Mira_Jade: I felt like I was being overly-mean to Tony here... and then I re-read the meta and was reminded that he shot someone in the back with a repulsor and kicked them in the face when they were already down and defenseless and barely able to move. So... oh yes, he so has a lot to process and consider. Totally. Thank you, Mira. A/N: And now for something I was sort of on the fence for, but Brightfeather and Mom loved, so... yep. Going for it. (We'll be getting back to Wakanda next post.) ~*~*~*~*~*~ It was a little past ten o'clock in the morning on a Tuesday when a well-dressed woman with blonde hair and far too much makeup stormed into Michael Proctor's Brooklyn law office in a huff and demanded to be seen. Jane, the practice's Paralegal secretary, simply smiled. "Do you have an appointment, Miss Everhart?" "No! I got this thing, and I want to talk to him and know what right he has to handcuff the Forth Estate!" Jane eyed the paper in her hand for a moment, then stood up and moved to knock on the doorframe of Michael's open office door. "Another upset reporter to see you, Mike." Michael glanced up and laughed. "Clearly. Call my grandmother and get her here, would you? With Mason, if it's possible." Jane smiled again, nodded, then turned back to look at Christine Everhart. "You are so in for it, woman. You have no idea. Would you like some coffee?" Christine blinked, stunned at her congeniality. "Water. It was a long flight from L.A." Jane nodded again, motioned to the office door. "He's in there. Feel free to yell at him if you want, if it makes you feel better." "Are you always this informal, Miss...?" Jane held out a hand. "Jane Talbot, and he's my cousin. I can be as informal as I want, and you're the one who barged in here, making demands and waving around things. If you don't want to be professional, why should I be?" Christine blinked again. "Oh. I..." "Apologize later, Miss Everhart." She motioned again to the open office door, where Michael was now standing with an amused expression on his face. "Your meeting awaits." Christine watched her go, then looked at Michael. "So... is she always so...?" Michael laughed. "No, she simply hates it when people are grossly unprofessional. And I wouldn't call that letter handcuffing anyone, Miss Everheart. Come in and sit down?" Christine entered his office and sat down on the couch while Michael re-took his seat behind his desk and simply looked back at her, waiting. "I..." "That letter was to inform you of your gross misconduct concerning a Prisoner of War," Michael told her blandly. "And every major news agency got one... I had a heck of a time explaining it to Megyn Kelly yesterday, I don't expect you to be any different." She glanced down at the letter still in her hands, then looked at him for a long moment. "So this isn't an attack of some kind?" "No. My uncle's identity as the Winter Soldier got spilled to the general public, my family has been harrassed, and in general put in the spotlight when we already were and didn't want to be." Michael frowned at her. "Do you know what it's like to be under State Department scrutiny, Miss Everhart?" "Can't say as I do, no." Jane came back in momentarily and handed Christine a glass of ice water, then left again. "Thank you!" Michael frowned at her. "Well we do. We've been under State Department surveillance for a year and a half, because of the mess in D.C... Jane, did you get her?" "Ten minutes!" Jane called back to him. "Probably with Penguins or something!" Michael laughed, and Christine looked at him funny. "You'll understand when my grandmother gets here... she can be a bit eccentric. But then, she's ninety-two. If anyone deserves to be a little eccentric, it's a ninety-two year old." "I don't understand. First you send me this letter, now I'm meeting your grandmother?" "Who is my Uncle, Miss Everhart?" Christine paused, glanced at the diplomas on the walls... and that's when she saw a picture of the Howling Commandoes, black and white, from the Second World War, Steve Rogers included. "Oh." "And going by that, who would my grandmother be to him? To both of them, actually, come to think of it." "You're trying to make me think, aren't you?" "Is it working?" She stood up and went to really look at the photograph, to get a better look at James Barnes... to find a young man with troubled eyes looking back at her, wearing the familiar jacket that she remembered seeing at the Smithsonian years ago. "He was young here. Very." "Yes." Christine slowly turned back to him. "Have you met him?" Michael shook his head. "No, and that's a stupid question, Ma'am. For us, until what happened with HYDRA and SHIELD two years ago, he was dead. For Captain Rogers, he was dead. Had been since 1945. And then he was missing, only to be falsely accused of blowing up the UN summit meeting in Vienna, and nearly killed as a result. As I wasn't in Berlin in May, I did not have the opportunity." Christine slowly returned to the couch and sat down again. "I'm sorry." "For what?" "Barging into your office with my assumptions, for forgetting the circumstances of... this." She took a deep breath. "Wait. You said the State Department has your family under surveillance? Why?" Michael chuckled. "Now that... I do not stoop to understand government paranoia and the possibility of an amnesiac turning up on our doorsteps when he didn't even remember his own name, let alone a nickname." "Oh. How do you know that he didn't?" "Captain Rogers doesn't keep secrets from my grandmother. She'd probably hit him in the shins with her cane if he did. And she explained it to me afterwards." Michael tilted