After saying a farewell to Kaylee and Ian, Samantha uses her internal comms to summon one of those self-driving taxis while she waits for Justin. She pulls gloves over her hands even if the cold seems less intense to her than would have expected, and settles her coat on her shoulders a little more squarely.
When the young man catches up with her and the taxi pulls up, she offers him a small but sincere smile. “I promise, no coercion. If you wish to leave at any point, you only need to say so, and I’ll personally make sure you come right back here.”
Justin follows with no particular complaint. “Uh, no, I um don’t feel coerced, Ma’am, at all, I just didn’t want to show off a gross wound at the dinner table.”
He isn’t sure the back of a self-driving taxi is the right place either, not when they’re going to real medical facilities. He puts his seat-belt on, very safety conscious, and hesitates. Then he says, “Uh. Thanks for believing me. Sometimes getting people to take me seriously is kind of a challenge.”
He runs his fingers through his hair, catching sight of how disheveled he still is in a mirror. Oof. Nope. Doesn’t help.
“Well, how was it that Lewis Carroll phrased it? Something about believing seven impossible things before breakfast?” Samantha settles and also buckles in as the taxi starts off. “Agent Simmons and I appreciate your contributions to this investigation. I personally do especially as I’m… still fairly recently arrived and still acclimating to some of the differences in the way SHIELD operates from what I was accustomed to previously.”
She looks out the window as the car travels, then adds almost as an afterthought, “Do you have any questions I could answer for you before we reach the base?”
“For a half-hour a day,” Justin says cheerfully.
Questions? He always has questions!
“Where were you previously?” he asks innocently. “You said something about other countries, that you’d seen Captain America’s shield there, but then you said you’d never been. Was it like a virtual experience or something? Totally cool if it’s classified, it was just an interesting statement.”
“Sorry, totally not germane to the investigation. How much else can I know about it? I know there’s a new drug, marketed on the streets to humans, giving them temporary powers, side effects, at least one death and vibranium and some rare African flower are possibly some of the ingredients. What else is okay to know about it?”
Probably more germane to the investigation.
He’s all energy, is Justin, now that he’s not trying to impress upon them that yes, he actually had real information. His leg bounces up and down, he looks at everything, and when he finally finishes his questions he fixes his expression on her, eyes bright, head tilted to one side just about exactly like a bird’s would.
Justin’s questions all tumble out, reminding Samantha of more than a few children she can remember and causing her to turn back to him with a sad smile. “I was… asleep, I suppose, is the simplest way to describe it. And I remember St– Captain America’s shield from when it actively in use, during the War.” Her prim British accent has become a bit more pronounced, though she seems unaware of it. “I’ve not been to Europe since, since all of this started.” Her eyes turn back out to the passing streets and buildings.
As the young man goes on to explain what he knows of the current investigation so far, she nods. “You have the gist. And Simmons and I will be sure to keep you informed of anything else either of us feel you need in order to keep yourself safe and assist us. As much as I prefer transparency, that is likely the most that I am able to promise you and not prove to be a liar.” His fidgeting and general restlessness doesn’t seem to bother her at all, though she is almost completely still herself.
Justin’s curiosity doesn’t come at the expense of empathy. He knows enough history to do the math, and his eyes widen. His voice softens.
“I’m sorry, that must be really rough,” he says.
He chews on the inside of his cheek for a moment, nodding at what she says. Despite his drive to know, the very drive that sent him out to the docks just because he made some deductions and knew just where to look, he can accept that government organizations need to control information. He’s already getting to help, after all, and he’ll surely learn more.
“Fair enough,” he says, smiling at her. “I mean this is so totally cool as it is, you know?”
Yeah, that sounds totally mature. He almost facepalms.
“Oh, um, do you need my health insurance card or anything?”
“Thank you.” Most of the SHIELD medical/tech types that have hovered around her have only ever asked how she felt, what she thought. They never simply commiserated with her for the time that she perceives to have lost.
“I was never one to be an authority on what was ‘cool’ or not. A bit after my time.” She offers him a smile. “Though I will admit, if it were not for the lives this drug were taking, figuring out how it has been created and where would be a somewhat fascinating mental exercise.” And that’s probably as close as she can get to that.
She shakes her head no at his question about his health insurance card. “I’m fairly certain that that won’t be required.” And then the taxi pulls to a stop and she moves to get out. Compared to other parts of the city, the SHIELD base is in good repair and sturdy-looking, though clearly with a very high level of security.
He winces. “Well yeah, I mean obviously that’s what it’s really about, I didn’t mean to get so carried away I implied otherwise.”
There are a lot of kids who might be impressed by things being in good repair; Justin, with an unconscious air of privilege, takes it as sort of normal. It’s not that he hasn’t been in other places, it’s that the places that are in crappy repair are the outliers in his mental landscape. It’s a subtle sign that says he’s come up from money.
Curiosity continues though; he takes everything in and seems content to follow her inside. By now, truthfully, his arm really hurts, and he’s moving it pretty gingerly. The adrenaline has worn off, his focus on the information has worn off, and now that he can’t entirely just live in his head the wound is tugging at his attention.
It’s his right arm, to boot, and he’s right handed, which means if there’s a need to catch a door to hold it open or any such thing it might become obvious; he reaches with his left hand instead.
After watching Justin struggle with one door, Samantha makes a point of holding each subsequent door for him as they head into the base proper and directly toward Medical. Once there, she gives the medic on duty a very brief idea of what to expect, then stays very much within eyeshot while supplies are gathered. It’s clear she’s not just staying with the young man because he’s a potential security risk. She’s there to make sure no one betrays the kid’s trust.
