See You Soon

November 14, 2017:

Michael goes to see his sister before heading off on a mission.

Peggy's Apartment

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's still a little unnatural for the Carter siblings to text rather than call. Most others seem to prefer it, so he's fallen into the etiquette of the locals, as it were. The text conversation was brief and only asked if it was all right that he come over for a chat.
When Peggy opens the door on Michael, she'll know immediately something is up. She's a keen woman. Her brother is not dressed in one of his suits, nor is he wearing his fine teal wool overcoat. Instead, he wears blue jeans (not even particularly well-fitting), Blundstones, and a nondescript winter jacket with a gray hoodie beneath. "Hello, dear."

*

While Peggy generally calls and prefers calls, she has gotten used to the idea of texting. It both tickles her on a security level and also annoys her as a woman who is used to reading voices and faces as a profession.

Honestly, it's the fact that Michael wishes to come and 'chat' that is the first indication that something may be wrong. The second is immediately apparent as soon as she opens the door. She's never seen Michael in anything other than a suit since he's come back from the dead. Unless he was drugged to the gill son truth serum. Even then, though, her recollection involves a pyjama suit.

"Hello darling," she says, worry a note in her tone as she steps to the side to allow him entry. She'll quickly close and latch the door and then immediately go for the scotch an two glasses.

As is their general nature, she doesn't ask what is wrong. Instead, she hands over a glass of strong liquor and gestures for her sunken in living room couch. "Those don't happen to be a disguise?"

*

Michael undoes the nondescript jacket and hangs it in a nearby spot. He crosses the floor towards her. "Travelling clothes," he says in a bit of a guarded way. "So, in a manner of speaking, I suppose so. I've asked for a mission." Not, 'I've been sent on a mission.' He asked for one. "I'm not certain how long I'll be gone, or if I will be able to make contact while I am."

*

There is surprise there as Peggy sets Michael's glass down on the coffee table and takes a sizable gulp from her own. "You're leaving?" It's a question, but it is not really a question. She certainly understands the difference between asking and being sent on a mission means. "What happened?" Again, a question, but also a demand for informatoin.

*

"Not for good," says Michael. He doesn't sip from his own drink, but he does take it. "I need to work right now." Which is true, in general. He needs to work. But the 'right now' is the significant part. "My superiors want me back in New York in a holding pattern for some reason, but I'll be going abroad for a bit."

*

"Not for good," she repeats. Peggy is a good agent and is good at reading people. Though her brother is probably one of the people best equipped to deal with her otherwise, she is not exactly reading him so much as what he is not saying or answering. It's a chess match, pure and simple, despite the fact that it deals with emotions.

Her next question is pointed. The last time they spoke, Michael was all about setting down and tending roots, of finding out what he missed by being on mission all the time. All of that came from an event. The fact that things have changed from that lead to a logical, if painful conclusion: "And what does Jess think of this?"

*

Even though Michael knew it would come down to this question, he nonetheless hesitates to answer. He takes his moment to sip at the drink. "I don't know. She's going through something. She sent me a message calling it off and asking me not to come look for her. Which…" he points a finger with the hand holding the glass, "I am respecting. This mission isn't some pretext for some white knight crusade."
He manages to say all of that matter-of-factly, with discomfort only at talking about a personal issue. He doesn't telegraph any sort of hurt or disappointment.

*

If Peggy did not bring up Jessica in his attempt to slip out the back door, she would surely be a poor investigator. The last time they spoke Michael had an entirely different outlook on things in part due to - by his words - Jessica Jones. That things have suddenly flip flopped might indicate a flip flopping of said understanding. Michael's explanation is met with an understanding nod. "Ah. I see."

What does she say in such an event? She is friends with Jessica. Michael is her brother. "I am sorry things did not work out." She knows just how much she threw herself into the job after she thought Steve died. So, she does not comment about his immediate thought to place himself back into the job. "I don't wish to be sappy, but I will miss you. I was starting to get used to a certain brotherly rapport. Now who is to tell me I am being unprofessional and call me Spitfire while you are gone?"

In a more serious note, she pauses, looking down in her glass. It's easier to deflect, to be British about things. "If you wish to talk about it, I am here for you, of course." Though she may need some more scotch if they're going to talk about her brother having sex. Ew. Ew.

*

"Oh, darling, neither of us wants that," drawls Michael as he wrinkles his nose. Sex life talk between siblings is awkward enough when you don't add in World War II-era manners and British stoicism. He rotates the liquor in the glass. "I don't intend to be gone for good. I wouldn't do that to you again while I have a say in the matter." The subtext being: one day he might not.
He looks away for a moment, shakes his head slowly, then, "If you do reach out to her, if you do speak to her, promise you won't…" he draws in a breath, "…don't be my champion. In fact, don't think about me at all. If she lets you speak to her, it will be because she needs to reach out to someone. If she lets you in, be gentle. I don't know what has happened, but given her past, it could have been any number of terrible things." His voice generally is even and neutral with hints of dry humour. But it goes quite gentle as he speaks about Jessica. "She can't reach out to me, not right now. She may never speak to me again. And if that helps her heal, I will respect that."

*

There is not exactly relief that is apparent on Peggy's face, but there is certainly a relaxing. It almost feels normal to talk with Michael like this. As he assures her he won't be gone for good, Peggy frowns and nods. "Alright." She doesn't like the idea that he is leaving so soon after they just started to mend their fences, but at least he's alerting her to his absence this time.

