maria > harry


             He’s not expecting it. Anticipation having been eroded by the slow burn of time in these last few days, concern over multiple pressing projects and numerous disappearances having blended together into a general haze of anxious urgency. A dozen things on his mind, moving cogs and burning charges needing to be oiled, doused. So that when the number flashes through on his phone, after that split second it takes for his memory to stir and realization to set in–   he thinks his chest stills, even for a moment.

                His mind washes blank as he lifts his phone to his ear, setting down his helmet on the seat of his Kawasaki and resting his palm against the leather; a means of support as he slides his thumb across the screen of his OsBerry to answer the call. 


                            Harry doesn’t know where to begin.

                                           So he begins naturally.

                “Ahh, well… You know me. Nothing but the best for my spectacular loyal customers.”

                                                   There’s a smile edging into his tone, the slow slide into a gentle comfort at this shock (was it a shock? He’d been expecting something like this, maybe. Even just slightly.) gradually taking effect. He crosses one leg over the other at his ankles, an increasingly relaxed stance.

                                            “You are very welcome, Director Hill. You’re even more welcome back to the land of the living. Or, the land of the Present-In-Action  I guess…  ‘PIA’? If that’s not a thing already, I’m making it a thing now alright.”


               Something of a laugh- she can afford it. Maria turns her head, watching the side street before she steps onto the asphalt, pulling her coat a bit tighter around her neck with one hand. Tucking the smile into her shoulder, she makes her qay quickly across the street.

                                          “We’ve really got to get you on a punch card system.” Irony, she knows. She assumes he’s just been keeping a tab, but thus far she’s never seen a bill from Oscorp.

                                  “Present-In-Action I’ll take, never really was dead.” Ducking her chin, the smile she harbors is fond- he’d come looking for her in the aftermath and the gesture was sweet. “I appreciate it, Harry.” Her words hum against the speaker, an inhale sucks in a breath of the dry chill. “Really.”

                                                 And then there’s the unspoken. Maria purses her lips. 

       “Heard you came by. Just after the carrier went down.” 


maria > harry


She turns the corner and inhales sharply, walking straight into a headwind that slips past the loosely-tied scarf at her neck, darting down her collar and inciting a new spray of goosebumps across her forearms. The phone had come with his personal device preprogrammed ( thoughtful ), and Maria’s already got the line humming in her ear. The purpose of the call is twofold, and as she passes a window display of twinkling lights and tinsel ( already? ), she can’t help but think that the conversation is seasonally appropriate.

“Looks like you updated the model, Osborn- this thing is sleek.” A clipped pause, she turns her head away from the wind. “And timely. I never got a chance to properly thank you.”

🌟 😒 🔪👀 💩

🌟 …someone my muse trusts.

Clint Barton. 

😒 …someone my muse hates.

Tony Stark on a bad day.

🔪 …someone my muse hurt in the past.

Answered !

👀 …someone my muse likes, but doesn’t trust.

Harry Osborn.

💩 …someone my muse dislikes, but admires.

Claire Rockwell. Dislike for her opposition to Registration, admiration for her work with her charity.



                 It’s the truth. 

           [His low voice hums in agreement to her voiced opinion on the benefits of an overabundance of caffeine, a small smile to his features as his line of vision traces her heels as she walks over to the little cart set up against the side of the room. Eyes flicking up to briefly scan the offerings on the cart, noting the espresso machine with a particular interest– before glancing away again. Settling his focus on the emptied back of Maria Hill’s chair, switching his focus to her face when she returns.] 

                                         That’s the dream…  They wanted to be involved. Everyone gets nervous feet when DC approves something like this. Suddenly it’s all this pressure to play ball, get in with the big guys… 

                   [Everyone’s looking for approval, their next ‘in’ when a bill of interest passes around. Not to mention Oscorp had a lot of vested interest in this whole topic. They’d created the Skrull-detection device, an advanced technological weapon that had been capable of disrupting Ultron itself…    R&D was basically ‘Superhuman Assistance Squad department’ at this point.] 

                                             [Maria’s question gently takes him by surprise, his plucked eyebrows knitting together slightly in an expression of mild bemusement at the change in topic. His fingers have paused around the contours of the ceramic cup that had been placed in front of him, pausing to consider.        His index fingertip slips around the short grip of the cup, lifting it slowly.] 

                                           [He smiles again, as if he isn’t terrified that the Director won’t spot a million tells in every slightest shift of the muscles in his face. His hand as he draws his cup near to his jaw.]

                                 Maybe ‘cause I’ve been better…

                                                 Could say the same for you, too.  

                                                                     You alright?

                                                                                [He puts the rim of the cup to his lips.]

                                Oscorp never has had a problem playing in the big leagues.

                  [ The Director watches him consider the question and it appears, for a split second, that he’s thinking about skirting it completely, content to continue talking about work and the banality of process and endeavors. She can only take so much in a given day, especially with those about whom she actually gives a damn. That and Maria doesn’t exactly enjoy being given the run-around. That’s always been her job. Brows lift when he does finally get around to something substantial and she tips her head, conceding that he might be close to correct. ]

                                            A fair assumption, given the circumstances. 

