tête–à–tête

May 30, 2016:

Stylus is leaving SHIELD after a brief stint of working with them, but before he leaves, he wants to maintain a working relation with the Black Widow.

//The Triskelion - New York City //

The Headquarters, Armory and Fortress of the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics division is, for the most part, an unassailable tower in the midst of the diplomatic sprawl that is Midtown East. The primary intelligence clearing houses and most of SHIELD's senior leadership are all housed hear, along with a veritable army of agents and staff to keep the place running, the world spinning and the weirdness at bay.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: iron-man

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

There are precious few people with whom Reginald is willing to meet anymore— after a rather abrupt and very public 'departure' from SHIELD, Reginald had shown up at the Triskelion long enough to pick up his things from his small cubicle and say some farewells— and hare out just ahead of some very irritated coworkers.

So how Reginald found Natasha— at the park where she's taking lunch— is anyone's guess. And his approach was so smooth that it might even have taken the Black Widow by surprise. He's not particularly heavily disguised, but it' the subtle touches— a bit of a different gait, he's wearing his hair a bit different, and in a sports coat and khakis, he looks like any given young professional instead of one of the best intelligence assets in the world.

"Hullo Natasha," he says, his accent vaguely Middle Eastern. He smiles at the woman and rests an elbow on the table as he sits across from her, uninvited, and interlaces his fingers loosely. "How's tricks?"

Sittin on the bench in the park, a tupperware containing some Shuba serving as her meal. Fork in hand, she nibbles on morsels leisurely, while taking in the peaceful setting provided by nature itself. Parks are a wonderful place, for her they've been more closely aligned with assassinations and mark tracking than actual relaxation, so it's truly a cherished moment. What she did not expect, is to have anyone sneak on her during lunch break. Not because it couldn't happen, but because of common courtesy.

"Reginald," Natasha whispers, not sounding too surprise, so perhaps she did manage to pick on his approach? Hard to tell, but she does have her reputation. More importantly, she's still alive. "Seems to have been a peaceful lunch break, are you here to make it less peaceful for me?" She asks dryly, looking him over, before commenting, "the dapper look suits you better." For her part she's dressed in a stylish black jacket, unzipped, blood red tank top underneath, and black leggings along with red flats. "Are you leaving or renewing your contract?" She asks in a conversational manner, though the look in her eye suggests more than cursory interest.

"I'm not here to cause trouble," Reginald assures Natasha. It's a bit of a mixed statement, but he's visibly not trying to lie to her— it's hard for spies to pick apart the lies from the truth, so at least it's courteous of Reginald to offer what honesty she can trust. At least he's not TRYING to lie to her. Right?

"We've always had a good working relationship, Natasha, which is why I'm inclined to spend a little risk making this approach." He flicks some imaginary dust from the cuff of his jacket. "As it stands, Melinda May is the only person in SHIELD with whom I'm still in professional contract. However, given the… mess of things that we're finding ourselves in, I thought I'd extend that courtesy to you."

He looks at Natasha with those oddly bright, intensely provocative eyes of his. "Are you HYDRA, Natasha?" The question's sharp and pointed, and delivered with that little twist of his tone that tends to demand an instant response— whether an instinctual one or not.

Oh Natasha is well versed in the world of spycraft, she doesn't try to pick the lies from the truth, she assumes everyone's lying all the time. Just comes with the territory. Heck, she partakes in it quite a bit herself. "Oh, people who work with me generally appreciate the working relationship, I tend to keep people alive," Natasha offers flatly, "a terrific way to become likeable."

She takes another forkful of her Shuba, before Reginald mentions taking a bit of a risk, causing her to straighten a bit as she chews, flicking red strands of hair off her eye as she looks directly at Reginald, clearly telling him to 'go on' without the words. She nods at the proposition, and finishes chewing and swallowing the food in her mouth slowly, not jumping into a quick reply even when Reginald tries to provoke such a response with the professionally applied tone of voice. She's familiar with the technique, but only once she swallowed neatly, does she open her mouth, and even then all she offers is, "I don't know. Are you, Reginald?" She seems a bit perplexed by the direct question. After all, she has a pretty high clearance, and on the other hand, if he truly suspected her being with Hydra, he likely wouldn't have presented that in the form of a question. Unless of course he wasn't as professional as he made himself look. One never knows with dapper men, after all.

