The Hanged Man

May 28, 2018:

After the firefight and explosion in Hell's Kitchen, Michael and Erik regroup with a fellow spy to interrogate the surviving captive.

A Warehouse

Characters

NPCs: Patrick Burnham

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The message Michael sent to Agent 13 was short and to the point. Meet me, come alone, come armed. That should be enough to give someone like Sharon an idea of what she might be in form. He's standing outside a nondescript sedan in a dark parking lot of a vacant building. He's got hands in his pockets. A short time ago, he tore up the inside so he can easily reach the weapon in the holster nestled in his armpit. He waits for the other person with his last name to arrive. When she does, he's ready to message Erik to find their meet location.

*

Coded texts are always a delight. With Phil, 'Time to make the donuts' meant an early start with small explosives. As might be obvious. Michael Carter is a bit more to the point, and since Sharon Carter's sense of humor seemed to die when Phil did, that directness is quite welcome.
'Business casual' is the general look for what Sharon's wearing, but it looks a little bulkier than one might expect from a white button-up dress shirt and sensible khaki slacks. The way the fabric pulls over her shows, here and there, for someone looking, that she has some more bulky clothing underneath. She arrives in a quiet dark grey SUV, hops out wearing a khaki raincoat with similar modifications to Michael's, and strides toward him. Between shadows, the coat, and her expertise with this sort of thing, the average person might not know just how loaded for bear she is. To look at Sharon, she's just a humorless finance type.
"Nice weather for it," she says. It's about as much humor as she's manifesting lately.

*

Michael's body language does not reveal the ready state he's in. As Sharon gets closer, she'll see the faint sheen of red down the side of his head, from ear to collar. He scrubbed off the blood with tissues, but it dried quite a bit before he did that.

To draw Rule Britannia's blood is no small feat.

He nods once to her, then pulls the non-gun hand out of his pocket to reveal his phone. He hits 'send' on a pre-written message once he gets a chance to look Sharon in the eye.

« Location? » says the text.

"Thank you for coming. We're still in transit a short distance more. We'll take my car." Because lord knows how many trackers a SHIELD SUV has on it.

*

"If you like. I have to give this thing back to Enterprise in the morning. My own car will be out of the shop in the morning." Sharon inclines her head slightly: she knows why he made the decision, but this isn't her first rodeo either. To be fair, though, she'd prefer not to get blood on the seats of the rental.
Her mouth tightens and she tilts her head, presumably to look a little more closely at the blood. Possibly out of curiosity whether it's his. She doesn't pull the wet-naps out of her pocket, though she does always have them.
Turning around, she steps back over to the car, leaning in to grab what looks like a laptop bag. These kits are a hassle to put together without the help of SHIELD's IT department, but she's made do. It's a fair bet that there's more than an iPad in there.
"What's been happening? Which of tonight's news stories is to do with you?"

*

Erik Stevens is holed up in a location that is at the very least Undisclosed and at the most Off The Grid. There's only a little light but Erik's sitting in it. He's also eating some fries when his phone buzzes. He pops another fry into his mouth and thumbs across the touch screen with the quickness. Responding with a pair of coordinates that he's pretty sure Michael will be able to find. Just in case of hackers. Or something.

*

"The explosion in Hell's Kitchen," says Michael as he scans the area for signs of movement. "Well, that wasn't me precisely, but I was present." He glances to the bag but doesn't say anything. "I've made contact with an old acquaintance. He was there to warn me moments before half the bar opened fire on me. Including the staff." He draws in a short, irritated breath. "There was a SHIELD agent at the scene. He implied that MI-6 and SHIELD want to kill me. I've taken a chance and hope that you don't agree with that." Dry, that.

He looks down as his phone chirrups, then goes around to the sedan's door. It's not that he doesn't trust Sharon - it's that he doesn't trust car rental companies. "It's not far."

