“Crap, crap, crap,” Natasha’s companion was muttering under her breath over and over again. “Crap, crap, crap. Sh—dammit, crap. Oh, god.”
Natasha sighed to herself and dug in her pocket for the saltwater taffy she’d felt Barton pawn off on her earlier. He always hated the peppermint. She did, too, but that never stopped him from stuffing her pockets with the candy. With an unimpressed look, she offered a piece to the woman in the Ferris Wheel cart with her. “I’m guessing you’re not a fan of heights.”
“Heights are fine, I don’t mind heights. Oh, god.” The words all tumbled over each other. Felicity Smoak didn’t take the candy, but she kept talking and with every word, the hands gripping the guide bar on the front of the seat whitened fractionally from the stress. “Oh, god. It’s not the heights, I swear, I’ve always been fine with heights, except for the time we went to the Downey Tower when I was in fourth grade and I puked all over Sally Jenkins, and I’ve always had a suspicion it was the really rank corndogs we had for lunch that day and—oh, god.”
She impressed Natasha by turning an amazing shade of white.
Natasha waved the hand with the candy in it, hoping to draw the IT tech’s attention. “If it’s not the heights, what is it?”
“My brain.” Felicity made a gurgling sound in the back of her throat.
“Any sign of him, Hawkeye?” Oliver Queen’s voice sounded over the comms.
“Negative on Black Widow and Smoak as well,” Natasha said, as while Felicity had regurgitated the story about the unfortunate experience with corndogs, she’d been scanning the area under Deno’s Wonder Wheel at Coney Island, looking for Starling City’s escaped police commissioner. SHIELD wanted him, too, for crimes he’d committed in his days in the Navy. They’d agreed to share with the Hood. For now.
“My brain is telling me exactly how many connections are on this ride and how often they’re serviced, and how many parts are going into keeping this Ferris wheel moving. I can tell you precisely how much pressure it would take to snap this wheel and send it spinning down the street and us to our deaths.”
Natasha gave up offering the candy and popped it into her mouth instead, thinking maybe peppermint had been one of those things she’d hated in another life and not this one. Nope, she definitely hated peppermint in this life. “Good thing,” she said after she swallowed, “we didn’t bring the Hulk.”
Felicity gurgled again and turned a shade of green that was oddly fitting for such a comment.
“Do yourself a favor and focus on finding the bad guy,” Natasha said, “and not all the ways we could die.”
“I don’t think I can turn that part of my brain off.”
“That’s too bad.” Natasha stuck her hands in her pockets as the Ferris Wheel lurched a little bit, a mechanical problem. It made Felicity let out an actual squeak—and of course the blonde looked over at her in complete shame. Natasha shrugged. If the Hood vouched for his IT Support, then that was fine by Natasha.
“How do you do it?” Felicity asked. “You’re the Black Widow. You know more ways to die on this infernal contraption of death than I do.”
“I counted them already,” Natasha said, letting boredom sound in her voice.
“Hawkeye and I have a game we play—whoever’s in the most danger during a stakeout wins. Right now he’s probably balanced on a ledge.” Natasha thought about it. “On his toes. Eating cotton candy.”
“Yep,” Clint said over the comms.
She heard a sigh that had to be Oliver Queen, no doubt at their professionalism. But Felicity’s hands suddenly relaxed on the guide bar. “There he is,” she said, forgetting all about her fear of the Ferris wheel. “He’s got a blue jacket with a hood, but I definitely saw his face. That’s him. Over by the—”
Natasha saw the man in question right as she pointed. Queen and Clint were too far away, she saw immediately. Without pausing to think, she yanked her legs up under the guide bar and started to stand.
Felicity’s squeak was thankfully too quiet to alert the passengers in the other cars. “What are you doing?”
“It’s not that big of a drop,” Natasha said, and if she weren’t so focused on not letting their target get away, she would have laughed at the whimper Felicity gave as she climbed over the guide bar and swung down. “See you when you get to the bottom,” she said, and dropped off of the Ferris wheel, landing easily and immediately taking off after the target.
Thanks to her enhanced hearing, she clearly heard the other woman say, “I have got to make friends with people who aren’t friggin’ adrenaline junkies,” before the cart creaked again, a signal that somebody else was dropping free.
When she heard Felicity’s boots pounding the pavement after her, she entertained the thought that Felicity had come a long way since corndogs.
And she still hated the taste of peppermint.