Blind Trust

October 03, 2017:

Michael Carter is debriefed by MI-6.5 during a stopover from Wakanda to New York.

MI-6.5 Headquarters, Central London


NPCs: MI-6.5 senior agents

Mentions: Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones, Agent Carter

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Michael Carter's return from Wakanda just happened to involve a stopover in London. The official reason just happens to be availability of flights. Unofficially, it offers the opportunity for an in-person debrief with his handlers.

London feels like home, even though Michael has seen it change dramatically over his years in and out of stasis. He treated himself to a proper cup of tea, a roast beef dinner, a couple pints and Walnut Whip. He even stopped by Pret A Manger for a caprese baguette to eat before he gets on his flight to New York. He never thought he'd miss a grab and go chain sandwich, but there you have it.

The debrief with his superiors with MI-6.5 is a process he's been through dozens and dozens of times before. He's able to give them a fair bit of information about Wakanda and the way they operate. Some of it was new information - other parts simply confirmed what other intelligence already told them. Either way, the information is valuable. That's the only reason they sanctioned his presence on the mission at all.

"And what about James Buchanan Barnes, the Winter Soldier?" asks a woman in a conservative burgundy skirt suit, with hair tied back tightly and glasses a little too big for her face.

"What about him?" asks Michael. He sits with arms casually resting against crossed legs, his patterned socks visible above his neat Oxford loafers. "If you're asking whether he's still a threat, I believe my report makes my answer to that rather clear. And…" he shifts forward a little bit. "As I recommended in that report, the files should split. The man, James Barnes, and the persona of the Winter Soldier should be filed separately from this point forward. There is enough evidence to suggest they are not completely the same man."

"Would you recommend the same for yourself, Rule Britannia?" asks the woman.

Michael pauses, smiles tightly but politely, and inclines his head. "Of course not, mum. But the Crown didn't take away my free will when I was recruited. Nor was I recruited forcefully. Entirely different circumstances."

"But you are a man who was pressed in to service during wartime. You are the result of experimental treatment. You've been in and out of stasis…"

"Have some respect, Gloria," comes the crotchety voice of an older man in a highly decorated Royal Air Force uniform who speaks in a particiularly posh accent. "Michael Carter was working for the Crown's interests before you could pull your hair back into a sodding bun." He coughs sharply. "My apologies, Agent Carter. The young are inclined to paranoia. Us gentleman of an older era understand what true loyalty to one's country looks like."

"I do appreciate the defense, Albert. And you've aged well, for what it's worth. And outlived many of your contemporaries."

"A good diet and clean living," says Albert, before wheezing with the cough of a lifelong smoker.

"Oh for god's sake. If you two old men are done with shaking each others' cocks, I'd like to conclude this debrief." Gloria raps her papers against the table and looks between the pair of them.

"Of course, mum, says Michael politely.

"Now. As we understand from your report, you've inflitrated Barnes' sphere…"

"Yes, I infiltrated Barnes' sphere by helping my sister and on invitation of Jones to assist with the Wakanda mission," says Michael. His words are so dry, it's a wonder he doesn't immediately reach for his water. "Look, my target in this instance was never Barnes. Barnes is not why you sent me to New York. I've given you the intelligence you requested in my reports. I was under the impression that this meeting was about Wakanda."

"It is, Carter old chap," says Albert in a kindly way. "It is indeed. We just want you to keep an eye on him, that's all. Report anything relevant, as you've always done."

"The intelligence you're going to want from him involves what he remembers from his time as the Winter Soldier. The most efficient way to gain that information would not be through me - it would be to lean on our alliances with SHIELD. They have a vested interest in maintaining good relations, and Lord knows we've shared enough with them over the decades." Michael is not a man who tends to raise his voice or talk with his hands, but he's more emphatic now than he normally is.

"Quite right," says Gloria. It's the first she's outright agreed with Michael in the entire meeting. She looks at her watch. "Well, Agent. According to my watch, you have a plane to catch back to New York. We will be in touch soon with further instructions." She stands.

Michael stands then, followed by Albert in a slower, more pained way. All shake hands.

"It's been good to be home, however briefly," says Michael. "Best wishes to you both. We'll speak soon." With that, the spy turns and leaves the room.

After he's gone, the two senior agents look between themselves. Gloria removes her glasses and says, "Do you think he suspects that we prolonged his recovery from that Wakandan truth serum to keep him away from any disruptive activity inside Wakanda?"

"He's a sodding spy, Gloria, and one of the best in the business. He suspects everything. What makes Michael Carter a valuable asset is that he remains loyal even in the face of these suspicions. He won't fail us. He never has."

"Family is the wild card this time around."

"Yes, the other Agent Carter. Margaret has been outside our control for a long time now. But perhaps we can exert some measure of control through him."


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