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Water Under the Bridge

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Angie’s still trying to avoid looking at her from across the table - why she was still sitting in the same place to begin with, Peggy wasn’t sure, though it could have been that the new girl had already snatched up Molly’s spot next to her - when the clanging of a spoon against a teacup snaps all of the girls’ heads to attention.

Miss Fry sighs like she’s just been told something mildly terrible - as though it were still wartime, and she'd just heard that her daughter’s boyfriend, whom she’d never liked, would not be returning stateside with a pulse.

“As any reasonable woman, I would have thought that the rules of this establishment would be stark,” she begins, and her voice and countenance turn as sour as year-old milk.

“The forbiddance of men is absolute, and for reasons which you all should know, and I won’t denigrate this hotel’s propriety any further by insisting upon description. But, I want you all to be aware: there are no loopholes to this rule. None. There never have been, and there never will.”

Peggy’s brow furrows along with those of every other girl in the room; surely there would have at least been a sigh by now - it’s not as though they all were spies. Angie’s eyes flicker to momentarily meet her gaze, asking the same question as hers.

“Miss Carter, Miss Martinelli, please, retrieve your things.”

“What did you do, English?” Angie whispers angrily as they head up the stairs, unintentionally in time, after deciding it wasn’t worth causing a scene to protest.

“What did I do? I haven’t done anything!” Peggy yelps exasperatedly.


“Well, nothing that would warrant an eviction!”

“What about Mr Colleague?” Angie sneers.

“Excuse me?”

“Did you invite Mr Colleague over for tea or something?" Angie presses mockingly. "Seems like he’d go anywhere you asked, if you asked me.”

“He isn’t- Angie, he is a colleague,” Peggy gasps, twirling towards Angie as they reach the top of the stairs. “Well, also a friend, I think - but primarily a colleague!”

“I don’t even wanna hear it,” Angie grumbles, pushing past her.

“Well, even if Miss Fry suspected that, it wouldn’t be reason to have you leave as well.”

“Oh, right? Cause I’m not the dizzy meatball that you brought you into this place!”

“It’s not as though you’re responsible for me,” Peggy continues to argue even as Angie wheels herself over to her door and shoves her key inside the lock. She half-expects Angie to push her away, but instead she just keeps letting her have…whatever lashing it is she’s apparently earned.

“No, but I was damn keen to swear you were swell!”

Angie’s voice has boiled to the point of acerbity; it leaves Peggy speechless, tears welling in her throat.

“Now,” Angie continues, voice soft with desperation, as she pulls her key from the lock. “I don’t even know who you are to begin with.”

“Angie,” Peggy manages to plead, even though she knows that's not exactly untrue. “Of course you do.”

“Really? Cause for a minute there, English, I thought we were gettin’ to be…the best of friends.”


“I mean, obviously I keep doing something wrong, cause no matter what you never seem to tell me what’s goin’ on. You’re always on guard now, like you got something to hide. I’d just got to thinkin’ maybe we weren’t really hidin’ things but…”

“Angie, I can’t…tell you everything. But I...could at least tell you about my day, tonight…”

“Well, you know where to find me if you actually want to say something substantive. I’ll be figurin’ out the most comfortable way to get some shut-eye behind the counter.”

“That’s not necessary, Angie, I can call -"

“Mr Colleague?”

“You’ll get on with him, I promise. And he can get me the keys to a nice flat we can take up for the time being, a penthouse.”

Still displeased, Angie looks skeptical of Peggy’s claim, though she’s less standoffish than she had been a moment before.

“We won’t even need to cook for ourselves.”

Angie adjusts her position, leaning into the crook of the doorway.

“This the apartment you went to see before you came here?”


“So what’s the catch?”

“What do you mean?”

“You didn’t choose to stay there, and there's obviously a reason. Besides, I’m sure Mr Colleague woulda cut you a swell deal on the place.”

“No, I…knew that I would prefer the company here,” Peggy nearly winces, both at the tenderness of her tone and what Angie is still implying about her relationship with Jarvis - but Angie seems to soften.

“How soon can you get Mr Colleague over here?”

“If I call now, it’ll barely be more than a jiffy,” Peggy smiles.

“Tell ‘im he’s got thirty minutes.”

