Beware the Nice Ones

May 17, 2017:

Tony Stark leads Sally Stojespal down a dangerous path, enticing her to get right under Lola's hood. Phil Coulson is less-than-amused.

The Triskelion, NYC

Home of Darth Coulson and the Breakfast Club.

Characters

NPCs: Various SHIELD Agents, Stan Lee

Mentions: Sloane Albright

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Triskellian is always a hub and burble of activity. SHIELD agents on missions. Moving here or there. Always with a purpose. Always with a mission. The glittering halls of a bastion against the forces of Chaos and Disorder that threaten the globe.

…and then. In comes a force of chaos and disorder.

Tony Stark and SHIELD have never really seen eye-to-eye. I mean yes, they did sort of save his life. They did help him discover Badassium(name pending). They did sort of let him just do his own thing. Havn't tried to mindblank or steal his designs.

But he has never forgotten that one agent threatened to taser him until he was drooling on the carpet.

Which is just rude, man. Rude.

But regardless, Tony has been nice enough to design things for them. Like the Quinjets. The new helicarrier engines. Body armor and non-lethal weapon systems galore.

…some lethal ones too just because.

Which gives him a little bit more pull than the typical civvie.

Which is why Tony Stark and his intrepid(or very put upon) intern are here. Walking the hollowed halls. Stark in anything but a uniform. At least he's wearing pants though. That's a plus. And actual shoes. It could be a red letter day.

And they are heading towards the hanger.

"So!" Cheerfully tossed over his shoulder. "You're wondering why we are here I bet? Well you get to see a one-of-a-kind car today! Since I'm just a nice guy to bring you along to make sure she's running right. AND. You said you had some ideas for an arc-reactor engine. Which I want to hear."

—-

She didn't have that much chance to get ready for it - no message from JARVIS, no warning from Pepper, just Tony's head appearing randomly around the corner of a doorway telling Sally to grab her jacket and come see something cool at SHIELD.

Rusalka Stojespal has known Tony Stark long enough to know that this is going to be extremely fantastic or a terrible thing - but the fact she can simply say 'has known Tony Stark' is enough for her to do exactly what he says. She considers Sloane, and can only imagine the girl's reaction if Mozart had appeared before her and suggested a jam session.

Said intrepidly put-upon intern follows Tony into the building, her own outfit almost as colorful as Stark's - white shirt, beige jacket, and red slacks. Shoes of course as well, suede oxfords to go with the mix. Clearly someone's not planning on driving around much…and clearly not a uniform as well, as Sally looks around at the various Agents and other workers going about their business. It's like walking through the world's largest Discount Business Wear aisle…

In response to Tony's question, Sally nods. She'll have the Sokovian accent forever, but at least it's not too thick. "You did not say much, nor on the ride over, Mr. Stark." Well, he had been busy on the phone, and she's just here for the ride. Though there's talk of her intentions, and Sally can't help a momentary gush - maybe there's a little surprise and pride that 'Tony Stark is listening to me talk about engineering' and maybe there's a little more than a little.
"Yes, that is, uh. I." Swallow. She should be used to this by now! "I've been thinking a lot about what you said, about trying to find a way to use all that power. There's so much in a small package, the energy density and output is incredible. It's like trying to design a car to work around a fighter plane engine, and I was…well." She begins talking with her hands, long legs keeping stride with Tony easily.

"I finally decided that maybe it's too powerful for such a thing, for making a proper automobile. But I remembered what you said about flight, and I thought of like…a flying ambulance. Like an emergency helicopter, but it would not need the space, and could travel anywhere. And an Arc Reactor, even a small one, would put out enough power to make it fast as well as power all the instruments onboard. And if it flew, by itself and not with a lot of other cars, then traffic…a thing of the past."

Granted, such a thing is stupid expensive. But it is an Arc Reactor after all. She can't help continue, though. "My other idea, I've been trying to strip down a reactor - like, turn it into a battery, or an RTG sort of thing. Just a little power, but a capacitor. It would still store Arc energy, but the output would be a lot lower and recyclable. I just…can't make it work, everything seems like it's too integral to it being a reactor. I could show you my drawings, i-if you wanted…"

It's her first super-science project. She'll stop babbling, she promises.

