"She's got another bruise again." Carol whispered from across the table. Angie subtlety glanced up at the line for breakfast to see Peggy Carter, dressed as smart and uptight as always, walking with a pained expression to get her eggs and toast. Angie turned back, her heart fluttering in her chest.
"I just don't see it. How can she be getting hit, if she ain't with anyone? She's safe here, she should know that."
Carol shrugged and Gloria joined in.
"Maybe the man's married, and she thinks he's in love with her instead. People have been in crazier situations, Ang."
Chatter abruptly stopped as Peggy came to sit next to Angie. Carol and Gloria soon turned away and were loudly talking about some new flick, allowing Angie to carefully reach out and squeeze Peggy's hand.
"You alright, English?"
Peggy put on her best smile and squeezed back. "Just fine, thank you."
Angie didn't press.
The next time it happened, Peggy was in the dinner and Angie was trying to appease all 10 occupied tables so she could go chat with her friend. She'd noticed that morning that the powder around Peggy's eyes was a little smudged, revealing a blotch of black and blue. It made Angie's heart ache.
Suddenly, Mr Fancy walked in, and sat in the booth next to hers so they could chat "secretly." Angie couldn't make out what they were saying, but Peggy was tearing her napkin into little shreds and flinched a couple of times.
Angie gasped. They certainly were secretive... and Peggy had said he was married. Mr Fancy didn't look the sort to abuse women, but Angie knew it was sometimes the unsuspecting ones who were the most horrid.
The night after that, Angie had finally gotten out of work early and was curled up in her armchair, listening to the radio and reading a book, when she heard a knock at the door, followed by a tentative, "Angie? It's me, Peggy."
Angie was up in a flash, almost giddy that she got to see her friend again after her crappy day at work, but her smile died as she opened the door.
Peggy looked awful. Her hair had come undone, framing her face which sported a fat lip and what would be a painful bruise in the morning, around her eyes and nose. She was leaning heavily against the door frame, and Angie could see the blood seeping from her leg onto her skirt and dripping down her stockings. At once, she dragged Peggy in and shut the door behind her.
Silently, she sat Peggy on the edge of the bed and dug out her medicine box from under the sink. Peggy at least had the grace to look sheepish as Angie helped her remove her stockings.
The silence between them was heavy and awkward.
"What happened?" Angie asked, not taking her eyes from Peggy's grazed knees and the gash in her leg.
"I was just in my way back from work, and a man on a bike just came out of nowhere!" Peggy said with such false brightness it made Angie even angrier.
She didn't reply and Peggy was silent as Angie wiped away the blood and covered her leg in a bandage.
Angie came up to Peggy's eye level and gently ran her thumb over her bottom lip. Peggy almost shuddered.
"You gotta be more careful, okay English? I can't be here every time to patch you up."
"I know. I promise, darling, thank you. I'm sorry to have bothered you."
Peggy got up, with only the slightest wince, and Angie followed her to the door. As Peggy turned around to wish her good night, Angie caught sight of the faint bruises around her neck. Like fingers had wrapped around and squeezed.
After the door had closed, Angie decided there wasn't anything on earth that would stop her from finding and ending the man who dare lay his hands on Peggy. Casting aside her book, she started to plan.
Jarvis had been waiting in the Automat for nearly 20 minutes when he realised Miss Carter wasn't going to appear. He got up to leave, but the waitress (Angie, her name tag supplied) stopped him. Jarvis had always felt she never liked him, but the anger radiating from her was almost palpable.
"Peggy asked me to give you this this morning." She said, passing over a small piece of folded paper, before returning back behind the counter. Jarvis made to say thank you, but she had already disappeared into the kitchen. He opened it quickly in the safety of his car.
It read -
Meet me in front of the Griffith at 8.
Bring the car.
I'll explain in the way.
Angie regretted choosing this particular night to carry out Operation-Help-Peggy-Carter. She'd managed to rope in most of the girls at the Griffith, many of them being taken in by Angie's (slightly embellished) tale. Angie had successfully convinced Mr Fancy to make an appearance , and she was standing outside her home, dressed in Peggy's hat and coat, standing with her back to the road. Unfortunately, the heavens had opened, and Angie was soaked to the bone. If it was anyone but Peggy, Angie would have given up a long time ago.
Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw a car pull up, headlights peering though the deluge. After a minute, Angie felt someone approach and an umbrella appeared over her head.
"Miss Carter! What on earth - "
He started to say, but Angie turned around and her fist connected to his jaw.
As Jarvis fell to the floor, Dottie appeared behind him, her eyes glinting as she grasped him under the arms.
"Oh great job Angie! Carol and Jean are distracting Mrs Fry, lets get this jerk into the basement!"
Dottie continued to babble as Angie picked up his legs and they dragged him down the stairs into the damp basement.
