5750/I am your bartender, as I have always been

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I am your bartender, as I have always been
Date of Scene: 27 March 2021
Location: Swordfish Bar
Synopsis: (This happens right after scene 5462: Iron Fortitude: Warcrimes)

May confronts E, the bald bartender at the Swordfish and gets to know more about her past and how she influenced SHIELD. In the end a compromise is reached.

Cast of Characters: Amora, Melinda May

Amora has posed:
It had been ..., quite the night. One of change for SHIELD, a defining moment. What would happen next? That was anyone's guess. Well, Enoch had computed a few variables so he had some outcomes that were more probable than others. Of course that the probability of May rooting him out had been ..., unexpected. So curious. But then again, she had been the focus of other interesting phenomena in the past. And in the not so distant past.

The bald bartender leads May towards a back room where drinks are usually stored. Crates are lined up around, along with fridges to keep those drinks. SHIELD agents are heavy drinkers!

He turns, hands folded on his front. "I must say Agent May, you surprise me. With all my years, I did not expect this to happen." a faint, almost 'mechanical' smile. "But.. You must have questions?"

Melinda May has posed:
May still has that gun from under the counter in her hands. And she's still pissed enough to use it, if it comes down to it. "Yeah, I'm good at surprising people," she retorts.

Her dark eyes rake his form, noting details from the mechanicalness of his smile -- something she'd previously found curious, but nonthreatening -- to the subtle stiffness of his movements. She'd always assumed it was because he was somehow vaguely socially awkward; there are more of those types than you'd think in SHIELD. And as a bartender, it was unusual enough to be notable, but given how he usually kept to himself and kept his head down, it wasn't something she gave much thought to.

NOW, however, she's giving LOTS of thought to it. Because what could *possibly* be a better position for spying on a bunch of spies than from behind the counter of the one waterhole in the entire world where they can relax and be candid with one another. The one bar where, if a secret slips, it actually might not be the end of the world.

That is, of course, until tonight.

"I have one question and you seem to have trouble answering it: What the hell are you? And why can't I sense you?" The second question is tacked on as an afterthought, really. Because she's not actually used to sensing others, yet. And because she's still subconsciously sorting through all the 'emotional signatures' she just registered in the other room.

Amora has posed:
The gun doesn't seem to phase E whatsoever. In fact the man appears perfectly calm, as he always is when serving drinks here. For how long though? It's a good question. Any Agent would remember him from the early days. In fact as if he had always been a fixture of the place if one gave it any thought. Just that he's so inconspicuous that most.., ignore it. And in a way May is right. He *is* socially awkward. Or rather, still adjusting to how humans act. Even after such a long time studying them.

He opens his mouth. Perhaps to comment that it's two questions. But .., might be pushing his luck. He is learning a few things. And all the stories that Lance tells when drunk about shooting people..., he does it for less than that. So he nods just a little.

"My name is Enoch. I am a sentient chronicom from a planet which revolves around a star in the constellation you know as Cygnus, sent here a few thousand years back to observe and record the evolution of your species. In your words I am what you could call an anthropologist." and for some reason that appears to make him proud. It's his purpose afterall. "If you wish for the actual date, it was 30021 years, two days and .., six hours ago." because one should always be precise.

Yes, he says all that with a straight face, and with the full expectation she will believe it. "Yet you may wonder *why* I chose to be with SHIELD for this long. And that is due to since it's inception you having played a major role in the shape of history as we know it." a pause, "... including time travel."

Melinda May has posed:
May didn't get to Swordfish when she was in the 40's. It's probably just as well. If she had, she'd have a whole lot more questions for the... man. Then again... all those questions more or less settle into place just the same as he gives his introduction. Instead of uttering them, however, she stares at him. Especially when he emphasizes the aspect of time travel.

Her eyes narrow. There's a subtle way her head dips and her shoulders flex that suggest she's somewhat uncomfortable with that answer. She licks her lips slowly, rubbing her finger along the trigger guard of the gun. She doesn't place her finger inside the guard. He's not going to be shot. (*Yet.*) But, yes. She's uncomfortable.

Finally, jaw thrusted out slightly in that stubborn way she gets, she says. "What the hell is a chronicom? And who the hell do you report to?"

Amora has posed:
Oh yes. He KNOWS what you did last winter, Agent May. Time travel! The man doesn't even look at the gun when she gets that finger near the trigger guard though, just continuing with his placid outlook, as always. "I wish you no harm. Nor to anyone in SHIELD. I must say, I ..." a beat, " ... grew fond of serving SHIELD all these years. Humans are so peculiar, and I have learned a lot about you with my time with you. Perhaps more than the previous years."