Eventually.

It's Tony's fault, he's a bad influence on someone and rapid-fire talkative thinking.

It's always Tony's fault.

—-

And there it is, a shining red beacon in a protected SHIELD garage.

Lola.

She is a thing of beauty, a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette, an anachronism amongst stolid black SUVs, tinted-window sedans, and, here and there, some of the much sleeker, faster cars meant for very specific missions. The license plate reads 381 PCE, it's a California plate, mounted in the front. This vehicle gleams. Someone spends a lot of time washing this car, polishing this car, tending to this car. There are a few panels and pieces that aren't at all normal for this type of car, something Sally will notice right away.

It's no Lotus. It's not the fastest car on the planet. But there's something about it all the same. It looks like it could hold its own.

Of course. Something about it might also tug at Sally's memory.

Of the man who once threatened to taze Tony Stark and watch Supernanny? Of the owner of this car? Currently, there is no sign.

—-

Everything is always Tony's fault.

This is an eternal truth.

Case in point. He likely should have called ahead. He likely should have said 'HEY PHIL GONNA TUNE UP UR CAR'. He likely should have done a whole bunch of things.

But he didn't.

Because he's Tony Stark.

So onto the Flight Deck he strolls. Strill talking, and occasionally staring at lady agents in jumpsuits when he gets distracted. Pepper still won't let him have one and that kinda bums him out.

But no. That's no reason to get down. There is still plenty of fun to be had.

Like talking engineering!

"Mmm, exactly. Why do you think the Iron Man suits have so many little gadgets. Only half of it is cause I like it. The other one is cause I have to burn off so much energy from the reactor operating at full power." He nods in agreement as he turns down a line of black on black SUVs. "You have to bleed off the power with the auxiliary systems. It would work as a battery, but the amount of power that it could carry would render it pretty damn volitile right? The safety systems would have to be extensive and extend to full EMP shields. Though the EMP shields would be needed for using a normal reactor too…"

A pause before he shakes his head.

"…anyway! We are here so you can get a look at the original flight system in its natural habitat. Since dear ol' dad made the first one…now where is it…"

He rounds a corner to spy Lola sitting there. Lonely. A single lovely lady just waiting for someone to hold her.

"…there! Man, dad did know how to build em…come on, I'll show you under the hood."

Now. On the deck surrounding the pair its not like bussle and hussle actually stops, but there is a definite hitch in the controlled flow of movement as Tony says those words and starts towards the car to lay one hand on the cherry red exterior.

Up on the second level overlooking the motorpool a small group of agents stop. Stare. They look at each other slowly.

"Anders you go tell Agent Coulson."

"What why me?"

"You're the new guy."

"…dammit. What are you two gonna do?!"

"I'm getting some deck chairs."

"I'll get the popcorn."

"…this is gonna be good."

—-

Calling ahead is something Tony Stark could never do. It might make him actually on time for something, if he prearranged it. By accident of course. Simply never calling ahead leaves everything on Tony Time. Sally will get used to this, or she'll eat her own laptop. Possibly both.

His explanation of the work put into the Iron Man suits gets a nod. "I see. I did not realize…in truthfulness, Mr. Stark, your reputation is well known. I simply…I guess it's just easy to assume it's there because, ah…" How is this put? "So that you have extra toys to play with?" Please don't yell at her. She's trying to be honest, and understand him better!

The point about volatility catches her by surprise, and she considers it. "Yes, it would be, though…if it were built detachable, like a laptop's battery, perhaps, or had enough of a continuous draw. Like an airliner, rather than a car. Not stopping and starting all the time, but 'turn on, go away…come back eventually, turn off.'" But then the truth of why they're there is revealed.

Of course the car catches her eye. It's got less logical reason to be there than a clown does in an elevator full of armed SWAT officers. That rebellion against Spock, however, seems to have been successful as the Corvette does not simply wink out of existence on its own but remains as a beautiful thumb in the eye of corporate aesthetics.

Rusalka can't help a stomach flipflop when she sees it - it's beautiful, a complete classic from a bygone era. An era that she loves, in all truth.

