Just to Say Hello

June 24, 2017:

Phil Coulson never asks anything easy. That's why he travels to London to recruit Michael Carter into a new mission…one which will require him to reveal his existence to the sister who has believed him dead all this time.

A cafe in London, England


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Peggy Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

It's very strange for Michael Carter to have downtime. Usually when he was brought out of stasis, it was to tackle an immediate problem. Then he was returned to stasis to keep him stable. But it's been nearly three years since MI-6.5 figured out how to keep him on an even keel and how to make the mesh in his skin self-repairing. That means he has time to actually have a life. The problem is, he isn't really sure how to do that.

An attempt at said normal life brings him to a table outside a restaurant in Leicester Square. He's wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses and a crisp gray suit. He's sipping from a latte as he watches people go about their daily lives.


"Why is it we're always meeting when it's hot enough to melt a person's face?"

And there is Phil Coulson, just sliding into the opposite chair, wearing that mild smile that he wore 26 years ago under a Lateverian sky. He has a lot less hair though, and despite his complaint he's a lot less sweaty. He is, in fact, in a suit in spite of the heat, one cut and tailored to fit him rather perfectly. Sunglasses? Those look almost exactly the same, though he's probably had cause to replace them since that day.

He has arrived with some manner of iced drink that he's already ordered. And if the answer is 'because you're always popping up where you're not really wanted, Phil,' well, the truth is he's already more or less aware of that fact and bears it both with good humor and good grace.


A timeline punctuated by brief bouts of wakefulness between stasis means that Michael's memory isn't as sharp as it could be. In fact, he needs to pull down his sunglasses to get a proper look at the man in front of him. It takes a second or two for all the pieces to click into place. He relaxes, hand moving away from the carefully concealed sidearm.

For Michael's part, he hasn't changed a bit. "It never used to get this warm in June in London," he says. "Take it from a man who has felt many summers - this global warming business is quite real." He sips his coffee, then replaces his sunglasses. "And what can I do for SHIELD?"


"A little less for SHIELD, a little more for your sister Peggy. And for the world, probably, but it's always some sort of world-threatening this or that, so dropping that little bomb just doesn't make me sound as cool as it used to."

He simply nods about the reality of global warming, a brief grimace rocketing across his face. If SHIELD didn't have some pretty cool temperature control fabric weaves these days he sure would have his shirt sleeves rolled up, and to heck with the outer jacket.

But he didn't come here to talk about melting ice caps. That's someone else's department.

"The one that travelled through time and looks your age," he clarifies. "Not the one in the nursing home. Though I guess you might not have known about the first."


Michael's coffee pauses partway to his lips. He sips, then sets it down. He gives Phil a long look. "I am aware of my sister's…" he hesitates, then decides on, "…counterpart. It's safe to say that if SHIELD knows about something, British Intelligence does, too." Either because they've got their own network, or because of some information sharing agreement. "I've stayed out of it because I'd imagine my presence would only upset her. And her little trip through time has no doubt been upsetting enough." He takes off the sunglasses again, this time tucking them into the pocket of his jacket. He leans forward. "Out with it, then."


Phil snorts and says, "I think she handles her trip through time better than most of us handle having made the progression normally. Your sister is made of steel and velvet, and the greater percentage of that was steel."

Out with it then, he says, and Phil takes a sip of his drink before continuing. This, at least, British Intelligence probably isn't super aware of yet.

"Your sister has been working on a case in tandem with Stark Industries. It started as a simple matter of stolen tech, a couple of murders, nothing major. Something she was doing for a friend, not a real concern. It was barely on the organization's radar. But it morphed."

He pushes his sleeve back to get at his watch, bringing up a holographic display and pushing a few buttons. "In the course of that investigation she and her compatriots discovered a machine god that would like to eat our reality. Obviously, so far it's fine, but I suspect the threat may come a little faster than the consequences of global warming. As of right now she's SHIELD's lead agent on that case, but I feel like we need to bring in more help, including your agency's. Furthermore, I feel like she might well just need you."

He declines to say why the personal connection might be, in his opinion, more helpful than harmful.


