London Undercover

Peggy is sent to London to investigate someone on SHIELD's radar.

Pairing: gen
Rating: general
Warnings: none
Tropes: none
Words: 878
Original Release Date: 17 June 2020

Additional Notes:Written for Intoabar Spring 2020. My prompt:
Peggy Carter walks into a bar and meets... Neville Longbottom!

Peggy's newest assignment had her on a long-term undercover mission.

A person of interest had recently been spotted in London and the SHIELD had needed someone who would blend in during the investigation. At first, she was passed over by Chief Thompson despite his knowing her capabilities. With his mentor Vernon Masters whispering in his ear about ambition and prestige, she was invisible. She was just a woman, regulated again to picking up the lunch order and serving coffee. It irritated her, of course, but when she did get a case, the immense accomplishment she felt for solving the crime was enough.

Finally, Thompson told Masters that he thought Peggy was the best at the job if they really wanted their agent to be inconspicuous.

So here she was back in England. She had already settled her lodging and now it was time to meet her mark. By the photograph SSR had acquired, he was a tall man, with light hair and eyes, a straight nose, and he tended to wear a bit of stubble on his face. That, in and of itself, wouldn't have been a big detail to notice, but most occupations required a standard of appearance that included being clean-shaven. Either her mark didn't have a job or he was employed in an unusual profession.

She tracked her mark to a pub not far from King's Cross called the Leaky Cauldron. It took her walking past the door twice before she spotted it next to a barber and hidden behind a door to a boarded-up shop.

The pub itself was like many of the older pubs she'd been in before. Heavy wooden beams framed the ceiling, and the walls were thick dark planks with gnarled knots. The atmosphere was cozy, with a fire crackling in an oversized hearth in the middle of the wall to the right of the entrance. One thing Peggy noted was how, rather unlike most places she'd seen, there was no furniture near the fire for patrons to warm themselves.

It was evening and the place was busy but not overcrowded. There was a corner seat open at the bar so she took it. When the bartender approached and asked what she wanted, she answered, "Gin and tonic, please."

"Sure," he said. While he seemed indifferent to her order, two of her nearest bar neighbours looked up at her with caution in their eyes. A third smiled but didn't look in her direction.

The third man was her mark.

After the bartender returned with her drink, Peggy sidled over to the third man even as the first two stared openly in her direction. "Mind if I sit here?" she asked, pointing to the stool next to his.

"No, go ahead." He looked back down to his hands on his own drink. His hands were rough and he had black soil under several of his short neat nails. He must work outside.

Peggy took a long sip of her drink and hummed a contented little noise after. "Somehow for such a simple drink, the Americans just can't seem to get it right. Do you know what I mean?"

He grinned a little and looked up at her from the corner of his eye. "Not really. I've never lived anywhere but Britain," he answered quietly. He had a West Country accent and a pleasant smile.

"Not even during the war?"

"Uh," he said, and his eyes flicked back and forth like he was stalling. "I don't know if I'd call that living elsewhere," he finally answered.

"I understand that. Living in an army tent on the Front wasn't my idea of home, either."

"A tent on the Front—right—yeah. Definitely not my idea of home." His halting speech suggested that he didn't actually spend time on the Front. She wondered where he'd been. Those men she'd known who hadn't been deployed outside of Britain weren't usually so tight-lipped about their service. They tended to have a need to prove that they were valuable in their own way.

There was a longer pause and he shifted. If she didn't get more out of him now, she might lose him if he bolted. "I'm Peggy Carter, by the way," she said, offering her hand.

He was awkwardly slow about returning the handshake like he didn't quite know what to do. "Neville Longbottom."

In her periphery, Peggy could see the two men who'd previously looked at her with caution draw some conclusion based solely on her name. The staring grew colder until she could almost feel their distrust and hatred trying to pierce her skin. Peggy refused to shift or curl her shoulders under the fierce glares.

Neville, though, noticed how the two patrons were looking at her. He glanced down at her drink and then the door. "Do you want to get out of here?"

Going off with him alone may be dangerous but she would no doubt be able to glean a lot more off of him in semi-private than here at the bar. She glanced over her shoulder at the two before tipping up her drink and finishing it off. "Yes, please."

Neville finished off his own drink, then stood and gestured for her to lead the way out of the pub.

End Notes: Yeah, I know Masters and Thompson weren't alive or in charge of SHIELD but I wanted Peggy to have asinine superiors.