Peggy Is Your What?

July 21, 2017:

Michael Carter, in search of Bucky Barnes to assess who he is outside of the Winter Soldier, finds both Bucky AND Steve in the midst of hanging out. Things get inevitably awkward.

The Triskelion, NYC


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Peggy Carter

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The Triskelion is not without its share of very lavishly appointed break rooms, interspersed throughout the grand structure. Some are definitely nicer than others, however, and probably one of the nicest is a team room earmarked by the Avengers due to its proximity to their briefing area and locker room.

It's a very comfortable space, a little disproportionately so considering how infrequently it is actually used given the special emergency-response nature of the team, and the fact nobody else really goes in there despite it not being technically off-limits to anyone. There's couches, there's wall-mounted flat screen TVs, there's even a small wet bar (Tony), and any number of consoles and gadgets and things that Bucky has no idea the purpose or usage of.

Wait, why is Bucky here?

He's been around the Triskelion lately due to his unique position of having intel he wants to pass on in the event of his untimely execution. His session over for the day, he wound up meeting up with Steve, who was also lurking around, and then — one thing leading to another — they wound up here, on one of the couches, as if no time had passed between them at all.

They've got one of the TVs on, and there's a game on. Baseball, looks like. The Atlanta Braves, versus —

"What the fuck?" Bucky is saying. "What are the Dodgers doing in LA?"

"They move teams around. It's a thing now."
The reply is said with a causal disappointment as Steve is slouched in a way that seems normal, but only done when the war hero is truly tired. Or as tired as the Super Soldier Serum allows him to get anyway.

Like many people who watch TV, the normally wordy Cap is reduced to short sentences. But considering Bucky has had a long set of intel dumping and Rogers was fighting an entire team of men and women themed after various snakes this morning, chill seems to be a rather nice idea.

As commerials play for a variety of things, Steve speaks on "They also let people stay on the team after they get charged with crimes. I wrote the National Football League about that being a problem." There is an awkward pause as Rogers is ashamed of the conclusion. "They sent me a mug and thanked me for the letter. I think that means they aren't going to do anything."

Michael heard through his contacts (and perhaps a direct phone call from someone) that Barnes has been giving testimony in the Triskelion. It might be a little sneaky for him to come at him sideways like this, but he IS a spy. That, and making an appointment with your former enemy seems…awkward.
The agent is cleared for some SHIELD facilities under a mutual cooperation agreement with MI6. When he was pointed towards the lounge by a helpful passing agent, he didn't exactlly expect to walk in on what feels like a pair of roomates chilling.
He stops, blinks, and adjusts the collar of his neatly tailored suit. "Oh. Hello." And then…is that? Oh. Ahem. "Sorry. Didn't mean to interrupt."

Bucky squints a little at the TV as Steve helpfully explains the modus operandi of baseball teams in the 21st century. Folding his arms, he does not trouble to hide his disapproval of the Brooklyn Dodgers exercising this in order to move out of Brooklyn.

He doesn't approve of Steve's anecdote about his failed attempt to chastise the NFL about criminals staying on the team, either. "Yeah, a mug definitely means 'fuck off.' What the hell?" he wonders. "They didn't listen to you? That's ballsy." Clearly Bucky has a biased opinion when it comes to the power of Captain America as pitted against the power of the NFL.

Bucky considers this in silence a moment. "Maybe I oughta just pay the commissioner a visit, that'd get things moving," he ruminates. It's kind of clear the kind of visit he means. It's obviously a joke. …Right?

He seems, subtly, to be trying to chirk Steve up, having long since sensed how tired his friend is. But though his focus is mostly on Steve, he's still alert, in that way soldiers never quite ever regain the ability to be oblivious to their surroundings. He hears Michael's arrival, before Michael actually says anything, and he's already turning to glance over his shoulder when the man starts to speak.

What he sees shuts him up right quick.

He's jumped to his feet and backed away in an instant, ready for either fight or flight instantaneously. While it's rationally unlikely that an operative would be approaching so obviously if they were up to something, the last few times Buck saw this face were under rather… high stress situation.

"It happens," the war hero states in response to the disregard of moral centerpieces. "I mean, I could always go public, but I try not to go that route. It seems? Petty." And perhaps that's the reason why people can afford to be like that for Rogers. Unless it's really an issue he's set against, he doesn't push the issue. But perhaps one of the reasons he's a beloved figure is the insight to know when to push and when to let go. Case in point? "And Bucky, /language/." Okay well, maybe he doesn't know.

There is an apology from a man he doesn't know and Steve, dressed in a tank top and gym shorts, seems rather 'average SHIELD agent' like if one doesn't recognize him off the bat.