At being told that she should be his champion, there's a bit of a frown, a pause. She's not sure what to say to that. Finally, she just says, "I promise." She knows a bit about Jessica's traumas and she's not about to argue them to her for Michael's sake. She is upset that her brother is hurt and now feeling the need to leave, but she also knows that Jessica is not generally callous.

All told, it's a sticky situation. "If either of us wish to speak to you, though, is there a way for us to contact you?"

*

"If she reaches out, be her friend and not my sister," reiterates Michael. He looks Peggy in the eye when he speaks, but looks back down into his glass after a moment.
The second question provokes an uneasy twitch of his lips. "You can try to send a message via my New York number. If it is not a security issue, my handlers will reroute the message. But expect heavy delays. I'd ask you don't do so unless it's urgent." He adds, then, "I'm going a rather long way away and will be travelling a fair bit."

*

"I am both her friend and your sister." Peggy doesn't feel as if she needs to point this out and yet she still does. Perhaps that is important in some way.

To know that she has no way of contacting Michael unless it is an 'emergency' is met with a distinct frown. "I see." It's not that she doesn't understand, but she also just got him back and they have just started to get to become something like siblings again. The fact that he is so intent on leaving again is generally not going to be met with any sort of felicity.

"So, just business?"

*

"I need to work," Michael reiterates. He lets that sit a moment before adding, "I've been idle since we returned from Wakanda. I'm not used to being idle. It's made me lose my focus." Focus. Yes, that's what he lost. "So I asked, and my handlers agreed it's best I return to the field." He rests one hand in the pocket of his ill-fitting jeans. He looks out towards the window. "But I requested a mission, not reassignment." Which would have taken him out of New York, perhaps permanently.

*

"Yes. I'm sure." Peggy almost certainly got her burying her nose in work from her brother. Or perhaps it is just a family trait. She understands his need to get away and to try and to ignore a personal pain. However, it doesn't hurt an less.

"I'm sure you'll let me know as soon as you've returned and are willing to speak again." Her posture is straight backed. There is a long silence there that may just stretch on before he leaves and disappears into his agency for who knows how long. In fact, she might just let it go at that, but then her eyes harden, she looks to Michael and downs the last of her scotch. Forcefully, she sets the empty glass down on the table again. "This is malarky, Michael. This is absolute malarky and you know it is."

*

"Oh, malarky, is it? Are you going to let me have it, Peg?" Michael can't quite help it. He really meant to keep stoic, but she is his sister. He falls into patterns of speaking he wouldn't with anyone else. Sometimes, it even defies his own strict control.
"What would you have me do? Sit around my empty flat and brood like some Byronic hero? I've got to do my job. And if you were in my shoes, you would need to work as well." He's not exactly defensive. Well, he's a little defensive. "You can yell at me if you'd like, but I'm committed to the mission. The agency has already committed resources. I've committed."

*

And, just like siblings, as soon as a glove is thrown it seems the full gauntlet is in there as well. "I am not 'letting you have it'. You'd know when I am." Peggy picks up the scotch bottle and pours herself a full glass. It seems as if she might need it.

"No, you complete and utter twit." Her lip sets, her eyes look to Michael, both determination and hurt there. "I meant that if you were actually serious about trying to connect to the things in your life that you were missing - as you said you were last week - the first moment that a woman you were interested in balked you wouldn't dive into your job. You wouldn't just disappear on me again. You would…you would have talked to me before a decision was made."

There's a shake of her head. "I will not yell at you." Well, more than she already has. "I will just point out that you are doing what you always do when things difficult." She doesn't tell him what exactly that is. She assumes he knows.

There's anger and resignation in her expression. "I disappeared into work after the War because when Steve died and the Commandos stayed in Europe I literally had no one else to turn other than Howard Stark."

*

"Peggy…" Michael sets his glass down and steps forward to rest hands on her shoulders. "I don't want to fight with you. I really, truly don't. It's sometimes jolly fun, but not now." He smiles sadly. "I'll only be gone a few weeks. I need some time to get my head on. I need to remind myself of my purpose." His purpose, which does not involve attempting to have a life outside his job.
Then he looks her right in the eye, and says, "I will be back. I promise." He does not promise anything easily, especially with regards to his job. He can rarely be sure he can keep it. "It isn't even a dangerous mission. Not for me." He looks at his watch, then, "Now look, I really do have to go."

*

Peggy looks at Michael and when he sets his hands on her shoulders, she allows it. She doesn't toss him, doesn't attempt to fight him. Instead, she looks up at him and holds the glass of scotch in her hands.

"Okay," she tells him. There is still the anger there. It is clear that while this might be settled for the moment, things are not exactly appeased. Finding one's purpose is something she can certainly not stand in the way of that.

"I'll be here when you get back." However, by the tone of her expression, there is a bit of wariness, of debating whether he will be back at all.

*

Michael leans in to kiss her gently on the forehead. He squeezes her shoulders again. "Chin up, Spitfire. I'll be back before you know it. You'll hardly even know I was gone." He backs up, then goes to retrieve that bland jacket. "I'll see you soon." Not 'goodbye.' He slips the jacket on, gives her a last look, then sees himself out.

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