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Who Run the World

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Fandom: Arrow CW/MCU crossover
Characters/pairings: Lyla Michaels (Arrow), Maria Hill (MCU, Agents of SHIELD). Lyla/John Diggle, Tony Stark/Pepper Potts, Felicity Smoak/Oliver Queen referenced; implied Maria/Steve Rogers
Rating: PG-13
Category: crossover, crack!fic, fluff, one-shot
Warnings: spoilers through Captain America: Civil War and Arrow 4.23 (Schism)

Banner: dtissagirl



“The thing is, no one told me there would be magic,” Lyla said.


The statement hung in the air between the two women, hovering over their table like one of Fitz’s miniature drones, prompting a raised eyebrow from the younger.


“Or time travel,” she added, taking a healthy swallow from her glass of wine. “When my mother heard I’d been promoted to Director of A.R.G.U.S., she was thrilled, primarily because I’m sure she pictures me pushing papers all day. “‘Working for the government, Lyla, now that’s job security,’” she said when I finished my tour in Afghanistan. “‘Get you one of those nice cushy desk jobs. Sure, it might be a little dull, but you’ll always know where your next paycheck is coming from.’”


Maria chuckled. “That sounds like something a normal person would think, all right.”


They were sitting in a relatively secluded corner of one of the quieter hotel bars near the one where Lyla was staying. A radio frequency jamming app on Maria’s phone prevented anyone from electronically surveilling them, while a white noise function on Lyla’s prevented any of the aforementioned normal people—at least, those within a 20-meter radius—from overhearing their conversation with conventional eavesdropping.


(When Cisco had heard about the tech, of course he’d insisted on comparing it to the Cone of Silence from the old Get Smart TV series. Lyla had humored him, primarily to avoid a lengthy explanation or, god forbid, having to watch an episode.)


“Civilians have no idea. You know, genetically enhanced soldiers? I can deal with that. The coolest tech in the world, whether it’s developed by Tony Stark or Ray Palmer or Henry Pym or S.T.A.R. Labs or Hydra? Whatever. It’s just tech. It’s based on real-world science. I can roll with that. Metahumans—or Inhumans, whatever you want to call them—at least there’s always a scientific explanation, even if it’s one I don’t fully understand. But… immortals? Or people who can literally be raised from the dead by dunking them in a magical Jacuzzi? Who—what—how are you supposed to come up with a playbook for that?” She set her glass down emphatically.


“Not to mention actual gods,” Maria agreed. “Regardless of how benevolent they may or may not be. Zero matter. Other dimensions…”


“Parallel Earths. The Speed Force, whatever the hell that is,” added Lyla. “Time travel. Humanoid sharks.”


“I like to think that Arthur C. Clarke was right when he said that any sufficiently advanced technology would appear to a less advanced society to be magic. It keeps my head from exploding trying to process all the weirdness.”


“I’ll have to try that,” said Lyla dryly. “Maybe it will help me cope with the fact that I’m apparently living on an actual hellmouth. As awesome as my daughter is, I have no desire to raise a vampire slayer.”


Maria smiled. “How is the world’s cutest baby?”


“She’s great. Still cute. And she’s so smart and engaged. She gets more headstrong and stubborn by the day, though.”


“That is so unexpected,” Maria deadpanned. “Considering her parents. And the fact that her godparents and her most frequent babysitters are vigilantes.”


“How did we end up with my group being vigilantes and yours being heroes, by the way?” Lyla wondered. “Given that a Venn diagram of their aims and actions would include a significant amount of overlap.”


“Were you…not paying attention during the Sokovia hearings?” Maria asked. “The ‘V’ word came up not infrequently in reference to the Avengers.”


“Yeah, but it doesn’t seem to have really stuck,” Lyla objected. “I mean, what makes someone a vigilante versus a hero to begin with?”


“Scope?” Maria suggested. “Visibility. And proximity, maybe.”


“Politics,” Lyla said firmly. “Definitely politics.”


Maria nodded. “Threat level that demanded the intervention. Scale of damage after the fact, including casualties.”