"Now as for the second question. I do not know why you cannot detect me. But first we would need to understand what you mean by detecting people. Something has happened to you." it's not a question. "A change to your physionomy. You have developped what your people call a mutant ability? That is very curious. Would you tell me more about it?" an anthropologist's thirst for knowledge is never quenched.

As for what a chronicom is... "A chronicom is a synthetic being. Not a robot, or a .., tinman..." yes, he took offense May. "I have internal mechanisms that mask my non-organic structure and can mimic basic biological function. I can easily fool any scanner." brows furrow. "Or could, until now."

Melinda May has posed:
The fact this is not the weirdest explanation May has ever heard in her life is a mute testament to just how weird her life actually is. "I'm an Inhuman," she says, quite possibly owning that label for the first time. "I sense emotions." She gestures toward him with her free hand. "Not physiological signs of emotions; I sense the feelings." Her dark eyes rake him again. "It's new."

"You didn't tell me who you report to," she tells him. Yeah, she didn't miss that. "Or why I should trust you haven't been helping whoever it was that sold us out." Her eyes narrow. "How long have you been with SHIELD, anyway?"

And, she wonders, did Peggy know about him?

Amora has posed:
"That .., I cannot fool." Feelings. And .., is he sad? The expression *almost* hints at that. But there's *nothing* coming out of him still though. He is just a blank slate there. When May speaks of being an Inhuman he looks back up to her, "Fascinating. An Inhuman. So many of you appearing again, it makes me wonder..." a pause, "Ah, but nevermind." he doesn't finish the thought. Instead he looks apologetic.

"Apologies, Agent May. I do not report to anyone. Not by choice, but .., I have had no contact with my people in a long time. I am, what your people often say, stranded in this island that you call Earth. Not that I mind, I will have so much study about the human race when I return."

The continued questions, and even the request that he proves that he isn't a Hydra snitch has him 'exhale', "You are relentless, but it's as expected. You are so like her, Agent May." a fond look coming to the man's features. Or as fond as a chronicom can get, "Lily Chen. I met her when I started working with SHIELD. In fact, it was the start of my interest in SHIELD. The temporal anomaly, the shift. Those ripples and the changes created are still being felt, Agent May."

Melinda May has posed:
May blinks when Enoch mentions Lily and the temporal anomaly. She knows damned well how closely Peggy guarded that secret. So well, in fact, she all but forgot it, herself -- though May suspects that's a lingering effect of the cryostasis more than anything else. Unless, of course, it's one of those ripples he mentioned. But, there are too many damned photos of the woman in the Long Island house for it to be otherwise.

Slowly, she lowers the gun. "You know about Lily Chen." She studies him and, since the room beyond them has now largely emptied of anyone but Peggy, who waits restlessly, May finds that her anger and confusion are more muted than they were before. Now, the only emotions she has are the impressions from Peggy beyond the walls of the storage room and whatever she still has buried within herself.

"Tell me about her." It should have come out as an entreaty. It comes out more evenly than that. But it's not a snapped order, by any means. She's slowly regaining focus and control. And that, remarkably, relieves her.

Amora has posed:
"Lily was you, Agent May. But not you. See, for you to understand her you first need to know what she was. And while I know some of this knowledge can escape the human scope of comprehension it is necessary." There is no smug tone on E's voice about it. He just knows humans cannot process information in the same manner he does. "When you went back in time you created a time anomaly. The universe tried to compensate. And in doing so created a temporal construct, an image of you. One that was you, but not you." Enoch explains, perfectly still, "And so Lily Chen was created. She ..., had some difficulty adjusting to who she was."

The man takes a step back and gestures. For May to follow him. He slowly walks to another room on the side, taking out a key and unlocking the door. Stepping in he gestures for the woman to come in with her.

"When I began working at the Swordfish I met her. There was so much conflict in her. She did not understand." the man walks to a small safe, starting to open it.

"I helped her understand why she knew what she knew. The instability she felt. She understood her purpose in the end."

Melinda May has posed:
Slowly, May follows him. She doesn't leave the gun behind, but -- after only a moment's thought -- she does check the safety and slide it into her waist band. "You know this is weird, right?" she says, a trace of her customary acerbic nature rising. "The whole time travel thing was weird to begin with. This is weirder."

Nevertheless she enters the room with him, pausing at the door to look around cautiously. As he settles down by the safe, she steps in a little further, watching him. "What was her purpose?"

Amora has posed:
"No, it is not weird. In fact it's cataloged. Section 450-b. Temporal constructs." Enoch says it with quite the certainty too. "Why, to live, Agent May." he says as if it was the simplest of explanations. "And also to let you live. You who would be her legacy. She made sure to leave things prepared. To ready Agent Carter, and the rest of SHIELD, for what was to come, and the challenges you would have to endure."

