Chapter 1: A Second Chance
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.
Chapter 2: Let's start over
Peggy gets a glimpse of Angie's new life without her.
I really wanted this chapter posted last month and I feel like I'm lagging behind lately with all my fics. Especially with Cartinelli, but it isn't intentional. My mood has been deflated of late, and nothing; not even writing has improved it. I've had awful writer's block and the funny thing is, I knew what I wanted to write and how the scene should play out. But when I came to writing it all out, it just seemed dreadful.
Finally though, I shook off my low mood and wrote this.
I'm hoping the next chapter will be full of rich emotions.
Last but never least, thank you for the lovely comments last chapter. <3 <3 <3
"Peggy?" Angie gasped breathlessly, her rosy complexion turning pale the longer she stared.
The room seemed to fall silent, all occupants focused upon the stunned young woman's reaction. "W-what are. . ." Her words faltered, as she continued to gape at the English woman before her.
Only the sound of a small questioning voice, roused the restaurant owner out of her daze. "Mommy?" Little Margaret asked unsure, almost as if she sensed her mother's anxiety. With her arms out stretched, she dashed to Angie's side wanting to be closer.
"It's okay, honey." Angie hushed softly, bending down to scoop her up. Once she was held safely at Angie's side and a reassuring kiss was placed against the top of her head, Maggie began to settle. A little head full of light brown hair soon snuggled into her Mommy's shoulder, and with a point of her tiny finger - in Peggy's direction - she asked.
"Who's that lady, Mommy?"
There were so many answers that could be given to that innocent question.
Explanations that perhaps even Angie herself can not fully explain.
Who exactly was Peggy to Angie now?
"Goodness," Peggy smiled brightly with her exclaim, wanting to put the girl at ease and needing to address the seeming elephant in the room. "Where are my manners?" She tsked herself, catching Angie's eye as she did so. "I'm Peggy. Please to meet you." She stepped closer, extending her hand - causing Maggie to giggle. To Peggy's ears she sounded just like Angie.
"Hi," the little girl smiled shyly, softly taking hold of only Peggy's index finger to shake. After another giggle she hid her face in Angie's neck. "I like your accent." She disclosed with yet more girlish tittering.
"Do you? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret," she lowered her voice conspiratorially, making Maggie laugh louder. "Your Mum told me exactly the same thing, the day we met too."
"She did?" Maggie gasped in delight.
"Yes, we had quite the long conversation, I can tell you." Peggy smirked, lost in nostalgia - until a deep rumbling laugh from the Gene Kelly look-alike stopped her in her tracks. Truth be told, she'd almost forgotten that he was there.
Or more like wishful thinking.
"That sounds about right. Angie loves to yack," he winked at the former waitress playfully, before returning his attention back to Peggy. "I'm Frankie by the way. Bartender extraordinaire, and the biggest Yankees fan you'll ever meet." The tall man flashed a handsome smile, rounding the counter to join them. "So, put it there; because any pal of Angie's, is a friend of mine."
It doesn't take years of espionage to see how uncomfortable Angie had suddenly become. Her shoulders are tense, and she'd drawn her lips into a tight thin line as she watched the two of them shake hands. "Woah, that's a strong grip you got there," he joked playfully, making a show of holding his wrist - which only made Maggie giggle once again.
"We're going to be late," came Angie's terse tone that seem to cut through the whole room. She clearly wanted to bring an abrupt end to this somewhat easy-going exchange. Her blue eyes looking everywhere, but at Peggy. "It's already half past." She explained more softly when Frankie's brow furrowed in confusion at her outburst.
Peggy watched as he stepped closer to her, his voice a whisper meant only for Angie to hear. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Angie dismissed, her reassuring smile not quite reaching her eyes. "I just don't wanna be late, is all."
"You know they wouldn't mind if you skipped dinner just this once," he shrugged, stepping back. "You've been working non-stop this past month; you need a break."
"Gee, thanks." Angie expelled a harsh puff of breath, along with a half-hearted roll of her eyes.
