Nothing But a Family Thing

March 11, 2018:

After Michael talks to Sharon, he immediately goes to visit Old Peggy to stay by her side.

Nursing Home - Virginia


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Sharon Carter


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The hospital where Peggy Carter - the Elder - resides is in Virginia. It's a protected place, with quite a bit of security on its normal every days. Michael needs to sign in, be on the approved visitors list, has his ID checked and get a badge even to get through the front door.

Once through, though, he'll find Peggy's room easily enough. The former Head of SHIELD lies in bed as she generally does. Her long white hair has long been out of the pin curls. She doesn't even wear much makeup any more - no red lipstick for her. Instead, she's dressed in a nightgown, the bedclothes pulled up to her waist. The newspaper is spread out in front of her and she is slowly reading through it, eyebrows furrowed as she intensely studies it.

The black roses are gone from her bedside, now. Those were taken by Sharon and Coulson to be studied. They've since been replaced with a mix of white and red roses.


Michael doesn't bring flowers. But then, they've never been ones for that kind of sentimentality. They're the kind of family who gives pragmatic gifts, like wool socks, and lockboxes, And thigh holsters.
He's dressed somewhere between his former polished self and the impression of a dirty hobo he sported in the days directly following his discharge from a SHIELD hospital not unlike this one. He's finally trimmed the shoulder length hair and trimmed the beard, though it's still a little longer than he used to keep it. In all the black and white pictures of him, he's clean-shaven and fresh-faced - a study of a soldier in black and white. He's wearing denim and a blue long sleeved t-shirt under a dark blue blazer. He's still a snappy dresser even when he isn't trying, because the shades of blue compliment his eyes - restored to matching thanks to an eccentric genius.
His approach is quiet, slow. He touches the frame of the door and then says, quietly, "If I had to make a guess as to how long you've known, I would guess somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1973. From what I understand, that's when SHIELD started running missions in close partnership with MI-6. I spent most of that year waiting for a shoe to drop that never did."


Peggy doesn't freeze, doesn't look up, even as Michael's voice sounds from the doorway. There's the crinkle of newspaper as she flips the page. It seems she's reading the Washington Post at the moment.

"'72, actually. I started running SHIELD missions closer to MI-6 to see if I could flush you out. As always, you were a step ahead." Her eyes have stopped reading the page in front of her - this is merely showmanship now. "I assumed that if you wished to see me again, you would. I wasn't exactly hiding." Only her motives were, which is quite like Peggy.

Finally, she glances upward at him. A breath intakes, unable to help herself. Her eyes fog for a moment and she looks away. "Oh." It's a brief moment of intense emotion - something that has come far more often than she is generally used to feeling.
There's a shake of her head, and it's gone. She has quite a bit of practice in stifling personal emotion. "I don't like the beard." The statement is given with a typical matriarchal disapproval. "You look like a hippie."

The paper folds back to its front page. "It must be rather serious for you to come see me now."


"You know better than most how wishes have very little to do with the actions of a spy, Firecracker." Michael's voice gets quieter on that nickname. He moves in slowly, footfalls soft. He tugs over a chair and sits by her bed. Then he reaches out to take her hand. He sandwiches between his, then pulls it to his lips for a kiss. "Well, that's appropriate because I was just undercover as a Dutch smuggler." He looks at her with a warmth in his eyes that somehow avoids misting over. Maybe it's all the cybernetics. But what he can't hide is the admiration that glows from the center of his being. "I won't insult you by asking how much you know about what's been going on."
He moves his hands back and forth, holding her frail one gently between his that are untouched by age. "It seems you're in a pickle, Peg."


"I do." Peggy smirks just slightly, the smile returning to a neutral expression almost as soon as it happens. "It's why I never blamed you, never tried to force anything. I thought you'd come to me in your own time. And you did." To her, that means she is - as she always attempted to argue - always right.

The hand is pulled and kissed and she can't help but grin at that. "Always were the charmer," she snickers. A shake of her head is given again at the explanation. "And you haven't been able to find a razor since then? I thought you a world class spy, surely you could locate a sharp object with which to relieve us all of what I must assume is a 'feeling sorry for yourself' beard. Either that or you secretly enjoy it, in which case I will continue to pretend as if you were dead. What happened?"