*

She doesn't seem offended. Sharon doesn't trust many people these days herself. Michael is, in general, an exception.
She does frown a little at the admission that he had something to do with the explosion. "Well, all the emergency services in the area are occupied with what they're not even trying to call a gas explosion yet, so there's that." Patting the bag, she continues: "I made everything in here. Or, at least, none of it is SHIELD make."
And to his quip about people wanting him dead: "Not today. You haven't given me a reason. It's… awfully convenient that your old friend happened to be around in the same room with half a bar full of people who want you dead." Speaking of trust. But she strides over to the sedan, pausing to give it a once-over. But Michael has surely, clearly, checked everything that can be checked already.

*

"Quite," says Michael. Around people who know who he is, he doesn't try to tone down his extreme Britishness. "You may well have heard of him. I believe his moniker is…" his voice tightens when he speaks, "…Killmonger. Erik Stevens. JSOC Ghost Unit soldier. I encountered him on a mission a few years back while I was undercover as a CIA agent in his unit. I helped him out of the desert after we were pinned down and revealed some of my…unusual abilities in the process. He claims he's helping me now to repay that debt." It doesn't take finely tuned spy instincts to know that he isn't entirely convinced.

The drive is indeed short. It's ten minutes or so before the nondescript sedan is pulling up at Erik's noted coordiates.

*

It looks like some kind of warehouse of some sort but it also looks like it shouldn't be a warehouse. It's complicated but it's not far so things tend to be working out. Erik's waiting for them at the door to the place because it doesn't look like a door and resembles more of a hole that people walk through. He gives a nod of his head when the car pulls up, although one hand is holding a gun and he other is holding the 'door' open.

"Wassup!"

Welp, so much for being stealthy. Whatever. Between the three of hem, they could kill anybody that tries to show up on them. He ain't scurred.

*

So. Here's the guy who saved Michael's life once. He doesn't look it. He looks very much the part of a Brooklyn hipster. Then again, Sharon looks like a former head cheerleader, current head of the PTA. Plus, there's the whole spy thing. She knows the difference between what people look like and who they really are.
So she gives Erik her best wry smile and doesn't comment on his safehouse, because she's absolutely worked out of worse. Also, commenting on that sort of thing is pretty damn rude. So she goes with:
"I know I'm going to hear what all this is about so very soon. What's up?" And a glance to Michael: won't you introduce me to your charming hipster friend?

*

And Michael looks like a Brooks Brothers salesman - at least, when he's in his customary wardrobe. Right now, he just looks like a blond guy in schlubby clothes with a bloody ear. "Mister Stevens, this is Agent Thirteen. One of the few SHIELD agents I trust at the moment." He scans the area and doesn't pretend to be doing otherwise. "Has our friend regained consciousness?" he asks as he steps closer.

*

"Aw naw. We ain't doin' this Mister shit." Erik waves dismissively before turning his full attention to the blonde spyshell. "I'm Erik. And just so you know, I'm gonna' ask you out before this interrogation is over. Just a head's up." Erik flashes another grin and pushes the door all the way open.

"Relax, English. We're safe here." Erik's response to the scanning of the area before he turns to lead the other two inside. "We ain't even on the grid." Maybe this is said for Agent Thirteen's benefit because he's pretty sure she's going to check it out and no, this place won't even show up on a SHIELD database. Maybe Erik knows what he's doing more than his clothes let on.

"I don't even know. Let's find out." Erik shrugs as he leads the spies towards the hombre that's been cuffed and shackled to a chair in the middle of the room. A chair that's suspended from the ceiling via a large chain.

