Walking around New York those first few weeks felt like dancing on an open wound. Peggy stayed out of Brooklyn, but it didn’t matter. Everywhere she looked, it was just so damn American. No matter where she went, she couldn’t get away from it. Of course Steve had loved it here. Peggy wanted to love it too. She suspected that she would love it, once she’d had some time, but she didn’t want to think about that. She didn’t want to think at all, given a choice in the matter, but lately the only thing she had to do was think.
Before starting at the New York branch of the SSR, she had two months time off. It was mandatory leave; she hadn’t been given a choice in the matter. Peggy had been told that she should use that time to get herself acquainted her with her new home, that she’d earned it, that they’d get things settled in for her at the office first. No one mentioned Steve, or time for mourning; everyone knew the set of jaw too well by now, and none of them wanted to get decked.
It was absolutely infuriating. Peggy had been itching to punch someone senseless for weeks. Even the new recruits, usually too foolish to know better, had apparently been warned to steer clear of her.
Peggy had tried explaining that she wanted the work, that the last thing she needed was time off. Everyone ignored her. It was finally Colonel Phillips who looked at her one day, when Peggy was in his office yet again, and said shortly, “War’s over, Agent Carter.”
Peggy tried in vain to keep her hands open and easy at her side. “Yes, sir. I’m well aware. Which is precisely why—”
He shook his head, cutting her off. “We lost too many good men in the war. Too many good women too, I suppose. A lot of our best.” He wouldn’t look at her; it was the closest anyone had danced to the subject of Steve’s death in her presence since that first awful week. She wondered distantly if Phillips, of all people, was going to give her the chance to hit someone that she had been looking for. She could have sworn he was smarter than that.
Apparently he was. “Which means we have a shortage now. Good men and women, who know how to use their brains, who know how to keep the peace that we’ve worked so hard for. And we need every god-damned one of them.” He was silent for a moment, and Peggy was just about to tell him again she knows that, which is why she’d been asking for the work, when he stood abruptly, turning to stare out the window. “We need them now, but we’ll need them even more later. When most people have gotten complacent, have begun thinking that they’re safe again, that the enemy has no possible way of getting back in. We’ll need people with brains then, people smart enough to stay alert for the newer, slicker threats.” He turned back towards Peggy, meeting her eyes with a stern glare as he continued, “and those people will be no use to us, Agent, if they’ve been too busy killing themselves with work in the here and now. They survived the war; they should be able to survive the aftermath as well.”
Peggy was quiet for several long moments, still unwilling to concede or look away first. “I can handle it. Sir,” She added a beat too late, a blatant afterthought.
Colonel Phillips sighed heavily. “Of course you can, but I’m not asking you to. No one is asking you to. That’s the whole damn point.” When Peggy remained silent, he growled at her, “For once in your god-damned life, Carter, work with me here.”
Peggy stood glaring for another moment before her shoulders lowered half an inch in defeat. “Yes, sir.”
“Thank you,” Colonel Phillips returned to his desk, waving his hand at her as he went back to his paperwork. “Now get out of my sight, I’ve got work to do.”
Peggy didn’t ask any more questions after that, and she stopped looking for coworkers to trick into fighting her. She kept her head down and her mouth shut, regardless of the fact that she felt no less furious or trapped. Peggy Carter has always been a good soldier, and she knew by now how to take orders.
Peggy decided to map the city, rather than lose herself in it. It was something she’d done from a young age—a place for everything, and everything in its place. Figuring out the world around her had often proved useful later if she needed to get away, find safe ground, or arrive somewhere first. She had mapped places in her head for so long that it had become a habit, just one more tool at her disposal. Mapping helped her feel safe, feel grounded.
It had been a tool that had served her well during the war. It was difficult with the ever-shifting terrain to keep up, but Peggy Carter was never one to back down from a challenge. Her ready knowledge of territory layouts, troop movements, or the closest water supply helped her with her quick ascent through the ranks, and helped her hold her ground once she got there. New York, in comparison, was child’s play.
Peggy started with the subway, picking stops at random until she could hold the network clearly inside her mind. After that, she wandered about different sections of the city: Harlem, Riverdale, Woodhaven, Port Richmond. She stayed far enough away from her new workplace to remain out of sight—the last thing she needed was a reprimand and even more leave time, which Colonel Phillips had already assured her would be her penalty if she was caught skulking around the office. Peggy didn’t intend to get close enough to get caught. Two months was already torturous enough.
It was during one of her restless wanderings of the city that Peggy found the L&L Automat. She had meandered for most of the day, without much to show for it, and the thought of getting off of her feet for a short time was appealing. With a self-depreciating twist of her mouth, Peggy had the fleeting thought that it might also be nice to let someone else do the cooking for a change.
It was late enough in the evening that the dinner rush was over, but not so late that the Automat was completely vacant. Peggy slid into the first empty booth she saw and let out a quiet sigh. She had spent most of the day wrapped up in her thoughts, and hadn’t thought to stop for a rest.
“Long day?” The question came from her waitress, who gave her a warm, friendly smile.
Peggy couldn’t help sighing again. “Something like that.”
The waitress made a noise of sympathy as she held her pad aloft, pen at the ready. “Well then, what can I get you to make it a bit better?”
Peggy tapped the menu in thought for a moment before deciding, “Coffee and the meatloaf, if you please.”
The waitress’s nose wrinkled. “Hate to break it to you, but the meatloaf isn’t gonna make your day any better. It’s awful tonight; Cook left it in way too long. It’s still edible, but just barely.” She looked around the diner quickly, making sure that no one had heard, before giving Peggy a conspiratorial wink. “Don’t tell him I told you that, though.”
Peggy gave her a small smile as she solemnly swore, “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me. So if not the meatloaf, what would you recommend?
The waitress tapped the pen to her chin thoughtfully. “The pot roast’s not too bad tonight. I had a bit myself earlier; it’s the one thing chef never messes up. Would that work for you?”
Peggy’s small smile widened as she replied, “That will do just fine, thank you.”
The waitress’s answering grin lit up her whole face. “Not a problem. One pot roast coming right up, and I’ll have that coffee over for you in a jiff!”
True to her word, the waitress was soon back with the coffee, expertly dancing just out of reach of an overtly handsy patron at the counter. “Be with you in just a minute, Joe!” she called back over her shoulder before she turned her thousand watt smile on Peggy. “You need any cream or sugar, English? Or did I guess right, and you take it black?”
