Catching Up on Guilt
Roleplaying Log: Catching Up on Guilt
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Moonstar looks for Coulson and the two have many guilt feels.

Other Characters Referenced: Sloane and Doug
IC Date: January 23, 2019
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 24 Jan 2019 04:05
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The thump of fists against a punching bag isn't exactly an uncommon occurrence in the Triskelion's gym facilities. After all, Agents have to stay in shape. There are times and hours, though, when virtually nobody uses it. And those are the times and hours where one Phil Coulson can now reliably be found inside, either working out frustrations or trying to get himself back into field shape or both. It's not really clear.

At the moment he's in sweatpants and a SHIELD grey t-shirt. He's got a pair of boxing gloves on and he's working up a sweat as he dances with the bag. He packs a much harder punch than anyone might suspect of this mild-mannered gentleman. When he wants to, at least.

There's a look of concentration on his face, intense hazel eyes focused on the task before him and nothing but.


Coulson's name has been dropped enough recently that Moonstar has finally decided to seek him out.

It's what has her going around to the typical haunts that agents, in particular Phil Coulson, can often be found at. When that didn't result in finding the man, the Cheyenne started check the more uncommon spots. Or perhaps the more unused spots.

It's what brings Danielle Moonstar down to the Gym at the Trisk. She's not necessarily dressed for exercise, but she enters nonetheless. Upon seeing the older man working out, Moonstar settles near enough to be seen, but unobtrusive. There she patiently waits, by the soldier-like lines of the treadmills, waiting for a moment to interject with a 'hello'.


Coulson is probably aware of her presence immediately, but for a few moments more he keeps his rhythm up. Delivers the final blows to whomever he's beating the crap out of in his mind as he spars with the bag. Finally he puts a hand out to stop and steady it, turning to give her his signature Cheshire Cat's smile. Avuncular and amicable.

"Agent Moonstar," he says. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

He strides over to uncap a bottled water and to gulp several sips down. He snags a towel to start dabbing the sheen of sweat off his face. It's a rare informal moment, one still tinged with utmost professionalism.

Made all the more awkward by all the things that make either approach just downright weird on a number of levels.


It's only when he delivers that final blow that Dani straightens from her slightly casual stance.

She waits until he's wiped his face and had a drink of water, before she responds to his greeting.

"Agent Coulson." She greets back just as polite, and friendly also. As for his question -

That brings a slight pause. Why did she really search him out? It's a jumble of reasons, but for the moment Moonstar selects the simplest. "A few people mentioned your name recently and it made me realize we hadn't talked in awhile. I wanted to see how you were doing?"

A loaded question that, but still asked.

"See if you need anything."


Loaded indeed. Something in his face softens. Something in the set of his mouth turns a bit rueful. He pauses, and says, "I'm okay, Dani. You've already done a great deal for me. Risked a great deal for me. I don't think I could in good conscience ask for more, even if I did have some need. I honestly should have been by to check on you. It's just…"

And that's where he trails off, as if the words lead down a rabbit hole he's not sure he's ready to leap down.

Instead, he changes direction. Pursues a different trail.

The gentle, fatherly tone he was known for is present here, and he adds, "Can I do anything for you?"


It's just -

Yes, she can imagine some of the thoughts going through his head. Though probably not everything. After all, she wasn't the one that died, or resurrected.

"Hey." She begins, her tone striving for something light-hearted. "It's okay. I met the Angel of Death and found him to be pretty funny. I think you'd like his sense of humor."

And yes, she does say that with a completely straight face, because it's TRUE.

But she also knows death isn't something to always joke about, so she adds, "I'd do it again. SHIELD is family."

Even if sometimes they don't always agree on the same things.

"I'm good, thanks. Though I hear through the grapevine you're getting the gang back together." The last is posed as both statement and slight question to Agent Coulson.


Coulson chuffs a soft breath that is almost a laugh. But his eyes do get a quick sparkle to them when she tells him about the Angel of Death. "I think I got a taste of it," he says dryly. "He stuck me in a room with 90,000 cable channels. There was still nothing on."

But it sort of breaks the ice, really. Dani plunges headlong into the things that are awkward. Into things that have kept Phil tentative about seeing anyone as he tries to make sense of things. Tries to figure out how to interact with anyone. She does it in a funny, easygoing way that warms him. It even makes him feel like his old self for a cherished minute.

