2020-02-08 - I Hope You Like Tea


Agent May offers Lena a different path.

Log Info:

Storyteller: {$storyteller}
Date: February 8th, 2020
Location: Dive Bar, Somewhere NYC

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It's a cute lil place. A bit on the nose calling itself Styx as it's nothing more than a can toss away from a small cemetary. Maybe the owner thought they were being clever. Either way, it was what it was; a shit hole in the wall where drinks are served and the lights are always busted. A few of the lower dregs of society are here, conversing with one another or keeping their blessed distance. The TV is old, boxy, and kept safe behind a cage. Tonight, there's an argument at the bar over what program is going to be on display. Sports or Jeopardy - gotta love those brainy crooks. The shouting turns to threats, which turns to fists and a scuffle. No one seems to react and goes about their business. In the end, Alex wins out and three contestants are on the screen.

In one corner of the beer soaked and cigarette smoke ozoned room is one Lena Snart. She looks at someone who's at her table, their hands moving and lips flapping. Her expression is as apathetic as ever. She blinks, slowly, and downs a straight shot of some amber fluid without so much as a twitch. Eventually, she stops him. "Jamie…I'm not asking for your excuses. I'm asking for intel. If you can't give me that, get out of here."

"You're…not angry, Cold?"

"Not yet." She offers and thumbs him toward the door. 'Jamie' doesn't ask twice and shuffles away.

Having entered quietly and requested bourbon, Agent May has claimed a hopefully slightly less sticky seat somewhere where she can watch Snart and perhaps have a bit of a chat with her. She waits while the young woman 'talks' with a man who then takes his leave, pretending to sip at the glass of bourbon in her hands. It's not that she refuses to drink, it's that she doesn't trust the cleanliness of the glass.

Still, she continues to wait. If Snart moves to leave, she'll follow. If the younger woman recognizes her and approaches, they can have their chat here. May's not fussed either way.

It's not a bad thought to have - the glass is ripe with water spots. From what? Only God knows. Snart's chilling eyes follow after 'Jamie' until they light across the bar and find Melinda. Her slender shoulders rise, then fall, as the girl drinks in a deep breath and sighs. The body language was enough to express the motion was of annoyance. Licking her painted lips, she takes another swig from her half empty bottle and then moves to stand.

Striding over, she claims a seat beside the Agent. Pouring herself another drink, she downs it and sets both it, and the bottle, aside.

Keeping her eyes on the glass in her hands, she uses her peripheral vision to track Lena's movements and waits until the young woman is seated at her table to look at her. The same, seemingly emotionless expression is there, and after a moment she offers simply, "Ms. Snart."

The unspoken implications are there: I've come to talk with you.

Lena Snart eyes her glass before leaving it be for now. A roll of her shoulders, stretch of her back, she holds her hand up with an open palm. There's not a sound from her lips, but that knowing look of conversation pending. With a soft circling of her hand, she motions for the Agent to continue.

"I'm guessing that introductions are in order. You likely already know I work for SHIELD, but there's another introduction you need." She reaches into her jacket slowly, pulling out something she can hold while keeping her hand flat.

Still slowly telegraphing her movements, she turns her hand palm up to reveal a cat collar with a bell on it. It's not Besas' collar, and it's not Turner's magically augmented bell, but they are mundane items as close to the originals as she could find. The bell was a real challenge to track down, but luckily she's a familiar face in Chinatown and the grapevine there helped her find a decent enough replica.

"I wouldn't be saying that too loudly in this place." Lena warns, sitting back in her seat as May reaches into her jacket. She tenses, briefly, before seeing the collar. Then it makes sense, causing her to smirk and scoff. "Oh. That's what you meant." Back to our natural forms she said - or something like that. "So…you hissed at me in that form, too. Come to hiss at me in this form again?" Now it was time for more drinking.

"No." May puts the collar away again now that Lena's successfully recognized it. "I've come to offer you a chance to learn from my experiences."

