1964-10-21 - Official Trust and Unofficial Favor
Summary: Peggy brings Bucky back into the fold officially…and asks for an unofficial favor.
Related: SHIELD Reorganization Logs
Theme Song: None
peggy bucky 

His status on the books isn't quite clear - is he a prisoner? Mascot? Unacknowledged asset? Sure as heck isn't a card carrying agent. But Buck these days has been sane, stable, and willing to play ball for at least a few months now, and there's been at least a grudging acceptance of his presence in SHIELD's holdings.

At the moment, he's finished training with those willing to go up against the Winter Soldier, a number slowly on the rise. Freshly showered and in civilian clothes, albeit with a t-shirt that does nothing at all to hide the metal arm, he's sitting down to eat at the end of one of the tables, a newspaper propped before him.

Peggy isn't often one to come down to the cafeteria. Generally her meals are taken in her office, where she's usually working on half a dozen things as she distractedly handles the business of actually eating. But for whichever reason, she's down here today. There's a quiet murmur that goes through the cafeteria as the Director enters, a sort of "straighten up and fly right" vibe.

Her heels tic-tac a pace on the hard floor as she approaches one of the long tables there, her path obvious to anyone observing. It takes her right up nearer to the newspaper-reading, food-noshing former WWII hero. Her voice sounds out as she gets closer. "Mind a bit of company?" There's not many on the base with that accent.

That change in atmosphere has him looking up as she comes in….and then when she's before him, he rises, politely. "Not at all," he says, looking into her face, almost searchingly. Buck's got a little smile on, genuine enough, though it doesn't compare to the old incandescent grin from the war. It must be odd, for someone who lived out the intervening years in the normal way, to be confronted by those two ghosts from her past, neither of them much older than they were at their supposed deaths.

Thankfully, Peggy's aged well. She's a touch the worse for the years, but she's still nicely preserved. She carefully slides in at the end of the table, on the opposite side…long bench seats are not friendly to skirts. But she manages smoothly enough, and looks over. "Keeping up on current events?" She nods once to the newspaper. Her eyes are reading him, but then, that's what Peggy does.

"Yeah," he says, with a rueful tinge to his voice. "It just gets worse in Vietnam every day." And he's taking that terribly personal interest, after his first encounter with his clones there. One of which is cooling his heels in the Triskelion - Bucky's visited him, tried to befriend him, and mostly been met with a stone wall of utter incomprehension. His expression's guileless, curious, a far cry from the Soldier's concrete stoicism.

"It does." Peggy says, a soft sigh touching her voice. "My best guess says it's going to be less than a year before the United States commits to open military action there." And the Director of SHIELD's best guess is going to be a pretty well-educated one. "What about you? How are you holding up?" Yes, she has pages of reports on the status of one James Barnes. But this is a personal situation.

That one corner of his lip curls, puckish. "You know, I'm doing all right. I'm the one in the driver's seat, courtesy of the Professor. I've got a job, safe places to sleep. These guys here," A little gesture of the metal hand takes in the agents with them, all of whom are more or less openly eavesdropping, "are willling to let me play in *some* of the reindeer games. I get to visit the other guy we caught in Vietnam, I guess I count as next of kin." The formerly nameless, now unofficially named Matvei Yegorovich Barnes, since the clone himself seemed rather confused on certain facets of individuality. "I see Steve now and again, I've got other friends. The Russians are still sniffing around, but they haven't made a serious play for me yet."

Peggy nods, looking over. With no food and no newspaper, there's nothing for her to do but simply be direct on the issue. But at least she's good at being direct. "Yes…I thought we might address those reindeer games. Not that /anyone else/ would need to concern themselves with such." Her tone rises just a bit on those words; a subtle reminder to those nearby that informal or not, the Director is the Director, and Not To Be Annoyed.

"Have some time for a little chat on that issue? Or interest in same?"