A smile like that, Peggy couldn’t help but smile in return. “You are, in fact, correct. And the name’s Peggy, by the way, not English. Peggy Carter,” she clarified, sticking out her hand to shake.
The waitress stared at the hand for a moment, clearly not used to this level of formality, then stared back up at Peggy, as if waiting to be let in on the joke. Finally realizing that Peggy was being completely serious, she gave an incredulous shake of her head and took the offered hand. “You’re something else, and I must of forgot my nametag today. Not that anyone else noticed,” she added with a roll of her eyes, then continued, “The name’s Angie Martinelli. You ever need anything, come and find me, okay? New York can be a crazy place and us overly-friendly types need to look out for each other.”
Peggy choked back a laugh for the first time in what felt like ages. “Thank you, Miss Martinelli. I’ll be sure to keep that mind.”
There was a flush of color in the waitress’s cheeks as she corrected her, “Oh please, it’s just Angie. No need to be getting all formal on me now that we’ve just started getting familiar with each other.”
Peggy smiled at her. “Of course, Angie, my apologies.”
Peggy was about to ask Angie more about herself when the man at the counter cleared his throat loudly. Rolling her eyes, Angie muttered, “All right, all right, I’m coming, keep your shirt on.” Smiling almost wistfully back at Peggy, she sighed, “Well, duty calls. Catch you later, English!”
Angie was already halfway across the diner as Peggy answered back, “I told you, it’s Peggy!”
Angie turned and shrugged at her, a wicked grin on her face. “Sure, I heard you Peggy, but you still look like an English to me!”
Muttering to herself about cheeky Americans, Peggy took slow sip of her coffee, failing to notice the warmth in her own cheeks and the loosening of the ache in her chest she’d carried the past few months.
After her two month leave, Peggy had expected that any work at all would be infinitely preferable.
She was both horrified and infuriated by how wrong that assumption turned out to be.
It would have been better if anyone would actually give her work; work worth doing, worth her time. But it was clear that Chief Dooley felt that he had been forced to babysit Captain America’s girl, and made no effort to hide his displeasure. He gave Peggy only the most menial of assignments, and most of the other men in the office followed suit. Peggy spent the first few weeks on the job striving so hard to hold her head high and her anger in that it took her some time to realize that Agent Sousa’s overtures of friendship were genuine, or that Rose and the other phone operators had no ulterior motives outside of genuinely wanting her to do well.
Even once she realized that not everyone at the SSR was actively working against her, Peggy kept to herself. She could see the poorly hidden hope in Daniel’s eyes, and she wasn’t ready to face it yet. And as for possible female friendships, Peggy wasn’t sure where to even begin. She had always gotten on well with other women before, but now this, too, was different after the war. Her already reserved nature now had national security secrets to hide behind. It felt unfair to want for friends who would share themselves with her when she wasn’t able to offer them the same in return.
Fortunately for Peggy, many of the women kept reaching out to her anyway. Rose continued with the friendly greetings long after the other call girls lost interest in her, and Colleen, bless her, just seemed to think that Peggy was too tightly bound up in herself and needed some help coming out of her shell. She had less opportunity to try drawing Peggy out now that she was working—the two almost never saw each other anymore—but she still tried, with what seemed to be infinite patience.
And then there was Angie.
Peggy had never really intended to go back to the Automat, despite the excellent service, but it turned out that it was closer to the office than she’d originally realized. She’d started stopping in for just a few moments in the morning to grab a coffee or a muffin; a small pick-me-up to help Peggy through her mornings. She occasionally saw Angie on these visits, but never had time for more than a quick wave and an answering smile.
Halfway through her third week, however, Peggy finally took her first lunch break. The men in the office were being particularly aggravating that day, until Peggy knew that if she didn’t get away from her desk she’d either punch Agent Thompson or slam Agent Krzeminski’s thick head into the nearest wall. Agent Sousa promised her that he’d hold down the fort, his eyes infuriatingly kind, and suddenly Peggy couldn’t get away fast enough. Not knowing where else to go, and not caring about anything more than having a bit of a break, Peggy headed to the Automat.
The place was packed, but Peggy managed to grab one of the last open seats at the counter. A cheerful blonde was making her way over to her when Peggy heard a familiar voice behind her.
“I’ll take care of her, Loretta!”
Peggy watched the waitress out of the side of her eye, expecting the waitress to look affronted at the thought of giving up a customer, but instead she looked relieved. Peggy looked back down at her clenched hands, inwardly cursing herself now as well as her fellow coworkers. She must be containing her anger even worse than she thought she was, if people were that unwilling to approach her.
As if in confirmation, a cup of coffee slid into her field of vision. “Figured you be wanting this pretty quickly. What else can I get for you?”
Peggy looked up at Angie, looking away again quickly when she saw how openly concerned the waitress was. “Coffee’s fine, Angie. I’m not really hungry.”
“Oh come on now, it’s lunch time. You gotta eat something. That’s what lunch time’s for.” Peggy expected that Angie’s words were meant to sound less worried and more teasing, but she was too intent on the cup of coffee in front of her to be able to confirm her suspicions.
Peggy was about to refuse a second time when she heard a customer—rather loudly and rudely—call for Angie’s attention. She wavered between righteous outrage and relief at being let off the hook so easily, until she realized that Angie wasn’t moving. Peggy looked up, finally catching the brunette’s eyes. “Angie--”
“Mr. Johnson can wait two hot ticks; I’m in the middle of taking your order. Now, English, what’ll it be?” There was a sharpness to Angie’s tone, but Peggy knew it wasn’t aimed at her.
She sighed, but not wanting to cause any more problems, Peggy said, “A tuna melt then, if it’s not too much trouble.”
Angie grinned at her triumphantly, and for the briefest moment Peggy forgot the horrible day she’d had. “Not at all. One tuna melt coming up.”
Peggy was in no rush to get back to the office, and by the time she’d finished eating the Automat was almost completely empty. Angie came over and leaned against the counter as Peggy ate her last few bites, her eyes soft and concerned. “You wanna talk about it?”
Peggy shook her head. “I’d rather not, to be honest.” When Angie nodded a bit too understandingly, Peggy weakly attempted to smile as she added, “I’m fine, really. I just…needed a bit of fresh air. To get away for a bit, that’s all.” She checked her watch and groaned. “I really should get back though.” Looking back at Angie, Peggy’s forced smile turned genuine, one of the few she’d had in the last several weeks. “Thank you, Angie.”
