ArchivedLogs:Agents and Gentlemen
|Agents and Gentlemen|
"It could definitely be shinier."
<NYC> S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters - Cafeteria
The dining hall is capacious and bright, furnished with round tables and comfortable chairs for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s agents and other employees. Floor to ceiling windows along one wall look out over the architecture and bustle of midtown Manhattan, and opposite that, a long gleaming counter with glass serves up a vast variety of food, with sections set aside for special dietary considerations -- some with their own color-coded plates and utensils. The quality of the food is decent, for the most part, if a bit on the bland side.
Steve sets both of his trays down, each heavily laden. His hair is just a touch damp from the shower still, and he's freshly changed into a crisp blue oxford shirt and charcoal trousers, his shield hanging across his back. There's a weariness in his eyes that does not show in his posture and movement. "So, which of these are you responsible for?"
Jax doesn't much fit in, in this crowd. No neat trousers, no button-downs; since his family has stopped by to bring his things from home he's looking much more like /himself/, now. Bright yellow tank top cut feathery at its hem, black skinny jeans embroidered up their sides with shimmering dragonflies, his hair vividly coloured in flame hues of red and orange and yellow, chunky black and red and grey velcro platform sneakers. He has a tray of his own, and though he's looking slightly apprehensive as he emerges from the kitchen and navigates the dining hall, he looks a good deal more comfortable when he sets it down beside Steve. "Oh! Oh, I, um, today I done the garlic kale an' curry tofu an' lentils an' lemon rice. An' the mocha cookies! I hope everyone gets plenty'a those."
Steve smiles brightly, scanning his overloaded plates, then Jax's. "Wow, that's /most/ of the vegan spread. You must be winning over Geoffrey -- and well you ought, this is orders of magnitude better than how it used to be." He is about to start in on his curry, piled high over rice, but stops and just stares at the other man, head canted to one side. 'How are you?' he signs this, one-handed -- not surreptitious, but in a small gesture, as if it's something he'd say softly, but feared that the noise of boisterous conversation all around would drown out a quiet voice.
"Well, I figured I'd get in his way less if I just kind of took over on most of the vegan -- stuff." Jax shrugs a shoulder, picking up his fork but then setting it back down, his much more modest spread of food untouched. 'More stable.' One of his shoulders lifts, a little slowly. One corner of his mouth hitches up, a little wryly. 'Still in prison.' His eye sweeps the cafeteria after this, though. "But it's a comfortable one, I guess."
From seemingly nowhere, Clint appears with a tray of his own. He wears a short-sleeve purple seersucker button-up and black jeans, a pair of goggles pushed up onto his forehead. He doesn't so much make his way to Steve and Jax's table as he just seems to show up there, as if he'd been standing there all along, unnoticed until now. "Gentlemen," he offers a small nod by way of greeting. "May I join you?"
'Good,' signed quite decisively. Then, more tentatively, 'Well, prison not good. But, you do look...more good.' Facing away from Clint, Steve clearly had not seen his approach until he was quite close, but the surprise only shows in a very slight widening of his pale blue eyes. But then he smiles, shakes his head. "I ought to make you wear a bell." Then, with a slow, considering look at Jax, 'If he doesn't mind.' He's switched to sloppy sim-com now, speaking his words a fraction of a second before signing them. 'You two already met, right?'
'More stable.' Jax's smile quirks, quick and lopsided. 'Now I look how I want to look.' His brows raise, shoulders tensing faintly as Clint appears. "Oh!" His eye has widened slightly, but he looks to Steve first -- then to an empty seat across from them, gesturing to it in invitation. "It was -- Agent Barton, right?" He glances to Clint's tray briefly, his smile widening quick. "I hope you like the cookies."
"Wearing a bell wouldn't be so bad." Clint opines placidly. "For /me/. Everyone /else/ would probably get sick of it pretty fast." He sets his tray down across from the other two men and signs 'thank you.' His plate is a somewhat eclectic mix: a big heap of mac and cheese, fried chicken (with barbecue sauce, it looks like), and garlic kale. He has snagged /two/ cookies, and now picks up one of them. "Clint Barton. You can call me Clint if you prefer." He take a bite of the cookie, chewing slowly and thoughtfully. He washes it down with coffee, nodding his approval. "It's very excellent. Your work?"
