A/N: This is my my first fanfic, so I would reallyreallyreally luhhhhv some feedback. Approve of the characters? Disapprove? Etc? I know, I know, you see that a lot. But this time is fo real, dawg. So please, review! Thanks and enjoy! :D :D
And of course, I don't own the Avengers or anything Marvel.
"Miss Halsten, you're right on time," my new boss remarks approvingly. "I'm glad we can start your first day off on the right foot. Unfortunately, our other assistant has been in the hospital with pneumonia for a while now, but I believe he's recuperating. So…here is your agenda for this week. If you need any support, I'll be in the main conference room on Floor D." The man, Owen Fray, smiles reassuringly, handing over a thick folder. "Though I have no doubt you are perfectly capable. Your resume was rather impressive."
I smile timidly, my face growing warm. I've never been good at receiving compliments. Right now, I'm stuttering a thank-you as Mr. Fray gathers up various papers for his meeting. Luckily, Mr. Fray doesn't seem to notice my weak attempts at articulation, and departs after a hasty goodbye.
Finally. Solitude. I think so much more clearly when alone. People can be so unpredictable, or just loud and distracting. It sounds odd, but being anti-social actually proved quite beneficial in high school and college, where I buried myself in schoolwork and various applications that would lock in my dream career in science (specifically, astrophysics).
And then last year, it all paid off. I was an intern at one of the U.S.'s top science institutes, and had been sending in requests to similar facilities, when I got the letter.
The letter from S.H.I.E.L.D.
I had heard little about the government agency, probably because it described itself as a secretive espionage organization of some sort. Even without all the secrecy, that isn't exactly my area of expertise. No, I'm definitely one of those science geeks; you know, the type that has elaborate models of the solar system and religiously watches Star Trek.
Okay, maybe that's going a little overboard. Yes, I love Star Trek, and yes, I made a model of the solar system for a middle school project, but if a stranger walked up to me and started a conversation, they would think I'm a typical media-obsessed, girly-girl post grad. Blond hair, slender frame, Fendi tote, manicure, etcetera. I think some people are shocked, really, to find out that my dream is to contribute to the advancement of space exploration and that, if pressed, I would admit to having the teeniest crush on a certain half-Vulcan. Looks can be deceiving.
I have that saying in mind now, as I scroll through the sleek, deceptively undersized tablet that Mr. Fray handed me. It apparently replaces the common daybook in the agency. As the assistant to the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s small scientific development department, I have to coordinate numerous meetings, complete what seems like an endless amount of paperwork pertaining to the science department, and do personal errands for Mr. Fray. In an hour, I've scheduled three more meetings this week for Mr. Fray, gone through a tenth of his paperwork, and restocked his private supply of gourmet Belgian chocolate truffles.
When I pictured myself working here, I definitely did not imagine buying chocolates for my boss. I pictured developing fantastic, space-age devices and observing agents and experiments on the colossal S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier. Maybe even designing spacecraft, for some mission that is conveniently operated in space. I had accepted the job offer immediately, as I assumed that the agency's interest in my 'impressive' credentials would mean I would at least have access to the confidential laboratories and to the Helicarrier. Now I realize how uncharacteristically stupid that decision was. I'm wasting away, and it's only my first day. My first hour!
Oh, god, I sound like an ungrateful bitch. This is a job that countless science enthusiasts would kill for. Working for S.H.I.E.L.D., with its superhuman-like agents, sophisticated technology, and dealings with aliens and 'gods' – no one could forget the terrifying invasion last year, when Manhattan was nearly demolished until the Avengers interceded – is something out of a science fiction movie.
There's always the chance that my job as assistant will help me gain access to the upper levels of S.H.I.E.L.D. If not, I'll just do what I've been doing for the past decade: work myself to the point of collapse. While not the healthiest solution to challenges, it's a fail-proof method. I've never been in a serious relationship, instead focusing my efforts to graduating high school a year early and earning a full scholarship to M.I.T. I think the better option is clear in this scenario.
