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i broke my bones playing games with you

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Angie’s working at the diner when the TVs start yammering on about Captain America’s body being recovered from somewhere in the Arctic. She’s always at the diner, and it’s not the first major world event she’s managed to be there for. She’d rather be in her bed, far away from the creepy suits who stared at her a little too long and were never quite so impressed to leave her a nice tip.

Captain America’s picture is getting flashed up on the screen now, a black-and-white Army portrait, mixed in with numerous action shots. A grainy video of Cap weaving in and out of trees somewhere in the warfront. The figure is agile, but fights like a brawler, like Angie’s drunk cousin Eddie on Thanksgiving. She had read once in a biography that Cap couldn’t get drunk, not after that serum. What a sadsack life to lead.

The talking heads from the government seemed to think that Cap could wake up from a certain death, that the serum’s properties had preserved the body to the highest degree despite being buried underneath Arctic ice for 60 years or so. Angie though that was all impressive, thought Captain America sure looked attractive in a uniform - both the requisite Army and the red-white-blue costume.

“Robert, what do you think it means for the American military, the American spirit even - that Peggy Carter could be alive after all this time?” Anderson is asking a WWII vet, adorned with medals and drooping a little, but grinning. Angie could imagine his answer.

-

Captain America does wake up - causes quite the scene too, bursting into the middle of Times Square and turning circles around in wonder. The video plays over and over on the news, which Angie watches then, over and over, at the diner. There’s the gorgeous Peggy Carter, at the center of a storm of suits and Escalades, staring up at the big lights. She doesn’t look a day over 26, her popsicle age.

Angie is fairly fascinated by all this. She had loved the whole Captain America mythos when she was a kid, and when most other girls were focused on picking out their favorite member of a boy band, Angie was reading biographies about the great Peggy Carter.

It was a bit weird, living in a world where her long-dead historical crush was walking, talking, breathing, and constantly on the news. Every day at the diner, Angie would turn on the TVs to the usual array - ESPN, CNN, Fox News, and a local channel - and there’d be Peggy Carter. Pundits wondering about her location. It’s like this for a week and a half, where the whole world thinks and talks about Captain America, and so Angie does too. She thinks mostly about running into Peggy Carter somewhere down in the Village, mostly, but she does think about her.

When she runs face first into someone outside the damn monstrosity that is the Barclays Center one night while walking home from the subway, she expects to keep moving with a solid glare at whatever drunken basketball-or-Jay-Z fan has just taken her for an object.

Instead, the dude, indeed clad in the all-black-everything attire and clearly off his ass, grabs at her. She doesn’t even know what the slobbermonster is saying, but it’s slimy and she can gather the intimation he’s made. She tries to pull away again, but his grip tightens.

“Mister, you better let go,” Angie starts, annoyed but with a creeping feeling of panic coming up her spine. She’s a tiny thing, and he’s a drunk fan with similarly-dressed bros laughing around her. She tries to tug away again, and he apologizes in some drunken way, trying to pull her closer.

“Sir, I believe the lady said she’d like to be let go,” a voice says behind her, quiet, strong, lilting a little. It sounds a bit bored, too, which Angie has no appreciation for. If this is some good-for-nothing security guard who's just spent the night supervising an arena section full of children, Angie very much doubts her chances of breaking up this creep session.

“Hey, you can get in on this too girl,” this guy says, nodding around at his bros in black jerseys and too-big hats. “I think my boy Aaron hasn’t got it in a while.” The bros all laugh at Aaron and this woman, who Angie can’t quite turn to see.

The woman doesn’t seem to appreciate this, because her tone turns quite dark.

“Let her go, and I won’t break each of your noses.”

“Hey, no, this girl and I are just having some fun - ” the guy starts. The woman loses her temper, Angie supposes, because she watches as the guy’s forearm cracks under a strong grip, followed by a swift punch straight up into his overly-large nose. He doubles over, screaming in pain at his clearly broken arm and gushing nose. The back of this mystery woman settles in front of Angie, a shield against the awful bros of the world.

It’s rather attractive.

The guys gather up their guy, getting out of the area quickly. There’s a bit of a clamor around them as the crowd reacts to the violence, and Angie finds herself getting steered through the nervous jumble of people pouring out of the game, down a smaller side street, until the pace slows to a reasonable stroll. Brooklyn is looking sweet in the early May air, trees all in bloom.

“I apologize for my behavior,” her savior starts, and Angie finally gets the chance to see the girl’s face and -

“Oh my God, you’re Captain America,” Angie says, all in a rush, her words rushing up against each other. “Oh my God, Captain America saved me from a bunch of douchebags in Brooklyn.”

“Douchebags?” the woman - Peggy fucking Carter asks, her sweet English accent finally coming clear to Angie now that the panic has receded. She looks confused, and Angie realizes - of course, the girl’s just been dropped into the new millennium.

“Dicks,” Angie starts, and Peggy tilts her head to the side, her hair drawn up in a high bun. Angie is momentarily distracted by the look of her bare neck - and lord, she is so, so gay, too gay for one of the most famous and beautiful women in the whole world to be looking at her with curiosity.

“Like, annoying dudes, I mean. Men. Annoying men who are awful,” Angie finishes (she thinks). Peggy is laughing softly, probably because Angie has traveled through about six different ways to have an awkward first meeting in about five minutes.

“Understood, Ms…?” Peggy starts, offering out her hand for a shake.

“Martinelli. Angie. You’re uh...well, I know who you are,” Angie says, shaking Captain America’s hand while trying not to burst into tears. It’s probably against government rules or something to say she ran into Captain America, right? Her Facebook would probably get wiped off the face of the earth if she asked for a picture. Her phone would probably get wiped off the face of the earth, too, somehow.

“Yes, everyone does, it seems,” Peggy says, her eyes growing distant for a half second in that movie-star-looks kind of way that belied great depth of emotion and whatnot - all that BS her acting coach had tried to impress upon her.

“Thanks for uh, saving me back there,” Angie says, unsure of how to interact with a living legend. A just-recently-living one at that. She hikes her backpack up her shoulder, and her dumbass water bottle tries to come toppling out - but Peggy catches it, like the lightning-fast movement is nothing, and hands it back to Angie.

“It was nothing. Those men were barbaric,” Peggy said. “Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”

“Naw, I got tough skin. I think they got their payback for being sexist jerks back there, so don’t go hunting them down or nothing,” Angie says, and Peggy Carter smiles at her.

“Sexist is new too,” she says, and reaches into her pocket for a little notebook and pencil. “Douchebag...how is that spelled?”

Angie is so suddenly endeared to the absolute dorkiness being put on display here that she laughs for a solid minute. By the time she’s finished, Captain America is smiling at her with a huge grin, her hand still poised above the paper, and so Angie breathes out a giggly “D-O-U-C-H-E-B-A-G” at the like, former world savior. God, no one would even believe her if she posted about this on Facebook.

“Thank you, Angie. You’re probably the first thing that’s made me smile since...all this,” Peggy says, pushing the notebook and pencil back into the pocket of her - jeans? When did she have time to get caught up on fashion?

“I mean, thanks for saving my butt and like, the world and stuff. I’m happy to make you smile,” Angie says, and it sounds so gay, and Peggy’s face seems to indicate that she catches a note of that. Her face becomes a bit of a mystery then, and Angie longs to see the smile come back.

