Angie’s working at the diner when the TVs start yammering on about Captain America’s body being recovered from somewhere in the Arctic. She’s always at the diner, and it’s not the first major world event she’s managed to be there for. She’d rather be in her bed, far away from the creepy suits who stared at her a little too long and were never quite so impressed to leave her a nice tip.
Captain America’s picture is getting flashed up on the screen now, a black-and-white Army portrait, mixed in with numerous action shots. A grainy video of Cap weaving in and out of trees somewhere in the warfront. The figure is agile, but fights like a brawler, like Angie’s drunk cousin Eddie on Thanksgiving. She had read once in a biography that Cap couldn’t get drunk, not after that serum. What a sadsack life to lead.
The talking heads from the government seemed to think that Cap could wake up from a certain death, that the serum’s properties had preserved the body to the highest degree despite being buried underneath Arctic ice for 60 years or so. Angie though that was all impressive, thought Captain America sure looked attractive in a uniform - both the requisite Army and the red-white-blue costume.
“Robert, what do you think it means for the American military, the American spirit even - that Peggy Carter could be alive after all this time?” Anderson is asking a WWII vet, adorned with medals and drooping a little, but grinning. Angie could imagine his answer.
Captain America does wake up - causes quite the scene too, bursting into the middle of Times Square and turning circles around in wonder. The video plays over and over on the news, which Angie watches then, over and over, at the diner. There’s the gorgeous Peggy Carter, at the center of a storm of suits and Escalades, staring up at the big lights. She doesn’t look a day over 26, her popsicle age.
Angie is fairly fascinated by all this. She had loved the whole Captain America mythos when she was a kid, and when most other girls were focused on picking out their favorite member of a boy band, Angie was reading biographies about the great Peggy Carter.
It was a bit weird, living in a world where her long-dead historical crush was walking, talking, breathing, and constantly on the news. Every day at the diner, Angie would turn on the TVs to the usual array - ESPN, CNN, Fox News, and a local channel - and there’d be Peggy Carter. Pundits wondering about her location. It’s like this for a week and a half, where the whole world thinks and talks about Captain America, and so Angie does too. She thinks mostly about running into Peggy Carter somewhere down in the Village, mostly, but she does think about her.
When she runs face first into someone outside the damn monstrosity that is the Barclays Center one night while walking home from the subway, she expects to keep moving with a solid glare at whatever drunken basketball-or-Jay-Z fan has just taken her for an object.
Instead, the dude, indeed clad in the all-black-everything attire and clearly off his ass, grabs at her. She doesn’t even know what the slobbermonster is saying, but it’s slimy and she can gather the intimation he’s made. She tries to pull away again, but his grip tightens.
“Mister, you better let go,” Angie starts, annoyed but with a creeping feeling of panic coming up her spine. She’s a tiny thing, and he’s a drunk fan with similarly-dressed bros laughing around her. She tries to tug away again, and he apologizes in some drunken way, trying to pull her closer.
“Sir, I believe the lady said she’d like to be let go,” a voice says behind her, quiet, strong, lilting a little. It sounds a bit bored, too, which Angie has no appreciation for. If this is some good-for-nothing security guard who's just spent the night supervising an arena section full of children, Angie very much doubts her chances of breaking up this creep session.
“Hey, you can get in on this too girl,” this guy says, nodding around at his bros in black jerseys and too-big hats. “I think my boy Aaron hasn’t got it in a while.” The bros all laugh at Aaron and this woman, who Angie can’t quite turn to see.
The woman doesn’t seem to appreciate this, because her tone turns quite dark.
“Let her go, and I won’t break each of your noses.”
“Hey, no, this girl and I are just having some fun - ” the guy starts. The woman loses her temper, Angie supposes, because she watches as the guy’s forearm cracks under a strong grip, followed by a swift punch straight up into his overly-large nose. He doubles over, screaming in pain at his clearly broken arm and gushing nose. The back of this mystery woman settles in front of Angie, a shield against the awful bros of the world.
It’s rather attractive.
The guys gather up their guy, getting out of the area quickly. There’s a bit of a clamor around them as the crowd reacts to the violence, and Angie finds herself getting steered through the nervous jumble of people pouring out of the game, down a smaller side street, until the pace slows to a reasonable stroll. Brooklyn is looking sweet in the early May air, trees all in bloom.
“I apologize for my behavior,” her savior starts, and Angie finally gets the chance to see the girl’s face and -
“Oh my God, you’re Captain America,” Angie says, all in a rush, her words rushing up against each other. “Oh my God, Captain America saved me from a bunch of douchebags in Brooklyn.”
“Douchebags?” the woman - Peggy fucking Carter asks, her sweet English accent finally coming clear to Angie now that the panic has receded. She looks confused, and Angie realizes - of course, the girl’s just been dropped into the new millennium.
“Dicks,” Angie starts, and Peggy tilts her head to the side, her hair drawn up in a high bun. Angie is momentarily distracted by the look of her bare neck - and lord, she is so, so gay, too gay for one of the most famous and beautiful women in the whole world to be looking at her with curiosity.
“Like, annoying dudes, I mean. Men. Annoying men who are awful,” Angie finishes (she thinks). Peggy is laughing softly, probably because Angie has traveled through about six different ways to have an awkward first meeting in about five minutes.
“Understood, Ms…?” Peggy starts, offering out her hand for a shake.
“Martinelli. Angie. You’re uh...well, I know who you are,” Angie says, shaking Captain America’s hand while trying not to burst into tears. It’s probably against government rules or something to say she ran into Captain America, right? Her Facebook would probably get wiped off the face of the earth if she asked for a picture. Her phone would probably get wiped off the face of the earth, too, somehow.
“Yes, everyone does, it seems,” Peggy says, her eyes growing distant for a half second in that movie-star-looks kind of way that belied great depth of emotion and whatnot - all that BS her acting coach had tried to impress upon her.
“Thanks for uh, saving me back there,” Angie says, unsure of how to interact with a living legend. A just-recently-living one at that. She hikes her backpack up her shoulder, and her dumbass water bottle tries to come toppling out - but Peggy catches it, like the lightning-fast movement is nothing, and hands it back to Angie.
“It was nothing. Those men were barbaric,” Peggy said. “Are you okay? Did they hurt you?”
“Naw, I got tough skin. I think they got their payback for being sexist jerks back there, so don’t go hunting them down or nothing,” Angie says, and Peggy Carter smiles at her.
“Sexist is new too,” she says, and reaches into her pocket for a little notebook and pencil. “Douchebag...how is that spelled?”
Angie is so suddenly endeared to the absolute dorkiness being put on display here that she laughs for a solid minute. By the time she’s finished, Captain America is smiling at her with a huge grin, her hand still poised above the paper, and so Angie breathes out a giggly “D-O-U-C-H-E-B-A-G” at the like, former world savior. God, no one would even believe her if she posted about this on Facebook.
“Thank you, Angie. You’re probably the first thing that’s made me smile since...all this,” Peggy says, pushing the notebook and pencil back into the pocket of her - jeans? When did she have time to get caught up on fashion?
“I mean, thanks for saving my butt and like, the world and stuff. I’m happy to make you smile,” Angie says, and it sounds so gay, and Peggy’s face seems to indicate that she catches a note of that. Her face becomes a bit of a mystery then, and Angie longs to see the smile come back.
"It was lovely meeting you, Angie. Will you be able to safely get home? I have a prior engagement," Peggy says. It's a clear ditch, and Angie's okay with that just because she's occupied the attention of a national hero for 10 minutes longer than she ever thought she might.
"Yeah, I'm just around the corner. It was nice meeting you too, Cap - Peggy?" Great. Cap Peggy.
"Peggy," says Peggy, who gives a last little smile before she's bustling off down the street, practically blasting by lazy hipsters. Angie watches the sway of her hips for a bit, then decides she better stop objectifying a national treasure.
When she next sees Captain America/Peggy, Angie's just come home from her off-off-off Broadway show and is gathering a much needed alcohol intake at the bar down the street from her apartment.
It's 2am and there's two other customers. The usual drunk down at the end, and a lonely bearded man typing away on his laptop while he chugs craft beers. Angie's well and truly cheesed at her handsy costar, and is taking it out on vodka tonics and some red, white, and blue shot, some promotional, Captain America-themed thing, her favorite bartender keeps delivering her as she reads her script.
She doesn't notice, at first, the presence that settles next to her. But eventually, the shadow at the corner of her eye orders a bourbon in a familiar English accent, and she looks up.
Peggy Carter smiles that smile, and she looks - well, someone has taught her about fitness fashion, considering she's wearing tight leggings and a track jacket. Angie has done three shots without incident, and damn near falls out of her chair on sight of the ensemble connected to the flushed, strong body of Captain America, even though she can barely see her damn wrists. Is this what men in the Victorian age felt like?
"Hello, Angie," she says, receiving her bourbon with a demure thank you. "No trouble with douchebags tonight?"
"None male,"Angie says, but decides not to pursue that story without researching more on homosexual tendency acceptability in 1940s England and the United States. She should have paid attention in her damn LGBTQ History course, instead of ogling the girl across from her the entire time. "Did you just come from the gym?"
"Yes. It's calming. And these outfits are surprisingly beneficial to the whole affair, though they're fairly - well, bright," Peggy says, sipping her bourbon.
"You find going to the gym calming? I can't get up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing," Angie mutters, flipping her script closed and turning toward Peggy, whose eyes track the whole movement.
"It's a routine largely unaffected by my detour into Arctic ice. So much has changed - the constancy of repetition is a stabilizing influence," Peggy says. She gets that same wistful look from before.
"I can't imagine. You must feel bamboozled," Angie says, reaching out to rest her hand on Peggy's arm before she gets halfway across the divide and stops herself. Peggy doesn't mention it.
"Quite," she says, and Angie can tell that's about as far as Peggy's gonna go with the emotion-sharing on that front. "What's this?" she asks, nodding at the script with notes all over it in front of Angie.
"It's a play. I mean, my play - I'm in this play. I was making new character notes," Angie says, nodding in assent when Peggy looks at her for permission to look through it. Her hands are gentle for ones capable of cracking a man's ulna with a quick squeeze.
"You're an actress," Peggy says, as though she's cataloguing the information and not in that way people often regard her when she says so. Typical New York story, she imagines they think. Peggy just sounds curious.
"Yep. Show's running down in a little storefront theater down in Alphabet City if you want to catch a catastrophe," Angie says. Sammy, her favorite bartender, sets down a glass of water, clearly recognizing that she needs sobriety to impress a beautiful woman.
"Why is it a catastrophe?" Peggy asks, and she flips through the pages looking through the little notes.
"My damn costar has the hots for me," Angie mutters, taking a larger gulp of water, "and my ex is directing. Bit of a clusterfuck."
"Clusterfuck is new," Peggy remarks, pulling out her notebook and handing it over to Angie. "Can you write it down?"
Angie does so dutifully, and Peggy pauses at what looks to be the well-annotated kissing scene. That doesn't bode so well, Angie thinks, but Peggy carefully turns to look at Angie with nothing reproachful or disgusted on her face.
"Homosexuality is far more visible these days," Peggy says, and Angie laughs at the frankness of the statement.
"I'd imagine so," Angie says. "My costar is a bit of a handsy lesbian though."
Peggy frowns and sets down the script, seeming to sense a safety issue and alarm bells clearly going off. Angie smiles at this.
"She was handsy with you?" Peggy asks.
"Yeah, on stage too! I'm still pissed. I mean, I get it, I'm hot stuff, but check your attraction at the door. When you gotta put your tongue in someone's mouth for a job, you gotta maintain a professional atmosphere and not feel someone up on stage," Angie lets off a rant, and Peggy's frown deepens.
"I can come speak to her, if you want," Peggy offers. Angie relishes the idea, really, of Peggy - Captain America - busting into pre-show run-throughs and giving damned Sophia a talking to. But she knows, too, that it’s overkill and would most likely get her put on government lockdown for associating with a national secret.
“Nah, I mean, are you even supposed to be out and about?” Angie asks, and Peggy laughs, shaking her head in a way that seems to indicate how silly she thinks the idea is.
“I’m not, actually,” Peggy says, sipping again in this scintillating way at her bourbon, “They seemed to think that I would want to be isolated after waking up. They set up this gym for me, but I...I find it better to just move forward.”
“That’s damn brave,” Angie says, because it is. She’d go full-on hermit if she had just woken up 60 years from now. But here’s Peggy, dressed like a regular-old Generation Y girl, smiling in this sad way as she sips some more at her bourbon.
“There are braver things. I was just passing by to go back to my apartment when I saw you through the window. I wanted to apologize if I was short to you the last time I saw you - it was my first day out and about. I was fairly overwhelmed, though that’s no excuse,” Peggy says, and it’s stupidly endearing. Angie finds herself reaching out to touch Peggy for real this time, her hand settling over Peggy’s forearm. It’s warm and soft and clearly strong. The muscle seems to strain as Peggy grips at her glass.
“It’s nothing,” Angie says. And Peggy smiles, and Angie smiles, and the music switches over to something soft.
Somehow, she gets Captain America's phone number that night (she should send Sammy some flowers or something), and she starts hanging out with Peggy Carter. Half the time it's like naturalizing a baby to a brand new world, and the rest is Angie continually finding Peggy Carter as interesting as she finds her attractive.
