The Saddest Frog

March 19, 2017:

Juno begins to make amends for ruining Peggy's dinner with Steve.

NYC - Central Park

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Winter Soldier, Captain America

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

After returning from Baltimore, Peggy bid adieu to Jessica and instead of going to her apartment, she wandered the Upper East Side. It's a place now filled with couples with children, as well as wealthy elderly people. Finding a bench nearby Central Park, the former head of SHIELD rests her feet.

With a sigh, she leans back. The bench is not comfortable by any means, but it's something. For a little while, she watches the families wandering through, the tourists, the people. Though she doesn't tend to be a dedicated people watcher, she enjoys it every now and again. She enjoys it more now that she has to try and garner modern mannerisms. It's like learning a new culture all over again.

After a moment, though, she plans her feet firmly on the sidewalk and rests her elbows on her knees. She can still see the decapitated body of Cassanda Marx on the floor, maggots on her decapitated head. And then the sound of the crash on the other side as the debris crushed Kelly Anders. Her eyes close and she rests her face in her hands for a few moments.


Juno got a stern talking-to for interrupting Peggy and Steve's dinner, even though she hadn't meant to. Apparently he had been 'waiting on that for them for a long time'? She doesn't really know what he was talking about, but he was upset with her.

She spent some time thinking about it… what he said, what the man and woman - Steve Rogers and Margaret Carter - had probably felt after being interrupted. Juno knows that she doesn't like to be interrupted even if sometimes it can't be helped, so she should apologize. Right? Right!

But she… doesn't really know how to apologize for something like that. Just saying 'I'm sorry' hadn't seemed to be enough…?

So she'd formulated a plan. Visited a couple of shops. Spent three days tracking them down - not that it's hard to track Captain America, as he is big and blond and loud and everybody turns to look at him. Agent Carter, on the other hand, is quieter. Stealthier. It took Juno this long just to track her down! In public seems like the best place, because there will be other people and that means that Agent Carter may be less likely to fire on her.

As Peggy sits on the bench, cradling her head in her hands, soft sneaker-footsteps shff, shff towards her. Juno stands at the other end of the bench, looking at her curiously. She's wearing a bright sweater and jeans, with a backpack over her shoulders. She could be any girl finishing high school.

But she's not.

She frowns faintly and asks, "Is something wrong?"


Juno might be a girl of any high school, but Peggy Carter knows for a fact that she is not. It's hard to forget the girl who fell from the ceiling onto the table of her dinner with Steve. More than that, it's hard to forget the girl who spoke Russian and knew Bucky as 'The Winter Soldier'. Were there more time than she has had lately, she may just try to find out more about this girl either from Bucky or from SHIELD.

For now, though, she starts. For the most part, Peggy doesn't let her guard down, but she was decompressing from the mission. During the drive back, she mostly remained calm: it seemed as if Jessica needed the space to question and to worry. For Peggy to spin out as well would only have exacerbated the matter.

Instead, she spins. She's in public, so she does not pull out any sort of gun. Instead, she keeps her feet planted. There are other ways to fight than with a gun. Immediately, she recognizes Juno. Her eyes narrow. "What are you doing here?" She doesn't know who this woman is and yet she continues to crop up in strange places.


Juno seems calm, if possibly… concerned. For Peggy?

She doesn't move to come closer or go away, doesn't have a weapon in her hands. They're just holding on to the straps of her backpack as she watches the agent react to her presence.

She does understand why Peggy makes the face that she does - even if she hadn't meant to interrupt dinner, she did. Juno does smile a little, though, when the agent speaks - even if it's to demand an answer.

"I came to say sorry," Juno explains, and finally takes a step closer to Peggy, tugging her backpack off of her shoulders with casual ease. If she's worried about being attacked - or planning to attack Peggy herself - there's no outer sign of it. The girl settles down onto the bench, backpack between her feet, and opens the bag up. "Sorry for interrupting dinner. Winter Soldier told me it was wrong, even though I didn't mean to."


Concerned? Peggy can tell that expression on Juno's face. That also confuses her.

Studying the girl in front of her, Peggy does not relax, but she no longer looks like she may attack at any moment. Of course, not everyone telegraphs their intent to attack: it may be the same with Agent Carter.

