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It was a normal day. Sharon sipped on her coffee, eyes lingering just a little too long on Warren's retreating back - board room meeting, scheduled for about an hour, important but not enough that she had to be in there scribbling notes - before returning to her desk. It was not that she had a free hour, exactly, but it was less hectic.
There was still a whole bunch of online files to sort through - the previous assistant had been less thorough and even Sharon - a secretary in nothing but job title - considered the work to be substandard. Again, it was important but not urgent. A menial task that she could sift through when she found herself with a moment spare, allowing her thoughts to drift a little.
She took out her phone, playing the police radio aloud so quietly as to almost be inaudible. A robbery that seemed to be being dealt with. A house fire downtown, potentially not an accident but sources were unsure. No mention of superheroes of any sort, thankfully. She locked her phone and set it face down on her desk, turning her attention back to the computer screen. Slowly dragged a file across from the ludicrous 'Miscellaneous' folder into one she had created. Records, dated by year with sub-folders by month. It was slow progress.
It was fortunate that she happened to look up at the security camera feed in time to see a strikingly familiar face in the building. "How the hell..?" she murmured, reaching for her bag. This was going to go downhill very quickly, in regards to her cover, but maybe she could get rid of Emma within the hour. Maybe. The woman was powerful but Sharon doubted that she could know everything.
How she had found out, Sharon had no idea. Probably paid off the staff - it was not as if Emma was short of money. But Sharon had a hand on her gun when the lift door opened on the top floor. If her heart was beating a little faster than normal, that was between her and her bloodstream. "You don't have clearance to be up here. Come a step closer and I'm calling security."
While Emma didn't have a designated day for visiting the rehabilitation centre (it wasn't good to have a pattern, especially if she was keeping these trips a secret), she did make it a point to go at least once a week. It wasn't a short trip, being about a two-and-a-half hours' drive out of the city, so she usually left very early in the morning and returned by mid-afternoon. Sometimes, given Christian's state of mind and a hectic work schedule, she wondered if he wouldn't notice if she missed a visit or two, but she never let herself wonder for long. She would never abandon her brother; every other person in his life had, and she wasn't going to be like them. Anyway, she was the only one who visited him.
Or so she thought.
"Oh, Ms Frost, here to see James, are you?" (Emma admitted Christian into the centre a different name for anonymity, not that the latter realised. Ever since the accident, his grasp on his own identity was fleeting, at best.) "Lucky man; he had a charming young lady visit just the other day..."
Wait. Wait. Another visitor? Adrienne? That bitch, how had she found him and what was she scheming? Without a second's pause, Emma stormed into the orderly's mind, searching her memories until she found it--last Tuesday afternoon, as she was wheeling James' usual soup and sandwich into his room--
But she didn't see Adrienne. Wavy blonde hair, warm honey-brown eyes, a pretty smile. It was her.
Had Sharon expected that to work? No, not really. But it served as a warning, something to be caught on surveillance in the freshly-painted office. Covering her ass for later, she hoped. She held the gun a little tighter, not drawing it as the woman advanced, expression that of an angry predator.
Sharon had faced worse. At least Emma was unlikely to stab her and attempt to shoot anyone else. Probably. Her own expression remained impassive, eye contact held and frown unwavering. There was no way out of this but waiting until the storm had left the woman's eyes.
Apart from shooting her. As satisfying as it may have sounded, Sharon still had very little tangible evidence to link Emma Frost with the suspected crimes. And she could not go around shooting every person who showed signs of anger, it was unprofessional.
"Miss Frost, nice to see you again, she replied dryly, as if this kind of face-to-face conflict happened all the time. It was not much of a stretch but, still, she would have liked to have had the time to prepare.
Improvisation it was, then. Disgusting? That was low. "I don't know what - or who - you're talking about," she responded, tone unfaltering. It was not necessarily a lie - Sharon did not know for sure that it was James. It could have been any man she had spoken to recently, from Warren to Clint. Maybe Emma Frost just had a very possessive crush on Hawkeye.
"But that sounded like a threat so I'm going to have to ask you to leave." Again. Now, she raised her gun. She had no intention of firing it, more wanting to spook the stony-eyed woman into either disappearing or showing her hand. It was a risky move but it was bound to reveal more about Emma's character under pressure and that knowledge was too tantalising to pass up.
Whether Carter was playing stupid or genuinely so, Emma cared not a wit. She'd tolerated it when her company was under investigation for some banal crime that was most likely fabricated as an excuse for the CIA to snoop around in her affairs. But this time, the bitch couldn't have been acting under orders from anyone, and she had taken it too far.