Peggy’s trunk scuffs against the sidewalk, but she can’t really be arsed to care - not after having to call into ‘the phone company’ to ascribe her tardiness to her menstrual cycle. Rose had understood quite well, and reported her as ill, but then Daniel insisted on calling just to check on her. Had either claim been true, she’d not have minded, and were he home sick she’d at least think to do the same, but as the unspoken truth involved her packing up all her things and then moving into one of Howard’s residences…their budding friendship was a liability, and a distraction.

Just like with Angie, she’d prefer to be able to tell him the truth, but all she’d get out of that would be forcing Daniel to be the one to arrest her rather than chancing the duty to fall on Dooley or Thompson or any of the others. She curses herself for thinking it, but she’d rather have had to endure Krzeminski’s taunting and leering at her in handcuffs than have to watch Daniel or Angie realize that, at face value, she’s betrayed them. And of course, she could protest, and try to explain, but that didn’t mean they’d be any less hurt.

Angie was already hurt to begin with - and why Peggy thought it was a good idea to be moving in with a woman she was now on eggshells around, she didn’t know.

Well, she had an idea of why she thought living with Angie was a good idea. That didn’t actually make it a good idea. It probably made it worse - giving her yet another thing Angie might never forgive her for.

Angie, having been twirling slowly around as they waited, yelps as she loses her balance, and trips into Peggy; thanks to her reflexes, Peggy easily sets her back afoot, though it’s less easy to pull her hands away from Angie’s shoulders after having grasped them.

“Thanks, English,” Angie mumbles, and it’s now that Peggy notices she seems equally as awkward as she herself does. They smile weakly at each other, actually meeting each others’ eyes, but are promptly interrupted when Miss Fry harshly clears her throat; they twist to look back up the stairs at her.

“You do have a ride, yes?” she asks brusquely. Peggy opens her mouth to respond, but is cut off.

“I don’t want you around here setting your foolhardy examples for these principled ladies."

They gasp in unison, and that certainly doesn’t help them any.

“Oh, you don’t think we - what? That’s…entirely not…” Angie gulps.

“Mm-hmm,” Miss Fry harrumphs, and Peggy can hear the squeak of Mr Jarvis’s car behind them as it pulls to a stop.

“Miss Martinelli, Miss Carter,” Miss Fry says, and with a swift and simple readjustment of her glasses, excuses herself, leaving them to oh-so-uncomfortably turn towards the butler, who’s stepped out of his car and is waiting by its open trunk by the time Peggy’s wheeled around in that direction. He immediately meets her eyes, the same judgement-unencumbered expression as that he wears speaking of Howard’s endeavors.

Oh, God, people really did think that of them.

“Shall I grab your luggage for you, Miss Carter?” he offers, even though his lack of reaction to her reflexive eyeroll confirms that he’s asked out of his own desire for keeping with his protocol - rather than expectation that she’ll take the help. Peggy wraps her fingers around the handle of her larger trunk and swings the smaller bag over her shoulder, and moves toward him.

“You can take mine, Mr Colleague!” Angie says sweetly, and Peggy looks back at her with a smile as she starts putting her own belongings into the car. Regardless of the appellation, Jarvis nods and goes to her.

“I really should properly introduce you two,” Peggy chuckles, laying a hand on his shoulder to redirect him once he’s put Angie’s things away. She moves back to the sidewalk, putting a hand out towards Angie’s as a formality of an introduction; she doesn’t mean to take Angie’s hand but can’t say she minds at all when Angie takes hers.

When the first formalities are said and done, they slip into the backseat together, and Peggy tries to tell herself to shrug off the way that Jarvis avoids looking into the actual backseat, as though the pair were exchanging private intimacies; but she can’t help but wonder if there’s a chance his discretion on such matters will be of use to them at some point.

The cook’s finished with the scrambled eggs divette - precisely as it’s made at the Stork Club itself - by the time Angie’s gotten off the phone with her mum, and Jarvis really is quite a natural at setting the table, enough so that he’s mostly done before Peggy’s made it into the dining room to offer him a hand.

“Wow,” Angie hums when she enters, and Peggy’s got a proud look on her face when she turns to greet her, as though she’d had anything to do with the meal, let alone the residence.

But perhaps she’s getting the context wrong, because Jarvis returns half an hour later to pause their still-somewhat-awkward conversation and check in with them, and when he calmly asks what specifications he should be alerting the maid to - whether they’ll be using the room with the bed of brass, or just the master bedroom, both she and Angie hesitate.