1963-11-14 - A Captive Beginning
Summary: Peggy Carter wakes up in a Skrull cell after being captured by those she thought were friends. She realizes even her closest advisers had not been themselves for months.
Related: Skrull Kree war logs
Theme Song: None
peggy 


The fight had been short — unusually so — thanks to Peggy being both pregnant and injured. Getting shot by James Barnes had left her weakened, and, unfortunately, !Weaver was already aware of the vulnerability. Having enemies hiding as friends certainly complicates things. While the struggle had been real, once relatively subdued, Peggy endured a rather crisp knock to the head; a guarantee that she wouldn't put up more of a fight.

When Peggy wakes, the sound of electricity surrounds her. Her room, a small cell with a tiny room attached (presumably a bathroom), complete with a cot, is clearly some kind of prison. The cell across from hers is occupied, but it's impossible to see who's in it.

*

There comes a point in every soldier, or spy's, life where they are done for. No one goes into these careers thinking they are immortal, even if Peggy had been getting close. This was that point. Previous injuries, other conditions, being outnumbered in a small space of people who already know her weaknesses? She truly had no hope. So, the biggest surprise is the fact that she wakes up at all after the lost fight, the knock to the head, the sinking into darkness…

Slowly stirring, Peggy almost gives a little moan before realizing she's fully conscious. She stops herself, eyes not yet open. Take a few moments, evaluate one's surroundings. Learn things before alerting that one's captors are awake. Twenty years into espionage, this procedure is second nature. SHe listens to the faint hum of electricity, the faint echo of walls around her, the feeling of the cot beneath her. Another hollow area to her side, separated by walls. Probably another cell. No other conversations or other bodies around she can tell. She waits another few minutes, seeing if captors will come in, talk, reveal something thinking that she is asleep. No such luck.

Slowly, her eyes open. She still barely moves, but studies her surroundings, taking in more details she can without being totally obvious she's awake. She evaluates her own body as well as surroundings. How was the child? Her own injuries? No plans could be made without a full understanding of her situation.

*

The low echo of the room thrums with energy that Peggy can't quite comprehend. The scent of… bleach maybe (?) enters her senses as she begins to move. The space is grey. Metallic. Cold. Yet not like any prison or makeshift prison Peggy has seen. The floors gleam, and the lights reflect across it with a depersonalizing nature. The world is empty.

CLANG

A container drops from the top of the cell. She misses seeing the hatch from which the food had come, and it blends with the rest of the ceiling, but presumably it's there. Presumably.

CLANG

The sound resounds from the cell next to hers. Movement and rustling may catch her attention. A quiet groan from the back of a woman's throat seems to exude something exasperated and uncertain.

*

While Peggy is trying not to be obvious about being aware, the heavy CLANG of that container is enough to make her slightly jump. Well, the jig is up. ~Getting soft, Carter…~ She mentally remarks to herself. Ten years ago, she'd have played dead and unconscious for hours, not minutes. Too late now. Peggy exhales quietly, giving up the ruse and pushing herself achingly up into sitting. She hadn't fought like that in a while and she was feeling it now.

Her foot pushes at the container of food, looking over whatever they've offered her without touching it with bare skin for a few moments. "…Hullo?" She calls to the room beside her, trying to get some response other than pain or that groan from the other woman. Who else was here?

*

Peggy's word cuts through the silence and has someone hitting not he side of the wall. "Hello!" there may be too much excitement behind the word, and the familiar voice controls itself. Training means finding some semblance of control. "Hello," Anne murmurs again softly. And even though she doesn't know who she's talking to, she manages, "Are you alright…?" Whoever you are…

*

Anne. Peggy recognized that tone. The woman who had supposedly been with her all afternoon. The woman in the elevator, who struck the first blow. Not Anne, then… Peggy breathes out, sitting a bit straighter. "…Anne. It's… me. Peggy. I.. I'm alright, I think. Are you? How long have you been here?" Peggy asks through the wall, where she cannot see by hear her old colleague, relief and bitterness behind her tone. How had she missed it?

*

"Peggy!" at first there's near excitement in Anne's tone, but then it flattens as Anne repeats, "…Peggy." Her voice cracks and she shakes her head, "I'm fine… and I don't know. Weeks. A month. I have no idea." She frowns deeply. Her breathing deepens and Peggy can virtually hear her try to make sense of how long she's been here, "The leaves were starting to change. September. I could smell winter on its way."

*

"…It's November… or, it was…" Peggy echoes quietly, on the other side of the cell. Almost two months, and she'd missed it. Her ego aches at that alone, self recriminations echoing through her head as she sinks to the side, leaning against the wall. She exhales slowly, still not touching her food. Hunger was the last thing on her mind. Idly, one hand wraps across her rounding stomach, protective, absent minded habit. "…What have they done to you here? What have you learned? Give me a… a report?"

*

A sharp breath is inhaled and held in Anne's lungs. November. She's been in here longer than suspected. Her tone falters, "Peggy… I don't know what they're doing. They've asked very little. Questions about what we're working on, how, what we're trying to achieve." There's a long pause. "I told them nothing. My ID. My name. Birthdate. Time and again. It's not torture, it's… different."

