To Die For
02. Way Too Early
“I called Fury, and he’s on his way.”
The sound of Tony’s voice jerked Ebony awake, her eyes full of a sleep she wasn’t used to anymore. Growing up, we had gotten used to waking up at the crack of dawn, getting our chores done, and then starting our day. After moving out and seeing the world with Natasha, we adjusted to waking up at a little more normal time. Six, sometimes seven. And, gasp, on the days we slept in, we got up at seven thirty.
That had all changed, and this time, we had to get up earlier than we had in a long time.
Usually, back at home on the farm, we would sometimes have to get up at two or three in the morning to get all the chores for that day done, so we had gotten used to it.
But that was four years ago. Now, Ebony had adjusted to coming in at about one in the morning after work—the time we got up this morning—and sleeping until she was damn ready to wake up. She had gotten to bed around seven or so, but the girl still looked as dead as a possum playing pretend.
Me, with the modeling gigs, sometimes, I had to wake up at the farm times of the morning, so I was used to it. Sure, I coulda gone for some Mountain Dew, but I wasn’t as bad off as poor Ebony.
I saw Hawk come walking in the room, rubbing his hands quickly through his hair to rub the sleep out of it. “How are you awake this early?”
“I don’t need sleep like normal people,” he snorted.
Ebony glared at him. “You lucky son of a gun. I ain’t never gotten used to this shit. Evvy’s always up and ready at the crack’a dawn, but I say fuck that shit.”
Tony cracked a crooked smile at Ebony. “The two of you have the cutest Southern accents, like, ever. I thought that shit was just made up to get people to actually come down South.”
Ebony looked offended, and usually, when someone dissed the South in any form or fashion, she took it to heart. “I’ll have you know, the South is one of the greatest places on earth! I’ve been all ‘round the world, and that’s still where I wanna end up. There’s more than Southern girls and sports bars on every corner.”
His eyes widened. “There are sports bars on every corner?!”
While Ebony started giving him death looks from hell, I couldn’t contain my laughter. My opinion on the matter was that yeah, the South was my favorite place I had been. The people were genuinely nicer there, though admittedly some were still too old-fashioned. But for the most part, people genuinely wanted to help each other. They genuinely cared for their neighbor—at least the place I came from.
Then again, Dozier didn’t even have a thousand people living there. Hell, it didn’t even have four hundred, so I guess I couldn’t really say too much about that.
“Pretty much, least this college town not far from home did,” I laughed. “There were plenty of ‘em all around the state, though. Not too many strip clubs in Dozier, but I hear Birmingham has quite a few.”
Tony looked over at Hawk, who was rubbing the hangover out of his eyes at the current moment. “That’s where we need to go. We’ll take you there so you can get over that bitch.”
Ebony rolled her eyes. “Bitch she may be, but she’s family, and in this fucked up place, family’s all we got.”
I snorted. “Yeah, well, she tried to tell us what to do. I say fuck her.” I looked to Hawk with a smirk, and a light started burning in his otherwise pained eyes. “Besides, why go all the way down there? It ain’t like this big place ain’t got any strip joints of its own.”
“Yes, but we don’t have cute Southern strippers,” Tony pointed out, and with a smirk in my direction, he wiggled his eyebrows. “But, I mean, if you wanna save us the trip . . . .”
While my eyebrows rose and a taunting smile started to pull across my lips, Ebony stood straight up and slapped him.
“Do you talk your momma with that mouth?” she glared fiercely and crossed her arms very vehemently over her chest.
“Well, she died about ten years ago, so I can’t say that I do,” he said, and while her eyes widened, he smirked. “Aw, come on, Ebby. Lighten up. Your sister doesn’t seem offended, and I was actually talking to her.”
“First of all, I ain’t Evvy,” she snapped. “My name is Ebony, so stop with the ‘Ebby’ bullshit. Second of all, my sister ain’t got no sense.” She turned away from Tony shot me a glare. “Will you stop? I know Natty taught you how to manipulate people, but he’s already getting on my damn nerves.”
I smirked at Tony, whose eyebrows rose while Hawk nearly choked on the coffee he was drinking. “And here I was about to have so much fun . . . you’ll have to excuse her, guys. If she don’t get her beauty sleep, the ugly monster inside comes out and wreaks havoc on everyone’s fun.”
“Fuck you,” she grumbled, but instead of sticking beside me to fight, she trudged over to the
coffee machine beside Hawk.
I looked to him with my curiosity dancing in my eyes. I knew how to express myself so everyone knew what was going on inside me, and I knew how to hide everything. Hell, I even knew how to make people genuinely believe an emotion I didn’t feel.
The art of manipulation, my friend. You make someone believe you want them, you want something, it’s interesting to find out what they really want.
Just one big mind game.
He stopped drinking his coffee and gave me a sarcastic smile. “Look, you tried batting those eyelashes at me before, and it’s not gonna work.”
“Worked last night.”
“Yeah, well, I was drunk,” he reminded me. “Much more sober today. I’m not so easily manipulated.”
I knew he was well on his guard right now, and you know, I might be able to do it, but instead, I decided to pounce when he least expected it. Show him that he needed to be more than sober.
Hawk was waiting on me to give it a shot, but even if I wanted to, the doors of Stark Tower opened up, and in walked Mr. Mysterious.
Director Fury looked a bit banged up. There was a cut on his head, and his arm was in a sling.
The most surprising thing, though, was that his long black jacket was gone. His eye patch . . . gone, replaced by sunglasses.
