The lazy drag of the question tells Darcy that Maria isn’t just getting here. It makes her lips tick upwards in a quick smile – had she gone through what the other woman has in the past few weeks, she’d be drowning herself in alcohol. She picks absently at the stripe of dried blue paint around her nail beds as she answers.

               “Definitely not an op. More like a business meeting.

                                             –What brings you here? The whiskey isn’t that great – I know, I’ve tried it.”

                  Don’t be fooled, the Director is far from being incapacitated by the two fingers of alcohol she’s allowed herself this evening. If there’s an unspun quality to her words, diverting from her normal, business-like clip, it’s only because she’s ( for the moment, pretending that she’s ) off duty. Taking a night off is almost never a certain thing, but if she’s going to make a play at it she may as well take her drinks early ( give them enough time to burn off before the inevitable goes down ).

Convenience. For the most part,” Hill answers, lifting a brow skeptically when fronted with an answer that seems.. interesting. 

              “Business meetings at this time of night, in this sort of place never fail to get my attention.” Though she won’t investigate further if she doesn’t have to, instead pursing her lips at the mouth of her glass, the swirl of whiskey emanating a sharp scent that speaks to its quality ( Lewis is right- it’s well below great ).



“…Your point being? If anything, you’re proving my point. I’m here because SHIELD thinks they can just scoop people up without letting anyone know. Tony has a job and responsibilities and people who love him. Screw moral compasses and boundaries, SHIELD just doesn’t give a fuck, but-.

                                             You can’t just take people.”

Everything in Darcy relaxes as Hill begins to speak. This is all she’d wanted: to know he’s safe and being looked after and why he’d been taken. She doesn’t have a very clear answer to the last, but the conversation is hardly over yet.

“What kind of question is that?!” she scoffs. “I need the details because everything went to shit and when we needed him, he literally just disappeared off the face of the Earth. Like. Was a phone call too much for you? A text message? An email? A fucking postcard. ‘Hey, something’s going on with Tony and we’re not quite sure what yet, so we’re gonna keep him here for his safety and everyone else’s ‘kay thanks’. That’s not so hard.”

She rolls her eyes at Hill’s statement – she’s not dumb. And she knows Hill, at least a little.

“Yeah, okay. Any information you give me will be complete bullshit because of security clearance and whatever else. He trust me enough to let me in his house and in his lab – the least you can do is give me something to take back to his board and his friends and, oh, I dunno, his girlfriend.”

She huffs through her nose, counting to ten to calm herself.

                             “He’s receiving treatment. For what? What’s wrong with him?”

“We had and STILL have reason to believe that Mr. Stark’s condition could be detrimental to himself and to those that come into contact with him. Excuse us for trying to contain something we don’t know much about yet.” 

Her words are droll, her intonation barely distinguishable, but it’s there, and she’s losing her patience. If she had to field this sort of bullshit each and every time S.H.I.E.L.D. did something in the best interest of the population she’d have retired like four years ago. THIS was why they operated in SECRET. Hill’s lips purse. She can’t exactly say ‘it’s because we might think that you’re a part of a race of alien shapeshifters’, and of course, Maria Hill has more tact than that. 

“Sorry.” She wasn’t. “You’re not exactly at the top of the calling tree. If that’s what you’re here being all flustered about, that’s something you’ll want to take up with the higher ups at Stark Industries. Not my responsibility to call you each and every time shit goes down. If it was, I suspect we’d be having an entirely different conversation, anyway.”

The Director is tempted to look down and study her nails. Lewis has become almost GRATING, and her nerves are frayed enough already. Why can’t everyone just let her run her organization in peace and trust that her decisions are the wisest ones?

                     "Whomever Stark trusts is his business, not mine. No offense, but
               we don’t operate on shared principles.” 

She balks. A misstep. Shit. Lewis hadn’t been aware of the illness. Maria goes from feeling smug and in control to frustrated and backpedaling in about point four seconds. 

                     “When we recovered him he was suffering from the effects of a mysterious
               illness. That’s all I know, presently. That and he’s being treated. It’s not critical.”