After making it down the stairs, Angie had tied Jarvis to a chair and had been joined by at least 10 other girls from around the halls.
Jarvis was still out for the count, his head lolling slightly.
"What do we do now, Ang?" asked Sarah. Angie, suddenly the leader of a girl gang, cracked her knuckles. "Well..."
She was interrupted by Dottie arriving with a pail of water, grinning.
"I thought this might help!"
Only a little unnerved by Dottie's enthusiasm, Angie picked up the water and threw it over her captive, as he started and spluttered awake. The girls around her gave a little cheer, which died immediately as a figure appeared at the top of the stairs.
Peggy had been having an alright day up until then, but when she could finally clock out, and an unholy storm broke - and she'd forgotten her umbrella. It felt too short a journey to call a taxi or ask for Mr Jarvis' assistance, but by the time Peggy neared the Griffith, she was shivering and dripping wet. It didn't help that several asshole cab drivers had driven through puddles next to her, soaking her legs and feet.
Peggy's suspicions were first aroused when she saw Mr Jarvis' car parked outside, yet she hadn't called him, and it was hardly a social call, not with the rules of the house. When she got into the Griffith, it was unusually quiet. Even Mrs Fry had come to bother her about not bringing a coat. Peggy felt a chill up her spine. Something was definitely up. Just as she crossed the lobby, she heard a sound from the basement - several girls cheering. She made her way over.
It was Peggy stood in the doorway, legs akimbo, hand on hips.
"Can someone kindly explain what's going on here? Is that ... Jarvis? Oh my god!"
Angie had never seen the inhabitants of the Griffith move so fast. They shot out of the basement as quickly as if Mrs Fry herself had discovered several naked and uninhibited men in their rooms. Peggy stormed down the stairs, untied the knots in a flash and helped Jarvis up the stairs.
Angie, a little dazed, sat in the chair of the damp basement, and wondered what the hell she had just done.
Peggy stormed down the steps to the damp cellar, fuming. "What in hells name possessed you to kidnap and torture Jarvis?" She yelled, and Angie stood up.
"It wasn't torture! I threw a bucket of water on him, honestly, you're so dramatic English."
Peggy's features hardened into a glare and she pointed at Angie.
"Don't you 'English' me. The poor man's been scared out of his wits! Why would you do something so stupid?"
The vehemence in Peggy's voice brought tears to Angie's eyes. "I thought he was knocking you about! You come home each week with a new bruise or cut, and I thought you was seeing him and he was hurtin' you. So forgive me for caring about you, English."
The comment took Peggy by surprise, but the anger didn't disappear from her stance.
"Well, he isn't. If you'd have only asked me..."
"Asked you?!" Angie's voice went up and the tears were flowing freely now. "And you would've told me what? He wasn't hurtin' you? Do ya know how many times I've heard that one? I wanted to keep you safe, English, an' I couldn't stand to see you hurt!"
Peggy's fists were clenched and they stood in the damp cellar, shivering, for a split second. Then Peggy burst.
"Why, Angie? Why do you seem to thing everything I do is your business? Why do you care at all, when I have shown nothing in return?"
"Because I love you!"
Angie practically shouted the words, before her hands clasped over her mouth. She could see Peggy in the semi darkness, looking stunned.
Angie felt her spine go ice cold, she sobbed, and her knees buckled. But before she could hit the floor, a pair of strong arms held her close.
"It's alright darling, just breathe." Peggy said as she rubbed soothing circles in the back of Angie's sopping uniform.
She looped her arms around Peggy's neck and cried into her shirt.
"It's okay , Pegs, if ya don't wanna see me again, I understand, I know it ain't right, so..."
Peggy cut her off, loosening her grip so she could rest her hands on Angie's hips and look into her eyes. To Angie's surprise, Peggy was crying too, her tears glinting under the light of the fluorescent bulb.
"It's okay, Angie, I won't leave you. I just didn't ... I didn't realise. I didn't know you felt the same."
Angie made to interrupt but it died in her throat as she looked at Peggy. She was so beautiful, even when she was soaking wet and her hair was in tangles and her make-up had run. She was breathing heavily, trying to form her next sentence.
"Angie, I can ... can I kiss you?"
Angie just nodded, smiling as fresh tears formed. She gently took Peggy's face and they met in the middle.
It was short and almost unbearably sweet, full of love and promise, and when they broke apart, they found they were crying all over again.
Angie took Peggy's hand, and lead her out of the cellar into the waiting wrath of Miriam Fry.
Mrs Fry had proceeded to, in Peggy's words, give them all 'a right bollocking', and let them stay only because of the fantastic and heart-felt yarn Angie spun about wanting to protect her dearest friend from dangerous men. The other girls at the Griffith never got the whole story, but the gossip and rumour, of late nights and sleeping in one another's rooms, filled the gaps perfectly.