“Is this really a theater?” Peggy asks, her hands tucked into her pockets while Angie leads her into the little theater where her show is playing. Peggy had insisted she could be allowed into public areas, and that she wanted to see Angie’s show, and well, she couldn’t quite say no. “It seems rather small.”
“Sorry, it isn’t quite Radio City, Ms. Headliner,” Angie says, pulling Peggy toward the backstage area - two rooms just in back of the last flats of the set. Peggy snorts in affront, but gets cut off from answering when the handsy lesbian costar extraordinaire pops open one of the doors and hits Peggy with it.
The door, of course, bounces off her, like if Angie had just tried to throw a piece of paper at her. Sophia looks shocked, because there’s like, a statuesque person just standing there with her hands in her pockets while Angie’s got her arm wrapped through hers. Peggy seems to take stock of the situation for a moment, and when Sophia doesn’t apologize for hitting her with a door, she starts talking.
“You must be Sophia,” she says, pulling one hand (the one not with Angie’s arm) from her pocket and offering it to Sophia. “Lovely to meet you. I’m looking forward to seeing the show, Angie’s told me so much about it.”
“Ah, yeah, cool,” Sophia says, shaking Peggy’s hand. Angie starts tugging her into the other changing room then, because this interaction has clearly ended, with the satisfied smirk on Peggy’s face.
“You know,” she says, once she gets the door closed, “you can’t just go around scaring my costars shitless, even if they’re a little too friendly with my chest.”
"I've no idea what you're talking about," Peggy says, smiling.
At intermission, there's a vase of flowers with her name on it and an adorable little Captain America shield, and Sophia does not dare move her hands from Angie's waist the whole night.
She’s in the diner when The Incident starts (of course she is). In fact, she’s just finished clearing a table when one of the suits pops up suddenly, his phone to his ear, and makes a clean dash outside. At first, she’s pissed, and then every television in the whole diner goes black, along with all the lights.
So she goes outside, and fuck her, there’s an enormous black hole-looking thing opening up over Stark Tower. Peggy had called the thing a monstrosity in this annoyed tone, just a few days ago while they were shoveling mac and cheese down their throats.
“It’s garish, Angie. I don’t care if it runs on the fanciest electricity of all time - ” Angie doesn’t bother to correct Peggy on her understanding of arc reactor technology “ - it’s just a monument to one man’s ego. He’s so much like his father, it’s infuriating.”
That piques Angie’s interest, because, right, of course Peggy must have known Howard Stark, and Angie learns Peggy’s happy to talk about him in great, annoyed detail.
A blue beam is shot up straight into the black hole when black dots start pouring out of the hole, and - what the hell is that? An enormous thing flew out after the dots, looking armored and large and like a toothed worm. The dots are growing bigger too, zooming down 10th Avenue, straight for the diner. And then explosions start going up, blue lights raining down on restaurants, bars, shops she walks past every day, and they’re going up in flames.
She ducks back inside and into the cellar and stays there for what feels like hours. There are a thousand sounds that reach through the dull walls of the produce-filled concrete walls. She hears glass shattering, fires, sirens. The strange noise of the lasers. She hears this distant roar even, of something much larger than anything should be.
This is the kind of stuff that only ever happened in the movies, or plays or whatever. She thought about the show and her handsy costar and her ex, and accepted pretty quickly that whatever the hell was happening outside was probably shutting that production down. Her ma and pa were out at the cabin in Wheaton this weekend, and Leo was mid-semester at Culver, and after that, there were just tangential people, like Sammy, or like, Audra McDonald. She hoped Audra McDonald was okay. God, was Angie even okay?
It’s pretty sad, but the person she thinks of the most is Peggy Carter, and her ridiculous British accent and her notepad with curse words that Angie kept uttering around her. She hopes Peggy is okay, especially considering she had told Angie she was getting called away by someone or another and would be gone for some indeterminate length of time. Peggy had figured out texting just barely and had texted Angie enough that the absence of it was obvious.
So she thinks about whatever people could be dead, listening to buildings crashing and settling above her. Eventually, the noise starts to settle down and she thinks that maybe she should try to - try to do something, maybe, instead of eating everything in the cellar. She stands up, her whole body cracking from disuse, from being practically immobile for hours, and tries to push up on the door and fling it open.
It doesn’t move. It won’t budge, and the flickering light that she had told Anthony to replace at least four times in the past month bothers her more and more as she tries to push the door up. She can hear, just barely, people yelling, sirens going off, and the door won’t move. Angie’s been down here a thousand times, and she never once had any trouble popping it open, and she thinks all of a sudden of the time her brother nearly drowned at the lake and she misses her brother for at least the first time since she was seven.
A loud scraping sound happens against the metal, and she drops back down to the ground, hoping aliens don’t know how to open cellar doors. A louder sound comes then, something crashing. She can’t breathe, it feels like. Was she down here so long that she breathed up all the air?
The cellar door gets torn off its hinges all of a sudden, and Angie very nearly passes out. Instead of a - whatever those things were - hovering over her, there was Peggy. Or, Captain America, really, dressed in a red, white and blue costume and a shield slung onto her arm. It’s the first time Angie’s ever seen any indication that Peggy was returning to superhero antics.
“Are you alright, darling?” Peggy asks, dropping into the cellar without stopping to take the ladder. She lands softly and kneels in front of Angie. “I tried to get here as soon as I could.”
“I ate like, ten whole carrots, but I’m - are you okay? You look like a wreck,” Angie says, reaching out to touch Peggy’s face, which is pretty beaten up. There’s a wicked scratch running across her eyebrow, and a bruise blooming on her jaw. Dirt, grime, all over her. Her suit is near singed off at the midriff. She looks like she’s been through a war.
“There was a bit of an incident outside, as you might have noticed,” Peggy says, and does a half-hearted grin. She sits down then, settling close to Angie up against the concrete wall of the cellar, reaching out for a carrot and taking a swift bite of it.
“What were they?” Angie whispers, reaching out to touch the shiny surface of the shield while Peggy reaches for another carrot. It’s smooth, and Peggy relinquishes it without protest to Angie. It makes a little hum noise when Angie swings it around so she can slide her puny little arms through the loops on it.
“Alien creatures from outer space,” Peggy says. Her helmet begins crackling with radio - and she flings it off almost immediately. It hits the opposite side of the cellar so hard that it cracks into multiple pieces.
Angie doesn’t speak, because she senses that Peggy would rather not hear a sound. She senses there’s something heavy that followed Peggy down here.
“I had thought I was managing this all well,” Peggy starts. “But I’ve just finished a battle that reads like those stories Steve used to…” she stops.
Angie senses that’s the end of that. She stands up then, picking up Peggy’s cracked helmet and slowly climbing up the ladder out of the cellar. The scratching and crashing sounds she had heard immediately explain themselves.
There are enormous sections of steel beams and brick crashed in the diner, and there’s one flung up against the bar with two distinct handprints on it. There’s water spraying around, and Angie first thinks it looks like a movie set.
The building across the street is demolished. There are dead aliens just lying on the ground. She sees a group of men in black suits loading their bodies up into a black car. There’s not one piece of her normal, familiar world left. Her hand grips hard onto the strap of Captain America’s helmet, and she feels like she wants to cry, wants to throw it across the room, too.
“Do you want to go home?” Peggy asks suddenly, having snuck up on her. Angie just nods. What else can she say?
Peggy actually takes Angie to Peggy’s apartment, ripping off the rough jacket with the star and tossing it at the ground. There’s a big old burn mark running across her undershirt, though the skin there doesn’t seem bothered.
Angie just watches as Peggy takes off all the trappings of the superhero, and becomes Peggy, a normal woman. It’s probably a bit creepy but it’s too poetic to not. Angie’s still holding the shield - a fact the agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who had transported them to the apartment block Peggy lived on (the people Peggy worked for apparently) was pretty disgruntled about.
Peggy turns to eye Angie then, wearing compression leggings and a long sleeve, torn up compression shirt. Her face is still scratched up, but the cut seems smaller than before.
“I would prefer it if you didn’t go home,” Peggy says, and she says it in the way that sounds tired and like it’s already resolved. Angie doesn’t want to go home either, after driving through the messy streets of midtown. The diner had been wrecked, windows gone and tables everywhere. Everything had been wrecked. Whole buildings had crumpled, and there were people covered in dust wandering around like zombies, surveying over the dead alien bodies. On eighth, one of those big worms had just been crumpled up.
Peggy had been out there, fighting those things. All she’d had was this little shield, the one Angie was holding up against her, the one Peggy was slowly taking away from her and resting up against her kitchen table.
“Angie?” Peggy asks, and Angie’s having a bit of a moment because the world has become different in the space of a few hours and she emerged from a dark cellar to find it in disarray. This must be how Peggy feels every day, and she’s standing there looking at Angie with concern.
Angie finds herself being drawn into Peggy’s strong arms, pressed up against her. Her own hands find their way to the center of Peggy’s back, pushing tight, and she’s crying, which seems stupid, because she wasn’t just fighting an alien invasion with bare knuckles and a damn shield. But it’s scary - the world Angie had known was thrown off its axis, and Captain fucking America is holding her, and her cell phone won’t catch signal so she can call her damn mother and wonder whether aliens managed to get out to New Jersey.
Peggy is soft and pliable, and doesn’t seem to mind when Angie presses her head down on to the meshy undershirt Peggy’s wearing and cries.
One of Peggy’s hands finds its way up to Angie’s hair and runs through it, holding her tight and calming her slowly but surely.
“Let’s get to bed,” Peggy whispers, and Angie just nods, because suddenly she feels too tired. When she pulls out of Peggy’s embrace, the look on her face reads the same - who would ever know that Captain America could look so exhausted? Angie gets lead through the dark apartment to the bedroom, where Peggy throws over a t-shirt and shorts and says she’ll be out of the bathroom in a moment.
Angie dutifully changes into the shirt and shorts, out of her diner uniform, while Peggy runs water in the bathroom, presumably cleaning off her face. Out of the corner of her eye, Angie spots a picture tucked away on Peggy’s dresser, of a young man smiling - is that -
The door opens then, and Angie draws away quick enough to look distracted by the view of Manhattan’s skyline, which is smoking. Peggy comes over too, and stands next to Angie, close enough for Angie to feel the heat coming off her.
“I guess my show is cancelled,” Angie says, turning to glance over at Peggy, wearing pajama pants and an Army t-shirt that looks ancient and is about three sizes too big for her. Her hands are knotted up in it, but they unclench as Peggy gives a snort that rumbles up into real laughter.
“I’d imagine so,” Peggy whispers, pulling the blinds closed to the wreckage outside. Angie follows her into bed, and they settle close without touching. And they sleep.
When Angie wakes up, Peggy’s no longer in bed. The blinds are still closed. Angie crawls out of the soft sheets and stretches.
The picture that she had noticed last night is far easier to see. It is Steve Rogers - Captain America’s right-hand man in the Howling Commandos. He was smiling, settled on a rock somewhere, probably on the warfront. She was well aware that there had been plenty of rumors surrounding the relationship between Peggy and Steve. Two dedicated soldiers who had met in the SSR training program and probably fallen in love. Angie had thought it a bit contrite before now, but looking at the photo of Steve placed carefully in Peggy Carter’s bedroom, it felt very real.
She had known Peggy for almost two months, and the most direct emotion she had seen Peggy express had been throwing that helmet against the wall and mentioning Steve. That couldn’t be nothing.
Angie wanders out of the bedroom to find Peggy on the couch, staring off outside at the city, a tablet of some kind in her hand. It looked like it was reeling in alert after alert.
“Good morning,” Angie says, and Peggy turns to look at her with a small smile. She drops the tablet on the coffee table and pats the couch next to her. The scratch over her eyebrow is almost totally gone, but she’s clearly jerry rigged some sort of rib ice pack with saran wrap and a t-shirt.
“That was probably the first time I’ve slept for longer than three hours since waking up,” Peggy says, shifting down a little as Angie settles into the arm of the couch, picking up the remote for the television and flipping it on.
“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you deserved it,” Angie says. News coverage is totally devoted to the events of the previous day, and there’s - well, there’s Peggy, with her now cracked mask on, hurling her shield around, accompanied by - other folks. One of whom is conjuring lightning. Another is large and green.
“So you made some friends other than me?” Angie asks, turning to place a glare on Peggy, who laughs.
“Friends? No.” Peggy says. They watch as the large, green one climbs the walls in some grainy cell phone footage and throws aliens around like toys. Peggy speaks again, seeming to think better.
“Allies, I suppose. You’re the friend no one at S.H.I.E.L.D. expected me to make,” Peggy says, while some talking head is going on about how dangerous this whole thing was and who were these heroes? Angie turns off the television then, because she senses whatever that blowhard is gonna say is damn near useless.
“I’ve never really had a best friend,” Angie says. “I was always a bit of a weirdo in school, and then in college I kept to myself and focused on acting and now all I do is go to the diner and to shows. Not much time for BFFs. Best friend forever.” The breakdown of the acronym is for Peggy’s benefit. Peggy picks at the couch cushion a little, before pulling out her phone and telling it to record ‘BFFs’ into her list of words. J.A.R.V.I.S., the little voice in the phone, responds happily that it has been added.
“BFFs, as you say, are wonderful,” Peggy answers in this careful way that leads Angie to believe that she’s stepped onto thin ice.
“I think you could be my first,” Angie says, which is probably one of the most ridiculous choices in phrasing she could have made. “I mean. First best friend. Not the other thing, or anything else other than best friend. Oh God. I was trying to say something nice. Why can’t my words just come out right?”
