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Three's Not a Crowd

Chapter Text

Peggy honestly thought they would bury Steve in questions. So had Angie. They’d reminded him not to panic if too many Italians started yelling at once. Because he’s Captain America, back from an icy grave. And he’s living with their precious Angela, who’s been living with Peggy for several years now. And Peggy used to be Steve’s best girl, as much as you can be that for someone when you’ve only shared one kiss.

Basically, it was all terribly complicated, and Peggy couldn’t blame her ‘in-laws’ for wanting to interrogate the new man in their daughter’s life. The man who was very much in love with the woman n Angie’s life.

But the Martinellis were surprisingly relaxed about this new arrangement. Perhaps they thought it better not to ask too many questions. Their daughter was happy, their daughter-in-law was happy, and Captain America, a national treasure, was alive and in their kitchen, complimenting Mrs. Martinelli’s breadsticks.

As long as Angie was content and the breadsticks were treated with proper respect, things were all right in the Martinelli world.

Peggy smirked into her napkin, Steve and Angie on either side of her. Steve, rubbish at taking compliments, was now being pelted with them, as if to make up for the questions he’d dodged. Sofia Martinelli looked on in delight as Steve accepted helping after helping of her lasagna, alternating between English and Italian.

“Look at you. Big, strong man, knows the value of good cooking.”

Steve froze, blushing with his fork in midair. “I can stop…”

Sofia rattled off something in Italian, shook her head no, and shoved three more breadsticks on his plate.”

“You’d best continue eating,” Peggy murmured in his ear. “They quite like it when everyone eats.”

“You’re not,” Steve said, eyeing her empty plate.

“I, darling, am not gifted with your enhanced metabolism. If I eat anymore, I’m afraid it will all come back up.”

“Yeah,” said Angie. “Almost did, the first time I brought her home. She didn’t wanna tell Ma no, so her plate keeps getting topped off, and she keeps clearing it, ‘cause big, tough super spy is afraid of pissing off my mother—”

“Angela! Language!”

“Sorry, Ma.”

Peggy rolled her eyes at Steve, discretely passing him the bread that Sofia had somehow set on her place from across the table. “And she wonders why I was concerned.”

“Anyway,” said Angie, as if there’d been no interruption. “Peggy ate so much that I thought she was gonna be sick in the cab on the way back.”

Steve frowned. “Do you always sound so happy telling stories about Peggy being ill?”

“She does.”

“Shut up, English. It’s not like you actually got sick.”

“Indeed,” Peggy drawled. “Steve, incoming.”

Steve had half a second to look confused before a large heaping of pasta was dumped in front of him. “Oh no, Mrs. Martinelli, I couldn’t possibly—”

“Nonsense. You were trapped under all that cold water for so long, you must’ve been hungry.”

Angie leaned in to address Steve. “Just smile, nod and eat. It’ll be easier that way.”

Steve, ever the soldier, followed orders.

“I do wish you hadn’t been quite so late,” Peggy told him, squeezing his knee under the table. “Do you know how many calories I had to work off because of these gatherings? So many shortened workouts, if only you’d been here to take my share of the feast.”

Steve tried to talk past a mouthful of food, typically more of a Peggy thing. “Sorry I inconvenienced, not being here to substitute for the dog under the table who gets your scraps.”

“I’ll consider forgiving you. Sofia? Steve looks like he could use a bit more pasta.”

While her mother made a delighted exclamation in Italian, Angie grinned at Peggy, who was receiving a glare from Steve. As much as one could glare with their cheeks bulging out like that. “Be right back, Ma,” she said, pushing back from the table. She kissed Steve’s cheek as she left, proud of herself when he choked, just a bit. Suppressing the giggles until she was locked in the bathroom was one of the hardest acting jobs of her career.

Chapter Text

Peggy stared at the blanket and pillow laid out on the couch. “Bloody hell, Steve.”

Steve looked from the sofa to her, resembling nothing so much as a confused puppy. “What?”

Angie came in just then, hair in curlers. She started to speak, took in the situation, gaze flicking between Peggy and Steve, then back to Peggy. “Is this what it looks like, English?”

“Quite,” Peggy replied, a sour, disbelieving, exasperated expression on her face.

The laughter Angie burst into was loud enough to make Captain America jump. This, of course, only made her laugh harder. “Seriously?” she forced out between giggles. “You wanna sleep on the couch, Steve? That thing’s so small that your legs will touch the floor.”

“It’s not so much that I want to,” said Steve, slow and careful, like he’d accidentally stumbled into enemy territory without shield or direarm. “I just…”

“Wanna preserve our honor?” Angie was still laughing through her words, doubled over. “Honey, Peg took whatever honor I had left a long time ago.”

Peggy made a disgruntled noise in the back of her throat. “No need to be so sentimental about our courtship, love.”

Angie just braced a hand against Peg’s shoulder, using the Brit to hold herself up.

“Darling,” Peg drawled, keeping one eye on Angie, who’d probably hurt herself if she kept up this level of hysterical laughter, “I believe you’re overlooking one of the bigger perks of this living arrangement.”

Steve frowned, then his eyes went wide. “Oh. Us. All of us. In the same…I didn’t think…we didn’t discuss…”

“I didn’t think we had to.” Sometimes his virtuous nature was indescribably frustrating. “I’ve waited quite a long time to sleep next to you, Steve. I won’t wait any longer.”

“And I bunk where English bunks,” said Angie, wiping tears from her eyes as she tried regaining control. “I need my Peggy pillow.” The look she got from Peg set her off again, and she clutched at her side, leaning more heavily into her lover.

Sighing, Peggy wrapped an arm around Angie. “I suggest we retire while Angie is still able to move under her own power.” She extended her free arm, which Steve took. He still looked a bit confused, but happy as well. Peggy walked out of the parlor, two people she loved on either side of her. “Six bedrooms in this place, and you were going to sleep on the couch. Honestly, Steve…”

Chapter Text

Steve, as it turned out, was a fine dancer when he got the hang of it. It also helped that when Peg’s toes fell victim to his beginner’s missteps, Angie was able to take over the lesson. She loved dancing with both of them, loved the differences between Peg and Steve as each held her, leading her around the dance floor.

She stayed home the first time Peg and Steve hit the town, that Saturday night at the Stork club. Because that night was just for them, and it was long overdue, and Angie would’ve felt like an intruder.

After that, though, all bets were off. The three of them had chosen to tackle life together, and life included the crowded dance halls they’d visit when Peg and Steve weren’t doing secret government things, and Angie wasn’t exhausted from her latest show or rehearsal.

This particular night, Peggy wore a red dress that practically had her drooling, Steve, she knew, was having the same problem. As they approached the club, he broke away to hold the door open, like always. Angie smiled her thanks as she passed him, smiled wider when Peggy’s hand touched her back.

Angie shook her head mentally, thinking how funny life was, as she did whenever they went dancing. Steve and Peg, all those years waiting for the right partner, now they both had two of those.

Life was funny that way.

Chapter Text

Peggy wasn’t big on cooking. Never had been, but it got even worse after Steve came back. In the first place, Steve and Angie were both better at it then she was. Which was good in the sense that it kept them from starving, bad because they liked so much to tease her lack of culinary skill. And her pronunciation.

You see, cooking often meant words like basil, tomato, pasta. Angie was particularly sensitive about the last one, always quick with a “You’re sayin it wrong, Peg! My grandmother is rollin in her grave right now!”

“And my Nana would do the same if I used your pronunciation. I’d prefer her to stay nice and still, thanks very much.”

At this point, Angie would demand Steve’s opinion, Steve would avoid giving it as long as possible, Angie would badger him with the persistence of a Hydra interrogator, and the inevitable reply would come.

“I always heard it Angie’s way. Not that yours is wrong, you say it however you want, Peggy.”

The eye roll from Angie came next. “Suck up. Majority rules, Peg, at least in the land of democracy. No more Brit speak this side of the pond.”

“I see. In that case, would you prefer I lose my accent as well? The one you both claim to be so fond of? I’m told my American voice is quite good.” By told, she meant that no one ever noticed the speech pattern was an act and started shooting at her.

Steve would glare at Angie then, a “Look what you’ve done” face, and Angie would shrink down a bit, drop the subject, and offer to pour Peggy a drink.

Chapter Text

“He’s gonna go blind,” Angie said conversationally. “His eyes are gonna pop right out of his head.”

Next to her on the Martinelli’s couch, Peggy made a face. “I do hope not. Your mother would never forgive us for the mess.”

Steve Rogers looked more massive than ever, squeezed into a tiny armchair opposite Alex Martinelli. He smiled but squirmed as the twelve-year-old gaped at him.

Sighing, Angie turned to Peggy, who was closer to the males. “Peg, hit Alex for me.”

“No."

“Not hard. Just cuff him on the back of the head a little, snap him out of it.”

“I’m not striking your brother, Angie.”

“Fine,” Angie huffed, rising. “I’ll do it myself.”

Steve shook his head, held up a hand. “No, you don’t have to do that—”

Peggy’s response was more direct. She yanked Angie back down with one hand.

Fine,” Angie repeated, shifting so she wasn’t half in Peg’s lap, where the landing had carried her. “Alex! Quit starin. It’s rude.”

“It’s okay,” Steve said. “He’s okay. Right, Alex?”

Alex blinked. Repeatedly. His mouth snapped closed, but he still wore a look of moderate shock. “Yeah, Captain Rogers. I mean, Captain America. Mr. Captain America.”

“Steve’s fine.”

“Yes sir. Steve.”

Angie rolled her eyes.

“I saw you at a USO show,” Alex’s voice rushed with excitement now that he wasn’t mute. “Angie took me. She wanted to be one of your dancers, but she didn’t make the cut.”

“Thanks for reminding me, Alex.”

“Darling,” Peggy murmured, running a soothing hand over Angie’s arm.

“What? I got robbed, I shoulda made it.”

“I know,” Peggy replied. “But of all those girls who did make it, how many of them have your kind of,” her eyes flicked to Alex, “relationship with Steve? I’d say you came out ahead, don’t you think?”

Angie brightened significantly at that.

“In Passaic,” Alex said as if there’d been no interruption. “You said you’d see me again, but I thought you said that to everybody. You remember?”

Peggy opened her mouth to remind Alex, very gently, that Steve met thousands of people on those tours, before Angie said the same thing in a more blunt manner, but Steve spoke first.

“That’s why Angie looked familiar to me,” he said, eyes and smile widening with realization. “You two have the same eyes.” He paused thinking, then smiled impossibly wider. “You were wearing a Dodgers cap.”

Alex looked like he might just pass out. “Yeah! And you asked me how I thought they’d do that year.” Alex got quiet for half a second, then jumped to his feet, running across the room. “We took a picture. I had it framed, saved up my allowance. You wanna see?”

As if he would ever say no. With Angie and Peggy watching, Captain America let himself be dragged away by a twelve-year-old boy.

“Well,” Angie said after a moment of silence. “Better give Mr. Fancy a jingle.”

Peggy frowned as Angie toed off her shoes, slumping into the couch. “Pardon?”

“To get whatever personal stuff we can’t live without from the house. Alex is never gonna let him leave now, and Steve’s too polite to say anything, so we’re just gonna have to live here while my little brother follows Steve around like a lost, annoying puppy.” Angie heaved a sigh, eyes heavenward. “Some luck. From a six bedroom mansion to movin back in with my folks. I told you we shouldn’t have let Alex meet him.”

Chapter Text

His first thought was that it had something to do with the ice. That being under so long had affected part of his brain, despite the serum. He also considered, briefly, the notion of a HYDRA conspiracy. Because no matter what he did, no matter where he hid them or how many he bought, Steve Rogers was perpetually shirtless.

He figured it out soon enough, when he saw the women in his life wearing clothes, his clothes, that were comically large on them. He wasn’t sure who started it, Angie or Peggy, but one day his shirts were no longer his own.

When the two of them came home from missions, dead tired and ready to drop, Peggy would throw her own clothing aside, and grab whatever she found from the nearest drawer. More often than not, that drawer would be his. Or they’d return to the mansion to find Angie curled up on the couch, passed out after waiting up for them. Again, in one of Steve’s shirts.

Angie said later that it comforted her to wear it, to have that piece of him while he was away. He asked her once why she didn’t do something similar with Peggy’s clothing. Her response was to snatch both his hands, place them on her breasts, and ask that he compare them to that same part of Peggy’s anatomy. He’d blushed, though he really should be passed that by now, and she’d muttered about how size does in fact matter in certain situations, smirking at him the whole time.

Ask a silly question.

And then there were the too few nights when he and Peggy weren’t buried in SSR business, when Angie wasn’t at some audition or rehearsal or meeting with a director. The following mornings, Peggy and Angie would grab whatever was nearest in the large pile of discarded clothing. Which usually meant that he was out two more shirts.

He was starting to get odd looks every time he stopped into the closest clothing store. Granted, he usually got some form of unwanted attention whenever he went out, Captain America and all that. But one man, super soldier or not, didn’t typically go through so many shirts.

He bought long-sleeved and short, it didn’t matter. He thought for a microsecond of having Jarvis do some shopping for him, just to avoid another trip, but dismissed the idea. Involving Jarvis could mean involving Howard, and he didn’t want to discuss this particular issue with his old friend.

So, for the third time in as many weeks, Steve found himself completely out of shirts, his torso bare as he exited the bedroom. Following the scent of bacon, he went to the kitchen and grinned. Peggy was sipping tea at the table, wearing nothing but a blue long-sleeve of his. He couldn’t decide if he preferred this over the form-fitting skirts and dresses she wore outside the house, but he definitely didn’t disapprove. Angie was manning the stove, dressed in a gray tee that Steve quite liked, but hadn’t worn himself in weeks.

Peggy was closer, so he went to her first, kissing her while she was in between sips of tea. “That’s mine,” he said, fingering the shirt collar.

“So it is. Would you like it back?”

She moved as if to strip it off right there, and Steve gulped. They both had very important national security issues to deal with today. He wasn’t exactly sure what those were at the moment, couldn’t really think, but he knew they were supposed to leave the house at a reasonable hour. “Nah,” he said, brushing a curl from her face, savoring the way she leaned into his touch. “Looks better on you, anyway.”

“Suit yourself,” Peggy replied, smoothing down the edges of the shirt.

Steve swallowed again. The look she gave him while doing this was positively unfair. Shaking his head, he crossed to Angie, wrapping his arms around her from behind. “Smells good.”

“’Course it does, I’m making it.” Setting aside the spatula she’d been using to flip pancakes, she turned in his arms, tracing her fingers over his exposed chest. “Forget to do laundry again, soldier?”

“Somehow I don’t think that’s the problem.” Steve rather missed that shirt. But not as much as he enjoyed feeling the heat of Angie’s body through the thin material as she pressed against him, still mapping his chest as if she hadn’t done it a thousand times. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were stealing my clothes so I’d have to walk around shirtless all day.”

Peggy had picked up the morning paper, didn’t look away from it when she answered. “Oh look, darling. He’s finally caught on.”

Steve blinked. He’d been joking. Or thought he had. It was hard to concentrate with both of them half naked like this. “You could’ve just asked.”

Angie placed a kiss to his sternum that turned into a light nip before turning back to her cooking. “Eh, it was more fun this way. We had a bet goin on how long it would take for you to figure it out or make us give you your shirts back. Also, they’re real comfortable.”

“That reminds me. You lost; I’ll be taking the blue plaid.”

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t be a sore winner, English.”

Staring between them, Steve decided that most of his paycheck for the foreseeable future would go to the purchase of shirts.

He wasn’t going to complain about that. Not at all.

Chapter Text

Steve heaved a sigh when Tony burst into his private gym. Stark, obnoxious as he could be, usually knew enough to leave Steve to his workouts. Losing his boxing gloves and wiping a hand over his forehead, Steve prepared for the oncoming frustration. “Something I can help you with, Tony?”

Striding across the room, Tony thrust a tablet into Steve’s face. “Look at this.”

Steve, still learning what the hell these things were, listened anyway, lips curving in a slight smile. “It’s Angie.” More specifically, Angie’s Youtube channel. “I know how you hate to be without something fancy and electronic for more than two minutes, but she does live here. If you want to see her, just head over to the other side of the Tower.”

“Too many things wrong with that statement. A, I’ve been known to go without technology for up to ten minutes during emergency situations. B, Peggy told me I wasn’t allowed to visit Angie anymore, despite the fact that this is my mansion. And three, how is it that you managed to be in a place where your girlfriend can order me away from your other girlfriend? How does that happen for a guy like you?”

“If I make something up, will you stop asking that question?”

“Never. Look, pay attention, Rogers, we’ve got a crisis on our hands. The girlfriend with the golden voice? Her latest video got twice as many views as the footage of us battling a sea monster in the Hudson.”

“And?”

And, Angie and her cover songs are getting more press than me. That scenario is not part of the natural order of the universe.”

“And sea monsters are?”

“That tentacle Thor took home as a trophy says yes, yes they are. This,” he indicated the tablet, “this is something else.”

Grabbing a towel from the rack nearby, Steve patted the back of his neck and left the gym, Tony trailing him. “So you’re jealous. That’s the crisis.”

“Perhaps crisis was a strong word. I just, I think we should talk about this. How often do you and Peggy rewatch Angie’s videos?”

“More than we watch anything starring you.” The truth, but maybe not all of it. The thing was, Angie was a damn good singer. He’d think that even if he wasn’t…with her. And maybe he and Peggy both liked to hear her voice when they were gone on long missions. Or when they were both at SHIELD headquarters during a slow day.

Dammit, he wore headphones and kept the sound low, and wasn’t every other agent he passed updating their Facebook status?

“What if she’s a siren?”

Steve, halfway down a flight of stairs, stopped walking. “What?”

“A siren. You know, magically beautiful voice with—”

“I know what a siren is, and Angie isn’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because they don’t exist.”

“Thor says they do.”

Steve had resumed walking, but froze again, three steps above the landing. “Really?”

“Yes! And you know he’s the guy to talk to about mythical creatures. Also, he thinks I could be right.”

Steve frowned. He’d caught Thor browsing Angie’s site on more than one occasion. “No.”

“No?”

“No, you’re not running tests to see if Angie’s a siren.”

Tony’s face fell, but only for a moment. “So I won’t test her. Let Bruce do it. She likes Bruce, and Bruce likes her. And her voice. I found him listening to her stuff in the lab. I think if we played it during one of his angry moments, it might actually get rid of Big, Green and Angry. Soothe him, you know, like a lullaby. Though I’m not in a hurry to test that particular theory, Remember what a mess the east wing was after last time? My college graduation party on steroids. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.”

Steve continued his descent. He wasn’t going to tell Tony that he’d found Clint listening to one of Angie’s songs during his latest round of archery practice. “Leave it alone, Tony.”

“Fine, we’ll put a pin in the siren theory. What if she’s a mutant?”

“Good God.”

“What, it’s not like it would matter. Just be a good thing to know. I know a guy in Westchester who can check for that.”

Again, Steve stopped walking, turning to Tony. “Tell you what. If it means that much to you, talk to Peggy, see what she has to say.”

“I did, she didn’t say anything.” Tony brushed his cheek with the hand not holding the tablet. “See this? A full pound of cover-up. I had to ask Natasha to help hide the evidence of your girlfriend’s assault on my body.”

Steve smirked. “I’m surprised Nat agreed to help you with your makeup.”

“She went out of her way to poke at the swelling while she did it. And, side note, she had Angie’s page open on her laptop when I came in.”

Shrugging, Steve grabbed the tablet away from Tony, smiling as he studied Angie’s face in high definition. “What can I tell you, Tony? Angie’s been charming people since before you were born. Not even Iron Man and sea monsters can top that.”

Tony snatched back his tablet and walked away, muttering about how the mutant theory warranted further investigation.

Chapter Text

Angie’s reaction to having her Broadway premiere party crashed by a dozen gun wielding men was not what Peggy would’ve expected. Of course, Angie had always been good at surprising her.

The thing was, Angie wasn’t nearly upset enough. Not when a couple of strange lawmen had nearly broken down her door looking for Peggy, and not now, after their celebration at one of Howard’s mansions had ended with a literal bang. An explosion, caused by a grenade, which Steve had the sense to toss out a window rather than jump on.

A very expensive window, from what she understood. Glass imported from some far off country. It’d taken a long time to put out the fires. Mr. Jarvis was quite upset over the state of a certain topiary that’d been cut to look like a zebra.

Howard was mourning the loss of all the very expensive booze he’d had lined up at the bar. The stench of liquor and gunpowder would probably linger for quite some time.

Peggy and Steve, they were more concerned about who the unexpected guests were, how they’d known to come to the mansion. And if they were both hovering over Angie, who would’ve been shot several times over if not for Peggy’s intervention, who could blame them?

Angie, apparently, who wouldn’t hold still long enough for them to fuss over her properly.

“That thing you did, Pegs, tossing him over the railing like that? That was crazy!”

Angie’s heels crunched over glass and bullet casings as she darted from one side of the room to the other. Peggy followed her, and Steve followed Peggy. Steve’s suit and tie were torn, while Peggy’s hair had come loose. She vaguely recalled using one of the pins to stab an assailant in the neck. Angie looked as beautiful and perfectly put together as she had when they left the house. It really wasn’t fair.

“And Steve,” she said, turning abruptly and forcing Peggy to step backwards, into Steve’s chest. “That thing. With the chandelier and the bottle opener. Jeez!”

“Ang, you’ve seen me fight before.”

“In news reels, with crappy picture quality. And Peggy, I never got to see you do your thing at all! I mean, some of the girls at the diner saw a bit of what happened when those idiots from D.C. tried to arrest you, but I missed out on that.”

“Must you make that sound like a bad thing? Darling, are you quite sure you’re alright?”

“What? Yeah, why not? Maybe check on Fancy later though, I think he might’ve been having a panic attack in the kitchen. But Peg, when you grabbed the one guy and threw him into the other guy…”

She went on in that vein for several minutes, describing the altercation as if they hadn’t all been part of it. There were SHIELD agents coming in to remove the unconscious suspects by the time Angie froze, in both speech and movement.

“Angie?” Peggy asked, reaching for her, thinking the shock of the day might finally have set in.

Angie ignored her, grinning madly and pointing at Steve’s chest. “You really do fight like a girl!”

This was said so loudly that most of the junior agents looked up from their cleanup work. Two of them dropped the man they’d been hauling away. There was a loud thud and a louder groan. Peggy had to snap at them to get back to work, producing a hurried chorus of “Yes, Director Carter.”

Poor Steve wore a look of utter confusion, until Angie gestured wildly between him and Peggy, eyes dancing. “I know Peg taught you to fight but…she really taught you to fight!”

Scowling, Peggy adjusted the strap of her dress, which had come loose during the scuffle. “I fail to see the revelation here.”

“Are you kidding? Captain America has the same moves as a 5’6 Brit! You think the rest of the country wouldn’t call that news?”

Angie laughed and kept laughing, her perfect appearance finally cracking as tears smeared her mascara. Unable to watch the spectacle, Peggy turned to Steve, who shifted awkwardly under her gaze. “Well? Anything to say?”

“No!” Steve promised, holding up his hands as if to ward off another blow. “Just, I guess I never thought of it like that before.”

“And?” Peggy asked, daring him to say something else.

Steve shrugged. “I…I thought you were 5’7, not 5’6.”

“Too bloody right,” Peggy murmured, planting her heel in the stomach of the nearest attacker for no particular reason as Angie continued to giggle as if she were having the time of her life.

Chapter Text

“Oh stop pouting, both of you. You’re behaving like children.”

In the chair across from Peggy’s desk, Steve at least made an effort to school his features. Angie just scowled and paced.

Rolling her eyes, Peggy set down her pen, placing it over an open file. “Will you please sit down? I can’t concentrate with you wearing a trench in my floor.”

Looking quite put upon, Angie turned on her heel. There was another chair next to Steve, which he pulled out for her. Passing it, Angie shoved some papers to the side, clearing a space on the edge of Peggy’s desk. “And what? You don’t have trouble concentrating with that slutty Russian flouncing around this place?”

“Angie—”

“Oh, quit it, Steve. We were both thinkin it, you’re just too nice to say it.”

Steve didn’t contradict her.

Reclaiming her pen and gripping it quite tightly, Peggy kept her voice carefully modulated. “Dottie is on our side now. The deal’s been made, she’s part of SHIELD, she’s provided us with valuable intel.”

“Doesn’t mean she’s not a slut. All she does is flirt with you, Peg.”

“She flirts with everyone, Angie.”

“Wrong. Everyone flirts with her. She only flirts with you And you let her!”

“Because it doesn’t bother me, nor should it bother you.”

Steve raised his eyebrows. “So when you shot at me after Lorraine, that was you not being bothered?”

Gritting her teeth, Peggy yanked a folder from beneath Angie’s right leg. “I was merely testing out Howard’s latest design. The two of you should’ve thanked me for saving you time with that.”

“I think we were too busy picking up bullet shells.”

The exchange was interrupted by a knock at the door. Without waiting to be invited, Dottie Underwood breezed in, a stack of folders in her hand megawatt grin on her face. “Sorry to interrupt. I have those field reports for you, Peg. Angie. Steve.”

“Ruskie traitor,” Angie said without missing a beat.”

“Angie,” Peggy warned. “Thank you, Dottie. I’ll take them now.”

Dottie’s grin widened. Angie made a face. “Why do you even bother keeping that name? We all know it’s fake, just like the rest of you.”

“I like it, it’s part of my new life. And trust me, the rest is of me is very real. Ask Peg. We’ve spent lots of time in the changing room together, before ops.”

Steve tightened his fist around the armrest of the chair. It broke off.

“Oh my! Would you like some help with that?”

“Yeah,” Angie growled. “Why don’t you help get rid of it? I know the perfect place you can stick it.”

Angie. Files please, Dottie.”

“Sure thing, Peg. I mean, Director Carter. Anything you need. And I mean anything.”

Angie made a disgusted noise.

“Oh, Ang. I’m just trying to thank Peg for the second chance she’s given me. I want to show my gratitude. In any way possible.”

“Yeah,” Steve said, jaw clenched. “I think we get it.”

Smiling away, Dottie crossed to Peggy’s desk, making a show of ignoring Angie as she handed over the files, getting closer to Peggy than was strictly necessary. “You’re sure there’s nothing else you need?” she asked, stroking Peggy’s fingers as they gripped the pen.

The other armrest broke off under Steve’s hold.

“If you touch me again, I will murder you,” Peggy said calmly. “There’s a clause in our agreement allowing me to do that if the mood strikes. Now please, Dottie, if you would.” Peggy pulled her hand away and indicated the door.

“Sure thing, Director.” Dottie backed away, had her hand on the doorknob before turning around. “That’s a real nice shade of lipstick by the way. Almost as pretty as the one you wore that time we kissed.”

Dottie made her exit, leaving Peggy to face down Steve and Angie. Steve spoke first. “You…kissed her?”

“Oh bloody hell.”

Angie’s voice was much louder. “You kissed her?”

“No! I…she kissed me. Years ago.”

“And you didn’t think to mention that little tidbit?”

“I’m afraid I had this silly notion that you might overreact. Steve, stop with the bloody clenching, I’ll not pay to have this desk repaired!”

“He can clench if he wants to clench, let him clench!” Words aside, Angie stood up, backing away from the desk. “And what about you and Dottie? You two do any clenching we should know about?”

“She drugged me and attempted to murder me. In the hallway, the day the SSR showed up.”

“She what?”

“She drugged me and—”

“She was necking all over you right outside my door? My room?”

“I’m afraid you may be missing the bigger point, darling.”

“Like hell I am! What is it with you, Peg, never tellin me the important things?” Angie was moving before Peggy could answer, retracing Dottie’s path out the door. “Hey Iowa! You and I got things to talk about!”

As Angie caused a scene in front of the entire office, Steve stood up, forcing a tight-lipped smile. “I’ll go calm her down.”

Angie had slammed the door behind her. As Steve went to open it, he pulled too hard. The knob came off in his hand, somehow managing to hit the wall behind Peggy’s desk and leave a giant dent in its wake.

Sighing, Peggy gave up on her work and put her head in her hands. She could hear the familiar sounds of Italian cursing in the distance.

Chapter Text

They’d argued over putting a gun range or a gazebo in the mansion’s backyard. Then they’d built both, one a very safe distance away from the other. It was the range getting use today, Angie with a gun in her hand, Peggy behind her, giving direction.

“Relax your elbows,” she said, adjusting Angie’s stance. “Squeeze the trigger smoothly.”

“I’m hurt. Don’t think I’m smooth enough, English?”

Stifling a groan, Peggy eyed the target that Angie had yet to hit. “No flirting when you’re carrying a loaded weapon.”

“Really? If you followed your own rule, we wouldn’t even be on a first name basis.”

Point to Angie. “Try again, you cheeky fool.”

She tried. She missed. Peggy tried not to get frustrated. Angie was the one who wanted to learn, yet she wasn’t putting in the effort. Most of their time out here, she’d simply found excuses to press back against Peggy. Or asked her to demonstrate, countless times, the proper way of doing things. As a result, Peggy had gotten more target practice than her supposed pupil.

When Steve returned from SSR headquarters and joined them, Peggy wasted no time pulling him into the lesson. He had the patience of a saint, something she was sorely lacking at the moment.

“Maybe it’s the recoil,” he said, examining the pistol they were using. “Or the weight. Maybe try something else to start with.”

“Too late,” Peggy drawled. “The starting part was a few decades ago. Or so it seems.”

“How about that new one Howard cooked up?” Angie asked, “The one with all the flashing.”

“The one with all the flashing is capable of blowing a hole in a mountain. Let’s crawl before we sprint, all right, darling?”

“Whatever you say, Pegs,” Angie replied, offering a perfect salute.

Steve went back and forth, collecting guns from Peggy’s rather sizeable weapons cache.

“This one’s lighter.”

“The trigger guard’s rather small.”

“You taught me how to shoot with it.”

“It fell right out of your hands the moment you fired.”

“Only the first twelve times.”

Eventually they settled on a suitable replacement, Steve taking Peggy’s place as instructor. He demonstrated. He critiqued. Gently. Angie was less gentle when she pulled her usual tricks,. Answering his suggestions with suggestive comments, pressing against him. The effect was far more noticeable, despite Steve’s efforts to hide it.

“Bloody hell,” she muttered as he tried to cover the bulge in his pants. She was, for the millionth time, thankful for their differences in anatomy. She could be as wet and warm as she was frustrated without anyone being the wiser.

“Is that another gun in your pocket?” Angie asked.

“This is ridiculous,” said Peggy. “You are being ridiculous and childish and infuriating. And I’ve got better things to do than stand here participating in your games.”

“You might want to add Steve to that list of things. Looks like he needs it. Felt that way too.”

“Angie, this isn’t a joke. If someone comes after you—”

“Oh relax, Steve. You’re worked up enough.” Without waiting on a reply, Angie checked the safety, aimed the gun, and emptied the clip. Straight into the middle of the target.

Peggy and Steve looked on in shock, the latter momentarily forgetting his embarrassment at being put in such a state. “How…?” he asked. “What…?”

Angie shrugged, smiling brightly. “I grew up in a bad neighborhood. You learn things.”

“Perhaps,” said Peggy, indicating the perfectly riddled target. “But most people trained in basic weapons use don’t learn…that.”

“Since when was I most people? Okay look. My uncle Vito, he’s into some things. Family business if you know what I mean. Quit lookin at me like that, especially you, English. We all got secrets. Mine just happened to involve this blood oath kinda deal. Besides, if I told either of you, there’d be this ethical dilemma. Not like my uncle’s mob connections, which I totally didn’t mention, if anyone in a black car shows up askin, not like they have anything to do with national security. But still, I’d never wanna put you guys in an awkward position.”

“I see,” said Peggy. “And what about the position you put us in for the last three hours?”

Angie’s smile widened. “You both get so into your gun stuff. All serious and focused and knowledgeable. Can I help it if that gets me a little hot and bothered?”

Before either could reply, Angie handed the empty gun to Peggy, walking off with a spring in her step, and an extra bit of motion to her hips.

“She’s unbelievable,” Steve said.

Peggy nodded. “Cruel and devious.”

“Are you mad?”

“Extremely. You?”

“She had me scared to death for her safety, so yeah.”

Peggy nodded again. “She’s quite pleased with herself, isn’t she?”

“Yup. Doesn’t help with the anger, does it?”

“Not in the least. Do you think she’s reached the bedroom yet?”

“One of them, for sure.”

“She expects us to follow.”

“I noticed.”

“We shouldn’t.”

“You’re right.”

They looked at each other, at the mess of guns behind them. Then they joined hands and went after Angie.

 

Chapter Text

“Oh God. I’m gonna be sick. What if it’s morning sickness? What time is it? Can you get morning sickness in the afternoon?”

“Sit down,” Peggy urged, leading Angie to the couch.

“Take some deep breaths,” Steve added, following.

Angie glared. “I’m breathin. Don’t tell me to breathe. That’s what they tell you to do when you’re—”

“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Peggy said. “We don’t know anything yet.”

“I know we don’t know anything. How long before we know anything?”

“The doctor’s meant to call any minute, love,” Peggy murmured, running her hands along Angie’s arms in an attempt to stop the slight trembling there. “I know it’s hard, just try to relax as much as you can.”

“All this stress can’t be good for the…baby. Who may or may not be there. Probably isn’t. There’s probably nothing there.”

Peggy scowled. “You’re not helping, Steve.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

“I blame you for this,” Angie declared. “If there is a this.”

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Angie sighed. Breathed out as Peggy stroked her back. “Eh, it ain’t totally your fault. And it’s not like I don’t want, ” she gestured vaguely towards her stomach, “eventually. Just…not yet. I got roles and auditions and Wes said this next show might be my big break and—”

“You don’t need to explain yourself, darling.”

“You don’t,” Steve repeated, kneeling in front of the women and taking Angie’s hand. “And if…if there is…if you don’t want…” Steve jammed his eyes shut for a moment. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”

Angie blinked at him. Then her eyes widened and she touched his cheek, shaking her head a few times. “No! I couldn’t…I’d never…no! The timing’s off yeah, but no.”

Steve visibly relaxed, pulling Angie forward for a hug.

“Would it even work?” Angie asked after they’d separated and she was leaning into Peggy again. “Not that it matters, but a kid with your DNA, could you even do that thing I’d never, ever do? Oh God. What if the kid has your super strength?”

“It’s not really super—”

Angie cut him off. “What if she’s crazy strong and wants to punch her way out of my insides?”

“That won’t happen,” said Peggy.

“How do you know?”

“It won’t.”

“But what if it does?”

“We won’t let it.”

“Pegs—”

“Angie. Steve and I would never let anything happen to you, Or the baby. If there is one, which we don’t know yet, so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

Groaning, Angie threw an arm over her face. “I always thought you’d be the one doing this, Peg. I mean, a kid that looks like you and Steve? That’d be winning the genetic lottery. And she could have your accent.”

“One, any child of yours would also win this lottery.You’re gorgeous. But two, you do understand that accents aren’t genetic, and unless we moved across the pond, the child would more than likely sound terribly American.”

Angie removed the arm, squinting at Peggy. “What do you mean terribly?”

“What do you mean she?” Steve asked.

“Pardon?”

“Huh?”

“You said she. When you were describing our kid. Is that what you’d want?”

Angie shrugged. “Mostly I’d want someone who wasn’t gonna punch through my insides. But yeah, I guess I’d want a girl. Girls are so much better than boys.”

Steve looked away.

“I didn’t mean it like that. Just, you know, I grew up with five brothers. Maybe it messed me up some.”

“Yes well,” said Peggy, “any sons we had would be nothing like your brothers. Remind me to speak to them at Christmas.”

“Uh-uh. You know how Ma feels about bloodshed at the table. Didn’t you have a rabbit once?”

Peggy wore an uncharacteristically blank expression. “I’m afraid you’ve lost me, darling.”

“A rabbit,” Angie repeated. “If I’m pregnant, an innocent rabbit’s going to die. Doesn’t seem fair. Didn’t you have one, English?”

“As a child, yes. Peter.”

“Peter rabbit? Points for creativity there, Peg.”

“I was three years old.”

“Yeah. Well it stinks that Peter’s life is on the line because you two came back from that annoyingly long trip for the ‘phone company,’ and I had that extra bottle of schnapps.”

“I’m sure Peter will be fine,” Steve said.

Peggy stared between them. “Peter died in 1928.”

“So?” Angie snapped. “Maybe he had a cousin. Maybe his great, great cousin is on the chopping block now, all because I got the miracle of life cooking inside me.”

They were quiet for a second, then Steve spoke up. “We could buy her a rabbit, if you want. The girl. Or boy. If there is one.”

Angie looked thoughtful. “Yeah, I think that’d be nice. What should we call him?”

Peggy frowned. “Are we talking about the rabbit, or our hypothetical son?”

“Both. Either. Steve, what are you gonna do if the rabbit dies?”

“What do you mean?”

“I see how you are with my nephews, how you were with the babies at your USO shows. Not pretty.”

“I’ve gotten better about that,” Steve muttered.

Angie probably would’ve contradicted him if the phone hadn’t cut into their discussion. Steve jumped to his feet as if readying for an attack, Peggy reached for a gun holster that wasn’t there, and Angie made an odd sort of shrieking noise. All of them froze as the ringing continued.

Peggy recovered first, tangling her hand in Angie’s curls. “It’ll be alright. No matter what. We’re right here.”

“I know,” Angie said, breathing shakily.

Steve relaxed his fighting stance, kissing her lips, then her forehead. “I love you.”

Angie’s smile was a bit watery. “Love you too, soldier.”

Steve nodded toward the phone. “Do you want me to—”

“No. Let…let me do it.”

Nodding, Steve extended a hand, helping her to her feet. Peggy squeezed the other one, bringing it to her mouth to kiss Angie’s wrist. The pulse there raced madly. “Alright, darling?” she asked, standing herself.

Angie nodded, let go of both their hands, then went to the phone. She put her back to them as she answered. “Hello? Yeah, yeah this is she. Right. Okay. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah, thanks. You have a good day too.”

Peggy’s nails dug into Steve’s forearm as they waited. Angie seemed to move in slow motion as she replaced the receiver and turned to face them.

“Peter’s cousin survived,” Angie said, sounding rather faint.

The other two exchanged glances. “Oh,” Peggy said. “Well…good news then, yes? Your storming of Broadway remains on schedule.”

“Yeah,” Angie said, slowly retracing her path to them. “And you two. No interruptions in your phone company stuff.”

“No. Good,” Steve added.

Angie went to Steve, hugged him tightly. Repeated it with Peggy. Then she pulled back, addressing both of them. “You think we should get a rabbit? Might be good practice for…later.”

“That’s true,” Peggy agreed. “Practice is always helpful.”

“There’s a new pet store over on Twelfth,” said Steve.

“Great,” said Angie. “We’ll stop in on Saturday. Meantime. I’m gonna call Ma, listen to her whine about why she ain’t a grandmother yet.”

 

Chapter Text

Steve woke up to a scream. Angie’s. He was out of bed in a microsecond, but couldn’t move fast enough. Calling her name, he crashed into three of the spare bedrooms, destroying two of their doors before he found her.

Perfectly fine.

Wearing his shirt and nothing else. The walk-in closet was open, all the odds and ends that’d been relegated to it’s depths scattered across the room. Surrounded by the mess, Angie sat with an open package in her lap, and a ridiculous grin on her face.

Damn.

Unconsciously assuming his best Captain America pose, Steve crossed his arms over his chest. “Angie.”

Angie looked up flashing that movie star smile his way. “Thankyouthankyouthank—”

“You screamed! I thought you were hurt. Or worse!”

“Really? Thought you’d be able to tell a bad scream from a good one by now. Especially after what we just did.”

Angie’s eyes lingered meaningfully on his crotch. Only then did Steve remember that he was completely naked, which thoroughly killed any impact the Cap pose might’ve had. Shaking his head, he uncrossed his arms. Angie moved immediately, quite literally throwing herself at him, legs wrapping tight around his bare waist, arms squeezing at his neck. If not for the serum, she’d probably be choking the life out of him.

