The Bulb Was Out
Roleplaying Log: The Bulb Was Out
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Eddie's job goes south, thankfully Coulson, an old friend is there to lend a hand.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: November 13, 2018
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 21 Nov 2018 01:52
Rating & Warnings: Language
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It looks like a normal office building. Which means it looks like nothing special, especially in the dead of night. Clustered, as it is, on a block full of other mostly 9-5 businesses, the City That Never Sleeps nevertheless dozes here.

In that building, on the fourteenth floor, there is an office which takes up about a quarter of the space. It is all behind a simple, nondescript door marked Smith & Carter. There's no telling what Smith & Carter do. They're not in the phone book. There is no website. They're a registered LLC that could do anything at all. The rent in these buildings is not cheap (even by New Yorker standards), so clearly they've got some money. But what they might be up to?

Well. Even Eddie's employer didn't really say. What they did say was to break in, take a plug and play thumb drive, shove it into the servers, and erase everything there. Sabotage, from a shadowy employer, for shadowy reasons.

Pay was good though. With half down, in advance, wired. And as of right now it looks like an open-and-shut kind of deal.

*

In and out. Cake walk. A breeze.

Those are terms Eddie doesn't believe in when it comes to a job. Each one is a trail. Each one is a hashmark on her arm just so she can deal. But she also doesn't believe in any other way.

She's not a hacker by any means, but she knows how to jimmy locks, circumvent security systems and wipe away any trace that she was ever there. Her entry point is the stairwell to the 14th floor, which means that's a hell of a lot of stairs to climb, but pauses every eighth landing or so ensures that she's not winded by the time she slips into the main hallway and heads to the Smith & Carter suite.

Outside, she pauses as she examines the lock and the keypad. With a sigh, she peels off her glove to prepare for contact, fingers flexing briefly before she touches the cold metal with fingerprints she's long ago used acid to obscure her prints from.

Immediately her mind is flooded with several different hands touching the number pad, and it only takes her a second of seeing the access code punched in over and over in order to duplicate it. It blinks green on the first try.

*

The door swings open, revealing a non-descript reception area and more non-descript doors. A video camera blinks away in one corner, not quite pointed at the door, but close enough that if she walks into the room directly it's going to catch sight of her. Tripping the motion detector wired into that camera might also trip a silent alarm. It's moderate-level, office complex security. The server room is probably somewhere down at the end of the hall. Lights come on automatically as she enters. They're probably triggered by the door, rather than by the motion detector. A few of them flicker uneasily overhead; someone needs to go see an electrician about some of those soon.

It's quiet. No sign anyone's here. It was at least supposed to be an empty place, after all.

*

Before entering the room, Eddie slips the knit fabric of her balaclava over her face to obscure her features. There is a good chance if she's caught on the surveillance equipment, the record will be wiped along with the server. Still, Eddie doesn't like to take any chances that she doesn't have to. A quick glance at the camera registers the approximate model and she can estimate the image width it can capture, and so she chooses where she walks in an attempt to circumvent it. On the off chance it's being monitored, hopefully all that will register is just a shadow - dressed all in black as she is - on the peripheral. Just a play of light in those flickering overheads.

At the last moment, she darts into the hallway, humming the Mission Impossible theme beneath her breath as she flattens out against the wall and shimmies down it to start checking doors. Probably not an entirely necessary move, but if you don't have fun on your job, then it just becomes work.

*

The thing about Mission Impossible is that the action is never about an impossible mission. But it's often about a mission gone wrong.

And in this case, there may well be two or three sources of wrongness.

A couple of bulbs choose right now to go dark, casting much of the office into shadow.

And as she looks at the door to the server room? She sees a tiny wire, one that makes it look an awful lot like Carter & Smith is maybe rigged to blow. And?

They keypad light beeps on the front door, which had closed and locked itself automatically. Someone else is here.

*

A wire. "Shit."

The door. "Shit."

It's a moment of indecision that Eddie really shouldn't take. Looks like someone else had the same idea of taking out the servers, and a demo expert rarely returns to poke at their own bomb. That means two threats with the added bonus of someone trying to beat her to the drop.

Screw that noise.

Eddie pops the drive out of her jacket pocket and shoves it into the nearest USB port. "Not today, assholes." She mutters under her breath as she scuttles over to the wire to try and examine what sort of explosive device it's linked to. She doesn't need to actually lay eyes on it, just a hand on the wire should do, and that leaves at least half of her attention on the doorway that she's now training her gun to.

Her thumb flicks off the safety but the muzzle dips just a hair. Why? Because the images she's being flooded by is she can't tell if that's the way to disarm the damn bomb or detonate it.

"Shit."

*

A dead man's voice speaks. "Don't move."

Because her face is covered, Phil Coulson has no idea who he is holding his own gun on. His face is set into grim, determined lines as he steps dramatically out of the shadows. It's like some sort of cinematic reveal. He looks same as he ever did in his crisp G-man suit. With his jawline set into an expression of low-key determination.