Peggy is laughing again, and it’s a little bit worth it to be experiencing mortal embarrassment if Peggy’s smiling.
“Are you usually so loquacious, Angie?” Peggy asks, her English accent rolling over ‘loquacious’ like water. It’s distracting, and so her words do more bad things.
“Only around legs like that,” Angie says, making a weak gesture at Peggy’s admittedly spectacular legs that are making a strong showing right now, stretched out and bare with those shorts on. Oh lord, now she’s hit on a major league superhero who knows Iron Man and a large green monster thing.
Peggy just smiles, though, doesn’t seem to think this comment is creepy or excessively deviant or worth of damnation, which is nice. She was born in the 20s.
“Angie, are you attracted to women?” Peggy asks, and it’s exceedingly kind, which is better than her own mother’s reaction. Technically Peggy was from two generations before Angie’s mother, so that’s upsetting.
“I have no idea what could have lead you to that conclusion,” Angie finally says. She has little to no idea what to say in such a situation that she is in. So she keeps talking, like an idiot.
“Yes. But like, not specifically to you, I’m not trying to, uh - you’re very attractive. But I’m not trying to hit on you at the moment. I’m gay. Yeah. Total ladylover,” Angie says, and is fully ready for the second alien invasion to kill her off at any moment now. Peggy is very sincerely looking at her. But the look starts to break down into a smile, which breaks further into full-blown laughter.
“‘Total ladylover?’” Peggy gets out, between laughs. “Angie, you needn’t speak so prudently.”
Angie just stares at her.
“That was my most heartfelt coming-out ever, and you’re laughing at me? Come on. What kind of American hero laughs at a lesbian? Stop laughing, Peggy!” Angie yelps, shoving at Peggy, who does not move an inch on account of her massive strength. Peggy gives a light shove back that Angie very definitely feels, and she’s still laughing.
It devolves into a bit of a battle, where Peggy starts utilizing the pillows on the couch to hit Angie, and Angie does a dive and roll (thanks stage fighting training!) for Peggy’s scratched up shield and holds her off just long enough to make an effective lunge for the sink’s sprayer. Peggy blinks at her for a moment after the spray has stopped, and it’s dripping down her face onto her olive green Army shirt. Angie finds it all stupidly appealing to look at, and it’s a moment of distraction that allows Peggy to turn Angie’s own hand against her and presses down on the little button.
They’re both soaked then, spraying water all over the kitchen. Angie knows Peggy wouldn’t get touched with a milliliter of water if she wants to avoid it; she appreciates Peggy’s devotion to the moment, the kindness of her hands whenever she moves the sprayer back to Angie, allowing herself to get bumped backwards by the shield on Angie’s arm. It’s the kind of awareness that Angie doubts she would have if she had the ability to crush things with her pinky.
Eventually, it stops, because Peggy accidentally turns the sink off. They just stand there in front of each other, Angie clutching at the shield, Peggy smiling. They’re both smiling, and Angie forgets for half a second that the whole world has changed, and doesn’t notice that it’s changing again.
Peggy is sitting on Angie’s tiny bed when the building damn near gets blown up. Angie’s standing at her oven one second, boiling water for tea, and the next, Peggy has her under her tiny desk while the whole block rattles.
“What the hell?” Angie asks, as the building settles slowly, groaning the whole way. Peggy crawls out from under the table with unprecedented grace, walking lightly across the floor. When she opens the door out into Angie’s stairwell, Angie bears witness to a bolt of orange flash flying through it, very narrowly missing Peggy.
Peggy stalks out the door further, looking down a level and then up. Angie gets out from under the table with very little grace at all.
“That looked like a Chitauri weapon,” Peggy finally answers, looking back through the doorway at Angie. A wave of panic goes through Angie at the thought. Peggy doesn’t look nearly as concerned.
“Are we being invaded by aliens again?” Angie asks, like that’s a completely normal thing to ask these days. It’s sad because it is. It’s been a week and a half since the Incident, but people still jump when the Subway makes a particular screeching noise.
“That would be impossible,” Peggy says, waving away the idea imperiously. Before she even finishes dismissing Angie’s idea, another flash hits the wall right next to Peggy and Angie’s apartment and now has a literal, actual hole in it. Peggy looks over at it for a moment before genuinely leaping over the railing and down onto the floor below. Angie is too busy staring at the enormous smoking hole in her front door wall, but she can hear Peggy talking in a stern tone of voice and someone sounding sheepish and scared.
“Yes, I have the weapon,” is the next clear thing Angie can hear, as Peggy waltzes back through Angie’s (now useless, on account of the large hole in the wall) door. She’s carrying her phone against one ear and an alien blaster thing in the other. “The carrier was a fifteen year-old boy, but he’s currently in the building if you would like to question him. I doubt his intentions were in any way nefarious.”
There’s a huge hole in Angie’s wall and probably like four more in the building and nothing nefarious is happening?
“I would rather not wait until the full outfit arrives, sir,” Peggy says, rolling her eyes at whoever she’s on the phone with. “I have some freedom on this, I’d imagine. I did aid in saving the most famous city in the world recently.”
There’s apparently a heated response, because Peggy drops the blaster on Angie’s table with annoyance.
“I will give the weapon to Hawkeye on his arrival and leave thereafter. I’d rather this incident not turn into a Captain America spectacle,” she says. After what seems like an agreement, Peggy says, “Carter out,” and then she’s just looking at Angie.
“I guess I’m moving out,” Angie says, looking over at the wall, where a pipe has just started spraying water into her kitchen. Peggy looks over too and hums in agreement.
“I have a surprise for you, Angie,” Peggy says, striding into her apartment, where Angie is settled on the couch. It’s a month after the Incident, and the diner is still closed. Their (and it’s still weird to say ‘their,’ like Angie isn’t living with a national hero or anything) apartment is admittedly ridiculously nice and apparently furnished by the nice guys and gals at S.H.I.E.L.D. Peggy’s only just begun to figure out how the fancy television works.
Angie looks up to see Peggy carrying, of all things, an enormous rainbow flag crafted into a cape, along with a replica of her shield but...rainbow-y.
“Uh,” is about all Angie can supply, because Peggy is dressed to the nines in the gay agenda. She wonders for half a second if she’s dreaming, but she’s not even sure her subconscious could conjure such an image.
“I was asked to be the grand marshal of the pride march,” Peggy starts, very casually, like all people are just asked to be the grand marshal of the pride march. “Well, someone asked S.H.I.E.L.D., who said no. But I tracked down the people in charge and told them I would do it.”
“Um, did S.H.I.E.L.D. agree to that?” Angie asks. She can’t imagine they did, considering Peggy is like, their most important member and would be open to a good deal of criticism.
“Well, they’ll have to now! I was given this wonderful cape and shield, too, and I rather like them,” Peggy says, twirling around in her outfit. Truly, this is one of the strangest moments of Angie’s entire life.
“Why would you even want to be the grand marshal of the pride march?”
Peggy frowns a little, and cocks her head, her shield coming to rest at her side. She somehow manages to look comic book worthy even when she’s dressed in a ridiculous ensemble. This is fairly upsetting to Angie.
“I wanted to support you,” Peggy starts. “And I’ve done some reading on the plights of LGBTQIA people - ”
“So the ‘L’ is for lesbian - women interested in women. ‘G’ is for gay, ‘B’ is bisexual,” Peggy starts listing off, ticking the letters off as she says them. Her face is thinking hard, trying to keep her head around the whole ordeal. Angie is smiling in what she’s sure is a stupid, lovestruck way.
“Then transgender, queer, intersex, asexual. Right? Did I get it right?” Peggy asks, and Angie nods. Peggy does a ridiculous pose with her arms raised in triumph. “I told you I had a spectacular memory!”
“ - and I feel it is my duty to show my support for all of them, especially young people. I’ve never liked bullies and I feel LGBTQIA people are too often the victims of them,” Peggy says, finishing proudly. Her hands fall to her hips and she legitimately looks like the gayest superhero of all time.
“People are going to think you’re gay,” Angie says, in such a tone that she’s sure sounds too measured and fake and searching. Peggy doesn’t seem to notice, or if she does, she doesn’t comment on it.
“They’ll have to live with the mystery,” Peggy says. Angie will too, it seems.
“Captain Carter, Mr. Stark, Director Fury would once again like to deter you from this course of action,” says one of the agents following she and Peggy around as they prepare to get in the convertible. Peggy had already thrown said agent out of the car so that Angie could be sitting next to her. Beside Peggy, Tony Stark is clad in a brightly colored (aka blinding) rainbow Iron Man suit, waving to the crowds of people who pass by. Angie has already done two shots of something delicious with him.
“Agent, I would like to once again insist that you give up and focus on making sure this man doesn’t destroy any more of New York City’s fine buildings on this day,” Peggy says, her arms crossed as Tony waves to people surrounding the launch of the parade.
“Cap, I told you that I uninstalled the blasters and put in glitter and confetti packs,” Tony says, slinging a metal arm around Angie’s shoulders and nearly shoving her straight into the Corvette they’re all standing in front of. Peggy carefully extracts her from his grip.
“Lord help us all,” Peggy says, popping the door to the Corvette open and offering Angie her hand to grip so she can clamber in. She does, settling on the far side, adjusting her sunglasses and rainbow beads and being careful to not smudge the face paint that a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent had claimed was also sunscreen. It took up much of her face and looked similar to Peggy’s shield, which she handed over to Angie as she climbed into the car.
“Don’t worry big guy, you’ve got eyes in the sky,” Tony says, patting the agent who’s been pestering them on the shoulder. Before the agent can say anything in response, the front mask on the suit shuts, and Tony shuttles up a good 10 feet in the air, where he hovers and waits for the go ahead.
“How did he even get to be a grand marshal?” Angie asks. Peggy laughs but looks seriously up at Iron Man zooming in circles up above them.
“He did recently save the entire city from a nuclear bomb,” Peggy remarks. “I rather think he’s experiencing a bit of a crisis and is doing things simply to keep himself distracted.”
“Wow, Freud showed up at the pride march,” Angie says, flipping the shield in her hands around until she almost bashes the driver in the head with it. Thankfully Peggy catches it before it makes contact with their head and slips it on her own arm.
“I met him once,” Peggy says. “He was rather a douchebag.” Angie laughs, loudly, and Peggy smiles at her.
The car lurches forward, then, and the yelling starts in earnest around them. Peggy starts waving.
It’s a strange experience, being in the pride march. She’s been to them before, obviously, but sitting next to Captain America in a rainbow cape is a bit of a different perspective. The people revere her, and toss her plenty of violets - “I know what these mean!” Peggy yells happily over the clamor. By the end of the parade, Angie is sure she’s sunburnt and also covered in violets that Peggy’s been too kind to get rid of in any subtle way.
At home that night, Peggy is happily arranging the at least ten pounds of violets around the apartment in vases she had made the S.H.I.E.L.D. transport stop for her to purchase. Angie is certain she has three of them in her room already. She’s salved up with aloe, and the news is covering the antics of two of the Avengers in the New York pride march.
“Did you know any gay people back in 1940whatever?” Angie asks. Peggy stops for a moment, but then keeps going. On the news, they’re showing Peggy standing up and getting out of the convertible to shake the hand of an female veteran with WWII medals. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who had been trailing behind them had almost passed out.
“Of course,” Peggy says, though her tone sounds a bit too jovial. “A few people I knew personally would have most likely identified as bisexual under today’s categorical system. Besides them, there was quite a preponderance of lesbians in the war. No one much cared on the warfront who you were seeing so long as it wasn’t affecting your ability to fire a gun.”
“Interesting. Okay, does my face look weird in this footage or is it just me?” Angie asks, pausing the television to point in annoyance at the screen. The facepaint she had been wearing somehow warped her face in some weird trick of the light.
“I believe they gave you some kind of paintable mask, actually. I was going to warn you when they painted it on, but I felt that it must be best for your safety to keep you relatively anonymous,” Peggy says carefully, stopping to hover over Angie behind the couch.
“Best for my safety? They told me it was sunscreen! No wonder I feel like my face has been charred off,” Angie says.
“Well, next time I will make sure that you put on sunscreen in addition to your high-tech mask,” Peggy says airily, reaching for the remote and flipping it, for some reason, to Family Feud on the game show channel.
“You’ve reached new levels of old woman, Peggy Carter, just flippin’ on the Game Show Network like that,” Angie says as Peggy returns to the kitchen to arrange another violet vase.
“At least I don’t look like a tomato,” Peggy says. Angie grunts in discontent, turning back to the television and steadfastly ignoring Peggy’s ridiculous answers on a survey of, “Name something that two people can ride at the same time.”
“So you can’t tell me where you’re going, but you need me to water your plants. Does that really seem fair and just, Peggy? Aren’t you supposed to be the shining example of American justice or something?” Angie says, watching Peggy lift an enormous bag without trouble. She sets it down on the table and the poor old thing nearly buckles under the weight.
“Angie, you’re being intentionally obtuse at a stressful juncture,” Peggy says, zipping open the bag and dropping a shirt that is very much Angie’s into it.
“I’m just saying. You buy a ficus one week and the next you’re abandoning it,” Angie says, picking up Peggy’s shield and looping her arms through it. Peggy sighs and stops shoving things into her bag, setting her hand on a hip.
