Remember, Remember

November 05, 2017:

The Carter siblings have a long-overdue heart-to-heart on Bonfire Night.

A rooftop near the Cloisters


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Captain America


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Remember, remember.
Naturally, Michael Carter couldn't let the 5th of November go unmarked, even though it proved difficult to find a cluster of expats who both wanted to do a bonfire and could get the permit for it. In the end, the event he found ended up being on a rooftop patio on a building near the Cloisters, and it's not so much as a bonfire as a roaring fire in an up-to-code fire pit. Still, there's plenty of their countrymen milling about, along with sparklers in lieu of fireworks.
Michael is standing near the edge of the roof, awaiting the arrival of his sister. He has two coffee mugs perched nearby. He's wearing a very finely cut pale blue overcoat with a burgundy scarf and black leather gloves. There's a pop of colour from an artificial poppy on his lapel.


The Fifth of November.

Peggy Carter got out of the habit of celebrating Guy Fawkes Day from all her time in the States. However, she is pleased to get the invitation to celebrate it with her brother. The Cloisters is quite a ways North, but she arrives on the rooftop right on time as the fire in the pit does its to-code roaring. She's properly bundled for the cold, as the city has finally started to settle into autumn and winter weather.

"I don't believe we could be more monarchist than celebrating a failed attempt on a King's life." Peggy smirks as she approaches her brother. She looks out over the city that she can see and then studies her brother. "It's been quite a while since I've been to a Bonfire Night."


"I just needed to get the taste of Halloween out of my mouth with something properly British," says Michael as he greets Peggy with a warm smile. "Then again, I only saw the drunken fools in cheap costumes and not the children delighted by free sweets." He hands her over one of the cups. "Hot cider," then he leans in a bit conspiratorially. "I kicked it up a bit," He opens the edge of his coat to reveal the top of a silver flask. The 'kick' as she'll discover upon taking a sip, seems to be bourbon.


"Perhaps you should have put up the sign that told children you were amenable to giving out sweets." Peggy takes the cup and raises an eyebrow about the 'kick'. With that sip, she easily recognizes the addition to the hot cider and smiles. Ah, bourbon. Another, longer drink is taken. "I must admit, I'm glad for the invitation. I did wish to tell you under better circumstances how much I appreciated your help in Wakanda." The expression on her face is neutral to warm, but she can't help but ask, "Did your agency have any insight into our progress there?"


"Do you know, this was the first thing I ever had to drink?" Michael looks at his cup and smiles a bit rakishly. "I was fourteen. Do you remember my mate Dick Winslow? He nicked his aunt's flask. Of course, it was bourbon and not something properly bracing like whiskey. But it was a lot more palatable to us at 14, especially when we put it in our hot cider. It might have actually been Bonfire Night even. Perhaps that's why I chose this tonight." He seems to be…unusually relaxed for him. He hasn't talked much of the past since he's walked back into her life.
When she mentions Wakanda, he lifts a shoulder. "They were glad of firsthand accounts that confirmed or refuted prior intelligence. But, ah," he reaches out to squeeze her arm gently, then lets it fall. "I was hoping we could…talk about something other than intelligence and missions tonight, Peggy. How are you?"


The fact that Michael is actually talking about his past - their past - is something that puts Peggy a bit on the other foot. Her hands wrap around the warm cup and she gives Michael something of a look as he talks warmly about the first drink he ever had. This is more like the Michael she knew during the war, not the one that came back decades later. "I remember him, yes. He once told me I looked like a frog because I was wearing a green jumper and costume spectacles."

The off kilter feeling continues as Michael wants to talk about something other than work. This is what she's wished of him since he returned and something that only a truth serum seemed anywhere near the capacity of being able to do so. While a generally guarded person, the look she gives him is unabashedly confused, though hopeful at this overture. He's still her big brother, still the man whose death propelled her into her current course of life.

"I'm alright. There are rumors I will be reinstated at SHIELD soon. I saw Steve at the benefit at the old Stark Expo before things turned incredibly weird." A pause. "And you?"


"Yes. I was…" Michael nearly said something, but he veers, a bit inelegantly. "…I saw it happened and I knew you were going. I was quite worried until I got your text." He takes a big swallow of the cider. It's cooled enough in the chill night air that it's easier to get the bourbon into his system. Not that it does much.
"And how are things? With Captain Rogers, that is." Even before he disappeared, he never pried into her personal life. Whenever he did ask, it was like this - hesitant, like he doesn't feel like he has the right to ask.