“Thank. You. So. Much. You. Are. The. Best.” The words were said between kisses as her mouth grazed his lips, his cheeks, his jaw.”

“Stop it,” Steve said half-heartedly, barely feeing her weight. He was still fighting off the panic that’d brought him here. Angie was fine. Angie was safe. He didn’t need to fend off gun-wielding assailants in the nude. Things were fine. Relatively. “Your birthday’s not for a week.”

“Don’t worry, we can still have the party and the cake. Now come on, lemme see my present again.”

Angie dug her heels into his back, as if urging on a horse. Trying very hard not to smile, Steve carried her the few feet across the room, to her ruined surprise. The box that brought on that ear-splitting shriek came straight out of his past. It contained one red, white, and blue uniform, a leftover from his USO shows. The kind the dancers used to wear.

Angie had auditioned for a spot in that group, against her father’s wishes. She didn’t make the cut, and then somehow her parents found out, meaning she caught hell. She missed no opportunity to remind Steve and Peggy of what could’ve been. What if she’d been with them overseas? What if she’d gotten to share in some of their war stories, instead of just hearing about them? It was Peggy who first realized how much it really bothered her, being separate from that part of their history. He was the one to suggest the uniform, track it down. They’d both looked forward to seeing Angie’s reaction.

Just not now, not yet. Peggy was going to kill him.

“Well, well. So this is what you get up to while I’m out earning a living.”

Damn.

Setting Angie on her feet, Steve turned around to find his executioner framed in the doorway, looking gorgeous as ever with her red lips and pencil skirt. She was also holding his pants in one hand.

“I nearly tripped over these coming up the stairs,” she said, throwing the garment to him.

“Liar,” Angie said, clutching her gift to her chest. “You don’t trip over things.”

“Yes well. If I’d come home with a bullet wound or the like. Hobbling my way up here, desperate for help, I very well might have. How would you feel then? And you. I told you to guard that with your life.”

“I did!” Wilting under her scrutiny, Steve buttoned up his fly with as much dignity as he could muster. “I tried.”

Sighing, Peggy braced for impact as Angie crashed into her. Still holding the uniform, she smothered Peggy with affection much as she had Steve. “I told you we should’ve put it in one of the SHIELD vaults. Woman’s part bloodhound, I’ll swear to it,” Peggy said, absently petting Angie’s hair.

“She…distracted me.”

“Yes, my darling. I gathered that, right around the time I was gathering your clothes.”

Finally letting up on Peggy, Angie licked kiss-swollen lips and winked at Steve. “Super whatsit formula can fix everything huh? Even Captain America falls asleep right after.”

“After round three, you mean?”

Peggy’s eyebrows quirked. “Three, really? I do hate that we can’t all have the same days off.”

“You’re the boss, English. Doesn’t that mean boss of scheduling too?”

“Yes, I suppose so. I’ll speak to someone about it tomorrow.”

“Good. You’re the boss. Know what else you are? The sweetest, most amazing, kind, thoughtful, brilliant—”

“Yes, yes, I understand. Now go try it on before you hurt yourself.”

As if she’d been waiting for the starting gun at a race, Angie dashed out of the room, realized she’d forgotten the hat that went with the outfit, and dashed back. Before exiting a second time, she made sure to kiss both Peggy and Steve. Hard.

While Peggy wiped at smudged lipstick, Steve crossed to her, massive shoulders hunched slightly. “I really did try to keep it from her.”

“I know,” said Peggy, winding her arms around his neck. “It was my fault, really. I shouldn’t have expected you to understand the depths of her deviousness. You weren’t here for the Christmas of ’47.”

Unfortunately, he’d spent that holiday, a white Christmas, so he’d heard, frozen in ice. “What happened in ’47?”

Peggy grimaced. Shuddered. “I underestimated the depths of her deviousness. Never again, Steve. Never again.”

“What—”

Peggy shushed him, fingers on his lips. “Ask me in the dead of summer. Preferably after I’ve had a few drinks. Until then, let’s go downstairs. The surprise may be wrecked, but I still expect to get a show out of it.”

They went downstairs, Steve grabbing a shirt on the way, though Peggy insisted it wasn’t necessary. . After a few minutes of waiting on the couch, they were joined by Angie, descending the stairs and entering the room with a dancer’s poise.

Steve swallowed hard, felt Peggy’s hand on his thigh go tight. Who the hell had turned Angie down for this job?

“It’s quite a bit shorter than I remembered,” Peggy said as Angie bustled toward the record player.

“Yeah,” Steve replied, throat a little dry as he appreciated the view.

You could still buy copies of the music from those terrible shows. Steve had to fight long and hard to keep Peggy from adding one to the gift. He’d won, barely, so Angie had to settle for Glenn Miller as her musical accompaniment. Steve and Peggy clapped enthusiastically as the strains of ‘In the Mood’ filled the parlor, clapped louder as Angie started to move.

“Angie, love. In case I haven’t told you recently, those high kicks of yours are flawless.”

“Thanks, Peg! Let’s see if you think the same about my singing.”

Steve would’ve reminded her that they’d heard her sing countless times, that her talent was in absolutely no doubt. She began attacking the song with her usual gusto before he could.

“Who’s strong and brave, here to save the American way?”

“Oh no.”

“Hush, Steve.”

“Peggy, not this song.”

“Which did you expect?”

“The music doesn’t match.”

“And whose fault is that? Now be a dear and shut up, I’m enjoying a performance.”

Steve did too. Eventually. He still maintained that the goose-stepping-goons lyric was awful, but not nearly as bad when it came from Angie’s mouth. It helped that she was still doing those kicks. Then she paused her rendition, pointed at him, and made a request.

“Angie…”

“Come on. You know you want to.”

“I really don’t.”

“Come on. You know what it’s like in those tough crowds who won’t go with the program. You don’t wanna make things tough on me, do you?”

Peggy leaned in close, breathing her words into his ear. “Remember that talk we had about selfish gifts? You play along now, she’ll play along later, and unlike you, I haven’t had three rounds of anything stronger than coffee. So be a good soldier and follow orders, won’t you love?”

She was breathing in his ear, and her hand had drifted somewhere other than his leg. “Series E defense bonds! Each one you buy is a bullet in the barrel of your best guy’s gun!”

The old words came back to him disturbingly fast. He delivered them with far more enthusiasm than he ever had onstage. And indeed, he was rewarded for it later.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Oh, buck up, Steve. This is no time for performance anxiety.”

“I’m not having…that’s not what it is.”

“Darling. You were less nervous when a mad scientist was about to dose you with radiation and permanently alter your DNA.”

“Yeah well. You were there.”

Smiling, Peggy packed a few more essentials into her suitcase as Steve paced their bedroom. “The mechanics haven’t changed. Should be simpler, actually, with one less person. Besides, I won’t always be there to hold your hand.”

Steve halted for a moment. “It’s not usually my hand you’ve got a grip on.”

“Clever man. Brilliant. When all this Captain America hype dies down, you should embark on a comedy tour. I’ll get Howard’s publicist on it.”

“Peggy.”

He was pouting. Again. He’d done that a lot in recent weeks. Pouted, then panicked, then repeated the cycle. “It’s Angie, Steve, not a Hydra squadron.”

“Exactly, it’s Angie. If I screw this up, I’ll be wishing for Hydra. Or a return trip to the ice.”

“Don’t bloody joke about that.” Steve winced. So did Peggy. She hadn’t meant for it to come out that sharp. “I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re right. It’s not funny. Just, helps me stay sane, not taking it seriously all the time.”

He’d stopped moving altogether, come to her side. Peggy kissed him, slow and soft, rubbing a hand over his chest, feeling the heartbeat underneath. “I know,” she said after the contact broke. “Just, let me help with that too, all right?”

“Of course.”

“And Angie. She needs to, just as much as I do.”

“And Angie.”

“Good,” she said, patting Steve’s cheek with one hand and turning back to her packing. “Now that that’s settled, stop sweating through your shirt and get ready for your date.”

Steve sighed and she laughed. Really, the man was utterly ridiculous. It’d been her idea to give him and Angie a special night, something just for them. Angie had agreed wholeheartedly, and so had Steve. In principle, anyway. But time, as usual, was never on their side. There was all the frenzy surrounding his return, press conferences and news articles. Not to mention all the paperwork needed to give him his life back after years of being MIA. And the SSR, that was hardly a nine to five endeavor. Endless debriefings and examinations, figuring out what his new role would be. And Angie’s own fledgling career, an audition or class or rehearsal every other minute.

In short, they’d put it off too long, Steve had too much time to think and worry and run worse case scenarios, and now he was an absolute wreck. Which really shouldn’t amuse her as much as it did, but what could she do about it?

“You know, one benefit of the right partner scenario? Me not having to embarrass myself with too many women.”

“You’ll be perfectly fine. You don’t even have to put thought into the venue, Angie’s got it all arranged.”

“That’s not the part I’m worried about.”

Peggy raised and folded a pair of trousers to cover her smirk. No, the aspects that involved being out in public, he’d be comfortable enough with those. But after, this was the first time he and Angie would have an after that didn’t involve her. Honestly, two days in Washington to discuss some hush-hush notion of Howard’s about starting a new agency. Two days, one date, and Steve was acting like she’d thrown him to the wolves.

Although, Angie had been known to bite.

Peggy was quite happy her lovers were finally getting a night to themselves. Angie in particular needed to know that this arrangement they had wasn’t just about herself and Steve. So, Peggy was happy. She was also the slightest bit jealous, but planned to make up for the fun she’d miss as soon as possible.

Steve, bless him, looked ready to pass out. “You really needn’t worry. Long before any of this,” she indicated the two of them, the bedroom that was often shared by one more, “she expressed her fervent desire to eat you with a spoon.”

All right, perhaps that was a strategic misstep. If anything, Steve seemed to be getting more nervous.

“What if I can’t…what if she doesn’t…”

Peggy rolled her eyes. “You’re terribly persistent when you want to be, and Angie’s hardly shy about discussing what she wants. It will all work out. Just lie back and think of England.” She made a show out of frowning. “Though I suppose that would apply more to Angie. Not that it will, of course. I’m sure you’ll do a perfectly respectable job.”

Steve scowled. “I’ll save you a place on that comedy tour.”

Before Peggy could torment him further, Angie hurried in through the open door. “Mr. Fancy’s in the drive, Peg, ready when you are.”

“Excellent.” Skimming the room for any forgotten necessities, Peggy was satisfied that she had everything. Closing the case, she hefted it off the bed, waving off Steve’s offer of help. She almost always did, but it was still sweet of him to ask.

They both walked her downstairs. Setting her bag on the floor, Peggy pulled Angie into a quick hug. “I’ll see you soon, love.”

“We’ll miss you, English. Be safe.”

“You too. Be home at a reasonable hour. And use protection.” Angie cackled happily. Steve blushed. He really did make it far too easy. “Have a wonderful time, darlings.”

“Oh we will,” Angie replied, wearing a wicked grin as she clutched Steve’s forearm. “I’ve got plans for this one.”

***

Plans, Steve learned, meant a Dodgers game. Edging through the crowded rows of seats, he could almost forget his nervousness about what would come later. Bearing sodas, hot dogs, and several bags of peanuts, he grinned as he returned to Angie’s side. “As requested.”

“You’re the best,” Angie said, taking slightly more than half the food away from him. “I’ll never understand how Peg can be so against hot dogs.”

Steve laughed, picturing Peggy’s disgusted expression the first and only time they dragged her to a ballgame. The woman just wasn’t a fan of America’s favorite pastime, or the food that came with it. He’d expected Angie to choose a movie or a play as their activity for the night, but this was better. They could indulge their passion for this greatest of sports without torturing Peggy in the process, hearing her mutter about how bored she was, and why couldn’t things go faster, and what? What the hell did they mean about extra innings, wasn’t nine more than enough?

The seats were high enough for them to enjoy the view, low enough to actually see the proceedings. Angie coming through, as usual. Steve found himself watching her more than the game as she finished the hot dog, moved on to catching peanuts in her mouth. He ate whatever she hadn’t, pausing when she caught his chin between her fingers, kissing a bit of ketchup from the side of his mouth. Both of their hands were a bit worse for wear, with lingering traces of condiments and salt from the peanuts. Angie held his hand anyway, playfully adjusting the ball cap he’d worn in what was admittedly a pitiful attempt to avoid recognition. So far so good though, people were too focused on the game to pay them much attention.

Even when Angie’s traditional game ritual began.

“Swing, why dontcha? Do something useful for a change! Swing, batter, batter, batter, swing!”

Angie was on her feet, Steve content to stay seated and grin bemusedly as the batter did as instructed.

“Ha, you call that a swing? My dog could hit better than that, and he had one eye. And polio!”

“I’ve talked to your mother, Ang. She said Buster was in perfect health. Definitely better than I was before Erskine came along, anyway.”

“I know that and you know that, but does he need to know that? ‘Course not. He does need to find a new career though. Was that supposed to be a swing? Looked like you sneezed and made the bat twitch!”

And so it went.

Sometime later, when not engaged in her heckling duties, Angie bopped his cap again, an odd look on her face. “You okay there, Soldier?”

Steve hadn’t realized he was drifting until she had to work so hard to get his attention. “Yeah, sorry.”

“No sorry. What’s up?”

Steve breathed out, a weak smile on his lips. “Bucky and I would come here together, when we could scrape up the money. Swore we’d be around for a Pennant game someday.”

Angie reclaimed his hand, entwining their fingers. “I’m really sorry, Steve. I didn’t think—”

“Hey. No sorry. I was lucky, they’re good memories. Now I get to make new ones. With you.” He kissed her knuckles. She punched his arm and called him a sap, but smiled while doing it.

They didn’t talk for a while after that, not until Harold “Pee Wee” Reese came up to bat. Steve frowned at Angie’s sour expression. “I thought he was your favorite player.”

“He is. Hit a homerun right into the bleachers first time I came here, won the game. I almost caught the ball.”

“Almost?”

“My meathead cousin knocked me out of the way, snatched it up himself. Practically twisted my ankle off. Limped all the way home while he’s blabbing on about what a great catch it was, and the manager probably saw it, so don’t be surprised if he gets recruited for the team one of these days.”

Steve made a mental note to find out which of Angie’s many, many cousins did this. For now, he stood with her as she cheered Reese on, her encouragement even louder than her insults had been. Twice, it didn’t help. The third time there was a crack of wood, a roar of cheers, and a ball that was headed straight out of the park.

Unless…

Steve tracked the angle, the trajectory. Then he leaned close to Angie’s ear, shouting to be heard over the cries of excitement, hers included. “Trust me?”

Angie, who’d been jumping up and down, stopped to frown at him. “What?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Well yeah, of course. What kinda stupid question is—”

Her response turned into a surprised shriek as he lifted her up and onto his left shoulder. “Get ready!” he shouted before jumping into the air.

She shrieked again. Then swore. Then giggled. When they hit the ground and he eased her to her feet, she was still laughing, but stopped long enough to kiss him quite soundly amidst a wave of cheers and whistles. She clutched the baseball in one hand and kept kissing him.

So much for avoiding attention.

***

“Think Peg will mind if we put it on the living room mantle?”

“Well, there are four mantles to choose from just on this floor, so I think she’ll be okay.”

They were in the kitchen now, having just gotten home. Steve poured two drinks, but when he tried passing one to Angie, she was busy throwing the ball straight up and reenacting her catch. Finally he went to her between tosses and tilted the glass to her lips. She groaned in appreciation.

“Who knew Captain America made such a mean drink?”

“Hang around Howard long enough, you learn things.”

“Just keep it to bartending, okay? I’m afraid to find out what other things that guy knows.”

Steve froze for a moment, then smiled as he placed both their drinks on the counter.

Angie finally set her prize aside, utilizing more of the massive counter space. Slipping off his hat, she let it drop to the floor, reaching up to play with the hair at the back of his neck. “We don’t gotta do anything, you know.”

Steve put his arms around her waist. “It’s not that I don’t want to. Unless you don’t—”

“No. Yes. I do want. Just, not if you don’t. I’m not Peg.”

Steve frowned. The words were simple enough, but, “What does that mean?”

Angie shrugged, tucking her face into his neck. “I’m not sayin I ain’t a catch, but Peg’s a different level of catch. Smart, sexy, damn near perfect—”

Steve stepped back enough that she couldn’t hide against him anymore. He leaned down to kiss her, moving his hands up her ribcage, to her face, further up to get lost in her curls. He could’ve held her that way indefinitely, were it not for the knowledge that their lung capacities were vastly different.

“You’re all of that, Ang,” he said, desperate for her to understand. Peggy had talked about keeping her from feeling like an outsider, but Angie had never expressed those worries to either of them. She was such a good actress, Steve never realized Peggy might be onto something. “All of that and more,” he continued, never more aware that Peggy knew Angie far better than he did. For now. “You’re amazing. I couldn’t…I couldn’t live the way we do if I didn’t think so. If I didn’t love you, too.”

“Feeling’s mutual. Sap.”

There were tears in the corners of her eyes, but Steve didn’t have time to do anything about that, not with her standing on tiptoes for a kiss, then wrapping herself around him. Having her so close, her thighs around his waist, stole some of his usual grace. He stumbled back into the counter, reached out with one hand to keep the drinks from spilling onto Angie’s new prized possession.

“Still nervous?” she asked, breaking from his lips to run her tongue over his earlobe.

Steve shuddered, careful to hold Angie steady. “Among other things.”

“Me too. Feel like I’m touchin Peg’s property without her permission.”

Laughing, Steve kissed her deeply. Her weight barely registered, but the effect of having it against him certainly did. “I think we’re both Peggy’s property, and you definitely have permission.”

“That’s true. She’s incredibly sweet.”

“Among other things.”

“Among other things. You too nervous to get us to the bedroom?”

“Nope. Whichever one you want.”

“Thanks, Soldier.”

“My pleasure, ma’am.”

“Not just yours, Cap. Not if this goes half as good as I think it will.”

Chapter Text

From Tony’s bragging, Steve was made to understand that the Tower could comfortably withstand alien invasions (not that anyone was eager for another one of those), earthquakes, flooding on the Noah scale, nuclear blasts and, if necessary, attacks by Frost Giants.

He was not at all sure it would survive Peggy Carter and Angie Martinelli.

***

“Welcome, Angela of the clan Martinelli. I am Thor Odinson.”

Thor kissed Angie’s hand. She practically swooned. Steve rolled his eyes. “He’s taken, Angie.”

“So am I, Soldier. Jeez. I’m just bein friendly is all.”

Peggy crossed her arms. “He’s just a man, darling, no need to go all weak in the knees.”

“God, actually,” Thor corrected.

Peggy frowned. “Sorry?”

“God. I’m a god.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Angie muttered, eyes wide.

“Not that one,” said Thor.

***

“So this condition of yours, it was brought on by radiation?” Peggy asked.

“Gamma rays,” Bruce said with a nod.

“And when it…flares up. You—”

“He turns into a big, angry leprechaun,” Tony said, passing them on his way to the bar. “A very muscular leprechaun. With purple pants.”

“Tony,” Steve warned. He was sharing a couch with Peggy, wishing he wouldn’t have to remove his arm from her shoulders if he wanted to deck Stark in the face.

“I’ve done test after test. We both have,” he indicated Bruce, “my brother of science and I. What I can’t figure out no matter how many times I try? How do those purple pants stay on? Everything else gets trashed, shirt, shoes. Never the pants. Honestly, it’s against the laws of physics. Cap, be thankful it was vita rays you got dosed with and not the other kind. Banner’s clothing bills are astronomical, and a nice shirt costs more than it did in 1945.”

Peggy looked between Steve and Bruce. “Is he always like this?”

“Yes,” both men answered simultaneously.

Peggy shook her head. “A Stark boy in more than just looks, I see.”

***

“Angela of the clan Martinelli. Tell me more of your homeland. Brooklyn, is it?”

Angie giggled like a schoolgirl. “Yeah. Angie from Brooklyn. Angela, I mean.”

Steve glared. “You’re never this interested in Brooklyn when I bring it up, Thor.”

“Perhaps I find Angela’s stories more fascinating than yours.”

“Perhaps Angela wants to visit the rest of the party, Thor.”

“Nah, I’m good here, thanks. Is your hair always that shiny, or do you have to treat it with something?”

***

“This is new,” said Natasha, detaching a small pack of darts from her belt “SHIELD’s tech guys developed it last month.”

Peggy took the darts with interest, turning them around between her fingertips.

“Hey, careful! Aren’t those poisonous?”

Natasha shrugged. “Obviously.”

“Oh Steve, do relax. I was handing poisonous materials long before you tried lying your way into the Army. Natasha, what else do you have there?”

Natasha grinned. “Oh, this one’s really fun. It looks like a knife, because it is a knife, but it’s not just knife.”

***

“I’m so glad Broadway’s still around. Way everything’s changed around here, I was afraid they’d replaced it with one of those Starbucks things.”

“No worries,” Tony said, flashing Angie a smile. “You don’t hit the Starbucks for almost half a block. I love the theater, love it. If you like, I could introduce you to some directors. I know directors.”

Knowing all the chorus girls isn’t the same thing, Tony,” said Steve.

“I resent that. Why would you assume I’m only acquainted with the female cast members? I’m on great terms with several big name directors. And their wives.”

Angie made a face. “Definitely Howard’s kid, isn’t he?”

***

“Pretty damn impressive,” said Clint. At the bar, several glasses now had arrows sticking through them.

Peggy lowered the bow she’d borrowed from him. “You sound suprised.”

“Not at all. I started hearing the stories the minute I joined SHIELD. You’re a legend, Director.”

“Legend may be pushing it, Agent Barton, but I did earn top marks in archery back at school.”

“Legend’s a perfectly good word,” Steve said, beaming. “She earned top marks in everything, Clint.”

Tony’s voice interrupted them. “Hey, Rogers! You may want to take a break from buttering up your girlfriend. Your other girlfriend’s busy playing with Thor’s hammer!”

***

“So. You were raised by the same people who gifted the world with Dottie Underwood.”

“Angie, she—”

“Shut up, Steve. I’m mingling here.”

“It’s fine,” said Natasha. “Yes, I was trained by those people. I’m not with them anymore.”

Angie studied her a long time before turning to Steve. “You trust her?”

“Yes,” he said without hesitation.

Angie nodded once, turning her attention back to Natasha. “Good enough for me. But if I hear anything about you, Peg and a tube of lipstick, you and me are gonna have words.”

***

“Look at this,” Tony said, flipping through channels on the plasma screen. “My Five Wives, Sister Wives, Big Love, I Escaped a Polygamous Cult. Well, last one’s a bad example, but the point remains. It’s a lot more mainstream than it was in your time.”

“Seriously?” Angie asked, eyes gaze shifting from the remote he handed her to the TV.

Tony nodded. “Might be a little more popular in some places than others, Utah for instance, but yeah.”

Peggy frowned. “Two of these programs are on the same network as …Say Yes to the Dress? What the bloody hell is that?”

“Dr. Banner’s favorite show. But not nearly as interesting as Sex Sent Me to the ER.”

Steve buried his head in his hands. “Stark. Enough.”

“What? It’s on The Learning Channel, it’s legit. Now look. From the extensive research I did while marathoning this stuff last night, you’re welcome, by the way, I’ve learned that some people in your situation like to add new people into the situation. If you ever find yourself thinking that three just isn’t enough, and who could blame you, I’ll have Pepper set something up on Craigslist.”

“STARK!” Steve yelled, finally losing what remained of his patience.

“What, what’d I say?”

Chapter Text

Steve watched her pace for a good long while, stuck between concern and amusement. Concern because he hated to see her so worked up, amusement because every time she passed the phone (he stopped counting after reaching triple digits), she’d glare as if intimidation would make it ring sooner. When he started to go cross-eyed from tracking her progress, something he hadn’t thought physically possible after the serum, he finally made a move to stop her showdown with the phone. “Ang, come here.”

“Why?” she asked, without breaking stride.

“Because I’m asking you to. Please,” he added, trying for what Peggy referred to as his wounded puppy look. With a huff, Angie crossed to stand in front of the couch where he sat, but refused to join him. Taking what he could get, Steve encircled her waist, pulling her gently into the space between his knees. “I know you did great. They’re going to call.”

“Then why haven’t they?”

“They’re still too blown away by how great you were, don’t have words for it.”

Angie cracked a smile. “For someone who couldn’t speak two words to the girls a few years ago, you sure turned into a smooth talker.”

“Finally found the only girls worth talking to. Come here,” he repeated, settling her in his lap and rubbing circles on the small of her back. “Relax,” he murmured, dropping a kiss in her curls.

“I can’t. This show—”

“You’ll get it. You’ve got it. Just have to wait it out a little longer.”

Sighing, Angie laced her fingers around Steve’s neck, slumping into his shoulder. “You don’t know that. Especially with Peg gone. She’s always here when I get callbacks. She’s my good luck charm.”

“Oh? And what does that make me?”

Angie shrugged, eyes glinting. “Well, you’re not bad luck. Not exactly…”

Adjusting his hold, Steve leaned close to feather kisses along her throat, throwing in the occasional nip. Her shudders made him smile.

“Watch it, Soldier. I ain’t getting called back for my big break with a bigger hickey on my neck.”

“Of course not. But you admit that you’re getting the big break.”

“Don’t play tricky with me,” Angie said, fingers roaming in his hair, tilting her neck to give him better access. “Peg’s much better at that than you.”

“She’s better at everything than me. Too bad you’re stuck with the second stringer until she gets back.”

“Yeah. Woe is me.”

He hit a special place that always made her giggle, was doing a pretty good job of taking her mind off work when the phone rang. Her head snapped up, and she might’ve broken his nose if not for the enhanced reflexes. She was out of his lap in a blink, but didn’t move further. “You okay?”

“Yeah. No. Don’t want them thinking I’ve been waiting by the phone all day, they’ll think I’m desperate.”

Steve knew enough not to say that that was exactly what she’d been doing. “You want me to get it?”

“No! If someone else answers, they’ll think I don’t care about the job.”

“Angie,” he said, catching her hand and bringing it to his lips, “they’re lucky to have you. You’re amazing, and they damn well better know it. Now go get your big break.”

Another reluctant smile broke through the suppressed panic on Angie’s face. “Were you this good at pep talks back in the Army?”

“Nah, that was Peggy’s department. The guys would believe anything she said.”

“It’s that accent. No one’s immune.”

Nodding, Steve watched her cross to the phone on the end table. One of these days he’d convince her that those pep talks weren’t just words. Well, he and Peggy. That accent did make things considerably easier.

He watched her speak into the receiver, all excitement and nerves. He frowned when she did, worried and baffled that another producer could’ve missed what was so obvious, failed to recognize Angie’s talent. The worry turned to dread when Angie’s expression became something he’d never seen before, all color draining from her face.

“Steve…”

It was Angie, but it wasn’t. That voice just didn’t belong to his Angie. Shooting off the couch, he placed a steadying hand on her back as she gripped the table with her free hand. Her knees were shaking.

He had an idea what this was before he heard the person on the other end. He’d never in his life wanted so desperately to be wrong.

***

Steve hadn’t planned on returning to DC any time soon, not if he could help it. Captain America shouldn’t be so reluctant to visit the nation’s capital, but Steve Rogers was. He’d spent too much time there after his long sleep, being questioned, being honored, medals and parades thrown left and right just because he’d done what any guy would do, then woke up after. Washington held, not bad memories exactly, not good ones either.

Now he’d forever know it as the place where his first love was nearly assassinated.

Daniel Sousa was outside Peggy’s hospital room, along with two other guards. He looked tired, sick even, leaning more heavily than usual on his crutch. He straightened when he saw them coming. “Steve, Angie. I’m so—”

“Save it, Daniel. Tell us.”

Angie never called Sousa by his given name, not if she cared enough to help it. She called him Dan, Danny, Danny Boy, all of which he hated. She hadn’t argued when Peggy brought him with her to SHIELD, nor had she forgotten his willingness to think the worst of her, however briefly. “What happened, Daniel?” Steve asked, working to soften his voice.

To his credit, Daniel merely glanced at Angie once, skipping the bit about classified information.

It was just a meeting. A bureaucratic hassle, reporting to government higher-ups on how the whole protecting the world affair was going. An annoyance, but nothing more.

It should’ve been, anyway.

Daniel wasn’t there, he’d attacked when she was alone. Witnesses hadn't seen much, just the silhouette of a man fleeing. One of them said something about a metal arm. Steve looked at Angie when that was revealed, but she didn’t react, just stared Daniel down until he kept talking. The assassin had landed on SHIELD’s radar a few times already.

“She hurt him bad,” Daniel said. “Even after the…”

First shot. Steve filled that in in his mind, without wanting to.

“Good,” Angie said. “You guys better hurt him worse.”

“Already on it.”

Angie didn’t spare an extra word for him, went straight to Peggy as soon as she had what she needed. Steve gave him a few seconds, to admit that they didn’t actually have any leads on this man’s whereabouts. “Find some,” Steve ordered, not as brusque as Angie, but close. He’d need something to go on. After Peggy woke up.

The hospital room was more spacious than most because of Peggy’s status, and because of Howard. Steve still fought claustrophobia every time he looked at Peggy, unconscious and hooked up to machines. The doctors didn’t know what would happen. Howard berated them, called in what he said were better ones, then swore when he got the same answer.

“She’s going to be fine,” Steve said, over and over.

“I know that,” Angie replied, over and over.

None of the staff tried to enforce visiting hours. Steve was glad for that at least. He pitied anyone stupid enough to try. Angie sat in a chair on one side of the bed, he took the other. He held Peggy’s hand, rubbed it with his own, but it was always frighteningly cold. She was cold, no matter how many touches or blankets he tried to warm her with.

Angie was too still. She blinked and she breathed, sometimes she fussed with Peggy’s pillows, but she never left the room, rarely left the chair. For hours she sat frozen, Peggy’s cool hand in hers, eyes locked on their shared soulmate. Steve was reminded of her glaring at the phone, willing it to do what she wanted.

Somehow they found out that Angie got the callback, the one she couldn’t possibly care any less about. They agreed not to tell Peggy this when she woke up. She’d be ridiculous about it, feel guilty. Like Steve did. He hated himself for not being there, but said nothing to Angie. This wasn’t about him, and if he tried to change that, Peggy would shoot at him again. When she woke up.

He was terribly restless. He clenched the armrests too hard, occasionally stood up to stare out the window, hoping irrationally that the bastard who did this might look up at him from the crowd below. He was doing that when Angie spoke to him, still not moving from Peggy’s side.

“Don’t you do it. Don’t you leave. Go play soldier after she’s back, but don’t you go chasing…”

There was a crack in her voice, an impressively small one. Steve crossed the room with long strides, dropping to his knees in front of her and pulling her close. “Hey, hey, hey. Not going anywhere, okay? Nobody is.”

She trembled in his arms, breathed shakily, but didn’t cry. Just nodded and held him back.

Jarvis showed up fairly early on, Steve wasn’t truly keeping track of the time. He brought food and clothes. Angie accepted one without comment, but Steve had to work for a concession on the other.

“You need to eat.”

“You’re not.”

“I can get away with it longer.” Still, he forced down a bite of sandwich, then another. “You’re going to get sick. And I’m going to get a lot worse than that if Peggy sees that I let you.”

Angie split the sandwich with him. Reluctantly. It was late by then. Someone brought in a sort of cot for them to sleep in. Angie wouldn’t do it unless Steve pushed the makeshift bed right next to Peggy’s, which he had no objection to. She also refused to lie down if Peggy wasn’t directly within her vision. Steve spooned her from behind so they were both facing Peggy, could reach out to her. Angie held Peggy’s hand while Steve rubbed careful circles over her stomach. The stress and the food weren’t mixing well. Steve’s insides were in knots too, serum or no.

He didn’t sleep. The brief periods of rest he could coax out of Angie were fitful at best. Mostly, she stayed in that damn chair. Her lack of movement disturbed him almost as much as Peggy’s. Angie and stillness, those things didn’t go together. Peggy told him once that she’d seen Angie like this before, one single time. When the plane was found and they learned he was alive. When she thought Peggy would leave her.

Knowing he’d done that to Angie, intentionally or not, it wasn’t a good feeling. He was starting to forget what good feelings were, with both his loves frozen and unresponsive in this damn hospital room.

Angie’s shoulders and upper back were a wreck. He massaged them regularly, cringing at the too-hot skin covering knotted muscles. She winced every time she turned her head a certain way, but wouldn’t leave the chair.

Soothing her aches wasn’t enough. His hands were twitchy, in need of something to hit. The staff were very accommodating and they didn’t ask questions, but he doubted they’d set up a punching bag in here, even for Captain America. The irony wasn’t lost on him, Angie holding so terribly still while he fought not to jump out of his skin.

Jarvis kept showing up, bringing the necessities with him. He didn’t ask questions when Steve requested paper and pencils. They weren’t Steve’s usual supplies, the ones he was most comfortable with, but he wasn’t comfortable with anything at the moment, so it hardly mattered.

He felt dirty, almost voyeuristic sketching Angie like this. Angie barely seemed aware of his actions. He’d tried drawing her dozens of times, but never got more than a half-finished outline. She just moved too much. Even when she tried posing for him, she’d inevitably start chuckling at what she called his “artsy face.” It would then become her personal mission to break his concentration by any means possible, which usually led to scattered clothes, crumpled paper, and ink spilled all over the nearest surface. He’d tried catching her during sleep, but she always woke before he finished, which typically led to more of the same.

So, he’d never gotten a decent sketch of her, not for lack of trying.

Now he drew whenever he didn’t have something better to do with his hands. He drew more of Angie during those endless hours than he had in the last year. He worked carefully to replicate her expression hard as it was to view. Angie Martinelli wasn’t meant to look so somber. It wasn’t all bad though. Beneath the sadness was a stubborn determination Steve always knew existed, but had never seen so clearly. He did his best to capture it, show what he saw. That she would stand guard over Peggy until the next millennium if she had to, without batting an eye.

She was in so much pain, and it killed him, but she still looked beautiful.

He was trying to catch the detail in her eyes, feeling like a complete masochist when she stood up, not going far. She didn’t comment as he put his supplies aside, just settled into his lap, tucking her head under his chin. Steve rubbed at tense muscles again, kissing her hair. “You want to lie down?”

She shook her head against his neck.

Steve sighed. “You can rest, Ang.”

“Peggy.”

He shut his eyes tight, fought to keep his throat from closing up. His worst asthma attack had nothing on this. “I’ll look after her. You know that.”

Angie shook her head again. Steve didn’t argue, just held her and eased the pain he could get to. Eventually, she grew heavier in his arms, her breathing steadying. He thought about carrying her to the cot, but rejected the idea. The blanket of sleep she was under was so thin he worried that the slightest move would jolt her awake. She deserved to be away from this nightmare for as long as she could.

Not very long as it turned out, at least it felt that way to him. She was groggy when she woke up, blinking several times and rubbing absently at his shirt. “Hi,” she murmured.

“Hi,” he repeated, cracking the tiniest smile before pecking her lips. They were dry. When had he last insisted she eat and drink?

She smiled blurrily at him a few more seconds before truly seeing their surroundings. Then the rubbing became clutching as she grabbed at the shirt fabric, curling up tighter in an attempt to make herself small. “Oh God.”

He didn’t say anything, just stole away the few tears that escaped as Angie remembered where they were.

“So this is what Peg felt like all those times.”

“Hmm?”

“She used to dream that you were alive, before. Then she’d wake up and you were still gone, and I knew it gutted her, but I didn’t know. Not ‘til now.”

Again Steve said nothing, not just because Angie seemed to speak more to herself than him. He couldn’t talk past the lump in his throat.

***

He made a mess of things. A bigger mess. He’d draw, stain his fingers with ink, then transfer that ink to Peggy’s wrist or Angie’s sweater. He apologized, but just as Angie hardly seemed to notice his artistic pursuits, she never seemed to know, or perhaps care, what he was sorry for.

It was dark, probably late. Angie was dozing in the cot, after much persuasion. Steve sat in the chair, art forgotten for the moment, cradling Peggy’s wrist in his hands. He’d have to wipe away the ink again, but didn’t care yet. He counted the beats of Peggy’s pulse. They were too slow. If they stopped, so would the beating of his heart. Angie’s too, probably, though he firmly believed that both his loves were stronger than him.

“Don’t do this,” he whispered. “Please. I know I was way too late, and I probably deserve a good scare, but you’ve made your point. I can’t….I just got you back. I just got you back. Please.”

Steve half-expected Peggy to open her eyes then, mutter something about how Angie was an actress, but he had no excuse to be this dramatic. She didn’t. Steve slumped in on himself, leaning so that his forehead was against the scratchy hospital sheets, near her arm. He held that position for a time, then there was a hand in his hair, moving down to squeeze his shoulder. Not Peggy’s. The angle was off, and the touch was different. Familiar, but different.

When he looked up, Angie was at his side. He wanted to apologize for waking her, ask what she’d heard. His breath hitched.

“C’mere, Soldier.”

Another bad angle. When he leaned into her, the chair’s armrest dug into his side. He barely noticed. Angie combed through his hair, rubbed his back and shoulders. She cried, and so did he. Through the tears, she sang something, something Italian he didn’t recognize. It was soft and soothing and she kept singing past the sobs.

Steve loved her voice, always had. It’d never hurt him before. It’d never sounded so perfect. The only thought he could hold on to was that Peggy should be here to hear it.

***

He was drawing again, if you could call it that. His fingers were cramping, his eyes bloodshot. His hands carried more ink than the page.

“You’d better not be using me as a subject. I must look a bloody mess.”

Steve’s head snapped up. Across from him, Angie sat forward so fast the chair might’ve been electrified.

They tried not to crowd her, but that was near impossible. They called the doctors, neither taking their eyes off Peggy. Angie insisted she’d never worried, not for a second, but a tear leaked out while she delivered the line.

“Darling…”

Peggy was looking at Angie, but Steve knew he was included. She reached up to get rid of the moisture, but Steve hadn’t cleaned up after himself recently. There was ink on her fingers, thanks to him, and it mixed with the wetness on Angie’s cheek, leaving a smear of black. Peggy frowned then chuckled, and that set Steve off. They were both laughing and crying while Angie cried and tried to understand what the hell they were on about.

There were more tears, more touching, more transferring of the mess. It took a long time for any of them to get properly cleaned up.

Chapter Text

“Yeah, Ma. Yes. Yes! Sono incinta. Yes!”

Steve and Peggy exchanged wary glances as Angie spoke to her mother. Yelled, really.

“No, no you don’t have to come home. Ma…Ma! I’m barely a month along, you ain’t gonna miss anything if you stay another couple weeks.”

Steve fidgeted. Telling the Martinellis by phone wasn’t ideal, but they were visiting family in Italy, a trip Angie begged out of due to her acting commitments. She insisted it would be better to break the news over a terrible phone connection than have her mother think they’d been withholding the information.

“What?” Angie shook the phone, as if that would improve the reception. “Yes it was planned! Well, not plan-planned, but not-not planned. Stop yelling, Ma!”

Angie switched into a litany of rapid fire Italian. Steve looked at Peggy. “You think she’s upset?”

“Hard to say. Loud doesn’t always mean anger with them.” Peggy paused, frowning. “Though sometimes it does.”

Angie thrust the phone at Steve. Her hand over the receiver did nothing to quiet the stream of Italian emanating from it. “Ma wants to talk to you.”

Again, Steve looked at Peggy, who shifted away from him on the couch. “Go on then, this isn’t my doing.”

Biting back a retort about leaving men behind during battle, Steve took the phone. “Mrs. Martinelli? Hi, how are…could you…would you mind switching back to English, my Italian’s still a little…yes. Of course. No, of course the baby will learn Italian. Right. Baptism? Well, we just found out yesterday, I guess we haven’t thought that far ahead.”

Angie made frantic motions with her arms, shaking her head wildly.

“What was…oh. No, Mrs. Martinelli, we would’ve called yesterday, but we thought with the time difference…it was very late yesterday. Really, more like this morning when we heard.”