“Is this because I’m going to miss your show?” Peggy asks. “Or is this genuinely because you are concerned about your ability to manage a small plant for a month?”
“One hundred percent the fate of Grant,” Angie says, resting the shield up on her knees, and looking over at Grant (the ficus) so as not to look at Peggy’s imploring face. Peggy sighs heavily, dropping to kneel in front of Angie, gently taking the shield from her hands. She handles it deftly, in a practiced way, swinging it up onto the table on top of her bag. It’s stupidly graceful.
“Angie, I promise you that I very much wish I could be there,” Peggy says, reaching to take Angie’s hands. Angie feels like crying, because Peggy’s hands are warm and somehow soft despite the hard work they do. But it isn’t that, not really. It isn’t the show. Peggy keeps talking through Angie’s silence.
“You’re my best friend, and I want to be there to see you make your Broadway debut,” Peggy says. Angie is really trying very hard not to cry now, because this whole conversation is ridiculous and she should have just let Peggy leave and then cried about it later.
“I’m only gonna be on stage for 10 minutes,” Angie finally says, because any other direct confrontation of emotion is gonna just blow the lid off her tears. Unfortunately, the image of Peggy after the Incident, wearing that stupid singed and beaten up outfit comes to mind, and the tears do come.
“Angie,” Peggy whispers, reaching up to pull Angie into a tight hug. Her hands make their way to Angie’s shoulder blades and head, rubbing lightly at her scalp.
“It isn’t the damn play,” Angie kind of whisper-cries in a halting breath. “This is your first - your first mission since the Incident - and I want you - to stay safe.”
Peggy doesn’t respond quickly, issuing soft shh noises into Angie’s ear as she tries to reign this in.
“I’m always safe,” Peggy finally says, causing a snort from Angie.
“You crashed a plane into the Arctic and stayed frozen there for 60 years” Angie says derisively, rubbing at her eyes when Peggy pulls away to look at her softly.
“That was one time,” Peggy says defensively. Her hands drift up to Angie’s forehead to push some hair behind her ear. It’s a quiet moment, and Angie finds herself leaning into the touch, feeling these dumb feelings she’s not interested in having. Peggy is looking at her sweetly, almost lovingly, and Angie knows that her face must be an open book.
“Just, come back safe to me, okay?” Angie says. Peggy’s face does this strange thing, the strange thing it does whenever Angie accidentally stumbles onto something. She has zero percent of an idea what it is, because Peggy is a damn locked safe surrounded by piranhas when it comes to any serious emotion or feeling.
Before Peggy can respond, though Angie doubts seriously whether she was going to at all, her secret agent phone (a small slice of glass that Peggy has broken about four times) starts beeping.
“Captain Carter, time for extraction,” a voice says, and Peggy mutters a quiet, “10-4, be out in a moment,” before she swipes the conversation closed. She stands up and looks down at Angie with a measuring look. Angie feels now as if she’s done something wrong, which is ass-backwards.
“I’ll be back soon, Angie. Keep safe,” Peggy says, slinging her bag over her shoulder and sliding the shield onto her arm. Angie sits back in the chair then, watching silently as Peggy heads out the door and bounds up the stairs to the roof, where Angie assumes some sort of ridiculous S.H.I.E.L.D. transport is waiting for their prodigal daughter. The door closes behind her and automatically locks, as it was programmed to do.
“Fucking Christ,” Angie says, dropping her head into her hands. All of a sudden, she’s too tired to cry.
When she picks her head up, she looks over to the ficus on the table, with an affectionate name written on it: Grant.
“After Ulysses,” Peggy says, placing the small label on Grant’s new, clay home.
“How did someone so English get to be so American?” Angie asks, resting on the couch while she looks over her two lines in the play. Over the very top of her binder, Peggy is perched at the kitchen table, attending to her new plant.
“By association with some excessively American people,” Peggy says, clipping at Grant’s leaves a little. “The name was widely debated amongst the marketing folks, though. Most used it as an excuse as to why I shouldn’t receive the serum. It was all poppycock - ”
“I’m reporting you right now to the President for saying ‘poppycock,’” Angie says. “They’ll take your title away for sure.”
“The heartbreak that would befall me without my moniker,” Peggy says, her voice ridiculously dramatic.
“Shut up, English, you talk too much,” Angie says, tossing a tissue box from the coffee table at Peggy’s face. Peggy just catches it with a stupid, winning grin. Angie is falling in love with that grin, and the feeling of it is both disquieting and thrilling.
“What are we gonna do, Grant?” Angie asks. Grant’s got nothing, so Angie spends her night off drinking schnapps and checking her phone, as though Captain America has time for her in the middle of a damn mission.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Angie turns to look at the woman who’s just slid onto the stool next to her. It’s been a week since Peggy went off on her mission, leaving Angie alone in their apartment with Grant. Three days since Angie made her Broadway debut, where she spoke three lines and her mom cried all over her. Angie’s just left the show and made it out to her and Peggy’s bar. Sammy has been sympathetically looking at her all night after he had asked where her usual gal was (he had said gal, too) and Angie had only replied with a request for a whisky sour.
So she’s had three whisky sours and a shot of something. And now this woman is asking to get her a drink. The girl is kind of spectacular-looking, dressed in a blazer and heels and tight jeans. Peggy has a few outfits like this (“This is apparently what they call business casual these days, can you imagine?”) and Angie positively has very sexual thoughts about them (“I really can’t imagine, no.”) This girl ain’t Peggy, though, and the thought of Peggy makes her give a nod of assent.
“I’m Nicole,” the woman says, sticking out her hand for Angie to shake. Angie takes it. She looks kind of familiar, but Angie chalks it up to being drunk and this girl’s hair being brown and wavy like Peggy’s. What a waste of a crush, honestly, spending all that time thinking about the untouchable Peggy Carter when there are gorgeous girls like this offering her drinks.
“Angie,” she says. “I’ve never seen you here before”
“I’m new in town,” Nicole says, waving Sammy over to get Angie another drink. “I just thought I’d try out the local bars and see if there was anyone who would show me around.”
It’s fairly suggestive, and Angie finds herself staring Nicole in the face for a bit too long for it to be not creepy.
“Well, I’ve been living here my whole life,” Angie finally offers. “I grew up about six blocks northeast of here. Lived in a damn shoebox after that.”
“I know something about those shoeboxes,” Nicole says with a laugh. “I think my square footage is about 12.”
“Nice! I could turn on my shower from my bed in my old apartment, so it was real quality,” Angie says. Sammy slides her a new whisky sour, and she keeps him there for a sec with a raised hand. “Let me get Nicole here a drink, too, Sammy boy.”
“No, you don’t have to,” Nicole starts, but Angie waves her off. Sammy laughs a little, starts in on a new drink for Nicole. Angie turns a little more to look at Nicole. Their legs bump together underneath the bartop, but Nicole doesn’t swing hers away, just looks at Angie with a level gaze.
“Thanks for the drink,” Nicole says. Her eyes are a pretty beautiful hazel color. Angie barely restrains herself from saying so. “So what do you do, Angie?”
“I’m an actress,” she says, taking a sip of her drink and thunking her knee against Nicole’s. “What about you?”
“The same, actually. You looked a bit familiar, maybe I saw you in an audition or something,” Nicole says. And yeah, now that she mentions it, Nicole did look quite a lot like the girls in her last audition, for her new play. Angie smiles, Nicole smiles back.
They sit in silence for a second, until Nicole nudges at her again.
“Did you get out of your shoebox? The one with the shower by the bed?” Nicole asks, her eyes looking a bit sad. Angie remembers what it was like to be struggling in the acting world, trying to string together rent payments off of her diner check.
“Yeah, I moved in with a friend of mine who’s a bit well-off,” Angie says. The reminder makes her a bit angry. “You want to see it?”
Angie is a bit rusty at this after months of trying to keep a hold on flirtatious comments with her friend, Captain America, but she remembers this move. Nicole’s eyes search her face, looking for evidence of her intentions, she’s sure. Angie means it exactly how Nicole is taking it, though, and Nicole gives a bit of a growly sure.
Sammy gives her a funny look when she says she wants to close out on her card, and Nicole drops some cash on the bartop. She doesn’t have time for her bartender to judge her though, and she nearly says as much, but Nicole’s hands land on her hips as they push out into the getting-colder September air.
“I’m from Iowa,” Nicole offers, her arm sliding around Angie’s waist as Angie starts trooping off toward Peggy’s - their apartment. It’s warm and comforting, and the grip is sure in the way that Peggy’s is when they hug. Like there’s strength hidden up in the muscles.
“Iowa Hawkeyes,” Angie says. Nicole’s head cocks to the side at her, but it’s a little too dark and Angie’s a little too drunk to read it quite well. “My brother hates the Iowa Hawkeyes. He’s a good old Culver kid.”
“Ah, well. Sorry to disappoint, I guess I’ll just go now…” she says, but she’s smiling as she begins to turn away from Angie and head the opposite way. Angie laughs, grabbing for Nicole’s hand and drawing her back. Nicole’s body comes a little too quickly though, and Angie staggers backward as they meet front-to-front. Nicole’s gaze is intense.
“I was just trying to say that it was nice being here. Iowa’s not exactly known for its progressivism,” Nicole whispers, leaning close to Angie, staring down at Angie’s mouth. “I mean, New York is where Captain America leads the pride parade, right?”
Nicole leans down to kiss her then, her mouth soft and hell she kisses good. Angie wants to give it her all, but the comment is bouncing around in her brain. Captain America. Peggy. God, it’s so awful, because Angie is kissing a beautiful woman and it’s her first action in what feels like four hundred years, and all she can think about is Peggy fucking Carter, who’s off saving the world in secret somewhere. Who could be dying somewhere.
Angie pulls away then, shaking her head. Nicole lets go of her like a hot potato, stepping a good few inches backwards, until there’s no part of their bodies that’s touching.
“I’m sorry, was I - ” Nicole starts, looking a bit stricken. Angie reaches out to grab at her forearm, offering some calm.
“No, no, it wasn’t you. You’re awesome, I’m...a bit of a mess,” Angie says. She looks up at the sky, watching a plane fly over. Nicole reaches to hold Angie’s hand, giving it a squeeze that draws Angie’s eyes back to her.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Nicole asks, and no - no Angie does not want to talk about it. She shakes her head, and then, pulls out her phone. There’s a message there, actually, from Peggy. She swipes past it, and then hands Nicole her phone on the contacts screen.
“Maybe we can meet for coffee when I’m not drunk and sad?” Angie says, and it’s so blunt that Nicole laughs again, letting go of Peggy’s hand to drop a phone number in the contact list. When it’s handed back to her, there’s the name: Nicole Reese.
“Nice name,” Angie says, texting Nicole Reese a message with her own name.
“Not as good as the name of the girl you’re hung up on,” Nicole says, with a sly, understanding look. Angie doesn’t bother to deny it - this is the first chance to even be slightly honest with another human being about anything related to Peggy Carter.
It isn’t as good a name, no.
“Believe me,” Angie says, sighing as she opens the text from Peggy. “I wish it was.”
Two days later, Grant is doing well when Angie gets home. She ruffles his leaves and passes through to her bedroom, changing into pajamas. The show had gone well. Angie has spoken her three lines real well, she thought, and she was content to just lie in bed and watch Family Feud until she fell asleep.
“I didn’t even know you had a television in your bedroom,” Angie says, stopping in Peggy’s doorway upon catching her watching the Game Show Network. She’s halfway to bed, with a toothbrush in her mouth. Peggy doesn’t bother to look guilty, just attempts an answer at Wheel of Fortune.
“Don’t you dare begin on another of your insane rants about my old age,” Peggy says, waving her finger back and forth warningly. Angie gives a toothpastey grin, going into Peggy’s bathroom to spit and swish. She drops her toothbrush there, and then makes a flying leap onto Peggy’s bed. She nearly bounces straight off again, but Peggy's strong hand catches her leg before she crashes headfirst into Peggy's wide bay window.
“I don’t have a television in my bedroom,” Angie says, needling at Peggy and clambering up to the head of the bed, moving Peggy’s S.H.I.E.L.D. tablet to the bedside table. Peggy is ignoring her, of course, watching the puzzle intently as the people guess letters. The category is movie quote, and Angie watches the vowel ‘o’ get placed up on the board in addition to a jumble of other letters.
“The great Oz has spoken,” Angie says, just before one of the contestants says the same to solve. Peggy looks furious about this turn of events, looking over at Angie with a glare and crossing her arms. Angie sticks her tongue out at Peggy in response, before pulling the sheet up over her bare legs.
“I don’t believe it’s fair for us to compete against each other,” Peggy says. “You have an unfair advantage of having learned world history after 1950.”
“You’re just upset you missed the one reference you’d even know,” Angie says, curling up and watching the next puzzle set up. She doesn’t realize she’s fallen asleep until she wakes up to Peggy’s arm over her stomach in the darkness.
The television is off when Angie wakes up. That makes sense, because it was set to save energy and could sense movement or something high-tech like that. Angie’s fallen asleep on the side of the bed that isn’t Peggy’s - it hadn’t really been intentional, falling asleep there, but it had maybe happened four of the nights since Peggy had gone off gallivanting.
She nearly screams when she catches sight of the shadowy figure in the doorway. But her alarm shifts quickly when she spots the shield in Peggy’s hand, hanging limply. Angie tells the lights to turn on - Stark’s fancy technology striking again - and gasps when the light reaches Peggy.
