Disclaimer: I don't own the awesome people, only the bitch.
Author's Note: Finally and at last we have the little bonus scene where Bridges gets what's coming to her. Sorry it took me forever and a half but I am happy to at least get this up before I move in little over a week.
And with no further ado I give you the last installment of this little fic of mine.
Mind you I am unbeta'd so please forgive any errors.
The Evening Before
"Not again." Agent Joan Bridges muttered angrily to her computer.
As a woman who demanded order in every aspect of her life, this war with her computer after her frustration with the SHIELD operatives of the Avengers was wearing the last of her nerves.
The bureaucrat tried for what felt like the millionth time to close out the pesky solitaire application open on the screen display of her desk. Rather than refuse to close as it had been for the last hour an a half, instead a fresh new level of hell was unleashed. A grand total of ten internet windows opened up to spam, a Teletubbies fan site, 5 eBay lots of crazy crap and a webpage that only showed a gif of Spiderman dancing.
"Agent Bridges?" Maria asked from door with a concerned expression just as Bridges was about to curse under her breath.
Bridges looked up, frustrated. Fury's little pet was about the last person she wanted to see just then, but she forced herself to remain professional. "Yes, what is it?"
"Director Fury sent me to collect the report for today." The slim brunette informed the representative of the World Security Council as she stepped closer to the desk.
"Right. One moment." Bridges said in a sickly sweet tone though she wanted to grind her teeth. Thanks to this virus of sorts, she hadn't been able to finish but she wasn't about to tell Fury's lackey that. The man already had enough hate for her; she didn't want to give him any more ammunition to try to get her fired.
It was then that Maria's eyes saw the screen and the dancing videos of Tinky Winky and Po.
"Um, Agent Bridges," she started with an alarmed expression, "Is that the Teletubbies?"
Bridges looked up in a flustered manner that was unusual for her.
She made to quickly close it out, insisting as she did so, "No no no. That is just spam."
But while she successfully managed to cancel out the window, the action reopened the running solitaire match.
Hill looked both confused and disapproving, "You're playing cards now after what happened this afternoon?"
Agent Bridges looked up in horror at the accusation, "Of course not. I would never!"
"Well that's not where it looks from here, I'm afraid I am going to have to cite you." Bridges let out an annoyed huff as Maria looked down at the tablet-sized screen in her hand, and noted, "It says here this is your third infraction today."
The look on the uptight agent's face quickly changed to indignation, "No it is not! I am not playing solitaire during work hours!"
Agent Hill tried to be sympathetic while remaining insistent on the rules, "I understand that it can be very challenging adjusting to the responsibility of being the Avengers handler but-"
Here Bridges cut her off, "I am not having issues assuming my responsibility! Someone has clearly hacked into my system!"
At this Maria looked dubious, "Ma'am, the firewalls at SHIELD are state of the art. There is a constantly changing encryption code protecting it and we have technicians in the sever room monitoring all systems for any leaks every 15 minutes. It's not possible."
"I don't care if we do have the best computer security system in the galaxy! It is obviously not good enough!" the normally collected superior fumed as she stood.
Maria narrowed her eyes and gave up trying to be nice, "I'm sorry, Agent, but these are the rules and I for one am going to be following them."
With that, Maria Hill turned on her heel and left the unpleasant woman's office. Agent Joan Bridges let out an exasperated breath as she sat back down, unable to believe she had just lost her cool in front of Nick Fury's number one assistant. She just knew that was going to come back to bite her.
Sure enough, three minutes later, before she could truly absorb the fool she had just made out of herself, she heard a little bleep as a message appeared on top of the solitaire and eBay pages.
From: Director Nick Fury
To: Agent Joan Bridges
Message: My office. Come see me now.
Joan barely suppressed a groan as she rubbed the bridge of her nose and tried to prepare herself for the coming meeting. She stood and straightened her shoulders. She was in the right after all, just as she had been with the mission. It wasn't her fault she was surrounded by incompetents. They were lucky to have her on the team. There was no way they could just fire her. She was too valuable and she knew it.
So, with her head held high and her ego thus swollen, she strode into Fury's office with the confidence of the misguided.
Forgetting that it was not she that called this meeting, she began speaking immediately upon entering, "Director, if I may, there are a few changes I would like to discuss with you about our current operational procedures."
"You may not." Fury responded straight away with his famous steel-like demeanor.
"And why is that, sir?" She questioned resentfully.
"Because you have been reassigned and as such have no authority in this particular division," Nick Fury informed her, barely containing a satisfied grin.
