The Magic of SHIELD

April 07, 2015:

Argyle and Sara avoid talking about their own problems by discussing SHIELD's problems. It's therapeutic.

A Cop Bar

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Peggy Carter is back. Even in an organization of spies, that's the sort of thing that's likely to get around, at least to the more well-connected agents in the building. The more mundane gossip that Agent Pezzini and Steve Rogers are no longer an item gets around a lot faster. Which explains why, after a day of speculative looks and prying questions, Sara's actually left the office on time for once in favor of getting a drink down the road.

The bar isn't the sort where officers or high-ranking types go. It's almost more of a cop bar than a SHIELD bar, though the agents who are more likely to get down and dirty show up here. And Sara, currently, is sitting at the bar nursing a glass of scotch, her jacket slung over the back of the stool and sleeves rolled up.

*

Emmett Argyle hasn't just been through a break-up, but the Louisianan SHIELD agent has been having some issues of his own. Nothing he can put a finger on, but there's a general, lingering sense of unease that begs to be drowned in alcohol. Or at least, slightly soaked by it.

Rough sorts of places are his sort of places. Though this bar isn't his usual haunt (that one's near his apartment) he doesn't really want to go somewhere where everyone knows his name right now. Still, he does recognize at least one person shortly after entering. "Pezzini. Hey. S'up?"

*

Sara glances up from her glass at the greeting, a rueful smile curving when she recognizes the agent. "Hey, Argyle," she says with an upward tip of her chin and a raise of her glass. "You know. Stuff. People. My bar tab." The last is followed by a brief, low laugh. "How about you? Do anything more interesting than run firearms tests today?"

*

"Classified, ma'am. Very very boring, and very…classified." Argyle chuckles and raps his knuckles on the bar. He then leans against it and arches his eyebrows. "Buy you a drink? Y'know, co-worker style. Not for any particular reason that involves anything personal."

*

"Well sure, what's the point of having a SHIELD agent look at it if it isn't classified?" Sara smirks, taking another sip of her scotch. "And sure, I'll take another drink. Not like I'm driving home anyhow." At the nothing personal comment, her smile quirks again, deepening at one corner. "Hey, you offered to buy me a drink months ago," she points out. "You'd just be following through on a friendly offer."

*

"Entirely true. Just makin' good on my offer." Argyle gets the bartender's attention and points to Sara's drink, then to an empty space in front of him. Then he slides up onto the stool and shrugs off his jacket. "How's the job treating you, anyway? Is it the glamorous life you always imagined it would be?"

*

"Glamorous, no," Sara chuckles, draining the last of her current drink before pushing the glass forward for the bartender. "But I didn't expect it to be glamorous. Honestly, the work is good. It's nice not to have to doctor reports, or spend half my time coming up with an excuse for why something happened. Worry about how I'm going to deal with something. The whole being a cadet thing after almost a decade at detective, that's a little harder."

*

"Don't worry, SHIELD needs good folks with good heads on their shoulders. Soon as they're sure they can trust you, you'll get moved up quickly enough. But hey, don't be insulted if they don't move you too high. I've been around ten years and I'm still a five. My job just don't need more'n that. And it's all need-to-know." Argyle says that in a way that suggests he doesn't particularly like that, but he accepts it anyway. "Or maybe they just don't trust me." Wry, that.

*

"I don't care so much about the rank," Sara shrugs. "I just want the freedom to conduct an investigation without being treated like I don't know how to work a crime scene." Once her glass is full again, she slides it back toward her chest, though she doesn't drink yet. "But it's not like I didn't know that would be a thing when I signed on. Not the worst thing in the world, either."

*

"Well, don't think of it as them thinkin' you don't know what you're doing. Think of it like…them makin' sure you know how to do it their way. And you'n I both know that SHIELD definitely has its own way." Argyle picks up his own identical double-finger of whiskey, then extends it to tap against Sara's glass.

*

"Lord knows that's true," Sara snorts, clinking her glass against his. "Honestly, I'm pretty sure it's not my investigative skills they're worried about," she admits with a shrug. "I'm pretty sure Hill just wants to make sure I've got other things under control." She raises her hand, giving her wrist - and the Witchblade on it - a bit of a jingle. "SHIELD may be moving into the magic business, but that doesn't mean they trust any of it."

*

"Can't say I do, either. S'why you and Paul are on-board, right? So we scientists aren't caught flat-footed with all this magic business. We ain't real good at dealing with anything we can't shoot or lie to." Argyle is a SHIELD loyalist to the core, but he's also a pragmatist. He doesn't have an ideological bone in his body - and it shows.

*

"Yeah, but you're willing to admit it exists, which puts you a few steps above the NYPD," Sara points out, taking a sip of her drink. "I'm pretty sure I don't know how it works either," she admits. "Much. It's kind of an instinct thing." She waves one hand, shaking her head.

*

"And that puts you about six steps ahead of SHIELD. You saw what happened with that portal thing. It's not exactly something in our skillset, but we've got to deal with it anyway. Tends to make people like Hill a mite cranky." Which is an understatement, and Argyle knows it.