Juno's apology is met with a curious tilt of her head as she listens and then watches her take a seat on the very same bench. "As far as I could tell, it was an accident and not made of malicious intent." As far as she can tell. Who knows if that is the actual case with the people who tend to call Bucky The Winter Soldier. That has not escaped her attention, keeping her still wary. "Barnes should not have been there, either, but he did that on purpose."

Holding where she is for the moment, she realizes that while she doesn't know exactly why Juno is here: perhaps it is the apology or perhaps it is something else. Either way, this is an opportunity to learn more about the girl here. "How do you know The Winter Soldier?"


If everybody telegraphed their intentions all the time, it would be much easier for Juno! She would certainly feel much more confident when trying new things with strange people.

"Mm-hmm," the girl nods, ponytail tumbling. "I didn't mean to. Who is Barnes?" she asks, apparently not having made the connection. She glances up and to the side when the agent asks another question.

How do you answer something like that? Juno frowns slightly, hands slowing in the task of 'shoving library books around'. "He is…" A book of poetry falls against her hands. The Winter Soldier is a saint of killers for a country with no god. But she doesn't know how to say that in English, precisely - or how to speak so well. "He is everything we wanted to be, growing up. I never thought I would see him again with my own eyes, not since I was very small. But he's here! And he spoke to me!" She seems delighted by the fact - there's definitely some hero-worship going on there.

Juno digs a bit more until she finds what she's looking for and tugs an envelope out of an inner pocket. She checks to make sure that it's still sealed (and not in bad shape) before sitting up and holding it out to Peggy with every bit of expectation.

If Peggy opens it, it's a store-bought card that says 'I'm sorry.' inside, with a picture of a sad frog on the front.


As Peggy watches the young girl, she remains where she is, but takes in the details: the books, the ponytail, the bright jumper. It's a strange juxtaposition compared to what she is saying.

Only after Juno questions who Barnes is does Peggy realize her mistake in that. She knows that in her line of work - and she suspects James' - people would not know that the Winter Soldier is James Barnes. That's certainly a thing SHIELD did not know until very recently. So, she answers, "Someone else I saw at the restaurant." It's not a lie, but it's not letting the full truth, just in case.

When Juno describes how she knows The Winter Soldier, her face remains neutral. It's a thing that she has had to learn over the years of being a spy: hearing and seeing things that disturb and horrify, but keeping a calm expression. It's not exactly that she is horrified by the things she hears, but that this young girl can have such adulation to a man feared by all as a ruthless assassin is…hard to hear. Especially when she knows how James is dealing with the guilt of what that names means. "I see," is what she says. "So, you had not met him before that dinner interruption?"

In the midst of all this, she is handed a card. Blinking, and without thinking, she takes it. Having heard exactly how she reveres the Winter Soldier, this is not the best idea she's ever had. But, then, she knows that Barnes has seen her and instead of fighting with the young woman, scruffed and pulled her away. That must count for something. And so, she carefully unseals it and slips out the card to find a sad frog looking at her. She opens and closes it a few imes before looking back up to Juno. "This is for me?" She's not exactly sure what else to say.


Juno grew up in a place full of white, browns, blacks, greys, and all shades of red. To see bright colors splashed so carelessly all over the place - the greens of leaves and grass, the bright rainbow of a handful of sweets, the beautiful pink of strawberry ice cream - she never thought that life beyond Kindergarten would be so vivid and wonderful. Of course she wanted some of those colors for herself…!

"Oh, I see!" Maybe it was after she left. Juno certainly doesn't know anybody named Barnes. Americans have such weird names. But she likes those, too.

She looks at Peggy with guileless eyes. Juno isn't a spy. She's a killer. She's also a bad liar, so most of the time she just keeps quiet or dodges questions.

Right now, she's clearly deciding just how much she can tell the agent.

Eventually, something seems to convince her. Juno shakes her head. "I had met him twice before. Once when I was very young. He observed our training one day. The teachers said he might come and give us lessons, but he wasn't able to after all." He had looked exactly the same then as he does now. Even knowing that an ideal does not age or die, it had still managed to surprise her.

"I met him once more, now that I'm grown up. A few weeks ago." She clams up about that time, though, and seems reluctant to speak of it any more.

It is not the saddest frog that ever existed, but its Q_Q expression tugs at the heartstrings nonetheless. Juno nods seriously, resting her hands on her knees. "Yes. Because I wasn't sure I would know how to say it." It's hard, a lot of the time… talking to 'normal' people.


