4769/Flying Home

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Flying Home
Date of Scene: 17 January 2021
Location: A Quinjet over America, 2021
Synopsis: May insists on flying a Quinjet back to the Triskelion. Peggy sits in as co-pilot-in-training. But, quinjets have autopilot, so mostly the two just talk. There may be a tear or two. But if you ask them, they'll deny it to their dying days.
Cast of Characters: Melinda May, Peggy Carter
Tinyplot: Times That Bind

Melinda May has posed:
After the destruction of the Mojave site, the five SHIELD quinjets and their AC-130 escort touched down at Edwards AFB to take stock of everything that had happened. There were injuries to be attended to, after all, and someone insisted that a doctor give May at least a cursory once-over. (Not that she won't still have to undergo a full medical work-up when she returns to the Triskelion. That's just the way things are.)

But, eventually, it became clear that, while clean-up crews will need to be sent in and some serious PR spindoctoring will need to happen, the best course of action is to send the immediate action team home to New York and let fresher teams deal with the fallout.

That suits Melinda May just fine. She wants nothing more than a hot shower, a delivery of food from Quon's Cafe in Chinatown, and her own damned bed. She's not going to get that for at least another 24 hours, she's sure. But it's what she wants.

There was a brief argument when the quinjets were refueled and cleared for depature. May has spent a good six to eight weeks stranded 70 years in the past. She wants time behind the stick. In the end, the pilot of QJ-3 ceded her place behind the stick to the senior agent -- mainly because Piper knows better than to argue with the Cavalry. Thus, though there's a load of personnel and equipment in the back, May sits in the cockpit with a small smile on her face as she goes through pre-flight checklists.

Peggy Carter has posed:
"You know I'm to start training in these things. Might as well start now, if you're going to be an utterly stubborn force of nature about it." Peggy chimes in from where she's ducked her head into the cockpit. On the quinjet, it's really one of the few places they could get privacy anyway. Peggy swings the rest of the way in, having changed out of her desert tac suit and into something more comfortable -- a rust colored jump suit lined with teal panels which is incredibly reminiscent of things she would have worn in the past. Her style really hasn't changed.

She swings down into the seat next to May, buckling in properly since they are going for a take off, but her dark eyes start studying all the pre-flight checks even as they talk about things which aren't training. "...how are you holding up?" She dares to ask.

Melinda May has posed:
May finishes her pre-flight before she answers, though she does continue to smile when the other woman joins her. Peggy's about the only person she's comfortable having beside her right now. Even Morse... would seem intrusive.

She's got her black tac suit on, having shed the 1940's flight suit and stuck it in her backpack. She'll be glad to get out of it later. She eyes Peggy's outfit and her smile becomes wryly amused. "T-straps," she says to her as she starts the shuttle down the runnway. "How the *hell* do you find t-straps comfortable, Carter?" There's a hint of amusement in her tone, despite the sarcasm on top.

Once they're in the air and climbing, she lets out a soft breath that's not a sigh, but is still a gentle release. God, she's missed this.

She glances over to Peggy, finally ready to answer her question. "I'm... good," she says. "I'm glad to be back where I belong." Her eyes return to the sky stretching out ahead of them, wisps of cloud streaming by as they drift higher through the clouds to their cruising altitude. "I'm going to miss them, though." She didn't expect that.

Peggy Carter has posed:
The question of T-straps makes Peggy laugh slightly. She looks down and slightly tugs up the wide legged slacks of her jump suit, revealing a set of the things that she's wearing right now. Which means she deliberately packed them as her off duty clothing for this mission and CHOSE them as her comfort outfit. "I... suppose I've just been doing it for so many years it'd feel strange not to? I feel...short without them. Besides, they stay on quite nicely even in the middle of a fight. These modern shoes you just slip on are horribly impractical for an active life." Peggy's words are earnest, she really does enjoy wearing them.

They they are taking off and she watches the controls a bit closer, making mental notes about the things she'll need to start settling into in the future. She needs to well study the actual details, but this is helpful for simply getting the flow of things. A softer smile crosses her face as May says she's good, "I'm glad to have you back too. It was... strange...without you." While Peggy doesn't say it, there is an edge of loneliness to her voice that wasn't quite there before. May has become one of the very, very few genuine friends she has. Having her in the past just drove that home quite keenly.