"I almost didn't," he says. "I wasn't entirely sure they hadn't outgrown me, to be honest. But it seems Sharon, at least, feels she can use an old dude around, muttering about how we used to do it in the 90s and telling the kids to get off the lawn."


Her eyebrows raise upward as she murmurs, "They have cable in the afterlife. Who knew." But there's not actual surprise to her tone, because yes, she got a taste of the Angel of Death's sense of humor.

"You know he wasn't expecting you to escape. None of them were. I'm certain you made quite the impression upon them."

Which might be good or bad, depending on how a person sees that.

His more serious words causes Dani to shake her head. "We haven't outgrown you. We need more people like you, Phil. People who's navigated the world for longer than two seconds. Who has experience with different scenarios and situations. Who can actually step back and think logically about things, even when their gut tells them to shoot first and ask questions later."

She pauses here, her gaze sliding around the room, making certain the two are still alone. Which they are. "I'm worried about some rumblings I'm hearing. That something might go down that might endanger us. Or open us open to danger."


"I didn't know where I was or why I was there," he says, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. "So when I saw an opening I just took it out of instinct. I thought I'd been captured by someone who thought bad television and solitary confinement was a good method for softening me up."

But Dani's saying the rest of what she has to say, and Coulson almost laughs. He's felt anything but logical and circumspect. Anything but wise. His laugh lines crinkle about his eyes in self-depricating fashion, which is almost chuckle enough.

He watches her double check the room. It's an extension of the caution he's seen from everyone. White noise and music and hiding from fellow agents. From Peggy, from Rami, now from Dani.

"Do you have anything more specific out of these rumblings?"


That last question of his brings a shake of her head. "I don't." She says grimly, "I don't even know what the rumbles are tied to." She steps a pace closer to Coulson, "Part of me wonders if it's tied into Registration and then the other part of me wonders if it's something else. Some threat we haven't identified yet."

Something that could potentially take the lives of agents, much like how Coulson's own life was taken.

Though she doesn't say that.

Instead, she says, "I'm worried."

"Sorry I don't have anything more concrete for you, but I wanted to let you know so you were aware of it and could keep an eye out for any oddities." And while there's more she could actually say, about Agent Morales and even Sloane, she holds that back for now.


"The problem is two-fold. I think."

Coulson's old spy habit of asking what she knows before revealing what he does held true, but that doesn't mean he's not willing to speak up.

"Before the events at Warehouse 13 I had a team tracking moles in SHIELD. Hydra moles. I discovered evidence of their presence during the Barnes trial. At least one of them is a Level 9. Has to be, because information pertaining to Barnes disappeared or was moved or was suddenly classified, and many of those maneuvers would need that level of access. We plugged a few leaks, found a few suspicious people and rooted out a few problems, but we never got to the top."

His lips quirk. A microsuggestion of a smile. "They know I know, or I'd probably be better off not saying all this, but I hardly think you're one of them anyway. It appears to me that while I was dead the level of distrust, fear, and dysfunction in this organization has continued to skyrocket. I'm not even sure it is an organization in any real sense of the word right now. Registration is gasoline thrown on the flames. Another stress point dividing agents and sowing more distrust. Frankly, I'm not sure SHIELD will survive it."


Warehouse 13.

The name of that facility briefly causes Moonstar to frown. Too many bad memories, though she understands it's likely worse for Phil.

His mention of Hydra, moles, and the level one is clearly at causes both dismay and anger to flare upon her features. Dismay that the mole still exists and at such a high clearance, and anger that they're still somewhere within the company. "No, I'm not part of their network."

That dismay only turns to downright sadness at the last of what Phil says. "I agree. There are many of us who want to make sure SHIELD survives, but I'm not sure all of us have asked ourselves what will *actually* survive."

Her gaze shifts away momentarily, eyes unfocused for a few seconds, before she returns her attention to Coulson. "But we have to try."

"Sloane and I are discreetly looking into the latest rumbles, but I'm not sure how much we'll find. Do you have any next moves planned?"


"I think Palmer is the key. Or a key, anyway. Which may be shortsighted. I may have tunnel-vision about Palmer. But he's involved somehow. He was obsessed with Item 444. It's gone now, but there have to be other items from the same civilization in our stores. Those seem to be likely targets. Rami also told me there's a man in custody with an operation that points out west. It will be interesting to see what shakes out of any exploration of that facility. Beyond that?"

