The Norwegian Rescue

December 27, 2017:

Prompted by a mysterious text message, Peggy Carter and Jessica Jones race to Michael Carter's last known location. They find him in a bad way.

Somewhere in the air/Somewhere in Norway

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Bucky Barnes, Tony Stark

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Peggy had not heard from Michael in quite some time. After their fight about him taking a job, she got a text or two from different unavailable numbers that let her know that he was alright. Mostly in typical Michael form: short and to the point. When the next text is sent from another unavailable number, she assumes it to be him as well. The contents, though, stop her in her tracks.

Immediately, she calls SHIELD, thankful for her reinstatement to try and get a trace on the number and get a dossier an Daan Jansen. Already, she is packing. Weapons, field kit, body armor. Her bug out bag is pulled from under the bed and she is out the door in about fifteen minutes. By that point, SHIELD has texted her back that they cannot get any sort of location or information other than its general location: London, England. The only other clue she has is it has only been used one other time and that was to text a number she knows to be Jessica Jones. Dossier to follow.

The thought crossed her mind as to who she might call to help her retrieve her brother: Steve, Thor, Jess, Coulson, Jane and Bucky. As she rides the elevator to the ground floor, she decided to go alone. However, seeing that Jessica was alerted changes her mind.

Stepping into the lobby of her building, she texts Jess simply: "Meet me at Teterboro Airport. Bring whatever you think might help." There is no question in her mind that Jessica would come, no matter how things ended with her brother. If her brother was in trouble, the Private Eye would help where she can.

It's about a twenty minute drive to private airport Peggy directs Jessica to in New Jersey and in that time, she has called in a favor for a direct flight to Norway for the two of them, ready to leave immediately. As soon as the two are on the plane, it taxis and takes off.

—-

And Peggy was right.

Jessica doesn't have a bug-out bag per se of course. She just has her magical mystery phone, the culmination of gifts from Tony Stark and Zatanna Zatara that allows her to carry nearly her entire life in the pocket of her leather jacket. Everything she might need, and everything that might help. The fact that Peggy texted her first, that they didn't text, say, very nearly at the same time, for example, had a lot to do with her habit of oversleeping; she hadn't even read the first text before the chime of the second woke her up. The thing is, texts from unknown sources are catalogued by Morgan as 'read later', texts from friends get a special chime. So she got Peggy's, then frowned, then read the rest, and then was up like a shot.

And so at is that Peggy finds her pacing about Teterboro Airport, an airport she'd never actually even heard of before today, with Trish's (her) silver sedan parked neatly in one of the spots, already collecting snow. She is relieved that the craptacular winter weather doesn't ground them.

She's also guilty as fuck.

Sure, logically she knows. She knows that breaking up with Michael Carter via text did not necessarily create conditions where he got himself hurt and disavowed. That's ludicrous. She didn't demand he go to Norway; he chose it. He probably would have gone on a job for other reasons eventually anyway. One of his jobs probably would have gone south eventually. He specifically asked her not to blame herself via the letter that got slipped under her door.

None of that helps much.

And so it is that she doesn't respond to her normal fears about the plane, barely gripping the handles of her seat on takeoff. She doesn't gripe about international travel. She doesn't take any pills. She just endures having to fly in the dark and the snow— having to fly at all, having to travel at all— in silence, as a kind of penance. She chews on her nails briefly, and she doesn't quite meet Peggy Carter's eyes. Nor has she, from the moment the rendesvous began. She doesn't know, entirely, what Peggy knows, if anything, about the two weeks she and Michael spent trying to forge their impulsively created relationship into something that might last. But Jess knows what she did.

She has on jeans and bullet proof black V-necked t-shirt, her leather jacket is opened as soon as they hit the plane, her scarf unwound, her fingerless gloves left on.

She may not expect her pattern of meeting 200% more demons than most people to ever meet to really hold on this mission, but now that John has outfitted her thusly she keeps it all on her person, ready to go, and close to hand. To do anything else would be the equivalent of learning to use a gun, buying it, and chucking that into her phone, which would be silly unless it was a back-up to one that was carried about on her person. Not that she has. Jessica's got nothing against others who use firearms, but her own aversion to picking one up holds these days.

She drums her fingers into the seat arm, trying to decide what to say, chewing on the inside of her cheek too, chewing on her lower lip. What to say, and what might help. Her experience with extracting disavowed agents from foreign nations is…limited. Under the normal course of things she'd just ask, of course, but…

—-

But, with the Carters it is not exactly the best course of action to come at things right from the front. They're both spies as well as being British. Facing emotion head on can be a dangerous thing.