At this point, she'd really like to take a sip of that bourbon, but no. Not trusting that less than pristine glass. She knows other agents — one she can think of in particular — who can drink anything and eat anywhere and never suffer from it, but she would really rather not take that risk herself.

"Great. Ambrose send you?" She questions with a roll of her eyes. Looking after the woman's drink of choice, she tsks and then presses her own glass toward her. It was cleaner, by a shocking degree. The bottle goes with it and Lena takes away the filthy vessel. She downs the bourbon herself in a few healthy gulps.

Again, May replies with a simple, "No." She accepts the considerably cleaner glass and drinks a swallow from it. "Just me."

She sets the glass back onto the table gently enough that it doesn't make a sound, then looks at Lena again squarely. "I've been the person with the short temper and the combat skills to be extremely dangerous."

"Been?" Lena questions now, her fine brow quirking up smoothly. Eyeing her empty glass, she pushes it aside and gives a glance toward the bar. Considering, but not moving, she returns her attention to the Agent across from her. "Go on."

May takes the bottle and refills the glass for Lena, pouring in two fingers' worth. "It took some harsh lessons for me to realize being surrounded by threats doesn't mean I have to let anyone realize I feel threatened." She takes another sip of the bourbon.

"And it puts opponents off balance when they think I'm either unaware of uncaring of the threat they pose." She looks up at Lena again. "And then they learn otherwise."

Thankful, though not showing it, Lena downs the drink as she had before. Melinda sips, Lena skulls - that should honestly be enough to express their differences. "Ah, that. That was just a cluster fuck. I usually don't operate like that. I lost my cool." She muses gently. Always one for a pun.

"Keeping 'your cool' could be the difference between life and death some day." It has been for May and multiple occasions. And yes, she's very much aware of the difference in the way she's drinking the bourbon compared to Lena.

"Are you willing to try and let me help you learn that?"

That was surprising. Not usually one to show it, the girl now stares at May with her pale eyes going round. The expression fades shortly after. "I'm…sorry?" She scoffs and smirks. "You came to this shit hole to offer me…what? Lessons? Something you think I need?" Inhale, exhale, the girl fidgets in her seat slightly.

"I've survived this long, I think I'll keep going for awhile yet. Thanks, though. I think."

Reaching into her jacket again, this time she produces a business card with only a phone number printed on it. "If you reconsider, contact me." She sets the card on the table.

Preparing to leave, May takes one last sip of bourbon, then pauses to look at Lena again. "One last question."

"Who is 'Ambrose'?"

Reaching into her jacket again, this time May produces a business card with only a phone number printed on it. "If you reconsider, contact me." She sets the card on the table.

Preparing to leave, May takes one last sip of bourbon, then pauses to look at Lena again. "One last question."

"Who is 'Ambrose'?"

Lena Snart looks at the card and then back up toward May. There's a knitting of her brows, some silent thought processing there. Eventually, she reaches the card and slips it down the front of her shirt.

When the question arises, she doesn't seem to hesitate. "Someone dear to me." A breath. "And the biggest asshole I know."

That actually elicits a visible reaction out of May. She raises an eyebrow briefly. "Interesting combination." She watches the younger woman for a moment longer, to see if she is going to offer any further information about this name. It's interesting that Lena's immediate reaction was to think this Ambrose person sent her, as if they were somehow associated already.

"Why did you think I was sent to you by Ambrose?"

Lena Snart shrugs. "He gets around. Knows people, or a person or a person of a person. If he's pissed at me, I figured he'd send someone else to try and dad me." Pause, "Mom me. Whatever. You never know." Standing now, she keeps her sights on May. "You seem like his kind of people, too."

"I suppose I'll have to meet this Ambrose at some point, then." Since Lena's standing now, May keeps her seat. Again, one of those 'manners' things, giving the younger woman a chance to flee before getting up herself. It's not like she can't track the girl down again if she needed to.

