A Bloody Trail
Roleplaying Log: A Bloody Trail
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Peggy asks Bucky for a favor.

Other Characters Referenced: Seneschal
IC Date: May 14, 2019
IC Location: Peggy's Rooftop
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 16 May 2019 15:43
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's dark on the rooftop of Peggy's Penthouse apartment. There are no goats, no Asgardians, even the sound of the traffic below seems muted. It's raining softly and depressingly, the sky clouded and covering the high rises in a multistory fog. The sound, the lights, the city itself feels muted and quiet. It's strange for a place that is known to be so raucous, populous and bright to feel as this tonight. However, this is actually the perfect night for this meeting.

Later, it may be thought that Peggy orchestrated the meeting for this night for this very purpose, however, the truth of the matter is she planned the meeting and the weather simply happened.

On the roof, Peggy Carter sits in a rain coat: a black one that blends into the night. The roof lights are not on and it's hard to make her out amongst the garden and the table with chairs around it. She's sitting at that table in the dark, hood off, misting rain slowly soaking her hair to damp. A bag sits in front of her on the table. Her eyes remain closed for a minute as she takes all this in, hands on the bag, face tilted up toward the sky as she waits.

Then, she lowers her chin.

* * *

Peggy Carter didn't leave the name of her expected company tonight with the front desk. She didn't give him a key to allow himself entry. No need, considering who she's expecting.

The time of their meeting rolls around, and he's just there/ a moment later, stepping out of the rainy dark, moving with the wraithlike quiet grace he developed in the many decades that passed in between him being marked MIA… and him being found again.

James Barnes settles at the table beside her, at ease. After too long running about in the open alongside Tony and Steve, on one of the planet's most public teams, returning to this is like tasting plain bread and butter again after too many cloying sweets: grounding, familiar, and well-worn. Bucky Barnes, he loves Steve Rogers; the Winter Soldier, he's fond of Margaret Carter. They're a similar kind of professional. The fact he was almost sent to kill her once, decades ago, doesn't change that — perhaps only reinforces it, in fact.

But never let it be said Bucky Barnes himself wasn't immensely fond of Peggy too, the woman having become like a sister to him during the old war days. A sister, certainly, in managing Steve. The smile he gives her is a warm one, if tinged with question.

"Dreary night," is his greeting, as he pushes damp brown hair out of his blue eyes. "You'd think someone was setting the stage for us. Real thoughtful."

* * *

As Bucky appears out of the shadows, Peggy looks that way. It's hard to say if she knew where he came from. It doesn't seem likely, but she knew he would be here and that because of her message that he could come in a way that discarded anything like the front door. So, to say she expected him is true, to say she knows how he got there is something she would refuse to go on record to prove that she did.

Despite the weather, despite the circumstances, despite everything, Peggy can't help but give Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, a smile of greeting and thanks and welcome. This is a man she fought a war beside, someone that understands her ways perhaps even more than Steve does. And while Peggy Carter generally does not try and ask Bucky to look back into his life as the Winter Soldier, it can be perhaps implied by this dreary rooftop that she is taking extreme measures.

"I'm still not sure my place isn't bugged," Peggy tells Bucky nonchalantly. Around them rises up the sound of traffic and static, a way to make sure they can talk in low tones without being recorded. Then, she smirks. "Only fools and zealots would have an extended conversation in this weather," she agrees.

Then, the smile fades. Peggy looks down at the bag and not up to Bucky. "I need a favor." There is a hitch in her voice as she says the next part. "At any point, you can walk away. It does involve Hydra."

* * *

The Winter Soldier is more than just a title. He's his own man, in a way, if a shadow of one, forged by the combined hands of the Soviet Union and Hydra. Yakov Vasilevich Morozov had a personality of his own, a past of his own… he was a created persona who lived in James Barnes' body for decades. He's not an easy persona to slip back into — or, perhaps more accurately, not an easy persona to let out of his sealed box.

To that end, Bucky's always appreciated Peggy's discretion in not asking him to put that mantle back on — not asking him to become that man again — except in great need.

The Triskelion's in shambles, too many are dead, and Hydra was in the heart of SHIELD all along, chewing it apart from the inside out. He'd say this is 'great need,' for sure.

"Everywhere's bugged," is his version of small talk, his blue eyes smiling at her even if his features are characteristically dour. "Assuming that's kept me alive, many a time."

