Celebration and Remembrance

May 08, 2015:

Howard and Peggy resume their tradition of getting together every V-E day.

Raines Law Room

A speakeasy in Lower Manhattan

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo - Glenn Miller Orchestra


Fade In…

While speakeasies harken back to a time different than the one they are celebrating today, they also offer a glimpse into the past with fancy drinks and appetizers. Raines Law Room is set up almost like a large, comfortable living room. Drapes hang from the ceiling to give privacy to different tables and the seats are all arm chairs or couches. A small band plays jazz in what could pass for an old fashioned kitchen. Though busy and exclusive on a Friday, it does not take much maneuvering for Howard Stark to get a table for himself and Peggy.

As it is a special occasion, Peggy has dressed up appropriately in a bright blue dress, a small corsage of flowers in red and white pinned over her heart. It was a custom for Howard and Peggy to go out on May the 8th - VE Day - to both celebrate and mourn. Today, though, there is only celebration.

"Cheers, Howard."

It really does pay to be a Stark. Even for the young whippersnappers who were born after he died, his name still means something, thanks to his son. He's dressed in a finely-tailored dark blue pinstripe suit and a black tie with subtle red checks.. His hair's looking particularly magnificent and swept back.
He lifts his Sazerac to meet Peggy's glass. "Cheers. To the happiest damned V-E Day since the first one." He winks.

The glasses clink and Peggy takes a sip of hers, setting it to the table on the side after a moment. Her eyes glance about. "Perhaps I should not be so surprised, but it does seem as if the V-E celebrations have died down over the years." They were still quite large three years after the end of the war. "Or, is it that the Americans are more subdued? I never thought I might utter that phrase." Her lips quirk upward in a smirk.

"You know, I never have quite properly thanked you. For all this." Her eyes dart about to take in their surroundings, but she means far more than being able to get them into an exclusive club.

Howard laughs at her comment about Americans being more subdued. "Celebration has sort of given way to remembrance. Veterans Day…Armistice Day, has come to be the day to remember both wars. Which, I suppose is more appropriate. The best way to celebrate the fact that we won is to appreciate our freedom and fight to make sure it isn't eroded."
They're getting a few curious looks, but no one's bothering them. That's the good thing about an exclusive club. If you hassle the VIPs, the VIPs stop coming, so the staff have a vested interest in making sure no one's bothered.
"Why would you thank me for an inherently selfish act?" he drawls before sipping his drink.

Peggy couldn't care two whits for the stares or curious looks. She's dealt with people not knowing what to make of her for years and has largely started to ignore it. "That does make sense. Celebrations often give way to remembrance." She smiles and looks over at her friend. "The last time we did this, the club we went to was quite packed and filled with red, white and blue. The Andrews Sisters sang. I almost didn't go, but Daniel insisted that I shouldn't break a tradition. It's strange that it feels so long ago and yet it is actually all the further away than I can even imagine."

Her head tilts just slightly, the smile turning more knowing. "It was not merely for selfish reasons. I know you better than that by now, Howard."

"We always got together on this day. Didn't matter how crazy things got. You once met me in Switzerland because I couldn't get back home because of a project. I think you foiled some Russian spies making an info drop at a ski resort at the same time." Howard's eyebrow goes up, then he murmurs with a grin, "…you've always been a good multitasker."
As for the other? Well, she knows him well enough to know that he's a master at looking like an open book, but really being a closed and locked one. "What's that say about me that I had no social circle until time travel came into the picture?"

"Did I?" That was, clearly, after the split in time. The story doesn't quite surprise Peggy as it amuses her. She reaches over for her drink again and takes another sip. "Far be it from me to leave my work behind." It's always been hard for her to stop working. That's all she tends to do. "Did I happen to bring the spies with me to our celebration?"

As for the social circle comment, she studies Howard. He looks much the same as he did when she last saw him, making it hard for her to believe that he remembers all the way to the 1980s. However, his demeanor is changed from what she remembers. "I don't know if I can believe that. Though, how long has it been? It must have been quite a difficult transition."

