1963-10-12 - Cooler Lady Heads will Prevail
Summary: Crystal and Peggy meet to start a more relaxed, hopefully productive, relationship between SHIELD and the Mutants. Calmer heads prevail.
Related: All the SHIELD/Mutant Logs
Theme Song: None
peggy crystal 


The invitation was not entirely expected. But then again, Crystal was also not entirely unprepared for it. She'd heard of SHIELD contacting the school. She'd heard Thor and Fandral had met with a Lady Peggy as well. So when she received the invitation, she responded suggesting they meet at a little piano bar in the city.

There are none of the theatrics the boys enjoyed, or the pomp and ceremony of the Asgardians. Instead, she simply arrives at the bar, exchanging small talk with the hostess first and the waitress once she slides into a booth a corner. It seems the people here know her. In a smoky blue dress of slubbed silk - mid-calf, elbow-sleeved with a boat neck - she looks like a young woman who's left a respectable job in the city.

*

Peggy is not exactly a piano bar person. Not that she hasn't had a share of date nights, but the slinky dresses she'd normally wear to one don't exactly fit right now. Nor do her tailored suits button so well. So, she's in one of her more forgiving dresses tonight — a red number that is more 50s than modern styles, with a looser waist around the gentle pooch that she's still trying to hide — and has her hair in actually styled curls. It's as professionally put together as she can look outside the office. She accepted the meeting place and arrives nearly to the exact minute planned.

Her dark eyes scan the area, but she knows exactly who she's looking for. She's studied every inch of the file she has on this Crystal, so the woman's face is easy to point out. Within a minute, the sound of quiet high heels can be heard coming up to the woman's booth. A smile which is earnestly pleasant, if a touch worried, crosses her features. "Miss Amaquelin, I presume?" She inquires in her normal clipped, British tones.

*

"Oh, please," Crystal laughs at the greeting, a warm smile flashing. "Crystal is fine. And you must be, as I've heard, Lady Peggy." The corners of her eyes crinkle a bit with humor as she stands, holding out a hand. For some reason, the other woman's dress seems to put her at ease. Maybe it's just the idea that no one's going to tell her she's out of fashion for once. "Can I order you a drink? James at the bar really is excellent."

There's a certain confidence behind the manners, a way she holds herself that better matches the Asgardians than the mutants at the school where she works. Nothing to fear, nothing to prove. Early in the evening, the music from the piano is soft still, some jazz piece with no name.

*

The title of 'Lady Peggy' actually makes Peggy laugh a bit too abruptly — genuine amusement instead of a cultured laugh to put people at ease. "You must know Thor and his friend 'Freddie', then… instead of just the Professor and his cohorts. Few others would call me a lady." Peggy grins and slips her hand out for a proper, warm shake. She shakes hands like a business woman, but with warmth beneath it. Peggy does few things which are really lies.

"Ah… a glass of wine would be fine." Much beyond that turns her stomach now, but it's not something to discuss in a business meeting. She then settles into the booth, her own demeanor a strange mix between military and not. There is still that stiffness to her spine, but none of the machismo that some of the men project.

*

"I do," Crystal smiles crookedly, gesturing to the bar as she settles back into her seat. She pauses to put in the order, then turns back to Peggy as the waitress moves away. "The Asgardians are considerably less fearful than the Professor and his cohorts, I'm afraid. Which I'm sure colors both of their perceptions. SHIELD, wasn't it?" She rubs the corner of a napkin between two fingers, the only sign of any uncertainty that may lie beneath the surface.

*

As the name of her organization is brought up, though it is publicly know, Peggy still gives a brief look about to note who might be in hearing distance. The paranoia of someone who has lived most of her life as a spy. It doesn't seem that she finds anything too concerning, as she looks back to Crystal with a quiet smile and relaxes a bit more into the booth. Still, her dark eyes are consistently aware of their surroundings. "SHIELD, yes. And… I understand the reactions. Your mutant comrades are currently feeling very… attacked. Disenfranchised. They are defensive. Your other friends have plenty of power and no one has yet reacted poorly to them. It's… understandable. But I am also saddened by the initial meeting between my …" Husband is not what she should say here, even if it's her initial thought, "Agents and your people. I think personalities got in the way."

*

"Oh, I'm quite certain they did," Crystal snorts softly. "But it's what happens when two groups of frightened people run into each other, I think. And the Professor is protective of his people," she adds, a bit more gently. "When all else fails, when all of the niceties fall away, his very last act will be to protect his people. As I would hope an organization like yours would, as well," she adds with a small gesture. "I think the problem is that at this point, there are a good number of people who wonder if they are indeed considered people to the same degree as anyone else."