Angie answered with a grin of her own. “No problem, English. You ever need to get away like that again, you know where to find me.”
Colleen was dead.
Colleen was dead, and it was all Peggy’s fault. The weight of lost life sat heavy on Peggy’s chest, constantly gnawing at her. She tried to forget herself in her work, in her secret life spying for Howard, but the ache and the shame remained underneath it all.
Angie, of course, noticed her distress and had tried instantly to make it better. She had offered up her own space without thought, dangerously unaware of how lethal a life lived in close proximity to Peggy Carter could be. Angie wanted Peggy to move in with her, was all but begging, and Peggy was terrified. Angie had been so open and earnest and reassuring in her offer that Peggy had been tempted to say yes, just for a moment. A moment of blissful forgetfulness at her previous roommate’s fate, until it all came crashing down again. To atone for such thoughtlessness, Peggy was now so closed off that she risked losing the friendship entirely. She tried to assure herself that this fate was well deserved and necessary, but she still ached at the loss. It had been nice to have a friend. Especially a friend like Angie.
Peggy wrestled with her thoughts as she tossed and turned in the most luxurious bed Howard’s spare apartment had to offer. She knew she was putting her career on the line by staying there, but she hadn’t found another option yet, and Mr. Jarvis refused to let rough it in the meantime. Peggy supposed that she could have fought him a bit more in that regard, but it didn’t seem worth the extra energy.
When she finally managed to sleep, all of her dreams were filled with death. First it was the simple memories of Colleen as she’d last found her, too late to stop the bullet in her head. Next she was haunted by Steve, voice crackling over the radio as he went off to a stupidly noble frozen death. Then it was Angie’s face, light in her eyes fading as her chest poured blood, no matter how tightly Peggy pressed down on the open wound. She gave up on sleep completely after that.
Peggy knew the best thing to do was shut out Angie, to keep Mr. Jarvis at arm’s length. There wasn’t a place in her life right now for close relationships, not while she was in this line of work. Peggy was dangerous, much too dangerous to entangle casually in anyone’s life. She would only ever hurt them, and then it would be more names, more people she was responsible for endangering, for breaking, for sending to their death.
Now it was only a matter of convincing Angie and Mr. Jarvis of this fact. Instead of them trying to worm their way even further into her life, refusing to let her go it alone. Rolling over and punching her pillow in frustration, Peggy desperately tried not to think of Steve, of how much he’d approve of their stubborn insistence on claiming a place in her life. It didn’t matter; his hypothetical opinion didn’t matter. He wasn’t around to get to have a say anymore.
After Angie helped Peggy move her few possession into the Griffith (Angie cheerfully ignoring all of Peggy’s protests that she could manage just fine on her own, honestly), Peggy offered to share her treasured stash of chocolate in thanks. She waited until Angie had taken her first joyfully oversized bite before folding her arms and raising an eyebrow. “So. Miriam’s a—what was the phrase I believe you used? A pussycat? Really, Angie?” The woman in question had made no less than three disparaging comments during Peggy’s move in. Peggy had hoped the proprietor’s stern exterior was just to scare potential candidates during the interview; she now suspected that it was merely that the woman’s true nature was that intimidating.
Peggy had expected Angie to blush and look abashed, but instead she just smirked at Peggy, speaking around the huge chunk of chocolate in her mouth. “Clearly you’ve never lived with cats, English.” When Peggy only harrumphed, Angie swallowed and shrugged, her eyes still amused. “Hey, you passed, didn’t you? Trust me, if Miriam didn’t want you here, you wouldn’t be here.” The light in Angie’s eyes died down as she looked over at Peggy, suddenly serious. “Just…don’t get caught breaking any of the rules, okay?”
Peggy snorted. “Well there go my plans for the next several evenings.” When Angie didn’t even crack a smile, Peggy looked at her, concerned. “That bad?”
Angie shrugged again, but she still looked serious. “I just figure that it took me long enough to convince you to live here, it’d be a shame for all of my hard work to be for nothing.” She reached for another piece of chocolate, looking at Peggy sidelong. “What made you change your mind, anyway?”
If anyone else had asked, Peggy would have politely brushed them off. She was still tempted to do just that, but Angie asked the question like that was exactly what she expected Peggy to do. So instead, Peggy took a piece of chocolate herself, giving her something to do with her eyes and hands, and replied, “I had a friend remind me that I didn’t have to do everything all by myself. That I shouldn’t close myself off to support, or to friendship.” She took a bite of chocolate, refusing to look up, but when Angie didn’t say anything, she added, “I decided that it would be wise to take him up on his advice.”
A hand moved into Peggy’s vision and took hold of her own, squeezing once gently before letting go. “Well, I’m glad you did, English.” When Peggy finally looked up, Angie rewarded her with a wink, adding, “If only because you’ve got the largest sweets stash I’ve ever seen.” Peggy made a noise of outrage and threw a piece of chocolate at her in protest, but Angie just caught it one handed, laughing, and popped it into her mouth.
Peggy shut the door on Miriam and Dottie, leaned her head against it and sighed quietly to herself. She knew that she’d just been terribly rude to Angie, but honestly, the waitress’s attention was the last thing she wanted right now. She’d had a hell of a day and she was stretched much too thin to have any space left to listen to Angie and give her the support and comfort she so obviously wanted.
Despite all of her rationalizing, Peggy still had to fight the urge to go bang on Angie’s door and apologize. Finally resolving to try and fix things in the morning, Peggy finished changing and snuck out to meet Jarvis.
But Angie was nowhere to be found at breakfast, and Peggy was instead forced to make polite conversation with Dottie, who seemed nice enough, if also much too eager and entirely too clueless. It took Peggy three attempts to end the conversation and leave, only succeeding at last when Gloria took pity on her and asked Dottie about growing up in Iowa. As soon as Dottie was distracted, Peggy shot Gloria a grateful look and escaped, already running late.
As soon as Peggy arrived at work, all thoughts of both Dottie and Angie quickly left her. Krzeminski was dead, the unbearable ass, and once again, it was all her fault. Peggy threw herself into the menial work she was given for once, both in order to just get through what had become a truly awful day as well as a desperate attempt to drown out her guilt and self-reproach. It wasn’t nearly enough, but it was all she had to work with.
Peggy wasn’t sure how long she’d been staring at the paperwork in front of her when Chief Dooley’s voice broke through her daze. “Go home, Carter.”
She shook herself and looked up at him, trying to refocus. “Sir?”