"It was lovely meeting you, Angie. Will you be able to safely get home? I have a prior engagement," Peggy says. It's a clear ditch, and Angie's okay with that just because she's occupied the attention of a national hero for 10 minutes longer than she ever thought she might.

"Yeah, I'm just around the corner. It was nice meeting you too, Cap - Peggy?" Great. Cap Peggy.

"Peggy," says Peggy, who gives a last little smile before she's bustling off down the street, practically blasting by lazy hipsters. Angie watches the sway of her hips for a bit, then decides she better stop objectifying a national treasure.

-

When she next sees Captain America/Peggy, Angie's just come home from her off-off-off Broadway show and is gathering a much needed alcohol intake at the bar down the street from her apartment.

It's 2am and there's two other customers. The usual drunk down at the end, and a lonely bearded man typing away on his laptop while he chugs craft beers. Angie's well and truly cheesed at her handsy costar, and is taking it out on vodka tonics and some red, white, and blue shot, some promotional, Captain America-themed thing, her favorite bartender keeps delivering her as she reads her script.

She doesn't notice, at first, the presence that settles next to her. But eventually, the shadow at the corner of her eye orders a bourbon in a familiar English accent, and she looks up.

Peggy Carter smiles that smile, and she looks - well, someone has taught her about fitness fashion, considering she's wearing tight leggings and a track jacket. Angie has done three shots without incident, and damn near falls out of her chair on sight of the ensemble connected to the flushed, strong body of Captain America, even though she can barely see her damn wrists. Is this what men in the Victorian age felt like?

"Hello, Angie," she says, receiving her bourbon with a demure thank you. "No trouble with douchebags tonight?"

"None male,"Angie says, but decides not to pursue that story without researching more on homosexual tendency acceptability in 1940s England and the United States. She should have paid attention in her damn LGBTQ History course, instead of ogling the girl across from her the entire time. "Did you just come from the gym?"

"Yes. It's calming. And these outfits are surprisingly beneficial to the whole affair, though they're fairly - well, bright," Peggy says, sipping her bourbon.

"You find going to the gym calming? I can't get up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing," Angie mutters, flipping her script closed and turning toward Peggy, whose eyes track the whole movement.

"It's a routine largely unaffected by my detour into Arctic ice. So much has changed - the constancy of repetition is a stabilizing influence," Peggy says. She gets that same wistful look from before.

"I can't imagine. You must feel bamboozled," Angie says, reaching out to rest her hand on Peggy's arm before she gets halfway across the divide and stops herself. Peggy doesn't mention it.

"Quite," she says, and Angie can tell that's about as far as Peggy's gonna go with the emotion-sharing on that front. "What's this?" she asks, nodding at the script with notes all over it in front of Angie.

"It's a play. I mean, my play - I'm in this play. I was making new character notes," Angie says, nodding in assent when Peggy looks at her for permission to look through it. Her hands are gentle for ones capable of cracking a man's ulna with a quick squeeze.

"You're an actress," Peggy says, as though she's cataloguing the information and not in that way people often regard her when she says so. Typical New York story, she imagines they think. Peggy just sounds curious.

"Yep. Show's running down in a little storefront theater down in Alphabet City if you want to catch a catastrophe," Angie says. Sammy, her favorite bartender, sets down a glass of water, clearly recognizing that she needs sobriety to impress a beautiful woman.

"Why is it a catastrophe?" Peggy asks, and she flips through the pages looking through the little notes.

"My damn costar has the hots for me," Angie mutters, taking a larger gulp of water, "and my ex is directing. Bit of a clusterfuck."

"Clusterfuck is new," Peggy remarks, pulling out her notebook and handing it over to Angie. "Can you write it down?"

Angie does so dutifully, and Peggy pauses at what looks to be the well-annotated kissing scene. That doesn't bode so well, Angie thinks, but Peggy carefully turns to look at Angie with nothing reproachful or disgusted on her face.

"Homosexuality is far more visible these days," Peggy says, and Angie laughs at the frankness of the statement.

"I'd imagine so," Angie says. "My costar is a bit of a handsy lesbian though."

Peggy frowns and sets down the script, seeming to sense a safety issue and alarm bells clearly going off. Angie smiles at this.

"She was handsy with you?" Peggy asks.

"Yeah, on stage too! I'm still pissed. I mean, I get it, I'm hot stuff, but check your attraction at the door. When you gotta put your tongue in someone's mouth for a job, you gotta maintain a professional atmosphere and not feel someone up on stage," Angie lets off a rant, and Peggy's frown deepens.

"I can come speak to her, if you want," Peggy offers. Angie relishes the idea, really, of Peggy - Captain America - busting into pre-show run-throughs and giving damned Sophia a talking to. But she knows, too, that it’s overkill and would most likely get her put on government lockdown for associating with a national secret.

“Nah, I mean, are you even supposed to be out and about?” Angie asks, and Peggy laughs, shaking her head in a way that seems to indicate how silly she thinks the idea is.

“I’m not, actually,” Peggy says, sipping again in this scintillating way at her bourbon, “They seemed to think that I would want to be isolated after waking up. They set up this gym for me, but I...I find it better to just move forward.”

“That’s damn brave,” Angie says, because it is. She’d go full-on hermit if she had just woken up 60 years from now. But here’s Peggy, dressed like a regular-old Generation Y girl, smiling in this sad way as she sips some more at her bourbon.

“There are braver things. I was just passing by to go back to my apartment when I saw you through the window. I wanted to apologize if I was short to you the last time I saw you - it was my first day out and about. I was fairly overwhelmed, though that’s no excuse,” Peggy says, and it’s stupidly endearing. Angie finds herself reaching out to touch Peggy for real this time, her hand settling over Peggy’s forearm. It’s warm and soft and clearly strong. The muscle seems to strain as Peggy grips at her glass.

“It’s nothing,” Angie says. And Peggy smiles, and Angie smiles, and the music switches over to something soft.

-

Somehow, she gets Captain America's phone number that night (she should send Sammy some flowers or something), and she starts hanging out with Peggy Carter. Half the time it's like naturalizing a baby to a brand new world, and the rest is Angie continually finding Peggy Carter as interesting as she finds her attractive.

“Is this really a theater?” Peggy asks, her hands tucked into her pockets while Angie leads her into the little theater where her show is playing. Peggy had insisted she could be allowed into public areas, and that she wanted to see Angie’s show, and well, she couldn’t quite say no. “It seems rather small.”

“Sorry, it isn’t quite Radio City, Ms. Headliner,” Angie says, pulling Peggy toward the backstage area - two rooms just in back of the last flats of the set. Peggy snorts in affront, but gets cut off from answering when the handsy lesbian costar extraordinaire pops open one of the doors and hits Peggy with it.

The door, of course, bounces off her, like if Angie had just tried to throw a piece of paper at her. Sophia looks shocked, because there’s like, a statuesque person just standing there with her hands in her pockets while Angie’s got her arm wrapped through hers. Peggy seems to take stock of the situation for a moment, and when Sophia doesn’t apologize for hitting her with a door, she starts talking.

“You must be Sophia,” she says, pulling one hand (the one not with Angie’s arm) from her pocket and offering it to Sophia. “Lovely to meet you. I’m looking forward to seeing the show, Angie’s told me so much about it.”

