The Department of Transitions

March 15, 2018:

Sometimes, an angel hovering over a man's shoulder is a good thing. Sometimes…not so much.

The Triskelion

How does it contain all this chaos?

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Rocket, Groot, Agent-13

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Is there ever such a thing as a slow day at the Trisk? Never!

But that doesn't mean you can't find quiet moments to get a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch, or something equally low-key. For Dani, that moment allows her to slip up to the hangars; not the area that Rocket and Groot have taken over, but another one that's been cordoned off for a particular winged horse. Brightwind.

It's an impromptu stable if you will, where he can wait for when Dani needs him. And seriously, one has to wonder if SHIELD ever looks at their building and all the people and beings within and wonder just where it acquired all of the oddness.

Either way, that's where Dani can be found, on her way to the hangars of the Triskelion. Her strides are purposeful as she passes the various offices and cubicles, as she heads for the elevators. It's only when she gets to the elevator call area that she reaches out to stab the UP button.

*

Phil wonders. Phil wonders all the time. He wonders with fond exasperation, but he wonders all the same. It's kind of telling that the flying horse is one of the most sedate beings on the list of all possible strangeness around this place though. But that's the job, that's the organization. Strange is their business and their baliwick. It almost gets weirder to deal with more conventional things, when they arise.

And sometimes strangeness shows up in unexpected places.

Then again, is it strangeness when it's part of Dani Moonstar's ability set in the first place? To see the touch of impending death hovering over a human life? Or is it just not something that happens on the daily, even at a place like SHIELD, where disarming alien bombs and getting shot at are par for the course?

Either way, when she steps into the elevator, she's got something new to see. There's Phil Coulson, looking a little worn down, shooting her his typical avuncular, kind smile, the one that gives away little other than the fact that this is surely going to be a five-cup-of-java day.

Behind him, the golden-winged angel stands, radiating serenity, wearing a white suit that would, save for the color, be a perfect fit for SHIELD. Either the angel has a sense of humor or Phil and his own concept of death does, because the angel, with gentle green eyes and a mess of blonde hair, even has a lanyard. With a little badge. It reads: DoT. Under it, in smaller lettering, it reads (Department of Transitions). It's got a photograph of the angel, and under it, his name: Azrael. Traditional name for the Angel of Death.

The angel turns his head and looks at Moonstar. Then raises his finger to his lips. Shhhhhh.

*

Death isn't something to be feared. Not in the big picture of things.

And while Dani understands this, perhaps doubly so, that doesn't mean she still can't be surprised by it. Or by its appearance.

In fact, as the elevator's door open with a soft ping, Dani's already moving to step inside. An automatic greeting begins to form upon her lips as she realizes the elevator isn't empty. "Good A- "

Good Afternoon. That's what she meant to say, but the words die upon her lips. The harbinger of death that stands behind Agent Coulson causes the Cheyenne woman's to attention to immediately flick from Coulson to the area behind him. The silence drags on a heartbeat (perhaps) too long, as the Valkyrie stares for that quiet moment.

It's when the angel moves and raises a finger to his lips that Dani brings her attention back around to Phil. "Agent Coulson, good afternoon." She tries again, her expression flattening slightly as she moves to keep both Phil and the spirit image in sight.

*

Azrael nods his approval. Good girl. He abruptly has a rose in his hand. Black as night, he twirls it gently between his fingertips and takes a long inhale of it, then banishes it. But there's nothing malicious about him at all. His smile could be a cousin to the type Phil wears. Not about to spoil any surprises if he can help it, but the surprise might be nice. Some surprises are.

"Good afternoon, Agent Moonstar," Phil says gently. It's safe to say he noticed the hitch. Hazel eyes darken in concern, give her a more focused, assessing look that banishes some of his outward exhaustion. "Everything alright? We haven't had the chance to speak in some time." A furrow between his brows. "You went through quite the ordeal. I should have checked, in fact, to see if you had a chance to go get a routine psych eval after that experience."

*

Approval.

That causes the black haired woman's eyes to narrow slightly, as they shift behind Coulson again, for a quick second.

If she could say something to the specter she would, but for now she can't. Instead she brings her attention back to Phil Coulson, man on limited time, and focuses when he speaks. "Yes." She answers that first question of his, "Yes, everything's fine. Just a shadow -" She states, purposely leaving that statement unexplained, "I'm good, thanks for asking." His question about psych eval earns a twist to her lips, "Yes, I went through all the various tests. Relatively speaking I'm fit as a fiddle."