"Look, thanks for the offer but you have no reason to want to help me. I don't like legal types and I especially don't much care for government types." She offers up, but at least she wasn't tossing the card back down. "What do you honestly think you can offer me?" Brows down, she cants her head. "And what's the catch? There's always a catch."

Turning to look at Lena, May seems almost unaffected by the young woman's slightly more aggressive questions. "You're right. I don't have a reason. But that doesn't mean I'm not still willing to help keep you from ending up in a dire situation again."

"Ending up without thumbs was annoying enough. What's to say the next person won't be quite so … gentle?" Of course, none of this explains how May herself ended up in that place at that time and equally thumbless, as she phrased it.

"I don't like not knowing why. No one gives out a helping hand for nothing. No one." Lena flares up slightly, her jaw tensing as her brows continue to furrow. "Annoying, sure, but as I said in the shop, I don't bend to anyone." Sighing, she glances around the bar and notices only a few glances back. Someone heard her, perhaps. Or saw her stand. With those of her ilk, it was mostly about reputation.

"Fuck me. Can we talk about this somewhere else?"

May nods her acceptance at the suggestion of talking somewhere else. "Of course." And then she sets a couple of bills on the table and stands to leave. She's fully aware of who around the bar is paying attention to them, but perhaps as to show an example she doesn't so much as glance around to try and place where they are.

Walking past Lena and toward the exit, she doesn't look back and doesn't seem at all perturbed to have the younger woman behind her.

Confidence? Cockiness? Very well trained situational awareness?

A snatch of the cash, that too ends up down the girl's shirt. Moving away from the table, she gathers up her jacket and pulls it on. A glance to the keep, she offers him an upnod that he returns in full. Hood up, face framed by soft, pale downy fluff, she exits to find May.

May is indeed waiting outside, standing out in the open part of the adjacent parking lot under a streetlight with her hands loose at her sides. As soon as Lena is close enough for them to talk without having to raise their voices, she asks as calmly as she's done everything else, "You're planning on giving that money to the bartender, I hope?"

"No." Lena admits openly, turning to start walking instead of just standing. The chill was still in the air as it was winter yet. The smell of pending snowfall was crisp in the air - along with blood, urine, rust, beer and muck. "I paid for the bottle and some earlier. I got the tip and I got you out of his joint. Him and I have an understanding."

"So, what do you get out of this?"

Okay, fair enough about the money. May considers Lena's question for only a moment before answering. "I get not having to hunt you down a few years from now when you go one step too far over the line."

Yes, she probably could have sugar-coated that, but she can already tell that that would have gone over even more poorly than the bald truth. So, the bald truth it is, regardless of how harsh it might sound.

"Can you imagine people having to hunt me down? I always was one for the chase." Very true. "To think, me being that far out there that I'm chased down by the big boys? Kinda flattering, don't you think?" Smirking to herself, she keeps walking with silence underfoot. Her hands rest within her pockets.

"I'm on one to you, though. That's what I'm not understanding. Some smart-mouthed thing that told a God to fuck off in his own home." Then a thought passes her mind. "Did he send you? Is this just a different layer of my 'punishment' since I didn't grovel?"

"Loki didn't send me either," May replies, still cool as an ice cube even as Lena starts trying to be all boastful and stuff. "Though it is at least partly because you smart-mouthed an extremely powerful sorcerer in his home that I've made this offer."

"Again, you're not explaining why /me/. You can't be that much of a boy," pause, "girl scout. Not with a face like that. You've seen your share of shit and there's no doubt about that. Please don't make me some charity case. Some outlet of 'doing the right thing' to help ease your guilt or whatever." Lena was full aware of what she had done. If it hadn't been for her form, she also had to deal with the parenting of Ambrose.

Taking a few steps further, she gets infront of May and now stands there to face her. They were far enough away from anything considered criminal turf by now. "Just tell me, flat out, what you're doing here and why."