"...I miss them too. Every day. I couldn't have asked for better people to...start this all." She confesses softly, her eyes dropping so May doesn't quite see the welling of emotion she tries to keep back routinely.

Melinda May has posed:
"Boots," May says bluntly. "Boots don't slip off in a fight and they don't have to be either heavy or ugly." Still, she offers a small smile as she says it.

She starts pointing to dials and readout panels on the HUD. "See these?" she says, slipping into instructor mode for a moment. "We call these the six-pack. Every aircraft has them, from Cessnas to Quinjets. Even the Space Shuttle." She points at each display in turn. "Airspeed, Altimeter, Vertical Speed, Attitude -- whether or not you're level, Heading, and Turn. Everything else is negotiable between craft."

May is a lot more sensitive to Peggy's moods, now that she's seen where she came from, than she ever was before. That's strange to her, too. But, she hears the loneliness aching underneath. "You were a tough kid," she says, offering one of her rare smirks to try and ease the pain.

But when Peggy speaks of just how good those folks were, May carefully looks away. However, the deep inhalation of breath, followed by a subtle clearing of her throat just might tell Peggy a little bit about just how deeply all this has affected the stoic Asian woman.

"Rose sent me home with recipes," she says after a moment, her voice slightly thicker than normal. "Damn, that woman is fearless." Was. Was fearless... But, she's still alive then and there. And in May's mind.

Peggy Carter has posed:
The brief instruction of some basic, but quite essential thngs about modern aircraft is a good distraction from the edge of emotons Peggy's trying not to feel. They've been a little too present since she caught Daniel on the phone and it's going to take a bit more time to put them back in the box. But giving her a work focus helps. "Airspeed, Altimeter, Vertical Speed, Attitude... level heading or turn." Peggy repeats, pressing those things to memory. Very rarely does she need taught something twice.

A smirk crosses her lips, "If I remember accurately, I was wearing boots for that last fight. Completely ruined that jumpsuit. Still have the scar." She mutters with a touch of a bittersweet, cracked laugh behind her words. "Don't know if I'd call myself a kid by that time... but not yet 30. So, I suppose I was. War makes you grow up fast."

Then she's looking over at May again, somewhat abandoning her attempt to completely hide emotions. At least it's only them. And that's when she sees something behind May's hiding eyes, or maiybe it's the shake of her breath. Peggy isn't the only one missing them. "Oh...Rose." She breathes out with thoughts of the recipes, her throat suddenly a bit more tight. "...she... was utterly brilliant. I don't think SHIELD would have survived without her... In the field OR the break room."

Melinda May has posed:
"Twice your age," Melinda says softly. "I was twice your age. You were tough as nails, but you were still a kid." A beat. "Even aged by war." Less of a smile, but the corners of her mouth still twitch. "Hey. It's the one time in my life you've been younger than me. Let me enjoy it."

She reaches back with her right hand and presses a lever that seals the cockpit. If they're going to get maudlin, they don't need witnesses.

Not that either of them is likely to go too far.

"I believe you," she says, swallowing tightly again. "They were all incredible. Legendary names when I was in the academy, but they all thought I was some sort of superhero..." She shakes her head, setting in the course and keying on the autopilot. "My whole career was shaped by the stories I heard of them. All of you. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut as well as I did." Not that she thinks she did it well enough.

Still, she shifts in her seat, looking at her friend. "I get it," she says, a hint of shine in her eyes. "I get what you've lost. I'm sorry."

Peggy Carter has posed:
Learning to fly is now rather to the side of her mind, especially as they are aloft and there is little left other than monitoring to do. It's hard to focus on learning when the box of memories and nostalgia she keeps so tightly sealed has now been cracked open irrepairably. It's easy when no one understands but much harder when someone else is there, feeling it too. When someone else *knows* now. She swallows back tightly, eyes blinking to the side against glassiness she cannot make disappear.

