Back to SHIELD HQ with haste, turning corners fast and passing cars. Down into the bullpen, scouring files.
More coffee. More files. A phone call to Agent Simmons. Finally, a file left for Peggy Carter, reading EYES ONLY.
A requisitioned chopper, and flight to the nearest National Guard base.
"I understand that, Major," he spoke over the radio, "but this is urgent. Please call General Davis and have him come to base, right away."
It wasn't often that Phil Coulson exerted his influence, but today was one of those days. He looked down to his mug of coffee with a smile, but when his eyes rose to look at the seasoned General again, he the smile was only on his mouth. His eyes said something clearly different.
"I'm done fighting with you, General. If you don't requisition the reports for me, immediately, I'll have no problem using your own phone to call the Oval Office."
General Davis knew he wasn't bluffing.
Home. Closet, and a nice change of clothes. Something… different. Slacks. No, blue jeans. Polo? No, collared shirt and sweater.
A cloth sack was pulled from Coulson's head after the mobsters roughly sat his ass in a chair. He squinted for a moment, then looked at the underboss seated across from him. A grin. "Hi."
The underboss stared at him for a long moment, before spitting into a nearby ash tray and taking a huge long drag from the cigar in his hand. "This better not be no fucking joke."
"Not a joke, Mister Francelli. The Cleveland market is dying to get their hands on this shit, and I'm the man to make it happen."
Francelli glowered at Coulson for a moment, before reaching into the table and producing a six shooter. Thugs behind grabbed Coulson by the shoulders and forced him back against the chair, while Francelli pointed the revolver right between Coulson's eyes.
Coulson grunted, but grinned. "Wow," he remarked drily. "You guys are strong!"
"Here's how this works," Francelli growled. "We give you a sample. A test run. Three hundred worth. You like it, we ship it. Got the network in place already, you see."
"Uh huh." Coulson craned his neck toward the guy holding him on the right. "I have cash in my front pocket."
Once the cash was on the table, Francelli sneered. He counted it piece by piece, leaving the remaining bills for Coulson to take back, before producing a plastic bag filled with blue pills. Then, a simple nod to the thugs detaining Coulson.
One of them pulled out a metal rod from somewhere, and jammed it into Coulson's mouth. The other snatched up one of those blue pills and popped it right into the SHIELD agent's mouth. A moment later, they were holding his mouth closed, and moving to pinch his nose.
Phil knew he could have fought back. He knew just how to take these fools out in a matter of seconds. But that wasn't the play; he was making friends. Connections. A road in, and access to the stuff. Access nobody else could get.
And so, with a narrowing of his eyes, he shoved the pill to the back of his mouth and swallowed.
Everything slowed down. Not in the conventional sense, but in the sense that Phil Coulson was perceiving everything at hypersonic speed. They'd bagged him and dumped him off on a sketchy street in Hell's Kitchen; a few thugs tried to rob him, but he made short work of them. Not only was he a trained and experienced field agent, but his thought patterns were faster now.
The MTA train would take him back to Chinatown.
Thank goodness it was a slow night at SHIELD HQ. The rushing high was almost overwhelming; Coulson left a portion of the vigor pills marked for Simmons to analyze, along with a blood sample. The instructions were clear: tell no one.
Not even Fitz.
Coming down was a real bitch. That's an understatement. Gradually his thought processes went back to normal, which was unnerving as hell. Then came the shakes… the sick feeling in his stomach. The cold sweats.
More coffee. Lots of coffee. Pacing around his apartment, cleaning, listening to old jazz records to try and center himself. It reminded him of the war; of the Pacific. Of late nights fighting seasickness aboard the destroyer.
An early morning at the gym, fighting through withdrawal symptoms with ferocious strikes against an unsuspecting bag.
Coulson put on his best smile while approaching Charles Gibson, loyal Stark Industries security guard. "How is she?" he asked.
"Still sleeping," answered Gibson.
"Good," answered Phil. "I… I've got it from here."