Chapter 11: Lunch and Un-welcomed Surprises
Without any other trouble, you and The Avengers find yourselves outside of the Panera Bread Restaurant. You take a silent, deep breath as you follow the footsteps of Barton and Rogers as they open the doors and walk into the place. As soon as your foot crosses the threshold, you feel her presence in the establishment. You look up at your group members while you all stand in line.
"You guys can order whatever you like, money's not a problem," you inform them as you pull out your wallet from your purse.
"Yea, we've heard," Barton mumbles as he and the others look up at the menu.
You stare up at the menu blankly as if you don't already know what you want to eat. You just need something to distract you from the gnawing of Shadow's energy hitting against your body. She's restless and needs to at least get a taste of her favorite meal. You feel her move across the restaurant's floor in search of her prey like a wildcat on the savanna. You move your legs forward, still looking up at the menu, biting the inside of your cheek until you hear that sweet, bird-like voice,
"Alright Johnny, I heard you the first time!"
You turn your head normally so as not to draw the Avengers' attention (it was their job to be observant of you, you couldn't hold their hands forever). You see the 26 year old woman walking from the staff only door behind the counter. She had on her uniform with a navy blue apron tied behind her waist. She smiles at another co-worker as her peach complexion shines under the lights. While she's distracted with informing the teenage girl of what Johnny said, Shadow makes her move. Shadow calmly makes her way towards the young woman's shadow, inching like molasses so as not to cause discomfort for her prey. What feels like hours to you is merely seconds once Shadow has overtaken her latest victim.
By this time, Barton has already ordered his food and it's your turn.
"Agatha, how have you been?" the bird-like voice smiles brightly at you.
The Avengers' surprised and bewildered faces don't go unnoticed.
"Hey Miranda, it's been a while," you answer with a humble tone.
Miranda Givens laughs at your tone as she asks,
"Is it just you today? Where's your boyfriend?"
"Funny...no, I'm here with a few of my fellow cohorts," you answer gesturing towards the six of them.
She nods at them as she predicts your order,
"Understood. I take it you'll be ordering the broccoli and cheese soup with the Frontega Chicken Panini?"
"You know my stomach like the back of your hand," you force yourself to smile, "Please treat my people to whatever they want. It's on me."
With that, you walk to the side to see the Avengers order their food and dessert.
"I'll have your food and drinks brought to you when everything's done," Miranda waves at you as you walk to the outside tables.
You sit on one end of the table with Clint and Dr. Banner on your left, Thor and Tony on your right, and Steve and Natasha on the opposite end of the table facing you.
"Who is Agatha?" Thor asks after everyone is comfortably seated.
"We're here to discuss my folder of my 8-year-old self and whatever else you may have questions about. It's not my job to feed you information, some things you have to figure out for yourselves," you answer as you look past Thor.
Realizing that would be the best answer they'd probably get from you, Steve pulls out the folder and places its contents in the center of the table. Each member of the team looks over the papers and pictures before Tony asks,
"Is it ok for us to have this out in the open? Won't Miranda be curious about what we're talking about?"
"No, just act as if we were at S.H.I.E.L.D. There's nothing for any of you to worry about."
Natasha looks down at a picture of you in your 3rd grade school uniform sitting behind your desk in class.
"Did you have any other friends besides Erica?"
"Megan...she would pass notes to me during class when the teacher had her back turned. She'd smile as she whispered for my attention even when the other kids tried to persuade her to stop. I wouldn't look at her when she called out to me but I'd always grab the small piece of paper and quickly hide it in my desk so the teacher wouldn't see. I had to have at least seven notes in my desk before she came up to me before lunch time.
"Hey, (y/n) right? Do you want to eat lunch with me outside today?" she asked with that stupid smile on her face.
"Don't you know who I am? I'm sure you've heard what I did to Erica."
"I also heard that Benjamin was caught playing doctor with Nicole, doesn't it make it true."
This caused you to look up at this girl with shock as she laughs at your expression,
"I'll be under the big tree on the hill."
You feel your lip twitch slightly at the memory of Megan taking your hand in front of everyone in class and dragging you behind her towards the huge oak tree on a hill near the school's library. She kept that smile plastered on her face as she sat down and waited for you to do the same. You both ate lunch in silence until she started asking what you thought about her notes.
"What happened to Megan?" Dr. Banner asks.
"She...she's out there somewhere, living her life," was your response as you put your elbows on the table.
Before Clint can open his mouth, Miranda comes through the double doors with three other co-workers balancing everyone's food like circus performers. Miranda calls out each order as she and her staff place each tray in front of the correct person. She places your meal in front of you along with your utensils. You look out over everyone and see Thor about to dig in.
"Don't you know it's rude to eat before everyone is served?" you glare at him as you grip your knife tightly.
"Still a stickler for manners I see," Miranda laughs as Thor puts down his sandwich.