"<Bozhe moy.>" It's almost whispered, looking at the thing - she can make out her reflection even at a distance. Up close, she could put makeup on; it's that well maintained. A quick glance at the back and front, looking for details. Little things don't add up, though, and she pushes her hairband back a little to keep her face free from an errant strand.

"Your father built this? This is incredibly well taken care of," she adds, going back to her study of the car. A weird covered panel in the console, hiding something? Maybe a stereo system, she thinks. Tony offers to show her under the hood, and Sally nods - before dropping to a knee.

And staring hard into the wheel area. One hand reaches up to both steady herself and to feel what's in front of her, to make sure it's real. "These are not brakes. Not…what is this? Mr. Stark?" Oh yes there's confusion in those cobalt-blue eyes. A test? Is she supposed to figure out what something is by looking at it?

—-

Meanwhile, Agents are quietly slipping into view. Only the boldest and most daring of them. Only those who wish to pull up the figurative popcorn. A betting pool might be started, even as the hapless Agent Anders gets the unenviable task of telling Agent Phil Coulson that Tony Stark is here to mess with his baby. There are whispers. Little ripples of warning that the two people who are touching Lola are playing with fire.

It's all very surreptitious. Spies are very good at keeping even these sorts of things on the downlow. If anyone were to look at them, they'd see men and women hard at work being some of the most boring people on the planet, doing some of the most boring things on the planet: poking at tablets, say, or checking things off of checklists, or simply having very deep and intense conversations in corners.

—-

"Well technically Chevrolet built this, but dad made it better. His designs at least." Tony's reply comes with a smirk as he reaches down to pop the hood and reveal the completely non-standard engine. Lines of high-tech engineering decades ahead of its time. Energy systems and batteries power weapons and engine systems that draw more power than any ten formula one racers.

"And there are breaks but what you're seeing there are first generation flight systems. The precursor for modern repulsor tech. Higher power rating for less thrust than the repulsors, but if you need a power system dump that works. I figured you might want to get a look at the original systems. Might kick something in. Besides…" He grins. "…I just like to mess with things."

The spychatter? Nope. Not paying attention to any of it.

—-

Sally doesn't notice the circling pool of sharks. The various Agents of SHIELD, come to watch what might just be an epic showdown. She's no Jedi, there's no disturbance in the Force, and even if she could sense such things?

It wouldn't matter anyways. Tony Stark just popped the hood on the leprechaun's pot of gold, and the gleam is entrancing.

"Chevrolet, yes…1961 or 62, I'm not sure…" That Sokovian voice drops to a whisper as she stands, taking in the engine. She can see where the core of a proper eight-cylinder engine is, but…there's so much /more/ to it. The soft glow of future technology suffuses even the darkest parts of the engine, and whispers of dreams yet undreamt by the girl.

"Flight systems, in something this small, and yet…" Her hand reaches out - into the engine bay, fingers gliding over the Arc-reactor-enhanced power core. From the original's V8 to the postmodern power supply, her fingertips cross decades blended together with genius. "With the original engine, and the improved power, it's like a hybrid. But there's so much more, and -" She sees the guns. A flicker crosses her face, and she moves on, hunching back down for a moment to look closer into the wheel well.

"So…these articulate, and the hub…instead of an electric motor to drive the wheel, it's even got your repulsors as lifting thrusters. And yet it would still drive like the original, with the gasoline motor. All of it channeled back through the car," she says, standing, and then reaching in to touch the reactor's core. "Right to here. It's warm…"

Like a heart should be.

—-

Speaking of Jedi.

Phil Coulson is not usually the type of man for whom it would be appropriate to play a rendition of the Imperial March as an accompaniment to his glaring stride down the sterile grey hallways of the Triskelian. Except…today…he is exactly that man.

He comes to a stop behind Tony Stark and Sally Stojespal. He folds his arms. His glare might…might!…just have physical weight. It's warm, Sally says, and Phil cuts in like an unwelcome dancer, sounding Most Displeased. "Her name is Lola," he says, in a fashion that conveys every last ounce of the possessiveness one might feel when one sees another fondling the heart of his beloved.

But Stojespal doesn't know better.

Stark does, and so the weight of that displeased glare, so far from his normal avuncular and jejune demeanor, transfers to the inventor, to the inimitable Iron Man himself. "What's going on here, Stark?"

