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A Contingency of Geese

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The air had started to take on a crisp edge in the mornings and Peggy almost found herself looking forward to winter. Central Park’s leaves were a vibrant ode to the changing season. Angie, who had the self-control of a seven year old, was kicking up leaves with the utmost enthusiasm. The geese on the pond beside them honked as they looked for lunch along the bank. Peggy was sure they wouldn't remain this far North for much longer. She turned her attention to Angie who’d made quite the piles of fallen leaves, grinning proudly.

“C’mon English,” Angie cajoled. “Get over here and have some fun!” With that enticement, Angie fell backwards onto the tallest pile, kicking up leaves with her feet sending them scattering and tossing up handfuls into the air. Peggy smiled as Angie giggled with each handful as leaves landed in her hair.

“Oh, you know I’m allergic to fun,” Peggy said, hiding her smile as she tugged her red hat more firmly down onto her head.

“Well yeah, but don’t that cover the hours spent at the totally not a super secret spy organization phone company?” Angie said. “And hey. You’re even wearing pants right now. Washing isn’t difficult. I’ve seen you get way more suspect stains than dirt outta fabric.”

Peggy lifted an eyebrow and tried to convey with her eyes that spy organizations only remain secret because they do not get discussed loudly in a public park on a Saturday, in the middle of the afternoon, when all the world was out for a stroll in the autumn sunshine, but why not shout it. Honestly love. Where’s your sense of discretion?

“Indulge me,” Angie asked, kicking the leaves a little with her feet and reaching up her hand.

“If you pull me down into the leaves with you, we will not be stopping for ice cream on the way home,” Peggy said, trying to give her best no-nonsense face, but unable to stop herself laughing at Angie’s exaggerated pout.

“Like you wouldn’t do some sort of elaborate self defense mumbo-jumbo move if I tried,” Angie said, grinning as Peggy pulled her to her feet. “And really? No ice cream. You are taking being no fun way too seriously.”

“Elaborate mumbo-jumbo,” Peggy scoffed. “Self defense is neither elaborate nor exotic martial arts based.”

“True, I’ve seen you knock a fella out with both a stapler and a frying pan,” Angie agreed. “Without any real finesse now that I think about it. Just with enough bruising force that my uncle woulda been proud and he’s a heavyweight boxer.”

Angie stood close, enough so that Peggy could lean forward and kiss her cheek by accident if the wind gusted. Peggy could just tilt her head the slightest bit forward to find out if Angie’s flushed cheeks felt as warm against her lips as she suspected. Her hand was still clasped in Angie’s while Angie’s thumb traced lazy circles on her the inside of her wrist that Peggy felt all the way down to her toes. Peggy did a quick mental inventory of how secluded they were, trying to decide if she could allow Angie to steal a kiss.

“I know what you’re thinking about,” Angie’s mouth curved into a smirk.

“I imagine you do,” Peggy said, scarcely breathing.

Before Angie could say something equally devastating or get that smug expression which Peggy always found adorable, a Canada goose honked no less than three feet from them. How Peggy didn’t notice that the entire flock decided they'd had quite enough of their flirting and stalked toward them, wings spread, could only be blamed on Angie being a world class distraction.

Angie startled into Peggy’s arms. Grinning sheepish, but with a touch of nerves around her eyes, Angie glared at the geese as they moved back to the path and away from the flock.

“Love, are you worried about some silly geese?” Peggy asked. she couldn't help but chuckle at Angie’s incredulous expression.

“Hon, you don’t mess around with a contingency of these thugs,” Angie said, moving a little more quickly as the goose started to follow them along with a few of its flocked brethren.

“Contingency? I rather think it's actually a flock,” Peggy corrected.

“A flock is reserved for creatures with souls, like sparrows, not thugs who don't even stay in their country,” Angie argued, picking up their pace as the path leveled out and the geese lost interest. “Not that I’m saying you can’t punch a goose in the face. I’m just saying you shouldn’t. They don’t fight fair.”

“Let me guess, you had a horrible experience on a dare gone wrong because of your brother?” Peggy said.

“A life lesson and I took away that you just don’t mess with these feathered jack-asses. Those beaks hurt! Especially if it latches onto your rear, but if you want to learn that lesson yourself, I’m not gonna stop you,” Angie said. “Now don’t look back. They’ll see it as a challenge.”

“Whatever you say,” Peggy said, daring a peek to ensure they'd stopped being pursued. “I default to you superior intelligence concerning the nefarious ways of geese.”

“Yuck it up, English,” Angie grumbled. “For that, you’re buying me ice cream.”

“I imagine this is just punishment for laughing at you in the face confronted with waterfowl,” Peggy said, dryly.

“I might even make you cuddle me later for saving us from such a dire and painful experience,” Angie said, with a prim little sniff.

“Such torture!” Peggy murmured. “How ever will I manage to survive?”

“Hold me tightly while we’re tucked under that warm quilt with the ugly flowers for starters,” Angie said, tucking her arm into Peggy’s as they ambled along the path. “If you play your cards right, you might be able to steal a kiss.”

“I do live for a challenge,” Peggy promised. Angie laughed, and Peggy joined her.

The ice cream truck was parked on the street as they exited the park. Pulled just ahead of the truck on the corner, Mr. Jarvis waited beside one of Howard’s more practical sedans eating his own single scoop chocolate cone with great dignity. He gave them a wave as they approached.

“Ah! There you are,” Jarvis said. “I’d hoped to catch you both before you found a cab. Anna sent me out on an errand to the market and I thought I’d give you a lift back to the mansion.”

“Impeccable timing as always, Mr. Jarvis,” Peggy greeted while Angie went to get them a couple of cones.

“Jarvis is the best,” Angie said, handing an ice cream to Peggy and grinning at him.

“I do endeavour to try, Ms. Martinelli,” he said, giving her a nod.

“So what’s for dinner? Anna send you to the butcher’s, perhaps?” Angie asked. “Because that last roast was to die for.”

“She did indeed,” Jarvis said, smiling proudly.

“Excellent,” Angie said, with feeling. “Sorry but cuddling will have to wait.” She bumped Peggy’s shoulder with her own.

“I’ll manage somehow,” Peggy said, “though it will be quite a hardship.”

“You betcha,” Angie said, giving Peggy the fondest of smiles--the one where her eyes crinkle in the corners and she's a breath away from laughing. This smile was Peggy’s favorite and it always reminded her of perfect days like this, or a long bath just the right temperature, and tea with her brother on rainy days before the war. Something warm and cherished and something she could tuck away into her heart for safe keeping.

Peggy let herself smile back and bask in the rays of the late afternoon light, vanilla sweet on her tongue as she tucked another perfect day away for later.