Asia sat high above the city, on top of an apartment building, looking down. Taking her binoculars, she could see the most minuet details of the people below her. She could see the glasses, the badges they flashed as they entered the sky-rise building several blocks down. Sighing, she hefted her sniper rifle on to the bars of the railings which ran around the roof she sat on. Today was just another day, another mission, and another HYDRA agent who would be swiftly assassinated in broad daylight, and no one would be any the wiser.
If anyone had happened to be flying with a helicopter right over the top of that building, her identity would be unrecognizable. Agent Monroe had her long, wavy, brown hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and hidden by a heavy, face concealing hood. The collar of her all black jacket was high necked, but open, so if she wanted, she could burrow her head down and all which would be revealed would be her bright eyes. Of course, she wore her SHIELD issue skin-tight combat pants, and combat boots to match. Of course, they might be appalled by the fact she was looking down the sights of a sniper rifle that was probably as long as her body, but that's why they made sure no one would be flying in the vicinity, and that all cameras in the area had been temporarily disabled. Coulson liked to make sure her job was as painless as possible.
With a low exhalation, she shifted the weapon so she could see her target. He was a middle-aged man, glasses, partly balding on the back of his head. Daniel Webber. She had been reading his files for the last day, knew his patterns, knew he had to go. He was just one of many on the list who had killed students at SHIELD SciTech School when HYDRA came out from the shadows. He was just one of many she had been assigned to kill. She trained her sights on his head.
She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. When she closed her eyes, she was back in that school, visiting with Leo, and Jemma, and the rest of her team. She was touching the Wall of Valor, where her parents' names were sitting. She was fighting Ward again, and again, and again, calculating every move, trying to figure out where he had gotten the upper hand, how she could have saved things. She was watching Leo and Jemma get dropped into the bottom of the ocean. She was watching Leo Fitz in a hospital bed, trying to speak but not being able to make words, able to make coherent sentenced. She closed her eyes and she saw it all over again.
She opened her eyes and pulled the trigger. Her mentor, Natasha Romanoff, may have been working on wiping the red out of her ledger, but Asia Monroe intended to fill hers to the brim.
Later that night, Asia moved among the streets, unseen, unnoticed, hood and hair down and locks blowing in the breeze. She had her hands in her pockets as she breezed down the sidewalk, only having one place in mind right now. A place she found herself a lot recently, a place where she felt like, if she was going to let herself speak, she would be able to.
The path she took there was unique every time. She didn't want anyone tracking her down. She didn't want anyone figuring out that in her checkered backpack there was actually a dissembled sniper rifle, among other things that would definitely turn heads. So she kept her hands stuffed in her pockets, face buried in the maroon covered scarf she had thrown on when exiting the building and making her way through the crowd. She had waited at a small coffee shop for most of the day, pretending to be a college student working on papers. She pretended to be concerned as an ambulance raced by, though she already knew where it was headed. It was easy to hide in plain sight, especially when no one expected her to be there. No one even knew she existed.
This time, she decided to take the busy path, walking down main streets under the soft street lights, sipping a coffee and watching the cars drive by. As she turned left into an alley, she glanced up at the fire escape. Sitting on the small landing of the 7th story was a tiny candle, flickering in the breeze. That was her signal. That was the sign that the cameras had been altered, so that they would lock in the same loop for the next few hours. HYDRA liked to monitor their agents after all, but they wouldn't be able to pick up this small hack. It would just play the same loops until she decided to leave.
Swiftly, she made her way up the ladder to the fire escape, with the agility of a cat, discretely as possible. She stopped on the 7th floor, then tapped on the glass of the window three times, before sliding the large glass open. Lazily, she propped herself up on the window sill, using the wooden frame almost like a hammock, laying down on it and resting her head on one side of the frame, her feet high up on the other. It felt good to recline, even within the hard wood frame.
"There you are," a woman's voice said from the kitchen. "I was beginning to think you weren't coming." Her British accent was as indescribably welcomed.
"Have you ever known me not to show up when planned?" Asia muttered back with a roll of her eyes, glancing over at Jemma. While the recent events had made her prone to frowning, she offered Jemma a small upward twitch of her lip, which the scientist took as a grin.
Jemma studied Asia with scrutiny. The last year had made her hardened, something Jemma understood. Agent Monroe had closed in on herself, rarely talking to anyone, taking on as many of these solo assassination missions as Coulson would allow her, shutting out her team. Last Jemma had heard, the girl was literally sleeping in one of the Base's large air vents, foregoing her own bed for the smaller space. Jemma knew Asia was blaming herself for all of it. For Skye getting shot, for her and Fitz getting dropped from a plane, for Fitz's slow recovery process. She knew Asia felt as if she broke everything she touched. But she noted that Asia looked mostly healthy, at least physically. The mental recovery from such a trauma was much harder. But they were working on it.
"No," Jemma said with a sigh, "I suppose you never have. Also, thank you for waiting till I was in the office this time before taking the shot," Jemma grimaced. Last time she had been personal witness to one of Asia's target. It was horrifying. Almost as horrifying as the scientist having to go undercover as a HYDRA scientist.
"Yea well," Asia muttered with a shrug. "I know it bothered you. So. I avoided it this time." It wasn't hard, especially since the target had a different schedule than Jemma did. Easy, even, one might say. But she couldn't exactly promise it every time. She couldn't help what someone's regular patterns were.
Jemma smiled and handed her a small cup of steaming tea, then set a file next to her. "Coulson brought the next target for me to gather intel on, if you want to look at her." She wanted to be as gentle as possible around this new version of Agent Monroe. She didn't talk to anyone anymore, but she talked to Jemma. The scientist couldn't quite pin down why, couldn't get a complete read on the situation. But, it was nice for the two each to have someone to speak to.
Asia picked up the tea in one hand and the file in another, looking lazily at the papers as she sipped her tea. The next target was a blonde, in her 40s. Probably some HYDRA agent who had masked herself as a SHIELD teacher at SciTech. "Alright. Just get Coulson the information on her schedule and I'll take care of it." She said, setting the papers back down and glancing at her watch which was beeping. "Looks like my ride has arrived."
"Is it..." Jemma started to say, but trailed off, not finishing the question Asia already knew the ending to.
"Is it Trip?" Asia asked with a flick of a glance towards Jemma. She noted the rosy blush on her pale, freckled cheeks. "It is. Want me to give him anything?" Asia had been a messenger between the two budding lovebirds while Jemma was undercover. She acted as if she couldn't possibly care less about the two of them being together, but deep down she did. She wanted to see them endlessly happy, as much as she hated to admit it. She'd never say it out loud. She never said much out loud any more.
Jemma disappeared for a moment, before returning with a wrinkled sweatshirt. "Can you give this to him, have him send another one with next time?" She extended the shirt to Asia, who took it cautiously.
"Yea, I'll pass that on." She put the shirt into her bag and climbed out of the window, blowing out the candle on the fire escape. "I'll see you around," she said, before starting to climb the ladder.
"Stay safe," Jemma called out, leaning out the window. "Stay safe, and try speaking with Fitz maybe a little, if you can. I really think it'll help."
Asia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I'll think about it," she said, before climbing the ladder two rungs at a time.