a/n A sequel to Agent.
Once Peggy moves into the Griffith, she starts lending Angie books. Tons of 'em.
At first, Angie wonders if it's some kind of veiled insult, like maybe Peggy thinks she needs smartening up or something. But as the recommendations start piling up on her nightstand—Sense and Sensibility and The Scarlet Pimpernel and Little Lord Fauntleroy, which nobody could argue is exactly high literature—Angie realizes this is just how Peggy relates to people. She's a little shyer than Angie'd thought when they were first getting to know each other, a little less forward, and the books are something they can talk about at night when Angie's run out of work stories and Peggy can't or won't tell her own.
It's a nice gesture.
Of course, later Angie'll think maybe she needed smartening up after all, after being so stupid as to leave the pictures of her and Lucia Romano somewhere Peggy could find them. It's just that it's a years-old habit, now—in her crowded house in Brooklyn, the only hiding place safe from her rowdy, curious brothers had been between the pages of books. She'd hidden pocket money, too, but Peggy wouldn't be looking at her like that if she'd marked her page with a dollar bill.
But then she wouldn't have kissed her, either; wouldn't have let Angie back her against the bed and start working at her buttons and…
Anyway, maybe Angie had the right idea all along.
"That was somethin' else," Angie laughs, after, breathless and giddy. Peggy only smirks at her before rolling out of bed, retrieving her abandoned mug of bourbon from Angie's vanity and taking a long drink. She holds it out to Angie, offering a sip, but Angie shakes her head. She's feeling pretty intoxicated as it is. "You ever done that before?"
Peggy retakes her spot next to Angie with a raised brow. "Sex? Yes, I admit I've indulged once or twice."
Angie swats at her. "You know that's not what I meant."
"Where I'm from, a lady never kisses and tells."
Apparently where you're from, Angie thinks, baffled, a lady wouldn't have to, she screams so loud. "Oh yeah?" she says instead, pulling on a smile. "Well you're in the US of A now; different country, different rules."
Peggy looks infinitely amused. "Oh?"
"Yep," Angie says, reaching up to cup Peggy's cheek and pulling her in for a sweet, soft kiss. It's unhurried and mellow, a departure from their previous embraces, and Angie admits she kind of forgets that she's trying to make a point for a second. She can taste the bourbon on Peggy's lips. (Part of her wonders what it would be like to taste herself there, but she's starting to get the feeling that she'll get the chance to find out.) "Hey, Pegs?" she prompts when she pulls away.
"Hmm?" Peggy responds, sounding dreamy and distant, and it's a real struggle to not just kiss her again.
"I gotta tell you something."
Peggy blinks her eyes open, vague worry clouding her features. "What is it?"
"I just kissed a girl. Wasn't the first time, neither," Angie teases, beaming, and after one frowning second Peggy bursts into laughter—first one guffaw, and then breaking into unexpected giggles, as though Peggy's doubly surprised and delighted by the fact that she's feeling surprise and delight. She looks sort of astonished, actually, and it makes Angie's chest ache.
"Ask me again," Peggy says, when she's managed to rein herself back in.
It takes Angie a second to remember what they were even talking about, she's so taken with the color on Peggy's cheeks, the smile she can't fight back. But—oh, right. "All that sex you've apparently indulged in," Angie begins, and Peggy snorts at her phrasing, "Was any of it with girls?"
"Some," Peggy admits, tracing a finger around the edge of her mug while she stares into its depths. "Most," she amends.
That, Angie wasn't expecting. "But…"
It wasn't long ago that Peggy admitted, in a hazy sadness one night after they'd both had terrible days at work, that Steve Rogers had been her sweetheart in the war. Angie can't think of anyone more masculine than Captain America; if that's Peggy's type, then surely…?
Peggy's lips curl up at Angie's unasked question. "Had he lived, Steve only would have been my second male partner, actually."
"You're kiddin'," Angie says, certain Peggy's pulling her leg, but Peggy only shakes her head.
"After the first time—a very ill-advised dalliance with my grandmother's kitchen boy—I became rather convinced that men simply weren't worth it. It was too hard to find ones that were… decent. And between boarding school and my time in France, it was all too easy to find women who, er. Were." Peggy's expression slowly shifts from nostalgic to impish. "Of course, the fact that Steve had a similar history made him far, far easier to trust."
It takes a second for Angie to catch onto Peggy's meaning. Then her jaw drops. "Wait. You're tellin' me—you're tellin' me Captain America went for fellas?"
The impishness retreats, bringing the melancholy back. "Steve did, for one. They were quite taken with each other. Inseparable."
"If he was involved with someone else, then how'd you two…?"
