community > missed connections > best of
We shared a cab, you hit me in the face. - m4w
“You know, I heard that Eli from Counterterrorism just broke up with his girlfriend,” Natasha says as you sprint to the hangar doors, gunfire thundering in the distance.
“And? I don’t follow,” you say, punching the code that will open the hangar into the keypad. Recently single Eli from Counterterrorism is possibly the last thing you want to think about while being chased through an abandoned airfield in Casablanca, during a highly sensitive joint mission between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the CIA.
The aircraft in the hangar is heavily guarded, as you expected, so her next words are muffled by the grunt of the armed assailant she’s just kicked in the stomach.
“He’s cute. If you asked him on a date, I doubt he would say no.”
“First of all, we’re really going to do this now?” you respond, twisting another guard’s arm in a way it should (probably) never be twisted. It dislocates, popping out of its shoulder socket, and he screams in pain.
“And second, even if I had the time—which I don’t—” You pause to jab a quick strike to your opponent’s face, and something in his nose makes an ugly cracking sound. He crumples to the floor. “The guy has an ego the size of a football field.”
“It’s not as big as a football field,” she says, dispatching the final guard. The ground is littered in a sea of unmoving bodies. “I’d compromise and say it’s as big as a baseball diamond.”
You wipe an errant smear of blood off of your cheek and say nothing, clearly declaring the matter closed.
“Too bad,” she says, letting it go with a rueful shake of her head, but you notice her lips quirking up in silent laughter.
You successfully secure your package and arrive at the extraction point. It’s only on the way home, buckled tightly into the seat of your aircraft, that you start to have some misgivings. Natasha never gives up a plan to set you up that easily (you’ve been roped into at least 5 disastrous dates since you met her), and if she’s doing it now, it only means that she’s discovered a better method of attack.
community > missed connections > best of
You gave me the finger. Coffee? - m4w
“What about Aidan, from Engineering? He has that kind of hot professor look that you like,” Natasha says archly two months later.
You’re both standing on the roof of City Tower, the tallest building in Prague, dressed in full tactical gear. The wind is blowing so fiercely that for a second, you think you’ve misheard her.
(Nat does have a gift for bringing up sensitive subjects at the most inopportune moments.)
“Should I be concerned that you seem to know so many of my coworkers’ classified identities?” you ask her.
When she shrugs, you feel the need to defend yourself. “And I don’t like nerdy professors. I just appreciate men who seem like they actually know how to read.”
“Really? What about that philosophy professor you were so enamored with when you were undercover as a student at Columbia? I seem to remember you earning a little bit of extra credit after class,” she drawls.
“Oh, please. Part of my job was to get close to him.” You attempt to play it cool.
“You know, it’s funny, because I read the mission report.” She grins at you as she puts on her harness. “And it never said you needed to get that close.”
As you sputter and fumble for words, she tugs on the rope attached to her waist, checking to see if the line will support her weight. Apparently finding it satisfactory, she jumps off of the roof before you even have a chance to respond.
You sigh and vault off of the roof after her, rappelling into the vacant 19th floor offices. Miraculously, you manage to avoid smashing into the partly-constructed drywall dotting the space.
Half of the floor is still under construction, while the other half houses the lab that you’ve come to destroy—the main manufacturer of a series of highly dangerous strength enhancers being funneled directly to various large criminal organizations. While ostensibly the drugs give the syndicates’ enforcers the strength to roll open bank vault doors and rob armored cars, they’ve mostly been used as new weapons in wars for territory. Every time, mass casualties ensue.
Although the criminal organizations are done jockeying for power, it’s inevitable that they’ll begin to turn their focus outwards, using their addicted employees to destabilize more than their rivals: governments, or power grids, for example. It’s the reason why your backpack is filled with explosives, and Natasha is carrying an armory’s worth of weapons.
Although you still can’t fathom why a lab manufacturing highly illegal drugs would choose such an indefensible and public location for its headquarters. You’d rolled your eyes to the heavens when your boss had given you your mission briefing.
“Why are these things always in fancy office buildings?” you’d wondered aloud. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand it.”
Now, you shake your head again at the impracticality of it all as you take in your surroundings with a measuring eye.
Natasha has already unhooked her rope and reclaimed her weapons. She pulls a gun from one of her thigh holsters as you take a charge from your pack. You walk together, soft-soled boots padding softly on the concrete floor, out of the empty offices and down the hallway that leads to a heavy steel door.
“I’m pretty sure their landlords didn’t approve that installation,” Natasha murmurs under her breath, quietly enough that only you can hear it.
“I guess we’ll be doing them a favor, preparing their place for the next tenants and everything,” you breathe back, and begin to place the charges.
