“Really?” she asked, looking up at him. “Because you were no trouble at all.”
The men rising from their seats to point their guns at the Coulson and his man wasn’t the most graceful they’d ever done it; they’d all taken aisle seats, but the room to maneuver was limited, and one of them even bumped into the seat in front of him before he got out and into the aisle; Rosalind saw Banks roll his eyes. But it got the job done, and soon both were seated, and handcuffed to the bar on top of the seats in front of them, Coulson by the window so he was pinned between the wall and his man, who was making a silly comment about being outnumbered. “These trains can be very crowded sometimes, Mr. Hunter,” Rosalind told him. “You have no idea.”
“Oh, I’ve worked in this city,” said Coulson. “I’ve been in these cars when they’re packed to the gills. Been a while, though. I remember when these blue and red seats first rolled out. At least they’re a *little* bit more comfortable than the old yellow-orange ones.”
Rosalind wished the seats had all been against the wall instead. She wanted to have a conversation with Coulson, after all, and it was a little undignified, sitting down in the seat in front of him and shifting on her knees to face him. It put their faces close too, but she found she didn’t mind that. “I would’ve sent a car,” she said, “although it’s not like a drive through DC is that pleasant either, and besides, then you would’ve suspected something, Mr. Coulson.”
“And what should I call you?” He breathed the names she had gone by to her; she felt the heat from his breathe on her face. This was fun, almost, this repartee: “…I feel like I’m talking to a ghost.”
“Whereas I’m talking to a corpse. You’re not the only one who did the homework.”
“I guess not.”
“Oh, bloody hell,” sighed Hunter, “this is embarrassing, do you really have to make eyes at each other like this while I’m sitting right here? If you wanted to flirt, you should’ve handcuffed me to a different seat!”
Rosalind ignored him, although she thought maybe there was a little red in Coulson’s face. Hard to tell, though, even from this close. “In the eyes of the public,” she reminded him, “S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer exists, and you were killed long before the agency you work for was pronounced dead. Yet somehow, you both rise from the ashes. If I wasn’t so intrigued, I’d be terrified.”
“I’ve got a feeling nothing scares you.”
Well, she did ride this train all the time. “Not true,” she nonetheless said. “But I’m certainly not intimidated by you staking out my route home, resorting to KGB-style tactics of intimidation.” The train slowed down as she spoke, which was something that usually annoyed her, but now she was glad for the dramatic effect, even if the driver’s likely announcement about their having a train in front of them would probably disrupt the mood. Unless it was just slowing down without explanation, since that happened too sometimes.
“I wouldn’t know.” Coulson was completely unaffected; he’d obviously experienced metro train stalls himself. “I haven’t spent as much time as you have working with Russian counterintelligence.”
“And I haven’t spent any time in Tahiti, though I hear it’s a magical place.” Perfect timing; the train slowed to a complete stop, though the PA didn’t turn on. “Let’s both agree that we enjoy a good secret, though mine do appear to be a bit old-hat next to yours.”
“Um,” Hunter was looking anxiously around and at the tunnel walls outside the train car. “You haven’t gotten someone to agree to stop this train so you can dispose of our bodies, have you?”
“I don’t think so,” said Coulson, and he was smiling just a little.
“No,” Rosalind agreed. “I merely plan to detain you. I’d actually like to reach the next stop now, if the teams are in place?”
“Both of them are in position, m’am,” Banks confirmed from where he stood by the door. At least his comm was working; it had shorted out down here on one occasion in the past.
“That’s one team for each of us,” Hunter supplied unnecessarily. “Again, killing it with math.”
“But I do hope we can continue this conversation in a more intimate setting,” she said, and refrained from leaning closer; she actually did not want any comments about their positions right now.
Thankfully Coulson just said, “I’m perfectly happy to answer any questions that might be bothered you now. Incarceration doesn’t seem totally necessary.”
“Nice of you to be so accommodating,” she said. “Might as well; there’s no telling how long this train will be stuck here anyway. So tell me,” and now she did lean forward, until all between them was centimeters of air, “where are you hiding them?”
A minute or so later, with the train still stalled and the men looking concerned because this wasn’t normal, the two of them were staring at each other as Coulson said, “Wait, is this still cagey banter, or are we being honest all of a sudden?”
Just then an explosion from somewhere behind the car sent everything in it flying; the men were thrown around the car as Rosalind nearly slammed into the door, though somehow Banks managed to catch her, and Coulson and Hunter were thrown over the seats. “I think the car behind us has caught fire, m’am!” someone called from the back.
“Not us!” Coulson yelled from where he was scrambling to get his feet under him.
“Not us either,” Rosalind yelled back. “These train cars catch fire on their own sometimes. It’s a recent development.” She hoped he believed her there. It was bad enough that they were going to have to evacuate, and she doubted they’d keep a hold of them.
“Wow, it’s really gotten that bad?” He sounded astonished, but not at all disbelieving.
“Oh come on, you’re really going to believe something like that?” Hunter snapped from where he was struggling with the cuff chains he’d somehow managed to get entangled.
“About the DC metro? Absolutely.” Their hands touched as Rosalind took the key and unlocked his cuffs, and Rosalind had to tell herself not to react, but it was especially hard when there was more sympathy than anything else in his eyes when they met hers, even as she stood over him sprawled out over the seat.
Sure enough, it turned out, as Coulson pointed out to them, that they hadn’t done all their homework. She wondered who on Earth had designed that arm. Also that phone, ringing while they were evacuating and the rest of them couldn’t get enough signal for so much as a text message. Not long after that, Rosalind, her phone filling up with frantic texts about an attack in a hospital once there was a signal again, was sneaking away from the scene of the crime with only her men, and without their two prisoners, and also with the worry that they’d somehow be associated with the second explosion the WMATA would nonetheless probably end up taking the blame for, since it wasn’t like anyone wouldn’t believe their negligence had enabled a second as well.
“Better find an alternate route to work tomorrow, m’am,” Banks muttered to her.
“Noted,” she said simply. Though it wasn’t as if this wasn’t what one just lived with, living and working in DC. No matter how you did it, inevitably there were evenings like this where the commute was hell.