While Angie rolled her eyes and threw her hands skyward, Steve fought off a bout of nausea.

***

Peggy grimaced at the noises coming from the nearest bathroom. Taking a glass from the kitchen, she followed the sounds of Angie retching. Steve had just left for headquarters, and she was working from home. Angie seemed fine just before the phone in her study rang, signaling a call from the office. She didn’t want to think of how long Angie had suffered alone.

Her guilt wasn’t helped by the sight of Angie slumped over the toilet, shaking and sweaty. Cursing to herself, Peggy grabbed a washcloth, wet it in the sink, then dropped to Angie’s level. Pulling her curls back with one hand, she used the other to settle the cloth at the back of Angie’s neck.

She murmured nonsense words, rubbed circles on Angie’s back until the latest bout finally passed, leaving her spent and shivering.

“Scram, Peg,” Angie ordered, with absolutely no force. “You don’t gotta see this.”

“Don’t be absurd,” Peggy replied, rising long enough to fill the glass she’d left sitting on the sink.

“I look like hell.”

“You look like the woman I love. Besides, sickness and health and all that. Drink, darling. Slowly.”

Angie did, letting Peggy help her clean up and get back on her feet. “Tellin you, English,” she said as Peggy led her to the couch, a protective arm across her shoulders, “this kid ain’t happy with his accommodations. Why else would he torture me like this? What’s so bad about bein inside me, huh?”

“Not a thing. I never tire of being inside you.”

Angie half-smirked, half-glared as she dropped to the sofa. “Never thought I’d say this, but not a good time to hit on me, Peg.”

“Sorry. Force of habit.”

Waving off the apology, Angie curled up on her side, settling her head in Peggy’s lap and rubbing fitfully at her stomach. “Tell our little bundle of joy to behave, will you?”

Peggy reached over to replace Angie’s hand with her own, stroking the still-flat place that somehow, miraculously, housed a child. “Enough of that, little one. Let your mother rest.”

“You can’t say it like that. Use your scary Army voice.”

“We’ll try that next time, I promise.”

“Deal.” Breathing out, Angie moved so she was lying on her back, looking up at Peggy. “You don’t gotta do this, you know, you and Steve taking shifts to fuss over me. Kid’s not gonna fall out the minute I’m left alone.”

“Let’s not jinx anything, all right? Besides, Steve and I quite agree that you should be fussed over as much as possible.”

Peggy had resumed rubbing her stomach. With a slow quirk of the lips, Angie watched the action, catching Peggy’s other hand in hers. “I’m just sayin, you don’t have to take care of me all the time.”

“I’m well aware. But I’d be grateful if you’d let me do it anyway.”

Bringing their joined hands to her lips, Angie kissed Peggy’s knuckles. “Deal. You know, English, lots of girls don’t have anyone to hover over them when they get like this. Daddy’s long gone, with an unlisted number. Me and the little one, we got two amazing people doin it. I figure that makes us pretty damn lucky.”

***

“Will you two back off and quit hovering? God!”

Steve and Peggy trailed Angie as she threw down her hairbrush and exited the bedroom. “Honey,” Steve began.

“Don’t you honey me, honey. I’m goin to work, and that’s that.”

“We understand,” said Peggy, following her down the stairs. “It’s just…the baby—”

Spinning abruptly, Angie pointed to her stomach. “Is fine. Totally fine! Hey kid, if you’re fine, don’t do anything. See, all fine.”

“Fine. Good,” said Steve as Angie resumed her descent. “We just want to keep it that way, Ang.”

“Make sure you don’t overdo it,” Peggy added.

“Seriously?” Angie asked, storming toward the kitchen. “It’s a radio show. I sit in a chair and talk for an hour, what’s there to overdo?”

“We get it,” said Steve. “But if anything…if it gets to be too much…”

“Don’t worry, Steve. The minute the air conditioning hits me the wrong way, I’ll make them stop the live broadcast, because my girlfriend the super spy and my boyfriend Captain America don’t want me gettin chilled. Better yet, I’ll announce it on air, so everybody knows why their program’s gettin interrupted. Would that make you two happy?”

Steve and Peggy glanced at each other. Peggy answered. “That’s…not quite what we meant.”

“Then what?” Angie pressed, snatching her car keys from the bowl on the counter. “What exactly do you mean? Did you talk to Howard about building me a nice, safe plastic bubble to hide in until the baby shows up?”

They looked at each other again. Steve blushed.

“Really? I was kidding!” Shaking her head, Angie crossed into the foyer, grabbing her coat from the hook near the door. “I’m leaving now. You two lunatics are gonna stay here and do I don’t care what. Save the world, blow something up, I don’t care, just stay away from me and the kid!”

Peggy bit her lip. Steve fidgeted. “Love you,” he said rather weakly.

“Love you too, now stop already!” Angie demanded before taking her leave and slamming the door behind her.

***

“Don’t stop,” Angie whimpered, clawing at the sheets. “Don’t…don’t you dare stop.”

“No,” Peggy agreed, dropping kisses on the swell of Angie’s stomach while her fingers moved in and out. “Never, darling, never until you’re ready.”

It was hard to concentrate, much less form words with Steve behind her, doing what he was doing, but Peggy had learned how to multitask quite well in these situations. Occasionally she’d bring her mouth lower, enjoy the feel of Angie’s clit against her tongue. She kept coming back to her stomach, though. Angie had recently grown self-conscious about the pregnancy and it’s effect on her body, and that simply wouldn’t do. “You are exceedingly gorgeous,” Peggy said, murmuring into Angie’s skin. “More now than ever.”

Steve, who’d taken his turn at showing Angie this already, made an agreeable sort of noise. Angie told her again to keep going, almost begged, so Peggy curled her fingers inside, stroking Angie’s most sensitive area with her thumb. Intent as she was on holding Angie’s gaze, making her understand, Peggy had to close her eyes. Between Angie’s reactions to what she did, and what Steve was doing to her, she was…she couldn’t…

“Stop! Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop!”

Angie’s cries made her jump. Pulling back too fast, her skull collided with Steve’s face. “Bloody fucking hell!” she hissed, stars dancing in her vision as Steve…dislodged himself. “Angie! God, have I hurt you? Sweetheart—”

“Ang,” said Steve, voice strained and panicked. “Angie—”

“The baby kicked!”

A moment of silence followed. Peggy used it to withdraw her hand as carefully as possible while gauging the likelihood of a concussion.

“He…she…now?” Steve asked.

“Yes now!”

Groping in the dark, Angie switched on the bedside lamp. Blinking at the sudden change (and the spots still flickering before her eyes), Peggy glanced back to find Steve pinching his nose, which was bleeding.

“Wait, he stopped.” Angie looked positively crestfallen, only for a moment. “No, she started again! Steve, get over here!”

Moving with far less grace than usual, he did, wiping blood off on the comforter just before Angie yanked at his hand to place it on her stomach. “Oh God. Peggy, she’s right.”

“Well yeah! What’d you think it was, indigestion? Peggy, come on!”

Still rather dazed, Peggy wiped her own fingers clean on the duvet.

It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the moment. How could she not? She was just having trouble communicating that to Angie a few minutes later.

“Jesus, Peg, it ain’t like Junior or Juniette knows what we were doing.”

“You can’t be certain of that.”

“Yeah? Do you remember your parents—”

“Stop.”

“I mean—”

“Don’t.”

“You think they lived like monks while you were—”

“My parents were British. As far as I’m concerned, they…joined together only for procreational purposes. Once that goal was met, there would’ve been no need for…more of that.”

You’re British, English. Think about your theory. Think about what we were just doing.”

“Angie, thinking of my parents and my child while considering our recent activities is the very last—”

“Will you relax? Steve, tell her to relax.”

Steve, who’d stopped bleeding by then, mumbled something unintelligible.

Despite these valiant attempts at reassurance, Peggy still found herself tossing and turning long after Steve and Angie drifted off. Careful not to wake her, Peggy laid a hand on Angie’s stomach. “I,” she whispered, uncharacteristically lost. “I love you very, very much. And about earlier…sorry for disturbing you.”

***

Her work being what it was, Peggy was used to having her sleep disturbed unexpectedly. That didn’t make the occurrences any less frustrating.

“Peg?”

She kept her eyes closed. She could be dreaming. She often dreamt of Angie. There was a very good possibility that she was dreaming.

“Peggy, you awake?”

She sincerely hoped not.

“English?”

Someone was poking gingerly at her side. Definitely awake then. Shite. “Everything all right, darling?”

“Sure, English. Did I wake you?”

“Whatever would give you that idea? Was there something you needed?”

“Kinda. I’m hungry, and I think Steve’s in another sleep coma.”

Sighing, Peggy threw an arm over her face. “I’ll get something from the kitchen then, shall I?”

“That’s the thing. I could go for a bagel. You want a bagel? I don’t think we have any bagels.”

“I…what time is it?”

“Late side of early,” Angie hedged. “It’s not my fault, Pegs. The kid, he wants bagels.”

“Of course he does.” Rolling to her other side, Peggy absently shook the lump of blanket next to her. “Steve?”

“I tried that. Sleep coma.”

“Right.” Half-sitting up, Peggy briefly carressed Angie’s stomach. “My apologies if this startles you.” After warning the child, Peggy turned back to Steve, leaning down closer and clearing her throat. “Private! Get your sorry arse in gear! You think the Nazis will wait around while you finish your afternoon nap? Move!”

The bed shook as Steve shot awake, nearly hitting the floor.

“Your child needs you,” said Peggy, slumping back onto the mattress.

The bedside lamp clicked on a moment later, bathing them in soft light. Steve squinted at Angie, studying her middle as if assuring himself that the baby hadn’t changed residences. “Huh?”

Angie explained about the bagels, and thanked Peggy for waking him. Peggy grunted acknowledgment and readjusted the comforter.

“You want bagels. Now?”

“Not me,” Angie replied. “I don’t even like the things, usually. It’s the kid. I think she inherited your metabolism.”

Steve nodded rather blankly. “Where am I supposed to find bagels at this hour?”

Angie shrugged, smiling. “You and English found all kinds of secret Hydra bases back in the day.”

“We had maps.”

“Your kid is starving to death here, and you wanna talk about maps?”

Realizing that something had to be done, Peggy sat up, crawling over Steve and ignoring the sound of protest as her knee connected with his stomach. Picking up the phone on the nightstand, Peggy dialed a familiar number, propping her head on her elbow, and her elbow in the middle of Steve’s chest. She sat through eight rings before the line was picked up. “Mr. Jarvis? Yes, yes I know. I know. It’s past my bedtime as well, man. Listen, you’re used to indulging the appetites of a helpless child at all hours of the night, yes? Yes I mean Howard, who the bloody…never mind. I’m in dire need of a bakery. Yes. Right. Bagels this time. Oh no, Steve can pick them up, I shouldn’t like to disturb you. You’re a godsend. Apologize to Anna for me? Thank you. Yes. Pleasant dreams to you as well, Mr. Jarvis.” Dropping the receiver in it’s cradle, Peggy rattled off an address. “There you are,” she told Steve, rolling over to face the other way.

“Thanks?” Steve said, more question than statement. Peggy closed her eyes as he got up, distantly aware of Angie thanking him profusely, and reminding him to put shoes on. He kissed them both in a drowsy sort of way before switching the light off and leaving the room.

She was very close to a blessed return to oblivion when Angie’s hand slid across her shoulder. “Thanks, English.”

Peggy hummed into the pillow. “Anything for you, love.”

“Yeah, about that.”

Peggy opened her eyes. Very, very reluctantly.

“You think you could catch Steve before he leaves? I was thinkin we might like some donuts in the morning.”

Stifling a groan, Peggy threw the covers back, giving up on the possibility of ever getting sleep again.

***

“I give up,” Angie declared. “This is impossible, so I give up.”

“Splendid,” Peggy said, setting her tea down and joining her loves on one of the library couches. “The child’s not even here yet, and we’ve already thrown in the towel. The little one will be so blessed to benefit from our parenting skills.”

“Says the one who ran out,” Steve replied, drumming a pencil on the notepad in his lap. “I’ve never seen you take that long to make one cup of tea.”

“Perhaps I needed the fortification. I’ve negotiated peace treaties with hostile nations and had an easier time of it.”

“Well jeez, English, if you would quit shootin down all our suggestions.”

“They deserved a good shooting. I was being merciful in putting them out of their misery.”

“And you say I’m dramatic.”

“You both are,” said Peggy, squeezing Steve’s forearm to make her point. “Terribly so. And speaking of terrible, are you really going to tell me that you fools haven’t been suggesting the most archaically British names you could think of, just to irritate me?”

Steve raised his eyebrows. “So we’ve moved on from baby names to conspiracy theories?”

Peggy took the paper from him, clearing her throat before reading. “Byron, Emory, Harlan, Jasper, Faye, Hazel, Hattie, need I go on?”

“They’re good names,” said Angie. “You really think we thought all of them up just to annoy you?”

“Goodness, you’re right. What was I thinking, giving you credit for doing that on your own?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, English.”

“I found the book darling. On the table by the nonfiction section, as I stepped out to get away from the madness. British Names Through the Ages, ring any bells?”

Steve shot Angie a look. “I thought you put it away.”

“I thought I did put it away. Musta got distracted, with little Hattie crushing my bladder all the time.”

“We’re not naming the child Hattie,” Peggy stated.

Angie made a face. “Well obviously. Oh well, Soldier. Fun while it lasted.”

Peggy shook her head. “Children having children.”

“What about Mary?” Steve asked.

“It has a ring,” said Peggy. To Angie, “Your parents would be pleased, a good Catholic name.”

“No,” said Angie.

Steve frowned. “What’s wrong with Mary?”

“This Mary,” she said, indicating her stomach, “nothin. There was just this minor incident where my folks caught me and Mary Fiorello doin some very un-Catholic things in our pantry one day—”

“The pantry?” Peggy repeated. “I’ve crawled through ventilation shafts with more room to move. What could you possibly have done?”

“Enough that Mary and I both had fifty Hail Mary’s to plow through that night. It was before Ma came around, you know. Mrs. Fiorello, she never did. Think she might’ve dumped some holy water on Mary the week after it happened, but I can’t remember.”

“Oh,” Peggy said, sharing a glance with Steve. “Well then, Mary’s off the table.”

“Very,” Steve said, making a note on the list.

“Hey,” said Angie, eyes dancing. “If it’s a girl, we could call her Peggy Junior.”

“No,” said Peggy, “no we could not.”

“Margaret Junior?” Angie suggested.

“I’m sorry. Did we at some point agree to torture our daughter before she’s even left the womb? Must’ve missed that bit.”

“What’s wrong with naming our kid after you?” Steve asked, studying her with open adoration. “Or Angie, for that matter?”

“And yet you vetoed Steve for a boy,” Angie replied.

“Everyone knows that name, Ang. It’s got so much weight attached, weight it doesn’t deserve. If we have a son, I want him to be his own person, not Captain America’s namesake.”

“It’s a fine name, darling,” Peggy murmured, stroking his cheek. “That weight is honor, and our son would be lucky to carry it with him.”

“She’s right, Soldier,” Angie said, squeezing his knee. “As usual.”

Slipping an arm around Angie, Steve kissed Peggy’s forehead, gently retrieving the pad of paper. “It’s still off the list,” he said with a smile.

“Very well,” Peggy replied, affecting a tone of exhaustion that wasn’t entirely false. “What’s next then?”

“Oh God,” Angie muttered, sinking further into the couch and hiding her face against Steve’s chest. “I just remembered. I may have promised we’d name our firstborn after Dugan.”

Steve blinked repeatedly. “Say again?”

“I’m not actually sure. The Commandos were in town, there was liquor flowing, I was losing at poker…it’s all a little hazy.”

“Hopefully for him as well,” Peggy said.

“Sorry, guys. It seemed like a really good idea at the time.”

“I’m certain, darling. Ah well, as long as there’s no written contract.”

“And even if there is,” Steve said, “Howard’s lawyers could probably tear through it in a heartbeat.”

“See, no harm done. Now, since Dum Dum Rogers is no longer threatening us…”

“What about James?” Angie asked, voice much softer than before as she regarded Steve, who stayed silent.

“I must admit, I’ve been waiting for that one. Is there a reason you haven’t suggested it, love?”

Offering a weak smile, Steve kissed Peggy’s shoulder, lacing his fingers with Angie’s where they rested on his knee. “Didn’t want to seem selfish, I guess. And Bucky, I couldn’t handle saying that name every day, but he always hated James. Threatened to clean my clock every time I used it, which was ironic, since he was the only guy in the neighborhood who never did beat me up.”

“Steve, you dope. You don’t have a selfish bone in your body. And as for the name, he can be a James but go by Jamie, or Jack, or something. Or we could use his initials, depending on what we choose for a middle name.”

Peggy held up a hand. “I agree, but please. No middle names, not yet. I don’t have the strength.”

Steve, eyes brighter than usual, kissed them both, whispering his thanks. Afterward, he seemed to make a conscious effort at lightening the mood. “Well, two hours, three sheets of paper, and the most we’ve gotten is some form of James.”

Peggy grimaced. “It’s even more depressing when said aloud, isn’t it?”

Angie nodded. “I’m guessin we can’t just pick names out of a hat?”

***

“Come on, English. You know I hate guessing games.”

“Do you?” Peggy asked, keeping a hand over Angie’s eyes and guiding her through the hallway. “Shall I remove that blindfold from the bedside drawer then?”

Angie swatted half-heartedly at the fingers blocking her view. “Shut up, Peggy.”

“As I thought. Watch your step here.”

“Kinda hard to do with your hand in my face.”

“Behave yourself and I’ll consider moving my hand somewhere lower. Later tonight.”

“Does that offer only apply to her?”

“Soldier? What the hell is this?”

“What do you think, Steve? Should we show her?”

“I think we should.”

With that, Peggy raised her hand, watching Angie’s eyes go wide as she took in the scene. They were standing on the threshold of what used to be a guest bedroom. In the few hours Angie had been shopping with Anna Jarvis, Steve had transformed it into a nursery. Crib, mobile, the seemingly endless supply of odds and ends they’d acquired for the baby. He stood in the middle of the room, clothes stained with the light blue paint that covered the walls. There was also a bit of it on his cheek and left ear, which made him look rather adorable. He grinned bashfully as Angie saw the full extent of his handiwork.

The newly-painted walls were covered in various framed drawings. A circus scene, jungle animals, a rendering of the New York skyline, ships chasing each other across the ocean, among others. Angie’s mouth dropped open.

“It was Peggy’s idea,” Steve explained. “Since you were having trouble deciding on a theme—”

“Steve gave you a bit of all of them, until he or she forms their own opinion on the subject. Besides, I think we’ve established that not settling for a single option can be quite rewarding.”

“You guys,” Angie said, shaking her head in amazement, “I can’t believe you did all this.”

Peggy smiled softly, rubbing absent patterns over the small of Angie’s back. “Howard assisted, in his own way. That paint is apparently very quick to dry, quicker than normal. He developed a batch that changes color every hour or so, but I gave that a miss, thought it best not to risk confusing the baby. Hope you don’t mind.”

“Mind,” Angie repeated, as if it was the most ridiculous syllable she’d ever heard. “C’mere, Steve.”

“I’m a mess,” he said, indicating his mussed hair and stained work clothes.”

“Get over here, Soldier. Now.”

Saluting her, Steve listened. When he was within arm’s reach, Angie pulled him and Peggy both into a hug, one arm around each.

“I take it you’re pleased,” Peggy drawled, kissing Angie’s cheek.

“You kiddin? Never thought I could be this happy. And the best, craziest part is that it’s only going to get better.”

***

“I’m miserable. A fat, miserable blob of misery.”

“You’re not fat,” Peggy said firmly.

“I’m as big as a house.”

“Yeah,” said Howard. “But not a big house. Ten bedrooms, at most.”

Angie groaned. They were eating a late lunch on the terrace. Angie sat across from Steve, her feet stretched out in his lap. Peggy was next to Howard, her plate pushed aside, a stack of field reports in its place. She was marking them with a pen, had threatened to stab her SHIELD co-founder with it three times in the last half hour. This time she brought the point down millimeters from Howard’s index finger, without looking up from her paperwork.

“Jeez.” Howard snatched his hand away. “I was agreeing with you. Thought the gal who’s actually pregnant is supposed to be the hormonal one.”

“She’s going to kill you,” said Steve. “Don’t expect me to try stopping her.”

“Thank you, darling. He’s much smarter than that,” Peggy added.

“Well Howard, if you’re gonna whine about my hormones, you better get used to it. Clearly I’m gonna be like this forever. I’ll have to join a sideshow.” Angie gestured with her hands as if seeing the words on a marquee. “Come see the perpetually pregnant woman! Only ten cents a person, kids get in free. It’s funny because she’ll never have any kids, because she’ll always be pregnant!”

Shrugging, Howard popped a handful of grapes in his mouth. “You’ll get some fame out of it at least.”

“Don’t you have a home of your own? Several, actually?” Peggy asked, finally putting aside her files.

“Indeed I do, Peg. Quite a few.”

“Good. What say you get out of mine and go back to one of them?”

“But none of those places have you. My best friends, who always make me feel so welcome.”

“This is all your fault,” said Angie, kicking Steve’s thigh. “You’re late for everything, and you passed it on to the kid, and now she doesn’t care that she was supposed to vacate the premises two weeks ago. Tellin you, Peg, you shoulda been the one to knock me up. Your kid, she’d be out right on time, probably a couple minutes early, already knowin the proper way to hold a teacup.”

“Or a gun,” Steve muttered, massaging the arch of Angie’s left foot.

“I could help you out with that.” Howard leaned forward in his chair. “Give me a few years. By the time James or Lizzie hits kindergarten, you won’t even need Steve’s help. He can move out, you two can take care of the procreational stuff on your own, and if you ever need any help with the recreational—”

“If it’s a girl, she’s Elizabeth to you. Now stop trying to take over my life, okay Howard?”

“I’m just messing with you, buddy. Truth be told, I come here because you and these lovely ladies make me think about things.”

“Oh God,” said Angie. “Nothin good ever comes from that.”

Howard went on as if there’d been no interruption. “I see what you’ve got. The stability, the trust, baby on the way, and I think…thank God I’m not you.”

“What a coincidence,” Peggy said. “Whenever I look at Steve or Angie, my first thought is, thank God you aren’t Howard.”

“You still haven’t appointed me godfather. You’re busy, lots of preparations, I’m sure it’s just an oversight. Just reminding you, before the rugrat makes an appearance.” Howard popped a few more grapes in his mouth.

Angie sucked in a harsh breath, clutching at her stomach. “Funny you should mention that.”

Steve went very pale. “Are you…is the baby…now?”

Angie nodded, wincing.

Howard choked, causing half-chewed foodstuffs to land all over Peggy’s files. Wheezing, he pushed back from the table, nearly losing his footing in his haste to get up. “Shit. I…yeah. I should leave. Family time and all that.” He patted Angie gingerly on the shoulder. “Break a leg, kid. Good luck with the…with everything.”

“You sure you don’t wanna come to the hospital with us, Howard? Oh! Ow. Pain, pain, so much pain.”

Howard shook his head rather violently, backtracking toward the exit. “Nah, I’m good. Drive safe, everyone. I’ll have Jarvis send flowers!”

The screech of Howard’s tires was heard in record time.

Steve and Peggy were both on their feet, on either side of Angie. “Right. Yes. Steve, get the bag. You packed the bag, didn’t you?”

“Of course I packed the bag. It’s…in the bedroom.”

“Is that a statement or a question?”

“It’s in one of the bedrooms.”

One of ? Good Lord. Well, go find the bloody thing. I’ll…’

“Car.”

“Right, yes, car. Hospital. All right, darling, keep calm.”

“Peg—”

“Shhh, just…everything will be fine. Up you get, nice and easy.” Peggy took hold of Angie’s arm.

“Let me help,” Steve said, taking her other arm.

“I’ve got her, Steve, you go get the bag.”

“I think getting Angie’s a bit more important than getting the damn bag.”

“I am perfectly capable—”

“Peg. Steve—”

“I’m not saying you aren’t, I just want to make sure—”

“ENGLISH! SOLDIER! Let go of me and shut up a minute.”

Steve and Peggy both jumped. They let go.

“It’s fine, we don’t have to go anywhere.”

Steve swallowed audibly. “Ang, I know you’re not a fan of hospitals, but—”

“Shut up, Steve. The kid ain’t on his way out.”

Utter bafflement was not a common look for Peggy. “What?”

“I’m not havin the baby. I just said that so Howard would leave. You two really need to calm down. This rate, I’ll be drivin you to the hospital when the real thing happens.”

Steve stared at her for a long moment. He then collapsed into one of the chairs and let loose a string of curses that would tarnish the squeaky clean image of Captain America.

“Don’t speak that way around the baby,” Peggy said, voice much weaker than usual. Then she entered the house, poured a shot of the first thing she found in the liquor cabinet. and screamed loud enough to be heard quite clearly from outside.

Chapter Text

Steve wasn’t foolish enough to think that he’d ever truly understand the women in his life. He loved them desperately, knew them better than most anyone else. But to say that he’d ever have Peggy or Angie figured out, when they so enjoyed throwing curveballs, keeping him guessing? No. Truth be told, he didn’t want to understand everything, he usually very much enjoyed puzzling out the complexities of his soulmates.

Usually.

“Is it even street legal?”

Steve blinked. Angie had been going on about the bike for at least ten minutes now, talking more at him than to him. It took a moment to process the specifics.

“That deathtrap of yours,” she said when his moment lasted too long. “All those fancy add-ons from Howard, you even allowed to drive with those now that you’re not usin them to chase off Nazis?”

“Of course it’s legal.” Angie glowered, arms crossed. Steve fought the urge to slouch. “No one ever said it wasn’t.”

“Well look at that. Didn’t somebody call you about doin a commercial on traffic safety? ‘Hey, kids, Captain America here! Remember to look both ways before crossing the street, no jaywalking. Sorry if I happen to run over your cat while I’m out for a Sunday ride on my supercharged Deathcycle. Always eat your vegetables, God bless the US of A!’”

Her ability to mimic his voice was more startling than he’d ever admit. Steve did slouch then, settling into the sofa while Angie continued to pace and lecture.

This loathing of the motorcycle, it made very little sense to him. She didn’t worry when he talked about jumping from planes sans parachute. She barely twitched when Peggy recounted a fight atop a speeding milk truck packed with explosives. Yet she looked at the bike with the same expression normally reserved for those unfortunate nights when Peggy attempted to cook. It was worse, actually, because she never tried to hide her disgust for the motorcycle.

He really should just let her get it out of her system, but he’d always been terrible about staying down during a fight. “Your uncle owns a garage,” he said while she paused for half a breath. “You love cars.”

“Cars are different.”

“Cars crash every day.”

“Yeah, but you don’t gotta die from a car crash. Cars have seatbelts.”

“How often do you wear a seatbelt, if Peggy or I aren’t there to make you?”

“Not the point, Soldier. So I forget to wear the stupid belt, there’s still a nice windshield to break my fall.”

Steve bit back a retort about enhanced healing capabilities, another on the actual purpose of windshields. It really was pointless. He went quiet again, waiting for her to reach the next phase of her rant. It didn’t take long.

“I’m not saying you gotta get something boring. Steal one of Howard’s fancy cars, he’s got too many to keep track of anyway.”

“I don’t want one of Howard’s cars, Angie.”

“And I don’t want that ugly Deathcycle takin up space in our driveway, so what’re we gonna do about this?”

“You never said it was ugly before…”

“Well it is. A big, ugly deathtrap.”

Peggy entered the sitting room before Steve could lose what remained of his patience. “Peggy,” he began.

“English,” Angie said at the same time.

“She’s being unreasonable.”

“Tell your thick-headed soldier boy here that—”

Peggy put up a hand, shaking her head. “Children. I’ve told you before, you’re old enough to work out your own problems.”

“Make him get rid of the bike!”

“She’s being completely—”

Peggy clapped her hands once, sharply. “Children. We’ve discussed this. I love you both equally, and I will not take sides in—”

“English!”

“Peggy, this is ridiculous—”

Peggy clapped her hands twice, harder this time. “Honestly,” she muttered, pinching the bridge of her nose. “I’ve had an incredibly trying day. Is it too much to ask for a nice cup of tea and five minutes of peace and quiet before I have to deal with your bickering?”

Steve hung his head, noting that Angie was doing the same.

“Right. Sit down, Angie. Sit. Down.” Angie closed her mouth, swallowing whatever protest she’d meant to utter. Joining Steve on the couch, she placed herself as far away from him as possible. Sighing, Peggy crossed the room to sit between them, kissing both on the cheek. “It’s quite frustrating. You’re both rather adorable when you pout. It’s only when you speak that I feel the need to strangle you. Now. Calmly. What foolishness have I stumbled into?”

They told her, though Steve found it difficult to be calm when faced with Angie’s natural dramatics. Fortunately, Peggy didn’t seem swayed by the display.

“Darling, I understand your concerns. But as you said, Steve does have a rather thick skull—”

“I bought him a helmet. Would it kill him to wear it?”

Peggy placed a finger over Angie’s lips. “If he wears the helmet, will you allow Steve to play with his toys without making a fuss?”

Angie shook her head, swatting Peggy’s hand away. “Both equally my eye. He came first, so you love him more. You always take his side.”

“That is the most absurd thing I have ever—”

“Angie, for God’s sake. If you don’t trust me, trust Peggy. She’s the one who taught me how to ride in the first place.”

“Steve—”

He was too frustrated to heed the warning tone in Peggy’s voice. “We rode that bike up and down London. During the Blitz! If it got us through London in the dark while getting shot at—”

“Steve!”

He stopped talking, too slow in realizing his mistake. He swallowed hard as Peggy glowered at him.

“Oh, I see. You taught him to break his neck on that deathtrap.”

Steve didn’t understand Angie’s surprise. Peggy had taught him everything, more or less. He also didn’t point out that his neck was in perfectly good condition.

“I asked,” said Peggy, “that you keep that detail out of this tired—”

“Oh, I see how it is. You and the favorite, keepin secrets. So that’s how it works now.”

Peggy stood up abruptly. “I don’t have the energy for this. Sort it the hell out, or you can both make use of the other bedrooms.” She moved away as she spoke, then turned suddenly to pin Steve under a gaze icier than anything he’d experienced in the Atlantic. “And you. Let us all be thankful the enemy never captured you for information. Hitler would’ve had all our secrets by teatime.”

***

She should’ve known it was too good to be true. The motorcycle had left their garage a few days after the latest spat, and Angie had dared to hope. Stupid. There was Steve, standing in the driveway, casual as you please as he leaned lightly against the Deathbike. “Oh joy, it’s bigger.”

Steve grinned, the brown leather of his jacket shifting as he straightened up. “More longer than bigger, but yeah.”

Angie rolled her eyes, arms crossed. “You boys, everything’s size and length with you.”

“Come take a look. Howard helped with the modifications.”

“Why am I not surprised? And thanks but no thanks.”

“Angie. Just a look. Please.”

Angie sighed. Honestly. He was like a big, whiney golden retriever sometimes. She went to him, eyeing the newly-lengthened motorcycle. “It’s bigger, longer, and uglier than it was. Yay. Is there a point for that, other than you being an ass?”

“You know that song, Bicycle Built For Two? This is…the next level of that.”

Angie squinted at the Deathbike, looked at Steve with his big, stupid grin. Then she got it. “Nope. Uh-uh. No way. I’m leaving now.”

As she turned, Peggy materialized from somewhere behind the house, wearing her signature smile. And the brown bomber jacket Angie didn’t see nearly enough of. “Problem, my darling?”

Oh, this wasn’t fair. This was just dirty play. “Is there? You only wear that coat when you’re runnin off to save the world.”

“Oh, the world’s in fine condition today. Relatively speaking. I remembered how fond you are of this, thought I might put it to more use.”

“Right. On that thing?” Angie jerked her thumb back at the Deathbike.

Shrugging, Peggy slipped her fingers through Angie’s, kissing her knuckles. “I might fancy a short ride, but I’d hate to make you uncomfortable.”

Angie scowled. She was trapped between the two most gorgeous people on the planet. Both wore leather. Both knew damn well how uncomfortable they were making her. “Thought you weren’t taking his side.”

“I’m not, love. But I will admit a certain fondness for that machine. Those midnight rides in London were about the closest thing Steve and I had to a proper date back then.”

Steve and Peggy gazed at each other, a nostalgic twinkle in their eyes. Angie tried not to gag. “Fine, go kill yourselves, relive your glory days of getting shot at in the dark, just don’t expect me to keep dinner warm. Idiots.”

“It’s a perfectly lovely day,” said Peggy. “And the likelihood of us getting shot at his quite minimal.”

“The bike’s built to take that,” said Steve. “Special tires, reinforced armor. Why don’t you hop on?”

“No.”

“Ang. I’m not going to do anything, I just want you to sit on it for a minute.”

“Oh yeah. I won’t do anything, Angie, we’ll just sit here and talk. That’s what Freddie Dodds said to me when we stopped off in his car on the way to the fall dance. He was full of it too, and he sure as hell wasn’t much good for dancing after I got through with him.”

“Have I ever once treated you like Freddie Dodds did?”

“You’re getting real close to it.”

“Angie.”

Big, stupid, pouty dog. “I hate you,” she declared, shoving at his arm as she approached the bike.

“Let me—”

“Shut up,” she snapped, swinging her leg over the monstrosity without help, more standing than not. “Happy now?”

“Beautiful lady on a beautiful bike, how could I not be?”

“You’re an idiot, Rogers.” She was about to dismount the hated thing when she felt strong hands around her waist, Peggy’s breasts pressing into her back. “What the hell. English?”

“Just making sure you’re alright, darling. I’d never want you to be uncomfortable.”

The answer was breathed into Angie’s ear, Peggy’s hair tickling her cheek. “Of course not,” Angie drawled, fighting to keep her voice steady.

“See?” said Steve. “Not so bad, right?”

“I hate you,” So much so that she couldn’t find the words to yell when he climbed on in front of her, swearing on his life that the bike wouldn’t move. Which is how she found herself facing Steve’s strong, leather-clad back while Peggy held her from behind.

Bastards, the both of them.

Steve didn’t move the bike, not for long minutes as Angie sat sandwiched between him and Peggy.

Dirty, rotten bastards.

“Short ride?” he finally asked, very quiet.

Angie huffed out a breath.

“Only if you’re alright,” Peggy added, equally soft, squeezing Angie’s waist.

They meant it, the jerks. They’d gone this far, but they’d never push for more. “If I die, I’m blamin you. Both of you.”

“Sounds fair,” said Steve.

“And I ain’t movin an inch without—”

Steve passed her a helmet, then another, kept a third for himself. The Deathbike must feature a hidden helmet compartment. Waving off twin offers of assistance, Angie put the helmet on, adjusting it by herself. Her arms wrapped tight around Steve’s waist, but she still came close to falling off the bike when it roared to life beneath her. Peggy’s arms tightened immediately, holding her steady.

“Easy. Easy, darling. I have you. I always have you. All right?”

Peggy’s voice was slightly muffled by the helmet, but Angie still heard everything. Steve reached back with one hand, squeezing her shoulder. Angie breathed shakily, leaning into his back. Quickly, she became aware of the bike thrumming underneath her, between her legs.

Stupid, manipulative, loving bastards.

Steve waited for her nod against his back. He revved the engine, but did nothing more. “We’ll go slow,” he promised. “It is big and long, and your first time.”

Angie loosened her grip long enough to punch the back of his neck. “You talk a big game for a guy who was a blushing, blue eyed virgin not too long ago. Now get this trash heap movin already!”

Steve, the stupid, manipulative, bastard idiot listened.

Hard as she tried, Angie couldn’t find it in her to fight with him about the bike after that.

Chapter Text

Angie wasn’t used to not being able to talk. She could talk to anybody about anything, if the mood struck. It was a skill Peggy, often so quiet and stilted and British, had poked fun at her for in the past. Always with a kiss to take away the sting.

Angie had lost her ability to speak. Steve Rogers was fidgeting in her living room (one of them), and she had absolutely nothing to say. Which was okay at first. She’d retreated to her Italian instinct to choke the awkwardness out of any situation with food. Which was why her coffee table looked like a wrecked buffet. She kept serving, and Steve kept eating, very dutiful about it, though she was sure he had to be full. Except she and Peggy had both been on the busy side, and Fancy hadn’t come by to restock, and she’d just given the majority of their food, which should’ve lasted a couple more days at least, to Captain America. She thought there might be a jar of pickles somewhere, but she didn’t like to touch those, they reminded her of Dottie. And the last thing she needed was to associate the Russian assassin who’d kissed Peggy with the man in front of her. Who’d also kissed Peggy.  

“You got some…” she indicated her bottom lip. Steve wiped at the spot on his own face, getting rid of the mayo there, then cleaned his hand on a napkin.

“Sorry. Thanks.”

“No problem. Welcome.”

All right then. Progress. Steve blushed, and it was kind of endearing. Angie gave herself a mental smack. Was it wrong to find him endearing? She didn’t think so, but they hadn’t yet gotten around to hashing out all the ground rules. They needed to do that, write them down. Big, bold letters. A framed copy in every room. They’d do that as soon as Peg got back.

When the hell was Peg coming back? Damn telephone company.

Steve had offered to leave. Angie wouldn’t let him. They’d spoken before, after all. She liked him, found him endearing. She really did need to find out if that was okay or not. But they’d talked, and she liked him. Peg had always been with them before. Angie could look at Peg when things got overwhelming, calm herself. She’d seen Steve do the same more than once, and that didn’t bother her as much as it maybe should’ve.

Peggy was gone now, and Angie couldn’t form a sentence. Somewhere in the mansion, a grandfather clock chimed loudly. She dug her nails into her palms instead of jumping a foot off her chair.

“Peggy thinks I’m much worse about time than I really am.”

Okay. Angie wasn’t sure that made sense, but she wasn’t doing squat to fill the silence, and she’d learned a thing or two about beggars and choosers. “Yeah?”

“She assumes I’ve been late to everything my whole life. Was never really a problem before her.”

Steve then launched into a rambling explanation about how the asthma and things made it difficult for him to run, or even walk with any kind of speed, but Bucky always made sure he got where he needed to be. His eyes misted a bit as he talked about Bucky, but he powered through it. He talked without stopping, about everything and nothing. Baseball, the stray dog that’d become his childhood pet, the woman that owned a bakery near his home, who’d sneak him extra pastries twice a week, because no growing boy should be so thin. He drew for her in return, pictures of the view outside her window, of her son who helped run the place, her grandson, a star salesman at the age of five, chatting with the customers and enticing them to buy more.

Angie heard all this without necessarily digesting it. It was a minor revelation. Was this what Peggy felt like when she got excited, and maybe ran her mouth a little too much? Not that she minded Steve running his mouth, it was just surprising. As she told him when he finally lost steam, blushing and running a hand through his hair.

“It’s nothing bad, really. Just, Peg told me you were on the quiet side.”

Steve chuckled, a wry smile on his lips. “Yeah. She also tell you I have a tendency to talk out of my ass when I’m nervous?”

Angie laughed disbelievingly. They’d met, the three of them, a handful of times, and she’d never heard him speak like that. It shocked her a bit which, she supposed, was likely the point. There was something reassuring about it. He sounded like one of the guys from the old neighborhood, men she’d dealt with all her life. “She might’ve mentioned.” She, Angie Martinelli, made Captain America nervous. Not that she hadn’t realized this the moment she met him, but it was different hearing it out loud. Freeing. Made it easier to speak to Steve Rogers. “Peg talked a lot about your art, you know. She was steamin mad when the higher-ups at the ‘phone company’ got into your locker before she could. She wanted your sketchbook.”

“She should’ve had it. Anything she wanted.”

His smile was sad and happy all at once, so like the look Peggy used to wear when talking about him. It hurt to see that look on either of their faces, and Angie felt the need to remind him that it was okay now, they weren’t lost to each other anymore. “You should draw her something new, fill some pages in another book. She’d like that.”

“You think?”

“Definitely.”

“And you…you wouldn’t…?”

