Chapter 1 Hello Agent Hall
As rain came down against the outside of the newly renovated Stark Tower, the Avengers were relaxing indoors.
Tony and Pepper were talking with Bruce about new experiments for Stark Industries, while Natasha and Clint were lounged on a plush grey sofa discussing future training plans for the team.
Steve and Loki were engaged in an intense debate on the military tactics of WWII while Thor wandered about the floor wearing a white apron and carrying a Swiffer device.
The god of thunder was ridiculously amazed that the Swiffer duster was capable of holding so much dust, and refused to clean with anything else, though why he was cleaning in the first place was anyone's guess. The day was peaceful, until the silence was broken by the familiar voice that spoke to them from the ceiling.
Jarvis, the tower's A.I. butler, spoke through the building's intercom, "Sir, there is a gentleman at the security desk requesting to speak to the team. He says he has been sent to see you from S.H.I.E.L.D."
Without raising his head, Tony took a sip of his scotch and replied, "Jarvis, I don't care what they have to say or what he needs. If he wants to meet us, he's gotta' make an appointment. I'm a busy man after all."
Pepper looked at Tony, raising an eyebrow. "You, busy? That's a good one. We're not doing anything important right now. Why not let him up here?"
Before Tony could respond, Jarvis interrupted,
"Sir, the person requesting to meet you has stated that unless you would like the IRS to perform a full audit of your business and personnel records, it would be wise to make yourself more available."
Everyone smirked at him knowingly.
Pepper jabbed Tony in the ribs before he could attempt to defend himself and replied, "Jarvis, please show in our guest."
"Certainly, Miss. Potts"
Minutes later, the elevator opened and a man with black hair and a short goatee wearing a silk business suit walked in. He looked around the same age as Bruce, with some grey creeping through his sideburns. He had a bit of a beer gut, walked like a duck, and carried a dark brown leather briefcase under his arm.
Altogether, they didn't know what to make of him.
"Hello, everyone, a pleasure to meet you all," The man greeted them kindly, walking towards them with confidence in his stride.
"Thank you, Miss Potts, for allowing me into your lovely home. Security told me that you were the one to authorize my entrance and I appreciate it greatly. Allow me to introduce myself; My name is Robert Hall. I was transferred over from the FBI to S.H.I.E.L.D. two years ago; I was selected to be your new caseworker. The government feels that a caseworker could be useful in helping you handle your free time and public image, and maybe even improve it."
"Excuse me, who made that call?" Tony tried to ask, but Pepper put her finger up to him.
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Agent Hall, but I am curious: why would a caseworker from the S.H.I.E.L.D. be assigned to work with the Avengers?" Pepper asked, her tone taking on that ever polite chime she adopted when dealing with Tony's business associates.
"Please, call me Robert," he provided with a friendly grin. "I'll be working with you for the foreseeable future, so we might as well loosen up a little, don't you agree?"
Robert continued, not waiting for an answer. "Anyways, onto the first order of business… Although we are grateful for your help with preventing that dumb ass over there from wrecking the planet," he paused to give Loki a pointed look, "We feel it's necessary to monitor your dealings with him to be sure that he is no longer a threat."
Loki raised an eyebrow icily, which didn't deter Robert from continuing. Loki's stares were pretty intense; it was clear that the man had some backbone. "The event that happened last month has tarnished your image a little. However, seeing that Mr. Stark has such a way with the press, I'm sure with some work that your image will be shining again in no time."
"Excuse me again, but I like the press. Who made the call?" Tony asked, getting annoyed.
"Tony, what happened last month?" Pepper eyed Tony critically, her eyes narrowing dangerously when he tried to brush her off, shrugging his shoulders and mumbling "Nothing…".
"Oh? Tony didn't tell you about the little pushing match between Thor and the Hulk down on Fifth Avenue during rush hour?" questioned Robert.
"It wrecked fifteen cars, one of which was a beautiful 1966 Black Mustang convertible. Also included in the damage, there were three buses, four buildings, and a several traffic lights. Thankfully, Hawkeye had a sleeping gas arrow, which knocked Thor out, which helped the Hulk to calm down."
Thor, who had excused himself shortly before Robert's comment on the pushing match, re-entered the room just in time to hear Robert's comment and defended himself with,
"I do not care for your opinions about my behavior. The malapert beast had eaten my sandwich, and when I confronted him, he lied to me."
Banner let out an exasperated sigh. "I did not eat your sandwich. Why would I eat your sandwich when I knew that it was yours?"
Thor crossed his arms; by looking at his face, it was clear that he was getting angry. "Well, you had crumbs on your shirt, mayonnaise on your face, and my special plate was in front of you." Thor was getting mad. He walked over towards the doctor and pushed him, forcing Bruce to step backwards.
"I didn't eat your sandwich," Banner defended himself in a louder voice, his eyes and skin starting to turn a lovely shade of green. Grinding his teeth in anger, he tried to walk away, but Thor moved to grab his arm. Recognizing the tell-tale signs of the Hulk's transformation, Robert knew he had to cut in before things spiraled out of control, beating Pepper to the punch.
"ENOUGH!" Robert shouted, sternness creeping into his tone, which seemed to shock both men out of their stupor. "It doesn't take a genius to see where this is headed. Did either of you think to ask Jarvis who ate the sandwich?"
Thor and Bruce looked at each other sheepishly as Robert continued; "Besides, if you two had a quarter of a brain, you would look over and see Gumby over there laughing at you." Robert nodded at Loki; immediately Banner and Thor could see him snickering.
The trickster stopped when he saw both of them looking at him. He had a feeling that something bad was going to happen to him. He was reasonably sure Thor wouldn't harm him, but the beast….. had a distaste for the trickster.
Robert cleared his throat and continued, "All three of you drop it. One of my jobs is to try and reduce your 'horseplay'. Thankfully, you haven't killed or seriously injured anyone yet. However, this little incident leads me to believe that you lot will need hobbies to keep you all occupied when you're not on a mission."
Tony, having had enough of Robert's commandments already, slammed his drink down on the counter.
"First of all, Stark Tower belongs to me. This is my home you're shoving into. I'll be damned if some suit-wearing jack-wagon is going to tell us what to do."
He stood angrily. "What makes you think you can just waltz right into the lair of seven super-humans and bark orders at us?"
"Five super-humans," Loki mumbled, disinterested in the whole situation other than the vendetta he now had against Robert for selling him out earlier.
Natasha got up from her place on the couch and glared at Robert. "This is going to be a very rare moment, but I agree with Tony. Nothing bothers me more than some stranger telling me what to do, especially one that I have no respect for."
Loki got up and with a sly grin. "It matters not what you say. I'll do what I want to and there is nothing you can do about that."
Robert jeered, "Really? Well, let me tell you what you are: you are a spam-humping piece of crap who likes to have sex with horses, and you can shut up and sit down."
To everyone's surprise, Loki just gave him a confused look and reluctantly sat back down.
They turned to Robert, eyeing him critically, silently wondering where he had come up with his insults and how they had worked so perfectly. But still, if this man wanted their respect, he would have to earn it, and learn to respect them as well.
"Okay, now that I have everyone's attention…"