Seeing as Juno apparently takes her word at face value, Peggy listens to how Juno describes Barnes.

While Juno sees the Winter Soldier, Peggy can still only see Barnes. Barnes observing training. Training young people. She remembers going to Russia and seeing one of those schools. She saw the product of one of them, as well: Dottie. If Juno is a latter version of that program, she can only imagine. Now, she's starting to fill that creepy school with people she knows: Dottie, James, now this young girl.

There's a long pause as she looks at the sad frog in a card. Instead of saying anything else about that, however, she takes a different course. Looking up from that card, she asks, "What's your name?"


The agent is quiet for a long time. Juno is too, but for a different reason. She thought she would never have the opportunity to train under the Winter Soldier again… and after she explained why she was hunting cats, he offered to teach her new things.

She'd gone home to her handler and chattered his ear off about it all evening long!

She's got that bubblegum-neutral expression on her face, sort of the opposite of resting bitch face… something cheerful and slightly vacant and absolutely doll-like. But when Peggy asks for her name, Juno focuses on the agent and grins. "I'm Juno. You're Margaret Carter, right? But everybody calls you Peggy. Did you choose that name for yourself, because you liked it?" She had the opportunity for a brand new life, to become a brand new person, and had chosen a brand new name.

"Also - why were you eating dinner with Captain America?" She frowns again, looking at her knees briefly. "Winter Soldier said that he'd been waiting for something for you both for a very long time and that's why he was upset with me." Juno looks back up at Peggy, genuinely puzzled. "I tried and tried to figure it out but I couldn't. What did he mean?"


The fact that Juno knows her name is either worrying or due to the fact that she knows Bucky. Peggy's not sure which of them, but for now she'll attempt to not be totally worried about it. "I am, yes." There's no use denying a fact that she knows to be certain. It's possible that's how she continues to figure out how to track her throughout the city. "I did in a fashion. Peggy is short for Margaret, but it's what I prefer people call me rather than my full name." This is a very strange conversation, despite its mundanity. At times she feels as if she's talking to a much younger woman, explaining the meaning of nicknames and the like.

"Ah, well, I know Captain America and we are friends, hence why we were having dinner." That's a pretty well known fact, nothing dangerous there. However, attempting to explain why Barnes might have been upset about it? That's not exactly the terrain she wishes to travel with an unknown woman who may or may not be an assassin, despite her disarming sweetness. Her posture straightens just a bit as she replies, "I'm not exactly sure for what it was he might have been waiting. That would have be something you asked of him."


Well, she is an assassin. Even if she's not geared for the more delicate operations of a Black Widow, even Juno can find out someone's name most of the time! (Also, there was a small article about Captain America's minor involvement with a restaurant fuss. Peggy may have been named. Maybe, maybe not.)

Notably, Juno does not ask how Margaret becomes Peggy… because it seems very similar to how Russian diminutives work. "Oh! Margaret and Peggy… like Alexandr and Sasha!" She uses her hands to show the first name being chopped off halfway. "I see!" She's learning new things all the time, when she least expects it… small things about how the world works, and about other people too.

And Juno seems to believe Peggy about her professed ignorance, because she crosses her arms and nods thoughtfully. "I see, I see…" she repeats. It seems she really will have to ask him, after all. She'll do it after she apologizes to Captain America, maybe…!

"I'm glad I was able to apologize," Juno remarks, unfolding her arms and standing up. The girl picks up her backpack and goes to sling it over her shoulders.

…What, is she just going to show up, give Peggy a card, and leave?

(Yes.)


While many people might think it strange that Sasha is a diminutive to Alexsandr, Peggy is fluent in Russian. Therefore, she understands and nods at the assessment, not finding the comparison strange. "Yes, like that."

Peggy watches as it seems she's given Juno some things to think about, unsure of what exactly that means. This is certainly something she'll have to speak with Barnes about. Possibly even Steve. Things to add to the list.

"It was good to meet you." And while Peggy is not exactly sure what is going on here, she does sound sincere in that. At the very least, there was information gathered. More than that, it's hard not to like the young girl and her idiosyncrasies. However, she also remembers the little blonde girl who killed one of the Howling Commandos when they were investigating and cautions herself to be wary of her as well.

What this all leads up to is a conflicted agent sitting on a park bench holding a card depicting a sad frog while she watches a young woman who may be a Russian trained assassin happily walk away.

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