“Ah, yeah, cool,” Sophia says, shaking Peggy’s hand. Angie starts tugging her into the other changing room then, because this interaction has clearly ended, with the satisfied smirk on Peggy’s face.

“You know,” she says, once she gets the door closed, “you can’t just go around scaring my costars shitless, even if they’re a little too friendly with my chest.”

"I've no idea what you're talking about," Peggy says, smiling.

At intermission, there's a vase of flowers with her name on it and an adorable little Captain America shield, and Sophia does not dare move her hands from Angie's waist the whole night.

-

She’s in the diner when The Incident starts (of course she is). In fact, she’s just finished clearing a table when one of the suits pops up suddenly, his phone to his ear, and makes a clean dash outside. At first, she’s pissed, and then every television in the whole diner goes black, along with all the lights.

So she goes outside, and fuck her, there’s an enormous black hole-looking thing opening up over Stark Tower. Peggy had called the thing a monstrosity in this annoyed tone, just a few days ago while they were shoveling mac and cheese down their throats.

“It’s garish, Angie. I don’t care if it runs on the fanciest electricity of all time - ” Angie doesn’t bother to correct Peggy on her understanding of arc reactor technology “ - it’s just a monument to one man’s ego. He’s so much like his father, it’s infuriating.”

That piques Angie’s interest, because, right, of course Peggy must have known Howard Stark, and Angie learns Peggy’s happy to talk about him in great, annoyed detail.

A blue beam is shot up straight into the black hole when black dots start pouring out of the hole, and - what the hell is that? An enormous thing flew out after the dots, looking armored and large and like a toothed worm. The dots are growing bigger too, zooming down 10th Avenue, straight for the diner. And then explosions start going up, blue lights raining down on restaurants, bars, shops she walks past every day, and they’re going up in flames.

She ducks back inside and into the cellar and stays there for what feels like hours. There are a thousand sounds that reach through the dull walls of the produce-filled concrete walls. She hears glass shattering, fires, sirens. The strange noise of the lasers. She hears this distant roar even, of something much larger than anything should be.

This is the kind of stuff that only ever happened in the movies, or plays or whatever. She thought about the show and her handsy costar and her ex, and accepted pretty quickly that whatever the hell was happening outside was probably shutting that production down. Her ma and pa were out at the cabin in Wheaton this weekend, and Leo was mid-semester at Culver, and after that, there were just tangential people, like Sammy, or like, Audra McDonald. She hoped Audra McDonald was okay. God, was Angie even okay?

It’s pretty sad, but the person she thinks of the most is Peggy Carter, and her ridiculous British accent and her notepad with curse words that Angie kept uttering around her. She hopes Peggy is okay, especially considering she had told Angie she was getting called away by someone or another and would be gone for some indeterminate length of time. Peggy had figured out texting just barely and had texted Angie enough that the absence of it was obvious.

So she thinks about whatever people could be dead, listening to buildings crashing and settling above her. Eventually, the noise starts to settle down and she thinks that maybe she should try to - try to do something, maybe, instead of eating everything in the cellar. She stands up, her whole body cracking from disuse, from being practically immobile for hours, and tries to push up on the door and fling it open.

It doesn’t move. It won’t budge, and the flickering light that she had told Anthony to replace at least four times in the past month bothers her more and more as she tries to push the door up. She can hear, just barely, people yelling, sirens going off, and the door won’t move. Angie’s been down here a thousand times, and she never once had any trouble popping it open, and she thinks all of a sudden of the time her brother nearly drowned at the lake and she misses her brother for at least the first time since she was seven.

A loud scraping sound happens against the metal, and she drops back down to the ground, hoping aliens don’t know how to open cellar doors. A louder sound comes then, something crashing. She can’t breathe, it feels like. Was she down here so long that she breathed up all the air?

The cellar door gets torn off its hinges all of a sudden, and Angie very nearly passes out. Instead of a - whatever those things were - hovering over her, there was Peggy. Or, Captain America, really, dressed in a red, white and blue costume and a shield slung onto her arm. It’s the first time Angie’s ever seen any indication that Peggy was returning to superhero antics.

“Are you alright, darling?” Peggy asks, dropping into the cellar without stopping to take the ladder. She lands softly and kneels in front of Angie. “I tried to get here as soon as I could.”

“I ate like, ten whole carrots, but I’m - are you okay? You look like a wreck,” Angie says, reaching out to touch Peggy’s face, which is pretty beaten up. There’s a wicked scratch running across her eyebrow, and a bruise blooming on her jaw. Dirt, grime, all over her. Her suit is near singed off at the midriff. She looks like she’s been through a war.

“There was a bit of an incident outside, as you might have noticed,” Peggy says, and does a half-hearted grin. She sits down then, settling close to Angie up against the concrete wall of the cellar, reaching out for a carrot and taking a swift bite of it.

“What were they?” Angie whispers, reaching out to touch the shiny surface of the shield while Peggy reaches for another carrot. It’s smooth, and Peggy relinquishes it without protest to Angie. It makes a little hum noise when Angie swings it around so she can slide her puny little arms through the loops on it.

“Alien creatures from outer space,” Peggy says. Her helmet begins crackling with radio - and she flings it off almost immediately. It hits the opposite side of the cellar so hard that it cracks into multiple pieces.

Angie doesn’t speak, because she senses that Peggy would rather not hear a sound. She senses there’s something heavy that followed Peggy down here.

“I had thought I was managing this all well,” Peggy starts. “But I’ve just finished a battle that reads like those stories Steve used to…” she stops.

Angie senses that’s the end of that. She stands up then, picking up Peggy’s cracked helmet and slowly climbing up the ladder out of the cellar. The scratching and crashing sounds she had heard immediately explain themselves.

There are enormous sections of steel beams and brick crashed in the diner, and there’s one flung up against the bar with two distinct handprints on it. There’s water spraying around, and Angie first thinks it looks like a movie set.

The building across the street is demolished. There are dead aliens just lying on the ground. She sees a group of men in black suits loading their bodies up into a black car. There’s not one piece of her normal, familiar world left. Her hand grips hard onto the strap of Captain America’s helmet, and she feels like she wants to cry, wants to throw it across the room, too.

“Do you want to go home?” Peggy asks suddenly, having snuck up on her. Angie just nods. What else can she say?

-

Peggy actually takes Angie to Peggy’s apartment, ripping off the rough jacket with the star and tossing it at the ground. There’s a big old burn mark running across her undershirt, though the skin there doesn’t seem bothered.

Angie just watches as Peggy takes off all the trappings of the superhero, and becomes Peggy, a normal woman. It’s probably a bit creepy but it’s too poetic to not. Angie’s still holding the shield - a fact the agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who had transported them to the apartment block Peggy lived on (the people Peggy worked for apparently) was pretty disgruntled about.

Peggy turns to eye Angie then, wearing compression leggings and a long sleeve, torn up compression shirt. Her face is still scratched up, but the cut seems smaller than before.

“I would prefer it if you didn’t go home,” Peggy says, and she says it in the way that sounds tired and like it’s already resolved. Angie doesn’t want to go home either, after driving through the messy streets of midtown. The diner had been wrecked, windows gone and tables everywhere. Everything had been wrecked. Whole buildings had crumpled, and there were people covered in dust wandering around like zombies, surveying over the dead alien bodies. On eighth, one of those big worms had just been crumpled up.