Angie shook her head. Art in any form was such a personal thing. If anyone else were to do this for Peggy, expose their heart to her with paper and ink…but somehow she didn’t mind. Not with Steve. She might have, if they’d stumbled through this conversation weeks ago, but not now. She didn’t think that was normal, not minding, but they’d pretty much thrown normal out the window already. “I drew when I was little. Tried, more like. Had this idea I was gonna write my own stories, then draw them, then act them out. Took me awhile to realize I couldn’t draw to save my life.”

“I’m sure you weren’t that bad.”

“Oh, I was. My brothers used to make fun of me for it. That and everything else, but they were right about the drawing.” Angie watched with some alarm as his face darkened, eyes flashing. She knew he loathed bullies, told herself he’d wear that look for anyone with a similar tale. She didn’t buy it. Hadn’t known him long, but did not buy it at all. He looked ready to slug each and every one of her brothers in the jaw, as he had with countless Hitler lookalikes a few years back. He cared about her. Cared about everybody, so she understood, but cared about her something special.

Maybe it was okay that she didn’t mind him drawing for Peg. Maybe, somehow, all these crazy feelings flying like bullets between the three of them were okay.

“It was a long time ago,” she added, because her brothers were idiots, but she didn’t reallywant them knocked into the next decade, “and my Ma gave then hell for hasslin me about it.”

Steve’s face cleared some, a smile tugging at his lips. “Good to know. So tell me about them.”

Angie frowned. “My idiot brothers?”

“If you want, but I was thinking of your stories, your drawings.”

“Nah, those were just silly scribbles on the back of my homework assignments. Nothin interesting.”

Steve shrugged. “Interests me. Wouldn’t ask if it didn’t.”

His smile was attentive, but easy. Like he’d eagerly take in every word she spoke, but wouldn’t mind if those words didn’t come. Which was why she felt okay telling Captain America about her childhood musings. Recounting a story she’d slaved over involving a cat, a priest, and an ice cream truck. In the Broadway performance of this masterpiece, she’d planned to be the truck driver. It was kind of embarrassing, how quickly these things came back to her.

Steve laughed. At the stories, but not at her for creating them. She laughed with him, and thought it very possible that she could get used to the sound.

***

Peggy didn’t know what to expect when she rushed in after dealing with this latest catastrophe. She’d run through various scenarios with varying levels of awkwardness and disaster. She couldn’t help it, considering the way Steve and Angie had looked at her before she left. As though she’d jumped in a lifeboat and left them together on the deck of the Titanic.

None of her scenarios involved the entirety of her kitchen being moved to her coffee table, with Steve and Angie huddled together over a notebook as if they were old friends. Steve had a pencil between his fingers while Angie pointed at something on the page, telling him to add more shading on the left side. They didn’t register her presence until she cleared her throat.

“Oh hey, English. Missed you.” Angie grinned at her, then glanced at Steve. They slid away from each other creating a bit of space, but not much.

“I see. Did you throw some sort of party in my absence to cope with your loneliness?”

“Don’t worry, English, I’ll clean it up.”

We will, I’ll help, don’t worry.”

Smiling at Steve’s rush of words, she approached the sofa they were sharing. “How could I worry with you two about? May I ask what you’ve been up to?”

Angie was off before Steve could take a breath. Something about drawings and collaborations, and how they were going to create their own comic book and turn it into a radio show, then a movie, because weren’t comics always finding their way into the movie houses these days?

Halting at the back of the couch so she could see over their shoulders, Peggy’s eyes were caught by a woman in a rather detailed costume, who bore a more than passing resemblance to Angie. There were smaller renderings of swords, shields, spears, and what looked like something between a machine gun and a rocket launcher.

“We’re still arguing about the cape,” said Angie. “He doesn’t think there should be a cape. You believe that?”

“A cape doesn’t make any sense. It’s impractical. You’d trip over it all the time,” Steve replied.

“Maybe you would. Little Italy’s got more hand/eye coordination than that.”

Peggy’s eyebrows rose toward her hairline. “Little Italy?”

“It’s a working title. Soldier boy here wants Lady Liberty.” Angie shot Steve a teasing glare. “Clearly I’m gonna have to be the idea woman in this partnership.”

“Right. You keep telling yourself that.”

They went on for several minutes, showing her different versions of the costume, debating the merits of secret identities and powers versus no powers. Peggy, who didn’t understand half of it, knew she was grinning like a madwoman.

After a spirited conversation regarding secret lairs, Angie looked up at her, momentarily pulled from the land of fiction. “Hey, forgot to ask. Your work thing. Everything okay, world not gonna end any time soon?”

Pressing a kiss to Angie’s hair, Peggy tentatively stroked a hand over the blonde strands at the base of Steve’s neck. Angie didn’t blink at the show of intimacy. “Everything’s quite perfect, darling.”

More perfect than it had any right to be, actually.

Chapter Text

“You’re a jerk. Now drink.”

Steve’s eyebrows climbed upward as Angie shoved another concoction to his side of the table, roughly enough that most of the liquid ended up outside the glass. “I don’t understand why you’re mad at me.”

“Because you’re being a jerk. Drink!”

Sighing, Steve eyed the drink, a rather unattractive shade of brown. “I’d rather not.”

Angie slammed her fist on the table, causing the line of empty tumblers there to rattle. “Because you can’t handle it!”

“My taste buds can’t, no.”

Steve wasn’t quite sure how he’d gotten into a drinking contest with Angie. Certainly not by choice. She’d come home uncharacteristically down after a bust of an audition, firmly proclaiming her need to get drunk. Which Steve was fine with. There was nothing to do tonight except wait for Peggy, who was supervising an overseas op at SHIELD headquarters. If Angie wanted to drown her sorrows, he had no reason to stop her.

The problem was, Angie didn’t like to drink alone, said it was bad form. Well, that wasn’t the actual problem, because Steve was more than happy to share drinks with her. The actual problem was that for Angie, sharing drinks seemed to mean that both parties had to be affected by them.

“It’s embarrassing if I’m the only one getting drunk.”

“Embarrassing to who? I love you. If you want to—”

“Yeah, yeah, love you too, don’t change the subject. Might as well drink alone, if you’re gonna sit there being all sober.”

He’d tried, many times, explaining that the constant state of sobriety wasn’t something he had control over. For some unfathomable reason, even knowing what she did of his abilities, Angie didn’t believe him about that part. She seemed to think he was all talk, bragging. Which also didn’t make sense, because she routinely referred to him as “disgustingly humble.” How he’d gone from that to an arrogant braggart, Steve didn’t much understand.

Regardless, Angie had made it her mission to get him drunk, no matter what he said about the futility of it.

“Everybody has a limit. My cousin Frankie, all the time he went on about how he could drink anyone under the table, not feel a thing. One night with me and he was flat on his ass, puking in my aunt’s rose bushes.”

Mildly disturbed by how proud Angie seemed at this accomplishment, Steve had pointed out, again, that cousin Frankie hadn’t undergone genetic manipulation at the cellular level. Not that he was aware of, anyway.

No good.

So, Angie had been mixing increasingly awful combinations of liquor for the last hour. Pulling a face at the latest, Steve brought it to his lips nonetheless, raising a toast to her. “You’re a mean drunk, you know that?” He downed the mixture before she could answer, choking.

“Feel anything yet?”

“You really don’t want to know what I’m feeling, Ang.” That was quite possibly the worst thing he’d ever tasted, which was saying something considering what he’d lived on during the war.

Angie grinned, pouring herself a perfectly normal shot of scotch. “You make funny faces when you drink. Kinda like when you finish in bed, only funnier.”

Lost for words, Steve snatched up the scotch, drinking straight from the bottle. It wouldn’t do anything, but it made some part of him, the ninety-eight pound guy who could be wasted after half a beer, feel better.

Slightly better.

***

“I’m a nobody. I’ll go down in history as a nobody, another wannabe actress who didn’t have the chops. You and Peg will be remembered forever, the American hero power couple, and I’ll be the dirty little secret your biographers have to scratch out to keep the story pure.”

Angie was sprawled out on the couch, using Steve’s lap as a pillow. He’d managed to separate her from the booze a short time ago but not, it seemed, before the morose phase of her drunkenness set in. He’d never known her to have a morose phase, but he’d also never known her to drink quite this much in one sitting. “That’s bull and you know it,” he said, running his fingers through her curls.

“Do not. I don’t even know how to land one damn audition. I know nothing, Steve Rogers. And you know nothing about what I don’t know. You know nothing, Steve Rogers.”

Angie seemed to find that last observation terribly funny. He had to wait long moments for her giggles to subside into hiccups before he could speak. “I don’t know much, I’ll give you that, but I know you. You’re amazing, Ang.”

“You’re just sayin that.”

“Because it’s the truth. Listen. One day, people are going to line up for hours to see your shows. Some reporter will interview you after your first Tony win, you’ll tell him about all those dues you had to pay, and everyone who reads that article will wonder what kind of knuckleheads could’ve been stupid enough to turn you down.”

Angie blinked up at him, a lazy smile touching her lips. “Yeah?”

“Absolutely.”

“And all those knuckleheads, their wives will threaten to leave them for missing out on such a huge moneymaker?”

Steve’s answering grin was rather bemused as he pushed a strand of hair away from her slightly unfocused eyes. “Yeah, Ang. You’ll ruin plenty a marriage.”

Settling more comfortably on the sofa, Angie traced absent patterns along his forearm. “Thanks, Soldier. That’s a nice story. You’ll come to all my premieres?”

“Of course. People will wonder what a dope like me is doing with two gorgeous women on his arm, one of them a Broadway star, but I’ll be there.”

“You ain’t a dope, Steve. Well, you kinda are, but you’re my dope. Mine.”

Angie wrapped both arms around his midsection as if the point wasn’t made already, and Steve chuckled, watching her eyes droop. “Yours.”

“Damn right,” said Angie. “My Steve. I love my Steve. Love you, Steve.”

“Love you too, Ang.” Seemed Angie had reached the affectionate stage of her drunkenness. He much preferred this to the angry or sad phases. He let her cuddle up against him, felt her grip loosen. She’d drift soon. He’d take her to bed, have some water and aspirin ready for tomorrow, and by the time Peggy returned, Angie would be safely tucked—

“Hey!”

Steve, who didn’t startle easily these days, nearly jumped out of his skin as Angie shot up from his lap. Without enhanced reflexes, their foreheads would’ve smacked together, and at least one of them would be bleeding. Steve was reminded very vividly of an incident when he was small involving other boys, a Jack in the Box, and his teacher screaming about his frail heart not being built for such things. The screaming hadn’t done much to help matters.

Angie was clamoring off him, getting shakily to her feet. “Steve, you wanna hear my song for the audition? Maybe you could tell what I gotta do better.”

“I’m sure you were perfect. You—”

“Aww, quit butterin me up, Soldier. It’s nice and all, but quit it. Now. Shall I perform for you?”

The tone of that last question made the place near where Angie had been resting go tight. “I’d be honored, ma’am.” And he would, even if he’d been given a choice.

“Such a sweetheart.” Flashing white teeth, Angie slipped around the coffee table, ignoring Steve’s offer of help. She didn’t ignore the half empty bottle of something that’d been left there.

Steve grimaced as Angie took a swig of the liquid. “Ang, why don’t you let me have that?”

Wagging a playful finger, Angie made her way to the middle of the room, stopping in front of him. “This is my mic, silly, I need this. Though I might give you something later if you’re a good little critic.”

Raising the bottle to her lips, Angie took another drag, running her tongue along the top in a slow, deliberate motion. Swallowing, Steve leaned back into the cushions. Flirty stage, then.

“Thanks doll, you’re a doll.” Sparing a moment to laugh at her own joke, Angie sobered (in a relative sense) quickly, tapping the bottle as if adjusting the mic. “All right then. I’m Angela Martinelli, and tonight I’m gonna sing you a little tune called ‘Hard Hearted Hannah.’”

Angie spent several moments after this staring at him, until Steve realized what he was meant to do. “All right then, Miss Martinelli. Let’s see what you got.”

“Wouldn’t you like to know, Mr. Director Man.”

A wink. Wetting of the lips. Yup, definitely the flirting stage. Peggy would be sorry she missed it, if she didn’t get home soon.

Angie, unwilling to wait, began her song. “In old Savannah, I said Savannah, the weather there is nice and warm. The climate of a Southern brand, but here’s what I don’t understand.”

The inebriation wasn’t at all discernable now. She sang with all the skill and gusto Steve had come to expect and adore. Perhaps it was a superpower, this ability to perform past an alarming amount of alcohol.

“They got a gal there, a pretty gal there, who’s colder than an Arctic storm. She’s got a heart, just like a stone, even ice men leave her alone! They call her Hard Hearted Hannah, the…”

Steve was quite enjoying his impromptu show when it abruptly stopped, Angie going silent and pale, her mouth still open. His first thought was that the booze had in fact caught up with her, and she’d forgotten the words. His second thought was that she was going to be sick. He half-stood, calculating. As many bathrooms as there were, he might not be able to reach one in time. There was the potted plant in the corner, a gift from Dugan they all agreed was hideous. He was preparing to whisk Angie in that direction when she finally spoke up.

“I’m sorry, Steve. I’m such a jerk!”

She wasn’t crying exactly, but it was close enough to terrify him. “What? No, of course you’re not. What are you talking about?”

“Arctic! Ice men! I’m so insensitive sometimes. You’re not an ice man, you’re my Steve. I shouldn’t have said anything about an ice man.”

Steve, touched as he was, had to try very hard not to laugh. “Ang, it’s fine.”

“Is not. What the hell is wrong with me? Ma’s always sayin my big trap’s gonna get me in trouble. Well, look at this, you happy now, Ma?”

She directed her question to the ceiling, as though Mrs. Martinelli were somewhere heavenward and not tucked away in her Brooklyn home. “Honey, it’s fine, I’m fine. Please don’t…it’s not a big deal, please don’t be upset.” Recalling the mirth and ridicule his lovers displayed when telling the tale of Sousa and Thompson’s inability to handle a crying Angie, Steve desperately hoped she wouldn’t remember this in the morning.

He spent at least five minutes assuring her that yes, he really was fine, and no, he wouldn’t have nightmares, and yes, he understood that those were the lyrics, and she hadn’t sang those things to make him feel bad. That done, Steve slumped back into the couch, relieved, but not before gently taking away Angie’s “microphone.”

At which point she happily burst into song again, as though there’d been no interruption. He shouldn’t have been surprised.

“To tease ‘em and thrill ‘em, torture and kill ‘em is her delight, they say. I saw her at the seashore with a great big pan, there was Hannah pourin water on a drowning man, they call her Hard Hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah, GA!”

Her enthusiasm for the subject might’ve scared him a bit, but Steve was still loving the performance. Especially when Angie began moving around the room, circling the couch to play with his hair, touch his shoulders, and generally find ways of tormenting him as she sang.

“Now, an evenin spent with Hannah sittin on your knees is like goin through Alaska in your BVDs. I mean she’s hard hearted Hannah, I said hard hearted Hannah, I mean she’s hard hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah, GA!”

Tune at an end, Angie came back around the sofa, taking several bows as Steve showered her with applause. “So, Mr. Director. Did I impress you?”

“Impress ain’t the word,” Steve said, Brooklyn accent thickening as he watched Angie in her element. “I think, Miss Martinelli, that we’ll have to shortlist you for that Tony.”

Angie gasped dramatically. “But the play hasn’t even come out yet!”

Steve shrugged, grinning at her antics. “Formality. I’d get yourself a fancy dress and a nice speech ready, kid. You’re goin places.”

With a shriek and a single hand clap, Angie launched herself at him, legs hooking around his hips, arms around his neck as she peppered his face with kisses. “You like me, you really like me!”

Laughing, Steve rubbed her sides, her back, nuzzling his cheek to hers. “Like ain’t the word, kid.” She kept kissing him, only sometimes hitting his lips. She tasted of liquor and home, and very soon he wasn’t laughing anymore. Not as she rocked teasingly against him or breathed in his ear, or finally saw fit to give him a proper kiss, her tongue teasing along his bottom lip. She murmured something about good audience members getting rewarded, and for a moment, all Steve could feel was gratitude that this wasn’t par for the course at all her auditions. Then she nipped playfully at the pulse point on his neck, and started inching her fingers past the collar of his shirt.

“You know what?” she said, pausing after kissing a trail across his jawline.

“Hmm?” Steve was trying to decide if this counted as taking advantage. It probably did. He was seriously considering reaching out to still her hands when she pressed into him again, hips and chest. He could feel her nipples hardening under her shirt.

No bra. How had he not noticed that before?

“Even if I don’t make it on Broadway, guess there are worse things than bein kept by Captain America and his best girl.”

“Your best girl too,” Steve said. It was hard to concentrate. She’d tried fumbling with the buttons of his shirt, lost patience, and simply pulled, leaving part of his chest exposed and vulnerable to her lips.

Making an agreeable sort of noise in the back of her throat, Angie spoke between kisses and licks to the uncovered skin. “Mine too. Best girl and best guy, takin care of me until I get my big break. Sure you don’t mind takin care of me, Soldier?”

She nipped at his chest. He shuddered. He’d forgotten how…nibbley she could get after drinking. “Never,” he said, cupping her cheek and coaxing her up for a kiss. “I’d like to keep the job after you become too famous for the likes of me, if you don’t mind.”

“That’d probably be okay. I’ll have my people call your people, we’ll set something up.”

He lost track of himself then. Lost himself in her mouth and her eyes and her hands that roamed all over. The rest of his buttons fell to the floor as she tore his shirt open, skimming her nails along his flesh and making him shiver. And she, never particularly still on her best day, was so damn fidgety, bouncing against him and giggling about it through her kisses.

He’d only ever imagined Peggy affecting him like this. Angie’s ability to do the same, but do it differently, it still stunned him. He was losing what remained of coherent thought when her hands clamped down hard on his shoulders, and she released an odd sort of scream in his ear. It wasn’t the kind of scream he usually heard in these situations, especially not when they both remained fully clothed. Minus the buttons, of course.

He had half a second to relive the Jack in the Box incident, heart pounding in the ear she’d just screamed into, before Angie stood up on the couch, using his body for balance. The cushions sagged under her weight and she came perilously close to part of him that was never meant to be stepped on, but she vaulted over the sofa with a surprising level of grace.

Yelling something about forgetting something else, Angie fled the room, leaving Steve to blink hard and wait for his brain functions to return.

***

By the time he’d forced his body to calm down and move, Steve had no trouble finding Angie. Her laughter came loud and clear from Peggy’s office. He went there, fought a brief, losing battle with his shirt, then simply let it hang open. Angie was gripping the edge of Peggy’s desk for balance. Next to her, precariously close to shattering on the hardwood, was the bottle of bourbon Peg kept in the top left drawer. Because of course Angie managed to find more liquor. More troubling than that, the hand that wasn’t keeping her upright was cradling the desk phone.

“Angie.”

She waved off his approach, shushing him loudly and nodding to the red button on the phone that would prevent her call being traced. “I’m using the fancy spy phone so she won’t know it’s me.”

The button was actually in use, and Steve marveled at the odd moment of lucidity. Then he frowned. “Who? Angie, it’s the middle of the night, you can’t call anyone now, it’s—”

“Hi, Miss Fry! Hi, Fry. Lookit that, a rhyme.”

Oh dear God. “Angie…”

He went for the phone. She pushed it out of his reach, half-falling on the desk as she did. She silently mouthed words to him. It’s okay. Spy stuff. She pointed at the trace kill button. Then she spoke into the receiver. “How you doin, Miriam? What do you mean who? Angie Martinelli, 3C. Formerly 3C, I mean, and thank God for that.”

Oh hell. “Angie, let me—”

He went for the phone again. She playfully swung the liquor bottle at him. It was open. Bourbon coated his chest, the already-ruined shirt and, more importantly in relation to his physical safety, the files Peggy had left out on the desk.

Angie drank what remained in the bottle, carelessly letting it roll to the floor. “Shut up, Steve, I’m on the phone. You usually got more manners than that. So listen, Miriam old girl.”

Steve cringed, He’d never actually met Miss Fry, but he’d heard enough horror stories from Angie and Peggy that he could almost picture her expression upon being addressed like that. It wasn’t appealing.

“I just, no, listen. I just wanted to tell you a few things that I never got around to sayin after you kicked me out. Oh, and Peggy? Totally innocent by the way, in case you hadn’t heard. But, not why I called. I called to tell you, Miss Fry, that as much as I appreciate you breathin down my neck every second I resided in your fine establishment, that I don’t need you to govern my impulses. I am a smart, strong, respectable gal, and I think I know how to keep from doin things that’re too impulsive without you babysittin me.”

Steve jammed his eyes closed for half a second. He could hear the famous Miriam’s voice, loud, sputtering and furious, even from here. Before he could make another grab for the phone, Angie spun around on the desk, knocking a letter opener and a container full of pens to the ground. Her feet now rested in Peggy’s swivel chair, her back to him.

“And you know what else?” she asked, using her left foot to move the chair from side to side. “I know about Freud. Yeah, that’s right, proper young ladies can pick up a book too. I know all kinds of things about Freud, and lots of other people too. The library here? Bigger than your entire lobby. Speakin of. The Houdini speech? Move on from that, huh? The girls know it by heart, it has no power, and really, it just ain’t that great of a speech.”

Steve circled the desk. Angie, intentionally or not kicked out, sent the chair flying into him. “Ang, come on. Give me the—”

“What? Oh, that’s Steve. He’s my Steve. He really wants to talk to you, why, I have no idea. Steve, why don’t you just take that stupid shirt off? What’d you do to it, anyway? You gotta take better care of your things.”

Shoving the chair out of the way, Steve grabbed for the phone. This would be easier if he didn’t have to worry about accidentally hurting his very drunk, very uncoordinated lover. Who shifted unexpectedly, so that he grabbed hold of her right breast instead of the phone receiver.

Angie burst out laughing, tears streaming down her face. “Miriam, hey. Get this. Captain America just felt me up. And you said I was headed down a bad road when you threw me to the curb. Well, Captain America just felt me up, so I must be on a pretty great road, so once again I’m forced to conclude that you don’t know what the hell you’re talkin about.”

Steve got the phone away from her. Angie laughed harder, but otherwise showed no reaction. Putting the receiver to his ear, Steve winced as he listened to Miss Fry threaten to arrest Angie, and whatever foolish male had been idiotic enough to throw in with her. “Miss…no. I’m, I’m so sorry. Honestly, I…” Fry’s yelling was loud enough to drown out Angie’s hysterics, a rather impressive feat. “Thank you for looking after Angie while she was there, it means so much. Sorry to disturb you, goodnight!”

He slammed the receiver down, feeling like he’d tossed away a live grenade at the last possible second. Shaking his head, he dropped into the desk chair, absently noting that half the drawers were thrown open. It seemed Angie had forgotten which one housed the bourbon.

He sat there for long minutes, waiting for Angie to laugh herself out. After that happened and she’d wiped her eyes, he made a half-hearted attempt at scolding. “You proud of yourself, Ang? Disturbing old ladies in the middle of the night so you can insult them?”

“Who, Miriam? She’s plenty disturbed without me getting involved, that ain’t my fault.” Pausing, Angie’s eyes drifted to the window, the view of the darkened night beyond. “Hey, Soldier?”

Steve heaved a deep sigh. “Hey, Angie?”

“Wanna play outside?”

***

He did not, but drunk Angie was even more stubborn than the usual version. Which was why he ended up carrying her, on his back, up to the rooftop terrace. This wasn’t completely unheard of. After long dance rehearsals or shifts at the automat, she’d been known to use him as emergency transportation. Or when she just didn’t feel like navigating the large mansion under her own power. He rarely minded, hardly noticed her weight. But tonight she simply would not keep still. The fact that she was pulling his hair, kicking his sides, and referring to him as a fictional horse, that didn’t help.

“Hi ho, Silver, away!”

“Yup, heard you the first time.” He tried to sit her down in one of the disgustingly extravagant lawn chairs, but she merely laughed and clung, forcing him to sit down with her still in place. It was like having a very affectionate, very gorgeous, very drunk monkey on his back.

“Steve?”

“Hmm?”

“You’re an honest guy, right?”

“I like to think so, yeah.”

“Then tell me, honestly. Am I a cute drunk?”

Steve chuckled. “What I’ve seen tonight? You’re every kind of drunk there is. Cute being the main one.”

That earned him a loud, sloppy kiss to the ear. Then Angie was up and off of him, standing tall on the chair, arms thrown wide. “I’m a cute drunk!”

Caught between a laugh and a grimace as Angie’s shout echoed loudly into the night, Steve took hold of her legs. “The cutest. Now sit down before you break your neck.”

“You worry too much, Soldier. You know what else?”

Steve braced himself. “Hmm?”

“I’m the queen of the world!”

That too was screamed much too loudly. He at least managed to get Angie horizontal after that, moving so that he was sitting back in the chair, Angie taking the space between his knees. She was quiet for a surprisingly long time after that, almost a full minute.

“Steve?”

“Angie.” She was leaning into him, her curls tickling his bare chest.

“Stars are nice, huh?”

He smiled, kissing her shoulder. “I’ve always been a fan.” They were bright tonight, beautiful, really. Not as beautiful as the company, but that was an impossible bar to jump.

“I tried to count them once, you know, as a kid. Wanna know how far I got?”

“Very much.”

“4,348.”

Steve’s eyebrows rose involuntarily. He released a low whistle. “What happened then?”

Angie’s eye roll was clear in her voice. “Ma called me in for dinner. She never did get the importance of scientific pursuits, you know?”

Steve hummed in agreement.

“Hey,” she said, reaching back to stroke the side of his face. “Remember back in ’38, Welles did his War of the Worlds broadcast and half the world thought it was real that we’d been invaded by little green men?”

“You were part of the other half, I’m sure.”

“Damn right. And what about you, Soldier? You fall for some okay actin and a couple half-baked sound effects?”

Steve smiled ruefully to himself, Angie’s nails skimming pleasantly along his cheek. “Like to hope I wouldn’t have. Slept through the whole thing.”

“Seriously?”

He nodded against her fingers. “I was in the hospital. Knocked out on some medication or other. Bucky told me about it after. Claimed he knew it was all fake, but who knows?”

The absent touching stilled. “What were you sick with?”

“Who knows?” Steve repeated. “I was sick a lot then, it all sort of runs together.” He frowned then, feeling Angie tense as she shifted to look at him. Hard to tell in the dark, but he thought her eyes might be too bright. “Hey, it’s fine. I’m fine, Ang.” He really couldn’t handle any more tears tonight.

She was silent a moment, kissing his jaw, nuzzling his neck. “I’m glad,” she said finally, voice softer than it’d been in hours. “So glad. So glad you got here, Soldier.”

Steve kissed her, long and soft. He could get drunk on her touch, her closeness, serum be damned. “Me too, Angie.”

She clung tight to him again for awhile after that. He kissed her hair, her temple, rubbed gently at her shoulders and arms until the tension bled out and she was back to observing the sky.

“Think it’ll ever happen for real, aliens?”

Steve shrugged, stroking at her collarbone. “Don’t know. Wouldn’t surprise me if it did.”

“It will,” said Angie. “And when it does, Peggy can be their queen.”

“Queen. Of the aliens?”

“Yeah, who else?”

“Right, dumb question. And what if the aliens have their own queen already?”

“Peggy will oust her.”

“Of course. And…she’d need to do this why?”

“Well, they’ll need a leader, won’t they, someone who knows what they’re doin. Least while their checkin things out here on Earth. Peggy, she knows everything, and when the aliens do come, won’t SHIELD be the first ones everybody calls?”

She was right, actually. There was a certain amount of sense to the rambling.

“Anyway, Peg’s British. She knows about queens.”

Steve snorted back a laugh. “And what about you, Miss Queen of the World?”

Angie made a dismissive noise. “That was just a thing I said. Peg would totally be queen. You and me, we’d be her royal concubines.”

He couldn’t hold back the laugh then. He listened as Angie went on for untold minutes about the UFO palace they would all inhabit once Peggy took her place on the throne. He had every confidence in Angie’s acting abilities, but now believed that she’d do just as well writing, if the mood ever struck.

Angie talked and Steve listened, until she trailed off in the middle of a sentence, falling asleep rather suddenly in his arms. He stayed still, eyes closed, trying to gauge the depth of her sleep, if he could move her without ending it. Those thoughts were interrupted by the sound of heels clicking on the rooftop. When he looked up, it was to the welcome sight of Peggy standing over him.

“Darling. You seem to have popped a button.” Her voice was pitched low. Angie didn’t seem to hear it.

He could only imagine how he looked to her. Torn shirt, hair sticking in all directions from Angie pulling on it earlier. “Hi.”

“Hi. You reek of liquor.”

She sounded more curious than anything else, possibly amused. She would’ve seen all the empty bottles and glasses on her way up. Not her office yet, obviously. The amusement wouldn’t be there if she had. “Angie swung a bottle of it at my head.”

Peggy nodded. “Where are all the phones?”

Oh. He’d forgotten about that. When he’d initially refused to cart Angie up here, insisting that she go to sleep instead, she’d made grabs for every phone in every room, threatening to call Jarvis for a ride. Jarvis was nice, Jarvis would understand. “I had to hide them.”

“I see. Care to explain?”

He told her about the audition, Angie’s uncharacteristically bad reaction to it. Even in the dark he saw her eyes flash.

“Must’ve been quite the bastard, this director. I may have to see about hurting him.” She paused, stepping closer. “Is she drooling on you?”

Steve looked down. Angie’s mouth was half-open where she rested against his chest. A tiny stream of saliva trailed down his bare skin. He didn’t bother confirming it.

“Concubines?” Peggy asked.

Steve blinked. “Not until a few minutes ago, but yeah.”

Peggy sighed. “She did have fun, didn’t she? Tomorrow morning will be an absolute delight. Wanker directors aside, she usually wouldn’t drink this much.”

Squashing the urge to fidget under Angie’s weight, Steve quietly explained about the drinks she kept pouring him, and her bizarre need to keep up.

“You did tell her that doing so is a physical impossibility?”

“Yeah, Peg, I mentioned that a time or twenty.”

Peggy sighed again. “Stubborn woman. Ah well.” Perching herself on the edge of the chair, Peggy moved to take Angie into her arms. The Italian jerked awake halfway through the transfer, hands clawing at Peggy’s blouse.

“Don’t tell them nothin, you hear me, Ralphie? They got no evidence we started that fire. Nothin, as long as you keep your trap shut!”

Sharing an uneasy look with Peggy, Steve sat up, rubbing Angie’s back.

“That’ll make for interesting conversation in the morning,” Peggy muttered, raising her voice slightly as she addressed Angie. “Easy, darling. You’re home, with us. Come now, time for bed.”

“English?” Dazed confusion gave way to something else as Angie threw herself at Peggy, squeezing hard. “English! My English is back!”

“Indeed. And very tired, as you must be. So, come on, let’s get you inside.”

“English, guess what Steve said. He said I’m gonna wreck a whole bunch of marriages. Ain’t he the sweetest?”

Peggy looked at Steve. “What in…no, never mind, I don’t want to know.”

“Peggy, it was—”

Peggy held up a hand, silencing him. “I said I don’t want to know, Steve.”

Closing his mouth, Steve tried to assist as Angie insisted she could walk on her own, falling heavily into Peggy every time she tried.

“Hey Peg,” Angie said on the third attempt, swaying as Steve held her by the elbow. “Know what else Soldier boy said? Said he can’t get drunk. Bragged about it all night. Look at him now, shakin all over the place, can’t even walk a straight line.”

Steve guessed, from her perspective, that it might very well look that way. He bit his tongue as Peggy finally got an arm under her knees, carrying her like a bride as they crossed the terrace.

“Yes, darling. He’s a very silly man, isn’t he?”

“Damn right. Silly, silly, silly. Peg, did you bring extra Steves home? Because I’m seein at least three, and I coulda sworn we only had the one. They all gonna sleep in our bed? Because, it’s a big bed and all, but that could get pretty tight.”

Chapter Text

It was so much about contrasts with them, always had been. Peggy used to hate herself for that. She’d hold Angie and revel in it, and the traitorous part of her mind would compare Angie to Steve. The differences in height and build. Angie’s strong but soft dancer’s body contrasted with all the hard muscle of Steve. There were a million other things, variances to note. Not because Peggy wished for someone else, she adored Angie with everything she had. Still, in the beginning at least, it was hard to keep her time with Angie private, keep memories and missed opportunities at bay. It wasn’t fair to Angie, and Peggy had worked desperately hard to kick the habit, as much as that was possible.

And then Steve was back, and she was no longer an awful person for having those thoughts. She was too lucky, really. Not that she was complaining.

It wasn’t just differences between them. If they’d been polar opposites she couldn’t have loved them the way she did, and they couldn’t have loved each other. Both were uncommonly kind. Intelligent, creative, loyal to a fault. Utterly gorgeous, with blue eyes capable of mesmerizing her. Especially during times like this, when both sets were looking at her with the same mixture of passion and tenderness. It’d be enough to weaken her knees, if she weren’t lying down already.

Steve would’ve carried her if she’d let him, but that just wasn’t on the table. She’d spent more than enough time off her feet already. So she’d walked to the bed under her own power, but allowed him to help ease her down, fluff the pillows, and generally make a fuss. She lay on her back now, him next to her. Angie stood near the foot of the bed, having waited until she was sure Peggy was comfortable.

She was indeed comfortable, but she was looking for far more than that. “Tardiness is this one’s game,” she said, jerking a thumb at Steve while patting the empty space beside her with the other hand. “Move quickly, or we may have to start without you.”

Angie smirked. “Threat or promise, English?”

Arching a brow, Peggy put on a very specific expression. The one that made Angie shiver in place, and then move. Hurriedly. On her way, she stopped to switch off the bedside lamp, the only light source currently in use. “Uh-uh,” Peggy said, offsetting the firmness of her words with a smile. “It’s been far too long. I need to see you properly. Both of you.”

Angie swallowed, audible and visible. She nodded then, climbing atop the mattress and leaving the room bathed in soft light. Reaching blindly, Peggy felt Steve take her hand, his own acknowledgment of her request.

And then she was resting between the two of them, one on each side, and Peggy had to fight to breathe. In a pleasant way. Not like in the hospital, where the pain had persisted endlessly, and being conscious would’ve been a complete waste if not for Steve and Angie. Steve and Angie, who panicked and tried not to every time she closed her eyes for too long, or shifted in a way that worsened the pain. They’d been terribly scared for her, done everything for her while she recovered, whether she wanted them to or not. Everything but this. It was finally possible again, and she wanted it more than anything, wanted them.

Fortunately, when they weren’t being infuriating worrywarts and pitching fits every time she lifted a finger, they could be quite accommodating.

Propped up on his side, Steve leaned in to kiss her, the palm of his free hand tilting her head to make things easier. Peggy leaned into the touch, those large, gentle fingers rubbing against her skin. The kiss was gentle, too. Steve’s usually were, at least to start with. His tongue danced along her lips until she opened up to him, slow as it brushed against hers.

She could do without this much gentle, but knew they couldn’t. They’d need to be careful with her, until she proved that wasn’t necessary. She could do that now, swoop in on both of them, as she’d longed to for weeks. She wouldn’t though. Not yet at least.

So Peggy let Steve be slow and soft, framing his face in her hands. It wasn’t all softness, thank God. He’d been so busy hovering while she convalesced that he’d allowed some of his routines to fall by the wayside. His skin, usually so smooth and clean-shaven, now sported a respectable growth of stubble. Not a beard, but the closest she’d ever seen him get to it. Breaking the initial contact, Peggy planted butterfly kisses along his cheeks and jaw, nuzzling against the rough skin there. At the same time, the bed shifted, and Angie was there, lips roaming across Peggy’s neck, then stopping to nip and suck at the pulse point there.

Angie’s smooth skin and warm lips on her neck. Steve’s mouth, equally warm and welcome, but edged with bristles of facial hair. She fucking adored all those contrasts between them. She petted Angie’s hair, her free hand fisting in Steve’s shirt. When she needed air, she’d break from him, pull Angie up with a gentle hand at the nape of her neck, kiss her properly.

They were stroking her lightly, both of them, teasing touches all along her body. She was still present enough to keep up with who’s hands were doing what, but that wouldn’t last. And God she loved them, but there was slow and easy, and there was bloody torture. So when Angie’s hand drifted up for another pass, Peggy caught it firmly, holding it to her breast. Angie smirked again, but obeyed the unspoken order, rubbing through the fabric of Peggy’s shirt.

Steve’s shirt, actually. She’d worn many of those since leaving that damn hospital room. They were tents on her, but comfortable, easy to remove. This one was dark blue and smelled of him. No bra underneath, so when Peggy’s nipple stiffened under Ange’s touch, there was one less layer of fabric to dull the feeling. Letting her hand drop from Angie’s, Peggy laid that arm across her forehead, breathing in deep sighs. She shouldn’t be this far gone already, but it’d been months, for God’s sake.

Steve followed Angie’s lead, working her other breast. He was slightly gentler about it than Angie, who’d moved on to pinching Peggy’s nipple between her fingers. Steve was always more careful to start with. Bigger hands, more strength, and though Peggy trusted him implicitly, it usually took him awhile to let go and trust himself. Which worked out fine with Angie there to provide a slightly rougher touch. Contrasts again.

It wasn’t that she didn’t love the feeling of her skin against the soft well-worn fabric of Steve’s clothes, she very much did. It just wasn’t nearly enough, and she was starting to realize that if she didn’t prod them, their noble, foolish desire not to push too far too fast would keep Steve and Angie from moving on at all. So, leaning up to kiss Steve and burying a hand in his hair, Peggy moved from lips to ear, giving the lobe a careful bite before speaking. “Love. Thank you for letting me borrow your shirt. Now hurry up and get me out of it, won’t you?”

Peggy had whispered, but Angie was too close not to hear the request. She had half the buttons undone before Steve could move. When he did, he made quick work of the rest. Teamwork was a beautiful thing. Half-rising to shrug herself out of it, Peggy was stopped by their hands easing her down again. Rolling her eyes, she let them get rid of the shirt themselves, Steve tossing it away into a far corner. Teamwork could also be quite annoying.

Her irritation didn’t last, Couldn’t. Her eyes were on Steve, and his were locked on the tiny scar that marred her shoulder, Left, not right. She’d joked that if she’d taken another slug there, she’d have matching sets. Neither Steve nor Angie had laughed. She had bad luck with shoulders, it seemed. Her assailant had shot there first. Would’ve killed her with the one bullet if he’d aimed an inch higher, punctured her subclavian artery. Something Steve was clearly remembering as he skimmed his fingers across the wound.

“Rogers,” she murmured with just a hint of her Director voice, because those blue eyes that’d been so focused just moments ago were far away now. “Hey. Come back to me.”

He blinked, nodded, but didn’t sound like himself when he answered. “You almost didn’t. Come back. Could’ve lost you.”

A tear formed in his right eye. She kissed it away, kissed near his eyebrow, his forehead, then his mouth. She was achingly used to this. Even before the shooting she’d had to talk him down after near misses, when one or more of his squadron got too close to not returning. There were other men, other squadrons, innocent civilians who suffered a worse fate. There was Barnes.

She was more used to this than she ever wanted to be.

After the kiss, Peggy glanced over to Angie. She’d gone still, waiting, offering a small, sad smile. Peggy returned it, then refocused on Steve. The hand that wasn’t on her shoulder had fisted into the comforter. Even in this lighting she could see that the material wouldn’t hold out. Covering that hand with hers, Peggy eased the fingers apart, bringing them to her chest, letting him feel the heartbeat underneath. “You didn’t though.”

He breathed out again, shakily, kissed the shoulder he was touching. “I love you so much. Need you.”

“And I need you, darling, now. Stay here with me. With us.”

When he raised his head a moment later, his eyes were clear. “I’m sorry.”

“No need for it.” She wasn’t sure he believed her.

“You know,” said Angie, breaking her silence. “My Nonna almost convinced Ma and Pop that I should quit acting and move to her village in the old country, marry a pig farmer there. Another disaster averted, huh?”