*

A tilt of her head in given in acknowledge, "Yes, absolutely…And Agent Sousa is very much the same. When the professor read his mind and… intimated threats to his family, Agent Sousa did not take it well. Their reactions were both pure protection, from the right place, but… it didn't work very well for a first meeting." There is a slight bittersweet nature to Peggy's smile as she considers all of that. She then gives just a small shake of her head and folds her hands quietly on the table. "SHIELD… we consider *everyone* people, to the same degree. Our ranks are filled with mutants, gifted individuals, colored people, women, jews… " A slightly more proud smile crosses her mouth, "It's the loss of other organizations who turn from those who are different. I believe I have the best team on the planet because I take the best. *Differences* or not."

*

"But you also trade in secrets," Crystal points out gently, pausing again as the waitress comes over with drinks. "Thank you, Janet," she murmurs with a polite smile, waiting until the woman is gone to continue. "Which means you know that what one person knows may be kept a secret. But what two know, or three, only spreads. SHIELD may not wish any harm to the Professor or his people. You may only want warriors to protect others. But someone else may hear about where they come from. Their families. Their friends and lovers."

*

"I…understand the concern, Mis… Crystal. I do. And yes, SHIELD deals in secrets. We have since we were the SSR. We've learned our lessons about protecting people. But, the secret of your Professor, the school…those studying there, it's half out already. The papers are rife with mutants these days. We'd much rather work together in protecting your people and giving them a place to fight with other back up than remaining at odds. However, that will always be your choice. SHIELD is not in the habit of commandeering anyone." She accepts her wine quietly, bringing it up to her nose for a small sniff before she takes the briefest of drinks, but she didn't even have much of a taste for wine these days. "I don't know how to assuade your concerns, but I, at least, wanted to reach out to a more reasonable head and let you know we are truly only here to help."

*

"And I appreciate that. Although I regret to tell you that I've little sway in these decisions," Crystal smiles ruefully. "Still, I'd be happy to pass the message on. There will always be some who are looking for a place to belong, looking for a greater purpose. And for all the school can offer, as a safe place, there is only so much it can do once it's time for children to become adults. I'm certain, of course, that you recognize that not all talents will be suited to service as an intelligence agent."

*

"Of course. Though, it's not just about if there is a place for them to go. If you find your school up against threats bigger than you want…Children to handle… you can call on us. You *aren't* in this alone, even if you think you are." There is a fire behind Peggy's words that wasn't quite there before. Her heart on her sleeve, so to speak. It really means something to her, quite deeply, to be able to protect people.

*

"I believe the whole idea of the school is that they need not be alone." Crystal takes a sip from her drink, smile faint. "But I understand what you're saying. It means something, for the offer to be there. Though the logistics of it might be a bit more complicated. I know the origins of your SSR. The Strategic Scientific Reserve. Science. It's a double-edged sword, isn't it? Knowledge comes from experimentation, and yet sometimes, experiments go poorly. People are hurt. Unwilling subjects are taken. Too many mutants know the ugly side of that to be willing to extend complete trust without something to balance it in return."

*

A slight tightness comes to Peggy's jaw at the implications of such science. She's fought against all of those things herself before, so many times. HYDRA… other madness. She takes in a slow breath. "I…understand the worries. I've seen 'science' go wrong also. Many times. I… I do know the paranoia. But that is *not* who we are. We were born to fight that. The SSR? Even with Captain America… is was all consensual. No one was ever on a table who didn't want to be. I'd swear that on my life." Peggy's dark eyes now fully meet Crystal's, not shying away from a single word she is saying, hoping the woman can read jsut how genuine she's being. "But… balances can… happen. What do you suggest?"

*

"And a man that I love wears numbers on his arm and scars on his body, Lady Peggy," Crystal says gently. "The mind knows, the heart hopes, that your organization isn't the nazi party. Aren't those people. But the gut fears all the same. And some chances can be too terrifying to take. I'm not saying I agree," she adds quickly. "Only reminding you what some have lived through." The question, though, is a big one. She draws a deep breath, brows rising as she thinks it over. "I wish I knew," she grimaces. "Not requiring names, perhaps. Though it seems a silly thing, when it comes down to it."

*

The comment about the man she loves just draws a slight tightening of Peggy's eyes. "Crystal…" She breathes out quietly, taking in another deep drag of air to calm the initial hit of defensive emotions. Defensiveness was helping no one. "Those same people took my husband's leg. They killed the first man I ever loved. I have spent my *entire life* fighting them, since I was 19." And the grays at the edges of her hair, the wrinkles around her eyes, it's all truth. Peggy really is old enough to have been through all of it, even if someone didn't know her file. "There isn't a day where I don't remember what we went through back then. What we fight for…" Peggy then forces herself to sit back, taking a deeper drink of wine, taste for it or not. Damned emotions and hormones. She's calmed a bit as she finally speaks again. "We never need names to come and help. Just… let us know where you need it and we will be there."

*

Crystal sets her drink down at Peggy's reaction, reaching for the other woman's hand in a gentle, comforting grip. "I believe you, Peggy," she says softly. "I believe that you're trying to do the right thing, and that you have no intention of hurting any of these people." These people? "The question, really, is how much control do you have over everyone in your agency? The agents, certainly. The secretary pool? The janitors? Can you be certain that an agent won't carelessly throw a mileage report into the trash with the address of the school on it?" Her smile slips crooked as she rolls her eyes. "Charles doesn't even want me to bring Thor to the school," she points out, amused. "If it's any consolation that it clearly isn't personal."