“I have a properly functioning moral compass and a respect for people’s boundaries.”

Hill’s stance changes to one that’s a touch more relaxed – or less aggressive, defensive – so Darcy changes hers too. She stands up straight again, crossing her arms over her chest. She imagines the gesture gives a clue as to her feelings – she’s nervous and protecting herself – but it doesn’t stop her. Doesn’t even slow her down.

“Where’s Tony? What’s happened to him? And when can I see him?”

No bullshit, no sass or sarcasm. Just straight to the point.

This is SHIELD, and SHIELD knows everything. There’s no possible way Maria Hill doesn’t know what’s happened to him.

Hill suppresses an eye roll. Not because she felt she HAD to, but because it was highly unprofessional, and right now her professionalism was ( likely ) the only thing keeping this meeting tame. 

You’re the one who came here,” she reminds Darcy, unable to help the cheek ( as if the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s transgressions were suddenly moot points )

Director Hill can appreciate her bluntness. It made her glad to know they weren’t going to screw around. Less time wasted this way. “Mr. Stark is safe. Cared for, and currently receiving treatment. Why is it so imperative that you know the intimate details, Ms. Lewis?”

Brows cinch together in the center of her forehead. “Details are still up in the air. I don’t have a definitive timeline for his release or even his visitation schedule.” She rocks back on her heels. All decisions were her call, but in the end, this one wasn’t really hers. She could only do the best with the information she was given, which at this point— wasn’t much. 

“I can do my best to keep you informed.” With intel that was heavily filtered, of course. 


Hill turns quickly – classic military about-face, sharp and clean, very impressive – and Darcy follows, not rushing her strides while still trying to stay somewhat in step with the taller woman. She manages, only trailing slightly. She’s grateful Hill doesn’t make her run; she could see that being a SHIELD tactic.

“As if you’d actually eat anything you didn’t make or purchase yourself,” she snorts. She’s been out with Hill before, she knows the woman is always in secret agent mode. Which means she’s diligent. Maybe even paranoid. She wonders absently if it gets tiring.

The wall of glass is a nice touch – not as claustrophobic and isolating as any other run of the mill interrogation room. Because that’s what this was going to be: an interrogation. A confrontation of wills. There sure as hell wasn’t going to be any conferring.

Hill pulls out a chair with the toe of her boot, and Darcy pushes it right back in with the toe of her flats. More posturing. She knows that game – she takes a seat and has to look up at Hill while Hill looks down at her. Literally and figuratively.

She’s not having that.

She plants her hands on the back of the chair instead and leans towards the other woman.

“Where is he?”

“Got the mind of an agent. Why aren’t you one?” Hill asks loftily, a tease designed to disarm and distract. It’ll take a lot more than jabbing words to unseat the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. on her home court, except she’s a little irritated that Lewis was able to suss her out that easily. Even more suspicious.

Jesus, Hill, get your shit together. 

Darcy refuses the chair and the agent has to forcibly repress a shrug. Whatever she wanted to do, fine. She was trying to be nice, but only in hindsight did she realize it looked like powerplay. Oh well. Couldn’t win them all. She shifts, clasping her hands at her low back, feet planted hip width apart, the picture of at ease. 

“You’re going to have to be more specific.”

It didn’t take much thought to arrive at WHOM exactly they were talking about. 

But then, Maria wanted to make sure they were on the same page. It wasn’t like she was about to just go spitting out information about anyone whenever their assistants barged in demanding it. She rolls her lips between her teeth for a beat before exhaling, allowing the muscles in her face to slacken and return to neutral. 


Darcy’s really too angry to be embarrassed or afraid. When this is over and she’s at home in her apartment, she’ll berate herself. For now though, she’s unshakable.

“It wasn’t idle or threatening. It was a promise. I can and will make this a migraine-inducing kind of day. Ask Jane – I’m so good at it.”

She’s doing a bit of posturing of her own, however unintentionally. It’s obvious that everyone is trying very hard to look like they’re not trying hard to listen, and most of them are failing.