"I'm offering you a chance to keep that iceberg on your shoulder while /also/ keeping your head attached. Why you? Because I can tell. You have a LOT of potential. But you act like a hot-headed little brat who refuses to believe even a tiny bit of the world isn't against you and willfully antagonize everyone around you." May says all of this STILL with her Vulcan-esque calm demeanor and her hands loose at her sides.

"How far do you think that kind of attitude will take you? Have people stopped taking you seriously yet?"

"No one in their right mind thinks I have potential to do anything but crawl on my belly and die. The world has been against me since day one and there's no changing that truth." She practically growls. May is stead fast but Lena is, well, baring teeth now.

"It's taken me this far and I'm still alive. Those around me that know me know I'm serious and I get the job done. What type of shine are you trying to give me, hmm? Make me turn over a new leaf? Make me the 'good guy'?"

"Interesting," May says as calmly as ever. "People around me also know I'm serious and I get the job done. But, on top of that, people who don't know me don't realize what I'm capable of and consistently underestimate me. That has gotten me out of potentially lethal situations for more years than I suspect you've been alive."

She tilts her head slightly as she visibly considers Lena. "Wouldn't you like to have that potential secret weapon up your sleeve? And stop and think. At what point have I said anything about turning over a new leaf or becoming a good guy? Do you think that's what I am?"

"That's what people like you do. You said you were SHIELD, right? You /are/ the good guys. You offer a hand out, something sweet - catching more flies with honey if you'd like. But there is always something else to it. You don't get anything for nothing in this world." She doesn't say as much but she does seem to be considering things. She's listening.

"Of course I want to be more powerful. Something better than myself." Well that was a slip.

May nods slightly. "Yes, I am SHIELD. But take a closer look." At this point, she opts to use vocabulary that would likely startle others, but is probably more Lena's speed. "I'm the person SHIELD sends into a situation where so much shit has hit the fan that they need as many bodies dropped as necessary to salvage what's left. SHIELD gets the results they need. My soul takes the burden. That's the something else to it."

Her eyes remain squarely on the younger woman. "There is no better than yourself. There's just protecting what's left of yourself from the shit you have to wade through to keep going day to day."

"Fuck'em." Lena says at length. "Why let them make you do something like that?" She questions after a moment. It wasn't anger directed at May now, it sounded more like anger directed at SHIELD for someone she didn't even really know. Those words 'no better than yourself' seem to dampen the girl's spirits flatly.

Her voice softens now and her expression ceases being so primal. "I hate to tell you, this is all that's left of me." Blinking, she frowns. "There's no better?" Maybe she needs to hear it again.

"At the rate you're going? No. There's no better. And I do what I do for SHIELD because it's the right thing to do, and I'm capable of doing it without losing what's left of my soul." May looks around the skeevy parking lot briefly.

"Can you say the same about what you've been doing with your life?"

The girl takes a moment to look around them. "I do what I do because I'm good at it." Pause. "Great at it. Lets me take care of what I need to take care of." Whatever that may be. Turning, she faces May once more. "I don't know any other way."

At Lena's words, May nods slowly. "Are you at peace with that?"

"Don't know what that is, either." She admits softly. "Can you offer that to me?"

"That's what I've been offering," May says equally softly. "And once you're at peace with where you are and what you choose to do with yourself, there are no more limits. No one controls you. You control yourself."

Lena Snart swallows and lowers her head. Jaw tight, she looks away and then nods slightly. "No strings on me." She murmurs to herself. Lena was always one battling against control - of everything. Allowing her frosty eyes to find May's face once more, she chews at the inside of her cheek before speaking. "Alright."

May nods slowly once, almost a small bow. "Alright. Contact me when you're ready to begin." She takes a step back from Lena before turning to walk away. She left a car parked a few blocks away, mostly because black SHIELD-issued vehicles are just EVER so subtle. Not.

It takes her a moment or two before she strides up closer to the woman. "Now." She answers and looks her way, still moving. "Now. Please. I'm ready."

May nods again as Lena catches up and keeps walking, clearly expecting younger woman to not fall behind now that she's made her decision.

"I hope you like tea."

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