The Welcome Wagon

March 21, 2017:

Agent Phil Coulson tracks down the mysterious Spider-Woman and makes her an offer.

Manhattan, NYC


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Silk, Captain America,


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It has mostly been reported on as conspiracy theories and fan sites to the Spiders that there has been a new Spider on the scene. Strangely, for Gwen, she has not done much of the superhero gig. She will intervene if she stumbles upon robberies or the like, but she no longer goes out to search for them. Her main drive of proving herself worthy, that Peter Parker's death was not on her hands has dulled slightly by the mere fact that she has seen Peter Parker alive with her own eyes. What is this horrible place?

The dirtied super-heroine has kept to herself on rooftops around Manhattan. Queens is too painful a borough for her to traverse: it reminds her too much of the home that she lost. Currently, she is perched somewhere uptown. The last time she tried to follow a lead, it involved another Spider Person. One that reminded her of the woman who sent her to this hellish place. It's too much. What is she doing here? How can she get home? No one she knows is the same. Nothing she understands is as it should be.

Gwen sits on a roof, back against a wall, mask pulled off and clutched in her hands. The hoodie is - for once - pushed down her back and a hand runs through her hair. "Think, Gwen. Think. You can get out of this."


Transitioning from one world to another leaves traces.

Agent Phil Coulson hasn't been back in the states long, but he's now been back long enough to pick up on things he's interested in, things that are slipping through the cracks with this mists stuff. The mists seem to be as well-handled as they can be, not in particular need of his intervention with May at the helm. So he feels free to pursue a few equally fascinating and problematic thing.

He wears an unweildy, bulky item on his arm, which has been tracking the alternate reality traces left and right across the city, showing them off in a blue-white AR display that gives him a fine map to zero in closer and closer. He marks the location and shuts down the display from a block away. A non-descript man briefly passes beneath her, sunglasses on, bluetooth in ear. He enters the building she's perched on like he belongs there.

He steps to the top of the building just as Gwen is offering her soft monologue.

"Accidental travel between realities is infamously difficult to just think one's way out of, or so I'm told," he says, with a mild, non-threatening smile. He stays well back from her, hands up, no weapon in sight, the tech on his arm hidden beneath his suit now. "Admirable as you are for attempting it on your own. Don't worry, I mean you no harm. I'm here to help, I hope."


It's not until far too late that Gwen Stacy notices Phil Coulson.

The moment is when the first syllable of his monologue starts. Starting, the blonde woman immediately shoves herself up off the ground. In fact, she shoves herself with such speed and strength that she flips, landing on the side of the water tower that graces the top of the building. As she moves, the dirty mask is shoved back down over her face, though the hoodie remains down. This is a different world, a place no one most likely knows her, but it never hurts to be safe. There may be another Gwen Stacy here and she would hate to make that other woman's life hard due to her accidental travel here.

Defensive, she remains stuck to the side of the tower. It's clear she feels cornered, but is also curious. "I didn't attempt this. I was sent here. How did you find me?"


"I meant you're attempting to go back on your own— at least by the sound of it. My name is Phil. Agent Phil Coulson, SHIELD. And…well, the explanation is long and really nerdy, actually."

He gives a self-depreciating smile. "And better delivered by people who have multiple pHDs. The explanation I'm more qualified to give is this one: I have this really nifty gadget that tracks the traces that alternate universe displacement that you're leaving everywhere. Though the good news is you're leaving fewer and fewer of them over time, so your very presence here is probably not going to rip this reality apart or anything. The bad news is you're all alone in a reality where nothing makes sense to you, which sounds like it probably sucks."

He never steps closer, lets her get as much distance as is comfortable to her. "I don't know what SHIELD is like in your world, but in this one? We're here to help. I'm here to help. I'm not the only one though. Seems you've made another friend or two."

He then reaches behind him into the stairwell. "Just reaching for a box…"

He picks up the box and tilts it this way and that, reading a note on top of it. "Please come in, you can come inside, nobody will be mad. Found this one while I was wandering around following the trail in Hell's Kitchen, if that means anything to you. It's yours though!"


"SHIELD." SHIELD is something she knows. "You work with Captain America?" Of course, Gwen's version of Captain America is very different from the one on this world. However, she has to imagine that they stand for similar values, right? She's not sure.