*

Erik gets a looooong look. It's a frankly appraising look. It's POSSIBLE that it's a look of interest, but it's probably shading closer to the 'Michael's old friends sure have a lot of nerve'. But instead: "Who knows? He might say yes. It's been a while since Agent Carter's had a date, as far as I know. Nice to meet you, Erik."
She passes that small package of wet-naps to Michael, letting him scope the area as she opens her coat. The weapons she has holstered there are actually fairly low-key, or at least low-profile. In other words, she didn't bring the sniper rifle today. Sharon puts her hands on her hips and looks up at the roughed-up fellow hanging from the ceiling.
"I heard something about… explosions. And some guns. And some agents. But I seriously doubt we're looking at any kind of mastermind right here."

*

"I've given up on dating," says Michael without missing a beat. "From now on it's strictly sordid affairs." He takes the wet nap, takes a second to register what it is, then he rips it open to dab the lemon-scented cloth along the side of his face. "And I certainly don't deserve the moniker of 'agent'. Not at the moment, in any case."

He looks up at the hanging man, then over to Erik. "Bit dramatic, don't you think?" And then, "Yes, unlikely he'll give us much. But it's certainly worth a shot. I would very much like to know whether this is SHIELD against me or some kind of conspiracy as Mister Stevens suggests." Apparently he's not quite ready to be on a first-name basis.

*

"I was bored. You two were taking forever. I mean, I had to eat /McDonald's/." Erik rolls his eyes a bit and moves to sit on a crate that's over and off to the side. The crate may or may no make Erik even more invisible than the building does but it must have some kind of importance if he's not showing up on satellites. He can never be too careful around Spy and Spy.

"And for the record, I'm all about sordid affairs. Everybody knows what's up. No muss, no fuss." Erik shrugs a bit. "Basically, shit went down. I pulled our boy here out of the fire. And this prick…" Erik nods towards the Murderous Pinata. "… is the only one we didn't kill. Which makes him our only lead. So. He better know /something/."

*

"Of all the beer joints in all the sketchy neighborhoods in all of New York, you happened to be in the one where people wanted Carter dead." Agent Thirteen — really, these two are the Whitey-est of Whitey; they even look like they were both made out of the same spun sugar mold — doesn't even look at Erik when she says this. At this point, she hardly needs to; at any rate, a good liar would have a plausible response. "Thank you, though. For pulling him out. I would be really upset if he wound up dead. A lot of my favorite people have been turning up that way lately, so please do forgive me if I'm not quick to trust anyone."
She walks closer to the dangling chair, but not quite so close that the man will be easily able to kick her in the face. Juuuuuust barely out of reach. A hair out of reach.
"I really don't like interrogating people," she says. "It's messy, it's loud, it was my least favorite part of spy school. I'd like you to know that. I'd also like you to know that there is a way that you can get out of this alive. Your information will be easily verifiable. I've spent the last few months making an intimate study of the rot in my organization. You don't know what I already know. If you lie to me, I'm going to know it. But if you're honest with me, I have the power to protect you."
A pause. "He awake?"

*

Is he awake?

The chair twists and sways gently, the rust of the chains squeaking in soft tones. The man cuffed and shackled to it has his head down. He's singed as well as bruised. The shoulder of his jacket has its seams popped, he still reek like the smoke of the fire from which he was pulled.

As Sharon approaches and speaks in a manner that is both understanding as well as no nonsense, there is a shudder in response. His eyes are closed and his breathing is rapid. It is clear that he is scared. There's a pause and finally his eyes open. The man doesn't look up. However, now that she is closer, he may look familiar to Sharon. He's a lower level agent, one of those office workers that fade into the background of the Triskelion unless needed. While he wouldn't be considered wet behind the ears, he doesn't have much field experience. He's something more of a gopher than a proper agent. Working so closely with Coulson, she's run into him bringing the man files, reminding him about meetings and every now and again getting him coffee. What's his name? Brewer? Burnham? Bullock?

"I-I'm awake," he all but whispers, voice wooden.

*

Michael moves beneath the swaying man, looks up, then backs up so that the sway of chains allows eye contact. That is a dangerous look. His jaw is tight. His eyes may be clear blue, but they're hard and cold, and hooded slightly. "You look like a man in over your head, agent," he chews that title around in his mouth. He digs into his pocket and retrieves the man's wallet. He tosses it to Sharon. The name on the ID won't mean anything to him, but it might to her.