*

A slight sigh escapes her lips. Peggy says nothing for a few moments, dragging her free hand across her features as she figures out how to reassure this. "…I know it probably won't help, but we are an intelligence organization. Making certain we DON'T randomly throw away classified information, and that we only hire the most trusted people, is of the upmost importance. But… well, I guess this is the best I could hope for. Simply communicate, if you can…that we are on the same side. I don't know how else to help… but that is out there. Maybe one day you will all believe us."

*

"Belief and trust are…not always the same. But for what it's worth, I do believe you." Crystal gives the other woman's hand a squeeze, going back to her drink with a small smile. "I will pass the message on. And…if you find you have need of some raw power, I would certainly be willing to help," she adds.

*

Peggy returns the squeeze gently, her smile following it a heartbeat later and her dark eyes a hint more relaxed from the inital rush of emotion. She takes up her wine again, running through another cycle of breath before finally offering calm, quieter words, "If we need it, I will ask. We… generally have things in hand, but I say that and then hell itself opens up in Central Park so…" she half laughs, "You never know."

*

"The world is a stranger and stranger place," Crystal agrees. "But if we're willing to try, then perhaps we can make it a better place. I would rather work with the establishment than against the people who are the true problem. Anything less and you're only treating the symptoms, not the disease."

*

"Crystal. We…we at SHIELD are lucky. We don't answer to the US Government, but they trust us. We're out of NATO, but we're also pledged to neutrality. We keep everyone safe. We have the ear of policy setters. So, while I cannot say we are *all* of the establishment, we are a large chunk of it. And we are not standing against you. So… when things happen. Rallies, protests… if you don't want to stand alone, you won't. I'll have agents there — in protection and solidarity. You just tell me where. We'll be there." Peggy knows it's a risk, considering all there places. But the offer is made. She then raises what is left of her glass of wine, silently toasting it in Crystal's direction, before knocking back the rest of it. She'd feel it in the morning.

*

Crystal raises her glass in turn, taking a sip herself. "I will remember," she promises. "And should you find yourself in need…" She swirls a finger over her glass, and frost forms on the outside as the liquid chills. "I work in elements," she offers. "Earth, air, fire, water. A bit of electricity and magnetism by manipulating the relationships between them. Heat and cold in the same fashion. Whether or not the professor is willing, I am my own woman, and I'm certain I would have a better feeling for your agency by actually interacting with them."

*

A nod is given in understanding agreement, "Working together often does help. If there is time I could use some back up, I'll call. I… I'm out of the field most times these days, but I've got some other young female agents who would do well with a partner. I'll let you know. And…" Peggy reaches into her jacket, pulling out one of her personal cards. "This is my direct line. If you need *anything*, just call."

*

"Thank you," Crystal says as she takes the card, with the gravity that the show of trust deserves. "I will. Though I hope not to need it," she admits, smile wry. "I imagine things will be rather unpleasant when I do." She pauses for a moment, pulling a card and a pen out of her clutch. "You can reach me at the institute, of course. But if the need is urgent, you might have better luck letting Asgard know that you're looking for me," she explains as she writes another number on the back. "They have…occasionally more reliable means of transportation and communication."

*

A brow arches quietly in response to that, Peggy making a few new mental connections that she didn't have before about Crystal. She nods simply, "I will keep that in mind. And if you see them before I do, please, give both the gentlemen my best." Not just a pleasantry, Peggy seems to have developed rather a bit of fondness for them. Then her eyes drop to her watch, catching actual sight of the hour. "*That* being said…my husband is probably quite wondering where I am, much less if I have any plans on eating tonight. I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer." Peggy considers something for a heartbeat or two. "If…if you ever want to come over for dinner… You'd be welcome. My daughter is not exactly the shy type though, just a warning. Maybe it's not just the battlefield which promotes trust." A huge leap, the offer to introduce her family. But she's willing to take it.

*

Crystal tilts her head slightly, pausing before she responds in recognition of what the offer means. "I think I might like that," she agrees after a moment. "If you let me bring dessert that will in no way help her get to sleep after dinner, I'm certain I will be able to forgive any forwardness," she winks, leaning back in her seat. "Thank you, Peggy. I'm glad that we were able to speak. I look forward to working with you in the future."

*

A slight groan that can only come from an over worked and over loving mother escapes Peggy's lips. "…Maybe you can bring a side dish. Vegetables, yes? She might eat it, coming from you." Peggy gives a little wink as she says that, smile turning wry. But the good humor can only last so long and she bows her head, "Good night, Crystal. I'm looking forward to it as well." She leaves a two dollar bill on the table to pay for her drink, not willing to let Crystal foot the whole bill, and with that she's out the door and into the cool autumn evening, some of the tension finally gone from her shoulders.

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