SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22ND, 1946
Around six o’clock, the front door to Howard Stark’s largest estate house slams closed; even a number of rooms away, Peggy hears it.
No immediate greeting. It must be Angie.
“Hey, English? Was it supposed to snow today?” comes a breathless enquiry, indeed from Angie.
Peggy, having been in the process of picking up the tea kettle, sets it back down on the burner and clicks off the stove, unable to dedicate her focus to it any longer.
“A dusting of frost is what the radio warned Jarvis of, earlier today,” she replies, angling her body toward the open kitchen door, expecting Angie will be walking in soon. She’s puzzled when that turns out not to be the case, and heads down the hallway, reaching the living room just in time to see Angie covered in snow.
“Well, tell Jarvis that the radio was dead wrong.”
“Clearly,” Peggy says, holding back laughter as well as worry as she sets herself on helping to free Angie from her attire and accessories, all of which are either significantly dampened or frozen.
All of them - her already-sheer silk slip unfortunately not exempt from such rules of nature as water damage.
Or fortunately, depending on how Peggy wants to see this. This, this situation in which poor Angie’s fingers have proven too frozen to pry open the zipper of her slip, and the duty falls to Peggy, whose nerves don’t care for a break and whose face just might be imitating the redness of her roommate’s.
How terribly Christmasy of them...snow, and red cheeks, and Angie with her green peacoat.
It doesn’t look particularly green now; now that its icy outer layer has finally begun to leave it in the dry heat of the house, its color is much closer to black.
Angie doesn’t seem anxious as she lets Peggy undress her; a far more accurate description for her reaction would be dread. Even though the house is warm, her teeth are still chattering, and she waddles over to the couch when Peggy starts to move her, more than grateful when Peggy covers her, now clad only in her underthings, with a heavy blanket. Peggy dashes back to Angie’s room, picking out dry undergarments and only somewhat matching skirt, shirt, sweater, and socks, and then, expeditiously, to the kitchen, in the hopes that the kettle’s still hot.
“Warmer here than a Russian winter,” she says when she’s back in the living room, marching towards the couch with the spoils of her short trip in her hand.
“Oh, jeez, English, don’t even make me think about it,” Angie winces. “We’re not all Captain America, for God’s sake.”
Peggy chuckles. “None of us are, actually.”
“Oh, you know what I mean,” Angie says, her eyes rolling as her voice returns to its usual humor.
“Do I,” Peggy hums, rubbing Angie’s shoulders with the blanket another time before the grumbling Angie shrugs the blanket off and stands up. Peggy does her best not to pay much mind to Angie’s pale, goose-fleshed, bare skin as she unclips her dampened brassiere and replaces it with the dry one, and though she’s sure she fails she’s not a miserable failure - at least, it certainly doesn’t seem that she’s obviously enraptured, since Angie seemingly takes no notice. The rest of Angie’s redressing passes equally slowly, a process that Peggy can only dream of actually getting the chance to appreciate.
It takes remembering that poor Angie had been outside in the cold long enough for the snow to have soaked through to her undergarments not to feel sorry for herself, which is pathetic and ridiculous and a bright pink triangular flag. For all the hatred Peggy has for those who registered nothing of her save her bright lipstick, clicking heels, and generous bust, here she stands with a lump in her throat and the tables turned.
Even with her cardigan fuzzy and tightly buttoned, Angie’s got a chill, and she sits down on the couch again, pulling the blanket back around herself and curling into it for a moment, before jerkily wrenching one of her hands out to Peggy’s elbow and yanking her down onto the couch next to her. She dramatically thrusts the blanket upwards, and one of its edges lands atop Peggy’s head, but it cascades down her back a second later, down behind them both. With something of a giggle, Peggy grabs it and raises it back up; Angie decides suddenly to bring her legs up underneath her and turn to her side, leaning down and letting her head rest on Peggy’s lap. Peggy’s heartbeat grows a little stronger and a little less steady in that short interim, but one of her hands, as though in instinct, reaches to stroke away what of Angie’s hair is falling into her face.
Angie lets out a soft sigh and then relaxes. Letting one of her hands settle onto Angie’s raised shoulder, it takes Peggy a minute to realize that it seems like Angie’s closed her eyes (albeit contentedly, but still unexpectedly).
“Don’t you want your tea?” Peggy asks, and Angie doesn’t move.
“I thought that was your tea.”
“Oh. But you’re the one who’s just come in from the cold; you need it more than I do. It’s yours if you want it, though, of course.”
“You didn’t make it for me, though.” Angie’s voice is curiously soft and stomach-turning.
“Would you like me to make you some?”
Angie hums uncertainly, her breath tickling some of Peggy’s calf, and then she bites her lip before maneuvering herself onto her back and looks up at Peggy.
“You’re plenty warm, English. But…but it’s snowing, so it’s not time for tea, not for us normal Americans, at least. Some cocoa would be spectacular.”
“Spectacular, hmm?” Peggy chuckles softly, starting to shift herself to stand up off the couch. Angie growls and pushes her down harder, clearly expending a great deal of effort to stretch herself further into Peggy’s lap.
“Spectacular! But just...call Jarvis,” she whines.
“I’m a grown woman, and I am perfectly capable of making a cup of hot cocoa.”