Reginald smiles at Natasha as ambiguously as he can, his features equally unreadable. There's a beat as the two of them stare at one another, both wrestling with the questions just posed.

"Damn, you're good," Reginald sighs, finally. "I'm not," he tells Natasha.

"Well. You're not, and I'm probably not," he tells the redheaded provactrix. "And I'm fairly sure if May was, then SHIELD would have disintegrated quite a bit more swiftly." He exhales through his nose in a short sigh. "I'm electing to offer a bit of trust your direction, Natasha. After that dust-up we had in Tblisi, I think you've earned that. I rather fancy SHIELD and your charter. I'm not sure I trust Coulson— or the others— but I suppose it's worth a bit of risk to let May know I'm in her corner. And now, you, the same," he nods.

"So I'm told," Natasha quips at the compliment, before taking another morsel, chewing slowly while studying Reginald, "I guess so, since I didn't put a bullet in your head…" Natasha gives her vote of confidence in her own manner, before nodding along with his words about May, tilting her head towards her left shoulder at the mention of Coulson and eventually suggesting, "you keep trusting SHIELD Agents like that, one day soon you might become one," she offers a hint of a smile, before extending her tupperware container towards Reginald, "ever tried Shuba? Got it from 57th." She offers, without explicitly stating as much, suggesting she appreciates his offer and extends the same good will.

"Mmm, Russian herring, how can I resist?" Reggie asks, reaching for the container and plucking a morsel. Despite his wry tone, he eats the bite without hesitation, chewing hungrily. "Mm. Not bad," he agrees.

"I've got not intention of throwing my lot in whole with SHIELD, but I'll be damned if the agency isn't growing on me. Helps the eye candy is always in abundance." He winks at Natasha at the indirect compliment— there's little sincerity in his shameless flirting. Just keeping it up out of habit.

"Smart man," Natasha remarks, "glad you approve of the Russian Tea Room, it's a staple." She does seem pleased that Reginald approves of Russian cuisine, she's heard less flattering word about her favorite dish by some of her American friends. Assuming she has real friends. "A spy worth his salt never throws in with anyone," Natasha mutters, before arching a brow at the shameless flirting, "are you speaking of Maria Hill?" She asks with a mischievous lilt in her voice, "I can tell her you're interested if you like. I got her direct number."

"I prefer redheads," Reggie says, matching her teasing lilt with a tone of easy banter— all in good fun. "But if Maria's available, feel free to let her know about your friend Niles Everard from Yale." Reginald clears his throat and shifts a few muscles— in the space of a few seconds, his demeanor totally shifts. "You know, I'm invested quite heavily in Allied Steel," he says, his accent switching to an impeccably polished New Hampshire accent. "I'm considering switching to tech stocks, get the family wealth out of infrastructure."

Reggie plucks up another bite of the herring and takes a quick nibble. "That's really not bad," he agrees with Natasha. "What about you? Found anyone special to share your lack of any personal life with?"

"Redheads, huh? I might know one or two," Natasha offers coyly, still playing the flirting game along with Reginald, he is being cute after all and he digs the Shuba. "Oh, I'll be sure to leave her a voicemail. You can expect a call by the coming Friday." She continues with her meal, barely a fourth of it left by now, as she considers his words. "Technology always goes up, have you met Tony Stark? You should." Was that a suggestion for someone special in case one wants to share a lack of personal life? Probably not, because her full she actually does answer, "oh, I got, Mr. Dragunov keeping me company…doesn't leave much room for any more personal life. You have any close friends, Reginald?"

"Overcompensating, Natasha? I've heard of penis envy, but sniper envy— that's a new one." She seems willing to share, so Reginald does the polite thing and with a clean pass of the small knife he flickers from up his sleeve, he partitions himself a small portion of the Shuba and slides it onto a napkin, rather than just purloining Natasha's meal bit by bit. He hoists it in thanks to her and continues enjoying the snacks.

