Rating: Mature (light R?)
Summary: Debt is only beautiful when it has been repaid
Author notes: I can't thank the fabulous madjm enough for sticking with me through this whole thing. I literally had the first idea for this fic on June 17th and it's been driving me insane ever since. I swear, I'm not going to write anything with a plot for the rest of 2012.
In New York City, in a suite that probably costs per night what the average SHIELD agent makes in a month, they doze for a while, or at least Clint does – he’s warm and full and slightly intoxicated – until he feels Natasha shift and hears her mumble against his t-shirt, “I got dinner. You have to clean up.”
He smiles sleepily and rubs his eyes without opening them. “I think clean-up is just putting the carts outside the door.”
“Mmhmm, you do that,” she agrees, stretching against him in a way that wakes him extremely effectively, though he tells himself that it wasn’t intentional. She stands, with one hand on his chest to push herself upright – he ignores the twinge in his ribs, the flutter in his gut – and heads into the kitchen for some reason he can’t fathom. She can’t possibly still be hungry.
He pushes the little silver carts out into the hall, laden with china and silverware and the scraps of their banquet, and follows her. She’s standing at the marble counter, pouring champagne into two elegant crystal flutes, and he’s not exactly an expert on the subject but he’s pretty sure the champagne bottle – to say nothing of what’s actually inside it – cost more than his first car. “You’re going to make Stark regret this, aren’t you?”
“He can afford it,” she says breezily, turning to him and leaning back against the counter. “You’re sure you’re feeling all right?”
“Warm death, remember?” He forces a smile. “I’d probably feel better if you’d just let me kill him.”
A little of the mellow post-meal atmosphere ebbs at his words, despite the sedate music still trickling in from the next room (‘…lead me to the truth and I... will follow you with my whole life…’) and she puts down the bottle, looks at him with a critical eye. “You saw the pounding Thor took. I’m not sure it’s even possible to kill people like them.”
Clint shrugs. “I would have enjoyed trying.”
“He’s still alive,” Natasha says resolutely, reaching back for the champagne flutes, “but so are we. That’s something to celebrate, isn’t it?”
“Is that what we’re doing?” he asks, taking the proffered drink, but when she turns back he frowns at a wet glimmer of red near her hairline that he hadn’t noticed before. “You’re bleeding again,” he says, putting the champagne down and picking up a towel she must have used to open the bottle; it’s a bit damp on one end but seems clean enough on the other, so he reaches up and presses it against the cut. He knows how head wounds can bleed. “You should have had the doc stitch this up.”
“I’ll be fine,” she says impatiently. “How are your ribs?” she asks, a devious glint in her eye as she touches the spot on his right side where she knows he’s sore. He tries to arch away from her hands while still keeping the towel against her forehead, but it’s pretty much a one-or-the-other proposition and also suddenly a competition, so he stands his ground.
“Still bruised?” Tasha continues, and now she’s tugging up his shirt and tsking at the mottled greenish-yellow skin; he expects her hands to be cold but they’re surprisingly warm, and the alarm bells are back but he ignores them.
“Trying to take advantage of me, Agent Romanoff?” he asks, trying to sound as ridiculously cornball as possible. He’s actually pretty ticklish just above the worst of the bruising, and if she figures that out and starts working on him, well, there go whatever lingering vestiges of masculinity he might still have.
“Yeah,” she admits – he can’t see her lips because their faces are so close but he can see the smile crinkling in the corners of her eyes – “but you’re making it too easy for me… I haven’t even gotten you really drunk yet.”
“I know you like a challenge,” he retorts, and he would say something else just to keep distracting her from that ticklish spot, but then her hand does move, sliding around his tender ribs to the small of his back; he would still say something but then her lips are on his, or his are on hers, he’s not sure who made the first move but it doesn’t really matter. Her mouth is apple-chocolate-cheesecake sweet, and the kiss is sweet too, sweet and slow and lingering.
He’s still holding the champagne-scented towel against her forehead, but he brings his other hand up to the nape of her neck, then forward to cup her jaw, and as though responding to an agreed-upon signal she tilts her head and opens her mouth. The kiss deepens; his tongue moves against her lips and then between them as her free hand slips beneath his shirt on his left side, and the bells in his mind sound more like miniature firecrackers going off behind his closed eyes.