Peggy, for her part, is not treating Jessica any differently than she would have should Jessica and her brother never became involved. There is a very serious expression creasing her face - one that Jessica might well remember from their plane ride to Wakanda when Peggy worried about Barnes. It's a similar sort of face, however one that she wears with just as much determination as she can muster.

Knowing Jessica's fear of flying, she doesn't start talking until they have leveled, but she does give the other woman a sympathetic look. While Jess may not have much experience here, this is actually where Peggy is far more comfortable. She knows what this might entail. While she has no paper documents, she pulls out a tablet from her bag and taps it a few times to bring up the intel that SHIELD managed to send to her.

Getting right down to business and focusing on work - as Peggy generally does when she is worried about a loved one or a friend - she holds it out to Jess. She, of course, already read it in the car. "Here is what SHIELD has on Daan Jansen - the alias Michael is working under. It's not exactly ideal. We will either need to smuggle him out or find him a new identity. There's also the possibility that, as Michael is stubborn ass he will wish to still finish his mission, so we may also need to locate Lund."

—-

Jessica starts as Peggy addresses her, but she catches up soon enough.

She takes the file and starts reading it, furrowing her brow as she does. "I've uh. Done some basic ID theft for good causes before— TLOxp is good for that— but from here? With this much notice? I can only basically identify an ID he might be able to safely use that will be in the system; I can't exactly generate passports and driver's licenses for him whole cloth from here. Unless you can, your stuff has to be better than my garage-band level shit."

At the very least, having this to focus on alleviates her guilt pretty well. "How do you guys normally smuggle people out of a country when they don't have IDs? Or two people, I guess, if we have to get this Lund guy, too."

Yeah, 105% outside her realm of experience, but Jessica never shies away from learning "on the job."

—-

Peggy frowns, leaning back in her plane seat and thinks. Things have been racing in her mind for a little under an hour now. Arrangements for travel, for dossiers, for research. Now that they are in the air and there is little to do but sit and wait and discuss? This is when the worry and the anticipation starts to settle in. "Were it just Michael, I could attempt an extraction in declaring him a suspect or an asset of SHIELD. That, however, would completely burn this ID. With him disavowed, however, that may be less of an issue. I have a feeling this is Daan Jensen's last appearance no matter what."

Sighing, she unbuckles her seatbelt, feeling constrained. "However, there's a reason MI:6 is not extracting him and if we march in SHIELD banners blazing it could wreak havoc with British Intelligence as well as Norway. And if Lund has seen through Michael's cover, SHIELD actively siding with MI:6 against Norway would not be Level 9 sanctioned."

As far as Jessica has seen Peggy, she is dressed down: slacks, a dark button down top that certainly hides body armor, and who knows how many concealed weapons. Her hair is straight and pulled back into a ponytail at the base of her neck. She's not even wearing any makeup. "If Lund becomes part of our mission? And without SHIELD? I propose stuffing him into a large suitcase with air holes." She let's out an angry breath of air, then says more seriously: "Or finding him some sort of ID. Perhaps I can find a Level 1 SHIELD badge for him."

—-

It's cold in the Norwegian Fjords. Very cold. The ground is hard and damp and is covered in a thin layer of the kind of light, dusted snow that only happens when the temperature drops to uncomfortable levels. It's been twenty six hours since Michael Carter was shot three times point blank in the chest and left for dead. First, MI-6.5 had to determine what happened and to reach a decision whether to extract or disavow. Then, once the decision was made, it took the rogue element inside British Intelligence time and opportunity to send out the unauthorized message to Jessica and Peggy. The rest of that has been travel time for his would-be rescuers and the various phone calls required to set things up.

In the meantime, a layer of snow has been collecting on top of his prone body. The mesh bound to his skin is what's protecting him from frostbite, not the sodden jeans or the down jacket that spreads feathers over the landscape and mixes with fallen snow. He's fallen in and out of consciousness a half dozen times over those sixteen hours, only managing to move himself a total of about ten feet between bouts, and in the wrong direction. He miscalculated what side of a small, half-frozen stream he was on when he lost consciousness, so he's following the bank in the wrong direction.

He's blind in his right eye. The ocular implant has been completely deactivated, leaving him with David Bowie eyes. One is clear blue, the other is a deep gunmetal gray.