“I can’t help feeling that the relative…colorfulness of the codenames and outfits has a certain amount of influence,” Lyla said, choosing her words carefully.


Maria considered that. “Maybe? I’m inclined to think it’s more about willingness to operate in the daylight. Which does lend itself more to a sense of transparency and trustworthiness. Not doing so seems to be a very deliberate choice on the part of your folks. Well, some of them,” she amended.


Lyla sighed. “Yeah, that’s fair.”


“Which makes Mr. Queen’s recent decision to step up as mayor of Star City an interesting move. I can tell you certain players at S.H.I.E.L.D. are watching that development with interest.”


“They are at A.R.G.U.S. too.,” Lyla admitted. “It was a good move, though. It was time.”


“Speaking of Mr. Queen, any reconciliation yet between him and Felicity Smoak?” At Lyla’s raised eyebrow, she protested, “Look, I can’t help it that Google alerts catch gossip as well as news. I’m nosy, okay? Besides, she’s some kind of hacker buddies with Daisy Johnson. And you know better than to think we aren’t keeping close tabs on her after her recent little trick of redirecting and disabling a bunch of nukes.”


Lyla gave her an understanding grin, but relented. “Those two are already married, they just don’t know it yet. They’re basically me and Johnny a few years ago. They’ll work it out, in their own time.”


“Good,” Maria said. “Queen seems significantly more stable when he’s in a happy relationship.”


Lyla laughed. “Since we’re trading celebrity gossip here, how are things between your former bosses?”


Maria shrugged. “Pepper and Tony? The same as Mr. Queen and Ms. Smoak, as far as I can tell. They’re never not going to love each other or care about each other or have the other’s back, it’s just a matter of…negotiating what that looks like on a day-to-day basis when you do what they do. Pretty sure they’re going to work it out too. They still talk to each other pretty frequently, and neither of them is seeing anyone else.”


Lyla nodded. “When you do what we do, having someone to come home to makes a big difference.” She added, oh-so-casually, “Especially when that someone is a hot soldier with arms so muscular they defy description.”


Only a very good friend—or a spy, and Lyla was both—would have appreciated the infinitesimal degree to which Maria’s lips curved upwards. She pounced.


“I knew it. How long?”


“I have no idea to what you’re referring,” Maria demurred.




Maria held out for another few seconds, then surrendered. “A while.”


“So, I gather things didn’t go anywhere with him and the grandniece of his former flame?” She shuddered involuntarily, grimacing. “Yeah, I feel icky even saying that.”


“I think they agreed it was a momentary impulse driven by mutual grief, not to mention a bit of hero worship on her part and gratitude for her loyalty on his part,” Maria said. “But…yeah, ultimately I think they both felt it was too awkward and weird because of Peggy. Kind of like that episode of Friends where Monica tries to date her ex’s son. It was over before it even started, really.”


Lyla waited a moment, but when no further information seemed forthcoming, she prompted, “So? How is it?”


“It’s…fine. It’s good. He cooks.” That tiny smile on Maria’s face seemed to be expanding against her will. “And gives amazing massages.”


“And isn’t threatened by your title or status, I’m guessing.”


Maria shrugged. “He’s Captain America. Why would he be?”


“Because a lot of men would?” Lyla asked rhetorically. She held up her glass, clinking it softly with Maria’s. “God bless secure men. And I’m happy for you.”


“They certainly slice through a lot of the bullshit,” Maria agreed. “And thanks.”


When Lyla excused herself to visit the restroom, Maria scanned all the players in the room out of habit before raising her phone to check her email. Seventy-seven unread messages had multiplied in her inbox just during the less-than-an-hour they’d been sitting here. Ugh.


She was absorbed in sending a quick response to Nat about requisitioning training equipment when a scuffle—a very, very small one—caught her attention. A gentleman who appeared to have been overserved had evidently made some sort of inappropriate overture as Lyla walked past on her way back from the restroom.


A casual flip of her hand and the overserved gentleman’s arm disappeared behind his back. His head jerk and gasp indicated this move engendered quite a bit of pain. Lyla leaned in close to whisper something to him, to which he responded with a frantic nod. She gave him a big smile as she released him, walking back to rejoin Maria.