The left side of her face looks a total mess, bruised and with a long gash stitched shut running from cheek to jawbone. Her hand, the one not holding the shield, is bandaged - and if Peggy is bandaged for something, it must have been bad. It also looks like she’s wearing some sort of bulky flak jacket under her jacket, like the one her brother would wear when he played quarterback in high school. Angie knew enough to get that meant ribs.
“Hello darling,” Peggy whispers, her voice creaky and worn out. “Fancy seeing you here.”
Angie crawls out of the bed, coming over to Peggy and taking the shield from her hand. She sets it off to the side, gently holding Peggy’s good hand and leading her to the bed and setting her down. Peggy’s body very nearly groans with the movement.
“What can I do?” Angie asks, kneeling in front of Peggy and untying her shoes. She pulls them off only to reveal a wrap around her right foot. It must have been broken.
“I’m okay,” Peggy says, swaying a little. Angie reaches up to hold her steady, looking Peggy in the eye.
“Peg, let me get you out of these clothes and to sleep so you can start healing up,” Angie says, tugging at the zipper on Peggy’s jacket. She gently pulls it down her arms, revealing the flak jacket. There’s no way she can sleep in it.
“They’re wrapped already,” Peggy mutters, reaching for the buckles on the monstrosity. “It’s just to prevent further injury.”
Angie pushes her hands away, and Peggy lets her. She unbuckles the jacket, placing it over by the shield. Peggy’s only wearing a sports bra, and the rib bindings that look snug and constricting. There’s purple-black all around the edges of it, little fingers of bruising reaching out from the breaks.
“Peg,” Angie whispers, reaching out to touch the coloration and thinking better of it. Peggy doesn’t say anything, but her hand reaches for Angie’s. “If this is your version of coming back safe to me, I’m never letting you leave the house again.”
Peggy smiles just slightly, but her eyes are filling with tears. Angie moves to reach for the buckle on Peggy’s pants, and Peggy lays back to let her. It’s a strange moment - this is not how Angie had imagined this going. She hadn’t imagined Peggy looking as though she’d been dragged through hell. She hadn’t imagined Peggy, her strong, stubborn, stupid Peggy crying.
She pulls Peggy’s pants down, her eyes noting the boyshorts Peggy’s wearing and her brain wanting to stay away from it, sick about the very thought of thinking of Peggy in any way but a caring one.
Angie crawls up on the bed once it’s off, taking Peggy’s hand and helping her shuffle up to the headboard, shoving pillows underneath her until Peggy looks even barely content. She’s still crying silently, and Angie just keeps holding her hand, wondering if Peggy even knows she’s there. She tells the lights to turn off, the doors to lock, the windows to shade.
She lays there, holding Peggy’s hand in bed next to her. Neither of their grips waver for a while.
“I’m sorry,” Angie hears, while she’s half-asleep but afraid to succumb to it. She can’t see Peggy’s face, though she’s sure Peggy can see hers. “I’m sorry, Angie. It was all rather an accident.”
“Who accidentally gets looking like this?” Angie asks, a little annoyed that Peggy is apologizing for what was probably an act of ridiculous heroism. Peggy’s hand clenches a little tighter around hers, and for half a second, it hurts.
“I’ll be better next time,” she whispers back, and her voice shakes a little in the short space between them. Angie wants to say that Peggy doesn’t need to be better at anything other than maybe avoiding critical injury, that she isn’t trying to ask for perfection - but she doesn’t even know if she’s allowed to be asking for anything of this woman.
Angie is at a loss for words, then. In lieu of them, and maybe saying just as much, she kisses Peggy’s hand, she reaches for Peggy’s head and runs her fingers through her hair. She kisses Peggy’s hand again, and she doesn’t stop looking through the darkness at Peggy until Peggy falls asleep.
Peggy spends the next few days lying in bed. It speaks to the amount of injury she has - a S.H.I.E.L.D. field report she suspected she was not supposed to read had the full list of injuries: seven fractured ribs to crushed hand to serious head wound to temporarily diminished hearing.
“How’s Grant?” Peggy asks sleepily the first morning, a clear attempt at a joke affected heavily by the excessive bruising on her face. Angie hauls Grant into the bedroom so Peggy can keep watch over him.
“What happened?” Angie asks, on the second night, as they watch their fifth episode of The Price is Right in a row. Peggy’s surprisingly good at guessing the prices of items, and enjoys the show more than others. Hence the five in a row Angie’s suffered through.
Peggy carefully eyes Angie, before sighing.
“I was run over by a large truck,” she finally says.
“You were run over by a large truck,” Angie repeats, because she is completely at a loss with this woman. Angie doesn’t believe Peggy for a damn second.
“It was an accident, I assure you,” Peggy says, picking at the wrapping on her ribs. Angie pulls her hand away.
“English, I swear I could take that damn vibranium shield of yours and bash you over the head with it,” Angie says, in as sweet a voice as she can muster. Peggy doesn’t quite know how to take it, judging by the look on her face. It’s somewhere between a joke, fury, and utter fear, from Angie’s judgment on her own feelings. She keeps talking, because Angie always keeps talking.
“You know, I get it. You’re a damn superhero. You save the world and shit. Hey, Peg, what’s my middle name?”
“Rose,” Peggy answers quickly. She tries to sit up more in the bed, but Angie presses a hand against her sternum in warning. Peggy obeys.
“Right. Hey, what’s your middle name, Peg? I ask because I don’t actually know,” Angie says. Peggy starts to open her mouth, but Angie waves a finger warningly. “I’ve actually been physically living with you for about four months now, did you know that? I don’t even know your goddamn middle name. I know that you’ve got baggage and you have like national security secrets in your head, but I feel like that shouldn’t preclude me from knowing your middle name, Peg.”
“Baggage?” Peggy asks, her eyebrows dropping into a frown. Well, she’s been steadily dropping into a frown, the scratch on her face growing more and more twisted.
“Like emotional baggage, Peg. Like, for instance, my uber-Italian grandmother straight disowned me when I tried to stage a protest to bring my high school girlfriend to our Catholic school prom,” Angie says, then sighs. “I don’t feel like I’m asking for a lot here, English. If you want me out of your hair, I’ll go. But you should know that sharing your feelings and like, life and stuff helps prevent becoming a basketcase. And I’d imagine someone in your position, Avenger and all, is at higher risk for becoming one.”
Peggy doesn’t say anything, and so Angie sighs again, getting out of the bed. She mutters something about giving Peggy time, because what the hell else can she do?
Angie heads to her own, television-less room, tells the lights to go to hell, and lies in bed and cries over how much she fucking loves Peggy Carter and how much she hates herself for it.
Angie wakes up at four a.m. with Peggy fucking Carter breaking her lamp. Or, well, it’s really Peggy’s lamp, Angie supposes. But that is definitely Peggy, hobbling toward Angie complete with flak jacket (how Peggy had got the damn thing on was a total mystery) and heavy hand wrapping. The hand wrap was probably why she had broken the lamp, but it remained to be seen why the woman she had cried herself to sleep over has taken this time to break into her room and start breaking things.
“Is this your way of telling me you want me to move out?” Angie says, still sleepy. Peggy snorts in this delicate, British way, closing Angie’s bedroom door and shuffling forward until she hits the bed. She doesn’t really answer, though, as she arranges herself into a vaguely comfortable looking position.
“My middle name is Mary,” Peggy says, finally. Angie blinks, but then realizes that something’s happening, and tries to blink herself awake. Peggy doesn’t turn to look at her.
“I was born in London. You might know this, I suppose, so I apologize. When I joined the war effort, I became involved with the old Strategic Scientific Reserve, an American unit dedicated to fighting an organization named Hydra. I met Steven Rogers there, and he was the American suggested for the serum that would create a super soldier,” Peggy says quietly. Her words slow down, and Angie can sense the importance of all this, of what Peggy’s trying to tell her.
“He eventually insisted I be the one to receive it, while I insisted he be the one. It was all a bit funny, of course - no one wanted to have spent millions of dollars just to give the serum to a British woman,” Peggy whispers, her hands picking at the sheets between her and Angie.
“Eventually, I was chosen as patient zero, with Steve intended to be the second, once I was stabilized and clearly healthy. I suspect they thought it was still a little out of their reach and that they’d have time to refine after analyzing the annoying British woman’s dead body. Anyway, after the...procedure, the remaining serum was destroyed and the scientist who I had found and who had created it was killed. And I was Captain America.”
“My family was killed in the London air raids,” Peggy says, and Angie finally gives in and takes Peggy’s good hand to hold. “I traveled across Europe with Steve and the Commandos, fighting Hydra and building a new family with them...until Steve was killed on a mission.”
The silence is near gravelike. But Angie decides to speak.
“You loved him,” she whispers, and Peggy’s hand grips almost too tight around Angie’s.
“And he loved me,” Peggy answers. She lets it sit out there for a moment, before she turns as much as she can (with some annoyed no Peggys from Angie) to look at Angie.
“I don’t wish to sound like a damaged person,” Peggy starts. “Because I am trying. But, I thought I’d try to show you why I’ve been...so hesitant to let you in. It isn’t just that my life is dangerous, and that there are secrets I must always keep. It’s not just waking up sixty years later and realizing that everyone you knew is gone or very nearly so. I already felt that way, before the ice.”
“I’m sorry,” Angie says, trying to see well enough to look at the details of Peggy’s face, so that Peggy can see how imploring and awful Angie feels.
“You needn’t be,” Peggy says. “You were right to remind me that I should be making an effort to let my best friend know me. I had forgotten what it was like, or was afraid to remember, I suppose.”
“Were you really hit with a truck?” Angie asks, and Peggy snorts again.
“A rather bad person hit me with a battering ram, actually,” Peggy says. “I am, indeed, battered.”
“You’re awful. Were your jokes always this awful?” Angie asks, hitting lightly at Peggy’s good arm just so she knows how awful Angie thinks she is. How much she loves her, too.
“People rather thought I was witty, actually,” Peggy says, rolling one shoulder in what looks to be an attempt at a shrug. “Did your grandmother actually disown you in high school?”
“It was a long time comin’, honestly. She was batshit. My girlfriend - her name was Aimee and she has like bright pink hair now, which is its own catastrophe - really wanted to go to prom together and they wouldn’t let us and I maybe staged a protest and all of a sudden I was “out of the family” and a “disgrace,” or whatever. My ma and pa thought it was all a bit funny,” Angie says, and Peggy laughs.
“Why is the pink hair a catastrophe?” Peggy asks, and Angie thinks she sees Peggy’s eyes start to blink closed.
“Oh, I hate it. I love me some lesbians, but I’m not into multicolored hair or like piercings or shaved heads or anything. I’m pretty boring actually. Just love a good brunette,” Angie says, then realizes she’s probably just shown her hand. “She had great brown hair then, you know. And now she lives in this crazy building in Brooklyn that’s apparently maybe owned by some sort of tracksuit mob? It’s kind of hard to tell from her tweets.”
Angie stops for a moment, waiting for Peggy to respond. After there is no answer, and after Angie watches the rhythmic movement of Peggy’s huge flak jacket rising up and down next to her, she settles her head on her pillow, and rather quickly falls asleep, her hand still holding Peggy’s.
“What do English people do for Christmas? I’ve only seen Harry Potter Christmases before. Oh, and Bridget Jones,” Angie asks, holding the door open while Peggy manhandles their fresh-cut tree into their apartment. Angie had demanded its presence on the third day after Thanksgiving, and Peggy had relented, finally, three days before Christmas, complaining almost one third of the time about how it was going to make a mess. She had even let out a little quip about how Steve would have sneezed the whole time with only a slight grimace.
“We wait for Queen Mary to deliver us our gifts over Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning we eat scones and jelly while we unwrap our new tea sets,” Peggy says easily, while she maneuvers the tree into the stand by their windows. Angie is less than impressed with both the jokes and the lack of physical effort.
“Did you know Queen Elizabeth? Wasn’t she a driver or something during the war?” Angie asks, and Peggy laughed, turning to look at Angie and giving a huge stretch. Whoever kept supplying Peggy with modern, fashionable clothes was really in for it whenever Angie got ahold of them, because it was doing a number on her.
“Angie, why do you think I’ve intersected with every historical British citizen?” Peggy asks. Angie shrugs, pulling out one of the strands of garland from the bags on their kitchen table and throwing it at Peggy. She catches it and starts meticulously wrapping the tree.
“Lilibet was very nice, yes, Angie. And a very good mechanic. Though I’d imagine our interaction is most likely top secret, considering I was her bodyguard for a week until we found her to be very capable and unlikely to be attacked,” Peggy says airily. Angie throws an ornament at her for the bait and switch, but Peggy (of course) catches it.
“My ma wants to know if you’d like to come to Christmas with me,” Angie says, in a tone that she hopes is burying the lead a little bit. Peggy stops with the garland to turn and look at Angie, in a way that clearly shows Angie did not bury the lead enough.
“Does your mother know I’m Captain America?” Peggy asks, setting the ornament still in her hand on the couch between them. She doesn’t sound put off, exactly, but her tone is fairly measured. It doesn’t exactly ease Angie’s stomach.
“I mean...kinda. But not really,” Angie says. In fact, her mother had readily accepted the idea of Angie being friends with Peggy Carter. Other things…
“Angelina Martinelli, do you mean to tell me you moved in with a girl after knowing her for two months and you’ve just now mentioned it? Four and a half months later?”
