First Steps
Roleplaying Log: First Steps
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

In which Isa Reichert is introduced to Phil Coulson by Groot and Rocket, and beginnings are made.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: March 02, 2020
IC Location: New York - Manhattan - Roosevelt Island
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 03 Apr 2020 02:52
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: Ace Combat Zero - Prologue
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Since its relocation from the Triskelion to the Roosevelt Island facility, the agency's managed to find ways to make do. Things probably aren't running at quite the optimal efficiency that they could be, but life is still able to carry on, and the agency is still able to continue its work, whatever that may be.

One of its newer, but not completely green, quinjet pilots has proven herself a reliable and skilled agent, capable of taking agents into even highly dangerous areas and bringing them back home safe again. Most agents are a little surprised, and maybe unsettled, to find the red-headed woman only has one eye. Her philosophy seems to have been to keep her head down and keep working, though.

Despite the deals she had cut to come here to S.H.I.E.L.D., the world is a changing place. Things happen on the global stage. The terms of the deal are different, now, and time is running short. She'd asked Rocket to introduce her to someone who could help her act, or begin the process of action. Now she's been waiting to meet whoever it is he has in mind. As of yet, she doesn't know who the agent is, because she didn't think to ask any names from him.

So, today finds her on a small hillock some distance away from where the quinjets are being kept, on the other side of the chain link fence that separates the tarmac from the outside world. She's still wearing her flightsuit, hair pinned at the nape of her neck. A cigarette dangles from her lower lip as she sits with her elbows braced on her knees, watching the quinjets come and go. She must be between flights. If anyone's looking for her, that's where they'll find her.

* * *

By now people probably don't even bother asking how the odd pair of extra-terrestrials get on and off base. Maybe some people just try hard to really ignore the fact that there is in fact a bipedal raccoon and a walking tree wandering the premises now and then with the occasional looting of a vending machine. Or maybe word just gets around to leave them be – so long as they aren't doing anything overly illegal.

The odd pair had swung by Phil's office, whether there had been a prior warning or not. "Hey Deadeye, I got someone I want you to meet." In hindsight that could have been a setup for a blind date, and the thought might be the reason why the raccoonoid snickers to himself as they head out towards the tarmac.

He's wearing a suit again, as though he feels like this helps him blend in more with the other agents. He wears it surprisingly well. He's even wearing sunglasses. …they might have watched M.I.B. the previous night.

* * *

Like there's anything wrong with looting a vending machine or three. The people they pass also don't know when to stop staring. While Groot has been ambling along after Rocket, he's met a few gazes, staring them down just because he can. The others, though – he's ignored them once the thrill of rebellion has gone.

Unlike his smaller Guardian friend, the treenager does without the suit and fancy getup, being as schlubby as a bipedal tree can be. A few bags of chips only adds to the effect, Groot noisily crunching on them as Rocket relays the message to their good pal Deadeye Coulson.

* * *

"The suit looks good," had been Phil's response, all muted amusement. Sure, it's true: it does look good, but if you had asked one Phil Coulson if he ever would have expected to see Rocket in a suit he would have said 'probably not.' It's not a red letter day for his predictive powers, it seems.

He's hardly ever in his office. He does not like the new facility at all. After losing a lifetime of carefully curated and collected momentos to a Brotherhood bomb, it's hard to make any new office feel like home again. So he often works from just about anywhere else that he can.

There are other issues he has with home base, of course. Issues he keeps to himself, but never forgets.

"I am Groot," he greets Groot, in cheerful, hello tones. «The Sky Rains». Someday he'll get it right. Someday. At least today he got something like a coherent statement that could actually be true at some point and time? The sky is not, in fact, raining today, but there you have it.

He is wearing his 'out-of-place-tax-accountant' suit, slightly rumpled, with a fit that isn't quite as sharp as it could be. His mildly avuncular smile, the one that says he's as harmless as can be. Outwardly radiating none of the authority he carries.