He’s not sure how long they stand like that, her arms around his waist, his hands cradling her face; the world has narrowed to their lips and tongues and their slow, warm slide. There’s no room left for fear or regret or guilt, just the smell of champagne and cold tile beneath his feet and the woman in front of him.
A tingling in his fingers reminds him that oxygen is important to his brain, even if he isn’t using it at the moment, and he pulls away just long enough to catch his breath. Her teeth tug gently on his bottom lip and he groans, dropping the towel because he’s pretty sure she’s not going to bleed to death or anything, and he knows that hand can find far better places to be.
The air sparks a thought, or maybe another firecracker, and he hears his voice mumbling against her mouth, interspersed with light kisses, “They say that after… something like this… you shouldn’t make any big decisions… for a while.”
Tasha sucks in a breath as his left hand skims up her side, brushing her breast through the fabric of her tank top. “Something like this?” she echoes, an appealing tremor in her voice.
The fingers of his right hand thread through her hair. “Something traumatic.”
“Are you… quoting your shrink at me?”
“I don’t have a shrink.”
“Maybe you should,” she says, so he gives her breast a gentle squeeze.
Her body spasms against his and he realizes that she’s pinned between his torso and the kitchen counter, or at least as pinned as Natasha could possibly be, which is exactly as much as she wants to be. She gives her hips a slow, experimental roll against his and he knows she can feel his hard-on as surely as he can feel the heat coming off her skin.
Clint gasps and tries to think of… something. Baseball scores? He doesn’t follow sports. Arrows… specs for new arrows… but arrows are phallic in a way he’s never considered before now, so that doesn’t really help. Tasha moves again, languid and deliberate, and a joint groan escapes their mouths, vibrating in his tongue. “Not… not the best time,” he says, the words coming out so rough and needy that he hardly recognizes his own voice.
“When would be a good time?” she asks, her hands dropping lower, moving over his ass, pulling his pelvis more firmly against hers – you know, just in case he had any doubts about her intentions. “After one of us is dead?”
“That’s when I do some of my best work,” Clint says breathlessly.
His fingers in her hair tighten into a loose fist, pulling gently at her scalp, and then less gently as she growls in approval. “That doesn’t even make any sense.”
She slips her tongue into his mouth. One of her legs slides between his thighs, bringing their bodies even closer together; she rocks her hips again, almost grinding against him, her hands urging his own hips to match her rhythm.
The small part of his brain still dedicated to higher functions thinks Jesus, this is happening, this is actually happening; he wants to lift her onto the counter, wants to peel off her tank, wants to taste her and maybe see if he can make her come using just his mouth because he’s pretty damn sure he could, and then out of nowhere his shitty, useless brain presents him with the worst possible memory, worse than sports scores or arrow specs.
He thinks of her sitting across from him in the car earlier today saying mulishly, ‘Nobody needs to tell me to do my job’.
He tries to push the thought away, to push all thoughts away except the ones involving Natasha naked and writhing, but the memory is like a punch in his stomach and he breaks the kiss with a gasp. “I can’t…”
“Sure you can.” Her voice is husky, her breasts heaving in a way that’s meant to distract; he knows because he’s watched her do it with a mark when she didn’t want him to notice the hypodermic needle in her hand. “We’ll take it slow.”
He gives a bleak laugh. Slow, fast… that’s not the problem. The problem is him. The problem is everything. She’s never given him any reason to think that she wants this, wants him, and he’s confused as hell.
She’s his partner and the closest thing he has to a best friend, and to be honest he’s wanted her for years, but he’s been good, he’s been diligent about channeling that desire into other things. He doesn’t want to be the one who messes things up, and he doesn’t want to be just someone Natasha sleeps with from time to time. Standing in this kitchen in his socks with two glasses of champagne fizzing on the counter he knows he also doesn’t want her to screw him out of pity, or because she thinks its what he needs, or because she feels like it’s her job.
Her hands move to unbutton his fly and he grabs her wrists, fighting to maintain composure, fighting to ignore the hormones that are thrumming through his veins and demanding to know what the hell he thinks he’s doing. “Tash… no.”
She looks bemused, a faint crease appearing between her eyes as she presses one palm against his groin, stroking him through the denim. “What’s wrong? You want this.”
Oh Jesus. Jesus Christ. “Yeah, just… not like this.” Clint feels dizzy, no blood left in his brain as he pulls her hand away. “I’m still so… I’m not even thinking straight…”
She swallows hard and quirks an eyebrow. “So… ‘it’s not you, it’s me’? That’s what you’re going with?”