Peggy had been out there, fighting those things. All she’d had was this little shield, the one Angie was holding up against her, the one Peggy was slowly taking away from her and resting up against her kitchen table.

“Angie?” Peggy asks, and Angie’s having a bit of a moment because the world has become different in the space of a few hours and she emerged from a dark cellar to find it in disarray. This must be how Peggy feels every day, and she’s standing there looking at Angie with concern.

Angie finds herself being drawn into Peggy’s strong arms, pressed up against her. Her own hands find their way to the center of Peggy’s back, pushing tight, and she’s crying, which seems stupid, because she wasn’t just fighting an alien invasion with bare knuckles and a damn shield. But it’s scary - the world Angie had known was thrown off its axis, and Captain fucking America is holding her, and her cell phone won’t catch signal so she can call her damn mother and wonder whether aliens managed to get out to New Jersey.

Peggy is soft and pliable, and doesn’t seem to mind when Angie presses her head down on to the meshy undershirt Peggy’s wearing and cries.

One of Peggy’s hands finds its way up to Angie’s hair and runs through it, holding her tight and calming her slowly but surely.

“Let’s get to bed,” Peggy whispers, and Angie just nods, because suddenly she feels too tired. When she pulls out of Peggy’s embrace, the look on her face reads the same - who would ever know that Captain America could look so exhausted? Angie gets lead through the dark apartment to the bedroom, where Peggy throws over a t-shirt and shorts and says she’ll be out of the bathroom in a moment.

Angie dutifully changes into the shirt and shorts, out of her diner uniform, while Peggy runs water in the bathroom, presumably cleaning off her face. Out of the corner of her eye, Angie spots a picture tucked away on Peggy’s dresser, of a young man smiling - is that -

The door opens then, and Angie draws away quick enough to look distracted by the view of Manhattan’s skyline, which is smoking. Peggy comes over too, and stands next to Angie, close enough for Angie to feel the heat coming off her.

“I guess my show is cancelled,” Angie says, turning to glance over at Peggy, wearing pajama pants and an Army t-shirt that looks ancient and is about three sizes too big for her. Her hands are knotted up in it, but they unclench as Peggy gives a snort that rumbles up into real laughter.

“I’d imagine so,” Peggy whispers, pulling the blinds closed to the wreckage outside. Angie follows her into bed, and they settle close without touching. And they sleep.

-

When Angie wakes up, Peggy’s no longer in bed. The blinds are still closed. Angie crawls out of the soft sheets and stretches.

The picture that she had noticed last night is far easier to see. It is Steve Rogers - Captain America’s right-hand man in the Howling Commandos. He was smiling, settled on a rock somewhere, probably on the warfront. She was well aware that there had been plenty of rumors surrounding the relationship between Peggy and Steve. Two dedicated soldiers who had met in the SSR training program and probably fallen in love. Angie had thought it a bit contrite before now, but looking at the photo of Steve placed carefully in Peggy Carter’s bedroom, it felt very real.

She had known Peggy for almost two months, and the most direct emotion she had seen Peggy express had been throwing that helmet against the wall and mentioning Steve. That couldn’t be nothing.

Angie wanders out of the bedroom to find Peggy on the couch, staring off outside at the city, a tablet of some kind in her hand. It looked like it was reeling in alert after alert.

“Good morning,” Angie says, and Peggy turns to look at her with a small smile. She drops the tablet on the coffee table and pats the couch next to her. The scratch over her eyebrow is almost totally gone, but she’s clearly jerry rigged some sort of rib ice pack with saran wrap and a t-shirt.

“That was probably the first time I’ve slept for longer than three hours since waking up,” Peggy says, shifting down a little as Angie settles into the arm of the couch, picking up the remote for the television and flipping it on.

“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you deserved it,” Angie says. News coverage is totally devoted to the events of the previous day, and there’s - well, there’s Peggy, with her now cracked mask on, hurling her shield around, accompanied by - other folks. One of whom is conjuring lightning. Another is large and green.

“So you made some friends other than me?” Angie asks, turning to place a glare on Peggy, who laughs.

“Friends? No.” Peggy says. They watch as the large, green one climbs the walls in some grainy cell phone footage and throws aliens around like toys. Peggy speaks again, seeming to think better.

“Allies, I suppose. You’re the friend no one at S.H.I.E.L.D. expected me to make,” Peggy says, while some talking head is going on about how dangerous this whole thing was and who were these heroes? Angie turns off the television then, because she senses whatever that blowhard is gonna say is damn near useless.

“I’ve never really had a best friend,” Angie says. “I was always a bit of a weirdo in school, and then in college I kept to myself and focused on acting and now all I do is go to the diner and to shows. Not much time for BFFs. Best friend forever.” The breakdown of the acronym is for Peggy’s benefit. Peggy picks at the couch cushion a little, before pulling out her phone and telling it to record ‘BFFs’ into her list of words. J.A.R.V.I.S., the little voice in the phone, responds happily that it has been added.

“BFFs, as you say, are wonderful,” Peggy answers in this careful way that leads Angie to believe that she’s stepped onto thin ice.

“I think you could be my first,” Angie says, which is probably one of the most ridiculous choices in phrasing she could have made. “I mean. First best friend. Not the other thing, or anything else other than best friend. Oh God. I was trying to say something nice. Why can’t my words just come out right?”

Peggy is laughing again, and it’s a little bit worth it to be experiencing mortal embarrassment if Peggy’s smiling.

“Are you usually so loquacious, Angie?” Peggy asks, her English accent rolling over ‘loquacious’ like water. It’s distracting, and so her words do more bad things.

“Only around legs like that,” Angie says, making a weak gesture at Peggy’s admittedly spectacular legs that are making a strong showing right now, stretched out and bare with those shorts on. Oh lord, now she’s hit on a major league superhero who knows Iron Man and a large green monster thing.

Peggy just smiles, though, doesn’t seem to think this comment is creepy or excessively deviant or worth of damnation, which is nice. She was born in the 20s.

“Angie, are you attracted to women?” Peggy asks, and it’s exceedingly kind, which is better than her own mother’s reaction. Technically Peggy was from two generations before Angie’s mother, so that’s upsetting.

“I have no idea what could have lead you to that conclusion,” Angie finally says. She has little to no idea what to say in such a situation that she is in. So she keeps talking, like an idiot.

“Yes. But like, not specifically to you, I’m not trying to, uh - you’re very attractive. But I’m not trying to hit on you at the moment. I’m gay. Yeah. Total ladylover,” Angie says, and is fully ready for the second alien invasion to kill her off at any moment now. Peggy is very sincerely looking at her. But the look starts to break down into a smile, which breaks further into full-blown laughter.

“‘Total ladylover?’” Peggy gets out, between laughs. “Angie, you needn’t speak so prudently.”

Angie just stares at her.

“That was my most heartfelt coming-out ever, and you’re laughing at me? Come on. What kind of American hero laughs at a lesbian? Stop laughing, Peggy!” Angie yelps, shoving at Peggy, who does not move an inch on account of her massive strength. Peggy gives a light shove back that Angie very definitely feels, and she’s still laughing.

