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Bringing Treats

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Amanda paused near the door to the elderly woman's room, waiting until the brown-haired SHIELD agent departed before slipping inside.

"You shouldn't be here," Peggy hissed at her. "They will know you."

"Now, darling, be reasonable. I brought you some candy so you wouldn't forget me." She handed over the small bag of individually wrapped chocolate, and carefully helped open it, then removed one of the candies from its wrapper and handed it to Peggy.

Peggy hated her tremors. They made opening things impossible. Once, she remembered, how easily they'd opened locked doors, wielded weapons, and held people. Amanda had been slipping in and out of her life for years - ageless, beautiful, and deadly. Peggy owed her life to Amanda, though she wasn't sure exactly how a world-class thief would know to be in that warehouse at that time of night, or why. Amanda had laughed off every explanation, every demand for a reason. "Just believe in miracles," she'd told Peggy. "Or myths. Whatever works for you. I don't worry about it, so why should you?"

Peggy knew, too, that Amanda hadn't signed in and likely had charmed her way past security. "You shouldn't be here," she said again.

"But darling, I promised I'd visit and bring you treats," Amanda said easily. "It's Christmas. You should have chocolate, and coffee, so you remember more and forget less. Now eat those before the nurse comes by."

The chocolate candies were laced with extra coffee. Amanda also brought other things - sometimes flowers, sometimes lotions, sometimes both, and took the time to make sure Peggy's circulation was good. Peggy wasn't sure what guardian angel had brought this woman into her life (she suspected Howard, because he had connections he hadn't always told her he had), but she wasn't about to look too closely at a gift horse like this one. Some days, when her memory slipped the worst and she thought she was back in WWII, Amanda would tell her stories about how she'd flown Peggy to a base in France, but that, too, seemed distant and implausible.

Today, however, was one of Peggy's better days. Resigned to the fact that she wasn't going to convince Amanda to leave, Peggy allowed herself the luxury of enjoying the company of someone who'd been one of the few constants in a life lived in the shadows of SHIELD. "Did you come just to spoil me?"

"Of course, darling," Amanda said, and massaged Peggy's hands. "You should see the lights in Paris this week. They've outdone themselves. Or would you prefer London?"

"I haven't lived in London in so long," Peggy said with a smile. "D.C's been home for so many years now. Have you been to New York?"

Amanda smiled. "Not yet this year, but I'm on my way there. A friend of mine hosts a party every year to celebrate a friend on New Year's Eve."

"You told me about that once," Peggy remembered. "Something about boom-boom and a pirate?"

Amanda leaned in close. "He really was one," she confided. "But so was I. We were all privateers."

Peggy laughed. "You were a lady with money and class, I'm sure," she countered. "Too much class for any pirate."

Amanda smiled. "So I've been told," she said lightly. "Let me just get this for you," she added, reaching over to the nightstand. She showed Peggy the tiny bug someone had planted before obscuring it with a candy wrapper and putting it in water.

Peggy's eyes widened. This wasn't the first bug Amanda had found, and it likely wasn't the last, but it made Peggy furious that someone was bugging her room. By now, Peggy knew the routine: Amanda would carefully inspect the room and find every bug she could, all under the pretext of telling Peggy all about the New Year's Eve party or some outrageous story about Amanda's past life as the owner of a gambling parlor in San Francisco. All Amanda would ever admit to was, "A friend made me promise to keep an eye on you, because you were dangerous but not crazy, and there will always be someone who wants to kill a woman with ambition and the means to make it happen."

"Promise me you'll take care of yourself," Peggy whispered when the last bug had been found and disabled. "Whoever my enemies are, they'll come after you."

Amanda kissed her hand. "I can take care of myself. You just be you a little longer. Merry Christmas, Peggy." With only an empty bag to show that she'd been there, Amanda slipped out of the door.