“I’m sorry,” he pants, and it’s true. He is sorry: sorry that he let it go this far and sorry he’s the one putting a stop to it, sorry he can’t just turn off his thoughts and his fears and his compunctions. Too much time alone, he decides. Too much time sitting and waiting and thinking. Too much time watching her when they sleep in shifts and when she leads on their marks. His body is literally aching for her but he lets go of her wrists and steps back. The small kitchen feels cold and inhospitable. “I’m sorry,” he says again, and it sounds just as foolish the second time.
She doesn’t move right away, just stares at him with that same puzzled expression, as though no man has ever rejected her before. Maybe they haven’t, maybe he’s just a special breed of stupid. Finally she blinks and her face goes blank, coolly unruffled, except that her lips are still swollen, her cheeks still faintly flushed with desire or embarrassment or anger. “Me too,” she says without affect, and then she walks away.
We drive across the bridge in a stolen convertible. The sky is low, choked with morning fog. The bay spreads out to the left, flat and slate gray, and to the left is a series of rolling hills in shades of yellow and green.
I’d suggested a taxi, but Natasha had ignored me. She dislikes being a passenger; it’s too easy for the person you’ve paid to drive you where you want to go take you somewhere else instead. I know there is a very short list of people she’ll allow behind the wheel; as far as she knows, there’s no one at all.
The dinner reception is in the ritzy suburb of Mill Valley, in some millionaire’s private park, under a canopy of huge white tents that are being set up when we drive by around seven-thirty. The area is full of workmen and decorators and the millionaire’s own staff, and no one looks at us twice when we walk through the unguarded gate pushing a cart of folding chairs.
She has what she needs in fifteen minutes, noting the exits to the streets and blind spots from the brick-faced hall where the conference will be held tomorrow, wrapping the gun in a black napkin and hiding it in an easily-accessible planter, and appropriating a guest list on her way out. She shows it to me once we’re back in the car. “Recognize any names?” she says acerbically.
I scan the page. The names are listed alphabetically by last name, so it takes a moment before I find the one that has caught her eye. Witten, Dr. Bruno E., Institute for Rehabilitative Therapy, and guest.
“I understand using the reception as cover,” continues Natasha, starting the engine. In the rearview mirror I see her eyes narrowed in thought, in suspicion. “But to show up using his real name, when he supposedly went to all this trouble to change his face? That’s sloppy.”
“He’s a narcissist,” I say weakly.
“He’s also apparently a genius,” Natasha retorts, pulling into traffic. “I don’t care how much money he has, what he thinks he can get away with… this doesn’t make sense.”
“What do you want to do?” I ask, afraid of the answer. If she decides to call the Institute I don’t know how I’ll be able to stop her. And I can’t imagine a scenario in which the conversation with Fisher doesn’t include my name. Fisher will have another in-country operative here before I can convince Natasha to run, or else she’ll do something to trip the trigger.
Natasha says nothing.
We drive to the Valley Suites Hotel, about fifteen minutes from the reception. Dinner isn’t until eight and we need a base of operations on this side of the bridge. I still have cash, but it doesn’t make any difference now. In fact, it’s better to use the credit card and let Fisher see that we’re in position. Besides, places like this tend to look at you a bit askance if you try and pay for a two-hundred dollar a night suite from a roll of twenties.
“Sometimes geniuses are stupid,” Natasha says, once we’re inside the room. She sets down her bag, hangs up her dress, and walks around checking exits. “We’ll go ahead with the plan. For now.”
The waiting room of the Institute for Rehabilitative Therapy in Villavicencio, Colombia is surprisingly unpretentious. It’s more of a nook than a room, shoved off to the side of the receptionist’s desk; there are a couple dinged-up mahogany chairs, a faux-marble table from the ‘80s, and some magazines that look like they date from the same era. Through a barred window Clint can see the city’s skyline, such as it is: a few multistory buildings painted in pastels and grays against the shadowy Andes foothills.
“This isn’t going to work,” he mutters.
Rogers stares down at the Time magazine he’s allegedly reading. “It’ll be fine,” he says out of the corner of his mouth. “I don’t know what you’re worried about.”
“I’m worried about them figuring out that we’re not official SHIELD representatives,” Clint says, muffling the words behind one hand. He’s watching the receptionist, a lanky young man who’s been playing Minesweeper since they came in. Clint doubts he’ll be much of an impediment, unless he manages to alert the guardhouse at the end of the gravel driveway.
