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Cold Shoulders and Crushes

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She had first walked into the café on an already balmy Wednesday morning. Angie was struck at first glance by the woman's beauty and the bright red lipstick, but it wasn't until she heard the accent as the woman ordered Earl Grey tea at a coffee house that she found herself well and truly captivated.

Peggy - Angie had made sure to get her name (for the order, of course) - started coming by almost every day after that, always at the same time, like clockwork. Around the second week, Angie almost joked that she could set her watch by Peggy, but she chickened out at the last minute and simply handed her the tea before going off to serve another customer.

At the end of the third week Angie began to get a little braver, asking questions and initiating a bit of chitchat in an attempt to befriend her new regular. After a few days, she noticed that Peggy started to open up more, seemingly warming up to the barista's subtle offer of friendship, and bolstering Angie's confidence as a result.

Approximately two months had passed before Angie Martinelli realized that her feelings for the Englishwoman extended a little bit beyond simple friendship. Okay, maybe a lot beyond.

Over the days that Angie worked and Peggy managed to drop by, both women learned more and more about the other, to the point where Angie felt confident in saying they were at least familiar, if not actual friends. Angie learned that Peggy Carter hailed from London but had moved to live and work in New York only about a month before she had first stumbled onto the coffee house. She was never really clear on what her work entailed, but Angie didn't pay that much mind. At some point - Angie wasn't really sure when - she had taken to referring to Peggy as 'English' and the nickname stuck (Angie thought the other woman might have found it endearing, as she never protested it). Peggy learned that Angie had once dreamed of becoming an actress, but had since given up on the dream in favor of making a more steady living in the "real world," as her mother had often referred to it. Whenever the subject arose after that, Peggy would somehow manage to slip in an encouragement or a compliment that had Angie almost reconsidering her decision to quit that pursuit.

They discussed topics as banal as the weather and as personal as their respective childhoods, and that inkling of something more than friendship that Angie had felt somehow evolved into a monster of unexpected feelings she wasn't prepared to deal with. It took her another full month to reach the decision that Peggy wouldn't be around and (presumably) single forever and maybe it would be worth the risk to try and take things a step further.

Unfortunately, the universe seemed to have other ideas, because the day Angie finally mustered up the courage to ask Peggy to a movie (and maybe dinner, if it went well) was the very day that Mr. Fancy, the accented man she secretly nicknamed for the fact that he seemed to own nothing but nice suits, started showing up to sit on the bar stool at the end of the counter beside the woman Angie had been intending to woo. He began stopping by almost as often as Peggy herself, usually arriving about ten minutes later, chatting quietly with her, and leaving as soon as he finished his tea or the occasional coffee. Angie never bothered to learn Mr. Fancy's real name, just served him his drink and avoided that end of the counter until he left. She knew it was childish, and that he was starting to notice her demeanor towards him, but she couldn't find it in herself to care all that much. As far as Angie was concerned, the man had ruined her chance.

Things took a turn roughly five months into her time as a regular at the quaint little L&L Coffee House. Peggy strolled through the door and took a seat at her usual spot at the back end of the counter, not waiting long before Angie bounced over with her familiar bright smile and greeted, "Morning, English! The usual?"

The barista's grin was infectious, and Peggy couldn't help smiling warmly back at her. "Yes please, Angie, thanks. And perhaps a muffin today, as well? I was in a rush and skipped breakfast this morning."

"Yeah, no problem," Angie replied. "What kind would you like?"

Peggy waved a hand dismissively. "Oh, whatever you think is best. I trust your judgment," she added with a quirk of her lips.

Her friend's smile seemed to impossibly brighten. "Coming right up."

As Angie went off to get her tea and muffin, Peggy picked up her phone and checked the time. She gave herself about seven minutes before Jarvis arrived, so she took that time to check and respond to a few emails. When Angie returned with her order, Peggy nodded gratefully and set her phone aside. She reached for the muffin - chocolate chip and still warm, Peggy noted - but stopped when she noticed Angie's hesitation.

"Is there something wrong, Angie?"

She'd been doing this on and off for the last two weeks and Peggy hadn't failed to notice. She would serve Peggy and then shuffle around for a moment as though trying to figure out how to say something, until she was inevitably interrupted by the arrival of another customer, usually Jarvis, whose order she would take before walking off without another word. Peggy was half starting to wonder if she should be concerned, but she normally just brushed it off, putting it down to a simple quirk the girl had.

Unsurprisingly, almost as soon as the question had left Peggy's mouth, the bell above the café door sounded, signaling Jarvis's arrival and effectively staunching anything Angie might have said in reply. Jarvis waltzed over in typical fashion and took a seat to her left, smiling first at Peggy and then Angie in greeting.

"Good morning, ladies."

Angie nodded succinctly and asked, "Tea or coffee today?"

"I think I'm fancying a coffee, please. Extra cream."

"Sure." Angie walked off to prepare the order, her previously cheerful attitude now deflated.

Jarvis turned to Peggy when the barista was out of earshot and stated, "She's a bit cold, don't you think?" He pulled out his tablet and brought up the New York Times, perusing the front-page news as he awaited her response.