"We lost Sergeant Barnes in the winter of 1944. Steve, um," Peggy tries to smile, a brave little soldier, but it doesn't seem to fit on her mouth anymore. "Steve followed not long after."
Angie swallows hard, feeling like a fool as she watches Peggy down the last of her drink. Peggy'd been in such good spirits, and she had to go and ruin it. "Lemme get you some more of that," she says, reaching out to gently pluck the mug from Peggy's hands, only to recoil when Peggy pulls away from her grasp.
"No, don't," Peggy says. Angie's already wincing, blinking back tears at the certainty that she's tanked this evening—she's tanked everything—when Peggy adds, "You serve me drinks five days out of the week. I can handle pouring this one on my own."
"I don't mind it," Angie says, wishing her voice didn't come out wavering and raspy. "When it's you, anyway. I promise I don't."
Peggy leaves the mug on the vanity, empty, and comes back to the bed with a determined look on her face. "We are equals," Peggy says in a tone that brooks no argument, as she tilts Angie's chin. "You never have to serve me here. Do you understand?"
Three of Angie's brothers went off to war, and only two of them came back. There ain't a single person in her family that can stand the phrase Thank you for your service.
Angie thinks she understands.
The thing Angie'd never anticipated, in all her wildest dreams—the thing that she's most delighted to learn, and get the lesson repeated over and over—is that sex with Peggy isn't some angst-ridden, torrid affair.
Sex with Peggy is fun.
As a lover, Peggy's creative, and far more thoughtful than Angie's used to—and more ticklish. More often than not, it's hushed laughter Angie's putting her hand to Peggy's mouth to cover, not moans of pleasure. (Getting Peggy to not make noise is an ongoing project, but Angie's determined to see it through.) When they're together, things just feel… easy. Light. And the best part of all?
Now, when she knocks on Peggy's door unexpectedly, she gets pulled in with a smile, not brushed off with a transparent lie.
"Did you have a good day at work?" Peggy chuckles when Angie all but lets herself in one such evening, throwing herself into Peggy's arms and kissing her thoroughly.
"Boy, did I! Guy who said he was an agent gave me his card, and," Angie brags, grinning into Peggy's lips, "I made nearly seven dollars in tips. You?"
Peggy hums into their kiss. "Given the number of times I was asked to pour my coworkers coffee today, I think I should start demanding tips myself."
Angie frowns. "Aw, Peg, I'm sorry. You wanna talk about it?"
Peggy's lips curl up wickedly. "Not even a little bit," she says, lifting Angie up and then tossing her on the bed.
"Ow!" Angie yelps when her head hits something hard, barely muffled by the soft pillow she'd been expecting. "What'd'ya knock me into the headboard for?"
"I didn't, it was—"
Angie reaches behind her before Peggy can explain, grasping cool metal and pulling it out. "A gun?!" she squeaks, realizing what she's holding.
"Angie, I am so sorry."
"You sleep with a piece?"
"Obviously if I'd known you were coming over I would have put it somewhere else."
"Not even my cousin Vito sleeps with a piece! And he's got friends in low places, if you catch my drift," Angie goes on, talking with her hands as usual. Distantly, she notes how Peggy grimaces at the way she's gesticulating with the gun in her grip, yanking it out of her hands the second Angie finishes her sentence.
"As I said," Peggy mumbles as she puts the gun in a drawer, "it shouldn't have happened. It won't happen again."
Only now Angie's not laughing. Peggy's whole posture has changed—she looks guilty and hunted. Even more, she looks embarrassed, which Angie never intended. "Hey, forget about it. It's a war thing, right?"
Peggy smiles again when she comes back to sit on the bed, but there's little joy in it. "I imagine one could summarize my whole life as a war thing."
"Even now, at the phone company?"
"Oh, especially now at the phone company," Peggy deadpans.
It's something of a private joke between them—for all of the fuss that Peggy'd made over Angie's scars, Peggy's got dozens more. The two circular puckers at her shoulder; the spider-webbed tracks painting her knuckles; the minor discoloration lines everywhere Angie bothers to look—Peggy's arms, her back, her torso. And of course, every now and again, Peggy'll show up with new ones: cuts and bruises in places people who operate switchboards for a living should never get hurt.
Angie lets her have her secrets. After all, she didn't tell Peggy the worst of her scar stories, no matter now many times Peggy asked—and Angie didn't spend any time in the European theater getting shot at by Jerrys.
"Well, good thing it was under the pillow," she says. "Otherwise you'd'a set a record: first woman to cold-cock a gal when the gun wasn't even in her hand."
Peggy laughs, her smile more genuine. "It's too bad; we could have written in to Ripley's."
