Despite the way it looked on television, working for SHIELD was mostly like working at any other job. Very few SHIELD employees had any contact with the Avengers or Coulson or Director Fury, and if you were in contact with one of these individuals, it was highly likely that you were about to be used as cannon fodder in the newest alien-of-the-week battle.
No, thank you. Stiles had gone through more than enough battles in Beacon Hills; he certainly didn't need to add aliens into the mix.
In fact, the only reason he was employed at SHIELD at all was because his roommate (who had actually applied and been offered a job there), had nearly gotten himself killed by a siren, which Stiles just happened to be in the middle of dispatching when agents arrived. The lead agent had looked from his roommate, to the siren, to Stiles, before shoving Tom's letter in his face and telling him to report for work on Monday.
Stiles had spent the weekend trying to talk himself out of it, but his curiosity had eventually gotten the better of him.
After only a week of training, the agent that had “recruited” him had been promptly killed and had left a woefully incomplete file on Stiles behind--just detailed enough for him to be hired, but not enough for him to seem particularly useful.
That was fine with Stiles. As long as he had just enough information to protect his pack, he was happy. Not that the pack was fighting off a lot of monsters these days, thank goodness, but old habits die hard (especially for Stiles) and there was no sense in being unprepared.
Stiles had barely set down his morning coffee before Rodriguez popped out of nowhere like a ninja and almost gave him a heart attack. "Hey, Stilinski, they need you in Conference Room 3."
Stiles hoped that whatever it was, it wouldn't get in the way of his current research; the eighteenth-century diary he was examining right now read so much like a soap opera that he'd started keeping a stash of popcorn at his desk. He was hoping that today, he would finally find out if William and Yolanda were getting back together or not.
(Considering William was supposed to be betrothed to Charlotte, it didn't seem likely, but the man had been making an awful lot of references to running away from home, so anything could happen at this point.)
"I don't know," the girl replied, interrupting his musing, "but it can't be too big of a deal if they put it in room three."
That was comforting, actually. Room one was the biggest, and two had the best technology; rooms three and four were generally used for less important people, at least as far as the upper echelon of SHIELD was concerned.
Stiles still spent a good five minutes grumbling at his awful luck at being forced to interact with the suits first thing on a Monday morning.
Both Rodriguez and Graham, the other guy in their department, were sympathetic, if a bit disbelieving of Stiles's desire to stay out of the limelight. Still, given the opportunity, they did the errands for the higher-ups while Stiles holed up and did research.
After taking a moment to make sure he looked presentable enough, he went down the hallway toward whatever task awaited him. He was nervous, sure, but Conference Room 3? Nothing horrible had ever happened in Conference Room 3. He could handle that--
"Hello, Stiles,” a familiar voice purred.
"Hello, Your Majesty."
Crap, crap, crap. He so did not want to be dealing with the Fae this early in the morning. A quick scan of the room made his heart sink even further. Fae and the Avengers? What had he done to deserve this?
Speaking of which, what was the Unseelie Queen of New York doing at SHIELD Headquarters? In Conference Room 3? With everyone else he had been systematically avoiding since he starting working here? Why did this stuff always happen to him?
The smile that she sent Stiles made more than one agent gulp, and Stiles fought off a scowl. Of course, unlike the agents, Stiles had spent enough time at the courts that he noticed that more than one of her Guards’ lips were twitching. This show must have been going on for a while, then.
"Dearest, you must explain to these people," she gestured dismissively around the table, "that we cannot possibly postpone the Harvest Celebration."
"Why would you need to postpone the Harvest?" And, why would anyone with a brain want to postpone the Harvest? Fun fact: they wouldn't.
A red-faced agent at the front of the table spoke up: "The Mayor wants to have his niece's birthday party in the same park."
Oh. Bureaucracy. How fun. "Does the Mayor also want his niece to be eaten on her birthday?” Stiles asked flatly. Granted, he was probably arguing with someone above his pay grade, but he was all too aware of the curious gazes on him and he wanted to wrap this up as soon as possible. The sooner he was back with William and Yolanda, the happier he'd be.
