The clicking of a machine jolted Peggy from her sleep. She was on her feet in seconds, pulling the tape from the printer and stretching it out in front of her across her desk. To anyone else, the message would seem little more than a jumbled mess of letters and numbers but it took Peggy only minutes to break the code. In amongst the nonsense was a message: Airfield Two. 23:15.
A quick glance at the clock confirmed what Peggy already knew. 22:30. Only 45 minutes to make it to the airfield and stop whatever terrible deal was about to go down. She wasn’t fazed, though. She’d been up against tighter deadlines than this.
Grabbing her purse and coat, Peggy snatched the hastily scribbled note from her desk as well as the original to make sure no one did anything stupidly heroic and followed her into danger. Not looking where she walked as she shoved the pieces of paper into her purse, Peggy ran straight into you, knocking all the files you had been carrying over the floor.
“Oh! Agent Carter, I didn’t realise you were here,” you mumbled. You not so subtly wiped your eyes as you crawled around on the floor after the files, the dirty ground making quite the mess on your otherwise perfectly clean and pressed trousers. It didn’t seem to bother you in the slightest, which immediately set off Peggy’s alarms. You normally took such pride in your appearance, even when there was no one else around to see.
Peggy ignored your protests and helped you to collect the rest of the folders. Glancing over, she couldn’t help think how tired you looked. But it was more than that. Even in the dim light, she could see that your eyes were red and puffy; you’d been crying. Peggy wordlessly pulled a handkerchief from her purse - Mr Jarvis had gifted it to her last year after being furious when he’d found out she never carried one - and handed it over to you.
You wiped your eyes and tried to smile, your lower lip wobbling while you fought to hold back more tears. Taking back the folders and balancing them against your hip, you asked, “Going somewhere nice, Agent?”
“A private airfield,” she replied, glancing at the clock behind you. 22:38. Turning her attention back to you, she could tell you wanted - needed - to talk to someone. Peggy shifted her weight between her heels and the balls of her feet, fighting over how to proceed.
You were one of her closest friends at the SSR. There weren’t many women here, even fewer who were actually allowed down to these lower levels, so you were all pretty close. She wanted to be a shoulder to cry on for you, almost wishing that that was the kind of life she could live, but there was no time.
Following her gaze, you said, “I’m sorry. Please, don’t let me keep you. Don’t worry about me. Good luck, Agent. Be Safe.”
Something in your voice decided it for Peggy. She let out a deep sigh and grabbed your hand. “Get your things and meet me in the car. You can tell me what’s on your mind there. I just need to make a quick call to Mr Jarvis.”
“I’ll put you through.”
“Y/N, I can manage to use the phone. Please, I’ll be just a minute.” She handed you the keys to her car - which, having been banned from driving any more of the SSR’s cars after accidentally blowing up the last car she borrowed, may or may not actually be on the books as belonging to Jack Thompson - and asked you to meet her around the back in five minutes.
Stuck in your own mental debate, clearly questioning whether this was worth risking your job over or not, Peggy shook your shoulder and asked, “Are you coming or not?”
The car was silent as you drove, the only light from the headlamps reflecting on the heavy snow either side of the twisting roads. Usually, Peggy preferred the silence to mindless chatter - it helped her focus on what needed doing - but today it felt oppressive. After all, she had brought you along to talk and that wasn’t happening. So, she took a punt and asked, “What did he say? I assume it’s a man that has said something stupid.”
Just like that, with the gentlest push, your walls broke down and it all came flooding out. “I was supposed to be going with him to meet his folks next week for Christmas but he… Well, he found out… Said I was disgusting - which is absolutely something coming from him as I know that he and Bill… But he said he could never be with someone like me…”
Peggy took her hand off the wheel and reached across to squeeze your arm, noting your slight flinch. Her other hand tightened on the steering wheel; if someone had hurt you, she would make them pay. Gently as she could, Peggy said, “You can tell me. It can’t be that bad.”
