Only Time Will Tell

February 09, 2017:

Steve and Peggy discuss the events of the raid on Hydra. Plans are made.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: James Barnes

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

It has been a rather interesting week for Peggy Carter following the raid on the Hydra base and the rescue of Bucky Barnes. After seeing the state of Jane Foster, she lobbied for the woman to be released under Captain America's watch and care. The scientist, obviously, has SHIELD agents watching her at multiple turns. Reports are made, assessments filed, people are interrogated…it's been easy for Peggy to do what she does best: lose herself in work.

In fact, it all rather goes by in a bit of a blur. However, Peggy is not a woman who leaves things at loose ends for long. Despite the worry that she may have left it too long and too a perhaps awkward state of affairs, she leaves in search of Steve Rogers. Not wishing to have what may be a personal conversation at the Triskelion, or anywhere public, really, she travels to Brooklyn. Though she has not personally been to Steve's apartment, she knows the address from overseeing the transfer of Jane Foster.

It's - what feels like - a long subway ride, then a too short walk and then she finds herself in front of the building. Craning her neck up, she puts her hands into the pockets of her wool jacket. It has been a freakishly warm day before what is supposed to become a nasty snowstorm sometime late in the evening, but she came prepared for an unexpected shift in weather. In the soft dusk of the late afternoon, she pushes the buzzer for Steve's apartment. She's not even sure if he's there, but she's willing to wait on the stoop if he's not.

—-

"When he comes in to sign the check, how does he sign it?"
"Who."

"So, who signs it?"
"Yes."

"So who gets all the money?"

"He does, every penny of it. Sometimes his wife comes to get it."

"Who's wife?"

"Yes."

To the average modern American, they would have no idea what performance is going on. For Steve Rogers and perhaps even the British Peggy, she might know this as the famed 'Who's on First' by Abbot and Costello. It seems from the roaring laughter coming from the other side of the door; it appears Rogers is enjoying the classic greatly. The knock on the door lets there be a pause before the routine is paused and calmly there is a steps that suggest someone is coming. The door opens and dressed in a white tee-shirt and white and striped pajama pants is a barefooted Captain America, who is trying to just peek his head out so people aren't scandalized by the slight of sleepwear.

It seems that Carter has caught Rogers on the rarest of times: a day where he seems to be off. "Oh hey, Peggy, I didn't expect to see you coming by, he replies with a warm smile. "If you give me a second, I can change into something more appropriate."

—-

Peggy does, indeed, know the recording playing inside Steve's place. There's a bit of a smile as she recognizes it. She's not about to knock a second time: she's patient. As the door opens to find a pajama'd Steve there, the woman's eyebrows raise in surprise. That's certainly not what she was expecting.

"Good evening Steve, forgive me, I should have called." The brave spy agent who goes into battle with machine guns and tosses herself at Nazis without flinching looks down just slightly. While she's not exactly flustered, she does now realize she just showed up on Steve's doorstep unannounced and how that may look.

"Of course, I'd be happy to wait, though it's quite alright. If you're busy I can come back another time. It's not incredibly important. I'd hate to interrupt." Peggy had a plan! A very good one. One that is somehow derailed by a leisure-clad Steve Rogers.

—-

Steve gives a simple shrug, which causes his chest to flex even more as he hangs from the door and the door frame. It appears that Steve still likes wearing those tight tee-shirts… But it's like his clothes are giving him a hug! And not like those baggy jeans, the bane of Cap's fashion sense. "It's fine, just give me a second," he states before the door closes once more.

A short time passes before Rogers returns and opens the door, having put on some cargo pants and a slightly faded sky blue polo, which might not work for Cap's crisp look outside, but when having someone over, it fits nicely. "Here we go," he replies with a genuine cheer. It seems he's back to his 'usual self', the gravity of previous events seemingly lifted. "Can I get your coat? Anything to drink?" he inquires like a good host, motioning for Carter to come in. "Make yourself at home. It's small, but considering how little I'm here, that's fine by me."

—-

It's hard not to notice what the shrugging does to Steve's general outline. Poor Peggy has a quick 'eyes up here' moment while she watches the shirt give the man a very tight and friendly hug. She has a quick flash back to the moment Steve stepped out of the Captain America oven with his new-found strength and abs. "Mm-hmm," she replies to his need for a second. Her eyes look upward now and she rocks on the heels of her feet while she waits.