Ma’s voice is nice-sounding, but the piece of glass Angie is making this call on - a weird prototype phone Tony Stark had sent her saying it was totally untraceable and “especially for Angie” - has a voice reader on it. It says, helpfully, that the voice is angry. Angie knows the voice well enough to tell on her own.
“Ma, I couldn’t just tell you, she’s an international icon,” Angie starts, but she’s interrupted by her now “irate” - thanks Tony fuckin Stark - mother.
“Angelina, I don’t care if you’ve married Valerie Plame, you are not allowed to hide your relationship from your mother.”
“It isn’t a relationship, Ma! We’re just friends!”
“That’s what you said when you started hanging out with that Aimee girl, Angie, don’t think I’m going to get left in the dust on this one.”
“Kinda...but not really?” Peggy asks, her hands on her hips now. Her stupid hips with the tight jeans and the sweater hanging low to reach them. Angie had an answer near her mouth, but it got lost somewhere around staring at Peggy’s hips, and then her phone was going off with a billion different alarms.
She slid the thing out of her pocket - Tony’s note had claimed it was totally unbreakable, though Angie was still pretty ginger with the singular blade of glass. It was flashing all sorts of red. STARK INDUSTRIES SECURE SYSTEM DOWN. ITEMS BEING BACKED UP BEFORE SHUTDOWN.
“Uh, can you call Stark and tell him my phone is on the fritz?” Angie asks. Peggy comes around the couch to investigate with her as the phone’s interface very suddenly blinks out of existence.
“Well, I’m glad I told you to keep the old one. He’s been so out of it lately, I couldn’t help but feel whatever invention he had come up with had a shelf life,” Peggy says, but she settles comfortably next to Angie as she pulls out her phone, almost reaching the name Tony Stark before almost everything goes spectacularly insane.
The windows dim suddenly, and what looks like a heavy metal sheath comes down in front of them. The front door sounds like a dozen locks suddenly sprout from it, making a loud clanging noise. Their television springs to life, with a blue S.H.I.E.L.D. symbol spinning around and around. Secure connection booting up, it says. Peggy’s hand is somehow in hers, holding it tightly and looking around the apartment for clues to what’s happening.
“Captain Carter,” a voice says, just before a picture comes onto the television screen. “Captain Carter, we have a situation.”
Peggy looks over at the television and back to Angie. She gestures for Angie to stay where she is, silently, but the voice speaks before she can move away.
“I don’t care that Miss Martinelli is there, Carter, this is not a need-to-know briefing, nor are there insurgents viewing this call. Get your ass on screen,” the man with an eyepatch (an eyepatch!) is saying, and so Peggy reluctantly leads Angie to the couch. Peggy sits, but Angie still feels a bit weird just hanging out and stands behind her.
“Hello ladies. Tony Stark’s mansion has just been blown to pieces and he is presumed dead,” is how he starts, very tactful and reserved. Peggy doesn’t make a noise, but Angie looks over to her phone and gasps. “The Mandarin is suspected. Your apartment has been placed on lockdown out of precaution, and we will be airlifting you, Carter, to the Washington HQ to await orders, along Banner. The Widow is on-mission, and Thor is off-world. Avengers Initiative has not yet been activated.”
“Were there any other people in the house besides Stark?” Peggy asks, her voice very measured and in control as though someone she half-hates and secretly respects isn’t dead.
“Pepper Potts and a scientist by the name of Maya Hansen, though they both survived. Ms. Potts tells us Stark outfitted her in the Iron Man suit briefly to prevent her from being killed, before summoning it to himself while he was falling. He laid down over the wire for her,” the man says, in a very pointed way that draws Peggy into a stiffer stance.
“Nice to know you’re always listening,” Peggy says, her voice irritated.
“There aren’t many places where I don’t have eyes and ears. It’s for the better, Carter. You have around 3 until extraction. Hawkeye is your ride, code is one flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Any more questions?”
“What about Angie?” Peggy asks. Angie jolts at the mention of her name, having been focused on the conversation at hand.
“Your apartment has no official, publicly recorded link to you, Stark, or S.H.I.E.L.D. This whole operation could be torn apart without a shred of information about that place, or about Miss Martinelli, as you requested of us. Angie, you may continue as normal. Extraction in 2, Carter.”
“10-4, Director,” Peggy says, and the connection cuts away. For a moment, they just sit in silence.
“Well, merry Christmas?” Angie says. Peggy laughs. Exactly one minute and 30 seconds later, Peggy has hugged Angie goodbye, carrying a bag, her shield, and had whispered, “I’ll be home for Christmas.”
Five minutes after that, Angie’s looked up the Wikipedia page for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and cried.
Nicole’s apartment is really only a few blocks away, and when Nicole texts to suggest Angie come drown her sorrows in alcoholic eggnog while they watch Christmas movies, Angie is more than happy to come. Everyone knows now, about Tony Stark, and people on the street look horrified by it. Angie mostly is worried about Peggy, as always.
Fucking “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” What a dick move to pull.
Angie jams the buzzer to Nicole’s apartment a few times. The first time she had come here, a few days after Peggy’s battering ram incident and while Peggy was being medically poked and prodded by S.H.I.E.L.D. people all day, she had been pretty nervous - she had lead the woman on and was now accidentally in love with a superhero who was in love with her dead superhero boyfriend. It was just a circle of disaster. But Nicole had been nice, and made her coffee, and now they were basically friends.
It was nice to have normal friends when her best friend was gallivanting off, saving the world every few weeks.
“Hey, you look great,” Nicole says after she opens the door, pulling Angie in for a strong hug. Nicole had mentioned she did CrossFit or something the last time they hung out, claiming her heavy ankle boot was because she had jumped a little too weird. Angie was just impressed a person could jump without breaking anything at all.
“Please, you look like a goddess. Nice to see the boot gone,” Angie says, letting go of Nicole, moving into the apartment and flopping facefirst onto the couch. Behind her, muffled, she can hear Nicole laugh.
“It was a bit of a burden. Still hurts like a bitch, though. You having a bad lady day?” Nicole asks. Angie doesn’t want to much think about whatever Peggy’s doing - probably suiting up to go hunt down the Mandarin and avenge Tony Stark’s ass. Her phone had rebooted just before coming over, but that was probably just because some backup generator buried a billion feet underground at Tony’s house had kicked in.
“Maybe I’m sad about the loss of our great innovator, Tony Stark,” Angie says, rolling over and promptly rolling off the couch. She catches sight of Nicole, whose body is half bent over to try and prevent Angie from falling. Her face is amused.
“He seemed like a bit of a dick to me,” Nicole says, quietly, offering a hand down to Angie. Nicole pulls her up easily when she takes it. Damn. Maybe Angie should get into CrossFit.
“Yeah well. He still like, was good at life occasionally,” Angie says. Nicole gives a little nod, and Angie decides to drop it, because Nicole does look kind of sad about Tony Stark, and she doesn’t want her alcoholic eggnog-Christmas movie extravaganza to get any more maudlin than it’s going to be.
“I was right about the bad lady day, though, right?” Nicole asks, moving into her tiny-ass kitchen and pouring Angie an eggnog with a heavy dose of rum. Angie likes Nicole, and she loves rum. She really wishes she could convince herself to drop this holding-a-torch-for-a-superhero thing, because anyone who pours Angie that much rum is someone who should be married.
“Yeah, yeah. She’s...visiting family for Christmas, and I kind of miss her,” Angie says. Nicole nods easily in understanding, handing over Angie’s eggnog.
“Have you told her yet about your feelings?” Nicole asks, giving Angie a look while they both settle on the couch.
Instead of answering, Angie takes a huge swig of her eggnog. Nicole sighs.
“You know nothing’s ever gonna happen if you don’t tell her that you’re flat-on-your-face in love with her,” Nicole says, like it’s not obvious in any way to Angie. “She seems kind of oblivious.”
“Or uninterested,” Angie counters, gulping some more down. There really is a lot of rum in there. Nicole legitimately throws a pillow at her, and kind of hard.
“Don’t be stupid. Tell her how much you love her,” Nicole says. Angie throws the pillow back at Nicole, where it bounces off her stupid, blank face.
“She’s still in love with her ex,” Angie says. Nicole doesn’t throw the pillow back, but she does look like she considers it.
“She never said she was in love with her ex, a, b, he’s dead so there isn’t much she can do about it, right?”
“That’s a bit cold.”
Nicole blinks at her for a second before responding.
“I’m just saying, Ange. She said it was hard for her to open up because the guy up and died on her. Not that she would never have another relationship ever again in eternal deference to him.”
“She’s probably not even gay.”
“Don’t discount alternate identities,” Nicole sing-songs, in this stupid, taunting, bisexual way of hers.
“Fine. She isn’t into me. We sleep in the same bed almost every night and she hasn’t tried anything,” Angie says. Her phone starts buzzing, but she ignores it.
“Isn’t that actually the ideal?” Nicole asks. “Listen, let’s not argue about this. I’m right, you’re wrong, and you should tell her when she gets back that you love her and you’ll kiss on New Year’s and everything will be good. Now, I’m going to go get my Christmas movie selection, and you’re gonna go a little easier on the eggnog.”
Angie pouts at Nicole while she walks away, and Nicole only laughs. She pulls out her phone, to find a text from Peggy.
Peggy: They gave me an apartment in Washington. It doesn’t seem to have any Christmas trees in it, or any small hippos.
Angie frowns. An apartment in Washington seems like a big thing to just hand out willy nilly. But she’s more affronted by other things, as the rum settles in her belly.
Angie: i’ve asked you to not make fun of yama english
Peggy: Well, tell Yama I miss him and that I apologize. I believe I will be relegated to sitting around here for a while, so I might try to grab a run around the city.
Honestly. Who runs for fun?
Her mother has made her trademark, ridiculously good manicotti for Christmas Eve, and Angie’s brother has already eaten four shells when the doorbell rings.
Leo looks up with his fifth shell still half in his mouth, looking around the table as though he’s counting them all. Pa doesn’t even glance up from his food. Ma glares silently at Angie until she feverishly abandons eating to answer the door. She’s still pretty mad about the whole situation of maybe lying about her place of residence for a few months.
She opens the door without looking, because it’s probably a neighbor bringing over a casserole or something, but instead, Peggy Carter is standing there, dressed in a nice pair of slacks and a sweater that looks like Burberry crafted it directly onto her body. She is also, amazingly, holding a bottle of wine.
Angie doesn’t think, exactly, before she grabs hold of Peggy, trusting in Peggy’s grip to ensure the safety of the wine bottle as she crushes herself up against her in a hug. Peggy does keep the bottle safe, holding Angie tightly. Peggy’s head comes to rest on Angie’s shoulder, and it feels so wonderful that Angie kind of forgets that she’s just standing in the doorway of her house. She remembers when her Ma clears her throat behind them.
“Uh, hello Mrs. Martinelli,” Peggy starts, letting go of Angie enough to offer Ma the bottle of win. “I’m sorry that I’m a bit late - I was delayed by work. I’m Peggy, Angie’s roommate.”
Angie’s mother smiles the widest smile Angie’s ever seen her give to someone who wasn’t a member of the family, a dog, or a Mets player. It’s honestly ridiculous, and kind of very heartwarming. She takes the bottle of wine gently and looks down at the label, before gasping.
“Is there any of your famous manicotti left?” Peggy asks, and Angie damn near hits her in the face for being such a brownnoser. But her mother eats it up, pulling Peggy into a hug, saying, “Of course there is.” She bustles ahead of them into the kitchen, and Angie delays them enough to ask Peggy what she’s doing here and not in her new fancypants Washington D.C. apartment.
“S.H.I.E.L.D. decided I wasn’t needed for the situation. I’m on standby if it escalates past some certain, undefined level. I’m sorry, I had to use some national intelligence to locate your family’s home, I hope you don’t mind,” Peggy whispers, allowing Angie to pull her by the arm into the kitchen.
Angie doesn’t get a chance to respond, because Pa is standing up to greet them.
“You must be Peggy,” he says. He doesn’t offer a hand out for Peggy to shake, but he nods when Peggy says yes and it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Martinelli.
“You’re British,” Leo says, his mouth still full of manicotti. Ma smacks him on the back of the head, and he swallows before speaking again. “Angie, you never mentioned she was British.”
“Leonardo, do you have something against the British people? Sit down, girls, sit. Here you go, Peggy,” Ma says, sliding a plate down in front of their now mysteriously materialized fifth dining table chair, next to Angie’s plate.
“Do British people celebrate Christmas?” Leo asks, like a dunce. Peggy laughs, actually, before she takes a bite of the manicotti. Her face is damn near erotic, which is probably a compliment to her mother’s cooking, but is also a detriment to Angie’s life skills.
“What do they teach you at that college of yours, Leo?” Pa asks, frowning over at Leo, who shrugs again. Culver University was supposed to be a high class institution - and it was, really, because Leo was a bit of a whiz kid at biology with his professor being Dr. Ross and all, but Leo couldn’t tell you much about life outside the lab.
“We do celebrate Christmas, yes. Though it isn’t usually celebrated with wonderful manicotti, Mrs. Martinelli,” Peggy says. She really is spectacular at playing her parents.
“Thank you, Peggy. My mother, the old crone, used to make it for us every year, and after Angie’s high school incident, I decided to continue the tradition. Luckily for you, I make about a dozen more servings than I need to, because Leo eats most of it. You know, if you want the recipe, I can give it to you…”
Angie zones out, because her mother is about to tell her story about the history of the manicotti recipe in the Martinelli family and how it began all the way back in 1824 in the middle of nowhere Italy. She’s heard it a billion times before.