"They were legendary because we did so much with... so little. We didn't have the training, or the technology, or... even the support. I know Howard's an utter ass but if he didn't put most of his life and fortune behind us, we'd have had *nothing*... And each of them, taking a risk on an agency with no government at our backs..." The fierce pride behind her crackling voice is clear, but she's still not really able to force those tears away. "But...it wasn't about the legends. Hell, we didn't know we'd... be that. They were my... family. The people you knew would come when you called... no matter what. Who knew your coffee, what you liked to eat...when you... didn't eat. How hard it was to sleep. We went through...everything together."

A tearful smile cracks at her lips as she finally looks back up to May, studying the older woman. "They're good like that... a handful of weeks and they're under your skin too." Peggy does get it. She's gone from having a group of people she could trust with her life, constantly IN her life, never being alone, rarely taking a meal alone... to being isolated. Empty apartments and quarters. Not knowing anyone, much less who she can TRUST...

Melinda May has posed:
"They're SHIELD," May says, tears reflected in her own eyes. They don't fall, but they're there. "Everything we are now -- the *family* we are now -- is because you were family first." She reaches out to offer her hand, though it's just an offer.

"I felt so helpless, so angry back there, Peggy. You, and eventually they, were the only reason I held it together. There was nothing I could do. I felt like I didn't know the language. All the social cues, the nuances, the profiling I do automatically was... off. Not entirely wrong, but unreliable. And the only time I got to vent any of it was when I was facing down Hydra or that Leviathan bitch." She looks out at the sky again. "If I went too far at any point, showed off too much, that was why. I just needed to hit something."

She runs a single finger under one eye, flicking an eyelash at the outside corner. "But, I really like Rose. Foxy was something, but Rose and Daniel... they're pure gold."

Peggy Carter has posed:
The touch is surprising, even just the offer. Peggy knows neither of them are touchy people at all but, after a moment of uncertainty, Peggy stretches her slender fingers across the space and wraps them over May's. She still wears her nails the same, that squared off perfect red. There are so many things about the 99 year old woman she is now which were clearly rooted in that girl May spent the last several weeks fighting beside. "It was a different place. Most of us, hell...all of us, in that group... we had to fight just to exist, much less be respected. It...changes who you are."

Peggy's tired, glassy smile is still quite earnest as she looks back over to May. "They really liked you too. I remember for...weeks... Rose kept baking extra 'To take care of that sweet May woman' and then remembering you weren't there. You fit into being a part of the family quite fast. It...speaks to the kind of person you are. They don't ... didn't trust easy. They trusted you."

Melinda May has posed:
May's lips pull wryly to one side. "You think I don't know what that's like?" she asks. "I admit the slurs were more open in the 40's than they were in the 70's and 80's, but..." She's Asian and a woman. Fighting for respect is something she knows well.

She chuckles as Peggy tells her how the others reacted. Her eyes close and her brows crease. A single, solitary tear escapes, but she wipes it away and breathes through swallowing the rest. "I fit in because I had your support. And you had a month to get to know me, first."

Peggy Carter has posed:
"You fit in because you knew what it was like... and knew how to support your team. I just made the introductions. That was all you, May." Peggy confirms quietly, a bit more of a chuckle escaping her lips as she thinks about something, though it's still lined with crackled tears. "You think I could tell Daniel or Rose who to *like* or not? Goodness no. They knew their people and made their own choices. I'm just glad they saw in you what I did. I knew they would." Peggy squeezes May's hand tightly, not letting go quite yet as she lets one tear actually escape her lashes and streak down her cheeks.

Melinda May has posed:
May gives Peggy's hand a brief squeeze in return. She inhales deeply, but laughs. "Oh," she admits, opening her eyes. "I'm sure Rose would have made my life a royal living hell, if she decided she didn't like me." She shakes her head, and a little tension drains from her shoulders. "Between her and Tessa... they'd have driven me into the ground. I can take out entire platoons of Hydra, but those two are forces of nature."

She smirks. "And I got to see them before they were legends."

She frowns a little. "I wish I could have said something to keep Daniel safe. I'm sorry. I saw how much you cared for him."

Peggy Carter has posed:
"...we got married in 1950, not even a year after that. I never took his name, because..." Peggy motions to the general world with her free hand, "Director Carter needed to be Director Carter, but... we were married for almost six years. I...forgot how much I missed his voice." There's another tear. It's not something she's really told anyone, though there is a note quietly buried in her file somewhere, the whole thing wasn't that public. The one thing Peggy got to keep to herself, even as they worked together to his very end.