“I...I don’t doubt that, English. But even more badly than I want a cup of cocoa I would like you to remain precisely where you are so that I don’t have to move!”
She does move, however - just enough to be looking straight up at Peggy with her big, beautiful pleading eyes, and by the time a couple tense seconds have passed and she’s decided to bat her eyelashes and purse her lips, Peggy’s already started in on her sigh of capitulation.
Angie grins proudly when she realizes her victory, and Peggy rolls her eyes and reaches for the phone. Jarvis, of course, doesn’t even question her request, and shows up shortly with two large, steaming cups of cocoa and bright, curious eyes.
“I am truly sorry, Miss Martinelli, for the improper forecast of the morning. Had it been said the weather would so worsen, I would have insisted that you dress appropriately for such events.”
“It’s not your fault, Ned. It’s the radio’s reporters I got a beef with, now.”
“Ned?” interrupts Peggy before Jarvis has a chance to respond, unintentionally giving him extra time to be sure the mugs are set down on top of a pair of their fancy coasters.
“It is apparently a sobriquet for Edwin. Miss Martinelli cares to be more casual in her addresses of others than you and I.”
Peggy sighs quietly, but with a gentle smile.
“Yes, I’d noticed...thank you, Mister Jarvis.”
“Of course, Miss Carter. Is there anything else I can do for you at the moment? Or you, Miss Martinelli?”
“Can Howard hire a more qualified meteorologist?” Angie jokes as she’s deciding now to actually sit up.
Peggy forces what she can of a laugh, but it’s embarrassingly harder to find her humor with the influx of cooler air against her lap and chest; the lack of Angie’s weight and warmth is obtrusively apparent and unwelcome, like Peggy’s entire body is missing it.
“You do realize that if you ask him to, he will hire someone, right?” Peggy says, adjusting her seated position and slightly stretching her legs.
“Wait, he can do that?”
“Mister Stark could buy you a broadcasting company if you so desired,” Jarvis tells her, and for a moment it looks like she’s in shock.
“Woah,” is all that she manages to say within the next couple minutes, the poor darling.
Damn you, Howard.
Peggy knew how enticing his wealth and pomp could be; having been a woman who’d (decidedly not particularly politely) excused herself from a life of riches to follow a path considerably more treacherous than housewifery, and she’d excused herself from chasing him as well...to an extent, though, she understood that which drew women to men like him and stayed out of that business.
That was just too far.
He wasn’t allowed to make Angie do anything even the littlest bit comparable to swooning, whether he even knew it was happening or not. It simply wasn’t acceptable. It would be like Private Lorraine not only kissing Steve but staying around to-
Angie starts moving again, and Peggy loses her train of thought, too busy watching Angie cheerfully lift up her holiday-themed decorative mug - whose purchase she couldn’t confidently attribute to either Howard or Jarvis individually - and start to sip the cocoa that fills it up to its brim, to continue to reminisce on past loves, or past anything. Or anything, frankly, past or present, with the distinct exception of Angie’s pink cheeks, smiling eyes, and atypically red lips.
Jeez, Peg. Get it together, for God’s sake.
“This is some very good cocoa,” Angie declares. “What do you think, English?”
Peggy just barely keeps herself from startling, or blushing up a storm.
“I’ve not yet tried it. I was waiting on your verdict.”
Angie snorts. “I’m not an honored guest, Peg. You don’t have to dote on me.”
“Perhaps I enjoy doting on you.”
“Then suit yourself,” she sighs dramatically, and Jarvis excuses himself with a final nod and bow, and a telling expression.
“I’ll leave you two be until supper. Only a phone call away, of course, if you should require my assistance in the interim.”
When he takes his leave, Angie, the mind-reader that she is, snuggles right back into Peggy’s side, seemingly without deliberation.
Supper is soup - Italian Wedding, one of Angie’s favorites, made with her mother’s recipe - and eaten up by the trio while Angie divulges a multitude of stories about her youth. Peggy, naturally, finds them riveting; Jarvis, while he doesn’t seem disinterested, seems nearly as intrigued by Peggy’s interest as Peggy is interested. She tries not to seem suspicious about it, but she is a special intelligence agent, isn’t she? And Jarvis had a history of what one might call...interference. “A superb butler assists without being asked” and all that.
He was indeed a superb butler and a delightful friend, but that didn’t mean he never tried to get anything past her...usually things on the ridiculous side, but loved by Angie, like a puppy none of them had the time or animal ownership expertise to properly care for. Insisting it be taken to the pound had been painful, but someone had needed to do it, and Peggy’s clothes had already gotten more than enough hair on them by the time she’d officially decided to broach the topic with Angie rather than simply expressing displeasure.
One thing she expresses precious little displeasure about, though, is the Captain America show. Now that Angie’s made a game of listening weekly with the purpose of mocking it theatrically, Peggy could even claim to have begun looking forward to the Sunday evening broadcasts. Tonight, though, Angie doesn’t quite make it that long; Peggy fields a concerned call from Daniel about the snowstorm, which is apparently getting city folk in quite the tizzy, and upon her return Angie’s already asleep on the couch, peaceful and smiling. Peggy pulls her shoes off, slings a warm blanket over her, and doesn’t manage to restrain herself from leaving a soft kiss at her temple.