"Who runs SHIELD here?" From what she can tell, it's not Peggy Carter and that's very strange. "If I'm leaving fewer and fewer traces, though, does that mean it's making it harder and harder to send me back home?" There's an edge of panic to her voice. That's legitimate concern. Getting back home to her family and her life is very important to her. If the longer she stays here makes it harder and harder for her to get home, that's a distinct problem.

Grateful that Coulson stays where he is, she stays on her strange perch. The mention of the note is met with a frown. "Hell's Kitchen?" She knows that her expression can't be readily read through the mask. "That's not yours?"


"Director Nick Fury runs SHIELD," Coulson replies, "though yes," and here he straightens with pride, "we do work with Captain America, though I haven't had a chance to meet him yet."

His self-depreciating smile widens just a touch, but he's not a man given to big expressions. They just sort of flit across his face, mild spices and flavors of emotion rather than big or deep impressions of it.

He sort of pat-pats the air as she asks the next question though. "No. It just means this world is getting used to having you here," he says. "It's as if you brought in a lot of dust from your reality that you are slowly but surely shaking from your clothes, even as you gather dust from ours. It doesn't preclude your ability to get from one dusty spot to another. Now…a lack of technology on our part, that might preclude it. There have been some other transplants, but not a lot. We've built the tech to track them. But we've never built the tech to travel from reality to reality. One of our scientists is working on something promising, and perhaps describing how you got here might help her help you."

He puts the box down. "It's not mine," he confirms. "I really think someone left it out for you. Maybe they had the same thought I did. I may not be able to help you return home right away, but there are practical concerns in the here and now. You don't have anywhere to stay, you look like you don't have any fresh clothes. I'd like to help you out, offer you a safehouse, get your needs met."


"Him." Gwen shakes her head at that. She was waiting for confirmation, but that just starts to seal the deal. Him, Captain America. Such a strange phrase to her.

The tech knowledge is somewhat absorbed by Gwen, but she's more of an investigator than a scientist. She can understand the basics to help her come to a conclusion, but anything above that makes her head spin. What she does get from that concession is one thing: that there are other people who have come here from other dimensions and places.

"Did those people? The ones you made that device for? Did they ever get to go home?" The offer of the box that he did not make the other platitudes…for now they are ignored. There is only one thing that she cares about, and that is to get that one question answered: is she stuck here forever? A scientist saying they 'have something promising' means litle to nothing to her.


Phil gives Gwen a sad, compassionate smile, and ultimately cuts to the chase. All without giving all the information: sadly it is more in his nature to play his cards close to his chest than it is to put it all out there. As it stands, the disposition of the other transplants may in fact be irrelevant.

"I don't know if I can send you back. But if you can be sent back, your best hope of doing so lies with SHIELD. We have the tech, the organization, the resources, the research. You're not going to find a way back by crouching on rooftops, running from everyone because you don't know who to trust. At some point, you're going to have to find a stable place to land. At some point, you're going to need a place to start. You're going to need someone you can turn to."

He tilts his head at her a little, lifting one eyebrow, waiting for a response.


"I know SHIELD on my world," Gwen tells Phil, wary. While she doesn't seem as on edge as she did just minutes before, she is certainly not approaching. "This is kind of like me asking the door who lies and the door who tells the truth who is who without the second door." There's a pause. "Please tell me you had David Bowie and Labyrinth on your world."

Gwen sighs as she watches Phil. "You know, the problem is this: I want to ask you is what the other door would say to that, but all I've got is you. I barely trusted SHIELD on my world and I don't know if I trust this one. What do you want from me in return? Is there something you need me for before you send me back?"


"Of course. It's a fantastic movie," Phil says with another one of those faint smiles. "And if this were all as easy as telling the Goblin King to wish you back to your world, I'd tell you that right now, too."

Her question is a fair one. He looks at her with those compassionate eyes, and he waits a moment before answering.

