Sometimes, Selina thought fondly of her old life. She thought of the excitement that came from the thrill of a chase and a successful heist, and the way that contrasted with the comparative complacency of the life she had now.
Not that life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was boring. After all, Nick Fury was at least as much fun to irritate as the big bad Bat ever was, if not more so.
But the kind of thrills that came with her job these days were just that - a job. Moreover, they were a government sanctioned job, and as such, the adrenaline barely reached a dull growl on most days, and never quite the full-throated roar Selina had known when she had been living the life of the most successful cat burglar of the century. And yes, Nick Fury could dispute that title all he wished, but Selina knew the truth, and she was quick to point out that the various wannabes - namely the ridiculous copy cat that spent so much time stalking the rooftops of New York - would not exist, if Selina had not been the best.
But as much as her current job frequently lacked in the pure adrenaline rush, it frequently made up for in the opportunity for pure rage. It was an interesting trade off, and not one that Selina was entirely sure was healthy.
Despite her anger, Selina sat perched on the briefing table, legs curled beneath her, as she listened to Sharon Carter's report on the latest acts of cruelty performed by Slade Wilson.
"Turns out he was running an entire school for teenage girls," Sharon was saying. "Training them to be assassins. We suspect he had other motives for the girls as well, but the girls were unwilling to give much detail."
Natasha wrinkled her nose in disgust, as one might expect from someone trained from her childhood to be a Russian super spy. "That is the third such school that we've shut down this week."
"Really, when did teenage girls become such highly prized assets in the assassin market?" Bobbi asked.
"Well," Natasha pointed out, "that aspect is hardly a new concept. Nobody suspects a teenage girl to be a cold-blooded killer, and as they grow up, they will have considerable charms at their disposal to help make their killing even easier."
"Which has nothing to do with why so many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are female," Selina said sarcastically.
"If the process didn't work, people wouldn't keep trying to duplicate it," Natasha answered.
"And if people weren't so sure they could brainwash the younger ones, they'd stick to adults who could actually fight back," Bobbi added. "What happened to the girls, Sharon?"
"They were evaluated by S.H.I.E.L.D. psychiatrists," Sharon responded.
"Oh, I remember those days," Selina said cheerfully. "Such fun."
"I've seen Dr. Quinzel's psych eval on you, Selina," Sharon answered. "I know exactly how much fun you had at the poor woman's expense."
Bobbi gave a snort and folded her hands behind her head. "I'd love to have the security clearance to read that report."
"Dr. Quinzel's spent time in Gotham. She thinks everyone is crazy. City makes you paranoid after a while," Selina said dismissively.
"You're from Gotham," Natasha stated, as nonchalantly as though she hadn't spent the better part of a month working with Selina to train away the last traces of the Gotham accent that hindered Selina's spy abilities. "What does that say about you?"
Selina shrugged. "I didn't say that Dr. Quinzel's reports were untrue. She's a very competent woman, sometimes."
"She is," Sharon agreed. "And it was her very competent opinion that most of the girls could be placed in foster homes with normal people. But there were three of them who Dr. Quinzel did not think would assimilate back into society very well."
"So S.H.I.E.L.D. has decided to assimilate them instead?" Bobbi asked skeptically.
Sharon paused, as if she wanted to argue the point. But then, because she was a smart woman, she decided against it. "Essentially, yes."
"Well, there's no way that could possibly go wrong, right?" Selina asked. "Angry, traumatized girls. Let's give them more weapons."
"It could go very wrong," Sharon acknowledged. "That's where you ladies come in. The three of them are the very best that Wilson was able to kidnap, borrow or buy from their families. They could be a tremendous asset to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the world, or they could continue along the path Wilson started them on. The training with you could be the deciding factor."
"S.H.I.E.L.D. is playing Big Brother & Big Sister now?" Bobbi laughed. "Oh, those poor kids."
"Pretty much," Sharon agreed. Then she stood, and the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents followed her out of the briefing room and down the hall into one of the training rooms.
None of them looked very happy, which Selina supposed was the end result of being forced into a life you didn't want by a man who didn't care if your answer was no. Not surprisingly, Selina looked at their unhappy teenage faces and thought of Maggie.
"Thanks for keeping them company, Agent Gordon," Sharon said. "You're dismissed. Say hello to Blue Beetle for me when you get back to the lab."
"Only if you say hello to Cap for me," Barbara retorted.
Sharon smirked, but Selina rolled her eyes. "I will never understand the appeal of these boy-scouts you girls keep dating. You should branch out, get a little adventure."
"I do not date boy-scouts," Natasha denied.
"Hawk is many things, but a boyscout is not one of them," Bobbi chimed in.
"Compared to the right man, Bucky Barnes is a blushing virgin and Hawkeye a toddler still learning to crawl," Selina said dismissively.
Barbara laughed. "I'm not sure it's fair to use Batman as the standard," she pointed out.
Which was quite fair, Selina supposed. So she did not argue, and Barbara returned to her position in the lab, and Sharon continued with the introductions.
The first of the unhappy trio was a red-haired freckle faced girl by the name of Brenda, who wore the deepest scowl of the bunch. Anger Girl, Selina decided to call her, was apparently related to the head of some well-known crime family in the Southwest. Apparently the newest of Wilson's recruits, he'd nonetheless managed to do a thorough job of messing with the girl's head in the short time he'd been in her life. Sharon paired her with Natasha.
Without saying a word, the two of them left, no doubt to find an unoccupied room for some one on one training.
The second girl was a brunette with a deep fondness for the color purple. Selina did not register the face as the missing Bishop daughter until Sharon introduced her to Bobbi.
"Do you really know Hawkeye?" Kate asked.
Bobbi grinned at her. "On-again, off-again, yes."
Kate smirked. "I bet I can out shoot him any day of the week."
"Well," Bobbi laughed. "Let's go find a private training room, and you can show me what you've got, sport. If you're as good as you say, I might be able to arrange a little friendly competition."
As Kate and Bobbi left, Sharon turned to the last of the unhappy trio. "This is Cassandra Cain," Sharon said to Selina. "Cassandra, this is Agent Kyle. She'll be in charge of your training."
The girl nodded, and at first, Selina assumed that she was giving the same treatment as Anger Girl. But then Sharon explained, "She's the daughter of David Cain, who I know you've already had some run-ins with."
"Just a few," Selina muttered darkly.
"He prevented her from learning to speak, read or write. He apparently thought those would be hindrances to her fighting ability." The disgust was clear in Sharon's tone. "As a result, her ability to read body language makes her one of the best fighters in the world. Preliminary reports indicate that she could take Iron Fist in a hand to hand combat."
"Pft. Another boyscout," Selina scoffed.
"A very impressive boyscout," Sharon argued.
"You can keep him," Selina answered. "Wave goodbye, Cass."
Cassandra looked at both Selina and Sharon for a moment before giving a small wave to Sharon.
"Good luck," Sharon said to them, which in Selina's mind was a great way to jinx the entire experiment.
As they left, Selina said to Cass, "We need to see what you can do, Cass, and if you're as good as they say, a simulation room won't do it. Have you ever been to Gotham?"
She expected a nod, but instead Cass answered her directly. "Yes."
"I thought you couldn't speak?"
"Not with Cain. Wilson different."
"Yeah, they're different brands of bastards, all right. So how do you feel about a return trip to Gotham?"
"Because if you want to test the abilities of the best, you do that by throwing the worst at them," Selina answered. "As anyone can tell you, you don't get much worse than Gotham. So what do you say? Are you up for it?"
Cass nodded her head, without hesitation, and Selina decided she liked the girl already.