Let Me Help - Or Fight

May 29, 2017:

Spoiler beats up Nathaniel with a metal stick. Possibly for asking the wrong questions. Or maybe due to lack of sleep. Or maybe because Flash wasn't around to get a deserved beating. (This scene takes place a few hours before Spoiler's scene with Red Robin)

Avengers Mansion

The computer lab under the mansion.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Flash

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

4am. Spoiler sat at the Avenger's computer terminal, typing and getting files put together for them. She was quiet, and had been sitting there, according to logs, for two hours.


Nathaniel was not in the mansion when Spoiler arrived, but he returned at some time around three. H.O.M.E.R. probably informed Steph of his arrival. It is only now he walks into the computer center, looking at the purple-clad heroine with curiosity. “Not sleeping is your super-power, Spoiler,” he teases.


Spoiler glanced at HOMER's alert, but otherwise didn't react to it. She just kept typing. When Nathaniel walked in, she glances over.
"Hmm… If only I didn't need sleep, I could probably be more productive…" because she does need to sleep but she's not sleeping well, and Kyle noticed. It was disturbing. She sighs, refocusing herself and continuing her work of processing the data she got from that AIM facility.
"What's yours?"


“I have power armor,” replies the young man with a shrugs. “Or you mean super-human abilities? Not much,” he sits down at her side. “People in my timeline devised a stable genetic template and avoid biological enhancements, particularly unpredictable ones. But I do have a few advantages; I do not need as much sleep as you probably do.”


"You're H.G. Wells. Got it," Spoiler quips, voice a little thinner than it used to be. The sound is becoming the norm for her as of late. On the screens she is cross referencing the intel from AIM with anything applicable she's been able to find, making a virtual web of possible connections.


“No more time travel for me,” replies Nathaniel, sounding resigned. He glances at Spoiler’s research and smiles faintly. There is quite a bit of AIM in the Avenger’s computers because he investigated on them exhaustively after the confrontation with MODOK.
And his research is still going. He is still looking for the space installation he is sure they have somewhere near Earth.


Well, Spoiler’s found the research and is going through it meticulously, with the anal retentive eye of an academic batling who loves the color coding and the highlighters and the easily accessible side notes and why is this labeled THAT way? Spoiler huffs softly.
“That’s because you are grounded,” she states, as if that made sense and explained everything. She would rub at her eyes, but they are shielded by her AR lens.


“That… is pretty much it,” agrees Nathaniel with a rueful smile. “Grounded by my elders for the crime to denying my destiny.” It sounds properly dramatic, too.
The documentation on AIM would make Batman proud. He went all the way to before the splintering from Hydra in the investigation. God (maybe Oracle) knows what databases he hacked. Psychological profiles of the several ‘Scientists Supreme’. Detailed tactical and strategic analysis of the MODOK takeover. Complete reports of he current splintering leadership and the resources of each faction, as well as predictions on the current struggle for power and how the Avengers can take advantage of the situation (including some very ruthless scenarios the kind Batman would never suggest). Nathaniel genius does not cover just engineering.


“Wow. Drama Llama much?” retorts the blonde, eyes never leaving the screen. She’s got her phone out too, clearly updating that with some of the information while also occasionally altering some information on Avenger’s systems from her own. That phone is definitely not networked to Nathaniel’s systems. It’s the tactical scenarios that she seems to be updating to her phone rather than the other way around.
“You know that some of these would never happen, right?” she asks, turning from one screen to the other to add in some Google Map style information on locations listed.


“Would not, should not,” states the young man amused. “The analysis is not just for the Avengers. I gave SHIELD a full copy, and a redacted one to the D.E.O. If they want to exploit the scenarios, it is their prerogative. I have to trust Director Fury knows what he is doing and he has more information than me. The Avengers are to be exemplars, however.” And the D.E.O. should to find the Avengers useful, since they have such an antagonistic relationship with the Justice League.