“The men have got things covered, and it doesn’t look like there’s going to be any more leads coming in tonight. Go home,” he repeated.
A part of Peggy felt like she should argue for fairer treatment, but she couldn’t bring herself to try. Instead, she just nodded and stood, grabbing blindly for her coat.
Peggy wandered out and onto the street, still feeling dazed. It wasn’t until she was standing outside of the Automat that she even realized where she was headed. She hesitated, remembering the fight from last night for the first time since breakfast, but it felt so small and petty now. And she needed…she needed…she knew Angie could help. Gathering up her courage, Peggy pushed the door open and stepped inside.
After Howard made his dire announcement about the SSR having one of his precious-and-far-too-dangerous-gadgets, he and Peggy sat down to eat in tense silence. After a few moments, however, Howard’s eyes furrowed in confusion. “Hey, Pegs, what are you doing back so soon, anyway? I thought you were going to go enjoy a nice dinner and bring me the leftovers later.”
Peggy shook her head and kept eating. “This is more important.”
Howard stared at her for a long moment, then shook his head, clearly disagreeing but not having the heart to voice it at the moment. Peggy ignored him, and they lapsed into silence again. Apparently Howard couldn’t go for more than few minutes without talking, however, because he broke it again a few minutes later. “So, tell me about your friend.”
Peggy had been lost in thought, and blinked at Howard. “Hmm?”
“The one who sounds nice. That’s making sure you’re eating.”
Peggy couldn’t tell if he was teasing her or genuinely interested—although since it was Howard, it was most likely both. Still, she knew he wasn’t going to let up, and it was better than focusing on a weapon that could destroy all of New York. “Her name is Angie. She works at the Automat by where I work, and helped me to find this place.”
Howard actually had the nerve to scowl at her. “Ah, yes, because this place is so much more preferable than the space I offered. I can tell Miriam really completes the package for you.”
Peggy rolled her eyes. “You know very well I couldn’t stay there, Howard. I’m already risking my neck for you as it is; there was no need for me to test my luck any more than I already am.”
Howard waved his knife-wielding hand dismissively. “Yeah, yeah, yeah—Don’t tell me you don’t enjoy the work I’ve given you, Peg. I know you better than that.”
“What I enjoy is the feeling of my head still being attached to the rest of my body,” Peggy shot back. “Aiding you in this matter doesn’t change that fact.”
Howard took another bite of ham before trying a different tactic. “Okay. Fine. So you took this gal Angie’s offer over mine, no hard feelings. Is that what makes her so special to you?”
Peggy went back to eating her own meal as well. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, Howard. Surely the concept of friendship isn’t new to you.”
“Oh, sure, I’ve heard of it,” Howard shrugged, “I was just wondering why you wanted me to stay away from her, that’s all.”
“I’d rather you stay away from all the women in this establishment, Howard,” she tried, raising an eyebrow as a silent hint to drop it.
Howard, of course, ignored the hint. “Aww, come on Peg. You’ve never bothered mentioning anyone else before.”
“Are you sure you just weren’t listening?” Peggy asked, but Howard just took another large bite of his ham, not even bothering to dignify the question with an answer. Peggy scowled at him in frustration. “We’re just friends, Howard. Good friends, but that’s all. Not everything is a mystery that you need to investigate, has anyone ever told you that? No need to be after this like a dog with a bone, for God’s sakes.”
Howard looked at her, clearly only half-listening to the scolding. Suddenly, his eyes lit up. “Wait, you said she works at the Automat? The same Automat that Jarvis says you always insist on meeting him at? Well, that explains one thing, at least; I had wondered.”
Peggy’s brow furrowed in confusion, and after a moment she asked, in spite of her reservations, “What on earth had you wondered about, Howard? You know as well as I do the benefits of meeting in a public, neutral location.”
Howard scoffed at her. “Well, yeah, but come on, does it have to be that one? You’re better than weak diner coffee, Peg.” He had the nerve to waggle his eyebrows at her. “But now that I know there’s more than the food involved, it makes much more sense.”
“It’s not—you’re not---the coffee is perfectly fine, Howard.”
Howard snorted derisively. “Sure, says the Brit.”
“And just what is that supposed to mean?” Peggy demanded.
Howard raised his hands in surrender. “No offense meant. What I was trying to say, before you went and got all riled up on me, is that I’m glad you have a friend Peg. You need someone to look after you.” The look he gave her was far too significant, and Peggy’s stomach squirmed uncomfortably. Trust Howard to make such a big deal out of her relationship with Angie. It was nonsense. Peggy felt the same way about Angie as she felt about any—as she felt about…
Peggy shoved at Howard a bit harder than was strictly necessary. “She’s just my friend, Howard,” she repeated. “A…a very good friend who I’d rather not lose due to your inability to keep it in your pants, thank you very much.”
Surprisingly, rather than continuing his teasing interrogation, Howard just gave her a wry, far-too-understanding smile. “Sure thing, Pegs. Whatever you want.” Peggy tried to tell herself that this is a victory, but she knew Howard far too well by now to really feel satisfied.
In the state she was in, it was a miracle that she’d managed to sneak up to her room without being caught. Still, her luck with avoiding Miriam was about to run out fast if she couldn’t find her blasted key. Muttering a string of curses under her breath, she took another sweep through her bag. It has to be in here somewhere.
“Peggy, what the hell are you doing?” The question was an angry hiss to her left, and Peggy jumped, sending her purse clattering, before realizing that the question was coming from Angie, not her ferocious landlady. Ignoring the mess around her, she answered her friend’s fierce scowl with a happy smile.
“Hello, Angie!” Oh, that had been a bit louder than she had intended it to be. Or maybe the hall was just too quiet?
Angie’s eyebrows shot up. “Are you…are you drunk?”
Peg scoffed, affronted, but before she could reassure her that she was most definitely not drunk, because Peggy Carter did not get drunk, there was a tell-tale creek on the stairs. Eyes widening, Angie quickly scooped up the scattered contents of Peggy’s purse, grabbed Peggy’s arm, and hauled both of them into her room. Despite her urgency, she shut the door softly before throwing Peggy up against it, one hand over her mouth. They both listened as the steps came closer, pausing outside the door as both women held their breath, until finally they retreated again back down the stairs. Angie let out a sigh of relief and finally brought her hand down from Peggy’s mouth. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Pegs, that was close,” she sighed, her voice still a whisper. “I thought she was going to catch us for sure.”
