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It'd been a while since her last infiltration. Well, a while since the last infiltration that had required her to make even a token effort of disguising herself. For a while, it had seemed as if Coulson was saddling her with nothing but missions where she was required to go in hot, wearing full S.H.I.E.L.D. regalia and all but announcing her presence. But that was then. This was now. And now she didn't have access to S.H.IE.L.D.'s near-limitless resources. No team to back her up. No Coulson to run interference when everything inevitably went pear-shaped and people further up the ladder wanted her head and her badge served to them on a plate. She was flying solo, and if she screwed up, it was curtains.
The target was a politician holding a charity gala at the Grand Hyatt, which was also where their penthouse was located. Her name was Paulliard; in the running for mayor. Daisy had reason to believe that Ms. Paulliard had financial ties to the Watchdogs, and she aimed to prove it. Even if she had to break into her penthouse and turn it upside down to find the necessary evidence.
Getting her hands on a disguise and the proper credentials to make it seem legit were the easy part. The Hyatt went through janitorial and maintenance staff like toothpicks; nobody would bat an eye at a new hire, so long as they stayed out of the way of the guests. And Daisy hadn't been completely burned when she went rogue. She had plenty of contacts who had no reason to be beholden to S.H.I.E.L.D. who could secure the proper coveralls and a counterfeit badge for her. And making sure that one Linda Lee was in the Hyatt's systems as a new employee was child's play; their computer security was basic, easy to work around. So on the night of the gala, Daisy--or Linda--found herself sweeping floors and collecting garbage bags in the opulent halls of the Grand Hyatt.
The hotel lobby was packed, housing a crowd of over two hundred people, probably more. It was impressive how they were able to fit so many people inside and still have room for tables draped in white cloth slashed diagonally with gold thread, ice sculptures, floral centerpieces, and drinks set out on all of them. The Hyatt's overall aesthetic made her want to gag; typical post-modern, geometric designs, a color palette ranging from dark grays to lighter grays. The whole thing reeked of old money trying to pass themselves off as new money. But if she vomited on the carpet, chances were good she'd be the one who'd have to scrub it out.
A gloved hand gripping her broom, Daisy popped the collar of her gray jumpsuit and pulled down the brim of her matching ballcap. Even if a janitor was technically beneath suspicion, the less people were able to get a clear look at her face, the better off she'd be. She was a wanted fugitive, after all, and with this much political power gathered in a single place, there was no guarantee someone in the crowd wouldn't be able to identify her.
Making a show of sweeping the dark gray carpet, her eyes scanned the faces in the crowd. It was a who's who of politicians, local and national celebrities. Stan Ori, District Attorney Tower. Everybody within the Tri-State Area with any semblance of power, social clout, and (Most importantly) money was present. And Paulliard was making her rounds among them, grinning wide and vigorously shaking hands. About the only people in the lobby who weren't directly involved in the Byzantine power games of American politics and celebrity culture were the security personnel. Daisy had scoped them out when she first walked in. Black suits hiding taut muscle, no guns; just tasers and telescoping batons. Easy to handle... if her cover got blown on this floor. There was no guarantee that the security on Paulliard's floor would be quite as nonlethal.
Taking a deep breath, Daisy lifted her broom and rested it on her right shoulder, making her way to the elevators. Now began the hard part: reaching her target without getting busted.
The words came out of Johnny's mouth often enough for the people that knew him the best, give him a glance, the kind that subtly begged that he would stay out of trouble, the kind that meant YouTube-videos and a worrying lack of clothing. It always started the same way and Johnny thought it was a defense for his actions. The most common question he was given was if he could set any part of his body on fire and that of course, occasionally, was given an answer. They were private answers, that somehow ended up being public ones. Not that he minded much. As far as he was concerned, he had nothing to hide, from maybe perhaps his sister then. That would have to settle as the exception.
The realization though, had Johnny flicking through his emails and eventually his eyes found something interesting. There were plenty of invitations and offers waiting for him, most of which he dismissed. During the last year he'd found himself getting a little picky with what kind of events and venues he attended, based on a well-calculated equation of the chances of free food, booze and lovely ladies. The gala at the Grand Hyatt seemed to be promising that. Nothing like a charity to draw a good crowd. He accepted the invitation via his phone while trying to get into something more suitable for a gala, in this case a navy blue two-piece from Tom Ford.
Johnny arrived in his own opinion fashionably late and when he pulled his car up at the front a well-dressed valet immediately came to open the door for him. The constantly hot-topic member of the Fantastic Four hadn't more than stepped out of the car when the camera flashes started, taking him an additionally ten minutes to actually get inside, stopping to have his picture taken and even sign a few arms and other odd items. Once inside though, he was meeting and greeting vicariously and with a glass of excellent champagne in his hand. It was more impressive on the inside, he soon found, which was ironical if you thought about it, given that it was supposed to be a charity gala. They even had ice sculptures, which at one point, Johnny had been asked to step away from as his presence was making it melt and drip water onto the carpet.
After a number of drinks, Johnny was finding him in a sort of comfortable lull, not strong enough to cause people raise their eyebrows at him, at least not yet. For everyone's pleasure, they had also locked the downstairs bathrooms, leaving Johnny only one option and that was to take the elevator. "I'll be right back," he promised the temporary company he'd found, a slender blonde with a most pleasing hourglass figure. By the elevator, he pressed the button even though it was lit up with evidence of having been only recently pressed, mostly likely by the janitor that stood next to it, a broom comfortable resting over a should. "Going up?" he asked and gestured with a thumb towards the now opening elevator doors. He gestured for her to take her spot first and then followed.
He leaned against the wall and eyed her curiously. "Gotta say, you smell a lot less like Mr. Clean than any other janitor I've met." He flashed her a brilliant smile.