It wouldn't even take a spy of Peggy's caliber to notice that derailing. She doesn't comment on it verbally. Instead, she raises an eyebrow. In the company of an agent just as skilled as she is, she knows that will get the point across. Instead of commenting on that veer, she says, "I didn't wish you to worry." Her text to him to ensure he did not worry was short, late and very to the point: 'I'm fine.' It could be taken multiple ways, but she assumes a man like him would be up to date on the goings on of the city in matters such as those.

The question about Steve is met with just as much of a studying expression. The longest conversation they had about her dating life was the conversation over Frank right before he 'died'. He did not approve of Frank and she is not keen to hear his opinion on Steve. "They're are as they are," she tells him, a bit stand offish in discussing her relationship with him.

Unable to help herself - ever the little sister - she asks, "Are you leaving again?"


Michael Carter leans on the edge of the roof as they talk. It's a much more relaxed bit of body language than he usually displays. He's usually a lot more upright and ready to move. It's a visual indicator that he's letting his guard down. Her question is met with surprise. "What? Oh, no. No," it takes him a moment to realize why she might say that. He sets his cup down on the edge of the roof, then digs his hands into his pockets.
"I'm actually rather embarrassed that I'm telegraphing this, but," he clears his throat. "I do have something to tell you." He looks down, then up. "You see, well, it wasn't exactly planned or anything, but…" he dances. He's not a dancer. "…Jessica and I have, well, we've begun to see each other."


There is quite a long pause as Peggy processes this information. Her brother and Jessica have started to see each other. Her face, as it usually is in cases such as this - when she is caught off guard and does not wish others to read her expression - is very neutral while she attempts to parse this new information.

There are quite a lot of emotions that she experiences as she attempts to work through it all. "I see." That is what she says at first, buying herself some time to try and figure out what to say next.

What comes next is another stalling question, though it does have root in proper information gathering. "Is it serious?"


"It's…" Michael chooses the middle of the sentence to pause to think. Also not something he normally does. "…new," he settles on after a moment. "Very new. A few days, quite literally." He clears his throat. "It wasn't something either of us were looking for. It just, well, it just rather happened."
His excuse for not saying more right away is a rather long slurp from his boozy cider.


"I see," Peggy repeats, attempting to buy herself some more time. It's a rather obvious stalling tactic.

There are many things she can say about how she is reacting to this development. However, at the moment is seems as if the best course of action she can think of pursuing is that of setting facts straight. Jessica is a close friend of hers and Michael is her brother. Even were her relationship with Michael completely repaired, this might be a thorny conversation.

"Is that why you wished to speak with me tonight?" There is not anger in her voice, nor is there anything other than curiosity. It's possible this is by design, or it is just truly how she feels at the moment.


Michael seems to anticipate why Peggy asks that question. He shakes his head. "Well, no. Or rather, what has happened with Jessica has made me realize I need to work harder at the relationships in my life that mean something to me. For all the time we spent together in Wakanda, we didn't really talk. Part of that was me giving you space to adjust to my return. But you've had that time."
He pushes off the side of the building and turns to face her. "For the first time in decades, I find myself without a mission. I find myself with friends, and time to make real human connections. And I've begun to realize how sorely I've missed it. I've been alone a rather long time."


Whether or not Peggy truly believes this, she nods to Michael. At the very least she has heard his explanation. A long drink is taken of the cider and bourbon. It's practically cold now, but she doesn't seem to mind.

There's another long pause as she thinks this through. "I don't think you truly understand how your death effected me, Michael." It seems that if they are going to speak of things and mend fences, this is now to be a conversation of told truths. Michael has made a step in his divulging his personal connection to Jessica. However she feels about that, she will take his sharing this at its face value, at least. Perhaps a foolish thing to do with an avowed super spy, but he is still her brother.

"What it meant to me. And to see you again? To have you return to me and talk about duty and how I should understand?" There's a shake of her head. "I do. If anyone understands what it is to give yourself to a cause, I do. But to know you have been alive all this time and did not tell me? And to think that is something I should simply understand without a sense of betrayal? Your death destroyed me, Michael. I built myself into another person and when I saw you again, I felt as if I built myself on a lie."