The look that Steve fixes Jax with is perhaps a bit hard to read, but it's not /displeased/. To Clint, a quick, casual 'sure'. 'Sometimes we,' this time he's indicating himself and Clint, 'eat lunch in team office break room.' Though he uses the wrong 'break', a sign that looks exactly like taking a stick and snapping it in half. 'Keep some food there because I need to eat so much.'
'I usually eat in my room or in the --' Jax pauses, here uncertain, his brows drawing together. "Whatever that room is they given us for havin' visitors in." 'Not sure if I supposed to eat /here/ or not I --' He pauses, looking around the cafeteria with a deep blush, an uncertain shrug. 'Hope I don't make anyone uncomfortable.' "But Ryan's working on new music and he gets so focused. Plus it's nice to..." He trails off here, shakes his head. He smiles brighter, nods at the question of Cookies. 'I bake. A lot. So your first name /isn't/ A-G-E-N-T then?'
"It's good to have a change of scenery sometimes," Clint says easily, nursing his coffee. "And you /are/ allowed to eat here--if you're not permitted somewhere, your guards would let you know." He tips his head in the general direction of said guards, presently two young women, one tall and white, the other short and East Asian. They sit side by side a couple of tables away, chatting quietly over their beverages. "Those who didn't want to work with you were offered alternative assignments, or a lunch hour you weren't working. Doesn't guarantee no one here is uncomfortable, but presumably no one is uncomfortable enough to have done anything to remove themselves." He shrugs, nibbling at the cookie again, though his grin is broad and bright. "S'a common joke here, actually--that my first name is 'Agent.'"
Steve has already put a significant dent in the food piled on one of his plates while other men talk. His eyes skip up often to follow Jax's signing. He takes a long gulp of his own coffee before adding, still in awkward sim-com, 'That room, for visiting, is a 'multi-purporse room.' Whatever that means.' A small shrug here. He looks around, studies Jax's guards for a moment. 'A few agents have asked me personally about you. Some afraid, others more curious.' His brows furrow slightly. 'If...if you were not here -- if you were free, I'd tell them to just ask for themselves. But here, I wasn't sure you'd want that.' He scoops up some garlic kale with his fork, but then sets it back down. 'I don't think Fury knows what first names are for.' The sign that he produces when he says 'Fury' looks like a one-handed 'anger' initialized with F.
"It's good," Jax agrees, albeit a touch cautiously, "I'm just still kinda figuring out what -- the boundaries are, here." There's a faint lopsided curl to his smile, a faint stiffness to his posture. 'I /am/ a prisoner here. I don't want to do the wrong thing and end up --' He only finishes this with a shrug, though. "Jus' sort of an odd line to navigate, you know? I don't get the impression that y'all are much experienced in the prisoner-keeping business, but." His brows furrow. Deeply. There's a hesitation before he finishes: 'In some ways that means I want to be more careful about rules, not less. Anyone watching me has less precedent for what to do if something is -- wrong.' He tips his head up to Steve, thoughtful, food still untouched. 'Asked things like what? I don't mind questions -- or at least I prefer them to being afraid quietly.'
His smile and posture are both more at ease when he picks his fork back up, looks back over at Clint. "Why you in particular? I mean, there's a lot of people here who's Agents, right? I guess it'd hey confusing if you named all your kids agent trying to tell 'em apart. We're you the first?" A little more excited: "Are you the /best/?"
Clint stares quite intently at Jax when he speaks, and reply comes with a delay so long that its possible to think he didn't mean to answer at all. "I'm not directly involved with your custody here, but as I understand it, yeah, we're kind of making things up as we go. You should talk to Coulson if you want to get some more ground rules straightened out." He pauses, considers Jax for a moment, his face almost curiously immobile. 'He's a good man,' this both signed and voiced. Then, with a very crooked smile, 'True, we're all Agent Last-name, but I have a...reputation. People think there's nothing else to me.' Dipping his head, abashed, "I don't know about the /best/, but I'm pretty good."
