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Double Exposure (Ten Conversations)

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1.

"You shot him down?"

"What? No, we had plans - "

"Peg, you shot him down."

2.

"Figured you were trying to let me down gentle."

"Gentle isn't something I hear applied to myself much."

Sousa gulps. Peggy grins.

3.

"You're being blackmailed?"

"Yeah, you heard me. Might not be the only one. My hands are tied but they won't think I'd've told you."

"I'm surprised too."

"What, the two best agents here and the two people I trust to have my back? Shocker."

Peggy and Daniel exchange glances. Thompson winces a little.

"At least I'd like to think you'd have my back - "

"Of course we'll take care of it, Jack."

4.

"Peg." Daniel's voice is hoarse. Peggy rolls over; she'd thought he was asleep. "Peggy, I can't stop thinking about those pictures."

Oh. She's awfully close to sleep herself for delicate handling. "Disgust, or - "

Daniel shudders. He's been chewing on his lower lip. "The one with her fist in his hair, holding his head back... I want to see that, Peggy. Kept filling you in for the - God, what kind of a sick - "

"Daniel. Daniel, darling." His eyes are black in the faint light. "Had you never seen such things?"

He clutches her suddenly, desperately. "Different when it's Jack," he says into her hair.

"Daniel," she says, "It wouldn't be my first time," and he's urgent against her in an entirely different way.

5.

"You lied?" Angie gasps.

"It was the war," Peggy snaps, "We didn't have time to play games."

If she'd had her fists in Steve's hair, it had been her back against a wall, her leg over his shoulder, Barnes coaching him and waiting his turn.

"Well," she amends, "Not those games."

6.

It's lovely to hunt as a pair; she might have prowled with Angie, if Daniel hadn't charmed her.

"You've sure got him on the line," Daniel says.

"We'll reel him in soon."

"I said you," he says. "Guess I can circle the block or something."

"Daniel," Peggy says sternly, "I am perfectly satisfied and willing to call this off at any point. But you're simply wrong," she adds, "Listen to the catch in his breathing next time you adjust your watch."

7.

They fall in to either side of him, and Jack's pupils flare on cue.

"Are we going somewhere?" he asks.

"You've invited us back to your place for a drink," Peggy says crisply. "Case well closed and all that."

"It's a lot of stairs," Jack says, which is very different than no.

Daniel pats him on the shoulder. "I'll say this for Stark, he remembers the knee's supposed to be a joint."

8.

"Oh... god... I can't..."

"You will," Peggy says, low and assured, and he does. They do.

9.

"Maybe Friday," Peggy says, "Saturday the boys have decided I need to be taken out. So I'm off to a picture with Daniel then dancing with Jack and then, one assumes, a nightcap."

"Nightcap," Angie teases, rolling her eyes and clucking proudly. "Look at you, dating two gents at once. I didn't think you had it in you, English, but you must have had it in you every which way it - hey!"

10.

"Blast, I've torn another stocking."

"Look in your drawer."

"We're not really the same size - "

"I said your drawer, not my drawer."

"I - oh. These are lovely, Jack. You didn't have to - "

"Can't a fellow pick up something pretty for his best girl?"

"... I - "

He hangs his head. "I'm sorry, Peggy. I know you don't - I'm not - "

"No, Jack, I - " She sits down heavily on the edge of the bed.

The clack of the crutch. Daniel takes in how they're looking away from each other, studying the floor.

"I miss something?"

"Just that I've made a hash of everything," Peggy answers.

"Hey, good," Daniel says, "I never mind the chance to be the one who rescues us."

He looks back and forth between them and to Jack's obvious surprise goes to Jack, wrapping his free arm around him from behind and tucking his chin over his shoulder.

"I doubt Peggy is the biggest idiot in the room," Daniel says, "You wanna spill?"

Jack grabs onto his arm but stays silent.

"You're calling it off," Daniel guesses, "You've got the VD. You secretly hate the thing with the blindfold, which, it would be a sacrifice, but I'm willing to give it up if - "

"He's in love with us and doesn't think we love him back," Peggy says. "For Pete's sake."

"See, she just can't stand us being wrong," Daniel says to Jack. "If only everyone we brought in was so easy to crack."

Jack is twisting, turning to Daniel. "You don't mind?" he asks. He looks back at Peggy on the bed. "Wait, you don't mind?"

Peggy sighs. "What is it you think I'm doing here, killing time until I get a better offer?" She walks over to Daniel and Jack and wraps her arms around them both. "You're not serious."

"We're just a couple of guys," Daniel says, and Jack starts "I'd need a head as big as a parade balloon to think I could - "

Peggy frowns. "You, we've talked about this," she says to Daniel, "And you," to Jack, "We should have talked about this long since." She muscles them back over to the bed.

"There's a difference between 'I'll always love him' and 'I'll never love anyone else'," Peggy says. "Second one wasn't even true when he was alive, for him either. No," she says, shaking her head at their opening mouths, "No more about that, it's not mine to tell, and it's not germane." She takes one of Jack's hands and one of Daniel's and watches with satisfaction as they complete the little circle. "It's frankly insulting to me if you think I'd go panting after a whiff of a new super-soldier," she takes a breath, "And it's heartbreaking if you think you're not good men."

They exchange glances.

"I still kinda want to wring your neck," Daniel tells Jack, "I guess I'd want to twice as much if you up and quit on us."

"Okay," Jack says, going easy and quiet the way he can with them. "Okay."

"I don't know what you think I'd be looking for I'm not getting here," Peggy adds over her shoulder, as she gets up and resumes her toilette. "If it were happening in bed I'd need intravenous fluids."

They make the same little pleased cough. Oh, boys.

"Hey," Daniel says, picking up her laddered stocking, "You got another orphan up for adoption?"

11.

The night Peggy lets go and cries, she doesn't speak at all, just huddles there in the tiny space between four arms and three legs in a too-small bed. It's grief, but also guilt, that she's posed them like figures in a diorama, trying to recreate her last unbroken hour.

She imagines showing them to Steve and Barnes. "Look how I've replaced you," she says, "See, Steve, he's blond": Jack, who the casting directors of the world think looks perfect for the part. "And Barnes: this could have been you," if only he had come home severed instead of dying intact.

"Ah, you're fuckin' a wire hanger," Barnes spits at Jack, "There's nothing under the costume on that one," and Steve looks gently at Daniel and says "I only want you to be happy, Peggy. If he makes you happy?"

Guilty for doing it, and guilty for thinking it; Peggy presses her lips together so the cruelty can't spill out and shakes and shakes. They soothe her and stroke her hair and shoulders and look at each other helplessly over her body that, thus laid down, isn't actually ten feet tall.

When her eyes are swollen and she's wrung herself out Peggy catches their hands and presses their fingers to her lips. All the heroes are dead but she is still alive; she hopes she can be forgiven this little house she's building in the rubble.