May 28, 2018:


The skills and techniques employed by spies.

Origin: spy + craft

Hell's Kitchen

Oh hell.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Captain America


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The bar on the edge of Hell's Kitchen is remarkable in the unremarkableness. The lighting is low. It's neither too dirty or rough to be a true dive, nor too clean to be an ironic dive or a place for Midtown businessmen to congregate. The drink prices are just fair - neither a bargain nor overpriced. It is even unremarkable in its name: Joe's Tavern.

Sitting at the bar is a tall, blonde-haired man with a short beard, wearing jeans, a hoodie, and a leather bomber jacket overtop. Just like the bar itself, Michael Carter in his current guise neither looks disreputible nor posh. He's drinking inoffensive beer and keeping a half an eye on the sports recap on the TV. He just looks like a dude killing time before something else.

The other patrons are likewise unremarkable, though there are a few on the upper and lower end of the spectrum. They're all minding their own business for the moment.


The entering of Erik Stevens may or may not cause some sort of sounds or shifting in the current patronage of Joe's Tavern. Although, it doesn't seem like Erik Stevens is worried about any movement that does or doesn't happen. He's walking with a sense of purpose. A sense of purpose that involves… the bar.

Striding right up to it, rocking his urban hipster attire to the fullest. Harem styled pants, unlaced boots, a classic shirt and a fur collared light denim jacket is all the rage in semi-dive bars like this. Well, not really. He looks like a college kid that made a wrong turn. Especially with those glasses on.

He stops just at the edge of the bar and doesn't even seem to have noticed anyone else in the establishment. Not when he's taken to standing next to the stool that would put him in clear peripheral view of keeping tabs on the inoffensive beer drinker. Even if he doesn't even look his direction.


In the days before this, all Michael would have to do is glance subtly in Erik's direction for his HUD to pull a facial recognition match and alert him to the man's file. Unfortunately (or fortunately for Eri?) that connection has been severed since his disavowal. All he has to rely on is his memory, and he's seen a lot of faces in his long life. Also, that outfit is pretty far from desert fatigues.

Michael sips his beer, then checks his phone. He sucks air between his teeth and cranes his neck towards the door. It's body language he wouldn't normally use on a meet, but he's not exactly disguising the fact that he is looking to meet someone - just what said meeting might be about.

After a few minutes, someone does come in through the door. He's dark-haired, white, and looks like a nondescript young suburban dad. He steps inside, pats down his jacket like he's going for his phone and instead pulls out a silencer-muffled pistol. He fires off two shots before anyone figures out what's happening. One hits Michael in the back, the other in his shoulder - but neither seem to draw blood.


"… Shit. They're early."

Erik has just enough time to down the shot he ordered when the violence happens in the mirror behind the bar. It allows him to get a clear view of what's happening and the moment he finishes that shot, the glass does not get slammed on the bar. Which is odd because that's what college hipster kids do.

This one, though, spins on his heels and hurls the shot glass across the bar and in the direction of a face that has come out of the shadows and seemed to be stalking his own target from a back corner. The glasses smashes into his face and stumbles him long enough for Erik to go for his guns. Both of them tucked into holsters at the small of his back, of course.

Cover fire rings out from Erik's pistols, which have no silencers because fuck being quiet, as he flings shots as Suburban CommanDad /and/ the Shadow Stalker he just shot-glassed in the face.

No witty banter happens just yet. Not while at least four to six of these other patrons have started to reveal their true intentions. That being guns. They have guns, okay? And it's about to go /down/.


It's the shootout at the OK Corral, except in Hell's Kitchen. It figures that the most nondescript bar in the city would be full of spies packing heat. Michael quick-draws from a concealed position at his armpit and raises the weapon up in one smooth motion. One of the patrons doesn't have a chance to take the safety off their weapon before he gets one between the eyes. He's not fucking around.

He stalks forward, weapon raised. One of the patrons quickly sticks their weapon on the table and makes a run for the back exit. He lets her go. One of the other spies shoots his ear which seems ridiculous until the trail of blood starts to slide down. There's not many weak spots in his self-repairing mesh, but his ear area is one of them. It's not a serious wound, but it's painful and his hearing is at least temporarily…literally, shot to shit. The Ear Shooter manages to drop behind a table to dodge his bullets.

He side-eyes Erik as he moves forward, watching the man with half his attention to try and gauge his allegiance.


"Eyes on the hostiles. Makes it easier to shoot 'em."

Erik knows he's being side-eyed which is why he's moving to make sure he's putting his back to Michael in the middle of this shootout of doom. If he was trying to kill him he definitely wouldn't be putting bullets in the faces of those that have decided to join in such random acts of violentry.

