Registration Reservations
Roleplaying Log: Registration Reservations
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Sharon stops by to visit her Great Uncle on Christmas Day. Registration is top of mind.

Other Characters Referenced: Peggy Carter, Agent Coulson, Rami Ghai
IC Date: December 25, 2018
IC Location: MIchael's Apartment
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Jan 2019 03:53
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* * *

It's still Christmas, technically. Christmas Day has become Christmas Night, flirting with the hour that would be inappropriate for dropping in for a visit, but Sharon's going to risk it anyway. She's heard a little about what happened with her uncle: she knows he's not under arrest, she knows that he's more or less Fine now, and she knows he and Peg have had a falling out. Over what, she's not thoroughly certain, but she has a grim suspicion.

So she took the train from the family party and made her way to Michael's apartment, still dressed in Hampton's-style holiday finery (cable knit sweater, leggings, boots, a fluffy hat, and a navy peacoat over it all) with a large shopping bag in one hand. She rings the bell, pulling off her gloves and tugging the hat off. Her cheeks and nose are still a little flushed from spiked eggnog and cold winds, and she's doing her best to look cheery.

* * *

When Michael first came to New York, he had a one-bedroom furnished executive suite in Chelsea. Those were the days when he was firmly nestled under MI6.5's wing. Now though? It's a second floor walk-up in Hell's Kitchen, only blocks from recent destruction. It's not terrible in the way that makes one immediately worry for one's own safety, but neither is it a luxury building with a doorman.

There isn't an answer right away. But before she gives up, the locks do slide open. Michael looks a little haggard, a little in need of a shave, and wearing sweatpants and a gray v-neck t-shirt. "Sharon. What the devil are you doing here? And what is that ball of dryer lint?" he motions to her hat.

* * *

It's not a great look for Michael Carter. He generally looks good, but now… well, now he looks a lot like he did when he first appeared. Directionless. Scruffy.

"You're one to talk about sartorial choices," Sharon returns, but she does stuff the hat under her arm. "It's from Cousin Ermengarde." That says it all right there, honestly. Ermengarde is well-meaning, but she also has possibly the worst taste in the whole family. Means she gets along just fine in Long Island, to be honest. "I've brought you a care package. And gifts. May I come in, please?" She's not going to say it, but the hallway isn't very warm.

* * *

"I should have mentioned it, but I don't actually do Christmas. A few decades away from it makes one less inclined to celebrate." But nonetheless, Michael does step aside to allow her entrance. "Apologies for the state of things. I hadn't planned on entertaining."

It's a bachelor flat, neat if only because there's hardly anything in it. There's a secondhand IKEA couch, a plain bed parked into one corner, and an alcove kitchen with a pass-through that has a pair of bar stools pushed against it. The ceilings are relatively high and the exposed brick lends a bit of interest to an otherwise plain room. The big window looks out on…well, the side of another building that's only about eight feet away.

* * *

"Sorry for showing up unannounced," Sharon replies. "You're not required to 'do' Christmas. The family still sent presents along." She steps inside, surveying the apartment for no more than a second or two before setting her bag down on the pass-through. Turning around, she takes a deep breath and flashes her uncle a friendly smile.

"I like the brick," she says, "and the ceilings." She doesn't have to say it's a step down from where he used to be. That's all too clear. Still, she can focus on the positive. "…and if it's not too much trouble, I was hoping to chat."

* * *

"This is my…" Michael pauses and flicks his fingers. "…fifth place since coming to New York a year ago? So you're not likely to see it looking any homier than this. Though I may not be here long anyway, depending." Michael goes over to the coffee table to scoop up a few dishes and carry it towards the kitchen. "I'd ask you if you want a drink, but you just spent the day with family, so of course you do." He does spare a little bit of a grin as he enters the alcove kitchen. He drops the dishes in his hands in the dishwasher and then opens up a cupboard to pull down a bottle of Highland single malt. Fairly pedestrian 12 year old, but still, single malt.

