Disclaimer: Not mine!
So they have a system.
Now that Angie's a "big time star, sink in the dressing room an' everything" (Angie's words), it's not as easy for Peggy to attend her various opening nights, closing galas and black-tie events as it was back when Angie was a chorus girl. Now, people are expecting "Broadway's newest up-and-coming sensation" (The New York Times' words) to have a man on her arm. Which: Peggy is many things, but that will never be one of them. (Her own words, thank you very much.) So sometimes, simply getting Peggy in the door seems an obstacle too large for little white lies to overcome.
Hence, the system.
"We received another letter, Howard," Peggy says breezily as she walks by his office, hoping he won't really notice.
"What, from the stalker?" he asks, getting up to follow her.
Peggy hmms. "I'm afraid so."
"Jesus. That's the fifth one this year."
"And she's got the Tony Awards coming up this Sunday. She can't miss them."
Howard stops walking. "You're taking this awfully well, Peg. There something I need to know?"
She shows her teeth. It's not quite a smile. "Of course not. And as long as you allow me on her protection detail, there's no reason to worry, is there?"
"I dunno. Maybe you're too close to this—"
"Howard. Are you honestly telling me that you think it's a bad idea that I personally act as a security escort for my own wife?"
(There is exactly one person on God's green earth to whom she can call Angie her wife, and she likes to take advantage.)
(That person is Howard because Angie would never stop laughing, except perhaps to swat her on the shoulder. So.)
Howard makes a series of increasingly ridiculous faces. "Fine. But I'm coming with you."
"As part of my security team? That rather compromises the subtle approach."
"Not as SHIELD. As me."
Peggy raises an eyebrow. "Last I checked, one needed an invitation to attend the ceremony."
Howard grins. "What? You think I can't get a date?"
When Peggy gets home that evening, Angie lets out the world's least-convincing scream.
"Help. Help. Stalker. Home invasion. I'm being attacked," she says in deadpan as Peggy steps out of her shoes and wanders to the couch to peek at the notebook Angie's writing in. And if she nuzzles Angie's neck in the process, it's just an occupational hazard. "…Help," Angie adds one more time, for good measure.
"What are you working on?"
"Your acceptance speech?" Peggy asks, leaning down to kiss the spot behind Angie's ear.
Angie twists away, ticklish. "I don't write acceptance speeches. They jinx it."
"We should come up with a code word."
Angie blinks at the sudden subject change. "For what?"
"For me. So you can thank me in your speech."
Angie rolls her eyes. "Time to deflate that head of yours, English."
"No, English won't work, everyone knows you call me that," Peggy says, coming around the couch to sit down.
Angie kicks her.
True to his word, Howard gets a date. Peggy sees him on the red carpet, draped all over one of the female nominees and blathering to a reporter about how he's always loved the Tonys, always loved the name Tony, always wanted a little Tony of his own…
He had the grace not to come as the plus one of any of Angie's competitors for Distinguished Dramatic Actress, so Peggy can't find it in herself to be too mad at him.
From across a sea of people, Angie catches her eye and winks.
Peggy had hoped to be able to sit next to Angie at the ceremony itself—for safety's sake, of course, there's a stalker on the loose—but for the first time ever the Tonys are being televised, and Angie's agent kicked up a fuss when they asked if Angie not be seated with her male co-star. Instead, Peggy gets to sit behind her and one seat to the left, watching the muscles in her neck tense and relax (brilliantly shown off by the up-do Angie's sporting for the evening) as her category creeps ever closer.
She doesn't win.
Peggy is torn, because on the one hand Angie deserved the award—Angie deserves everything—but on the other hand, that means the gossip columnists will be hounding some other poor girl at the after-parties, leaving Angie blessedly alone. Perhaps they can even slip away early…
During the next commercial break, Angie reaches her hand back, down into the gap between her arm rest and chair back.
Peggy squeezes her fingers.
They can't dance at the after party, but they can have a brief liaison in the ladies' room.
"Lipstick check?" Angie asks as she tries to pin her hair back into some semblance of order. Peggy rather destroyed the elegant bun from earlier.
"You're fine, darling. Me?" Peggy gives up on re-buttoning her blouse properly, still flustered and sticky with sweat. Angie moves to do it for her.
"All good. We shoulda started matching shades years ago."
"It's not my fault it took an age to convince you that you can pull off my brand."
Angie grins wolfishly, stilling at the buttons over Peggy's breasts. "Yeah? What else of yours can I pull off?"
"We only just pulled it back on," Peggy points out, laughing.
"Unfortunately, you brought a date tonight."
"That was dumb. Remind me not to do that again."
They stagger their exits, Peggy letting Angie leave first and waiting two minutes before returning to the ballroom. She doesn't see Angie in the crowd, but she does spot Howard tearing it up on the dance floor. She manages to meet his eyes, and when he catches sight of her he immediately begins two-stepping across the room.
"Hey, mind if she cuts in? Thanks," he says, unceremoniously letting go of his dance partner and taking Peggy up in his arms.
"Howard! What on earth—?"
"I think I've got eyes on our stalker," he hisses into her ear as they dance.
Peggy's blood runs cold. There is no stalker. The whole point is that there's no stalker. "Show me."
"Eight o'clock," Howard says, dipping her so she can follow his sightline. Angie is chatting with some producer, fake-laughing at his jokes. But—ah. One of the busboys, done up in a white tux for the evening, is eyeing her in a way Peggy can only describe as hungry. He moves his serving tray from one hand to the other, revealing a—
"Knife! Howard, he's got a knife!" Peggy gasps, already moving with Howard hot on her heels, but she's too far off, too many people in the way, she'll never make it in time. "Angie!"
In the time it takes for Peggy to scream her name, Angie turns, registers the threat, rips the serving tray out of her assailant's hand, and clobbers him over the head with it. The knife clatters to the floor, clean of blood.
All the activity in the room stops.
"Didn't anybody ever tell you?" Angie says, spinning the tray between her two hands to hide the way they're shaking, "Never try and outmaneuver a girl from the L&L with one'a these. Fastest service in midtown."
The patrons laugh, and the reporters swarm, and Peggy and Howard quietly remove the unconscious busboy from the party.
"You teach her that move?" Howard asks as they drag him into the hallway.
"What, 'grab whatever's closest and start hitting with it?' Yes. It's the Agent Carter Self-Defense special."
"Director Carter," Howard corrects, eyebrows wagging. "Anyway, it was smooth as butter. You sure I'm not allowed to recruit her?"
"Quite sure, Howard."
"You're no fun. We givin' this guy to New York's Finest, or…?"
"I think I'd rather debrief him personally." Peggy bares her teeth. It's not a smile.
"I'll get Jarvis to pull the car around. Still, gotta count this night as a win. Sounds like our stalker days are over, huh? And she didn't even need us to take care of it."
"Indeed," Peggy says, keeping her voice as neutral as possible.
Time for a new system.