“We’re not?” asks Rogers with an impressive act of confused naïveté, flipping randomly through the magazine. “I’m pretty sure I didn’t get an armed escort off the Helicarrier.” He looks up, blinks guilelessly. “I’m here to look in on some of the prisoners SHIELD has sent the Institute, to make sure they’re being treated humanely. I’m not really sure who you are, Agent, other than a pain in my neck.”
Clint had left his bow on the jet (damn Fury, he was right; it was too distinctive) and he feels completely exposed without it. Literally, if he had to choose between fighting the Chitauri naked and fighting them with someone else’s weapon, he’d choose naked every time. But he’s not Clint Barton or Hawkeye today; he’s just some nameless SHIELD agent who’s been sent along with Captain Steve Rogers because, come on, you just don’t let your super-soldier go wandering around Colombia by himself.
Clint sighs. It even sounds stupid in his head.
“If this was a SHIELD operation,” says Rogers, lowering his voice even more, “what would you be doing differently?”
Everything, thinks Clint. We’d have aerial support. We’d have actual schematics instead of what we were able to scrounge off the Internet. We’d have a tactical team ready to drop in and take over in case everything goes to hell. I wouldn’t be in here, I’d be watching through a window, with binoculars and IR goggles and my goddamn bow. “I don’t know,” he lies, because it’s bad enough mentally enumerating all the ways they’re screwed without saying it out loud. “If Natasha was here… it would probably involve a very short skirt.”
She’s going to hit him if she ever finds out he said that; it’s not that far off from the comment that got Agent Neuman in trouble. At this point, of course, Clint would welcome the pain.
Rogers flips another page. “This is our best bet then. You don’t want to see my legs in a skirt.”
Clint presses his lips together to hide a smile, just in case anyone is watching. Scary-ass SHIELD agents don’t smile. “Did you just make a joke?”
“We had jokes in the ‘40s,” Rogers deadpans, pretending to be very interested in a story about homeopathic allergy cures. Then he glances up, looking a little self-conscious. “Sorry.”
“No problem,” says Clint honestly. Nothing breaks the tension like focusing on not picturing Steve Rogers in a miniskirt.
He hears the faint clip-clip-clip of heels on tile coming from the hall. Rogers drops the magazine; Clint eases his hand a bit closer to the gun holstered on his thigh, but the woman who approaches them appears unthreatening, dressed in a white blouse and long navy skirt slit so far up the side that Rogers looks uncomfortable. She smiles, all white teeth and scarlet lips and long black hair. “I’m sorry for the wait, gentlemen,” she says with the faintest hint of a local accent. “My name is Kamala Manesh. Dr. Fisher is ready for you now.”
They both stand, and Rogers gives Clint an openly hostile look. “Fisher? Dr. Witten isn’t in?”
“Doctor Witten is unfortunately out of the country at the moment,” says the woman, and Clint thinks San Francisco.
“That’s unfortunate,” says Rogers. He’s puffing out his chest a little, speaking more deeply than usual. Clint’s not sure if it’s part of his act or just a reaction to a beautiful woman. “Is Dr. Fisher qualified to discuss SHIELD business?”
“More than qualified,” says Manesh smoothly. She has a voice that would be perfect for one of those phone-tree recordings, where you’re asked to press one for English and nine for more menu options. “If you gentlemen will follow me…”
“Actually…” Manesh turns back to Rogers as he gives Clint another dark glare. Ah, yes, Agent Santiago would be so proud. “Actually, I’d prefer to speak to her in private, if that’s all right with you.”
Manesh raises one elegant eyebrow, glancing between the two of them. Clint doesn’t want to lay it on too thick, but he juts out his chin and asks Rogers, “I’m sorry, Captain, is there something you don’t want Director Fury to know about?” in the most belligerent tone he can manage.
For the life of him he has no idea why Captain America would want to have some kind of secret conversation with Fisher, but they hadn’t bothered spending too long on the back story. Rogers can bullshit Fisher with whatever pops into his head; what’s important is that the attention is all on the illustrious Steve Rogers and not on the surly, anonymous SHIELD agent sulking in the waiting room. Because he doesn’t intend to stay in the waiting room.
Manesh says nothing, her expression a bit too blank to be considered merely thoughtful, and Clint realizes that he knows that look. She’s listening to something. Or someone.