* * *

"Before you do that…" One of the packages Sharon pulls out is tall and rectangular. She nudges it across the counter: "Surprise. From Aunt Dorcas." Who has excellent taste. Inside, he'll find a bottle of Glenmorangie Extremely Rare. Tastes like Christmas. "I could definitely use a drink. It's been a Time, and I'm definitely including A Carter Family Christmas in that. You get off easy, but I'm still expected to show and I'll get endless hell if I don't. Time to fake my own death." Maybe it's insensitive, but the spy-Carters don't go in for sensitivity much. Other packages reveal a portion of beef tenderloin, grilled asparagus, some kind of chowder, and various other holiday foods.

* * *

"And how is the Carter clan? Disappointed their ancient curiosity of a great-uncle didn't make the celebrations?" Michael nods approvingly at the box, then pulls it out. He grabs a pair of tumblers (proper ones as he's got taste) and splashes a generous amount in each glass. He also grabs, unbidden, a small little pitcher of water with a glass dropper to be able to open it up a little. "If you're looking for it on the rocks, I'm afraid I will have to disappoint. My freezer's broken." A beat, and, "…I don't recommend faking your death. It's caused me no end of problems."

* * *

"Just a few drops of water for me, please." She generally prefers neat anyway, and she's not about to argue if she gets to share in this lovely stuff. "Everyone asked where you were. Then they all asked what you were up to. Individually, and with various levels of knowing looks depending on how much gossip they listen to. Then they all clucked and shrugged and said something along the lines of 'family's always welcome but I'm sure Michael knows best'. And then they would tell a story about something their gran said you did in the Thirties. It was kind of unnerving, to be honest." There are other wrapped gifts inside. Michael's free to take or leave them.

The last comment elicits a faint snort. "See, but you faked your death and became a spy. At that point you're asking for so much trouble you might as well stay alive. I'm thinking… yoga mom."

* * *

"Just thumb through the SHIELD deep cover assignments and pick something with a long surveillance life in a nice suburb somewhere. Paid vacation," says Michael as he hands the glass over after dropping in a few drops of water. "I spent a year and a half in the Sixties on a commune searching for leads to a rising cocaine ring." Just picture Michael with long hair and sideburns and a joint in his mouth.

He overlooks the presents for the moment. Perishables get stowed in the fridge, though he pops a tin of cookies. "I suppose you're here to talk about my current status with SHIELD."

* * *

"I'm trying to imagine you in beads and a dashiki. The mind rebels." Sharon takes her glass and leans on the counter, elbows propped up, scotch tumbler held in both hands. She breathes in the scent of it and closes her eyes a moment, letting out a heavy sigh.

"Something like that. Though at the moment, I hate to say it: you might be a better asset for me outside of SHIELD. I'm looking down the barrel of being incredibly principled about the law, and I'd like to have a career at the end of it. Balancing that with my principles is, shocker, not proving very easy."

* * *

"Oh, my dear niece. Have a look through my files. You'll see the many, many faces of Michael Carter over the decades." Michael chuckles and sips the single malt. He lets it go down the back of his throat. He closes his eyes in appreciation. "I see my genes for scotch got passed on to at least one area of the family."

He pulls out one of the stools for her and sits down on the other. He looks at her for a moment and considers. "You do realize it's fucking bollocks to expect spies to be on a public registry, right? I understand that SHIELD don't want to be seen as hypocrites, but there have always been exceptions to laws in the name of national security." He rubs his cheek. "So what are you saying? You'd like an asset out in the wild whose hands aren't tied by needing to follow the letter of the law?"

