By the time someday rolls around, Angie is living in a broom closet under the 3rd Avenue El.
As far as Miss Fry had been concerned, inviting a wanted criminal and traitor to stay at the Griffith was almost as bad as trying to sneak a man above the lobby.
At least Angie had gotten out without having to listen to the Houdini speech again.
There's no room to swing a cat in Angie's new place, and what furniture there is ain't nothing she wants to invite Peggy Carter to sit on, so they stand awkwardly just inside the door.
"How d'you find me, Peg?" Angie asks.
Miriam didn't exactly ask for a forwarding address, and even if she had, Angie can't imagine her handing it over to Peggy.
"I have my sources," says Peggy, a flash of satisfaction crossing her face.
"I bet you do, English."
"Angie--" Peggy looks around the apartment in dismay "--you shouldn't be living somewhere like this."
"Aw, Peg, it's not so bad..." Angie is about to say that between the automat and the audition carousel she's riding she's hardly ever home anyway, when Peggy interrupts: "You should come and stay with me."
"Please, I insist. You helped me move into the Griffith when I found myself homeless, and I do feel responsible for your eviction, rather. Allow me to return the favour."
Still, Angie is all set to say no when a cockroach makes a break for freedom, darting across the hall floor; Angie squashes it under her heel like a pro, smiles brightly at Peggy, and says, "Before we start thinking of setting up house together, I think you've got a story to tell me, English."
"Yes, I suppose I do."
Angie's late for work, so most of Peggy's story she hears standing in the alley behind the automat when she's on break.
Peggy's story - the bits that are more than significant pauses, and Honestly, Angie, I'm telling you as much as I can - goes like this: she was in the military during the war, and if Angie can take a hint, not in the typing pool or nothing; afterward she worked counterintelligence for an agency she can't name, classified and all that; she turned double agent for reasons that she swears were for the greater good, and Angie's inclined to believe her because the whole thing seems to have resulted in Peggy getting promoted to director of a different counterintelligence agency the name of which she can't tell Angie either.
"Jeez, Peg, that's great. Congratulations!" Peggy beams like maybe Angie's the first person to say that to her, and Angie spends the rest of her shift imagining packing her bags and moving out of her roach infested apartment.
The address Peggy gives Angie turns out to be for a penthouse in Manhattan; the kind of place Angie could never have imagined living even if she struck it big on Broadway, married rich, and stumbled over the proceeds of a bank robbery all in the same week.
Peggy turns up with a suitcase and a set of keys while Angie's still trying to work out if she's in the right place.
"Were you not living here already?" Angie asks with a frown.
"Howard has been trying to insist; it's a perk of my new job, apparently. I haven't been using it, but you can't stay in that place, and we can't both sleep on the chairs in my office."
Angie's reply is cut off by Peggy opening the door to high ceilings, polished floors, fresh cut flowers, and a totally cockroach free environment.
Angie finds out who the mysterious Howard is the same night she discovers the name of Peggy's secret agency.
She's just gotten home after a shift at the automat, followed by an audition where she didn't even get to open her mouth before they told her thanks but no thanks.
The penthouse has more rooms than she and Peggy could use even if they were both home all day, and Peggy has taken over one of them to use as a study. A man's voice floats out through the slightly ajar door. "You told her about SHIELD?"
Peggy's reply comes quickly. "Her friendship with me resulted in her being thrown out of her home, Howard, I thought she deserved to know at least part of the truth. I haven't told Angie anything about SHIELD that could threaten SHIELD... or Angie."
The man - Howard - laughs.
"Is something amusing, Howard?"
"You tell me, Peg, you're the one who's always warning me away from strange women."
"Oh, it's hardly the same thing." Howard says something inaudible that causes Peggy to retort, with a laugh in her voice, "Don't be lewd!"
Angie reaches back with a huff of spies!, pushes the front door open, and slams it shut. "Peggy! I'm home."
"Angie, how lovely." Peggy emerges from the study followed by, gee, that's Howard Stark. "Howard, this is Angie Martinelli my, ah, roommate. Angie, this is Howard Stark, we're--" there's a slightly too long pause before Peggy finishes "--old friends from the war."
It's a good story, too - the war made for strange bedfellows - but it's a handy reminder that if Peggy isn't lying to Angie, she's not always telling her the whole truth either.