In his latest foray into consciousness, Michael manages to get himself up onto his knees, takes stock of his position, then the the pain in his chest drops him back down again.

It's actually his prone position and the coating of snow that hid him from the military patrol that passed by a few hours ago. The fjord and the cabin aren't far from the military base where he and Marco sprung Lund. The cabin itself is just over fifty feet away. Through the fog of pain and cold, he has to decide whether to try and move further away or back to the cabin. The sting of cold makes him risk the cabin. So he makes slow, arduous movements to get there.

Eventually he does. He manages to close and bar the door before collapsing face first onto the ground. Either his attackers or the Norwegians cleaned up, because there's no trace of the carnage either inside or outside, save a splattering of blood.

—-

"If you can make it look like Level 1 SHIELD guy got himself fired a day later it could circumvent the international issue," Jessica agrees thoughtfully. "Then it's just some dumbass who overstepped. Or you can all pretend like it is, and they can know better but have no way to prove it, and give you all side-eye, and then that's that."

She gets some things, anyway.

She exhales. "At least we got exact coordinates. Let's hope he's still there."

And then, finally, she breaks.

"Look, Peggy…it's…it's my fault. That he's out here at all. I'm sorry."

—-

"Perhaps. There is also the option of declaring Jansen legally dead and one of us assuming a family member. That may be easier, as it is more of a loophole for SHIELD to create a dossier for me that simply happens to have Daan Jansen as a brother." There's a shake of her head. "First we have to find him." Peggy pushes herself up from the chair and goes to the back of the plane where there is a minibar. Yanking a small bottle of scotch out, she pours herself a couple of fingers full of booze and downs it in what is practically a shot.

"Sorry," she apologizes to Jess about drinking in front of her. However, at the moment, she needs the burn of liquor in her stomach to counteract the freezing fear crystallizing there.

"This is not your fault," she tells her friend firmly. "I told him not to go. I told him not to take this job. He is just doing what he always does. What we always do." He dives into the work, they both do. It's what she was doing even as the stepped aboard this plane.

She hopes he's still there. Peggy's eyes close firmly. She's looked at the longitude and latitude, saw where it led. And in looking at them, she knows in the life of a spy what they generally mean. Her grip on the glass tightens. "Did you see where those coordinates pointed?"

"It's ok. Drink all you want. You shouldn't suffer just because I'm an alcoholic. I attended a Christmas party at a bar. Had eggnog. Have two, if you want," Jessica says. Peggy's reaction tells her she knows some, anyway. And that she doesn't want to talk about it.

"Yeah, though Middle of Nowhere doesn't cover it. About three miles north of Seljeskog. None of the roads have names but I was still able to pull a route. Map calls it Sekundaer Fylkesveg 155 60, if that means anything to you."

Jess stumbles hard over the pronuncation, adding, "I don't know if that's an address or…or what. But at least there are roads. For half a moment I thought we were gonna have to get a snowmobile or some shit."

"Middle of nowhere. Yes." Peggy nods a few times, agreeing. "That's where you set up a meet. The fact that he was not extracted almost certainly means he did not check in. That lends me to believe either he's still there and…" if he's still there, that does not bode well. "Or he has been taken by Lund." And that means his only leads are from a place in the middle of nowhere where it is entirely possible no one was around to see anything. It's either a body or literal cold trails.

"It's entirely possible…" she shakes her head again, pouring a drink but not actually drinking it. "It's entirely possible this is a recovery." Not of Michael himself, but of a body. "Whoever sent those codes either did so in breaking protocol or under orders only to us. They may have no idea."

Her back remains turned to Jessica and she stands, hand gripping that glass. "And I was so mad at him, Jess. I was positively livid that he was leaving again. Again." A tear falls down her cheek and she angrily brushes it away. Her voice cracks just slightly as she says, "But he promised. He promised he'd be back."

It honestly takes Jessica a moment to understand the difference between a recovery and what they hope they're doing.

She looks up, brown eyes softening, and she offers a hand. "Hey," she says quietly. "First, we're both really good at finding people on scant clues. Second, that rogue element wouldn't risk us causing an international incident just to send us after a body. It has to be someone who likes Michael and cares about him and wants to see him home. He may be in a world of trouble, but he's not down for the count yet. If he were, the dude would have just sent us a notification. They'd know. They wouldn't risk it or bother if they didn't, right? I mean it could create all sorts of problems if they did."

