–> { Sh }


   It’s why he’d rushed to call her even after informing Sharon. It wasn’t enough to let one S.H.I.E.L.D. operative know and then sit back twiddling his thumbs hoping they’ll pass it up top. He’d gone straight for the top himself, because in his head, no-one else in the United States was as prepared or capable in a crisis as Maria Hill.

        Just like that, she’s confirmed. Relief pushes into the rounded front of his cranium.

                 –> Next problem.

             Her matter-of-fact tone is infectious, and he can hear his own voice becoming more steadied beneath it.

                     “Already done, I’ve got everyone I can spare over there. Security footage is active, I’ll make sure your guys can access it.”

                         He pulls up a holographic control panel and expands it across his desk, utilizing executive protocols to break through the various security walls that have been cast up around Chemicals’ server. His emergency authorization notification passes through without a hitch, granting external access to the relevant ID-carrying S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives to be detailed shortly.

                                      “Send their IDs through for clearance. They’ll get hands-on access on arrival.”

    “Perfect. And make sure you don’t turn over any footage or potential evidence to anyone other than our agents. For now we’re going to be taking point on this.” 

       Maria can hear him start to come back to even-keel, telegraphed in the slowing tones of his voice, the spaces between his inhales and exhales. She doesn’t have time to panic, or time for anyone else to panic. The fact that he’s on the downhill from this adrenaline high is a good thing, and she can’t have him fussing around a crime scene while he’s all strung out ( she’d rather not at all, but at least he can be calm and cooperative ). 

                               She’s alternating tapping out messages on her computer and on the phone she’s currently using. Incoming texts from Sharon Carter confirm she wasn’t at the top of the calling tree. 

               “IDs are coming your way. We appreciate your cooperation.”

   The sentence falls from her mouth in a weirdly clinical way with a sterile aftertaste and Maria finds herself, oddly, wanting to soften it somehow.

       “I’m sorry that this happened to you, Harry. It seemed like things were going so well–”

   She can’t help the uptick on the last word, like it’s a question somehow, and maybe it is. Maybe she’s probing for information, or not. Wondering if there’s any party in particular that springs to mind when he thinks about who could be responsible. 

                               “Agents should be on site in twenty. Hold tight until they get there.”


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