—-

"Phil!" Tony on the other hand sounds his usual avuncular and jovial manor. The inventor has the manner of a man that can do no wrong. Or at the very least never acknoweldge the fact that he has done wrong. The latter is likely more true.

"Have you met Sally? She's my new intern slash retainer slash person that doesn't get me coffee." He gestures to the young car-head with the face and arm deep into the internals of Phil's beloved car. "See she's getting an idea in her head for a new kind of engine and needed a flight system to look at. Since this one is the first one dad ever helped design well…naturally I'm here. Besides. Its technically Stark tech and I like to poke at Stark tech."

Yeah. He's totally not helping is he?

A glance back towards the girl and the car. "…and right on all counts. Though I'm sure Phil there could give you a better rundown of it all, couldn't you Phil?" A bright grin before he glances back. "…its not a full blown ARC system, dad never could quite get it stable enough. Its close though. Unique little generator system he cooked up."

He still has no idea who paid who what to get it all built and installed in the 'Vette.

—-

The footsteps behind her, beating a drum march of doom, are noticed but ignored. She's not worried about it, it's some SHIELD agent on urgent business, and this is Tony's project. What does go unnoticed is one SHIELD agent upstairs, safely watching behind glass, has been humming said Imperial March to the amusement of his coworker.

Phil's voice, on the other hand, is very much heard - and startles Sally, getting a jump out of the girl as she spins around quickly. "Agent Coulson!" Isn't it tradition to yell out the name of the teacher who caught you doing something wrong, sneaking into a classroom?

The attitude he radiates is very reminiscent of that teacher as well. He'd told her it's what he started out as, once. And he still has that aura of education, yet this time it's tinged with the dark red of a professor disappointed in his student. At least, in her case. At least Sally can take it, standing upright at attention as if being chewed out by the family matriarch.

Though the chewing seems to be aimed at Tony, who - the perfect charismatic delinquent! - brushes it all off. It's kind of impressive, and she can understand how Isa gets so aggravated around him, but then she's mentioned. "Yes, we…Agent Coulson and I have met, actually."

She's about to ask Tony about further details of his father's ARC system - but then realizes how much more trouble that would get her in. "I suppose…we could talk about that later, Mr. Stark, but…" Blue eyes turn back to the balding SHIELD agent. "I didn't realize t was your car, Mr. Coulson. I thought it was a SHIELD prototype, something Tony was building, l-like…" Blink. What was the name - yes. "Like James Bond, and his Aston-Martin, just…" In America.

"You said her name is Lola…?" Maybe there's something that can be salvaged out of this? And with the tiniest of jumps Sally realizes just how close she is, and manages to shuffle half a step further away from the car. Pleasedon'tshootme…

—-

"You know, that taser thing is still very much on the table," Phil grumps at Tony, hazel eyes sparking with his irritation. "Howard may have built the car, but that doesn't mean you get to touch her whenever you want to. I feel like we've had this discussion before."

Tony says that Phil can give Sally a better rundown. He sighs. He's too fair-minded of a man to really hold this against her for very long, because she didn't know. And Stark…there's just…there's really no growling at Stark or getting through to him. It really only makes things worse. So he says, "Yes, Lola. If you'll stop touching her I'll tell you all about her."

He walks a bit closer to them, as if he is more than tempted to reach out and haul them bodily away from his car. He doesn't. He's far too dignified for such a display. Fortunately Sally gets the idea and moves farther away, a move which earns her back a few points. He looks expectantly towards Stark, grumping, "I can hold out some dried fruit if it would entice you to move a little faster."

Like he's some sort of circus seal.

—-

"Aww thanks Phil! But…" Where Tony had hid a pack of apricots who has any idea. But one is suddenly in his hand. "…I brought my own." He stands there for a few more moment as he grins at the Agent before he sloooowly steps away from the car.

Real life slow mo.

The step completes just as he finished his first bite of dried fruit and he adds. "Yup. We have. I think five times. I keep telling you I could get at least thirty percent more efficiency out of her if you let me give her a tune up." He adds as he glances back at the car. Then back to the pair of them. Then back to the car. Finally he sighs and shakes his head.

