on both sides." Luckily, Clint is SHIELD. He lives and breathes protocol.

Now, Clint pushes off the fireplace and walks slowly towards the pizza box on the coffee table. "So, now that -that- went over like a lead balloon, I need to coordinate with you, Hill, and you tell me what you need. If you need anything." A slow smile creeps, "Like, a scan for any weird things showing up in the area around the Tris." He's got that covered! "An early warning system. The geeks say that it's just some magnetic… thing…" Thing.

*

And with that, Bobbi is out, back into the cold. There is likely some strong booze in her future. It feels like when a software company gets bought out by the all-powerful Microsith. All the assurances in the world don't mean much until one is sure the pink slip isn't arriving at any moment.

*

There's a long period of silence after Bobbi leaves. No one seems quite sure what to say, so Sam eventually decides he's going to have to break the tension. "Speaking of tights," he says speculatively, looking down at the silver-gray radar stealth suit he's wearing, "if I'm gonna be hanging around on the moon with these guys, I might need to get a little more adventurous in the wardrobe department. A little less soldier, a little more spaceman. I mean" — he holds up his hands as if warding off protests — "not the full George Clinton, or anything. I haven't completely lost it." So much for protocol.

*

"I think it'd be a great look for you; I don't know what you're talking about." Natasha, being a dork. She sighs as Bobbi leaves: apparently the woman's not getting any subtle cues, either. But again. Not her business. "I might be willing to assist as a consultant. I still think it's best for them not to be connected with me."

*

Gotta let her go. Hill's not going to block the door and make anyone stay. Instead she quietly drains the last of her beer as the door closes then wanders over to drop it off with the other empties in the cardboard holder.

"You have to count on some speedbumps during any transition, Clint," she reminds him in a tone that's much more 'friend' than it is 'superior.' "And this is a pretty damn big transition."

With a glance and a smirk toward Sam, she offers just one word in response: "Green." Because somehow she's just seeing green here.

*

Clint just stands there as Bobbi walks out, and he's got this image of deja vu all over again. (Yes, I said it!) Should he go after her? Shouldn't he? It leaves him completely dumbfounded, and somewhere along the way, regardless of his actions, he'll be criticized. It's a 'no win', even if it's not really about him.

When he does find the ability to speak, Clint's responding to Sam. "I think your bird would go on strike if you got brighter plummage than he did." Clint rolls up his pizza like a pro and takes a bite as he steps back to perch on his couch's arm once again. Chew, chew, "You know I'd be grateful for that." Swallow. "And," here, he looks pointedly at Maria, "I'm not completely off SHIELD payroll. This is just a priority." Priority One, that is.

Now, Clint looks around and he nods before offering, "Thanks, guys. I guess that's pretty much it. Sam, I'll get with you tomorrow and we'll go up and I'll show you around?"

*

"Sure thing, Clint. See you then," Sam answers, knocking back the last of his beer and standing. "I'll put in for some leave, put 'space' on the form, just to see what Pepper does." He flashes a grin. "Good meeting you, Hill. And Natasha, you know you could always add a mask to your outfit." Sam gives her a significant look as he heads out. "It's not like you would be the only one there working under an alias."

*

"I could have an entirely new outfit. I could join the JLA under an entirely different identity! That sounds like an excellent idea. I could be Lightning Lass. The Shadow Lady. Miss Stabby. The possibilities are endless." Sip. Natasha is meeeeeean. But she's also taking the idea under advisement. If she thought it was a really bad idea, she wouldn't joke about it. She would punch a bunch of holes in it and move on.

*

"I never said that you were," Hill replies to Clint. "If I thought for so much as a second that I'd no longer be able to boss you around then you can damn well bet I'd be doing more than having pizza and beer with you tonight," she reassures the archer with a good-natured smirk.

With the gathering coming to an end she reaches for her coat and other various cold weather items, nodding once back to Sam. "Sounds like we'll be working together in the near future, flyboy. Wind at your back, and all."

Then, "Clint. Miss Stabby," she offers in a completely level tone. "See you kids around."

*

Clint stares at Sam and facepalms, even though he knows the other man is joking. Totally. He laughs soon after and nods his head. "Who'd believe it, anyway?" Though, Stark jealousy would know no bounds!

Clint is up again, walking guests those six or seven steps to the door. New York apartment. He looks back at Natasha and barks another laugh. "Miss Stabby? Lady Stabby? We could trade jobs and I could vamp it up for a bit to get close then stab 'em and you can hang out in trees, getting bitten by bugs."

Spycraft is so romantic!

Hill's comment brings a lopsided grin from that earlier laugh, and he shakes his head, "You still get to read my reports, as full of typos as they are. And those 'no shit, there I was' starts on the narratives." At least it's an entertaining read? Clint lets the pair out before he looks to 'Tash. "Okay, so… I guess we have to finish the pizza, and the beer. There are new movies on NetFlix I haven't seen yet."

*

"Same to you, Hill," Sam says, then grins over at Natasha, forms one hand into an approximate bird head, and flaps its beak at her. "Caw, caw, Natasha," he says as he grabs his wing pack and heads for the door. He's going upstairs this time — the roof is closer to Clint's apartment than the sidewalk, and he'd rather fly home anyway. Maybe get himself feeling like the superhero that it's time for him to be.

*

"Your cleavage is nowhere near as good as mine, Clint. Sorry." But she grins at Sam, reaching her arms out to her sides to make little flappy chicken wings. "Caw caw, Sam."
With that, she snags a bottle of beer and pops it open. "I want to catch up on Orange is the New Black. I hardly ever have time to watch TV anymore. How does the helicarrier not have decent wifi, I ask you?"

*

"Oh, there's extra pizza?" Hill does an about-face and grabs a slice to go.

"We've all gotta do our part."

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