A part of Peggy’s brain knew that she should be just as concerned about the near miss as Angie was, but the rest of her was much too content in being close to Angie. Very close, in fact. It was nice. Angie smelled so nice; so much nicer than all of the unwashed men she’d been stuck with for the past few days. Peggy leaned in even closer, burying her nose in Angie’s hair.
Angie squeaked. An honest to god squeak; it was adorable. “Pegs?” she asked, voice cracking even in a whisper.
“Your hair smells nice,” was all Peggy offered, not moving, clearly thinking this was enough of an explanation. Perhaps it was, because she could feel the tension ease out of Angie as she stifled a laugh. Shaking her head, Angie pulled back, holding Peggy by the shoulders.
“Just how much did you have to drink?”
Peggy grinned proudly at her friend. “The boys at the office challenged me to a drinking contest. I won,” she replied smugly.
“I see,” Angie said, her mouth twisting at Peggy’s mention of her coworkers, as if merely hearing about Peggy’s work left a sour taste in her mouth. “Should I even ask what you were all out drinking for? Or if it had anything to do with the fact that no one has seen you for the past four days?”
Peggy frowned. Was that a trick question? Was there a procedure for this? Oh, wait. Trying to stand up straight, she reported, “That’s classified.”
Peggy could no longer read the expression on her friend’s face. “Of course it is. Well Pegs, glad you’re back safe, at any rate. You’re probably able to return to your room now too, as long as you’re quiet about it,” Angie said, handing Peggy her purse.
Something had clearly gone wrong somewhere in the last few sentences, but Peggy was too drunk to understand what it was. (Not drunk, came the automatic correction. I do not get drunk. Just…confused sometimes.) She focused on an easier problem: “I can’t find my key. I was looking for it, but it’s not anywhere in my purse. I don’t know where it is.”
Angie looked at Peggy for a long moment before finally shaking her head in resignation. “All right, fine. Guess we’re having a girls’ night then after all.”
Peggy’s nose scrunched in confusion. “Girls’ night?”
Angie had already seated Peggy on her bed and was helping her to take her shoes off. “Yeah, Peggy, girls’ night. Can’t very well leave you in the hall for Miriam to find, as much as I’m tempted. Just try not to hog the whole bed, okay?”
Peggy let her friend help her out of her stockings and dress in silence, trying in vain to grasp the situation more clearly, to understand the look on Angie’s face that she couldn’t remember seeing there before. Finally, she gave up trying and threw her arms around Angie’s waist, throwing them both off balance and crashing onto the floor. “You’re an amazing friend, Angie. I don’t deserve you.”
Angie’s scoff was belied by the blush in her cheeks. “Sure, Peggy. Whatever you say.”
“Hey.” Just because she was drunk (not drunk) didn’t mean she wasn’t serious. She made the most serious face she could manage, which seemed to involve a lot of forehead furrowing and lip pursing, and tried again. “Angie. You are. Angie Martinelli, you are a good friend. Especially to me. You’re one of the best people I know. The best, Angie. You’re smart and generous and talented and kind. And you’re worth at least ten of…of…of anybody else. Anybody.”
Angie’s face finally relaxed into something much more familiar as she looked at Peggy in fond exasperation. “You make it really hard to stay angry at you, you know that, English?”
Peggy flashed Angie one of her biggest smiles. “It’s one of my many charms.”
Angie snorted and shook her head, but she hadn’t quite managed to stop grinning. “Well, as charming as you are, we both have work in the morning, so how about we get some shut-eye now, all right? Come on, English, let’s get you to bed.”
Sitting up, Peggy fluttered her eyelashes at Angie. “Why, Ms. Martinelli, how unexpectedly forward of you!”
Face darkly flushed, Angie gave Peggy a forceful shove. “To sleep, English, Christ Almighty!”
Peggy pouted as she obediently crawled into the far corner of Angie’s bed. “I was only teasing.”
Angie snorted and turned out the lights as she crawled in beside Peggy. “Yeah, well, at the rate you’re going tonight, you’ll be lucky if I don’t suffocate you with my own pillow before morning.”
Already half asleep, Peggy flung an arm around Angie’s waist and curled up closer as she mumbled, “I’d like to see you try.” Hearing Angie’s breath hitch, Peggy started to sit up. “Angie? Are you okay? Did I hurt you?”
In response, Angie, reached up and pressed on Peggy’s back until she laid down again. “I’m fine, English. Just wasn’t expecting you to get all cuddly on me, that’s all.” Peggy started to pull back again, apologies on her lips, but Angie laced her own arm over Peggy’s, holding her in place. “It’s fine. You’re fine. Just go to sleep, okay? Everything’s fine, Peg, just go to sleep.”
The next morning, Peggy woke with a pounding hangover and an unfortunately crystal clear memory of the night before. Groaning quietly, she was just starting to wonder how she could sneak out undetected when a soft voice said, “Here,” and handed her two aspirin and a glass of water. She sat up with a louder groan and accepted gratefully. Looking up at Angie, she felt shame beginning to claw its way up her throat.
“Angie, I’m so sorry,” she began, but before she could get any farther, Angie shrugged, smiling kindly.
“Hey, don’t worry about it, especially since I’m guessing the way you’re feeling today is punishment enough anyway. Everyone needs a night out on the town every once and awhile, even gals who work too-long hours at the telephone company.”
Peggy flushed even more at that, and tried again. “Yes, but I was terribly forward last night. I was rude, and thoughtless, and I made you give up half your bed on top of all that. Angie, you shouldn’t have to deal with—”
Angie folded her arms, affronted. “What part of us being friends don’t you get, Peggy?” The question was asked lightly, but the inscrutable look from last night was back on Angie’s face again, and Peggy couldn’t translate it any better sober than she could when she was drunk (most definitely drunk).
Peggy stared at her hands, feeling miserable for more reasons than one and struggling not to make an even greater fool of herself. “I didn’t mean…Angie, I’m sorry. I know you’re my friend, and it’s not…of course you would…I just…I was in such a state and you—”
A gentle hand came to rest on Peggy’s shoulders, and she looked up into Angie’s face, now softened with understanding. “Hey. It’s okay. Really. I know you didn’t mean anything you said, so no harm no foul, right?”
But Peggy just looked down again, her shame now curling tightly in her stomach, and after a moment Angie sighed. “Look, I’ll see if I can finagle a new key from Miriam for you, okay? That way you can be back in your own room tonight. Especially since we both know she likes me way better anyway.”