The snort of a laugh Peggy let out was decidedly unladylike and would have her own grandmother voicing loud disapproval, It mixed with Steve’s chuckle, breaking what remained of the somber mood. Peggy couldn’t properly express her love for Angie in that moment, settled for kissing her instead, hard and deep. She felt Angie tremble, was rather proud of herself, then broke away suddenly. Steve’s fingers, still on her chest, had moved slightly, rolling at her left nipple. His lips followed a moment later, closing over her. Peggy hissed as his tongue worked the already sensitive area. Angie swallowed the sound with another kiss, much briefer than the last. Grinning wickedly as she pulled away, she proceeded to give Peggy’s right breast the same treatment Steve was paying to her left.

Peggy moaned. Sometimes they got like this, one mimicking the other as if it was a competition to see who could do the same job better. It was ridiculous and adorable, and bloody perfect.

She went taut in their mouths, moaning as familiar fingers roamed all along her torso. She could still keep track of who was doing what. Barely. She knew it was Steve ghosting a hand along her ribcage, his careful touch turned even softer as he found the scar there. Nasty thing, just below the ribs, the second shot that nearly went through her spleen. Her eyes were half-closed now, but she forced them open, gazing down at him. His tongue still moved against her, lip catching tenderly on the underside of her breast as he noticed her scrutiny. The hand by her ribs stayed, but the other went lower, squeezing her hip. Peggy wasn’t certain, her mind was a bit too hazy at this point, but she thought the gesture was meant to reassure. He could do this. He could love the hurt without getting lost in it.

Angie paused in her ministrations. Peggy saw her eyes flit from Steve’s face to the scar. They didn’t linger there. Peggy sucked in a breath, feeling the change in temperature as Angie’s warm mouth left her nipple, finding Steve’s forehead. Another show of reassurance. Peggy blinked back unexpected tears, realizing that they’d virtually ignored each other since this started. She could picture them so easily, clinging to each other while she was only half-alive, holding each other together. She loved them so much, hated how they’d gone through that because of her. Fought off the bloody tears before either could see them, because they’d both panic.

She needed a minute. A break from their shared attentions, which could be overwhelming under normal circumstances. And frankly, that simple, tender move on Angie’s part had awakened another need within her. When she told them, one hand stroking Steve’s cheek while the other played along Angie’s neck, the reaction was almost comical.

“But this is about you.”

The conflict in Steve’s voice was mirrored on Angie’s face and Peggy really did work to keep from laughing. She’d gone off of whatever script they’d laid out, and she was quite happy about it. “So it is,” she said, fingers gliding under Steve’s chin. “And I,” she pulled him up for a kiss, brief and light, “have made a request.” She kissed him again. “This being my night and all, should you really be questioning my requests?” They shuddered, both of them, almost in unison. Peggy smirked. Not quite her Director voice, but a version of it that none of her employees would ever, ever hear.

Angie recovered first, delivering a surprisingly perfect salute. “Aye aye, captain.” Her eyes sparkled in the half light as she played with Steve’s collar. “Other Captain?”

Rolling his eyes, Steve told Angie she was insane, sharing a last look with Peggy. “Whatever the lady wants,” he said, voice lower than usual despite the playful grin on his lips.

They moved back then, not far, but enough that Peggy was grateful for these obscenely huge beds. Howard had been right when he said she’d find a use for them, but she was too distracted to be annoyed about that. As she watched, Angie rose to her knees on the mattress, tugging at Steve’s shirt. They were slow to undress each other, fumbling. Nervous, which was absurd and perfect, and reminded her of the first time she’d asked for this. As she had then, Peggy stretched out with an exaggerated calm, raising her knees. The trousers she wore were loose and comfortable, normally reserved for workouts. She slipped a hand beneath them, stroking through the fabric of her underwear while Angie pulled at Steve’s belt and he struggled to remove her underthings.

Peggy would have to go back to dealing with slips and garter belts and everything else once she returned to the office. For now, it was gloriously easy to rub herself where she needed and enjoy the show.

She didn’t quite understand it, honestly. If anyone else were to touch or even look at either of them that way, she would get very violent very quickly. So she had a bit of a jealous streak, she could admit it. But watching Steve and Angie together, jealousy certainly wasn’t the word for it.

Eventually, Angie wound up naked, Steve bare except for his skivvies. Settling on his lap, Angie mapped the planes of his chest, scratching lightly. Peggy licked her lips as Angie’s nipples brushed against the muscle there.

Steve kissed her face, her neck, the valley between her breasts. Angie jerked at that last move, releasing a sound that had Peggy’s fingers speeding up. Her free hand pinched and pulled at her own breasts, drifting between them. The motion was almost absent, enthralled as she was by Steve and Angie’s performance.

Winding her arms around his neck, Angie kissed Steve hard, eliciting a groan. Afterward, she turned her head to look at Peggy, a predatory smirk fully in place. She winked, bloody winked, before rocking down against Steve.

Brat. Always such a brat.

Bracing one hand on Angie’s hip, Steve slipped the other between them, between her legs. Angie kept moving against the bulge still covered by his underwear, clawing at his shoulders while Steve rubbed her. A circular pattern, clockwise, then not, fast to slow, then back. It took Peggy a moment to realize she was mirroring his actions with her own hand.

She let it go like this for several minutes, knowing it wouldn’t last. Angie moved with harsh, whimpering breaths, but made no move to strip off the last of Steve’s clothing. Steve touched her, but there was no real intent behind it. Neither was trying for it, just shooting Peggy dark, hazy glances, waiting for a signal. And Peggy, she could and had come from watching them, but didn’t want that tonight, not yet at least. That spike of raw emotion that’d forced her to put some space between them, it hadn’t passed, but had morphed into something else, a different need.

They eased away from each other at her softest whisper. She wasn’t even sure what to ask for initially. So many possibilities with the both of them here. She didn’t know if she wanted Steve’s hands or Angie’s mouth. Steve’s hands on her while her mouth was on Angie? She had missed that one quite terribly. To hell with it, there’d be time for more later. Angie rocking herself against Steve had given her ideas, and really, it seemed cruel not to do something about that erection, especially since he’d never ask on his own.

So before he or Angie could fall over themselves helping her, Peggy wriggled out of her pants and underwear. Pulling Steve in with a hand to the back of his neck, she brought her fingers lower, squeezing him through the fabric of his shorts. He clenched his teeth, still unable to stay silent, that ridiculously powerful frame shuddering under her touch. She kissed him, squeezed again at the same moment her teeth grazed his earlobe. “Go inside, darling.”

He nodded, breathed roughly, set about removing his shorts. In the interim, Peggy crooked a finger, beckoning Angie to lay next to her again. Realizing belatedly that said finger was rather soaked, she moved to wipe it against the comforter. Angie was faster, snatching up the hand and cradling it between hers.

“Hey,” she said, her tone the same as when Steve or Peggy tried to snatch up some last bit of food she wanted. “Mine.”

And then Peggy’s fingers were in Angie’s mouth. Her tongue was quick, greedy and thorough, licking Peggy clean with a look of absolute relish. Fighting not to melt under the power of that look, Peggy shot Steve a glance. He’d gone still, watching, blue eyes turned almost black.

Bloody fucking damn. She’d survived four bullets, a handful of stabbings, and more broken bones than she cared to think of. It was these two who’d be the death of her, Peggy didn’t doubt it for a moment.

When Angie was done torturing her, they shared slow, lazy kisses. She tasted herself on Angie’s lips. Closing her eyes, Peggy mapped Angie’s face, her mouth, by touch alone. Letting her fingers drift, she found the pulse at Angie’s neck, felt how fast it was beating. She was working on saying something witty and flirtatious when Steve’s cursing caught her attention.

He was naked now, finally, had pulled a condom from the bedside drawer while she was distracted with Angie. His hands shook. That and the lock of hair that had fallen into his eyes made him seem incredibly young. When he looked at her, it was with a sort of mortified amusement.

“I don’t…” He trailed off, swore again. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Nothing,” said Peggy, because there wasn’t. “It’s—”

She’d meant to tell him that everything was fine, or something to that effect. Angie kissed her silent, then moved, crawling until she was in front of Steve, Stilling his hands, Angie took the condom away, rolling it onto him herself. “High school all over again.”

The soft smile on her lips rid the words of any sting. Steve kissed her before she could retreat, catching her wrist in his hand. “Be lost without you, Ang, you know that?” he asked after the contact broke.

“Well yeah,” she said, teasingly bumping her forehead to his. “Everyone knows that, Steve. Everyone. Now. Show her a good time, will you?”

Peggy choked on her laughter again. Angie might’ve been sending them off to the movies together. She wondered what would happen if the absurdity of their situation ever stopped hitting her from time to time, but didn’t dwell on that thought. Not with Angie next to her again and Steve pushing gently on her back, easing her onto her side

Back where she’d started, nestled in between them, Peggy smiled in anticipation as Steve held her from behind. One arm fell loosely over her collarbone, and Peggy covered it with hers, kissing the muscle there. His free hand was lower, positioning himself. Peggy rocked her hips and sank down, releasing a strangled cry.

Her nails dug into his forearm, eyes jamming shut. It was good, it couldn’t be anything else, but it had been awhile. She forced herself to relax, adjust.

“Peggy?”

Steve was holding himself still, but there were tiny trembles in his voice and body. “Just…give me a moment.”

She felt rather than saw his nod. His voice in her ear was ragged and tense. “Just…just tell me.”

Not “tell me when to move,” he wasn’t taking that for granted. If she decided this was too much, it would stop instantly. She wouldn’t, but that wasn’t the point.

Her eyes stayed closed as Angie’s lips dusted over them. The hand that didn’t cover Steve’s had fisted into the comforter. Angie took it, squeezed, provided another anchor as she kissed Peggy’s face, neck, shoulders. Her voice was low and sweet, desperately tender as she told Peggy to take her time, her free hand skimming lightly over her torso.

Within a few breaths, Peggy was ready and told him so. There was an agonizing half second when she thought Steve would question her, then another nod, and the waves of pleasure as he moved inside her.

Forcing her eyes open, Peggy saw Angie smiling at her, a look that was both soft and lustful. She’d always liked it this way, but there were drawbacks. She also liked looking her lover in the eye, and that was harder like this. The problem was solved rather beautifully now. She could drown in the feeling of Steve thrusting up and in, and see Angie at the same time. Angie, who pressed herself impossibly closer, sneaking her hand between them.

There weren’t words for it, how amazing this felt. As was so often the case, it didn’t matter. Angie was more than happy to do the talking. Crooning, really. Lovely Italian words as good as a caress. Past the point of fully hearing them, Peggy knew from prior experience that they were absolutely filthy, things the normally confident woman was too shy to say in English. Peggy’s Italian vocabulary had grown extensively in the last few years. Not that most people would know, since most of the phrases she’d learned from Angie could never be used in polite company.

She was perfectly trapped between them. If she moved a certain way, she could join her lips to Steve’s which she did, often. And whenever she broke from him, there would be Angie, kissing her mouth or her neck or her breasts. Peggy lost all sense of time. At one point she reached down below Angie’s stomach, wanting to give the same pleasure she was so eagerly receiving. Angie surged forward against her fingers, but caught her hand, their mouths meeting in a sloppy kiss.

“Not now. Please. Just lemme do this for you? Please, Peg?”

Fucking hell. She was begging. Peggy couldn’t resist begging. Not with Angie’s eyes so wide, locked on her with something like reverence, and not with Steve hitting that exquisite place inside.

Later. This could be her night, that was all fine and good, but she’d have Angie begging in a different way soon enough. For now she did her best to nod. Then she looked down, saw Steve thrusting in and out while Angie worked her clit between slim, deft fingers. The sight undid her. She cried out, pulling Angie close to muffle the sound.

Steve swore, breath hot and fast against her neck as she clamped down on him. “Peg. God. Love you.”

Far less eloquent than Angie and her filthily detailed Italian poetry, but Peggy loved it. Loved him. Told him so as the hand that hadn’t gripped his arm this whole time latched onto his thigh, squeezing hard. “Your turn,” she said, because he wouldn’t come without knowing that she had. That was all it took. Permission, a few more thrusts, then he was gone, the most powerful man alive totally undone as he clung to her.

Riding out the aftershocks, Peggy jerked fitfully in the cradle of Steve’s arms, feeling how he struggled to get his breath. Angie’s fingers still played with her clit, slow and soft, easing her down.

As they came back to themselves, Steve gave her one last squeeze, dropped a kiss to her upper back, then eased out. Both groaned at the loss, but Peggy didn’t have much time to fret. Angie was running calm hands along her body, soothing her.

“Well, that was a sight for sore eyes,” she said, grinning as she pushed aside a strand of Peggy’s hair, damp now with sweat.

She imagined it was, remembered the thrill of watching Angie with Steve. Watching wasn’t enough though, not anymore. The mattress shifted as Steve did. He was probably dealing with the condom, but Peggy couldn’t be sure. Her focus turned completely to Angie, she rolled them until Angie was lying beneath her. It wasn’t the smoothest transfer she’d ever made, admittedly, but it got the job done, got her knee between Angie’s, and Angie crying out in surprise as she writhed against it.

“Shit, English. Sure you don’t wanna catch your breath first?”

Smirking, Peggy settled atop Angie so that their bodies touched everywhere, breasts rubbing against each other while Peggy’s leg was coated with Angie’s wetness. “Difficult to accomplish, that, you keep stealing it away.” Far from her best line, but Peggy was drunk with want, and Angie didn’t seem to mind, her whole body trembling as Peggy leaned down to kiss her. Distantly, she was aware of Steve’s eyes on them. He’d propped himself on an elbow to watch, she could imagine the pleased little grin on his face, but he made no move to get directly involved. As Angie had waited while Peggy talked him down earlier, Steve waited now, letting them have this time. When they weren’t making impromptu contests out of lavishing attention on her breasts, they were both incredibly considerate about things like this.

Planting a teasing kiss to Angie’s mouth, Peggy reveled in the feeling of Angie’s hand in her hair. The other hand pulled restlessly at the sheets as Peggy ran her tongue along Angie’s collarbone. Where Steve’s arm had been before, while he moved inside her. It was a lovely combination, recalling that so recent pleasure while Angie fidgeted beneath her. She kissed the place between Angie’s breasts, lingered there longer than Steve had earlier, Cupping one breast, Peggy plucked at the nipple, immensely pleased by how quickly it stiffened under her touch. Her other hand ran light circles over Angie’s stomach, just above where they both needed her to be.

Peggy kissed Angie’s neck, her jaw, brushed their cheeks together before leaning down to breathe into her ear. “Do you have any idea,” she pushed her knee up into wet heat, enjoying Angie’s sharp, needy cry before continuing, “how much I’ve missed you?” She switched to the other breast, teasing Angie’s nipple between her fingers.

Eyes wide and skin flushed, Angie still managed a comeback, albeit a weak one. “Been right here, English.”

She wore a tight little smile. Peggy traced the line of it with her tongue. “Indeed,” she said between kisses, Angie’s mouth having opened to hers almost immediately. “You’re always right here when I need you. And for weeks now, I’ve had one thought in my head, overriding all the others. Do you know what it was?”

Angie shook her head, mute.

Moving north from Angie’s breasts, Peggy dragged her hand in a slow trail up her body, stroking along her shoulder and arm until she found the hand clawing at the sheets, covering it with hers. “All I could think every time I looked at you was how much I needed this. You, here, under me. You’ve taken such good care of me, darling, for so long. I need to take care of you now. Will you let me do that, sweetheart?”

Angie positively bucked. “Fuck…Peggy…”

“Tell me. Let me take care of you. Tell me you want that.” So she already had her answer, was being the slightest bit horrible. She’d had next to no control for months. Not over her body, not over the work she hated and loved and had to set aside. If she got a thrill from retaking that control like this, well, she thought Angie would understand.

Angie said something breathy and frantic and Italian, followed it up with Peggy’s name. “Yes. God yes. Just…please. Please, Peg, you gotta—”

That proper begging she’d been waiting for was all it took. Angie’s words fell off into a loud, desperate moan as Peggy’s hand went lower, from her stomach to her sex. Peggy swore aloud, speaking mostly to herself. “God, darling. You’re dripping.” Angie whimpered and tried to push against her fingers, but Peggy placed her free hand on Ange’ chest, making soothing noises and lightly dragging a nail over the skin there. When Angie calmed a bit, Peggy spared a glance at Steve. He was half-hard again (bless that damn formula), but doing nothing about it, just watching them with dark eyes and that smile/smirk she’d envisioned. “I believe she’s quite ready. Thanks for helping with that.”

His chuckle was much lower than usual. “Yeah, real hardship. The things I do for you.”

Peggy was fairly sure Angie was in the process of raising a hand to flip him off. It changed course in a hurry, landing hard on Peggy’s shoulder when she began rubbing Angie’s clit. She used the same motion Steve had earlier, but harder, faster. Angie rocked against her hand, making high, needy sounds that only spurred Peggy on. The hand not clutching her shoulder was still in her hair. Both went tight when Peggy slipped two fingers inside. Angie clamped down hard, shaking all over. “Yes, Angie,” Peggy murmured, cupping her cheek with the hand that wasn’t buried in familiar warmth. “That’s it. God you feel good. You’re perfect.”

Angie’s eyes slammed shut, then opened wide. Her gaze went to Peggy’s shoulder, the one she was gripping. She pulled away sharply, released Peggy’s hair, shut her eyes again.

Peggy was hit with a sudden rush of panic, especially when a few tears fell from behind tightly closed lids. She immediately halted her movements, started to say something before Angie beat her to it.

“No, don’t. Please don’t stop. I’m fine, I swear.”

Peggy felt Steve shift on the bed, felt his gaze turn from lustful to worried. Cupping Angie’s cheek, Peggy kissed her softly. “You’re not. Tell me,” she whispered, tone very different from the one she’d used moments ago when uttering the same words.

Angie breathed harshly, clutching the sheets on either side of her. “I don’t know. I haven’t…I couldn’t let myself feel it before. I signed up for this. I know you guys are always in danger, and I have to accept that. I do accept it. But…”

Broken and garbled, Angie seemed to choke on the words. Peggy realized suddenly that the shoulder Angie so hastily let go of was the one most recently injured. Realized that while Steve lingered over her wounds, Angie hadn’t touched them all night. Realized with a particularly harsh jolt that she and Angie had never properly talked. Tonight wasn’t the first time Steve admitted his fear of what almost happened. But Angie…

Peggy looked at Steve, saw the answer without voicing the question. Angie hadn’t confided in him either, not since those first days after the shooting, at least. There was guilt in his eyes. Blame. He shouldn’t feel that, even though she shared it with him. Angie was always there to ease the tension to help them with their battle scars, as she had tonight. The problem was that she was too good an actress, too good at hiding her own scars. She and Steve had been too distracted to see the performance for what it was.

I signed up for this. I have to accept that.

Angie had tried to protect them, protect Peggy from guilt. Now she was flooded with it. “Darling…”

“I can handle it, what you do, I can. Just don’t, don’t…”

What? Go off and be heroes alone? Leave the stupid, weak civilian who couldn’t cope with the realities of what she’d gotten into? She wasn’t saying it, but Peggy could hear those things in Angie’s voice. She kissed her, long and slow. Taking Angie’s hand, she moved it back to the shoulder that’d caused so much trouble. Reaching to place Angie’s other hand at the nape of her neck, Peggy kissed her again, letting their foreheads touch. “You can handle anything, I’d be a fool not to know that. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to feel anything. I don’t want that, not ever.”

“Peggy—”

“I’m here,” she said before Angie could deflect. “I will always, always do my very best to come back to you. And, let’s be honest, my best is quite a bit better than most people’s.” That earned her a watery chuckle. Peggy smiled, then grew serious again. “I’m here now. We’re all here, together, and I want you to feel it. All of it. Can you do that for me, love?”

Angie nodded, her smile weak but real.

“Good,” Peggy said, slowly resuming the movement of her fingers, mouthing at the column of Angie’s throat. “Hang onto me. I promise I won’t break.”

Angie did, pressing herself as close as she could into Peggy. She shook, and Peggy suspected that wasn’t only because she’d picked up where she left off, working inside of Angie, relearning the places that made her grip tighten, her sounds go higher. There were a hundred other things she wanted to do yet, with both of them, but right now all she wanted was for Angie to lose control.

“That’s it,” Peggy murmured as Angie’s legs wrapped around her hips. “Just like that, darling. You’re so beautiful. Just like that, my love.”

“Fuck…Peg. You’re so…I can’t…”

Twisting her fingers and spreading them wide, Peggy kissed Angie’s forehead, rubbed harder at that small bundle of nerves. “You can. Just feel it, Angie. Just feel it.”

“I’m gonna…close. God, I’m so close.”

“Good. Let yourself go. Let everything go. Come for me, sweetheart. It’s been so long since you’ve come for me. Let me see you, Ang. Let me hear you. Please, darling.”

Angie did, half-screaming as she fell apart against Peggy’s fingers, calling out her name. Pulling Angie close, Peggy worked her through it, coaxing every bit of pleasure she could from Angie’s body. She’d been tense for too long, worried and frightened and carrying it alone. It wasn’t right. Peggy needed her to feel good, feel amazing

She’d been with Angie long enough to read her body, know when to stop. With her lover boneless and shivering, Peggy eased her fingers free, making sure she found Angie’s gaze before licking her fingers clean, one by one.

Angie whined, a fresh spasm working its way up her body. “You tryin to kill me, Peg?”

“Turnabout is fair play, my love.”

Angie nodded, pulling herself impossibly closer to Peggy. “Can you just, just hold me a sec?”

Angie’s face was hidden in the crook of her neck. Peggy felt the wetness of tears there, and something in her chest tightened. “Darling. Anything you need, for as long as you need. You must know that.”

Another nod. “I’m okay. Better than, I mean, that was perfect. Just, didn’t think it would hit me so hard.”

Peggy was quite sure they’d all felt that way tonight. Rolling onto her side with Angie tucked against her, Peggy smiled as Steve closed the distance between them, running a strong, soothing hand over Angie’s back, pausing long enough to pull the comforter over them.

“Hey,” he murmured, brushing a soft kiss to Angie’s neck. “Ang. Don’t hide from us, all right? Still not great at talking to dames, but I’d like to think I’ve improved a little.”

Peggy felt the vibrations of Angie’s watery chuckle, loosening her hold so Angie could roll over and bury her head against Steve’s chest.

Laughing quietly, Steve pulled her into his arms, playing idly with her hair. He also nuzzled her face against his repeatedly. “Still hiding.”

Groaning, Angie swatted playfully at Steve’s cheek. “Scratchy beard.”

Another laugh as Steve caught her fingers in his, kissing the inside of her wrist. “I think beard is overstating it. You want me to shave?”

“Did I say that?”

Taking Angie’s other hand in hers, Peggy used the free one to tilt Angie’s chin towards her. Steve’s chest did make for a rather perfect hiding place, but Peggy couldn’t allow her to keep making use of it. “I’m sorry, you know.”

Angie frowned. “After all that, what would you possibly have to be sorry for?”

“For making you think you had to hide your feelings. Steve’s right, darling. Never do that. Not here, not with us.”

Sighing, Angie shifted again, arms wrapping around Peggy’s torso. “Says the poster woman for the stiff upper lip.”

“Entirely different. I’m British.” Steve and Angie both laughed at her, which was the desired response.

Angie lightly rested her forehead on Peggy’s chest, near her heart. “I’ll do my best not to stomp on your Brit territory if you do your best not to scare me like that again, English.”

Worrying her lower lip, Peggy rocked Angie a bit, meeting Steve’s eyes over her shoulder. “Everything I can to come back to you, darling, always, just like I said.” She paused, considering her next words. If she wanted Angie to be honest about her emotions, some quid pro quo was probably in order. “I scared myself too, you know. When I blacked out, well, I wasn’t sure I’d see either of you again. And that terrified me more than anything else.” Wordless, Steve placed an arm over them both, Peggy focused on breathing, concentrated on Angie safe in her arms, Steve nearby on Angie’s other side. “I love you both. More than I could ever say. And while I’m not the best of patients—”

“A nightmare, you mean.”

Angie’s interruption was muffled against Peggy’s skin. Peggy tugged lightly on one of her curls, but otherwise ignored it. “While I’m not the best of patients, I love you all the more for taking care of me these last weeks.”

Angie made a dismissive noise, but squeezed Peggy a little tighter. “We’ll always take care of you, Peg, nightmare or not.”

“Thank you, darling,” Peggy drawled. “You’re incredibly sweet.”

“Sweeter than rhubarb pie, honey.” Steve chuckled at that. Angie cracked one eye open to glare at him. “Peg, hit him for me.”

Peggy smirked. “You’re closer.”

“So? I can’t move, and it’s your fault, so hit him.”

“In a bit, perhaps. You rest now, you’ll need your strength later.”

Steve cocked his head, looking very much like a concerned Golden Retriever. “You’re still recovering. Sure you’re up for that?”

Another smirk. “Shouldn’t be too taxing. You and Angie seemed perfectly willing to do most of the work earlier. Has that changed?”

Angie and Steve looked at each other in the semi-darkness. The speed with which they shook their heads was quite gratifying. “As I thought.”

There were far too many things she’d missed, things she hadn’t gotten to do yet. Reminding herself that Angie did in fact taste better than rhubarb pie was at the top of that list. Not yet though. For now she was content to hold Angie close, feel the absent patterns Steve drew across her forearm, and just be with the people she loved.

 

Chapter Text

It started with a piece of apple pie and a napkin. Angie was in serious danger of being crushed under the weight of the lunch rush when the skinny guy showed up. Blonde and pale, he looked like he needed food more than anyone else here, but he was the only one who didn’t complain when she told him it’d be a minute. His smile was soft and his eyes were kind.

It was his hands she noticed next, when she brought his drink. His body looked ready to topple at the slightest breeze, but his hands were careful and sure as he sketched on a napkin. He saw her studying the drawing, color blooming in that too-pale face as he tried to cover it up. She stopped him, told him it was good and didn’t lie.

She bullied the cook into throwing some extra fries on his plate because good God was he thin, and nice, and a fellow creative. Also, she was Italian, and feeding people was an innate instinct. He’d made impressive progress on the sketch by the time she dropped off his food. She learned that his name was Steve, and he was in advertising, though it was hardly his dream job. She started to say there was no shame in that, at least he was putting his talents to use. Then someone asked for a refill and someone else had a cold sandwich that wasn’t supposed to be cold, and she had to go off and replace her real smile with a fake one.

Angie brought him apple pie along with the bill, on the house. He argued and she ignored, told him that all this fuss would only make her life difficult. She had a million other customers (only a slight exaggeration), and he wanted to whine over a little piece of pie?

“Just say thank you already, Sketch.”

Steve’s eyebrows rose, the smile turning a bit toward a smirk. “Thank you. Really. Sketch is way better than Shrimp.”

He tried to slip the money for the pie in with the bill. When that didn’t work, he said he’d have to come back another time, clear his conscience by actually paying for a slice. He was terribly shy about it, stumbling over his words. It was kind of adorable. When he left, the napkin was still there, the drawing completed. Angie discretely pocketed it and returned to the army of rude customers threatening to tear down the L&L walls. She spent the rest of her very long shift being cheered by the possibility that shy, skinny Sketch might become a regular.

***

He did, thankfully. It took a week, but Steve came back, avoiding the lunch rush this time. Bit by bit, meal by meal. Angie got him talking in full, coherent sentences, with almost no stuttering. And when he eased up on that shyness which was both painful and endearing, Angie learned that he could be quite the smartass.

Angie liked to people watch, turn the customers into characters, create their stories in her head. The rude fatheads, their stories tended to end with cars driving off cliffs, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that Sketch would listen to these whispered ramblings with that sweet smile of his as if Angie’s crazy plots were more entertaining than any radio show. Soon enough he was actively participating, sharing his own speculations. It shouldn’t have surprised her, artists liked to people watch too.

She’d forget the actual comment later. They’d been spinning a yarn about someone and though Steve rarely added to the more gossip or anger-fueled tales Angie sometimes fell into, this particular customer was exceptionally high on the jerk scale. Steve said something mildly wicked, at least by his standards. Angie would’ve remembered the jibe if not for all the other more important information that came after. Regardless, he’d said something that highlighted his ability to be a smartass, and Angie was pretty sure she meant to call him that, a smartass. She’d called him a punk instead, and his eyes went dark. All of him went a little dark, and that scared Angie more than she wanted to admit.

It took three lunches, two dinners, and four fights over him finishing his damn burger, he needed food for God’s sake, before she learned about Bucky. His best friend who’d gone off to war and never came back and called him a punk entirely too often.

She’d heard him talk of the war before. So much shame and anger held in such a small frame. He blamed himself for Bucky, seemed to blame himself every time someone mentioned a lost friend or father or husband. Angie wished she’d known that before mentioning the cousin who’d come back with a bad arm and a worse head. There was no point telling him that it wasn’t his fault, that he wasn’t less of a man, or responsible for the deaths of other men. If she tried telling him that he’d served in his own way, that designing all those recruitment posters was damn important…well, Steve disagreed.

So Angie avoided war talk when possible. It hurt too much to see Steve engulfed in a sadness she couldn’t pull him from. Steve, Sketch, he was usually real good about pulling Angie out of her own bad headspace. Whenever she told him of a bad audition, there’d be a silly drawing waiting for her after he left, her tip resting upon it. Probably didn’t make sense that she came to treasure those sketches more than the cash.

Oh, and Steve was a good tipper, especially knowing that most of his money went to rent and doctor visits. He was sneaky, too. Sometimes he actually managed to pay for that free food she absolutely refused to let him pay for.

He walked her home after late shifts, nearly always. Angie was too kind to point out that if they were mugged, Steve would more than likely be worse off than her. Still, she liked having him there, even if she did hate herself on the extra cold nights, when his breath came steamy and ragged and she worried that his care towards her would land him in the hospital. Again.

His first meeting with Miriam was a thing to remember. Kept insisting that he didn’t have any…intentions, besides seeing her to her door. Angie believed him both amused and, she would admit later, slightly disappointed that she did.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to be satisfied with seeing her to the staircase, because you won’t be going any further, and you certainly won’t be doing anything more satisfying in my building.”

Steve had reverted back to that nervous stutter, fumbling through denials and explanations until Miriam cut him off.

“The rules here are absolute, no men above the first floor. No matter how,” she’d paused, giving Steve a hard look, “malnourished they may be.”

After that night, Angie often found herself wishing she could sneak Steve up the fire escape and across the ledge without killing him.

The days passed. Plates left half-full, portraits drawn on cheap paper napkins, endless reminders that she would make it to Broadway, that he would be there with bells on, even if that meant getting trampled by all her other adoring fans.

All that people watching she did with and without him, Angie knew Steve was sweet on her. It would’ve been obvious even if the girls didn’t tease her about it relentlessly, taking every chance to announce that her boyfriend was here again.

Her Ma would have a small coronary, seeing how thin Steve was. Feed him until it came back up, then repeat the process. Her brothers would have a field day. Hell, her brothers could’ve easily been on that long list of bullies who tormented Steve over the years. But she’d deal with them when necessary, it wasn’t like she had to bring him home right away. Especially since he hadn’t made his move yet.

Angie would’ve done something already, not at all above asking for what she wanted. She just really, really wanted to see Steve make that move. It would be sweet and funny, probably a little disastrous, and the entertainer in her wanted to be entertained by it.

Still, patience only stretched so far, and she planned to have a talk with him the next time he came in.

The brunette with the red hat and great legs just happened to come in first.

***

To say things got complicated, that would be an understatement.

Angie knew, absolutely knew, Steve was sweet on her. And she was pretty damn sure the feeling was mutual. She was also completely certain they were both head over heels for Peggy Carter.

She introduced them the first time they crossed paths at the diner. It was just the friendly thing to do. Because English was nice (and smart and gorgeous), but a bit closed off. Sketch was the nicest guy she’d ever met, but he’d choke on his own tongue before starting a conversation with English. Also, he was practically drooling over the woman. He was being polite about it and all, but Angie didn’t wanna have to wipe the evidence off his table later, so it only made sense to make introductions.

“Sketch, get over here, quit lurkin in that booth on your own. English, this is Sketch. Sketch, English.”

And so it began.

She’d grown used to glancing up in anticipation every time the L&L door opened, hoping to see Steve. Now she couldn’t decide who she wanted to see more, him or Peggy. Not that Peggy was really an option.

She was pretty sure Steve knew, suspected at least, that her preferences were more…diverse than most. It wasn’t something she could say aloud, not even to him, and he wasn’t the type to pry, but she thought he knew. She wondered sometimes about Bucky, wondered if they shared that in common but again, it wasn’t a thing you just up and talked about over eggs and toast.

Speaking of talking, that was something of a trick with Peggy. Where Steve was an open book, Peggy, well, Peggy was something else. She was guarded, there was no other word for it. Angie lived for the thrill of catching her in unguarded moments, earning a smile or a new piece of information. She’d feel guilty afterward, like she’d done something to hurt Steve. Then she’d think about setting them up. They were two of her most favorite people, and she knew English would like Sketch if she gave him a chance, and they’d look good together, even if Peggy was taller than Steve. Most people were, there was just nothing to be done for it. And if Angie didn’t have her shot with Peggy, which of course she didn’t, well…

Peggy, guarded, secretive Peggy, it took her awhile to really see Steve. Not that Angie could blame her. He was so damn shy and, Angie admitted, she did have a way of monopolizing Peggy’s time. Still, she wanted Peggy to know Steve the way she did, and that started to happen a few weeks after Angie first called him over.

Those drawings Steve did at the Automat weren’t all for fun. Sometimes he came in with his sketchbook, warning Angie with that sweet smile of his that he couldn’t chat or people watch today. He had to finish some ad campaign for some company or other, and all he had time for was his art supplies and a cup of coffee.

On one of those days, he was hunched over a corner booth, scribbling furiously. Peggy was there too, and Angie tried not to notice how he’d sometimes glance between them before ducking his head to refocus on his sketchbook. She was serving English a second cup of tea when a kid, maybe six or seven, slipped out of the next booth over and approached Steve. The kid liked drawing too. Thought he wasn’t very good though, and did it take Steve very long to get good at drawing?

The boy’s mom was quick to scold, don’t bother the poor man and all that, but Steve waved her off like there was no bother at all, like he didn’t have a deadline looming. He sat with the boy for half an hour, sacrificed many blank pages. And when the kid’s mom came up slightly short on her bill, Steve paid the difference.

“Is he always like that?” Peggy asked as they watched the kid wave a goodbye to Steve while the mother thanked him for the fifth time in less than a minute.

“Yeah,” Angie said, not having to ask what Peggy meant. She saw it in her eyes then, that Peggy was beginning to understand about Steve, the way she did.

She’d never been so proud or happy or sad in all her life.

They became three friends after that, slowly, not just Angie and the two friends she was sweet on. Who were also sweet on each other. It was all too convoluted to dwell on, but it was good. Even if Peggy was a bit of a liar.

“She doesn’t work at the phone company,” Angie would say at least once a week when Peggy would run out on her and Steve, citing some phone related catastrophe.

“No, no she doesn’t.”

So Peggy had secrets. So did she. So did Steve. So did anybody interesting enough to know. Angie was just happy to know her. And Steve. The two of them were almost embarrassing, the way they’d cheer her on after bad auditions. She joked about taking them both on as press agents. They’d tell the world how amazing she was, and they’d all ride off into a Hollywood sunset together.

Not that she was the only one in need of a boost. Peggy, who lied about working at the phone company, clearly wasn’t lying about the fathead idiots she was forced to clean up after. And when he wasn’t racing deadlines or giving free art lessons to kids, Steve dreamed of making it into a gallery, maybe opening one of his own. If only it could be that easy.

On one particularly bad night, Angie had been thrown off the stage ten seconds into her song, Steve had been laughed out of the building when he tried selling one of his pieces to a semi-prominent art dealer, and Peggy had gone by Marge all day while taking extra torment from some jerk named Thompson who she and Steve were always threatening to hit. All three of them were being miserable and pathetic, and there was only one thing for it.

Angie was supposed to close that night. Instead of walking home with Steve and Peggy, as had become custom, she stayed late, coaxed them into doing the same. The diner didn’t serve the hard stuff, but Angie maybe might’ve possibly been friends with a fellow waitress who was just a bit of a lush, who kept just a bit of hard stuff stashed away in her locker. Making a mental note to replace the bottle, Angie poured drinks at the counter, brought out the remnants of that day’s pastries, and toasted her friends.

“What a group we make, huh? The starving, misunderstood artist, starving, misunderstood actress, and starving, misunderstood…telephone operator.”

Angie would admit she’d laughed too hard at that, but it broke the mood, dammit, and helped set a better one. She learned much that night. For one thing, her frail best friend Sketch could drink her under the table. Counter, in this case. She and English had both been adamant that he not drink too much, especially when he brazenly declared that he couldn’t get drunk. As it turned out though, her skinny little Sketch was right. As he told it, years of constant and differing medications had somehow made him damn near immune to booze. Who knew?

She also learned that Peggy Carter loved to dance, nearly busting a gut when Peggy cajoled Steve into standing on her feet for a few songs as the radio played low in the background. Angie took her own turn with Peg, fast and slow dances, the two of them teasing Steve until he joined in. It was an absolute mess, the three of them dancing like idiots, stopping to sip drinks and nibble on pie, then starting again. Angie was calling Steve her Apple Pie Guy by the end of the night. She was very drunk then, and intent on recounting every detail of their first meeting for Peggy. In spite of his new nickname, Angie had vague memories of Steve helping Peg clean up the diner. She had no recollection at all of getting home, but learned the next day that it’d involved English scaling the fire escape while Steve distracted Miss Fry, begging to see Angie because he just couldn’t believe that his sweet dollface had broken it off.

Angie threw up the next morning, went into work with a killer headache, and slapped Steve’s arm for the dollface comment. She also counted that night as one of the best in her entire life.

***

Angie was dreaming about Steve and Peggy. Daydreaming, sure, but it still counted. New face at the diner today, particularly rude and handsy. She was in the back getting his food, but not really. Really, she was at her first big premiere, Sketch and English on each arm. English was even more gorgeous than usual in a dark blue dress that highlighted everything that deserved highlighting. Sketch was drowning in his tux, but still managed to do that thing he did that made her stomach flip pleasantly. English was whispering in her ear about an after party and dancing. Sketch, the quiet, unassuming smartass leaned in close to her other ear, describing what could happen after the after party.

It was a nice image, distracted her from all the groping. She just had to wipe it clean from her mind so it wouldn’t show on her face when she came back out front, to where Steve was dining. Dining and glaring at Mr. Hands. Steeling herself, Angie exited the kitchen, resisted the urge to spit in Hands’s food, and pasted on a fake smile. She shouldn’t have bothered, it was gone in an instant anyway. Just like Steve and Hands. She was swearing to herself before the cook opened his mouth.

“Yo Angie! You’re boyfriend’s pullin his hero act, and I ain’t gonna be the one to wash the blood off the wall again, you get me?”

Angie only half heard him. How many times? How many damn times did she have to tell him not to break his sweet, skinny little neck for her?

“Hey Angie, I’m talkin to you! Your boyfriend makes a mess or chokes on his teeth out there, I ain’t—”

“Yes, Richie, I got it, thanks!”

Richie muttered something rude that Angie didn’t quite hear as she deposited Hands’s grub on the nearest flat service. She didn’t bother correcting him about the boyfriend thing this time.

She made it through the alley exit just in time to see Steve get punched in the face, with Hands advancing for anther strike. Ignoring Hands’s leer and Steve’s order to go back inside (as if Steve Rogers could ever order her around), she got between them, pasting on that smile again. She tried, really tried, to be diplomatic about it. But Steve kept going on about showing the lady some respect, and Hands said something about showing her something else. He pawed at her. Steve threw a punch that he caught, then Angie threw a punch that he didn’t.

It got a little crazy after that.