“Could not,” Spoiler adds in that breath of space between his words. That he gave SHIELD a copy isn’t horrible, though it would alert Agent May, whom Spoiler has had run-ins with, that she’s working with Avengers fully now. But to hear that he gave this information to DEO has her lips frowning darkly.
“Sometimes, it’s not to just not get told things,” she grumbles faintly, making a note of something on her phone. NOTE TO SELF: Crack into DEO, destroy file… Or tell Bman. Or both.


Nathaniel chuckles, shaking his head, “Spoiler, they are America’s agency to deal with threats like AIM. They do run an alarming number of black ops that go against American laws, but we still need to work with them and exchange information. Otherwise we are crippling ourselves. Besides, Arsenal is a D.E.O. agent. Not all of them are corrupt. Not even most of them.”


“So SHIELD is what? Chopped liver? And we’re what? The onions on top?” Look, Spoiler hasn’t eaten in a few hours and she’s hungry. She sits back, rolling her shoulders away, wanting very much to rub at her eyes.
“I really haven’t had a run in with Arsenal. I know the files, and that’s it. I’m willing to trust him just as far as I can throw him because you trust him a whole lot more,” she adds, turning finally from the computers to level the white-lavender glow of her AR lens on Nathaniel.


Nathaniel gives Spoiler an amusing look. “You hungry?” He asks with a smirk. “You know SHIELD is a UN organization, and they have been forced to limit the scope of their operations in the US due to political issues. The Avengers are also working with an UN charter and less limited in some regards. But still, the D.E.O. could cause us many difficulties if we fail to collaborate. We lose nothing by working with them, girl. And the more we are trusted, the more pull we will have on them.”


“No,” Spoiler lies on a huff, face turning away from Nathaniel and back to the computer screens. She doesn’t sit forward to work anymore, but rather, she’s staring at the text, idly watching it blur as her eyes stop focusing on the screens.
“I know they are UN, and I know the Avenger are chartered. Why do you think I was so antsy about signing on. I didn’t want my identity compromised. I still don’t..” I’m just so tired that sometimes it’s hard not to slip, it’s so easy to forget.
“I’d just rather not think of it as working WITH them. And the less they know about me the better. The whole organization makes me uncomfortable.”


Nathaniel nods. But the more the D.E.O. trusts him, the easier he to destroy it, if it becomes necessary. So he will keep playing to be helpful and polite. “Hide your anger; it is not useful in this case.” He advises. “A monolithic, all-encompassing organization like the D.E.O. goes against the traditional checks and balances approach of the US administration. There should be multiple agencies watching each other to prevent abuse and corruption. And many politicians at Washington are already getting nervous.” He smiles, “they are not going to get into my systems, or Stark’s. And SHIELD is also quite secure, but large organizations are too vulnerable, so keep your mask on around them.”


“You think I can’t?” Spoiler snips, purple lips pulling into a tight line. “You think I don’t?” The sheer hint that she’s being that careless clearly is enough to raise her hackles at him. Her hands curl slightly, the start of fighting fists.


“I think you need to learn who can you trust and who you could trust, but cannot, and who you cannot trust at all,” points out Nathaniel. “I assume you trust Batman. He is a man who can keep secrets. You can trust most SHIELD agents, but they can be ordered to reveal your secrets, so you cannot reveal your identity.”
Then he adds, “I think you can trust most Avengers. I know Arsenal will keep your secret even if commanded to reveal it by D.E.O. superiors.”


Spoiler’s head turns back to Nathaniel and hidden by her cowl, her eyes narrow. It pulls at the corners of her lips, pulling them flat and harsh.
“And I’m supposed to take your word for it? What if you’re mistaken? It’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you, you know,” Spoiler says with that harshness that’s starting to become more and more the norm.


Nathaniel shakes his head, “just suggestions, but a little trust would make you feel better.” He smirks, standing up, out and moving out of her reach. “Or maybe I just want to see your pretty eyes again and I am being devious about it. But I see you… tense and tired. Is your relationship with Flash going well?”


