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.