She takes the time to watch Peggy, and by the time she comes to her senses and stops staring like an idiot, she catches her father smiling at her from the corner of her eye.
“What is this?” Peggy asks, standing in front of the Furby delicately placed on the top of Angie’s dresser. It’s been dead for years, but her Ma would never let Angie throw that piece of hellspawn away, and still hasn’t seen fit to do it herself in the six years Angie’s been out of the house.
“It’s a Furby, and they’re evil,” Angie says, staring down at her tiny twin bed and wondering how this is gonna work. There was no guest room at the Martinelli house, and apparently Ma and Pa hadn’t seen fit to separate she and Peggy (hopefully because neither of them thought they were dating, but probably not with the whispered I love her Ma had given Angie as they said goodnight). So now they were left to figure out their sleeping situation on a twin mattress.
“Why...is it?” Peggy asks, reaching out to touch at its beak.
“It was kind of a hot toy one Christmas when I was a kid. It was cool for about five minutes, and an annoyance for the next four weeks until my brother poured water on it so it would shut up,” Angie says, sitting on her bed and watching Peggy move through her childhood bedroom, inspecting every inch.
She watches as Peggy stops in front of her old toybox, the one that hopefully did not have - aw, fuck was all Angie could think as Peggy pulled out a small Captain America figurine from the tangle of old Barbies, GI Joes, and The Little Mermaid memorabilia.
“This is me,” Peggy says simply, holding the toy and adjusting its blue outfit so that it fit properly onto her small little plastic body.
“Yeah, well. You had cartoons and stuff, I was a kid,” Angie says, shrugging. Peggy looks down again into the toybox and pulls out another Captain America figurine, looking at it. It’s bigger than the other one, with a different costume.
“Okay, we don’t need to delve into my childhood loves or anything,” Angie says, and Peggy stops looking over her tiny selves to look at Angie.
“You loved me?” Peggy asks, and Angie doesn’t quite know what to say. She thinks to correct her to the present tense, maybe. But it still feels too early, too up in the air, and Angie’s too afraid to lose the woman standing in front of her. She isn’t quite the action hero Angie imagined when she was a kid, but it’s definitely better.
“You made me feel better, you know? Or, I guess. The cartoon, comic book you. I was a girl and I liked other girls, and even when I was a kid, everyone knew I was different. Not in a bad way, you know - I didn’t get kicked across the school yard or anything. But some people thought I was weird, and I thought I was weird too. Captain America just helped me feel like I could be strong, even if I was different,” Angie says. She lies backward onto the bed, just because she doesn’t want to look at the probably stupidly earnest look on Peggy’s face.
There’s silence for a few moments, and Angie thinks Peggy isn’t going to respond. She hears Peggy setting the toys down. And then, she feels Peggy getting on the bed and lying next to her, too close really. Their whole bodies are touching, from shoulder down to the tips of Peggy’s toes, which are sliding under Angie’s calves.
“I wish I could have known you when I was a child, and when you were a child,” Peggy says. It isn’t what Angie’s expecting. She doesn’t know what she was expecting, exactly. Peggy’s hand settles against the side of Angie’s body, in a strange halfway between not touching her and lying on her stomach. Angie doesn’t answer her, because she wants that hand to decide on its own what it wants to do.
“It’s frustrating, because - I was born just as the Soviet Union began, you were born as it ended. And here we are, at the same age, in the same place. It seems unfair that there’s history we’ll never share,” Peggy whispers. She rolls away to pull the lamp switch, and Angie’s room flickers into darkness, save for the dorky glow in the dark stars up on the ceiling.
“You are strong, Angie,” Peggy whispers again, her hand returning back to the bed. It slides to rest on Angie’s stomach, and Peggy’s head knocks lightly against Angie’s shoulder. “I wish I could have been there with you, for real, to be your friend.”
“You’re here now,” Angie whispers back. She’s kind of trying not to cry. She hopes Peggy doesn’t notice. If she does notice, she doesn’t say anything, and Angie finds herself drifting off to sleep slowly, comforted by the safety of her old room, and Peggy.
“Happy Christmas, Angie,” Peggy says, and then presses a kiss to Angie’s shoulder. Angie registers in it in a kind of half-sleep daze.
“Merry Christmas, English,” Angie says back, reaching to grab Peggy’s hand and hold it there, at her stomach.
Nicole is staring at her, looking dumbfounded, in the middle of a coffee shop in Brooklyn.
“You’re telling me she showed up at your parents for Christmas, told you she wished she had known you when you were kids, and kissed you on the shoulder, and you still haven’t told her you’re in love with her?” she very nearly shouts. A couple hipsters near them glare, but Nicole glares back, and they all look mollified.
Peggy’s gone off on some sort of Washington business trip for the opening of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, apparently and absurdly called the Triskelion. She’s been sending Angie pictures of possible couches for her Washington apartment all day.
“None of those things have any sort of connection with each other and do not amount to anything in combination,” Angie says, very steadfastly. Nicole stares at her in a way that looks fairly deadly.
“Listen to me, Angie Martinelli. I have a very high-strength taser and I will use it on you if you don’t wake your ass up,” she says. Her voice means it, too, and Angie actually is a little afraid now.
“My ass is awake, Nicole. Unlike you, with your weird No-I’m-not-into-that-lawyer act,” Angie says, even though she’s pretty sure Nicole is really not into that lawyer.
“I’m not into that lawyer. Actually, at this moment, I find getting you in bed with your girl so life-consuming that I am exhausted at the thought of being into anyone,” Nicole says, sipping at her coffee.
“You could be into that lawyer, though. What about that guy you mentioned, the nerdy guy with like mysterious qualities?” Angie asks, hoping to deflect away from her awful, awful life. Her phone buzzes with a picture of another couch.
“What about ‘nerdy guy with mysterious qualities’ sounds anything more than fleetingly attractive to you? I was having a weak day, or something,” Nicole says, practically swatting the idea of nerdy guy out of the air. Angie is happy for that, because he did sound like a shit choice of man.
“Clearly you should look into the market for women. What about that one girl you mentioned? Your half-boss?”
“She is my boss, and this conversation needs to stop because legitimately your phone is getting blown up with pictures of couches, Angie, and you’re trying to pretend like it isn’t the most disgustingly domestic thing there ever was,” Nicole says, grabbing Angie’s phone before Angie can even lift her hand to the table to cover it.
“Look at this,” Nicole says, flipping the screen open - Angie had thought she had a passcode on - to the latest couch. “This is legitimately a photo of a couch for an apartment that you aren’t going to be living in, and she’s asking for your opinion.”
“Can’t we go back to talking about your trip to Iowa for Christmas to visit your brother’s family? That was more fun,” Angie mutters.
“Angie, seriously, I’m going to snap your phone in half,” Nicole says. Angie frowns at her. They just stare at each other, and eventually Nicole’s hands drift to opposite ends of Angie’s glass-faced phone. While Tony had assured her that it was still unbreakable, he was still reeling from his Christmas incident and she didn’t know how much of his brain cells were still functioning after that debacle.
“Okay, fine,” Angie says.
“Fine, what?” Nicole asks, her eyebrows raising.
“I’ll tell her! Give me back my phone so I can tell her that couch is hideous,” Angie says, making grabby hands for her phone back.
“What are you going to tell her?” Nicole asks, pulling the phone out of Angie’s reach.
“That I love her stupid, awful-taste-in-home-furniture ass,” Angie says. Nicole squints at her for a moment, before handing Angie her phone back. Angie gets a quick NOOOO off to Peggy about the last couch. Nicole is watching her when she looks back up.
“I really do have a very strong taser. Just so you know,” Nicole says, before sipping primly at her coffee.
“Why are you making your mother’s manicotti?” Peggy asks, just after she’s closed the door. There had been some forewarning that Peggy was coming home this time, thanks to the mission being mostly furniture and public appearance related. Her shield makes its familiar noise as she sets it up against the wall.
Angie’s about to shit her damn pants, honestly. Nicole’s threatening photo of a taser was just sitting there on her phone, and the manicotti was baking away in the oven after a stern Facetime call with her mother warning her not to “mess she and Peggy up.”
Angie turns to face Peggy, who’s leaned against the kitchen table and is smiling. She’s wearing an absurd amount of Burberry, easily detected by the pattern. Apparently, Burberry just kept sending her items from their catalogue, which has been very distressing to Peggy.
“Do you know how much this Burberry coat costs?” Peggy asks, gesturing at the black coat hanging out of the UPS box. Angie doesn’t even look at it to guess $800.
“It’s actually $1500. I googled it,” Peggy says, holding her phone out triumphantly just to prove that she did capably Google something.
“Holy hell!” Angie yelps, looking down at it and its brethren in the box. The first time she had paid a grand in her rent she had cried for an hour, and Peggy was just excited she could Google a $1500 coat.
“I’m donating them all to charity,” Peggy says, dropping her phone on the kitchen counter and folding the coat back in. “I’ve done nothing to deserve seven free $1500 coats. And they’re rather thin anyway.”
“Wait!” Angie says, practically lunging for the box. Peggy looks over at her with a smile. “You are a British icon whose family probably like owned stock in Burberry or something, shouldn’t you maybe keep just one?” Angie asks, pulling a pleading, puppy dog style face. Peggy looks at her for a moment, then sighs, reopening the box, seeming to recognize that she’ll be sharing the coat with Angie for the foreseeable future.
“I’ll keep one, but the rest are going to charity,” Peggy says. “And I’m going to call and demand that they give 100 of each item to charity if they send one to me. That should put an end to this nonsense.”
It had not put an end to the nonsense, and now half of Angie’s closet was Burberry trench coats.
“Are you okay, Angie?” Peggy asks, looking concerned now. She starts to move toward Angie, but Angie starts speaking very suddenly.
“So, I got a part in a play, like a real part, with a ton of lines and stuff. The play I told you about, the Sword on High play,” Angie says, and Peggy’s face looks excited and then, still concerned. Angie’s voice is easily seven octaves higher than it usually is.
“That’s wonderful, Angie,” Peggy says, very calmly, stepping closer to Angie. “That does not explain why you’re about to pass out.”
“I feel like it could, honestly,” Angie says. Peggy finally gets all up in her space after approaching her like she’s a runaway animal. She grabs ahold of Angie’s shoulders and pulls her into a hug that almost gets Angie to relax. Almost.
“I have heard that hugs work out better when both of the participants aren’t stiff as a board,” Peggy says, pulling back to look at Angie closely. “What’s wrong?”
Angie just looks into Peggy’s brown eyes for a moment, wanting to skip this awful step and just kiss the woman. Even if she gets thrown through the kitchen wall, it’d be nice to be able to tell Nicole (from her hospital bed) that she had tried. Nicole would probably tell her that kissing people without permission didn’t count as admitting her love. And then Angie would be tased.
She really didn’t want to get tased.
“I have something to tell you, and I need you to, you know, handle it well and stoically like a good 1940s superhero. You know, keep calm. Carry on,” Angie starts, which probably isn’t the best start, because Peggy steps back further and looks at Angie with a frown.
“After you’ve told me whatever this is, we’ll have to talk again about your application of British stereotypes,” Peggy replies, clearly swinging for a mood-lightening joke, but Angie mostly just wants to lie on the ground and die. Even when Angie’s about to blow up this whole best friendship, Peggy is still sweet as hell.
“I...well. Okay, how do I…” Angie says, rubbing at her forehead. She had practiced this, had run lines with Nicole about every possible scenario. Peggy cocks her head at her.
“Do you want to sit down?” Peggy asks, offering her hand out. Angie takes it, and allows herself to be lead to the kitchen table, where Peggy looks at her imploringly, and Angie is just...well, a damn mess. She hasn’t been this nervous since that time her final dance recital in the seventh grade, when she had puked all over the stage.
Fuck. She better not puke all over Captain America.
Captain America is looking at Angie very nicely, with her hair up in some sort of fashionable ponytail and still with her winter coat on, and looking real nice, and Angie is just falling apart.
“I’m in love with you,” she blurts out, and is kind of impressed that she managed it so well, honestly. The minute she says it, a wave of panic evacuates out of her, followed by clammy relief. Peggy’s face brings the tide back in, though, because it’s just staring at her, nothing but shock. No indication of positive or negative emotions.
So, Angie, of course, starts rambling.
“And I know you’re probably not into me and you’re still trying to like adjust to not being in 1947 and that I’m not a hero like Steve or anything, and I know I’m probably ruining our entire friendship and whatnot, but I couldn’t...I can’t keep pretending it’s not happening, you know? It’s been awful, honestly, because I’m really, really in love with you and we...are you...I’m sorry,” is how she ends it, very gracefully. She might as well have thrown up all over Captain America.
Peggy is frowning now, and Angie has an answer on how she feels about this whole declaration. Maybe the recipe her mother had given her for manicotti had secretly included explosives?
“Angie, I…” Peggy whispers, not moving or anything, just sitting there like a statue and frowning. Her eyes are looking all over Angie’s face, probably looking for a nice way to let her down gently and then kick her out of the apartment.
Angie is almost thankful for the S.H.I.E.L.D. alerts that come blaring out of Peggy’s phone and tablet and television then. Peggy looks over at the nearest available surface and Angie does too - Code blue: airlift to CLASSIFIED in 1 minute, briefing en route.