Steve nods, digging into his kale now. His first plate -- and it had been quite loaded -- is almost empty already. 'If you're going to go over that with Coulson, maybe should also talk to him about emergency...' "I don't know the sign, but emergency /protocols./" He pauses, looks up at the smoke detectors set into the ceiling. 'Like those. What happens if the fire alarms go off? If electricity goes out? And...maybe more extreme situations, too. S.H.I.E.L.D. at large has procedures, but it would be good for you to know where you are in them.' Then, indicating Clint with a tilt of his head. 'Other agents, think he is boring.' He shakes his head incredulously. "They haven't seen him put an arrow in a drone moving well in excess of 30 miles per hour. While hanging upside down."
'Agent Coulson seems very --' Jax hesitates a long moment again before this, teeth gnawing at his lower lip. "Conscientious." 'He insisted on paying me for working in the kitchens, it was --' His cheeks flush, eye dipping back to his (still-untouched) meal. Then up to Clint, a little wider. 'Nothing else besides being Agent?' His nose crinkles up, head shaking. 'Silly.' "/Everyone/ has more to them. I mean I've only met you the once and /clearly/ you also got a strong case of sartorial excellence going on." Though at Steve's description he's bouncing slightly in his seat, a brief faint shimmer in the air around him. '/Really/? Really-really?' "Oh gosh --" 'Awesome dresser and archery /and/ people who think --' Though he cuts himself off here with a deeper blush, just continuing, 'I have a friend who I'd totally introduce you too if I weren't busy being in terrorism jail.'
"Coulson's a good man," Clint reiterates, "and a profoundly awkward one, too. But, unlike me, he brings hobbies to work which aren't so easy to confuse for simply being good at his job. Dressing and shooting well are both /expected/ of agents here, so..." He shrugs. "People think I'm just. All agent, all the time. To be fair, though," he adds evenly, "I haven't done much to discourage this notion. If I'm going to be reduced down to /something/ in my coworkers' minds, I'd rather it be that than something half-true and completely misleading." His eyes fix on Jax's lunch, untouched, still. "Kale is great, too."
Steve holds his peace, though perhaps more for hunger than any unwillingness to contribute. He tilts his head at Jax's exclamation, brows knitting momentarily in thought before rising up, up, up while he signs 'I see' in proper ASL idiomatic fashion, a Y-hand nodding. His eyes widen slightly at Clint's commentary on Coulson's awkwardness, and he gives a small nod to his assessment of why his coworkers seem to have the kind of impression they do of him. Finally, after he'd completely cleared one of his trays of anything edible, he stops for breath and water, draining the tall glass he had set aside. "The kale is /fantastic,/" he corrects, and is reaching for a cookie when he follows Clint's gaze to Jax's lunch. 'Not hungry?'
"He says he cosplayed as you before," Jax admits with a faint blush, nodding to Steve. He tips his head curiously at Clint, a small chuckle shaking his shoulders. 'They really teach you dressing well? In... Agent School?' The tiny smile on his face seems almost charmed. "So what are you when you're not being all agenty then?" He glances down at his plate, nose crinkling up, and picks up his fork -- as though as an afterthought. 'Guess I should be.'
"It's true," Clint confirms with a grave nod. "I've seen the pictures. He used to be very proud of his Captain America costume before the real deal turned up alive. I'm sure if you asked," this to Steve, "he'd probably still show you. It is actually very impressive work; he made the whole thing himself." He picks up a spoon and starts in on his mixed fruit, picking out all the raspberries first. "Oh, yes, we do teach prospective agents how to dress, both for practicality and looking sharp. I'm pretty sure I'd never worn a properly fitted suit before I got this job." This last part he says /very/ mildly. "But when I'm not here, I do pretty normal off-duty agent things. You know, walking my dog, watching musicals, eating cold pizza, occasionally dressing up in a shiny costume and protecting my neighborhood with a bow and arrow."
"Wait, really?" Steve blinks at Clint. "I suppose that really oughtn't come as a surprise. He was very excited to show me his Captain America trading cards..." His head shakes slightly. "I knew those sorts of things existed, but I never thought there'd be...collectors." He cocks his head. "Are you serious, though? About the last part?" Finally, he takes a bite of his cookie. "This is spectacular! But...as good as all of this is, there's no /should./ If you don't feel like eating now, I'm sure you could put it in a box and take it with you for later..."
