painting white flags blue ; carter + hill


“Yeah, and it’s a testament to how this morning went that that feels like a fucking gift.”

The words are dry, sarcasm and defeat mixed, and Sharon folds her arms across her chest, head bowing under a weight she’s certain isn’t entire imagined.

Peggy talked about these sorts of choices sometimes – the kind of choice that doesn’t feel like one, compromise that isn’t comfortable or easy.  Sharon remembers hearing her stories about the kind of thing that makes you lose sleep, and how some things are worth that, and knows, unequivocally, that this is one of those things.

(Briefly – Jesus – Sharon tries to deal with the sudden, ice-cold flash of guilt that sneaks up on her; all those people, people she loves, people she considers friends that she knows will chafe under this, that she knows won’t agree, with good reason – 

Everybody wants to talk about what’s right not always being what’s easy but Sharon spares herself a second to mourn the fact that this situation is, mercilessly, neither, at least not entirely.)

They could stand here for another hour slogging through this, and maybe they should, but – that’s what tonight’s for, that’s what the next hours of debrief and strategizing and figuring out how the fuck to break this to their Agents are for.  Right now, Sharon can tell Maria needs a second to just cope about as much as she does, and there’s no better evidence of just how fraught this morning’s become than when Sharon reaches out, minutely, offering a moment of physical reassurance in the form of a hand resting on Maria’s arm.

It’s for them both, truth be told.

“We can do it.”  We don’t have a choice, but the semantics are important.

We don’t trust anyone else to do it.  Here they go.

Damn it.

“And if I was going to be stuck driving to hell one-handed with anybody, can I tell you that I’m glad it’s you?”

     The laugh that comes on the tail end of Sharon’s retort is dry, sharp and weightless like the heat lightning that sears the summer nights without bringing the promise of rain. It’s true, Sharon’s right, and there’s a part of Maria that’s thankful she has someone like Carter that she can trust enough to do this with. Bounce what-ifs and potential solutions like tangible things off of each other, each return volley made more valuable by the input the other had to add.

           She drags the back of her hand across her hairline, preemptively hating herself for the steps that come next. What that means for her- for them– for everyone else whose lives they’ll uproot in the name of safety and protection.

But then, it’s not like she took this job in the interest of being loved or even well-liked. Maria can only be thankful that this isn’t one of those life or death questions- that this is something that has the potential to be much more mild. An ultimatum, sure, but she can take solace in the fact that it’s not a deadly one.

     The extension of Sharon’s arm is unexpected and she tracks the trajectory in her peripheral before she turns her head, fixing the blonde with a look that ( she hopes ) effectively conveys just about all of the gratitude she’s capable of carrying. There’s a smile- real this time, not that half-hearted substitute from before- and it’s brief, but she carries it through the slow dip of her chin.

          “I’d tell you the same. No one better. I mean it, Sharon,” Maria agrees, and it truly is high praise. She’s glad that she has the next hour or so to process this away from the glare of a lens or the screen of her computer ( no doubt already displaying an overflowing inbox from various outlets, press and otherwise ) alongside Sharon, one of the few people in her life that she doesn’t have to filter her thoughts around. “I want an iron clad game plan before we get back to HQ. But food first.”


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