Unpacking at the Motel 7

March 13, 2016:

Lux, Sting, and Cap get together to decompress after the attack and talk about the meeting that preceded it.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

10:37 AM

The mirror is still foggy from his shower. All of the detritus washed down the drain, but the stain of what's happened will linger for quite some time. He looks in the mirror and for the first time notices a deep crack starting from the top, going down across his face, and ending below his shoulder. It's a slight one, and he only realized it after the shower, but once he sees it it's there for good.

He pulls on the navy dress shirt that he wears untucked over darker blue jeans. He buttons it slowly, wondering for the first time what he plans to do about breakfast. Last night he didn't eat, and he left in a bit of a rush, not really wanting to talk to the team. Some headed back to New York, some were staying in DC for the time being. Steve left it pretty much up to them.

He walks out into the main room of the motel, looking over at the dilapidated wallpaper, down at the worn carpet, and up at the cracks of the ceiling. Within a year he'd gone from his old life, to this. And bad things kept happening.

Audrey isn't necessarily the most well-trained when it comes to dealing with an emergency. At least not the destructive aftermath part. She can move people through them, make sure they get out safe, but the clean up…It's not her gift. On the other hand, she's also not one to just accept that something happened. There are things about last night's attack that she doesn't know, and that doesn't sit right with her. So she stayed the night, though she was up early in the morning.

She's just getting back to the motel now, carrying a box of muffins and one of those cardboard coffee dispensers. Apparently she's learned the soothing value of baked goods from Lunair. "The question," she's saying to Peter, "Is who knew we were there? And why hit it? It's not exactly a big, PR-heavy group like X-Red or the Justice League."

Strangely enough, Peter's never been the victim of impersonal violence. Anyone that's tried to kill him has done it because of who and what he is. Last night was vaguely unsettling and raised enough questions that he decided to stick around. "Who sys we were the target?" Peter points out. "We don't know that for sure. Maybe someone else was in the building at the time or it was a diversion for something else. Even if it was us, Steve closed off the bar. That's going to get noticed and he's got lots of enemies."

As the pair walk down the hallway, Steve steps out of his room and turns to lock the door. Looking to his right he spies them, and gives an upwards nod. "Morning, Lux. Sting." He says it in a bit of a weary voice. Certainly he, nor they, probably slept much last night. "You read my mind, I was just going to head down to the office to get some coffee. Can I trouble you for a cup?"

"You don't blow up a building because someone closed off a bar. Though, to be fair, most of the people who close off bars are the most deserving of getting blown up," Audrey muses at the last under her breath. Catching sight of Steve, she lifts the box of coffee. "It's why we went and got it, actually. You wanna eat in the room? Or you need some fresh air?"

Peter shrugs at Audrey's point. "They could have found out easily enough." When Steve comes out of his room, he give their fearless leader a nod. "There's enough for all of us." They aren't two fisted coffee drinkers.

Steve looks out over the parking lot and to the park out across the highway. That'd be a good spot, but he thinks better of it. "Better keep in doors," he mutters, shuffling for the keys once again and opening the room back up. They were probably safe, but he's gone full stealth mode, now, and isn't as willing to take chances. He paid for the room in cash and using a false name, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the enemy (whoever that is) knows where they are.

Inside the room is immaculate. True to Army form, he's left it better than he found it. The room itself is old, dingy, and needs repair, but the bed is perfectly made. The cup he used for water has been washed and dried, and the towels he used have been hung perfectly straight. Even the remote control has been placed back on top of the little channel guide card you get and placed on top of the television.

A moment later, Steve is grabbing three of the four cups and handing them out before sitting on the bed.

Audrey sets the muffins and the coffee down on the TV table, popping open the muffin box. Her room looks much the same, paid for in the same way. Habit and training. She gives Peter a sidelong look at Steve's demeanor, taking a seat on the floor in front of the dresser to let the others get their share of breakfast. "So. That whole talk didn't exactly go as planned."

Peter takes his coffee with a nod of thanks and then a muffin as well before sitting down on a chair. "And there was a lot more to say too. How long before the cops know something? And will they tell us?" Or rather, will they tell Steve. Which is almost certainly a yes.

"No, not really, it didn't," Steve says with a bit of a snort before bringing some coffee to his lips. "One of the lieutenants is keeping me pretty well up to date. He's called with information when it comes available. I've found the DC police to be pretty transparent, all things considered, at least with me."