"Yeah, he'd got some work from me at a con once an' he was -- well." Jax just shakes his head, nose crinkling up. 'Small world. -- oh!" He bounces slightly in his seat, setting his fork back down as his hands clap briefly together. "Oh! Musicals /too/, that's kinda perfect, you really should -- 'wait, I guess the shiny costume part was the exciting part of that.' His cheeks flush deep red again, head briefly ducking. "How shiny are we talking?"
"Coulson's not even the biggest collector of vintage Cap merchandise out there. No doubt about it, you've left your mark on history but, really, people will collect /just about/ anything." Clint has removed everything from his fruit cup except for a mix of cantaloupe and honeydew melon chunks. "I am dead serious, and it is /fairly/ shiny--satiny, not glittery." He pauses here and considers. "It could definitely be shinier."
"Archery and dressing well and dogs /and/ musicals," Steve lists these items on the fingers of his left hand. "You really do remind me of a certain friend of ours." But he doesn't elaborate, perhaps by design or perhaps because he has been distracted by the discussion of Shiny Costume. 'I think walking dog was supposed to be the exciting part,' he suggests, 'And Jax is /kind/ of an expert on shiny.'
"I think Horus might have aspirations of being the biggest collector of Cap merchandise." Jax has a small chuckle to to go with this. "Ryan's credit card's been getting a /workout/ on eBay lately." He leans back in his seat, considering Clint seriously for a moment -- there's a faint iridescense creeping steadily to lend a shimmery veneer to his shirt, glittering threads of silver shooting in pinstripe veins along its length. '/Everything/ could always be shinier. Does your dog also have a shiny costume?'
"I'm sure Coulson is very envious, in his plaintive, good-natured sort of way." Clint studies Steve, but does not question him. He looks down as his outfit begins to change, and a gleeful smile blossoms across his face. 'Wonderful,' he signs, without speaking. 'And I agree, but my dog does not have a costume, alas.' Though, after a moment's thought, he adds, "His collar /does/ matches my costume, I suppose."
Some of the other S.H.I.E.L.D. employees sitting nearby look less delighted with Jax's illusion. It's perhaps surprising how many of them seem to have noticed, given the subtlety of the effect. Jax's guards, at least, seem entirely unconcerned, though they are also looking now, their attention drawn by the slightly turned heads and quieting of conversations near their charge.
'Horus actually has /the first/ Captain America helmet,' Steve's sim-com is getting a little jerky, but he doggedly keeps it up. 'Not many people know, but I stole it from one of the girls in my show. Agent Carter held onto it after Stark made me a new one.' He spells the names rather fluidly, by the standards of his fingerspelling. When gazes turn toward them, he sets his jaw firmly, though he relaxes a little after turning to look at the guards.
'Does /he/ know?' Jax's brows raise -- maybe impressed, at this piece of information. 'I bet if you told him -- well.' His lips purse, considering. 'Someone would get it as a present soon.' His smile brightens when Clint's does -- though at nearly the same time there's a faint tensing to his shoulders that comes, contrastingly, with a slower more deliberate deepening of his breathing. "Well, the collar's a start. Every hero needs an animal sidekick. That's what Disney's taught me, anyway." He glances over to Steve -- somewhat briefly, before rising. 'I think I'm going to take some food back to my room. I should make sure Ryan actually eats, anyway. Before all the cookies vanish.'
Clint strokes his smooth chin, thoughtful. 'Maybe.' He has either not noticed the eyes of his coworkers on them or is very effectively ignoring them. "I'll look into getting Arrow a nice taffeta cape, but really, I think I'd be his /human/ sidekick." He lifts his coffee mug toward Jax as he rises. 'Good talking with you,' he signs, one-handed. 'Thank you again for the meal.'
Steve has stopped eating. "Your dog's name is /Arrow/?" His eyebrows raise up high. 'Wait, you told me that, I don't know how it could have slipped my mind.' Blushes slightly. He meets Jax's eyes, nods faintly. 'Enjoy, and say hi to Ryan for me. I'll drop by before I go home.' Doesn't say goodbye, though his eyes remain on Jax for long seconds even after the man has turned to go.