"You know exactly who I mean," Emma hissed, taking another step towards the agent until their faces were inches apart. It wasn't clear how much Carter knew about Christian, whether or not she was aware of his real identity and thus, his relation to Emma. It didn't matter. Carter had flown too close to the sun, and now, Emma would burn her intrusive little wings.
The unmistakable gleam of metal slid into Emma's peripheral vision. She didn't flinch; to open fire in a place like this would beyond imbecilic, even for the agent. But Carter had drawn her weapon, and she would regret it. Because Emma hadn't come in defenseless, and now, it was her turn to draw.
"You don't give the orders around here, Mary Nolan," she said, still in that dangerous whisper. Locking eyes with the blonde, she commanded, telepathically enforcing her dominance over the latter's mind, "Drop the gun."
The most important thing, Sharon felt, was to stay calm. This was an open area and Emma Frost had come in person, evidently the attack was going to be verbal rather than literal. A threat or two, maybe a handful of insulting, dry witticisms. Nothing that could not be dealt with.
If anything, this was just a waste of both of their time. From what Sharon had discovered, there was definitely more to Frost than met the eye and, skeletons in her closet aside, she did not trust that her current actions were entirely lawful. And if the woman did ruin Sharon's undercover work here then, well, she would have a lot more time to invest in going over Emma Frost's history with a fine-toothed comb.
Her eyes narrowed slightly, barrel of her gun centimetres from Emma's thigh. So this was oddly intimate. "You sure you want to go down this road, Emma?" she asked, steadfast, and ignoring her statement. This James person was important to her, that much was clear, but the background check had been clear.
A little too clear, really.
"Yeah? We'll see," said Sharon, still not backing down. So Emma Frost could read a name-tag in front of her and remember a different name. So could most second-graders. Incredulity flashed across her face at her next statement, confused as to why Emma believed that simply commanding her would make her comply. Maybe she was used to others bending over backwards to please her but Sharon did not consider herself to be one of them-
It was at that point that Sharon realised - with a sharp pang - that her hand was empty. That her gun had hit the floor - she silently thanked anyone listening that it had not gone off - as soon as the words had left Emma's lips. This was bad. "What the hell did you do to me?"
As soon as the gun hit the floor, the power dynamic shifted--in Emma's favour, of course. A triumphant glint now accompanied the fury in her gaze as Emma watched Carter's expression scrunch into a mixture of confusion and--was that a hint of fear?
"Darling," said Emma, lightly tapping the underside of Carter's chin with her finger, "you're asking the wrong question. The question is what will I do to you?"
Emma glanced back down at the ID card before casually tossing her gaze over her shoulder. In spite of her torrent of an entrance, rather few eyes were concentrated on them. It made sense; not that many employees were privy to the floor which belonged to the CEO.
"What are you investigating here? Tell the truth," she commanded. She was still irate, but as the beginnings of a plan began to formulate in her mind, Emma momentarily refocused her anger. She had initially stormed into the building aiming to turn the agent's brain to goo, but if there was an opportunity here to make the latter suffer even more, Emma would take it.
The faint tingling of a cautious mind caught Emma's attention, where it was followed by the sound of approaching footsteps from behind her. The voice that followed confirmed Emma's suspicions: "Mary, is everything alright?"
Tell him everything is fine, came Emma's silent order. Convince him.
Emma could have just as easily done it herself, but this wasn't about power. This was about helplessness.
Staying calm was proving to be more difficult than usual. Typically there was some sort of pleasant feeling about being right but, at this moment in time, Sharon was having difficulty focusing on it, what with the whole powerful, angry woman who could quite literally control her mind standing barely inches away from her.
Sharon did not flinch at the touch, seeing the woman's movement before it reached her, but she did clench her fist and raise it, wanting to strike. Wanting to show that she was not going to stand in blind submission whilst Emma did whatever it was that she wanted to do. If she could reach her gun with her foot... "You won't do anything. Not in plain sight," she muttered, more to reassure herself than anything else.
It did not help. There was no way of gauging just how much power Emma had and that left the limits sky-high. Sure, it was unlikely that the woman had simply arrived to murder her in cold blood but Sharon was not one to underestimate the consequences. Especially when her backup was as nonexistent as it was right now.
Sharon tried to resist, biting her tongue and tasting blood, before the words flew out of her. "A deal Warren's company struck up with foreign dignitaries last year triggered some red flags. II don't trust his uncle and I'm sure that Warren and his assistant are hiding something but I don't think that's malicious."