"You're awake. But are you ready to speak? Because unlike my friend over here," he nods towards Sharon, "I'm quite good at interrogation. Him?" he nods towards Erik. "Well, we don't know each other well but I have a feeling he'd get rather impatient rather quickly."

*

Killmonger just offers a bit of a bored wave and a smile the shows off the gold fangs in his mouth as well. It's not a threat, really. He's just showing how much he's here to help. He doesn't say anything this time because he's more about making sure that his presence is felt. Even while he's sitting on the crate he's taken up residence on. He's pretty sure his gun is showing too. So that's something. He's definitely down to help this dude speak if he has to. For now, though, he'll let White & Whiter handle the interrogation.

*

It's not the first time she's seen someone she knows on the other end of a bullet intended for someone she cares about. It's actually been happening way too much lately. Sharon's eyes widen when she puts the voice together with the face.

Still, it's the ID that Michael hands her that lets her put the name together with all that. "I know you," she murmurs, and she only needs a surreptitious glance at the ID to go on: "Burnham. Not who I would have chosen for a kill mission, but maybe I don't know you quite as well as I thought. Why," she continues, turning slightly to indicate Michael, "did you try to kill this man?"

*

The chair turns a bit more rapidly as Patrick now starts to look this way and that. His eyes are wide with fear and pain as he takes in Michael, then Erik and finally Sharon. He's not only been bruised, he's also been strung up and that is not great on the muscles. Futilely he attempts to flex his wrists, which only brings him a strong wince of pain.

Seeing her, he blinks a few times, recognition clear on his face. "A-agent Thirteen. Oh my God, you're with them? No, you can't be. You're with Coulson, you were with Coulson. Why are you doing this?"

The question is met with a severe shake of his head. The chair rattles with its fervor. "I had orders! I had to. You don't know him. It was my duty as an Agent of SHIELD."

*

"The last I checked, SHIELD Agents don't set out to murder allies in public places," says Michael dryly. "Answer the question. Why were you trying to kill me?" He reaches up to grab hold of one of the chair legs. He gives it a soft jerk which sends chains rattling and sends him listing gently in something like a circle. It's bound to be disconcerting, especially because there's no telling just how securely Erik strung him up there.

*

"Patrick," Sharon begins. She pauses, even sighs. She's heard this before. "Someone is conning you. I haven't changed loyalties. I'm with SHIELD, same as I always was. And I trust this man — " A gesture to Michael — "with my life. SHIELD wouldn't open up on a man in public like this, not if they had any other choice. If he was an enemy, we wouldn't have made such a mess of things. You're being used, Burnham. Let us help you get out of this."

When Michael starts sending the chair spinning, Sharon glances back at him with pursed lips. "Must you?" But she understands. And so does he.

For what it's worth, Sharon aced interrogation.

*

"What do you know about SHIELD?" Patrick narrows his eyes at Michael. "Who are you to us, other than a distraction, a liability, a ruse? You're a contract killer, a pariah." Just about then, the chains rattle and Patrick jerks against them. Erik did quite a good job in securing this man to the chair and the sudden pressure against his wrists and chest make him cry out in pain, even if the push was a gentle one.

"And you think you're not being conned?" He gives a sharp look to Sharon. "What do you know about him? How do you know he is what he says he is? He's a monster, Agent. I was doing the right thing. I'm not being used. I know exactly where my loyalties lie."

There is quite a fire in Patrick Burnham. He was always someone who faded into the background to Sharon's recollection. The idea that he would be sent to try and kill anyone really does boggle the mind. He once accidentally brought Coulson the wrong cup of coffee twice in a row.