These are clearly just the support staff and the agents-in-training. They need a lot of work.

Hill’s question isn’t a question, and she knows that. It should probably worry her that she’s volunteering to go deeper into the headquarters of a spy agency that she’s just blustered her way into. Maybe later on it will.

“I thought you’d never ask. Sorry I didn’t bring you lunch; I was in a bit of a hurry.” She isn’t Darcy without her cheek. She walks forwards, eyes on Hill the whole time.

“Lead the way, Director.”

Brows lift once at the word ‘promise’, dusting the upper reaches of her forehead before her expression falls back to neutral, borderline bored. This was going to be a long day, she can tell. 

“I’ll take your word for it, thanks.” Clipped words, her attention is elsewhere, still scanning the atrium and sending out high-level death glares whenever someone accidentally makes eye contact. When her stare falls back on Darcy, it’s hooded, annoyed. Is that a pinprick of pain in her left temple?

Ugh, she hopes not.

A brisk about face has them immediately heading in the direction from whence she’d come. “Won’t fault you for it,” Hill tosses over her shoulder. She wasn’t about to eat anything anyone else brought her, anyway. Seemed like the easiest way to get taken out— if that’s what THEY wanted. Jesus, was she really letting her paranoia run unchecked like this? What was it they said about the cautious? 

Foresight had allowed her to send a quick email memo about preparing a room for them, so when her phone buzzed in her pocket, she had a text with a number in it. Efficiency at it’s finest. 

They stop outside a door cut into a wall made entirely of glass. Transparency, who said S.H.I.E.L.D. was without it? She didn’t want Darcy to feel as though she were being contained ( though that would happen pretty definitely if she didn’t cut the whole threat act ). Once inside, Hill noses a chair out from underneath the sleek conference table with the toe of her boot, angling it toward Darcy. The Director, however, elects to remain standing, hands on her hips.



    She shouldn’t be surprised to see Hill walking towards her looking completely uninterested, and she isn’t. She is a bit offended though.

    “I don’t have time for the posturing and the spy tactics, so let’s cut the bullshit, okay?”

  Darcy lets her arms fall to her sides, hands clenching into fists in frustration and fear. Not of anybody in this building, but for someone in it.

            He’s here. She knows it.

                      She knows it.

         “I wanna know what you’ve done with Tony Stark, and I guarantee it won’t be a pleasure for much longer.”

“Do you know where you are, Ms. Lewis?” The question is droll and falls flatly from her mouth before she even looks up from the screen of her phone. When she does, she quirks a brow. “Of course you do.” Condescending. 

Hill pockets the device, rolling her shoulders and standing up a bit straighter. “Then you know, of course, that idle threats don’t go over well here.”

A pause, a glance around the atrium where everyone continued their business and tried NOT to look like they were trying to listen in on the Director’s conversation. “Mind if we move this to a conference room? Or is that too much bullshit for you?”


Something hasn’t been sitting right with her since Tony disappeared, and while her instincts had been screaming at her that she knew exactly where to go, it’s taken this long for her brain to piece it together. As soon as she’d realized, she’d hopped in a cab and raced over.

Darcy stands in the middle of SHIELD HQ’s lobby, arms crossed and bitch face turned all the way up.

“One of you minions should definitely run and get your director before I decide to go find her myself.”

     “She won’t leave, ma’am.”

Hill stands behind the agent who has directed her attention to one of their security feeds of the lobby. She leans in a little and squints. This was definitely unprecedented and out of the ordinary. Color her suspicious.

     “I can see that.”

The agent shifts his weight, crossing and then uncrossing his arms as if extremely bothered. “Also, she called us minions.”

     “No one likes a tattletale, Mark.” A beat. Despite her suspicion, Hill is curious. “I’ll take care of it.”

When the Director strolls up, casual as ever, she’s browsing her email ( because it’s best not to look TOO interested when someone comes charging in to your place of business looking to rip you a new one in front of ALL of your employees )

     “Ms. Lewis. To what do we owe the pleasure?”