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Mandatory Evaluation

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Summary: Natasha needs to drop off a few files; she isn't expecting to have to sing for her supper... Iron Man / Angel / NCIS Los Angeles crossover. Songfic of sorts.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Marvel Universe > Iron Man
NCIS > Other BtVS/AtS Characters
MarcusRowlandFR1312,257082,2921 Jul 131 Jul 13Yes
This is set in the early stages of Iron Man 2, after Pepper Potts becomes CEO of Stark Industries but before the trip to Monaco, well after the last episode of Angel, at no particular point in NCIS LA continuity. All characters etc. belong to their respective creators, megacorporations of doom, etc., not to me.

Mandatory Evaluation

Marcus L. Rowland


“Off for the weekend, Miss Rushman?”

The woman who called herself Natalie Rushman grimaced as she signed out of the offices, and said “Fat chance; even if Stark doesn't call me at home, I’ll have to come in for a couple of hours tomorrow.”

“Mister Stark sure keeps you busy.”

“You have no idea.”

Driving into Los Angeles, she took a few precautions to make sure that she wasn’t being followed then turned into a parking garage and drove up to the floor below the roof. She parked, checked her eye makeup and looked round to make sure there were no prying eyes, then quickly crossed a few spaces to a plain white van, climbed into the back, and undressed. She put Natalie’s clothes and other possessions into a case that was thoroughly screened against bugs and tracking devices, dressed in motorcycle leathers and a dark-visored helmet, then took the elevator down five levels, unlocked a Kawasaki ZX1400 parked in one of the motor-cycle bays, and drove it out.

Twenty minutes later she parked the bike on a narrow side-street, checked a slip of paper she’d found in the van, and went into one of the buildings. As she descended into the basement she began to hear a woman singing. Badly.

A bored-looking blonde sat behind a counter at the bottom of the stairs; she looked up from a copy of Vogue and said “Ten dollars admission. No weapons, no drugs, anything you break you pay for. You can check the helmet here, that’s two dollars.”

“Thank you.” There was a wallet in one of the pockets of her jacket; she paid cash as the lacklustre version of Tik Tok ended and a patter of applause began, and went into the club. On stage a tall compère wearing green makeup and a pair of silly plastic horns was hugging the singer, a busty blonde, saying “Wasn’t she wonderful, ladies and gentlemen? Wasn’t she? Let’s have another round of applause for Harmony!” A few of the patrons clapped half-heartedly.

“Over here,” said a familiar voice, though not the one she’d expected. She looked around and saw Phil Coulson sitting at one of the tables.

“That woman’s name seems somewhat inappropriate.” She sat down opposite him.

“Harmony?” said Coulson. “It’s really her name. Have a look around, tell me what you think?”

She glanced round, apparently casually, noticed that some of the audience had odd looks or were concealing their faces, and said “Mutant bar?”

“Try demonic.”

“Seriously? You were planning on dying tonight?”

“Don’t worry, the place is well protected. Anyone who tries violence here gets back ten times what he dishes out. Just be careful what you order. Speaking of which…” He raised a hand, and a waitress with webbed fingers came to take their order. Coulson ordered a scotch on the rocks, Natasha vodka.

“I was expecting Agent Barton,” said Natasha, once the waitress had left. “Why the change?”

“I decided to kill two birds with one stone. It’s time for your annual psych evaluation; normally I’d wait until you were out of the field, but on a long-term assignment like this that isn’t possible. Fortunately this club offers an alternative.”

“How so?”

“Our host, the guy with the green skin and the horns; he can read auras, but you have to sing for him.”

On stage someone… something… that looked like a classic red-skinned demoness, but wore a smart business suit, adjusted the microphone then said “This is for all my friends in the IRS,” and as the music began to play started to sing Goldfinger in a surprisingly deep voice.

The waitress came back with their drinks and a list of songs available in the karaoke system. Natasha leafed through half-heartedly, then spotted something on the second page and grinned.

“Found something you like?”

“A song about Russia, though I never heard it there.” She showed him the listing, and as she did so casually touched his hand and slipped him a USB stick containing more than a gigabyte of documents from the Stark Industries server.

