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Love and Life are Both Rather Inconvenient

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Another hard day of work, another long day of hiding, of pretending, acting like the kiss bestowed on Daniel’s cheek by the widow of the man whose murderer they’d just arrested hadn’t made her blood boil. The skin on her left ring finger was getting a bit raw because she’d begun to instinctually rub at it - she’d gotten quite frightened multiple times this week upon noticing that it wasn’t present, before remembering that she was at work.

Peggy was as grateful as ever for Angie and the Automat.

She’s not exactly grateful for the boisterous group that gathers in the booth next to her soon after she arrives, but she’s a bit too tired to move, and pays as much attention as she can to the gossip magazine laid before her. She'd been told of a snippet on one of the pages about an upcoming performance of Angie’s, so she’d easily given up the quarter for it. Peggy can’t take most of its material seriously, but it does give her something to do.

“You sure this is a good idea, Cap’n? He ain’t talked to none of us since our asses got back,” inquires one of the men in the booth next to hers, pushing his hat further back as his voice becomes far more serious than their previous conversation had been.

“He ain’t talked to us. That’s why we are goin’ to ‘im,” the most casually dressed responds, rubbing the back of the woman who’s sitting next to him.

“Waitress!” he calls, raising his coffee mug up in the air, and Peggy hopes that the woman is either his wife or a friend, because otherwise, his wedding band was indicative of what Peggy considered a deviance from the values he’d likely been expected to have during the war. She'd never been particularly sensitive to such details, not before Daniel, but the thought of some poor woman sitting by her phone at home, wondering when and if her husband would return home, entirely unaware that he was sitting in a restaurant charming another hurt now.

Not that she had an inkling of fear of it happening to her, save for not necessarily knowing when and if Daniel would return home...but in her case, she'd either be at his side while circumstances that exacerbated such a fear were transpiring, or would be able to demand knowledge of them from Jack. The only time so far he'd been trapped undercover on a case late into the night, she'd been his backup - the agent who'd gotten the privilege of clasping the handcuffs around the wrists of the German spy whose date he'd played that evening. She'd had to remind herself of the satisfaction she'd gotten from shoving the woman into the back of her work car while washing lipstick off his cheeks and clothing afterwards.

Angie waltzes over to the other table with the pot of decaf and wordlessly refills his mug and a couple of the others’.

“Thank you very much, miss,” says one of them, and they all nod. Angie comes over to Peggy’s booth, filling her mug and then taking a seat across from her.

“How ya doin’, English?”

Peggy shrugs.

“Not quite terribly.”

“Counts for somethin’,” Angie says optimistically, and Peggy can’t help but smile the littlest bit.

“Chaplain tossed out more’n his affects. Dr Seuss saved all our lives, least we can do is make sure he knows.”

Peggy’s head snaps up, having been able to swear that she’d heard Daniel’s name, but then she realizes they’re using a nickname for someone.

“An elephant’s faithful, one hundred per cent!” the woman adds, but their attitude continues to fall even more solemn.

But then again…

“I didn’t die, which was inconvenient, ‘cause the chaplain had already trashed my footlocker. Still missing half my stuff…can’t find my leg anywhere.”

The woman continues speaking.

“Okay, boys. Down to business. As I told you all over the phone, I did manage to get in contact with Daniel’s sister. Last known address has him in Bushwick, on Wilson Ave.”

Oh, bloody hell. It had to be him, didn’t it?

He was not going to be happy about this. He didn’t even like talking to her about the war, not seriously.

Sometimes she wished she could blame him, but she couldn’t, not even a little bit. She understood why he didn’t want to talk about it, she just also understood that they needed to talk about it. It’d taken him three months to even admit that he’d been shot, and he only gave information anecdotally, mostly when she was mourning and he was trying to help her feel better. That was a downside of being with him: he was almost incapable of doing anything for himself - just for himself. It was always about someone else: helping someone, saving someone, protecting someone, complimenting someone…he never could direct half the compassion he had for everyone else towards himself. Not that Peggy was particularly good at doing so, either, but at least she’d started getting better at letting those closest to her help her. Daniel had yet to reach that point.

“It’s best not to go tonight. He won’t be home,” she says suddenly, not even realizing she’d intended to speak. Angie, too, looks taken aback. They and these military pals are the only ones left in the restaurant at this point, save for an elderly woman in the corner who’d seen her fair share of Peggy shaking up the place. The woman of the group is the one who turns around to look over the back of her seat.

“Daniel Sousa," Peggy elaborates. "Agent Daniel Sousa, actually. He’s currently working a night shift.”

“You work with him?” the woman asks, her curiosity bringing a bit of a smile back to her eyes.

“Somethin’ like that,” Angie mutters, and Peggy gives her a stern, almost surprised, look.

“Yes,” says Peggy strongly. “I am also his fianceé.”

There’s a massive shift in the table - all of the men are looking over at their table at this point.

Angie’s grin sneaks into one of “I told you so,” and Peggy rolls her eyes at her.

“Fianceé?” the man who’d been casually addressed as Captain enquires excitedly, and Peggy chuckles a little. She pushes herself up from her seat, going a bit nervously over to them and extending a hand, and he’s the one who stands up to shake it.

“Private Henry Kelly, ma’am.”

“Agent Peggy Carter, of the SSR,” she says, somewhat cautiously. What the hell, they were bound to find out anyway.

“Heard of it. That’s what, uh, Cap’n ‘Merica was with, right?”

“It was, yes.”

“You worked with him.”

“Quite closely,” she nods, trying to keep from him the reticence with which she publicly speaks of Steve.

“Saved all our team’s asses," he adds, gesturing to the rest of the table. "Some German barricade keepin’ us held up - he was the one who got through. Dr Seuss- I mean, Priv-"

“I know his rank, soldier, as well as his name, and much of his history. At ease.”

He nods in accord, clasping his hands behind his back, and the man across from whom he’d been sitting gets out of his seat.

“Petty Officer Freddie Alberts, ma’am.”

The other two stand in turn, and she’s honestly not surprised that the only person who faces her standing entirely straight without a second thought is the woman.

“Senior Leader Mandy Griffin, Agent Carter, of the WAC.”

Peggy smirks.

“Pleasure to meet you, Senior Leader.”

“Pleasure is mine, Agent.”

Their smile is cordial, and Peggy’s finding a lot of warmth in it, but she turns to glance over all four of them.

“Good to finally meet some of Daniel’s comrades-in-arms.”

Angie ducks in behind her as she finishes her sentence.

“Miss Angie Martinelli. Part-time waitress, aspiring actress, and Agent Carter’s best friend. Nice to meet y’all.”

Mandy shakes her hand immediately, and Angie gives them all a jovial salute as she heads over to the newest customer, who’s taken a seat at a table for two near to the door. Peggy scoffs at her playfully.

“Love ya too, English!” Angie teases as she pulls her notepad and pen back out and flips to the first blank page. Peggy chuckles, shaking her head, and when she turns her gaze back to the booth, they've sat down, with Mandy on the edge this time, and she's being offered a seat with them.

Her smile turns more heartfelt, and she slides into the end seat of their booth.