Shadow Face goes down hard, a hole in his face which makes the shadow even more present. Suburban CommanDad gets shots to his knees to buckle him and a swift kick to the face to make sure he stays down for a little longer. Erik's not ready to kill that dude just yet. He has questions.

Another patron's bullet skims past Erik's shoulder, ripping through the stylish jacket and Erik looks up and back over at them. "N-Word, please." BAM! Another headshot because that's what hired killers like him and Michael are trained to do.

"My ride's outside. We should probably use it." Erik's still backing his way towards Michael with his guns out.


In the time it took Erik to shoot the men, Michael's ended up in a fistfight with a big burly guy who brought a knife to a gun fight. He clearly didn't understand what he was up against, because Michael's keeping out of his grip and dodging meaty fists like he was telegraphing every move. He might not be to most average people, but given Michael's enhanced reflexes, years of experience and HUD movement tracking and analysis (which is still working) the big guy has no chance.

An impresively fluid set of movements and carefully placed strikes divest the man of the knife, which he catches before it hits the ground. He spins it around and embeds it deep in the man's thigh, before tossing him like he weighed as much as a sack of potatoes into a table. He picks up his weapon and dabs the blood running down the side of his face. He looks ready to argue with Erik, but then there's the sound of three more weapons cocking. The cooks emerge from the kitchen with shotguns and the bartender also pulls a piece. "Perhaps that's rather a good idea," he drawls.


"… Grab the trash."

Erik sends a nod to the initial cause of all this drama that's on the floor bleeding from the legs as he turns his attention towards the line up of shotgun cooks and bartender piecers. He kicks at a table to up-end it and perhaps draw some distraction… while also giving a bit of cover for Michael to drag the one they don't want to get away towards the door.

Erik stands his ground, not moving forward at all but just shooting like a fucking madman at the newly minted shooters of this impromptu escapade. "I'm right behind you!"

Y'know, if he doesn't get killed trying to make sure that Michael gets out first.


It's a calculated move, to trust Erik. The cynic in Michael takes stock of the very real possibility that this was all a set-up to get him to go somewhere with him. That's why he doesn't move to do more to protect the other man from the hail of bullets from the staff. If he's with them, then those bullets aren't going to get anywhere close.

In the meantime, he ducks forward, and pulls the bleeding AssassinDad up onto his shoulders in a firemar's carry. When he starts to protest, he pistol whips the guy at the base of the skull, dropping him into unconsciousness. He then flips the weapon around to fire at the staff and any patrons still on their feet, then heads for the door.


Erik finishes off with those guns and starts backpedaling towards the door. "Deuces." And while he holds up two fingers to show just how much 'Peace' he wants, there are two grenade pins spinning on them. The sound of the grenades sliding across the floor punctuate Erik turning and diving out of the exit because there's about to be some serious explosions behind him.

It might just clear their exit but it'll also look really damn cool as things explode behind them during their exit.

Erik's leading the way to the vehicle that's parked across the street because he doesn't want to park next to a building he planned on throwing grenades in. "I tried to get here before they did but… it's New York." That should explain why he's late. Damn traffic and shit.


Michael doesn't always ascribe to the school of subtle spycraft, but he also doesn't often blow up buildings. It's a bit jarring to realize what Erik is doing, but it does go rather a long way into imagining those people weren't on the same side as him.

He moves quite quickly despite the bleeding man's bulk. "Well. That was not subtle at all. So I do hope you've got an escape plan because we're about to be swarmed with first responders."


"Just get in."

Erik throws open the door to the vehicle he's stolen because it's definitely not his. Erik hops in and starts up the car, waiting just long enough to hear the other doors close before he peels off and immediately takes a side street to another side street to another side street. There are not many ways to dodge traffic but this happens to be one of them.

"I never have a plan. But I do know that you'd probably not want to be dead right now. So there's that." The truth is, maybe Erik does have a plan. Or maybe he's hoping the explosion will take the bulk of their attention. It should be on trying to help and save the people that are there.

"I don't know about you but I'd be pissed if my own people just tried to kill me. Why don't we head somewhere and see if we can't get this asshole to talk?"


"I don't know for certain they were my own people," says Michael. He glances over his shoulder at the unconscious man with the bullet in his knee in the back seat. "Perhaps they were simply former allies." It's dry, it's oh-so-British. "In fact, I can guarantee they aren't my own people - at least not all of them. Because otherwise they would have brought twice as many men."

He strains, leans back, feels around until he finds the man's wallet. He finds a SHIELD ID and tosses it on the dash. A low-level agent. "Bloody brilliant." And then, "Now shall I ask the obvious question? Like who you are?"


"I was late for a reason."

Erik lets that hang there as if he were the one to make sure that the second (or first?) wave of 'men' were already taken care of. Either he was late or they were early. Either way, Erik's more than willing to take the credit for making things easier for their getaway.

