5599/Driving Concerns

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Driving Concerns
Date of Scene: 15 March 2021
Location: In an SUV
Synopsis: Peggy confronts May about her emotions (or lack there of) while driving back from locking up Vogel. They make an interesting discovery about touch.
Cast of Characters: Peggy Carter, Melinda May

Peggy Carter has posed:
The first bit in the SUV is mostly quiet. Peggy's letting May drive because she knows that's where the woman is most comfortable, and she wants to put her friend at ease. Not that she seems *not* at east. She seems not anything emotionally, really. Peggy's studying her as much as anything as they go down the Henry Hudson Parkway back towards New York. "...We could go back to the Brooklyn safehouse if...you want to talk this over a bit more. That place is still off the grid, as far as SHIELD is concerned. And I've got the motel rented for a few more days as a place to operate. So...there are options." Peggy offers quietly, trying to make her tone lighter than she actually feels.

Melinda May has posed:
The funny thing, of course, is that Peggy's empathy is actually kind of wasted on her friend right now. To be fair, empathy really isn't ever a waste. And May will recall this later and doubtlessly appreciate the effort then. "Where would you prefer?" she asks, tone reasonable and faintly curious. Then she pauses, making the intellectual connection she needs to understand the question more thoroughly. "You want to talk," she realizes. "The Brownstone, then." It's a more comfortable environment and, somehow, May realizes that's actually important to some degree.

She shifts lanes, knowing they'll need a different route to the Brownstone than to the Motel. "There was an accident in Nepal," she tells her friend, body still relaxed, as if they were speaking of the weather. So much of May's body language has changed since Peggy left her at Afterlife. "You heard about the HYDRA attack, yes?"

Peggy Carter has posed:
As May seems willing to dive right into it, a touch of relaxation hits Peggy's shoulders. She's glad she doesn't have to fight for this. She shifts her body in the seat, now giving May her full attention other than the occasional look back to be certain they aren't being followed. But May is far more a worry than the cars around right now.

She gives a slight nod at the HYDRA attack. "I heard. I was regretting getting myself switched back out, but... we couldn't have known. And I've been fighting HYDRA my own was as of late. But... what does a HYDRA attack have to do with the fact I don't think I've seen you express a single emotion this entire day...other than when you were touching Vogel. And even now... You've always been reserved. You haven't been...Empty."

Melinda May has posed:
May nods. Her eyes, Peggy might notice, roam between mirrors. Her alterness hasn't suffered. If anything, it's probably less encumbered by paranoia -- which may be good or may be bad. "They used the quinjets we found in that hangar," she says, passing on that piece of intel. "When I recognized them, I had Fitz blow up the mini-fours I planted in the consoles. But by then the damage was done." The worst thing about this account, quite possibly, is that it's not the shellshocked recitation of an embattled soldier, nor is it a no-shit-there-I-was war story. She might as well be talking about a trip to the mall -- if there were nothing remarkable to see there.

"Gonzales and I were in the midst of negotiations with Jiaying. They weren't going well, which wasn't the Director's fault. He was doing everything he could to accommodate them without tying our hands. I'm certain more of their resistance came from having me in the room than anything else. They mentioned Bahrain, so it's not really a question."

Melinda told Peggy about Bahrain. She's seen hints of the Asian agent's deep conflict and torn emotions around that incident and knows just why Melinda hates the name 'The Cavalry' so greatly. There's no trace of any of that in her body or in her words, now.

"However, the Director was making some headway. Jiaying was explaining about Terragenesis. She had some crystals there. The missiles hit and the crystals broke. I'm certain she didn't mean them to. But Director Gonzales and I were both affected." She pauses, glancing to Peggy to guage her reaction -- evincing the first hint of concern she's shown since Daisy laid a hand on her shoulder a couple of days ago. "I survived; he didn't. It turns out, I'm Inhuman. This... emptiness... is the result."