Still dressed in black from head to toe with his dark jeans and black zip-up jacket, he was a man that could blend into the shadows almost as good as Ebony could.
He’s a damn good spy, ya know.
His face tightened when he saw me standing there, flashing him a huge smile that always seemed to make him feel a little better. Fury was mostly immune to emotions, but a few years ago, when we first met, I found a way to crack him.
He told me I was like the daughter he always wanted but would never have. If that’s not cracking the emotionless, I don’t know what is.
“Miss Tucker, your cousin isn’t here, as I see you very well know,” he murmured. “As a matter of fact, your guess is as good as mine as to where she is. You’re lucky S.H.I.E.L.D. is no longer functioning, or higher powers would be very angry.”
“My, my, Director Fury,” I said, and I slowly began circling him as a smile came to my face.
Over the years, I noticed that this flattered men, and if I wanted in, he needed to be flattered.
And certain I was worth Nat’s wrath. “You have a thing for black, don’t cha? It suits you. Brings out that muscle.”
He raised his eyebrows. “If I recall, your cousin has a thing for black as well. And she had her demands.”
“My cousin demanded that S.H.I.E.L.D. stopped pursuing me and Ebony and left us to live our lives,” I pointed out, but I kept my tone casual. “From the way I see it, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s got bigger things to worry about. Do they even exist anymore?”
I could see the uncertainty in his expression as I asked my question, but he ignored it and shook his head. “I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. The three of you, side by side—”
“They were deadly enough that you sent me in to kill ‘em,” Hawk reminded him. “Fury, they’re a force to be reckoned with. I tried to capture them. I know.”
“If I remember correctly, Natasha alone is a force to be reckoned with,” Fury said, and he gave me a stern look—a look I had seen before, the time after Natasha had joined with S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.H.I.E.L.D. had to send her and Hawk after us to keep us from trying to single-handedly take on a terrorist group, which would in turn expose the world to superheroes.
And now, that didn’t even matter anymore. Now, the entire world knew everything . . . literally everything.
I nodded and took a few steps away from him, my eyes tightening a bit. “No, I understand. Natasha’s a bitch if you get on her bad side. Trust me, I’ve seen it. But, you see, Director Fury, there’s a reason she doesn’t want us in S.H.I.E.L.D. Maybe she doesn’t want this life for us, but she knows that we’re powerful. More powerful than her.”
Fury’s eyebrows furrowed. “Elaborate? Last time I saw you, you were just two skilled spies who were in way over your heads.”
“They’re both much more skilled with guns than me,” I admitted. “I was never really a gun person, though. I don’t need them. I can get in your head and morph into whoever is your weakest point. Whoever will make you cringe. I can disappear, on will, and become invincible. Ebony can blend in with the shadows and appear behind you to shock you to death—or put you in a coma, if you’d prefer. Then you give her a gun, and she’s as deadly as Natasha.”
“But give Evory a knife, and you’ll regret it,” Hawk snorted. “Both are equally flexible, too.”
Fury looked back at him with his eyebrows now raised. “Are they really worth pissing Natasha off?”
Hawk smirked a little at me, and I shot him a glare. Yes, right now, he seemed to have the power here. Clearly, Fury trusted him, and he sensed Hawk had a better assessment of the situation than he did.
He also really wanted to piss Natasha off, and I knew that. Hey, I was thrilled to help.
“Completely worth it.”
Fury nodded, and all emotion left his face as he continued looking at Hawk. “Alright. The two of you, get ready to go hand-to-hand. I need some proof of this. Tony, suit up and go hand-to-hand with Ebony.”
I heard Ebony scoff while Tony looked mortified, but when Tony was at a loss for words, Ebony pounced on her chance and smirked at him. “I’m gonna enjoy the hell outta this.”
Hawk’s eyes widened as I gave him a smirk very similar to the one he gave me just a minute ago. While he stammered around for words to try and argue, I chuckled a bit darkly. “What, Hawk? Scared to hit a girl?”
“You are no girl,” he snorted. “Please don’t make me do this. Or at least promise that when I have to go to ICU cause this bitch broke all the bones in my body, you’ll send me a balloon?”
“I’ll make sure to come sit beside and hold your hand,” I told him.
He smirked some now. “Sounds fun. Wait. Are you gonna talk? Talking ruins the images.”
“I can make them even better,” I suggested, and I walked carefully over to him, making sure to swing my hips just the right way. While his eyebrows rose, I began playing with the v-neck collar of his white undershirt and smirked. “The only thing I hate about this shirt is that it’s still on . . . .”
Hawk looked behind me, back to Fury. “I’m in.”
And as I turned away, letting out yet another dark laugh, Hawk realized that I had just done what he said I couldn’t.
Manipulation was something Natasha had taught me, but I had mastered it and became better.
After all, manipulation was one of my abilities.
I had just manipulated the one Natasha labeled unable to manipulate. Sure, his mind could be turned to goop with an alien scepter, but that didn’t mean you could manipulate him. Mind control and manipulation are slightly different.
But that difference made me a bit proud as I walked towards the training floor. It was more than the training floor, but it was what Tony had called it when giving me and Ebony a tour of the place.
I was ready to show whatever was left of S.H.I.E.L.D.—if anything was left of S.H.I.E.L.D.—what I was made of. I had been ready for years.
The lyrics are from Listening by Tonight Alive. :)
Hope you guys enjoy! Let me know what you think. It means a lot! I love writing this story and want you guys to enjoy it as much as I do. :)
Also, there are more spoilers to come throughout the series. So, once again, if you haven't seen Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier and don't want it spoiled for you, you should probably stop reading. :P