Coulson shakes his head and looks rueful. "Where does one even start when the rot runs this deep? Half our operations could have served agendas completely opposite of everything we stand for, and we'd never necessarily know. It's a mess."

A beat. "I'm more than open to suggestions here."


Palmer. She remembers that name.

She rolls all that information around in her head for a few minutes, only blinking back to the conversation when Coulson asks for suggestions.

"We need someone who can get into their network. Be our mole from the inside of theirs. I just don't think it can be one of us -" Meaning those that have been involved with Coulson, "Otherwise it'll look to suspicious. Of course, who's to say the person isn't already part of that network." She frowns, her expression tight with frustration and worry.

"There's something else too. Sloane and I interrupted a Hydra theft yesterday. That Hydra Agent knew my name. I'm not sure if it's connected, but it seems too coincidental in my mind."

Sadly, they didn't stop the theft, but Dani doesn't quite admit that right now. "It makes me wonder if they're compiling a dossier on all of us."


"They may very well be. What were they trying to steal?"

Once, Coulson would have been on top of every incident and report, but he still hasn't quite gotten enough of his stride back to be there yet. Simpler and quicker to just ask.

Though mention of Sloane tightens his eyes. He looks down for a moment, guilt and worry swimming on his face as he directs it to the floor. He gets it back under control. He always does. But it's there for a split-second.

Under control though, he's attentive once more.


"Some type of electromagnetic battery." She supplies instantly, and if she has any thoughts on the fact that he isn't aware of the various missions out there, she keeps it to herself.

"He knew a nickname of mine when I was a kid …" And here she trails off, uncertain what else to say for a heartbeat, "So, whatever game they're playing they're doing their homework."

With her mention of Sloane and being this close to Coulson, Dani can't quite help catching that split-second of emotion that crosses Coulson's face. It brings an echo to Moonstar's own. She broke a confidence there to Sloane and it's something that's still eating away at her.

"She'll be okay." She says, taking a guess at just why he too might feel some sense of guilt there. "She's strong."

And she believes it too. She has to. She'd rather not contemplate losing a friend.


"She is," Coulson agrees softly. "Do you know how her parents are treating her lately? If they've been in contact, or if they've cut her off? She wanted their acceptance more than anything for awhile. Is she still playing her music? She's talented. She should keep playing. Even if it's just a thing she does for the joy of it, she should play."

But just because he's talking about Sloane doesn't mean he hasn't caught on to the rest of it. He drums his fingers against the side of his water bottle and muses, "He knew a nickname. And this was just some field operative. So we have to ask ourselves: how he found out. Is that likely to be in your personnel file? Would someone have had to have told him directly? Even if some telepath plucked it directly from your mind or some clarivoyant used a Ouiji board that's still a thing that happened. It's left some sort of a trail. Might be one worth following."


Those questions about Sloane cause Moonstar to pause before the sense of crushing guilt is felt.

She hadn't even realized Sloane's parents didn't talk to her. It causes Moonstar to look away from Phil and focus elsewhere. A moment to pull her expression back under control, when she can speak she says quietly, "I didn't realize her parents didn't accept her."

She'll have to remedy that, see if she can potentially help Sloane work through her feelings. Dani saw that a lot at the Institute, when the new kids would arrive.

Thankfully though, before she can fall into the deep dark abyss of guilt, the talk of the Hydra agent rescues her. "I'd like to say yes -" That he was a typical field agent, "But the amount he knew, and the fact that he spoke in Cheyenne. It concerns me." His mention of following the lead brings a nod from her, "But, I plan on 'digging' more in depth with that too."


"That's a clue in and of itself. Not a whole lot of people speak Cheyenne. Let's go see if we can't crossreference that skill against military and known mercenary files we have on hand, and files of former agents. Go through some faces. We might be able to match it up with a name."

When he knows what to do, when he's got a direction to go in, he seems stronger. He may not know how to fit most of the 5000-piece jigsaw puzzle of his life together, but he knows how to do this. This is like having all the edge pieces up and ready to go, ready to be filled in. This is certainty. It may not turn up anything, but there's no reason to suggest it won't, either.

"Or I can get you the shortlist I suppose. It's tedious stuff."

Either way, he's heading out to apparently go do just that, in his sweats, giving no cares whatsoever about who might see him and comment.

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