The phone rings shrilly, jolting me out of my thoughts and sending me scrambling to answer it. Like most of the agency's devices, the phone is considerably more advanced than the ones seen at home; it's on a computer pad on the wall, which bleeps when I approach and displays a touchscreen showing the caller's picture and a compacted version of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s file on them. I quickly scan the screen: the person on the other line is none other than Nick Fury, the agency's director.
Panic sets into my mind for a split second, and I'm paralyzed. Should I answer? Of course, it's the director! But what do I say? I'm only the assistant! I'll say something stupid and he'll fire me on the spot and my future in science will be gone, just like that. Oh, why did I have to accept this stupid job offer? I'm making a fool of myself and it's only the first day. And Fray is so nice, I can't believe I'm letting him down just by not answering the phone –
The phone! During my internal struggle the computer pad has not ceased its irritating ringing noise. Thank goodness Fury is still there – if I had missed his call…
"Owen Fray's office, Director of Scientific Advancements For Espionage. Assistant Odelia Halsten speaking." I rattle off, quickly recalling the etiquette for answering the phone.
"I must speak with Mr. Fray immediately. Why is he not answering his personal phone?" a gruff voice barks through the computer screen. "He is needed on the Helicarrier."
The Helicarrier! My heart leaps with excitement at the thought of gliding through the sky, virtually invisible, on a hovering aircraft carrier. Would Mr. Fray allow me to go with him? Maybe if you find him first! I remind myself, reining in my hopes.
"Uh, he went to the main conference room," I inform the director, barely allowing myself to even imagine the wonders that would be on display in the ship. Just the thought of the complex camouflage panels on the exterior of the Helicarrier makes my mind spin. The world will seem absolutely primitive after a visit to that craft.
"Thank you, Miss Halsten," Fury dismisses shortly, before the connection is cut off. I sigh, disappointed that he didn't ask me to accompany Mr. Fray. Oh, well. It's more than I can hope for with a job as humble as assistant, especially on my first day here. Now that I think about it, it's ridiculous to even consider that Mr. Fray will need me to come along. If anything, I would be needed in his office even more.
I'm still standing by the touchscreen, feeling sorry for myself, when the abrupt ringing causes me to jump about a foot in the air. Seems like I'll be getting used to that.
Oddly, it's Fury again. Maybe Fray requested my presence? The possibility is far-fetched, but I'm still bouncing on my toes as I press the talk button. "Halsten? I need you to bring something to the Helicarrier, immediately." Fury's voice barks at me, and I snap to attention even though he can't see me.
"What is it I'm bringing, sir?"
A pause, like Fury is hesitant to trust me. I can tell the 'something' is of significant importance; not something normally entrusted to a lowly assistant like me. I bristle at the thought of him not thinking me reliable; I've signed innumerable confidentiality contracts just to attain this less-than-ideal position. "Sir?" I repeat, a note of sharpness escaping my mouth. Oops. Sassing the Director probably isn't the best way to get what I want here.
"Go to the desk and retrieve Fray's laptop. Bring it to the Helicarrier." Fury instructs, before dismissing me and ending the call. I rush over to Mr. Fray's desk, which I organized less than an hour ago. His laptop is locked in the shatterproof glass compartment that is built into all S.H.I.E.L.D. office desks, so that valuable information may be secured inside. I find his passcode in the tablet he gave me, and enter it into the touchscreen on the wall. The compartment clicks open and I snatch up the laptop before hastening to Fray's office elevator.
As the elevator zooms up to the roof – which is actually the ground level since the rest of the facility is underground – I stop to think about the conversations that just took place. Fury needs Mr. Fray, who was in a meeting – but for some reason, they need me, too. Well, they need the laptop. I suppose they're just using me as a personal deliveryman, before they fly away in their beautiful invisible aircraft carrier and leave me stuck underground, doing paperwork. Whatever. Someday, I'll be designing those crafts. And my beautiful, invisible hovercrafts won't be confined to Earth. No, they'll break through the atmosphere, and into the radiant endlessness of space.
