An Offer
Roleplaying Log: An Offer
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Peggy makes Alison an offer she could refuse, but she is reasonably sure she won't.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: February 25, 2020
IC Location: New York City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 06 Mar 2020 02:14
Rating & Warnings:
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

You live, and then you die. You know you die because you can hear it. Too fast too stop it, too fast too feel it, but there's no mistaking that flint strike of the hammer to gunpowder, and that pop of the broken sound barrier. It's your last sound before the bullet puts you to bed.

Then you live again. The excitement fades to the damning reality: you breathe, you think, you eat, you feel, but you're still half in that grave. You're still dead, the you that was before, and you're still not sure of this person who rose to take her place. You no longer do the things she did, or think her thoughts, or feel her feelings. A miracle brought you back, but there is nothing miraculous in what you've become. She was murdered, she is dead, and you are…

You are awake. You live within the closing four walls of your boyfriend's rich apartment. He calls it words like 'ours', but it's his, and you both know it. You don't even feel in possession of yourself, much less desire to connect with any physical quality in the world that once murdered you. Once murdered her. You resent the way the walls close in a little more each day, but you cannot move beyond them, because it's terrifying, it's alien, and it hurts. It's not your home out there. It was her home, this world —

And the world you were born into, given life off a man's mutant blood, is a dimensional crossing away. You think that world made more sense, and you miss it, though you dare not admit it. Nothing in this world merits connection, because it's full of pain, and slated to end.

So you exist like a ghost. A murdered woman haunting her boyfriend's halls. You live in the same pair of pajamas, you occupy the same, few restless spots, and you drink until you're numb. Sometimes you have good days, and the moments slip in where you remember, and pantomime the ways she used to be. And sometimes you —

Just weigh each step down the stairs from the bedroom, robe hanging from her bony shoulders, the way Alison Blaire does after restless, midday napping. The two-floor, modern penthouse opens around her with its glass walls, letting in the low winter sun, bearing colour to the sleepless purple under her eyes, or the unhealthy pallor of her pale skin. She moves facelessly as if through an empty apartment — Warren would be long gone, off to work — making her way to its open kitchen. Her robe's hem drags on the floor in her wake.

* * *

As Ali makes her way toward the open kitchen, she may smell fresh coffee being brewed. It would not be out of character for Warren to have thoughtfully put on a fresh pot for Ali while he went off to work.

As Ali nears, though, there is also the smell of food. While there is no sound of pots and pans, why is there the smell of toasted bread?

The question will be answered when she fully moves through the doorway and sees one Peggy Carter standing at the island. Coffee is already in cups and Peggy is drinking from one. While she is generally a woman who drinks tea, she knew that a whistling kettle would have been far more noticeable than the machine. Hers is black, maybe a touch of milk in there.

The Agent of SHIELD is wearing what may be considered her business clothes: a pantsuit with her hair pulled back into curled waves. Her jacket is neatly folded over one of the kitchen chairs.

On a plate is some toast, fresh cut fruit has been put in a bowl and there's various other types of food laid out.

"Ah, Miss Blaire," she greets Ali as if this were her kitchen, not hers. There's no explanation given as to how she got in. "We've not been formerly introduced. My name is Peggy Carter. I was hoping we could speak about your future. Do you take your coffee with anything? I can also make tea."

* * *

The smell of food puts the first hitch in Alison's slow step.

No alarm, because it's very rare she gets to be alone these days: it could be help hired, again, out of Warren's concern to see her properly fed, or it could be Kiff stopping by for a cursory check (visits, they call them, but she knows they are checks), or it could be Warren himself, feeling a knot of something or other that keeps him grounded for the day with her —

She hates that the first sensation that comes to her is dread. She spent all her life alone, and even if she hates it, solitude is what comes easiest to her. It will take energy to force the smiles, suffer the small-talk, pretend it's just another day of her new, aimless life…

But it's not just another day. Not at first glance into the penthouse's luxury kitchen, expecting one of many faces in there — and receiving, instead, the famous Agent Carter.

For her part, Alison Blaire might not even be recognized for her own fame in moments like these; there's little of the Dazzler left on her right now, in her wine-stained robe or her unwashed hair. She just stands there, sober enough to look and feel thoroughly flummoxed.

"Peggy Carter?" she finally repeats, her voice gravelly with disuse. "With SHIELD?" Apprehension flickers across her face, though it doesn't appear to graduate formally into fear — she's still half-asleep. "Who let you in?"