Michael lets her words sit with the weight they deserve without immediately responding. He looks out across the city, at the winking lights. He digs his hands a little further into the pockets of his jacket. "Which is why," he says with a slow intake of breath, "…you were never supposed to know. This trick of time you've performed, well, it's given me a second chance of a sort."
He goes quiet again, then draws in a long breath. "Either way you were going to feel the spectre of me over your life. Either I was going to be alive, but you'd never know where I was, and you'd never know if I was going to come back. And I could never truly be part of your life, because then you'd have to explain to the people in your life why your brother never aged. Or," he pauses, "…you'd believe I was dead, and could forge your own path forward without waiting for me. Of the two, I believe the second was the better choice. But…" he steps forward and reaches for her hands. Whether she'll give them is another question. "…now is different. I'm not the man I was when I made that decision all those years ago. A man so blinded by duty and so damaged by the side effects of that serum that he couldn't truly make an informed choice. I'm wiser now, and I've had a lot of time to reflect on what I missed by not being in your life the first time round."


"That doesn't make it any better," Peggy informs Michael, not unkindly. To be told that she was meant to be duped her entire life does not cut the betrayal. "I'm an Agent," she reminds him firmly. "We went through a war together. I have lived with the knowledge that the people about me may never return my entire life. Our business is not selling shoes, it is about the safety of not just countries but the world. I would have rather known you were alive but off somewhere than to know I was lied to for decades." There's a sigh. "I know this is hard to believe, but I can make my own way and I certainly know how to lie."

The older Peggy, though, the one that was worn down by their mother, that was engaged to Frank? She might not have. She might have waited for years and worried and stagnated in her life. That woman feels so long ago and so different from who she is now that it is almost impossible to put herself in that woman's shoes.

When Michael reaches for her hands, she gives him one. The other still holds the cup of cider he gave her. "I am glad to know you are alive. Don't ever think that I wish it were otherwise."


Michael squeezes her hand with his gloved one. "I'm not defending my decision I made all those years ago, nor will I slough that off by saying it wasn't entirely my decision." He bows his head, and squeezes her hand again. "But I hope you can at least believe that at the time, I did think it was for the best. You may be angry at me for what I did, but I hope that you can at least understand that I did not do it to hurt you."


"Good," Peggy finally gives him something of a good-natured smirk at being told that he is not defending his decision. "And I am and may continue to be for awhile." If they are going to be truthful, she will continue with that trend. "But I do believe you." She sighs. "It really should not have been the surprise it was. I always knew you were a hard-headed man with King and Country in his heart." Now it is Queen and Country, but the decision was made when it was Good King George and not Queen Elizabeth. "And you will have to know that even if you did not mean to hurt me, it did."


"I know it did," says Michael with a heavy sigh. He releases her hand. "I knew it would. I knew the pain I would cause you by showing myself to you, even if you don't have all the memories of your counterpart." But, he chose to do so anyway, which is in and of itself an admission of his past mistakes. He could have stayed hidden this time around as well. "And I intend to be as honeset with you as I can. Which is why I've told you about Jessica. I know she is your friend."


The fact that he has revealed himself was a start, for sure. In time, Peggy may just see it for the step forward it was. As he releases her hand, she reaches forward to take it again. "I'm glad you did." Even with the hurt and the anger, she is glad to know her brother is still alive, that they can stand here on this rooftop on Bonfire Night and talk.

As for Jessica? They are being honest. "Jessica is a good friend and a good woman," she tells him. "This is new and I will not stand in the way of it, as I wish you both to be happy. However, currently, one of the most defining moments of our family is of you faking your death for years. She has been through quite a lot and values honesty. So, while she is more than capable of handling herself…if you hurt her, I will send James Barnes after you. Or I will tie you to a chair and make you watch hours of something called Jersey Shore. I've been told it is horrible and the epitome of entitled American behavior."

She looks to him, eyebrow raised. Her smile is almost warm. "We are being honest, are we not?"


Michael can't help it. The threat at first startles him, then it makes him smile. He leans forward to press a kiss on her forehead and to grip her hand tightly. "Oh, good lord, Spitfire, I've missed you dearly. Please don't ever change." There's a glimmer of amusement in his eyes. "And I promise you, I have been honest with Jessica. In fact, I gave her several reasons not to get into this before we did anything, and she chose to move forward anyway." He looks back towards the bonfire. People are handing out sparklers now. It looks like someone might even let off fireworks (as ill advised as that may be) from the roof. "I shall certainly remember this November 5th."

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