((One of my giveaway’s runner-ups, Retconnedbythecaptain, requested my little group of OCs and Darcy in SHIELD training. The rest of her request will be hidden for now, as it rather gives away the plot. 8) ))
The low level junior agent had been an annoyance all day.
Harris had gotten used to ignoring the guy, but somehow, they ended up in the same classes over and over and over and Harris was absolutely done with listening to his inane babble. Apparently, the idiot had been CIA before being recruited by SHIELD. Everyone knew this because he kept bringing it up. It appeared that he considered the SHIELD training courses to be an annoyance, after his long and proficient career in the field.
The only one impressed by his ‘long and proficient career’ up until this point appeared to be him. Harris was impressed only by his ability to continue talking long after everyone had ceased to listen to him.
And he wasn’t terribly impressed by that, either.
This briefing session, and SHIELD called them briefing sessions instead of classes, not that anyone gave a damn what SHIELD called them, was about emerging issues with Canadian customs. Canadian customs, as it turned out, was not impressed by SHIELD’s fancy footwork and weren’t real eager to clear certain things across the border.
Basically, if it didn’t appear on the periodic table of elements, Canada had a certain wariness about letting it cross their borders. Harris considered this completely justified; SHIELD wasn’t quite so forgiving. Harris approved of practicality on the part of customs agents, and national governments.
Maybe he could defect. Maybe that was still a thing.
Basically, Harris was bored out of his mind, and he wasn’t the only one. The CIA reject actually had an audience, which was rare, but as annoying as he was, at least he was interesting. Annoying interesting beat competent boring any day, even with people as eager to impress as the average SHIELD Junior Agent.
“So, I was down in Columbia and-”
Harris gritted his teeth and kept his face forward, staring at the tall, broad shouldered woman with the neat black bun who was leading the course. She took her material very seriously, and it didn’t seem to bother her overly much that no one else did.
“You would not believe what-”
Harris glanced over at the CIA reject. “Look,” he said, in an undertone, “I’m trying to pay attention here, so I’d really appreciate it if you could keep it down?”
CIA-Douche gave him a disdainful look. In a single flick, he took in Harris’ lanky form, from the shock of wheat-blonde hair to his too-big feet, clad in battered sneakers. His face twisted in a smirk, and Harris resisted the urge to sigh. “I’m sorry,” Mr. Too-Cool-For-School said to Harris. “I thought I knew all the agents in this recruiting wave. Who are you, exactly?”
Harris stared him down, because he really did not care. “Summer intern,” he said.
One of the other agents actually choked back a laugh, and a few pitying glances were exchanged. “Wow,” CIA-Douche said, stretching the vowel out like overly-sweet taffy. “That’s interesting.” With that, he dismissed Harris, leaning back in his chair and stretching his legs out in front of him. “So, as I was saying-”
Harris took a look at his flawless cowboy boots, made of something expensive and over-tooled, and had to move before he said something he’d regret. A faint wave of laughter followed him as he moved to the aisle and shifted forward a few rows, his stuff tucked under his arm in an untidy heap. He found an open seat near the front, because honestly? No one wanted to be at the front of this class. The woman in the next seat gave him a disinterested look before returning to her computer.
From where he was sitting, Harris was pretty sure she was drawing something obscene.
He turned his attention back to the instructor and tried to pretend that he cared. As the class droned on, and the faint hum of voices and laughter around the room only became more pronounced, he wanted to scream. If these people didn’t want to bother paying attention, why were they still here?
As if on cue, he heard the rear door of the lecture hall open with a subdued bang. For an instant, he thought someone had finally left in a huff. But a moment later, footsteps came bouncing down the aisle, the gait quick and almost skipping. Harris’ head came up from his notebook, because he could suddenly hear the instructor. The room was getting quieter and quieter, the footsteps now a rhythmic call of doom.
He didn’t turn around. Because he was being paranoid. He was being paranoid, this wasn’t happening, not everything was about him. He was unimportant, in the scheme of things. He was uninteresting and unnoticed, just another head in a sea of them, bent over a notebook because that felt more real than a tablet, that felt right. He was that unimportant. No one came looking for him. Ever.
That was the way he wanted it.
He flinched. He couldn’t help it. It was like his brain recognized the danger and was desperately trying to escape. He kept his head down, his eyes locked on the notebook, on the increasingly irrational scribbles his pen was leaving in its wake.