“I…” Peggy was at a loss for words, feeling as though she had once again missed something. Finally she smiled shakily. “Thank you, Angie. For everything. I’m extremely grateful.”
“Hey, what are friends for?” Angie shrugged. “Now I gotta run or I’m going to be late, so just go ahead and lock up for me when you’re done, all right?” She was out the door, but after a moment peaked her head back in the room. “Oh, and Peggy?”
Peggy looked up, surprised to see her friend back so soon. “Yes?”
Angie’s grin was completely wicked as she sang out, “Try not to lose my key too, will ya?” Her head disappeared moments later, just barely avoiding being struck by a very accurately aimed pillow. Even so, Peggy could hear her laughter all the way down the stairs.
Grumbling under her breath about people thinking they were so high and mighty, Peggy gathered up her things that had somehow been strewn all across Angie’s apartment. If she was quick enough, she’d be able to pick her own lock without anyone being the wiser; Peggy was desperately in need of a new outfit, and she’d rather not steal one of Angie’s if she didn’t have to.
It was good to have a focus to keep her mind busy. Peggy was still stinging with shame at the memory of her behavior, despite Angie’s reassurances. Keeping focused on the tasks of the day ahead of her kept her mind off of the truth that Peggy herself wasn’t ready to face, let alone correct Angie on.
It wasn’t that the things she said when she was drunk didn’t mean anything. It was the fact that, regardless of her intoxication, Peggy had meant every word.
Trapped. She was certainly, most definitely, and quite problematically trapped. And while yes, she’d gotten out of some tighter situations than this in the past, she was currently blanking for ideas.
It became clear very quickly that Jack and Daniel weren’t going to believe she fled the scene and leave the Griffith. Move. She needed to move, damn it. Sidling as carefully as she could, she still felt her heart jump even further up her throat when part of the ledge gave way beneath her.
“Oh, God,” she whispered, eyes screwed shut against the sheer drop below her. She had nowhere to go. She had to move, had to get away, but there was nowhere to go.
“Peggy? What on earth are you doing?”
Angie. Peggy had, in the midst of everything, completely forgotten that it was Angie’s room she was moving towards. Angie was looking at Peggy as if she was out of her mind—an entirely fair assessment, given the circumstances. Before Peggy could even think of what she could possibly say, she heard Jack pounding on Angie’s door.
“Federal agents! Open up!”
Angie looked back towards her door, then turned to stare at Peggy, her shock clear.
“They’re here for me.” The words were out without any thought. There was no time to think, to come up with a reasonable explanation; she was scared and desperate and suddenly needed Angie, of all people, to understand what was happening. Angie had always been there when Peggy needed her, when she didn’t know what else to do. Peggy certainly needed someone now.
Angie’s face hardened in a way that reminded Peggy of the night she had come home drunk, but it was harder, more severe. As Angie straightened with purpose and shut the window again, Peggy found that she still had the space in her brain for even more worrying. Was Angie about to turn her over? Did she literally just get shut out by the only friend she had left? The sting of losing Angie’s friendship was yet another hard blow in a day filled with losses. Peggy wasn’t sure how much more she could take.
But then she head the voices in Angie’s room—Jack and Daniel’s stern questioning, Miriam sounding just short of hysterics and Angie…sounding…completely unperturbed? Was that…did she just mock Peggy’s coworkers to their faces? Painful hope rose in Peggy’s chest even as her panic increased. What on earth was Angie doing?
Peggy heard the whisper of one of the curtains moving, and she was just about to risk the jump in spite of herself when she heard the most unexpected sound of all. Was that—but no, it couldn’t—was Angie crying?
And finally, as Angie babbled on about her sick grandma, everything finally clicked. Angie was saving her. Even though she had no idea why they were looking for her, or what Peggy had done. Even though it meant lying to federal agents to do so. Even though the mere fact that she had to do so meant acknowledging Peggy had been lying to her all this time. Angie was protecting her without question. As everyone finally left, Peggy fought to catch her breath in the midst of overwhelming gratitude.
As Angie pulled her back into the safety of her room, Peggy couldn’t help exclaiming, “Angie, that was amazing!”
Angie just stared her, glowing with her triumph, and crowed, “I knew you didn’t work for the phone company!”
Peggy’s lip quirked in pride and agreement even as she couldn’t think of anything to say. Angie, apparently wasn’t expecting an answer as she continued, “I don’t think they’ll be back any time soon after that performance. They both looked ready to pass out as soon as I turned on the waterworks. You’re welcome to stay here until the coast is clear.”
“Oh no, Angie, I couldn’t possibly do that to you,” Peggy tried to beg off, already itching to be out the door. “You’ve done more than enough already.”
Angie glared at Peggy, crossing her arms and standing as if to physically block Peggy from leaving. “Friends help each other out, Pegs. It’s not a sin to need people every now and again. How many times am I going to have to tell you?”
Peggy stared at her hands, heart in her throat. She didn’t know how to explain to Angie that she’d already done enough—more than enough—without making a further mess of the situation. Peggy needed to get out, get away from Angie, get the danger and the chance of harm as far from her sweet friend as possible. Angie meant too much to her, she couldn’t bear the thought of any harm coming to her, even just as a bystander. But Peggy also knew that telling Angie any of that would fall on deaf ears.
Swallowing down her fear, Peggy went with the simpler explanation. “I can’t thank you enough, Angie, truly, but I can’t stay here. I…there’s a friend waiting for me at the Dublin House. If I don’t show soon, he may panic and take drastic measures.”
“And what happens past that?” Angie asked, not willing to back down.
“I…I beg your pardon?” Peggy asked, confused. Of all the interrogations she’d been preparing herself for, this had not been one of them.
“What happens to you once you make it to the Dublin house? This friend of yours, he got a plan for helping you out of this mess once you get there? Or will he be too busy panicking for that too?” Angie clarified, scorn evident.
“I…Well, I’m the one in charge of planning, Angie,” Peggy replied, shifting uneasily. “To be honest, I hadn’t gotten that far ahead yet.”
“So what’s stopping you for figuring this out here? I’m sure your friend can manage on his own for a bit longer.” Angie pressed.
“Angie, please! I can’t involve you in this mess any more than I already have!” Peggy finally cried. “I know you want to help, but the most helpful thing you can do is stay safe and out of harm’s way. Please. There isn’t much time, and I need to fix this, but I can’t do that if I’m worried about you too.”