“Because that's what is going to happen if you stop the Courts from having their ceremony,” he continued. He pretended not to notice both Fury and Coulson watching him with interest, or Stark tapping on his phone, in favor of the idiot agents in front of him. "Did you even research potential conflicts before you set up the party? Because a lot of supernatural factions in this city have fall events, and most of them will bite first and not apologize later. The Harvest Celebration is a renewal of the treaties between the Courts. It's been going on for centuries, so I have no idea how you didn't know about it before now. Without it, there will quite literally be blood running in the streets. Probably not human blood, but still, blood running in the streets won't be good for anyone.”
The agent shifted uneasily. “Um--”
He pivoted to pin the Queen with a knowing look. “And how long have you known about this? Why are you waiting until now to deal with it?”
"We rarely concern ourselves with such petty human affairs,” she said simply, which was true, except that any one of the Queen’s seers probably knew about this months ago, so why make a spectacle of it now? The supernatural population really had no use for SHIELD, anyway, at least not one that he could see.
One of the guards unexpectedly snickered, as if following his thoughts, and Stiles narrowed his eyes at him. The man looked completely unrepentant.
"You must come to the Celebration,” Aine said, watching him carefully and ignoring all of the other SHIELD personnel in the room. “I shall introduce you to my loveliest cousin."
One of the agents at the front made a sound like a dying whale, and it took everything in him to swallow down the laugh and keep his eyes on the Queen. The corresponding thump, he guessed, was someone kindly putting the agent out of his misery. He could still feel the interested eyes of the Avengers, though.
"The offer is generous, Majesty, but my loyalty lies elsewhere,” he declined, and not for the first time. And Stiles wasn't sure if he should laugh or punch something, because surely the Queen had better things to do than to come to his workplace to try and force him into going to a party.
For the first time since he had walked into the room, she gave a genuine smile. "As it should,” she conceded. “Still, you should attend. No doubt your alpha will be pleased with the possibility of new connections. And you are much too valuable to be hidden away with your dusty books in some dark corner,” she shot a venomous look at the agents up front, “while our kind are forced to deal with imbeciles who do not know or care to learn our ways.”
Stiles rolled his eyes. Why did he even bother trying to keep his head down again? It was like he had “Stiles Stilinski, Supernatural Catnip” tattooed on his back. (He was sure he didn't, though. He’d checked, more than once.)
Fury opened his mouth, obviously to ask Aine to elaborate, but Stiles cut him off. Which probably wasn't a good idea, but he could see the whole picture, now, and he didn't like it. He'd never understood why so many supernatural creatures liked to poke their noses into his business.
"I like my dusty books and my dark corner, and I like the people I work with." He glared at the whole room this time, as if daring Fury or Coulson to take Rodriguez or Graham away from him (or him away from them), but especially at Aine, who had been pushing for him to take a more active role in the supernatural community for months now.
His heart literally skipped a beat when he caught sight of Hawkeye looking incredibly amused in the corner, but he really didn't have time to focus on that now, not with the Queen’s attention on him.
"Bring them with you,” she said, her tone brooking no argument. “I am sure that you shall keep them alive. Unlike these...people, who treat us as if we are but children stories." Her eyes roamed over the room until they fell on the archer, who tensed under the scrutiny. “Bring him as well,” she smirked, “if you like. He seems interesting.”
Hawkeye perked up at that, and normally Stiles would have appreciated that kind of reaction from that particular man, but he had just spent a significant portion of his weekend dealing with vampires, and he was in no mood to deal with Aine and her schemes.
Stiles really didn't care if his sigh seemed overdramatic; he needed this conversation to be over so he could go barricade himself in his office, and possibly call Peter. “Fine,” he huffed. “But I don't appreciate being manipulated, Your Majesty.”
She beamed triumphantly at the room and reached over to pat his hand. “Of course, dearest. I'll send you an official invitation.”