He says at last, "I want to make sure that your presence here doesn't herald a potential catastrophic collide of your reality into ours. SHIELD, my SHIELD, tends to believe that the membranes between realities exist for a reason, and that it's not a good idea to go poking holes in them left and right. That you are here says someone poked a big hole from your side. We'd prefer it if they stopped doing that. Ideally, you going back to your world is best, though I will admit to you right now that if it's a choice between letting our reality get turned into Swiss Cheese and keeping you here, we're going to have to take Option B. It may also be that you are in a unique position, now, to help repair problems from both sides. We simply don't have enough information. On paper, for the moment, I believe I'd like you to become a consultant."

He tilts his head and adds, "There's also the fact that it would require someone to be more of a jerk than I am to let someone wander around New York with no resources. A blizzard's in the forecast you know…it really might be a good idea to get some shelter. From someone, if not from me."

His gaze turns serious. "I have the authority and the clearance to offer you some protection. To take what you want into account. I can't promise we'll always want the same things. I can promise that you'll always get a fair hearing from me, and that I'll at least try to get you what you want while pursuing what is necessary to keep the maximum number of people safe. You don't seem the type to be entirely callous about that, the fate of entire populations who have nothing to do with any of this. I can't promise an ideal situation. I can promise a realistic one, and perhaps a way to find some purpose in what's happened to you."

He reaches down and flips the flap of the box open with a pen, just to see what's inside. "Your other option appears to be this fine assortment of granola bars, energy drinks, and underwear that may or may not be in your size, courtesy of one Silk from Hell's Kitchen. But they did say you could come inside, so there's that."


There's a moment when Gwen studies the Agent of SHIELD. It's hard to tell through the mask, but he's trained in body language and he can almost certainly pick it up. She's not exactly skilled at hiding her true intentions, despite the mask. In the long pause after he speaks it looks like she may bolt. There's a tensing of muscles, a preparation to leap.

"I'm not even sure how I got here," she tells him. "There was a machine, a flash. I got knocked, then I found myself here." However, she doesn't say anything about who she was stalking, why she was there. That's a little less…legal. And SHIELD is definitely more on the more legal side of things. She doesn't want to be wanted by multiple agencies on two different versions of reality. "If you could send me back, I'd be totally cool with that."

The offer is met with a bit of relaxing of her muscles. "Protection? From what?" It seems, at least, that she's considering his offer, if not outright agreeing to it. "And what's this offer, actual? Some crash pad somewhere? And you'd want me to, what? Freelance?"

As the flap of the box opens, Spider-Woman actually leaps off the side and approaches - closer to each other than they have ever been in the entire conversation. She looks up at him and then at the box again. "Where'd you get that?"


"Protection from those who would see your presence here as a different kind of opportunity." Coulson says. He steps back from the box, giving her space. "The offer is a safehouse and a salary, along with a spending allowance to get what you need. Clothes. Electronics, a few personal items within reason. I'm not trying to make you an Agent of SHIELD unless that's a career aspiration you've got in particular."

He gives a wry, gentle smile.

"I would like to have access to the information you may not even know you have, and have the ability to call on you when it may be necessary to do so. I'd like to give you a little clearance. From there, I don't intend to restrict your movements. If you decide to trust me, I'll decide to trust you. If we can't send you back it is important that you start meeting people, learning your way around, even opening up some options for yourself. As for the box, I found it at 485 West 46th Street. I assume that's a location you visited; I was merely following the trail you were leaving behind."

There is apparently a Pokemon shirt in there too, for the record, that Phil had neglected to mention.


The thought of that is met with a frown. "Are there a lot of people like that here?" Ones that would try and use her for an opportunity, not that she can know what that opportunity would be. "I mean, good luck. I can barely stop a Convenience Store Bandit. I get people I care about—" she stops herself. As for being a SHIELD Agent, she shakes her head. "No, that's not my particular flavor of corn dog. Though, I guess there's only one flavor of corndog. Not my particular pizza topping, then?" That sounds right.

Kneeling down, she starts to root through the box that Coulson has brought for her that was left by a ghost. Or maybe not a ghost, just a ghost of someone she knows from elsewhere. Tilting her head upward, she shakes her head. "I'm getting the better end of that deal, you know. I know nothing about this place and from what I can tell? What I know about my world doesn't mean anything here."