If she was surprised by the sudden outburst, Angie didn’t show it. Instead, after a long moment, she said, “Okay, Peggy. On one condition.”
Peggy had to swallow down an impatient scream. “And what might that be?”
“You come back.” That was not the answer Peggy had been expecting, and it must have shown on her face, because Angie continued fiercely, “You come back after this whole mess is over and you fill me in on what the hell all of this is all about. No flying off in a wisp of smoke never to be seen again. You make it out of this, you come back and you find me and you talk to me. No more secrets, no more lies. You hear me, Peggy Carter? You do that, or so help me, I will tail you from here to kingdom come.”
Peggy swallowed, but it wasn’t enough to keep the waver out of her voice as she finally answered, “Okay, Angie. I promise.”
Angie still looked guarded, but this time she nodded, moving for the door. “All right, English, it’s a deal. Just let me get you a way out past the feds once you get where you need to be, all right? Somehow I doubt either you or your friend remembered that bit.”
After Peggy was dragged away in cuffs, there really wasn’t much time to think. It wasn’t that she didn’t spare a thought for Angie anyway—she spared several, in fact. It was just that there wasn’t any time. And definitely no time for anything past the most necessary of actions.
But as soon as the danger was at bay, and Peggy was holed up in a spare study in Howard’s mansion, all the half-thoughts she’d been shoving away came crashing in on her again. She paced the length of the room, unable to contain her frustrated, angry energy.
She was such a fool. Of all the things that Peggy had been on the lookout for, she’d missed the most obvious thing, the lethal killer living literally right next door. She’d let her guard down and she’d been taken like the idiot she was. She’d come out on the top, in the end, but that seemed to be more luck and chance than skill and strategy.
She’d put the other girls at the Griffith in so much danger. Most especially Angie, her dear friend who’d found the place for her to live, and who had been there for her countless times since then. Peggy had put Angie in so much danger. Unwittingly, and the opposite of what she’d ever intended, but danger nonetheless.
This is what Peggy had been afraid of. She had conceded to live in the Griffith only to lead the viper straight there as well. She couldn’t keep doing this. Not to Angie—she was too important, too special, too…she just was.
Peggy couldn’t lose her too. She had to get away, promises be damned. Some things were more important. Angie was more important. She had to keep Angie safe.
Unbidden, the memory of sharing breakfast at the Automat with Dottie came to her. Peggy felt shame crawl up her throat at the memory of how open and vulnerable she’d been that morning, guard down, an easy target for Dottie’s pointed conversation. Making sure to mention Captain America, honing in on Peggy’s weakest spot. And Peggy had eaten it up, taking Dottie at face value, completely underestimating her. She had been so angry at Howard, and so desperate for a friend, someone she could talk to, and Angie hadn’t been around that day…
Peggy stilled suddenly, a chill of fear shooting up her spine.
Angie hadn’t been around that day. And it had been Dottie who noticed. Dottie who had made sure to bring it up, to ask Peggy about it, throwing her just as easily into the conversation as she had Steve.
Looking for Peggy’s weakest points of contact. As if that’s all the people in Peggy’s life were, just weapons to be used against her. As if Dottie had any such right to them.
Peggy’s eyes slid shut in despair. Dottie knew of the friendship between the two women—how could she not, when the night they’d met, she Dottie and Mrs. Fry had practically walked in on them fighting? She lived in the same hallway with them, and would have noticed how often Angie sought her out. How often Peggy had begun to do the same.
Peggy stopped in the center of the room, her breathing labored, her fists clenched. She had already lost Steve. Like hell was she going to lose Angie too. Not to Dottie. Not to anyone.
Peggy shut her eyes, the realization that she’d been shutting out the past few months finally washing over her. Angie meant far more to her than any friendship she’d ever had. She meant just as much to Peggy as Steve had, just in a different way. Angie was important, was utterly vital; Peggy needed her. And regardless of the other woman’s feelings of her, Peggy would give anything to protect her.
With Dottie still free, there was nowhere that Peggy could run that would keep Angie safe. If Peggy tried, Dottie would just seek Angie out and hold her as bait. It’s what any half-trained spy would do—hell, it’s what Peggy herself would do if the situation called for it—and Dottie was far more than a half-trained anything. Peggy disappearing now would just be leaving Angie wide open for danger, rather than protecting her from it.
Peggy couldn’t desert her.
Ignoring the jolt in her stomach of selfish relief, Peggy resumed her pacing. They needed a safe place to stay. The Griffith was now off limits for Angie as well as Peggy; it would be foolish to think that Dottie wouldn’t be back, and the Griffith would be the first place she would look. Peggy needed some place safe, strategic, and that would be easily defensible against crazy Russian assassins in addition to the run-of-the-mill thugs Peggy had to watch out for on a regular basis. She needed…she needed…
A polite cough broke into her thoughts, and Peggy whirled to find Jarvis watching her with understanding eyes.
“Miss Carter, I’m sorry to disturb you, but Mr. Stark has asked for a word with you when you have a moment.”
Peggy stared silently Mr. Jarvis for so long that he began to shift uncomfortably. Just as he was opening his mouth again to question her, however, Peggy broke out of her trance and gave him a rare genuine grin.
“Thank you, Mr. Jarvis. I believe I’d like a word with Howard as well.”
When Peggy returned from her trip to the Brooklyn Bridge, Angie was just finishing laying supper out on the huge dining room table. “It’s a bit much for the two of us to be using all the time,” she said, gesturing at the table, “but I figured tonight was a special occasion, and we might as well celebrate.”
Peggy was surprised to find that she could manage a smile. “Thank you, Angie. This looks lovely.”
Angie’s too-sharp eyes caught Peggy’s before she could look away. “You all right, English? I know got a bit carried away; I wasn’t even sure how long you’d be gone. But we don’t have to—”
Peggy shook her head, removing her coat. “Nonsense. It’s just been a bit of a trying week, that’s all. I’m grateful for you putting this together, to be honest; I’ll admit that I completely forgot about dinner.” She went to hang up her coat in the hall, calling on her way back, “I shouldn’t be leaving everything to you though. Is there anything left for me to help you with?”
Angie’s cheeks were rosy when Peggy got back to the table. “You’ve done enough already, Peggy. Just sit down and eat.”
They ate in comfortable silence, and afterwards Angie insisted that Peggy just let the dishes soak in the sink so they could explore their new apartment together. They had only made it through half of the rooms before collapsing on the lush bed in the first bedroom they came across. The two woman stared up at the ceiling for some time, each lost in their own thoughts.