“I can’t because then you’ll hate me too and I couldn’t deal with it if you hated me too.”
“Y/N, I can assure you that there is very little you could say that would ever make me hate you.”
All of a sudden, Peggy swerved the car into the side of the road. The tires crunched as they spun against the snow, slipping left and right as they failed to gain any traction. Whipping a gun out from beneath her seat, Peggy yelled, “Stay down! Do not move, do you hear me?”
She swung the door open and crouched on the ground, the snow freezing against her knees. The shock made her utter quite the variety of unladylike phrases but Peggy managed to stop her hands from shaking long enough to let off a few rounds into the darkness.
There was about five shooters, she thought. Peering around the door, grateful that this car model had been made with reinforced metal plating, her suspicions were confirmed. Five separate flashes, moving in on the car. Focusing her attention on the nearest two, Peggy shot twice, bringing down both targets.
Sparing you a brief glance to check that you were safe, Peggy peered around the door to set up for another shot. Taking down another man, she set her sights on the next target and pulled the trigger - only to find her magazine out of bullets. At that exact moment, the passenger door was yanked open and you were dragged from the car by your hair, screaming out her name with a fear that would probably haunt her dreams forever.
“Drop your weapon and back away from the car or we kill your little friend. You will not follow us any further or we will kill her. Same goes for if you call for help. Do you understand?”
Peggy did what they said without hesitation. The snow crunched beneath her feet as she stepped away from the door and was herded around the vehicle. Her toes tingling from the cold, she met your gaze and said softly, “It’s going to be alright, Y/N. Just stay calm.”
To the man holding you at gunpoint, she said, “Let her go. You don’t need a hostage. We can discuss this like gentlemen.”
Before he could point that neither he nor Peggy were gentlemen, you slammed your elbow into his gut and ducked out of his grip. Round housing the other man who charge at you, you twisted his arm behind his back and used him as a shield to protect you from the flurry of bullets the first man sent your way.
Honestly, it was one of the most surprising and incredible things that Peggy had ever seen. She knew in her mind that you had to have been through basic training the same as everyone else at the SSR but to see you moving so fluidly, with such power and directed aggression… Well, in any other moment, Peggy might have lost her head - and her heart - completely.
You kicked the dead man’s gun towards Peggy, who was jolted back into action and wasted no time in taking out the final man. A single shot and he fell to the ground, perfect precision before he had the chance of fleeing. Seconds later, Peggy instinctively emptied the rest of the clip towards the approaching light, standing over you protectively.
It was Jarvis who stepped out of the car, hands held comically high in the air. However, the moment he say Peggy, he let out a deep sigh and hurried over to where you were laying in the red snow. He crouched down beside you and checked you over in dim headlights. “Pleasure to meet you. Edwin Jarvis at your service. Are you injured?”
“It’s not my blood,” you whispered, much to both Jarvis and Peggy’s relief.
“That is good news indeed. Perhaps you may wish to wipe your face?” Jarvis offered you a handkerchief and helped you to your feet. He took most of your weight as he guided you back towards the car, setting you in the back seat.
Peggy picked up the small box which one of the men had been carrying - presumably the cargo to be traded - and followed behind you both, pausing to run her fingers over the car bonnet where the bullet had scratched the metal surface. Smiling at Jarvis as he stood up straight, she said, “I’m sorry about that.”
“I assure you that Mr Stark’s cars have seen far worse.” He pulled Peggy aside and lowered his voice, so much so that it was almost impossible for her to hear what he said next. “Perhaps you’d wish to sit in the back with Miss L/N? I do believe she’s in quite a bad way and in need of comfort.”
Peggy thanked him and slid in the back with you. She shuffled closer towards the centre but you practically leapt away, pressing yourself against the door. Meeting his worried gaze in the mirror, she said lightly, “Eyes on the road, Mr Jarvis. Perhaps you could put the radio on?”
“Of course, Miss Carter.”