After that moment, she goes back to sifting through the contents of the box. The thought of not being able to get home has crossed her mind and it's not one that she really wants to deal with at the moment. "Hopefully it won't come to that. The SHIELD here, it's got advanced tech and stuff, right? Military contracts?"

Pulling out the Pokemon shirt, she looks at it curiously. "What is this? Some sort of cartoon fish?"


"I imagine there are a lot everywhere. Whomever built that machine certainly had ulterior motives," Phil points out, quite reasonably. "As it stands, knowing the possibilities, the things that could be different, is dangerous in and of itself. The things that are different, the things that are the same, hint at convergences, points in history where things could be nudged, altered to create entirely different outcomes. So you see, what you know could matter. What you area trans dimensional traveler, even unwilling could matter. Someone who can master dimensional travel might eventually master time travel. That could swiftly become disastrous."

He's perfectly serious. These are not scenarios he's spinning out for fun. His face is settled into grim, tired lines…the face of a man who actually sits up nights, thinking about things like this and working to prevent them.

"All good deals are Win-Win," he adds, with the slightest of smiles. "In the end as long as it's two wins it doesn't matter. And…we can't predict who the bigger winner will be, not really. Maybe you. Maybe me. Maybe both of our realities. Which I suppose would make it a win-win-win-win. But yes. We have all those things."

He chuckles a little bit. "I think he's called Magikarp," he says simply. Why does he know this? Why does he know anything? He knows the name of the little fish.


"I certainly haven't mastered this sort of travel, believe me. My cellphone doesn't even work here. It's a real bummer." Phil's logic, seemingly is starting to get into Gwen's head, because she's not asking any more questions about the logistics of the deal. Not right now, anyway.

Maybe it's the fact that he's making sense, or that his quiet assurances are disarming. Or, it could be she really hasn't gotten much sleep on freezing rooftops and she stinks. Either way, she waits for a moment before nodding her head a few times. "Alright. I can agree to that, I think. At least until I find my way back. Or get on my own footing. I'm not going to have to work at convenience store, am I?" That was her old job. One that she could barely keep between her trying to be a super-heroine. "Also, I'm not really that good at history, if you're thinking I'm going to be any good at classes or something." In how to learn what is real here or not.

Flipping the shirt back and forth a few times, she shrugs. "I'm not sure what a Magikarp is, but it's kinda cute."

"I'm sure you'll have time to find out. And no. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. I may ask you to do things but…you can tell me no. I'm not here to force you into anything. I've explained the stakes, and if I ask you to do something I think we've established it will be because it will help a lot of people. Would you like me to carry your box for you? If so, I can show you to your apartment. There are a few items at the safehouse that might fit you; we usually keep sweats in various sizes there, and a computer where you can order more."

He hesitates, then says, "In your world, you wear your mask to hide your identity. In this one…your real face and name might actually serve to do that better. Spider-Woman has been making ripples, even though you probably don't think you have, yet. You can't go around masked forever, and…putting Spider-Woman on the paperwork might draw attention you don't want. I know that superheroes guard their identities close and tight, but…if you would consider sharing your real name and face with me…it might be helpful."

A slight, fatherly smile. "It's not a requirement." He seems serious about not forcing her into anything.


"You already saw my face. Or, you had the chance to." Gwen reminds Coulson as she picks up the box. "Nah, I've got that whole super strength thing. Making someone carry my box for me would be a bit overkill." There's a raised eyebrow. "So, wait, you already had one ready? Or, is this just some random SHIELD safe house? I wouldn't be surprised if you had a bunch of those all over the city. Do I get any of that cool SHIELD tech? That could really help with this whole outfit stuff."

As for the identity, that seriously makes her pause. Keeping her identity hidden has been an all consuming part of her for the past year or more. To just divulge it here without thought just isn't on the table. What he says makes some sense, but she frowns. There's a shake of her head. "Can I just tell you a first name? You can make up a last name for me or whatever."

She frowns. "That whole name thing is kind of a big deal. It's how I protected myself. But, if you put me on paperwork and stuff, that makes me all official, right?"


"It's just one of many," Phil says with a soft chuckle. "And yes, I saw a little, enough to know your hair color, not enough to identify you from a photograph— but that's not really the point."

