Of Landlords and PIs

September 02, 2017:

A pair of archers chat about the pitfalls of blue collar life.

Everest Heights, Harlem

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Captain America, Phil Coulson

Plot:

Mood Music: [* None.]


Fade In…

*

It's been about three months since Clint Barton bought Everest Heights, the twenty-unit apartment building in Harlem. If anyone asks him, he said he wanted to invest some of his spy money. But the real reason was to stop a lot of people from losing their homes. A developer wanted to tear it down as part of an effort to gentrify the block. Clint offered them enough money to back down and leave the people in peace.
In trying to do a goddamn good deed, he's been left acting as landlord and super. It's not going so well. He's currently hefting a garbage can to the curb, down the uneven steps of the red brick walk-up.

*

It's been one of those weeks. Outside the whole Avengers deal — which she still assumes is some kind of punking from Tony Stark — Kate Bishop is pretty low on the grand heirarchy of masked-crusadering and private-investigating. Sure, people know about Bishop Investigations, but Kate's good-hearted nature does mean she only tends to attract two kinds of clients: those who think their small problems are giant and urgent, and those who think their big problems are just inconveniences. Of course, it's the latter that gets Bishop in the most amount of trouble. So, when she comes limping up to Clint's Good Deed(tm), she looks like she's been participating in the resident Fight Club with a serious black eye, split lip, and a definitely need for either back-up or a bag of frozen peas.

She slips into view just as Clint is about two steps from ground level, and she upnods. "Aww, look at you… all you need is a jumpsuit and a variety of velcro badges. This one would say 'Barton: Garbage Man.'" She holds up both hands to create a rectangle with her forefingers and thumbs, closing her injured eye to capture Clint in a faux picture frame.

*

Clint grunts in an overly loud manner and drops the can into place. He mops his brow with the side of his arm and squints over at Kate.
"You got some trash you want me to take out?" he says, after examining her injuries. He upnods. "Cause I'm at your service, ma'am. Yessiree." he dusts his hands together and lifts one foot up onto the step, adopting a folksy posture.
"I don't want you to break the first rule, but, what the hell happened to you?"

*

"I don't know… does said trash need to come pre-bagged?" Kate then drops into a more common skulk, starting toward Clint so she can close the distance to a comfortable yardage. When he breaks the first rule, the archer starts to chuckle. "Went to pick up a woman's stuff from her apartment for her… thought it was an easy pick-up… but." Kate rubs at the back of her neck, looking almost embarrassed. "I don't know, Clint… there were guys already there, going through the place. I assumed just some kind of breaking and entering deal, but these guys were serious business. We knocked each other around a bit and then they bailed."

*

Clint's eyebrows arch high. He shakes his head. "Isn't it usually the case that if it was easy, she woulda done it herself instead of paying you? Also," he nods towards the steps by way of inviting her inside. "Isn't the PI's creedo that clients lie? The simple jobs are difficult and the difficult jobs are simple."

*

"Look at you and your fortune cookie logic," Kate quips back, but she does groan herself down onto a step. She stretches out her legs, rubbing at aches she didn't even know she was old enough to have. She glances back up at Clint. "I know that's the rule… but I'm pretty sure her story was legit… she didn't want to involve the police, and me picking up her stuff was an easy job. I was supposed to drop it all off at the shelter, but she's not there anymore." Then she breathes out a sigh as it all comes together. "I'm an idiot."

*

"I don't know. I'm a spy, not a PI." Toootally different. Clint shoulders open the front door and heads to his apartment, which is on the ground floor towards the back. It's a nice old building. A little worse for wear, but it looks like it's been well taken care of over the years. There's tile floors, exposed brick and brass details. Still, he has to shoulder in his door to get it to pop open because the frame is a little swollen. He stumbles in.
"Come in. I'll get the first aid kit," he looks at her again, then adds, "And the whiskey."
For a guy with enough money to buy an entire building in Manhattan, he sure doesn't show his wealth. The apartment is actually quite a good size. It's got two bedrooms, big windows overlooking, well, the handful of parking spots in the rear. But, it's bright. The floor is hardwood, but worse for wear. His furniture is a random assortment of a few new pieces and a bunch of scavanaged stuff. It's pretty spartan, with no decor and very few personal items spread about. It looks more like he's here temporarily than living here.

*

Kate groans herself up the stairs behind Clint, though she does take a moment to smile in amusement at his stumbling into the main foyer. "Gosh, Clint," she faux gushes, "you know how to entice a woman. First aid kits and whiskey. Be still my heart." She places both hands on her heart as she follows him in. "You should let the landlord know about that stiff door," the other archer intones dryly. Then she takes careful stock of the apartment, glancing around with a measured gaze. Then she nods, edging in further to find a place to sit. Sprawl would be better, but she'll start small.