When the door is opened again, Peggy smiles. It's a different look, certainly. She steps inside, unable to help the glance about her surroundings - it's both training and curiosity. Shedding her coat, she holds it out to Steve with a nod of appreciation. "Thank you. Again, sorry to barge in like this. I just, we haven't really spoken since, well, since everything. Not more than mission details and debriefs. I thought I might stop by." His chipper demeanor is met with a returned smile. "Water would be lovely. I just, thought I would see how you were doing. I'm glad to see that it seems as if the answer is, 'well'!"

—-

If there is any notice of where Peggy's eyes shift, there doesn't seem to be much notice on Rogers' part, perhaps just presuming it's a physical wellness thing. When he goes into the doctor, he gets locked over and considering she was touching his chest when he was 'reborn', he figures that she is always there to be assured that the super soldier serum is still showing appropriate levels of muscle consistency.

Perhaps.

The coat is taken and put into Steve's coat closet which has black pea coat, brown leather jacket, another slightly different leather jacket, and another pea coat that seems to be the same exact style as the first. Variety is not the spice of Cap's life it would seem, but some would argue he makes up for it with other things.

"As you once told me when I visited you, you're always welcome, Peggy. Always," Steve replies as he moves into the kitchen. "It's always a pleasant surprise when I run into you, never anything else." Save that one time with the blond secretary. "But yeah, I'm doing well. Still have a lot to work on with regards to Bucky and trying to clear his name in the international world, but I'd rather be doing that than worrying about where he is and what he's doing." His tone is relaxed, even as he talks about possible legal ramifactions or conflicts with other intel groups in the wake of the Winter Soldier being under his protection.

Soon Steve returns with a bottled water, motioning her to take a seat on the brown leather couch before he lowers himself down to place himself beside her… With a conservative distance between the two, of course.

"How about you? I have heard you've been just as busy as before with the aftermath and some other stuff."

—-

It would be a lie to say that Peggy does not peek when Steve opens the closet to hang her coat. Curiosity and nosiness make for good spies and Peggy is certainly a good spy. It's not the lack of variety that brings a smile to her lips, but seeing the jackets there on hangers when she can remember the different times he has worn them. It's as if watching them at rest.

"Thank you," she tells him, sincerely and warmly. "I like your place." Unable to stop herself from being amused that Steve is happy attempting to clear Bucky's name, she folds her arms in front of her and waits for him to return with the water. "I can understand that." Though, of course, she knows this next part will certainly not be easy. And she still worries about where he is and what he may be doing. However, she leaves it be for now.

Taking the water bottle, she twists the cap and takes a quick swig before closing it again. Settling down on the brown leather couch, she crosses her ankles, though she shifts her knees so they are angled toward Steve. "I'm—I'm alright." There's a pursing of her lips. "Yes, there's been quite a lot to do with Doctor Foster and the files recovered from the site." She sighs, looking downward at the water bottle in her hand. "I must admit, I have felt a little…off, however. Since that whole ordeal."

—-

Giving a simple nod of thanks, Rogers leans forward and turns in his seat to face Peggy. His elbows rest on his knees as he takes in the woman as she seems to not share in the endless optimism of America's Wonder Boy. "The thing was a little-" Rogers pauses for a split second remembers the incident, his mind drifting on a few things that may or may not be concerning to his current company. "-Difficult. But we both know that's what Hydra does, hits where it hurts so you give up. They can't win a straight fight, so people like that always fight dirty," he states in a confident tone in an attempt to make the problem simple. Simple can be easier to confront at times, after all.

—-

Peggy can read the look on Steve's face at her response and she gives him a smile. "I'm very glad Barnes is no longer in Hydra clutches, believe me. I just, I worry about the future." It's generally her problem, her big flaw. "I don't mean to temper your enthusiasm or rain on your parade. I know how much it means to you to have him back."

Simple problems are easy to solve and to dismiss. The agent beside him, however, usually deals in complexities. "Yes. They do." The flashes of that other world - the supposedly perfect one - still remain lodged there somewhere. They return at inopportune times. "You were able to fend it off a bit more quickly than I, so, I just thought I should speak with you, make sure we were alright. I didn't wish for anything to be awkward between us." After the fight they were fine, but adrenaline and danger tends to do wonders at locking away feelings and bad experiences.