Here now, she really takes in Coulson's mien and the tiredness is seen. "And you?" She asks, "How're you doing?"

*

"Fit as a fiddle," Coulson replies with the quirk of a smile. "I know. Nobody wants to hear about psych evals. But I've been through dozens myself. I've gotten to the point where I just shrug and ask Andrew where he's hiding the good toys. Drives him absolutely crazy. But don't let him fool you." He tips his free finger, the one not on a hand wrapped around a coffee cup, in gentle jest, hazel eyes twinkling. "That man has some Transformers in his desk, and I don't care how tough someone thinks they are. Everything is easier to talk about when you're trying to turn Optimus Prime back into a semi."

He nods sagely, as if he's just given life changing advice there. Possibly hamming it up a little. Possibly even describing a recent visit.

But as ever, he plays his cards close to his chest about anything that might be on his mind. Everyone in his entire life is on a need-to-know basis. So he briefly, thoughtfully stands there and talks about toys while trying to decide what in the current Cluster of Foobars Dani Moonstar might currently Need to Know.

*

By this point Dani finally realizes that she needs to PUSH A BUTTON, and so she pushes the button that corresponds with the hangar area. Where Brightwind can be found.

With that button pushed the elevator finally starts moving, a slow incline upward, to the higher floors.

The speak of Transformers causes the woman to smile again, her expression marred slightly by the slight furrow between her eyebrows. "I didn't know he had Transformers. Next time I'm there -" Because there's always a next time, "I'll have to ask him to give up the goods." She states, an edge of humor held within her voice now.

There's a moment of quiet from Dani then, as she stands there, the elevator climbing higher with each passing second. While she may not know Coulson very well, she does realize he's not what one might call a sharer, which means that careful question of hers fails miserably. It brings a grimace to her expression and from that Dani moves shifts her tact.

Time for some blunt honesty.

"I promise I have passed the psych evals." Begins Moonstar, "So what I'm about to say next isn't just some crazy pipe dream." And here she gives him a beat to digest her words, before she finishes with, "You've a shade of death following you. Behind you actually." And here Moonstar's gaze diverts again to the picture of that Angelic Azrael.

*

Phil Coulson studies her as she says that. He takes it seriously enough, or seems to. He turns to look, and of course sees nothing.

"What does that mean, exactly?"

Like taking a report. Oh, you have an alien following you. Oh, you have a psychic following you. Oh, the Grim Reaper is following you. Except Phil doesn't believe in Grim. He believes in an angel. He's mostly tried to live right, by his morals and his religion, and he is not someone who fears being dragged off to Hell. Maybe nobody should be that certain, that sure of their own destination, but he has faith, even though he never expresses it at work, never speaks as if he does, and makes it into a church once every four years on either Christmas or Easter, if nobody has taken anybody hostage, invaded a major city or rigged anything to blow.

And 'shade of death following him' could really mean all kinds of things. He might just want a word, Phil doesn't know. It's been thirty years, and change, of weird.

Azrael, for his part, gives her an exaggerated sigh and rolls his eyes. He spreads his hands in a 'you know this doesn't change anything for him, right?' sort of a gesture.

*

Here's where Dani's expression turns grim as Phil takes her statement seriously.

Most would scoff, would think Dani's crazy, but Phil asks the right questions and it doesn't come across as just 'humoring' her.

There's the brief thought of whether she should have said anything, or kept silent, but if there's one thing Dani knows is Death doesn't always have to be the end. And sometimes Death is wrong. Just wrong.

"As a Valkyrie." States the Cheyenne woman, "I can see when death approaches a person. It means that soon, though I can't say when, you'll die." Her head cants to the side as her gaze turns again to the negative space behind the man, as the Angel gives that look to Danielle, "It can." She says seemingly to the air, "And you know it." Then it's back to Phil, "What Ops do you have upcoming?" She asks plainly, "Cancel them. Then figure out where this threat is coming from. You can fight against this Fate."

*

"Very few ops," Phil admits thoughtfully. The switch flips. She now needs to know.

"An organization I'm trying to convince to do the right thing." He may be close there. He's been championing an official statement from SHIELD, one that says they will not enforce any government's registration efforts, that they will continue handling terrorists of every stripe exactly as they already do, and that they never will. He's gaining slow support, but that's a dangerous position to hold.