It devolves into a bit of a battle, where Peggy starts utilizing the pillows on the couch to hit Angie, and Angie does a dive and roll (thanks stage fighting training!) for Peggy’s scratched up shield and holds her off just long enough to make an effective lunge for the sink’s sprayer. Peggy blinks at her for a moment after the spray has stopped, and it’s dripping down her face onto her olive green Army shirt. Angie finds it all stupidly appealing to look at, and it’s a moment of distraction that allows Peggy to turn Angie’s own hand against her and presses down on the little button.

They’re both soaked then, spraying water all over the kitchen. Angie knows Peggy wouldn’t get touched with a milliliter of water if she wants to avoid it; she appreciates Peggy’s devotion to the moment, the kindness of her hands whenever she moves the sprayer back to Angie, allowing herself to get bumped backwards by the shield on Angie’s arm. It’s the kind of awareness that Angie doubts she would have if she had the ability to crush things with her pinky.

Eventually, it stops, because Peggy accidentally turns the sink off. They just stand there in front of each other, Angie clutching at the shield, Peggy smiling. They’re both smiling, and Angie forgets for half a second that the whole world has changed, and doesn’t notice that it’s changing again.

-

Peggy is sitting on Angie’s tiny bed when the building damn near gets blown up. Angie’s standing at her oven one second, boiling water for tea, and the next, Peggy has her under her tiny desk while the whole block rattles.

“What the hell?” Angie asks, as the building settles slowly, groaning the whole way. Peggy crawls out from under the table with unprecedented grace, walking lightly across the floor. When she opens the door out into Angie’s stairwell, Angie bears witness to a bolt of orange flash flying through it, very narrowly missing Peggy.

Peggy stalks out the door further, looking down a level and then up. Angie gets out from under the table with very little grace at all.

“That looked like a Chitauri weapon,” Peggy finally answers, looking back through the doorway at Angie. A wave of panic goes through Angie at the thought. Peggy doesn’t look nearly as concerned.

“Are we being invaded by aliens again?” Angie asks, like that’s a completely normal thing to ask these days. It’s sad because it is. It’s been a week and a half since the Incident, but people still jump when the Subway makes a particular screeching noise.

“That would be impossible,” Peggy says, waving away the idea imperiously. Before she even finishes dismissing Angie’s idea, another flash hits the wall right next to Peggy and Angie’s apartment and now has a literal, actual hole in it. Peggy looks over at it for a moment before genuinely leaping over the railing and down onto the floor below. Angie is too busy staring at the enormous smoking hole in her front door wall, but she can hear Peggy talking in a stern tone of voice and someone sounding sheepish and scared.

“Yes, I have the weapon,” is the next clear thing Angie can hear, as Peggy waltzes back through Angie’s (now useless, on account of the large hole in the wall) door. She’s carrying her phone against one ear and an alien blaster thing in the other. “The carrier was a fifteen year-old boy, but he’s currently in the building if you would like to question him. I doubt his intentions were in any way nefarious.”

There’s a huge hole in Angie’s wall and probably like four more in the building and nothing nefarious is happening?

“I would rather not wait until the full outfit arrives, sir,” Peggy says, rolling her eyes at whoever she’s on the phone with. “I have some freedom on this, I’d imagine. I did aid in saving the most famous city in the world recently.”

There’s apparently a heated response, because Peggy drops the blaster on Angie’s table with annoyance.

“I will give the weapon to Hawkeye on his arrival and leave thereafter. I’d rather this incident not turn into a Captain America spectacle,” she says. After what seems like an agreement, Peggy says, “Carter out,” and then she’s just looking at Angie.

“I guess I’m moving out,” Angie says, looking over at the wall, where a pipe has just started spraying water into her kitchen. Peggy looks over too and hums in agreement.

-

“I have a surprise for you, Angie,” Peggy says, striding into her apartment, where Angie is settled on the couch. It’s a month after the Incident, and the diner is still closed. Their (and it’s still weird to say ‘their,’ like Angie isn’t living with a national hero or anything) apartment is admittedly ridiculously nice and apparently furnished by the nice guys and gals at S.H.I.E.L.D. Peggy’s only just begun to figure out how the fancy television works.

Angie looks up to see Peggy carrying, of all things, an enormous rainbow flag crafted into a cape, along with a replica of her shield but...rainbow-y.

“Uh,” is about all Angie can supply, because Peggy is dressed to the nines in the gay agenda. She wonders for half a second if she’s dreaming, but she’s not even sure her subconscious could conjure such an image.

“I was asked to be the grand marshal of the pride march,” Peggy starts, very casually, like all people are just asked to be the grand marshal of the pride march. “Well, someone asked S.H.I.E.L.D., who said no. But I tracked down the people in charge and told them I would do it.”

“Um, did S.H.I.E.L.D. agree to that?” Angie asks. She can’t imagine they did, considering Peggy is like, their most important member and would be open to a good deal of criticism.

“Well, they’ll have to now! I was given this wonderful cape and shield, too, and I rather like them,” Peggy says, twirling around in her outfit. Truly, this is one of the strangest moments of Angie’s entire life.

“Why would you even want to be the grand marshal of the pride march?”

Peggy frowns a little, and cocks her head, her shield coming to rest at her side. She somehow manages to look comic book worthy even when she’s dressed in a ridiculous ensemble. This is fairly upsetting to Angie.

“I wanted to support you,” Peggy starts. “And I’ve done some reading on the plights of LGBTQIA people - ”

“So the ‘L’ is for lesbian - women interested in women. ‘G’ is for gay, ‘B’ is bisexual,” Peggy starts listing off, ticking the letters off as she says them. Her face is thinking hard, trying to keep her head around the whole ordeal. Angie is smiling in what she’s sure is a stupid, lovestruck way.

“Then transgender, queer, intersex, asexual. Right? Did I get it right?” Peggy asks, and Angie nods. Peggy does a ridiculous pose with her arms raised in triumph. “I told you I had a spectacular memory!”

“ - and I feel it is my duty to show my support for all of them, especially young people. I’ve never liked bullies and I feel LGBTQIA people are too often the victims of them,” Peggy says, finishing proudly. Her hands fall to her hips and she legitimately looks like the gayest superhero of all time.

“People are going to think you’re gay,” Angie says, in such a tone that she’s sure sounds too measured and fake and searching. Peggy doesn’t seem to notice, or if she does, she doesn’t comment on it.

“They’ll have to live with the mystery,” Peggy says. Angie will too, it seems.

-

“Captain Carter, Mr. Stark, Director Fury would once again like to deter you from this course of action,” says one of the agents following she and Peggy around as they prepare to get in the convertible. Peggy had already thrown said agent out of the car so that Angie could be sitting next to her. Beside Peggy, Tony Stark is clad in a brightly colored (aka blinding) rainbow Iron Man suit, waving to the crowds of people who pass by. Angie has already done two shots of something delicious with him.

“Agent, I would like to once again insist that you give up and focus on making sure this man doesn’t destroy any more of New York City’s fine buildings on this day,” Peggy says, her arms crossed as Tony waves to people surrounding the launch of the parade.

“Cap, I told you that I uninstalled the blasters and put in glitter and confetti packs,” Tony says, slinging a metal arm around Angie’s shoulders and nearly shoving her straight into the Corvette they’re all standing in front of. Peggy carefully extracts her from his grip.