"Miss Martinelli, charmed." Howard takes Angie's hand, and for a moment it looks like he's about to kiss it, all prince charming like, but then Peggy clears her throat and Howard straightens up. "Night, Peg. Night, Miss Martinelli."
It's not until later when Angie is fixing them their nightly drink - schnapps for her, bourbon for Peggy - when it hits her; Peggy and Howard Stark are working together at SHIELD, the penthouse is a perk of Peggy's job.
"So," Angie says, passing Peggy her bourbon with a bright smile, "we're living in Howard Stark's love nest?"
Peggy rolls her eyes, and takes a sip of her drink. "One of them, at least."
The next time Angie comes home slamming doors it's not an act, she's cheesed off and somebody's going to know it, even if it's only the walls.
"Angie?" She hadn't realised Peggy was home. "Did the audition go poorly?"
"Nah, English, it went swimmingly, right up until the producer invited me back to his office to talk about the role and tried to slide his hand up my skirt."
"What?" Peggy sounds awfully scandalised for someone who makes her living as a spy; didn't she ever hear of Mata Hari?
"It's fine, Peggy, honestly. I should expect it by now, and it's not like he tried to stop me walking out; there's always plenty of girls who'll stay."
"Come with me," says Peggy, leading Angie to the formal dining room that they've never used. Peggy turns two of the high backed chairs to face each other; she sits in one, and gestures Angie into the other.
Peggy crosses her legs and pulls her dark blue skirt up to mid-thigh. "Touch my knee."
Well, heck, there's an invitation. Angie does as she's told. Peggy grabs Angie middle finger and yanks it back towards Angie; she stops before it actually hurts, but there's the spectre of pain just over the horizon.
"Okay, now you do the same to me," says Peggy, reaching for Angie's leg; Angie leaves Peggy's hand on her knee for a minute. Peggy clears her throat -- "Angie," she says -- and Angie tries to repeat what Peggy did to her finger.
"Good," says Peggy, "but if it's some jerk of a producer don't stop until you hear bones break." She pauses and then adds, "then run."
The thing is, Angie wasn't lying when she said she could eat Captain America with a spoon, she just didn't mention that she'd have wanted Peggy Carter for dessert.
It's just how Angie's wired, guys and gals, always has been.
They have a good thing going here, and Angie doesn't want to ruin it by spending too much time wondering about Peggy's wiring; even though there are nights when Peggy's spent the day out of her office, comes home complaining of aching feet, and sits next to Angie to take off her shoes and stockings, when the what ifs start chasing each other around Angie's mind.
Angie pays rent. Peggy says that it isn't necessary, that Howard Stark hardly needs the money, and that he owes Peggy for saving his sorry arse from a treason charge anyway.
Angie likes the way Peggy curses; like it doesn't count so long as she's all English about it.
But it doesn't change the fact that Angie's going to pay rent - Angie Martinelli's never been on the market to be anyone's kept woman; not even if it's a dame like Peggy Carter doing the keeping.
Not that Angie's contributions make much of a dent, probably. There's a woman who comes in once a day to clean, who they probably don't need - Peggy's got that military issued neatness, and the only woman Angie's ever known more zealous about tidiness than her own mother is Miriam Fry - a florist to change the flowers daily, who they definitely don't need, and a cook. They probably do need the cook; Angie's day job is as a waitress not a short order cook, and she's tasted just enough of Peggy's cooking to understand why she became a regular at the automat.
Peggy calls home one night to say that she'll be working late and Angie should eat without her.
"We may be here all night. I've just sent the men to call their wives and apologise..."
Angie's always prided herself on being quick off the mark, but it still takes her a beat too long to wisecrack, "Well, don't expect me to keep your supper warm for you."
"I would never dream of presuming, Angie."
Angie isn't long off the call from Peggy when the doorbell rings; it's Mr Jarvis and she tells him that he can probably catch Peggy at her office, provided he knows where that actually is, because Angie sure doesn't.
No, he says, he's here because Mr Stark wishes to invite Angie to accompany him to a party tomorrow evening. Angie decides to overlook Howard sending his butler to ask her; she's met Jarvis before, so it's not like her socks are going to be knocked off by the fact that Howard has a butler.
