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May Your Days be Merry and Bright

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Peggy was pretty sure that if she ever met Bing Crosby, she was going to punch him.

Not that she had anything against him personally, but she was just so tired of hearing his voice. More specifically, she had heard him singing about silent nights and white Christmases so many times in the past three weeks that she was ready to pull her own hair out.

Any other year, it would have been easy enough to avoid, but Angie had had the radio tuned to Christmas carols for the past three weeks and while Peggy loved hearing Angie sing, she was pretty sure Bing Crosby should fear for his personal safety if she heard White Christmas one more time.

Which meant that of course it was playing when she walked in the front door.

Peggy rolled her eyes as she hung her coat up and kicked off her shoes. She shook the newly-fallen snow out of her hair and checked her reflection in the hall mirror.

At the rate the snow was coming down outside, there would be a white Christmas for sure. And a white Valentine’s Day. Hell, maybe even a white Easter for that matter.

Damn that Bing Crosby for being right. 

On the bright side, though, the entire house smelled heavenly and Peggy could hear Angie singing along to the radio. She followed the sound into the kitchen where the scent of fresh-baked cookies became even stronger as Angie opened the oven door to pull out a fresh tray of cookies. She set it on top of the stove and spun around on her heel, jumping when she noticed Peggy in the doorway.

“God, English, don’t sneak up on me like that,” she scolded, swatting Peggy with an oven mitt and biting back a laugh.

“Hello to you too, darling,” Peggy said. She snaked her arms around Angie’s waist and pressed a quick kiss to her forehead.

“Hey, hold on. I have a couple more trays to finish up and then I’m all yours. Want to help me? It might make it go a little faster.”

“Oh, no thanks,” Peggy said, taking a step back. “No, I hate baking.”

“Are you kiddin’ me?” Angie asked. She dropped her hands to her hips and fixed Peggy with an incredulous look. “How do you not like baking?”

Peggy shrugged. “I just never liked it.”

“You’re unbelievable,” Angie said, already turning back to the bowl of cookie dough on the counter.

“It smells amazing in here,” Peggy commented as she reached to grab a warm cookie off the pan. She had no time to react before Angie snapped a dish towel at the back of her hand.

“What was that for?” Peggy demanded.

“If you don’t want to help, you don’t get to eat any until I’m finished,” Angie replied easily. “Go wait and I’ll bring you some cookies when I’m finished.”

Peggy huffed and crossed her arms in front of her chest.

“Oh my God, are you pouting?” Angie asked, trying hard to bite back a smile.

Peggy suddenly became aware of the slight jut lower lip and she rolled her eyes and scoffed.

“I have paperwork to do,” she announced. “I’ll be in the study.” She turned on her heel and stalked out of the kitchen before Angie could see the faint blush creeping up her cheeks.

It was dark out when Angie peeked around the study door. The snow had finally stopped falling and the clouds had disappeared, so the only light coming through the windows was the eerie yellow glow that always came with newly-fallen snow.

Peggy was asleep at her desk, her reading glasses askew and her pen leaning haphazardly against her cheek.

A warm feeling blossomed in Angie’s chest as she stepped slowly into the room, practically holding her breath to keep from waking Peggy.

Unfortunately, the universe was not on her side.

She winced as a floorboard squeaked under her foot and she froze as Peggy started to stir.

“Angie?” she mumbled, lifting her head up and rubbing at her eyes with the heel of her hands. “What time is it?”

“About eight,” Angie replied. She padded over to the desk and set down the plate of chocolate chip cookies that she was holding. “I brought you some cookies.”

“Oh, so I’m allowed to eat them now, am I?” Peggy asked. She pulled off her glasses and raised an eyebrow.

“Of course,” Angie said. “I told ya you could have some after I was finished, didn’t I? I can’t believe you hate baking.”

“I thought we were moving past this,” Peggy groaned.

You moved past it. still can’t believe it. How can anyone possibly hate baking?”

“I’m just going to ignore you,” Peggy said, grabbing a cookie off the plate and biting into it before Angie could say anything else. It was warm and soft and the chocolate chips were still warm from the oven. “Oh, darling, these are absolutely delicious.”

“You sound surprised,” Angie replied, her hands on her hips and a tiny smirk playing at her lips.

“Not surprised, just pleased. You’re too good to me, darling.”

