NOTES: I've had this crossover plotbunny for a while. There's more, but we'll see how this one goes down. :D

Ghosts Of Agents Past

There is undoubtedly irony in the universe when a seventeen year old girl can find a woman who's been dead for over forty years while men three times her age carry on, oblivious to Peggy Carter's existence.

Olivia might not have allowed the meeting, but for the thought that if Miss Maria Hill had managed to track her, so might someone else.

Then again, Olivia amends as she meets the direct gaze of the girl sitting across the table from her in the crowded London pub, it might just be that this is an uncommon young lady.

"Maria Hill, I presume."

"Yes, Ms. Carter."

She hasn't been addressed by that name in a long time. "It's Mansfield now," she tells the girl. "Olivia Mansfield."

"Yes, I know. I'm sorry for interrupting your…death."

"Let's not begin with false platitudes, shall we?" Olivia says pleasantly. "It's never a good start. How did you find me?"

The girl looks at her, almost as though she's the one measuring Olivia, although she must know it's the other way around. This young lady is not stupid. Although her accent is distinctly American, she dressed to fit in with the crowd in the local pub, and her eyes identified Olivia's protective detail the instant they walked into the room, her expression shifting with the wary defiance that Olivia remembers when her stepdaughter was going through those adolescent years.

"Mostly by accident," Maria admits at last. "I've been looking through the archives of your work with the SSR ever since I saw you in a history textbook in my freshman year. It was a picture of the Howling Commandos where you were pointing something out on a map to Captain Rogers and Lieutenant Barnes, and they were listening to you."

Olivia regards the young woman with a frown. "They were listening to me?"

"They were paying attention. Not because you were a pretty woman, but because you had something to say. Because they respected you."

It takes Olivia back through the years – so many years! Steve's smile and Bucky's laugh, Dum Dum's tip of the hat and Jim Morita's wink…

"I followed your career as far as I could – the unclassified parts. And then there was the Peruvian coup in 1968 where you were listed MIA, and…that was the last mention of Agent Peggy Carter." Maria shrugged and adjusted her scarf when it threatened to slide off her neck. "So I started looking at other women who'd worked with intelligence agencies after World War II – the publically listed ones, anyway. And there was a photograph of 'Olivia Mansfield' at a Geneva conference in 1994, talking about the limits of knowledge that could be gained by modern technology without taking into account the human factor. And it was you."

Thousands of textbooks printed and handed out to schoolchildren everywhere – perhaps millions – and one photograph just happens to catch the eye of a young woman with the observational skills, intelligence, and persistence to winkle out her story.

Olivia smiles, amused in spite of the security risk it presents. And impressed, because in all the years since Peggy Carter was listed MIA, no-one has made the connection until now.

It's in the records at MI-6 – she'd never have risen to her position otherwise – but her true history has been classified and obfuscated and blacked out so many times that it would take a security clearance level beyond God Himself to find her.

Or a seventeen year-old girl with a yen for something more than her mundane existence and the skills to take herself new places.

Olivia is a cold-hearted bitch – the evil queen of numbers and terror of the Thames to her subordinates – but Peggy remembers another girl with a yen for something more than what society said she could do. Isn't that one of the reasons why she responded so fiercely to Steve?

"So," says Maria, her hands folded primly on the table, long fingers clasped like she's about to take her prayers, "is this the part where I get escorted out and executed in some back alley and my body is never found?"

"We can arrange that if you'd like." Olivia sits back and regards the young woman who connected the dots and crossed an ocean to meet a woman she admired. She finds she's curious about this young woman with a self-possession that could match, if not outdo some experienced agents. "Personally, I'd prefer dinner and a drink. I've had a shocking day which I'd tell you about if I could, but I can't, so don't ask. However, if you'd rather be executed…"

Maria's mouth twitches. "I'm fine with dinner and a drink, ma'am."

"Please," says the woman now known throughout the intelligence world as simply 'M', "you might as well call me Olivia."

fin (for now)