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number four (do not look back; you are never completely alone)

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“Dottie is my responsibility.”

 

She slips into the church to the tones of some kind of psalm, children’s voices echoing between stone walls. She walks in behind the pallbearers, hidden from the eyes of the rest of the mourners, as all of their gazes are focused on the coffin.

The coffin.

Dottie isn’t sure why she’s here in the first place - some strange sense of duty, perhaps, since she owes the deceased so much, whether she likes it or not. maybe it’s guilt; who knows.

As she sits down at the bench in the back (closest to the exit, too, in case she needs to escape. the building is overflowing with government agents), she gets a surprisingly good view of the coffin.

She spots both Peggy’s niece, the annoying girl who had outed her to SHIELD two years ago, and Captain Rogers and the bird guy and even Tony Stark, who sits close to the back of the church (obviously not wanting to be seen, just like her) with an empty look on his face. it’s strange to imagine that Peggy’s body is in that thing - even for Dottie, who’s seen some very gruesome and certainly not normal things over the years.

She had met peggy a couple of times after she arrived in the 21st century - saw her frail and old and unable to get up from the bed by herself, but still, somehow, as strong and vibrant as she had been in the forties. It had fascinated Dottie - how a person could change so little over so many years despite looking so different. Most people Dottie had known during her life hadn’t even made it to that age.

The oldest person she’d met before Peggy had been the instructor in the Red Room, who had been round seventy by the time Dottie had graduated. This was all new to her - death in some other way than a violent fight or a gunshot, but instead slipping away peacefully while asleep. It all felt so... anticlimactic, in some way, especially for a woman like Peggy Carter.

As the priest let some other moron (he might have been an agent, or maybe been a relative to Peggy - Dottie didn’t listen to a word he said) take the microphone and dive into a long speech about family, or some other sappy shit, Dottie let her eyes wander to the coffin.

She imagined how Peggy looked in the coffin - not the old, frail Peggy she’d met a couple of months ago, but Peggy when she’d been as young as Dottie still looked, dark locks flowing around her face, nails red and lipstick impeccably applied.

But those thoughts hurt, in a place Dottie wasn’t even aware could hurt, so instead, she imagined young-Peggy-in-the-coffin opening her eyes, kicking the coffin open with one red heel and barely sparing the audience one look before walking out of the church with all that confidence that she had always worn like a shield. But the coffin didn’t get broken up from the inside. Nothing happened. It didn’t even move. Dottie blinked, eyes suddenly wet. Feeling something roll down her cheek, she is slightly perplexed - a black widow doesn’t cry, if not for the act of seduction or espionage.

A Black Widow never shows herself vulnerable or broken, never lets down her walls. So she obviously shouldn’t be crying right now, especially not about Peggy Carter, a woman whom she’d tried to kill, repeatedly (though she wasn’t particularly sorry about that. it might have hurt a little for both of them but it had been great bonding).

A woman who’d been branded her arch nemesis, who had broken her out of prison, who hadn’t thought twice before going after her.

Who had respected her.

Dottie Underwood wasn’t supposed to cry over Peggy but Peggy is dead and that hurts, more than she’d have thought, so despite everything she lets the broken sobs out, loud and not very elegant, because the only living person who actually knew Dottie, who considered her a true equal, is gone. Never to return. She hides under her huge, black hat, keeping her eyes down for the rest of the funeral as she listens to Sharon Carter’s speech, though she wouldn’t be able to recall a word that was said afterwards.

“I told you that you’d never get rid of me, Peg”, she tells the coffin gently, after the ceremony has ended and people starts to move towards the exit. “But here we are.”

“Sweet dreams, agent.” she whispers softly. “We had a swell time.” ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