*

There is a long moment of silence as Peggy processes that. She shifts on her cot, pulling her legs up, putting her back against the wall that should be closest to Anne, so part of her can almost feel a physical connection even as she cannot see the woman. "…Different… How so?" Peggy asks quietly, wariness behind her soft, clipped accent. Then she pauses, some other, old, training snapping in. She frowns a bit deeper…"Wait. What did I get you…for your birthday… the year you joined SHIELD?"

*

Anne shifts and rests her head against the wall. "I… they…" but then the question is considered. "…a clock… it seemed impersonal to everyone else, but I…" her voice turns tinny "… was always late. Terribly so," her voice eudes a near laugh. "This one time…" but then she drifts off. "When your daughter was born, I gave you — not her — a gift. What was it?"

*

A slight chuckle, both bittersweet and relieved, escapes Peggy's lips as the retelling of the clock story is offered. She sighs out a little breath, some of the paranoid panic escaping her mind. But, as a question is asked in turn, Peggy sighes quietly. She stretches her hand a bit more against her side, the second child still, seemingly, safely ensconsed within. "Oh… That beautiful, comfortable, roomy… soft night gown. The softest thing I owned. Because, you said…the hardest work starts after, any everyone else forgets that." An honest answer as well. Clearly, they are who they say. She sighs quietly, "…So… what have they done to you, dear Anne?"

*

"Little," Anne admits quietly. "It's mostly… waiting." Her voice loses some of its timber. "It's empty. It's… quiet. Empty. I see few. I talk to few." Her voice cracks, "Some prisoners have come and gone." There's a long pause. "I don't know where they go." Another long pause, "I don't know if they're real. It's all so… strange." Her body slumps agains the wall, "But. They have asked. About my work. A woman. A man. My husband." She swallows hard. "But none…" her voice cracks again. "It wasn't real. I have no idea what's going on."

*

"…Wasn't real? What do you mean? Explain…more, Anne. A full report. Beginning to end." Peggy states, her voice a bit more stiff, the tone the proper procedural tone which makes new agents snap to attention and old ones spill details they've forgotten. It's that tone of voice that proves just how good a leader and commander Peggy Carter is, and it comes to her like a second nature. Sometimes there was comfort in orders, and her tone gives it at this moment.

*

"They didn't pass the test. They didn't… they weren't…" Anne inhales a deep breath and tries to focus her thoughts. "They looked like them. But there was something off. Just a little. Small things. Not that noticeable, but I know my husband. His tone was wrong. The way he said my name was… wrong." She swallows hard and then laughs mirthlessly. "It's nonsensical, isn't it? I just know it wasn't him."

"The others? I didn't know them. They were just voices, company. A quiet trap cast over the course of days, maybe longer." Her lips quirk down. "They wanted to know about me. What I was working on. What we were working on. They asked about our graduates. Their qualifications. Who stood out." She emits a soft sigh. "Those I fell for. It took forever."

*

"No, Anne, it's alright. I… I thought you were… off, but…" Peggy sighs, her own impatience with herself quite clear, "I thought you were just overworked. Moody… I never thought you were…not you. I missed it too. Missed… such important things. God, how many could they have… replaced?" Peggy asks, her tone just a touch sick at the thought. And had they now replaced her?

*

There's a long pause. "…they replaced me." And suddenly something begins to make sense. "I don't know," Anne replies softly. "I mean, I genuinely don't know." Her cheeks puff out with exasperation. "If they're not asking questions and making me wait, making you wait… they… they…" she frowns. "…that must be the goal."

*

"…Yes. Just like they tried to…replace your husband, it seems? That he was him, but… different. That is how you were, down there. I never knew you were even gone. God, Anne… Had I known…I'd have half the entire agency looking for you. You know that. I'd have never just let you sit here… alone…" Like Peggy is now too. Both of them, wasting away, because chances are she's been replaced too.

*

Anne scrubs her face. "It's quiet." She swallows hard. "I'm sorry you're here," she murmurs softly. "I am. But I'm thankful for a friend to talk to." Her lips curve downwards. "We just have to hope everyone else clues in. That they see the difference."

*

"…I… I hope. The slightly strange things you were pushing? They were odd… that… Prison, which NATO brought up months ago, you were… Quite in favor, as of late. But I figured something had just gotten up your gullet, you know?" Peggy offers quietly, a small, sick sense of dread behind her voice already. "… but, if they have me… If… if someone is there in my place… There are no more checks. No balances. I was… the full stop of everything…"

*

"The prison?" Anne's voice quiets. "They.. asked about that. The thought experiment. We… set that up at the Academy as a way to help hone our scientists' skills. They required the help they needed…" she stops. "So… the prison is being built, probably…. why?" There's a pause. "No. One thing left. The most promising model was… nuclear powered. The team pulled out the power source. Purposely. They didnt' want it built. Didn't want anyone to be able to make it without them… said the risks for radiation were too high…"

*

"…then maybe there is hope. As long as they don't get another power source…" Peggy whispers quietly, "As for why… I don't know. I guess we can hope to live long enough to find out. And, if we're lucky…fix whatever wrongs they do." Peggy sighs, sinking back down into the cot, her head now aching with the after echoes of the blow that she took, and the world's weight of concerns now on her shoulders. "We…we'll figure a way out of this, Anne. We always do." She always did, at least. She couldn't let herself think this was the end.

*

"They won't cooperate without it," Anne assures. "I know them. And to my knowledge, no power source exists." She rubs her temples. "You're right. Of course." Even after months, she has to believe it.

"We will find a way out of here."

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