Burn After Stealing

May 08, 2018:

Neon is hired to steal an important document … from Hawkeye.

Clint's apartment building

Characters

NPCs: Russian mobsters in track suits

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

ONE WEEK AGO:

"Listen, bro," a large Russian man in a maroon track suit says, leaning over the card-table-turned-desk in the back of this convenience store. "Very good job prospect here. Easy as cake."

He sniffs loudly and clears his throat. "A man at /this/ address …" The Russian slides a torn piece of paper with a bit of writing on it across the table. A photo is underneath it. "… He will have an envelope in his hands in one week. Is important document, bro."

"/Girl/ bro," his crony corrects, another large Russian behind the first, leaning against the room's back wall. "Be polite, Vasily."

"Apologies," Vasily says, waving his hands dismissively. "Take envelope. Bring back here. Boom, profit. You do?"

The photo centers on one Clint 'Hawkeye' Barton, known Avenger. In the photo, he's spilling a coffee on himself.

It's not like Ne could verbally correct the rusian man before she nods her head. It seems an easy enough job…even if most would balk at the idea of doing anything against an Avenger. Perhaps Ne was simply that desperate for money…or bored. It was hard to tell on the woman who tended to keep her face a faux-innocent blank slate. Still silent, she reaches to scribble on her notepad, her 'words' rather simple but written in elegant cursive: «Where is he?»

Vasily taps the scrap of paper with the address on it. "Here, he is here. Lives here."

"For /now/," the other Russian intones ominously.

"Da, da. For now. You find him here."

The address is for an apartment building in Manhattan. The neighborhood is a bit run-down and - perhaps notably - in an area with strong Russian mob presence.

"Do whatever you must. But get envelope. We trade it for one full of cash." Vasily grins.

TODAY:
Clint Barton can be seen through a second-floor window. He has a large manila envelope in his hand, and he's talking in an animated fashion on a cellphone. "I'm coming, I'm coming!" someone on the street below might hear him shout.

He disappears for a few moments but reappears at the doors to the building, where he's stopped by a middle-aged woman with a bag of groceries. They chat briefly, even though Clint's body language all but screams 'urgent business.' His conversation partner doesn't seem to be fazed by it.

This time of year, the weather had warmed up considerably from the earlier months, so the cool breeze that seemed to be coming down the street was…unexpected. Ne had taken steps to conceal herself, the illusion twisted around her had replaced her brightly colored two-tone hair with a more mundane looking black locks and a less striking outfit of a rather bland dark colored shirt and denim jeans. She looked like any other civillian, but she certainly didn't look like herself.

Her approach was fairly simple, but the size of the envelope made it pretty difficult to go for much subtlty. Sometimes you simply had to go for the classics: a snatch and grab. Her step takes her close, closer still until suddenly she 'bumps' against the man, fingers moving to snatch the envelope.

'Ne' the master thief everyone!

"Look, Mrs. Rodriguez, I /told/ you," Clint says in an exasperated tone, "there's no need to /fumigate/ your apartment just because it was haunted. That's not how it wor-"

Clint stops talking as he's suddenly bumped into. "-what the?" he asks.

Then the realization hits him. "Oh, crap. Excuse me," he says to Mrs. Rodriguez, who's scowling.

"Yeah, of /course/ you'd leave /now/!" she exclaims.

Looking in the direction the thief is moving, Clint attempts to chase after her. "Watch out! Watch out!" he calls as he dodges random passersby. Seeing one slow-moving mother with a stroller ahead, the archer leaps onto a nearby bus stop bench, running along the ridge of its seat back.

"Give me that back!" he calls.

She only needed to make it to the corner, out of the line of sight for a moment and she could be gone without Clint ever knowing it was a mutant who robbed him. The woman with the envelope now in her posession was short, but she could certainly move damn fast! A simple twist and hop, the girl practically springs off the wall with one foot to go around an -over- the stroller woman, a smile on her face the entire time. This entire job was almost silly, but that's what made it more fun!

The thief doesn't answer the archer's call, she barely even glances back to see if he's gaining on her!

Not catching up - but not yet falling behind - Clint leaps up and flips forward off the bench to clear a pair of children playing tag with one another. "You - *hunh!* - you don't know what you're doing!" he shouts, his plea interrupted by the impact of landing on the sidewalk before he takes off once again in pursuit of his envelope.

"Mr. Barton!" an elderly man calls out, waving happily.

"Not now, Leonard!" Clint shouts back, before adding a moment later, "sorry!"

"That's Hawkguy," the man says to someone walking by him. "He must be on top-secret hero stuff."

Clint attempts to sprint, but he ends up having to leap a pair of car doors like hurdles as newly parked cars have their doors flung open by unobservant drivers and passengers.

"Are you /kidding/ me?!" he shouts, his breath beginning to get ragged.

Up ahead, a sightseeing bus approaches, its blinker on to turn down a side street - the side street that this particular chase is very quickly approaching.

A sightseeing bus is just perfect, full of noise and distraction…now she just had to reach the corner. Ducking and weaving her way through the crowd with suprising ease, the woman's shorter form doesn't exactly make keeping track of her any easier either!

Only now does she manage a look back, suprised to find the man keeping pace where others would have probably landed on their face and given up by now. Must be a hero thing! Still, her prize was in her hand…she was simply curious as to what would have him so doggedly persuing her so.