"I miss him so... very much." Peggy's voice is barely a rasp of a whisper as she admits that.

Melinda May has posed:
May certainly had no idea they got married. Her brows rise, but she says nothing for a very long time, just holding her friend's hand and sharing her grief.

Eventually, she speaks softly. "I'm sorry." The words seem inadequate, even when rubs a thumb over Peggy's fingers.

She saw Daniel cry, speaking to Peggy on the time phone. She knew something went through his head there that hadn't been there before, but she didn't realize either of them had telegraphed his death so clearly. She was far more worried about tipping my hand about Captain Rogers than Daniel Sousa.

She's beginning to think they both need a serious vacation after this.

Peggy Carter has posed:
The woman shakes her head almost immediately as May says she's sorry, "No! No... don't be. I never... I didn't think I'd ever hear his voice again. I never got to say goodbye. Even that little bit was... something I didn't think I'd get. It was...good. He's been gone a long time now. It's fine." Peggy reassures May, painting a quiet smile across her lips as she reaches her second hand over to wrap over the other woman's and give a gentle squeeze.

"But... I needn't keep you in nostalgia forever. I'm just glad they took good care of you. I...knew they would. And now you're home and life can return to... Normal. As normal as it gets." Those words are accompanied by an almost laugh, as Peggy realizes normal isn't really a thing for either of them. She's trying to distract herself, though. To pull out of the thoughts.

Melinda May has posed:
May returns the squeeze, settling her other hand atop Peggy's. It's the wrong time and place for a hug. "Mm-hmm," she says. "As fine as it ever will be. Remember, I've lost people, too." Even if not the same people.

She lets go of Peggy's hands and turns back towards the instrument panel, giving her a soft snirk as she does. "Things weren't normal when you were in the SSR. Nitramene implosions? Dark Matter rifts? Why would SHIELD be any different?" She's willing to return to let the heavy emotions go. It's easier on both of them.

"What gets me," she snarks, "is how hard I had to work not to tip you off to Rogers. It never even crossed my mind Sousa was a landmine."

Peggy Carter has posed:
Hands release and Peggy immediately reaches up, brushing away the few bits of moisture that managed to escape down her cheeks before she got control of herself again, It wouldn't due for anyone ELSE to see that, even if May got a glimpse into the softer edges of Peggy's heart. She then shifts one hand up through her hair, trying to make certain the pins are still in place and she's as put back together as she can get herself without a mirror. "No, I suppose not. Life was never normal from the moment Captain Rogers stepped out of that vita-ray tube. And I wouldn't change it for a thing.." Peggy states with a smile.

It slightly falters or, more so, grows on the edge of rueful when May admits about how hard she hid Rogers. "...at that point, we had given up. Five years of searching for him in the ice... Howard would still send expeditions when he could and I'd do scans as SHIELD technology got better, but... we were certain he was gone. Dead and buried in our minds. Besides... it's the secrets that you keep closest to your heart which are the hardest ones. I don't think anyone outside of SHIELD and our families knew we were ever married. I never wanted to make him a target..." And yet, he was anyway."

Melinda May has posed:
"Being an agent makes a man a target, Peggy," May says, checking needlessly on the autopilot. "Not being your husband. He was smart. He knew what he was signing up for." And he signed up even after losing a leg. Brave man.

She shrugs. "Rogers may have been dead and buried in your mind, but if I had told you he was alive and well in 2021 -- once you'd learned to trust me -- are you telling me you wouldn't have gone looking?" They both know she would have. "Maybe you'd still have ended up with Daniel." It's plausible, given neither Peggy or Rogers show any signs of rekindled romance, now. But 5 years after the war vs 75 years is a whole other scenario.

"Still, I'm glad you had what time you did. Andrew and I weren't married longer than that."

Peggy Carter has posed:
"It's best it went the way it did. I..." Peggy gives a small, thoughtful sound in her throat, as she turns her head to look over May a little closer, "You know, I don't think we changed the timeline... But so many of these things I didn't really... remember well, before this. To the point that I am not certain if we created new memories or it was simply all lost to time because 70 years is a long time to remember details."