He falls silent, however, as Peggy starts straight to the heart of the matter. That one name has him hackling faintly, his eyes narrowing, tension winding through his demeanor.

"You say Hydra, and I can't walk away." His eyes avert, looking out over the spires of Manhattan. "Well, more to the point — I don't wanna walk away. Knowing they were here, this whole time — "

His left arm twitches with a quiet whir of metal. He stills it. "What do you need?"

* * *

"I don't like asking this of you," Peggy amends immediately as he says he can't walk away. However, she must have known exactly what evoking those names must have meant to him, what this means. She has never asked for the Winter Soldier, she has always attempted to help me move past that persona. The fact that she now is calling on it grates on her. She knows what a large ask this is.

Peggy can't even fake the smile to continue the conversation about everywhere being bugged. Instead, she is locked into this conversation and what it means for the both of them. "And I wouldn't if I thought I had other choices." She looks out toward the place where the Triskelion used to be, where it is now just rubble. It's a quick flick of her eyes and then she's back. "I don't think I have those any more. I'm calling all my chips onto the field."

Pushing the damp bag over, there's a tablet in there and some folders. The bag itself is waterproof, Bucky can start to go over the information. "From what I can gather, this wasn't just the Brotherhood. The man who killed the Peggy that lived through the years? He's been identified as a SHIELD agent who died on mission in Germany years ago against Hydra. Obviously, that can't be true unless he has a twin brother. I find the latter less likely. If he's Hydra, there's a trail that I hope can be picked up in Germany."

She looks at the bag and then back up to Bucky. "It may be a bloody one."

* * *

Peggy makes quite clear that she doesn't like to ask this of him. The look Bucky gives her in response is both rueful and wry. "We left behind the ability to do only the things we 'liked' back in… oh… '43, I'd say." He slants a glance at Peggy. "No, even earlier for you. '39."

He sighs out a breath. "I've thought about it a lot. All what happened to me. The things I've done. That's all on me now, and I'd as soon it stay just on me. So whether you had a choice or not, I'd still be saying yes."

Bucky follows her gaze, out to the empty spot in the skyline where the Triskelion used to be. He knows exactly the kind of 'chip' he is on this particular field. "If I do it, someone else won't have to. That's enough for me."

That said and settled, Peggy passes over the bag. Bucky half-opens it in such a way as to shield the contents from the drizzle, his downcast eyes already sifting through to catalogue the available intel. "Didn't figure on it," he says, of it not just being the Brotherhood. "Someone had to have given them that material they were spouting. It was… exactly targeted to inflame the current situation."

Peggy speaks of a trail that she hopes can be picked up in Germany — a bloody one. The trail of the man who killed the other Peggy — the one Bucky truly knew, years ago.

"How bad do you want him alive?" Bucky hasn't looked up from the papers, and his tone hasn't changed from its conversational bent.

* * *

"If you can get to the man himself? I would like to ask him questions," Peggy tells Bucky as the bag is passed over and she folds her hands very neatly on the table in front of them. Despite the rain, despite the fact that they are on a wet table on a rooftop in the Upper East Side, it looks much as if they are back on the field. They didn't have conference or situation rooms, there were tents and barns and whatever was available. This meeting smacks very much of this.

"However, I have grown accustomed to not having the answers I wish. To know that it is done is peace enough for me." She frowns. "However, I fear this trail is not so much elimination as retrieval. Germany was more than a decade ago, I doubt he has left much in the way of concrete evidence to be found by normal means." And this is why she has asked for Bucky and why she has been so hesitant to put this piece onto the board. "This is not so much a bullet through the head as a scalpel." There is no exact target for Bucky, he is going to have to move through his Hydra contacts and extract information.

"All I need is a route to this man. He carried black roses. He was known as Palmer to SHIELD, I believe Hydra helped fake his death. He worked quite a few missions with Coulson."

* * *

The drizzle and wind go unnoticed by both old campaigners. They've done mission planning in far worse. A rooftop on the Upper East Side is positively posh compared to some of the bivouacs they've weathered back in the day. Peggy never complained a whit back then, and she kicked the ass of any soldier who did. Big part of why Bucky got to like her then. Big part of why he's so easily taking a briefing from her now. The respect was earned a long time ago.