The safe is open and the man retrieves a small album. He places it on the table and opens it. "This photograph." he turns the album to show it to the woman. In there a black and white photo shows of both someone *very* alike Enoch. Bald, standing straight in a suit of the 60s. Next to him is Lily Chen. And .., is she smiling? Certainly not! Must be the quality of the picture.

"This was the last day she was with us." The man explains. "I am not attached to memories like humans are. I explained it to her. But she insisted in having this picture taken. I kept it, for some reason. I do not know exactly why."

Curiously enough there's a date on the corner. 20th November of 1963.

Melinda May has posed:
Oh, Lily Chen is doubtlessly smiling. May has seen it in almost all the photos she's seen of the woman. Lily Chen is either far less traumtized than May, herself, or has found far healthier ways of coping with it.

May takes the photo from him curiously. She studies the photo closely, recognizing its authenticity. The paper, the weird crinklecut around the edge of it. And when she sees the date written carefully on the corner, she grows still. "That's the day I was born," she says quietly, finger tracing beneath the letters.

She glances up at Enoch, now. "You kept this. Why?"

Amora has posed:
When May takes the photo away from him Enoch almost seems tempted to reach for it, hand half-way. Afraid that it's taken away? He pauses, turning to look down at his hand. Mmmm. But when May speaks about the day she was born he nods, looking back up. "Yes, it is." he knows. "It was also the day she decided she had to go. To disappear." he explains. "You had your life to live. You did not need her shadow staying." a beat, "Or so she told me."

"So she moved on." In the way E speaks it's as if she was still out there, somewhere. But he doesn't go into detail.

As for that last question. "She told me memory was important. To remember others. In a way ..., I believe she wanted to be remembered on *who* she was. On who she truly was. Your people are a curious one." and then he smiles just a touch.

Melinda May has posed:
May sees his hand move toward the picture. She sees him stop the movement. It doesn't require her empathic abilities to read his desire to keep it. Thus, as much as she'd like to keep the photo for herself, she knows it's not hers to take. Perhaps she'll ask him for a copy sometime -- though not today.

Maybe it's her new empathic abilities, or maybe it's just the weight of her own natural emotions, not quite as muted as she thinks, but his words about Lily, his guesses about her motivations, resonate deeply with her. "That's what I would want," she admits. It's one of the reasons she hates the name The Cavalry, despite the fact to shed it would require her to be far more open than she will ever be willing to be.

She inhales a slow breath and studies the photo for a long moment more, tracing the contour of what looks like her own face with a fingertip. Finally, she pulls her eyes away and extends the photograph back to him.

"Okay." She decides to go with Lily's gut. Why, she doesn't know. Probably because Peggy would. "Thank you." A beat. She wipes unexpectedly moist hands on her jeans. "I'm sorry about the scene, earlier." She gives him a ghost of a wry smile, the shadows returning to her eyes, more like herself now than she's been in weeks. "It's been a rough week."

Amora has posed:
"It is quite fine. Thank you for not shooting me. It might had been awkward." Enoch says sincerely, taking the picture and placing it back on the album. There's a couple more there but that's the only one he shows. He closes it and quietly places it back inside the safe, closing it. "Those ripples I spoke of earlier though... You should be careful. I have felt.., another disturbance, one to come in the near future." then shakes his head, "But I do not know details. Only that such ripples are *never* truly good, or bad. The universe is influenced, it compensates. There are always consequences."

And with the picture now safely tucked away he turns back to May. "I would hope you'd not share with the others my nature. I am supposed to be just the bartender here, as I have always been. To be revealed to the others it would mean .., having to move on. And I am not ready for it yet."

Melinda May has posed:
May's brows knit at the idea there may be another temporal disturbance coming. "So, more trouble." Like they don't have enough. She grimaces, but files the information away. "Great."

As he asks her to conceal his nature, however, she presses her lips together. "Does Carter know? Fury? Does anyone else know?" How big is this secret he wants kept? It feels plenty big to her.

Amora has posed:
"They do not know." E shakes his head, "Only Lily did. Like you do now." he explains. Hands return to fold neatly over his front, placidly neutral. "She kept it as a secret." is he implying that May will do the same? Because they are the same person? But then he adds.

"I know one day I will become known to others. It is inevitable considering how fast your society is advancing. But there are other issues that you have to tackle right now. I wish you good luck with it."

Melinda May has posed:
Well... shit.

May stares at Enoch for a hard moment. A long moment. She opens her mouth, taking a breath as if to say something... only to close her mouth again. In the end, she simply nods. She'll keep the secret. At least, for now. No one in SHIELD can handle any more shocks like this right now, anyway.

Especially not the woman waiting in the other room.

May reaches into her belt and pulls the gun she entered the room with. She turns it around and hands it to him, handle towards him. There's her decision.

"Luck," she says dryly. "Yeah. We're gonna need it."