*

"Sit," Clint points to a padded barstool with a short back, one of two that belly up to a counter and look into a decidedly Manhattanite undersized kitchen. He disappears into the bathroom and calls out, "I tried. Can't get that guy to do anything," There's a thump, sounds of rummaging, then he appears with a first aid kit. The actual kit itself looks like something at SHIELD agent would take into the field. It's well-worn.
"So," he says as he sorts out gauze. "You think your client is in trouble, or did she just skip out on the bill?"

*

Kate shows she can at least follow directions, and she sits at the suggested seat. She tucks her feet under, crossing her ankles a bit. She glances around the kitchen, almost as if using it as a way to check in on her friend. Is there food, are there signs of dirty dishes? It is a quick status check before her focus is back on Clint. She starts to unzip and ease off her jacket, revealing some extra cuts and bruises, but she otherwise hosts most of her injuries in her face. "I think trouble… I mean, I don't think I was sent to her apartment to get the crap beaten out of me. That's some serious planning."

*

"She could have." Clint knows he's being cynical. One shoulder lifts and drops. He grabs a clean rag, then sits on the other stool. "I mean, sounds like a pretty good trap to me. A woman with a hard-luck story lures you to a place where you're outnumbered."
He looks to her for her permission before reaching out to start to clean the wounds. He does so with quiet precision.
The apartment is surprisingly clean. What shabbiness there is is due to a lack of personal touches and the general worn nature of the building itself. There's no visible food or takeout containers but he did just take the trash out.

*

Kate offers a simple nod at his silence asking. She winces slightly when he touches the more naked cut near her eye, but otherwise remains still for his care. Her striking blue eyes keep focus on Clint. "If anything, I think she kept some vital information from me… sold me the right story, sent me in to actually retrieve something for her, and hoped I didn't run into trouble. I've still got her stuff… haven't had the courage to rifle through it yet, but maybe there's something there she wanted me to snag that I thought was nothing important."

*

"Again, you're the PI," says Clint with a good-natured smile. He dabs her cut gently, then reaches for the antiseptic. "Don't have to tell you this is going to sting." And he applies it with little warning.
"Whiskey's just behind the bread box." And it is. It's a half full bottle of blend. Nothing special, but not offensive either.
"If I tried to crack your case, I'd probably make the whole thing way more devious and complicated than it actually is." A pause, then, "…and it'd involve the Russians."

*

Right on cue, Kate winces deeply. It is almost overexaggerated because of just being warned, but the archer recovers quickly. "I really hate that part," she confides. Then she reaches slightly for the breadbox, and then snags the bottle. She sets it down between them. Then she is laughing — an easy and comfortable laugh that warms her entire face. She gives him a chin-tipped grin then. "Yeah, well… let's not rule them out yet. Besides, it might make for a good story later."

*

"One day it'll stop being the Russians. And on that day, this whole gig will stop being quite so fun," Clint says this in a slightly distracted tone because he's checking to see if her wounds need stitches. "So what's your next move, then? What direction are you going to foolishly charge in first?"

*

Kate holds still when he starts checking over for stitches. None of them are that deep. The contusions are dark, but the cuts minor. She will joyously survive to fight another day. Hurrah. The question posed does incite her to heft up the bottle meaningfully. "I think I'll go Byzantine, and see if I have better ideas after a few drinks… right now, I think I'm going to be intrusive and go through her stuff and see if I can dig up clues."

*

Once Clint confirms that her injuries are not serious, he just sets to cleaning them up and slapping a band-aid over any spots that need them. They're Captain America band-aids. Little shields and a cartoony drawing of his face in his classic cowl. "You can't have an expectation of privacy if you leave someone in the lurch." Not that pawing through some stuff would be an ethical problem for him. Spies need to have bendy morality.

*

Kate catches sight of those Captain America bandaids, and she starts to chuckle to herself. "You seen those school tutorial videos making their way into the local schools? Don't you know that guy? Is he that good natured all the time?" It's a pleasant sidetracked comment before she focuses back on the topic at hand. "Alright, but if something explodes, I just want you to know that I have a really impressive genre fiction collection that should go to a good home." She looks around briefly. "You'll need more bookcases though."