How sad would it make Nathaniel to know that he was the first person to even ask it. Maybe not to think it but to ask?
Him moving out of her reach is noted. She’s already beginning to plot out alternate ways to move to counter if he tried anything. And then he comments about her eyes and she’s derailed for a heartbeat which is more than long enough for his question.
Is your relationship going well?
Whatever fractions of inches she had started to relax disappear, as Spoiler tenses up again. Her back goes straight and rigid, and she spins her chair to face the computers again. Her hands come up, and she leans forward to force herself to focus on her ‘work’ again.
“Unimportant,” she states, her tone flat and cold and distant. Like a house with all its windows boarded up and shudders closed. It won’t take any sort of detective work to contact the League and get told that when the time thing exploded, he had disappeared and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.


Nathaniel’s eyes narrow at her response, and he hesitates. That was big NO.
Unexpected. And he really blundered into it asking that after a mild teasing.
He knows Flash has been out of the news for almost a month. But that means little when a man can move so quickly. He didn’t ask the Justice League, he has not been at the Hall of Justice since Power Girl got angry at him using future technology.
“I see. I am sorry,” yeah, that was lame, Richards.


“Hmm.” is all that Spoiler vocalizes, her fingers typing again, updating those files again. His condolences seem to just slide past Spoiler, water off a duck’s back. A very tense duck with a healthy doze of cat-like cold shoulder.


“I could send you all those files through an encrypted link to wherever you want them,” offers Nathaniel, seeing Spoiler working with such fanatical intensity. Probably to avoid talking to him. Hmph. “And you could get some dinner, or sleep.”


“I’m fine,” Spoiler replies. Her voice is back to flat and even, slightly growly. Her mentor would be proud if emotional turmoil riding so close to the surface wasn’t the reason for it. She just keeps at it, shifting to a new screen as one task is set to buffer.


“No, not okay,” Nathaniel sighs and puts a hand on her shoulder, trying to pull her back. “Let me help you, or fight with me. Either works.”
Definitely not okay when the usually happy cheerleader blond is behaving like a brooding vigilante of the night. Something needs to be done.


She feels the tug on her, pulling her backwards. It makes her sneer as her hands come off the keyboard.
Let me help, or fight me.
Fine. Have it your way.
Spoiler spins the chair with her feet and using the momentum to pull her legs up so she can rabbit-kick Nathaniel away from her. She’s braced, ready for the spinny rolly office chair to roll-slam against the desk. The jarring stop will get used to propel Spoiler up into Nathaniel’s chest, knees first.


Nathaniel receives the kick on the chest with a grunt, but barely winces. He expected it, yes. When the girl jumps at him, he just shifts right, letting her go flying. “That was… original,” he comments, rebalancing easily. His speed was startling. “Want to try again?”


Spoiler tumbles back to her feet, cape falling about her, curtaining her hand so she can get a flashbang into on hand, a tazer batarang in the other.
“You’re going to let me? Very sweet of you. Here. Have one,” she quips as she tosses flashbang at his feet and then tazer-ang (god, stupid name!) center mass.


Nathaniel uh ohs. He didn’t expect her going for weapons, “not in the…” not in the labs, but not time to chat. He dives left. Nothing much to do about the flashbang but cover his eyes and be deafened. But at least he avoided electrocution and blindness.
He didn’t bring his armor, his outfit is a normal two-piece charcoal outfit. Not great for fighting, but whatever. “Missed again,” he points out. He can barely hear his own voice, much less Steph’s response.


Steph’s suit protected her from the flash-bang. The moment she drew it the suit was ready to
compensate. She figured she was probably going to miss the tazer, but it was worth trying, because the moment he went to dodge, Spoiler moved there to jump snap kick at Nathaniel’s face. He can talk, all he wants. She knows shes not as silent a fighter as the others, but the deafening flash-bang means she doesn’t have to be.