She let out a small sound of indignant disbelief. "This is outrageous. You don't have the authority to remove me."
"You're right," he agreed. "That's why this order comes from the World Security Council itself."
"On what grounds am I being replaced?" she continued on as if enough official jargon would help her retain her post.
"The Council has decided that you don't possess the proper field experience to cope with the pressure," he said with perhaps more than a bit of smugness about him.
"I assure you, I am completely qualified to handle any and all stressors this post has to offer," She argued.
"The Council obviously doesn't share that belief." He reminded her as he looked over the official file before slipping in, "There is also the matter of your improper conduct and misuse of SHIELD resources."
That was the moment she turned beat red. "My computer was hacked and you know it."
"Agent Bridges you are grasping at straws. I doubt I need to remind you of the security precautions that are currently in effect," He said plainly.
"This is not over." She informed him, determined.
"On the contrary, you no longer work here. Please collect your personal items and leave or I will have to have you escorted from the building."
"Fine." She huffed angrily, passing Agent Hill on her way out of the office.
"Well that was nicely handled," Maria commented lightly.
"Nowhere in my job description does it say I have to coddle liabilities to the safety of my team," He said matter-of-factly.
Maria let it pass. It wasn't her place to criticize her boss; besides, she was glad Bridges was gone.
Fury, meanwhile, returned to his paperwork before realizing Hill was still standing there. "I assume you came to do more than comment on my firing policies. What brings you here?"
"Curiosity sir," She answered hesitantly.
She didn't know where all of this courage was coming from. She'd been trained since childhood to respect her superiors and never question orders. But something about being around the Avengers had made it easier for her to straddle the line between obedience and insubordinance. One year ago she might have kept her questions to herself but now here she was: speaking up.
"Oh really?" the Director asked with a raised eyebrow at the change in the woman he had come to think of as his second-in-command. "What about?"
"You and I both know that Bridges would never shirk her duties on SHIELD time," She stated.
"Certain parties could see that as unlikely, yes." Fury answered diplomatically with a smirk as he waited to see where she was going with this line of questioning.
"And we do have some of the most advanced protection grids outside of a few select government facilities. But even then select motivated individuals with a foot into our organization could still manage it with the help of an advanced AI they designed." She pointed out cryptically.
"Well how about that?" Fury said, calm as anything.
"And I don't suppose it's anything more than a coincidence that the technicians monitoring her computer system all took a late lunch at the same time." She said smoothly.
"Of course not," he responded fluidly and unphased, "That might be viewed as malicious or threatening if it had been planned."
"Naturally," Agent Hill replied having gotten her answer.
There was a pause between the two agents.
"What did Stark put on her computer in the end?" Fury asked conspiratorially, leaning forward.
She knew he had 500 other ways of finding out but indulged, "Teletubbies sir, as well as a solitaire tournament and eBay lot for a booger that resembled Hello Kitty that I saw."
Nick Fury chuckled appreciatively, "He may be a pain in the ass but it was good of Tony to use his powers of annoyance for good for once."
"Absolutely," She said wryly before turning to leave. "Good night sir."
"One more thing, Hill," he added as an afterthought, calling her back.
"Sir?" She inquired, standing at the ready once more.
"I was going to send a message but while I have you here I thought you should know that the Council has approved my recommendation. Effective tomorrow morning, you will be replacing Bridges as the team's new handler."
She stood in shock, barely remembering to stutter out, "Thank you, sir. Thank you very much."
"I'll be making the official announcement at the debriefing tomorrow, so you don't have to mess with any paperwork tonight. But for now, you can go on home, I understand it's been a very long day." He told her, actually managing to sound like a concerned human being.
"Thank you sir." She repeated, stumbling for words at the complete surprise of the announcement.
Sure, she worked very well with what Avengers they currently had on staff but she had no idea that Fury, or the Council for that matter, esteemed her skills that much. She would have to think on that later, but for now, she just barely managed to contain her internal insecurities to remain professional.
"Get some sleep," Fury suggested with a grin as he watched her try to gather her thoughts and leave.
She nodded her head and left, leaving Fury very satisfied at what he'd accomplished. Very satisfied indeed.
Author's Note: and that is it, that is all for this installment.
This has been an amazing ride with all of you absolutely wonderful people. You have made me so happy with your kind words and encouragements I wish I could hug all of you.
Hope you liked this. And if I can kick my muse into gear and find time I might be able to work on that sequel. Wish me luck you awesome people.
And please, for me, let me know what you thought of this chapter/story. It would mean so much to me.
Much love and well wishes,