A Full Life

BY : DrunkenScotsman
Category: Marvel Verse Movies > Captain America
Dragon prints: 399
Disclaimer: I do not own Captain America or any of the characters in this story; Marvel does. I do not make any money from this story.

A/N: Greetings, readers. This will be a bit of a slow burn. I'd intended to simply write a one-shot of Steve and Peggy's wedding night, but I found myself more interested in fleshing out their relationship overall and presenting it in vignettes. There will also be a bit of "how does this time-travel thing work logistically?"

Spoilers throughout for Avengers: Endgame and Agent Carter.

___________________________________________________

Chapter 1: The Man Out of Time

--1948

 

For the tenth time in as many minutes, Steve Rogers checked the clock on the automat wall behind the counter. When Steve had asked if a brunette Englishwoman frequented this establishment, Angie, one of the waitresses, lit up and assured him that “English” ate there on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after she got off work from the telephone company. Of course, Steve knew she worked for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, not the phone company; but he thanked her and chosen a booth off to the side rather than the one Angie suggested as “English’s” favorite. This way, his presence would hopefully come across as something other than “creepy,” and she could choose how to respond. The former Avenger nursed his cooling coffee, putting his Army training in “sitting around and waiting” to good use.

He’d waited a lifetime, after a fashion, to see her again. He could wait a little longer.

The door opened. Steve looked up. His heart skipped a beat, for there she stood: the love of his life.

Peggy Carter.

Standing five-foot-six even in her flats, she’d always had an aura of utter self-possession about her that made her seem even taller and able to command any room. She strode purposefully to the counter, and Steve couldn’t help but admire her fashionable, but not ostentatious, blue blazer and skirt and cardinal-red hat. Even in profile, he could see the fierce intellect that blazed in her dark eyes.

Just out of earshot, Peggy and Angie chatted. The waitress beamed and pointed in Steve’s direction. Peggy turned, and Steve braced himself.

Steve had rarely seen Peggy wrong-footed before.

Now, she looked like someone who’d seen a ghost.

Steve smiled. In a sense, he was a ghost: missing, presumed dead for over two years, his file labeled “inactive” more for morale purposes than any real hope they’d find him. When reading Peggy’s file on the years 1946 and 1947 to prepare himself for this trip, he’d learned she’d dumped the last vial of his blood into the Hudson to keep it out of the hands of those who might wish to recreate the Super-Soldier experiments. In other words, she’d let him go to move on, the thing he’d told Snap survivors to do, even if he himself never could.

Angie’s face scrunched up into a look of concern, and she said something to Peggy, who shook her head. Regaining her composure, Peggy offered her friend a reassuring smile and, squaring her shoulders, strode towards the booth. Remembering his manners, Steve stood to greet her, fighting the surge of elation with a reminder that Peggy might not actually be glad to see him.

Once, when she was angry with him, she’d helped him test his vibranium shield by shooting at him. Today, he expected a similar degree of fury. At least, she didn’t appear to have her sidearm, but he braced himself for a punch in the jaw.

Steve counted himself lucky when he merely received a withering glare. ‘Steve Rogers, you’ve got some nerve,’ she scolded him, her tone edging between playful and frosty, ‘showing up here after standing me up.’

Steve smiled with a furrowed brow. “‘A week next Saturday at the Stork Club. Eight o’clock on the dot – don’t you dare be late. I’ll show you how to dance. Just be there.’ I remember,” he replied. “Gimme a break. I crashed a plane in the Arctic.”

‘I did give you a break,’ Peggy explained. ‘I haven’t punched you in the jaw.’

With an easy – hopefully disarming – laugh, Steve gestured to the booth. “I owe you an explanation, at least, if you’ll hear it.”

‘It had better be a damned good one,’ she replied primly, as she sat. Angie brought Peggy’s sandwich and coffee and shot Steve a glare that, in another lifetime, would’ve shaken him to his core.

“How about ‘I was frozen in a block of ice this whole time’?” he offered once the waitress left.

‘At the bottom of the ocean, no doubt,’ replied Peggy before taking a bite of her sandwich.

Steve nodded. “Stark designed a new sub and fished me out,” he explained. He knew Howard Stark had died feeling like he’d failed Captain America, and he wanted the official story in this timeline to give him credit.

