Devil's in the Details
Roleplaying Log: Devil's in the Details
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Peggy Carter comes to Nelson & Murdock to discuss SHIELD's deal with Luke Cage.

Other Characters Referenced: Jessica Jones, Danny Rand
IC Date: March 13, 2019
IC Location: Nelson & Murdock
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 14 Mar 2019 04:38
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

* * *

Luke Cage has dressed up for this meeting, seeming how it is the one that will determine the course of the rest of his life. He wears a dark silver grey suit with matching vest, black dress shirt and a matte black tie but it helps that this is a dry run for the ensemble he is considering for the wedding. There are very few people that the Man Mountain lets see him being nervous, but no doubt before Peggy arrives Foggy and Matt get to be privy to the pacing and knee bouncing and handkerchief to his sweaty forehead. It doesn't help he's on his third cup of coffee.

* * *

The law offices of Nelson & Murdock have been bursting at the seam for the last two months. New associates, clerks, administrative staff. They're renting the place across the hall, the place down the hall they scooped up two weeks ago. At this rate, they'll have taken over the whole third floor by summertime. But the core of the office, the green-painted central nervous system of their small but mighty firm, is empty tonight except for three people: Matt, Foggy, and Luke.

Matt sits at the conference table off the foyer, cup of coffee rotating slowly in one hand while he listens to the sound of Luke Cage's heavy, restless footsteps. "You're going to do great, Luke," he assures him, with all his trademark quiet confidence. Then the lawyer's head tilts, like a dog that hears a whistle. "She's coming."

* * *

Foggy Nelson is doodling in his legal pad while he waits. He's settled on random polygons that he eventually links together to make a space ship. Then he draws a moon. On the moon, he draws a geometric astronaut. The speech bubble attached to its head proclaims that 'No, Houston. The Moon is not made of cheese.' It's his only real down time, people, leave him be.

"Yup, you're going to be grate. Like cheese." He chortles to himself before he rubs at his brow with his thumb and first two fingers. He could really use a fifteenth cup of coffee and maybe some protein.

* * *

The woman they were waiting for arrives. Dressed in a business suit and looking as pressed and pristine as she generally does, Peggy enters the conference room. While she has no superhero mask, nor any sort of general disguise, she does look professional and certainly as if she works for the government.

A smile certainly crosses her face to see her surroundings and those she has been invited to meet. "Good afternoon, all. As I'm sure you're aware, I am Agent Peggy Carter. I know some of you," she nods to Foggy and Matt. "Mr. Nelson, Mr. Murdock, a pleasure to see you again. It seems as if you are the odd man out of my knowledge. A pleasure to meet you…" she drifts off, waiting for him to introduce himself.

* * *

Luke barely has time to get a chuff of laughter out at Foggy's pun before Matt is giving the much appreciated heads up that Peggy is arriving. He's on his feet when she enters, looking cool as a cucumber now even if his intestines are twisting into knots on the inside. "Luke Cage, Agent Carter. A pleasure to meet you." His voice is a low rumble and smooth as silk. "Thanks for meeting with me and my representation."

* * *

Matt's stubbled, careworn features are schooled to neutrality when those seemingly harmless but potentially fateful introductions are made. As much as he brokered this whole crazy scheme, as limited as Luke's options were, he still feels trepidation about handing his client — his friend — over. Still, he musters a brief and cordial smile when he's named. "Ms. Carter," he says, his voice quiet and smoothed of the rough edges it takes on during his evening adventures on rooftops or in alleys. "Always a pleasure. Help yourself to some of the coffee on the table if you'd like."

A beat, a clearing of his throat. "Mr. Cage has brought us up to speed on the, ah, arrangement on the table." There's a beat. "He's prepared to speak candidly on his circumstances for the purposes of deciding whether to move forward with his employment at SHIELD. Can we assume, in turn, that if he does speak candidly and we can't come to an agreement, you won't then immediately volunteer him to DPS or DEO or NYPD? I know you can't extend qualified immunity and this isn't a formal proffer. You aren't a district attorney or a U.S.A." His lips twitch. "Given the unusual circumstances, we'd take your good faith commitment."