“Lord help us all,” Peggy says, popping the door to the Corvette open and offering Angie her hand to grip so she can clamber in. She does, settling on the far side, adjusting her sunglasses and rainbow beads and being careful to not smudge the face paint that a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent had claimed was also sunscreen. It took up much of her face and looked similar to Peggy’s shield, which she handed over to Angie as she climbed into the car.

“Don’t worry big guy, you’ve got eyes in the sky,” Tony says, patting the agent who’s been pestering them on the shoulder. Before the agent can say anything in response, the front mask on the suit shuts, and Tony shuttles up a good 10 feet in the air, where he hovers and waits for the go ahead.

“How did he even get to be a grand marshal?” Angie asks. Peggy laughs but looks seriously up at Iron Man zooming in circles up above them.

“He did recently save the entire city from a nuclear bomb,” Peggy remarks. “I rather think he’s experiencing a bit of a crisis and is doing things simply to keep himself distracted.”

“Wow, Freud showed up at the pride march,” Angie says, flipping the shield in her hands around until she almost bashes the driver in the head with it. Thankfully Peggy catches it before it makes contact with their head and slips it on her own arm.

“I met him once,” Peggy says. “He was rather a douchebag.” Angie laughs, loudly, and Peggy smiles at her.

The car lurches forward, then, and the yelling starts in earnest around them. Peggy starts waving.

It’s a strange experience, being in the pride march. She’s been to them before, obviously, but sitting next to Captain America in a rainbow cape is a bit of a different perspective. The people revere her, and toss her plenty of violets - “I know what these mean!” Peggy yells happily over the clamor. By the end of the parade, Angie is sure she’s sunburnt and also covered in violets that Peggy’s been too kind to get rid of in any subtle way.

At home that night, Peggy is happily arranging the at least ten pounds of violets around the apartment in vases she had made the S.H.I.E.L.D. transport stop for her to purchase. Angie is certain she has three of them in her room already. She’s salved up with aloe, and the news is covering the antics of two of the Avengers in the New York pride march.

“Did you know any gay people back in 1940whatever?” Angie asks. Peggy stops for a moment, but then keeps going. On the news, they’re showing Peggy standing up and getting out of the convertible to shake the hand of an female veteran with WWII medals. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who had been trailing behind them had almost passed out.

“Of course,” Peggy says, though her tone sounds a bit too jovial. “A few people I knew personally would have most likely identified as bisexual under today’s categorical system. Besides them, there was quite a preponderance of lesbians in the war. No one much cared on the warfront who you were seeing so long as it wasn’t affecting your ability to fire a gun.”

“Interesting. Okay, does my face look weird in this footage or is it just me?” Angie asks, pausing the television to point in annoyance at the screen. The facepaint she had been wearing somehow warped her face in some weird trick of the light.

“I believe they gave you some kind of paintable mask, actually. I was going to warn you when they painted it on, but I felt that it must be best for your safety to keep you relatively anonymous,” Peggy says carefully, stopping to hover over Angie behind the couch.

“Best for my safety? They told me it was sunscreen! No wonder I feel like my face has been charred off,” Angie says.

“Well, next time I will make sure that you put on sunscreen in addition to your high-tech mask,” Peggy says airily, reaching for the remote and flipping it, for some reason, to Family Feud on the game show channel.

“You’ve reached new levels of old woman, Peggy Carter, just flippin’ on the Game Show Network like that,” Angie says as Peggy returns to the kitchen to arrange another violet vase.

“At least I don’t look like a tomato,” Peggy says. Angie grunts in discontent, turning back to the television and steadfastly ignoring Peggy’s ridiculous answers on a survey of, “Name something that two people can ride at the same time.”

-

“So you can’t tell me where you’re going, but you need me to water your plants. Does that really seem fair and just, Peggy? Aren’t you supposed to be the shining example of American justice or something?” Angie says, watching Peggy lift an enormous bag without trouble. She sets it down on the table and the poor old thing nearly buckles under the weight.

“Angie, you’re being intentionally obtuse at a stressful juncture,” Peggy says, zipping open the bag and dropping a shirt that is very much Angie’s into it.

“I’m just saying. You buy a ficus one week and the next you’re abandoning it,” Angie says, picking up Peggy’s shield and looping her arms through it. Peggy sighs and stops shoving things into her bag, setting her hand on a hip.

“Is this because I’m going to miss your show?” Peggy asks. “Or is this genuinely because you are concerned about your ability to manage a small plant for a month?”

“One hundred percent the fate of Grant,” Angie says, resting the shield up on her knees, and looking over at Grant (the ficus) so as not to look at Peggy’s imploring face. Peggy sighs heavily, dropping to kneel in front of Angie, gently taking the shield from her hands. She handles it deftly, in a practiced way, swinging it up onto the table on top of her bag. It’s stupidly graceful.

“Angie, I promise you that I very much wish I could be there,” Peggy says, reaching to take Angie’s hands. Angie feels like crying, because Peggy’s hands are warm and somehow soft despite the hard work they do. But it isn’t that, not really. It isn’t the show. Peggy keeps talking through Angie’s silence.

“You’re my best friend, and I want to be there to see you make your Broadway debut,” Peggy says. Angie is really trying very hard not to cry now, because this whole conversation is ridiculous and she should have just let Peggy leave and then cried about it later.

“I’m only gonna be on stage for 10 minutes,” Angie finally says, because any other direct confrontation of emotion is gonna just blow the lid off her tears. Unfortunately, the image of Peggy after the Incident, wearing that stupid singed and beaten up outfit comes to mind, and the tears do come.

“Angie,” Peggy whispers, reaching up to pull Angie into a tight hug. Her hands make their way to Angie’s shoulder blades and head, rubbing lightly at her scalp.

“It isn’t the damn play,” Angie kind of whisper-cries in a halting breath. “This is your first - your first mission since the Incident - and I want you - to stay safe.”

Peggy doesn’t respond quickly, issuing soft shh noises into Angie’s ear as she tries to reign this in.

“I’m always safe,” Peggy finally says, causing a snort from Angie.

“You crashed a plane into the Arctic and stayed frozen there for 60 years” Angie says derisively, rubbing at her eyes when Peggy pulls away to look at her softly.

“That was one time,” Peggy says defensively. Her hands drift up to Angie’s forehead to push some hair behind her ear. It’s a quiet moment, and Angie finds herself leaning into the touch, feeling these dumb feelings she’s not interested in having. Peggy is looking at her sweetly, almost lovingly, and Angie knows that her face must be an open book.

“Just, come back safe to me, okay?” Angie says. Peggy’s face does this strange thing, the strange thing it does whenever Angie accidentally stumbles onto something. She has zero percent of an idea what it is, because Peggy is a damn locked safe surrounded by piranhas when it comes to any serious emotion or feeling.

Before Peggy can respond, though Angie doubts seriously whether she was going to at all, her secret agent phone (a small slice of glass that Peggy has broken about four times) starts beeping.

“Captain Carter, time for extraction,” a voice says, and Peggy mutters a quiet, “10-4, be out in a moment,” before she swipes the conversation closed. She stands up and looks down at Angie with a measuring look. Angie feels now as if she’s done something wrong, which is ass-backwards.