"All they know now is that the garbage truck should have yielded a bigger explosion, but not all of it ignited. Apparently that will help them in their investigation."

Audrey quirks a brow. "Yeah it will. It means they've got a chance at figuring out where it came from, which means they could track it back to a purchaser. That's a big difference." She pauses, then leans over to fill her own cup. "On the other hand, that means they meant for the explosion to be that much bigger. Seeing the hole it left in the building, making it much bigger would've brought the whole place down. Which would've been bad, but…" She frowns, catching the inside of her cheek between her teeth. "Short of me and Falcon, I'm not sure it would've taken any of us out of the picture."

"But was it us they were after?" Peter asks, looking at Steve. Okay, he really means was it Steve but the point stands. "Did they look to see if there was any other possible target in the building? And if it was us, how did they know? Who made the reservations and was anyone who worked here paid off?" All questions outside of his skills to find the answers to.

"At this point we just don't know, Sting." Steve says as to who they were after. "I talked to the FBI about others who might have been targeted. The CEO of Nimal Industries was in the building, but unharmed. There was also a police officer from Seattle who was in town visiting family. All five of them were killed. Though they don't know for sure, the Special Agent In Charge felt pretty certain that we were the targets."

"I made the reservations personally. And I did it pretty late in the day. I don't think there would have been enough time for whoever this was to have found out in time. To me, it had to be an inside job."

"Mockingbird. Mockingbird was lucky to survive it also. Mockingbird and myself," he adds to the list. "As far as people who knew we were there? Hawkes, Grunt, Pezzini, and Dastern. And any of the Avengers."

"I don't think it was any of us," Audrey shakes her head. "Not that Peter couldn't check, but I know you, I know how you think, and I know the sort of people you surround yourself with. And we've done enough ops together I feel like I've got a decent read on most of us. Except the spider lady, she was new." She takes a sip of her coffee, pensive. "More than one of us is being pursued by another agency, though. Peter's got Harada after him. Shift's got enemies. And I've been getting close to something to do with the unit."

"I can be killed just as easily as anyone else if I'm unprepared." Peter points out. And he was. He can't walk around with a forcefield around him 24/7. "I meant one of the employees. And yeah, Harada and another group as well." He shrugs. "I don't know if they're try taking us all on though."

"I doubt it was the Spider-Woman. I don't know her well, but she did have her child with us for a while. And you've got to think that if she was going to set us up like that, she would have picked an opportunity when she wasn't around, presuming she wants to stick around to raise her daughter."

"Could be one of the employees. I'm sure the FBI is looking into that as we speak. You figure they'd try and find someone who made a call or text and then got out of there. For all of us it's likely we'll look to our own problems and assume that those are the culprits. That's only natural given our line of work."

"These people who've been going after Simmons might," Audrey muses, chewing on the side of her thumbnail. "They went after Shift. And I've been keeping an eye on Simmons. And something she said the other day suggested whoever they are, they might have ties to the unit. So that'd be at least two of us. And with all the other ties to SHIELD in the team, it'd be the attacker with the most connections to us."

Peter doesn't really know enough to speculate so just eats his muffin while they do. "Doesn't really matter who it was right this instant. Only matters is that they were willing to kill a lot of people. Which brings us back to what we were talking about before it happened. Wish the others were here to talk about it too."

"As far as the conversation goes, I think that was probably a coincidence. That being said, I'm not sure there's a way we can go that's going to make everyone happy. Maybe the rule is too fast and too difficult to parse out. Maybe we have to just trust everyone to make the right decision and see what happens."

Audrey points back at Steve. "That." She sets her cup down next to herself, wrapping her arms around her knees. "I don't think I heard anyone on the team say they were going to take a life lightly. And what I heard from most of the people who wouldn't do it at all was that it was a personal decision. I mean, maybe there was a conversation I missed, but it doesn't sound like there's tension in the team over it. I'm not going to be mad at Superboy for being able to bring someone in instead of killing them. But…"

She pauses, tipping her head back against the dresser. "I think the trusting ourselves is the big part. Not just for trust, but for operating efficiently. So that we know when one of our teammates can make the save and we don't need to pull the trigger. And that just takes more training."