After Angie's said yes, because why not, she must still look a little distracted because Jarvis asks, "Is there anything wrong, Miss Martinelli?"
Angie almost says I think Peggy and me are basically married, and I don't think she's noticed just to see what colour Mr Fancy's face will turn, but instead she just smiles, and asks him to tell Mr Stark that she'll look forward to tomorrow night.
The party was just as glamorous as Angie could have imagined. Howard introduced her to directors, producers, and starlets; he was a perfect gentleman, too, and that's why Angie has returned home in a kind of a sour mood.
"Angie, you look beautiful," says Peggy. Angie's feet hurt, her face aches from smiling - it turns out Broadway parties are a lot like the automat in that way - and her curls have started to go limp, but when Peggy calls her beautiful she forgets all her troubles.
"Well, I'm glad someone thinks so." Angie curls her lips back. "Do I have something in my teeth?"
"Then you tell me why Howard Stark, who'll chase anything in a dress, spent the entire night looking at me like I'm his kid sister?" Peggy's expression is pained, and a suspicion starts to form in Angie's mind. "Peggy Carter, did you warn Howard away from me?"
"Howard isn't a bad man," says Peggy, in a tone that implies that under the circumstances that's the broadest concession she's prepared to make, "but he can be a little... fly-by-night."
Angie can handle fly-by-night. She grew up around guys exactly like Howard Stark. Well, minus the money, the charm, the brains, and the mustache, her brothers friends were just like Howard Stark.
Peggy grimaces and does a not bad job of looking apologetic. "I can tell him to ignore what I said, if you'd like?"
Angie pretends to think about it, draws out the pause until she starts to feel cruel, then says, "No need. He isn't my type, and I'd hate to have to break his heart." Peggy's laugh is relieved. Angie heads towards her bedroom and turns round with her hand on the doorknob. "English, I'm flattered you're trying to look out for me, I really am, but you're not the only woman in New York who can take care of herself, if you know what I mean."
Peggy and Angie aren't the only single girls to have a framed snapshot of Captain America in their place, but they're probably the only ones to have a snap of Steve Rogers before he was Cap.
"He looks kind," says Angie. He looks like the kind of skinny, anxious kid that her brothers would have kicked all over the parking lot for laughs. He also looks kind.
"He was, exceedingly so," says Peggy with the sort of enduring sadness that makes Angie want to feed her strawberry pie and schnapps, and kiss her till she can't hardly breathe.
Pie and schnapps she can buy, and as for the rest of it... Peggy was Captain America's girl, if Angie's little infatuation needed another splash of cold hard reality.
Angie has a job. A real life acting job, through one of the producers Howard introduced her to. It's off-Broadway, like way off-Broadway, and she's playing the heroine's sister rather than the heroine.
She's imagining telling her boss at the automat to stick his job where the sun don't shine, and thinking of having cards that say Angela Martinelli, character actress printed up, when Peggy comes hurtling through the penthouse door calling, "Angie, I need you, and I need you in the dress you wore to Howard's party."
Which is how Angie comes to be walking into a fancy hotel bar on Peggy Carter's arm, dressed to the nines, wearing a wig, ready to put on a British accent and play the part of Peggy's sister.
She bats her eyelashes at a man as Peggy slips something into his drink and keeps lookout as Peggy swaps one briefcase for an identical one.
Afterwards, Peggy sees Angie home to the penthouse. "You weren't in a any danger, I promise. I wouldn't have asked, but I needed a woman, and Agent Lee in a dress wasn't going to cut it this time."
"You need to hire more women at that alphabet soup of yours, English."
Peggy looks seriously at Angie. "I know. I always mean to. It's easy to fall back into old patterns, I suppose. Well, I really must get back to the office and write my report."
Angie waits until Peggy is already at the elevator before she calls, "Hey, I got a part in a play!"
"Darling, that's marvellous!" The elevator doors close on Peggy's delighted grin.
The stage lights are as bright as Angie's always dreamed; she can't see the audience, and it's not until she comes out the stage door to see Jarvis standing next to a fleetmaster with a bunch of flowers that it occurs to her: "She wasn't here, was she?"
"Miss Martinelli, I have spent many years apologising on behalf of Mr Stark, and I can tell you that the main difference is that Miss Carter was sincerely sorry to miss your big night."