Daisy couldn't help glancing over her shoulder to see if she was being watched as she pressed the call button for the elevator. This was the part she always hated about spy work; the ever-present fear that with one false move, you could get made. Or even worse, that you've been made since you walked through the door. That razor thin line of tension cut into you, ate at your nerves.
It was certainly eating at her nerves plenty. When she heard the man approach, Daisy actually jumped a little before turning to look at him. Blonde, easy on the eyes, could work a blue two-piece suit. She knew who he was, of course, in the sense that you "knew" who a particular movie star was. Johnny Storm, one quarter of the Fantastic Four, and certainly the most public of the team. Daisy's shoulders slumped, and her grip on her broom relaxed some. She was pretty sure she didn't have to worry about him recognizing her. Unless he was privy to government secrets.
The elevator dinged as it reached the ground floor, and the doors rumbled as they slid open. She kept quiet as Johnny playfully asked her if she was heading up, and stepped into the giant metal box. Pulling off her cap, she wiped sweat from her forehead as she looked at the floor buttons. 26 floors, with the top four reserved for penthouses. There were keyholes next to the buttons for floors 23 through 26, and she didn't have the key. Daisy huffed, pressing the button for floor 22. She should've figured ahead of time that the penthouse levels would've been locked in some way.
She was distracted from beating herself up by Johnny commenting on her smell. On impulse, she snorted. Brushing her bangs back, she placed the ball cap back on her head before turning her head to look at the hotshot superhero, her dark eyes meeting his. Her lips curled into the faint suggestion of a smile. "I'm sure that line sounded more charming in your head." Stepping back from the control panel, she leaned up against the wood paneled wall, clutching the broom with both hands. "Any other girl, it might've actually worked." She added, hoping a well-aimed snipe would burst his bubble before it got the chance to inflate.
The elevator hummed as it ascended to the 22nd floor of the Hyatt. Aside from that, it was quiet. No muzak (Mercifully), no ding as floors were passed. Just the white noise whine of machinery. "So do you just flirt with every girl you come across? Or is there more to you than initial impressions?" Daisy asked Johnny, making small talk less because she was genuinely interested and more because it was the natural thing to do, which would help to alleviate suspicion.
Johnny had always liked people, had since an early age gravitated towards them. At least that had been the sentiment of the stories Sue had told him about when he was just a kid, that and he'd had an uncanny ability to turn any situation into something about himself. He'd been a pro already at five years old and still to this day he still wasn't smart enough to know when he should be ashamed. At the age of twenty-six though, he'd learned a few things about his affinity for people. While plenty of people joked, and with good grounds, about it being purely attraction for the opposite gender, Johnny had found that there was curiosity too.
There was no answer after his first question, which he assumed was fair enough. His first impressions weren't always great and while an exception, he could probably account for this one to be one of them. The lack of an answer didn't discourage him, it was rather the opposite. His curiosity grew when he watched her battle the buttons of the elevator, to the point that he forgot that he was supposed to go about other business. Instead he remained, watching her comfortably leaned back against the sleek wall, hands into the pockets of his slacks. When she finally spoke, he raised his brows, showcasing some surprise. "What? No. It was a sincere observation." He produced a feigned shudder and easily pushed off the wall. "If that was meant to be a working line, I would've been ashamed of myself."
He left her with that and for a moment the continued silence seemed to be plenty but to his surprise, the janitor spoke up again. He didn't answer right away, just squinted his eyes towards her a little, as if trying to gauge if she was being serious or not. He seemed to settle on the fact that she genuinely seemed to want to know. "Is that a rhetorical question? Please tell me that was rhetorical, because I'm not sure I could survive any other answer." He put an arm up against the wall, only partially leaning his weight into it, offering him to stand at an angle where he could look at her more fully. "First impressions are always precarious if you ask me. I mean, look at me, I'm Johnny Storm although you might've not had believed it at first."
A pleased look found its way into his expression before looked back at Daisy. "And then there's you, the janitor. Shouldn't someone like you have keys to the penthouse floors?" he remarked. "Even so, who am I to judge," he continued in a light voice, making it clear that he was purely speculating to prove what he thought to be a point, when there really wasn't any. "Anyway, hi. I'm Johnny," he said and held out a hand to greet her properly. "And to answer your question, yes." He had an additional answer on his tongue but in that moment the elevator dinged, signalling the stop.
What was it about her? What about her made people think she was just positively dying for some conversation? No, seriously. Daisy genuinely wondered about that sometimes. Because it never failed; whenever she was in the middle of something important, boom. Someone would zero on her and try to strike up conversation. Maybe it was karma for all the times she'd nagged Simmons or Fitz while they were in the middle of their... science-y stuff. Or possibly there was some unspoken law of the universe which dictated that four out of every five high-stress situations would always, always become more complicated as they went along. Or some such crap.
So as Johnny continued to yap at her, Daisy rolled her eyes. She should've just ignored him, kept her own mouth shut. But a very small part of her brain kept insisting that if she hadn't at least acknowledged him, that would have made him suspicious. And the last thing she needed was for anybody to get suspicious, let alone one of the Fantastic Four. Blowing a raspberry, she glanced up at the ceiling, in what could easily be construed as a, "Are you there, God? It's me, Daisy," style pose.
"First impressions are always precarious." She wanted to fire off some sort of snarky comment about whether he'd read that in a book or a fortune cookie, but managed to hold her tongue. Instead, when invited to look at him, she did. Her eyes traveled up and down, drinking in every detail. "I'd have to be blind not to recognize you on sight. Either that or live under a rock." She said, showing him a coy smile. Maybe she'd be able to get out of this if she played along for a little bit.
Then Johnny made an observation about her not having keys to the penthouse floors. Damn. Damn damn damn. Well, credit where credit was due: dude wasn't as much of an airhead as she assumed. Daisy tried her best to mask any signs that his little observation had gotten to her, keeping the smile up and even chuckling in an attempt to laugh it off. But she couldn't help tightening her grip on her broom. "Chief of staff didn't give me a keyring. His idea of hazing the new girl, I guess." She said, shrugging her shoulders. Hopefully it was a convincing lie.
