Today was a slow day.
In all honesty, many a day had been slow going lately.
A feat Peggy should be grateful for, and retrospectively speaking; she was. The last few years had been a constant whirlwind. Her mind and body continually on the move, as she faced the task of trying to disentangle the unsavoury web of lies the corrupt Council members had spun. Such a duty had required complete dedication. A clearing of the decks - as it were - of everything, and more importantly anyone in her life that wasn't directly involved in the mission.
To have embroiled a civilian into the dangers of the political underbelly she had uncovered, simply wouldn't have been fair. Having Thompson's seeming blood on her hands was enough of a reminder that she had failed. She wouldn't have been able to get over losing. . .
Even after all these years, her thoughts refuse to venture there. Or to contemplate what could have happened if she had stayed. If she had given herself to Angie, like she had desperately wanted. Like she had craved. . . No. It was better this way, and torturing herself with what ifs would do her no good. Angie was most likely happy and settled down with somebody who could give her their all.
Trying and failing to forget the promise held inside soft blue eyes, was Peggy's burden to carry alone.
"Sorry I'm late, Director Carter," the out of breath voice panted out, putting an abrupt end to her musings. "I have the auxiliary report right here."
Peggy tried to keep her tone neutral as she addressed the agent in front of her. Not only had he not bothered to knock before entering her office, but the man looked like he had decided to go for a run on one of the hottest days of the year. The knot on his tie hung at half-mast, and the blob of food down the front was unmissable. Not to mention unprofessional, in Peggy's opinion. Standards were certainly slipping these days.
"I requested this report one hour ago, Agent Simon, and maybe next time you could try knocking before entering."
"Sorry Chief," the younger agent wiped the sweat from his brow. "But the lunchtime line over at Martinelli's was outside the door."
The name stopped Peggy in her tracks, a tingle of excitement followed - coursing at the base of her spine and propelling outwards towards the rest of her body. A rush so exhilarating it stole the very air from her lungs. "Martinelli's?"
"It's the best eatery in all of Jersey, Chief. Once you've eaten there, you won't wanna eat anywhere else," he explained, practically licking his lips at the mere thought. "May I recommend the chicken pot pie. Although the deviled eggs appetizers are mouth-watering."
His words had become like static fuzz to her ears. All conscious thought instantly turned to the possibility that Angie could be here in New Jersey. Only a hair's breadth away from her.
This couldn't be a coincidence. It had to be her, and Peggy had the sudden urge to find out.
"Thank you. That will be all," she dismissed the disheveled looking agent, report forgotten. With a nod of his head, the man turned to exit. "Oh. Just one more thing, Agent Simon."
"Yes, ma'am?" He paused near the open door.
"You might want to wipe the mustard stain from your tie."
Completely red-faced, the agent quickly hurried out of her office.
Once the door clicked shut, Peggy leaned forcefully back into her desk chair. She could already feel the start of a headache coming on. Could she really open the door to her past again? There was certainly a lot to consider. It had been eight years after all since they had last spoken. Since Peggy virtually vanished from Angie's life. Eight long years since she had responded to one of Angie's many letters and phone calls, until they eventually just stopped.
(Peggy was a practical woman; not one for believing in false hope, but even she couldn't quell the hope that lived inside of her heart everytime her mail was delivered to her. That maybe she'd find a new letter from Angie. Of course one never came, and she knew she'd lost the right to such kindness.)
Would Angie welcome her return, after all this time?
Would she wish that Peggy had stayed away?
Is it even her?
Did she have the right to intrude in Angie's new life?
Question after question flooded her mind, with no real answers. The only certainty she could guarantee; the only conclusion was that she needed to see her, whatever the outcome may be. Angie deserved an explanation and more importantly, an apology.
Perhaps fate was offering her a second chance, and Peggy had no intention of wasting it.
* * * * * * *
A few days later.
She had no difficulty finding the restaurant. Situated as it was in the heart of town. That had been the easy part, stepping inside was another matter entirely. The great renowned Director Carter, who throws herself headlong into any mission, was for the first time in a long time: afraid.
It wasn't usually an emotion she would attribute with herself. One must always battle on, knuckle down regardless of the consequences. But this was different. There were far more risks involved. So much at stake. So much to lose...
"You can do this." She told herself, inhaling a deep steadying breath.
Apprehension aside, Peggy wiped her clammy palms on her dark blue skirt and pushed open the door to the beautifully laid out Italian restaurant. As she made her way inside, past all the vacant tables, those familiar butterflies she had not felt for years, began to swirl relentlessly in her stomach.
She was finally going to see Angie again.
"Sorry we're closed." A deep male voice sounded, with his back facing Peggy from behind the bar.
"I'm actually not here to eat," Peggy said, watching the man as he continued to stack clean glasses behind the counter. "I'm here to see Angie."
The man had a look of Gene Kelly about him. Tall with broad shoulders, and had clearly been a dancer or a performer at one stage of his life, judging by the effortless way he spun around on his heel at the mention of Angie's name.
His brow creased in his own appraisal before he spoke again. "Oh. Who askin'?"
"An old friend," Peggy kept her tone bright, trying desperately to control her sudden jealousy. An emotion she had no right to feel. "We used to share lodgings together, once upon a time."
"Are you one of the Griffith gals?" He smiled, his initial suspicions seeming to have eased.
Before Peggy could offer a reply, the sound of little footsteps came hurtling forward - echoing loudly against the tile of the empty restaurant. Time seem to stop, and her heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest when she focused upon the young girl. Her youthful face the very picture of Angie.
"Margaret." The brown eyed man uttered with fond exasperation.
The name alone made Peggy falter, made her heart swell with pride as the little tot skipped closer.
Angie had not forgotten her.
"What do we always say?" He smiled with a wag of his finger, before he ran his hand against his slicked-back hair. "No running inside the house, and especially in here. Okay?"
The little girl only smiled in return, bringing her finger up towards her mouth as she nodded. Peggy didn't know the outcome of this meeting, but vowed to herself that she would go to hell and back again, to make sure little Margaret had a safe world to grow up in.
She would make sure of it.
"Maggie?" A voice Peggy would know anywhere called out from the kitchen area. "Time to put your coat on. We don't wanna be late, honey."
Peggy felt her pulse quicken as Angie entered into the room. The woman before her looked even more beautiful than she remembered. Gone were her pinned back curls, for a more sleek style of satiny waves. Her figure still just as petite in a simple teal coloured dress. To put it simply, she was radiant.
Warm brown eyes continued to roam longingly, until her gaze met astonished blue.