Hands pushed her and called her a rotten name. Steve lost it completely and tried tackling Hands to the ground. Then Angie jumped in to try and help Steve and wound up jumping on Hands’s back, pummeling whatever part of him she could reach. She heard the tear of fabric. Then the clack of heels, which didn’t really make sense until Hands turned around and gave Angie, still on his back, a perfect view of Peggy Carter at the mouth of the alleyway, stalking towards them.

It got way crazier after that.

Angie somehow got thrown off Hands and into Steve, who caught her with a wheezing breath. She thought she’d broken some of his ribs, but didn’t have time to dwell on it. Because English, well, shit. She was a blur of dark hair and red skirt and fists and high heels stepping on Hands’s hands. Angie might’ve caught a “How dare you?” and a “Bloody bastard!” in between, but it all happened very fast and her heart was in her ears, and so was Steve’s harsh breathing.

And then it was over. Hands was half running, half limping away, with Peggy explaining the very specific, very violent things she would do if he ever so much as looked at her friends again.

There was a moment of relative silence, just ragged breathing and the constant noise of the city. Then Peggy was rushing forward, hands all over both of them, checking for injuries. Even being sore as hell with a rip in her uniform didn’t make that part unpleasant. Especially when she realized that Peggy might be paying a little extra attention to the extra bit of leg revealed by that tear.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, could she have been wrong all these weeks about not having a shot?

“I arrive late for tea one bloody day and this is what the two of you get up to?”

Angie glanced at Steve, with his split lip and swelling eye she was just now noticing. She forced her chin to stay up, her eyes to meet Peggy’s, as he spoke.

“We,” he said, pausing as he struggled for breath. “We had him on the ropes.”

Angie rolled her eyes. He was so stupid sometimes, but she couldn’t help mimicking his smirk. “Totally. We softened him up for you.”

At Peggy’s raised eyebrow, Steve hurriedly explained what Hands had done to her, as if it were the worst crime in the world. Which it must’ve been, judging by the way Peggy eyed the spot where she’d last seen him, as if willing him to reappear so she could hurt him some more. Which reminded her.

“Phone company, huh English? That what they teach you during training week?” Peggy looked flustered for half a second, something Angie was quite proud of.

“I’ll have you know that it takes much more than a week’s training to excel at the phone company. It’s very serious, complicated work.”

“At the phone company.”

“Yes, Angie. Can we not discuss this later? You both look like frightful messes.”

“And you look perfect, as usual.”

Steve was getting better with the sweet talk. And he wasn’t wrong. She’d just beat a man twice her size, and there wasn’t a hair out of place. “He’s right. For once,” Angie added, ignoring the teasing glare Steve leveled her with. Peggy looked flustered again, for slightly longer this time. This was turning into the best fight Angie had ever been in.

“Oh, do be quiet you bloody fools. And don’t you dare scare me that way again!”

And then Peggy pulled them both into a hug, and Angie was hugging Steve and Peg at the same time, and it was sort of the best thing ever until she realized she was bleeding on Peggy’s skirt.

“It’s red anyway, no one will see,” Peggy said after the hug was broken, as if she was quite used to dealing with this problem. Before Angie could call her on that, Peggy was demanding that they get inside and get cleaned up.

Which was how Angie ended up walking out of that dingy alleyway that smelled of grease and rotting food with Steve and Peggy on either arm, and an entirely not-fake smile on her face.

 

Chapter Text

They really should be better at this. In Europe, she and Steve barely had to talk. They instinctively knew where the other was during all those sieges and firefights, knew when to jump in, when to stay away. There was a rhythm to their movements. Dugan said it was cute, called it the wartime equivalent of finishing each other’s sentences. Peggy had punched him in the nose for that, at nearly full strength. Cute. Cheeky bastard.

She’d take cute now. Happily.

For all their seamless grace on the battlefield, she and Steve were absolute rubbish in a hospital room. They tripped over themselves and each other every time Angie tensed, offering water, massage, cool cloths. Peggy was woman enough to admit that for once in her life, she was being completely useless. Well, maybe not completely. Angie seemed to be having a good laugh at their expense between contractions, so that was something.

“You guys do remember this is all normal,” Angie said, shifting in her bed. “I’m fine.”

“We know,” Steve said.

Peggy thought the smile he pulled was rather unconvincing, but really, she was in no position to judge. “Of course you are. You’re doing perfectly.”

“Oh I know,” said Angie, smiling and patting Steve’s hand. “It’s you two I’m worried about.”

Peggy shared a glance with Steve, the two of them standing next to each other at Angie’s bedside. She was dangerously close to conceding that maybe, just possibly, there was a reason the other parent wasn’t typically allowed to witness this joyous occasion. It was fine in theory, knowing Angie would have to endure pain. Well, not fine, but tolerable. All of this seemed much more tolerable when she’d read about it in the books. Specially ordered, because childbirth was the one subject on which Howard’s library offered absolutely no guidance.

“Nothin I’m ever gonna have to know about, Peg. Besides, why tempt fate by having that stuff around?”

Still, it all seemed tolerable a few weeks ago. Now, now Angie was in pain and Peggy couldn’t do anything about it aside from embarrassing herself for entertainment value. She made herself remember that she was helping, apparently, made herself recall the look on Angie’s face when they first checked into the hospital.

Howard knew many people here, and not just the nurses. Much money had been donated. He’d found them a doctor who didn’t ask questions and was quite accommodating. He’d discussed with them the bending of the rules. The head nurse hadn’t been so apprised. Peggy didn’t see real fear cross Angie’s face until that insufferable woman declared that she would be going in alone. Steve stepped forward, wearing a certain look Peggy rarely saw outside of combat situations. Then Angie had squeezed his hand and whimpered, taken by another contraction. Peggy took up the task of reasoning with the nurse. She’d negotiated with hostile generals and had an easier time of it, but she was here, and so was Steve, and the doctor had eventually shown up too. So yes, everything was fine.

Completely fine.

Angie calmly requested water after the latest pain ended. She and Steve dove for it much like they would a grenade, spilling the pitcher all over themselves.

Everything was fine.

***

Angie’s water broke not long after that other water debacle. Peggy’s happiness at this sign of progress ended about the time the nurse informed them that the pains would come harder and faster now. Angie wasn’t nearly as concerned. Until the next one came. She’d done well with the breathing exercises until then, but panicked under the strain of this newer, more intense contraction. Peggy moved to do…something, she hadn’t yet ironed out the details, but Steve was faster, squeezing Angie’s hand and gently urging her to open her eyes, jammed tightly shut as the pain moved through her.

“Ang, sweetheart, hey. Look at me, okay? Just take a breath and look at me.”

As Peggy watched, feeling more useless than ever, Steve did his best to coax Angie back into a rhythm of slow, deep breaths. She wondered how many times he’d heard similar words, how many people had said these things to him as the asthma tightened his lungs.

“Breathe like you’d want him to breathe, okay? It’s okay.”

Not something he would’ve heard in childhood, but it did the trick. Reminded Angie (and Peggy) that there was a purpose to all this. Their son. Or daughter. The pronouns changed, sometimes with every sentence, but none of the three were comfortable using “it” in reference to their child. For the moment, they stuck with the boy possibility. When the contraction passed, Steve engaged them in a discussion about who their son would most resemble.

Talking about the baby, reminding Angie how close they were to the big event, that worked for awhile. Peggy was the first to notice though that Angie grew tense and restless every time the door opened. The third time this happened in between contractions, Peggy spoke up. A glance in Steve’s direction confirmed he’d seen the same thing.

“I just,” Angie said, ducking her eyes to examine the hospital sheets. “I keep expectin Sousa or one of the others to barge in here and call you guys off to save the world. And I don’t really wanna do this on my own.”

“Darling,” Peggy murmured, kissing away the frown lines on Angie’s forehead. “You’ve nothing to worry about on that score.”

“Right,” Angie said, pulling a strained smile. “It’s not like you getting called away to save the world is a regular thing or anything.”

“The world will keep,” Peggy said, pressing a hand to Angie’s cheek.

“How do you know?”

“Because it needs to,” Steve said. “There are other agents, if it needs a little help with that, but Ang, nobody’s leaving. Not until all four of us are ready to go.”

“Nothing’s more important than this,” said Peggy, kissing her lightly as she lowered her hand to Angie’s stomach. “Nothing’s more important than you.”

“Besides,” Steve added. “From what you’ve told me, seems like that nurse out front might be related to Miss Fry. I don’t think Daniel could get near this room without losing another leg.”

It was a terrible joke. Peggy laughed anyway. So did Angie, which was all that mattered.

***

Angie didn’t admit that she was in pain. Instead, she explained in great detail why labor was so much worse than anything Peggy or Steve had been through. So Peggy got shot a time or four. Bullets were small. The tiny human pulling at Angie’s insides was not in fact very tiny. So Steve had been rearranged on a cellular level. The whole thing took what, thirty seconds? And how long had they been here exactly, still with no baby in sight?

“At least tell me you screamed,” Angie said between moans and clenched teeth. She lay on her side, gripping Steve’s hand while Peggy rubbed her back. “When they threw you into that magic muscle tank, tell me you screamed. Lie if you have to.”

“I screamed,” Steve said hurriedly. “A lot. Begged them to turn it off.”

Angie sighed as the contraction ended, eyes closed. “Never mind. I forgot what a horrible liar you are. And Howard told me what really happened.”

Biting back her own sigh, Peggy continued to rub Angie’s back, softer than before. “Of course he did.”

“Yeah. You were the one who wanted to axe the science fair project.” Angie shifted enough to catch Peggy’s eye, a weary yet mischievous smile on her lips. “And then you touched his guy-tit.”

Peggy and Steve started to protest, loudly. Peggy realized about the same time Steve did that they couldn’t scold Angie for her word choice, or anything else, until long after this labor had ended. Perhaps in eighteen years or so. She supposed it was a good thing. If Angie was still capable of cleverness and manipulation, she had to be coping well enough. Though at some point Peggy would need to find out who coined this “guy-tit” phrase, Angie or Howard.

Another contraction came. Angie whimpered in a way that shattered Peggy’s heart, but wouldn’t admit to struggling. The closest she got was announcing that Peggy would be doing this next time. Steve might’ve laughed if Peggy hadn’t glared so hard.

“Darling, I fully understand if you never want to do this again. But don’t you think it best that we get this one…out and sorted, before planning for her siblings?”

Thankfully, Angie agreed.

The talk about pain management, that was harder, Peggy wanted Angie to get something, knew without asking that Steve did too. But they couldn’t and wouldn’t push her into it. But dear God, Angie had suffered through so many of these damn things. Over two weeks late and their child was still meandering. Peggy tried not to blame Steve, knowing Angie’s one-time assertion that his genes accounted for the delay couldn’t possibly be true. Meanwhile, Angie was trying not to scream with every contraction. Peggy was mildly shocked that some of those cries hadn’t been directed more at Steve, but Angie claimed that he already looked too sorry and pathetic, and she couldn’t bear to worsen it.

She also would not decide one way or the other about the medication. The discussion, Peggy refused to call it an argument, always came back to some great-aunt of Angie’s. Family legend had her enduring a long, strenuous labor back in Sicily, with nothing but Martinelli fortitude and a bottle of something alcoholic. The details of said legend tended to change based on who was telling the story, and how much of Mr. Martinelli’s favorite Italian wine had been consumed. The labor lasted longer as the number of empty glasses increased. Sometimes this fabled aunt was in a rundown village hospital, sometimes on the side of a deserted road, sometimes in a manger. The Christ parallels were usually too much for Peggy, never mind that some versions of the story had the expectant mother biting on an old boot or a discarded piece of wood for comfort.

Nothing but Martinelli fortitude indeed. Upon meeting Angie’s family, Peggy never again questioned the origins of her flair for storytelling and dramatics.

“What if,” Angie began, crushing Peggy’s hand and panting through a contraction, “aunt Alessandra is watchin? What if she…thinks I’m shamin the family, wimping out?”

Given the circumstances, Peggy thought they did a remarkably good job of countering Angie’s concerns. The reliability of Alessandra’s birth story was highly questionable Alessandra wasn’t doing this right now. And, if she truly was watching from beyond, she would’ve seen the three of them doing things that she’d consider far more shameful than getting some much-earned pain relief.

And then Angie had to bring her and Steve into it. They were spies, they could withstand torture, etcetera. Which led to further discussion about how Steve had taken countless painkillers pre-serum, after a medical scare or an ill-advised brawl. And still, Angie wavered.

“Darling,” said Peggy, trying very hard not to cry from sympathy, concern, or frustration. “There’s no reason for you to hurt like this, not on our account. You’ve nothing to prove, especially not with us. We could never, ever think less of you, least of all for this.”

Peggy had to wait out another contraction for a reply. When it came, it did so in the form of a whimper that was a bit different from all the others, in a voice she’d heard Angie use before. Onstage. “So, English. Does that mean the next time you come home all battered and bruised, you won’t be such a stubborn idiot about takin the stuff the SHIELD docs give you?”

Steve looked as shocked as Peggy felt. Then he coughed, barely bothering to hide the fact that he was laughing at her. Again.

Idiot. They wouldn’t be in this predicament if not for him. And Angie. Dear, sweet, suffering Angie, who always, always had to make her points. Even while in labor. And of course Peggy had no choice but to agree because, labor. Ange’s smile upon receiving the morphine dose was both relieved and triumphant, more one than the other.

***

The drug helped. Somewhat. For a time. It “took the edge off,” whatever the bloody hell that was meant to mean. And their child continued to take his or her time. Peggy tried not to glance at her watch, or twitch every time someone new touched that part of Angie that was usually reserved for her and Steve.

They’d been through several nurses as the shifts changed. All but one shot them looks that ranged from confused to angry. Jenny was the exception. At least Peggy thought that was her name. Her attention was locked on Angie. Angie, who progressively lost her sense of humor and manipulation, along with her desire to speak. She didn’t ignore them, not exactly, nor did she engage. She seemed to have gone inward, somewhere Steve and Peggy couldn’t reach. Peggy worried that it was taking everything she had to carry on with this.

Her suspicions were confirmed in the worst possible way. Angie hadn’t spoken for over twenty minutes, just worked her way through the contractions with cries that increased in frequency and desperation. And then Jenny announced that she was leaving, per the next shift change. She hadn’t performed any medical miracles, but her voice was soft and kind, and she tended to Angie instead of gaping and glaring at Peggy and Steve. Angie was silent when she left, offering a nod and a weak smile as Jenny squeezed her hand, promising in that kind voice of hers that it would end soon, and everything would be fine. Steve and Peggy thanked her for looking after Angie.

It was after the next nurse had come and gone, with that familiar look at Peggy and Steve, that Angie broke. Her hand in Peggy’s went tight and she sobbed, shaking her head against the pillow.

“I can’t do another one yet. I can’t. Oh God.”

She cried out then, the rest of her words getting lost as her body tightened. By the time that most recent wave passed, Angie was sobbing harder, saying she couldn’t do this anymore.

“Ang,” said Steve, wiping at her tears while his own eyes went too bright. “Honey, you can. You’re doing it right now. We’re right here with you.”

Steve’s calming efforts, relatively successful earlier, led only to another weak shake of the head, and a plea to make it stop. Another assertion that she just couldn’t do it anymore.

“Shhh,” Peggy whispered. Angie was too warm, skin red and glistening as Peggy framed her face, tried for eye contact. “Sweetheart, Steve’s right. You’re doing so well, I promise. It’ll be over soon, love, you’ll see. Just like the nurse said.”

Angie cried and panted and didn’t believe a word of it. Peggy couldn’t blame her. Even Steve looked tired by then. Not as tired as Angie, obviously, who insisted that she needed to sleep, needed this to stop.

“Angie,” Steve said, kissing her knuckles as she clutched his hand. “Baby, I promise, you can rest as long as you need when this is over. We’ll take care of everything, both of you. Soon, all right? You’re so strong, Ang. Just a little bit longer, sweetheart.”

Angie closed her eyes tight, but more tears still came. “Steve, this…it’s too much, I can’t…”

“Angela Martinelli.” Peggy didn’t know if she’d meant to throw in a bit of the Director voice, but there it was. “You can do this. You held out for Broadway, even when you thought it was hopeless. You waited for me to come to my senses about us, what we could be. And you held on for me, for all of us, when Steve came back, and we had to muddle through all that without losing each other. You can do this, my love.”

“I only made it to Broadway ‘cause you told me not to quit.” Angie’s tone was different, her reply slower to arrive.

“And look what happened,” said Peggy, taking heart in the lack of an instant denial. “Darling, you can do this, I know it. Have I ever lied to you?” It came out too fast. Desperation had her mouth outrunning her head. Her head caught up just before Angie’s brows knitted in something other than pain. “I…you know what I…” Shite. “Have I ever lied about anything that didn’t concern national security?” There was no way to remind Angie of Mr. Jarvis’s truth/honesty distinction before the next contraction, none at all. “Dammit, I’m trying Angie! And you, Rogers, if you continue to smirk at me like that, you’ll be the one needing pain medication.”

“Shut up English. Just shut the hell up.”

The slight twitch of Angie’s lips robbed the words of any sting. Peggy obeyed nonetheless. Two minutes later the doctor returned, and there was talk of pushing.

***

“She has your eyes.”

“Nah,” said Steve, grin widening as he refuted Peggy’s statement. “Got those from her mom. Lucky girl.”

Peggy could’ve countered, but didn’t. In her expert opinion, having spent years studying both shades of blue very thoroughly, her daughter’s eyes definitely came from Steve. The differences in color were subtle, but most assuredly there. The tuft of brownish-blonde hair though, that was closer to Angie’s shade.

“You’re both wrong,” Angie said. Her speech was more than a bit slurred. “Lizzie’s got Peggy’s eyes.”

Peggy glanced at Steve, the two of them having pulled up chairs next to Angie’s bed. “I take it the drugs are working then,” she said on a laugh. They’d given her more pain medication after the birth, to help with residual soreness. She held the baby securely, but her eyes were turning to slits.

“How’d you know? Listen Peg, I mean it. Your turn next time, huh?”

Next to her, Peggy saw Steve bite his lower lip. Probably holding in another laugh. She couldn’t find it in her to glare at him, not with Elizabeth here. And hadn’t that been clever? They’d spent the last three months of Angie’s pregnancy debating names, hit on Elizabeth, then debated more on Elizabeth versus Liz versus Lizzie. She and Steve argued for the more formal version, and now they’d likely spend the rest of their lives bickering about it. Which was perfectly marvelous, as far as Peggy was concerned.

“Pregnant Peggy,” Angie said after Peggy took too long to respond. “Peggy pregnant. Preg Peg. Preggy Peggy. Preggy Peggy. Preggy…Peggy.”

Angie had dissolved into giggles by then, tears streaming down her face, declaring that Peggy needed to conceive immediately so Angie would have reason to use her new favorite phrase. Steve gnawed at his lip, mouth still curving as he regarded Angie. “I think Peggy would like it if you stick to English for awhile, sweetheart.”

“Oh really?” Peggy asked. “Figured that out, did you? Clever, clever man, I do hope our girl’s been gifted with your brain.”

Steve took the teasing for what it was, kissed her cheek, then gently urged Angie to get some rest. Peggy was amazed she’d lasted this long, honestly. She’d worried at first when it was finally, finally time to push that Angie, determined as she was, wouldn’t have the energy for it, especially considering her state of mind a few minutes earlier. She should’ve known better. Finally able to do something rather than passively enduring the pain, Angie got a rather amazing second wind. She hadn’t slept, even for a few minutes, not in far too long.

“I’m good,” she said, continuing to ignore that fact as she cradled the baby.

“You’re perfect,” said Peggy, kissing Angie’s temple and following her gaze to their daughter. “And so is she, but you both need rest. You know what the books said about sleeping when the baby does.” Elizabeth was indeed fast asleep in Angie’s arms. Peggy would not cry about that, would not give in to the rush of feelings that sight caused. Not right away at least.

“I don’t wanna miss anything. Just…just wanna look at her awhile longer.”

“You won’t miss anything,” said Steve. “She starts walking at a few hours old, and she’s our kid so I wouldn’t put it past her, we’ll get you up right away, promise.”

“That we shall,” Peggy added. “But until then, rest, sweetheart. We’ll watch over the both of you,” she said, consciously paraphrasing Steve’s words from earlier.

It had the desired effect, a soft, drowsy smile that still lit Angie’s whole face. “I know that. Always know that.”

With only slight reluctance, Angie passed Elizabeth over to Steve, but not before a final cuddle and a kiss. “You be good for Mum and Daddy, Lizzie. Mama will see you in a little bit.”

Peggy was not going to cry at the sound of her new title on Angie’s lips. Nor was she going to cry at the sight of Steve holding their daughter so easily, so naturally, as if he hadn’t cringed away from every child he’d been forced to handle in those old news reels. She simply was not going to cry. She kissed Angie instead, gently, resting their foreheads together a moment and pushing a lock of sweat-slick hair out her eyes. “You were amazing.”

Angie smiled again. “First time you said that, I was saving your ass back at the Griffith.”

“An outstanding performance, but nothing compared to the one you gave today.” Peggy kissed her again, briefly, stroked her cheek. “Sleep, darling. We’ll be right here when you wake up.”

Elizabeth perfectly balanced in his arms, Steve pressed his own kiss to Angie’s lips. “I love you. So, so much. Thank you for this. For her.”

“Love you. All three of you. And you can thank me for real the next time her diaper needs changing. Or the next two hundred times.”

Steve promised he would, Peggy dimmed the lights, and Angie was asleep within seconds. Peggy lost track of time then. It was all about watching Elizabeth, watching Steve with Elizabeth, watching Angie sleep, losing patience and cradling Elizabeth herself. She’d been doing this last activity for awhile, memorizing facial features that were already imprinted on her soul, when she called Steve out on the staring. “Careful, or your face is liable to get stuck that way, Captain.” She didn’t look up from Elizabeth. Didn’t need to check that he’d been watching her and grinning nonstop for some time now. She always knew when he was watching, even in the early days at Camp Lehigh, when the adorable fool tried to be subtle about it.

“Right back atcha, Agent.”

He chuckled a moment later, shook his head. Peggy did look up then, eyebrows raised, smile never faltering. “Something funny?”

“In the best possible way, yeah,” Steve replied, voice pitched low so Angie wouldn’t be bothered. “I used to think about this, before the crash. You, holding our kid. And then the plane, you and Angie together after they fished me out…I thought I’d never have it. Especially not like this.”

Peggy nodded. She’d thought the same things. About children with Steve, about that possibility dying when he did, about how she’d lost everything when the plane went down. And then there was Angie, and rebuilding what was broken, and then Steve back, breaking it all down again. She thought once that she’d lose them both, lose them because she couldn’t choose. Somehow she hadn’t. That half-formed thought of children with Steve had become reality, in a way she never could’ve imagined. This was better than that long-postponed night at the Stork Club, better than that “someday” she’d promised Angie at the Griffith, when she first admitted to herself that her friend was more than that, and always had been.

This, all of them together, it was better than a thousand dances. It was the best “someday” Peggy could possibly imagine, not that she’d ever been able to hope for this much. “I know,” she told Steve, because there was no expressing the rest of it, no need to. Especially if she didn’t want to cry.

***

“Well, it’s official. Every one of these gifts are wildly inappropriate for a baby.”

“That surprise you?” Steve asked, “considering the source?”

“Not at all,” said Peggy, setting cups of tea in front of Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis. “Just an observation.” She’d never been foolish enough to think that Dugan and the rest of the Commandos would send anything useful, but the thought was there. Settling down next to Steve and Angie in one of the many, many sitting rooms, she smiled at the sight of Anna holding Elizabeth, cooing softly.

“Thank you for the tea, dear,” Anna said after a moment.

“I would’ve been more than happy to assist you, Miss Carter.”

Peggy fought the reflexive urge to roll her eyes. “How many times must I tell you that you’re our guests, and you will most certainly not be serving us today?"

“You can serve me,” said Howard from his place in a nearby armchair. It was barely past noon, but he’d chosen whiskey over tea.

“I do believe,” said Anna, ignoring Howard with what seemed to be practiced ease, “that Elizabeth here may be the most gorgeous child in existence. She’s certainly the most loved.”

Steve’s grin was brighter than the warm sunlight streaming in through the windows. “No arguments from me.”

Absently, Peggy found herself playing with Angie’s curls, so like her daughter’s. She’d never pined for normality in the general sense, behaving like a “normal” woman, doing only what society deemed her capable of, it would’ve driven her mad. But this, this special normal with her loves and her child and her friends (even Howard), this was good. This was splendid. They were surrounded by warmth and affection and baby gifts from people Peggy could barely claim to know, and it was perfect.

“So,” said Howard, breaking the spell as he so often did. “Still no word on a godfather for the little princess here, huh?”

“No, Howard,” Angie replied, “but thanks for reminding us. Clearly everyone’s forgotten about the first twenty times you asked.”

“Figured that had to be it.”

“Mr. Stark—”

“No, you know what, Fancy? He’s right. I think it’s about time we took care of that. Guys?”

Angie’s questioning look earned a squeeze of the hand from Steve, a kiss to the shoulder. “Fine by me.”

Peggy continued to comb light fingers through Angie’s hair. “Of course, love, if that’s what you want.”

Angie grinned. “You see how well trained I got them? Me, not all those drill sergeants from back in the day. It’s even better since the baby, they do anything I say, hardly let me lift a finger. Go on Peg, you tell them.”

Not entirely pleased with Angie’s choice of words, Peggy still sat forward on the couch, slipping her hand into Howard’s. “Howard. We’ve known each other a long time. You helped Steve and I a great deal, your equipment kept us safe during all those Hydra raids. More than that you…you helped me, when Steve was gone. You never, ever gave up on him. I’m not sure I ever thanked you for that.” Suddenly it was hard to swallow, let alone speak. Steve’s hand found the small of her back, rubbed softly. “In any case,” she said, clearing her throat and returning to the present. To the fact that everything she cared about was safe and here, in this room, “You’re my oldest friend. I dare say that of the many, many, many women who’ve made your acquaintance, I may know you the best.”

Howard was grinning and nodding, chest out. He’d even set his drink down.

“And that is why we’d like to ask Edwin and Anna to be Elizabeth’s godparents,” she said, still grasping Howard’s hand, but shifting to face the Jarvis couple.

Several things happened at once. Anna, still holding the baby, released a gasp. Mr. Jarvis uttered a series of incoherent spluttering sounds. Howard’s mouth dropped open. Angie laughed.

“Peggy, darling, are you certain?”

“No, no she’s not!”

Peggy squeezed Howard’s hand, but otherwise ignored him. “Absolutely, Anna.”

“What do you say, Mr. and Mrs. Fancy?” Angie asked. “Do us the honor?”

Anna agreed, enthusiastically. Edwin nodded, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. Parents exchanged hugs with godparents, and in all the movement, Elizabeth ended up tucked in Peggy’s arms.

“What was that, Peg? Besides cruel, even by your standards.”

“Leave her alone,” said Angie, “it was my idea too.”

“I tried to stop them,” said Steve.

“I’m sorry Howard, truly.”

“No you’re not.”

“No, I suppose you’re right. But really. Every day for the last six months. You had to expect some form of retribution.”

“So if I hadn’t asked so often, you would’ve picked me?”

“Well no, of course not.”

“Then what was all that about friendship and knowing me and all the rest?”

“That was all perfectly true. You mean a great deal to me, to all three of us. And we all know you quite well. Which is why it would be utterly mad of us to put you in a position of responsibility for our child.”

“I resent that!”

“I’m sure. Howard, you’ll always be quite welcome to visit with Elizabeth—”

“Lizzie,” Angie corrected. “But yeah, you’ll definitely sometimes be welcome to see her.”

Peggy shot Angie a grateful glance. All this normalcy and sentimentality must’ve been getting to her head, that could’ve been quite the verbal misstep. “But we’d really prefer that the baby have two godparents—”

“Ah, so now you’re discriminating against me because I’m not married? Nice one, Miriam.”

“I…oh for…honestly, Howard! Why is this so important to you anyway?”

“Because! I’m your oldest, dearest friend, and I should be godfather!”

“She said oldest,” Angie corrected, “not dearest. But listen Howard. We know you just wanna help. You wanna teach her things, right?”

“Right, yes, exactly.”

“Well see, you’re teaching her how to throw a temper tantrum right now. You don’t need a title for that. You’re probably better at being a baby than she is.”

“Me? Look at him,” said Howard, gesturing toward a still-teary Jarvis.

“Leave Fancy alone, I love Fancy. Seriously though, pull yourself together, Fancy. You’re British.”

Nodding, Jarvis blew his nose rather loudly.

“Fine, all right. But what about the next one, huh Peg? Steve here needs a proper set of kids. And a boy. You’ve gotta even things out around here a little more.”

“Howard—”

Steve’s warning didn’t come fast enough. “If Steve here wants more children, perhaps he should be the one to go about having them. I do recall you saying that you might be able to make that possible.”

“Peggy—”

Again, Steve was ignored. “Done. Long as I get to be godfather.”

“Get the technology perfected first and we’ll talk about it. You said it would take a few years, I believe.”

“Not if I’m diligent about it.”

“Fine. Be diligent and we’ll talk. Oh, and go an entire week without setting any fires at SHIELD.”

Howard’s face fell. “Literal or metaphorical? Either way, you’re not being fair.”

“The fact that you think so more than makes my point.”

Peggy spent the next few minutes in animated conversation with Angie and the Jarvis’s discussing whether or not the world was ready for an expectant Captain America. Steve squirmed. Howard sulked, muttering to Elizabeth about all the ridiculous presents he would give her. He was promising a pony and a stable to house it when Angie stood up abruptly, pulling at the buttons of her sweater.

“Looks like the girl of the hour is hungry. Give her here, Peg.”

Elizabeth seemed perfectly content. Peggy said nothing to that effect, just watched all the color leave Howard’s face.

“Jeez, Angie. You’re gonna do that here?”

“Jeez, Howard, yeah. The baby’s here, I’m here, it’s my house, so yeah, I think I’m gonna do it here.”

Mr. Jarvis went an alarming shade of red and choked on his tea. Peggy shared a chuckle with Anna as she pounded her husband on the back. Howard, who’d been thoroughly fascinated with the increased size of Angie’s breasts (Peggy slapped him at least twice during the final months of the pregnancy), was also thoroughly disgusted by the cause of the change. Angie discovered this quite quickly and had been using it to her advantage ever since.

“It’s just…it’s not natural.”

“Hey, I’ve seen the pictures Fancy missed when he was cleanin this place out for us. All the stuff you’ve done to and on tits, and this is unnatural?”

Mr. Jarvis wheezed again. Steve looked like he might chastise Angie for mentioning tits in front of the baby, but laughed instead. Blushed, but laughed.

“Hey Lizzie. You wanna get started learnin new words? Listen to Mama, sweetheart. Your uncle Howard is a hypocrite. Can you say hypocrite? He’s other things too, but you’re way too young to hear about those.”

Angie made no move to take the baby. Instead she followed Howard out of the room (perhaps chased was more accurate), voice echoing through the house as she threatened to nurse in front of him. Unfazed by all the excitement, the baby made a soft gurgling noise before falling asleep in Peggy’s arms. Once Mr. Jarvis had regained his ability to breathe, Anna picked up the talk about Steve carrying the next Rogers child.

Normality indeed.

***

“Sleep, darlings, I’ll get her.”

Steve and Angie didn’t protest. Peggy wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of tromping through the house two hours before dawn, but fair was fair. Angie was, predictably, always on the alert for Elizabeth’s cries, and the serum helped Steve persevere through sleepless nights. It would be too easy to let the other two handle the more unpleasant aspects of parenting. SHIELD kept her away more than she’d like, even with an adjusted schedule. Young as Elizabeth was, Peggy couldn’t help worrying. The lack of a biological relationship, she could handle that. Being the non-biological, absentee parent? That possibility didn’t sit well at all.

She probably shouldn’t have worried so much, not with Angie’s frequent refrain of “Director, I don’t care how busy you were savin the world today, go direct yourself to your kid’s diaper!”

Still, better safe than sorry.

“Shhh. Come on, sweet girl. Can’t be as bad as all that, no need to cry. It’s alright, darling.”

Peggy continued this way for several minutes, after assuring herself that Elizabeth was clean, dry and not hungry. She’d heard talk before, mothers differentiating between a hungry cry and a wet cry and all the others. She hadn’t discounted it exactly, but until recently a baby’s wails all sounded the same. Angie was far better at knowing which was which, but Peggy was learning. She’d known already that this particular bout of sobbing wasn’t caused by something as easily fixable as a new diaper or a bottle, but she’d had to check. Wasted optimism.

She paced the room, humming nonsense, rubbing Elizabeth’s back, half-heartedly eyeing the drawings Steve worked so hard on that lined the nursery. She’d often compared the males at the SSR to infants. Incorrect on her part. Her idiotic co-workers had been much easier to silence.

Not especially awake, Peggy barely realized that her tuneless humming had morphed into words, not until a chuckle from the doorway caught her attention. “I suppose you think this amusing.”

“The great Peggy Carter stumped by a little baby? Yeah, just a bit.”

“I’m not stumped. And it’s hardly my fault that this little baby inherited your rather impressive lung capacity.”

Angie smirked as she approached. “She loves your voice, English, just like I do.”

“Yes. I can tell by the way she screams bloody murder to drown it out.”

“Maybe if you tried some new material.”

Peggy eyed her, uncomprehending.

“You just gonna throw all these depressing nursery rhymes at her? I’d cry too, listening to that.”

She had to think it through, having gone on autopilot. “My grandmother recited these for years when I couldn’t sleep.” It was a far off memory. She hadn’t made use of it consciously, but now felt the need to defend herself.

“I’m sure she did. Did she mention that Mary, Mary the contrary one is about cemeteries and dead Protestants and torturing people? Or that the kids in Ring Around the Rosie all dropped from the Black Plague?”

“I doubt she thought it relevant at the time. And since when did you become such an expert on children’s literature?”

Angie shrugged. “There’s a big library and you guys are gone a lot. I’m just sayin, maybe Lizzie would feel better if you didn’t try putting her to sleep with all this morbid stuff. I mean, I love your gran Peg, don’t get me wrong, but she scares me a little.”

“Of course she does, love, Nana does that to everyone.” Peggy made a mental note to arrange a visit with her grandmother. She’d want to see the baby. “Are you planning to mock me all night, or can I expect some assistance?”

“The second one,” Angie said on a yawn. “Only because I’m too tired to keep up the first.”

“Tragedy, that.”

“Shut up, English. Come here, baby girl.”

Leaning against the wall, Peggy fought her tiredness, watching as Angie rocked Elizabeth. Words soon joined motion, a song, something soft and sweet and Italian. Peggy could’ve translated if she cared to, but the moment was too precious to waste on proper thought. Within minutes Elizabeth was sleeping and settled. “Darling, that was wonderful,” Peggy murmured once Elizabeth was safely tucked in.

Angie smiled in the dark. “You getting sentimental on me, English? Anyway, it wasn’t anything. Trick is, don’t give her anything stupid and scary, with cradles and kids fallin all over. And definitely don’t bring up the cemeteries again.”

Peggy would’ve rolled her eyes, but it required extra energy, which she needed to save for following her ridiculous lover out of the room. “May I remind you that you’re the one mentioning plagues and graveyards, not me?”

“So? You think Lizzie’s not smart enough for subtext? Just sing her something that ain’t about death. That gorgeous voice of yours, guarantee she’ll be out like a light next time.”

“Love. If our child is perceptive enough to grasp the hidden meanings of poems written hundreds of years before her birth, then I guarantee you she won’t appreciate my singing.”

***

Biting back a sigh, Peggy pressed a light kiss to Elizabeth’s head. “You’re putting us both in a very bad spot, you know, and I’m quite sure you’ll regret it.

Elizabeth kept crying.

Peggy released the sigh this time. They’d stopped keeping track of who’s turn it was weeks ago, too much of a mess. As things stood, Peggy was the one awake. Again. And Elizabeth simply would not be soothed. Again. She squared her shoulders. Desperate times and all that. “Can’t say you weren’t warned, my love.” Swallowing, she rolled her eyes heavenward. And then she sang. “Lavender's blue, dilly, dilly, lavender's green. When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.”

She flubbed a few lines, but Elizabeth didn’t seem to notice. Miracle of miracles, she actually grew quiet. Another few verses and her eyes closed, small chest rising and falling evenly. With the same caution she used while handling armed explosives, Peggy put Elizabeth to bed, tucking the blanket (handmade by Anna) securely around her. “Rest well, love,” she said, barely audible. She was quite proud of herself really, until she turned around. Steve and Angie were grinning like utter fools from the doorway. Peggy kicked herself internally for not hearing their approach, but there had been the singing. And the crying, up until a few moments ago. Also, being a mother hadn’t stopped Angie from using Steve as a mode of transport. If anything she did it more often, claiming tiredness. She was currently clinging loosely to Steve’s back, meaning Peggy wouldn’t have heard her steps. And Steve’s, well his were enviously light, considering his size. And cargo. Raising a finger to her lips and narrowing her eyes, Peggy swept past them. They at least had the decency to shut Elizabeth’s door before starting in.

“Aww Peg, that was beautiful.”

“Hardly. Are you getting sentimental on me, love?”

“You said you couldn’t sing.”

“That I did, Captain, and I mean what I say.”

“Peggy, come on, that was great.”

“Clearly you’re both delirious. Drop her back in bed, darling, before the sleep deprivation gets any worse.”

“Can’t carry a tune. Right. Where’d you even pull that song from?” Angie asked. “Doesn’t seem like somethin out of Granny Carter’s repertoire.”

“You know if you stopped referring to her that way,” Peggy said, crossing back into their room with Steve and Angie behind her, “she wouldn’t have reason to scare you so much. As for the song, I believe I heard it from the governess.”

Angie made a hissing noise between her teeth. The mattress bounced slightly as she let go of Steve and dropped onto it. “Fair enough. Just don’t mention the G word around my folks, huh? They’re fine with the whole three’s company thing we got goin, but if they hear anything about nannies—”

“She was a governess, darling, and yes, I understand. We’ve been over it. Several times.”

“Just checking,” Angie said on a yawn, snuggling into Steve as he climbed into bed. Peggy took the empty spot on his other side. It was quiet for a moment. She thought she was safe. Then, “I can’t wait to tell Dugan that his fearless leader sings sweet little lullabies to our kid.”

“You will do no such thing. And you’re the one who told me to sing in the first place!”

“Yeah, well I didn’t think you’d actually do it! It was amazing.”

Angie sounded entirely too amused. Eyes closed. Peggy felt for an extra pillow, found it, and struck. A huff of air was released next to her ear, but it wasn’t from Angie.

“Ha. Mr. Shield makes a great human shield. Thanks, Steve.”

Another huff of air. “Knew I served a purpose in this relationship. You’re welcome, Ang.”

Peggy wondered briefly if the shield reference was literal, or a nod to her status as Director. She didn’t ask. Asking would only fuel them. She slept, ignoring Angie’s pleased giggles as best she could.

It was two days before Dugan and Jones called from somewhere in the Ukraine, asking to be lulled to sleep.

Chapter Text

Angie tried very hard to pretend, pretend it wasn’t that kind of day. She pretty much knew it was a lost cause. Mind over matter wasn’t good enough when it was the mind causing the trouble. Still, she tried.

Worked for awhile. Steve and Peggy bustled around her, talking in low tones. Angie pretended to be asleep, pretended this was normal, pretended the dull but persistent ache in her chest didn’t exist. Pretended the idea of leaving the room, even just the bed, didn’t terrify her. Pretended she wasn’t exhausted to her bones despite the more than decent sleep the night before. The mattress dipped. Too much for it to be Peggy. Curled on her side, Angie released a soft, shaky breath as Steve’s hand mapped her spine. She curled tighter, tried herself small. The light pressure stayed on her back. Another hand found hers, gently pressed between her fingers until they loosened. She realized then that she’d been clutching the duvet much too tight. Her frame was probably too tense. There were probably a thousand little things she’d missed and he hadn’t. He’d never bought it at all, that she was sleeping. And if he knew better, then Peggy did too.