When Johnny held his hand out for her to shake and gave her a "proper" introduction, she fought back the urge to snort, and instead wrapped her hand around his. Shaking it firmly, she lifted the lapel of her jumpsuit, which her badge was clipped to. "And I'm Linda, in case you couldn't read. Pleasure's all yours, I'm sure." Looking at his face, Daisy could tell that he had something else he wanted to say, but the ding of the elevator as it reached the 22nd floor cut him off. Moving briskly, she stepped out into the corridor, without even leaving Johnny with a cordial "See you around."
Getting to Paulliard's penthouse by the elevator was a bust. Stair access was the only other option she had that wouldn't attract further suspicion. Glancing left and right, she spotted the door leading to the stairwell. It was flanked on both sides by two security guards, similar to the ones downstairs watching the gala. One of them lifted an arm to scratch at their armpit, and she spotted a gun holstered in his waistband. Lovely. Swallowing air, Daisy strolled up to the door.
One of the guards held up a hand, and she stopped. "Sorry, ma'am. Penthouse floors are restricted. I'm gonna have to ask you to turn back." Daisy bit her lip, all the while letting the head of her broom drop to the floor, resting behind one of the guards' ankles. "C'mon, man. Somebody blew chunks on floor 25 and the boss wants me to get it cleaned up before it can stain. He'll have my ass on a platter if I don't." The guard on her right raised an eyebrow. "We weren't informed. We're gonna have to radio in to check." That said, he reached for his jacket lapel to speak into the mic clipped to it.
"Shit." Daisy murmured under her breath, before grasping the broom with her free hand and yanking backwards with it. The head of the broom caught the ankle of the guard on her left and swept him off his feet, sending him tumbling to the floor in a tangled pile. The second guard was quicker than she'd anticipated, and was able to kick the broom out of her hands, before drawing a telescoping baton and cracking her across the face with it. Daisy screamed in pain and stumbled back a couple steps. She could feel blood trickling down her face from her nose. Sneering, she raised a hand and blasted the rent-a-cop with seismic force, sending him hurtling into the door hard enough to tear it off the hinges.
Walking up to the guard she'd tripped with the broom, Daisy kicked him in the face to make sure he stayed down, then knelt and began patting him down. She took the gun--Heckler & Koch USP .40 S&W--and tucked it in her duty belt, along with a baton, followed by a keyring with seemingly hundreds of keys clipped to it. It was as she rose to full stature that she felt a sinking feeling in her stomach, and whipped around to see if Johnny had seen that altercation.
Nothing in his expression betrayed him at that point, when Daisy seemed to be taking in the sight of him, but he thought himself used to it. It could be argued that it was one of the things Johnny really knew about women, when they watched him. He didn't mind, not at all even. It was just a brief moment regardless, and then he found himself answering her, with a cheeky smile nonetheless. "Or," Johnny said and lifted a hand and finger, as if underlining the words to come, like they would be of great importance. "You might have just been blinded by the sight. It's entirely possible."
There was a look of empathy when she admitted to being new on the job. It wasn't offered for the sake of having a job, but for what kind of job it was. Johnny himself hadn't know many different types of work, not in 1995 and not in 2018. All he'd ever done was fixing cars and modelling. Now, added to that short list was being a superhero. He just couldn't settled on whether he was impressed by her or slightly nauseated at the thought of himself in such a position.
When she introduced herself, Johnny's eyes shifted every so briefly downwards before the glanced back. "Ouch. You always this prickly? If this was fifth grade, I'd start thinking you like me." Not soon after the elevator had come to a stop and Johnny offered a small wave and a smile as Daisy disappeared down the hallway. So maybe she didn't like him then. Getting off, he soon found a bathroom, albeit on a completely different floor than he'd first been going for, but he hadn't exactly been in a rush, The bathrooms on the 22nd floor was just a nice as the ones on the 2nd floor, if not nicer.
Johnny was brushing some invisible dust off of his sleeves when he came back around the corner, just in time to see a security guard being knocked through a door. Cocking his head to one side, Johnny squinted his eyes towards the woman he'd met in the elevator, that clearly wasn't a janitor. Well, she could be and was just having a terrible day. Either way, he felt bad for the guards, who both looked like they'd wake up with headaches.
"So," he said and slowly ambled down the hallway towards her, He noted the pistol in her belt and then took a slightly more serious approach. "What you up to? This doesn't seem very janitor-like, I gotta say." Another thing he hadn't expected a janitor be able to do--wreck people in some broom-esque Kung Fu as well assault on a door with some funky vibration-powers. Depending on her answer, Johnny would decide if his approach would be aiding her or stopping her.
Daisy's first instinct was to bolt. Call the mission a failure, find the nearest window and jump out of it before Johnny got any ideas about getting into a fight with her or bringing her in. She had gone into this expecting to fight private security, not a superhero. But then, maybe she really should have anticipated that. Not that anticipation without preparation meant much, and how could you prepare for an unknown factor like, "Celebrity superhero just so happens to be attending the same party you're crashing?"
Regardless, she was quick to dismiss any notions of fleeing from her mind. She'd put too much effort into this, and already made it this far. Textbook example of the sunk cost fallacy, she knew. But screw it. This just became a commitment, and it was one she planned to see through to the end.
So she started mentally cataloging her options. The most direct choice would be to try her luck beating Johnny into submission. And honestly, Daisy wouldn't like her chances squaring off against a human matchstick even with support from S.H.I.E.L.D. Without it? Yeah, no, forget it. She was reckless and ordinarily welcomed the chance to go out fighting, but A: being burnt extra crispy didn't sound too terribly appealing, and B: Johnny was more liable to try and subdue her so she could be taken into custody. And the last place she wanted to end up was the Raft.