Thin reasoning, from a damned PI, but she speaks with conviction even as she feels a chill go up her own spine. "We'll find him, I promise we'll find him. And we'll make him wear an ugly Christmas sweater all the way home."

"Going after a Norway Intelligence Op is going after an ally of Britain. As soon as Michael's cover was blown, they could have extracted him. He's a valuable asset." God knows how much money they put into his training, his enhancements, keeping him alive all these years. Peggy takes more of a sip this time of her drink rather than a full shot like the last time. "The fact that they went another route…"

It worries her. This is more than just Bucky being abducted and tried by Wakanda. This is her brother possibly lying dead in a frozen fjord in Norway. The one she already lost once. The one whose death already changed her life entirely…a death that turned out to be a lie. And now he may actually be dead.

After a moment, though, she takes Jess' hand and squeezes it. Though not exactly an optimist, she generally does not fall into despair. While she may not completely believe Jess' reassurances, the comfort is one that she appreciates. Determined to put her face back into stiff upper lip that generally accompanies her everywhere, she quips, "I am rather fond of the suitcase plot. Or perhaps a kennel and we can check him as pet."

To all of this, Jessica just listens. It occurs to her to wonder if Peggy knows about the latest threat to Bucky's life and happiness. It occurs to her that she's been distracted, and subconsciously avoiding Carters. She sure didn't say anything.

But one thing at a time.

"We could call him Baxter," she agrees, one of her rare, warmest grins flashing in response to the joke as she lets her friend's hand go after that squeeze. She can see the moment Peggy decides to stiff-upper-lip-it. It's something she really envies, that ability. When she's freaked out she's such a mess. But right now Peggy needs her not to freak out, so she sticks to keeping the atmosphere as light as possible, joking around.

"Just tell me how to help and I'll help," she adds firmly, more than ready to let Peggy take lead on this one.

But she sits there, thinking like a detective. Is there a way to determine if Michael is still alive from right here, in the air?

"The authorization code," she asks slowly. "With all the pearls, and the emeralds. Does that tell you anything about who might have sent that message?"

"That seems a good name for him," Peggy agrees, unaware of Jess' thoughts about Bucky. Instead, she takes a moment and a deep breath, eyes closed. Then, she takes another strong swig of whiskey.

"I don't know just yet. Mostly we just need an ID for him to leave the country. Some form of document or a way to smuggle him across a border. Figuring out how which course of action to take when we find him is most likely best." If he is still alive, she thinks, but this time without any trail off. She attempts to bury it.

As for the code, she sighs and shakes her head. "It's not an authorization code, it's a deauthorization code." That certainly means something, but she is not exactly forthcoming on what just that might mean. "That we were sent one means it's someone high enough up on the ladder to have a code to shut down a an asset. Possibly someone who has worked with Michael throughout the past."

"So like his handler or whatever?" Jessica asks thoughtfully. "Because I sort of met his handler. She called when she didn't know I was there, and it was a video call. I don't know if that helps at all, but…"

In her endless stubbornness Jessica's sure they can use it somehow.

"Then she sent some dumbass to follow me around for like three days. It's not a good idea to scare me with random shadowers. He found out when I slammed him into a wall. I felt bad when I realized it was just some MI6 mook doing his goddamn job and shit."

She runs her fingers through her hair. This is dumb rambling, getting them nowhere.

"Quite possibly." There is an eyebrow raised at the call where Jessica was there. While an adult, she doesn't generally want to think about her brother's sex life. "Though, even if it is her, this was the most she could do. We can expect no help from MI:6. If we attempt it, it will only go poorly in the future for him and us."

There's a smirk. "If he was really doing his job, you'd never have noticed he was there. It's probably good for him that you caught him out." The spies that work around Michael shouldn't be caught by people anyone - even someone as observant as Jessica Jones. "Either it was a feint or it was merely a warning about what it means to date someone like Michael."

Taking another sip of her drink, she adds, "Or they simply underestimated you. That's also possible. Agencies tend to do that with people not in the service."

They were just hanging around the apartment at that point!

But.

Jessica leans back in her seat thoughtfully.

"Not sure," she admits. "I've gotten a little better at watching my own ass. Had some drilling in situational awareness. But I'm still no spy."

Bucky.

But again, that's for home.

She rubs the back of her neck and sighs. This is the first sudden tacit acknowledgement from Peggy that she knows about the thing.

