"Please, sir, follow me."
From one conference room to another, it seems. Steve's not really the one to complain, but shuffling from one artificially lit room with a grey metallic table to a carbon copy on the other side of the building felt very redundant.
The walk isn't as far as moving across the entire floor, thankfully; the agent simply moves them up to a familiar bland corridor. The walk is silent, Steve thankful the nameless male doesn't attempt a conversation as they dodge other SHIELD agents moving throughout the building with an unknown purpose that he "doesn't have clearance for." All the surreptitious actions and decisions were tiring back in the '40s. Now it's just demeaning.
Like this. Barely a week out of the ice, and Steve's been told a lot of things. He hasn't had a choice in anything, just been told what he's going to do. 'Here's the person you're to see weekly'. 'Here's your room'. 'Here's your clothes'. 'We're going to introduce you to a person'. 'Wait here for two hours'. 'Follow me'.
It's no surprise to who Steve sees on the other side of the door. The black trench coat still glistens in the artificial lights, the eye patch still conceals lumps that have no business being there and Nick Fury still emitted the aura of able to command the whole building without moving from his position: casually inclined, one leg over the other, idly watching his phone. The SHIELD agent behind Steve closes the door with a click, and he remembers that maybe controlling America would be an understatement.
"Captain," he grunts, one dark eye following his every movement as Steve takes the seat opposite him. The phone in his hand is left forgotten in his pocket as Fury finally shifts to a proper sitting position, hands clasped tightly together on the table as he leaned his weight forward. "How's your day been?"
Steve doesn't even try for pleasant.
"Only had my scheduled training this morning," he says, the faux cheerful tone in his voice so plastic it could almost be the chairs he's sitting on. "Other than that, I haven't been told what to do."
Fury pauses, clearly not expecting his response. Obviously, none of the history books got it right, if he didn't expect Steve to start talking back. His eye goes from glaring to critical, like Steve is a mischievous boy.
"As I understand, you haven't made any requests." How could Steve make requests, if SHIELD hasn't even made one? If they were only going to shove, well, Steve throws a pretty good punch. False Hitler would know. "Captain," he then pauses, no doubt changing his wording to ensure that it didn't quite sound like a command.
"SHIELD has been looking for a history teacher for you for some time. An acquaintance of mine recently approached me, offering the service of his history teacher. Charles is a tricky bastard, but his offers don't come with strings. He did, however, ask for you two to meet so you could decide."
Steve leans back in his chair, resisting the urge to scowl at Fury. Someone outside of SHIELD was the first person in the future to offer Steve a choice, and the director wasn't happy with it. Momentarily, he wondered what kind of person Charles was, but he returned to the conversation with a short, simple; "So, where are they?"
Fury stays silent. He leans back in his chair and gives Steve another assessing look.
"I'll send her in," the director stands up and exits without preamble, thick-soled shoes quickly fading away. Steve didn't feel any less geared up - why did Fury feel the need to personally introduce this teacher? Did he really feel like showing Steve that SHIELD was allowing Steve to choose something? Like Steve would suddenly appreciate the organisation after two months of being isolated?
The door swung open, Steve standing up to greet them. It's a lady; she's staring at her phone, but at Steve's seat moving she lifts her head. Steve recognises the brown eyes, the slight scowl lines above her eyebrows, lips set in an apathetic line. Her hair is long enough to not be a male cut, just barely brushing the fuzz from her bomber jacket. The jacket is black, with silver zippers littered over the sleeves and front. It's open, showing a plain forgettable graphic t-shirt that's tucked into jeans. Other than the fact she's female, Steve almost believes he's seeing double.
"Mornin''" she greets, striding forward to greet Steve's handshake. "Lucille Howlett. Nice t' meet ya." The last name is a dead give away. Steve can't believe that Logan managed to sire a family, and for SHIELD to track her down.
"You related to Logan Howlett?" He asks, just to be sure.