No one said anything for a while but Peggy relaxed when she heard you humming along to the music. It was out of time and off key but it seemed to be helping. Anyway, it was considerably better than Jarvis’ singing so she knew not to complain.
Eventually, Peggy could resist the urge no longer and asked, “What we were talking about earlier, Y/N…”
“I like women,” you interrupted. You didn’t look at her, instead staring blankly out the window as if that would make the words easier to say. She knew it was nothing personal yet Peggy couldn’t help the way her heart dropped in her chest at being shut out. Especially by you. “My fiance found out I like women in the same way I like men. He insisted that it’s just a phase or that I’m delusional and tried to force himself on me to remind me how things are meant to be.”
The car jolted to the left and Peggy immediately reached out to take your hand. When it was clear you were in no danger, she glanced up to see Jarvis clinging on to the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles had turned white. His voice strained, Jarvis said, “He had no right to do that to you, Miss Y/N. Why, he should be fed to the dogs for evening thinking…”
“That is not necessary. I beat him around the head with the bedpan and left him tied to a chair. I packed my bag and left. I never intend to see that bastard again.”
“I assume you will need a place to stay, then. Naturally, you are welcome to our spare room. Ana will be so excited to have company for Christmas.”
You shook your head adamantly. “Mr Jarvis, I could never impose myself on your in such a way.”
“He won’t take no for an answer, I’m afraid,” Peggy said, watching the exchange with amusement. “He is quite the mother hen.”
Ignoring her comment entirely, Jarvis said, “You are, of course, invited to join us for Christmas dinner too, Miss Carter.”
“I’d be delighted.”
Jarvis focused his attention back on the road, whistling away to music on the radio quite happy in the knowledge that he’d managed to wrangle two new guests to join he and his wife for dinner. Peggy knew that he had been searching for a way to invite her to Christmas for weeks - in fact, Ana had brought it up a few days ago and was appalled that her dear husband still hadn’t asked. While she would have, and had already, accepted the invitation, she was suddenly a lot more excited to go now that you would be there too.
That thought playing on repeat in her mind, Peggy turned to you and whispered, “I understand, you know.”
“Being attracted to both men and women.” Peggy couldn’t help but laugh at the surprise on your face. She shrugged, pushing down the embarrassment and fear that were threatening to pour out if she wasn’t careful. Keeping her voice level, Peggy said, “It is a part of myself I must keep hidden but it is a part of me nonetheless. There is no shame in loving another person, especially if they love you back. And they would be foolish not to.”
“Shall I tell Ana that she needn’t prepare two beds tonight, and that one will suffice?”
“Mr Jarvis!” Peggy exclaimed, feeling the heat rise to her cheeks. She was immensely grateful for the cover of darkness hiding the fact that she was undoubtedly now the same colour as Ana’s prize tomatoes.
“Oh, I do apologise,” he said, sounding not sorry at all. “Did you not reach that part of the conversation yet? That is where you were heading, is it not? Confessing your love for Miss L/N and -”
“Please stop!” Peggy said, barely resisting the urge to strangle the man where he sat. She could tell from the glint in his eyes that he knew exactly what he was doing, which somehow made it both better and worse.
Peggy shifted in her seat and turned to face you, hoping to string together some feeble apology, but before she could say anything, you leant forward and kissed her. Soft and gentle, but igniting a spark in you both, you sucked on her lower lip as you pulled back. Mistaking her breathlessness for some kind of panic or disgust, you looked away and mumbled a silent apology.
“Don’t you dare,” Peggy interrupted you, cupping your face and chasing your mouth for another kiss. She backed you against the car door and all but clambered into your lap. She moaned against your lips as you slipped a hand beneath her coat, the other tangling itself in her hair.
In the front of the car, Jarvis clicked a button which brought up a screen between him and the back seat. He whacked the volume of the radio up another few notches to give you both the privacy you deserved. Turning off the main road, he made sure to take the long way back.