Well, she’d gone into this knowing it was no good. When you lived with spies and soldiers, hiding things was difficult. Especially on bad days. Still, didn’t say much for her acting abilities. She was about to spin into an unpleasant whirlwind of thoughts about her subpar talents when Steve’s voice caught her, slowed the spinning.

“Ennui?”

She’d heard him say it before, heard both of them. There was never any judgment. The same tenderness and concern and compassion came unfailingly from both. And Angie still fought herself every time. They weren’t acting. They weren’t. Especially Steve. She’d sat through thirty seconds of that USO show in Jersey before realizing he was a terrible actor. Wouldn’t have taken her half as long to figure that out if not for the tights. And the abs.

And not even the memory of that ridiculous performance made the ache or the heaviness lessen. Definitely a bad day. Angie swallowed hard, found that her breath hitched and speaking was too much, so nodded instead.

The hand over hers squeezed lightly. She let him guide her fingers to his lips. It was the softest of touches, barely there. Then the mattress shifted again and he was laying down next to her, spooning her from behind without releasing her hand.

“This okay?”

Angie loved him for asking, hated that he had to do it. That she turned into this fragile, useless mess. Angie nodded again, decided she still had some pride left, and made herself speak. “You don’t need to do this,” she said, wishing she could do so without clutching his hand so hard.

“I know.”

“It’ll pass. Always does.”

“I know.”

Angie sighed, Rolling over to face him took far more effort than it should. Plus she had to let go of his hand, and that mattered too much right now. She did it anyway. “Go to work, Steve.”

One strong shoulder rose in a shrug. “Think I’ll play hooky. Between you and me, I have an in with the boss. Don’t think she’ll mind missing me for a few hours.”

“I expect we’ll make due,” Peggy said, heels clacking on hardwood as she reentered the bedroom. “Your pay will be docked accordingly though. Can’t have Uncle Sam paying Captain America for non-working hours. The scandal, we’d never recover.”

Angie bit her lip as Peggy approached, perching on the empty side of the bed. “You don’t need to do this,” she repeated. Probably would’ve been more convincing if Peggy hadn’t started petting through her hair. And if Angie could stop herself from leaning into the touch. “I’m fine.”

Carefully, Peggy extricated Angie from Steve’s arms, pulling her up and into a hug. “Unlike this one, hooky isn’t an option for me. But I should be able to duck out at something resembling a reasonable time this afternoon.”

“You don’t need to.” So stupid, as if that was the only phrase she knew. Be more convincing if she could let go of Peggy, lift the head that wanted to stay on her shoulder forever.

“Let him take care of you,” Peggy murmured, close to Angie’s ear. “Until we both can. Peggy’s orders. And yes, I know we don’t need to take care of you. However, it’s a shared hobby, and it keeps us together. We must have something, you know, and I’ve yet to understand what you and he find so appealing about baseball.”

Usually she’d jump into this very familiar argument with both feet, never once question the gift of Peggy taking a half day. Now, despite the best attempts at normal banter, she just felt like she was screwing everything up. Again. She didn’t know what to say, not without repeating herself, so she held Peggy tighter. Peggy, who was almost certainly late for work, but stayed where she was, combing through Angie’s hair, rocking them slightly, as if they had all the time in the world. It was only after Angie nodded and pulled back as much as she could that Peggy offered a soft smile, a softer kiss. “It’ll be alright,” she promised.

“I know,” Angie replied, echoing Steve’s words from earlier. And she did. Somewhere inside. But when the bad days came, that place was so far away, so hard to reach.

“I’ll see you soon, my darling. Remember, Peggy’s orders.” Peggy stood then, leaning to press a parting kiss to Steve’s mouth.

“Bye, boss lady.” he said before settling onto the pillows next to Angie. “She’s in good hands.”

“You think I’d leave her in anything but the best?”

And she was. Steve held her in his gentle, unobtrusive way, held her like she was everything that mattered in the whole world. But even on her good days, Angie couldn’t make herself believe that lie. He should be helping Peggy, helping someone That’s what he did, helped people who needed it. Not people like her, who were perfectly fine and still threw tantrums with no rhyme or reason.

“Hey. Anything I can do?”

His hands ran soothingly along her torso. Angie realized too late that she’d grown tense in his arms. She breathed past the ache in her chest, shifted to look at Steve’s left shoulder. His eyes would be too much right now. “I feel like I’m keepin you.”

“From?”

Angie shrugged. “Don’t know. Everything. Something important.”

“You’re not.”

“Maybe. Still feels that way.”

Steve’s light touches slowed. She could feel him thinking, imagine the frown lines crinkling his forehead. He kissed her shoulder, then her cheek. Then he promised he’d be right back, and was gone.

His strides were long, purposeful. Angie still found time to panic. It was beyond stupid, and she knew it. If he was going to leave, really leave, he would’ve done it already. Still. She imagined him on one of the phones, telling Peggy he’d had enough, they’d be better without her. She hadn’t yet formed Peggy’s response in her head (beyond knowing it would hurt like hell for her), when Steve returned. He had his sketchbook and supplies, and a tray that normally saw use when one of them was stuck in bed and couldn’t take meals anywhere else.

“Haven’t had time for this in awhile,” Steve said, indicating the sketchbook. “Now I can take a shot at being productive.”

And she wouldn’t have to feel guilty for wasting his time. Angie tried a smile. She wasn’t sure it worked, but she wanted to try, for him. He always tried so hard on days like this, and even when it didn’t work, it sort of did.

Rejoining her in bed, he set up the makeshift workspace. Angie leaned tentatively against him as he began to work, slowly relaxing after he assured her it didn’t disturb him. She didn’t watch his artistic progress as much as his movements. The calm, sure way his hand worked over the paper.

It went on like this for untold minutes until one of the occasional glances he’d been giving her lingered. His hand stopped. Setting his pencil down, he pushed the tray away from him. “C’mere?” he said before Angie could panic too much.

She didn’t know what he wanted, but his hand (lightly smudged with charcoal) was held out to her, and he seemed like the only solid thing in the room right then, so Angie listened. She ended up between him and the tray, her back to his chest. He arranged it so they were both holding the pencil, kissed her hair. Then he flipped to a new page.

Angie tried hard to sync her breathing with his, easier to do when they were this close. She was still working on it when their hands started to move in slow, even lines. “What are we drawing?” she asked, suddenly terrified of her lack of skill. As if he didn’t know that this wasn’t her art form. As if he cared.

“Don’t know,” Steve said with a shrug that Angie felt more than saw. “Whatever we want. Nothing, if that’s what we want. Doesn’t matter.”

She wanted to tell him that yes, it did matter. That she didn’t know why she kept blowing her auditions, didn’t know what she would do if that didn’t change. Didn’t know why he and Peggy put up with her failure, or what she would do when they decided not to. Didn’t know how she could keep letting them run off to kill themselves every other week, or how she was going to do it again next time. Didn’t know why all this was coming up now, swirling in a way that made her head hurt and her stomach queasy. Angie wanted to tell him that there were far too many things she didn’t know, that she absolutely needed to know this at least. But there was something in his voice that kept her quiet, made her understand why so many people were ready to follow him into hell.

She lost track of who was guiding the pencil, did her best not to worry about what they were (or weren’t) creating. Abstract shapes appeared. Watching them curve across the paper helped settle some of the unease. She had the pencil. She had control. And when even that burden was too much, she closed her eyes and let Steve guide her hand. They were closed when he sat forward a bit, resting his chin on her head.

“You can talk to me, you know. If you want.”

Angie exhaled. Her grip on the pencil faltered, one of the lines going rough and uneven. She breathed out, fighting the twist in her stomach. Her mother always wanted to know what was wrong, or said she did. Angie loved Sophia dearly, her folks had been remarkably accepting, all things considered. The ennui was something else. Sophia wanted to know what was wrong. When Angie couldn’t give an answer, it would start. The stuff about how Angie’s parents hadn’t moved across an ocean so their kids could mope around for no reason. How they were lucky to have food on the table and a roof that didn’t leak much. And later, when the war started, how they were lucky to be under their own roof, not locked up in a camp God knew where with the other Italians. Like Fry’s Houdini story, Angie could recite Sophia’s lecture in her sleep.

She was right too. Angie had nothing to complain about, not then, certainly not now. She had nothing to say that would make sense to the man who was being so impossibly gentle with her. She told him as much.

He chuckled, but not in the exasperated, faintly derisive way Sophia used to during one of the bad days. “Ang. I run around in sspangles throwing a fancy piece of metal at people. That’s what I do for a living, when I shouldn’t be alive at all. You don’t have to make sense with me.”

Her emotions clanged against each other, like that fancy piece of metal stopping it’s thousandth bullet. Part of her wanted to laugh. Mostly she tried not to think of the truth in what he’d said, that he should’ve been dead several times over. She tried not to focus on the tray, the one that usually saw daylight when he or Peggy saved the world but got their asses handed to them in the process. She didn’t need another thing to be afraid of right now, not when there were so many already. Pressing down on her shoulders, hunching her over with invisible weight, making that ache in her chest worse.

“It just…everything feels heavy. Everything.”

It didn’t make sense. Probably took her too long to answer. And it wasn’t an answer anyway. Steve would prod for more, rightfully. She wouldn’t have it, and he would see what a mess she was, what a waste of time. That’s what Angie heard in her head, what she expected to reach her ears.

Instead, Steve murmured something about things being lighter in the water.

Which was how she ended up in a bubble bath, in their ridiculous tub that was more pool than anything else. Steve climbed in with her, washed her hair. That helped dull the headache she hadn’t noticed was building between her eyes. He rubbed her neck and shoulders. And yeah, some of the weight did seem to go. Enough that she could tell him, in something resembling logical sentences, that she felt useless on days like this. Less than. That she didn’t understand why the bad days came when they did, or why they came at all. That she hated her brain for doing this again and again. That she felt stupid and needy. She tried to tell him anyway, wasn’t sure how much of the message got through. She talked for a living. At the diner, she’d kissed up to the customers, smiled through gritted teeth, usually did a good enough job at talking the pissy ones out of their moods. She was an actress, or wanted to be. Clear speech was kind of in the job description. Yet she couldn’t talk to Steve, who could well be the easiest guy in the world to talk to.

She stared at his back as she spoke, the only way she could manage it. He’d shifted in the enormous stone monstrosity so she could drag her finger along his skin, using the suds to draw patterns. It was close enough to the drawing earlier that it calmed her slightly. Her nails skimmed over his flesh, cutting a path through the soapy water. Small scars littered his skin. Angie wondered how each of them got there. Steve didn’t like to say. She assumed each story was especially horrifying, considering his healing abilities. Had he been in explosions? Lost a fight with a tank? The more she thought about it, the more Angie realized she didn’t want to know. Not now at least.

His breath stalled after she finished talking, caught and held for long moments before Angie felt the exhale under her fingers. “Tell you a secret?”

Angie stopped her mindless tracing. The thick fog engulfing her cleared a bit. Secrets weren’t something she associated with him. Sure, he didn’t shoot his mouth off about the scars, but if she’d asked him directly, really needed to know, he’d tell her. “Sure.”

Glancing back at her, Steve reached for her hand, loosely threading their fingers together. A far off part of her mind noted that they’d be prunes soon if they kept this up.

“You remember that trip we took with your family, the lake? First time your parents really accepted us as…us?”

Angie squeezed his hand in answer. Speaking seemed even harder now. Dangerous, almost.

“I thought I was okay. I was nervous, but it wasn’t the overwhelming kind. Mostly I was just happy to be with you. All of you.”

Angie squeezed again. She’d been happy too. It was hard to find that feeling now, but she’d definitely been happy.

“I don’t know where Peg was, don’t remember her being there just then. You were onshore somewhere, talking to your mom, I think. I…there was a…”

He paused. At a loss, Angie sat forward, forehead resting lightly against him. Still clasping his hand, she kissed the place her lips found.

Steve glanced back again, offering a tiny smile. He didn’t hold her gaze. “Theo, Robbie and I were messing around on the pier. One of them pushed me into the water. Should’ve been fine. I should’ve been fine. Couldn’t have been deep, not that close to shore. But it felt deep. Felt cold enough to slice my lungs open, even though it was, what, August? I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe, and you’ve heard Howard brag about what he and Erskine did to my lung capacity.”

Reflexively, Angie snaked her free arm around him, tucked in close to his body. She hoped he’d mistake her tears for more water.

“Don’t. Ang, don’t feel bad, that’s not why I told you. You couldn’t have known. I know I wasn’t under long, it just felt that way. I could still hear you and the others laughing, so, not long. I heard you and I focused on that and I snapped out of it, I guess. But that’s the point. You’re not useless, Angie. Not to anybody, but especially not to me. I came out of it because you were there.”

Angie pulled back, shaking her head. She remembered that push into the water, remembered chastising her brothers. She didn’t recall anything being wrong with Steve, not before or after. Apparently he was a better actor than she gave him credit for.

“I love you, Ang. I know it’s not the same, but my mind does things too, things I don’t like. You just, you shouldn’t feel alone. You can feel whatever else you need to for however long, just try not to feel alone.”

So many things she wanted to tell him. That she was sorry. For the lake and the ice and not seeing that his mind had turned on him that day. That it was different, that he had reason to struggle, real demons to fight. He’d argue if she said that. He’d be careful about it, but he’d argue. Angie didn’t have the energy for it. She pressed her cheek to his back, focused on the steady up and down of his breathing. “I know I’m not,” she said, forcing the thought past all the traitorous parts of her brain. “Thank you.”

“Ang,” Steve murmured, cradling the hand that was still in his and pressing it to his lips. “You don’t ever have to thank me. Not for this.”

***

Angie tried her damndest to get dressed properly. In real clothes that you wore when preparing to conquer the day, or at least do something mildly productive. She stalled in front of her wardrobe, cursed herself again. Steve hugged her and smiled, promised it was okay. He left her nightgown near the hamper where it’d landed before the bath, finding her one of Peggy’s shirts instead. Declining his offer of food, she let him lead her back to the safety of their bed. The tray and supplies were set aside for now so it was just them. Angie listened to Steve’s heart, head to his chest as he combed wet tangles from her hair. The shirt helped. It carried Peggy’s scent, and she wore it often when the Brit was away on missions. The heaviness remained. It was bearable, but Angie still felt that getting out from under these covers again would be too much. And, as completely stupid as Betty Carver and all her antics were, Angie noted an embarrassing parallel between herself and the idiot modeled after Peggy. She needed Steve in that pathetic, damsel in distress way, felt like if he wasn’t there to shoulder the worst of the heaviness, keep it off of her, that she’d be crushed under the weight.

She wasn’t sure how long they lay there. Her mind was working both too fast and too slow to worry about actual time. At some point though, she heard the front door open, the sound of Peggy’s heels. She sat up a bit, wanting to look slightly less useless. Steve kissed her hair and murmured something sweet, and there Peggy was, smiling softly at them from the doorway.

“Hello my loves,” she greeted, toeing off her heels.

“Boss lady,” Steve replied, smiling himself. “How was work?”

“Fabulous actually. It’s amazing how much work I get done when you’re not there.”

“Do tell.” Steve said with open curiosity.

“Lorna, my assistant. Perfectly lovely girl, but she’s far more productive when she’s not gazing longingly at you while she’s meant to be doing her job. She missed you terribly by the way, asked after you twice. God only knows how much worse it would’ve been if I stayed the afternoon.”

“If you’re jealous, you could always replace her.”

“If I had to replace everyone in that office who’s utterly besotted with you, I’d have no staff.”

Steve’s eyebrows rose. “Most of the people in that office are men.”

“Yes. Yes they are. How are you, my love?”

The color rising in Steve’s cheeks pulled a smile from somewhere deep inside. Peggy sat, pulling her in for a tight, lingering hug that Angie relished. “Glad you’re home.”

“As am I,” Peggy said, nuzzling Angie’s neck softly. “You smell wonderful. And you wear that shirt far better than I ever have.”

Angie made a dismissive noise in the back of her throat, the best rebuttal she had at the moment.

Pulling back, Peggy gave her a look of mock severity. “Don’t argue. Peggy’s orders said nothing about arguing.” Her gaze traveled to Steve. “I don’t suppose I could trouble you for a bite to eat?”

“No trouble, but I think Angie here’s been holding out for a meal from you.”

An unrestrained bark of laughter was the response. “Ah. She’s not feeling her best, so we take her mind off that by giving her food poisoning. I see why you’re known as such a brilliant tactician.”

“Thought you would.” Steve shifted on the bed, addressing Angie. “You okay here while I go scrounge up some food for my best girls?”

Angie scrounged up something in the shape of a smile. “Yeah, Soldier. Good hands, right?”

Steve kissed the back of her hand, like a gentlemen from the picture shows. “Only the best for you.” Pulling her close once more for good measure, he left the bed, pausing at Peggy’s side to brush his lips with hers before leaving the room.

Ignoring more of that irrational hurt at his departure, Angie focused on Peggy, who shrugged out of her dark blue blazer, then sat next to her on the bed, tangling their fingers together. “How are you?” she asked again. “Honestly, love.”

Angie bit her lip to suppress a sigh, forcing herself to meet Peggy’s eyes instead of studying those predictably perfect red nails. “I am honestly glad that you’re home with me.” She took a deep breath, pushed past her reluctance to admit the rest. “And that makes me feel incredibly selfish.”

Peggy chuckled, but sadly, using her free hand to trace the planes of Angie’s cheek. “Love. You are one of the most unselfish people I’ve ever known, the other two being Steve and a certain Tibetan monk we may speak of later, if you wish. You haven’t a reason in the world to feel selfish.”

Angie nodded. If she didn’t believe that herself, the not-screwed up part of her mind recognized that Peggy did. It was almost enough. They were on their game today, the two of them. Carrying on with the banter, Steve subtly letting Peggy know that Angie hadn’t eaten yet, Peggy tempting her with one of those few and far between stories of her Agent Carter exploits. Angie wished they didn’t have to do this, grateful beyond words that they chose to.

At the moment, Peggy chose to stand, retrieving a book from the nightstand and holding it up for inspection. “The usual?” She smiled at Angie’s nod, crossing back to the bed. Rearrangement occurred as Angie moved so her head could rest on Peggy’s lap, with Peggy sat up against the pillows. “Comfortable?” she asked, thumbing the hardback open with one hand, petting Angie’s hair with the other.

Angie murmured assent, and Peggy started reading. Despite having listened to it off and on for months, Angie would fail even the most basic quiz on story details. On the bad days, Peggy’s voice soothed her like little else could. That voice was what Angie listened to. The particulars of what she heard were there and gone with little fuss. Like the soapy water she’d shared with Steve earlier, like bubbles disappearing at the lightest touch.

She let the words wash over her, focused on hearing Peggy over all the static in her head. That thought brought unwelcome images of Steve in a plane, having what should’ve been his last conversation. Of deep, freezing water on a hot summer day. Of that pier she’d leapt off of so many times as a child, joyously. Of Steve tumbling from that same place, scared and suffocating.

“Alright, love?”

Angie blinked herself back. The damned static in her head had gotten so loud she hadn’t realized Peggy wasn’t reading anymore. “Huh?”

“You’re tense all of a sudden,” Peggy put the book aside to skim her fingers over Angie’s arm and shoulder. “Hardly the result I was hoping for.”

“I’m okay. Really.”

Peggy sighed, stroking Angie’s hair again. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stay with you.”

Angie’s eyes stung. She rolled onto her back, looking up at Peggy. She tried not to tell them when the bad days came at especially bad times. When she was alone and they were saving the world and she couldn’t find it in her to get out of bed. When all those silly, abstract fears became terribly real and her mind repeated a reel of everything bad that could be happening to them half a world away while she struggled just to grab a shower. She tried not to tell them, but they knew. “You got nothin to apologize for, English.”

Peggy hummed, noncommittal. Her next words were said with far more conviction. “Neither do you, Angie.”

Angie closed her eyes. “You should talk to Ma about that.”

“I’ve made the offer. Several times.”

“She’s not wrong, English. It ain’t polio or measles or anything, really. There’s nothing really wrong.”

“If it hurts you, darling, then it is wrong, and it certainly isn’t nothing. Sophia’s a smart, lovely, exceptionally tolerant woman, but she’s mistaken in this case.”

“It’s okay. Peg. Steve already told me it’s not my fault.”

“I thought so. And do you believe that?”

Angie closed her eyes. “Maybe. I don’t know, not today, I don’t think. I believe that he believes it. And you.”

There was a beat or two of silence before Peggy’s next reply. “Is it Steve’s fault that he was born sick, that he had the asthma and the bad heart and the fevers and everything else?”

Angie frowned. “No, of course not.”

“Of course not,” Peggy echoed. “So why is your ennui any different? It’s an illness, Angie, the same as anything Steve had. You’re one of the few people I know who never would’ve shamed him for being sick. Why not do yourself the same kindness?”

Angie blinked. She hadn’t thought of it in those terms. Still, the static remained. “Steve got better. What if I can’t? It’s not because I’m unhappy. Anybody would kill to have what I have so if I can’t fix it that way then—”

Peggy touched a finger to Angie’s lips, hushing her softly. “Then we’ll take the bad days as they come, and we’ll cope the best we can. We will do that, Angie, because you aren’t alone. You won’t be, not ever.”

That pulled a real smile from Angie. “Soldier covered that part too.”

Peggy rolled her eyes. “Yes well. We did write the cue cards together. It was a joint effort though, and I won’t have you giving him all the credit.”

The weak smile held, widened slightly. Then a new thought pushed past the rest of the noise. “If it’s an illness, you think it would’ve gone away if it was me in Erskine’s crazy machine?”

“I’m not sure. Why, planning to steal Steve’s title?”

“Nah, I’d get my own.”

“Yes, silly question. Perhaps that Little Italy moniker could finally see some use.”

Chuckling a bit, Angie remembered one of the better days, making that ridiculous comic with Steve the first time Peggy left them to their own devices. “Steve drew with me today.”

“Oh? Did it help?”

“Yeah, I think it did.”

“I’m glad.” A pause. “I wish I could take this from you, you know, that it was as simple for you as it was for him.” Peggy rolled her eyes again. “Even if the thought of you with Steve’s abilities is utterly terrifying.”

“Thanks, English. I guess.”

“Anytime, my love.”

Finding Peggy’s hand, Angie squeezed tight. They sat in silence a few moments, but Peggy’s touch kept the static from filling it completely. Then there were more footsteps and Steve was there with soup and sandwiches. Angie still wasn’t sure if she could stomach anything, but the broth seemed light and the sandwiches were small and she’d try.

The tray they’d drawn on was brought out again, used for it’s original purpose. Peggy helped her sit up between them. They crowded together, the tray too small for all three of them to eat properly, but Angie didn’t mind. They were warm and solid, and they helped with the heaviness and the static.

She couldn’t fully listen as Peggy talked about that monk (who she’d met in France of all places). It didn’t matter. She and Steve talked between bites, one adding a detail here, a correction there. It was enough. It made the feelings bearable. It made her feel, in spite of all the weight and the static, incredibly lucky.

Chapter Text

“I hope you don’t salute everyone that way.”

“Nah,” Steve said. “Lying my way into the Army? Put a lot of honest work into that. No reason to get kicked out right away.”

“Uh-huh. And this work of yours, was it hard?”

Peggy snorted back a laugh.

Angie looked up from her examination of Steve’s cock with narrowed eyes. “Shut up, English. Or join in. But if you’re not joinin, shut up.”

“Carry on, carry on,” Peggy said from the armchair near the bed. “Your dialogue is just so terribly original, I couldn’t contain myself.”

Muttering something about critics and hecklers and hell, Angie returned her attention to Steve, shifting her knees on the bedspread. “So, if the serum made everything bigger, does that mean—”

Peggy snorted again. “You had to ask, didn’t you?”

Angie refocused on her, glaring. “As if you didn’t.”

“I did not, actually.”

Steve looked up at Angie. “The first time, no, she didn’t.”

“Knew it!” Angie crowed, smacking her hands together.

Peggy rolled her eyes. “You talk too much, the both of you.”

“Says the one who can’t hold in her giggles,” Angie retorted.

“I could leave,” Peggy said, half-rising from her chair only to be stopped by both her lovers. Triumphant, she sat back down. It would’ve been truly unfortunate had they called her bluff.

“I was kinda worried,” said Angie, back to studying Steve, rubbing him with both hands.

“About?” he asked from behind an obviously clenched jaw.

“You know. I’ve seen pictures of you before. Mostly the one Peg stole from your bosses. And hey, one lies to get into the Army, the other steals from them. You two really are a match.”

She hadn’t stopped touching him. Steve breathed out shakily. “You…you said you were worried?”

“Oh yeah. Well, with how scrawny you used to be and how you are now, I just wondered about things fitting okay, you know? I mean, if you dig a hole to put this little seed in, but then you try to plant this full-grown tree trunk there instead—”

“Tree trunk?” Steve repeated, horror in his voice.

“I didn’t say that’s what it was. It’s not. It’s completely fine.”

Steve looked at Peggy. “Fine. Well, that’s good.”

“Well it ain’t like I have much to compare to, I haven’t even seen one of these in years.”

“Something I’m very appreciative of, darling.”

Peggy’s comment and the smirk that came with it was ignored. “And I didn’t mean that in a bad way. I talk when I’m nervous, alright?”

Peggy bit back a consoling remark about how this was a good thing, since it made hard for most people to tell when Angie was nervous. With effort, she stayed quiet.

Steve reached up to touch her cheek. “There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

“You’re the one trembling.”

“Okay, I’m nervous too, but the trembling also has something to do with where you’re sitting.”

Angie looked down, as though only just realizing she’d been straddling Steve’s hips for many minutes now. “Oh. Yeah.”

Peggy frowned. Angie’s expression seemed to be one of contemplation more than anything else, but she felt the need to break her vow of non-interference. “Angie. Nothing needs to happen here.”

“No, of course not.” Steve’s tone was impressively sincere, considering how long Angie had been teasing him.

“No, it’s not…I want to. Didn’t think I would, thought this would be all you two but I want this. With you,” she said, pushing an errant lock of hair back from Steve’s eyes. “Even if you do have embarrassingly bad timing.”

Laughing, Steve sat up from where his head rested on the pillows, pulling Angie into a soft kiss. “I’m sorry for that,” he said after the contact broke. “Not sorry Peggy got to know you, or that I did.”

Peggy watched them gaze at each other. It was terribly sweet, intimate, tender. Peggy folded her hands to keep them from slipping past her skirt. She offered again to leave the room, feeling like an intruder. An exceedingly horny intruder.

“No,” Angie repeated. “I want this, but not without you.”

Steve nodded agreement and Peggy smiled, projecting confidence she didn’t feel. She’d committed many rules and regulations to memory, for her prep schools, the Special Forces, the SSR. There were no manuals or guidelines on how to proceed here. “Well then, I’ll remain a very honored guest. You two enjoy each other. And for God’s sake, relax.”

“Oh. Well now that you said that I’m fine,” Angie declared. “Never woulda thought of that on my own. Really English, that solves—”

Steve cut Angie short with a kiss, careful but insistent. Peggy was torn between mild irritation (he’d stolen her tried and true method) and pride that he was learning so fast. She unclasped her hands.

They kissed awhile, slow, cautious. Angie’s fingers found Steve’s hair, leaving it a tousled mess, leaving Peggy both amused and aroused. Steve found the spot on Angie’s neck that invariably made her shiver. He tightened his hold on her. “Good?”

Nails pressed into his shoulders, Angie’s lips glided over his jaw. The gasp she swallowed remained audible. “Yeah.”

Steve grinned, then turned his head to address Peggy. “Don’t suppose you’ll give me any hints?”

Peggy waved him off with one hand. The other dropped to her skirt. “You seem to be getting on well enough. And what is it they say, half the fun’s in getting there?”

Angie smirked. “Oh good. Least it’s not just me makin old, tired sex jokes now.”

Shifting in the chair, Peggy watched Steve discover Angie’s breasts. She could take pity on him, Angie being only the second woman he’d done this with. And she could take pity on Angie, who’d had romps with a few men years earlier “’cause it seemed like what she should do,” but wasn’t terribly experienced. But why help them along, really? They were perfectly capable of figuring this out on their own. Besides, her intervention might speed things along, and where was the fun in that when this uncertain, fumbling pace was so agonizingly perfect?

An uncharacteristic blush started at Angie’s neck and moved north as Steve cupped her right breast. Her eyes dropped down. “Sorry. I didn’t make out as good as English did in that department.”

It took Peggy too long to decipher that one. She was preoccupied with the contrast of Angie’s smaller breast in Steve’s large hand. “You’re gorgeous!” she blurted as soon as she realized what was said.

“That’s crazy, you’re beautiful!” Steve said at the same time.

They looked at each other. Angie looked between them. She blushed more, then laughed. “Okay then. If you two ever get bored of being shot at all day, I could use a couple publicists.”

“You’re perfect, Angie,” Steve insisted.

“Do you still have not the slightest idea of how amazing you are?” Peggy asked at the same time.

More looks between the three of them. More laughter, not just from Angie. Peggy didn’t think it possible to love Steve more than she already did. He kept surprising her. She thought about stopping the whole thing, making sure Angie knew that this wasn’t about comparison, it wasn’t meant to hurt any of them. Apparently her thoughts were showing.

“I love your voice, English, but let’s chat later, huh? I’m trying to get laid.”

Steve laughed until Angie squeezed him again, turning it into a groan. Peggy bit her lip to keep a straight face. “Yes, darling. My apologies, darling. As long as this preoccupation with size doesn’t become a recurring theme.”

Angie promised it wouldn’t, blew her a kiss, and continued on.

Steve learning about Angie’s nipples was a special kind of perfection. It took him about two seconds to realize that Angie was far more sensitive to breast play than Peggy, who grinned as his eyes widened. Recalling her own thrill at making that discovery was a simple but powerful thing. And when Steve tentatively drew a nipple into his mouth, pulling a strangled moan from Angie, well. Peggy licked her lips, imagining the hardened bud pressed against her own tongue. The hand below her stomach picked up speed, teasing her clit as Steve teased more pleasure from Angie.

For her part, Angie kissed and sucked along Steve’s neck and shoulders. And then came the bites. Peggy was honestly surprised that part had taken so long. Angie was always sulking over Peggy’s policy about marks, or lack of them. Steve though, he’d heal before dawn the next day, no fussing with obscene amounts of makeup. Peggy was slightly jealous, exorcising those feelings by changing the motion of her fingers and plucking a nipple with her free hand. That it didn’t affect her the way it did Angie hardly meant it didn’t affect her.

She was quite enjoying herself, suppressing for now the urge to attack them both. This time the watching would be more than enough. Until it wasn’t, until they just stopped. Steve released Angie’s left nipple with a small popping noise, his lip catching on the underside. Angie held onto him, but she’d halted her quest to mark him as thoroughly as possible. Two sets of blue eyes, darker than normal, regarded Peggy. “What?” she asked, partly concerned, partly annoyed by the interruption of such stimulating entertainment.

“You…you’re,” Steve shook his head.

“You’re gettin off,” Angie said without preamble.

Peggy nodded slowly. “Indeed. As were you, I thought. So?”

“So it’s fuckin hot,” Angie said.

“And distracting,” Steve added, softer and more hesitant than the woman in his lap.

Peggy rolled her eyes. “Bloody fucking…you,” she said pointing to Angie with her free hand. “What will you do if someone mucks up a line in one of your plays, throws the whole thing off? The show must go on, distractions or not, yes? And you,” she indicated Steve. “I’ve seen you debate baseball statistics with Dugan while we were being bombed and shot at. You should be able to handle this. For God’s sake, both of you, walk and chew gum!”

A brief silence followed. Somewhat surprisingly, Steve was the one to break it. “To be fair, Dugan never distracted me the way you did.”

Angie made a noise between a laugh and a snort. “So good to know. Hey Peg?”

Sighing, Peggy rolled her eyes again. “Yes, darling?”

“You’re not wearin anything under that skirt, are you?”

“No, darling.”

Angie shot Steve a look that managed to convey lust and long suffering in equal measure. “And she doesn’t want us distracted.”

“Given our plans for the evening, leaving them on seemed impractical.”

“Sure, English,” Angie said, nuzzling her head into Steve’s neck. She’d shown prior fascination with the height different between he and Peggy. “And if you ever wanna be impractical at one of my shows you’re so worried about—”

“I’m going to put the knickers back on.”

Steve and Angie made it clear that they found this to be a very bad idea.

“Well then. Walk and chew gum,” she repeated, leaning back in her chair.

Angie gave Steve a rather wicked smirk. “If anything’s gonna be in anybody’s mouth, I don’t think gum should be involved. And no chewing,” she added, somewhat more seriously. “At all.”

“I can handle that if you can,” Steve replied, possibly considering the bites she’d left on his upper body.

That deal struck, things moved along easily enough. Angie hovered over Steve, who’d leaned back against the pillows. Having made quick work of the condom they’d left on the bedside table, he had a loose hold on Angie’s hips, stabilizing without pushing. Angie stroked his chest and stomach, the muscles jumping visibly. She held his eyes for long moments, then found Peggy’s. Steve followed suit, turning his head to look at her properly.

Again she reacted too slowly, took too long to understand what they wanted. She was quick to act though once she figured it out. Standing, Peggy crossed to the bed, getting on her knees beside them. She trailed the hand they’d been so distracted by over Angie’s lips, letting her kiss and lick. She leaned down at the same time, mouth finding Steve’s. It was enough to make her chest hitch. She wasn’t used to it yet, the reality of Steve. With her, kissing her the way they’d never had time for during the war. She could’ve stayed there longer, indefinitely, but stopped herself. This was about Steve and Angie, and she would’ve remembered that even if Angie’s tongue hadn’t found a ticklish spot on her palm, jolting her into something like thought. Of course she would’ve remembered.

“It’s alright,” Peggy murmured, trying not to get completely derailed by Steve’s hardness so close to the wet pooling at Angie’s thighs. “Darlings. You’re so gorgeous together, I had no idea…” Derailed anyway. Perhaps she’d been a bit too quick with the gum metaphor. “You’re amazing, the both of you. It’s okay. I want you to feel good. Feel good together, if that’s what you want. I want to see you together, loves.”

So admitting that last part might’ve been a little selfish, besides serving as encouragement. But she knew damn well she couldn’t force either to do something they didn’t want, even if she’d had reason to try. Also, she was only human, dammit, and anyone with a pulse would’ve expressed the same desire.

Angie kissed her hard, cutting off any second-guessing. Pulling at Peggy’s blouse, she tore several buttons from the garment. “Stay,” she whispered, breath heavy. “Stay.”

Vaguely aware that she’d be tormented later (the half-open blouse revealing the fact that panties weren’t the only thing she’d shed for practicality’s sake) she looked a question into Steve’s eyes. He smiled, one hand leaving Angie’s hip and finding hers.

“Think you know I’ll go the rest of my life hoping you’ll never leave again,” he said, squeezing lightly.

Nodding, Peggy moved back a bit to give them some room, but didn’t return to the chair. Bless Howard and his obscenely large beds.

Her proximity seemed to calm whatever nerves had kept them from going further. As Peggy watched, Angie took Steve’s length in her hand, guiding it inside. She cried out sharply enough for Peggy to worry a moment. Then Angie sank down, slow, slow, biting her lip and moaning from the back of her throat. Steve let out a strangled noise. He was holding Angie steady again, and Peggy saw his muscles strain as he kept from pushing too hard on her hipbones.

“G-good?” Angie asked

Another choked sound, more like a chuckle. “Yeah. That’s a word for it.”

There was a bit of awkward yet endearing negotiation, Steve telling Angie to find something she liked, that he would follow. Absently, Peggy thought of him letting himself be led around the dance floor. She rubbed herself off as she did this, was about to take off the skirt that’d become rather annoying (the knicker reveal was over anyway) until further negotiation occurred. Angie wanted the skirt on. Peggy kept it without complaint.

She watched in awe as Angie shifted, ground down, learned how they fit together. Whimpering, Peggy worked the hand between her legs, imagining it inside Angie, her walls pulsing against Peggy’s fingers. Then she thought of being in Angie’s place. Steve in her, making her feel so full, closing the wound that even Angie could never heal.

They found a rhythm. It was roughly then that Angie realized just what her movements were doing to Steve. Slowing, she changed the angle a bit, bounced experimentally. Steve jerked, releasing a harsh breath.

Angie smirked. At him, then Peggy. The look was positively filthy. “I got Captain friggin America at my mercy, don’t I Peg?”

“You do indeed, my darling. Try to be gentle, his first time’s not long past.”

Steve faked an angry noise, started to mutter something until Angie reached down and back, cupping his balls. That shut him up impressively fast. “Right,” she said, smirk widening, and Peggy wondered if this was payback for that kiss/trick earlier.

Despite the taunt, they actually were gentle. Sometimes. During one of the moments they weren’t, the connection broke, Angie slipping free of Steve. Forgetting her vow to let them have their own fun, Peggy moved near Steve’s knees, half next to, half behind Angie. One hand at Angie’s back, she used the other to grasp Steve, enjoying the string of curse words she was able to pull from the country’s golden boy.

“I believe you’ve misplaced something,” Peggy said, breathing into Angie’s ear, touching Steve with a familiarity that shouldn’t have been possible.

“Seems so,” Angie said, pausing long enough to kiss Peggy. “Well, help a girl out, wouldja?”

“What?” Steve asked. “No jokes about falling off the horse?”

And now they were back to stale sex humor. “Don’t encourage her,” Peggy warned.

“You’re a thoroughbred, Soldier, and I’m persistent. And English, don’t you wanna help a girl out?”

That had never been in question. Angie didn’t need the pouty lips and the pleading eyes. Peggy kissed her to prove it, trapping Angie’s lower lip between her teeth. She was greedy about swallowing her sounds as she guided Steve back inside.

Crying out, Angie broke the kiss, making an incoherent noise of protest as Peggy moved away. Peggy hushed her, kissing her shoulders and nibbling her ear as she shifted. The new angle made it easier to rub Angie’s clit or stroke Steve, help guide his thrusts. She alternated between those, until Angie’s moans hit that certain pitch, wanton and desperate. Rubbing herself so her loves could focus on each other, Peggy turned the rest of her attention to Angie. While Steve pushed in again and again, teeth clenched and hips stuttering, Peggy circled Angie’s clit, timing the movement as best she could, considering her own state of arousal.

Angie screamed through the pleasure. Peggy redoubled her efforts, knowing from blissfully-earned experience that she was close.

“Slow!” Angie pleaded suddenly, one hand braced on Steve’s chest, the other on Peggy’s shoulder. “Slow, slower…”

Peggy frowned in surprise, but adjusted.

“No, English, you fast, you slow.”

Peggy blinked, then chuckled. Steve grunted and changed pace, eyed glued to Angie. “Better?”

Angie nodded, muffling a small noise against Peggy’s shoulder before straightening, pulling in a ragged breath. “Yeah…yeah. That, just, that’s good. That’s really good.”

“You’re okay?”

“Don’t…don’t fuss, Steve. As learning curves go, this one’s pretty great.”

Later, Peggy would half-listen as Angie praised Steve for his ability to follow orders. Later still, Peggy and Steve would have a lovely conversation detailing revenge plans on the men of Angie’s past, some of whom weren’t as concerned for her comfort. For now she listened to the two most important people in her world chase release. Angie came first, collapsing forward onto Steve, who followed seconds later. Peggy kept her gaze on them, willing her eyes to stay open. Steve, who she’d thought about on so many lonely nights. Angie, who’d replaced the ghost from her fantasies, made her feel again in so much more than just the physical sense. The sight of them sated and trembling, holding each other with all the care they both deserved, sent Peggy tumbling over her own edge. The spasms that took over finally forced her eyes closed, but she remained hyperaware of their presence. When her mind and body calmed enough to do it, she vowed to never take that presence for granted, never forget how lucky she was.

There was heavy breathing and asking after each other, light kisses. Peggy found herself under the covers next to Steve, resting in the crook of his arm. Angie was sprawled out overtop of them, head in Peggy’s lap, legs in Steve’s. Stroking through Angie’s hair, Peggy kissed Steve at her leisure while he gave Angie an impromptu foot massage.

