Friend of a Friend
Cross: Captain America and Buffy
Summary: There was a reason Peggy Carter had been trained to fight.
Spoilers: all of the movie and post season 7 of BtVS
Agent Coulson had been serious as Steve had explained that he wanted to pay his respects Margaret Carter's grave. Coulson hadn't known where it was but promised to find it quickly and told Steve to sit in the visitor chair while he searched the computer.
Steve had been examining the room more than paying attention to the agent, but the soft intake of breath caught his attention. "What is it? Is she still alive?"
"I don't think so," Coulson didn't want to raise any false hope. His eyes flicked back to the monitor as he considered his answer. "I recognized Ms. Carter's last known address."
"And?" Steve prompted.
"Tell me everything," Steve demanded. He was tired of being told half-truths 'for his own good.'
Coulson nodded and Steve was sure that he would get more truth than before, but surely not everything. "Ms. Carter obviously was part of an secret, powerful organization. No one realized the connection. SHIELD has only been aware of them for a few years and has been trying to form an alliance with them since that realization. They have rejected every overture."
"And now you know that this secret organization was included on the initiation of Super Soldier Project," Steve concluded.
"You want to know more."
"Yes. How would you like an easy, fact-finding mission, Captain?"
Steve stood and saluted. "I accept."
Agent Coulson had stressed two facts: one, SHIELD wanted these people as allies and two, nothing these people did would register as normal to Steve. Steve was supposed to just be himself and ask honest questions. He really wanted to know what happened to Peggy and these people were the only ones who could tell him. It seemed wrong that a powerful, secret organization was presented to the world as a private girls' school, though.
The wrought-iron fence looked decorative, but was effective. It surrounded the property and appeared to have only one entrance. Steve was sure that there was another, but he couldn't spot it on his walk up to the front door. A girl was sitting at the front desk, chewing gum and working on homework.
She looked up at him curiously. She didn't offer him a greeting.
"Good morning," Steve said. "I'm here to find a resident once connected with this building."
The teen sobered and Steve was sure that Peggy was dead. "Name?" the girl whispered.
"Peggy - Margaret Carter."
The girl typed it into the computer and waited. Whatever she read made her eyes go big. She looked from the computer to Steve and back again. Steve would not have been surprised if there was some 'Classified' label on Peggy's file. From the receptionist's glances, he wondered if there was a picture of him in there. The girl reached for the phone. "I'll see who's available," she said in that very soft voice.
Not two minutes later, an older man entered the foyer. He extended a hand to Steve. "I'm Dr. Rupert Giles. I'm in charge."
Steve wondered if Giles was in charge of this particular facility or of the entire international organization. "Steve Rogers," he introduced himself. "Thank-you for taking the time to see me."
"The pleasure is ours, Captain. This way." Giles motioned to the inner door and Steve heard the receptionist release the door lock from her desk.
"You've been expecting me," Steve realized.
"Yes," Giles agreed. "We knew that you had been thawed. We knew that you were close to Margaret Carter. We knew that it would be only a matter of time before SHIELD sent you this way."
"I bet Ol' One-Eye nearly wet himself with joy when he realized that he could send an honest, handsome, Good Ol' Boy to us." Steve turned to face the wry voice. The blonde woman was tiny and pretty but she looked like a cleaned up refugee of a war: bitter, thin, cold and nearly hopeless.
"This is Buffy Summers. Our senior active agent," Giles introduced her.
Steve held out his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
She smiled and lost some of the hard edges. "It's nice to meet you too. You really are as nice and real as Peggy wrote."
"Peggy wrote about me?" Steve blushed. "You read it?"
"Buffy was… injured recently and has been spending time in the library during her recovery," Giles explained.
Buffy rolled her eyes. "I was tired of people hovering and of the infirmary and we all could agree on the 'safety' of the library. Once I found Peggy's journals, it was worth it."
"May I read her journals?"
"Do you have an e-mail address?" Buffy asked in return.
Steve nodded. Mostly it was used for SHIELD memos and he ignored its existence, but he did remember it.
"Good. We've digitized her work and send most of it to you."
"Most of it?"
Buffy shrugged and grinned. "You were not her only assignment, just the one she liked the best."
Steve wondered about that and though he was curious (and Coulson would want the intelligence), he was loathed to question them for fear that they'd withhold the journals. "Where is Peggy buried?"
"Out back," Buffy said. "I'll show you." She turned to leave, without saying another word.
Steve blinked at the rudeness. He paused to shake Giles' hand again. "Thank you, for all your assistance."
"It's nothing," Giles demurred. "Those journals have been a dependable friend to Buffy when she needed one. Margaret Carter was a remarkable woman. You best hurry; Buffy has never been patient."
Steve turned and chased after the woman at the end of the hall. She smirked slightly at his urgency. "She's not going anywhere," Buffy teased. "No need to run."
Steve blinked at the joke. He thought it was rather poor taste, but didn't want to chide this woman as if she was his granddaughter. The looks she sent his way indicated that she didn't think of him as old.
Buffy led the way out four sets of doors into a garden. They walked through a garden and came to an edge of a graveyard that had not been visible from the front entrance. He was slightly overwhelmed by the number of dead. "You know which one's hers?"
"After I read her books, I wanted to find it, so I did." She never strayed from her path until she came to a stop in front of a stone that read, 'Margaret Carter.' The birthday was correct. Steve noticed that she had lived seventy-one years total. "Giles actually met her in person, several times. She was old then." Buffy informed him, "but my impression of her is closer to yours: young, pretty, active and kicking ass." She plopped to the grass as if it were a comfortable chair.
Steve wondered why a living person would be so familiar and affectionate toward someone who had died before they were born. Didn't she have living friends with whom to spend time? Steve settled onto the ground beside her. Buffy didn't speak and Steve felt no urge to fill in the silence.
Off in the distance, Steve could hear some girls yelling. Buffy turned her head in that direction and Steve was surprised that her hearing matched his. She sighed and finally looked at him. "Have you met Doctor Strange yet?"
Steve shook his head 'no.'
"Well, we're next door neighbors on Weird Street with him. That's what we deal with. I like you, Steve, a lot. So you can tell Fury 'mission accomplished.' If you e-mail me, I'll answer and if you ask for help, I'll bring an army."
Steve blinked at the promise. "I won't abuse your trust," he finally said.
Buffy smiled and this smile finally broke through the hopelessness that weighed her down. "I know you won't. Peggy told me so."