Peggy found out the hard way that her husband could still become a great sulking mass of jealousy just as well as the rest of the human race. In truth, she hadn't even given a thought to conceal her past engagement, and it was too late to decide how to tell him when it slipped into their conversation one morning over breakfast. If anything Peggy thought Steve might be mildly curious, considering it was long before they had ever met. But not so.
Instead, his coffee paused halfway to his mouth and the signature pucker formed between his eyebrows. She watched it happen with dawning horror as he became lost to the world around him.
After a moment he seemed to realize she had stopped talking and came back to himself. He placed a neutral expression on his face and finished off his scrambled eggs.
She should have known, honestly. Her mind recounted the time when, well…fondue. And in that scenario there had only been naive, ill formed speculation. Yet all the same, he had clearly thought about the possibly of her and Howard together long enough to hurl it at her after the Lorraine incident. What would he do about something real?
And so Peggy counted the hours until he inevitably brought it up. But one only had so much patience for all of this pussy-footing. So she nudged things along. Just a little bit.
It was lunch time, and she knew he wouldn't be able to keep in the library for much longer, not with his metabolism.
So she made them both sandwiches and went back into the hallway as if she was heading towards their bedroom. “Lunch is in the kitchen!” she called, and waited. He was light on his feet, she had to give him that, but she had been expecting him. He startled when he turned around to see her leaning against the counter.
He blew out an overdone breath. “Gee, Pegs. Sure can sneak up on a guy.”
She looked at him expectantly. He looked right back and bit down on a pickle spear.
“Thanks for the sandwich,” he said after a moment, gathering his plate. He started walking out of the kitchen before her voice called him back.
“Steve.” It might have been imagination, but she thought his shoulders slumped a bit.
He turned around, a hint of edge to his voice. “What?”
“Get back here.” His jaw clenched.
He faced her, leaning on the opposite counter, looking for all the world like a petulant, overgrown schoolboy.
“Why are you so upset about this.”
“Why didn't you tell me,” he shot back without missing a beat.
“It was a long time ago. It didn't even cross my mind to say anything,” she said, and that almost seemed to make things worse.
“Being engaged to someone’s a pretty big deal, Peg.”
“Yes, but I’m married to you. I don't understand why you're being so unreasonable.”
“Me!? Are you kidding me Peggy! You shot at me when that secretary grabbed me by the tie, and you're talking about me being unreasonable?”
She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
She rallied with, “Well at the time I thought we had an understanding, but now you've gone off and distracted me! Why didn't you just ask me about it instead of avoiding me and acting like a child?” She waited with one eyebrow accusingly arched.
His lips pressed together in a thin line. He hesitated.
“I guess I just thought that…” he huffed, and suddenly became very interested in the floor tiles. “I guess I just thought that I was a first for you. Like you were for me.”
The admission took her gently aback. “Oh.”
Suddenly she didn't see the large, capable man that her husband had grown into. She saw the ninety pound asthmatic who never had a date. The one who was waiting for the right partner.
“Darling,” she said indulgently, and wrapped her arms around his waist even though he didn't look particularly receptive at the moment. He reluctantly held her.
“Steve, you were the first.”
“Well, that’s what I thought before.”
So dramatic, Peggy couldn't help but think.
She pulled back enough so that she wasn't speaking into his chest. “You were the first man who made me feel truly understood.”
Peggy sighed. “If you must know, I was nineteen and very stupid. I thought (or, rather my mother thought) that I should, and Fred was nice enough. But he wasn't what I needed. He didn’t…” she struggled to put it into words. “He wasn't you,” she settled on. “He wasn't the love of my life.”
“I suppose it was just a convenient little plan laid out for me, and I didn't question it.” She paused for a long moment, getting lost in memories. When she spoke again it was with a soft, dream like quality to her voice. “Micheal did, though. I didn't listen to him.” It was a moment before she added, “Then when he died I broke it off.”
Steve enveloped her in a real hug then. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. Peggy couldn't tell if he was referring to Micheal or his behavior. She wasn't sure it mattered.
“Truthfully, I don't blame you for being upset. I should have told you ages ago, but I rather feel like that all happened in a different life, to a different girl.”
The tension had gone out of his arms completely now. “I understand...I guess I just started thinking about how before the war you had this whole life ahead of you, and I was just a sick little nobody.”
She gave him a serious look; she wouldn’t show how much his words affected her. “Steven Grant Rogers.” He winced. “You were never a nobody. I would have chosen you back then too, you know. I would have married you without the muscles.” He looked down and smiled a little, like he didn't believe it. Like he appreciated the effort.
Peggy felt positively insulted. “I was bloody flirting with you on the way to the procedure, you idiot!” she snapped.
He looked pleasantly shocked. “Really?”
“Yes, really! What do you think of me? Honestly.” Then he really did smile, blindingly bright.
“And by the way, I wasn't your first kiss either, so I guess we’re even,” she added. He rolled his eyes at that. Saucily she winked, “You got the real first anyway."
After all this time, he still managed to blush.