God knows what he was up to this morning.

As they step out onto the tarmac he asks, "So, who are we meeting?"

* * *

Come to think of it, Isa Reichert had befriended Groot and Rocket by buying them dinner out of a vending machine. Sometimes doing something nice can have unexpected benefits. This could very well work out to be one of them.

Oblivious to the machinations of her raccoon and tree friends, the red-headed pilot braces her elbows on her knees and arches her back, bending her head forward until her chin almost touches her chin, with a satisfied grunt. Compared to the things she used to fly, quinjets are decadent in their luxury, but the seats still get uncomfortable after so many hours with her nerves on overload. The simple truth is that flying takes more out of her than it used to.

She'll eat glass before she ever admits that, though.

Movement catches her attention. Only her eye moves to regard the three figures approaching from the distant tarmac from the hill above it; on recognising two of the three, she rocks forward onto her feet, using the slant of the hill. Hands slip into pockets as she takes the rest of the downhill at a languid, unhurried amble.

By the time she slows to a halt near them, she lets the cigarette dangle from her lower lip, exhaling smoke as she glances from treenager to raccoon to… Phil From Accounting? He sure looks like he's from the most screamingly mundane department the building has, anyway.

Isa Reichert lifts a single red brow. She stands mostly straight, if tired, and makes no move to hide or obscure the scarring that disfigures her face. Instead, she glances down to Rocket.

"<I wasn't expecting to see you out here again.>" Her Russian is perfect. Its dialect places her to somewhere near Kiev. Then, she remembers they don't speak Russian. She frowns around her cigarette. "Didn't think I see you here again." Her language is suddenly much more gruff; laconic, broken. "Rocket. Groot." Her one-eyed gaze slides over to Phil, and her brow arches again in open curiosity. "Who's this?"

More accurately, what have these two got up their sleeves?

* * *

"I know, right? I could get used it. Maybe. Not a whole lotta pockets for grenades," Rocket replies, waving a hand. He's without a giant duffle bag today but the blazer he wears sure doesn't hide the pair of holsters and their bulky firearms at his waist.

He looks up as he catches sight of movement, a familiar redhead – just as he'd hoped to find somewhere around here. The Guardian grins.

"Eh, a recently made acquaintance of ours, happens to be a pilot. Wouldn't be surprised if you know her already, actually," he says. But there's always the possibility of otherwise, with things being busy and S.H.I.E.L.D. being shorthanded.

A hand is lifted in greeting once Isa's within range. He squints at her when she speaks in Russian. "Whooda wha? —oh. Yeah. I didn't think I'd be seein' me around here again either but hey." He shrugs, then thumbs back at Coulson.

"This here's Deadeye—er… Agent Phil Coulson."

* * *

Coulson tries to speak to Groot, and Groot keeps staring at him, unblinking moments after those three words have been spoken.

He conspicuously leans downward in Rocket's direction, half-whispering an "I am Groot" that can easily be translated as 'He's still trying, isn't he?', pretending like it never happened once he straightens (more or less) back up, still slouching at the shoulders.

Now that he's paying attention, however, the introductions go on. The treenager glances over at Isa, sharing some visible confusion in a scowl because what are those words coming out of her mouth? "…I am Groot."

* * *

If Coulson's command of Groot is lacking, his command of Russian is flawless. "<A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Reichert, right? New Quinjet pilot? How are you settling in?>"

He may not have taken the time to meet her face to face. They are short handed. But it's his job to know exactly who is coming into and out of this base, and levels of paranoia that were already high have been ingrained into his very soul these days. Thus, every file for every new hire gets read quite carefully and committed to memory. Just in case he sees someone on this base someday who doesn't belong here.

He offers a hand, switching to English for the benefit of the two who don't speak Russian. "I apologize for not taking the time to meet you in person."