He smiled at the title and said “I can do that.” At her expression of surprise he added “We need to sing it together or our host won’t be able to give us a full reading.”

“I’ll start the song,” said Natasha, “join me on the chorus.”

“Okay,” Coulson said warily.

On stage Goldfinger came to an end, and Natasha and Coulson joined in the applause. The host joined the demoness on stage and spoke to her, too softly for any sound to reach the audience. She seemed to be upset at whatever he said, but eventually shrugged and walked off, rejoining a table of similar creatures who seemed to be commiserating with her.

“No promotion for Lola this year,” said Coulson.

“You know her?”

“Met her the last time SHIELD needed a tax expert, named my car for her; the paint’s exactly that colour.”

“Mid-life crisis?”

“Won her in a poker game. Come on, we’re up.”

“Next, we have Phil and Nat,” said the Host, smiling as they walked up to the stage, “What’s it going to be, folks?”

“This one,” said Phil, handing the list to him.

“The instrumental remix,” Natasha added.

“Not a problem.”

They stood at the microphone, and Natasha put on an exaggerated Russian accent as she said “Goot evening. Tonight we sing of Mother Russia, my home.” She signalled to the host, and a sentimental Russian melody began, slow at first then picking up speed. She took the tempo from the autocue, but ignored the text and sang in Russian, not English:

“Из Майами вылетел Би Оу Эй Си.
Ночь не пришлось поспать.
На колене я держал пакет в пути.
Был ужасен рейс опять.”

The audience seemed puzzled but obviously recognised the tune, as Phil led the way into the chorus; he sang in English, she stuck to Russian:

“I'm back in the USSR” “Я снова в СССР.”
“You don't know how lucky you are, boy” “Такой везунчик ты, о, друг мой.”
“Back in the USSR” “Снова в СССР.”

Phil led the way into the next verse, singing English and alternating lines with Natasha’s Russian:

“Been away so long I hardly knew the place”
“Хорошо вернуться в дом.”
“Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case”
“Отключай наш телефон.”

“I'm back in the USSR” “Я снова в СССР.”
“You don't know how lucky you are, boy” “Такой везунчик ты, о, друг мой.”
“Back in the USSR” “Снова в СССР.”
“Back in the US,” “Снова в СС,”
“Back in the USSR” “Снова в СССР.”

They stormed their way through the rest of the song, and ended to thunderous applause.

“Weren’t they amazing?” said the Host, “That was absolutely fabulous.” He moved away from the microphone and added “Now, I know you think there’s a lot of red on your ledger, but don’t worry, Natasha, you’ll be back in the black in a year or two. Both of you have some difficult times ahead, but you’re gonna see wonders, marvels I can’t even begin to describe. And Phil, some time soon one of your dreams is going to come true.”

“And everything’s okay?” said Natasha. “I’ve passed my evaluation?”

“Oh honey,” said the Host, “You’re as crazy as Phil is, but it’s the sort of crazy you both need.”

“That sounds about right,” said Phil.

“Now run along, you don’t want to keep the lady waiting.”

“Lady?” said Natasha.

The Host grinned without answering, and went back to the microphone. “Next up we have Votsin of Traaal. Votsin, come on up, no need to be shy.”

A tall creature with scaly orange skin and four arms stood up, its horns only inches from the ceiling, and made its way onto the stage. As they made their way back to their table it began a spirited, if slightly off-key, rendition of Girls just want to have fun.

There was a diminutive woman seated at their table, pouring tea from an ornate silver teapot. She nodded as they came back, poured another two cups from the pot, and in perfect Russian said “Phillip, so good to see you again. Miss Romanova, though I believe you prefer Romanov, it’s nice to meet you at last. Please, do sit down, you look a little warm. Isn’t all that leather rather uncomfortable in this weather?”

“Hetty.” Phil sounded unusually defensive as he pulled out Natasha’s chair. “What can we do for you?”

Natasha sat warily, recognising a face she’d seen in files; Henrietta Lange, Office of Special Projects Operations Manager for NCIS in Los Angeles. She’d never had reason to encounter her, but knew enough about her to be cautious.