Peggy Carter has posed:
The information is all taken in quietly, Peggy not interrupting the story, though her brows pinch a bit more as she sees no reaction to Bahrain, which she knows there SHOULD be far too many emotions behind. That makes her worry more than anything on the trip. She's seen May react to it before, all those microexpressions that happen. They're now just...Gone. Peggy exhales a slow breath, her bittersweet smile almost too full of emotion compared to the icy woman next to her.

"This...seems a rather horrible effect for being an inhuman. No...no emotions at all? God, Melinda, we... Hell. We have to figure a way to fix it. It's just as much damage as if you'd taken a massive physical wound. This is just mental. And...it doesn't seem... *Always*. You seemed to feel something for...or with... Vogel?"

Melinda May has posed:
"Daisy seems to think there's a purpose to it," May tells her friend. "And... I did... feel... *something* when I touched Vogel." The words come slowly not because they're difficult, but because her mind is trying to process the moment enough to describe what happened. "I felt afraid," she concludes. "I put my hands on his shoulders and I felt angry and afraid." Which probably explains why she let go so quickly.

She pulls the wheel gently to one side, merging over a lane, heading towards an offramp. "I've promised Daisy I'll speak with Jemma, and I will. I'd have done so before today, but she's been preoccupied with Jane Foster and a series of unexplained deaths. However, aside from Bobbi, she's the best expert we have in Inhuman biology. But Bobbi has been unstable since before Afterlife and every time I'm near her, I seem to make her physically ill. So, she's not really an option."

Peggy Carter has posed:
As May says she's going to talk to Jemma about it, Peggy does relax a little bit more. "I'm glad you have plans to...speak to someone about it. Jemma will be able to...equalize things, if nothing else. Hell, May, if I could give you some of..." Her hand momentarily rubs across her chest, like the last encounter physically hurt her, "*THIS*... I would." And the emotions from seeing how much of HYDRA is in SHIELD. How manipulated they've been. How little she can do to change it? It does all hurt. Peggy's only calm and restrained out of worry for May and her usual British reserve. But internally, Peggy's screaming... trying not to. But she is.

One hand reaches out, pressing the briefest of squeezes to May's arm. Just trying to give some reassurance.

Melinda May has posed:
All of which means, when Peggy lays her hand on Melinda's arm, the woman's breath catches in her throat and her hands squeeze the steering wheel like she's clinging to a life preserver. The calm and control that Peggy exerts overherself translates enough through to her that she doesn't swerve or otherwise lose control of the vehicle -- thank god for that -- but the struggle to suppress whatever it is she's suddenly feeling is far more obvious is May's body than it is in Peggy's. This, despite the fact May has had years of exerting the same level of emotional control overherself.

Tears well in her eyes and a sharp, angry scowl settles on her brows. She clears her throat, clearly determined not to cry or scream or otherwise make a scene. Her breath is drawn deeply in through her nose, and pushed out through tight lips. "I'm sorry," she says, clearing her throat as she tries to steady her voice. The tears sit on the edge of short lashes. She shakes her head to clear them, eyes purposely wide as she focusses out the windshield in that way one does when one is trying not to let the tears blur the road ahead.

Peggy Carter has posed:
It's immensely strange to watch one's own emotions on display across someone else's features. If the touch hadn't been so clearly an immediate trigger, and if Peggy wasn't actively feeling every one of those things that show on May's face, she might think it was some after effect of the scene or the trauma May had been through. But those emotions were far too close to home. She knew every inch of them, she just wasn't letting herself process them right now. Or, at least, not show it. She abruptly jerks her hand away as if she'd touched a hot stove.

"Shit, shit! No...I... I'm sorry. Shit. You... you can pick up people's emotions by *touching* them? Can't you? That's what happened with Vogel and I just shoved all this mess on you here int he car. Shit...I'm sorry... Pull over if you need. I can drive." She's been swallowing back these emotions for half an hour now. She can keep doing so longer and later.

