1965-04-05 - Three's Company
Summary: Coulson and Flash become acquainted… then Coulson witnesses something truly extraordinary.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
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flash-thompson coulson 

A number of SHIELD technicians have gathered in the science lab, each of them poring over data collected on stacks of paper attached to so many clipboards. The data, of course, is on the symbiote that has been tested on one Flash Thompson. He's been scheduled for another recombination sequence today, but before everything can get started, a man walks in who gathers the attention of those gathered.

"Senior Agent Coulson," says the leading tech, a man named Bryan Fenstermacher. "We weren't expecting you today."

"As you were, Special Agent Fenstermacher." Coulson has a pleasant demeanor, matched by the crisp tailoring and classic cut of his black business suit. He removes the aviators from his nose, and looks around the lab for a moment with a grin on his face. "Actually, I was hoping to have a moment with Thompson. Really, I'll make up any excuse to come in here when time allows, but… today I actually have business to attend to, rather than, you know, just being nosy."

"Sure," says Bryan, and motions toward Flash. "He's right over there, prepping."

Eugene "Flash" Thompson is in his wheelchair on the opposite side of the room, currently having a final vial of blood taken before the procedure begins. He's seen better days, to be sure; the picture Coulson will have seen in his file is a much more striking figure than the one sitting in the chair, but the resemblance is there. When he hears his name spoken by the senior agent, he lifts his head to meet the man's gaze, offering a salute should Coulson approach.

The alien organism is secured in a glass enclosure, and the research team assigned to it hover around the case, taking final measurements and tests as well. It writhes within its prison, tendrils of black gooey thread reaching clawing at its walls, seemingly desperate for a way out. It senses its host is near, and wants desperately to return to it, almost as much as Flash wants it back.

"At ease, soldier." Coulson's smile remains amicable, but there's a crease to his brow as he looks upon the man in a way that borders on critical.

The older man turns his eyes upon the glass enclosure, to which he studied in silence. He draws near, crouching down to get a better look at the thing. "Quite the friend you have here," he quips. "I'm guessing… ancient microbial lifeform, released from a millennial prison by seismic activity and exposed to unnatural forms of radiation due to deep sea atomic weapons testing." He stands up, grinning with mild humor. "Or, alien."

Turning back, Phil approaches Eugene with a hand extended. "Phil Coulson. Army Rangers, Pacific Theatre, World War II, and one of the SSR's early members."

Coulson's generally friendly demeanor sets Flash a bit more at ease, and he drops the salute. The nurse taking his blood finishes her task, pulls the needle out and presses a cotton swab to the puncture, which Flash then takes over putting pressure on. "Friend, that's a term no-one's used for it," he says, a bit of a smirk rising on his face. "Definitely alien. Not sure where or what, myself. Maybe it'll tell me one day.. kinda figured your people knew more about it than I did," he says, looking toward the case and the black ooze held within. "I like to think we have a.. partnership, though." He's a bit whistful, watching the thing for a moment. "Corporal Flash Thompson." He says, purposely omitting his given name as he extends his hand to Coulson. He doesn't like to be called Eugene, for reasons. He won't go into the details of his record; Coulson would have all the information he'd need in his file. "Pleasure to meet you, sir."

Coulson has the perfect military handshake. Firm, stronger than he'd use on a civilian, but not designed to be intimidating. Held for just the right length of time. Anyone who has served knows about it, even if it's never spoken of; it's the handshake that tells a brother their life is in your hands, and vice versa, until death takes one or the other. Some things are just universal.

"Agent Thompson," Coulson gently corrects. "We've just as many civilians around as we do former military, and sometimes the civilians can feel a little intimidated. Even though we give them training similar to boot camp, it's just… you know, a mind thing."

He turns back to face the symbiote, arms crossing while the technicians take their final measurements and readings. "Well, thanks to modern science, I guess we can call it 'friend'. After all, it does give you the use of your legs again, unless these reports were typed up by a trainee." Doubtful, considering the classified nature of the information contained. There's a certain quality to Coulson's tone of voice as he speaks of Flash's use of his legs. Something cautionary, though he doesn't explain why he speaks that way.