*

"And they sent a Level 3 agent to kill this terrible monster," Michael gestures to himself. "That sounds rather sloppy, doesn't it? Far better men than you have tried to kill me over the years." He is absolutely not going to dispute the charges levelled against him. Many are true, after all. Except, "I am not a contract killer. That suggests freelance - the highest bidder. I have and continue to serve Queen and Country."

He moves out from beneath the man in the chair and looks up, still unmoved, one brow raised. "I daresay I know a bloody good lot more about SHIELD than you do. You know where your loyalties lie - but what if those you are loyal to are lying?"

*

"I don't mean any offense, Patrick. But you are not the man I'd send out on an assassination mission."

Sharon steps forward, grabs the leg of the chair, and turns the man to face her. She's not strong enough to hold him up, but she's strong enough to brace herself and support the chair enough for the man to get half a breath.

"He's no more of a contract killer than I am. He's a very dangerous man. So was Phil. And I'm a very dangerous woman. To take out a man like him," she continues, nodding toward Michael again, "I would rely on a small team focused primarily on recon and surveillance. I would find his patterns. I would have put myself at a sniping point, surveiled his location, and sat there for hours if I had to in my own little nest waiting to take him out. I'd have my team watching the building and watching me, because I'd be confident he would see through any trap I laid for him, but what I WOULDN'T do, Burnham, is open up with small arms fire in a bar, because that would come with an unreasonable likelihood of hostages, friendly fire, and all kinds of ancillary damage. Which it did. No competent SHIELD agent would put an op like that together, not if they intended their own agents to get out alive."

Sharon takes a deep breath. Lets it out. "Phil trusted this man," she says softly. "Phil wanted me to recruit him. I swear that to you on his grave."

Not that Phil's in his grave, but. It's the thought that counts.

"You. Are being played, Burnham. Help us and you'll be a part of rooting the moles out of SHIELD. That was Coulson's final mission. I think it's what got him killed. And I'll be damned if I let THAT be for nothing."

*

Killmonger is watching and listening with some sort of intent. He's paying more attention than he's probably letting on but he's not part of this interrogation. Not really. There seems to be some in-house SHIELD blood of badness going on and he's not part of SHIELD.

Not yet, anyway.

Erik gives one of those bored sighs that are loud enough for the people in the room to pay attention. Especially since he's pulling out his gun and cocking it back. He's definitely getting tired of the fact that no actual information is being gathered. So! He's pretty sure they can kill this man here soon. He's just getting ready.

Or maybe it's just a 'speak faster' tactic. Whatever.

*

There's a long silence as Patrick swings haphazardly on his chain. His eyes flick between the three of them before he comes to a sudden stop in front of Sharon. He winces at the sudden stop. Then, he takes a breath at the courtesy afforded. Each of the make some very good points. All of them have very good reasons to believe what it is they do. Erik's gun cocks and the click immediately draws his attention.

Then, he decides to make use of that extra breath. Patrick Burnham gives a wheezing cough that turns into a laugh. It's a weak one, rasping - but still a laugh. With a shudder, Patrick Burnham shudders and then looks up into Sharon's eyes with unmasked hatred and - strangely - glee. "Is that what you think? Is that why your Coulson died? I guess she didn't pass down everything, did she?" The laugh turns back into a cough. His eyes look over to Michael. "Everything I said about you is true. You're a man who doesn't even know where lives any more. Serve the Queen? You were cast out. What's a man like you do when he has no one to serve? What do all the personal betrayals mean after you've been betrayed?"

His eyes scan to Erik. "Killmonger. You'd really toss in your lot with these…? We'd be a better fit for you. You know that. We'd set you free. Give you what you wish most. Kill them. Set me free."

*

It is a smidge disconcerting to hear your grand-niece explain in detail how she'd kill you. But there's also a slight feeling of pride as well. If being a spy has to run in the family, at least they're bloody good spies. He glances sidelong to her.