Howard sits back and holds the glass between both hands. He seems to be searching for what to say without looking too..vulnerable. Then he remembers who he's speaking to, and remembers he doesn't really have to do that with her. "You moved on with your life. After we both left SHIELD, we still talked. We still got together a few times a year. But it wasn't the same. I went through a really rough patch before I met Maria. I drank a lot. I experimented with drugs." He waves a hand, "It was the sixties. Everyone was doing it." Which isn't really an excuse. He rubs his forehead. "I've lived a lot, Peg. A lot more than you know. It didn't take long before no one around me knew me as anything other than some kind of living legend. That's a hard thing to live up to."
He thinks for a moment, looks around, then moves from the couch across from her to the one beside her. People have stopped looking their way. He pulls up his sleeve and touches a spot on his arm. A digital image projects against his skin. A few strokes and his face shifts subtly. In the space of a breath, his features age nearly thirty years. He aged very well, much like his son is. But there's deep lines on his face, and his dark hair has turned completely silver with only the faintest fleck of its old dark brown. He smiles softly, "Technically, this is the mask. The reality is, what you normally see is me being a vain old bastard who had the choice whether to look old or young, and chose the latter."

"I believe that's the first time you've said her name out loud to me," Peggy says softly as she watches Howard. She knows quite a bit about needing to seem strong and put together in front of other people. Though, she certainly read one his biographies, she did not seek out any other information on him. That seemed too much like a breach of his privacy, of learning about him through someone else when she should know about it from him. While she doesn't know more than the history of the sixties, she gives him the expression very similar to what her time counterpart must have given him if he gave her that 'everyone was doing it' excuse - not really buying it as more of a cover up.

As Howard's face changes from the man she knows to the older version, there is not a gasp from Peggy or much more of a shift of her expression. She is, though, surprised at the shift. She didn't know he could do that. While, before, she was casually studying him as she does with many people when the speak, now it becomes a much more intense examination. "You aged well," she tells him with her characteristic wryness.

"Steve told me much the same when I first arrived." Peggy looks down into her mostly empty glass for a moment. "That I had moved on and lived a happy life." It's hard for her to imagine it, frankly. She pauses, unsure if she is overreaching or making things worse, but she simply can't deny her curiosity. "Tell me about her. Maria. If that's alright."

Something about his older face makes Howard look more…tired. He's always projected an air of vibrancy, no matter his age. Still, it becomes a little bit harder to hide the life he's lived on a face that actually reflects that. "It's an integration of nanomask technology developed for SHIELD. The technology integrates well with my systems and I figured it would be useful. Most of the time, I want people to know who I am. But there are the rare times…" he smiles wryly, a twinkle in his eyes. "I uh, I programmed my old face so I could go and see you - the other you. So we wouldn't waste half our time together with me trying to explain why I looked 32." He can't quite hide the pang of sadness.
On mentioning Maria, he clears his throat. "You both got along so well from the moment you met. She was from the Lower East Side - my old neighbourhood. From a big Italian family. They ran three bakeries. I went in there one day for a cannoli before a meeting. She was behind the counter. And…that was it." He lifts a hand and lets it fall. "I knew as soon as I saw her that I didn't want to bother with any other women. But of course, I was in my late forties and she was twenty years younger. She also knew who I was. She didn't want anything to do with me."

It is a strange experience for her to be sitting opposite a man she's known for years and would consider one of her closest friends and for him to literally age thirty years in front of her. The younger Peggy Carter blinks a few times. The other her. She's heard many things about the other her and she's a smart woman, she can guess that her older self is not doing very well these days. "It's a marvelous piece of technology." Her own reluctance to speak of what may be happening to her younger self may speak for itself.

"Did we?" That brings a bit of a smile to her face. Something about the way he speaks keeps her from giving her patented retort to Maria's reaction to Howard. "You did have a certain reputation," is what she hedges on. "But, she eventually changed her mind." Clearly, otherwise Tony wouldn't have been born.

"Her family convinced her to go out with me. They were having problems with their landlords and they thought if she charmed me, I might make their problem go away." It doesn't sound like it bothers Howard that people tried to use him. He's fairly used to it after all these years. "But, slowly her defenses went down. I tried to pull mine down, too. She…had a lot of problems with Jarvis at first, because she thought it was ridiculous that I didn't pick out my own suits or keep my own schedule. She thought I was a spoiled, entitled asshole, even though I grew up in her neighbourhood." His brows arch up, "…her oldest brother used to beat the crap out of me on the playground, in fact."
He clears his throat after the digression. "Then one day, after she accused me of being spoiled, I sent Jarvis and Anna to Paris for a month and did my best to get by on my own. I tried to cook for her, I tried to keep my own schedule." A beat, then a grin and a chuckle. He rubs his temple. "It was…a complete disaster. I think the company lost 1 of its net worth because I kept missing meetings and appointments. But something about my willingness to give it a go by myself must have endeared me to her. Because she started actually liking me instead of just pretending to."