Finally, Peggy turned to Angie, watching her for a moment before murmuring, “You don’t owe me, you know.” When Angie turned to her but stayed silent, Peggy continued, “I mean, dinner was lovely. I don’t even remember the last time I ate that much. But you don’t have to always be doing things like that. This isn’t an obligation, Angie. When I said free of charge, I meant it. In every aspect.”
Angie stared at Peggy a long time, as if she looked long enough she’d be able to make some sense of her. Finally, in a voice much smaller than Peggy was expecting, she asked, “Then why? Why are you doing this for me, Peggy?”
Unable to maintain eye contact any longer, Peggy stared back at the ceiling and folded her hands over her stomach. “It’s what you did for me,” she said lightly, hoping it would be enough of an answer and knowing even as she said it that it wasn’t. When the silence stretched again, she sighed ruefully. “Well, it is. Maybe not quite the same, but still. Turnabout’s fair play, and all that.”
She turned to face Angie again and immediately regretted it. Angie’s eyes still entirely focused on Peggy, but now they looked disappointed, rather than curious. “Why can’t you ever just be honest with me?” It was asked so softly, so openly, that Peggy found herself blinking back tears. She went back to staring at the ceiling. The ceiling was safer, less emotional.
“Believe it or not, I am trying,” Peggy said softly, trying to get her emotions under control and keep the waver out of her voice. Swallowing down the lump in her throat, she tried again. “I…in truth, Angie, I feel that if anyone here owes the other, it is I who owe you. You have…helped me, a great deal, these past few months, and I’m not sure where I’d be without you. I wanted to make a new start. Well,” Peggy let out a breath of a laugh as she corrected, “Maybe wanted is the wrong term. I am certain that Miriam will not let me within a hundred yards of her fine establishment ever again.”
“But you could have made that new start just fine without me,” Angie pressed, her voice still soft. “You didn’t have to bring me into this palace with you. You might owe me something, English, but I’m not sure you’ve got your conversion factored quite right.”
“Yes, well, it seemed like the best one at the time,” Peggy weakly joked. Staring at the ceiling was not enough; she could feel Angie’s disapproval and frustration at her evasion radiating beside her. Peggy shut her eyes, trying to find the right words. “Angie…I know that I still owe you an explanation. I haven’t forgotten. But I’m not…ready yet, and in the meantime I’m not very good with…” she gestured widely, encompassing most of the room in the sweep of her hands.
“Just try, Peggy. Please? For me?” Angie sounded tired and discouraged now, as though expecting a refusal or another evasion even as she asked the question. Hearing that was worse for Peggy than the frustration. Clenching her fists against her stomach, she tried one last time.
“Angie, my work…what I do…it isn’t safe. It most likely never will be. As you probably are already aware.” She felt a small movement beside her, and assuming it was Angie nodding, pushed on. “That puts you in danger. It already has; I got careless, and you could have—” Peggy stopped, swallowed, and started again. “You are important to me. You are one of the few people in my life that I am close to, who I trust. If anything were to—I want to know that you are safe. It’s easier, this way, to do that.”
Peggy could think of nothing else to say, but couldn’t bear to open her eyes to discover how Angie was looking at her now. Angie was silent for a long time, until she finally let out a soft huff. “And here I thought I had finally wooed you with my good looks and easy charm.” She teased, her voice lighter than it had been, but still holding a lingering hesitation.
Eyes still closed, Peggy let out a small laugh and answered without thinking, “Well that too, but I thought that was obvious by now.”
There was another silence as Peggy, realizing what she’d said, cringed and immediately pulled into herself. She was just about to open her mouth and take it all back when one of Angie’s soft, small hands came to rest on top of Peggy’s tight fists. “Don’t know if anyone’s told you this, English, but you’re not so bad yourself.”
Peggy finally dared to open her eyes and turn her head, and was relieved to see the flash of mischief back in Angie’s eyes. “So you’ll stay, then?” she asked. Peggy had meant for the question to be soft and teasing, but instead it came out breathless and unsure.
Angie’s eyes were entirely too understanding. “Of course I’ll stay, Peggy. A place like this with a gal like you, who wouldn’t want to? And anyway, you can’t get rid of me that easily, you should know that by now. I just wanted to be sure you knew what you were doing, and that this is what you really wanted, that’s all.”
Unclenching her fist, Peggy curled her fingers through Angie’s. “It is, Angie. I want…this. A new home, a fresh start. And I’d like to be able to share that with you, if I may.”
In response, Angie scooted closer so she could rest her head against Peggy’s shoulder and sighed contentedly. “I like the sound of that. Home.” Angie’s body relaxed against Peggy’s, their fingers still intertwined. “It’s a small word for such a large place, but I think we could make it work somehow. Put your office in that dark room next to the kitchen. Turn that extra dining room into a dance studio, maybe. Burn everything we found in that one closet.” She didn’t quite manage to stifle a yawn as she asked, “How’s that sound, Peggy?”
Peggy smiled down at her. “All excellent ideas. But for right this moment, I think it’s time to choose a bedroom and get some rest.”
Angie yawned again as she pointedly burrowed further into the mattress. “Found one. Mission accomplished.”
Peggy rolled her eyes and started to sit up. “Very well then. I’ll—” but before she could get any further, Angie tightened her grip on Peggy’s hands.
“Oh come on, Peggy, we’re already comfortable; why ruin it? Anyway, this place is so huge, you’ll probably get lost just trying find the next closest bedroom. Just throw a blanket over and we’ll sort it out in the morning, okay?” The end of the last sentence was nearly lost in Angie’s biggest yawn yet, her eyes already drooping shut.
Peggy stared down at Angie for a long moment, then lifted slightly to pull the nearest blanket over them as Angie had requested. “You’re going to regret this in the morning, you know,” she softly chided as she tucked the blanket more tightly around Angie. “Falling asleep in our clothes, hair not set, faces unwashed. We’re going to look a fright.”
Angie grabbed Peggy’s hand again, burrowing even further down under the blankets. “Hush, English, you’re spoiling the mood.” As Peggy laid back again, Angie put her head back on her shoulder and sighed contentedly. “That’s better.” A final yawn had her curling even further into Peggy’s side, her breath already beginning to even out. Just before she fell asleep, Angie mumbled softly, “G’night, Peggy.”
Peggy smiled softly, tucking her head over Angie’s, already half-asleep herself. “Sleep well, Angie.”