Peggy frowned, shrugging. "She’s always perfectly lovely to me," she told him, breaking off a bite of her muffin. "Perhaps you're imagining it."

Jarvis frowned, as well. "I'm certain she doesn't like me. I just can't figure out why. Have I done something to offend her?"

“I don’t see how,” she responded. “You barely even speak to each other.”

“At least she serves good coffee,” he sighed. Then, after a moment, “Unless she’s been spitted in it or something.”

Peggy barked out a laugh and rolled her eyes at him. “Oh, Jarvis, please. Angie is a kind and wonderful girl. I highly doubt she would do such a ridiculous thing.”

Smiling, Jarvis replied, “Yes, I suppose you’re right. About the spitting thing, anyway. I really do believe she dislikes me for some reason.”

Angie returned then with the coffee and set it silently in front of him, just as she always did. He looked up to thank her, just as he always did. Today, however, Jarvis managed to catch sight of the glance Angie shot a preoccupied Peggy when she must have thought no one was watching, and suddenly things became a whole lot clearer.

"Oh," he whispered, once Angie had left again. The surprise in his tone caused Peggy to glance up at him, one eyebrow raised in question.

"I think I understand now," he said.

Confused, Peggy shook her head, waiting for him to elaborate. When a minute passed and all he did was smile knowingly, she prompted, "Understand what, Mr. Jarvis?"

“I think I understand why the barista continues to give me the cold shoulder,” he answered, finally. The knowing smirk reappeared as he looked at Peggy. Jarvis could see she was starting to get frustrated with him, so he quickly explained, “I believe our lovely barista quite fancies you, Ms. Carter. It makes sense. I have been taking up quite a bit of your time lately.”

Peggy’s eyebrows practically rose to her hairline as her mouth opened but no words came out. At last, she managed to sputter a surprised “Me?”

Jarvis chuckled. “The look I just saw her give you while you were looking at your mobile makes me think so, yes.” He took advantage of her continued speechlessness to add, “And I couldn’t help but notice recently that you have spared Ms. Martinelli some similar glances?” His tone made it sound like a question, but they both knew it wasn’t, and Peggy found herself looking down at her tea to hide her blush.

“Mr. Jarvis-”

He cut her off, raising his hands in the universal sign of surrender. “Merely an observation, Ms. Carter,” he said. “Do with it what you will.” With that, Edwin Jarvis took a final sip of his barely touched coffee and rose to leave, tossing enough money on the counter for the coffee and a good tip as he went. “Have a good day.” He was gone before she could say a word.

After a moment, Angie sidled back up to her end of the counter and picked up the abandoned mug. “What, too much cream?” she asked, unable to withhold some of the bitterness in her tone. “He asked for extra.”

Angie’s voice finally pulled Peggy out of her daze and she turned her head to meet the other woman’s eyes. She bit down a little too hard on her red painted lip as Jarvis’s words came back to her, and couldn’t help noticing Angie’s gaze flick downward at the motion.

Deciding then and there to throw caution to the wind, Peggy took a deep breath and banked on Jarvis’s intuition as she asked, “Angie, I was wondering if… Perhaps you would like to go to dinner sometime? With me?”

The look of surprise on Angie’s face was a little discouraging and Peggy prepared herself to backtrack before their fledgling friendship could crash and burn. But then Angie spoke, beating her to the punch.

“What, like a…” She paused, frowned, looked at the coffee she was holding. “What about Mr. Fancy?”

Peggy’s brow furrowed. “Who?” Realization dawned after a second and she laughed. “You mean Jarvis?”

Angie nodded. “Yeah, you guys seem to like each other. I mean…” she trailed off, avoiding eye contact.

Grinning, Peggy reached out and rested one warm hand against Angie’s free one, waiting for her to look up. She took a moment to carefully set the mug aside before she finally met Peggy’s eyes again.

Eyes sparkling now, Peggy squeezed Angie’s hand. "Mr. Jarvis is a colleague, Angie. And a married one, at that." She held back an amused chuckle. "I work with the Justice Department. Jarvis is the personal lawyer to Howard Stark and he's taken to consulting with me on various legal matters."

"Almost every day?" Angie asked skeptically.

"Well, he is a friend, as well. Also, his wife works nearby and they like to carpool as often as possible." Peggy tapped the counter near the money Jarvis had left and smiled. "Plus, I don't know if you've noticed, but ‘Mr. Fancy' quite enjoys your coffee. Says it's the best he's had, actually."

Angie's gaze softened and she managed to look a bit ashamed. “Maybe I never actually looked close enough to see his wedding ring,” she mumbled, slightly embarrassed by herself now. She smiled back after a moment and joked, "So he likes my coffee. I guess that's a big compliment coming from an Englishman, huh?"

“Yes, I suppose so.” Peggy smiled coyly, giving her hand another squeeze before letting go. “So, about that dinner?”

Angie leaned her elbows on the counter in front of Peggy and locked eyes with her, their faces barely inches apart. Peggy held her breath. “Throw in a movie, English, and you have yourself a deal.”