"If I was the kind of person that cared, I'd be pissed that you don't remember me. This is the second time we've killed a bunch of people together." Erik grins just a little bit and pulls up before backing into a space and turns the car off and the lights off. Shadows!

"Is it the glasses? Are they throwin' you off?"


They are, in fact, throwing things off. It takes Michael a moment. Blast. He suddenly realizes how much he's relied on facial recognition. He studies him a little more closely. He works his jaw to the side. "So what was this, then? Payback for getting you out of the desert?" He peers out of the window as if he's trying to place precisely where they are. He used to have a GPS on his HUD too.


"If you wanna' call it even, I'm cool with that. But you might want to hold off. If you're this hot now, shit's gonna' get a lot worse."

Erik turns to look at Michael for a moment. "Word on our street is that things are coming down the pipeline. To make sure you get washed out. Why? Not exactly sure. But I've been asking around and I think I've got a pretty good idea why certain parties are trying to uh… clean up their mess." And he gives a nod from the guy in the back to Michael 'The Mess' Carter.


"If I was cheekier or more clever, I might make a crack about how hot I am," says Michael as he pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket to dab at the dried blood along the side of his face. "I gather if you know what kind of mess I'm in, then you're aware of who I truly am. Other than someone who is quite excellent at American accents when he needs to be." He flips down the visor so he can use the mirror to check the damage.

He then nods in the mirror to indicate their passenger. "It seems unlikely he'll hold any answers. Unless you know something I don't, which does seem to be the case." He tries not to sound bitter about that. But he's a spy - he prides himself on knowing shit.


With the cops no longer on their trail thanks to some classic spy tricks mixed with random violence that he may have set up to help draw First Responder attention /and/ the exploding bar… Erik figures there's enough time to talk and let in this guy know what's up.

"I know why people are trying to kill you." Erik says with the most genuine voice he's used since they met so long ago. "Let me back that up. I know why you were disavowed. Not exactly sure that's why people are trying to kill you but I've learned a thing or two from the Mission Impossible franchise. So I'm pretty sure it's your own people trying to kill you." Erik's obviously dropping breadcrumbs here and he's not even trying to hide it. He's not sure how much he should say so he's keeping an eye on his passenger to see what holes need to be filled in and with what info.

Y'know, spy chat.


"If you know even a little about the missions I've carried out…" says Michael as he changes the clip in his sidearm. "…you would know there are dozens of reasons someone might want to kill me. Add to that the fact that just about every major spy organization seems to have been compromised in some manner, and it doesn't shake out to be much of a mystery."

He eyes Erik sidelong and snaps the clip into place. "Do you mean to say I was set up to fail on my latest mission?"


"I don't know about your latest mission but what I do know is that both MI-6 and SHIELD want you out of their hair. For good. And it's got something to do with genetics? DNA? Cloning? Any of that ringing any bells?" Erik offers a quick shrug before he takes another pass with his eyes through the windows to make sure they're not about to get ambushed or anything. There's even a glance to the mirror for the backseat bastard.

"That shit got me clueless but unless you're like Captain America or some shit…"


Michael's silence probably gives Erik a few hints. He's clearly running a few things through his mind, and he's not quick to either confirm nor deny what the other man says. "I would say forgive me for being cautious and rather unwilling to tip my hand, but I am a spy. And I rather get the sense though your methods are more direct, you're fairly used to working spy-adjacent. What's your angle in all of this?"


"No bullshit? You saved my life. I owe you. And I don't like owing people." Erik shrugs and leans back into his seat since he's dropping the facts and the honesty at the same time. He's down for keeping things open and direct. "You right, though. Definitely not a spy. I'm a soldier. A killer. That's what I was trained to do. But I was also trained to keep people alive. And that's why my black ass is in the most dangerous part of the city looking for you. To keep you alive. I'm on some Chewbacca shit right now." Erik smirks. "Chewblacka."

Erik immediately looks up at the spy. "You can't say that though. Only me."


"Mister Stevens, I am a blond, British white man who was born in 1915 with a received pronunciation accent and an abiding faith in Queen and Country. I do promise that you'll never catch me attempting to sound anything other than that, especially anything that might be remotely racially inappropriate." Michael shrugs, "Except when I'm undercover, of course. But in that case, I'm just disguised as a slightly different white sheet of paper." A small smile creeps onto his face.
He eyes out the window, takes a breath, then shakes his head. "So how did you come to be wrapped up in this, and to know all this about me?"


"See, white folks that know they role are much preferable to the alternative. I dig that about you." Erik hopes that will be enough to show that he's just in this for the helping of people. That's what he's all about these days. "Not even gonna' lie. After our Just Deserts, I did some asking around and found out as much as I could about you. Never know when you're gonna' need some help in this crazy ass world we live in, right? Anyway, I kept my ear to the streets even when I was busy with my own shit and sure enough, you popped up on the radar every once in a while." Erik holds up his hands. "I ain't tryin' to be in it, really. I just heard some shit about SHIELD clonin' you and some order from on high comin' down to make sure you weren't breathin' no more." Erik looks over at the spycrafty one. "It woulda' been shitty to just let that happen, y'know?"