Angie raises an eyebrow. "I'll live."
Angie hadn't minded it, that they always ended up in their own beds no matter what they got up to in the evenings. She still remembers the night terrors her brother Sal had when he first got home, missing two fingers and the smile she'd known her whole childhood. She'd had no romantic notions of what it would be like to wake up next to Peggy Carter until suddenly it happens, and she forgets everything else.
Even if sometimes Peggy cries out in her sleep.
Even if sometimes she kicks, too.
Because you know what? Peggy's also a total blanket hog and a damn furnace to be next to like any other human being, and it's not like she gets up and walks around sometimes, like Angie does. Nobody's perfect, and they're still finding the ways they fit together.
It doesn't stop Angie from being surprised when she wakes up one stormy night on the floor, with Peggy on top of her and a gun to her temple.
"What the—Peggy!" she gasps, struggling to talk when the air's been knocked out of her. Her feet are still tangled in the sheet; she's well and truly stuck. "Oh Christ, oh Christ…"
Outside, rain lashes against the windows.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Peggy demands, voice harsh in a way Angie's never heard before. The muzzle of the pistol—the one Angie'd thought it was so funny Peggy kept under her pillow—is cold against Angie's skin. She can feel the weight of it, its solid realness, and she tries not to panic don't panic don't panic—
"Peggy it's me, it's Angie, wake up," she coughs, still trying to catch her breath.
"Shut up!" Peggy shouts, before flinching as another loud crash of thunder booms overhead.
"It's just the storm, Peg, you're dreamin'. It's not real, it's not real, it's not real," Angie babbles in a desperate rasp, reaching up blindly for the bedside lamp switch. She can barely see Peggy's face in the darkness; she's certain Peggy can't see hers. "Just lemme—"
Peggy's hand whips out, pinning Angie's wrist to the floor above her head. "Move again and I'll shoot!" she snaps, but it's a lot less cool than before, a lot more hysterical, and somehow… somehow knowing Peggy's scared means Angie doesn't have to be.
"You're not gonna shoot me, hon," she wheezes as calmly as she can, not moving a muscle. "I'm Angie, and you know me, and we're safe. It's okay. But I need you to put the gun down. I'm not gonna hurt you. And you're not gonna hurt me. Okay?"
Peggy blinks once, twice. "I—"
"Put the gun down for me, English. That's it. Put it—"
"Angie," Peggy breathes, eyes clearing, and Angie hears the safety click on just before the gun falls to the floor. Peggy scrambles to the other side of the room, chest heaving, trying to put as much space between them as possible. "Oh my god. Oh my god."
"Hey, hey, shhh," Angie soothes, holding out her hands. "It's okay. I'm right here."
If anything, hearing that only makes Peggy press herself further into the wall. "Stay away from me!"
"Okay. Okay. I won't move, I promise. You're alright. Everything's gonna be—"
"It is not okay," Peggy spits. She curls in on herself; Angie's never seen her look so small. "I almost—I could have—"
"But you didn't. You never would."
Peggy laughs. It is a wet, ugly thing—torn raw from her throat. "I nearly did. Angie, I could have killed you."
Angie opens her mouth to deny it, but she knows Peggy wouldn't listen. Part of her thinks maybe Peggy would be right not to; she thinks of Sal's missing smile and Luca's grave and how Francesca Adamo down the street told her that her fiancée never used to hit her before he got drafted; that he came back from Europe a stranger.
"It's not your fault," Angie says instead.
Peggy shakes her head, not wanting to hear it. Her cheeks are wet with tears; the tracks catch the weak yellow light of the streetlamp slanting through the blinds, dappled by the raindrops on the window. "I'm—I am so sorry. Everyone that's near me, everything I touch, gets destroyed." She laughs again, still wet, still ugly. "Why should you be any different?"
Angie starts to tentatively inch her way across the floor. "Sweetheart," she says, trying it out on her tongue—a new endearment, but one Peggy seems to like, as it at least makes her look up—"There's no one in the world that makes me feel safer than you do."
She says it because it's true. She says it because it's her truth, one that Peggy can't deny. She can't know that Peggy will never hurt her by accident, and she can't swear that Peggy will get better, but this? This she can say, and mean it.
"I…" Peggy swallows hard, staring at her hands. "How?"
With slow, careful movements, she finally reaches Peggy's side, waiting for permission to settle. Permission Peggy still seems reluctant to give.
"Come on, English," Angie pleads, trying without luck to catch her gaze. "You—you always take such good care'a me. Let me do this. Please."