"Never gonna happen is it?" A glance at Sally. "He's so protective!" A beatpause. "And its totally a SHIELD prototype. Just way older than mine."

A further pause before he glances up at one of the Agents in attendance who is watching and trying not to be noticed watching.

"Hey whats the over/under on me getting shot! I want in on the action if the numbers are good!"

—-

Taser thing? Deep blue eyes blink in curiosity, but Sally can see this fight shaping up between them - and being the juniorest junior girl that ever juniorly juniored anything, she's staying right out of it. Even if there's a story she'd love to hear.

Once Phil starts walking forward, Sally definitely steps aside and behind him. There's a soft whisper to the SHIELD agent as he passes. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize, honestly…" She'd been around the track with the Agent, but hadn't realized he was a fan of such a true classic. A glance between Tony and Phil, but Rusalka is mostly sure they're not going to come to blows. Mostly.

Instead, she'll stand just to his side, hands behind her back. There's a momentary cringe as Tony finally relents, wondering how the man can play with fire so much - but SHIELD needs him, Phil said. A good man…but headstrong, infuriating, and clownish. It's true, sadly. Yet perhaps it is just a thing; Sally just shrugs - and turns back to Phil.
Sally is, in the end, still a kid - and can't help it. She's surrounded by the finest technology the government can buy, and face to face with a truly unique machine. "She is beautiful, Phil…Coulson." Not really first-name yet, at least not in public. "I would hope that she is driven often, not…merely left to settle on a display. It would be a waste of all of that effort and of its soul."

She knows he was having fun, that time in the Lotus. "Is that not true, Mr. Stark? Shouldn't such a car be allowed to reach its potential, show its true beauty?" Sally gives the scarlet Chevrolet an admiring nod. "I'd like to hear its story, if you have time…"

Meanwhile, in the popcorn gallery, some room is made as one man in particular walks in. Agent Lee glances around, flexing his fingers from their work with SHIELD's last honest to god typewriter, before adjusting his glasses. The balding geriatric - old enough to have worked alongside Peggy Carter herself - is about to demand to know what's going on before one of the much younger agents raises a finger to his lips and points to Phil. "Oh. Oh this is going to be good," the elderly agent says. In answer to Tony's question below? "Three to one Phil tasers him."

—-

"Five to one that you get shot with an ICER, 10 to one with a bullet to the knee," drawls another Agent, a gorgeous black woman named Agent Stahl. "I've got all my money on the ICER."

Phil pretends not to hear any of it, though his lips twitch. He could totally throw this match. In fact, the look he gives Stark is speculative, like…maybe he'll let Stark bet, and do whatever it is Stark bets on, a sort of choose-your-own-punishment, and then they can split the winnings.

It may be what finally makes him take pity on poor Sally. "Of course I drive her," he says gently. "Every chance I get." He steps farther away from Tony to let him handle the betting (without bet-fixing schemes, to boot) and begins talking in impassioned fashion about the car, going over every little in and out of every last spec. This has the net impact of relaxing him entirely, because he's talking about something (someone) who makes him happy. It's hard to stay pissed off for long.

He finally winds back around to the reasons why he doesn't want Tony making her more efficient. "I know her like the back of my hand, Tony," he says. "Any changes that you make will mean having to get reacquainted with her all over again. You'll weaken the bond between us, and I might not drive her as well in a crucial moment. She is also lovely as she is, perfect as she is. Toying with her to get more efficiency out of her would be like giving Audrey Hepburn a rhinoplasty. While you could perhaps theoretically make her 30% more beautiful, you'd be making her 30% less Audrey."

—-

"Throw in dinner with you and I'll give you the win," Stark shoots towards Agent Stahl. He can't help it. Its how he rolls. Plus she's hot.

Now how to get Phil to do something. Though it looks like he's settling down. That's gonna mess up the spread isn't it. Hrmmm. Just how much in pain does Tony want to be after this. This is also a consideration. So much to consider really.

But for now he just nods easily towards Sally. "Damn right! See kid knows what she's talking about. Needs to be driven more than just to get groceries and back!"

A pause then as Phil tries to use logic on him.