My wistful daydreaming is interrupted by the ding of the elevator as it opens to reveal the 'roof' area, where a few small helicopters are waiting only twenty feet away. A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent walks up to me and indicates the closest one. "Miss Halsten? Please come with me." I follow obediently and am momentarily confused when he moves to help me inside the helicopter.
"Wait, why am I coming? Has Mr. Fray already gone up to the Helicarrier?" I quickly scan the skies for a sign of the massive vessel, but of course I can see only a few clouds and the brightly shining sun.
"Mr. Fray is…indisposed," the agent says hesitantly. "He was found unconscious in the conference room. He is currently in the Medical Bay."
"What? Why?" I gasp as I strap myself into the passenger seat. The agent shakes his head as he starts up the helicopter.
"It was a head wound with a blunt object, and that's all we know. The cameras in that room were inoperative at the time."
My head is spinning as we rise up into the sky, a combination of shock and altitude sickness. Whatever is going on with Mr. Fray, Fury, and this laptop is more serious than I thought. And I'm about to get mixed up in the mess myself.
I shiver slightly; it's freezing this high in the sky, and I didn't even consider bringing my trench coat. My thin, dusty rose button down and charcoal pencil skirt do nothing to keep me warm. The agent beside me doesn't seem bothered, though, so I ignore the chills running through my body.
As we break through the clouds, I see a huge, gray craft gliding very slowly, hiding in plain sight. Anticipation buzzes through me, and I restrain myself from bouncing in my seat, as it wouldn't appear very professional. The Helicarrier is held in the sky with four large turbines and has two levels. I know that the Avengers gathered on the aircraft carrier, and that Loki was held here. Even though my true dream is to travel through space, I can't help but marvel at the amazing ship.
We land gently on the surface of the Helicarrier, and I clamber awkwardly out of the helicopter, wobbling slightly in my Manolos. The computer is still safe in my arms, though, and that's all that matters.
"Thank you very much, Miss Halsten." I spin around to see Nick Fury standing right behind me, accompanied by a tough-looking young woman. As if reading my mind, Fury motions to his side. "This is Agent Maria Hill. My second-in-command." Agent Hill nods curtly, her face betraying no emotion, before shaking my hand.
"A pleasure," she says. "Now, if you don't mind…" She holds out her hand expectantly. A beat, and then –
"Oh! Of course." I grimace sheepishly, handing over Mr. Fray's laptop. Agent Hill takes it without another word, before waiting dutifully for Director Fury's next move. She's awfully pretty, with flawless skin, perceptive blue eyes, and shiny dark brown hair tied into a knot at the nape of her neck. She's also obviously a very skilled agent, as evidenced by her rank and her slim build. My own physical activity is limited to going for a run every so often, and my amateurish appearance is only enhanced by my primness. It's strange to feel inferior to someone for once.
As the director and Hill start to walk away, I turn back to the helicopter, expecting the pilot to already be inside. Instead, he points back behind me, where Fury is waiting impatiently. Wait…what?
"Follow us, Miss Halsten," instructs Agent Hill before the pair marches towards the entrance to the lower decks. I hurry after them excitedly, trying not to humiliate myself in my silly heels.
What could the S.H.I.E.L.D. director want with me? I don't know anything about the laptop I brought up, nor about any official S.H.I.E.L.D. business. It's only my first day, for goodness sake! When I checked in this morning, I definitely didn't expect to be mixed up in some alarming sort of mission even before my lunch break.
My only hope now is to deal with whatever business needs attending before I can embarrass myself in front of top government agents.
A/N: Never fear, good people of the internet! Loki will make his appearance oh-so-very-soon. Swoon.