Frankie only laughed good-naturedly at her. "I didn't mean it like that doofus. I only meant take some time for yourself," he smiled, ruffling Maggie's hair. "Stay and catch-up with your old buddy here, 'cause I don't mind taking Mags for you, doll." He offered, already scooping the little girl from her mother's arms before Angie could protest. "Because we all know how much she loves spendin' time with her honorary Uncle Winn-Winn, don't we."
"Winn-Winn!" Maggie echoed the name with a beaming smile.
"Oh, have I caught you at a bad time?" Peggy interrupted the picture perfect family moment, feeling sidelined. Her voice may have sounded chipper to anyone else, but she knew Angie would see past her exuberant smile. Hear the terse tone hidden beneath.
The envy she couldn't deny rearing its ugly head.
Being confronted with a life that could have been hers, was a hard pill to swallow.
Both Angie and Frankie said in unison.
"These two usually go have dinner with a family friend every Sunday," he explained unaware of the younger woman's clear agitation. "Hey, unless you'd like to--"
Whatever he planned to say next was cut short by Angie. "You're right, hon." She changed tack, placing a hand to his elbow. Her switch in demeanour almost reminiscent of her spectacular performance back at the Griffith. Back when she'd saved Peggy's behind no less. "I haven't seen Peggy here in years, and a good gossip is just what I need to blow those cobwebs away."
"Yeah?" He smiled, placing Maggie down on the ground. "You puttin' your feet up, is what I like to hear. Just save me a slice of that key lime pie for later, yeah?" Frankie leaned forward kissing Angie's cheek, before he reached behind the bar to grab his Fedora hat - making him appear even more dashing. "C'mon Sprout, kiss Mommy, then we gotta go."
"Kisses!" Maggie skipped the few steps back to her mother, her little black patent shoes scuffing on the floor as she went.
Once she was in arm's reach, Angie crouched down and smoothed down her daughter's hair, placing a kiss on the tip of her nose. "Make sure you eat all your greens, honey, okay." She told her with a mothering tone, that returned the smile to Peggy's face.
"Yes Mommy." The girl nodded, kissing her cheek with a loud smacking noise.
"She will," Frankie added, also watching mother and daughter with a fond smile. "We'll eat as much spinach as Popeye, won't we? Ugugugugu." He mimicked the sailors famous laughter, causing more giggles from Maggie and the first real smile from Angie.
Once the doting mother had helped little Maggie into her coat, she walked with her over to the exit. Still under the watchful eyes of Peggy. "Now, how much do I love you?" She asked, placing another kiss to her cheek.
"All the way to the moon and back, Mommy."
"That's right," Angie beamed proudly. "I'll see you later, honey. Be good."
Little Maggie nodded, glancing up at Peggy before she skipped towards the restaurants door. "Bye-bye." She waved her little hand at the Director, with Frankie close behind her.
"Goodbye now, it was lovely to meet you." Peggy waved back.
Frankie smiled warmly at Peggy's words, tipping his hat to her before he headed out hand in hand with Maggie.
Once the door closed behind them, Angie took a deep breath and turned to Peggy. Silent.
Now that they were completely alone, Peggy had expected some hostility, or perhaps even one of Angie's famous furious stares, but not this.
With a single step forward, she closed the distance between them. Resisting the urge to envelop Angie into her arms.
God, it had been too long.
After what felt like an eternity, finally the tension was broken. "What are you doing here, Peggy?"
"I needed to see you, darling."
"You needed to see me?" She repeated incredulously, hands coming to rest upon her hips. "In case you've forgotten we ain't pals no more. We haven't been for a while now. Because a true pal wouldn't blow someone off like they meant zero."
Every word was true, Peggy couldn't deny it. She'd been a terrible friend, but desperately wanted the chance to make amends.
"You're right. What I did to you was inexcusable and you have every right to turn me away, but I'm hoping that you won't."
The request sat heavy between them, the emotion, the anguish Angie couldn't hide written clearly across her face.
"Please," She begged earnestly, lacing her fingers together with Angie's noticing for the first time that her hand was trembling. "Angie. . ."
"Okay," Angie nodded resolutely. "Let's talk."