He looks then, from Erik's gun up to the laughing man. "Mhmm. Cast out by criminal conspiracy I'm beginning to become convinced you're a part of. Whoever you work for believes you're completely expendable. They didn't even equip you with the tools to actually take me out." He clucks his tongue. "I'm not the only one here who has been betrayed. Did your handlers neglect to tell you I'm fucking bulletproof? It's not exactly a secret amongst the spy set."

*

It might be unusual or at least unexpected that Sharon smiles.

"You just couldn't resist, could you?" she whispers.

She takes three sharp steps backward from Burnham, reaching into her coat and drawing out a tiny little gun. It looks a LOT like the Noisy Cricket. As she flips the tiny safety, she shrugs: "He's expendable. And he's already given enough away. I know who sent him. I know his name. And now I know how he's doing it. Time for me to stop second guessing myself…"

With the speed of a snake striking, Agent 13 levels the tiny weapon at Burnham and pulls the trigger.

"…and start moving."

*

Erik turns the gun over in his hand a couple of times, still sitting on the crate and likely not paying any attention to whatever's being said during these moments. He's focused on his gun and making sure that he's not looking at the individual that's trying to recruit him in the middle of an interrogation where he has no leverage. Or nothing to actually offer.

Erik rolls his eyes as he looks up, "Nah."

BLAM!

And there goes a single shot AIMED RIGHT FOR THE INTERROGATOR OF USELESSNESS! He's done with this fool. He's not being helpful anyway.

Also, his moniker is /Killmonger/. Come on.

Fortunately, even /KILLMONGER/ is smart enough to not kill this fool before they get the information they need. But making the shot count and make this mothereffer heed this warning and feel the pain, well, that's his plan. Kind of. Killmonger rarely has a plan.

*

Patrick just smiles at Michael. It is not a smirk, it is not full of anything but pure bliss and acceptance. There is no guile here any more, his voice is raised, but calm. It is the voice of a zealot, of someone happy about his fate. "Of course we knew. I'm not expendable. I'm a message. You'll see. It's on my arm."

Sharon's whisper is met with a smile of his own. She steps back and he just keeps looking at her as she pulls out her gun. He is expendable. He is someone not worthy enough to keep alive. As Sharon pulls back the trigger, an ICER bullet collids into his body. The impact site and the veins around it glow blue for a moment. He starts to slump, but his skin starts to turn from blue to a different glow - purple then a bright pink.

Killmonger's actions come to fruition and this time a completely lethal bullet smashes into his chest. Blood splatters and then the skin that was turning pink illuminates in a flash.

Suddenly, there is a bright light and where Patrick Burnham sat there is an explosion.

*

There's a reason why Killmonger has his name and apparently he's got guns that blow people up. Okay, maybe it wasn't the gun but he's already in the air and diving in the direction of both White & Whiter. It's a complicated process to be diving towards the people that are closest to a man that's deciding to just explode all over his safehouse.

He's pissed about that too, just for the record.

However, his leaping off the crate is, well, perhaps a bit more than human because his somersaulting as him coming down towards the floor of his place with some superhero landing planned. His fist impacts the concrete floor, cracking it in a few places and there's the sudden arrival of what seems to be golden hued dome that rises up and over the collective triple threat that seemed to have caused this in the first place.

Observant people might get the chance to see set of beads on Erik's wrist from beneath the sleeve of his jean jacket glowed for just a moment before the energy dome flickers with the raining down of Interrogated Fool.

Erik waits for the lingering splatter to slide down the flickering dome of energy and then disengages the forcefield. "So. That was some nasty shit. We're probably compromised too. Let's bounce." Erik stands up and twirls a set of keys on his finger. "White Castle on me. I'll drive." And he's already headed towards the opposite end of this warehouse because he's got a vehicle out back. Of course, he does.

"… and I'll explain on the way." He knows he's going to have to tell them why he just had a forcefield OUT OF NOWHERE.

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