* * *

Peggy sets down her mug of coffee on the counter and then plucks up the one she made for Alison. It's still steaming hot. First, she takes a sip of it to show that it's not poisoned and then she slowly approaches, holding it out for the disheveled woman to take well before she is close.

"That information is classified." Though, the imagination can run through quite a few things. Peggy's a world class spy, she could talk her way past Kiff and pick the locks. Or, she could have just had Kiff let her in. "Are you hungry? It has been my impression that you haven't been out for awhile. I would have invited you out, but this seemed more direct. Bread is good to coat the stomach, however, fresh fruit can be very refreshing in the morning."

Her tone is conversational, however it is also confident that Alison will listen to her. "There's orange juice, but you may prefer a glass of water?"

With or without the cup of coffee, she moves back toward the food and gestures for Ali to follow her. "Sit? You haven't asked the most important question yet."

* * *

The Alison Blaire of six months ago would not take this well. For being an ex-celebrity of international renown, personal intrusions never went over well with her over-developed paranoia.

The Alison Blaire of now, however…

She just stands there, a little anticlimactically, as the woman famous for creating an international spy agency prepares her a cozy little breakfast, puts the finishing touches on the coffee, and asks if she has a preference. Her eyes path Peggy's movements, following it all with no small bit of confusion, a tic gestating at her right eyebrow like Alison isn't sure if she's still drunk, and this is one hell of a hallucination from the last bender.

There are many more questions she could ultimately ask.

"…I'm not hungry," Alison mumbles instead, a little lost for the count. "But I'll take a glass of bourbon if you're pouring."

Her mouth tightens when asked to sit, and maybe the Alison of six months ago would crankily demand to stand, but this one still feels a little too unsteady on her feet. She carefully accepts, taking a chair. She exhales, weary in every way. "I don't know about the most important question, but I know which one applies best to me. Am I under arrest? Did it just become illegal for mutants to live in their homes?"

* * *

While Peggy as a spy doesn't really have respect for personal spaces - she would be a terrible infiltrator if she was - she almost certainly wouldn't do this to the Alison of six months ago. She knows something of how to approach people in a way to get what she wants.

Getting a glass from the cabinet as if she knows exactly where everything is (how long was she in the kitchen?) she gets some purified water and slides that over to Alison. "This is just as good. I think it best if we talk without mind altering substances involved."

Taking her mug from the counter, she moves back toward the table. Setting the mug down, she waits. After Alison sits down, she tilts her head and places her palms on the back of the chair opposite of the woman in front of her. "If you were under arrest, do you think I would have brought breakfast?"

Studying Alison, she watches as the woman takes direction. "What would bring me to Warren Worthington's apartment specifically looking to speak to you?" She pauses, then lays it out. "I would like to recruit you for SHIELD."

* * *

There is no doubt this is the best way to wrangle an errant Alison Blaire of the here and now: freshly resurrected, and lost for purpose. Also probably, definitely, deeply traumatized, and with little taste in her mouth in any given day to go out in public on the demand of some clandestine SHIELD agent.

The ask for some booze goes unfilfilled. Alison lets go a windy sound, her arms crossing over her chest; she expected as much, but a lady has to try.

She eyes the glass of water like she doesn't quite trust it — they haven't been properly acquainted in weeks — and eventually lifts it, not to drink, but to press its cold side against her left temple, up against the pulse of a burgeoning headache.

Peggy Carter's remark makes her snort humourlessly, and Alison answers with an unaffected half-shrug. Would she have brought breakfast to a public mutant's untimely arrest? "Hey, my tax dollars have to go somewhere," she quips back.

But not one to make laps around the point, Agent Carter cuts to the chase. Alison's eyes, which had just closed, better for her dizzy spell, creak back open. She stares at her for a beat. "You're kidding."

But she isn't, is she? Moonstar works out of SHIELD. Surely other mutants. But, why —

"Looking for someone to sing at next year's Christmas party? I don't do that kind of gig anymore," Alison murmurs, though her affected nonchalance begins to run contrary to the new sharpness in her eyes. "I'm not really SHIELD material, and that was before trashfire me. What is it you /want/?"

* * *

Unable to help herself, Peggy gives a short snicker at the tax dollar line. There's the woman she has read up on.

The question to whether she is joking is met with a raise of an eyebrow. Does she look like she's joking? There are plenty of mutants who work with SHIELD and she doesn't feel the need to go too hard into that point. Instead, she pulls back the chair she has been leaning on and slides into the seat. Picking up her coffee mug, she just watches Alison for a moment.