It was infuriating. Logical, in a way, and it certainly explained how Emma had raised her company so high in such a short period of time but Sharon felt like screaming. There had to be a way to work against her control, she thought to herself, no one was infallible.
John appeared - Sharon had barely noticed him coming - and the command rang in her ears like a death knell. She made eye contact with the man, a warm smile on her lips. "Everything is fine," she said, shrugging a little. "Just an old friend with a proposal for me to look over. It's not a problem."
But it was a problem. A huge problem that she was at a complete loss at how to solve.
Carter wasn't going down without a fight, that much Emma had expected. But even steel columns bent when enough force was exerted upon them, and Emma certainly was a force to be reckoned with. She could sense the other woman's confusion, and there was a lovely sense of satisfaction that Emma was the only telepath with whom she'd been in contact. There was nothing like being first, after all.
The agent's reasoning did little to discourage Emma. Poor, naive Carter--she had yet to comprehend that she was completely out of her league here. Plain sight meant nothing, not when Emma could control their mind's eye as easily as changing channels on a television.
It took a moment, but the details of Carter's mission soon spilled out of her mouth. Emma listened carefully, and as Carter obediently turned her attention to her colleague, a plan began to form in the White Queen's mind. Sensing the man's concerns fade with Carter's reassuring words, Emma turned around and flashed him an equally charming smile.
Emma waited until he'd shuffled off before addressing her newest subordinate. "Well done, Agent Carter," she said, her voice saccharine. Bending down, she retrieved the gun and turned it over in her hands like it was a delicate piece of artwork. Carter had held this gun intending to harm Emma, and at worst, kill her. But her violent tendencies could be used to Emma's advantage. Emma did have, after all, a bit of a pest problem...
"Now then, where were we? Oh, yes. Investigate Warren's business all you like, continue as usual, but before you complete your mission, I have one task for you. At the opportune moment, I want you to permanently end the life of our dear Warren Worthington the Third."
She leaned in close. "You meddle in my affairs, darling, and I meddle in yours," she hissed. She pressed the gun into Carter's hand. "No witnesses, no loose ends. Do I make myself clear? "
As useless as Sharon knew that John would have been to help her, it was still disheartening to see him leave. It almost felt as if he were taking any hope of her situation being noticed with him, each step he took enlarging the distance between herself and help until she was submerged in solitude, drowning under Emma's seemingly overwhelming power.
Typically, Sharon was only a little bitter about being entirely human and un-enhanced but at that moment, she did feel supremely jealous of those who were gifted. Steve's quick reflexes and strength probably could have punched their way out of this before it even began.
Still, it was too late now.
An involuntary shudder ran through her body at the praise, skin crawling. Weaving untruths and living in the warp and weft between them was Sharon's lifeblood yet Emma could unmake it - unmake her - with ease and it unnerved her. Seeing Emma Frost holding her gun felt like a violation but she said nothing, forcing herself to swallow the bloody saliva that lined her mouth and sore tongue.
Suspicion quickly turned to horror, head shaking. "No..." she exhaled, colour draining from her face. But the infection was there, Emma's instruction worming its way into her brain and settling in there, burrowed into her consciousness and waiting for the purposed opportune moment. Already, she could feel herself planning. She knew his schedules, his meetings, his drink of choice, his shoe size...
She would do it. She would do it well. She would silence any witnesses and tie every loose end with the tightest of bows - or simply snip the string entirely. The thoughts disgusted her. But she knew that she had to do it. "Crystal," she said curtly, body quivering with rage as her gun was returned to her. "You're going to make a mistake one day, Emma. And when you do, I'm going to take you down. That's a promise."
Emma watched with no small satisfaction as the command took hold of the woman, shackling her free will as easily as if she were a doll. With just a few words, she had reduced Carter to just another pawn on her chessboard. It hadn't been part of Emma's plan, to be fair, but it was Carter's fault for sticking her nose where it didn't belong.
Carter's threat was met with quiet triumph. "Chin up, Mary, smile, or people are going to talk. And I know you won't." Almost affectionately, Emma brushed her hand against Carter's cheek and tucked a stray hair behind the latter's ear. In the next room, there was the blurred clatter of sliding chairs, muffled voices. It was about time Emma took her leave.
Except... there was just one more thing she needed to take care of.