—-

There is a long pause. The smile fades as Peggy goes into pragmatics and into the complexities of the human heart and Hydra's 'perfect world'. Like the touch on the chest, the talk of dancing, and the fateful last kiss, it's been Peggy that pushes. She has always been a driven woman, after all, a unique woman forged with grit and inner strength. Quietly, Steve admires her as if a timeless art piece. Silently, he contemplates the next important words.

"That place, it showed us what we perhaps wanted. Somewhat. It was an attempt to understand our desires for turn them into a method of compliance. It was just something that I had to fight. Just because I broke free faster than you-" A hand moves, resting ever so lightly on Peggy's knee, perhaps out of a reverence for her and propriety rather than a fear of reproach. "It doesn't mean that I don't still-that I don't-It doesn't change what I feel toward you."

The orator in Rogers wants to make it into some sort of grand speech, the noble rhetoric catching in his throat. It's only by his own restraint that Steve practices the tact of letting the choice words stand with an understated power magnified by the silence that comes before and after them. A beat goes by and the hand slowly pulls back from her, perhaps concerned of the slippery slope that such actions could lead.

—-

The world Peggy deals in is usually pragmatics. However, she also still has that idealism of Steve's: she wants to believe the best in people. She wants to believe that people will do the right thing when the choice is put in front of them.

His words are heard and her eyes move from him, to her knee where his hand gently rests. There's a slight relaxing of her shoulders. Her free hand moves down to rest over Steve's, fingers gently curling to take his hand. "No, II didn't mean" A slight pink raises in Peggy's cheeks. "The things we saw…what they meant or what they wanted it to mean—-"

There's quite a lot to unpack there, even without the added layers of breaking the visions. She looks back up at him after a moment to try and gather her thoughts. "You mean the world to me, Steve." While an admission of admiration, it is a little less committal and scary than further, more intense emotions.

Perhaps she knows there may be a speech he wishes to speak, but the pair of them often work in silences and in looks and in wordplay. As the beat goes by and he pulls his hand away, she allows it to slip through her fingers. "What we saw doesn't change how I feel, either." Her smile is soft. "I'm glad—-I'm glad we both agree on that then."

—-

A brow is arched as Peggy says that she didn't mean what Steve clearly believes she implied. But it's not a big deal to Rogers as clearly they are two people that are still trying to figure out so many things at once. Fools rush in, but fate favors the bold. Two tracks of wisdom advising two very different paths. For better or worse, it seems slow is how Peggy prefers it, which seems just fine to Steve, regardless of the 'wisdom' of the other people who have and likely will advise him on something he has yet to actually ask advice for.

"Good."

That's the only real word Steve has on the matter of accordance, but it's said in a way that settles the matter and states his opinion all in one.

With that, Cap leans forward even more. "Well, if we have gotten all that worked out and now that we only have 'business as usual' world saving as opposed to the 'really dire' world saving, I guess this would be a good time to see about that dance." He rubs his head awkwardly. "The raincheck is seventy-five years later than you hoped it would be, but I figured it was better than never," he admits with hint of a wry smile, his tone confidence despite his own blush in his cheeks. If he can stare down death in the face, it seems he can at least ask a girl to a dance one more time. "But with Valentine's Day coming up, figured… you know."

—-

It's a bit of a backpedal on Peggy's part. There was certainly an implication there, but this is strangely new territory for the both of them and there's a worry of sounding too maudlin. While a bold woman on many different fronts, this is one that she still has quite a lack of experience in and the last thing she wishes to do is push too hard on Steve and ruin their friendship. Slow and deliberate seems how he is comfortable with proceeding, and she does not have a problem with that.

As Steve leans forward even more, Peggy holds her position. The question is met with raised eyebrows, almost surprised at it. However, it quickly resolves into a warm smile, the faint blush still on her cheeks. "Better late than never, is what my mother always used to say." A lot of mothers said that, she's sure. If he was worried as to what her answer may be, he should not have. "I believe Valentine's is on a Tuesday. 8 o'clock on the dot?" He better dare not be late. "Though the Stork Club is closed, I believe there's a place we could find for a dance."