"I got triggered," she explains. "I don't know. If that's the word you'd use in your time. I guess you've been around here long enough to know what I mean though. I was fighting a demon and it screwed me up bigtime about. Dating. Way more than any MI6 agent could have following me around. I shouldn't have handled it like I did, but I just…broke down all over again. Like it had all just happened a few hours prior instead of a few years ago. I couldn't even go back to my apartment for a couple of weeks. I didn't think…I mean I thought I was past all that. To that degree, anyway. I never would have—"

She exhales. "I just thought I was past it enough is all. But I wasn't. Knocked me so far back on my ass I skidded straight over the 'not coping well' line and full on into Crazytown."

"You're a PI and observant," Peggy tells Jess. "If someone is following you and messes up, you will to notice." She wasn't trying to say that Jess wasn't skilled, just that a spy is supposed to remain invisible for a living, even to people with a skillset like Jessica's.

While the notion as it is used in today's form wasn't exactly used around Peggy's original era, she knows the concept well enough from shellshock and the like. Being in the modern era for so long also means she's gotten to know the term.

There's a frown. "I'm sorry," she tells Jessica about hearing what happened. She sighs. "It happens. The things hat hurt us, that tore us down have a tendency to resurface to try and make us feel helpless again." While she's never been through anything like Jessica has, she knows something of horror, of loss, of atrocity. "There's no shame in finding your own way back from that."

It's a fine line; on one hand she didn't want to burden Peggy with that exactly. Not again. On the other, she feels better having provided some manner of explanation for why she treated her friend's brother so abominably. Now that she's gotten, in one form or fashion, the forgiveness of both of them she can think a little clearer, move a little easier. She gives Peggy a quick, grateful smile.

And then:

"Christ! I know what I'm overlooking."

She looks up at Peggy.

"Satellites. Tony has them. And he's let me keep my clearance. I could drag one up on the coordinates maybe. I mean I don't know how good the footage will be, I don't know how good Tony's satellites are, but do you think it could tell us anything useful about what we're walking into?"

There was no blame on Jessica for breaking up with Michael. It was new enough that she didn't exactly have any time to process it in the first place. And then once it was over, she trusted both Michael and Jess to have their reasons for acting as they did. They're all adults and she knows that the pair of them have their own sets of demons.

The sudden breakthrough is met with a few blinks. "Satellites." Yes, that might just work.

"That's a marvelous idea, Jess. If you can, let's use them."

"Okay, give me half a sec," Jessica says softly. "I've never done this before."

And she's not a satellite expert. Indeed, after she logs into the system she pokes around for about 5 minutes before finally making a disgusted noise. She shoves the phone over to Peggy. "Here. I'm in. You do it. I don't know how to pull up anything." The array is more complicated than she's ever seen. Though it's not much different from SHIELD satellite technology, which by now Peggy surely would have been briefed on the basic use of. One reason why Tony might have shrugged at the idea of letting Jess have full access is just how little she knows in terms of how to mess with things like. Say. Satellites.

"I'm afraid if I hit the wrong button I'll nuke someone," the detective grumbles.

*

"We have a few hours until we make it to Norway," Peggy assures Jessica. While she is anxious and nervous, rushing her friend to look at satellites is going to help no one. "Plenty of time for a little trial and error."

Certainly no expert on technology, but also being something of a fast learner, she takes the phone with a furrowed brow and starts to tap at it. While she may not have an innate grasp of technology or satellites, she gets tactical maps and this is practically that. Absently, she tries to assure Jess that she has no chance of causing a nuclear strike. "This is a civilian satellite array, I doubt Tony would be able…" even as she speaks, she trails off. From what she has seen of Tony, she's not actually sure she can make that statement. Tony can do an awful lot. She knows he has good intentions, but she also knows how the road to hell is paved.

Instead, she stops that train of thought and instead says, "I'm sure you wouldn't nuke someone."

Scaling and moving the screen, Peggy draws up what she can of the proper area. Frowning, she shakes her head and shrugs her shoulders. "I'm not sure I have this right, but I'm not seeing much."

*

"That might be all we can see, but that looks like a cabin?" Jessica says, peering to look at the same map. "It looks like there's a better way in than those 'unmarked roads' Google put on there too. See? There." She had just peered over Peggy's shoulder while the spy figured it out, but she pulls the hologram bigger and zooms in. "That one is curvier so less chance someone will see us coming and shoot at us on the way in. I think?"