* * *

"Hello, Ms. Carter." Beat. "Agent Carter. Good to see you again." He sounds very genuine, too! He even smiles. But then Matt is taking the lead, and he takes a breath to settle himself into the correct demeanor. He nods slightly with Matt's reply, but otherwise remains quiet. His eyes gauge Peggy carefully, and then his gaze just slightly ticks toward Luke.

* * *

"Of course, Mr. Cage." Peggy gives Luke something of a look. It is not quite a double take so much as a once over. "Do please be seated. I appreciate the sentiment, however."

To Matt, Peggy raises an eyebrow, though she knows he cannot see it. "That is Agent Carter, Mr. Murdock. While I am here as a favor and a consultation, I am here in a somewhat official capacity. I cannot simply turn that part of my life on and off, as it were. I am here to hear what Mr. Cage has to say and if I can help, I will do so."

As for the immediate request for confidentiality, she gives a soft laugh. "Mr. Murdock, you have requested the expertise and judgement of a SHIELD Agent and so therefore I will tell you what I can. Registration is not a law just yet and therefore this is a meeting amongst concerned parties. I would have absolutely no authority to act upon the information I learned upon this meeting and as far as I am concerned, unless I find what Mr. Cage has to tell me as something that is of national security, I see no reason why a federal agency such as SHIELD would interfere on a local level."

Smiling, she sits down next to Foggy and folds her hands. "That would simply be out of our jurisdiction as I understand it." Turning to the blonde haired attorney, she grins. "A pleasure as always, Mr. Nelson."

* * *

Luke gives a little nod to Peggy, moving around to sit next to Matt. His friends have long since learned to Cage-proof their furniture, and so he's confident as his big frame settles in the standard sized chair that it won't just crumble beneath him. "I wish we could just hash this out over a beer down at my bar, but this is my future we're talking about here. I hope you understand. Where do we start?"

* * *

"Of course," Matt says of Peggy's title. Much as Luke might wish otherwise, they aren't in fact hashing this out over beers.

Where do we start?

"Mr. Cage is in a Catch-22," Matt says, bringing his quiet intensity to bear on the moment. He shifts his posture, leaning forward, speaking with his hands. Red lenses glitter with reflected lamplight. "Years ago, he was wrongly convicted of a nonviolent crime. Framed. In prison, he was experimented on, turned into a metahuman by the state. He escaped life as a human guinea pig, and has lived under a psuedonym as a not just productive but outstanding member of his community. A hero."

The lawyer spreads his hands. "Now, the state demands that he register. If he registers under the name Luke Cage, he perjures himself and could be sent to jail on that alone even if we successfully clear him of the wrongful conviction. If he registers under his true name… he will almost certainly go to jail."

Murdock sits back in his seat. "That wouldn't just be a travesty of justice, Agent Carter. It would be a waste of a good man with incredible talents."

He draws in a breath. "SHIELD has the power to stop it. So my question is: what do you need to know, and what do we need to do, to make this work?"

* * *

Where do they start?

Peggy lets Matt talk and discuss about the legal ramifications. "I understand. I am also not a lawyer and this is not court."

Looking to Luke, she focuses on him as oppose to his council. "Mr. Cage, let me be clear. I can put you under SHIELD and while you will still have to register, I can commute your sentence as 'timed served', essentially. However, that will require you to work within SHIELD for a certain amount of time. I would certainly not be able to onboard you and then fire you within a few weeks."

The information given is processed and filed away. "From what I hear, your crimes have little to do with anything that would disrupt a SHIELD recruitment. I have been putting together a small team that I think you would work well within. However, I could also put you on desk duty under my supervision, depending on how you would wish to proceed."

Glancing at Matt and Foggy, she frowns. "May I have a moment alone with your client?"

* * *

With Matt taking the lead, Foggy instead plays his paired role and takes some notes. His ballpoint pen scratches against the yellow paper of the pad, and it is far more serious than cheese and astronauts. He looks up as Peggy begins to speak, and his eyes do not cut to Matt or Luke while he listens. Not even when Peggy drops the word register. He instead looks up when Peggy asks to be left alone with Luke, and he glances to Matt once. Then he's looking to Luke. "I wouldn't advise it, but if you are going to excuse us… no agreeing to anything without us in the room."