Humming her appreciation, Angie ran her right foot over Steve’s blanket-covered thigh. “I may have to hire you, Soldier. I get pretty sore after hoofin it to auditions or rehearsals or the Automat all day, you know?”

“Well, can’t have that, can we?” he said, pressing this thumb to the bottom of her foot until she giggled and kicked out at him. “You sure you don’t want to get in?” he asked, pulling the duvet back.

“Nah, exercise always keeps me warm for awhile,” she said with another of those filthy grins. “And you’re kinda reminding me of a furnace.”

“I always run a little hot, ever since the Rebirth formula.”

“Only a little hot? Not the way English tells it.” Apparently feeling the need to illustrate, Angie reached up, tweaking Peggy’s left nipple.

“Howard and his bloody mouth,” Peggy muttered, half-heartedly swatting at Angie. “Which I will bloody again if he doesn’t stop telling that story every time he pours his fourth drink.”

Angie stretched and yawned. “You could tell him he can join in on our private parties if he doesn’t open his trap at every SHIELD shindig. Might shut him up awhile, ‘til he realizes there’s no hope.” Angie paused a moment. “Think we should have codenames?”

Steve looked at Peggy. She raised an eyebrow, telling him the bewilderment was shared. “Say again, love?”

“Codenames. To avoid any more confusion over who should do what.”

“English and Soldier?” Steve said with a grin.

“Nicknames, not code.”

“Ah,” said Peggy. “Well, between those and our given names, I think we’ll get by.”

“Sure English, if ‘getting by’ is all you wanna do. Pardon me for trying to keep things interesting.”

Steve laughed. “I think I’ve had about as much interesting as I can take.”

“Really?” Angie asked, wearing another one of those looks as she raised her head to look at him. “Because I heard you bounce back pretty fast. Some formula.”

“You told her?”

Angie spoke before Peggy could. “Come on, Soldier. It’s not exactly a bad thing, and it’s not kissing and telling if you’re also kissing the person you’re telling.” She frowned. “You know what I mean.”

Steve rubbed at the muscles of her ankle, grinning. “Is there a reason you’re asking?”

Shrugging, Angie tweaked Peggy’s breast again, the right one this time. “View down here is pretty great, but I wanna see what Peg doesn’t have on under that skirt.”

 

Chapter Text

Peggy was used to coming home under the weight of bone-deep exhaustion. Perk of the job and all that. Usually the sounds of her loves, her daughter, they helped, warmed her in a way not even the best cup of tea ever could. Usually.

She’d barely been home in two weeks. Barely seen Lizzie at all, though she swore the sixteen-month-old grew bigger every time she did catch a glimpse. Howard assured her this wasn’t true, offered to prove as much. Peggy declined.

Steve offered too, to help with things at SHIELD. Sweet and appreciated, but hardly useful. The issues keeping her from bed and family were delicate, political. They required negotiation, diplomacy, compromise. And for all his gifts from God or science, Steve was not skilled at compromise, giving ground. Their working relationship functioned best when he remained well enough in the dark about some of the decisions Peggy made, simply trusting her to make the right ones.

A proper mission would’ve been nice, honestly. If she were away blowing things up, she wouldn’t be so painfully close to everything she was missing. Following the voices, the sound of laughter, Peggy found Steve and Angie on the floor in one of Howard’s several living rooms, playing with Lizzie.

Not for the first time, she toyed with the idea of a smaller, more manageable home. The place was a maze when Lizzie chose to treat it that way, and a smaller home might make her feel closer to her family. Assuming she ever got to spend enough time there for it to matter,

Steve and Angie greeted her with no lack of enthusiasm, which didn’t help as much as it should’ve. She’d missed the entire run of Angie’s last production. That Angie had only a handful of lines and claimed to hate the script hardly mattered. Still, she was home now and there was no use moping.

“Someone’s up late,” she said, kneeling to watch Lizzie fiddle with some blocks. Lizzie hadn’t looked up when she entered.

“Someone gave someone too much sugar.”

Angie gave Steve a look and he had the grace to look sheepish, but draped an arm over her shoulders as they sat with backs against the couch. Angie then launched into an involved story that featured chocolate, several baths, and a drain in one of the upstairs powder rooms that was now broken. It sounded rather horrific. Peggy wished she’d been there.

Lizzie played on, laughing as she took a block in one hand, pulled on Steve’s pant leg with the other/ Peggy thought she would’ve paid more attention had a new piece of furniture been delivered.

Steve sat forward, turning Lizzie in her direction. “Hey baby, look who’s here. Say hi to Mummy.”

Peggy smiled, held out her arms. “Hello my darling.”

Lizzie eyed her father, glanced back at her toy, then grinned at Peggy. “Mahget!”

Peggy felt the muscles in her face going stiff. Steve and Angie glanced at each other.

“Sweetheart, that’s Mummy,” Steve said. “You know who Mummy is.”

Lizzie giggled, smacking her free hand against her block. “Mahget! MahgetMahgetMahgetMahgetMahgetMahget!”

Angie sighed, turning apologetic eyes on Peggy. “Howard’s been trying to teach her your first name. It bugs you and she can’t get hit for saying it so…”

“I see.” Peggy hoped her voice wasn’t as tight as she thought it was. “Splendid that his teaching efforts have paid off so well.” How was it that they were both meant to be running an international intelligence agency, but Howard had the time she didn’t to spend with her daughter?

“Mahget!”

Steve winced. “When Howard has a kid, you can get him back for this.”

“Are you honestly suggesting that Howard will ever intentionally father a child?” The idea was ludicrous and horrifying, and the other two must’ve agreed because they both went quiet. Lizzie did not.

“Mahget!”

This repetition came with the added bonus of Lizzie throwing one of her blocks at Peggy’s head.

“Lizzie!” Angie said, as sharply as she ever said anything to the baby. “That’s not nice. We don’t throw things.”

Steve muttered something semi-audible that might’ve been “your fault,” then twitched under the heat of Angie’s glare. “How is it my fault? You’re the one who told Moneybags to stop over, and he’s the one who gives her a damn cookie every time she says the damn name.”

“So you admit I’m not the one who gave her too much sugar.”

Angie continued to glare.

“It was you who showed her the footage,” Steve mumbled, broad shoulders slumping.

“What footage would that be?” Peggy asked.

Angie released something between a sigh and a huff. “TV was playing something about your war days. She saw Dad’s face on the screen and flipped out over him being in two places at once. Then they showed him hurling the shield around so now…” Angie shrugged helplessly. “She’s very into throwing things.”

“I see,” Peggy said for the second time, then thought a moment. “Was I in the footage?” If she couldn’t be with Lizzie properly, she could at least keep the girl from forgetting who she was.

Steve and Angie glanced at each other again. “I think you were split up with Dugan and Gabe when that happened,” Steve said finally. “I only got a quick look at where they were shooting.”

“I see.” Peggy pulled on a smile that was harder to carry than the pounds of gear she used to haul up the Russian mountains. “I’m knackered, I think I’ll turn in for the night.”

“Peggy-”

She cut off his protests, Angie’s too. Said goodnight to Lizzie, who called her Mahget again and pouted in disappointment when no one produced a cookie for her efforts.

Upstairs she shed her work clothes with none of the usual relief. Lizzie wasn’t her child, not biologically. That never seemed relevant before, but things were changing. Lizzie was growing and changing and Peggy was missing it. When would she stop being Mum, truly become Margaret? When would she become Lizzie’s stepmother or worse, some woman with a funny voice who occasionally slept here? She was missing everything, couldn’t even take part in Steve and Angie’s bickering over who had mucked up the child worse that day. She was missing it all, and how long before Lizzie did see her face on a screen somewhere and think she was viewing a stranger?

***

A week more of this had her weary and ragged. If Lizzie noticed her absence, Peggy saw no evidence of it on her short stays at home. She thought Steve and Angie might’ve tried talking to her about it a few times, but she simply couldn’t bear to hear them out. If she talked about it, lingered on it, she might cry.

Which, unfortunately, was just what was happening when she got home that night. Lots and lots of crying.

Peggy’s first thought upon entering their home was that someone was murdering Lizzie. The screams threatened to burst her eardrums as surely as the fear, cold and sharp and familiar, threatened to stop her heart. Rushing through the entryway and following the wails, Peggy had her gun drawn by the time she reached the sitting room.

There was no intruder harming her child. There was Lizzie sitting on the floor, one hand pulling at her ear, the other balled into a fist and swatting away the toy Steve held out for her. From the pile surrounding them, this had gone on quite some time. Lizzie’s face was a mess of snot and tears, as red as the stripes on her father’s costume.

Also, her father was crying. Steve was crying.

Peggy barely had time to process all this before Angie came in from the next room. She didn’t seem to realize Peggy was there, which put her in the same boat as Steve and Lizzie. Also, she was crying.

“Ma says it’s all normal. Does it look normal to you? It wasn’t like this last time or I would’ve made Howard invent something to stop it. Oh baby, I know it hurts, I know. I’m sorry, baby.”

Lizzie picked up one of the toys surrounding her. A Betty Carver doll, made by Howard as a birthday present for Lizzie and a way to torment Peggy. Lizzie grabbed it and proceeded to bite down on Betty’s head, which did nothing to muffle the cries.

“Oh darling.”

Three sets of wet blue eyes found hers, but Peggy was only focused on one of them.

Mummyyyy!”

The word was an endless, agonized wail. Peggy dropped her gun back into her bag, dropped her bag to the floor and crossed it, scooping Lizzie into her arms. Lizzie threw the doll aside and Betty landed with a thump on the hardwood, her head popping loose. Later, she’d think to taunt Howard over the shoddy craftsmanship.

“Shhh, shhh, Mummy’s here darling, Mummy’s here.” Lizzie’s tiny hands balled into the material of Peggy’s favorite suit. Peggy adjusted so Lizzie’s ear was pressed to her heart.

“Peggy….”

Steve was looking at her rather dully, as if he couldn’t trust his vision. He’d worn a similar expression the first time she saved his arse in a firefight.

“English.”

It was more a breath than a word, Peggy was surprised to hear it over Lizzie sobbing against her. Angie stepped forward as if to hug her and then stopped. Peggy got the distinct impression she was afraid of making things worse. “What on Earth is going on?”

There were broken half sentences about trying everything, exhausted, rambling explanations that didn’t match the simplicity of the issue. Lizzie was only teething. Only being a relative term, she was clearly having an awful time of it, but teething was much better than properly sick.

Dead in her heels when she entered the house, Peggy was wide awake now. She shifted Lizzie again, hiking the baby up against her shoulder to take some of the pressure off Lizzie’s head. She still pulled at her ear, but it was a start. Peggy barely noticed the mess Lizzie left in the ends of her own hair, the tears and mucous.

“She hates me,” Steve declared.

Angie’s smack to his arm was uncharacteristically weak. “Shut up. I can’t fix it either. She hates the both of us.”

“She does not hate you,” Peggy said. “She’s hurting and frustrated, she knows you are too, and she’s feeding off that.”

Steve wiped his face and told her they hadn’t gotten Lizzie to eat in awhile.

Lizzie’s hands in her jacket were fists now, pounding out her discomfort. Continuing her litany of soft nonsense sounds, Peggy let Lizzie scream and flail against her, making a path to her office. Steve and Angie trailed behind her like lost, defeated puppies.

“Haven’t you worked enough?”

The defeat had turned to anger, at least in Angie’s case. The bitterness in her tone was unmistakable and Peggy bore it without comment. Then she found the whiskey stashed in a bottom drawer of her desk and set about applying it to Lizzie’s gums.

Angie’s whole demeanor changed, deflated. She stuttered out something Peggy thought was an apology, and Peggy stopped her, told her it was okay. She also endured several biting attempts from Lizzie as she worked on numbing the area, only then noticing the marks on Steve’s hand as he placed it on Angie’s shoulder.

“Were you letting that happen?” she asked, nodding toward his hand.

Steve lifted it and shrugged. “Seemed to make her feel better. A little. For a little while.”

Finishing with the bottle, Peggy handed it to Angie. “Have a rest, both of you. Have a spot of tea, or something stronger. I’ve got her.”

“Peggy—”

“You’re off duty, Rogers,” she said, with just a hint of her work voice. “I’ve got her.”

Peggy was methodical about the rest, not the easiest thing to do with her child sobbing in pain. Cleaning up the mess on Lizzie’s face, Peggy found the extra heat she expected when feeling her forehead. “Shhh, darling, shhh, it’s alright, love,” she murmured. “Let’s get you cooled off while Mama and Daddy get themselves sorted. You’ll feel better soon, love.”

Peggy ran a bath, took at least one smack to the jaw and came into contact with most of the lukewarm water before Lizzie realized the tub wasn’t a fresh form of torture, that it didn’t add to her misery.

“There now,” Peggy murmured, hands gentle as she bathed the child. “That’s better, isn’t it?”

Lizzie continued to fuss, but the water helped. Peggy’s main concern was keeping the fever down. “I’m sorry, darling, I know it hurts. Let’s make it a little better, hmm? Mama and Daddy are scared, they need you to feel a little better.”

Lizzie whimpered at that, beat a frustrated hand against the water.

“I know,” Peggy said again, splashing small amounts of water on Lizzie’s shoulders to help cool her down. “I know love, I’m sorry.”

It was slow, achingly gradual, but Lizzie did calm down. Clearly not in the brightest of moods, she’d at least stopped screaming, unclenched her fists. So Peggy didn’t know exactly why she apologized again, not now when things seemed to be improving. She apologized even as she managed to pull a few giggles from the baby, apologized as Lizzie caught one of her fingers in the tub and squeezed. Still, she heard Angie’s footsteps, uncharacteristically heavy with exhaustion, heard Angie coming over her own voice, over Lizzie’s whines.

“Something swell to come home to after a hard day of saving the world, huh?” Angie said, sitting down on the toilet lid.

Peggy sighed. She’d lost her jacket at some point, rolled up the sleeves of her shirt. Her hair was being awful and she swept an annoyed hand over some curls that obstructed her vision. “Don’t ask questions you’d rather not have answered.”

There was a pause and Peggy felt it, the moment Angie’s attention sharpened. “Say again?”

Peggy deliberately focused on wetting Lizzie’s shoulders again. “How much would you hate me if I said I was a little grateful for it?”

Peggy couldn’t be sure with Lizzie’s sporadic babbling, but she thought Angie’s breath might’ve hitched. Her lips quirked in a barely-there smile. She could count on the hand she was running through Lizzie’s hair the number of times she’d rendered Angie speechless.

“It’s,” Peggy said on a weary breath because she’d already said too much and there was no getting out of it now. “Do you think of it at all, why two parents is meant to be the ideal number?”

“Not really. Guess you do.”

The air was heavy between them. She refused to look up from their daughter. “Mr. Jarvis once said that I was trying to remove myself from the world I wished to protect. I’ve gotten better about that, I think, at least I’ve tried. But with work, sometimes it’s…”

“Sometimes it’s what?”

Peggy closed her eyes, sitting forward to kiss Lizzie’s head. “It’s easy to feel the tables have turned. That work, the world…” She hated this, how she couldn’t even speak in proper sentences about it. “I’m away quite often. Lizzie has two wonderful parents who keep her from suffering because of that. You do such a good job of carrying on without me that, that on a horrible, selfish level, tonight was nice. It’s nice to know I’m still needed somewhere other than SHIELD. That my presence isn’t…redundant.”

A response was long in coming. “Redundant,” Angie finally said. Choked, really. “English. Peggy--”

Peggy held up a hand. “Darling, it’s okay.”

“Peggy—”

“Angie,” she said, her voice an odd combination of firm and strained that she didn’t like at all. “Not now. Not yet.”

She sensed the moment Angie’s gaze stopped burning into her, found Lizzie. She knew then, or hoped fervently, that Angie understood. Understood this wasn’t a conversation they could have in the bathroom while Lizzie still hurt. Lizzie would always trump everything, including Peggy’s ridiculous sulking over the bed she’d made herself.

She couldn’t decide whether it was good or bad, Angie retreating after another protracted silence. Peggy pushed the indecision down with everything else, focused on the immediate. She got Lizzie out of the tub, dried and dressed her. She did a lot of walking and rocking, pacing the house with Lizzie against her. She got Lizzie milk. She did all this without seeing Steve or Angie, and again thought of how absurdly large their house was, how easy it was to disappear here.

There wasn’t a sign of them until Peggy was propped on the bed with Lizzie at her chest, coaxing her to sleep. She’d been humming a tuneless, broken thing, her hand tracing Lizzie’s back, feeling her breath. Then Steve and Angie were talking in hushed tones somewhere nearby. Peggy closed her eyes, listened to the indecipherable murmur of their voices, something she could only hear when her own voice broke, when there was a slight break in the nonsense humming.

When they entered, they did it silently. Both had changed and scrubbed their faces. Both stalled a moment before climbing in next to her. They treated Lizzie like a landmine or a live grenade, like the slightest thing could set her off again. They weren’t wrong. They seemed to relax when the mattress dipped and they settled without Lizzie waking up and screaming more.

Steve lay on his side next to her, head propped on an elbow. He regarded them for long moments, regarded her. Only then did he lean in close to Peggy’s ear.

“Redundant?”

It was a whisper, but he said it like a curse word. A particularly filthy one that wasn’t acceptable even when the two of them and the Commandos were at their worst, (or best) when swearing was both the most casual thing in the world and an art form.

Peggy sighed, tilted her face in his direction while closing her eyes again. If he pushed her on this she wasn’t sure how it would go, wasn’t at all sure she wouldn’t be the one screaming and crying until she couldn’t anymore.

He didn’t push her. He kissed her softly, then kissed her forehead, then whispered in her ear again. “Don’t ever say it again. Never.”

She generally either scoffed or glared when he attempted to give her orders. This time she did neither, did nothing as Angie scooted closer. Angie, for once, was less talkative than Steve. Angie put her head on Peggy’s shoulder, very gently. The gentleness of that contrasted with the pressure Angie was putting on her hip. It wasn’t painful, but it was close. It was possessive and protective and what Angie did when Peggy came home particularly battered. Physically or otherwise. The action was always the same, and so was the message. We’re going to talk about this, English

Except they never did, not right away. They slept, usually. Or, Peggy did, passing out and hoping Angie got a few winks of sleep while guarding her.

Steve’s arm came down over all of them, just heavy enough to be reassuring. Angie kept the hand in place on her hip. Peggy was never sure which of them it was for, which of them Angie was grounding with that tiny move. She didn’t ask and probably never would. She focused on Lizzie and their shared breathing and Steve and Angie and their warmth, Steve’s arm and the fervency of his earlier order, Angie’s fingers splayed over her hip, Angie’s lips pressed just barely against her neck.

Peggy focused on those things and felt herself come home, truly home, for the first time in weeks. The rest would keep until tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Angie Martinelli was not a happy woman. She was dressed to the nines and gorgeous as hell, if she did say so herself. She was in one of the nicest homes on the coast, drinking bubbly that was worth more than her Pop made in five years, but she was not happy.

Peg and Steve were, clearly. They’d been holding court with Howard, recounting the glory days for hours now. She understood that none of them could claim each other in this big, fancy room with all these fancy, well-connected gossip hounds waiting around to hear about it, that was fine, par for the course. Was it fine to leave her standing around with nothing to do, like that statue over there that looked like some kind of weird porno? Hell no.

Most of the guests were flocked around her two jerk spouses and Howard, while they talked about all the fun they’d had getting shot at and blown up during the war. It was all remember when, and what about that time, and no, the best part was. All stories Angie had heard a thousand times but couldn’t contribute to. They were even finishing each other’s sentences for God’s sake, Howard included.

Angie drained her glass and snagged another from a passing waiter. They hadn’t even looked at her in she wasn’t sure how long, but it was too long. She was stewing in her terrible, unforgivable neglect when one of the few guys who wasn’t glued to the show across the room started chatting her up.

Well then.

He was dull as hell. Angie made sure she was not. She was charming and funny and not at all slutty about it, though she did lean a little closer than normal when he offered to light her cigarette.

She could work with this.

She continued to be charming and funny toward everyone actually willing to pay her a little mind. When dinner came around, she pretended to be so engrossed in a conversation with some prince from Norway or somewhere that she didn’t notice the seating, didn’t notice that she was sitting closer to Princey than her war hero spouses.

She felt them staring and steaming at her the entire time she was asking about some fancy kind of steamed vegetables.

After dinner, she built up a dance card, held a few hands longer than she normally would after a song ended, blushed and giggled at everyone who complimented her footwork. By then Steve and Peggy were blatantly staring. She refused to make eye contact when Peggy tried staring her down over the shoulder of some guy who got rich off diamonds. He spun her rather expertly at one point and there was applause from the closest onlookers. Neither one of her dates for the nights clapped, but she felt them tracking her as she glided across the floor, like heat at her back.

Was this what it was to be one of the targets from their war stories?

When she judged the moment right, Angie talked herself away from a small crowd who boo hooed about her leaving, implored her to hurry back.

“Now now, boys, a lady’s got to powder her nose, doesn’t she? Don’t worry, I’ll come right back. Say nice things about me while I’m gone.”

“Oh, only the nicest for you, darling.”

Angie beamed at the diamond guy and turned on her heel, triumphant. Darling was English’s thing, and even if she hadn’t heard it, Steve surely had.

In truth, Angie had no idea where the bathroom was in this particular Stark joint. Certainly there were at least ten of them, but she could never remember where. Not that she cared to find out. She wandered for a few minutes, whistling happily to herself until she heard the distinctive, purposeful rhythm of Peg’s heels echoing off hardwood. She stopped, admiring a sort of pretty tapestry that was probably a thousand years old and worth a zillion dollars, and also looked like a really classy, old-timey porno. “Took you long enough.”

The heels click-clacked, quick, determined. “It’s hardly my fault you spent most of the evening being a horrible flirt.”

Angie found herself being half-dragged into some room they probably weren’t supposed to be in. “Who, me?”

“Yes,” Peggy said, voice terse as she shut the door behind them. “You.”

“I was socializing, mingling, same as everyone here. Same as you.”

“Flirting. Horribly.”

Angie was pushed back against a heavy oak desk that was probably the most expensive hunk of wood ever, probably got polished twice a day. "Horribly? I was doing damn well thank you very much. Some guy named Schultz was in the middle of inviting me on his yacht for the weekend. I don’t know how things work over ‘cross the pond, English, but ‘round here you don't get yachts if you're doing horribly. And I haven’t done a bad job at flirting since before Pearl Harbor, so—”

Peggy’s lips came down insistent, demanding on hers. And Angie lost her train of thought. She moaned as Peggy’s tongue forced it’s way into her mouth. Peg tasted like that crazy expensive champagne Howard had been refilling for her all night.

“Well,” Angie said after Peg had taken too long to pull away and Angie was struggling for breath. “You’ve gone and ruined my lipstick, Margaret. What’re people going to think?”

Peggy’s eyes flashed, as they always did when Angie used her full name. She pushed Angie back harder against the desk, then lifted her up without warning so her ass was on top of it. “Oh shut up,” she said, kissing Angie again, trapping Angie’s face between her hands.

Peg had clearly trained to hold her breath much longer than Angie. She’d have to get tips on that, it’d be helpful with her singing. For now, Angie moaned into Peggy’s mouth, wrapped both arms around her neck to skim over the necklace at Peggy’s throat.

She was dizzy and drunk, and not from the champagne, by the time Peggy backed off enough to let her breathe.

“’Shut up,’” Angie mocked, reaching for Peggy’s left breast and pinching it through her dress, not necessarily in the way she knew Peggy liked. “Now see, that’s what I’ve been thinking half the night, while you guys blabbed it up with Howard about how much better your life was before me.”

Peggy made a noise at the pinch, but kept her hands on either side of Angie’s face, forcing their gazes to hold. “No. Never.”

Angie swallowed at the tone, the look, but kept her own voice light. “No?” she pinched Peggy’s other breast. “All you’ve done all night is go on about you and Steve and your honeymoon period with Howard and your glory days shooting Nazis. Never even looked twice at me.”

“We looked plenty. You were too busy making eyes at strangers to notice.” Peggy’s hands left Angie’s face and went to work on her dress instead. Her mouth was on Angie’s neck, kissing and sucking.

“Nuh-uh,” Angie said, a very nuanced, adult response as she squirmed on the desk, gripping it with one hand and losing the other in Peggy’s curls. “That was only after you spent all that time reliving your glory days and ignoring me.”

“I feel it’s rather disproportionate to react by drawing the attention of others instead.” Peggy’s hands found Angie’s ass on the desk and pinched, at the same time she nipped Angie’s pulse point.

Angie hissed. She guessed that was turnabout after the tit tweaks earlier. “I thought about busting into that little court you were holding, grabbing Howard’s twenty-thousand-dollar vase and busting it over Steve’s head. Would you have preferred that one?”

“An interjection wouldn’t have gone amiss.”

Peggy sucked hard at a weak spot on her neck, used her teeth. “Watch it, you’re going to leave a mark,” Angie said, though it came out more of a moan than she wanted.

“Will I really.” Teeth again, then Peggy’s tongue soothing the skin. “Would that embarrass you?”

Angie gave Peggy’s hair a tug, gripped the desk with her free hand. “Did my mingling embarrass you?”

“Embarrass is not the word.”

“Not like you can make any claim on me.” Angie tugged again.

“Making a claim and having one are two entirely different things.”

Angie gasped as the material of her dress was suddenly and unceremoniously hiked up above her thighs. “Hey, careful, that’s a nice outfit.”

“Marvelous,” Peggy agreed, pulling back from Angie’s neck to focus on getting rid of her underwear. She didn’t pause in her task when the door opened. Steve leaned casually against the frame, meeting Angie’s eyes as Peggy worked.

“Took you long enough too,” she said as Peggy pushed her legs open with the same efficiency she used when stripping rifles. “You going to shut the door, or give Howie’s pals a free show?” It didn’t matter. He would hear anyone approaching long before it mattered, but she liked goading him. Especially when he was trying to look all impassive and bored while Peggy was pulling off her underthings.

“Wouldn’t you like that? You’ve been putting on a show for everyone, all night, why not now?”

“Oh honey, that show was just for you.”

This seemed to please him. His lips turned up at the corners and he finally shut the door, hands in his pockets as he ambled across to them, still feigning disinterest. “I miss anything good?”

Angie huffed at that. “All fucking night, baby.”

Peggy made her own sound of disgust. She kissed Angie again, rough and possessive. Then she threw Angie’s underwear behind her without looking. Steve caught them.

“We were just having a discussion,” she said, raking her nails over Angie’s bare thighs, “about Angie’s shameless flirting.”

“Yeah?” Steve asked, twirling Angie’s underwear between his fingers, feeling along the inside. “Some discussion.”

“Bullshit discussion,” Angie said, knowing his fingers were wet now. She squeezed hard at Peggy’s shoulders when those nails did another pass at her legs, shivered. “What do I have to do, send up smoke signals to get one of you to pay me any mind? You drag me here, forget I exist, then expect me to just stand around and look pretty and get no reward for it?”

“You get plenty of reward for it,” Steve said, ambling closer and studying her panties like they were a mildly attractive tie he probably wouldn’t purchase.

“Do I really? And did you finally pry yourself away from your boyfriend with the mustache just to stand around and watch?” It'd be far less irritating if it were less true. Why couldn't he have had a pretty boy with less risk of VD? Really, she'd settle for a shared past or affection or whatever it was (she’d yet to decide if Steve and Howard had actually screwed, or if Howard just wanted to screw) with the pool boy. Any pool boy, at all. Facial hair was acceptable, so long as they weren't the living embodiment of why soldier's needed to wrap it up.

“You flirted with enough other fellas tonight, what’s to make me think I’m even wanted?” He looked for a moment like he was going to pocket her underwear, then tossed them aside instead.

“I believe, darling, that that was the point,” Peggy said, giving Angie a kiss that was only slightly less bruising than the others. “Wasn’t it?” she asked, low and mere inches from Angie’s lips.

Okay, so they were annoyed, Steve with his hands in his pockets, playing at disinterest but never looking away. Good then, they could see what it felt like. “You see, baby?” Angie asked, nipping at Peggy’s ear and looking at Steve over her shoulder. “This,” she spread her legs wider and Peggy didn’t stop her, those strong hands still resting on her thighs, “is why Peg’s the big gal in charge of everything and you’re just another soldier boy. Peg understands. You, I’m still not sure you know one single thing about girls, or what makes them tick.” She threw him her best smirk, the challenge as clear as she knew how to make it.

“Know enough to tell when a girl’s playing a dangerous game.”

She would’ve challenged him on that, had the first words of a rebuttal out of her mouth when two of Peggy’s fingers suddenly pushed up and into her, strangling any coherent response on her lips. She made a sound that she was dimly aware Steve was smirking at, Smug bastard, as if he could even take credit.

“You were saying?” Steve drawled.

Angie could only pant into Peggy’s shoulder, clutch at it while her body rushed to adjust to the sudden intrusion.

“Come on,” Steve said, stepping close enough to run his thumb over Angie’s cheek, smooth back a bit of her hair. “You chatted up every other guy in the room tonight. Talk to me, sweetheart.”

Angie breathed in deep as she could a few times, raised her head to meet those baby blues of his. “Dangerous, huh? Well gee golly gosh, Cap,” she put on her best distressed damsel, radio voice, “thank goodness you’re here to save little old me from danger!”

With a noise almost like a growl, Steve’s hand in her hair tightened, pulled. He kissed her every bit as intensely as Peggy had.

“Hey,” Angie protested once she could use her mouth again, thinking of all the pins he’d just dislodged, all the work undone. “You have any idea what you just did? Not all of us are super-y, we don’t just roll out of bed looking perfect.”

“You do.”

“You’re just,” Angie had to pause when Peggy’s fingers did a particular number on some spot inside, “you’re just saying that because your big gorilla hands went and ruined an hour of work.” She let go of the desk though, the hand not on Peggy’s shoulder reaching for his tux.

“Sure,” he said, his fingers doing a quick pass over the length of Angie’s spine before finding the zipper of her gown. He kissed her again.

Holding his eyes as she pulled back, Angie deliberately rocked herself against Peggy’s fingers, then let go of his suit to rub at her clit. It had been a long, frustrating night. She continued to watch him as she rubbed herself off.

They weren’t expecting that. They must not have because it took a whole second before they moved. Peggy shrugged Angie’s hand off her shoulder like the grip was nothing and Steve grabbed both Angie’s hands with that crazy speed of his, brought them behind her back. “You don’t get to touch that right now.”

“Really?” Angie looked down, temporarily distracted by the sight of Peggy’s fingers going in and out. “Attached to me, shouldn’t I get to do what I want with it?”

“Not right now, no.”

He kissed her before she could answer back. His grip felt light where he held her hands together, but they were most definitely trapped. Angie cried out into his mouth when Peggy adjusted so her thumb could work Angie’s clit.

She was dizzier, drunker on this than she’d ever hope to be on Howard’s scary-expensive champagne.

One-handed, Steve worked her dress down, exposing her breasts and covering one with his fingers, tweaking the nipple until it was stiff and begging for more attention. Not that that took long.

Angie moaned hard when he kissed her again. Unable to do anything else, she wrapped her legs tighter around Peggy, losing a heel in the process. Her hair was ruined. She could feel sweat on her forehead. She was an utter mess and didn’t care. “I hate when you don’t see me,” she said, absent any smartass flare.

“We always see you,” Peggy said instantly, almost breathed it against Angie’s ear, nuzzled her jaw.

Angie shivered at Peggy’s words, felt as much as heard them. Felt Steve too, his mouth all over her neck, her shoulders. Angie turned her head enough to kiss Peggy. “Doesn’t feel like it sometimes. You,” Angie struggled to speak, to focus on anything while Peggy worked her over and Steve’s mouth kept working lower.

“We what, darling?”

Angie cried out before answering. Peggy’d done that thing with her clit that was sort of a pinch, but in a good way, the thing that made Angie feel desperately, blissfully alive, but also like she might die. “I don’t care if we’re in a room with five-hundred people and all they see is you.” She honestly didn’t. She loved being the center of attention and all, but she didn’t mind with them. She was proud of them and in awe of them and she knew just why others were, too. “But when,” Angie struggled again as Peggy did something particularly distracting with her fingers, “when we’re with all those people and it’s you who doesn’t see me…”

She hated this, this whiney, insecure side. And to display it when near everything else was on display too—the bottom half of her dress hiked up and the top pulled down—that was just irritating.

“There is never a time we don’t see you.” Peggy stretched her open with a third finger. “Never.”

“Fuck!” Angie would’ve grabbed at the desk if she had use of her hands. Instead she clenched her wrists, dug them into her palms, and moaned through her whole body. She could’ve hid her face against either of them, muffled her cries, but she didn’t. She’d held her feelings in all night, she was sick of it. The party was in full swing and they were far enough from it that they shouldn’t be overheard. Even if they were, this was a Stark shindig. Half the other rooms were probably filled with bored, horny snobs doing each other just like they were. Well, not just like. Probably. But who knew? And if it came to it, Steve would hear anyone getting too close, even if he was distracted. Probably, he’d hear them. Worth the risk.

“Like hearing you,” Steve murmured. “Almost as much as I like seeing you.” He kissed her nipple, sucked it between his lips, then opened his mouth to take her in more fully.

“You’re always seen,’ Peggy said again, kissing the straining, exposed muscles of Angie’s neck.

“Promise me,” Angie gasped, sliding her ass as close as she could to the edge of the desk, needing to get closer to them.

“Promise what?” Peggy asked, her fingers never losing their rhythm inside. “What do you need, darling?”

“See me. Don’t forget.” They were so good together, so much shared history between them. You could wonder sometimes, whether three wasn’t a crowd.

“Couldn’t forget if I tried, darling. Not that I’d ever be foolish enough to try.”

Angie kissed Peggy for that, sloppy and desperate, rolling her hips on Peggy’s fingers. She looked down at Steve, watched him sucking on her breast, grazing his insanely perfect teeth over the tender skin. “Steve…” It was a sigh, a plea. Angie would’ve reached for him, pulled him closer, messed up his hair in retaliation, except the hand that wasn’t massaging her other breast still had her wrists trapped.

He pulled away from her tit, nipped the underside before peppering kisses along the swell. “You’re unforgettable, Ange. I always see you.”

“You better. I see you, too, and that’s saying something. Peg’s a tough act to follow.”

“That she is.” Steve shared a brief, fond smile with Peggy. “Guess that makes me pretty special, huh, being seen by you?” He took her nipple back into his mouth.

“Being seen by our girl,” Peggy said with a nod, kissing Angie’s temple chastely, then her mouth, the opposite of chastely.

“Your girl, huh?” Angie asked, squirming. She was on sensory overload from both of them, drunk on Peggy’ s perfume. “Even if you can’t tell those dumb, loaded snobs out there?”

“Always ours, no matter who knows or who doesn’t. Not making a claim publicly isn’t the same as not having one. You will always be ours.”

That brought a surge of emotion Angie definitely didn’t want to deal with. Her makeup was ruined enough. She smiled, made herself breathe through it. This was not the kind of sex you cried during. “Couldn’t take the truth anyway. They’d die of jealousy, wouldn’t they?”

“Too right,” said Peggy, changing the angle of her fingers so Angie’s hips jumped. Peggy moved with her as Steve reached out a hand to keep her steady. Peggy cupped Angie’s face, tilted it until their eyes met. “There is no reliving our glory days with Howard, Angie. Or the Commandos, the SSR, or anyone else. These are our glory days. You are our glory days.”

“Oh baby.” Angie kissed her. “Pegs…” She kissed her again. “Peggy.”

“What is it, darling?”

“That is, a really sweet, really, really corny thing to say. Especially when you’re knuckle-deep in my pussy.”

Peggy gave her a look, the effect only slightly ruined by her smudged lipstick. “Yes, I suppose that’s true.” Then, without warning, Peggy pulled her fingers free and backed off.

“Hey!” Angie was left gasping, throbbing, her body suddenly bereft. “What the fuck, English?”

“This is why I don’t bear my soul to you, cruel woman.”

Cruel? She was the cruel one? Worried about her wounded soul when the throbbing in Angie’s cunt was fit to kill her? She would’ve told Peggy off quite thoroughly (or maybe cried, she wasn’t totally sure), if Steve hadn’t taken Peggy’s place in front of her.

He chuckled as he kissed her the laugh coming from deep in his throat. He finally let go of Angie’s hands, but only long enough for Peggy to grab them up, keep them trapped behind Angie’s back with her more delicate fingers. With his own hands free, Steve pulled his pants and underwear down to mid-thigh, revealing the stiffness Angie had been too distracted to notice before.

He kissed her again, held himself close to her opening. “You gonna stop being a brat?”

“Hell no,” Angie sassed. “And you’re going to fuck me anyway.”

He laughed again, flicked the nipple of her left breast. “Big words from someone who can’t even use her hands.”

“When have I ever needed my hands to get you off?” She shifted them in Peggy’s, felt the wetness that clung to Peggy’s fingers. “Give me my hands back, English.”

Peggy kissed along the column of her neck, her curls tickling Angie’s skin. “I thought you didn’t need them?”

“I don’t, I want them. What’s the point of having an ass like that in grabbing distance if you can’t grab? It just ain’t right.”

Peggy paused in her ministrations. “Fair point.”

The moment her hands were free, Angie put them on Steve’s obscenely perfect ass and squeezed., raking her nails over it. He grunted and then he was inside her and Angie kissed him hard, her legs going tight around him.

It was an adjustment, Peggy’s fingers, then nothing, then Steve, but it was a fucking beautiful adjustment. He fucked her slowly at first, but she could feel he needed more and so did she so she pinched his ass and told him to move into the next gear and then moaned her approval when he found a speed she could actually do something with.

Peggy had taken over the backup role from him, kissing on Angie, stroking her hair, murmuring sweet, dirty things in her ear. Sometimes Angie turned her head to kiss Peggy as he fucked her, and sometimes the other two would kiss and she’d be a very happy middle-woman.

She’d gotten plenty warmed up from Peggy, and both her spouses were in their fancy clothes. It was never going to take long. Angie felt it from him too, how his hips stuttered  and his breathing got more erratic. He could run around fighting Nazis for days without getting tired, but she could have him panting as much as the next guy. In only a few minutes, if she was in top form.

She squeezed his hip with one hand, his ass with the other, never bothering to check her grip. She had her face buried in his tux until Peggy tugged her hair and brought her in for a kiss. She came with her mouth on Peggy’s, tasting that fancy champagne Howard liked.

Steve grunted and thrust into her a few more times, said that he loved her, or maybe that he saw her, Angie couldn’t tell. He put his head on her shoulder after he came, kissed it, kissed Peggy over it.

They took a few minutes to settle, Peggy looking smug and amused as she gently directed them in getting themselves together. Steve asked her if she wanted anything while fitting Angie’s lost heel back on her foot.

“Oh most definitely, but I’ll wait for a good, proper showing at home,” she said cheerfully. “One of us has to remain presentable.” She ran light hands through her hair, the curls miraculously only slightly mussed.

Angie grumbled as she ran a hand over her own ruined hair and searched for all those strategically placed pins, so carelessly brushed aside.  She could get Steve to find them for her, but gave up halfway through instead.

“That’s what I like about girl sex,” she said, regarding the mess on her thighs. “Much less messy.”

“Sorry,” Steve said as he kissed her ankle and stood up, his own clothes already back in place.

“No you’re not.”

“Nope.” He crossed the room, picked up her underwear.

“Thanks,” Angie said, holding out her hand for a throw.

Steve smirked, eyebrows lifting as he pocketed them. “No, thank you.”

“Hey, I need those!”

“I think you’ve proven you do just fine without them.” He smiled his most charming smile and gave the number of people she’d supposedly flirted with that night.

“Peggy!” Angie said.

Peggy told Steve he’d forgotten about a waiter carrying a shrimp plate, then kissed the back of Angie’s neck.

Steve’s smile widened. He adjusted his suit jacket and patted the pocket with her underwear. “See you out there, ladies.”

Angie huffed and threw the shoe he’d just helped with at his back as he exited the room.