painting white flags blue ; carter + hill


Sharon’s never seen Maria this agitated – vaguely, she wonders if maybe she just missed it, if everything the Council insisted on dredging up over the past hour and a half had been just as miserable for Maria then as it was relieving it now – and regardless, the tension is contagious, passed back and forth between them in the small space of the cab’s backseat until it’s practically buzzing in the air.  The sidewalk outside the restaurant is almost a relief, mid-morning, muggy DC air a welcome reprieve from the electric discomfort of the car, and Sharon can feel the humidity settling on her skin like a blanket, a shroud, weighing her down with an imagined weight that doubles the one she already feels like she’s carrying.

“Of course he is,” Sharon doesn’t bother disguising the bitterness in her voice, stepping closer to Maria until they’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the empty sidewalk, a tense, two-woman phalanx formed against some imagined intruder.

“This is what Pierce is good at, he’s been good at it since – 

Since Sharon was fresh from the Academy, as long as she’s known him, known of him, and all the rest of his kind – politicians, men of power and wealth who think the world dangles on a string of their own making, and the worst part is they’re usually right – 

Revulsion works its way down Sharon’s spine in a shiver, a strange, discomfiting counterpoint to the late morning’s stifling heat.

“We certainly don’t have a choice, it’s – bad or worse.”

(Jesus, all that time Sharon spent dreading the thought that they were headed to something like this and it still feels like a blindside.)

She swallows hard, jaw tight as she tips her gaze up to search Maria’s face, finding only a mirror of her own thinly-veiled violation.

“We push the Accords ourselves, try and keep a hand on the wheel, or we take both hands off and let Pierce and his cronies drag us out into the street as some kind of fucked up example, what the hell – ”

Five minutes outside of the cab and she can already feel her clothes beginning to adhere to her skin- Washington, D.C. in the late summer, nothing better. Moisture collects in the fabric, infuriatingly along the flat planes of her limbs, hands, despite exerting next to no effort as they move down the sidewalk. The oppressiveness of the heat only serves to stoke her irritation, the air barely stirred when Sharon drifts close, their shoulders dusting.

Maria can finish that sentence for her but doesn’t. She doesn’t have to. 

There’d been a certain point in her career as an agent that she realized Pierce was as frivolously nice as he was cunning, and that most of the time that cleverness was aimed in some twisted way toward his own goals ( although- wasn’t this the underlying quality of most spies? ). Aren’t they all good at this to some degree? This wasn’t the end just because he’d gotten a jump start.

They’ve seen this before. Written between the lines in countless exams and hypotheticals- those awful sorts of questions that ask young people to weigh the lives of many over the lives of few. Maria knows Sharon had seen them in the Academy, just like she had. This was a choice in that same vein, the impossible category where they’d be expected to make the tough call and ride it out. Either way they’ll be criticized, and the only real choice they have in the matter is exactly how they want to receive it.

She tips her head toward the blonde, the decision already made long ago and she’s confident that Sharon’s got the same idea.

“Exactly.” Her tongue runs over the ridges of her teeth, hidden by the hardline press of her mouth. The agitation that’d been building up has reached it’s apex, scattered points that’ve suddenly and almost startlingly become a straight, searing line. There’s almost a chill to her calm and the way that it spreads out over her shoulders, hiding in the pulse-like beat of the muscle clenched at the base of her jaw. Her eyes slide to Sharon and the flats of her irises are dark beneath the cast shade of her lashes.

“Good thing is, it makes our choice pretty easy.”


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