A moment; tender, between Cap and Peggy. It’s a friendly laugh, an intimate smile, exactly what one would expect.
The moment ends, we find ourselves exiting the memories of Peggy Carter, reminiscing about a lost love in days long ago. She is days from retirement, her SHIELD uniform as pristine as the day she first donned the new garment but familiar, worn-in; hers. She is older now, gray roots, a shorter cut than it used to be, her pin curls are no longer practical, even as she spends most of the day at a desk. She prides herself on keeping up with the technology but she also wants to spend a few years curled up with a book in a mountain cabin. It is only now that she knows the world will be left in good hands- stronger, younger, competent and capable, that she knows she can leave with a good clean conscience. And she has left instructions, just a case or two open still that will, in all likelihood, require her assistance. It’s not a guarantee they’ll call her. But they might. She pulls a hard copy of a file long since digitized out of her desk and into a secured storage container. It is a hard-fought concession from the security personnel. A framed photograph older than the organization- or maybe the same exact age- goes in next.
A title page. OPERATION S.I.N. Black Widow in the Iconic Peggy Carter red hat and blue coat, an old file folder in hand and a smoldering smirk. The old Agent herself over the shoulder, strong, confident, still herself- a newspaper clutched in hand bearing a frightening headline- CAPTAIN AMERICA MISSING.
We have moved forward in time again to the PRESENT DAY, but the yellow place information says “TWO WEEKS AGO”. Off-duty Steve Rogers meanders the streets of dusky New York, coffee cup in hand (brand name cleverly obscured by his strong, manly hands). His broad shoulders are hidden in a casual leather jacket but the jawline and sense of patriotic duty cannot be disguised. There’s the sound of a scuffle, footsteps approaching, a close up of a face of surprise- not caught off guard, but here? now? to him?- he braces for a fight. Nameless shadows, thugs, loyalties unknown. Numbers easily defeated, meant to show off our hero’s strength.
More fighters- too many now, too well coordinated and too well planned. Steve is subdued, and Stan Lee editorializes his surprise. Surely the Star-Spangled Man has a plan. (He does not) He is loaded into an unmarked van, driven into the night.
A splash page, the most important names of Marvel (Who are available to attend and not busy in someone else’s title) at a gala. The drawing conveys music, glamour, laughter, everything expected from a crowd of powerful and good looking icons. Peggy Carter does not know how to feel; perhaps her presence is why the always early (or at least on time) Cap is late. Perhaps he did not want to see her after all; too polite to tell her so or want to cause her pain.
“Looking for someone?” Kate Bishop asks drily from the bar. She knows that look, she’s seen it before on Clint. Kate misses the point- she hasn’t spent enough time around Steve to realize this is THE Peggy Carter and why that’s so important. But she’s looking out for someone of her own, who happens to be headed over.
The Widow nods at Agent Carter, acknowledging a superior, her face completely unreadable. Inside she is uneasy and calculating which wine glass to smash if needed to form a shank. Carter has always been loyal to the right thing first and foremost but habits and rivalries die hard; some never forget the accent Natasha slips into comes from a homeland opposed to their organization. Most SHIELD members don’t get to retire. Nat sure as hell won’t. Peggy did more than a few things right, but Natasha wouldn’t be her if she trusted too easily. And she’s surprised. Steve should be here. Steve wanted to be here.
He’s not????!?! Suspicion grows. Romanoff places a discreet call to Agent Carter- Sharon, on duty. He’s gone off grid, nothing in missions, nothing to set him off, no forwarding address. His trail may be too cold now, but she sets off to find it.
Kate has been watching. What the hell, she decides, why not invite Peggy too. She probably knows a thing or two about tailing a tail. “Something is up,” she mutters to herself, glad she brought a quiver in the car. Peggy goes to keep an eye on the young girl; even she’s not expecting to beat the Black Widow at her own game. But she senses the same thing Nat did- or at least she does now. She can still read a face, even a former Russian spy’s.
The crime scene, a feminine figure in the shadows, come to investigate. The reveal- not a Widow but a private eye from Alias Investigations; Jessica Jones. A noir shot, the full face covering the page, horror and surprise–the clue she’s found means nothing good.