Shaw knew she'd be lugging a techie on this job, but she had assumed it would be Michael Cole. She'd worked with him before, knew his skills and foibles, and, best of all, he was the least annoying partner she'd ever had.
Instead, she got this beanpole woman she'd never heard of, some transfer from the FBI. Her suit was sharp. Her expression was sharper.
"Special Agent Augusta King," she said, and thrust her hand into Shaw's. "They didn't give me your name, just a code. What do you like to be called?"
"Indigo Five Alpha," said Shaw. "Or 'Hey you', for short." She hated working with FBI; they were always so earnest. All "Do you have jurisdiction to do that in this country?" and "Did you really have to kill that guy?"
Early into the mission, King turned out to not be in the traditional FBI mould when she kicked a Russian assassin off a roof and walked away before the man had hit the ground.
"Back-ups are in the safe," she told Shaw, breezily. "We don't need him now."
Mid-mission, Shaw caught King inserting data into a system when they were supposed to be stealing from it.
"The hell is that?" she said, watching lines of code flick past. King's hands moved like lightning over the keys. "Are you just making that up?"
King just laughed and hit the enter key. "Baby, I'm too good to have to make things up."
Shaw forgot about the computers in her utter astonishment at the term of endearment. "What did you just call me?"
By the time they were crawling out of the Russian Consulate, Shaw was certain King was some kind of plant. She quietly drew her weapon, and when they both slithered out of the drainage pipe, she put the gun to King's side.
"You're not FBI," she said. "Who do you work for?"
King was disturbingly unfazed by the cold metal against her ribs. "I'm self-employed, sweetie," she said, pushing herself up against Shaw's body. Shaw spent a few seconds wondering how King was so fearless, stroking Shaw's hair while Shaw was ready to kill her. "Though if you're looking for an opening, I've always got a place for you."
The overt come-on was enough of a distraction for her to knock Shaw's arm aside and jab a needle into Shaw's thigh. Whatever drug King used, it came on fast. Much like King herself, Shaw thought, as she faded out.
When she woke up, she was in a military hospital, and Wilson was waiting to debrief her on the mission. After a few sentences of code, he went to get Cole to translate. Shaw was glad of her good memory: remembering what King had added was probably all that was stopping the ISA from terminating her contract in a really permanent way.
"I don't know her, but I really want to meet her," said Cole, when the first laptop he used to trial the code segments exploded.
Shaw gritted her teeth while Cole and Wilson got busy with fire extinguishers. How could King be so annoying even when she wasn't in the room?
Later – years later – the door opened to reveal that Veronica Sinclair was, in fact, Augusta King. Shaw didn't hesitate, but as she put a boot into Augusta's belly, she thought that Cole would have loved the irony of this, that he never did get to meet her. Shaw still had his blood caked on her clothes.
Augusta was laughing as Shaw barrelled them into the room, and gave a delighted shriek when Shaw straddled her. While Shaw disarmed her: gun, Taser, knife, knife, gun, Augusta stroked her hands up and down Shaw's arms, grinning like she'd just won the lottery.
"I am so glad you're here!" she said. "I really missed our little talks."