"Shall we play one last game?" She had been heading towards the door, but now she twirled around to face Carter, her ruby lips curved into a sinister smile. "The rules are... once I walk out this building, your every thought of me, no matter how fleeting, will feel as though, oh, let's see..." She waved her hand airily and gave a half-shrug. "That someone's driving a knife into your stomach. Doesn't that sound fun?"
Emma turned back around, and three high-heeled clicks later, she was in front of the door. But she didn't move. She looked almost silly, standing there, as though waiting for the door to open itself, until an employee burst through the stairwell doors with the urgency of a man fulfilling his life's purpose. Ignoring the stares of his fellow employees, he dashed down the long hall, sliding to a halt when he reached the room in which Carter and Emma were located. Gallantly, he pulled the door open for the statuesque blonde, as though he'd been summoned...
Emma threw a final glance over her shoulder. "Let's see how long it takes until you forget my existence entirely," she said simperingly. Then, like a flame of wind-blown fire, she glided out of the room, indifferent to the destruction she left in her wake.
@SHARON CARTER @WARREN WORTHINGTON III | the queen's made her exit lol. have fun!
As far as good days went, this wasn't one.
Her glare, icy cold and yet burning with anger, was pacified by the gentle command, a faint smile tugging on her lips as Emma made her appraisal. Chin up, mostly. Externally, she still had her composure. Keeping her breathing even was a challenge - especially when Emma touched her, an urge to swing out with her fists rising inside of Sharon - but she held steady. Although she felt hollow and used, the expression was convincing.
Or at least it would have been, if not for the tears that formed in her eyes once the door had swung shut.
Turning away, she stowed her gun back into her bag and ripped a page out of her notebook, fumbling for a pen in something of a frenzy. There would not be much time. frost mind control warren. Her handwriting had been warped by panic, more of a hasty scrawl than anything else. Artistic skills not great at the best of times, she was sketching something to resemble the woman's face when something sharp plunged into her gut.
Her knees buckled, breathing heavily as she looked down. The paper was scrunched up in her clenched hand, her other one resting on her stomach with clean fingertips. Gasping for air, she shoved the paper into her bottom drawer and dipped her head, trying to refocus and direct her thoughts elsewhere.
The pain was an easy target but that was what Emma wanted- Another blade and Sharon let out a muffled cry, sitting on the floor beside her desk, hand now clenched around the base of the swivel chair. Deep breath. She had dealt with worse. The stabbing was all in her head; nothing more than a vivid hallucination.
It did not help with the pain but it grounded her. A half-assed what would Captain America do? turned into a what would Steve do? before melting into thoughts of him. Steve, who represented the polar opposite of the feelings that were currently threatening to overwhelm her. Wherever he happened to be now.
Slowly, she eased herself up and sat in the chair once again. Her reflection in the monitor was pale and her eye makeup had been spoiled by tears that she could barely remember but it was salvageable. Unable to stop her hand from shaking, she plucked a tissue from her bag and began to fix herself up again. Chin up.
His hair had grown back nicely and was carefully organized to the side. Warren was between meetings and he thought he would set a few things down on his desk. And pick up the stack of things he needed to look through that he knew Mary had been working on earlier. Being a CEO was hard work. No wonder Junior was never around to see the big moments in his son’s life. Warren had started not sleeping very much (if at all) because he was balancing this life and that at the school. If he didn’t stop, he was probably going to crash. Or have a quarter life crisis. Or something. Was he too old for the quarter life crisis? Maybe not. Healing factor and all. How old would he grow to be?
Anyway, he stepped out of the town car and donned the jacket he had been wearing earlier. The meeting was across town and they made amazing time getting back. Hell, Warren almost thought to stop for bagels or something. No, what was the time? Coffee? Wait … what was the time? Where was father’s pocket watch? Warren was just past security when he realized it wasn’t in his pocket. Did he have it at the meeting? Had he left it here? He had to find it. Or put out some sort of bulletin for the missing watch. Alright, he was going to dash into his office straight away then come back to greet Mary and catch up on whatever the latest office gossip was.
After he found the watch. Hopefully sitting safely on his desk.
As such, Warren was rather distracted when he stepped off the elevator. He hadn’t seen Emma going out nor had he noticed anything wrong when he first entered his office. Mary was behind her desk, dabbing at herself with a tissue. Warren took a second glance at her, though, pocket watch temporarily forgotten. His keen eyesight should’ve seen the shaking hand and the patch job on her running makeup a mile away. Maybe not exactly a mile away, but … still. “Mary?” Warren’s lilting inflection could’ve been mistaken for a question not entirely spoken. But he finally added, “Is everything alright?”