However, on the issues of recognition, there is a sudden reaction from Bucky. A glance back is given toward Micheal before Rogers slowly rises up, seemingly as much for dramatic effect as is his fatigue. "I think there must be some sort of misunderstanding going on," he begins, looking toward the two with clear confusion as he figures one of them will start explaining… Or fighting… One of the two.

Michael holds up a hand and extends it out towards Barnes, but he's also blocking the door. "Easy, easy. I'm not going to try and break your jaw in the middle of SHIELD headquarters with Captain America beside you. I'm not a moron." He nods towards Steve and then lets his hand fall.
"From what I understand, you weren't quite yourself the other times we've met. I've come to see how true that is." He draws in a breath, then looks to the other. "Apologies, Captain Rogers. This is hardly a good first impression. My name is Michael Carter."

There's a grimace as Steve ruminates that he could use his power as Captain America — but that would be petty. "Yeah, I guess," he says, though he looks a bit like he wouldn't mind being petty once in a while.

Language, Steve chides. "I know, I know," Bucky says, which he has probably been saying since 1931 with no actual change in his behavior. It's just one of the constants between him and Steve at this point.

But then there's another man in the room. The Winter Soldier replaces Bucky almost instantaneously, Steve's best friend gone into a cagey, tense watchfulness.

There is a distinct moment of tension, broken by Michael's dry logic.

Then, perhaps more because he feels bad about Steve's confusion than anything else, Bucky relents. He folds his arms, a guarded and drawn-up gesture, but he doesn't aggress or back away any further. "Yeah," he says, and his voice is taut in the way it gets when he's confronted with a piece of his past as the Winter Soldier. "I guess 'I wasn't myself' is a way to put it."

He glances to Steve. "I tried to kill him a few times. Mostly in the seventies," he says, as if that's an explanation. His voice is flat and controlled, as if he were reading from an AAR and nothing more loaded than that. He doesn't react much to the name, even though this is the first he's hearing it, because really, how many people are named Carter?

A brief pause is given in the wake of the introduction, but Rogers does take the hand as expected. "Good to meet you, Mr. Carter," Steve replies, taking the hand and giving a firm shake. "Glad that you aren't dead," he adds in pitiful attempt to offer pleasantries and keep the conversation moving. It's an odd thing to say, but consider the Winter Soldier's track record, it's either luck, skill, or both that has allowed him to survive thus far. Or so Rogers comes to believe.

Normally the verbose hero would speak more, but well, it seems these two know each other, so it seems Rogers likely has decided it best to let them lead the conversation. Or at least be there to 'encourage' the conversation down other trains of thought if needed.

And this is why Michael has never played his name particularly close to his chest. It's a common name, and given the time that has passed, no one is likely to leap to his true identity without more information. He shakes Steve's hand, then looks over to Bucky. He looks at him for a moment, as if he could discern his alignment simply by looking.
"Mr. Barnes," the fact that he even uses that name says something. "I've read up on you and what has been done to you. It is a terrible thing. You have my sympathies." All proper, that. But not without some softness to his voice. He sounds almost like he means it.

Glad that you aren't dead, Steve says. In the background, Bucky winces visibly, and his folded arms tighten across his chest. Bucky has… a complicated relationship with his own track record as the Winter Soldier, moving between sick pride in his own lethality, and deep self-loathing over that same lethality.

He hears perfectly well the unspoken addendum is, 'because Winter Soldier sure made most things dead that he came in contact with.'

After a moment, however, he unwinds enough to come back out of his corner, drawing up alongside Steve so his friend isn't left standing uncomfortably literally right in the middle of them. That searching look finds James Barnes guarded but not necessarily evasive, as if he felt Michael to have a right to that sort of inspection of him.

He loosens up a little when Michael chooses the words that he does, though it's less in relief and more in 'oh, now it is time to just be guilty as hell.' "…Thanks," he says. "Listen, about '74…" He shrugs apologetically. "I lost the coat."

He looks back to Steve, then. "Mr. Carter is — was? — British intelligence." He glances back at Carter. "Are you here for me or him?" A pause. "Or 'Other?'"

"Ah" is all Captain America has to say on the information drop on Carter being part of British Intelligence. "I know someone else who has the last name Carter who is in British Intelligence. She's a great gal," he replies with a winning smile as he flashes the pearly white. Then he goes back to the 'smile and nod' stand-by mode, because well, it seems that these two know each other and are likely going to talk about things.