Peggy nods; Angie takes a seat. A thousand different monologues from a thousand different auditions run through Angie's head, and she frowns, trying to find the words to an explanation Peggy will accept. All of them seem cheesy and inadequate.
She tries a different tack. "You still wanna know how I got the rest of my scars, Peg?"
Peggy's eyes flicker down to Angie's hips, trying to make out the tiny silver crescents there in the dark. The larger scar—the long, ropey one wrapped halfway around Angie's right thigh—is hidden entirely from her view, but obviously on her mind. She nods again, apparently not trusting herself to speak.
"It was… I was seventeen, so I guess it musta been the summer of '39? A bunch of the gals 'n me went out to Coney Island, met up with some guys there. Older guys, someone's brother and his friends." Beside her, Peggy goes stiff as a board; Angie reaches over and entwines their fingers. "We had a good time, went on some rides, decided to stay on the beach to watch the sunset. Joey Falco'd been trying to catch me alone all day, so once it got dark I decided to give him a chance. I didn't like him, not the way he wanted me to, but I liked the attention; I didn't think there was any harm in it. Stupid."
"He tried to kiss me and I wouldn't let him, so he kept trying. Lifted me up and sat me on the boardwalk, like I weighed nothing, like he could just—" Angie stops, clears her throat. Peggy squeezes her hand. "There was a nail sticking up from the boardwalk planks; it caught my leg when he held me down, 'cuz he had my dress rucked up. The cut hurt like crazy, and I was trying to twist away but it only made him dig his nails in more, tryin' to make me keep still. I could feel his nails break my skin—his grip was so strong—so I just… reacted. Kicked him in the nuts and gave him a right hook like Sal taught me, and ran as fast as I could. Didn't even notice how much I was bleedin' til I caught the train at Stillwell Avenue." Peggy looks furious, so Angie scrambles to conclude the tale on a slightly happier note. "He never told anyone or nothin', I think I embarrassed him beatin' him up like that. Didn't come near me again. But the scratch got infected and scarred up pretty nasty. As—as you can tell."
"Oh, Angie, no," Peggy insists, turning so she can take Angie by both shoulders. "Don't talk like that. Please. Nothing about you is—you're so beautiful, and so brave, and—"
"This is how," Angie says, finding it in herself to be amused at the way Peggy's mouth snaps shut. "Nobody sees me the way you do, no one cares like that. This is why I trust you. This is…"
This is why I love you. They haven't said that to each other yet. She wants to, desperately, but not like this. Not tonight.
Peggy reaches out, fingers brushing against the cigarette burn at Angie's sternum. "So many people have hurt you. I don't want to be one of them."
(Even in the dark, Angie can count seven old wounds on Peggy just from this angle; one of these days she's gonna have to have a talk with Peggy about pots and kettles.)
"So you won't," Angie says in response, knowing she's oversimplifying but unable to stop herself. She brushes a knuckle against Peggy's temple. "After all, it's you in there, isn't it?"
"Not always," Peggy mumbles, looking at the floor. "Not all of me. It's foolish, and I've tried to—to be better—but…"
"You're human, Pegs, that's all." Angie gets up on her knees so she's tall enough to kiss Peggy on the forehead. "D'you think you'll be able to sleep some more, if you try?"
Peggy draws in a shuddering breath, fortifying herself. Lightning flashes outside, and Angie starts counting—one Mississip—BOOM. Thunder shakes the air like cannon fire.
"I'm… I don't know," Peggy says, and Angie pretends not to see her shaking.
"Better give it your best shot, then. Where do you want me—here, or my room?"
Peggy still won't meet her eyes. "Your room would probably be for the best."
"That ain't what I asked. Do you want me to go?"
"No," Peggy breathes, so quiet Angie has to strain to hear her over the rain.
"Okay then," Angie says, climbing to her feet and offering a hand to help Peggy up. "Let's go back to bed."
Angie's never been big spoon before. Not with Peggy—not with anyone. It's kinda nice.
It'd just never occurred to her that Peggy might want to be held.
Not long after that, Angie learns all sorts of things about Peggy that have nothing to do with them sharing a bed.
Like how she's on the run from the feds.
Like how she's actually a fed herself—a secret agent, at that.
Like how she's close personal friends with Howard Stark. Close enough friends to get a penthouse in exchange for a favor.
It's enough to make Angie's head spin. But at least she's not the only one affected.
"You okay, hon?" she asks, looking across the dining room table to where Peggy's half-heartedly moving what's left of her food around her plate. (Their dining room table. Their dining room.) "Because I don't know how many times I gotta tell ya, I really do like cooking. You don't gotta feel bad about it, it's not me serving you if I'd be doing it anyway."
