In From the Cold
Roleplaying Log: In From the Cold
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Eddie shows up at SHIELD to take Coulson up on that job offer in the most inconvenient way possible.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 14, 2018
IC Location: Triskelion - Midtown Manhattan
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 15 Dec 2018 04:12
Rating & Warnings: Language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The phone in Coulson's office rings impatiently, like somehow the urgency itself can telegraph through the line and change the pitch of the tone to downright insistent. The digital display shows the call is coming from security: front gate which happens to coincide with an image from the security cam of four armed agents surrounding a car that appears to have crashed into one of the support poles of the fencing.

***

"Coulson."

An eyebrow ticks upward as he stares at the display. There's a slight shake of his head. In some ways, SHIELD has always been a bit wackier under the surface than their straitlaced reputation might indicate. This is really no exception.

But he patiently waits for the explanation as if he's not seeing about half the story already. It's sure to be just fantastic.

He reaches for his coffee. It's going to be a 9-cup day. He can feel it already.

***

"Yes, sir. We seem to have a bit of a situation down at the front gate." The guard seems nervous at having to call Coulson of all people for what should just be a standard incident report, but apparently it goes deeper than that.

"We surrounded the vehicle to ascertain the situation, and it seems there is a woman named Edwina Morales driving. She said she's a former agent and refuses to speak to anyone but you. Sir. Permission to take her in by force?"

***

"Denied. I'm on my way down."

And so he comes. He arrives with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket and a mild expression on his face. He leans down to the driver's side window and says with some equanimity: "I didn't remember you being as bad at driving as you are at bombs. Did you miss the right turn at Albuquerque?"

If she's going to be the one to bring wackiness into his day, she gets to be cast into the role of Bugs Bunny. God knows what role that casts him in, though.

***

Daffy Duck. Duh.

Eddie is behind the wheel of a complete beater car. The tan sedan has four mismatched doors and it's a wonder that it even ran at all. She's missing one glove, probably needing to have been stripped off to hot wire it, if the dangling wires at her knee are any indication. She has her other hand across her body and tucked beneath her jacket, probably part of the reason the security agents are on high alert. That, and, you know. The crash.

"Phiiiiillll, Philly Phil. How's it hanging, hot stuff. Totally sorry about your fence thing. But hey. Just wondering. Is that whole job offer still good? Girl's gotta ask." Eddie's head thunks back against the ratty and duct taped headrest, lulling to look up at him with eyes that are dilated to pinpricks.

***

Phil doesn't answer right away. He furrows his brow. Studies her state.

And like the Dad he is, opens the car door and offers an arm. Even as his mouth tightens as he takes in her state, combined with a flash of worry across those hazel eyes of his. "Come with me," he says. He's not going to have this discussion out here. He turns to the security guys.

"Get this towed, find out who it belongs to, cut them a full reimbursement check. Some person's insurance doesn't need to go up because of this."

***

The hand that was under Eddie's coat is withdrawn, the black leather of her glove shiny with liquid that seems colorless on the fabric but seeming how it stains the cuff of her white thermal that's peaking out from the sleeve of her jacket a deep red, there's a good guess as to what it might be. Unfortunately that's the hand she reaches out for Phil with, so on top of the $50 dollars of replacement cost of the car, he'll need to add his dry cleaning tab to her bill.

"Alright, alright. Slow your roll. Lemme get my seatbelt…I'm not wearing a seatbelt. Okay. Right, I'm good to go. Just don't let them…don't let them touch my bare skin, yeah?"

***

Phil quickly revises his assessment. Not on drugs then, but gravely wounded. The quality of his expression changes as he helps Eddie out of the car. "Get me a medical team," he says. "Infirmary 1."

Rather than making her walk while leaning on him he scoops her up into a princess carry, like she's a child who maybe fell asleep in the back of the car and who now needs to be carried to bed. He does it with no visible sign of strain or even a twinge in the back, despite his age. It's one of those moments that makes it clear that under the slightly rumpled clothes and perpetually mild-mannered air, Phil is physically pretty strong. "Keep your hand on the wound, Eddie, you know you need to keep pressure on it," he says gently. "Everyone will be wearing gloves, so nobody will end up touching anything directly. Beyond that I can't think of too many ways people treat wounds like that without interacting with them physically in some way."

One of the security guards runs ahead to let them in so Phil doesn't have to swipe his card again.