But that's okay, that's why you smile. And nod. Like when you're a scrawny guy and there is a girl making suggestive comments right in front of you toward your friend. Smile. And nod.

Michael Carter is a very capable man. He's a talented spy, and he's been augmented with some fine technology. But he can't help but feel a little bit intimidated in the face of these two men. Not that he lets it show. He's a man of composure, after all. But he does know that there's no point starting some shit, conversationally or otherwise. If he's going to express doubts about the Winter Soldier's culpability, he's not going to do it in front of Captain America.
"Seventy-four." It takes a moment for him to access that. It helps that his HUD shows him a brief mission profile. "The extraction. Yes. I did rather like that jacket." Then, "Oh, well I came to speak to you, Mr. Barnes. Threat assessment. To put it simply, I wanted to see for myself. You have a defender, by the way, in the form of a Hell's Kitchen private investigator."
Then he turns to Steve and says, "Indeed." There's a brief pause before he adds, "Peggy is my sister."

Steve speaks of Peggy, and of course highly. Great gal! British intelligence. "Yeah, she is," Bucky says absently, his attention still mostly on whatever dark internal landscape his thoughts occupy. "So when are you gonna make the move already? I've been waiting since 1943." The tease is almost muscle memory at this point, an ingrained reflex.

It's probably intended to try to put Steve at ease with a hint of some familiarity, because he can sense that Steve is starting to feel awkward. He has a lot of practice picking up on when Steve is feeling awkward, after all those aforementioned 'flirty girl' scenarios.

He tenses a little when Michael speaks of the purpose of his visit as 'threat assessment,' though he doesn't look surprised, per se. Of course he would need threat assessment. That the man reframes it as simply 'wanting to see for himself,' is a little more palatable, though Bucky doesn't relax, per se. "You coulda put it that way to start," he says, a little wry. The demeanor, the more casual and colloquial way of speaking… it's certainly entirely as if a different man than the Winter Soldier that Carter knew is standing here before him now.

He mentions Jessica. For some reason, Bucky's gaze dims a little with some private troubled thought. "Yeah, I do," is all he says.

Especially since, not long after, Carter just goes ahead and drops the bomb.

"…Peggy is your what?" Bucky says, much more calmly than he probably feels.

A side long glance at Barnes' latest attempts to encourage the Steggy pairing is the only change up from the smile and nod response that works all the way up until that talk of someone being Peggy's brother, which causes a small pause. Then, there is a nervous laugh from First Avenger at the claim of sibling relations. He taps Bucky on the shoulder as he takes it seriously, trying to let Barnes know that things are clearly not as the man claims. "Hey, I didn't mean it like that, I'm sorry, I mean, I didn't mean to make it seem like every British person named Carter is related to Agent Carter. Was just saying it in a 'Small World' sorta way."

A half-beat carries before Rogers adds to his wartime chum, "Speaking off, we should go to Disneyland. Or Disney World. I heard its fun. Except for 'It's a Small World, I heard it's kinda creepy."

The attention is soon averted back toward Michael and Bucky equally as he waits to see what sort of things Carter wanted to talk to Barnes about, as it surely won't be about Peggy. Inwardly, Smile and Nod protocols are about to be launched once more.

"I suppose I could have, yes." Framed it differently. "But as you know, some habits are hard to break. I tend to slip into the vocabulary of spycraft in a place like this." Michael looks around, then back to the two men.
Bucky's reaction to the familial connection makes him smile a bit wryly. "Well, Russian Intelligence isn't all that good, it seems. I assumed you knew. Or at least, your handlers did."
Then to Steve, "That wasn't me making a joke, Captain Rogers. Peggy is indeed my sister. If you're skeptical, SHIELD can confirm my identity."

Some habits are hard to break — as you know. There's that slight cringe again, because there are sure some habits Bucky would like never to come back at all.

But then Michael is claiming to be Peggy's brother, and even worse, he's slighting Russian intelligence and Bucky just had about five conflicted emotions about that which he cannot and does not want to parse, especially not now. His expression doesn't seem to know what to do, but settles somewhere between offended and unsurprised. "My handlers didn't always tell me things," he says, his voice painfully dry as he makes the understatement of the year.

A tap on his shoulder distracts him. Bucky gives Steve a somewhat alarmed look as the latter gives him that 'hey stop taking the obvious joke seriously,' look, because now he's second-guessing himself. Is it a joke??

"Well, I heard there's more to do in Disney World," he eventually settles on saying, because someone is going to have to clarify this Peggy issue and it's not going to be him, "but Disneyland is the original."