Melinda May has posed:
As the hand leaves her arm, May draws in a shaky breath. It actually takes several seconds for the emotions to fade, for her to start regaining her equalibrium. "I'm fine," she says as her grip on the wheel loosens a little. "I just didn't..." She glances to her friend. "I didn't know that's what I was doing," she tells her. "I don't... I haven't... People don't touch me very often." And when she hits them, she's not usually in contact with them long enough for it to matter -- though it does begin to explain to her why, when she held on to Hicks long enough to throw him across the matts in training the other day she felt inexplicably intimidated and alarmed.

As the emotions fade, her shoulders relax and she settles back in her seat closer to how she was before all of this started. "I always knew you swallowed your emotions," she comments after a long moment of silence. "I didn't realize they were quite so similar to mine." A beat. "Well. How mine used to be."

Peggy Carter has posed:
Peg watches her warily for a few more moments, but doesn't insist that May pull over, not when she sees the woman is regaining control of herself now that there is no contact between them. Peggy flexes her fingertips, like she's worried she's burnt one or both of them, but she's trying not to hover. She takes in a slower breath, looking forward to the road again for a few heartbeats.

"I... don't know that we can say that is *exactly* what is happening without further experimentation, but maybe you should do that with...Jemma. I don't know that I'm... a fit person to be pushing these things onto you at just this moment." There is apology behind Peggy's voice, even if not those direct words again. "...and yes. Back in the day, if I...let things out, I was just being some over emotional woman. Nowadays, they simply call me British. Wasting time on showing emotions is rarely a good use of time...it... It doesn't mean I don't feel them."

Melinda May has posed:
"Oh, I know," May says. "I'm the Cavalry, remember?" There's no bitterness there, as there would be any other time. She's returned to that impassive even keel again. Though, there does seem to be a little more pensivity to her than there was before. "The Ice Queen of SHIELD." She knows the rumours; she knows what people say. And, apparently, she pays more attention than people know.

But that's always the way.

"I have always taken my emotions and channelled them into my ability to fight. I always thought you did the same, in your own way. Now, of course, I don't have that same advantage. But, it's interesting, because sometimes I think I see things more clearly without the anger clouding my judgement." Her brows crease slightly. "I think, though, I must have some sort of emotion left. Otherwise, I don't think I could proiritize as I do, or choose that you are more important than Vogel."

Peggy Carter has posed:
That last bit of logic has Peggy tilting her head, quietly considering the possibility. "I don't know if...morality and emotion are the same thing? You know to whom you are loyal. Were loyal. You know the ethics on which you operate and the promises you've made. Just because you don't *feel* them any more doesn't mean you don't *have* them...I suspect. You are still Melinda May. Just.. one without emotions clouding the whole mess of life. But your personality is still there. Your mind and thoughts..."

A slight smile cracks across Peggy's tired features, tilting her head back against the headrest in the car as she tries to reassure the woman, her tone a little more gentle for the next statement. "Besides...if you do have a little left? All the better. Just more things to build from."

Melinda May has posed:
May gives a mild shrug. "I did some reading, after I spoke to Daisy. I wanted to make sure this wasn't going to impact my work adversely." That actually suggests she really does still possess some sort of emotional underlay. "I don't understand most of the highly scientific papers, but I did see a simpler article that said people who have experienced brain damage that removes their ability to process emotions are unable to make the simplest decisions or prioritize. I can still do that. Therefore..." She frowns faintly. "I must still have the ability somewhere. Otherwise, I couldn't have reacted to your touch."

Peggy Carter has posed:
"Well... We'll thank whatever there might be, and focus on letting the experts get you a few more of your own emotions back. And...take out HYDRA before it takes us out. And figure out what to do with the guy chained up in the bathroom. You know... just another day in the life." Peggy mutters with another wry smile, but that one almost reaches her eyes. If she doesn't laugh, she'll cry... So, they had to laugh. If just a little bit.