A/N i still cannot believe i wrote this.
Peggy's crying quietly over her newspaper at the kitchen table when she hears the front door open and close on a chilly Thursday evening in April.
"Peg, you home?"
Angie. Peggy tries to wipe away the evidence of her distress before she answers back, as though getting the wetness off her cheeks would somehow erase the wobble in her voice. "I'm back here," she says, voice relatively steady, but it doesn't seem to matter—Angie walks in and takes one look at her before frowning.
"You okay? Your eyes are all red," Angie notes, eyes flickering around the room for any clues as to why Peggy might be in a mood.
"I'm fine. I just—I didn't get to read the paper this morning, and I've only just found out that the Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson."
Angie makes a face, which is only to be expected—a Harlem girl born and raised, Angie's a Giants fan through and through. "What do I care that the Dodgers hired some new mook? Actually, better question—what do you care that the Dodgers hired some new mook? 'Specially enough to cry about it? I thought you English types only liked croquet."
"Cricket, darling, croquet's something else. And he's not just some mook, is why," Peggy says, before turning her paper so Angie can see the headline: Dodgers Purchase Robinson, First Negro in Modern Major League Baseball. There's even a picture: the dark-skinned Robinson shaking hands goodbye with his (now ex-) manager Clay Hopper, still in his Montreal Royals uniform, smile wide and beaming.
"Jesus Christ," Angie blurts, jaw dropping as she stares at the headline in disbelief. She then splits into a wide grin. "Alla buon'ora!"
"I know!" Peggy says, but Angie's face is already falling. "What?"
"Nothin', just—did he have to be a damn Dodger?"
Peggy laughs. "It seems Mr. Rickey's the only person willing to take the risk. I don't know why I'm so emotional; I suppose it hit me all at once. Steve would be insufferable about this. I can't believe… I can't believe he's missed it. I can just see his smug little grin."
Angie makes the same face she always does when Peggy mentions Steve, the melancholy smile that never quite reaches her eyes. "Captain America was a Dodgers fan? Jeez, English, I thought you said he was a decent guy. I looked up to him! Ya can't trust anybody these days," she jokes.
"We all have our faults," Peggy agrees mildly, keeping up the banter for Angie's sake. She knows better than anyone that some walls take much longer to come down than others, and frankly she's still a little shocked Angie finds her worth the effort. A moment or two of feigned levity is a small price to pay.
"So, you wanna see him?"
There's a brief, irrational moment where Peggy thinks she means Steve and her heart jumps into her throat before she catches on. "Jackie Robinson?"
"No, the Pope. Yes Jackie Robinson," Angie says, rolling her eyes. "It ain't too late to get tickets."
"I can't. Opening day is the fifteenth, and I'll be in Washington with Howard until next Wednesday at least."
"Funny thing about baseball—they tend to play it more than once."
"Har har," Peggy grumbles. "You know, I don't know why I put up with you. I haven't even gotten my good evening kiss."
Angie strides over to rectify that immediately. "You were crying into your newspaper when I walked in, English," she points out between kisses. "Kinda interrupted the mood."
In D.C. Peggy is asked if she is Howard's wife not once, not twice, but six times. This is alarming for a great many reasons, not least of which being that anyone so oblivious as to not know about Howard Stark's philandering ways probably shouldn't be in the spy business.
"I'm not the marrying kind," Howard had said smoothly in every instance, which was a welcome—if unnecessary—evasion at first, but struck Peggy as a rather sad refrain by the end. She feels guilty, but… it's never occurred to her before that Howard might be lonely. Not in any fixed, permanent way at any rate.
Peggy's never thought of herself as the marrying kind either, if she's being honest. The idea of wearing someone's ring, being marked like some kind of property has always seemed incredibly distasteful to her. (The idea of someone else wearing her ring, on the other hand…) And yet, these days she finds herself with someone to come home to every evening, ready with dinner and a kiss; someone she needs to call when she's out late; someone who cares when she puts herself in danger. Someone who teases her when she cries into her newspaper.
For all intents and purposes, Peggy might as well be married already.
A fact she's reminded of quite vividly when she finally gets back to New York and the first thing Angie says to her is "We're going to the Polo Grounds on Friday."
Peggy raises an eyebrow. "Not Ebbets Field?"
"Nope," Angie says, popping the 'p.'
"I thought the whole point was that we were going to see Jackie Robinson play," Peggy points out in her most reasonable voice.
"And if you wanna do that on Friday, you're gonna have to be at the Polo Grounds." Angie grins at her. "You didn't think I was gonna let you drag me to a Dodgers game where I'd have to root for the Dodgers, did you?"
Peggy can't help but smile back. "God forbid."
The benefit to letting Angie take her to a Giants game, Peggy realizes, is that it's exactly the same as any other time Angie's shown Peggy some new part of her life—she just lights up.
They splurge on hot dogs and crackerjack before they get to their seats, indulgences Angie could rarely afford going to games growing up. (When Peggy had heard that, she'd needed to fight the urge to buy out the whole stand.) Every corner of the stadium carries with it an anecdote about one of Angie's siblings or cousins… except, of course, for the myriad corners of the stadium that have been renovated since Angie's youth, which instead get Peggy several earfuls about how they're ruining the place.
It's the most fun Peggy's had in weeks.
The game is tied at one run apiece when Jackie Robinson steps up to the plate for the second time, at the top of the third inning.
The first pitch is a strike.
"Come on, number forty-two!" Angie cheers in encouragement, earning glares and confused looks from their fellow patrons—after all, Angie'd loudly been spurring on the Giants just a few minutes ago. Angie glares at them all right back. "What? You got a problem?"