That left trying to talk him over to her side. With that in mind, Daisy immediately raised her hands, while blood trickled down her chin and dripped onto the carpet. "Okay, I know this looks really bad from where you're standing. But just... hear me out for a moment before you go all flame-y?" Maybe the plea for some time to explain herself was unnecessary. Johnny seemed wary (Which she could totally understand), but not necessarily ready to light it up just yet. Still, it felt like the right foot to start off on in this situation.
Taking a tentative step forward, she continued. "So, obviously I'm not a janitor. I'm a vigilante; they call me 'Quake' in the news. But forget everything else they've said, it's all bull. I'm not a terrorist." Much as she tried to have faith in the press, Daisy had more than a few misgivings regarding the media coverage of non-registered people, herself in particular. Pardon the hell out of her if she didn't necessarily want to sign herself over to a bunch of career politicians and war hawks. That didn't make her a terrorist, though. "I've been going after this supremacist group for a while now. Shutting down their operations, trying to cut off their financial support. They call themselves the Watchdogs. Y'know those Purifier creeps that attacked the Stark Expo? Well, the Watchdogs are cut from the same cloth. They're trying to eradicate anybody they don't see as being human. Mutants, Inhumans. Enhanced people like you and your teammates."
The crackle of radio static made Daisy glance over her shoulder at the two guards she'd knocked out. "Weiland, come in. How's things on the 22nd floor?" Oh, hell. Now they were really on a time crunch. The minute the unconscious guards didn't report in, somebody would be sent up to check on them. She turned her head to face Johnny again. "I have reason to believe that the woman hosting the gala, Marian Paulliard, has been funding the Watchdogs under the table, and I'm looking to break into her penthouse to see if I can find some hard evidence to back that up. Now think long and hard, Johnny. You want somebody funding scum like that behind closed doors to become the new mayor?"
The guards' radio burst to life again. "Weiland, report. Swear to God, if you're sleepin' on the clock again..." Hands still held towards the ceiling, Daisy jerked her head back towards the defeated guards, sprawled out on the floor. "Clock's ticking. Won't be long before some more guards come to check on these guys, and I plan on being gone before they get here. So what's your choice, Johnny?"
Anyone else might've been disgruntled to understand that which speed Daisy had been jumping to conclusions, but not Johnny. Instead, what she first said brought a smile out of him and he lifted his hand that formed into a finger-gun and pointed it at her for a moment. He still couldn't help but liking anyone who had been able to identify him correctly, as well as what he could. Occasionally, people mixed him up with his sister or even Reed, both of which was ridiculous. Thankfully, no one had yet to call him The Thing. He hadn't intended on lighting it up, but he didn't think the idea formed by her, that he just might, wasn't bad either. Not if it kept violence to a minimum. Lowering his hand he shrugged. "Okay."
Truthfully, Johnny didn't exactly know who she was. He had enough time keeping up with his own image that remembering what everyone else in the superhero world had going on with them was sort of difficult. Still, he kept his composure for the time being, appearing relaxed and somewhat idle but still listening. He lifted a hand while doing so, flicking a small flame on and off between two fingers and his thumb.
What he had heard about though, was the Stark Expo. At that point he steadied his gaze onto her and rid himself of the flame. A few lazy steps were taken towards here, out of peaked interest more than anything else. There was always a time for putting yourself in the front of a situation or a discussion, something Johnny excelled at when he wanted to, but now wasn't one of those times. He'd felt the effects ripple across New York too, and the world. Being someone with abilities, in whatever shape it came, many fear that and these days it wasn't an easy matter.
Hard and long? He quirked a brow but managed to some how not utilize it. "I can think all I want about it but all I have is your word." As much that he considered taking some of what she said seriously, what she had said was also all he had. If she was lying and playing him into a trap or similar, he would have to hear it for the ages. Fooled by a pretty face. It wouldn't have been the first time. By now, he was only a couple of yards from Daisy, coming to a slow stop with his hands comfortably into the pockets of his slacks but then bent down to pick the radio up. With a smile, he spoke into it. "Stop fussing, pal, I was checking something out. I'm good." He lowered the the radio and then looked at Daisy again.
"Here's how we're going to do it, miss Daisy. I'm going to go with you and make sure you don't wreck the place. Give you a chance to prove what you're saying is true." With that, he stepped past her and held the door open to the stars that connected to the penthouse. With a little hand gesture and a dip forward of his head he held it open for her. "You're not Weiland."
A glance down to the radio in his free hand before he tried to wave her along, unnecessarily indicating the need of some haste. "After you."
Thankfully, Johnny seemed willing to hear her out. Maybe her luck wasn't so bad, after all. At the very least, she wouldn't have to worry about the SRU getting called in and making this whole operation that much more complicated. Though maybe the Human Torch was a bit too willing to go with the flow. The blase manner in which he started playing with a flame flickering on his fingers made her wonder whether he was actually listening to a word she was saying. Briefly, she recalled all the times when she'd more or less passed out during briefings and wondered whether this was some sort of karma for that.
But nevertheless, he seemed to follow well enough, and when Daisy finished with her impromptu speech, he made the rather reasonable observation that she was expecting her to go off her word alone. It was in situations like this that she used to just pull out her badge and flash it. That tended to instill at least a baseline level of trust and stop people from questioning her every move. After all, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent had to know what she was talking about, right? But she didn't have her badge. So really, she should've just counted herself lucky that Johnny had given her a chance at all.
Still holding her hands up, she took a step to one side when Johnny walked past her. And it was then that he surprised her by kneeling down and taking the radio from the unconscious guard and calling in, buying them some time. Once that was done, he more or less laid down the law. He was going to follow her, make sure she didn't bring the entire hotel down on their heads, and give her a chance to prove she was on the up and up. And if she didn't find what she was looking for? Yeah, he didn't really need to say what'd happen if that proved to be the case.