‘He never mentioned it to me.’

“He told me you’ve been busy saving the world in my absence.”

‘I suppose I have, at that. Someone had to pick up the slack,’ she retorted. Peggy’s dark eyes bored into him. After a pause, she added, ‘One of the things I’ve always liked about you is your sincerity. Did the deep freeze damage that part of you?’

Steve chuckled. “In other words, I’m a terrible liar.”

A thin smile graced Peggy’s lips. ‘Like I said, Steve, it’s something I’ve always liked about you.’

Steve sighed. “In this case, the truth is stranger than fiction.”

Peggy’s eyes narrowed in challenge. ‘I’m a big girl.’

 

*****

 

Over the course of the next hour or so, Steve summarized the decade he’d spent in the 21st century, pausing only when Angie came to refill their coffee. It was a lot – he knew from experience. By the time he’d finished, Peggy looked like she could use a stiff drink. “When I had the chance to come back to you,” he finished, “I knew I had to take it.”

Peggy sipped her coffee with narrowed eyes. ‘I hope you don’t expect me to swoon into your arms just like that.’

Steve shook his head. “I didn’t think it’d be that simple. Maybe hoped it would,” he admitted, “but I know it must’ve hurt, to keep calm and carry on.”

Peggy’s dark eyes grew glassy. ‘I gave you up for dead, Steve. I… a fellow agent, Daniel Sousa… he and I have become rather close.’

Steve blinked. “Oh… you, uh, never mentioned him by name.”

Peggy simply shrugged. ‘I can’t begin to analyze the motives of a version of myself I’ve never been.’

Both of them sipped their coffees, and Peggy finished her dessert – a slice of lemon meringue pie. Steve kept quiet to let her think, and he tried not to stare – at her red-bedecked lips, her carnation-pink tongue, her fathomless eyes. Just being in the same room with her again made it hard for him to breathe, or to think about anything else.

‘It’s rather a shock, I imagine, to come back to all this,’ mused Peggy on finishing her pie.

“It’ll take some getting used to,” Steve admitted. “So far, it’s been worth it.”

Dark eyes regarded him, measuring, coolly analytical. ‘You’ve only just arrived. Or returned? How much have you really readjusted?’

Steve chuckled. “I haven’t,” he confessed.

‘It’s a bit premature to pick up where we left off, then, isn’t it?’

“Maybe so, but not one day passed where I didn’t think about you,” Steve replied, metaphorically laying his cards on the table.

A fond smile curled Peggy’s lips, and to Steve it felt like the sun breaking through an overcast sky. ‘You kept the compass the whole time?’

“It held my only picture of my best girl,” explained Steve with a smile of his own, though he hoped he wasn’t laying it on too thick. A touch of pink colored Peggy’s cheeks, reassuring Steve that she still had feelings for him.

The sigh that escaped her lips, though, covered up the sun again. ‘As I said, it’s become complicated now. Daniel’s a good man, and he doesn’t deserve to be suddenly thrown over.’ She bit her lip. ‘Perhaps you should have gone back a bit further.’

Steve fixed his date with his most earnest look. “I’ve always admired your intelligence, your professionalism, your dedication.” At Peggy’s furrowed brow, Steve continued, “Your handling of Leviathan and the Zero Matter incidents are some of your finest accomplishments, putting you on the map. If I’m back in the picture, they’d give me all the credit. I respect you too much to take that from you.”

Peggy visibly fought a smile, and Steve tried not to lose himself in those dark eyes. ‘Steve, when you say things like that, you make it quite difficult not to reach across the table and kiss your handsome face.’

“I wouldn’t object,” Steve laughed. “But I also want to respect your feelings – about me and that Daniel fella.” He ran a hand through his hair, ruing what he was about to say yet knowing it was the right thing to do. “Take all the time you need. And if it’s him…” He shrugged. “Just having you as part of my life again can be enough.”

Peggy reached across the table to squeeze his hand – the first time she’d touched him all evening. A jolt surged through Steve at the contact. ‘I’m a lucky lady, to have two such fine gentlemen vying for my affections. Whatever the outcome, I’ll prove the winner.’