* * *

The pilot folds her arms, holding her position for a long moment, eyeing the two allies and the stranger in silence. Her gaze lingers on Coulson, in particular, and her eye is unfocused enough to suggest she's thinking very carefully.

"<Quinjets. Yes. They're not what I'm used to, but they do what they need to do.>" Isa slides her hands into her pockets, rolling the cigarette to the other side of her mouth and eyeing both Rocket and Groot. "<I enjoy it, sir.>"

Isa's mannerisms still seem a little guarded, as though she were trying to decide just what kind of context to fit Coulson into. Nonetheless, she reaches out to accept the handshake. It's with the right; the scarred one, skin mottled and tough. Her grip is perhaps surprisingly strong.

"You are busy. We are all busy. And agent don't fly themselves." Her half-smile is just a little self-deprecating. "Am always burning candle at both end. Used to it. Understand completely." She releases his hand and steps away, folding her arms. That single blue eye flicks back to Phil, and she tilts her head, arching a brow at him. She gestures vaguely. "How much did these two tell you? Have little… problem… and may be concern for whole agency." Her expression is all business, now, serious and solemn. "For us all."

* * *

"Yep. I dunno whether to encourage him or…" Rocket mutters back at Groot, gesturing vaguely. There is just the tiniest bit of a fangy smirk. It's probably to no one's surprise that he finds Phil's attempts at Groot-ese entertaining.

He's absolutely not surprised in the least that the man however does know Terran languages like Isa's, and as he folds his arms, the little Guardian tries very hard not to scowl. After all, you never know when people are talking about you in front of your face that way. But they switch to something more understandable, which is fine by him. He'd get pretty bored otherwise.

Frankly, Rocket wouldn't be surprised if the man already knows something about what Isa speaks about, or had something running on the back-burner until there was sufficient bite or in this case, a prod. He looks between Phil and the red-haired pilot before shrugging.

"I only tol' him I wanted him to meet with someone," he admits. But that's not something he often does.

* * *

So long as someone is entertained. Groot feels the same, but since he's still a teenager by design, mild irritation is thrown into the mix. He likes the agent, but as much as he can yell at him to stop being an embarrassing dad, he…can't bring himself to do it. So he's stuck having to accept his fate.

"I am Groot," he grouses, shaking his head in the meantime.

The furry Guardian's answer in response to Isa's query is given a nod, confirming that this is exactly how they got Coulson out to play. "I am Groot," he adds with that 'what, like it's hard?' kind of tone.

* * *

Phil's handshake is firm, professional, unflinching. He listens intently, his hazel eyes focused. Right now, this could be the only thing on his platter for the way he is offering his undivided attention.

But what Phil knows or doesn't know remains a mystery. His face reveals nothing at all, displaying polite, neutral interest and little more.

The agent smiles a little when asked what he was told though. "For two," he confirms, "that was practically a 98 page report, footnoted and annotated."

Obviously Rocket and Groot are sold on the importance of Isa's problem, and that is certainly more than enough to get Phil intrigued.

But will he be intrigued enough?

"I've read through the information that was included with your file," he says. "So if it pertains to that I have some background. Why don't you tell me the problem as you see it?"

* * *

That single blue eye flicks between the tiny suit and the rumpled suit, and occasionally lingers on the teenaged tree. Isa shrugs one shoulder as she exhales a wreath of smoke, considerate enough, at least, to exhale away from the others. When she takes another slow draw, her eye is distant. Thoughtful.

"So. You only bring him here. I do talking." Isa shrugs, clearing her hair from the unscarred side of her face with a toss of her head. Groot is eyed for a long moment. Unfortunately, she hasn't cracked the Groot Code yet. "That is fine," she says instead, to Rocket. "Better that way."

That blue eye slides back to Coulson as he watches like a hawk. The fact that he does seems to be a point in his favour. It's very subtle, but the stress lines through the pilot's shoulders relax incrementally. A listening ear is apparently all she's wanted.