"Cloning me?" See, that gets Michael's attention. "Are you certain? That seems unlikely. In many ways, I was a failed experiment that MI-6 managed to salvage. And that's not me being down on myself. I am not Captain America, by any stretch." For one, he's a lot more murdery, even if he is just as fair-haired.

He tightens his jaw and considers that. "So why don't we start from the beginning, then? What exactly is happening?" He's not too concerned about the guy in the backseat pretending to be unconscious and overhearing. Realistically, they're probably just going to kill him when they're done. See: how he's really not Captain AMerica.


"Man, I'm just telling you what I heard. I don't know what's true and what ain't. You spies don't ever tell the whole truth. S'why I'm glad all I gotta' do is aim in the direction of whatever I'm supposed to shoot and then shoot. So much simpler on my side of our coin." Erik grins. "I don't know exactly what's happening. But I here to tell you that if you wanna' find out, I'm down. I'm in. I ain't no spy but I can watch your back if you let me." Erik holds out a hand as an offer of mutually beneficial buddy spy action heroes. "Plus, not even gonna' lie, bein' a civilian is boring as fuck."


Michael has remained paranoid of people he's known for decades. Erik, as an unknown (and what he is known for involves a lot of murder) is greeted with more wariness. Though he's also very good at disguising the depth of his initial mistrust. And realistically? He's disavowed, resourceless and now, apparently, hunted. He hasn't got a whole lot to lose by at least hearing the other man out.

He eyes the hand, then reaches to shake. "Civilian life is intolerable, isn't it? I've been dealing with that myself these past few months. I painted miniatures." A beat, "…long story."


"Well. People wanna' kill you and probably me too now. So we got plenty of time." Erik shakes the hand that is probably sealing both of their fates. "And this'll give you a chance to keep pokin' at me to see what I'm hiding. Which is nothin' by the way. But you'll figure that out eventually." Erik grins just a little bit. "So how do you wanna' kill this guy and where's our first stop? Cuz we're probably gonna' need a new ride…"


"If these people were going to come at me where I live, they would have done so by now. So I have to imagine I do have some allies left." Michael pulls out the SHIELD ID he stole from the man's wallet and examines it. "I have some resources I can pull in. Resources I trust." He eyes the man again. "…someone who might like to speak to our friend back there. Though I'm not certain how said person would feel about disposing of him afterwards. So we weigh a potential greater gain in information by pulling my contact in, versus the chance of our friend back there getting away, or into the hands of someone who might release him."


"Maybe we take this idiot back to somewhere on my turf. You call your people in, I control the space and we don't let this asshole out of our sight. I'm all for best of both worlds scenarios." Erik has another grin to wear because he's already loving being back in action. Even just a little bit. "We use your place of sleepin', my place for business and we don't let each other die. Sounds like the perfect non-plan."


"I can certainly try. But you have to understand, these people are all spies. And they have more to lose than I when it comes to giving you the benefit of the doubt." Note how Michael didn't use the word 'trust.' "I can suggest your place, but they may be unwilling to come if they can't be certain the location is secure. Again, nothing personal. Being paranoid and untrusting are requirements of the job."


"It's all good. It's not really my place. I don't have a place. But it's a place that's not on any grids. Because the rent is too damn high to be on the grid." Erik smirks. "Hey, I show up out of nowhere however many years later, on the day you're about to get shot the hell up, with information about people trying to clone you and shit? I wouldn't trust me either. Sounds fishy if you ask me. So have your people check it out before you start bringing them around me. I feel like I'm gonna' have my hands full keeping you alive. I don't need any more white folks to babysit."


Michael gives Erik an epic side-eye at that. "Babysit. Rather like I did when I acted as your human shield to get you out of that desert alive?" There is a tinge of humour to the dry tone. He's not going to hit that too hard because that's ostensibly why the other man is here to begin with. "Well, how about you babysit this one," he nods back to the man, "…you give me the location you'll be keeping him, and if my contact agrees, we come to you?"


"See? Even better. That's why you're the spy and I'm the soldier. We just need to find a tailor and a tinkerer, right?" Erik grins and turns around to look at the not-quite-sleeping SHIELD agent. "There's a lot more body parts I can break while keeping him alive too. It'll be fun." Erik goes into his inside pocket and comes out with a burner phone. "My burner number's in there. It's secure. Billion bitcryption or some shit. I dunno." Erik shrugs. He don't know that science shit. "We'll be waitin' to hear from you."

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