* * *

"She might have had a little help," Sharon admits. A really good bottle of scotch is the gift that keeps on giving. She takes a small taste, letting the flavor open up in her mouth before swallowing. She's always quite liked the sharp within the smooth. She could just stand there and catalogue every little tinge and touch of flavor…

But she slips onto the stool instead, taking another sip before setting her tumbler down. "I don't know how Fury didn't get a deal to keep agents' records secured. It's ridiculous. Registration itself…" Sharon rolls her eyes. "Aside from the obvious ethical issues, not that SHIELD has always concerned itself with those, it puts this information in the hands of frankly a lot of amateurs without the experience to deal with these issues. One of two things will happen to SHIELD: either we'll become the world weirdo police dealing more with enforcing registration than actual problems, or the same TLAs that have been grousing and stonewalling us for decades are going to try to take over meta law enforcement. Which means they'll inevitably cock it up and blame us for their fuckups. New York is a test case. Registration needs to fail, and it needs to fail publicly and dramatically and in multiple ways."

Sharon takes a much longer drink then, finally going silent for a full minute. She sets down her glass and rotates it on the counter.

"So yes. That's what I want."

* * *

Michael listens to what Sharon has to say. He lets his poker face slip, and the ghost of a little smile and a twinkle in his eye to appear. "My my. We are related, aren't we?" A chuckle, another sip. "Don't get me wrong - I'm decidedly pro knowing everything we can possibly know about abilities. Making people tell us? That is extremely valuable. But only if that information is in the right hands. And only if gathering it doesn't create its own set of problems."

He breaks a cookie in half thoughtfully. "I have always been completely willing to disclose everything about my abilities to SHIELD granted that information remains private. But I am completely unable to make that information available to the general public, or to anyone who won't treat it in context and with due care. There are hundreds of missions that I've undertaken over the decades that could be retroactively compromised were the information to fall into the wrong hands, and if intelligence agencies were to connect dots. I am completely willing to go to prison or even to stake my life on not allowing that information to be made public."

He goes quiet a moment as he chews a bite of ginger cookie. "I don't suppose you could get me on your roster as a field asset or a CI and give me some cover for not getting my name on a public register in exchange?" From the expression on his face, he's not overly hopeful that will be possible.

* * *

"Gonna try," Sharon replies with a tiny sigh. "In theory, you'd be a fixer. SHIELD doesn't get its hands publicly dirty and you get protection. I can't promise you won't have to register, though I'll make the argument. But if Peggy can't make it happen, I don't know how much chance Coulson and I have."

She smiles wryly, though, at his slightly backhanded praise. "Information is always useful. But frankly, I don't even trust SHIELD with all of this information. I also prefer, generally speaking, to start treating people like criminals after they commit crimes. Less so beforehand. I also sort of dislike just making an entire class of people separate and criminal by nature. Seems to me that philosophy had its day and lost."

She snags one of the thin little ginger crisps and munches it before she goes on: "In practice, I'm going to need a man on the ground for, well, miscellaneous activities. You know, it is mildly hilarious how SHIELD wants to start enforcing state laws now. When was that ever our thing? What's next: patrolling the airspace and waters around Genosha to make sure the enslaved don't wander off?"

* * *

"Better my hands dirtier than yours," says Michael. Some might have delivered that sarcastically, but he seems to mean that. "And I will say again, I am all right with SHIELD having my information. I'd just prefer it to be given to vetted parties on a need-to-know basis. I long ago gave up the right to personal privacy. That's not it for me. For me, it's about British national security and the integrity of past missions."

His eyebrows go up, come down, on the comment about personal liberties. "It's always been a luxury of mine to avoid such lofty questions. I have always been a company man. I do what I'm told and trust that my superiors have their reasons. Though I do admit that in this era of rot at the very heart of agencies, that's quite a bit more problematic than it once was."

He chuckles a little. "Ah, so you'd be running me, ay? Have a chat with Rami. I'm sure she'll have a notebook of tips on how to manage me." He sets his glass down. "The whole thing smells fishy to me. SHIELD not insisting on an exception on national security grounds. The role, as you say, in enforcing state laws. The very concept is flawed as well, and likely to create more problems than it would solve."

* * *

"I expect so," Sharon murmurs. "I don't intend to see that happen. Peggy… believes the best, maybe, but she's not a fool. And I know the sorts of things these organizations got up to in the forties. It was a time with different complexities. I'm not so sure it had less. Even if you'd know, given you were there."