"Was it really that long?" Isa comments, mildly, some of that feigned accent sliding away. She seems genuinely puzzled, speaking more to herself than the others. "I'm impressed. I didn't think there was enough there to…"

Her blue eye flicks back up to Coulson, suddenly shrewd. With his people-reading skill, it might not be hard for him to figure her hesitation. It's the look of a person hunted convincing themselves to trust. Her mouth tightens around her cigarette. Red hair rustles as she bobs her head. "You know the outline, then." She lifts her bluee ye to Coulson, meeting his; the laser focus of a falcon on the hunt. A brief look is cast at Groot and Rocket, and then back to Coulson. Another decision being weighed.

"Icarus Dynamics is the reason I am here." Her English is much less rough around the edges, now, distracted by business. "They are a multinational firm based somewhere in Russia, but they also have significant facilities elsewhere in the country, as well as Norway, research facilities in France, and now I have some reason to believe they may be in negotiations for allies in Los Angeles."

"At first I thought they were only a rival to the companies that fill contracts for the military. Nothing to be concerned about, da? But they are not." One hand tightens with enough force to fade her knuckles to white. "They are conducting experiments, Phillip Coulson. Horrible experiments. They gamble with pilots' lives. They are looking for the fastest, most reliable means to build a better fighter… one that needs no human pilot, yet thinks for itself."

"And I am fairly certain now they are quietly killing pilots to do it. Why, I do not know. Absorbing studies of their brain to compile together? I do not know. But I do know that in the designs I have seen in what I have given S.H.I.E.L.D., what I am reading suggests an aircraft that nothing we have would ever be able to catch." Her mouth tightens around her cigarette in a scowl. "Most likely they will sell their monster on the open market. Then we are at the mercy of whoever wants one. And once it is loosed, like the western myth of Pandora's Box, it is not going to be so easy to put it back."

She eyes Coulson, snorting smoke.

"What do you think, Agent Phillip Coulson…?"

* * *

Rocket grins at both, nodding at Isa, glancing out of the corner of his eye at Phil. It's such a strange relationship they've developed. "You wouldn't have wanted me to give a truncated version anyway," he says to the former. Granted he understood what she was saying when she'd related her concerns about Icarus Dynamics, and he'd rifled through the files she'd had on her at the time. But it was obviously important to the pilot, and given it was such a personal thing, he figured it was better letting her tell it.

Some of the things she does relate are details that are new to him, and he listens carefully, his tail swishing every now and then in a thoughtful sort of twitch.

* * *

Since he has nothing else to say at the moment, Groot stuffs his wooden maw with some more chips, with shrapnel bits flying out either which way. At least he has some decency to not chew so noisily while Isa is busy filling in Coulson with the details as to why they're all here on the tarmac.

His gnarled brow furrows, however. Experimental pilots? It's the kind of thing that briefly has him casting a sidelong glance at Rocket and making it look like he's just letting dark eyes fall on any point around and on any of the other three.

* * *

What do you think, Isa asks, prompting an expression to flicker across Phil's face that is faint and wry.

"I think I have some questions," Phil says.

He pushes back his sleeve, revealing a watch that looks like a standard issue military men's watch until he taps it. Then a holographic display comes up, which he begins to interact with. "According to the report you gave SHIELD when you signed on, Icarus Dynamics went out of its way to destroy your life. Just because you said no to their recruitment offers. Forgive me, but that makes no sense."

He raises his eyebrows at her. "I'm sure you're a top notch pilot, but there are other top notch pilots in the world. They exposed themselves and made an enemy of you when they could have just moved on to the next recruit. It's far easier to find unscrupulous individuals than it is to pressure a principled one. And even after they targeted you, proving you were very much on their radar, you managed to somehow acquire deep insights into who they were, and what they were doing, insights enough for you to come here and put this tale of a superjet and the dangers it poses before us."