“I know you’ll choose the right partner, Peg,” Steve responded with a knowing smile. “I won’t pretend not to hope that’s me, of course.”

Peggy’s lips pursed in thought. ‘I think you two would get on swimmingly. Would you like to meet him?’ Before Steve could respond, she forged ahead: ‘Friday night, here, same time, my usual booth.’

Steve smiled and rolled with it. “I can’t have too many friends,” he replied, thinking of Sam and Bucky.

Sitting back, Peggy smiled her warm, if close-mouthed, smile. ‘Don’t you dare be late again, or I shan’t forgive you.’

With a snort, Steve answered, “I don’t plan on getting frozen again.”

Peggy’s smile faded. ‘You didn’t plan on it the first time,’ she reminded him, her voice trembling almost imperceptibly.

Faint as it was, the pain in his love’s voice broke Steve’s heart. He realized they could both use some time to process everything they’d talked about, so he fished a few dollars from his wallet for their “date,” which he set on the table. He still had a lot to say to this woman who’d dwelt in his thoughts and heart for an entire decade, but he knew enough to know now was not the time.

He’d waited a lifetime. He could wait a little longer.

“I’ll see you on Friday,” he promised.

‘I look forward to it,’ replied Peggy with a smile.

 

*****

 

Before the serum, Steve had had to develop an insight into people’s character – assessing who would most likely beat the tar out of him became a survival strategy. That insight had also served him well as Captain America, giving him more tools to strategize and lead by putting the right people in the best positions to succeed. On Friday night, he found a new use for that skill: taking the measure of a romantic rival.

Upon Peggy’s introductions, Steve and Daniel had shaken hands and swapped war stories over their meals, though Daniel mercifully disclosed few details about losing his leg. Out of the corner of his eye, Steve noted Peggy seemed at first content to let her “dates” get to know each other. Each exchange with his counterpart cemented Steve’s initial impression of Daniel as a thoughtful, compassionate, humble man.

He was certainly Peggy’s type.

“What are your plans, now that you’re back and the war’s over?” asked Daniel as he shook some salt over his fries.

“I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure that out,” Steve admitted. “At least I’ve got a couple years of back pay to live on until I decide.”

Daniel raised his Coke bottle in mock toast. “To Uncle Sam.”

Steve laughed and raised his own in response. “To Uncle Sam.”

‘God save the King,’ Peggy added with a wry smile as she raised hers.

“Sounds like you’re leaving the Army behind, though,” noted Daniel as he munched on some fries.

Steve glanced at Peggy, who watched him with her intense dark eyes. ‘It’s not an SSR recruitment pitch,’ she reassured him.

Steve shrugged. “I did my part against the Nazis; the Soviets don’t seem to pose quite the same threat. If they change their minds, though, I’ll be ready. Until then, I might as well enjoy peace and try… living, y’know?”

Daniel nodded thoughtfully. “A lot of my pals said the same thing; I’ve even thought like that,” he mused. With a smile, he added, “I didn’t mean it as an accusation.”

Steve smiled back in thanks and took a bite of his ham and cheese sandwich.

‘Daniel served as a police detective before the war,’ Peggy chimed in, ‘and his investigative skills have proven quite the asset to the SSR. Invaluable, really.’

“High praise,” Steve admitted.

Daniel chuckled and shook his head. “You don’t need to talk me up to make me feel like I belong. This guy’s a living legend, and I’m just… me.”

‘Isn’t that enough?’ asked Peggy in a soft voice.

“Maybe in another lifetime, where he didn’t come back,” Daniel replied, a touch defensive. He glanced at Steve. “No offense.”

“None taken.”

‘Giving up so easily certainly isn’t helping your case,’ Peggy groused.

Daniel shook his head. “Not giving up. Just recognizing long odds.”

“The odds don’t get much longer than a skinny kid from Brooklyn becoming Captain America,” Steve reminded him before taking another bite.

Daniel met Steve’s gaze with renewed confidence. “I’ll do my best to provide you a worthy opponent.”

“As long as we’re all friends when the dust settles,” replied Steve.

The trio all smiled at one another and enjoyed the rest of their meal.

___________________________________________________



You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story