Two hours later found me fed, showered, and lying
spread-eagle on a S.H.I.E.L.D. issued cot.
In a room that could pass as a storage closet.
Seriously, you’d really think S.H.I.E.L.D. would treat their heroes better.
I was bored. My dad and Bruce were still with the Director, being told all they can about what was going on. They said they would come and get me as soon as they were finished.
Natasha and Clint were probably off doing agent stuff - paperwork included.
I had seen Steve heading towards the gym when we were dismissed; he was probably pounding a punching bag into submission at the moment.
I hadn’t seen Thor since we arrived, and I had absolutely no clue where the blonde god could be.
Which left me with nothing to do and nowhere to be.
I was shaken out of my thoughts - thankfully before I was driven insane by my own boredom – by the sound of my phone jumping in vibration and blasting out Black Sabbath’s Iron Man.
“Hey. We’re finally ready, heading to Lab 7 now.”
“Oh thank god! You have no idea how bored I’ve been in here!”
“You mean S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t give you any toys to play with?”
“Oh the horror!”
“Right?” I laugh as I finish gathering my suit pack and lace up my boots. “On my way, meet you there in five.”
I shoved my phone in my pocket as I took off at a jog in the general direction of where I assumed the lab to be.
Fifteen minutes and three grumpy agents - whom I had to ask for directions - later, I walked in the door of Lab 7.
“What’s up science geeks?”
I found it hilarious that both Bruce and Tony actually responded to this.
“Oh hey Taylor. What took you so long?”
“Directions did. Why on Earth did you design this thing so big?”
“To irk Fury?” He asks uncertainly.
“Okay.” I shrug. “So what are we doing?”
“You are setting up on that table over there, and then coming over here to join us in staring blankly at this map.”
After I drop my belongings on one of the lab tables, I walk over to the older scientists and pull up a screen.
“Got anything yet?”
“Not yet. We’ve only been working for ten minutes, though.” Bruce sighs as he adjusts his glasses.
I don’t respond as I am already enthralled in the screen in front of me. I try drawing random lines connecting two points, turning the screen, sitting at a different angle, but all my efforts turn up fruitless.
I slump slightly and sigh as I stare at the map.
What are we not seeing?
Almost two hours later, I still can’t answer that question.
Nobody in the lab has gotten anywhere, and my need of a break longer than five minutes can’t be ignored anymore.
“I’m going to get some coffee and see if I can find a range of some sort. Will you guys be good for twenty minutes? I’ll be good, I promise.”
My dad is the only one to acknowledge my question, Bruce just mumbles something incoherent that sounds a whole lot like a formula.
“We’ll be okay. Just hurry back, and do not leave without a weapon, okay?”
“Okay.” I nod and walk towards my bow case, but as soon as my dad burrows back into his work, I dart out without grabbing anything. It’s S.H.I.E.L.D., how much safer can I get?
It takes me about five minutes of wandering to stumble upon a door that looks a lot like the one for the archery range at home.
I push it open a little to find it empty except for a familiar gun wielding red head.
“Tasha?” I call out cautiously.
She puts her pistols down and glances over towards me with a quick smile.
“Taylor. Come on in.”
I walk in and let the door close behind me. “Mind if I join you?”
She looks at me oddly, like I’d just announced I had two heads. “I thought guns were - and I quote - ‘not your thing’.”
I just shrug noncommittally. “You’re here, I’m here, I don’t want to have to find a different range, and I don’t feel like hunting down Clint.”
She chuckles slightly. “If anyone could, it would be you. But come on, let’s get you a gun.”
Five minutes later, I’ve got headphones on and I’m shooting like a pro. I have no idea how. I don’t like this weapon as much, it’s big and loud and makes my shoulder hurt with kickback, but I can aim decently and I’m content.
Movement out of the corner my eye makes me pause and lower my gun.
“Really? That’s the best you have? You live in the same tower as me.”
“I know. I’m sorry, I had to try.”
My laughter echoes around the gym as I set my gun down and sit Indian-style on the ground, patting the floor next to me.
Natasha looks skeptical but sits anyways.
“What do girls even talk about together?”
“I’d be the last person to ask. One of the ditzes in secretarial might know though.”
“I’ve overheard them talking about makeup.” I shudder.
“I only like gossip if it isn’t the press.”
“I wouldn’t blame you.”
“I get allergic reactions around reporters, I swear.”
“Saves you from press conferences.”
I shrug. “Meh, I guess.”
“I’d do the same.”
We sit in silence until Natasha suggests getting coffee. We are two feet away from the door when the room is flooded in flashing red light and klaxons shake the speakers.
“Natasha!” I scream over the noise, “What is going on?!”
“I don’t know!” She’s fishing in her pockets for something, “Here!” She slaps an earpiece into my palm.
I shove it in my ear as we grab our guns.
“Fury! What is going on?!”
“Ms. Stark, you and Agent Romanoff need to get down to lab 7. Now.”
I whirl towards Natasha. “I need to know the fastest way for me to get to lab 7.”
“For you? Vents. Go!”
I spot a vent cover in the corner, pull it down with my net gloves, and pull myself inside.
Please just let it be a Hulk out…I can deal with a Hulk out…please…
After what seems to be an eternity, I finally reach the cover over the lab I was in earlier.
There’s shouting and panicked voices coming from under me.
I kick open the vent and jump, landing in a scene of outright pandemonium.
There are agents everywhere, writing on clipboards, talking to other agents, but mainly huddled in a mass around a spot on the floor.
Please don’t let it be a body…
“Excuse me, miss-“
The last voice makes me spin on my heel to see familiar faces pushing through the crowd towards.
Hands grabs me and pull me towards a quiet corner of the lab.
Bruce is to my left, one hand on my shoulder.
Steve is on my other side and slightly behind me, guarding my back from the crowd.
Clint is crouched in front of me, sitting on his haunches and bouncing slightly.
Natasha is just behind Clint, looking at me with careful eyes, trying to gauge my reaction to what is happening.
Thor is the farthest back, looking awkward, like he doesn’t truly know what to do or where to be.
“What is going on? Why are there agents in here? Guys, what-“
I’m silenced by Clint’s finger on my lips again – seems to be a habit – as my eyes meet his, and there I see something I never expected in my wildest dreams:
“I will ask again and only one more time: what. Is. Going. On?!” I enunciate each word as I look my teammates straight in the eyes.
Steve exhales and refuses to look me in the eye as he responds softly.
“My dad what? Steve! My dad what?”
“Was taken. Your dad was taken.”