The mention of her being in a pickle is met with a shrug of her shoulders. "I've been in a pickle since 1939, Michael, you'll have to be more specific."


"I thought I was letting you have your life. I had orders to not speak to my family, but if I had pushed, it's possible they would have granted me permission to speak to you, given your clearance. But I was afraid." Michael wouldn't admit that easily to just anyone. "Afraid of what I'd become. Afraid you wouldn't recognize me." He doesn't mean physically, which, apart from grooming, has hardly changed. "That it would spoil my myth, which I understand has become something of a Carter family tall tale," he drawls.
He keeps hold of her hand, tenderly but more to reassure each other that they're both real. He can't help but smile as she teases him for his beard. "Can't a man just have a change? Oh, but look who I'm talking to. The woman who wore the same pincurls and red lipstick until retirement. Not even any pastels in the eighties." He makes a tching sound.
As for the predicament? He bows his head, then looks up again. "Someone has threatened my baby sister, and that's just not on. Even the worst monsters I've dealt with wouldn't stoop to leaving black flowers on the bedside of a retired spymaster. There's a code in this business. If you manage to make it to retirement age, you should be left alone. Because you played the game with the greats. There's respect and dignity in that."


"I know something of that, of duty." When Michael says that he was afraid, her hand clutches against his. It's not a firm grip - her skin is almost dry and he can feel the bones of her fingers through her skin. She is a very old woman. "I was afraid, as well. I could have contacted you. I had the resources. I…worried the same. I'm not the woman I was. I'm not the girl you knew before I joined SSR. And I worried what you had become as well."

Her other hand reaches over to grab his own. "But you're Michael. You're still Michael. Oh, Michael, what happened? My hands…they're so old…"

The predicament is met with a shake of her head. "I know about black roses. They came and they went. I think they must have been a mistake. He always says that he'll do it, but he never does. You know how it is. The ghosts of your past. They speak to you at night, they haunt you."


"I know it very well," says Michael. It's not as upsetting to him as it might be to others when she seems for a moment to not be entirely with him. He knows her condition. He knew her blood pressure when she was forty. He knew the name of her doctor the first time she had hip surgery. It's still hard to witness, but he's prepared.
"Who always said, darling?" He asks the question gently, in case a firmer interrogation might spook the memory away. He locks eyes with hers, as if that contact might keep her focused, keep her present.


Even Peggy doesn't exactly realize when she's slipping. She knows that she loses time sometimes and that people talk to her about things she doesn't remember and that frustrates her. Even the gentle question is met with something of a look.

"The ghost? The ghost always says that. He's not here all the time, but he always comes back. You see them too, right? The ghosts? From the past. We share some of them, me and you." SHIELD and MI6, Michael and Peggy. "Neither of us were above board all the time, were we? We had to fight nuclear war, against a peaceful threat that challenged everything we thought. It made us act. Do things. You did, too. Right, Michael?"


"I did," says Michael quietly. "Terrible things. But things that needed to be done." He touches the hand not holding hers to his chest. "I had a ghost shoot three hollow point bullets into my chest at close range."
He works his jaw to the side. "Listen, Peggy. I'm going to stay right here. I'm not going to let you alone. Now that you've seen me, you're not going to get rid of me. So you'd best learn to love the beard." He smiles a little. "But if something happens, if I am not here and he comes…" One hand presses something into her hand. It's a small container holding a single pill. He chose its shape and the container that holds it from a previous era so that she was more likely to recognize it even if she gets confused. "You, of anyone, deserve to choose your own fate. You've earned that." There's a fierceness to his words. And pride as well.


"Okay." That seems to be what Peggy needed to hear. She settles slightly, the hand still holding his. "But you survived. That's good. I'm glad." It may sound like statements of fact, but she truly is glad to hear and know this about him.

When he says he will stay right by her side now that she has received black roses, she rolls her eyes just slightly. "You were always a moth to the flame of trouble." However, she is not going to tell him to leave. She just got him back. If he wants to stay by her bedside, he can.

The container is taken and she studies it this way an that a few times before she realizes what it is that he gave her. "Ah."

There is a smile and she reaches out her other hand to rest on Michael's cheek for just one moment. "Do not worry. When I die, it will be because of my body giving out or of my own making." The pill bottle is not tossed aside, though, it is slipped under her pillow. "Thank you."

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