*

"Imagine how I felt when I first stumbled into it," Sara laughs ruefully, shaking her head. "But the magic thing is pretty much like being a cop. You hit that point where you have to decide if you're going to be able to deal with it, or it's going to break you. And when you come out the other side, you're usually a little more stable. More or less." She rests on elbow on the edge of the bar, propping her chin in her hand. "Does tend to scare people off, though."

*

"SHIELD's a control freak personified in an organization. And magic…" Argyle begins, then sips, "…is something that refuses to be pinned down and classified. Which is why we need people like you to at least tell us when it's not realistic to expect things to make sense."

*

"It's cute how you think it's just magic that doesn't make sense." Sara's smile quirks as she looks over, a flicker of humor in her eyes. "The whole damn world doesn't make much sense, Socks. People don't make sense. Crime doesn't make sense. If everything in the world made sense, people like you and me, we wouldn't have jobs. The whole magic thing's just…like driving a car on ice. You can't really control it. You just steer into it and hope to God you don't crash."

*

Argyle chuckles and lifts his eyebrows. "Don't suppose you're wrong," he murmurs. "But I guess all those other things give an illusion of control and sense. I guess magic just confronts us with how much we don't know and shoves it in our faces."

*

"Shoves it so, so hard," Sara agrees glumly. "But, you know. It's sort of like faith that way. You know, you want a science experiment," she says, pointing at Emmett. "You take a poll. I'd bet you money, the more faith people have, they better they deal with magic. Seems counterintuitive, given the way religion tends to look at magic, but a lot of the principles are the same. Are you willing to accept that there's something bigger than you out there? Something you can't explain or control? Something infinitely more powerful than you are? Can you recognize that and keep living your life?"

*

"Yeah, and I bet if you took a poll of SHIELD, you'd find a hell of a lot more atheists or at least non-observant religious folk than you would faithful. And therein lies our problem as an organization when it comes to magic. Besides, our whole purpose is to control things more powerful than we are. If we can't do that," Argyle shrugs, "We've got ourselves an identity crisis."

*

Sara chuckles softly, shaking her head. "Well, glad me and my faith can be of service, then." She drinks again, eyeing the Witchblade on her wrist. "You know, Joan of Arc wore this thing. The voices she thought were angels? Not the sort of angels she thought they were."

*

Argyle winces. "Poor Joan," he murmurs. "Well, at least she didn't know she was listening to…uh…wait, does that thing talk to you?" He points. "Cause that's kinda freaky."

*

"It used to. And you have no idea," Sara snorts, shuddering. "When I first got it, there was definitely…more of the talking. Not nice things, either. Fire. Kill. Whispered suggestions. The more control I got over it, the more we came to terms, the less there's been of that. Now we tend more toward something a little more organic. A feeling that there's something bad over there. A sense that someone isn't quite what they seem to be. And yes," she adds before he can ask. "Sometimes I wonder if that really means I've got control, or if it means it's just snuck its way deep enough into my head I can't tell. But I've seen what that does to people. I'm pretty sure I'm not there."

*

"And you can't take it off?" asks Argyle. "Even if you could, would you want to?" His eyebrows go up. "Seems like a hell of a burden, even if it does let you do some badass things."

*

"The only times I've taken it off, it's ended poorly," Sara shakes her head. "Early on…Well. Okay. Baseline explanation. It's sort of sentient, in its own weird way. And it's got preferences. In a lot of ways, it's a symbiotic relationship. Except that it doesn't exist to help me. It exists for its own purpose. I - or any other bearer - am a means to achieve it. So. It doesn't like self-doubt. It doesn't like weakness. Which includes weakness of character or will, for that matter. Early on, there were a couple of times I let my fear about having it get the better of me, and someone who wanted it more managed to take it away. Never ended well for them. We fit each other, hand in glove. It knows it. And as long as I know it, we're good."

*

"Hard," Sara admits with a small smile. "But it chose me for a reason. Some day, it may leave me. Probably when I need it most. It does that. But I figure there are still things that need to be done. And as long as I keep doing them, then I'm coming out ahead."

*

"And this mystical arm gauntlet thing currently wants you to work for SHIELD?" drawls Argyle. He finishes off the rest of his drink and pushes the cup forward. "I should head on home. Got an experiment running overnight that I gotta check in on first thing. No rest for the scientific."

*

"Well, that was my choice," Sara grins. "Like I said, easier when I don't have to lie about the mystical arm gauntlet. But pretty much." She drinks again, nodding as he stands. "Thanks for the drink, Socks. And for not asking," she adds with a small smile. She doesn't say what about, but he's a spy. He can read between the lines.

*

"What d'ya mean? We're just two co-workers talking shop. What else would we have to talk about?" Socks winks, then digs out money from his wallet to cover her tab and his. "See you around, Pezzini. You're gonna be the first one I call if anything weird comes across my desk, you know that, right?" He grins and shrugs his coat back on, then with an idle whistle, he heads for the door.

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