[ Fingertips push at the ceramic vessel, moving it incrementally atop the desk while she meets his eye. A huff, the breath could be misconstrued as a laugh. ]

                  I’m fine, Harry. 

                                                                    [ As always. There’s a quirk at the corner of her mouth, a twitch to accompany the ghost of a laugh before, supplementing the humor that’s merely a trace in the movement of their conversation ( which, at the moment, seems oddly contrived- as though there’s a point he’s meant to be making or he’s about to ). Shoulder blades hit the back of her chair, one knee slides over the top of the other, settling into a more relaxed posture, fingertips coming to rest atop the edges of the armrests. ]

                                     Unless you mean to make my life more difficult.

[ A joke, despite the implied ( and maybe deep down serious ) severity, but maybe a little misplaced given the current circumstances. ]


         [ Hard audience.   But he’s always kinda liked that about Maria. She keeps him on his toes, makes him try a little harder. Reach a little further, where others would let themselves get whisked away by his wily brand of youthful charm. Good to have someone challenge you, even without the use of a single word. ] 

                                 We’re involved.   –Oscorp, I mean. 

                         [ Here’s the lead. She’s interested, he thinks. He knows. Can tell by the slight variation tugging in her expression– for the Director of SHIELD, that means you have her time. And if you have her time… Well, that’s a damn sight better than a lot of people ever get. So, he’s gonna use that time for all it’s worth out here. But first he pauses, prompted to by her inquiry. ]

                                              Sure.   Stronger the better. 

                               [ He asks without hesitation. Whether she meant coffee or something a little more after-hours, he thinks he’s good either way. Settling back into the comfort of the seat beneath him, his arms lift to languidly sprawl over the armrests either side of him as he continues. ] 

                                                It’s all behind the doors for the moment, but. I’ll be announcing something soon to make it clear that we stand with all you international bodies on this one. And that we’ll be supplying some equipment and funding some security initiatives for Hart Island… 

       [ The fact that he’s here is enough to suggest that he has her attention- the Director wouldn’t have granted the appointment otherwise. But it’s not because she thinks that her time is worth more than others, of course, it’s just that it seems she has less of it these days. Then again, Harry Osborn doesn’t have to try as hard to get an audience- and that’s saying something. Maria pushes herself up from her chair, moving smoothly toward the small beverage cart that’s been positioned in one corner of the room- stocked with mostly coffee-based essentials an a push-button espresso machine. ]

                           Agreed. Too much caffeine has never been a bad thing in my experience. 

                 [ There’s a hitch in the line of her mouth that could be a smile, discreet behind the curve of her shoulder as she readies the cups- doppios with a perfect golden crema coating the inside of the white ceramic. On the return she deposits his on the desk in front of him, moving around to take her seat once more. ]

                                             Fair enough. Sounds like a decent endeavor for the Corporation. Judging by the first responses to the bill, I’m sure that your support will come in handy.

                              [ Maria lifts the cup to her mouth, draining half of it in one smooth motion. There’s the sound of ceramic on glass when it meets the desk but her eyes are on Harry. ]

                                              — I don’t think you ever told me how you’ve been, Harry. 

[ There’s a part of her that hates herself for not keeping up, but then again there’s the everlasting cycle of time and her lack of it. Maria smothers the feeling with the last half of her espresso, letting the richness linger in her mouth before swallowing. ]


                     I try to keep the freshness levels up, much as I can.

            [He comments somewhat breezily, attempting to inject some further humor into the conversation. His ensuing smile matching the tone taken, before invariably slipping into something a little more serious once more. Tilting his head gently and interlocking the fingers of his hands together in front of his face; thoughtful.]

                                    [At last, she’s starting to look a little engaged in their discussion.]

                             Doesn’t stop at thoughts.

                                                         Also have news, stuff that ties into all this.

                   [His thumbs twiddle slightly while suspended in the air, flicking his eyes to meet her gaze once again. An expression at once contemplative, sly and reserved. A small tug into the corner of his cheeks, he parts his hands again and allows them to fall to either side of himself; open-palmed.]

                                Starting with that ‘Hart Island facility’.

                                                              –Or more specifically, how I got my hands into it.

           [ Always the smooth talker, but unfortunately the Director deals with her fair share of those on the daily, so his slick retort doesn’t earn anything but the subtlest incline of her head, a slight suggestion to continue, which he does.

                       Brows lift, an incremental movement that ends with twin points near the apex of her forehead, interest as well as curiosity awash in her expression. Maria finds it somehow unsurprising to find that Oscorp has become involved with sanctioning the Accords. Norman Osborn, she knows, was quick to sign his name along the dotted line- it only makes sense that his company would rally to align itself with his pledge. ]

                                  What about the Hart Island Facility?

[ The way he mentions it suggest she should already know, but she doesn’t, and she can feel the small curl of heat at the base of her throat. What had she missed? It isn’t worth getting upset about now– no, for now she’ll feign knowledge in an attempt to gain more from Harry. Maria shifts until her spine meets the back of her chair, head pressed against the rest while she waits for him to continue. But in case he has any doubts- ]

                      —Sorry, it’s been a long week. Can I get you something to drink?