Her smile warms a bit more as she's thinking it over, "However, either way... I'm glad it happened the way it did. Even knowing what I do now, that Steve is alive, that we never managed to get him. Did Daniel dare try again with me because we both realized he'd be dead some day?... Maybe. But I wouldn't have it any other way. We had five lovely years and... I wouldn't have missed them for the world." Peg sounds completely certain with that. Edges of the young woman she was clear for a moment. A woman who did let herself love that much.

"I'm...sorry about you and Andrew. Even if it... ended for other reasons. It's still awful to lose what you loved."

Melinda May has posed:
May gives a simple nod. Emotional as she is about returning home, Andrew is still a part of her heart she's got locked down, even having shared Bahrain with Peggy. "I don't know we would have lasted forever," she says simply. "I don't think I've got the capacity for anything that long term." Not after Bahrain, anyway. She's sure of that.

And she chooses not to dwell. Happiness isn't something she really feels she'll ever deserve again, anyway. It is what it is.

"But it was fun while it lasted." A small smirk touches her lips. "He always talked too much." He was a shrink. Try imagining Melinda May married to a shrink.

Peggy Carter has posed:
"Oh hell. I suppose that was a bit of a good match, considering getting anything out of you was impossible for ages." Peggy cracks a smile in her direction. She doesn't push otherwise. They're both exhausted and with emotions a bit too close to the surface, there is no reason for Peggy to try and press her friend on other heartache. Not when they both need to heal a bit.

Peggy then sinks back, closing her eyes for a few heartbeats and letting the exhaustion -- both physical and emotional -- settle into her body for a few moments. Everything aches around the edges and she lets herself simply feel it, as little fun as that might be. "Well... I promised you we'd get you back and we did. I wasn't going to let you down, Melinda."

Melinda May has posed:
"No," May agrees. "I know you weren't. That's why I was more afraid of you getting hurt during all those raids than I was me. I needed you to survive to get me home." She gives Peggy a side eye. "I noticed you still managed to get shot before I left. I turn my back for one second and you're poking holes in yourself. You think you're a walking bullet sponge, while Morse decides to turn heart attacks into a hobby. Thank you for not getting shot today."

Seriously. She appreciates it.

"I mean, even I'm better at avoiding injury than you two." Marginally. Like, by >< that much.

Peggy Carter has posed:
"Oh, come now. I haven't been properly shot in ages. This was an explosion..." She motions to the faint burn scars at the side of her face and that lightly shorter hair, though she's been growing it out since she had to trim it off, so she's getting closer to her old self by now. "And I am *generally* in body armor. We simply didn't have quite the same calibre back then." Peggy flashes May a reassuring smile, but she seems quite firm in her defense of not having been shot lately.

"And you are not much better. We all live dangerous lives. Though Morse's heart issues are... more than concerning. I know she heals. I still do not know how much a body can take." Deflection is much better than actually considering how dangerous their lives are.

Melinda May has posed:
"Mm," May grunts. "If she's going to stroke out after nearly every op, I don't care how well she heals. Getting carried off the field after each deployment isn't good for anyone -- including the people hauling you out."

And, with that, it's clear Melinda May is perfectly willing to return to her old, irascible self. "Besides, I didn't say I don't get injured. I just get injured *less*." If only by a little.

"So. Tell me what I missed. The stuff you wouldn't say when you knew *you* were standing right beside me?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
May's question about what she missed drives Peggy silent for a few heartbeats. There's something heavy behind her eyes, but it's not something she wants to *talk* about. "Not too much." A lie. "Discovered a small HYDRA base on the docks and called a crew in to help me clean it up, but nothing really there and probably just goons guarding the place. The one tech we recovered died in holding, must have had cyanide hidden somewhere that wasn't a tooth." Peggy's voice is distant. A little circumspect.

To people who don't know her well, she's giving a simple, clear, factual report. To May? There's more going on and things Peggy does NOT want to discuss while in a SHIELD transport surrounded by other agents. Peggy gives a too cheery smile to end it all. "Otherwise, we've been keeping all the fun for you, of course." She winks.

