Margret ‘Peggy’ Carter would never forget the day that Doctor Arim Zola’s train shrieked to a stop at the diverted station she and Philips had commandeered for this exact purpose. Soldiers swarmed the cleared train and a vicious kind of warmth curled at the base of Peggy’s spine.
Ollie’s monster was caught. The monster that had Ollie curled up at the foot of Peggy's cot night after night, because she couldn’t breath, she couldn’t breath and there was fire under her skin, was done for.
The monster would never hurt Ollie again.
And then, in the middle of Peggy's soft cheer of victory, there was a scream.
“Move.” Peggy demanded as she shoved unwilling soldiers out of her way. Peggy had already been moving towards the train when the scream had silenced the station, but now Peggy was running as fast as the crowd would allow. Getting off the platform was easy, the soldiers ducking to avoid Carter on a warpath, but once she hit the train compartment that things got a little complicated. It was only after she had barked the command for a second time that she realized she was trying to get past Gabe Jones. The man caught her by the shoulders, his face paler then she had ever thought possible, and shook his head once.
Peggy could almost feel her legs drop out from under her right then and there. Ollie was going to be devastated she thought. If Steve had gone over, then Bucky would have followed, and Ollie would have cursed up a blue streak, even as she completed the mission.
Because Ollie, dear stubborn and angry Ollie, would have completed the mission and then put a bullet through her monster’s head.
Ollie wasn’t going to be the same after this.
Peggy pushed against Jones’ grip, her lips in a thin line as she struggled. “You let me go this instant.” She ordered, her foot coming down on top of his boot hard enough he flinched. In a distracted way, she had to smile, because this? This was the power of high heels and velocity. But, she didn’t take the time to feel any sympathy because Ollie was behind him and there was a certain way to a woman’s grief that men simply couldn’t understand.
And no matter her dress, Ollie was a woman.
“Miss Carter.” Jones said even as Peggy pushed him aside and marched into the compartment, taking in the open wall and the silence.
There shouldn’t have been silence.
But, in some ways, what was even worse, was how Steve and Sargent Barnes hung from the grip of Logan and Dugan respectively. For the first time since Peggy had known Steve, he looked defeated, his gaze stuck somewhere on the floor. Sargent Barnes looked even worse, his gaze fixed pointedly on the broken railing Peggy had only registered in a distant kind of way.
“Ollie?” Peggy breathed as she looked at the captain in shock.
Beside her, Jones only shook his head.
As the Howling Commandos filed out of the compartment, Peggy was left with the realization that she was going to have to tell Howard.
She was going to have to tell Howard that Ollie was dead.
Her hands shaking, Peggy sank down onto one of the crates and fought the urge to scream. Clenching her teeth, she leaned forward and put her head in her hands. She wasn’t going to give the monster the satisfaction of hearing her sobs.
Ollie Bakker, the Geist, was dead and her monster sat safe and sound a few compartments over.
Desperate for a distraction, she allowed herself to be impressed that neither the Captain nor the Sargent had managed to put a bullet through Zola’s skull. Although, she supposed that was why the rest of the Commandos had closed rank around them and refused to let either leave their sight. Straightening her shoulders, Peggy forced herself to her feet and blessed the gods Ollie had sworn by, that her eyes were dry. She had a job to do and Ollie would never forgive her if she didn’t complete her mission.
As she took a step forward, Peggy’s foot collided with something metal that went spinning away. Grateful for the momentary distraction, Peggy shuffled after the sound and bent down to ferret the loose piece of metal from under a knocked over crate.
It was only when her hand closed around the hilt of a knife that the first tear fell from her eye. Without looking, Peggy stood up, gripping the knife with white knuckles. Ollie had always hated guns, she thought with a wobbly smile, even as it became apparent that Ollie had a way with the machinery. But it was the knives Ollie swore sang to her.
And it was one of Ollie's knives Peggy held in her hand now.
But Peggy had a job to do and there would be time for tears later.
Philips had begun the interrogation of the monster and Peggy had been handed the monster’s briefcase. It was almost a relief, she thought as she marched down the hall to Howard’s office, that she would be able to hand Howard something to distract himself with after she told him about Ollie.
Standing outside his office, her hand on the door handle, Peggy did her best to keep her expression neutral. First Erskine and now Ollie. What else could the war take from her? With that grim thought flashing across her brain, Peggy straightened her shoulders before she marched into the office.
“Ollie!” Howard exclaimed without looking up from where he was hunched over his desk. “Sorry about what happened the other day, won’t happen again. I can promise you that.”
It took everything Peggy had not to turn around and run. Her hand shaking on the doorknob, Peggy shook her head gently, forcing herself to stay composed. “I’m not Ollie, Howard.” She was surprised her voice didn’t shake.