When you finish, you motion for her to step back and silently count down from three. On one, a little off from your count, the door flies out of the wall with a loud boom and a sharp clang, landing on the floor in front of you. While the door itself was reinforced, the walls around it hadn’t been—so you’d decided to remove the door.
You and Nat step carefully through the breached doorway, ready to fire if necessary. You catalogue your surroundings, noting small details with a practiced eye.
You see nothing unusual—for an underground laboratory, that is. Two lab technicians are standing dumbstruck, mouths wide open, and through the door behind them, a storeroom full of boxes ready to be shipped. The drug comes in serum form, and among all of the lab equipment you hear the whir of a huge centrifuge, which you speculate might be used to remove impurities or detritus from the solution.
Before you can instruct the techs not to move, one presses what looks like a panic button under the lab bench. An alarm starts to blare. A voice crackles through the speaker, telling the techs that reinforcements are on their way.
You glance at Nat, finding your surprise mirrored on her face.
She’d disabled the alarm herself two days ago, tampering with it in a way that was virtually undetectable. Even worse—another strike team had been tasked with removing the guards from the lab. Something is very, very wrong.
You’d planned on confiscating the drugs and taking the techs into custody. But with backup coming, you don’t have the time.
Plan B? your gaze asks. She nods and stays in the room, holding a gun on the techs. You go into the storeroom, take two vials of serum, and tuck them into a cushioned pocket in your vest. Then, you begin to set more charges, bigger this time, around the boxes.
Plan B: blow the lab to hell. It will set the supply chain back at least a few months. It does, however, require a very careful setting of charges so that the structural integrity of the building isn’t damaged. Which unfortunately takes time.
You carefully place charges around the storeroom and the main room. They’ll blow in about five minutes, enough time for you to make your escape.
As you set down the last explosive, you hear a rumbling noise. Backup has arrived, and it’s not great. You’ve prepared for the possibility that there would be guards, most likely guards who had taken the strength enhancer. But nothing could have prepared you for the sight of them.
Their bodies are warped, muscles popping in places that they never should have been. Their skin is oddly translucent, and their faces have the twisted consistency of melted wax. They charge at you and Natasha. She empties a full clip into the first man’s chest.
He doesn’t stop moving. Unfazed, she pulls out a small circular object and tosses it at him. When it makes contact, he slumps to the ground, high-voltage electrical current running through his body.
You don’t shoot the second man to kill—you doubt it would stop him. Instead, you shoot to maim: hands, feet, legs. He falls to his knees, grasping uselessly at you.
Natasha says something brief and urgent into her wrist communicator that you can’t make out. Then she turns to you. “Head to the vacant offices, before they get up. We’ve got an extraction planned.”
“Get up?” You gesture at the two men on the ground. But surely enough, as you back towards the door, they begin to stand up. One swipes at you, his massive hand barely missing you in a lightning-fast strike.
You and Natasha sprint down the hallway, into the empty offices. A sleek jet hovers outside of the building, with an open gangway just close enough for you to jump onto. Nat leaps onto the gangway and you prepare to go next.
A fist as large as a sledgehammer smashes into your temple and you topple to the ground. Drifting in and out of consciousness, you feel yourself being dragged backwards, towards the lab. Then, the pressure on your ankles stops. Someone scoops you into their arms.
A voice that sounds like Natasha’s calls, “Steve!” In a brief flash of awareness, you see a pair of blue, blue eyes.
At that moment, the explosives detonate.
community > missed connections > best of
You: gorgeous with blue eyes. Me: in your dumpster. - w4m
You wake up far, far away from Prague, in a medical facility in Langley. You’re covered in bandages, and panicking, you begin to pull at your restraints.
A hand touches your shoulder.
“Calm down,” Natasha says. “You’re all right. You’re fine.”
“What happened?” you croak. She hands you a glass of water, and you sip it gratefully.
“A few of the charges blew too early, and triggered the rest of them. We got you out in time—the serum too. Barring the fact that you nearly got blown to pieces, everything turned out okay.”
You heave a sigh of relief. “The techs and the guards?”
“Techs escaped. The guards…well, I assume they were killed in the blast.”
You’re silent for a few minutes, processing. “Something wasn’t right about that mission, Natasha. The alarm. The guards. The explosion. Nothing went the way it should have.”
“Sometimes it happens like that,” she replies, but her expression says, Not here. Not now.
“I’m going to let you rest now,” Natasha says abruptly, and turns to leave.
“One more question, Nat.” She stops. “Who carried me out of that building?”
She breaks into a small smile. “I called in some backup of my own.”