*

There is a long beat, which is a good sign. It means whomever is holding the gun didn't just shoot out of instinct. That doesn't precisely mean the slim and therefore likely female masked assailant is listening to directions either. There is a thought process here, but it's not one of weighing options. It's of stunned disbelief.

"…but you're dead." Is what's decided upon, and for a split second Eddie is doubting the visions that are swarming her consciousness. That she's finally lost it and is seeing actual ghosts instead of just wisps of memory imbedded in objects. Oh yeah, one more pressing issue. "There's a bomb!" Because it's perfectly fine to turn your back on an armed ghost, and completely ignore its commands, she does so. At least she sets the gun down by her side and peels off her mask so she can get a better actual look at the device. "Not that you care. Because you're already dead. And I've finally lost all my marbles but I'd rather they not explode into a thousand little pieces. So, can the visions of Christmas Past visit me later please? It's a little distracting…"

*

A beat, as he sees who it is.

"I don't remember you being great at bombs, Eddie. And I was just in a coma." Ah, the company line. But Phil puts his weapon away and pat pats the air soothingly. "Let me help before you guess wrong and blow the whole place up. With us in it."

He picks his way gingerly towards her and the bomb, adding an important question. "What are you doing here?"

*

Eddie mocks the ghost in a horrible approximation of Coulson's voice. "I don't remember you being great at bombs, Eddie." Ugh! "Great, now not only am I seeing ghosts, but my mind is making them…" I was just in a coma. He's not dead. Coulson isn't dead.

That bomb is greater than any physical one, and she spins in her crouch and practically launches herself at the man. Not one for voluntarily touching anything without motive, the knee jerk reaction to hug the stuffing out of the man takes even her by surprise as she lets out a strangled sort of laugh with her exclamation. "You're alive!" Her face gets buried in his suit collar as she clings to him, "Holy fuck, you're alive!"

*

Phil realizes what she's about to do a few seconds before she does. And thus she is welcomed into open, fatherly arms and a tight squeeze. "It was a close call," he murmurs. "I'm sorry you were misled. I didn't have a say in it."

It is the closest he's ever come to offering SHIELD any criticism in her hearing.

He feels the same. Solid and real. He is using the same soap as ever. It's his voice. His face, though a face that looks considerably more haunted than it used to. Carrying tension. With lines drawn around the eyes. "It's good to see you," he adds, in his soft way.

*

Fluffy time is over. There is a mixture of feelings on Eddie's face as she pulls away that looks like a conflict of steeling herself against emotions and so desperately wanting to give into them. The former wins.

"Yeah, well it's going to be less of a Hallmark moment if they're scraping us off the drywall. Wanna give me a hand with this?" There is a brief glance at her thumbdrive, which is hopefully working its virus-y magic before she turns to the bomb. "I can tell you what you had for lunch, but I can't tell my own ass from a fail safe." She reaches down to nab her gun, flicking the safety back on and stowing it in the holster beneath her jacket. "Where is the rest of your team, waiting outside with a straight jacket ready to take me back to the funny farm?"

*

"I'm on my own for this one. It's…ah…off books."

Phil glances at the thumb drive and asks, in hopeful tones: "Are you copying that information?"

He steps up to the wall and pulls out a small device. It proves to be a perfectly mundane voltage reader, rather than the alien tech he usually gets to carry about as a member of SHIELD. He starts tracing the run of the wires through the walls this way, and hisses faintly at what he discovers. "Looks like we can come in without tripping it, but not so much on the going out. Opening the door in the other direction is the trigger. All the windows are rigged too. This might take awhile."

If he were here with SHIELD he'd just call the bomb squad.

As for lunch? He had Mexican. It was good.

*

"Oh yeah. Totally. Copying it. Uh huh." Eddie's following behind him as he works, trying to get a feel for what he's doing. She's never too old to learn, and certainly not going to waste the opportunity. She's on edge though, the nervousness from her is almost palpable. If he turns too fast or makes any quick gestures, she'd be quick to hop out of the way. It's one of the things that made her a rather poor team player during her time with the organization.

"Look at you, Mister By The Books is going off of it. That coma nap really took its toll didn't it?"

"So whaddya think? Was the bomb set by the owners of the servers or someone trying to destroy them and take out some employees in the process?"

*

Phil sighs at that unconvincing lie. "I could have used that data," he grouses. That's what he's here for, after all. But it's gone now, so he turns his attention to the thing that really matters.

The bomb.

He pulls out another piece of "tech" that isn't at all alien. A Leatherman multi-tool. He starts cutting carefully into the drywall near the light switch by the door. It's slow going that sends a fine snowfall of white dust down to the dingy grey carpets. "I think," he adds, as he does it, "that if someone hired you to come here, where a Hotel California style deathtrap is just waiting for you, that you've been set up. Make any interesting enemies lately?"

Of course, in their line of work both of them are always making interesting enemies, but there it is.