"She would totally be 30% faster. With better guns. And some kind of heat seeking missiles." A beatpause. "But I think you really would shoot me if I removed the GPS."

—-

Stan - the elderly agent - just gets a piece of chalk - from where? - and starts noting people's names and wagers on the wall. Now if only he can get a bookie-fee from all of this, he'll be set.

Meanwhile Rusalka does her best not to cringe as the suggestions spread. She's a little worried - and decides to step in and do something simple and to the point, even if it ruins the running pool. Gliding behind Phil, to Tony's side, she stands between them both before momentarily switching to Russian. "<I shall split it with you both,>" she whispers cryptically. Then her voice raises enough to be heard by the agents. "Twenty dollars upon myself," Rusalka says - then reaches up and actually poke-prods Tony Stark. With her hand. Touching him.

…Touching him right in the spot where the bandages from the Perfume King's visit had been only recently removed, said rib still quite likely sore. "Worst patient ever, indeed," Sally sniffs, before throwing Tony a smirk.

And then Phil goes into detail, listing off the changes - Rusalka gives him a lot of attention, occasionally asking Stark just what this or that might do. She knows her stuff, but the first rule of engineering is never to assume you understand things completely. Especially when they glow. Glowing is definitely something important.

In the end…she can't help it. Even if she's standing between them. "I agree with Agent Coulson, Mr. Stark. Once it is as it should be…once you're used to it, you know all the little things. I know you race. To really know your machine, to understand all the little things it's saying…means a lot. Perhaps a new car could be made that were thirty percent faster? I'm sure that…"

There's a nearly predatory smile on her face, covered in a blanket of pure innocence as she glances up at Tony. "Mr. Stark would permit me to build such a thing. No?"

—-

"Done," Stahl says with a laugh, and Tony's marked down for his bet in all due fashion.

Phil looks a little startled as Sally decides she's going to take matters into her own hands by calling out a bet and…poking? Tony?

He recovers quickly. He always does. He smooths his features out and clasps his hands behind his back as the racing enthusiast steps up to explain and defend just why he neither needs nor wants changes to his beloved Lola. He inclines his head to her in a sort of 'just so' motion…

But he's still completely fascinated by whatever she's just decided to pull, and has decided not to interrupt the flow of whatever it is with more discussion about the merits and flaws of something that doesn't matter anyway, because there's no way in Hell anyone is touching his car more than they have already touched it.

And if she wants to build some lesser version of Lola, that's certainly between her and Stark.

—-

"Double teamed! I see how it is. Fine fine. You guild a car thirty percent faster then. I mean that's why we are here. So you can learn about the mechanics of this one to apply it to a different model." He's still munching away happily, the grin growing as Stahl agrees to his terms.

He was about to step forwards to say something. Which means he steps into that poke.

On his freshly-not-quite-healed ribs.

There is a gasp as he staggers to one side.

His arm flies up. You know. The one holding the package of fruit.

Like a gentle rain of snacks they sail up in the air. Arcing high and catching the light before starting their downward decent.

Right into the cab of Lola.

—-

Really, it's just Sally's attempt to try to break the mood between tyatya Phil and tyatya Tony. Uncles shouldn't fight! Even if she more or less agrees with Coulson, she knows Stark would come to see their point of view. Especially with her impassioned plea and appeal to his racing talent. Which, of course, goes right out the window when he walks into her poke, jabbing that wounded rib.

With a noise halfway between a yelp and a gasp, she reaches out to catch the inventor - avoiding that rib as hard as she can! It leaves the bag of dried fruit arcing through the air, out of her vision - but the room goes completely drop-dead silent. So quiet that even the air conditioning takes that moment to switch off, silent enough to hear a pin drop.

Maybe even quiet enough to hear fruit snacks strike leather seating, if they get that far.

Half propping up Tony, making sure he's okay, Sally turns to look at Phil. "There, see? Something different, and no changes to Lola. <I swear it,> she adds - using an archaic form of Russian. The same dialect she'd used when she swore herself to Stark's service as an intern. Now if only Phil will permit her to look and learn…

At least, Sally hopes, she'd won the betting…

—-

The theme from Space Odyssey might just play somewhere in the Universe as that bag of fruit arcs through the air and makes its date with destiny inside of the cab of Phil Coulson's beloved car.