"Yes, ma'am," he says, pleasantly. Already done, by the scraped clean look of his plate. He hands off tray and dishes, as the various agents try to look busy and/or productive. "At your disposal." The pale eyes are bright with amusement. Nothing like Peggy making the pigeons scatter with a stern look.

Peggy is the same no-nonsense woman who was striking fear into the hearts of tough New York boys in WWII. She slides out of the seat again. "Then let's have a chat in my office." With that, she'll lead the way, her stiletto beat marking the path.

He follows her obediently. Subdued compared to his old self, but still leagues better than the shrieking maniac SHIELD had in hand earlier in the year….and even that a vast improvement on the Soldier in his purest and most deadly form.

Peggy makes her way through the base, past her secretary's office, and into her own. Once there, she smiles. Out of view of the public and here with one of her oldest friends, there's a little less "Director Carter", and a little more "Peggy". She gestures to the chair on the other side of her desk. "Please, take a seat, James." She'll walk around to her side of the desk to do the same.

"Thanks," he says, simply. He takes a seat and looks at her, expectant, hands on the chair's arms. Relaxed, almost, as much as he ever seems to get, now.

"Tea?" She offers. Because it's always tea in here. After his reply, and either the pouring or lack thereof, she'll look over. "It's been several months. And so far, things have gone well." Aside from the early bits, with him shooting her. "And as I mentioned, things are heating up substantially in the Vietnamese theater. I'm trying to be proactive, and bring things to a higher state of readiness."

A pause, and then she finally puts it on the table. "I'd like to make things official, James. I'd like to bring you on board as an agent."

Definitely tea. Because it remains delightfully British of her, even after all this time in the States. He even sips from it, now and again. The proposal doesn't surprise him, it's clear. There's only so long he can stay slipstreamed in ambiguity, before he either has to fish or cut bait.

Buck's lips purse, and he looks down into the cup, though there are no leaves in it for him to divine with. Then back up at her, for a long, silent moment. "I…was kinna hoping it'd come to that," he finally allows. "I've got skills that shouldn't go to waste, and better used in SHIELD than anywhere else. I trust you, and I trust the people you've brought up. More than I could say for the CIA - they want my head on a pike, I know."

HE pauses, sets the cup down on the desk for a moment. "But…..I know you're gonna get a lot of blowback on that offer. I've….Winter did a lot of damage and killed a lot of people. Is it going to be worth it for you, what I can bring to SHIELD versus the kind of grief you're gonna get for officially bringing me into the fold?" Then he pauses and adds, almost sheepishly, "I'm….reluctant to totally give up the job I have now, too. All right if I keep that as a cover, work it part time?"

His mention of the CIA gets an exasperated sigh from Peggy. Apparently she's been having her own headaches in that direction lately. "Let me worry about the blowback on the issue. That's my job, after all. We can get you some proper identification, get you some clearance. Likely Level 4 to begin with, compartmentalized on a case-by-case basis as necessary for assignments." Because good friend or no, Peggy is not naive enough to give out higher access when there is any chance of the Winter Soldier rearing his head again.

"I don't see a problem with that, as long as it doesn't interfere with your mission performance. If your employer's willing to give you the time away when you need it, that's more an issue on your end than mine. If it /becomes/ an issue on my end, we can discuss it again at that point."

How to explain that Lucian knew exactly who and what he was the moment he laid eyes on Bucky? There's no good way to say it. So Buck just nods, expression still grave. "Makes sense," he says, about the clearance. "And I'll speak to my boss. I think he'd understand." Then he grins, suddenly.

Peggy nods. "I'll get the issues of the identity and the paperwork handled. Check in with Nicole…" Her secretary. "…in two days; she'll have it waiting for you then." She steels herself, a rare hesitation from her. "James…Bucky…" Oh, the nickname comes out. "I'd like to ask a favor from you, if I might."

The smile gets a hair broader. If he had a tail, he'd be wagging it. "Two days, then," he says, brightly. The use of his nickname erases that smile, makes his brows go up quizzically. "Sure. Anything."