A second later she smiles that white-red smile again. “Dr. Fisher would enjoy speaking to both of you,” she says, a little aggressively, and walks back down the hall without waiting for a reply.
“…at such short notice,” Manesh is telling Rogers as they walk side-by-side a few paces ahead. “In the past SHIELD representatives have contacted the office before arriving. But I suppose you realized that an unannounced inspection would be far more thorough and authentic.”
“Um, yes,” says Rogers. “Exactly.”
They pass another woman in the hall, a petite brunette carrying an empty coffee carafe in one hand and balancing a large silver tray on the other. “Saja,” says Manesh harshly. “We’ll need refreshments in Dr. Fisher’s office for Captain Rogers and his friend.”
Manesh doesn’t wait for a reply, simply sweeps by the younger woman with Rogers in her wake, but Clint is dawdling, hoping to notice when they pass a sign reading 'psychotropic drugs' this way. When Saja walks by him their elbows bump and she drops the tray; Clint catches it before it hits the ground. “Hey… here you go…”
Saja is staring at him. Her eyes are blue, very wide and very full of… something. Fear? Urgency? She stares at him as though trying to beam a message into his mind, and then glances sharply at Manesh and Rogers’ retreating backs. When she looks back at Clint she’s biting her anxiously bottom lip.
She wants to tell me something. The thought makes him catch his breath. “Natasha Romanoff… is she here?” he whispers.
Saja shakes her head, glances back down the hall towards the lobby and the front door. Her eyes seem to be telling him to leave, to get out.
“I can’t,” hisses Clint. “I need a drug. 13A-10R.” The informant had sent him the name along with the Institute’s address. He’s sure it won’t mean anything to someone whose duties involve making coffee, but it’s worth a shot…
“Saja?” Manesh has stopped fifteen yards away, looking at the young woman through narrowed eyes. “Is there a problem?”
Clint is still holding the tray; he hastily pushes it into Saja’s hands. “Be more careful,” he tells her brusquely; she nods, grabs the tray, and scampers away without a word.
“Interns,” Manesh says with a little laugh, as she and Rogers wait for Clint to catch up. “Sometimes I don’t even know how we manage at all.” She raises one hand, gesturing to a large gray door. “This way, gentlemen.”
Steve thinks no plan survives first contact with the enemy.
So maybe it had been a little overly optimistic to think that Barton would be left to go sneaking around the facility unsupervised. Steve had been holding out hope anyway; the stealthy approach would have been infinitely easier. Now they were two men against who-knew-how-many Institute employees… although judging by who had driven into the parking lot this morning it seems as though they might work with a skeleton staff on the weekend.
Don’t assume anything.
They step through the large gray door into a small antechamber decorated in the same fashion as the lobby: dark wood, floral prints, a few faded prints and knick-knacks gathering dust.
Waiting for them is one of the largest men Steve has ever seen. He’s easily six and a half feet, maybe taller, with a thick neck and thicker arms. A nasty scar slashes across his face, starting at his chin and terminating halfway up his bald scalp. Incongruous with his fearsome appearance and bodybuilder physique, the man is wearing a rather nice gray suit that’s well-tailored to his frame.
He hands Ms. Manesh a computer tablet; she glances down at the screen and then hugs it to her chest. “This is Ajax Telamon, our head of security,” she says pleasantly. “He’ll need to hold on to any weapons that you may have brought with you.”
Danger, thinks Steve, but Barton hands over his firearm without comment and submits to a brief – although rather rough – pat-down. Mr. Telamon repeats the process with Steve, who is unarmed. Everything is back on the jet, including the phone. It had seemed safer that way.
“This is standard procedure,” Ms. Manesh explains. “You’ll be touring some of the treatment rooms, and a few of our patients are… still making progress.” She laughs lightly. “Let’s just say they would be quite excited by the sight of a gun.”
“We wouldn’t want that,” says Steve. Barton is silent.
She pushes open a smaller door and cheerfully chivies them through. Mr. Telamon remains in the antechamber, but Steve notices Barton glancing over his shoulder at the big man with a thoughtful frown.
Fisher’s office is bright and clean. There is no wood, no florals, only metal and glass and a touch of red fabric here and there. There are several plaques on the walls, and official-looking documents that must be medical degrees; the only piece of artwork is a large framed print of a painting Steve has actually seen before. “Dali, isn’t it?” he asks Ms. Manesh.