* * *

Beneath the table, Luke keeps his fists balled up on his knees as his life is basically laid out in the open for a complete stranger. While he was ready to jump in with both feet initially, he's since been giving reason to pause when it comes down to signing on the bottom line from both Jess and Matt prior to this meeting. "No offense ma'am but working a desk job sounds like a special kind of hell and I'm not sure SHIELD could make a stapler sturdy enough." But being asked to be spoken to alone makes him glance uncomfortably at his counsel, but he gives a nod to both of them that he's okay with it as long as they are.

* * *

"Boring can be better than the alternative, Luke," says the unrepentant adrenaline junkie and shameless hypocrite that is Luke Cage's lawyer. Somehow Matt seems to know Foggy is throwing a look his way when Peggy asks for that private time with their client. He lips twitch intimation of a wince. He taps on the table with a forefinger once, twice, thrice. Finally he clears his throat. "Ditto on what Foggy says, but we can step out," he says to Luke, pushing himself to a rise from his seat and feeling his way along the edge of the conference table for the way out of the room. "Call us if you need — anything." And then, with a fumbling pat on Luke's shoulder, Murdock makes for the door.

* * *

Foggy is second to get up, and he offers Luke a quick smile before he nods to Peggy. He starts to follow Matt out, slipping his pen behind his ear beneath the fall of his shaggy hair. It's gone long again. Sigh. "You know, I like my desk job…" He starts saying this to Matt on their way out.

* * *

Peggy waits for them to leave the room before she turns back to Luke. "Mr. Cage. I believe we have a mutual acquaintance. Two of them, in fact. Perhaps more. I am sorry to send your counsel out of the room, however I do not wish to speak with you as frankly as possible before a possibility of continuing may happen. I respect Mr. Murdock and Mr. Nelson highly, however they are not the one's whose identity and life is on the line here."

Keeping her voice down, she leans forward. "I am glad to register you in SHIELD and keep you off the DPS monitor, however I would be remiss to not tell you that SHIELD is going through something of an instability. No matter what, I will protect you and I am sure the team I told you I would put you on would do the same. They are all very strictly anti-Registration. However, I simply needed to level with you on this one matter."

Straightening, she adds, "I understand Registration is quite a large commitment and I simply wish to give you all the facts as I know them."

* * *

Luke's gaze flicks to the closed door and the back to Peggy. The big man leans back in his chair garnering a groan of protest from the furniture but it holds fast. "I'm a six and a half foot bullet proof black man, far as I see it, Registration isn't going to tell anybody anything they don't know already, but I'm willing to do it so that when I marry my girl, I can sign my name on the license in good conscience knowing I'm doing everything I can to provide a secure future for her. But I'd be grateful to know exactly what I'm getting into."

* * *

"It's not Registration. Though, truly, that seems to be the sticking point - as it should. Truthfully, I cannot tell you what it is you are getting into, Luke. Something is happening within the Agency. I will tell you that I keep my promises. If you sign up with us, you are under my wing and I will do whatever I can do to help you. However, I predict trouble down the line that has little to do with Registration. If and when that happens, you would be involved in it. That is part of what you would be signing up for."

Peggy looks at the door and then back to Luke again. "I applaud you wishing to marry in good faith. However, my advice is that if you wish to do this and are not willing to sign up with SHIELD and have no other option before the 15th, you do not marry with a license and keep yourself and Jessica under the radar. You can have a ceremony without the marriage license. I am sure your lawyers have advised you similarly."

* * *

"So you're saying the Sweet Christmas is going to hit the fan and I'm right in the middle of the splatter zone." His think arms band over his chest, straining the fabric of his suit jacket at the biceps. "Then it sounds like a six and a half foot tall bullet proof black man is exactly what you need. So I'm not shying away from SHIELD because of that, but I still have a life. I have a business, I have obligations. So we're going to need to work out some details about just how much of my time I'm supposed to give and whether or not I have veto power about any missions. But that's what the lawyers are for, for those kind of i's and t's."

* * *

Peggy actually pauses a bit at Luke's response. For a moment, she thought this would take him away from this option. However, he is willing to charge right ahead and at that, she straightens and smiles. "Of course. Let me get your representation, then, Mr. Cage. I am sure we can iron out details."