While Rogers isn't too interested in spycraft, the fact that this man really does seem to be Peggy's brother causes him to be flustered. It is a lot harder to do in this day and age, having been trained to be unflappable, but there are clearly times when someone can unexpected cause him to regress back to a less eloquent time. And it seems looking toward the man and seeing in his face that he isn't joking causes Rogers to be off his guard.

"Really? Really her brother?" Steve begins, awkwardly clapping his hands together in a horrid attempt to buy time. "I had no idea. I mean, I guess it's possible since well-" he points to himself and Barnes. "-you know. Either way, just to let you know I really respect Peggy and work really well with her. I only touched her breast once and it was by accident."

It's happening. The Full Awkward is happening. And as one can expect, it only gets worse as he talks himself faster and faster, digging himself deeper and deeper.

"It wasn't a big deal it was like a-" With that, Steve moves forward, his hand out to touch Michael's pec to imitate the trip gesture's awkward progression. "She was drunk, so it just kinda happened. Bucky was there, can vouch for the whole thing."

There is a half beat pause, Rogers figuring that the only way to try and get away from this losing battle is a blatant attempt to talk about something else. "So, Micheal, been to Disney World? Or Disney Land?" Cue that smile, though it is clearly a nervous one at this time.

Michael of course, knows Steve Rogers' story. He knows that the man wasn't always powerful and strong. But knowing that and seeing him dissolve into an awkward kid in front of his eyes is a little perplexing. Captain America is stuttering about touching boobs. His sister's boob, no less.
When Steve mimes the boob touching with his pec, the perplexed look on his face only grows. "You're both grown adults. I've never policed Peggy or her activities, and I'm certainly not going to start now. Besides, if you both know my sister, you know any such attempt would lead to abject failure." Dry, that. "And possibly a wicked right hook across the jaw."
As for the nonsequitor? "I haven't. I have however, been to Euro Disney."

Bucky's expression is that of a man watching a train derail and crash into a station wall in slow motion.

It looks like an expression that has seen a great deal of use over the years.

It escalates into long-suffering despair when Steve starts talking about breasts.

"Steve!" he eventually interrupts, when his friend reaches Full Fluster and starts trying to touch some pecs. "I — yeah. I was there. Not a big deal at all. Not like — you know. But we don't really have to talk about that right now, STEVE."

Michael takes it all with typical English aplomb. Bucky gestures weakly in his direction. "See?"

There is a brief silence.

"I… uh," he says, in a feeble attempt to distract from whatever the hell just came out of Steve's face, "So how the hell did YOU come forward to this time? Does every single country just have one of us now?"

Steve just coughs into his hand and offers a simple, "I guess so" to well, everything the two have said about Peggy being a grown woman as well as not needing to talk about it.

The Super Soldier does slowly lower the hand he coughed into, however, as the talk of someone else being out of time is brought up, curious on the matter himself but letting Bucky direct the conversation for the time being? For reasons that are more than likely obvious.

"Well, that's a story for another day, I think." Michael's eyebrows go up. "I've interrupted you chaps and I shouldn't have done." He looks to Bucky, then to Steve, then nods his head to indicate one to the other. "I'd imagine Mr. Barnes has a few theories about how I came to be here."
He straightens his jacket (though it doesn't need straightening.) "Pleasure to meet you, Captain. I always regretted not meeting you in the war, but things were quite…complicated." Like a faked death, becoming a human guinea pig, and some deep spycraft. "Gentlemen."
With that, unless he's stopped, the spy turns to go.

Bucky isn't really surprised to encounter a sudden polite brick wall upon questioning Michael Carter's odd persistence to the modern age. He glances askance at Steve, the look exchanging a whole lot of data without words in the way only very old friends can, before he just nods to Carter's intimations that he should probably go.

"It was no trouble," he says, the polite response automatic, though his eyes gauge Carter transparently when the man opines that he likely has his own theories on the entire matter. For a moment, he looks very like the Winter Soldier against whom Carter has striven over the years.

Then it's gone. "Complicated," he echoes. "Yeah, haven't all our lives been. Well, I look forward to hearing the story."

His head inclines in a nod, his eyes still gaugingly thoughtful. "Someday."

While Steve Rogers is normally excited to meet a new person, much more from their era, the conversation has taken him a little off of his usual game. "I'm sure we'll talk again sometime soon. Hope you have a great day!" he offers with a cheerful wave. If you have no idea what do, at least you can be polite. Steve just takes in only an small amount of knowing Bucky look, as if not wanting to hear half of the unspoke conversation. He'll just give a continous small wave until the man is out of view unless the man decides last minute that he doesn't wish to go, in which case Steve might be waving for awhile.

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