“You can tell me why Nicholas has you running an operation in Los Angeles without informing me, then I can decide what I ought to be doing about it.”

“I think there may have been a breakdown in communications,” Phil said smoothly, “I’ll get the Director to give you a call, I’m sure he’ll brief you.”

“He’d better,” said Hetty, “Or I’ll have to ask Anthony why he has a SHIELD agent as his PA.”

“You know him?” Natasha asked, annoyed that the information wasn’t in his file.

Hetty raised an eyebrow. “I was a flower girl at his parents’ wedding, and Howard taught me to fly when I was sixteen. I’ve stayed in touch with Anthony, of course. Now, I believe you both prefer lemon in your tea?”

“Thank you.” Natasha took the cup and sipped. It was exactly the way she liked it.

“I really don’t want a turf war,” said Hetty, “but Stark Industries is a major naval contractor.”

“They no longer make weapons,” said Natasha.

“That’s not precisely true,” said Hetty. “They’re phasing weapon production out, and ended weapons R&D, but they couldn’t cancel every contract overnight without ruinous costs. We’d sue their asses off, so would all their other customers. But while it would cost Stark dearly to default, it would be a serious problem for us if he did so ahead of schedule – most of those weapons use proprietary technology which would be difficult for the Navy to replicate without Stark’s help. We’d rather he took his time… but he might well decide otherwise if SHIELD and other agencies mess with him. And they’re still a major contractor for other systems, everything from communications to lavatory seats. We really don’t want to jeopardise that.”

“We’re well aware of the situation,” said Coulson. “Our main role here is to protect Stark; we don’t want to mess with him. I don’t think he realises just how many enemies he’s made, right now he needs all the help he can get.”

Hetty seemed to think for a moment then said “If that’s the case I think we can do business. I’ll talk to Nicholas tonight, we can see about pooling resources.”

“That’s good of you.”

“Oh, I’ll want my pound of flesh.”

“I’m sure something can be arranged.”

“And Philip, a word to the wise, that new car of yours is ridiculously easy to track; you might want to think about cloaking technology or swapping it for something a little less conspicuous. Now, I really must be going; enjoy the evening, I’ve asked the Host to put you on my tab, don’t get too extravagent.” She drained the last of her tea and stood, offering a hand to Natasha. “And if you ever fancy a career change, NCIS would love to hear from you. And you too, of course, Philip.”

“That won’t be happening any time soon,” said Phil, “but thanks for the offer.”

“Good luck with Anthony, I have a feeling you’ll need it.” She turned and walked out.

“I’d heard the stories,” said Natasha, “and the Red Room had a dossier, but I never expected to meet her. A living legend.”

“The price of doing business in this town,” said Phil. “You get used to it eventually.”

“I believe the expression is ‘Yeah, right…’”

“So,” said Phil. “Want to stay for some more songs?”

“I’d better not; knowing my luck Stark will decide he needs his PA again tonight, I’d better be available. Let’s go.”

“You’re probably right.”

“And if we leave before it gets too dark you can show me your midlife crisis…”

End.

Back in the USSR was written by Paul McCartney and originally performed by the Beatles.

The origin of this story may need explaining; I wanted to find a fanvid for Natasha Romanov, and thought Back in the USSR would be the perfect tune. One reason for that was the existence of a Sigourney Weaver version, from the movie Heartbreakers, in which she plays a con-woman impersonating a Russian, and sings this song when she is pressured to go on stage at a Russian bar:

http://youtu.be/KwVCIKNmKcE

The only recording of a Russian version I could find was a Dutch tribute group; they proved that the song could be translated, but I had no idea how to transcribe it.

http://youtu.be/fNltUjk_uVs

Members of the Livejournal little_details community pointed me at the linguaphiles community, who found me an uncredited Russian translation

http://www.amalgama-lab.com/songs/b/beatles/back_in_the_ussr.html

It isn’t, apparently, a perfect translation, it’s been changed a little to make it easier to sing in Russian, but it’s good enough for my purposes. There’s another translation from 1970 here:

http://www.miklepuzzle.narod.ru/mik/65.jpg

And I'd still love to see that Natasha Romanov fanvid!

The End

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