Phil lets her have the box, pausing to open the door to the landing to her in gentlemanly fashion. He is definitely not going to go webslinging across the city with her. He would like to walk down the civilized way. "You can just tell me a first name. And we can make up a last name," he agrees. "And the pseudonym will go on the paperwork. You could even use a middle name if you prefer," he says. "You need a normal persona."

He seems easygoing about the whole thing, but…"You can't buy groceries in costume. You can't open a bank account in costume. SHIELD is pretty flexible with the unusual, but…you have to function in the real world. You won't have to get a job anywhere as long as we're paying you, but…that doesn't mean you won't want to someday, if we can't get you back. And since I can't make any promises as to that…"


"I can have a normal persona," Gwen tells him with a frown. "I just…I don't really like everyone else knowing it, too." Though, she realizes that may be a problem when living at a safe house that's owned by SHIELD. Hm, she may be a little over her head here. But, she needs a place to stay and despite the fact that it seems like that Silk woman wants to help her, the name is too similar. The voice too exact. Between a rock and a hard place, at least she knows that the SHIELD on her world is untrustworthy, but does the right thing most of the time.

"Well, I could," she counters about buying groceries in costume. "Maybe they'd give me a discount!" She doubts it, but it's something. She can't help but talk back. It's what she does.

Sighing, she holds the box against her hip as he opens the door for her. A nod is given in thanks, though she doesn't do so verbally. She's a bit too lost in thought, calculating risks. She's a detective and she's used to going with her gut. So, while she doesn't take off her mask just yet, she gives him something. "Gwen. You can call me Gwen." That's something, at least.


"It's nice to meet you, Gwen," Phil says stepping behind her and closing the door.

He doesn't press her to talk. Instead, he takes her down to the elevator and lets her have some time with her thoughts. "We're just heading to the alley. I'm going to take you to meet Lola," he says.

Lola, of course, proves to be the snazzy red flying race car…which he does fly over the streets of New York City. He takes her to Queens; a nice little furnished apartment, spacious for New York, and certainly more than someone could afford working for a convenience store. "It's already stocked with groceries and toiletries," he says, "as well as the aforementioned sweats and computer." He pulls out a gold card. "Five thousand dollar limit. Order what you need," he says, offering it to her. "Try not to spend all of it though, we do have to account for those expenses. A reasonable wardrobe, personal items, small scale electronics, books, all fine. Take the time to get settled in." He takes out a key and offers it to her. "Alarm system code is 1542. Duress code is 2850." He also digs out a transit card and hands it to her, smiling kindly.

"A shower will do wonders I imagine, Gwen. I'll come by in the morning to get your paperwork done." He pulls out a phone and hands it to her. "My number is already programmed into it. If you need anything, even an ear, call me. It's going to take me a little time to make arrangements, and I don't want to overwhelm you. Good?"


For a woman so quippy and talkative, the ride in the elevator and then the walk to the car is mostly silent other than the sound of their footsteps.

"Woah, nice ride." Nice cars are universal between dimensions. Once Gwen is seated, she's surprised at the flying at first, eagerly looking over the side. It's not a terribly long flight to Queens, but it's long enough that she slumps a bit in her seat. Despite the wonder, despite the nice car, for the first time in awhile Gwen feels safe. And with that, the exhaustion, the strangeness: it takes its toll and her head starts to bob downward with the motion and she sleeps. Or naps, really. When they arrive at her nice little apartment, she starts awake.

For a moment, it looks like she may just jump out of the car and sprint, perhaps not realizing where she is in the confusion of waking. Then, though, she looks down at the box at her feet, over at Coulson and relaxes. Right. The apartment.

She follows him around the short tour, nodding at his instructions. White gloved hands pass over the various surfaces an then takes the phone from him. In this place, she pulls her hood down, though the mask remains. "Gotcha, millions of corn dogs, some more sweats, a bunch of electronics to sell for cash." There's that quipping again. Seems like she just needed a nap to restart it.

After a moment, she looks about and pulls the mask off. She's just a girl, really. She should be in college. Her messy blonde hair is held back by a band. She has bright blue eyes and her pale white face is shows dark circles under the eyes.

"Thanks, Agent Phil Coulson."

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