There's a very faint smile with that one. She eyes the bottle, then pours herself a very small bit more.

"Can I bring you anything here that you need? Anything you don't have?" She knows he's too proud to ask. Even if she asks first. Still, she has to try.

**

"What would you say if I asked for armaments and ammunition? Not being on active duty removes my ability to recquisition, and I'd rather not give any money to the illegal market." But Michael is certainly capable of navigating those. It was a necessity on several ops over the years where he was working so far off-books that he was on radio silence for months.

"There is…one thing you could do…" He walks over to his fridge and reaches on the top until he produces two fat envelopes. He sets them on the bartop. "Please make sure that this gets to the families of the men I killed while I was compromised." It's nearly fifteen grand, all-told. "A small gesture, but I feel I must do something."

**

Sharon knows about how much fifteen grand looks like even without opening the envelopes. Her lips draw thin and she nods once. "About that," she says. Because there's no good way of bringing it up, so she does it while she packs the weregild into her purse. "Do you know it happened, or why? Deep programming? A trigger word? How much have we made sure that's not going to happen again?"

She drinks that tiny bit of whiskey she's allowed herself to add to the rest, then washes out the glass before turning around. "I want you to be… safe's clearly not the right word. I want to make sure you're in control of yourself. I want… you to be okay."

**

"So that's a no on the armaments and ammunition then?" says Michael with a quirked smile. He leans on the counter and flares his nostrils at her question. "I'm fine. It was…a backdoor. A very, very old backdoor that was implanted when my systems were experimental, but was buried and never used. Whoever found out about it has very deep connections in Six-Five or was actually there." Both entirely possible. "Rami has assured me, and SHIELD that it has been permanently deactivated. So no, I shouldn't turn into a robotic killing machine again. I'll just be a regular killing machine." Dry, that.

**

"That's a "maybe not on Christmas night but we'll see, especially if you don't mind non-lethal"," Sharon replies with a faint snort. "If I had a nickel for everyone who wants their own private arsenal, well, then I suppose I'd be a gun runner."

A deep breath after the rest, and Sharon nods. "Still might not be the worst idea to get your firmware some updates. Then again, I hear those older systems are a lot more stable than the newer ones, and a lot more ironclad." A wink then, and she reaches out to pull her uncle into a brief embrace.

"You'll always have me on your side," she murmurs. "Even if it's a side of one."

**

"I'm not talking an arsenal, but I wouldn't refuse one," says Michael with the trademark dry British wit. "No, just something to keep myself protected. There still are people who want to kill me, you know."

He's a little taken aback by the hug. He hesitates, stiffens, then gives her a small, awkward squeeze in return. "Well I do appreciate that. But don't go damaging your career on my account. You carry the legacy of the Carter name and I won't see that besmirched."

**

"Don't worry. I'm being very careful about the Carter name. If I go down for any reason, it'll be for some incredibly principled, noble, and foolhardy reason that will make everyone roll their eyes." Sharon actually smiles then, and it's quite bright. Perhaps it's even genuine. "Don't worry, Uncle. It's a bit of a dog and pony show, but it's not my first. And if we didn't want to dance all our lives, we shouldn't have been so eager to put our dancing shoes on."

She considers that metaphor. "Not sure that made sense, so I'm going to head out while I'm aheadish." There's a lot on her mind. A lot she's going to have to figure out before she moves forward.

**

"That's Peggy's legacy, not mine. My legacy is to be smart to the point of complete detachment and distance from human relationships and to think only of the mission." Well, at least Michael's self-aware? He pauses to give her a fond look. "You do the family proud. Even the ones who aren't spooks." He raises his glass towards her and says, "Happy Christmas, Sharon."

**

"Well, if i get tired of being the personable and idealistic yet pragmatic and calculating one, I'll consider that model. It sounds workable. Happy Christmas, Michael. May we have many more."

And then she's heading out the door, adding 'get Michael a sidearm' and 'ask Peggy what the hell' to her to-do list.

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