"You're familiar with my niece, Sharon." Peggy starts, a little awkwardly. "The CIA has her working purely wetwork at this point. And if things keep going…well, the way they're going to keep going…they're going to get her killed over there. It's already taking its toll. I approached her the other day, about coming back into the fold. I think she'd make one hell of a field agent. I'd also like to partner the two of you together. I think you'd work well together." Assassins with troubled backgrounds. Past connections. And someone to keep an eye on things should the Winter Soldier rear his head. Peggy may be in Peggy-mode…but she's still the Director.

"The problem is that I can't get through to her. And half the problem with that is just the fact that it's not just professional with she and I; it's personal. She has all this bloody baggage in her head wrapped up in this tangled sack of admiration and resentment for "Aunt Peggy"." She gets a little more animated there, her voice a little more emotion-laden. "I'd like to ask you to talk to her. See if…see if you can talk some sense into her. And this isn't an assignment. This isn't even a request from the Director to an agent. This is…this is Peggy needing a favor from Bucky." she asks. "I don't want to lose anyone else." Agents she loses all the time. But there's a rare few people in her world…Steve, Bucky, Sharon…that mean more.

She can see the uncertainty come into his face. The Winter Soldier may be as demonstrative as a concrete slab, but Bucky remains transparent as glass. "Listen," he says, softly, swiftly. "Let me lay our history out for you, real quick, so you can reconsider that if you need to."

A quick mouthful of tea, pretty much untasted (but then he has a weird preference for terrible, bitter Russian tea), and he sets the cup aside again. "I first met, if you can call it that, Sharon Carter a few years back. We - the Soviets - were aware of a CIA incursion. They sent me to wipe out the whole team. I did. Except for her, and that was a near, near thing. The first time she met me, as James, at the place Steve is fixing up, she damn near tried to kill me with a broken beer bottle." There's a quirk to his lips, as if it were merely an amusing anecdote. He looks up again. "After that, when SHIELD had me for the second time, she was coming in, being kind. Bringing cigarettes, things like that….and not long after I was out on my own again, she made a pass at me. I refused - partially because I felt that saying yes would've been bad for both of us. But mostly because I'm pretty sure her bosses ordered her to play honey trap."

"I'm familiar." she states, quietly. Perhaps not every detail, but she is head of the best spy agency on the planet. Things float up to the top. Especially anything relating to Peggy's personal watch list, and both Sharon and Bucky are on it. "Both of you have issues relating to…employers. If anything, I'm hoping that might be an advantage here. I don't want it to be anything official. And you have every right to say no. I just…let's just say I'm seeing a little too much of the Soldier in her. And I think if there's anyone on the planet who might be able to understand her situation right now, it's you."

His lips thin out, but he nods. He owes Peggy favors from here until Doomsday. This one….not impossible. "You really want her back here, eh? I can't blame you. I've seen what the CIA really does. Some of it….." He makes a small sound, a humorless, stifled laugh. "It's like that comic strip, Spy vs Spy. The countries each agency serves are different as night and day, but the CIA can play every bit as dirty as the KGB. She'll be better off here. I'll try."

Peggy takes a deep breath, and lets it out in a long sigh. "Thank you, Bucky." she says, gratitude coming through in her voice whether she wants it to or not. "Successful or not, I appreciate it." Then, as if realizing how relatively vulnerable she's appearing, she steels herself, straightens in her chair, clears her throat, and her professional persona seems to settle about her once more. "Thank you for everything." she repeats, but this time a bit more formally. "I'll get everything started with the ID paperwork, and your agent status. As I said, 48 hours should see it through. Apologies for intruding on your lunch. But I think I can let you get back to things now."

"I'm always happy to be interrupted with good news," he says, still pleased. "And I'll try. Thank you for giving me this chance. I'll do my best ot make sure you don't end up regretting it." There's that note of dark humor in his voice - he's well aware of the dragons Peggy's going to have to battle in order to keep him on side and official with SHIELD.

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