"An organization full of traitors. Some fools doing lots of damage, like Lewis. Some deliberate. Some who outrank me, even. An assassin sending black roses to a woman who is 112, with ties to us, to MI6, and who has left almost no traces behind."

His smile is kind. "But it could just mean I choke on my Wheaties tomorrow, Agent Moonstar. Death stalks us all in SHIELD. I appreciate the heads up, it will help me get my affairs in order. But you know the call to action will come soon enough, and my duty won't change just because Azrael draws near. I appreaciate the warning, and I'll always try to survive, but…"

He shrugs a little. "This is what I signed on for."

*

His answer about Ops brings forth a frown from Dani.

It's obvious that wasn't what she was anticipating him to say. The more he speaks the deeper Dani's frown is, especially at the mention of Agent Lewis. That's enough to cause the black haired woman to sigh, "That girl." Is what she mutters too, but the topic of Darcy is left at the wayside for now.

His kind smile is what brings her a step closer to Phil, "I get it." She says, "We all know the dangers of this job and life, but that -" Again her gaze shifts to the image of Azrael, "- doesn't mean I see constant specters hanging around people." Because seriously, if she did she'd likely go crazy.

"This is a herald of things potentially coming." And it isn't lost on her when he himself mentions Azrael coming for him. That brings a slightly rise of her eyebrows as she listens to the last of what he says.

"Then reassign me to whatever your Ops are. I can help." She ends with, her tone quiet, though there's a touch of sardonic humor for a moment, "Cause rarely is it Wheaties that gets you in the end."

*

"I dunno. Wheaties get real stuck. I mean just every time I eat them, right in the throat."

The way he said Azrael was more like…someone offering a figure of speech then necessarily thinking he's identifying whatever's following him around by name. Just like…if Santa Claus is coming down the chimney tonight. Just a thing someone says when they've grown up on certain stories.

He studies her, does Phil, then nods his head. "Very well," he says. "At this point this means transferring you to my team, if you're willing. Sharon Carter is my XO, and she's up to speed on everything we're doing as well. I'll send you the full briefs. It's kind of you to want to watch out for me, Agent Moonstar."

A flicker of a smile.

"If it is cereal I'm charging you with making up a way more bad-ass story for the official reports. Just scrub that right out of there. I want at least ten ninjas and a random cookie monster."

*

There could be a joke here about adding more milk and sugar and the Wheaties would go down smoother, but for Moonstar, the time for joking has passed.

His acquiescence to reassigning her earns another look from Dani. She had truly expected a no - most don't realize the true nature of the death visions, nor understand that actual seriousness of the situation.

"I'm willing." She states, and then, "And of course, sir. SHIELD takes care of one another. We got each other's backs."

Those last words of his pulls forth an echo of a smile from Moonstar. "Oh come on now let's at least go with a dozen Ninjas, and an alien rock of doom too. I'm sure a story like that would be told throughout the ages."

Not that Dani intends to let Phil die. "I'll get in touch with Agent Carter." Her head tilts then, "Do you want me to mention the vision?"

*

Lips quirk as she escalates the number of ninjas northward, and adds an alien rock of doom. "Approved."

But on the matter of telling anyone else?

"No," Phil says quietly. "Let's keep this between us, Agent Moonstar. I don't want to divert any focus from what's really important here. We've still got a lot of work to do. All of us. I appreciate you asking, but that work needs to remain the priority right now."

He finally takes a sip of his coffee. "Drat. I let it get cold. Oh well."

He realizes he hasn't even put in his own floor yet. He does, several stories higher than hers, and says, "Microwaves abound."

*

Moonstar doesn't look surprised when he asks her to keep it on the down low. Most people would, because one the crazy looks, and two the explanations following saying something like that.

"Of course." She allows, even as she gives the image of Azrael a bit of side-eye, but before she can say anything to the Herald of Death the elevator suddenly *bings*.

The doors swish open upon the floor that Danielle Moonstar requested. She looks outward to the hallway a moment, before she returns her attention to Phil. "Let me check on Brightwind and then I'll stop by to see Agent Carter. And for you I'd advise just being cautious." And here she does look straight at Azrael again and Moonstar just frowns at him.

Her expression reads simply as 'not on my watch'.

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