"I'll take what I can get." She said brusquely, letting her hands fall to her sides. Johnny stood by the doorway and waved her through. He wasn't wrong. Some expediency wouldn't be all that amiss in this situation. They were on a time crunch now. Stepping into the stairwell, Daisy drew the pistol from her duty belt and flicked the safety off. Finger hovering outside the trigger guard, she swept the flight of stairs which led down to the floor below, then the stairway leading up.
Glancing at Johnny, she pointed with her support hand up the stairwell. "Paulliard's penthouse is on the 25th floor. Stay close, and keep an eye on the lower flights." Daisy said, instinctually falling into the role of superior officer. It was just like leading the Secret Warriors. Except it was just her and one other person with no real training, and almost no reason to trust her. She'd worked with more precarious conditions before; she would be able to manage.
Her footsteps thundered throughout the concrete stairwell as she ascended, accompanied by the rattle of her utility belt. If she was being honest, she couldn't wait to get out of this outfit. The jumpsuit rode up in the worst places, and the boots offered almost zero arch support, which up until now she thought wasn't even possible with a pair of work boots. But it wasn't like she could just change out of it right here and now.
Eventually, the two of them reached the landing for the 25th floor. Daisy crept close to the door and peered through the window. Narrow hallway. Door to the penthouse was on the left, with the elevator door directly across from it. There were six guards; two stationed beside the stairwell door, two standing guard beside the penthouse door, and two standing on the opposite end of the hall. Tight confines, against six guys with guns and batons? Yeah, she wasn't liking those odds. At all. "There's a lot of guys in there, and that hallway is tight. We need a plan." She said aloud for Johnny's benefit, before looking at him. "How good of an actor are you? I'm thinking if you started knocking like there was some kind of emergency, you'd be able to lead them away. Or I can pretend I'm injured and we spring a trap on them."
"Can't you at least pretend to be grateful? That'd be nice," Johnny commented with a loop-sided grin that he flashed her way just before she passed him on her way into the staircase. The Human Torch soon followed Daisy, closed the door behind him surprisingly gently in order not to make much noise, but he made a startled sound upon seeing the gun. "Whoa, whoa! Is that really necessary?" He held out a hand towards her arm, without touching it but as a gesture to have her at least lower the gun. He had to give it to her, she definitely was on a mission but he'd rather not risk anyone being severely injured or worse. "Just, be careful with that, alright? We don't need anything bad to happen."
Ultimately, any vigilante and hero actively tried to avoid that particular thing, Johnny too for all his destructive capabilities, but he didn't know Daisy, hadn't spent as much time catching up on what was what, as Sue and Reed. Granted, the two of them mostly stuck there nose into science but a lot had happened in twenty-two years and one year wasn't nearly enough to get situated with a fraction of it. Johnny stuck with the approach that was comfortable for him, which meant taking note of the things that stood in direct relation to himself. That meant hero-related business, cars and a high-end lifestyle.
Johnny was more than happy to follow along and let her lead, it gave him more time to try and get a read off of her and decide whether he believed her story or not. It seemed like an awful lot of trouble to get the outfit and set it all up, just for the sake of something mundane, like money or valuables. Maybe her story wasn't so crazy after all, he decided when she offered her impression regarding the headcount outside the door. Johnny kept away from the door's window, leaning against the wall comfortably with his arms crossed. A grimace came and went at the question of him being an actor. He liked the spotlight, but being in the spotlight was way different than being in six guys' cross-hair. "Oh, you mean a plan like, where I go out there and get shot at? Because that's what will happen." He tilted his head and gave Daisy a look of faux disappointment. "I thought you at least loved me a little bit. Everyone else does."
Even so, Johnny shrugged and offered another of his award-winning smiles before he corrected the jacket with a decisive tug in each lapel and knocked on the door and then stepped out in the hallway. The gesture was followed by the clicking of guns and clothes rustling as each and everyone of the guards moved. "Hi guys!"
"You're not supposed to be here."
"I know, I know," he said with raised hands. "I just heard one of you were a fan... I'm Johnny, Johnny Storm?" No one moved or really said anything at first. The guards looked at one another, wondered who had requested it but since neither of them had, the guns were still trained on him. In the far back, Johnny caught the derogatory insult but he ignored it. Suspicion rose in their leader, who motion for one of his men to check the stairwell but before he reached it the scratching noise of a radio was heard. "Watchdog squad C, is the payload secure?" Johnny let out a sigh and fondly touched the fabric of his suit with a look of believable woe. "Dammit, this is Tom Ford. Oh well. Flame on!" Just as he burst into flames, the gunfire started.
Daisy said nothing when Johnny griped about her lack of apparent gratefulness. If he wanted lovely conversation, he should've stumbled into her life when she was just chilling at a bar, as opposed to when she was in the middle of a mission. She was grateful, to an extent, though probably not for the reasons he was hoping for. It was just that she was in war mode right now; she needed to focus on the job at hand, not on banter. There'd be time for that once she got what she was looking for and they were out of the building.
Johnny did get a reaction when he freaked out over the gun and waved at her to lower it. A sneer crossed her face, and she couldn't keep from rolling her eyes in annoyance. She got it, she really did. He was a bonafide hero, registered and everything. His was a public face, which meant he had to keep things as clean and as nonlethal as possible. Whereas she'd been trained to use every advantage available, to the fullest extent possible. Which included firearms. Nevertheless, despite her misgivings, Daisy flicked the safety on the pistol and stuffed it into her duty belt. Before continuing the ascent, she flashed Johnny an obviously fake smile and tilted her head, as if to ask, "There, you happy?"