***

When she gets out of the car, it turns out there is a much worse slash across her thigh that has been wrapped haphazardly in gauze over the top of her pants. It causes her not to just grunt with pain when Phil scoops her up but give an animalistic yowl of pain as she's draped across his arm. She tries to do as he says and keep pressure on the wound in her side - likewise wrapped in soaked gauze - but it's awkward.

It's like it took every ounce of her effort just to get here, and now that Phil has her in his arms she's fading. "I snorted half a gram just to get here…Narcan…" So his initial assessment is partially right after all, Eddie IS high on heroin.

***

"Oh, good," Phil says dryly.

He dutifully reports this to the medics. They dutifully get to work. He retreats to the other side of the glass, because surgery is surgery, and he's not about to scrub up and get in the way. He does not, as it happens, leave, though he can be seen making phone calls or taking them out in the hallway for some time. Drinking more coffee. The concern is clear enough.

But he doesn't try to talk to her until she's well into recovery. After they've moved her from the operating theater and into a recovery room. "Did they give you more of the good drugs," he asks, "or did they figure you'd gotten yourself full of enough street level anesthesia to last the day?"

***

The list of Eddie's injuries included a broken nose, a piercing wound to the right shoulder, a slash extending from her posterior to anterior ribs, and the deep cut across her thigh. This along with the myriad of bruises she has on her knuckles and arms proves that whatever it was that attacked her: she fought back.

She looks up at Phil with eyes that are deeply shadowed from the break, more visible in the harsh overhead fluorescents. The fact that she's in a hospital gown, sans her layers and layers of protection no doubt leaves her feeling as vulnerable as she looks on the scratchy white sheets.

"I turned them down." Once the Narcan counteracted the opiates in her system, she was cleared for morphine, but even her chart reflects the patient's refusal post op. She manages a small smile which seems a limp expression considering her normally animated features. "Thanks, Phil. My hero."

***

"What happened?" Phil asks the question in a way that blazes right past her quip about his supposed heroics. But she had to know the question was coming.

He sits down next to her bedside, brow furrowed. He's studying her closely. What he may be thinking or feeling remains a mystery besides that layer of initial concern. But the question itself was, of course, inevitable. Before any other conversation happened, he'd want to know that. Followed by, "Who did this?" Because he wants to know that too. The basics. All he's lacking is a when, where, why, but he'll probably get to them.

***

Eddie has no choice but to touch blankets, pillows. The bed itself. The echo of the injured of the past lingers in everything around them, no mater how sterile. So it's either drug herself into oblivion or embrace the pain as a way to distract her mind from the images that scratching at the back of her brain. So she welcomes the wince that comes with trying to sit up a little in order to retain eye contact with Phil so she can answer his question.

"You were right. About someone trying to kill me. I thought I was being careful, but this time they sent someone to handle it personally. If he hadn't gotten spooked, I think he would have been able to finish the job."

***

"Do you know who it was?" Coulson asks, tilting his head to one side. He's not surprised, not with the bomb they just walked into, but he of course wants details. As many as possible. He asks with the kind of steadiness that says he's soaking in every detail without panicking about them, as is his wont. People trying to kill them is par for the course. The business. Even when people leave the organization they rarely escape the threat of violence, the miasma of it all.

It follows them. There's no real retiring from their line of work. Which is perhaps yet another reason why he ended up right back here, at this desk, despite all his doubts.

***

"I don't. He was careful not to speak, and I wasn't able to pull the mask off of him. I had my gloves on," The one time Eddie admonishes herself for taking extra precautions about invading people's privacy. "And the knife he used…must've been straight off the shelf. I got nothing off of it when it…when it…" Eddie looks away, her eyes rolling to the ceiling as she blinks rapidly.

"Sorry. I'm a little overloaded right now." Eddie clears her throat and forces her face back to Coulson's. "I can't keep doing this Phil. Never sleeping, always moving. I end up spending any money I make just on ensuring I stay alive to do it all over again. I can't do this alone anymore. I just can't."

***

Which answers the question of why she wants to come back. Gently, Phil says, "Are you sure you wouldn't rather me put you in a witness protection program, Eddie? I do need people I can trust, just as I told you, but you were adamant you didn't want to come back then. I get that you're spooked, but this is an organization with rules, hierarchies, and a lot of issues from top to bottom. And a whole lot of not using heroin. Coming in from the cold is certainly one strategy, but it's not your only one. I could get you to safety, investigate who from your past might be feeling persistent."