Before she changes her mind, she leans forward as well to plant a quick peck on his cheek. "I think that would be lovely."

—-

There is a bit of silence on Cap's part. She said yes? The wheels turn in his mind processing this truth that seems like it would never happen. But here it is, like everything is finally working out. "Great," he replies cheerfully. This is good. Life is good.

Then there is… KISS ON THE CHEEK?! The blush grows, threatening to consume his entire face.

Thankfully, dealing with intergalactic threats, demonic forces, and overwhelming Nazi forces have trained Rogers for this moment. Just stay cool.

"Well, just remember, I still have no idea how to dance," he helpfully points out, only a hint of fluster making itself known. "But I'll be there, come Hydra or high water." Slowly, Steve gets up, offering the hand to assist Peggy before he realizes she wouldn't want the help offered so he just tries to make it seem like he was going for a coaster on the table to reposition it. Smooth, she'll never know.

"Well, either way, I know you're likely busy, so I should probably let you go," he says regretfully, understanding that it's good to end this dinner planning on the best foot possible. "But I'm really glad you came by and anytime you're around, feel free to give a buzz."

—-

"I'll teach you." Peggy smiles, clearly pleased at the exchange. Her own face is a bit flushed from her split second decision. Her own ability to to try and navigate difficult social situations is somewhat legendary, but that is an older Peggy. This one is simply happy at how the conversation ends and she doesn't try to hide it. There is little point in being coy with Steve. While she revels in the emotions between the lines, she isn't about to hide how she feels. Especially not now.

It's clear that she sees his attempt to help her up, but redirects toward the coaster on the table. There's no offense there. Instead, she pushes herself up. "You better," she tells him with a bit of a smirk.

"Thank you for the hospitality. And the water. I'm glad I came by, too." Moving toward the door, she moves to get her coat from the closet. "I will. I look forward to next Tuesday."

—-

"You got it, it's a-" Steve catches himself. He almost said date. But he didn't! Like a boss. No getting mired on the implications of date, so he settles on. "-good thing." He nods a couple of times in a slightly exaggerated way as Peggy gets her things, confident in his recovery. Then he realizes, he's not being a gentleman! Manners, Steve, manners are vital in a time like this. He moves toward the door getting it for her.

"No problem, Peggy. Hope you have a great morning!"

In Cap's head, the alarm bells ring. HE SAID MORNING WHEN IT IS CLEARLY AFTERNOON IF NOT EVENING, HE REVEALED HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT TIME IT IS BECAUSE HE'S TOO EXCITED.

However, Steve keeps a level head, fights back the slight bead of sweat that threaten to form as he offers a slightly goofy smile, clearly thinking if he's just confident enough, she'll never know. Just keep it together for a short time more… and it'll be set.

—-

Unfortunately for Steve, Peggy is a spy an generally good at picking up on dropped social cues. It's, hilariously, hard for her to do with Steve. His general demeanor of truth and unwillingness to lie means that when he does, she will generally take his word at face value. However, she does notice him catching his words. She can't help a raised eyebrow at that. Her tone is almost teasing when she says, "Yes. It will be quite a good thing."

Putting her coat back on, despite the warmth before the snow storm, she moves through the door that Steve opens for her. While Peggy may notice the fact that he is very excited and/or nervous, there is no verbal affirmation as to the fact that she may know his excitement and slip up. In fact, she only gives him a smile - almost cat with canary. "Have a good night, Steve. I'll see you soon."

—-

She knows. She /knows/. That mention of night is proof, but Steve merely nods. She isn't canceling due to a lack of time awareness, so it seems there is hope yet. "Till then," he replies before closing the door.

A few moments after Peggy goes, Steve is about to do a victory dance for what has just occurred, but it ends up being like he's trying to do the butter churn while being electrocuted. Thankfully, only the survallience equipment provided by SHIELD will be able to know of this if they are Big Brother to watch Steve's appartment and thankfully, they likely wouldn't care about this enough to flag it as potential blackmail if they did.

Will Steve survive his dancing date with Peggy?
Will Peggy survive the dancing lesson with Steve?
Only time will tell.

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