"Not really SHIELD material? You are a socialite with the ability to read a room. You can fade into the background when needed and then bring yourself to the forefront when that is also called for. I've watched footage of you and Worthington at events. You have the ability to get into events and places by simply smiling where if we would have flashed a badge, it would put people on the defensive."

Taking a sip of her coffee, she sets it back onto the table carefully. It barely makes a sound. "And also, your mutation means you can manipulate light. I have a feeling that means on a mission you could manipulate it to give cover to a team."

Peggy places her hands on the table and takes in 'trashfire' Alison Blaire. "The important question, Miss Blaire, is how do you think you're not SHIELD material?"

* * *

Little by little, Alison's demeanour shifts and changes. She no longer braces her glass against her would-be headache: not that it is alleviated, but simply able to be forgotten, shuffled deeper and deeper down into her focus the longer Peggy Carter speaks.

Mid-way through, she sets the glass down, rubbing the damp condensation away between her fingers. An idle gesture, because the ex-Dazzler is far away, listening with averted eyes and a furrowed brow. She says nothing, and does even less.

Only Peggy laying both hands down on the table draws the woman's eye. Sharp eyes now, even if they aren't entirely clear — foggy with yesterday's leftover intoxication, purpled along the edges with perpetual insomnia. A wreck of a person, however one who has been able to afford her full attention to anything, anyone, in nearly two months.

That last question leaves her silent. No quips this time. Not even an abject dismissal. Just Alison, leaning back into her chair, as if needing something to brace her against the whirling of too-quick, too-many possibilties.

"I…" she starts, stilted. She clears her throat, though it doesn't do much to kill the scrathy rasp of her voice. "I'm not exactly at top form. I won't pretend that you don't know why, either."

Still, she feels dazed. To do something. To do something, not as the Dazzler, not as an X-Man, not —

"Wait, what is this even for?" Alison demands, with a sobering shake of her head. "You need me to do what? Against who? After what the Brotherhood did, I'm sure another mutant is exactly what SHIELD wants. And SHIELD's track record isn't exactly stellar."

* * *

Peggy leaves her hands on the table, letting the coffee steam upward as they discuss. She watches as Alison processes the laundry list of reasons that Peggy gives her for reasons she believes the woman should join SHIELD. It's a lot to handle and she also does not quip, does not soften or add to her observations.

The questions that Alison have are met and given the proper weight. "This is not a 'show up for duty in the morning' visit. You'll have to go through proper training. While you're doing that, I do believe you'll return to some semblance of form."

As for what this is for, she gives Alison a steady look. "No, SHIELD does not have a good record in regards to mutants or registration, however SHIELD is not only in New York and perhaps thought a large international bureaucracy was better to handle parts of its policing rather than a dedicated and rabid agency made specifically for that purpose."

Peggy sighs and now puts her hands on her cup. "SHIELD does not make the easy decisions. Nor, even, the right ones. But we try to do good were and when we can." At times that means making decisions for other people in order to protect them. Shady? Yes. But, there are good intentions. And nothing can ever go wrong when good intentions are involved!

"Miss Blaire…Alison. I'm not here on orders or offering this in order to give SHIELD some sort of PR boost." Her expression turns much more serious as she continues, "I am here of my own volition as I believe you are someone who wishes to do good, who wants to help and may need another avenue in order to do so. There is no specific enemy or mission I have in mind for you. I think you are the type of woman I would wish for on one of my teams."

Pause. "And every now and again you are able to punch a neo-Nazi in the face before you arrest them. I believe it an added perk to the job."

* * *

Slouched back in her chair, her hands loosely folded in her lap, her head tilted down, Alison remains silent. Silent and — despite having countless reasons never to trust a human ever again — listening.

The Alison of many months and one bullet ago would not be listening to this. She knows. There are so many unknowns she could not account for to make such a decision, one and the same she always thought a little… less… of Dani Moonstar for accepting. A mutant could not serve two masters, and her dual affiliations brought SHIELD perilously within arm's reach of sniffing out something about the X-Men. It was a decision drowned in aggravating circumstances.

How could she know she wasn't some pawn? How could she know SHIELD would always be on the level? How could she know this sort of work wouldn't pull her in too deep, into something dangerous, something fatal, that she was ill-equipped to survive? It took Professor Xavier years of convincing Alison to trust the X-Men, and even then, she always danced a step back from committing. She was never an easy sell.