"The Commando? Nah, sorry, no relation." She shakes her head, and every movement she makes reminds Steve of Lucky Logan that he almost calls fib.
"Oh, my apologies. Steve Rogers, ma'am."
"You need a history teach?" She asks, sitting down as Steve slides behind the table. She sits exactly where Fury sat, and it was the way she carried herself - unflinching eye contact, strong posture, a dangerous, feral aura - that Steve could absolutely believe she knew Fury sat there and that's why she chose that seat. A third seat whines as its pulled out from the table; it's a nameless agent, choosing a spot far from them. They have a case of files, a laptop and a mug of coffee.
"I was only told about five minutes ago," Steve admits. A history teacher sounds much better than leafing through a dull book. "but I look forward to learning."
"Hmm." Howlett's eyes flick over to the agent, who has been silent since he picked Steve up from the other room. "I want t' let ya know that my style of teachin' history is focused on mindsets and ideology. I won't simply tell ya about events and give ya a multiple answer test, I will show ya how to look at history, assess it, draw conclusions from a range of sources and form ya own conclusions on events.
"Furthermore, I'm gonna go into pop culture, sexism, feminism, and other movements throughout th' last century. And, if ya interested, I'll give a few lessons of Ancient History." The stare Howlett gives Steve is challenging; it's not the starry-eyed stare of fans, it's not the insulting, 'I'm-talking-to-a-child' look Fury gives him, it's an honest look.
"You'll be challenging my morals and ideas," Steve concludes. It's not hard to guess that the times have changed. The clothes Howlett wore were new, not to mention masculine. In the walk of New York, there were a lot of clothes that made Steve blush, both on men and ladies. Furthermore, Nick Fury was an African American in a position of power.
"I won't have a student who isn't open to change, so if ya stuck in your ways, Imma afraid that's going to change." There was no doubt in her voice. It was going to happen.
Steve sat back in his chair, arms dropping from the table to rest on his legs. Howlett knew who he was, understandable, but she didn't treat Steve like a fragile glass ornament. It wasn't like she didn't care that Steve was out of time, she acknowledged it, and promised to work with him.
The agent didn't make a noise. He simply stared at his pages and laptop. His SHIELD outfit blended in with the background - in contrast, Howlett was a splash of not only colour but movement and personality.
"Well then, I look forward to working with you, Miss Howlett." He smiles, sitting forward once again. Howlett doesn't smile, but the scowl marks lessen.
"Please, call m' Lucille, or Lucy." She paused for a second. "How do ya feel about moving to Mackay, Aus'ralia?"
She just so happens to glance at the screen when it dips to black, phone vibrating lightly in her hand as it receives the call. There isn't a peep of sound until she taps the pick up button.
"Logan!" Comes the cheerful greeting.
"Lucille!" Charles corrects, smoothly fixing his mistake. "How are you?" Lucille casts her eyes around her little motel room, from the untouched mini bar, silent TV, unopened bag to the stunning view of another, grey, unremarkable hotel.
"Bored. Can't move in until they've 'swept' the house. They're probably puttin' more bugs in." Lucille shifts in bed until her back rests against the pillow, hearing the familiar hum of Charles' 'I agree but my rich upbringing doesn't allow me to say anything' slightly muted by technology.
"The request to move out here was left uninformed until a week ago. If you had warned them earlier, they would've already completed their business."
"Well I hadn'tta been hired, so there weren't no foundation for me to lay m' demands on."
"There's always here, Lucille-" She opens her mouth, but like the damn mind reader he was, he continues on. "-I know you're restless and over teaching teenage mutants. I could see it long coming."
Perhaps it wasn't the mind reading.
"Why do you think I had the job ready to go when you asked?"
"Ya always have everythin' already at hand. Sometimes it's the money, sometimes it's the mind tricks." She grumbles. Her hand drops to the day pack beside her bed, fishing out whatever her hand closed around. Water.
"How is it going? You acquired the job, how is Mr. Rogers?" Lucille takes a swig of the bottle, searching for the most concise method to voice her thoughts. Even after she swallowed, Lucille failed to answer the question.