He gives a slight, wry smile. "I don't think they're printing the grand plan in their shareholder's annual reports, so how did you do that? What were your sources? What do you have to back this up?"

He glances at Rocket and Groot, lifting an eyebrow as if asking for their own insights into this, or as if to ask them whether they see any of the same concerns that are so immediately evident to him.

There is something of mistrust in the way she studies Phil. There are mountains of it in Phil's questions, even though the tone in which he speaks them is mild-mannered, as if they're discussing nothing more serious than whether the office ought to order more hot sauce for Taco Tuesday.

* * *

"Probably not," Isa asides to Rocket. Raccoon paraphrasing might have ended in hilarious disaster. As Groot crunches chips and respirates bits and crumbs, she side-steps some of the flying debris without really breaking stride.

The brunt of her attention is locked on Coulson. She listens impassively as she exhales smoke every so often, clearly turning the details over. A red brow arches at his words, but she doesn't launch into the defensive. If anything, she seems calm, as though she's already rehearsed and re-rehearsed this conversation in her mind.

"I know. It makes no sense to me, either. I am one among many hundreds. Thousands." Isa thumbs at the agency's main base of operations further distant. "What interest they have in me makes no sense, though I will take it as a compliment that they took such lengths to recruit me."

She shakes her head, bowing her head and reaching up to pin her hair back into place. "They thought I would accept, either way. I would not. Something felt suspicious. A hunch, maybe? But I was the one who made the first move, Agent Phillip Coulson. I stole from them. And they do not like to be made light of." Her smile is wintry. "I was willing to leave it at what I took to S.H.I.E.L.D., but I did not like what I found."

"I would be lying if I did not say that I did not care about my personal agenda. I would like to see them destroyed, dismantled, for the ruin they have made of my life." She gestures at the scarred side of her face. "Of me."

"But this is much bigger than a personal vendetta." Pretty fancy English for someone who allegedly speaks it so badly. Isa shifts her weight to the other side, thoughtful as she cocks a blue eye at Coulson. "I think it is worth asking for an investigation. Not because I am wanting revenge – though I will accept that – but because I think these people are insane and dangerous, and something tells me they are doing terrible things behind closed doors."

"<It's your choice, and perhaps you will do nothing. I accept that. I have brought you the information, but you may tell me it is not my business to participate, either, and I accept that, as well.>" Isa exhales a wreath of smoke and takes another draw, looking up to the sky. "<But my conscience would not permit me to say nothing, Agent Phillip Coulson. Perhaps I came here by way of deceit and theft… but please believe me when I say that that is not who I am.>"

* * *

The smaller of the two Guardians says nothing, his brows furrowed as he considers things, but he'll have to admit that the points Phil brings up are pretty good ones. But he doesn't brush off any of what Isa's had to offer either. Here's a woman who just wanted to fly. If she left it at want for revenge for nearly taking that away from her, permanently, then he would have figured it reason enough. Whether it was her style to go to such lengths as to tap into the resources of a fancy agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. or not is another matter. Rocket might do it, sure. He does what he wants.

The raccoonoid only flicks a look towards Phil when he catches the glance towards them. Still he says nothing, not until Isa's explained herself, although there's that scowl again when she reverts to Russian, but he assumes that it's something meaningful, and maybe he can tell something of an imploring in that tone. Maybe.

"Even if she didn't have anything to back her intel up, the idea's still something to look into, right? There's something about strategic intervention in the company name, and I'm thinkin' this fits the bill." Actually he barely remembers what S.H.I.E.L.D. even stands for – he's sure he looked it up one time out of boredom.

"Last I checked, insane and dangerous were a bad combination."

* * *

It's a battle of wit and words – more words than wit, but the thoughts behind the questions posed and the lengthy explanations show that both Phil Coulson and Isa Reichert know their roles. If not, the whole thing would take a different turn.