"I'll see if I can turn him up," Bucky says. "If I can't drag him in direct for your 'questions,' I'll get what I can get out of him myself."

He flips through the pages, the rustling almost concealing the slight sigh: "It always keeps coming back to Germany."

Bucky only glances up when she advises that the man's disappearance was over a decade ago, and so he'll probably have to dig deep to get any leads. His eyes flicker briefly. The implication isn't missed. "They've long cycled out any direct routes of access I had, by now," he says, looking back down at the documents. "But though Hydra changes, the world around 'em stays the same. I'll bet you the web still hangs from a few familiar anchors."

He closes the file folder, and then the bag. All I need is a route to this man. "Understood. I'll prioritize locating him." His metal hand drums its fingers once along the table's surface, with a hollow sound of steel against wood. "At that point, I'll evaluate if a further move in on my own would be productive."

* * *

The pair sit in their damp chairs, the drizzle slowly soaking them without a care. "I know. I trust you, James." There's a reason why she took so long to ask this of him and also why when she does she feels no need to put parameters or blinders on this mission she's asking him to go on.

Softly she sighs. "It does." Germany holds the answers to quite a few uncomfortable questions. "If you hit a wall, just tell me. Knowing where things stop will help. I've got other people on the field, but they don't have the same background as you do." She doesn't want him to go past what he's comfortable with on her account. While, to her, this is a war she also knows this isn't like the one they were in before. She and SHIELD have declared this one, it is not official.

The metal fingers on wood are heard, but she looks to James as he tells her this. "Do."

This has been all incredibly by the book, very clean. For a moment, though, Peggy looks up to James, the emotion clear in her eyes. "James, I don't know why he's doing this or why he targeted her." That is, the other Peggy. Though it is her, it is not her, and it is complicated. However, she still feels a deep and undeniable connection to the woman that died at the hands of Seneschal. "He succeeded in one way," that is he killed the other Peggy, "I trust your judgement. I truly do wish to know why he has done what he has done. However, if there is a moment where you wonder if I would prefer to know or not? If it comes to a point where you could bring him in alive so I can find this out or if you could simply end it? End it."

* * *

I trust you. Three very simple words, but they appear to mean more to James Barnes than they do to most people. Small wonder, after the distrust the world has built up for him after seven decades as the Winter Soldier. He blinks, his blue eyes turning briefly away to regard the horizon.

Peggy, at the least, returns to business quick enough, and Bucky clears his throat quietly and turns his gaze back to her, listening. There isn't much to say to 'the others don't have the same background you do.' It's a fact, and that much reflects in his shadowed blue eyes. It might not be an formally-declared war she's asking him to fight, but he's used to that; after his first, he never truly was a formal soldier in a war, ever again. He's been the unsanctioned smoking gun behind most of the 20th century's great wars, the disavowed knife used in secret. This is no more than doing it again… except finally, this time, for a cause in which he might truly believe.

Or — perhaps, for a person for whom he might care. The man killed Margaret Carter. It's rather personal. For them both.

The sudden emotion in her eyes gives him pause. He studies the look on her face a long time; his metal arm whirs softly a moment, and is quiet. "I'll make the call," he finally promises, after her words are said and done. "Some things, some people… really are better buried."

* * *

It's a very delicate line that Peggy is asking Bucky to walk. It is personal, but it is political, it involves SHIELD but if it was official, she would have asked him to her office. The reason why she has not is already covered: she trusts him. This is simply a state of fact to her, a point to leap off from. The moment that Barnes takes is either overlooked or not mentioned upon as she looks back to him, though her gaze is certainly softer.

She's given him the information and has practically called out the hunt on this man who she believes is directly responsible for the fall of the Triskelion, has helped the rot grow within SHIELD. There are so many questions, so many ways where she puts the screws to that blurry photo she knows as Seneschal. However, what is most important now is first stopping him and then stopping him.

"Okay," she agrees. Maybe she expected him to argue, maybe she expected something else, but then again this is what she wanted.

With a sad smile, she nods. "Yes, you're right." Looking up at him, she puts her hands on his for a brief moment. "I think we both know something about that." Her expression turns neutral then. She's not going to tell him good hunting, she's not going to wish him good luck.

The hand holds onto both the flesh and the metal, squeezes for just a moment. "Thank you," she tells James Barnes, her friend, her war compatriot, the man she asks to cut a trail through Hydra's Germany.

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