“I’ll be back soon, Angie. Keep safe,” Peggy says, slinging her bag over her shoulder and sliding the shield onto her arm. Angie sits back in the chair then, watching silently as Peggy heads out the door and bounds up the stairs to the roof, where Angie assumes some sort of ridiculous S.H.I.E.L.D. transport is waiting for their prodigal daughter. The door closes behind her and automatically locks, as it was programmed to do.

“Fucking Christ,” Angie says, dropping her head into her hands. All of a sudden, she’s too tired to cry.

When she picks her head up, she looks over to the ficus on the table, with an affectionate name written on it: Grant.

“After Ulysses,” Peggy says, placing the small label on Grant’s new, clay home.

“How did someone so English get to be so American?” Angie asks, resting on the couch while she looks over her two lines in the play. Over the very top of her binder, Peggy is perched at the kitchen table, attending to her new plant.

“By association with some excessively American people,” Peggy says, clipping at Grant’s leaves a little. “The name was widely debated amongst the marketing folks, though. Most used it as an excuse as to why I shouldn’t receive the serum. It was all poppycock - ”

“I’m reporting you right now to the President for saying ‘poppycock,’” Angie says. “They’ll take your title away for sure.”

“The heartbreak that would befall me without my moniker,” Peggy says, her voice ridiculously dramatic.

“Shut up, English, you talk too much,” Angie says, tossing a tissue box from the coffee table at Peggy’s face. Peggy just catches it with a stupid, winning grin. Angie is falling in love with that grin, and the feeling of it is both disquieting and thrilling.

“What are we gonna do, Grant?” Angie asks. Grant’s got nothing, so Angie spends her night off drinking schnapps and checking her phone, as though Captain America has time for her in the middle of a damn mission.

-

“Can I buy you a drink?”

Angie turns to look at the woman who’s just slid onto the stool next to her. It’s been a week since Peggy went off on her mission, leaving Angie alone in their apartment with Grant. Three days since Angie made her Broadway debut, where she spoke three lines and her mom cried all over her. Angie’s just left the show and made it out to her and Peggy’s bar. Sammy has been sympathetically looking at her all night after he had asked where her usual gal was (he had said gal, too) and Angie had only replied with a request for a whisky sour.

So she’s had three whisky sours and a shot of something. And now this woman is asking to get her a drink. The girl is kind of spectacular-looking, dressed in a blazer and heels and tight jeans. Peggy has a few outfits like this (“This is apparently what they call business casual these days, can you imagine?”) and Angie positively has very sexual thoughts about them (“I really can’t imagine, no.”) This girl ain’t Peggy, though, and the thought of Peggy makes her give a nod of assent.

“I’m Nicole,” the woman says, sticking out her hand for Angie to shake. Angie takes it. She looks kind of familiar, but Angie chalks it up to being drunk and this girl’s hair being brown and wavy like Peggy’s. What a waste of a crush, honestly, spending all that time thinking about the untouchable Peggy Carter when there are gorgeous girls like this offering her drinks.

“Angie,” she says. “I’ve never seen you here before”

“I’m new in town,” Nicole says, waving Sammy over to get Angie another drink. “I just thought I’d try out the local bars and see if there was anyone who would show me around.”

It’s fairly suggestive, and Angie finds herself staring Nicole in the face for a bit too long for it to be not creepy.

“Well, I’ve been living here my whole life,” Angie finally offers. “I grew up about six blocks northeast of here. Lived in a damn shoebox after that.”

“I know something about those shoeboxes,” Nicole says with a laugh. “I think my square footage is about 12.”

“Nice! I could turn on my shower from my bed in my old apartment, so it was real quality,” Angie says. Sammy slides her a new whisky sour, and she keeps him there for a sec with a raised hand. “Let me get Nicole here a drink, too, Sammy boy.”

“No, you don’t have to,” Nicole starts, but Angie waves her off. Sammy laughs a little, starts in on a new drink for Nicole. Angie turns a little more to look at Nicole. Their legs bump together underneath the bartop, but Nicole doesn’t swing hers away, just looks at Angie with a level gaze.

“Thanks for the drink,” Nicole says. Her eyes are a pretty beautiful hazel color. Angie barely restrains herself from saying so. “So what do you do, Angie?”

“I’m an actress,” she says, taking a sip of her drink and thunking her knee against Nicole’s. “What about you?”

“The same, actually. You looked a bit familiar, maybe I saw you in an audition or something,” Nicole says. And yeah, now that she mentions it, Nicole did look quite a lot like the girls in her last audition, for her new play. Angie smiles, Nicole smiles back.

They sit in silence for a second, until Nicole nudges at her again.

“Did you get out of your shoebox? The one with the shower by the bed?” Nicole asks, her eyes looking a bit sad. Angie remembers what it was like to be struggling in the acting world, trying to string together rent payments off of her diner check.

“Yeah, I moved in with a friend of mine who’s a bit well-off,” Angie says. The reminder makes her a bit angry. “You want to see it?”

Angie is a bit rusty at this after months of trying to keep a hold on flirtatious comments with her friend, Captain America, but she remembers this move. Nicole’s eyes search her face, looking for evidence of her intentions, she’s sure. Angie means it exactly how Nicole is taking it, though, and Nicole gives a bit of a growly sure.

Sammy gives her a funny look when she says she wants to close out on her card, and Nicole drops some cash on the bartop. She doesn’t have time for her bartender to judge her though, and she nearly says as much, but Nicole’s hands land on her hips as they push out into the getting-colder September air.

“I’m from Iowa,” Nicole offers, her arm sliding around Angie’s waist as Angie starts trooping off toward Peggy’s - their apartment. It’s warm and comforting, and the grip is sure in the way that Peggy’s is when they hug. Like there’s strength hidden up in the muscles.

“Iowa Hawkeyes,” Angie says. Nicole’s head cocks to the side at her, but it’s a little too dark and Angie’s a little too drunk to read it quite well. “My brother hates the Iowa Hawkeyes. He’s a good old Culver kid.”

“Ah, well. Sorry to disappoint, I guess I’ll just go now…” she says, but she’s smiling as she begins to turn away from Angie and head the opposite way. Angie laughs, grabbing for Nicole’s hand and drawing her back. Nicole’s body comes a little too quickly though, and Angie staggers backward as they meet front-to-front. Nicole’s gaze is intense.

“I was just trying to say that it was nice being here. Iowa’s not exactly known for its progressivism,” Nicole whispers, leaning close to Angie, staring down at Angie’s mouth. “I mean, New York is where Captain America leads the pride parade, right?”

Nicole leans down to kiss her then, her mouth soft and hell she kisses good. Angie wants to give it her all, but the comment is bouncing around in her brain. Captain America. Peggy. God, it’s so awful, because Angie is kissing a beautiful woman and it’s her first action in what feels like four hundred years, and all she can think about is Peggy fucking Carter, who’s off saving the world in secret somewhere. Who could be dying somewhere.

Angie pulls away then, shaking her head. Nicole lets go of her like a hot potato, stepping a good few inches backwards, until there’s no part of their bodies that’s touching.

“I’m sorry, was I - ” Nicole starts, looking a bit stricken. Angie reaches out to grab at her forearm, offering some calm.