"Oh!" Peggy startles, blinking out of her reverie. "I'm sorry, darling, it's not that. The meal was wonderful. I'm just… preoccupied."
Angie cocks her brow, trying to look unimpressed and authoritative the way Peggy always does. "With?"
Peggy's eyes drift back down to her plate and she mumbles something unintelligible.
"You wanna try that again?"
"I was just… wondering…" Peggy repeats, louder, self-conscious, "if… if you'd be comfortable—that is to say, if you'd like to choose which—or rather, whether we…"
"Sometime this century, English?" Angie asks, but she keeps her voice gentle and soft.
Peggy frowns. "What I'm trying to say is, I would understand completely if you'd like to select your bedroom."
…Is that all?
"Doesn't matter to me," Angie shrugs. "You know this place better'n I do, and I trust your taste. Not that it probably matters either way, fancy joint like this. Put us wherever."
Peggy won't look at her. "No, I meant. Your own bedroom."
Angie's heart starts to beat a little faster, the nasty voice in the back of her head suddenly making her wonder if she's misinterpreted this whole thing. That Peggy wanted to move in with her, sure, but not like that. That they're not—that she doesn't—
"Did I do something wrong?" she asks. Her voice cracks, and she hates herself for it.
Peggy's head snaps up. "What?"
"I thought we were doin' okay now. Fresh start, cards on the table. I don't—lemme know what I did and I'll fix it, I promise, I—"
"My darling, no," Peggy insists, looking stricken as she stumbles out of her chair. She's kneeling at Angie's side in moments, gathering Angie's hands in both of hers and looking up at her with an expression so open it takes Angie's breath away. "I was referring to myself. About—about whether you'd feel safe, without a space of your own. I never meant… this is why I didn't want to say anything, it always comes out all wrong—"
"I love you."
Angie hadn't meant to say it. She winces the second it hits the air—a desperate, feeble thing—but then she sees the way it lands.
She's seen a lot of expressions on Peggy's face, but never a smile quite like this one: teary, vulnerable, and new. "And I you. So, so much," Peggy says, lifting Angie's hands, kissing her knuckles.
The next few weeks will be filled with revelations—that Peggy genuinely sleeps better in a building that has security measures she designed herself, that Angie's allergic to down pillows, that Howard's hot water supply is blessedly unlimited. Each of Peggy's scars, and the war stories behind them, will be explained one by one.
But for tonight, Angie's happy to learn one important thing after they—together—select a bedroom.
Peggy really, really likes it when she speaks Italian.
Scratch that: Peggy seems to really, really like it when Angie says anything at all.
"On your knees, Agent."
That had been a bit of a mind-blower, the first time Angie'd jokingly told Peggy she wasn't gonna touch her until Peggy laid still and said please, and the reaction had been… there ain't a thesaurus dirty enough to describe it. Angie's still not great at this part—it feels like taking advantage, somehow—but it's more than obvious that Peggy responds, er, really well to being bossed around, so hey. She's giving it a shot.
Peggy sinks obediently to the floor (and okay, yeah, Angie doesn't mind this part one bit) and then quirks an eyebrow. "And just what am I to do?"
Angie steps forward, already unzipping her skirt. "I can think of a few things."
Which is all fine until Angie's watch gets caught in Peggy's hair when she starts running her fingers through it, only she doesn't notice until Peggy starts using her tongue and it makes Angie's whole body just jerk, and…
"Ow ow ow," Peggy hisses, pulling her mouth away from the very important things it was doing, and Angie winces in sympathy. (And perhaps a little self-pity, but hey, she's only human.)
"Shit, honey, you okay? Hold on a sec, lemme get it."
"Amore è penna," Peggy insists hotly before burying herself between Angie's legs once more. She's clearly been practicing—her accent is impeccable.
That doesn't stop Angie from bursting into hysterical laughter. "Come again?"
"Again? I'm still working on the first time," Peggy growls playfully before pausing and leaning back. She blinks as Angie's giggle fit continues, finally realizing the moment's been ruined and she's being laughed at and not with. "I—why? What did I say?"
"Penna is pen, you doof. Pena is pain. But most people would have gone with dolore. Y'know. For future reference."
The tips of Peggy's ears have turned scarlet. "Perhaps I should leave the Italian to you."
"Nah," Angie laughs, leaning down to kiss Peggy on her burning cheeks before lifting her to her feet. "It's cute when you're not good of things."
"I beg your pardon—!" Peggy scoffs, but Angie's still laughing, repeating love is pen between guffaws as she starts walking away. "Where are you going?"
"Bedroom. You comin'?"
It's a rhetorical question—Angie knows she will.