That's more Peggy's purview than hers, after all, but it just seems like common sense. Curvy road, less room for snipers.

"I guess it was too much to hope that a satellite could downright see a person or a series of recorded events for us. Too far up. Like an airplane."

*

Following Jessica's suggestion, Peggy looks at the cabin and then nods. "That cabin wash't on the maps I was able to procure." That seems like a good place for Michael to hide. If he's alive. If he wasn't kidnapped. If…

Peggy shakes her head, clearing it of those thoughts. "That's the best place to start," she agrees. "If nothing else, it will give us a place to stage our next step after we take a look at the site."

She's trying to be optimistic. The fact that the satellites showed no body gives her some hope, though the images were not crystal clear enough to rule out the possibility of him simply lying in a snowdrift somewhere.

"It's a good lead, however. We didn't know of that cabin before. Once we land, we can search the area, move to the cabin and then plan our next move."

*

The Norwegian Fjords are beautiful, but desolate and very cold. It's an overcast day, and cold, dry flakes drift down intermittantly. The sun is trying to burn through, but failing. It's been so cold in fact, that there's no more than an inch of powder on the ground. The hard, frozen earth is still visible, along with scrubby grass. The road from the small airport starts off all right, but gets considerably more rural. The road to the cabin itself is nearly impossible to tell from the surrounding tundra. Only tire tracks frozen into the ground when it was still mud truly deliniates scrubland from path. Even then, it seems at times that their vehicle might drop into a crevice.

After a good twenty five minutes of bad, barely-there road, the cabin comes into view. It's a small affair, modest and not at all the kind of building that would appear on a postcard. There is no smoke from its chimney, no vehicles in the yard, and the door is ajar. Purely by coincidence, one of Jessica's first steps out of the vehicle sends a shell casing skimming across the frozen ground, to a patch of earth that's stained red beneath the snow.

Inside the cabin, Michael Carter lies face down. He's been lying still long enough that frost has crystallized on his hair and clothing. His hair is long enough to skim his collar and his beard is full. He's barely recognizable, especially in the grubby jeans and ugly down jacket. His breathing is shallow, and his skin is ice cold to the touch.

*

Jess lets Peggy drive. Her fear of planes has nothing on her fear of cars on icy, muddy roads. She shuts up about it, but her face is grey while she holds the oh shit bar. She actually accidentally rips it out of the ceiling of the rental as they hit one particularly icy section. She grimaces and throws it in the back.

She bends to get the shell casing and sees the blood, but she doesn't spot Michael right away. It's because she's got the habit of zeroing in on forensic evidence, plucking it up in a gloved hand. As it is, that has her murmuring, "I'm going to get a look at our perimeter."

That'll give Peggy the chance to get to her brother first. The detective leaps to the top of the roof, crouching there, staring around the entire area to make sure they're not going to be surprised. It's not that she doesn't care to see what's going on inside. She just wants to make sure nobody gets shot while they're doing it.

*

Peggy does her best to be considerate. While worried and determined, she does not take the roads in an unsafe manner. Not only does she not want to traumatize Jess, she knows that getting to Michael faster does no one any better if it means they crash into a snowdrift of over a hill and are themselves trapped. And so, she is restrained as they drive, hands white knuckled on the steering wheel.

As they step out of the car, Peggy does not disturb a shell. Instead, she looks about her in studied and intense manner. Jessica jumps onto the roof and Peggy moves toward the inside of the cabin. The door is ajar, which is something she immediately notices as something odd in Norway winter weather.

Pulling out her gun, she keeps the muzzle pointed downward as she nudges the door open even further, prepared for a gunman. What she sees is Michael, on the floor covered in frost.

There is no cry, there is no sob, instead, she runs forward. The gun's safety is immediately flicked on and then dropped to the ground. Peggy's state of being moves from worried to battle ready. Fingers deftly move to detect a pulse. Finding one and seeing his shallow breathing, she takes a ragged breath inward. Not bothering to pull Michael's bloodied jacket off, she unzips her own and leans over him and hugs him into hers, using her own body temperature to try and bring up his up. "Goddammit Michael," she tells hisses.

"Jess!" she shouts as loudly as she can. "Help! We need to get him to the car!"

*

The only reason Michael isn't dead yet is the protective mesh fused with his skin. That's kept his temperature from dipping to critical levels. He's still in rough shape, but he's not in as much danger as he should be.

Not from the cold, in any case.