“No, no, it wasn’t you. You’re awesome, I’m...a bit of a mess,” Angie says. She looks up at the sky, watching a plane fly over. Nicole reaches to hold Angie’s hand, giving it a squeeze that draws Angie’s eyes back to her.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Nicole asks, and no - no Angie does not want to talk about it. She shakes her head, and then, pulls out her phone. There’s a message there, actually, from Peggy. She swipes past it, and then hands Nicole her phone on the contacts screen.

“Maybe we can meet for coffee when I’m not drunk and sad?” Angie says, and it’s so blunt that Nicole laughs again, letting go of Peggy’s hand to drop a phone number in the contact list. When it’s handed back to her, there’s the name: Nicole Reese.

“Nice name,” Angie says, texting Nicole Reese a message with her own name.

“Not as good as the name of the girl you’re hung up on,” Nicole says, with a sly, understanding look. Angie doesn’t bother to deny it - this is the first chance to even be slightly honest with another human being about anything related to Peggy Carter.

It isn’t as good a name, no.

“Believe me,” Angie says, sighing as she opens the text from Peggy. “I wish it was.”

-

Two days later, Grant is doing well when Angie gets home. She ruffles his leaves and passes through to her bedroom, changing into pajamas. The show had gone well. Angie has spoken her three lines real well, she thought, and she was content to just lie in bed and watch Family Feud until she fell asleep.

“I didn’t even know you had a television in your bedroom,” Angie says, stopping in Peggy’s doorway upon catching her watching the Game Show Network. She’s halfway to bed, with a toothbrush in her mouth. Peggy doesn’t bother to look guilty, just attempts an answer at Wheel of Fortune.

“Don’t you dare begin on another of your insane rants about my old age,” Peggy says, waving her finger back and forth warningly. Angie gives a toothpastey grin, going into Peggy’s bathroom to spit and swish. She drops her toothbrush there, and then makes a flying leap onto Peggy’s bed. She nearly bounces straight off again, but Peggy's strong hand catches her leg before she crashes headfirst into Peggy's wide bay window.

“I don’t have a television in my bedroom,” Angie says, needling at Peggy and clambering up to the head of the bed, moving Peggy’s S.H.I.E.L.D. tablet to the bedside table. Peggy is ignoring her, of course, watching the puzzle intently as the people guess letters. The category is movie quote, and Angie watches the vowel ‘o’ get placed up on the board in addition to a jumble of other letters.

“The great Oz has spoken,” Angie says, just before one of the contestants says the same to solve. Peggy looks furious about this turn of events, looking over at Angie with a glare and crossing her arms. Angie sticks her tongue out at Peggy in response, before pulling the sheet up over her bare legs.

“I don’t believe it’s fair for us to compete against each other,” Peggy says. “You have an unfair advantage of having learned world history after 1950.”

“You’re just upset you missed the one reference you’d even know,” Angie says, curling up and watching the next puzzle set up. She doesn’t realize she’s fallen asleep until she wakes up to Peggy’s arm over her stomach in the darkness.

The television is off when Angie wakes up. That makes sense, because it was set to save energy and could sense movement or something high-tech like that. Angie’s fallen asleep on the side of the bed that isn’t Peggy’s - it hadn’t really been intentional, falling asleep there, but it had maybe happened four of the nights since Peggy had gone off gallivanting.

She nearly screams when she catches sight of the shadowy figure in the doorway. But her alarm shifts quickly when she spots the shield in Peggy’s hand, hanging limply. Angie tells the lights to turn on - Stark’s fancy technology striking again - and gasps when the light reaches Peggy.

The left side of her face looks a total mess, bruised and with a long gash stitched shut running from cheek to jawbone. Her hand, the one not holding the shield, is bandaged - and if Peggy is bandaged for something, it must have been bad. It also looks like she’s wearing some sort of bulky flak jacket under her jacket, like the one her brother would wear when he played quarterback in high school. Angie knew enough to get that meant ribs.

“Hello darling,” Peggy whispers, her voice creaky and worn out. “Fancy seeing you here.”

Angie crawls out of the bed, coming over to Peggy and taking the shield from her hand. She sets it off to the side, gently holding Peggy’s good hand and leading her to the bed and setting her down. Peggy’s body very nearly groans with the movement.

“What can I do?” Angie asks, kneeling in front of Peggy and untying her shoes. She pulls them off only to reveal a wrap around her right foot. It must have been broken.

“I’m okay,” Peggy says, swaying a little. Angie reaches up to hold her steady, looking Peggy in the eye.

“Peg, let me get you out of these clothes and to sleep so you can start healing up,” Angie says, tugging at the zipper on Peggy’s jacket. She gently pulls it down her arms, revealing the flak jacket. There’s no way she can sleep in it.

“They’re wrapped already,” Peggy mutters, reaching for the buckles on the monstrosity. “It’s just to prevent further injury.”

Angie pushes her hands away, and Peggy lets her. She unbuckles the jacket, placing it over by the shield. Peggy’s only wearing a sports bra, and the rib bindings that look snug and constricting. There’s purple-black all around the edges of it, little fingers of bruising reaching out from the breaks.

“Peg,” Angie whispers, reaching out to touch the coloration and thinking better of it. Peggy doesn’t say anything, but her hand reaches for Angie’s. “If this is your version of coming back safe to me, I’m never letting you leave the house again.”

Peggy smiles just slightly, but her eyes are filling with tears. Angie moves to reach for the buckle on Peggy’s pants, and Peggy lays back to let her. It’s a strange moment - this is not how Angie had imagined this going. She hadn’t imagined Peggy looking as though she’d been dragged through hell. She hadn’t imagined Peggy, her strong, stubborn, stupid Peggy crying.

She pulls Peggy’s pants down, her eyes noting the boyshorts Peggy’s wearing and her brain wanting to stay away from it, sick about the very thought of thinking of Peggy in any way but a caring one.

Angie crawls up on the bed once it’s off, taking Peggy’s hand and helping her shuffle up to the headboard, shoving pillows underneath her until Peggy looks even barely content. She’s still crying silently, and Angie just keeps holding her hand, wondering if Peggy even knows she’s there. She tells the lights to turn off, the doors to lock, the windows to shade.

She lays there, holding Peggy’s hand in bed next to her. Neither of their grips waver for a while.

“I’m sorry,” Angie hears, while she’s half-asleep but afraid to succumb to it. She can’t see Peggy’s face, though she’s sure Peggy can see hers. “I’m sorry, Angie. It was all rather an accident.”

“Who accidentally gets looking like this?” Angie asks, a little annoyed that Peggy is apologizing for what was probably an act of ridiculous heroism. Peggy’s hand clenches a little tighter around hers, and for half a second, it hurts.

“I’ll be better next time,” she whispers back, and her voice shakes a little in the short space between them. Angie wants to say that Peggy doesn’t need to be better at anything other than maybe avoiding critical injury, that she isn’t trying to ask for perfection - but she doesn’t even know if she’s allowed to be asking for anything of this woman.

Angie is at a loss for words, then. In lieu of them, and maybe saying just as much, she kisses Peggy’s hand, she reaches for Peggy’s head and runs her fingers through her hair. She kisses Peggy’s hand again, and she doesn’t stop looking through the darkness at Peggy until Peggy falls asleep.