Justin probably wouldn’t have thought much of it if he had been treated as a security risk, but he appreciates it. He finally peels off his windbreaker. When it comes to his right arm, peels is the word. It’s a triangular wound that’s really only about three fingers wide; it’s long enough to take most of his right bicep.
It’s like a dry ice wound, which means the skin has simply peeled back and away, exposing the underlying muscle, which is a livid pink. He has to be careful as he gets his jacket off, and even then he leaves little threads of fabric inside of the thing. It’s right under his shirt sleeve, which is short, though he seems warm enough.
“See? Yucky looking, but not too bad,” he tells Sam.
To the medic he adds, “Someone shot ice at me,” so he’d know what he’s dealing with. But he gets on the bed and submits to whatever healing type things the SHIELD medic would like to do, adding, “I appreciate the concern though!”
It really was all about the dinner table.
Samantha’s eyebrows draw together slightly when she sees Justin’s injury, and she does now agree that it was best to not reveal that in an eating establishment. So she’s frowning because if she’d known it was that severe she would have insisted on bringing him straight here and letting the debriefing wait.
Once the medic is done with all of the voodoo-like medical tasks (to Sam’s eyes, at least) and leaves them with instructions to Justin on after care as well as a blister pack of painkillers and so on, she takes a step forward, her coat now draped over one arm. “Did you need a lift home or somewhere else?”
He looks ruefully down to his arm and looks back at Sam. “Yes, please,” he says. He still can’t fly like this, nor run fast, nor just about anything else that doesn’t require a lift home. He could probably just take the cab, but she offered, and he doesn’t want to be impolite about turning down the offer.
Besides, now that he’s fixed up he actually does have some pertinent questions.
“So when we get to this storage place, what’s the plan?”
He names his address, a home up in Lakeview, whenever it is needed, but it’s in a distracted fashion.
And he has not, as it happens, worked with any kind of agency or law enforcement body before; he figures he’ll take his direction from her so he doesn’t throw off her mojo.
Samantha nods and leads Justin back toward the way they came in… kind of. She leads him to a small motor pool and requests a manual-driving car.
Once they’re underway with Sam driving, she broaches the subject of exploring the storage company’s offices. “Well, we’ll need to wait until your arm is better, for a start. But then I can approach the offices under the guise of requesting to hire one of their trucks and ask about a tour of the facility. You can accompany me if you wish, but I won’t expect it.” If he can shapeshift into small creatures with better than human senses, it might be worth it to have him along as a mouse or similar.
“Depending on how much information we can collect that way, I might want to approach the office again after business hours to take a more in-depth look around.” She phrases that politely enough, but she’s basically saying she might want to do a little exploratory B&E.
Justin gets the gist both times. “Daytime I’ll go in small and see what I can look at while you’re walking around. Maybe you can bring me in there in a purse, take a bathroom break, set me down and let me go. Night time if you’re doing B&E you might be better served having me as a look-out, watching your back in case trouble comes calling. That will give us a complete picture of the entire operation as it operates, let us both get our chances to peek into dark corners, which means we each might see and hear stuff the other doesn’t.”
And smell, probably, but talking about the smell thing always makes him feel weird, and he’s already done that one tonight.
When he’s thinking things through like this all uncertainty is gone; he simply walks through it piece by logical piece. It’s a problem, a puzzle. He knows his own abilities and is confident in them, he can guess at hers, or at least what she can accomplish with them, and he figures if he’s floating something dumbass she’ll tell him and they’ll revise.
It’s all spoken with the air of someone who has always, always related to people older than him far better than he relates to his own age group.
Sam nods as Justin voices pretty much what she was thinking. “Then we’re agreed. And I think I can get you in and safely placed without having to resort to asking for a washroom.” She doesn’t ask about the smell thing, mostly because it’s now a given in her mind. He emulates small animals, he gains the senses of small animals. Fair enough.
“If we do need to return at night, I recommend you not go as a raven again, as that might be something they’ll be watching for. Perhaps a small owl or a bat?” She’s sticking with the flying creature theme, as that would grant him far better mobility, though now that she’s said it, the owl seems like the ideal choice. Excellent eyesight and hearing, quiet feathers, designed for night time…
The car approaches the address given and she can’t help but inwardly admire that it’s very much a nicer part of town.
“Owl is probably ideal,” Justin agrees. “With a natural call I can use to alert you.”
He flexes his arm, then says, “I’ll let you know when I’m flight capable. I don’t think it should take that long, it clipped me, but the doc said there wasn’t any deep tissue damage.” Showing he was paying attention to every bit of the voodoo, in fact, and absorbing quite a bit of it.
Once they reach his home– he still, as it happens, lives with his parents– in what looks to be a very nice single family affair, he smiles and says, “Thanks for the ride, Agent Carter. I’ll rest up so I can get in tip top shape just as fast as I can.”
Not the sort to be dumb about it. Indeed, he can, when he wants to, be a little lazy; this is a grand excuse to sleep in and play video games. He is still teen boy enough to enjoy the prospect of both, especially with something more in line with– well– his calling on the horizon in the form of a jaunt to snoop around WeHaul with a secret agent (which let’s face it, really does have a high cool factor).
Samantha smiles and nods. “Then it is agreed.” She pulls what looks like an old-fashioned paper business card from a pocket on her coat and offers it to Justin. “Please contact me when you feel ready and we can plan our little infiltration.”
For her own part, she’s got quarters back at the base and likely far too much paperwork waiting for her.
Sam Carter takes Justin Steele back to the SHIELD base to have his injured arm tended to. They also plan their reconnaissance trip to the WeHaul moving company.
January 07, 2051