The Avengers watch you closely as you put the knife back in place but your actions don't seem to effect Miranda. She places a hand on your shoulder, almost lovingly, as she smiles down at your face.
"How have you been holding up Agatha?"
You look up at her with a blank face as your voice takes on a mellow tone,
"I should be asking you that. Is your brother doing better?"
Her smiles is quickly replaced by shock as she looks at your eyes with worry,
You cover her hand with your own as you silently stand up and stare into her eyes,
"It'll be alright, you know that I'm here for you when you're ready to talk."
She can only nod as tears prick the corner of her eyes as she nods at the Avengers and makes her way back into the restaurant. You look down to see that Shadow is still attached to her but she's loosened her grip somewhat,
"I told you that she wasn't ripe enough yet but you can't listen to me."
Shadow just turns her head and you feel her power lash out at you; her way of glaring or gnashing her teeth at you.
You sit back down, say grace, and proceed to eat your soup.
"If you all keep staring at me, then your food is gonna get cold."
The sound of utensils reach your ears as you laugh inwardly at their reactions.
As everyone is eating their meals, Thor speaks up,
"So, (y/n), can you explain what happened with Megan after you both had lunch?"
"She stuck with me like glue. Even when I tried to be mean to her, she'd just laugh it off and go back to being nice to me. Mom and dad were so happy to see me being 'myself again'," you answer in air quotes.
"What's your relationship with Miranda?" Steve asks with no hesitation.
"What do you mean by that?"
"It's clear that something has happened between you two. The way she placed her hand on your shoulder and the way you looked at her; are you two together?"
"It's nothing like that. I'm just sizing her up," you answer taking a bite out of your sandwich while keeping eye contact with him.
"Sizing her up?" Tony asks.
"Yes, think of our relationship like that of a lioness and antelope. Do you ever just see a predator charge right for their meal?"
"No, it requires extensive planning," Natasha answers.
"Exactly. I have to make sure that her emotions are in order before I devour them," you smirk as you finish your meal.
"Can you explain that?" Dr. Banner asks.
"I could but it would be better to just show you all. Sadly, that probably won't be happening until another few weeks. After all, there is a set time for everything," you mumble as you push your tray in front of you.
You place your chin on the table as you reach for a slip of paper poking out of the folder. You carefully pull it out and scan over it to see that it's a report of your daily routine when you were a child. It details everything from the time you woke up to the time you went to bed. Your eyebrows narrow as you read over the evening entry.
"What? Did he leave that out on purpose or did could he not see?"
Miranda comes back out of the double doors by herself,
"Is everything alright?"
"Yea, can we get our desserts to go?" you asks not bothering to ask the Avengers what they'd prefer.
"Of course, I'll have it ready for you all when you come back to the front."
Finishing their meals, you follow behind the Avengers as they dump their trays and put them in the designated area near the drink dispenser. Crossing the threshold yet again, you realize that Shadow is still attached as Miranda stands in front of the door with a large bag full of sweets. She smiles at you while holding the bag out in front of you,
"I even put a few extra things in there for your boyfriend."
You hesitate. Shadow's still pissed that she can't have what she wants, which means, you have to suffer the consequences. You don't want to cause a scene by having Rogers get to the bag so you carefully reach for it. In a split-second, Miranda moves her hand from holding the bag by the bottom to holding it by the bent-over flap.
"What's wrong Agatha? Don't you want your sweets?"
Miranda was no longer in control of her own body, you could tell by the condition of her eyes. Her pupils are dilated and you know what's to come when your skin makes contact with hers. You take a quick breath inward as you reach for the bag and feel her fingers brush against your hand. The pain is the first thing before rapid images flash across your vision causing Shadow to quickly return to you. You watch as Miranda shakes the fog from her mind before walking back inside Panera. None of them seemed to notice what was going on as you felt yourself get dizzy.
"Ms. (l/n), you look pale. Are you alright?"
You hear his words but don't have time to respond before you push the bag in his hands and run towards a nearby alleyway. You pick up the first trashcan lid you see and empty your stomach contents. You hear the footsteps of the others as they come to a halt behind you. You retch harder as Clint asks,
"Was it food poisoning?"
You raise your arm and wave your hand from left to right trying to communicate that that wasn't the reason. You hear the sound of the food bag shuffling and a pair of shoes walk away from the scene as you try to catch your breath and not swallow any bile. The feeling of something cold on your neck causes you to jump before you turn your head to see Steve has put a cold compress on you.
"Don't try to speak, relax," he smiles as he gently rubs your back.
Looking down at his other hand, you see a pharmacy bag. He pulls out a small bottle of Listerine mouth wash and hands it to you. After you gargle half the contents of the bottle and spit it out in the trash, he hands you a bottle of water. You rinse once more with that one before he gently takes your arm and places it over his shoulder.
"Do you want some Sprite or another bottle of water?" he asks gesturing towards the pharmacy bag.
You shake your head 'no' as you allow him to carry you already knowing that a smile is decorating Shadow's face.