his head to listen for a moment as he heard voices in the outer office, then smiled. "And you... well, I won't call it lucky. She threw Tony Stark for a loop once recently." "Stark?" An older woman with a surprisingly erect posture for her age entered the small office and looked at them, then turned and looked at Mason, who was following along behind her, with a sigh. "I hate reporters." "Oh, I think you'll like this one, Grandma," Michael told her with a grin. "She shares your flare for the dramatic." "I'm not dramatic, Michael." She turned back around and looked at Christine, evaluating her carefully. "East coast or west coast?" Christine took in the elderly woman in the pink and green monkey scrub top for a long moment, then held out a hand. "Christine Everhart, Los Angeles. WHIH News." "Rebecca Barnes Proctor," she said as she shook her hand, then settled down in the chair in the corner. "You're that annoying one, with the angles on the Avengers of late." Christine frowned. "What? I'm not annoying!" "Just like I'm not dramatic? Please, Miss Everhart." She leaned forward, held out a hand. "Cell phone and any recording devices? Now." "I-" "Mason?" Mason sighed. "Do as she asks, Miss Everhart. We don't trust reporters in this family, and I can take away your choices and search you if need be." Christine glanced at Michael in question, and Michael shrugged. "He's CIA. He could have done it on sight." Christine rolled her eyes, then pulled out her cell phone and a tape recorder, and handed them both to Rebecca, who looked back at her coldly. "What? I always record everything. One too many encounters with scarily powerful people. Teaches you to always think six steps ahead of everything." "You must have an interesting storage room, then," Rebecca mused. "Why did you come here?" "To get the story on why I'd be getting a letter like this one," Christine explained, holding it up. "I was intrigued and infuriated." "That was the point," Michael told her. "And we are not a story," Rebecca said with a frown. "Yours or anyone else." "Don't you want to tell-" "Miss Everhart," Rebecca interrupted. "If we wanted to expose anything to the public, don't you think we'd have done it long before now? Frankly, I don't want to tell anyone anything. I assume Michael told you a little bit before I got here? Well... we don't grant interviews. That letter was not an invitation. It was a notice that the news media can do better than to drag people, good people, through the mud just for the sake of having stories to tell. You know what happened when my brother's face and identity got very publicly plastered all over creation in May, based on the evidence of a video? Reporters showed up at my door, because I am the most visible member of my family, and I've met a fair few of them as patients over the years. They knew exactly where to go. I'm his sister. Mind you, I haven't seen him since he left for England in 1943, but does that matter to anyone? No. The circumstances of all of this? They matter, Miss Everhart. It's not as simple as an interview and letting the public know everything when it's none of anyone else's business to begin with and needed to be kept out of the public eye." Christine stared at her, at once reminded of her own grandmother. "No, I guess it's not." "And that's another thing... do you know what happened in Lagos?" Christine frowned. "Is that a trick question? Everybody knows. Wanda Maximoff was involved in blowing up a building during an Avengers op." Rebecca sighed and shook her head. "No, she was trying to contain the bomb. What would have happened if that bomb had gone off at ground level?" Christine paused. "I... I don't know. Why?" "Same reason that reporters from five news agencies showed up at my door in May. Circumstances matter. You would do well to look into the circumstances surrounding the operation in question, because they matter." "Did you really throw Tony Stark for a loop?" Rebecca winced and glanced at her grandson, who simply smiled in return. "That was an unfortunate accident of circumstances, but yes. It was a mutual throw." "Good." Now Rebecca paused and really looked at her. "I'm sorry?" "I had an... encounter. Once or twice. With him. He's very... magnetic." "Yes, he is!" Jane called from her desk. "Just watching him on TV, he's magnetic!" Christine frowned. "Does she have really good hearing or something?" "Or something," Michael said. "Intercom is open. Jane, how is the rest of that brief coming?" "Ask me sometime tomorrow!" "Brief?" Christine wondered. "Long story that doesn't concern you," Michael told her. "I can say that the President will definitely be intrigued." Christine turned her attention back to Rebecca. "If you ever decide you want to take anything to the public? I want interview rights." Rebecca smiled. "It'll be you or Miss Kelley, if that time ever comes. I make no guarantees on that front." "But... Fox News?" "Mason owes them something for bugging them, one would think..." "I do not!" Christine frowned at the young man in non-descript clothing. "Bugging them?" Mason sighed. "First she tells me stories about her brother and his friend, then I find bugging equipment at the State Department meant for her house, and then..." "He got creative," Rebecca explained. "You don't want to know how creative, but it was amusing." Christine laughed. It was so refreshing to talk to these people. Eventually, Rebecca gave both her cell phone and her tape recorder back to her, minus the tape that had been recording. The next day, Christine Everhart decided to take a deeper look at State Department activities over the last few years.