Standing, she moves for the door and opens it. "I believe the attorneys at law are needed back in for a terms discussion." Leaving the door open, she moves back to her seat. "We were about to discuss terms and details."

* * *

Matt enters first, feeling his way towards his prior seat and easing himself back in. He searches and finds that cooling cup of coffee and brings it to his lips. That there's an agreement in principle over Cage's employment with SHIELD gets a slight, sober, and entirely unsurprised nod from the attorney. "Mr. Cage is a small business owner and is, as I mentioned, very active in the community," the lawyer asserts. "He'd hope to make this a part-time arrangement so that he can be helpful to SHILED while not abandoning pre-existing commitments."

* * *

"SHIELD is generally a full time position." Peggy's reply is not studied nor an attempt to bargain. "However, depending on how things shake down, we can certainly attempt to make Mr. Cage an embedded member. However, that would require frequent check ins and his bar would then quite possibly come under SHIELD surveillance, as it is an asset."

* * *

Luke's hands tighten on his elbows and he leans aside to whisper something to Matt a bit heatedly.

"No dice. The bar and apartment building are technically owned by a subsidiary of Rand and the estate anyways. Technically I have no holdings, can't we strike that or something?"
* * *

Matt cups his hand at his mouth to whisper back into Cage's ear.

"And if it's a deal breaker? What if it were surveillance that only pertained to your SHIELD operations, and every instance of it was pre-approved by you?"

* * *

Luke Cage nods to whatever Matt has to say in response.

* * *

"Frequent check-ins he can do," Matt allows. To the rest: The lawyer's eyebrows drift up, and while he obviously does not 'look' his client's way, there's the sense that Matt's attention rests briefly on Cage to gauge his reaction to the notion of his building coming under regular surveillance. Luke and Jessica are out in public about their work and their natures. Others who frequent there? Maybe less so. Predictably, Luke leans in and whispers to him and there's a quick, hushed exchange. Matt turns his focus back towards Agent Carter. "Giving SHIELD carte blanche to monitor Mr. Cage's bar — which is also his home — won't work. We can talk about individual instances of surveillance related to Luke's operations as a SHIELD agent, but round-the-clock monitoring to pick up chatter? I think it would be difficult to impossible for my client to accept."

Matt's eyebrows lift. "I know you are doing a favor for Mr. Cage's association. But it's a two-way street. Even aside from Mr. Cage's remarkable talents, he has built a reputation in New York through his good works. That in itself is an asset he could bring to the table. Allowing him to maintain those community ties and community trust seems in everyone's best interests."

* * *

"I am not saying it would be around the clock surveillance. I appreciate the uptick in SHIELD's budget, however we do not have the money to have an agent stationed outside Mr. Cage's bar or home at all times. I would advice your client that becoming a SHIELD Agent also makes other people and places he works with out in the open places that SHIELD will know about and could investigate." There are definite emphasis there. "However, it also means that if he is a member of SHIELD, he can also quantify those associates and keep them off the radar. As long as ball is played and supervisors are pleased - which would be me and a man I very much trust - I don't see why it should become a point of interest."

Then she adds, "This is a spygame, Mr. Cage. If you are uncomfortable with lying or with a few moral greys, then this may not be the solution for you. I believe in your good works and that is also why I am here. SHIELD has multiple assets, I am glad to add you as one of them, I simply wish him to know what that will mean. I do not wish you to sign an agreement you would be against."

* * *

There is a long draw of breath from Luke and no doubt Matt can hear the heated thump of Luke's pulse as he tries to keep his cool. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Cage is starting to feel the squeeze. "I'm going to have to discuss this with my attorneys and get back with you, Agent Carter. As you can imagine this is a lot to swallow, as much as I like the idea of people having to call me Agent Cage."

* * *

"Of course." Peggy does not have the abilities of Matt Murdock, but she can read a room. "I'll be back in my office. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Have a good day."

* * *

Matt nods a little in Cage's direction when he suggests a cooling off period. Smart man. Whatever you decide, let's do it with a cool head. "Thanks, Agent Carter," the lawyer offers up to the spy. "For the offer, and the candor. We'll get back to you soon."

And they will, of course. Because that clock? It's ticking.

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