“I know,” Angie replied. She leaned closer and kissed the top of Peggy’s head. “I’m gonna go clean up the kitchen. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“With more cookies?” Peggy asked hopefully.

“Sorry, English,” Angie sing-songed as she walked away. “You want more, bake ‘em yourself.”

Peggy groaned and Angie laughed, easing the study door closed behind her.

The next morning, it was cold and bright. The snow had frozen overnight and there were intricate frost patterns sparkling on the window panes.

When Peggy woke up, she found herself curled up in bed with Angie’s arms wrapped loosely around her and Angie watching her sleep with a lazy smile on her face.

“Morning,” Peggy murmured. Her eyes were still half-closed and she stretched her arms over her head with a low groan.

“G’morning,” Angie replied. “Do you have any plans today?”

Peggy shook her head. “You?”

Angie nodded. “The new Cary Grant film’s playing this weekend and Carol and Gloria asked me to go with them.”

“You should cancel,” Peggy groaned, snuggling into Angie’s side. “It’s cold. We should sleep for a little longer. And later you can make more cookies.”

“You’re incorrigible,” Angie giggled. She kissed Peggy’s forehead and smiled. “I’m going. Carol and Gloria have been planning this for two weeks. We’re going out for lunch afterwards. You could come with us if you want to. And like I said last night, you more cookies, bake ‘em yourself. Now let me up. I need to get dressed.”

Angie peeled herself out of Peggy’s grip and slipped out of bed. Peggy, for her part, let her go, but not without another long groan.

“You feelin’ okay?” Angie asked, leaning a little closer and pressing the back of her hand against Peggy’s forehead.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Peggy said. She batted Angie’s hand away and sat up against the headboard. “I just had a very long week and I was rather looking forward to not having to do much of anything this weekend.”

Angie smiled and leaned down to capture Peggy’s lips with her own.

“Well when I get home,” she murmured, her breath warm and tickly against Peggy’s lips. “maybe you and I can do nothing together.”

“Mmm. That sounds nice,” Peggy hummed. She rolled back over and pulled the blankets back up around her chin. She heard Angie laugh again, but this time she didn’t look up.

She was already asleep again before Angie even got out of the shower.

When Peggy woke up again, the sunlight slanting into the bedroom told her it was nearing early afternoon. She rolled out of bed and got dressed quickly before heading downstairs to get breakfast.

Angie had left a pot of coffee, but it had long since gone cold and Peggy poured it down the sink and made a fresh one.

There was a plate on the edge of the counter with a couple of chocolate chip cookies on it. Peggy fixed her mug of coffee and carried it and the plate of cookies into the dining room. As she ate her makeshift breakfast, she thought about her conversation with Angie the night before.

I hate baking.

It wasn’t really a lie, but it wasn’t quite the whole truth either.

The whole truth was that Peggy hated things she wasn’t good at.

And Peggy Carter was not good at baking.

In her defense, it wasn’t exactly something that she had ever needed to learn. Her mother had tried to teach her a few times when she was a little girl, but the biscuits always seemed to burn on her watch and she had confused the sugar with salt one too many times until finally she was just barred from the kitchen altogether.

She had made attempts a few times in the time since the war had ended, but it seemed that no matter how hard she tried, everything would just come out wrong.

It was possibly the only fight that Peggy had ever given up on.

Or at least she thought she had.

Peggy downed the last of her coffee and headed back into the kitchen to set her mug and the plate in the sink. Something small and red near the back of the counter caught her eye. Before she even really realized what she was doing, she reached for it.

Angie’s recipe box.

Peggy had never actually looked in it before. It was a sort of unspoken rule that the kitchen was Angie’s domain and the tools of her trade–the recipe box being one of them–were hers and hers alone.

But what Angie didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her, Peggy thought as she lifted the lid.

The box was full of recipes written on small cards that were meticulously organized between homemade dividers that listed the categories in Angie’s smudged, loopy handwriting.

Appetizers. Entrees. Desserts. Nonna’s recipes.

Peggy thumbed through the cards and raised an eyebrow in surprise. She had never known Angie to keep anything organized for very long, but there wasn’t a single card out of place. About halfway through the box, Peggy realized that the recipes were even alphabetized.

Surprises, surprises.