"If no one is going to have a tantrum over it happening, then cool." Peter agrees. He might even be a little less casual about doing it just to make people happy. "But there was something else I wanted to ask about. The black guy, what was his name? Anyway, he said something about what we were representing? I think it was him." The explosion right after made things a little confusing. "Since when are we representing anything? I thought we were just going to quietly do what needed to be done."

"Shift? Or Falcon?" Steve asks. "I think the idea is that we represent something, whether we mean to or not. I honestly do not recall the broader point he was making at the time, but that was shortly before the attack."

"At the end of the day, I'm not sure we'll be able to come to a consensus. I think we're going to have to trust one another to do the right thing. I'm not sure we can go either way without splitting up the team."

"That's what I'm saying, though," Audrey shakes her head to Steve. "I think you could make a choice and not split the team. And that's why you don't need to. You say it's okay to kill, the people who aren't okay with it still won't do it. You say it's not okay, and the people who are okay with it will either not do it, do it when you're not looking, or do it because it needs to be done and deal with the consequences. Those choices are on the person who makes it. So yeah. We train. And we trust. And if we stop trusting, it's going to be about more than one life."

"Falcon." Peter knows who Shift is. But whatever. "Or not do it and just let people die because we refuse to make the hard choices and get our hands dirty." he puts in on top of Audrey's options. "Look, I know I'm probably the one you know least out of everyone. But I think it's a really bad idea to not take a clear position on such a major issue. And obviously, I think it needs to be an option if we're really about the little guys that no one else is helping. Cause if it's not, we're just saying that we're only willing to help them up to a certain point even though they're the victims. And if that's our position, it needs to be clear."

"Alternatively, Sting, if we proclaim that we're at least tacitly approving of our members killing in some circumstances, then we're putting ourselves above the law. I don't think there are a list of teams," Steve says, "That put a list of their rules on the outside door to the headquarters. Maybe the League does. I don't know, I haven't been to the Hall of Justice in a while."

"It's on their website," Audrey drawls, dry, as she reaches for her coffee cup again. "What makes being a team of people who're willing to kill any different from being who any of us are on a regular basis, on our own? That's…not a rhetorical question," she adds, looking to the others.

Peter grimaces when Steve uses his codename. Hate that stupid name. Should never have used it but it was all he could think of in the middle of a fight. "I'm not saying put it on our website." he points out, using Audrey's example. "I just think it's important for everyone to know where the line is so that when it does happen, there are no hissy fits about how we don't do that."

"I think we'll need to meet again, to be honest. And I think it should come down to a vote. No killing under any circumstance, or only under the gravest of circumstances. Let the team decide." Steve takes another sip of his coffee. "No idea how I'll vote personally, to be honest. But Lux is right, we do need to work on training as much as possible as immediately as possible."

"If you're going to start making rules, then you're going to have to do more than just decide whether or not killing is an option," Audrey grimaces, twisting to reach up and pull a muffin out of the box. "You'll have to start answering all those questions about what we are and aren't authorized to do. How we follow through. Where the resources come from. Who we report to. This is where you start to decide if you're making a team or an organization."

"Yeah, training." Peter agrees. The X-Men are big about that too and he can certainly see the point. He needs more than his fair share of it too. He nods at what Audrey says. "And what we 'represent'." he adds and shrugs.

"That's a fair point, Lux. I think an organization is exactly what we set out /not/ to do. I don't think we should represent anything. Be beholden to anyone, other than the right thing to do," Steve says with a shrug.

"Then we build a team," Audrey shrugs. "Being a team doesn't come from having rules and agreeing about everything. It comes from working together and trusting each other. Everyone trusts you. Now we just need to figure out how much we trust each other."

What Steve says is exactly what Peter signed up for so he just nods and finishes his muffin.

"Then, we should probably get to doing just that," Steve stands up and sets the coffee on the table. "I need to check out and head back to New York. I like Spider-Woman, but I've never been one to write down a list of rules to adhere to. Back in the war, we had principles we adhered to and that was enough."

"Principles," Audrey echoes, a faint smile flickering across her features. "Yeah. That's the word I was looking for." She pushes up from the floor, draining the last of her coffee. "Let me know when you want to meet up again. I'm looking forward to getting to know the rest of the team better."

"You know how to contact me." Peter tells them. "Let me know when the next thing is going on." Since everyone seems to be leaving, he puts his cup back in the tray. "Either of you need a lift?"

Cap nods to Peter, "Sounds better than taking the train."

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