Melinda May has posed:
"Oh, of course," May says dryly, understanding the subtext. "So, how many times was the Mojave base attacked?" Because, you know, she missed that excitement, too. And those mission deets can be shared with the other agents around. "Those weren't Hydra. I didn't see them for long, but the uniform profiles were wrong. We have a new player on the field?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
"...Leviathan. That was... the Leviathan symbol. I did not even know they were still in operation. But, being that the first person that tried to send something into the past was Dorothy Underwood... I should not be surprised. I also did not know SHE was still alive. I feel like I missed a lifetime in 30 years frozen. She's in custody now. Tighter custody that we ever used back in the day." Peggy smirks a bit colder, though her dislike for the woman is achingly clear, just beneath that consistent surface of guilt about it all. How many things slipped through her fingers and are now coming back to haunt them? Too many.

Melinda May has posed:
"Aw, c'mon..." May groans, probably echoing Peggy's own sentiment. Her head thumps back against the headrest on her seat. "I should've shot her with something stronger than an ICER."

She wracks her memory for what she knows about Leviathan. "I thought Leviathan died out with the Cold War," she says after a moment. "And how the hell did she survive till now?" She rolls her head slightly. "I mean, I guess the Russians would have been experimenting with Rebirth fallout, too. But, still... Who's next?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
A wry, equally frustrated smirk dances across Peggy's lips as May asks how the woman survived until now. "I'm sitting here, aren't I? And yes, the Russians and the Red Room were absolutely in the Serum Race right along side the rest of us. I wish I was more surprised than I *am* that she's still breathing. But, when we get back, I will need to focus on some deep interrogations of the woman. She's always... a difficult one." And one Peggy alone has been able to crack in the past.

"Otherwise, it has been almost quiet. Bobbi is heading up at least two other missions which is why I was left in charge of this one. I'd like to say it was nice to be back in command but...I wish it had been for better reasons. Still...sorry, May. For getting you caught up in this mess."

Melinda May has posed:
May eyes Peggy sidelong again. "I wanna watch you interrogate her," she says. "I have no doubt you'll handle it better than me." Which is saying something. But, Melinda may is all stick. Very little carrot.

"Bobbi's busier than I am, these days. Even if I hadn't been slacking off in the past for two months." You'd think that'd be enough vacation. But it so wasn't a vacation.

"And don't for a minute think you got me caught up in this mess. I told you before. Bahrain? That's a mess. Loki's Invasion of New York? Also a mess. Spending two months in 1949 getting to know your friends... I don't even think it's an inconvenience any more. It's just... an experience."

And, again, she smiles.

"Just wait'll they decide to make you Director again."


Peggy Carter has posed:
"Doubtful. The only reason they haven't put me out to pasture is because I'm useful, but they like to keep their control and I have never been a woman who does well letting others have control. I am shocked they've given me this much trust after everything. I'm nothing but a useful artifact, these days... but I guess I'll take that much. It beats sitting alone at home going stir crazy." Peggy seems quite confident in those words, a line of strange tension about it all behind her voice. It's like she knows upper command doesn't entirely trust her and, equally, she doesn't trust them. It's an uneasy alliance now, but one she's not willing to give up quite yet.

Melinda May has posed:
Hey, even May doesn't 'trust the process' much any more. Fury? Sure. Select others. Most everyone else? Not so much. But she's always been seen as an obedient, efficient agent. A deadly tool. They don't tend to put her much in command. Probably because she'd bull through the politics with a plasma rifle.

"Don't sell yourself short, Carter," May says. "They wouldn't give you the promotion if all they wanted to do was use you like a mushroom." Keep her in the dark and shovel her shit.

Not that that doesn't happen... to both of them.

"Besides, I just spent two months watching you work. Fury may not make you Director, but he's too smart to let you lie fallow -- or be left somewhere you couldn't make a difference. The man's a bastard, but he knows what he's doing."

Peggy Carter has posed:
"I make a difference in plenty of ways that do not require brass on my body or a title behind my name. But..." Her nose wrinkles a bit more as she looks down at all the various controls, "I should learn to fly one of these things, command or not. So... talk me through it." Peggy isn't willing to debate her place in SHIELD, or why she's retiecent to take more, in the here and now. Better to focus on the safe things they can change instead of the things no one in SHIELD official positions needs to hear.