No, no talking. Ears are ringing and balance should be shot, but perhaps it is not because Nathaniel manages to block the snap kick with his right forearm. Again showing to be pretty quick.
An instant later he drops to a crouch, sweeping the floor with his leg to try to catch her before she recovers from her own kick. “Be as you wish,” he growls.


Spoiler drops to her back, using it to rolls backwards. She comes up with her bo staff drawn, the metal hissing softly as it extends.
For the record, taunting her into a fight was a bad idea.
And back into the fray, attacking with agitated precision. Becuase that’s a thing!


It might have been a bad idea to do so without his armor, but Nathaniel had the impression Steph needed to hit something or she was going to explode. He might have assumed also she would just try to punch him a bit, not toss her half the bat-arsenal first.
The staff is really an unfair advantage, completely canceling his longer reach and giving him very little room to evade in the computer lab. He tries to block with his hands, but strikes to the forearms are painful enough. It is just a minute or so before he bashes his head, and he will be lucky if his left wrist is not broken.


And with Spoiler not pulling her punches, this gets a little ugly a little quickly. Nathaniel gets his head bashed, and Spoiler finally just screams and uses her staff like a baseball bat to send a monitor flying against the far wall. The staff is let go part way through and it clangs off the wall a moment later. She stays there, panting, the red haze fading from her eyes as she looks down at Nathaniel.
“HOMER. Medical requested,” she says after a moment, voice raspy and breathing harsh. Time to go. This was bad, bad bad. She’s a bad person. A step back is taken, Spoiler ready to stay just long enough for Nathaniel to get collected by…somone else.


“I am… fine,” protests Nathaniel. Just knocked to the floor and seeing black spots before his eyes, blood on his scalp. “You do not dare to leave now,” he groans. Then he struggles to stand, leaning against the desk. “I have to say… I do love a fighting woman. But maybe a little less tonight,” he smiles faintly.

----

“Liar,” Spoiler quips, voice tight again, but this time the control is back. She steps forward now, reaching out to help haul him to his feet.
“I’m getting you to medical, at least, but then I’m going,” she says, because this is just more fuel to the fire.


“I heal fast,” replies the young man. “Bruises will be gone by tomorrow this time.” They are all just bruises, don’t pay attention the broken fingers in his left hand (which he is keeping closed). They will be healed in less than a week, anyway.
“Your mental state is more of a concern, girl. You have changed too much the last few weeks.” Beat, “I want to help, and not just a being a convenient target for your anger.”


It’s a little calming, knowing he won’t be down and out for too long, and yet the fact that she snapped and beat on him doesn’t make her feel any better about herself. None of which she says aloud.
“It’s not something I think you can help with, but thank you anyway,” she states, tone quivering ever so slightly as she struggles to keep control.


Nathaniel had hoped venting some anger would help him reach her. Oh, he knew she was likely to beat him, even without the weapons, but that metal staff added some unforeseen injuries. Ow.
“Well, you do need help. If not here, you better find someone to help or…” would it work if he threatens her to tell Batman? Maybe not. “Or I will ask Carol Danvers to put you in reserve status. If nothing else at least that will give you some more time to sleep.”
His vision is clear now, so he is heading to the medbay to let HOMER do a full checkup. “And eat. You have lost weight. Too much stress.”


Lips pressing together at the threat of inactivity, Spoiler inclines her chin. “Reserve status won’t be necessary,” she states, pausing a moment before her right hand closes into a fist. “I’ll take a few days.” It’s about as much of a concession as she’s willing to give right now.


A few days are better than nothing, he figures. “Good enough.”
A few days are what he needs to heal those fingers. A metal staff is parried with the palm of the hand. Stupid. Stupid. He really needs to step up his hand to hand training program. Kang was supposed to be able to single-handedly take on Captain America, and he feels a million years from that level.
“See you later, Spoiler,” adds Nathaniel, heading out.
She better clean up the broken electronics before leaving. Damn girl.

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