Peggy snickers when they all turn away. "You know, I think—"
Peggy forgets what she thinks as the ball sails straight into the outfield in a beautiful line drive, putting the Dodgers ahead as it goes over the fence. For one single, fevered second, Peggy imagines that it's headed right for her; that she—of all people—will catch Jackie Robinson's first home run ball. As if the universe would be that miraculously kind.
Then she realizes it's not her imagination.
Catching the ball is more military training than it is any kind of athletic instinct—Peggy's batted away a fair number of grenades in her day. She's not the only one reaching for it, but the ball seems to fall right to her, smacking into her bare palm with a sharp, stinging thump.
Angie's screaming and jumping up and down, but then again so's everyone else, so Peggy can't hear a thing she's saying. There are hands all over her—kind ones clapping her on the shoulder in congratulations, rude ones trying to pry the ball from her hands, and one incredibly inappropriate one grazing her backside just to see if it can get away with it, but Peggy pays them no mind. All she can see is the sun caught in the loose strands of Angie's hair, lighting up her whole scalp in a golden halo; the beaming smile on Angie's lips, easily interpreted even if her words are not; the brightness in her eyes, like Peggy's the only thing in the world worth looking at.
"Jesus," Angie crows, barely audible over the roar of the crowd. "It really makes you think anything could happen."
And maybe it's the fact that that's the first thing Peggy hears, or maybe it's the energy of the stadium, the feeling like Steve's laughing at her from wherever he's keeping himself, but Peggy can't help it:
"Marry me," she blurts, holding out the ball to Angie. As though it in any way could match a ring, as though it's the kind of thing she can just say, stupid, stupid—
Angie gapes at her. "What?" she asks, though Peggy knows damn well Angie heard her the first time.
"C'mere," Angie says, grabbing Peggy by the wrist and dragging her away from their newfound admirers before they can get too curious. She marches the two of them off the bleachers and right into the ladies' room, checking to make sure all the stalls are empty before locking the door behind them.
Through the wall, Peggy can hear the crowd roar once again, but to be honest she's not particularly worried about whatever play she's missed at this moment.
"You wanna try that again?" Angie asks, hands at her hips. Peggy can't help but notice that she's still holding onto the baseball, that Angie didn't take it from her. Her palm starts to sweat.
"I… I asked you to marry me," Peggy mumbles. She may be a bit of an idiot today, but she's no coward—once she's made a decision, she commits to it. (Even decisions as utterly insipid as unplanned proposals, apparently.)
"Hate to break it to you, Pegs, but they've got laws about that sort of thing," Angie says. Joking instead of letting herself feel her feelings, as usual. Peggy doesn't think she can let her get away with it this time.
"There are laws about what we've been doing all this time."
"Well, sure, but—"
"Not to mention, there are plenty of laws barring our Mr. Robinson from dining wherever he chooses, voting for whomever he'd please. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, he couldn't marry you either… at least in most states."
"It's true! Just because something is legal doesn't make it just, Angie. And just because something is—is illegal," she swallows, "doesn't make it wrong." She squares her shoulders, trying to look impressive and sure. It's a pose she's always managed well with everyone else, but has never quite mastered around Angie.
At long last, the fact that Angie's smiling at her seems to register. "Peg, I ain't saying no," she says gently, reaching out to take the baseball from Peggy's clammy grip. She looks at it closely, running the pads of her fingers over its red seams. "But what you're talking about… it just doesn't exist. How can we get married, huh? Who's gonna marry us?"
Taking this question as permission, Peggy slips forward to wrap her arms around Angie, pulling her into an embrace—which is then interrupted by sharp banging on the door.
"Hey, why's this locked?" a voice asks hollowly through the wood.
"Out of order!" Angie hollers in her Harlem best, causing Peggy to muffle her laughter against Angie's shoulder.
She chuckles into Angie's dress until the footsteps die away, then tries to regain her composure. "I didn't mean—I know we can't have a wedding, that we can't… that's not why I asked you, darling. I don't need a document or some fancy ceremony. All I need is your promise."
"It's yours," Angie says, quiet and serious—one of Peggy's favorite looks on her, all the more beloved because she sees it so rarely. "It's always been yours, you know that."
Peggy's afraid that the grin splitting her face is entirely unbecoming.
"—but don't think I'll ever forgive you for proposing to me with a baseball hit by a damn Dodger when we're at a Giants game."
"He's a very special Dodger," Peggy pouts.
"You're full of it," Angie teases, but it's half-hearted at best. Her lips are rather otherwise occupied.
Outside, the crowd roars once more.
"Take me home," Angie murmurs, the throaty thrum of her voice shooting straight to Peggy's core.
"But the game—"
"You're my fiancée and I can't wait that long."
Wise words, even if the first utterance of fiancée delays them another five minutes before they can leave the bathroom looking presentable. They can barely keep their hands off each other in the taxi; there's no way they could have behaved themselves in the crowded bleachers for another two hours or more.
"Wife," Peggy says when they're finally through their own front door.
"What?" Angie gasps, understandably distracted by the feeling of Peggy's teeth nipping at her throat.
"You said fiancée, but I seem to recall you saying I had your promise. So I believe," Peggy mumbles, kissing her way up Angie's neck, "the word you're looking for," she pauses at the hollow behind Angie's ear, giving it special attention, "is wife."
They consummate the marriage three times before they make it to the bedroom.
Angie checks the box scores in the paper the next morning—the Giants ended up winning 10 to 4, which she lords over Peggy for the rest of the afternoon. But then again, Jackie Robinson's first home run ball is now resting on their mantle, declaring the penthouse an inarguably Dodgers-friendly household. It's the best of both worlds, which is only fitting.
Marriage, Peggy's heard, is about compromise.