When he's rolled over, there's three distinct, tightly grouped gunshot holes in his down jacket, centre mass. The fabric is singed badly, which suggests incredibly close range. The holes go clean through all the layers of his clothing to his chest - a chest that shows no sign of bullet holes.

There are also, no similarly shaped holes in the back of his jacket.

The cabin itself is void of bodies, but there's a distinct splatter pattern against the doorjam looking out that indicates a clean headshot from a sniper rifle. There's more shell casings and the back window of the cabin is busted out.

Jessica's rooftop examination spots at least two other spots of stained earth and snow, though again, no sign of bodies.

*

Jessica all but vaults through the door and lands beside Michael.

"Jesus holy fucking crap cakes," she growls. She scoops him up like he's a baby. She has no first aid skills to worry about bullet wounds and holes, but she's noting the patterns. She just holds him close so he won't be jostled when she power leaps to the car. She opens the door to the back seat, then gets in there with him, pulling him inside and keeping him tucked against her.

"A routine job, he said. Nothing to worry about, he said. Fuck. Like the kid who can't spell 'there' but who can spell onomonopeia. Fuck."

General grumbling in this vein is going to continue for awhile.

*

He's cold. He's so cold. But he's breathing. That means there's hope. Deft eyes quickly mark where he's been shot at clearly point blank range. They have only a few things they can do to help with that. Seeing that there are exit wounds are the second bit of good news that Peggy can think about. The bullets are still not inside of Michael.

"Believe me, I know," Peggy agrees with Jess. The routine job was something he told her, too. He would be back, he promised. There is a bitter anger that holds little place in the here and now. Right now her entire emotional and mental state is making sure Michael gets some place safe and quickly. As a criminal with gunshot wounds, they need to change his identity and get him out of the country immediately.

As Jessica easily picks him up, she starts to lead them to the car. "I can do some quick first aid, but we need to get him out of the country soonest. I can have some documents forged, we kill Daan and fly Michael to England."

*

"You're the boss, boss," Jessica says. She's just going to try to keep him warm. She rips off her jacket and the sweater under it, piling them around him. Scarf comes next, which she wraps around his head. She thumbs his eyes open and says, "His ocular implant looks like it's all fucked up too," she warns. "At least, his eyes are two colors now and I can't imagine that's a good sign."

It has to be England, a Danish hospital isn't exactly going to be able to do shit about his super bits.

Not sure what else to do, she settles back, sitting in a tank top like it's nothing in the Norweigian weather. Perhaps, for her, in a car, it isn't. Often, she's wished she could make some sort of serum out of her own blood to create a temporary healing factor for people. But that's a bit too close to certain rogue operations their friends have recently shut down.

*

Keeping Michael warm is best. Peggy does her best to help while also moving toward the car. She's not going to make Jessica drive back, so instead, she opens the door for the two of them and then climbs into the driver's seat. The knowledge about his implant and all his other injuries are met with a very calculating sort of wall. "We'll fix it," sheet ells Jess firmly. She doesn't know if they can or not, but she firmly believes that right now. "We just have to get him somewhere safe."

Knowing what she knows about SHIELD's higher ups and how they might not be able to be trusted - especially with something like this - she decides to call on someone else she believes she can trust.

"I think I have someone in SHIELD that can help us. I'll reach out to him, hopefully he can help us." As Peggy pulls into the driver seat, she sends off a quick SOS message and then shuts all the doors. Turning up the car's heating to the maximum, she turns the ignition key and then starts to drive.

"If we're going to pass him off as dead, we just have to make sure he's not actively bleeding. There's a first aid kit in my bag."

*

Jessica digs for Peggy's first aid kit, then opens Michael's shirt. "So um…the mesh has closed up already," she says. She sits him up. "And now that I look there's no holes in the back of his clothes, Peggy. That means um…the bullets are still in him. Fuck. Fuck, fuck. But the front is closed. So blood isn't our problem. Getting this shit out of him might be."

The assessment was made in the grab and chaos, all the blood and other bullets had so briefly made it look like they were in the clear. Exhaling, the detective lays him back down carefully and gets him warm again. "I could…I don't know. Try to give him some oral painkillers or something, or…"

Meanwhile, the response to the SOS message comes with a series of authorization codes and numbers that will mean a whole lot to Peggy and nobody else, since they are older SSR codes that only the biggest of nerds might possibly have studied well enough to use correctly, and/or people from that particular era.

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