Chapter 5: SHIELD Agents Look Out For Each Other's Families

Notes/Warnings: Severely limited ability to write proper operational comm chatter. Sorry about that.

"No, Mom, I like working in a bank. It's very fulfilling. And I'm gladthat Stacey got that internship. Really, it's nice to see my former classmates doing well. Really. Sorry, Mom, but I'm going to have to put you on hold."

Darcy clips the phone onto her belt, grabs a heavy-duty field laptop from its docking unit in the Mobile Operations Van, and exits the van at a rapid clip. Agent Velasquez dives after her with an armful of comm equipment and, as the incoming missile detonates and the van explodes, makes a beautiful dark silhouette against the blossoming flames.

They dive around a mural-painted wall and into a damp and quiet park and Darcy pats Velasquez's hand as she takes an earpiece. He looks a little wild eyed. "The first explosion is always the worst. No actually it's the second that's worst. Never mind, you're doing good - Mom, hey, didn't realise the phone was back off hold. No, that wasn't phone sex on the other line. Yes, I would tell you if I was in a relationship. Were in a relationship, yes grammar is very important. Hang on."

The park is still quiet, all oak trees and metal benches, with none of the high-pitched whine that cued Velasquez into the incoming strike. Darcy keys into the group channel. "Good evening, ladies, gentlemen, and Mr Stark. The sky is grey, the birds are coughing, ground team is fine though now, sadly, on foot. We're having trouble picking up bogeys on our systems. Hawkeye, do you have a visual?"

"Coming back your way, ground team," the archer rasps cheerfully. "Slowing 'em down now, but beat feet, yeah?" Ah, there's the whine. Darcy and Velasquez run again, skittering to the side as the little malevolent robots in hotrod red planes swarm back, flowing around the leaders that get downed by Hawkeye's arrows. Those planes are fast, but they don't turn well, so Darcy figures they have a couple of minutes. They scramble up a fire escape to the top of a nearby building's flat roof and take shelter behind a barbecue and some potted trees. Darcy takes stock of their gear, and realises with horror that she's lost her phone - and her Mom is still on hold...

"All quiet on our end," reports Captain Rogers.

"Nobody loves us," says Iron Man, "and I have this wonderful booby trap set up and-"

"Hi, Mrs Lewis?" It's Natasha, cooing in a voice sweet as honey bubbling from the rock. Darcy risks a look at the park, and sees the Black Widow in her cat-suited glory, talking cheerfully on Darcy's lost phone as she lines up shots on the returning flyers with her little guns. "This is Natalie - I sit next to Darcy in our office. I'm sorry, but she's been called away to a meeting. Oh no, nothing bad." Natasha voice drops. "Between you and me, little Darcy is in line for a citation and a pay increase. But I'm not supposed to know, so you didn't hear it from me. Eat hot death, Робот захватчиков."

Darcy's breath seizes in her throat, but she drags her attention back to skimming scanning frequencies so the blasted little things will come up on the laptop's mapping systems

"Hey," said Stark over the comms. "Hey. Since when was I the one telling the highly trained SHIELD operatives to focus on the job, huh? You're ruining my simple childhood beliefs here. Next you'll tell me there's a Santa Claus."

"Surely, you mean the other way around, Tony" Rogers sounds amused.

"An entity that squats in the arctic, spies on prepubescents everywhere, and warps the laws of physics to break into their houses on the darkest night of the year? Stuff of nightmares. Lewis, I have a first name, birth certificate and everything, keep up keep up."

"Black Widow, I need a sitrep on my Mom."

"Oh, I threw her in the air."

Darcy and Velasquez finally, finally, gets the little flying things to come up on her screen. The little dots are gathering in on Natasha, who seems to be enjoying herself, but she still doesn't specialise in heavy artillery...

She hears on the comms: "Hiya Mrs Lewis, it's Bert from IT. Natalie had to take a customer's call. Oh yes, they're the best of friends. Say, Mrs Lewis, perhaps you could help me? See, I'm supposed to be fixing Darcy's computer but I don't know when she'll get back to unlock the security." His voice grows gloomy. "I've got a list of jobs on my docket as long as my arm, and if I don't get it done nowthen I don't know - Yeah, exactly."

Barton appears on the roof opposite, a blissful expression on his face. He's hooked Darcy's poor abused phone to a hands-free setup which doesn't interfere with his archery.

"So, the first question is, 'mother's maiden name' ...? Ooh, that's lovely, very dignified. Name of childhood pet? Huh. Dress size? ... It's what the security question says, Ma'am. Non-standard dress sizing. I see."

Barton pauses his conversation to give Darcy a thumbs-up from across the void between buildings. Darcy tries to manifest spontaneous mutant powers and burn him to death with her eyes, but it appears that he is immune, because he grins toothily and sends an arrow into the exhaust pipe of a screaming microjet, which obediently goes into a tailspin, and then explodes.

"Yes, I think she's really cute just the way she is, too... You made her prom dress? How many layers of chiffon? Awww. She must have looked so adorable...Why, Mrs Lewis, I would loveto see a picture. Hey, maybe I can swap you a picture of her new haircut? Muffins? For me? Oh boy!"

"Barton I am going to disembowel you with a spoon."

"But I know for a fact that she's coming home for Thanksgiving this year. She was telling the whole office about how much she was looking forward to surprising you..."

"A very small spoon, so it will take longer."

Natasha chips in with, "Does your mother let you bring guests, Lewis? And be straight with us, how's the cranberry sauce?"

"Lonely," Stark sings, "so lonely..."

Darcy glances at Velasquez. He looks pretty horrified, but his hands don't shake as he holds up their scanning dish and aerial. The dots on the screen are reforming, this time on Hawkeye's location. Huh? "Oh, shit, they're tracking my phone frequency," she says aloud.

"Come again?" asks Rogers, but Tony Stark interrupts: "JARVIS, see to it."

"At once, sir" the AI answers, "Agent Lewis's phone has been successfully cloned."

"Mrs Lewis!" says Tony Stark, his voice dropping into the melodious drawl he charms politicians, children, and nuns with, "Tony Stark here..."

Already, the alien craft are moving towards the carefully staged trap Stark and Rogers are manning. "What are you wearing, Mrs Lewis?" Stark says.

Oh crap.

Notes: The Russian is actually pretty innocuous. I tried putting in proper Russian swear words, but I got three white hairs just looking through the list. Feel free to substitute something sufficiently pungent in your heart.