"Yeah, well." Angie stalks past the fleetmaster; she'll take the train home. She turns on her heel at the end of the alley and says, "September 16th."
"It's my birthday, so you can buy me chocolates when Peggy forgets; that's what secretaries do, ain't it?"
Back at the penthouse there's two SHIELD agents who don't want to let Angie into the building, and another two who really don't want to let her out of the elevator.
"What's going on? Is Peggy okay? Peggy? Hey, Peg!"
Peggy comes out of the penthouse with two agents in grey suits and matching haircuts in tow. Even though Peggy's wearing a robe with half her hair in curlers the agents' eyes remain respectfully high, with lots of yes, Director Carter, and no, Director Carter.
"Angie, thank goodness. Agent Travers, let her through."
"Er, Director, shouldn't we wait until they've removed the body."
There's suddenly a buzzing in Angie's ears which means she barely hears the rest of the exchange, which seems to consist mostly of Peggy acknowledging Agent Travers' chivalry but pointing out that they'll need Angie to get out of the elevator in order to get the body in.
Then two more agents come out of the penthouse with a stretcher and, jeez louise, that's a dead guy. Angie can't think of anything to say except a deadpan: "Gee, Peg, you know I hate it when you bring your work home."
Peggy's bedroom has gotten the worst of it. There's a pool of blood on the floor, the window's broken, and all the furniture's smashed up. Someone's taken a knife to Peggy's mattress as though they were looking for something and there's stuffing spilled out everywhere.
Peggy cinches her robe tighter and says, "I'll take one of the couches tonight."
"Don't be silly," Angie says, "we both know that Howard made sure all the couches and chairs in this place were uncomfortable for a reason. You'll bunk in with me."
"I'm sorry I missed opening night," says Peggy once they're all tucked in side by side in the dark.
"Yeah, well. I'm sorry that you almost got assassinated in your underwear."
That actually gets a laugh out of Peggy. "I will understand," she says, "if you feel you can no longer live here."
Angie means every word of it when she says, "I don't want to be anywhere else in the world."
Angie half expects to wake to discover that she's clamped herself to Peggy like a limpet in her sleep, instead she finds that she's stolen all the covers and that Peggy's sitting on the edge of the bed already half dressed.
"What time do you have to be at rehearsals? I'll have someone call round to clean up next door while you're out, I should be back in my own bed by tonight."
Strangely, it's not until then that it hits Angie that Peggy could have died last night, and it's that as much as the sum total of what Peggy's wearing being a slip, stockings, and a half buttoned blouse that makes Angie's mind up for her.
When Peggy half turns Angie sits up and slots her mouth against Peggy's. Peggy stiffens, and after a moment she shrugs Angie off.
Angie tells herself not to panic; Peggy most likely killed a man with the contents of her vanity last night, she's hardly going to be scandalised by one little kiss; and Angie's been here before, she can take her rejection on the nose.
"I'm sorry," Angie begins, just as Peggy says, "I'm sorry-- it's only that the last woman who kissed me turned out to be a Russian assassin who was trying to drug and murder me."
"Never mind," says Peggy, she leans forward and kisses Angie, properly this time. Like gals whose fellas returned from the war got kissed. Angie's mouth opens under Peggy's, and her hands clutch at Peggy's blouse.
Angie's hands skim over Peggy's curves and come to rest at her waist, and there's a little voice in her head that says this is Captain America's girl, but it's getting quieter all the time.
Everyone who'll ever kiss Peggy Carter for the rest of her life will probably have that same little voice; not that Angie's planning on letting anyone else get a look in anytime soon.
"Ten," Angie says, when Peggy pulls away from her mouth to plant a series of littler kisses along her jaw.
"Hmm?" murmurs Peggy against Angie's throat.
"I don't have to be at rehearsals until ten, if you wanted to come back to bed for a while." Angie leans back and tugs Peggy down on top of her, in case Peggy needed another hint.
When Peggy looks down at her there's a wicked twist to her smile. "Why, Miss Martinelli, how very forward of you."
"I don't know if you've noticed, English," says Angie with a laugh in her voice, "but we've been living like a married couple for about six months now, we've got a lot of catching up to do."