Upon reaching the door and hearing her assessment, the Torch found plenty more to complain about. God, was this what she'd been like when she just started out? She'd have to apologize to Phil, next time she saw him. "Sorry, but I've only got so much love to go around." Daisy said in total deadpan. "Besides, if they start shooting, you can just melt the bullets with your... flame... thing." She didn't really know what to call Johnny's abilities. She was sure there was some overly technical terminology for it, lathered in scientific jargon that would fly right over her head, but she didn't know it. Slowly, she drew the baton she'd taken off the guard from earlier and, with a flick of her wrist, extended it to full length. "Not all of us are that lucky."
Watching Johnny trying to distract the guards from the other side of the door was... an adventure, to say the least. Daisy knew he wasn't a trained spy, but she'd figured he could've banked a little on his natural charisma to carry him through. But then, maybe the fact that he was winging it under pressure had something to do with it. Regardless, when the bullets started flying and the situation heated up--literally--she got to work.
Kicking in the door, Daisy brought the baton down on the wrists of the guard nearest to her, disarming them. Before he had time to react, she struck him across the face, knocking him unconscious. One of the guards shooting at Johnny turned their gun on her, and she immediately brought her hand up, firing off a quick vibrational pulse which slammed them into the wall.
Soon, she found herself squaring off against two goons at once. Daisy was quick to relieve them of their pistols, using her powers to blast them out of their hands. But that still left her in a fist fight between two guys who were twice her size. Not good odds. One of them managed to get her in a lock, looping their arms underneath her armpits and interlocking their hands behind her head. The other guard socked her in the gut, forcing the wind out of her. Before they could get a second punch in, she knocked them off their feet with seismic blasts, which served the dual purpose of propelling both herself and the guy holding her backwards into a wall. As the guard slammed into the wall, his grip loosened, allowing Daisy to fall to the floor, while he slumped, unconscious.
Panting, she slowly rose to her feet, stumbling. "Johnny, how're we doing?" She asked, hoping that the Human Torch was having a better time of things than she was.
His flame thing? As it was, Johnny's expression in reply to it wasn't one of offence, but merely out of confusion and then amusement. He'd been call plenty of things but it was the first time he'd ever heard his powers been referred to something so vague. Even so it worked, although he couldn't resist offering her another alternative, one that he felt was better suited. "My general hotness," he offered with raised brows, as if letting her know it would've been the obvious choice. Next time, he thought. Her next statement was met with a friendly pat on her shoulder and a smile. "Well at least today you got me." After that comment Johnny had proceeded out in the hallway in an attempt to distract the guards and to figure out what was really going on.
As it was proven only moments later, the brunette hadn't been lying and just before the bullet had started flying Johnny had done the only thing he could do, which was to activate his powers. They did so in an instant and be in less than half a second became a human beacon. At first his flames raged outwards but he reined them in, controlled them as he had learned over the past year, to have them be close to the outline of his body. That was there was less of a risk that he'd set things on fire that shouldn't be fire. Most of the time, that was just the best possible outcome considering the volatile nature of his powers. That said, being in a close quarter combat situation and being on fire wasn't ideal.
The first guy approaching Daisy was soon out of the game and the second one was tossed against a wall by force Johnny wasn't sure what to call it. "Cool!" was his comment before he made sure with a second punch that the second guy would stay down. When he'd walked into the hallway he hadn't thought that the guards had looked to be all that many but right now it felt like they had doubled in number. Johnny weaved in between a couple of guys and since he was on fire, they moved out of his way. While one of them were dancing trying to put out the fire on his butt, Johnny flamed off and delivered a well-aimed upper-cut to the other one. It didn't take him down, instead he elbow Johnny in the ribs, which hurt but didn't do all that much. Flaming back on, Johnny took a step forward and with a shout he released a concussive heat-blast that knocked his two opponents out against the wall.
"Oh, I'm fine--" Johnny turned around, spotting Daisy further down the hallway, one guy unconscious behind her but another one getting to his feet to attack her again. Johnny flamed off entirely now, leaving him in just the fire-proof boxers shorts that his sister had manufactured for him--azure-blue with flames on them--before he fell into a run and tackled the guy from behind. The both of them slammed into the floor, the guard with his forehead against the carpet first, knocking him out. Swiftly climbing to his feet, he held out his hand to offer Daisy help if she wanted it. "That was easy," he commented. "You okay?"
"'Your general hotness.'" Daisy parroted, tone dripping with incredulity and sarcasm, when she heard Johnny's suggested name for his abilities. Because of course he would go there. Why wouldn't he go there? One thing she'd come to learn about Johnny Storm in the short handful of minutes she'd known the man was that, even if he was on the side of the angels, he was somewhat full of himself, and aspired to be something of a ladykiller. To tell the truth, in a less... high-stress situation, she might've actually reciprocated in some small way. But it was Johnny's bad luck to have caught her on such a shitty night. So when he gave her a pat on the shoulder and flashed a smile in her direction, the most she could do was give him a lopsided smile in return, and then gently shrug off his hand, before the chaos well and truly began.
Johnny was right to say that the fight had been easy. Even with the licks she took, Daisy had to agree with that assessment. To tell the truth, she was kind of impressed with how Torch had handled himself. The uppercut, and then later the tackle, showed he'd received some training, or otherwise had come to know his way around a fight. And he'd shown some considerable skills with his powers. That concussive blast of heat was definitely creative, and showed a great deal of control on his part. If circumstances had been different, regarding both their affiliations, she might've been considering making him an offer to join the Secret Warriors.
Taking hold of Johnny's hand, more to steady herself than to help pull herself off the floor, she let out a huff and ran a gloved hand through her hair. "No, yeah, I'm fine. Just another bruise in the collection." Daisy said in, given the circumstances, a rather blase tone of voice. Rolling with the punches was something she'd learned to do early and well. The rent-a-cop slumped against the wall behind her let out a groan, and almost on reflex, she whirled around and drove the heel of her palm into his nose, breaking it and knocking him unconscious for good. "You actually did pretty good. Any of that formal training, or you just got a...?" Daisy trailed off as she turned back around to face Johnny, finally noticing that he was in nothing but his boxers.