“Harris. Hey, Harris.”
Behind his back, he made a shooing motion of his hand, a hard, sharp flick that he hoped communicated, “GO AWAY” in no uncertain terms. Preferably with some obscenities mixed in.
The CIA reject had finally shut up, and all idle chatter had died. With the exception of the ongoing list of the things that Canada most certainly DID NOT WANT, there was now dead silence in the lecture hall. Harris ignored everything.
Something bounced off the back of his head, and he squeezed his eyes shut.
The woman to his right kept stealing quick glances over her shoulder, her face incredulous. “Is that-” she whispered.
“Just ignore him. He’ll lose interest and go away eventually,” Harris said, bending over his notes. His shoulders hunched, as if he could force his head down until his ears were actually covered.
There was a sharp poke on the inside of his shoulder blade, and he wanted to scream.
“Has ignoring him ever actually worked?” she whispered.
“No. But there’s always hope for a first time,” Harris whispered back from between clenched teeth. It was a slim hope, but it was a hope.
“Haaaaaaaaaarris.” The word had taken on a distinctly whining tone. Harris wondered if he could get a plea deal if he killed the man and confessed. At this rate, SHIELD might help him cover it up.
“Any questions?” the instructor said, with all due gravity. “Yes, Mr. Stark?”
“I need to collect my minion,” Tony Stark said from behind Harris. “Official Avengers business.”
Harris let his head fall forward to his desktop without worrying about the contents of his skull. He was losing his mind already. A little concussion would probably just help things along.
“Of course,” the instructor said, polite and professional. “Mr. MacIntyre, you’re dismissed.”
Harris spun around in his seat. Tony was smirking at him from behind a pair of golden tinted glasses. He kicked the back of Harris’ seat. “Let’s go.”
“You know,” Harris hissed, “I could stab you in the face right now and I would be fine with that. I would be so fine with that, there aren’t even words.”
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t be fine with it, and let’s face it, what I want is more important.” Tony rolled to his feet, tucking his hands in the pockets of a suit that had to cost more than Harris’ current car. His shoes, however, were battered Converse, and his hair was a wind-blown mess. “What I want is always more important. March.” He headed for the door, absolutely certain that Harris would be right behind him.
Harris kind of resented the fact that he was. The whole room watched, in utter silence, as Harris gathered his stuff and followed Stark to the door, resenting the man every step of the way. Though he did have a moment of pleasure when he glanced back and saw CIA-Douche’s mouth hanging open. Harris gave him a tight smile and a little finger wiggle of a wave.
“You know,” he said as the door shut behind him, “when I was a kid, I could never figure out why the dumb companions on Dr. Who always seemed so eager to follow that moron whenever he showed up. I mean, clearly, all that was going to happen was he was going to get them killed.”
“I don’t know, adventure, romance, fucking cool aliens?” Tony pointed out.
“All wonderful, until you’re too dead to enjoy them,” Harris said, shifting his training materials under one arm. “What, exactly, do you want?”
“I’m sensing a certain lack of disrespect, here, a note, just a faint note of disdain that I’m not certain I approve of,” Tony told him.
“I’ll try harder, any disdain in my voice should be obvious,” Harris said. “What do you want?”
“I’m not really hearing the proper amount of respect here,” Tony said, throwing an arm around Harris’ shoulders. “I got you out of detention.” He waved his other hand in an expansive gesture. “What is your problem? You were bored out of your mind in that class.”
“Briefing,” Harris felt required to say. “And I don’t get to skip things I find to be boring. What do you WANT, Tony?”
“No, you don’t get to skip boring things, I need you to do boring things for me, so I don’t have to do them. As it turns out, I DO get to skip things I find boring.”
“Why?” Harris asked.
“Because I’m rich. And because when I’m bored, things tend to get exploded, and Fury has put a strict limit on the number of things I’m allowed to explode,” Tony said, and he was grinning, wide and white and sharp, his eyes glinting as they walked.
“How strict a limit?” Harris asked, wary.
“Not so strict. I mean, obviously, he’d prefer none, but that’s not going to happen,” Tony said, as if that was obvious.”
Harris rubbed his forehead. “Tony, what is going on here? Really?”
“Really?” Tony threw an arm around Harris’ shoulders. Harris resisted the urge to scream. “We have a job for you.”