Phil can hear every apricot plop. Every one. His wince starts at the first. It grows. It grows into a cringe. It grows into a tooth-gritted, eyes-closed, flinch. There's an intake of breath as the final bit of sticky fruit finally falls. He thinks he can hear it, rolling off to try to find a place to die under the driver's side seat.

He opens his eyes.

The room is holding its breath. Except Sally, who is holding Tony.

Phil acts on reflex when he draws the ICER and just pap-paps!! one into Tony Stark's chest. Sally's got him right? She'll keep him from hitting the floor and damaging his ultra-hard head.

"He'll be fine," he growls.

For a moment he's caught between impulses. On one hand, making Sally detail his entire interior would probably serve as some sort of proper punishment. On the other hand he is dimly aware that they might have just won something like $300 a piece and that she was basically trying to rig the bets. And then there's the matter of how much car touching that would entail.

In the end he grumbles, "Agent Stahl, I'm going to need my detailing kit."

He takes up his jacket, then and there. Rolls up his sleeves.

Yep. Phil's gonna go ahead and clean his own car right now.

—-

Tony takes two in the chest.

ICERs are supposed to work fast. And they do. Sally would feel the entire weight of one of the Earths Mightiest Defenders sag into her as the poison runs though his body.

Brought low by fruit and an inopportune poke.

However he has time to gasp out one last profound message. One last snippet of wisdom for his new student.

"I…regret…nothing…"

Then down he goes.

—-

Oh god oh god oh god. Dead weight. One hundred seventy pounds of dead weight, all in her hands.

Sally's jaw is practically on the floor, as the silver and black pistol slides into Phil's hands and - well, there wasn't quite the /bang-bang/ she'd been expecting. Loud, but not an earsplitter, right in front of her. And yet the bullet wasn't what she'd expected either - the thing strikes Tony but mercifully avoids a violent spray of blood. She's frozen in shock for a second or two, as Stark manages his last great act of defiance.

"Wh-you shot him! Help!" She's quite right. Phil did shoot Tony Stark, for the grave crime of spilling food in his car. Don't touch Lola indeed.

But there's no blood, and he's breathing…and no one's rushing a medic to her. A stungun? Wait a moment…is that an ICER? Coulson had mentioned one before, and Rusalka tries to get her breathing under control. Don't panic, don't panic, now…where did she hear the term?

Sally's starting to stagger a little under the weight, and slowly drops to one knee, letting Tony slump. She'll pull him a little further over, trying to drag his arm across her shoulders. And as she starts to calm down from the sudden incident, she wonders what it is she's supposed to do. Stand up, for starters.
Managing to get the unconscious inventor back up, and herself on both feet again, but wobbly. She's no SHIELD specialist, carrying the (unconscious) body of a (sleeping) casualty is something new to her. "<Deep breath. Deep breath. Okay.>" Mumbled in Russian, as she glances around - every Agent that had been present has vanished, and she knows there's the proverbial snowball's chance of getting assistance from Phil.

Swallow.

"I'll…return Mr. Stark home, A-Agent Coulson…I am so sorry, terribly sorry for everything, I'll…I'll find a way…" To make good on it, somehow, even as stupid as it sounds. But she's just a kid, trying to apologize - and not get shot herself. "If there's anything I can do…?" A hitch, resettling her burden, before she'll downright scamper from Phil's presence.

Meanwhile above, the popcorn gallery has gone dead silent - except for Agent Lee, who thinks it's the funniest thing he's seen in some time. "Best Tuesday ever," the old man hoots.

—-

"Put on Supernanny," Phil Coulson says grimly, even as Stahl delivers his kit before she hurries out of the room.

He is already striding towards his car. He opens the door and fishes out an apricot. He makes an annoyed, sad little noise and throws it into a little garbage bag. This is when he adds the words, "It's his favorite show." Everyone is scampering so fast (with the sole exception of Lee) that they might not see the tiny little smirk that crosses over Phil's features as he delivers this particularly cruel piece of advice.

"There, there, Lola," he murmurs, pat-patting her beautiful leather seats. "You have been avenged."

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