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Odds On Favorite

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And to think, Peggy might never have known about the office betting pool if it hadn’t been for the veritable tidal wave of agents which inundated Agent Pierce’s desk mere moments after she had agreed to join Daniel for dinner.

“Keep your shirts on, boys,” Agent Pierce said loudly, cutting through the hubbub, “you’ll get your money.”

“What on earth is that about?” Peggy wondered aloud.

“No idea,” Daniel said, just a hair too quickly. He was a man of many talents, but apparently lying was not one of them.

Peggy narrowed her eyes. Clearly, something was up, and she meant to get to the bottom of it. She set off to investigate as Daniel scrambled in her wake.

“—Told you the smart money was on Sousa,” Agent Comden was saying as she approached, completely oblivious to her presence.

“Yeah, yeah,” Agent Massa groused, “but if she’d picked the butler I would have cleaned up.” His voice broke on the last word as he caught sight of her. He swallowed with an audible gulp as his comrades’ faces drained of color.

Splayed across Agent Pierce’s desk was a ledger, one which seemed to be a record of bets laid on her romantic prospects. Her colleagues certainly seemed to think she had quite the range of suitors, everyone from her fellow agents to Howard Stark to Dr. Fennhoff. Daniel was the odds on favorite, but there were a disturbing number bets on Dottie Underwood of all people.

“Peggy, it’s not what it looks like,” Daniel said hurriedly.

Oh, really? Peggy raised an eyebrow. She knew he frequently bet on the ponies, but this was a good deal more serious than a horse race. “I’d say it’s precisely what it looks like,” she said, spinning on her heel and making for Chief Dooley’s, or rather, Chief Thompson’s office.

Thompson was on the phone when she barged in. “Hey, I’m going to have to call you back,” he told whoever was on the line.

Peggy pounced the second he finished hanging up. “Are you aware the men are taking bets on my love life?” she demanded. Daniel shuffled in behind her and closed the door.

Thompson leaned back in his chair with a smug little smirk. “As a matter of fact, I am.” His insufferable expression grew more pronounced as he turned his attention to Daniel. “I’ve got twenty bucks riding on you, Sousa. Don’t let me down.”

“Thompson,” Daniel said warningly.

“Who did you bet on? Please tell me it wasn’t Stark’s butler.”

“It was, ah, you actually,” Daniel admitted sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck.

A myriad of emotions flickered across Thompson’s face, surprise, pleasure, longing, before being buried behind his usual smug mask. Good lord, was he a pigtail puller? What an appalling thought, although one that would explain a great deal about his behavior. He fancied her and it seemed Daniel had figured it out, although Peggy couldn’t begin to imagine why he thought she might ever fancy Thompson back.

A not inconsiderable portion of her wanted to call off the date to spite them both, not to mention everyone else with money riding on it. If there was one thing Steve had taught her though, it was that life was short and there was no sense spoiling things for herself just because men were complete prats. At the very least, she would get a nice meal out of it.

“I’m sorry, Peggy,” Daniel said, shamefaced. “You know I can’t resist a good bet.”

Peggy laughed incredulously. A good bet? He must be joking. “You seriously thought I’d fall for Agent Thompson?” Tall, blond, and handsome, he might look at bit like Captain America in the right light, but he was also an unmitigated ass half the time. She tended to prefer men she didn’t want to punch on a regular basis. “Good Lord, it’s like you hardly know me at all!”

“She’s got you there, pal. At least I knew enough to pick the winning horse.”

“It’s not like I was gonna bet on myself,” Daniel snapped back.

“Now there’s an idea,” Peggy said and swept from the office. She slammed down a five on Agent Pierce’s desk. “What are the odds on me killing both of them?” At this stage, they had to be at least as good as her bedding either.