Fic-For-All #677 Joyce/Emma Peel (Avengers)
Disclaimer: I own neither of these universes, and make no claims on them. I'm just playing with the characters and will put them back when they're done.
Timeline note: This is slightly AU in the sense that both the Buffyverse and Avengers worlds are assumed to line up to have both Emma and Joyce in London at the right time.
The note from her past had arrived on heavy cardstock, the writer's initials embossed on the heavy card. It was very like Emma Peel, Joyce thought. So very proper without seeming at all fussy or over styled. And it had left her so very curious. When she had left London to go to college way back when, it had been with the assumption that she would probably never have contact with the people from that part of her life again. But Mrs. Peel had tracked down her address and had asked to meet her for lunch in Santa Barbara, and she now sat at a cafe table waiting for the other woman to arrive because she was too curious not to come.
Joyce let her thoughts drift back to those days. It had been the job offer of a lifetime, something that would not only get her out of the general secretarial pool but take her to London as the assistant to the American Cultural Affairs Attache there. She had figured that it was freak luck of the highest order. Those kinds of positions usually went to someone with far more experience than a twenty year old had. Only after she had moved to England did she discover that her boss had other job responsibilities than throwing parties for visiting musicians and artists.
"Miss Castle, or I should say Mrs. Summers, it's good to see you." The figure that approached her table was older now with hair long gone silver and wrinkles around her eyes, but she was still unmistakably Emma Peel.
"Call me Joyce, please. California's as informal as England is all prim and proper. And it's good to see you again too after all those years."
"Then you can call me Emma." she said sliding into her seat and tucking a large shopping bag between table and chair. "I managed to get enough of a name and address to get ahold of you, but not much else. So how have the years treated you?"
"Some good, some bad, but generally more good than bad. I met Hank not too long after I got to school. And while the marriage didn't work out, I've now got two beautiful and brave daughters to show for it. The oldest reminds me of you a little bit." Joyce said.
"And your art? I always remembered you sketching away when you rang someone."
"My own, not so much, but these days, I do run a successful art gallery not too far from here. And how have you been?"
"I found Peter, and we're still together." Emma simply said.
"It makes me genuinely happy to hear that." The tragic story of Emma and Peter Peel had been well known among both the American and English sides of the clerical staff. It made her glad to hear that there were people out there who got long-lasting happily ever afters. "I always did wonder what had happened with the people I used to work for."
"John Steed got a knighthood when he retired. He's actually the reason why I'm here today."
"He died a few months ago, and left me with the duty of, as the Americans say, executor of his will. Since then, Peter and I have been tracking down the people mentioned in the will."
"He was a good man. How did he die?"
"Peacefully in his sleep while surrounded by friends."
"That's good to hear. It seems like not enough people get to go that way these days. I'm just surprised he remembered me."
"He was very fond of you. The pretty and determined young American who could get on the telephone and talk her way into making just about anything happen- plane or train tickets for trips supposedly long sold out, the scientists who normally wouldn't talk to anyone and you'd get them convinced that they were the ones who had to make an appointment to see Steed, the hundred and one details you helped take care of so that people like Steed could do their jobs without worry."
"He'd use me as a hat rack." Joyce smiled, remembering how Mr. Steed had tended to drop his bowler over her head every time he had reason to visit her area in the American Embassy.
"Only did that with the girls he really liked." Emma smiled back.
"He was special."
"That he was."
The waiter came by then, and as they ate and ordered lunches Emma caught her up on people from long in her past. Now the old barriers between field agent and support staff were gone, and in some ways the two women were freer to talk with each other. At the end of the lunch, Emma picked up the check, saying that Steed had realized it might take a lot of effort to locate some of the people in his will and had financially planned accordingly. Then she was off, a woman of a certain age still looking impeccable in her Chanel suit as she left the cafe.
Despite her curiosity, Joyce didn't look in the bag until she had driven back home. That time in her life had been so much about secrecy. Somehow it didn't seem right to view the contents of Steed's bequest out in public after all that. It was not until she sat down at the dining table that she opened the bag and pulled out a letter affixed to a stack of passages.
My dear Miss Joyce Castle,
I will always regret that you left London to return to school while I was out in the field, and that I never had a chance to give you proper thanks for all the help you provided for me for two years. Please accept the chess set and Venetian glassware as a sign of appreciation for your assistance and skills.
The antique dagger was given to me by an associate about twenty years ago with instructions that I would know when it was time to pass it on to another. I recently discovered what he meant as it seems I have now been called to pass it on to you for use in another kind of struggle I only saw the fringes of over the years. I know you are the strong woman I remember, as are your daughters, and that you are all capable of bearing any burden it asks.