*

As one trained to not leave a trace, Eddie is watching that drywall dust settle like an annoying dandruff. Thankfully, leaving a clean scene wasn't in the scope of the project so she doesn't have to repair the wall or get every little flake off the floor.

At the notion that she was the target, her face settles into a scowl. "Everybody loves me. Look at me. This is a lovable face. I do lovable work." With a mutter, Morales strips her other glove off her hand, doubling her chance of exposure to something unpleasant. "Well. On the plus side. If this place was meant to go boom, there might not be anything on the servers in the first place. Or maybe the thumb drive for that matter. Considering trying to kill me is a breach of contract, I'm not obligated to finish the job or return the retainer. So. Let's see who Smith and Carter really is?"

There is a bracing exhale, and then Eddie starts touching things. It's going to be a painful process, and here she is without her earbuds. Beneath her breath she starts singing, "On a long desert highway…cool breeze in my hair…"

*

By now, Coulson has located the vital bits of the bomb he needs to locate in order to disarm said bomb. Now he just has to understand said vital bits. He pulls out a penlight, sending the light into the walls so he can get a good look. He murmurs, "Remind me to introduce you to Nakano Rin sometime." Whether this is prompted by the singing or the protestations of her lovable nature is unclear. He leaves her to do her thing, knowing exactly what her thing entails. Trusting her to tell him if she finds anything particularly intriguing, he sets to carving away a bit more of the drywall to get to a few more bits he has to get to. "Ten minutes, I think," he tells her, as an ETA on disarming the thing. "We're in luck. There's no remote trigger and there's no timer. It's just opening doors or windows from the inside."

*

Thankfully the images she's picking up aren't terribly emotionally charged. She runs her hands over the parts of the server, "I'm just getting boring nerd vibes…" Eddie talks back over her shoulder, "If I dig any further back we're talking factory level. And I really don't care to see little Chinese kids in a sweat shop squinting over circuit boards." Her hands swing away, fingers flexing. "I don't think the bomb and the place are linked. I think this was just a convenient place that could be rigged over a long weekend with zero care as to whether or not the wrong target was taken out."

She starts rubbing at her forehead, the indication that one of her headaches is starting to come on. Ten minutes can't go fast enough. "Pocket some of that wire. I'll try again with that when we're not all worried about getting blown to kibble." Her eyes close and she gives a focused exhale.

"Who's this Nakano person? Friend of yours? Are they hot?"

*

"Will do. And yes. She's a friend. She's SHIELD, but I feel like you two would get along. She's a computer expert. Hacker type." Probably someone else Coulson took under his wing just like he took Eddie under his wing, once-upon-a-time. "She won't try to pressure you back into SHIELD."

He works a little faster out of deference to her headache. There are a few moments where he says nothing at all. He just falls into his mode of concentration, nodding slowly as he carefully pulls various wires away from the one he actually wants and needs to get to.

Then, out of the blue, he asks, "Are you happy, Eddie? Doing what you're doing now?"

*

As Coulson finishes up, Eddie plucks the thumb drive out of the server and pockets it. No sense leaving that behind. She'll have the answer as to if the contact set her up or not when she goes to collect.

"No one is happy, P-Diddy. Maybe people are content for a time, but happiness? It's just a chemical in your brain. So if I want to be happy, I'll pop some E and take a little ride on the serotonin train. You can come with if you want. It makes brushing your hair truly orgasmic." This is all said sort of dryly as she works her fingers back into her set of gloves.

"You're all shadowy around the edges yourself, Coulson. So why don't you ask yourself that same question."

*

"I guarantee I won't be answering it with E. Or brushing my hair. I'm nearly out of that."

Snip.

The sound rings loud through the little room. The sound of a single cut wire. There's a moment where Coulson holds his breath. It's a silly thing to do. If he'd cut the wrong wire they'd both already be dead. There'd be no bringing either of them back from that. Not this time. And yet he holds his breath as if waiting for the shoe to fall, the one that tells him he screwed up. He's no bomb tech. He's just been trained on what to do if he happens to find one in the field. Like today.

When nothing happens, he sighs in relief, and pulls the control box out. Wires and all. He offers that to Eddie.

It's a moment that tells him something important. However ambivalent he might be about his resurrection, however strange and out of place he might feel, however odd his body feels to him now…

He wants to live. To be alive. He doesn't regret the second chance.

He hadn't been sure. Not until he felt it in the long deep space between an inhale and an exhale.

*

"There you go. Ruining my fun just like old times." Eddie smirks, for a second the expression sitting lopsided and sincere on her lips before it contorts into a full face wince as he cuts the wire.

"Look at that. We didn't die." While Coulson seems to be embracing his new lease on life, Eddie seems ambivalent to the result. She takes the box with its octopusing wires and balls it up to stuff partially into her pocket, "Good thing you came along, otherwise it'd have been adios Eddie."

Her motions pause for a moment, the corner of her lip worried with her teeth. "It was really great to see you again." Which seems to be her parting words. Her head ducks and she tries for the exit. 

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