“Angie,” Peggy starts again, gripping Angie’s hands. Angie just ducks her head because she’s actually about to burst into tears, legitimately. Peggy doesn’t try to speak, just squeezes Angie’s hands, before she’s bursting out the door.
The news keeps showing Captain America plummeting out of the damn “Skydeck” at the old Sears Tower (a fun attraction according to the people of Chicago), and getting reeled back up by the Black Widow. Footage from the inside of the building, of Cap and the Black Widow and another agent, taking down bad guys and weaving through civilians keeps playing too. But the money shot is that fall, the stupid, idiotic leap out the window Peggy takes without any hesitation after the bad guy. The annoyed, stricken look on Black Widow’s face as she reels Peggy back up with a suitcase in hand is kind of how Angie feels, but worse. She’s ready to murder Peggy Carter with her bare hands, whether she averted a national security disaster or not. Who just jumps out a damn building?
The door opens only a few hours after the live footage has aired, and there Captain fucking America is, looking fairly unhappy. Maybe even livid. The way Peggy pulls off her helmet and unzips her jacket - a new, darker blue one that looks disturbingly good on her - reads pissed. She yanks off her shield holster before dropping it heavily to the ground next to the door, and she collapses into the kitchen chair she had been sitting in hours before when Angie was being an idiot and telling her how much she loved Captain goddamn America.
Angie doesn’t know exactly what to do, considering she hasn’t seen Peggy this angry ever. She stands up suddenly, because that seems like a thing she could do - get in a ready position of some kind. Peggy’s eyes jump to her quickly, hard and narrowed. They soften once Peggy seems to realize it’s just Angie, but her hands, clad in fingerless gloves, come to rest at the edge of the table.
“Peggy,” Angie starts, coming closer to Peggy - to Captain America, because that’s who’s sitting at their kitchen table right now. “What’s wrong?”
It’s a weird mirror of the incident earlier, and Angie remembers that she has manicotti in the fridge for Peggy, though she doubts the other woman would want any of it right now.
Peggy doesn’t answer immediately. Her eyes seem to trace the edges of the table, while her hands clamp down on it. Her posture looks relaxed, but there’s so much tension in even her smallest movements that Angie is half-worried the super soldier serum might have had a secret explosion factor.
When Peggy does speak, it’s deep, level, and terrifying.
“There are so many things that I can’t control, so many things that don’t make sense,” Peggy says, her hands clenched so hard around the edge of the table that it begins to splinter under her fingers. Angie tries to reach for her, but Peggy draws away, moving in a mechanical way that implies hidden violence. It’s not about her, but it’s still scary.
“I have made an effort to keep your identity secret, in relation to me. Do you know why?” Peggy asks, her eyes coming up to meet Angie’s while they both hear the table crack under her hands. Peggy lets go of it, but doesn’t take her eyes off Angie.
Angie feels like she’s being measured.
“Because you fight bad guys who would kill me if they found out I was your friend?” Angie asks, because that seems like a common sense type answer. Peggy doesn’t look surprised that Angie’s put those pieces together, but just nods in agreement.
“Today I completed a mission with only the bare minimum of knowledge. S.H.I.E.L.D. gave me and my team nothing to work off of, and they expected me to be able to die for a thing I know nothing about it. My teammates didn’t see anything wrong with that,” Peggy says, her eyes drawing back to the shield she had thrown unceremoniously to the ground. Angie follows her eyes, and then steps closer. Peggy’s head swings back around suddenly to watch Angie’s movement.
“I don’t trust them. I thought, when I joined S.H.I.E.L.D., that I could be a good soldier. But I can’t be one when everything is subterfuge, when no one looks each other in the eye. In the war, I always believed someone had my back, and that I was trusted just as much as I trusted others. It’s not the same now,” Peggy whispers, her body sinking further into the chair.
“The reason I’ve tried to conceal you, Angie, you are - you are the only person I feel I can trust. You cannot become a part of what I do, you cannot become - mucked up in it. You can’t, I would - I would hate myself,” Peggy says. She sounds defeated, and as she takes off her gloves, she looks it.
Angie watches Peggy stare at the table.
“I’ve seen too many people be killed for being close to me,” Peggy says, and Angie feels as though they’ve suddenly arrived at the point. There’s a weird spread of hope across her chest then, even amongst the dejection she suspects she’s being meant to feel by Peggy’s tone.
“But no one knows I’m close to you,” Angie says. Peggy looks at her carefully, before shaking her head. “Listen, I think you’re spouting some bullshit here, Peg, I’m gonna be real honest.”
The look on Peggy’s face is so shocked that Angie takes it in as energy to get her through this speech, the one swelling up inside her.
“If this is what I think it’s about - and it better be, or else I’m the one throwing myself out a window next - that’s grade A stupid, Peggy Carter. I mean, yeah, you’re right, I could get shanked or whatever by the like five S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who know who I am. I could get blown up by some terrorist, but I doubt I will, because you said it yourself - no one knows I’m even your friend, Peg,” Angie says. Peggy starts to interrupt.
“That’s no way to live, Angie - ”
“You don’t get to tell people how they want to live, English,” Angie says sternly, and Peggy promptly shuts her mouth. Now Angie’s on a roll, and she feels that way she does when she’s on stage and her monologue is rolling out of her perfectly. “You don’t get to tell people that you love them like this, either, by the way, by trying to tell them you can’t get involved to protect them. That’s not being strong, that’s being a coward. Captain America isn’t supposed to be a coward.”
Peggy is just staring at her now, her mouth hanging open.
“I spent months falling in love with you, Peggy Carter, and I put up with your game show obsession and your gallivanting off to fight aliens. It’s one thing if you don’t want to be with me for a legit reason, but don’t tell me it’s because you don’t want to worry about me. I worry about you every damn time you walk out the door,” Angie practically yelps. She smooths her hands over her sweatshirt - well, it’s Peggy’s sweatshirt, with a dumb Captain America shield logo on it - to calm herself. “This is a good time to tell me if I completely misinterpreted so I can prepare for my death.”
Peggy stands up very suddenly, grabs Angie, and pulls their bodies together in a tight crush that Angie takes about one millisecond to relish before Peggy’s kissing her. Oh lord, she’s kissing Captain America. Captain America is kissing her.
Captain America is a good kisser.
Peggy’s ungloved hands settle at Angie’s neck, while Angie’s hands slide under Peggy’s jacket to rest on the tight-fitting compression shirt underneath it, at her waist. They keep kissing, hard and then soft, standing there in their kitchen. Peggy’s embrace settles into normal levels of human strength, and Angie can practically feel Peggy melt against her.
Eventually, everyone has to breathe, and Peggy’s forehead comes to rest against Angie’s. They just look at each other.
“You did not misinterpret,” Peggy says, finally, and Angie giggles like she hasn’t since she was a seventeen year-old girl. Peggy smiles in return.
“Remember when I asked you if you knew any LGBTQ people back in 1940whatever?” Angie asks, pulling lightly at the stretchy fabric around Peggy’s hip. Peggy nods against her, one hand traveling to rest against Angie’s own hip. “Were one of those people you?”
“I did attend an all-girl’s school,” Peggy whispers in a conspirational fashion. She kisses Angie again before she can respond.
“Where did you even get this car?” Peggy asks, from the passenger seat. She’s back from a month long trip to Washington, where she’s been sent out on odd jobs, and Angie’s just finished her opening week as a real, supporting actress on Broadway. Nicole had suggested Angie set up a surprise vacation for she and Peggy, and Angie had called a few friends (read: her Ma and Pa).
“It’s my cousin’s,” Angie answers, letting Peggy grab her hand and hold it as they zoomed along down the Interstate. Peggy was not dealing well with the whole surprise aspect of this whole thing.
“Why won’t you tell me where we’re going, again?” Peggy asks, looking over at Angie. She’s wearing Ray-Bans, because someone in Washington is Angie’s girlfriend’s personal stylist and is damn good at their job.
“Because this is meant to be a romantic gesture,” Angie says, glaring over at Peggy. She smiles a little, her bright red lipstick practically blaring in the setting sun as they drive south. She looks beautiful, and happy, and halfway-to-carefree. When she had got back from Washington, a couple hours ago, she hadn’t looked so happy. But Angie had dutifully shuffled her grumpy girlfriend into the truck with a suitcase.
“While I appreciate that, I’d still like to know where we’re going. We must be near Camp Lehigh,” Peggy mutters, looking outside as though some enormous clue is going to pop out of nowhere.
“Camp Lehigh?” Angie asks, even though she knows the name. They are near Camp Lehigh, the old abandoned army base just on the southern edge of the forest that they are currently heading for.
“I was stationed there with Steve during the training for Project Rebirth,” Peggy says. It’s not exactly a comforting thing for Angie, and Peggy seems to notice, because she gives a squeeze to Angie’s hand. “I assume we’re not breaking into an abandoned military base, correct?”
“Correct,” Angie says, making a left turn at the old pond where she once almost drowned with her cousin. Down the winding road and into the forest is the Martinelli family cabin, and Peggy smiles on sight of it.
“You’ve taken me to a cabin in the middle of the woods,” Peggy says, taking off her sunglasses as the trees form a canopy protecting them from the sun. Angie parks on the gravel, and pops open her door, before walking around to open the door for Peggy. She receives a kiss for her trouble, which is really nice after a month away.
“It’s my family’s. We used to own a bunch of land, I guess, in the forest before it was named a state forest. They let us keep this little tract, and we built a cabin. Now it has electricity and everything, of course,” Angie says, reaching into the back to grab the suitcase and Peggy’s shield. Peggy trails after Angie as she walks up the front steps and opens the door with the old brass key her Ma had given her with a stern don’t mess anything up, Angie.
“My great enemy, electricity,” Peggy says, flipping the lights on. There are pictures of Angie and her family all along the mantel in the living room, and Peggy goes to them immediately, eyeing each of them individually.
“I thought it’d be nice for us to relax for a weekend,” Angie says, and the words come out a little shyly, more nervous than she wanted them to be. Living together was one thing, but Peggy was gone more often than not, and Angie had a real show to work on. They had only kissed in the two months since that first kiss. Nicole had offered the idea as an opportunity to get it on, but Angie...just wanted to spend time with Peggy, however it came.
Peggy watches her for a moment, her hands tucked into the pockets of her leather jacket, sunglasses still perched on her head. She looks like a dream to Angie. Peggy is looking at her like maybe Angie is too.
“Do you remember when we met? Outside that monstrosity where that terrible team plays?” Peggy asks, and Angie snorts at Peggy’s fairly blatant Knicks support. “You were the first person I saw who looked real to me. I felt as though the world was some sort of daze, and yet, I saw you and those - ogres who were harassing you were just things that needed to be dealt with in the background. I saw you so clearly.”
“You sound like you still aren’t into the 21st century,” Angie says, watching Peggy as she steps closer to her, reaching out a hand that Angie takes.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make it feel like home,” Peggy whispers, looking at Angie with her sweet, dark, brown eyes. “But you feel like home, Angie. I haven’t had one of those in 63 years.”
“I love you,” Angie says back, because it seems appropriate as a response. Peggy smiles.
“I love you, too, darling,” she says, and she kisses Angie. She gets pressed backwards into the wall that backs up the kitchen, and Peggy’s hands are moving rapidly, grasping at Angie’s neck, and then cupping her ribcage, and then down to her ass. Angie settles her own hands just under Peggy’s chest, where it runs into her stomach, and clenches at her button-down as Peggy’s mouth moves to Angie’s neck.
“Let’s, uh,” Angie starts, but squeaks mid-sentence as Peggy bites at her earlobe. “Bedroom.”
“Lead the way,” Peggy mutters, and its gravelly in Angie’s ear, and she’s practically shivering already. She takes Peggy to the master bedroom, shuts the door heavily and stops as Peggy tosses her jacket to the vanity chair and settles on the edge of the bed.
“We don’t have to do anything, English,” Angie says, because she wants Peggy to know that she’s happy to wait until whenever for whatever. Peggy smiles, but crooks a finger so that Angie will come closer. She does, and that’s that, really.
Peggy’s skin, as it gets unraveled from her clothes in the dim lighting of the bedroom, is marred by scars and bullet holes. She explains a few of them if Angie asks, saying things like, that was the assassin in Naples, and I accidentally stabbed myself with a filet knife while fishing and she returns the favor to the few of Angie’s that aren’t mundane. The surgery scars on her stomach from her appendectomy when she was ten. The bite marks on her leg from her neighbor’s crazy dog, Rubio.
She’s so strong, but she’s so gentle as she pulls off Angie’s underwear, and touches her. Angie doesn’t feel like she herself is being so gentle, the way her fingers dig into Peggy’s back while she does. The way Peggy looks at her makes Angie feel like a relic deserving of a museum, like a star. The way Peggy looks at her when Angie returns the favor makes her feel like a god.
Later, they sit out on the deck that overlooks the big ravine behind the house, the one Leo had fallen down when he was seven and busted his head in. Peggy’s wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Angie’s wearing underwear and Peggy’s button-down from earlier.
“I never thought I’d be back here,” Peggy whispers, and the statement seems to stir the night air around them. The trees rustle heavily. Angie watches as Peggy looks out into the distance, her hand rubbing at Angie’s ankle bone. “I’m glad it’s with you.”
Angie smiles, and Captain America smiles back.
Angie Martinelli will return.