Whether Groot is fully invested or not is another story altogether. Sure, he looks bored, but he's listening. It usually takes effort for someone to get him to listen.

…Maybe he sees this as one of those movie dialog transactions. Again, who knows?

He snorts, not exactly committing to it as a reply to anything in particular. But he can agree with Rocket on the part about things being insane and dangerous. He doesn't mind that as a bad combination, but in this context, it's pretty up there. "I am Groot?"

* * *

"<You joined a spy organization,>" Coulson says dryly. "<One would hope it's at least part of what you do.>" Thieving and decieving, that is.

At the very least, the reasons for his skepticism aren't at all personal. There's a bit of a wall in his very being though.

Still, Rocket speaks up on her behalf, and that softens him. Just a touch. Not that he looked outwardly hard to begin with. It's all subtle. Deep lines around the eyes and something in them easing just a tiny bit.

"Usually," he agrees, to Rocket's point about insane and dangerous being a bad combination, and to Groot's…agreement? Endorsement? Question? For all that he tries to speak the language, one would think he'd have better guesses, but in this case he's not sure what input the humanoid tree-teen has added to today's situation.

He looks down for a moment, frowning, thoughtful. He is silent for a long time, closing down his holographic display, leaving the reasons behind his reticience unspoken. At last he looks up, whereupon he says, "I'll allocate some resources into seeing what we can find. I'm sure you're a good person, Ms. Reichart, but that's not what this is about. This is about making sure we look before we leap. All I can reassure you of at this time is that I'm taking your warnings seriously."

He tilts his head to one side and acknowledges, "If you'd come to me with this a few years ago I'd have more resources to devote to this verification, and prioritization would be less of a challenge. Anyone with access to the Internet knows we aren't what we once were. But I will launch an investigation, and I will keep you appraised of the direction it takes us in. I appreciate you bringing this matter to my attention."

It could sound like a brush-off, perhaps, except that it isn't. Rocket and Groot may be the only ones in a position to know that though, knowing Phil for who he is. If he weren't going to do exactly what he just said, he would have said so, straight up. He is a liar, but only when the situation calls for it. Telling someone one way or another what he intends to do about a problem isn't that situation.

Indeed, the only area where a lie might have been spoken is his placatory statement that he's sure Isa is a good person. He's only sure a handful of people in all the world are good people, especially these days. Fortunately for Isa and her aims, Rocket and Groot are on that short list.

* * *

"<What—>" Isa splutters for a moment, as though not expecting an actual joke in the middle of the proceedings. She blinks, owlishly, before snorting. It is, hopefully, a snort of amusement. "<Yes. Well. Somewhat. When it is necessary. But for the right reasons.>" She grins, reaching up to flick stray hair away from her good eye. "<What I do, though, is I leave the espionage to the people who are trained for it, and I fly. That is all I have wanted.>"

She's watching as Coulson reads Rocket's input, though, and she's watching Coulson's reactions, too. If she notices that slight give, she doesn't acknowledge it openly.

It's a start. A small start, but a start, nonetheless.

As long as it takes him to think things through, the pilot is surprisingly patient, at odds with her reputation of being something of a slight firecracker both on and off duty. She does smoke a little more intensely, though, and her eye never leaves Coulson.

"That is all I wanted." She seems to mollify immediately when he reassures her the matter is being taken seriously, and some of the tension seems to deflate from her. "Good. Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much, Agent Phillip Coulson." The name seems to be a token of respect; he's not Russian, and therefore he doesn't have a patronymic to call him by. "Thank you."

It evidently means a great deal to her that her concerns about this are heard. The pilot glances back to Rocket and Groot, and then back to Coulson, thoughtful again. Then, she turns to face Coulson, lone eye serious. She seems about to say something, before hesitating; after a second or two, she finds her wherewithal to say whatever it was she was going to say.

