They say there’s something in the water and the next thing anyone knows, New York is a mecca for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet looking to find their soulmate.
There’s something in the water and the next thing Angie knows, she’s waking up with the name Margaret Carter wrapped around her wrist.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” her cousin Freddy says. “Not a thing.”
Freddy’s in the seminary and her Aunt Maria couldn’t be prouder. Joey Lagonegro’s name peaks out from under his wrist watch and Angie wonders just who he’s trying to convince. Maybe he’s right and maybe he’s not, but Freddy joining the priesthood a week after Joey announces his girl is pregnant is a hell of a coincidence.
“Angel,” her Nona says, “you and I both know it doesn’t mean anything, but you best cover it up before your father sees it.”
The name on Nona’s wrist isn’t Grandpa’s and Angie’s always been a violets kind of girl. She doesn’t know what the names are, but she does know good advice when she hears it.
There are at least a dozen Margaret Carters in the greater New York metro area. Angie looks it up, but she doesn’t look them up. There’s so many people trying to find their soulmates, there’s a whole new section in the want ads. It feels a little like cheating, though, falling for someone because some junk in the water wrote their name on your wrist. Angie wants to love someone cause they’re worth loving. What’s more, she wants them to love her back for that same reason too.
Her latest regular at the Automat has legs for miles and an accent Angie could listen to read the phone book. She’s got an air of mystery tinged with tragical romance, and Angie’s half gone for her long before she finds out her name is Peggy Carter.
Angie’s been following her Nona’s advice for years, writing a newer, more appropriate, name over Margaret Carter. At first, she thought about doing someone famous, Clark Cable, Benny Goodman, Howard Stark, but it seemed a little too obvious. Instead, she changes it up. Tommaso de Luca one day, Jack Brown the next. No one ever looks twice once they see it isn’t them. No one, that is, until Peggy.
"Didn't that say—?” Peggy asks during their night of pie, schnapps, and poor decisions.
"Gee, yeah. I paint over the real name. I am a maestro with stage makeup, Peggy. You cover your mark up always and people start to wonder why. Everyone peeks, but that's only cause they want to see if it's anyone they know, hardly anyone peeks twice, and I got bored writing the same fake name every day. Too clever for my own good, huh?”
"Perhaps it would be best to stick to names with the same initials, at least,” Peggy suggest, primley sipping her schnapps from a teacup. "Why did you start painting over it?”
Angie hesitates. It’s a good friendship they’ve got going, and she doesn’t want to risk it, but she doesn’t want to lie either. "It's a gals name, you see. Have I shocked you, Miss Carter?" she asks in an exaggerated version of Peggy’s own accent.
“I went to an all girls boarding school,” Peggy says like that means anything. The writing on her wrist says Steven G. Rogers and Angie figures that means a whole lot more.
They’re standing in their new apartment and it’s the fanciest place Angie’s ever been. "There's something I gotta tell you," she says, tugging nervously on a frayed thread hanging from the cuff of her coat.
"It is too far from the theatre district for you," Peggy quips, straight-faced.
“No, it’s—” Angie swallows nervously, then takes the plunge. "The name on my wrist, it's Margaret Carter.” Peggy seems at a loss for words, but Angie’s got too many of them. They come spilling out of her mouth in an awkward stream of babble. “I know you’re not that kind of girl,” she finishes lamely, too afraid to get her hopes up. “I’m happy to be your friend.”
"Is this why you were so determined that we should become friends?" Peggy asks, sounding oddly hurt.
"No! Gee, Peg, a mysterious, leggy, Englishwoman walks into the Automat, you couldn't have kept me away.” Angie can’t believe she just said that, and clamps her hand over her mouth before anything else can come out. It doesn’t work and she’s babbling again. “I haven't given my key back to Miriam yet, if you've changed your mind about me staying here—”
"Angie, don't be ridiculous. I'm certain Miss Fry will have changed the locks behind me, and this place is certainly too large for me to rattle around by myself.”
A week into their new arrangement, Angie is turning in when Peggy arrives home after a meeting with Howard Stark. She looks a bit tipsy, and Angie can’t help teasing her. "Hey, English. You have a good night?”
"I'd like to kiss you, if I may?” Peggy says like she’s asking for a cup of sugar.
“Why?” Angie asks. As much as she’s been fantasizing about it, she doesn’t want her heart broken for some drunken experiment.
"Because I've been thinking about kissing you. I've probably been thinking about kissing you for longer than I've wanted to admit it to myself.”
Angie pinches the skin of her inner arm, just to make sure she's not dreaming. "Okay," she says, "I'm awake. Let's do this."
She steps close, takes Peggy by the shoulders, and slides her hands down Peggy's biceps. She circles Peggy's wrist, the one that doesn't have Steven G. Rogers on it, with her fingers, pushes up on her tiptoes, and presses her lips to Peggy’s. Angie goes slow at first, gentle, gives Peggy plenty of space to change her mind, but then Peggy starts kissing her back and it’s, well, it’s the best kiss of her life.
Later, not later that night, Angie’s not that kind of girl, but not all that much later, they’re lying tangled together in bed. Angie traces the letters on Peggy’s wrist. Steven G. Rogers.
“What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know,” Peggy says, catching Angie’s wrist. She runs her fingernails across her name, sending shivers down Angie’s spine. “It wasn’t my name on Steve’s wrist, you know, but I loved him and he loved me. And now,” she kisses the delicate skin of Angie’s inner wrist, “I love you.”
Angie swallows around the lump in her throat. She hadn’t thought they were at the l-word yet, but it’s great to hear. “So not soulmates?” she jokes.
“No,” Peggy laughs. “Do you want to know what Howard’s additive was really for?”
Howard's? Angie hadn’t heard it was Stark’s fault but it certainly fits everything she knows about him. “Yeah. What?”
“Dental hygiene,” Peggy says flatly.
It’s a good five minutes before they can stop laughing.