“Funny how they always think you’re the nice, approachable one,” Maria said. “Until they don’t.” A glance back at the gentleman revealed that his arm was no longer functioning quite the way it had previously.


“It’s the mommy vibe, I think,” Lyla said. “So I just have to make them understand I’m not their mommy.” Her cell rang and she glanced at the screen, frowning, before raising the phone to her ear. “Yes, this is she.” Her eyes met Maria’s. “Yes, I’ll hold for the President.”


Maria took a long swallow of her wine and reached for her handbag. These kinds of calls generally occasioned the end of whatever social activity they were interrupting.


“Absolutely,” Lyla was saying into the phone. “I’m just proofing the report now; I plan to forward it to the Secretary of Defense first thing in the morning. I’m sorry, what…? Uh, yes. She is.”


She held out the phone to Maria. “She wants to talk to you,” she mouthed.


Maria took it, briefly considered asking how and why the President of the United States knew she was having a drink with the director of A.R.G.U.S., then discarded it. They were in a public place, after all. “Madam President.”


“Is this little tête-à-tête some kind of official meeting, or just two old friends venting about their high-stress jobs?” The voice on the other end of the line was unexpectedly cheerful.


“Whichever would make you happier, Ma’am,” Maria said smoothly.


The president laughed. “I suspect it’s both. For the record, I don’t see any conflict with two people in your positions sharing information. The Sokovia Accords and Havenrock brought a lot of it out into the open, anyway. It’s ridiculous to expect you wouldn’t be pooling your knowledge and resources. On a personal note, however, I hope you really are both unwinding a bit, because you do have high-stress jobs and you need to be able to do that occasionally to be effective.”


“Thank you Ma’am,” Maria replied, meeting Lyla’s silent, flailing what-is-she-saying miming with the helpless human equivalent of a shrug emoji.


“Some encrypted intel is coming your way shortly. I understand your official position is that you aren’t privy to the current whereabouts of either Captain Rogers or Mr. Fury, but their assistance is needed and I’d like you to reach out to them on this.”


“I’ll see what I can do, Ma’am.”


“Thank you for your service, Commander. Enjoy your drinks.”


Handing back the phone, Maria sighed. “Well, apparently I need to get to a computer sooner rather than later.” She pulled out her own phone to order an Uber.


Lyla nodded. “Same. I got the distinct feeling she wants that report tonight, not tomorrow.” She signaled to their waitress, who brought a folio and pen over. Lyla scribbled it on, then handed it back to the server, who looked surprised and pleased at the amount on the tip line.


“Hey, this was supposed to be on me,” Maria protested.


“Let’s go someplace fancy for dinner next time, and order a really decadent dessert. You can pay then,” Lyla suggested.


“Sounds like a plan.” She gave the other woman a brief hug. “We need to do this more often. In the meantime, keep me posted on anything important.”


“You too,” Lyla said. “On everything important,” she added meaningfully, as they moved towards the door.


“Right. If the Apocalypse comes—again—I’ll text you.”


“Feel free to let me know about any developments in the ‘hot soldiers with well-muscled arms’ area, too.”


“You’ll be the first to know,” Maria said.






Lyla nodded, amused. “Don’t work too late.”


“As late as it takes,” Maria said, spotting her Uber pulling up to the curb. She ignored the driver’s attempt to emerge and get her door, sliding into the backseat and waving at Lyla as the car prepared to reenter traffic.


“Hey, Maria?”


Maria rolled down the window.


“If our jobs are so damned important, how come it feels so often like we’re just babysitting costumed real-life action figures?”


“Because women are conditioned by society to undervalue their own work? Stop doing that, by the way. You’re a badass. Own it.”


Lyla planted her tongue firmly in her cheek. “Noted. Thanks, I needed that.” She waved and turned to walk back to her hotel.


Leaning back against the leather seat, Maria texted to let a certain someone know she was on her way home. Fortunately for the president, she knew exactly where Steve Rogers was at this very moment.