It's something he has to offer. He just has to. He watches her with earnest eyes and a furrowed brow, concerned but also realistic.

***

Eddie just looks at him flatly at the suggestion of witness protection. "You honestly think I could live a civilian life? Look, my arguments stand. I don't believe in registration, and that's going to be the Company line. But the way I figure, I can uphold something even if I don't believe in it, if you tell me it's for the greater good. I trust /you/ Phil. That's why I'm here. So if you're just going to pass me off to someone else, forget it. Can I kick the habit? Sure. But if I'm going to learn to control what I am, sober, then this is the best place for me to be, don't you think?"

Eddie reaches out in earnest to take Phil's hand, because skin to skin contact has never been her actual issue. "I know it's not going to be easy, but I…I can work on being a better person."

***

He doesn't pull away from the contact. He squeezes that hand. Of course, he doesn't answer right away either. He's considering it. Turning it all over in his mind. All he says at first is, "You know I'm not very thrilled about that one either." Registration, that is. "And I'm not the only one."

Even if her sleeve brushes his there's not much. The clothes are brand new. Out of character for him, who used to wear suits so often people speculated he slept in them. But new. So new they have barely begun to pick up any impressions yet. "I won't pass you off to someone else, but I think you're going to need to go through in-house rehab before I can officially hire you back, or put you on anything important. Drugs are a security risk, Eddie, you know that. Same as debt. A point of potential compromise. And the last thing we need right now is more points of potential compromise."

He tilts his head. "That being said, your gifts could be invaluable right about now."

A pause. "I'll also have to get it cleared. I don't even have my old team back right now. On paper my clearance is the same. In reality I'm deeply out of the loop. I'll have to run it by Agent Carter, I think. All the same, we've got plenty of incentive to keep you right here, well protected, until you're healed up anyway. That buys time."

***

Physical contact is still odd for her, Eddie normally avoiding it at all costs unless she's buttoned up tighter than a Nun's underwear so when Phil squeezes her hand, her attention is drawn to it. Normally she speaks with such bravado and sass, but now her voice is quiet and reserved. "I know. I'll do the rehab. I'll put in the work. I'll learn to work on a team again. Good news is besides the drugs and someone wanting me dead I don't present much of a risk. Hashmark never did business face to face. My footprint will be small. But I'll still need immunity like any other asset SHIELD brings in."

Her thumb rounds one of his knuckles briefly before she's quickly withdrawing her hand, tucking both in opposing armpits. "Make sure my file comes with a big fat warning label, will you?"

***

Coulson studies her again. Once again it's hard to see what he's thinking or feeling. It's just this long, serious look. His cards played close to his chest about his feelings as well as things he knows. His recovery, so to speak, had disrupted that for awhile, but it's coming back, bit by bit, as he's continued to grapple and deal with his feelings on the matter. And in this situation it's just prudence.

But he said he trusts her, and in the end he does. There's a tiny relaxation. Set of his shoulders. Set of his mouth. "I'll start the paperwork," he says. "In the meantime, are your sizes still the same? Nobody likes hospital clothes. I can have some sweats brought up. Toiletries too. Books and things, if you want them. We can get you comfortable and as happy as it's possible to be in a hospital bed." A quick, avuncular smile, there.

***

"Shiiit, I can still fit into my prom dress." You know. If she had gone to prom. "Long sleeved." Eddie requests. "And some new gloves. Everything straight out of the package if possible."

She too is able to relax a little, settling into the pillows until they conform to her head and bandaged shoulder. "And maybe some aspirin. If I'm going to kick the hard stuff, I should stay off the morphine. See? Making wise decisions already. You're a good influence on me, Phil. Or, I guess I should start calling you Agent Coulson again. That's going to be the hardest to get used to."

***

"Just call me Phil," Coulson says, with a shrug of his shoulder. He doesn't elaborate on it.

He makes note of what she wants…of course that's what she wants, he knew this already…and adds, "I'll pass on to the doctors that they need to prescribe you something to help with the opiate addiction. I'm not even sure if you can have aspirin right now, but I'll ask." Because he knows nothing about medical things other than how to field-dress a bullet wound. He's not known for bucking doctor's orders, unlike many agents in this building. "Later I'll want to debrief with you about the past couple of years. See if we can't get some leads into this person who is after you. See what it is you might know or what grudge he or she might be holding to put out the hit. But for now? Rest. It's going to be okay."

Ever the perpetual Dad to all.

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