"Those agents, ya seen 'em, right?" That went without saying. She was speaking to Professor X of the X-Men. "Toneless, emotionless, and jus' a pile of sticks in th' mud. Steve? Him? He didn't choose t' be that way. He's had all his choices taken from him since '45 t' when I met him." Pathetic, she inwardly crowed, although she wasn't sure if she was referring to Steve or SHEILD. Another mouthful of water washes away the thoughts.
"I'm sure this will be an interesting ride then," Charles says, sounding like he was agreeing with Lucille's thoughts. "You haven't told him?"
Charles hums again. Lucille wishes he would shut up.
It's an interesting ability she has. Lucille never viewed it as spectacular, just a part of her identity. It wasn't until she switched the first time at the Xavier Mansion did someone raise some questions and with Jean's curiosity, inevitable answers - first of all, it wasn't her mutant powers allowing her to switch genders. It wasn't beyond mutant powers but Lucille's unique ability didn't include the instantaneous rebuilding of all intricate and complicated body systems from the chemical balance in her brain to rewiring of nervous systems. Whatever she could do, it wasn't from the X-gene.
Her care factor was at exactly 0%. Sometimes she was Logan, a man, and sometimes she was Lucille, a woman. And she wouldn't trade her ability out for anything.
What was questionable was the string of events ever since Lucille took interest in this damn job. It was shady to hell and back, and even though Charles had told her about SHIELD and the spectrum of possibility she was about to face, the most troubling thing in the room was herself.
When she was told 'the full detail' (no doubt only one quarter), she found herself already committed to the idea, bags packed without a thought and ready to say goodbye to the horrid X-Men uniform. It took her awhile to notice, but she had remained as Lucille for a much longer period of time than the circumstances would call for. She was used to remaining as one gender for certain people, but Charles could read her mind and figure out what to call her without asking. SHIELD's job was a possibility, not an established future event. There wasn't any reason why Lucille was Lucille for almost a month straight.
The night before she was to meet Steve, she was about to trigger the switch when the strangest unease fell across her shoulders. It was like she was gearing up for something and changing to Logan would make it all fall apart.
In the end, she relented to whatever was causing the agitation; there was one time in her life she went a year as Logan for no reason other than she wanted to. She could do it again.
Then she stepped onto SHEILD premises, and all of her questions were answered. Well - some of them, at least. She - knew. Knew that she'd lived for some time. Most of it as Logan. Occasionally someone will recognise her from a past event, some stretching to the beginning of the twentieth century.
Typically, she doesn't pay them any mind. All encounters (except one, which was horrible enough that Lucille didn't look further) didn't go far. She must've been extra sneaky because people didn't recognise her beyond her face and name. They were never close with Lucille.
Over time she's come to accept that. She still hasn't regained any memories except Colonel Williams and the X Project, and along the way, she's come to accept her past self's decision to lie low.
If there was one person who threatened her choice not to pursue her past, it was Steve Rogers. Captain America. Member of the Howling Commandos.
And - Logan was also a member.
Lucky Logan was her name, but she recognised it as what it was - friendly attachment. She was skimming through her own Wikipedia page (thankfully only full of mere scraps and useless information) when the door opened and Steve walked through.
'Any relation to Logan Howlett?' He asked, almost hopeful.
'No, no relation,' Lucille replied. How could she be related to herself?
She doesn't tell Charles this, instead half listening to whatever dribble comes through the phone. At one point, Charles hands the phone over to some of the kids, who blubber and snivel about Lucille leaving them. She tells them to toughen up, but couldn't resist also telling them to give the next history teacher hell. The call is over not long after the kids hand it back to Charles, who insists that he has to go.
As soon as she clicks the red button, a new text slides in.
House ready. Please make your way there to meet Steve.
With a grin, Lucille slides her backpack on one shoulder and hefted her bigger bag under her other arm. Time for some fun.