She liked to think she wasn't one to get distracted by a pretty face or an attractive body. That she'd been trained to compartmentalize any feelings of physical attraction when in the middle of a mission. But she wasn't going to lie: seeing Johnny Storm's body in all its glory was a huge distraction. Her eyes moved up and down his form, noting the well-toned muscle, and her cheeks turned a light shade of red. But of course, she couldn't allow herself to admit, in plain English, that she was enjoying the view. "...Nice shorts." She said, trying to couch it in a humorous tone in the hopes that he'd think she was being ironic.
Shaking her head, Daisy stepped around Johnny and marching towards the double doors leading into the penthouse. "Don't get too cocky, though. These guys probably weren't expecting to deal with anything more intense than a rowdy drunk or two. Guarantee you once they see what I did to their buddies downstairs, they'll be gunning for us with serious hardware." Pulling the keyring off her duty belt, she started trying keys on the door lock. No. Nope. Uh-uh. Oh hell, this could actually take a while. Without looking up from the door knobs, she spoke up. "Torch, do you think you might be able to fuse the stairwell door to the frame? Buy us a bit of time?" It probably wouldn't stand up against a battering ram, but it'd at least force the enemy to waste time actually getting a battering ram.
She tried maybe five or six more keys on the ring, but none of them were the right match for the door. Go figure. A keyring that weighed almost a full pound, and yet none of the keys on it were the one she needed. Letting out a groan, Daisy tossed the keyring carelessly over her shoulder, not even flinching when it smacked against the wall behind her. Taking a step back from the door, she aimed an open palm at the door, and fired off a quick vibrational pulse which, though brief, packed the punch of a breaching shotgun. The wave blasted the door knobs out of the doors, sending splinters flying, all it took was a gentle push of the hand for the doors to creak open. Before stepping into the penthouse proper, she flashed Johnny a frown and shrugged her shoulders. As if to nonverbally say, "I tried."
Massaging her hand as she walked into Paulliard's penthouse, Daisy took the time to look at the interior. It matched the hotel's aesthetic and color scheme down to a tee, and was overall very spacious. The foyer area was probably as big as the common room back at the Playground, possibly even bigger. But despite being rather open, and boasting a lot of expensive-looking furniture, what she was looking for wasn't in here. No, if she had to guess, it'd be in the bedroom. Hanging a left, she stepped through an open door into a room just as wide and cavernous as the foyer, containing a queen sized bed, three oak dressers, a walk-in closet, and, set in the wall next to the closet, a safe. Resting on the bed was a laptop, plus a white leather purse.
Daisy got to work, moving over to the laptop and opening it. As she hit the power button and let it boot up, she dumped the purse onto the bedspread and started sifting through its contents. "Johnny, while I'm busy with this, could you try to crack that safe please?" She asked, all the while brushing aside tubes of lipstick, a wallet, a coin purse, some loose credit cards, at least one... um... moving on, until finally she found what she was looking for. A little Moleskine notebook, the color of dried oxblood. Opening it, she began thumbing through the pages, until she finally happened upon a page with the login information for the mayoral candidate's computer. "4lphav1ll3." Well then. Guess somebody was a fan of Godard. Rolling her eyes, she tapped out the letters and numbers on the laptop's keyboard, then hit Enter.
Thus began the world's slowest sign-in process. Jesus Christ, this woman needed to defrag her shit, if startup was taking this long. Blowing a raspberry, she began thumbing through the notebook again. "Johnny, do you need the combination to the safe, or you think you got it?"
From the moment he and the rest of his 'family' had understood what had been going on with them, he'd been preached to about the importance of having control over his powers. He'd been able to see the worry in their eyes, given how reckless he usually was, the question of whether he was going to be able to handle his new abilities and do it in a responsible way. In order to get the answer everyone had wanted--save for maybe Johnny who generally just thought everything he'd been able to do with his powers was awesome--they'd had him practice, had went through hours of training to understand the basics, his limits and everything in between, It was imperative, given the destructive nature of fire. Having it been over a year since they'd crashed, he'd gotten fairly skilled although if anyone asked Reed or Sue, they'd probably say that there was room for improvement.
After having helped Daisy to her feet, Johnny stood back with loosely crossed arms. "Eesh," was the only response he was able to get out, and with a look that was displaying him being both impressed and maybe a little terrified as she proceeded without a moments hesitation, to break the groaning guy's nose. That expression soon enough turned into a pleased grin and opting to give the gawking Daisy the full view, he undid his arms and put them on his hips. The comment on his boxers just made him grin wider. "A talent?" he said to finish her sentence. "I a little bit of both. I wouldn't mind sharing a few moves." He lifted his eyebrows deliberately.
Soon, their task at hand continued. "Oh good, I was starting to think things were getting boring." It wasn't boring but he was positive that a handful of more guys would't be a problem. Fight the good fight and all that. "I got it, no sweat." Johnny formed his hand like a pistol and a flame emerged on his index finger and then proceeded to the door. Luckily it was metal. He started in one corner, humming to himself as he put the adequate effort and temperature in his flame to fuse the metal together. Just because he could, h e did the door all the way around, not bothering with considering how they'd get out. All things considered, they would probably find another exit. They always did in Bond movies. When the door was blasted open behind him, Johnny turned and gave an appreciative nod and another grin. He wasn't much for subtlety anyway and at this point, trying to keep a low profile would've been a waste of time as they'd announced themselves pretty thoroughly.