Peggy’s fingers suddenly stopped of their own accord and she found herself looking down at a sugar cookie recipe.

It looked simple enough: flour, sugar, butter, eggs. And Peggy had never actually attempted sugar cookies. What was that saying about there being a first time for everything?

She had already pulled out a mixing bowl before she had a chance to reevaluate her decision. By the time she did consider it, though, she had already set her mind to it and Peggy was nothing if not stubborn to a fault.

She set Angie’s recipe box back in its place on the counter, turned on the wireless, and cranked the volume. Apparently Angie’s enthusiasm for the holidays was infectious as Peggy caught herself humming along to Judy Garland’s wishes of a merry little Christmas as she hunted for the ingredients.

Apparently the recipe box was the eye of the hurricane that was the rest of the kitchen.

The cabinets were cluttered and it seemed like all the tools had been shoved wherever Angie had found room. When Peggy opened the cabinet above the stove to get a tray, she was assaulted by a barrage of pots and pans and one particularly heavy pie tin that Peggy just managed to catch before it hit the floor.

Now there was the Angie that Peggy knew and loved.

It took a few minutes, but finally Peggy managed to gather everything that she needed and she set about getting started. She figured probably had a few hours left before Angie got home, which would hopefully be enough time to at least hide the evidence if this endeavor backfired.

Peggy tore open a brand new bag of flour and was greeted with a puff of white powder that stuck in her hair and settled on the counter like snow.

As if on cue, Bing Crosby started crooning through the radio about his dreams of a white Christmas.

Peggy threw a measuring spoon at the wireless, but it just bounced harmlessly off the side. She huffed and shook most of the flour out of her hair.

She was so glad that Angie wasn’t around to laugh at her.

Peggy set the bag of flour aside and moved on to the butter and sugar. She measured them out and added them to the bowl to mix them together. It took a few minutes, but it was done and it looked like it was supposed to, which seemed like a pretty good start.

Next step: eggs.

Peggy pulled a carton of eggs out of the refrigerator and set two on the counter next to the mixing bowl. As she turned back to put the carton away, she bumped the eggs with her elbow and they both rolled off the counter. They smashed on the floor and splattered all over Peggy’s bare feet.

She cursed under her breath and kicked the shells out of the way as she grabbed two more eggs from the carton. This time, though, she was careful to hold onto them as she put the carton away.

She cracked the first egg easily, but when she hit the second one on the rim of the bowl, the shell shattered and fell into the batter along with the egg itself.

Peggy cursed again and reached into the bowl and pull out the biggest bits of shell.

By that point, she was pretty sure that any other person would have just cut their losses and given up, but Peggy was determined. She was not going to let spilled flour, broken eggs, and that damn Bing Crosby get the best of her.

She rolled up her sleeves, tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, and attacked the dry ingredients with renewed fervor.

Salt, baking soda, flour all went into the bowl with minimal spills and for a moment, it seemed like everything was going well.

Or at least it did until Peggy mixed a little too vigorously and was rewarded with another puff of flour that coated her hands and the countertop.

Finally, finally, Peggy managed to get the cookie dough made and set it in the refrigerator to chill while the oven got hot. While she was waiting, she started her hunt for a rolling pin and cookie cutters. She found the rolling pin in the back of the silverware drawer, but the cookie cutters were nowhere to be found. After fifteen minutes of fruitless searching, Peggy gave up and just settled for using the rim of a glass instead.

By that point, the dough was chilled enough to handle and Peggy rolled it out on the counter.

It felt stickier than it probably should have and she had to coat her hands in flour just to keep from having to peel it off of her fingers. It took her a few tries to get the dough thin enough to cut without ripping it, but she figured it out eventually. She coated the rim of the glass with butter and flour to keep it from sticking to the dough and started cutting out cookies.

A couple of them ripped as she moved them from the counter to the tray, so she just did her best to patch them back together with her fingers. By the time she had filled two trays, she was out of dough and she slid both trays into the oven.

Peggy straightened back up with a sigh and blew a lock of hair away from her face. She set an egg timer for ten minutes, dropped her hands to her hips, and surveyed the mess.

The counter where she had been working was covered with flour, bits of egg, and the now-dirty measuring cups and spoons that she had used.