"<I will do anything I can to help, and in the meantime, continue performing my duties to the agency.>" Her head bows in respectful gesture. "<You have my sincerest thanks, Agent Phillip Coulson. I did not know if anyone would even listen. That much is more than I was expecting>"

A gesture is made toward the tarmac, and her half-smile seems sincere. "And if you need to fly somewhere… I take you there myself. Any of you." She bows her head, then, looking to the three agents. "But. I take enough of your time. Good evening, Agent Phillip Coulson. Keep me informed, if you can. If that is not too much to ask…?"

* * *

It would have been awkward if Phil said no. Not a really big deal, but really awkward. If he'd said no, then Rocket would have just decided to take things on himself, if not for the good of…things, then out of being restless with nothing new to blow up. This way is probably better. Far less explosions. Right off the back.

As Phil makes his decision, the Guardian nods, but to Isa, he grins when she glances at him and his treenage associate. He's done what he said he'd do, and Phil hasn't disappointed. It's a good day. It'd be even better if he were getting something out of it, but he supposes being complimented by Deadeye on the suit is a step in the right direction.

Isa's offer though…

"…do quinjets fit through drive-thrus…"

Oh crap, he said that aloud, didn't he.

* * *

So Coulson is fine with going along with it. Groot sees the reasoning behind his reply, tilting his head to one side before nodding.

But oh no, they switched to the foreign language that isn't Groot-ese again. In lieu of subtitles, the young ent tries to parse things with wild guesses, filling in the blanks where he sees fit. Which then leads to a strange sort of stifled guffaw he cuts short, clearing his throat a few times like nothing is wrong. "I am Groot," he waves dismissively, gesturing for them to continue.

Although Rocket's not-quite private thought is valid. Now that drive-thrus are prominently at the forefront of his brain, he just kind of looks at Coulson and Isa expectantly, ripping open another bag of chips in the meantime.

* * *

"…"

The image of Isa taking a Quinjet through a drive-thru paints something pained on Phil's face.

"Excellent, Rocket," he says, in that mild way he has when he's snarking. "I was afraid you'd ask her to do something that wasn't completely insane."

A beat.

"And now I've had my daily 'this isn't some strange alternate reality' check-in, it looks like I have some work to do. If all of you will excuse me, Rocket, Groot, Ms.Reichart…"

And off he goes, shaking his head as he does.

Well, it wouldn't be a meeting with Phil of any kind if some sort of fatherly exasperation didn't happen.

* * *

"Oh please, what about that was insane?! It was a valid thought!" Rocket shouts after him.

* * *

"I am Groot."

Father cares not for us. We are but skin and bone.

* * *

The teenage tree is fixing its beady little eyes on the pilot and staring like a hungry cat. The pilot, for her part, is uncomfortably aware of that chip-chomping regard. Something prickles at the base of her neck so strongly she has to reach up and rub at it, and she eyes Groot, momentarily unsettled.

She's not gonna win that staring contest.

"Oh. Fine. Fine! I buy you both dinner, later. Only stop staring like that. Dinner is small price to pay for this." Isa glances between the two Guardians, a little warily. How badly is her wallet going to scream about this? Groot is a teenager, after all. "Happy?"

Besides, it's good to have friends. Even if they're two bizarre aliens living the lives of strangers in a strange world. Maybe in that regard they're kindred spirits. Up until recently, she's also been struggling with her own case of culture shock.

Isa eyes the raccoon thoughtfully when Coulson comments to Rocket, and she can't help a slow, creeping grin. "Da. He seem like type to do that."

Coulson makes her exits, and Isa lifts a hand in a silent wave. Once he's gone, she meanders back toward Groot and Rocket, slapping each on the shoulder amicably. "Now. You want food? We go get food. What do you want? My treat. Maybe owe you for this one, I think." She tilts her head, watching the receding form of Coulson thoughtfully. "Depending on what he do… maybe owe you big for this."

Each Guardian is given a pat before she straightens. "We will see."

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