"Wow, this is pretty fancy." Johnny walked into the penthouse, eyes scanning the decoration, lifting a small statue in the shape of a horse that looked to be pure gold. "I could live here, noooo problem," he announced before sauntering after Daisy. Encountering the bed, Johnny turn his back to it and jumped backwards, landing in it with his arms outstretched. In addition to that, he bounced about a little as the brunette begun working on the laptop. He was more than content watching her go about her business but she had other plans for him. "For a kiss, yes," he goaded but the request wasn't very serious so he rolled off the bed and walked over to the safe. He tried turning the knobs a little and even went as far as putting his ear to it, trying to figure it out. Needless to say, his safe-cracking skills were non-existent so instead he just put a hand against it. "Yeah... no. I think I'm good." The front eventually came off, smoldering hot and landed on the carpet with a heavy thump. From there one it proceeded to set the carpet on fire.
"Ah, shit." He pulled the cover from the bed and threw it onto fire and quickly snuffed it out. "All yours," he said to Daisy and gestured for the safe. He moved way from the bedroom and out into the main area again, as something he'd caught his attention. Steps, by the sound of it and then a heady thud, mostly likely against the door he'd sealed moments ago. "...so what do you say we fly outta here? I think we got company in bound." He went over to a window and knocked on it as if to symbolize that it was their exit.
Despite the all-business front she expended so much energy to maintain, Daisy couldn't stop herself from snorting and rolling her eyes when Johnny offered to "share a few moves." If anybody else had said it, she'd have assumed it to be an poor, yet innocent choice of words. But considering the guy had been making passes at her all evening, not to mention that very purposeful raise of his eyebrows? Yeah, no. It was the furthest thing from "innocent." Her hardass facade dropping away for a couple seconds, she flashed him a coy little smirk. "Tempting. But maybe let's discuss details when we're not in the middle of breaking and entering?" She suggested, before moving to the door.
She took a moment to admire Johnny's handiwork on the stair access door before moving into the loft proper. Yeah, she could think of about a hundred ways the hothead would've been useful in the Warriors. Some of them were enough to bring a cocky sort of grin to her face. But those were days long past now. And even if she were still with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Secret Warriors initiative still in effect, there would've been the matter of Johnny already belonging to a team. That would've involved politics, negotiations. Messy stuff with way too much paperwork. So it was probably ideal that she'd met him under present conditions.
"Too rich for my blood." Daisy said out loud in response to Johnny's observations on the decor of the penthouse. And it was, though probably not in the way most people would interpret that statement. Call her weird, but she'd always been more than comfortable in the back of a van, or the living quarters at the Playground. Sparse and economical in terms of space, maybe, but serviceable. Expensive penthouses like this just seemed tacky to her. Nevertheless, she kept any further comments to herself as she practically glided into the master bedroom, mind set squarely on the mission.
Johnny, evidently, had other plans, made plain when he threw himself onto the large bed in the middle of the room, the impact causing the laptop and purse resting on top of it to bounce. Daisy had half a mind to chide him, partly because she was worried about leaving behind DNA, but mostly because the temptation to try and take some of the wind out of his sails was almost too great to resist. But instead she just cast a sidelong glance towards him before making her request that he crack open the safe. "Maybe if we get out of this, I will." She murmured when he asked for a kiss in exchange, her tone ambiguous. Maybe she meant it, maybe she didn't. That'd be for him to work out on his own.
Slow startup aside, Paulliard's computer was about what Daisy expected from a civilian computer. Cluttered, disorganized. Probably didn't even have anything beyond the pre-installed antivirus when it came to security. Keys clacked noisily as her fingers danced across the keyboard, bringing up the file explorer by typing out a couple shortcuts. Pressing the arrow and enter keys, she eventually opened up the Documents folder, which brought up a smorgasbord of sub-folders. Daisy tsked, popping open a pouch on her duty belt and fishing out a flash drive. No time to sort through all the folders; she'd just have to copy them all. Slotting in the USB stick, she clicked the Documents folder and dragged it over to the "USB Drive (E:)" item in the menu, beginning the process of copying all the data. At least one thing was working in her favor; there was no way in hell Paulliard had been smart enough to encrypt any of this.
Mercifully, the download didn't take long, and Daisy was removing the flash drive around the same time the safe door hit the floor. Stashing the drive in her belt again, she moved over to the safe, giving Johnny a pat on the shoulder as she passed him by. Despite the extreme amount of heat he must have had to channel into the metal, the interior of the safe was unscathed, as were its contents. She half-turned to face him, grinning. "Nice work, Torch." Saying that, she was quick to start raiding the safe, pulling out a stack of unlabeled manila folders, as well as a thin book bound in black leather. Going by the dimensions, her guess was that it was a ledger. Despite the sound of footsteps, accompanied by the thud of steel against steel, Daisy took her time, making sure she didn't miss anything within the iron box. Not finding anything of further use, she reached into the closet, pulled out a brown leather attache case, and dumped all of her ill-gotten intelligence into it as she followed Johnny out into the foyer.
Slinging the bag over a shoulder, Daisy pulled the USP .40 from her belt and closed her eyes. The pistol shuddered in her hand, as pins and screws shook loose from the slide and frame and fell out. The slide shot off and hit a nearby wall, while the frame cracked in half. After a couple seconds, all that was left of the weapon was a pile of scrap on the floor. If she wasn't going to use it, it was nothing more than dead weight. She glanced up when Johnny rapped on a nearby window, suggesting they should exit, stage left. "Best idea I've heard all night." She said, strolling over to the window and resting a hand flat against the glass. With a quick, warbling pulse, the pane shattered, safety glass falling away from the frame.
Daisy took a step back from the window to build up a running start, and then bolted. When she felt her toes brush past the edge, she propelled herself skyward with her powers, and soared for a good two minutes. With the trajectory of her launch, she glided through the Manhattan sky a good five or six blocks away from the Hyatt, before coming down on a rooftop, seismic pulses breaking her fall. She hadn't looked for Johnny, but figured he must've followed her. "God, I can't wait to get out of this thing." She groused, brushing some dust away from the jumpsuit. Brushing her hair back, she turned to face the Human Torch, grinning ear to ear despite herself. "So... Helluva party, huh?" She asked, letting out a breathless chuckle.
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