Peggy started off first with the tools. She dropped the measuring cups, spoons, even the rolling pin into the mixing bowl, set it all in the sink and filled it with water to be scrubbed out later. She grabbed a towel from the rack next to the sink and moved to start wiping up the counter.

Then the front door opened.

Peggy froze at the sound of footsteps in the foyer and Angie singing White Christmas to herself as she shed her coat.

“Hey, English, I’m home!” she called.

“Um…just a minute, darling!” Peggy called. She could already feel her cheeks turning red and she started scrubbing at the counter so fast that she was just pushing the mess around instead of actually cleaning it up. She moved to grab another cloth from the sink, but she had completely forgotten about the egg goop on the floor.

Or at least she had forgotten about it until she slipped in it and fell flat on her back on the linoleum.

“Peggy?!” Angie cried.

“Angie, don’t come in here! I’m–”

Peggy didn’t even get a chance to finish as Angie rushed into the kitchen and skidded to a halt. For a moment, her eyes were fixed solely on Peggy, but as she took in the rest of the scene, they widened.

“What the hell happened in here?” she asked. “Are you okay? What did you do? Do I smell cookies?”

The questions rushed out of Angie like bubbles in Coca-Cola and Peggy just groaned as she pulled herself to her feet.

She was definitely going to be bruised tomorrow.

And now she had to clean egg and flour off her favorite skirt.

She was pretty sure there was no way this situation could get mush worse.

Angie’s mouth was still hanging open and the expression on her face was more confused than anything else, so Peggy just settled for trying to deflect as best she could.

“You’re home earlier than I expected.”

It took all the self-control that Peggy had to not cringe at her own words. Fortunately Angie didn’t dwell too long on it.

“Gloria wasn’t feeling well, so we’re going to do lunch another time. What happened in here?”

“I was…um, I just—“

Peggy was saved from her own babbling by the timer ringing.

“What’s in the oven?” Angie asked. Rather than wait for an answer, though, she grabbed a pot holder from the edge of the counter and stepped past Peggy to open the oven door. She grabbed one tray and then the other and set them both on the counter.

“You made cookies without me? I thought you said you hated baking.” Angie’s hands fell to her hips and fixed Peggy with a glare that had Peggy practically squirming under her gaze.

“I do. I mean, I tried to bake cookies, but I’m not very good at baking and I hate it and you know as well as anyone else that I’m a menace in the kitchen, but I—“

Angie cut her off by stepping closer and pressing her lips to Peggy’s pink cheek.

“That’s so sweet, Pegs,” she said. “And if they taste as good as they smell, then I bet they’re perfect.” She grabbed a cookie off the still-warm tray, broke a piece off, and popped it into her mouth.

Peggy studied Angie’s expression for a long moment. Her heart was practically beating in her throat as she waited for the verdict.

A smile spread across Angie’s lips and Peggy let out a tiny sigh of relief.

“These are amazing!” Angie exclaimed. She shoved the rest of her own cookie into her mouth and grabbed a second one to push into Peggy’s open mouth.

She was right. It was good. It was sweet and soft and it practically melted in her mouth. Apparently sugar cookies were the exception to Peggy’s baking ineptitude.

At least that was what she thought until Angie stopped chewing and frowned. “Did you put something crunchy in here?”

Peggy blushed again covered her mouth with her hand as she spoke around a mouthful of cookie. “That would probably be the eggshell actually.”

Angie giggled and finished her cookies before surveying the mess in the kitchen.

“I’m sorry about the mess,” Peggy said quickly. “I was going to clean it up before you got home.”

“Don’t worry about it, English,” Angie said. She grabbed a dish towel off the counter and playfully flicked it at Peggy’s side. “What’d ya say I lend you a hand cleaning this up? As I recall, we had plans to do a whole lot of nothing, didn’t we?”

She raised one eyebrow suggestively and Peggy swallowed hard as she grabbed a sponge and started scrubbing at the sides of the mixing bowl.

Angie laughed, but then the radio caught her attention. “I love this song!” she exclaimed, cranking up the volume and easily harmonizing with Bing Crosby’s smooth voice.

“May your days be merry and bright. And may all your Christmases be white.”

Peggy rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t quite help the smile that was playing at her lips.

The kitchen smelled heavenly, there were surprisingly delicious cookies cooling on the stove, and Angie was singing by her side. Peggy could complain about the song some other time.

For the moment, everything was absolutely perfect.