Still, Howard must have heard something in her words, because he put his pencil down gently before he looked up at Peggy with narrowed eyes. “No.” he breathed, his eyes flicking to look behind her as if he was looking for Ollie. “Pegs…” he trailed off as he slipped back from the desk and stumbled into a chair.
“She was the only casualty.” Peggy managed to croak out as she shut the office door behind her. “Apparently she took Sargent Barn’s place in line for entry. It was a fluke.”
Howard’s face became set in stone and he held out a hand. “Give me that briefcase Pegs, and let’s see what Olivia died for.”
There was an edge of viciousness in his voice that Peggy wholly approved of. Slowly, she placed the briefcase on the desk and then stepped back. It didn’t escape her notice that Howard didn’t fall onto this piece of intel with a giddy sense of glee. No, this one they both stared at with trepidation and no little amount of hatred.
Howard swallowed dryly, his hands on the edges of the case. “Let’s see what Olivia died for.” He repeated slowly, even as he tipped the case open.
From her side of the desk, Peggy couldn’t see what inside but from Howard’s sudden low curse, Peggy wasn’t sure she wanted to know. For a heartbeat, Howard stared at the case with narrowed eyes before he marched to the door and wrenched it open hard enough it hit the wall with a bang. “Chuck! Get me a projector, will you?” he hollered down the hall.
Curious, Peggy leaned over the table and saw a film reel and a file tucked into the case. Easing the film out, she placed it to the side and then flipped open the file. Peggy had never learned German fluently, but she was a Bletchley Circle girl prior to the SSR, and if one looked close enough, languages were just another code.
But she didn’t need to be a codebreaker to understand what was in this file.
Howard turned around at her distressed whine and looked down at the file. “What you got there, Pegs?” he asked gently as he tried to ease the file out of her hands.
Instinctively, Peggy tightened her grip and shook her head, tugging the file back to her chest. Ollie was dead. Ollie was dead, and Peggy was never going to let anyone smear her name. Howard’s eyes softened at her obvious terror and with a tenderness she didn’t think he possessed, he slid the file from her now limp hands and looked down at the papers.
There, in black and white, lay Ollie, strapped to a table and arching in pain.
The picture hit the floor with a hiss and Peggy and Howard tuned to look at the reel in horror. Slowly, Howard shook his head. “No.” he denied, his hand tightening on the paper. “Ollie didn’t die for this.”
Swallowing, Peggy looked back at the file and immediately wished she hadn’t. For all that no one had figured out how to attach audio to film, it wasn’t hard to record it onto a record and send the results along side it. Howard had done it himself many times when he was trying to land a contract.
In between the papers, tucked away like a serpent ready to strike an unsuspecting victim was half a dozen records, each one marked with Ollie’s number.
Peggy sank down onto the chair, her hands shaking as the records fell onto the table. “Oh darling, no.” she whispered, not looking up as Howard grabbed the projector from a hassled looking messenger. “Howard, they recorded her.”
There was the sound of rustling cables and the unfolding of a tripod, but Howard didn’t come over to comfort her, and some ways, Peggy wasn’t sure if she could have handled it if he had. Instead, he came over and stared at the reel, his face drawn and pale. “You don’t have to watch this Peggy.”
“They hurt her, Howard. They hurt her, and I never asked what happened.” The words were dragged out of her throat and she stared at the man who had brought Ollie to her door in the middle of the night, crowing about the fact he had found Peggy’s perfect match.
Slowly, Howard nodded, and he picked up the reel, nodding towards the record player and the top record. “I think we owe it to her to know what she did.”
The first record was Ollie’s screams.
The second was the medical report. Howard, looking, rather sick, was the one to transcribe the monster’s musings. Peggy had snapped her pencil after the first try.
The third was an interrogation and had Ollie not been dead, the responses would have been funny. Ollie, with her own brand of dry wit, had managed to curse Zola out throughout the forty-five-minute questionnaire. Peggy didn’t think she would ever forget the line where Ollie simply began to laugh and then, quite suddenly, threw something Peggy couldn’t guess at, and whispered dry and low, “if this kills me, I’m going to haunt you for the rest of eternity.”
The sad part was, it sounded like Ollie was talking directly to her rather then the monster and for a moment, Peggy had a surge of anger. Ollie had lied. The mission had killed Ollie, but Peggy hadn’t seen her ghost yet.
In the end, going over the entire reel and all the records, Peggy and Howard realized Ollie hadn’t given away anything. In fact, she some how had managed to twist the interrogation and learn more about her captures then Peggy had in the months she had poured over reports and ferried intelligence back and forth between various camps and Underground agents. Ollie hadn’t been interrogated, she was the one doing the interrogation.
And now, she was dead.