“The Face of War,” she says, nodding agreeably. The painting is fascinating but grotesque: a shriveled, shrunken corpse’s head, floating, disembodied, mouth and empty eye sockets filled with more terrible staring faces, surrounded by a halo of angry serpents. Steve can’t imagine wanting that face staring down at him day after day. Then Dr. Fisher enters, and he has no more time to contemplate her taste in artwork.
She is younger than he had imagined - perhaps thirty-five, certainly no older than forty - small and blonde with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose. A pair of wire-rimmed glasses is perched atop her head and she wears a shapeless white lab coat over a plain black dress.
“I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting,” she says, bustling into the office from a second door with the air of someone whose time is very much in high demand, slipping into a straight-backed chair behind a steel-and-glass desk. “Please, take a seat.”
Steve and Barton sit. Their chairs are identical to Dr. Fisher’s and, Steve discovers, extremely uncomfortable. He leans forward, extending a hand across her desk. “Doctor, I’m…”
“Steve Rogers,” she interrupts him, shaking his hand with a smile. “Captain America himself. I’ve seen the videos. It’s quite an honor.” She glances at Ms. Manesh, who has taken up position to her employer’s left, just beside The Face of War. “You didn’t ask him for his autograph or anything, did you Kamala?” she asks impishly.
“I didn’t think it was appropriate, Doctor.”
Dr. Fisher gives a high, girlish laugh. “Maybe not.” She looks back at Steve, smiling. “At least not until we’ve conducted our business. Kamala says you’re here on behalf of SHIELD. And your associate is…”
“Clint Barton,” says Barton, very unexpectedly, and Steve struggles not to show his surprise. So much for anonymity…
Fisher doesn’t bat an eye. “Agent Barton. It’s nice to meet you.”
“We’ve actually met before,” says Barton. “Well, maybe not met, but we were there at the same time. In Frankfurt, about five years ago.”
Steve closes his eyes briefly. Barton, what are you doing?
“Frankfurt.” Fisher’s smile becomes brittle. “I was there on a vacation.”
“I was working a security detail,” says Barton, poker-faced.
Fisher takes a breath and waits, as though expecting Barton to continue, but he offers nothing more. She turns her eyes back to Steve, her manner cooler than a moment ago. “So, Captain. I understand you’d like to look in on some of our patients.”
“Not all of them,” says Barton before Steve can answer. “Just one.”
Fisher’s easy affability is gone now, replaced by a sly self-possession that Steve finds more than a little unnerving. “Just one?” she repeats, a note of mockery in her voice.
“Yeah,” says Barton. “Natasha Romanoff.”
There’s a short but horrible pause in which even the inscrutable Ms. Manesh looks apprehensive, and in which Steve becomes hyperaware of the fact that their escape route is blocked by a man who, apart from being monstrously huge, is also armed. “Mr. Barton, I’m afraid you’re rather confused,” says Fisher at last. “SHIELD sends their criminals to us. Not their own agents.”
“SHIELD didn’t send her,” Barton says stiffly.
Glancing sideways at Ms. Manesh, Fisher smiles again. It’s a smile with no friendliness in it, only defiance. “You’re right,” she says with the resigned air of someone caught in a little white lie. “Ms. Romanoff approached us herself about a month ago. She felt that her skills and talents were not being put to their full use working for your organization. She said she was looking for new employment.”
“That’s a lie.”
“Really?” Fisher’s voice is full of scorn. “Would you like to ask her yourself?”
Barton looks tense enough to sprain something. “Yes.”
I should have asked Banner to come along after all, Steve thinks.
Fisher stands; so does Barton. Steve moves to rise as well but Fisher casts a withering look at him and says, “I’m sorry, Captain. This will only take a moment.”
“I want to see Agent Romanoff too,” says Steve stubbornly.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” The words have a flat, rehearsed sound to them, the familiar cadence of a practiced falsehood. “When I informed Ms. Romanoff that you had arrived, she said that she would only speak to Agent Barton.”
Steve turns to Barton. The archer’s expression is as cool, as impassive as Dr. Fisher’s, but his eyes are full of barely-restrained anger, a fierce, determined loathing that until now Steve has only seen directed at Loki. She’s lying and he knows it. But he’s going to do this whether I like it or not. “Fine,” he says, not bothering to hide his own irritation.
Fisher smiles thinly. “We’ll be right back, Captain. Mr. Telamon is just in the next room if you need anything while we’re gone.”