Finally! The corner! There's actually a smirk on her lips as she looks back at the man, steps around the corner and…vanishes without a trace.

Of course she hadn't really disappeared, the illusion simply made it appear so. In truth? The cloaked woman calmly steps to the side, hoping Clint will merely pass her by and then she might have the chance to peek in the envelope. The Russians never told her she couldn't after all!

The desperate archer does, indeed, rush by - and then slows down, nearly half a block later, as his target is completely gone. Clint looks around, scanning every direction, and then begins to retrace his steps, looking into the windows of those storefronts he'd run past. The man's face has a very clear expression of puzzlement - and concern.

After a few long minutes of unsuccessful searching, Clint hangs his head and sighs heavily. Then, he begins walking back in the direction of his building. "This /cannot/ be happening," he groans, rubbing the back of his sweaty neck. "Nat, if this is some practical joke you're pulling on me, it is /not/ cool…"

Neon herself however, simply reappears in the mouth of a nearby alleyway as…herself, 'Icecream' color pallette and all. A silent smile of satisfaction, the girl simply reaches with one gloved digit to open the envelope and take a peek at what is inside. Those eerie heterochromic and glowing eyes peer over the details closely. Just what had the Russians wanted from this man?

The envelope's contents are relatively slim - it's paperwork.

More specifically, it's insurance paperwork.

Even more specifically, it's insurance paperwork for the apartment building that Clint had been found out minutes ago.

Not tremendously far away, Vasily drums his fingers on his card table desk. "That Avenger is so annoying, bro."

"You telling me, bro," his companion replies. "Still. Give our associate some time. She will hook us up."

That smirk? It becomes a frown. This was building insurance, not personal insurance. It was one thing for the mob to shake down one person, she could care less…but she didn't really need putting a bunch of people potentially out on the street on her concience when she'd lived there herself. Of course, she also needed to get paid. What to do? A pause, a thought, another smirk comes to her lips before she vanishes in a flash that might startle passer's by with her light-jump.

She needed a photo-copier.

Clint begins jogging back toward his building. He checks his watch. "Ahhhh," he inhales, "only fifteen minutes until mail pickup. I can make this, right? I can make this. I /can/ make this," he repeats more confidently.

Up ahead, not far from the apartment building, Leonard waves again. "Clint! I was just going to call you. But then I remembered my phone's dead. Because the power's out, you see." He smiles warmly.

"Do what now?" Clint asks as if dazed. "Wait, no. What? No. I don't have my computer on a surge protector!"

He begins racing toward the building. It's quiet - no sounds of air conditioning units. No lights on in the front corridor.

"I am … /so/ screwed …!" Clint gasps.

There's a flash, another one, probably bright enough to startle Clint and poor Leonard both. Around the door? Any glass surfaces would be coated with frost. It was certainly a strange sight, but probably not half as strange as the short woman in white with two-toned hair currently bending to place a stack of paper on the doorstep. The envelope was gone, but it seems the papers had been returned by this mystery woman. She was about the same height, but Ne didn't exactly look like her illusion disguise. There's a moment to pause, to flash the running Clint a little quirk of a smile and a wink…then there was the same rush of light and Neon was gone, headed towards the dropoff with the envelope resealed and the copies safely inside.

How could they know if it was the originals within, if they'd never been able to put hands on it themselves?

Leonard shields his eyes from the light. "Are we being abducted?"

Clint shrugs, blinded. "At this point, man, it might be the safest path to take." When the light fades, the woman disappears, and the papers remain, Clint walks over to examine the stack, squinting to read.

"What the …?" He turns to Leonard. "I think we may be in some sort of malicious computer simulation, Leonard. Otherwise I have no way to explain what's going on right now…"

In the Russians' office, the mobsters eagerly await the arrival of their contractor. "You have firebug ready to go, bro?"

"Oh, absolutely. Will be there first of month to deal with business, once insurance is cancelled."

It's into the space that Ne comes a-walking, envelope tucked under one arm. Was she ripping off the mob? She prefered to think of it as working on a technicality. They never told her what was in the envelope, only that she had to get the envelope itself. There's no words, but then there never was from the mute girl. Instead she simply drops the envelope on the card table-desk and holds out her hand. Get payment, get out, let them worry about the details if they try to do anything more with it later.

Maybe they simply didn't think enough of Barton to wonder if he backed up his forms? Poor guy.
As the envelope hits the table, Vasily raises a hand and gestures with a finger. His companion hands a much larger envelope to him.

"As promised," Vasily says, placing the larger envelope next to the one just delivered. He takes the stolen envelope and peeks inside. The words 'INSURANCE POLICY' are clearly visible.

"You did good, bro. Girl bro. Maybe we have more work for you in future, da?" Vasily chuckles. "For now, you enjoy some luxury." He taps the larger envelope.

A grin, a smile, a bow. There's no words of thanks from the proclaimed 'Girl Bro' as she reaches out a slender hand to grasp the payment and tuck it into her jacket. She raises a hand, waving her farewell and simply striding for the door. She was still smiling as she walked out, the colorful woman internally chuckling. To do both a good and bad deed in one action was a fun little concept, but to get paid doing it? That was even better!

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