If Michael is shocked or concerned by any of this, he doesn't let on. The man has a hell of a poker face. He watches Phil as he speaks. "I take it you've already spoken to my superiors. Or…" he grins a little, "…are you here hoping I'll make the request myself? You do realize that British Intelligence tends to keep agents like myself out of situations where it might pose a conflict of interest." What he means is, his superiors have purposefully kept him away from anything involving Peggy for decades.


"It's all taken care of," Phil says, as he finishes up his tapping.

"I've just sent you your travel arrangements, should you agree to go. Your superiors feel this one ought to be voluntary on your part."

He pauses, then says, "However, I've also sent you all the information SHIELD has on this matter, including some basic dossiers on the individuals your sister has been working with to date. I've also included her contact information so that you may approach her however seems best to you."

They had their reasons, but…things change. Especially when Coulson decides something needs to be done. Even if he had to patiently sit, smile, and talk at MI-6.5's brass for hours on end until they saw things his way.


Said travel arrangements appear through Michael's ocular implant. The implant has also scanned Phil's face, which brings up a truncated personnel file and his current security clearance. All very handy, if a tad distracting at times. He blinks and clears the display, so he can look at the other man without distraction.

"Do you truly believe that seeing me would be the best for Peggy right now?" And then, he pauses a moment and draws in a sharp breath. He smiles and shakes his head. "I suppose I should save us both some time and agree with you. We both know you're going to end up convincing me."


Phil 's smile quirks, and his hazel eyes twinkle.

But he sobers. "In this case I wouldn't try leaning on you, but I am going to tell you why yes, I think so."

He pauses. "As you read those events you'll see that she basically had to watch the cataclysmic death of an alternate earth through a portal she certainly didn't realize she'd be looking through that day. In addition, there were a bunch of civilians that she was trying to get out. Some made it. Some didn't."

His smile turns a little sad. "To look at her, you'd think it was just another Tuesday. And that's not the only thing going on with her. You've no doubt seen the headlines about the 'Trial of Two Centuries.' That's her friend on trial, and I think it would be insane to assume that's not impacting her, too."

He spreads his hands. "I think she needs someone she can safely lean on. Or at least rely on. Someone who she might not feel like she's letting down, by doing so. Seeing you will be a shock, but I think in time it will be a balm."


"You forget though, Agent Coulson," says Michael, "I have let her down, most tremendously. I let her think I was dead. If you know my sister, either personally or through her psychological profiles, you know that she may not be quick to forgive me for that."

He looks down at his coffee as he takes a moment to absorb what he's being told. "If I'm to go, it should be because you or she is in need of my skills. If you are tapping me primarily for emotional support, I am afraid I might not be up to the task." There is an almost sad note to his words.


Yes, he expects Peggy Carter will be beyond pissed. He expects an infuriated storm into his own office, in fact, because he knew, and he didn't let her in on it.

Sometimes negative emotions precede positive ones.

But Phil says none of that. He's not always right about people, only often, and it's entirely possible he's making a blunder here. But…his gut says no. And given there were multiple reasons to do this, it still strikes him as a good play.

Instead, Phil says dryly, "Your skills are indeed required. You should definitely be focusing the bulk of your attention on the world-eating god thing."


Michael grins and shakes his head. "World-eating god thing," he repeats. "I miss the days when Latverian arms dealers and international drug lords were the worst of our problems." He reaches for his coffee again and swallows the last few mouthfuls. "I suppose I'm off to New York, then."


"We all miss those days," Phil says dryly. "I haven't had a simple defector extraction in 10 years."

He adds, "My contact information was in there too. I have a bit more business here in London today, but please don't hesitate to call me directly if you require support or assistance. For the most part I'm taking a back seat on this, allowing Agent Carter to requisition whatever resources and personnel she sees fit to requisition. But that doesn't mean I'll leave either one of you out to dry either."


Michael looks out at the milling Londoners. He sucks a little bit of air between his teeth. So much for a normal life. Instead, he's got to go tell his time travelling sister that he's not dead, and instead was part of an experimental program. All so they can work together to stop the world from ending.

He stands up and straightens his suit. "I suppose I'd best get packing, then. I'd say it's a pleasure to see you, but you never show up just to say hello."

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