Flash meets the handshake with a firm grip of his own. "Of course, sorry sir," Flash says, nodding. "Old habits." The cotton swab, having done its work, is removed from his arm, and Flash wheels himself forward through the space of the lab toward the enclosure and his 'friend' inside. Once close enough, to presses a hand up to the glass, and the symbiote meets it with a sprawling of tendrils from the other side. "I understand why, Agent Coulson, but this separation is hard on both of us. It gives me so much more than just my legs. And it needs me.. the longer you keep it locked up, the more it suffers. It needs.. purpose. Freedom. It's alive. It's not just a.. thing we use, you know?"

Coulson's smile and expression suggests that no apology is needed. He runs a tight ship around here, sure, but a big part of that is helping everyone to fit in. Minimizing the negative impact of social differences. That kind of thing, most leaders just ignore. Not Coulson.

He looks on, watching how Flash and the creature interact with each other, head tilted just slightly. "Of course," he answers. "And… if this relationship is something that can help save lives? Make the world a safer place?" He shrugs. "Groovy."

The lead tech approaches, clearing his throat. "Agents Thompson, Coulson… we're ready."

"Oh, just one more moment, Bryan." Coulson discards the clipboard he'd studied upon entry. "This separation period you go through. I'm wondering. Is it necessary, or… just a safety precaution?" Granted, there may even be data on this very subject in the reports that Coulson has likely already read, but he's asking anyway.

"It's a safety precaution," Flash says without hesitation. "The drugs make it complacent, but that's not what keeps it under control. It stays with me because it wants to. Not because it has to." Whether or not Flash's assessment agrees with the data in the report is another question; clearly someone thinks these things are necessary. Probably someone with a lot more knowledge than Flash himself. "But I'm not complaining." Not here, at least. "Are we good to go?" He's eager, for sure.

Coulson steps back then, allowing the technicians to get to work. He's got one hell of a poker face… nothing more than a pleasant expression to Flash's response, not even a tick to give away approval or otherwise. "By all means, gentlemen."

Seems he intends to stay and watch. Rank haveth privilege.

Flash wheels himself back a couple feet at the behest of the technicians, and a sense of calm washes over him. The team in charge of the symbiote clear the space around the enclosure except for Flash, and remotely trigger the panel on the case to slide open. Almost immediately, the black slime inside arches up and flows out slowly. Tendrils of tar-like ooze flick about seemingly at random, and it may seem for a moment that it's almost looking around at everyone else in the room. It makes its way toward Flash, reaching up to grasp onto the stumps of his legs and flow up and around his body. He arches his back and gasps audibly as it covers his face, flowing into his open mouth and into his nostrils. Legs rebuild strand by strand. His face contorts, covered in black, and large white eyes open. Mouth turned to a gaping maw of fangs and a grotesquely long tongue, whipping about in a snarl. It lasts only a moment before the figure regains a semblence of humanity again, and then the black slithers away from his face. Moments later, whole once again, Flash Thompson pushes himself up from the chair, his clothing replaced with a black suit and tie, not unlike other agents. He smiles, and lets out a long breath of relief before looking toward Coulson. "Much better," he says at last, stretching his arms and legs. "Where do you need me, sir?"

Phil Coulson has played witness to a lot of strange things, but this one… this one lands a solid slot in the top three. He even goes so far as to grimace when the organism invades Flash's face, and his eyes go wide as the transformation passes an unworldly zenith, only to leave Flash… well, Flash again. Plus legs.

"… Far out."

Coulson's answer comes following a slight hesitation, at which point he closes his jaw and swallows the breath he didn't realize he was holding. A brief shake of his head to dust off that separation from reality and fantasy, before he offers an answer.

"Familiarize yourself with Agents Leo Fitz and Billy Kaplan," he instructs Flash. "Next field op, you're on the team. Agent Dover will give you your clearances. Don't… take anything she says personally."

"Yes sir," Flash replies crisply; try as he might, it's hard to suppress the smile one his face. He's whole again. He's himself again. We're ourselves again. And we're hungry… Flash leaves the chair where it is, stepping forward to put a hand against the glass again. It'd be easy to just.. smash it. Never again be a prisoner. But that instinct too is held at bay. It wouldn't serve either of us. They'd just build another, and have more reason to keep us in inside. "I'm looking forward to it, sir. A chance to stretch our legs." He grins. "In the meantime, I imagine there are more tests?" Flash looks toward the technicians, who give him hesitant but affirmative nods. "Let's do it, then."

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