"Stark, hmm? Never met the bloke, but I hear he's got good tastes. Might be worth getting to know him." He crosses his legs and leans his elbow companionably on the table, still facing partially away from Natasha. "As for companionship, seems these days it's Fraulein Walther who shares my bed most often. As the redoubtal Ian Fleming said, for the seasoned professional, anything over a .32 is overkill."

Rolling her eyes, Natasha scoffs at Reginald's comment, "me? Overcompensating? Please…mine's bigger," she offers in a droll tone, before noting Reginald's demonstration of deft hands as he gets part of the remaining Shuba for himself. Drawing the rest of the container closer, she smirks, "in Russia this would be capital offense. Good thing we're not in Russia."

She takes a few moments to finish up her meal, before putting the fork inside the container and closing the tupperware shut. "Stark? Good taste? Maybe in technology…gadgets, yes, pretty good."

Hearing about Reginald's companion, she nods approvingly, "of course, for close range, but size does matter. Sending a letter to say hello across 1,000 meters? My companion is very good for that." She purses her lips for a moment, as if considering something, and then asks, "tell me, can Fraulein Walther handle elephants? You never know what comes at you down a street. Maybe you have different companions for that?"

Reginald reaches into his jacket pocket for a flask and eyes it, then puts it back and goes for another flask. "Ah. Some Stolichnaya? Fresh from Kaliningrad," he offers, taking a quick nip from it and setting the flask where she can reach for it.

"My companion for elephant hunting is my friends who take up elephant hunting," he tells Natasha with a pointed grin and an uptick of one brow. "I'm neither a sniper nor a hunter— and you can't strap a Dragunov to a woman's garter or tuck it in your briefs in a pinch."

He takes another bite of his meal and brushes his fingers against the kerchief tucked in his pocket. "Everyone's got their own skills, Natasha, don't try to caliber-shame me for not tucking anti-material weapons in my trousers." He pauses a beat. "There's just not enough room in there for one," he adds, with a dignified air.

"I don't drink on the job," Natasha comments matter of factly at the offer, her blue eyes settling on the flask, as if deciding whether she wants to take it anyways or not. "Maybe if it was Tovaritch," she offers whimsically, winking at Reginald before ultimately not touching the flask.

"You'd be surprised at the places I can get a Dragunov out of…," Natasha bats her eyes in mock flirtation at Reginald, before quipping, "you bring an eagle to take down an elephant. It straps well too." She does laugh at the request to lower the artillery, as she offers in concession, "I admit, I do not share that problem. I have room enough." She does, however, wink playfully at his final point, stating, "I guess you concede about matter of size? Yes?"

"I thought it wasn't the size of the tool, but the expertise of the employment," Reginald rebuts with a lift of his brow, and a slow grin. "But yes, I'll concede the point if your ego demands it." He takes another bite of his herring. He pointedly sips more of his vodka and tucks the flask away.

"Oh, I am going to miss this, though," Reginald sighs. "The banter, the flirtation— and it's just not as dangerous finding a tumble in the storage closet if the other person doesn't actually work with you," he mutters. "It's practically domestic." He finishes his herring and brushes his fingertips off. "I won't make a habit of startling you like this if I can help it, but I'm glad we see eye to eye on things," he tells Natasha. "And I'll be about if you or May need my expertise in the field," he adds. "So it's not goodbye by any means."

All of a sudden, Natasha is quite deadpan, listening to Reginald as he offers his perspective, before ultimately conceding. "Oh, this isn't about ego, I was just trying to see if I can get you to concede. You know a man is never serious in his flirting if he doesn't concede," she flashes a knowing smile, but it soon fades into the ether.

Standing up, she extends a hand for a firm handshake should Reginald will take it, "you can always stay awhile if you miss it, and please, don't give yourself that much credit. If I thought you were Hydra, you may not have been able to talk by the time you reached me." Should the handshake be taken, she'll offer a brief farewell and turn to go back into the Triskelion. If not, she'll offer a token salute instead, "we'll be seeing you, Reginald."

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