"Well, growing up in the same neighborhood is a shared background, but you must admit you lived very different lives afterwards," Peggy tells Howard. The idea of Anna and Jarvis in Paris for a month gives her a smile.

"You always were one for grand gestures," she replies warmly. It seems she approves of both Maria and of Howard's attempt to woo her properly. "I'm glad you found someone who truly challenged you." She's been friends with Howard for awhile and knows that he will push boundaries merely because he can. It's how he became so successful, but it is also why he can rub people the wrong way. "She does sound lovely. I wish I could have met her." This her, of course.

"You've met Tony. You know his sense of humour doesn't come from me. That's all Maria," drawls Howard with a slight eyeroll. "Sarcastic. Biting. But also warm." He looks down, then up again. "Does it bother you to see me like this? I should probably turn it off before some reporter sees it and spills the beans."

Peggy, at least, knows by now that the direct comparisons between Tony and Howard are discouraged. "Yes, I did wonder," she replies noncommittally. "Though, he can also be a bit crass." The latest story about him and Prime Minister Thatcher in a fountain was one that had her blushing. I imagine that was not her sense of humor?" Though, the idea of Howard marrying a woman who likes dirty jokes is something that is amusing.

The question is met with a pause. "No," she tells Howard. "I wouldn't use the word 'bother'. It takes some getting used to. I might as well ask you if it bothers you to see me as you knew me in 1948. I can only imagine it is hard for you to have far more memories of me than I do of you."

"She was Italian. She had five brothers. Crass was definitely her style. Though she had this way of telling jokes so you weren't sure if she understood the full dirty implications." Howard gets a faraway look and smile fondly. The fondness grows into a pang of sadness. He reaches down then, and hits his wrist. The thirty years melt away as quickly as they appeared. "It makes me happy, Peg. Really happy. Because Steve is here. And you can do a lot of good in the here and now." And - the unsaid addition to that is - he could really use a friend.

At the fond smile, Peggy gives Howard a bit of her own sad smile. She knows what happened to Maria. There's not much else to say about that. The gesture of de-aging himself seems to be a clear delineation of their conversation from the past to the present.

"Could I? I feel as if I am merely playing catch up to a world that now has quite a few people with far more power than I ever thought possible. I saw someone fly without any sort of equipment the other day." Not even Captain America can fly. "But, then, I am also glad to be here, even if I am not exactly needed. I can still help where I can."

"You're needed more than you know," says Howard. "Maybe you can help SHIELD find its way again. And I know you can help Steve move on from the war. I don't think he's ever stopped fighting. You saw it, yourself. Some of the SSR guys who just traded their uniforms for suits. Some soldiers can't leave it on the battlefield. The war defined Steve in a lot of ways. I think, without that - without you, he's been a little lost."

"I'm not sure if SHIELD would be all that happy to have one of it's founder attempting to tell them what to do," Peggy tells Howard with a wry smile, though she has been happy to help where she can. "It seems a bit like I should be shaking a finger at them and telling them about back in my day. I can't believe that would be well received."

Peggy certainly knew of the soldiers that were unable to leave the war behind - Thompson being one of them. "Yes, he does seem a bit different," she agrees. Though, she mostly likely isn't how he remembers her, either. "But, I think it will be more than just my arrival here for him to move on. This business with the Avengers and the President have hit him rather hard."

"Well, don't be afraid to do it. SHIELD could do with some reminding of why we built the damned place for in the first place." Howard's clearly got a troubled relationship with the organization he helped found. He swallows a mouthful of his drink. "Yeah. I saw the Senate hearing. I see they're still populated with morons." He's been in the hot seat his share of times. It's never really been pleasant.

Peggy raises a singular eyebrow at his comment. "It's not fear that holds me back, Howard," she tells him. To anyone else it might be a very direct reminder of who she is. In an aside to Howard, it's almost just a quip.

"A very particular sort of morons, even. Mine was kept from broadcast due to the circumstances of my even being here, but from all that I've seen they're all simply fishing for choice quotes to hang on whoever it is they've deemed is guilty." And she's not pleased with who she can imagine it will be. At that, she finishes her drink, and flags the waitress for another round. It is a celebration, after all.

"That's a topic for another evening. Tonight is about remembrance. So, tell me the story of saving Mr. Jarvis from the general."

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