*

"One day I'll introduce you two and you'll see for yourself. But let's just say, Cap's pretty good with PR, though he'd never admit it." Clint starts to toss things back into the kit. He reaches for the bottle to take a belt.
"Book…cases?" he murmurs faux-dumbly. "I actually have two unassembled ones over there," he nods to a place where flat boxes lean up against the wall. "But strangely, I never get a chance to curse at IKEA because someone's toilet seems to always be backing up."

*

"Oh man… would it be awkward to ask for his autograph?" Kate actually sounds a bit genuine there. Once he's taken his first fair share of the whiskey, she enjoys a swallow herself. It warms her belly almost immediately, and she sighs out a slow breath.

The call to the bookcases does cause her to blink, and she turns in her chair to spot the cardboard boxes. She gasps, grasping onto Clint's shoulder dramatically. "Clint… you survived IKEA. That's a serious boy scout badge." She squeezes the gripped shoulder gently before she eases herself up off her seat, starting to poke around the apartment with that curious edge.

*

Clint's eyes go wide as he simulates battle trauma. "So much…Swedish. And a ball pit. And…" he shudders dramatically, "…SUVs!" Then his face goes back to a more neutral expression. "What, are you kidding? I bought that shit online." He takes another swig of whiskey.
"Kate, if you're prowling around for my experimental arrows, you're not gonna find 'em."

*

"But, the meatballs. Clint, the meatballs." Then Kate smiles easily over her shoulder before she continues her prowling around his apartment. She is respectful enough to not open shut doors, at least. The report from Clint draws a grunt from the archer, and she shakes her head. "Cm'on… you never let me play in your Reindeer Games." She grimaces. "I ended up in the Triskelion a few days ago… my first call as an Avenger." She almost grimaces the word. "I'm seriously not convinced this is my game… they were talking about big things… like country-level crises. I felt like a cop brought in to save the world."

*

"It takes a little while to widen things out, for sure. I mean, I remember when I started getting pulled into higher level things instead of just going where I was sent and doing the thing I was told to do." He grunts softly. He's grunty today. "But you'll get the hang of it. The trick is not getting too focused on the macro or the micro."
Clint watches her as she prowls, but doesn't tell her to stop. The doors to both bedrooms are closed. There's really not much to see. There's a laptop sitting on the coffee table and several papers, one in Russian and two in Spanish. There's a coffee mug that's been sitting there for awhile, judging by the sad state of the liquid inside.

*

Kate kind of tilts her head in that cattish quality as she peeks at the two papers, and the languages catch her up a bit. Then she casually starts to meander back toward the whiskey, politely not picking up the coffee mug despite part of her wanting to help a friend that still hasn't built his bookcases because of overflowing toilets. "They also keep calling me Hawkeye…" She sounds almost disgruntled. "I know it's been said in a joking measure before… you know, like that one archer dude," she fixes him with a meaningful look, "but I've definitely not earned it." She does nod at his advice though. "But… Coulson seems like a good people. Dunno… one of the agents kept calling me 'Ma'am.'"

*

"I can understand the confusion," says Clint dryly, "We look so much alike." He flicks nonexistant long hair back over one shoulder.
"Coulson's a good egg," and he doesn't seem to mean that sarcastically, even. He is from Iowa. "He'll look out for you. If I hadn't seen him handle himself like a goddamn pro on multiple occasions, I'd be surprised he's in the position he's in. He's like James Bond combined with a suburban dad."

*

"Well, of course… we both look extremely fabulous in skinny jeans." Kate joins him in the snark, and enjoys being in good company in that regard. She reclaims the bottle, and takes a deep swallow before she draws herself back into the seat, satisfied by her exploration. The description of Coulson has her laughing lightly, and she starts to nod in humble agreement. "Yeah… definitely suburban dad." She offers him an amused grin before she takes another pull from the bottle, and then offers it to him. "Alright… can I ask a probing question?" So not a spy…

*

Clint gives her a 'you have much to learn, grasshopper,' look for her blunt question. "Generally that's not the way to start an interrogation, but go ahead."

*

"Well, if I was interrogating you…" Kate begins, but then there's a sudden buzz on her phone which is a perfect interruption, leaving her question unasked. For another time. She looks at the phone precariously, and then groans. "It's my dad." She gives him a meaningful look. "I gotta take this, um." She starts to stand, pressing the answer key. "Hey, Dad… hold on." Then she mutes the phone. "Thanks for the bandaids, and the whiskey… I'm going to start moseying home while I listen to my father." Not talk, mind you. Just listen. Quite telling.

*

Clint opens his mouth, closes. Damnit. Now the almost-asked question is going to eat at him. Not that he's going to admit that to Kate. Instead, he just lifts a hand in farewell and drags the whiskey bottle over.

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