There was something in the air he couldn’t pinpoint. But something was certainly not right here.
Of course she had been aware of Warren entering the room. The one that she had been ordered to kill by Frost. Her hand clenched around the desk, the invisible knife driven into her stomach once more, but she kept silent. Manageable. There was a mind game in play and, somehow, she would just have to manage it. There was no other option.
Stuffing her tissue into her bag, she took a deep breath and steeled herself. There was no blood. The pain was not real. Sharon repeated the phrases in her head like a mantra, willing her brain to play along and stop feeling so shocked. Turning numb in the office was not an option she could afford, not if she wanted to leave no loose ends or witnesses behind her after Warren's untimely death.
Sharon felt sick. She shrugged a shoulder, hand resting tentatively over her stomach. Claiming that nothing was wrong would be unbelievable and would only serve to make him suspicious. So she entwined a few aspects of the truth in her lie. "Stomach ache," she offered, nose wrinkling. "Bad burrito. Last time I try anything adventurous." For lunch, anyway.
Then she needed to divert his attention. Sharon's brain was not working as fast as she would have liked it to but, given the whole stabbing thing, she was not too angry at herself. Not about that, anyway. But she was coming up blank. "How about you? You okay?" Better than she was, she thought to herself, but that was not saying much.
At least his hair had grown back after that haircut nightmare. If those were his biggest problems, haircuts growing back and board meetings, then life was doing pretty well. Certainly better than it had been ten years ago. Then again, he had parents ten years ago. Warren wondered why his mind kept drifting back to them, especially to his father. Probably because he missed them. Did he? They hadn’t been terribly close when he was growing up. Hell, they never knew about his mutation. His own parents! They just thought it was some sort of prestige to be asked to come out to Xavier’s school. But now they were gone and they would never know. Well, they probably would in heaven. If they were there.
Maybe Warren just needed sleep.
Bad burrito? Not likely. Her makeup was running and she was clearly distraught over something worse than a bad burrito. Should he not push any further? Maybe. But also he wanted to make sure she was alright. That she wasn’t hiding something from him. Because there were enough things he was hiding from her. Well, mainly just the wings, but still. His silence resulted in a curious eyebrow going up, not quite believing the story she chose to tell, but accepting that it was the one he was going to get. For the moment. If she wanted to tell him what was happening later, he was there for her.
He hoped she knew that.
But when she flipped the tables on him and inquired as to if he was alright, Warren’s mind went straight back to the problem at hand. It probably seemed ridiculous. A missing pocket watch. No one even used those anymore, right? They were living in a FitBit generation these days. Or people checking their phones. “Pocketwatch,” he said so quickly the words just ran together. Warren faltered and cleared his throat. “You know, my father’s pocket watch. Pretty much one of the few things I remember from him … other than the company, obviously. I just … I can’t find it anywhere,” he was being overdramatic and he knew it.
“Have you seen it?”
Everything was unsteady. Her skin crawled, goosebumps lined her arms and seeing Warren in front of her - Warren, who was obliviously at the centre of it all - made her head pound. He seemed unaware, mostly, which was both a good and a terrible thing. Good because if she did not arouse his suspicions then an opportune moment would present itself.
Terrible because when that moment inevitably came, Sharon knew that she would have to kill him. Her breath caught in her throat.
Warren looked so earnest, too. That made it worse. There was no way she could do this. But she had to. Sharon's hand rested over her stomach, anything to make the lie more believable. If she convinced herself, perhaps the truth would not feel so grim. "Sorry. Too much information."
The question seemed to have been enough of a distraction, thankfully. Sharon dug her nails into her stomach, still sensitive from the phantom knives, and tried to show her interest in him. A relic from his past, his dead father. She forced her face into something resembling sympathy - pained sympathy, albeit, but she was trying - and reached out with her free hand to pat his arm. "I'm sorry, Warren. I'm sure it's around here somewhere, I'll help you look."
She stood up, chair squeaking a little as she did so, before approaching his desk. By this point, she knew the office like the back of her hand and she had an idea where he might have put it. At his desk, she turned away from him and took a deep breath. How she had gotten here, she had no idea. Why Emma- knife, twisting right into her stomach once again, she let out a gasp. It did not matter. None of it mattered. She sifted through a few papers, a note she had left for him earlier with the phone number an earlier visitor looking for an investment in his start-up.
Biting back a wince, she spotted the pocketwatch on the other side of a jug of water (Warren was not sleeping enough, she wanted to make sure he stayed hydrated at least) and gently picked it up. "Found it. Safe and sound."
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