Hesitant Alison. Reluctant Alison. Reserved Alison. Selfish Alison. Cowardly Alison.

That's all she ever was. That's all she ever knows. And, like all those times, she'd open her mouth and tell them —

"I'll do it."

The words pour free before Alison even thinks them through. In fact, it seems to surprise her, hearing her own voice as if coming from someone else. She purses her mouth, searches herself, and lifts her eyes back up onto Peggy. Then it hits her, crystal clear.

"…I'll do it." This is what she wants. No Dazzler. No X-Men. No what ifs and hopeful maybes that ended up destroying another world. Maybe something else. Maybe something different, because she's different too, and she needs something.

"I can do it. All those things you said. Promise me there's results. It's not just red tape. It's not just governance. Promise me you're not just feeding me a line, and I'll get to do… something."

* * *

After Peggy makes her speech, she waits. She's not actually expecting an answer that quickly from Alison. She expected at least one more recruitment speech push before she would consider it. The surprise is actually readable on her face for a moment when the words 'I'll do it' are spoken.

Then, they're repeated. Even more confirmation.

The last affirmation, a promise needed is met with a pause. Peggy doesn't give this promise lip service. "It's not all red tape." That is quickly followed, though, with a clarification. "There is, however, certainly red tape. It's not all wins. But, we do things. It's not always broadcast and it's not publicly known, but we do things. And if you want to be a part of it? You will, too."

* * *

Alison listens. This quality of hers still persists, even beyond both the grave and subsequent resurrection: some people play by little more than a twist in their gut, trusting intuition and throwing caution to the wind. It's never been her style. Restraint, patience, reconsideration — cowardice.

She listens to all the famous Peggy Carter has to say, each word reflecting off her tired, traumatized, bloodshot eyes. The woman who once sang about hope to an entire generation seems to be desperate to seek some of her own — and finding something, some facsimile, housed within a mysterious woman whose other iteration forged and founded one of the most secretive and terrifying global institutions. The same institution that once housed, whether deliberately or through negligence, an agent that could have devastated the world's mutant populations.

Alison once distrusted SHIELD immensely for that. Now, the issue feels as clouded and faraway as the rest of her life, before Cameron Hodge put a bullet in her skull.

"I wasn't going to make it a habit trusting humans, you know, after what happened last time," she finally remarks, though her voice lacks coldness — instead, it's a detached, dry, tired gallows humour. "In fact, I didn't even want to be in a room with another human for as long as I lived. But. I suppose you're going to be my last shot. I've… seen the world end. I'll do anything to stop it from happening again."

She exhales. "I'm tired of hiding."

* * *

"Does it help that I have been proclaimed Einherjar of a Norse gathering in central park? Does that make me feel less human?" Peggy Carter asks this question completely drily. Does she truly expect an answer to this question? It's hard to tell.

There's a long moment as Peggy looks at Alison Blaire. Peggy has been equal parts Marry Poppins, Nick Fury and Loki as she moves about offering food, telling Alison how she is and explaining the future she has laid out for her. There is a lot to process here. Peggy lets the sentiment of not wanting to hide hang for a few moments.

Then, she looks to Alison. "I have not seen the world end, but I saw what would happen if it did. I will continue to fight any attempt of it rising again."

Pushing the glass of water, again, toward Alison when she says she's tired, she adds, "I know that feeling. Very personally. And you know what I have found? The power is not in the hiding or not hiding. It is knowing you have the ability to do it when you wish. It is the choice of the matter."

* * *

Resistance can only last for so long.

Finally, Alison accepts that proffered glass of water, eyeing it with that sunken-eyed haze of someone whose only hydration has been found at the bottom of a bourbon bottle. Not that she'll be able to keep that up if she does this. She'll have to get dry. She'll have to get serious.

She'll have to start. Start something, even if she isn't sure what — maybe just taking that first step out of that haze wherein she's been living since her resurrection.

She pulls the glass to her lips and empties nearly the entire glass, drinking it down. Stopping only to breathe, the woman leans back, her eyes back on Peggy. Agent Carter survived the worst war — sacrificed for it — and that's what Alison surmises the woman is referring to, in broad shapes, of her own near-ending world.

The choice, she says, in her crisp accent — and it brings Alison to frown, pensive.

"Then, thank you," she says, finally. "For being the first to give me a choice… in a long, long time." After a pause, Alison slowly outstretches her right hand — the first time she's volunteered to touch anyone since Hodge put a gun to her. It's to shake, and seal the deal good and proper.

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