A Full Life

BY : DrunkenScotsman
Category: Marvel Verse Movies > Captain America
Dragon prints: 2286
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 #1: I know "Songfic" as a genre got a bad rap in the early 00's due to every fanfic writer and her sister using either Evanescence or Linkin Park for her moody, broody stories. This is not that.

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Chapter 3: It’s Been a Long, Long Time

-Songfic

 

Steve gingerly set the tray onto the low table in front of his sofa, proud of the minimal rattle of the tea set thanks to his careful movement. Peggy sat on a nearby chair, legs crossed, a curious smile on her lips as her host poured two cups and sat on the sofa. Steve smiled back; though he would’ve liked Peggy to sit beside him, he respected her desire for a degree of professional distance just now.

‘I hope you didn’t pick out a tea service just for me,’ commented Peggy.

Steve chuckled. “A great-aunt of Dum-Dum Dugan’s gave it to me as a house-warming gift,” he explained, “and I figured you’d feel more welcome here.” He poured a cup for each of them before adding, “Whether you’re Mrs. Rogers or Mrs. Sousa.”

‘Or simply “Agent Carter,”’ she added with a cheeky smirk. ‘Two lumps, please.’

Steve added the sugar cubes to one cup and passed it on its saucer to his guest. For the briefest moment, he felt a spike of terror – the thought of her choosing neither of them scared him worse than losing her to Daniel. He let out a chuckle, though, when he remembered that she’d kept her name anyway, whoever she’d married in his native universe. “You had me going for a moment there,” he admitted.

Peggy inhaled the scent of the tea. ‘You told me that, in the future, professional women keeping their names becomes more common. I rather like the sound of it.’

“Trend’s gotta start somewhere,” Steve pointed out with a playful shrug.

Peggy admired the cup and saucer. ‘I like the little pink flowers.’ Steve sipped his tea, pointedly extending his pinky, earning a wider-than-usual grin. ‘So much for the macho Captain America,’ she teased.

“I thought you preferred the less-macho kid from Brooklyn,” he replied.

‘The one who draws quite well,’ she added fondly.

“I didn’t expect ‘cartoonist’ to become a career,” Steve admitted, “but the papers seem to like my work. I’m thinking about trying my hand at comic books.”

‘As long as your love interests aren’t all damsels in distress,’ Peggy grumbled.

Steve grinned. “They say ‘Write what you know’; I’ve never known any women like that.” His smile faded a bit as he remembered Natasha and her sacrifice. Not wanting to dwell on it, he pivoted: “If anyone’s been in distress, it was me. Thanks for the save out there, Peg.”

‘Don’t thank me just yet,’ Peggy muttered before sipping her tea. ‘The psychological evaluations will begin forthwith. Eight sharp at the SSR office. Weekly at first, then monthly, and eventually annually once we’ve gotten more conclusive data.’ She fixed Steve with a challenging, yet playful, glare. ‘Don’t you dare try to run, either, or I’ll bring you in myself.’

Steve chuckled. “I wouldn’t dream of it. What kind of psych eval are you planning to subject me to?”

‘Nothing exotic. Stress and mental stability tests. Post-war counseling,’ she added.

Steve sipped his tea. “Sounds fair. I trust you not to turn me into a lab rat like our friends out there. Who were those guys, anyway? They didn’t flash a badge or anything.”

Peggy’s expression hardened. ‘Current leads point to CIA, but I have a sneaking suspicion something more devious is afoot.’

“I have every confidence you’ll figure it out.” Steve sipped his tea again, deep in thought over how these agents might impact his plans to settle down and live out his days in peace.

The two of them drank for a few minutes with only the metronomic ticking of the mantle clock punctuating the silence. The clock’s half-hour chime pulled them from their thoughts. Their eyes met, and Steve felt his breath catch, as it often did when he saw just how dark Peggy’s eyes could be.

‘Was all this truly worth coming back?’ asked Peggy, her expression inscrutable.

Steve’s first, reflexive response was a simple “yes.” He knew, though, that she wanted and deserved a more complete answer. “Peggy, when you were in that hospital bed, the way you looked at me, each time as if seeing me for the first time…” he replied slowly, fighting the surge of emotions at the bitter memory. “It practically broke me, and your funeral finished the job. Every time I told someone suffering from loss to move on, I became more and more a hypocrite.”

Peggy set her cup and saucer down. ‘Intolerable for a man of principle like yourself,’ she commented, now seeming to watch him intently.

The look in her dark eyes sent a thrill to Steve’s core. He nodded. “On one of the trips back to set things right, I happened to see you.” His grin sprang to life of its own accord. “You owned that room, commanding the respect of everyone you were talking to. You were… magnificent.”

Peggy blushed and glanced down at her teacup. ‘You flatter me.’

“I’m not sure if it reminded me how I felt, or if I fell in love all over again,” Steve continued. “Either way, I knew I couldn’t live without you in my life. I had to come back.”

‘After all, you owed me a dance,’ she pointed out with a playful smirk.

Steve chuckles. During this last year, he and Peggy had gone dancing a lot, hitting practically every dance hall in New York. “I didn’t owe just one dance. I had seventy years of interest to pay off, too.”

Wearing a smile unlike any he’d ever seen on her crimson lips, Peggy stood and approached Steve’s record collection. She ran her fingers across each sleeve, perusing. ‘Quite the collection – and an entire shelf of Kitty Kallen,” she noted, withdrawing a record.

Steve stood and shifted the low table to allow more room. “Her voice always made me think of you for some reason,” he replied, excited to share a dance once more – their first private dance, just the two of them. “Lots of things made me think of you.”

Peggy started the record and turned toward him, smiling and watery-eyed. She started to say something, but simply took Steve’s outstretched hand. After only a moment in the “proper” dance posture, she snaked her arm under his and around his back to pull him close. Her head rested against his chest.

Steve rested his cheek atop her dark curls, savoring the feel of her, soft and warm, against him. His arm encircled her waist, almost daring, just as the light floral scent of her perfume filled his nostrils. His heart thudded in his ears, almost too loud for him to hear the trumpet intro, bright and joyful yet with the barest hint of melancholy and longing. They began swaying together in perfect synchronicity.

The lyrics wafted through the air like smoke in a nightclub, matching the warm smokiness of the singer’s voice:

Never thought that you would be

Standing here so close to me.

There’s so much I feel that I should say,

But words can wait until some other day.

As she sang, Steve felt Peggy pull away, just a little; but he felt no concern, because of the lyrics and the smile on Peggy’s crimson lips. They leaned in close…

Kiss me once, then kiss me twice,

Then kiss me once again –

It’s been a long, long time.

Haven’t felt like this my dear

Since can’t remember when –

It’s been a long, long time.

They hadn’t kissed since the war, just before he went into the ice. Depending on how one measured, that meant Steve had gone four years, ten years, or eighty years without feeling the soft warmth of Peggy’s lips, without tasting the unique flavor of Peggy (with a hint of tea, in this case). The memory of it had sustained him in the 21st century, but it didn’t hold a candle to the real thing.

You’ll never know how many dreams I dream about you,

Or just how empty they all seem without you.

Having only learned to dance within the last year, Steve didn’t want to attempt kissing and dancing at the same time, so the two of them slowed to a stop. Peggy intertwined the fingers of their hands and kissed him harder, as though she were the one to live a lifetime without her beloved. Steve pulled his dance partner flush against him, heedless of anything the mores of this era might term “proper.”

So kiss me once, then kiss me twice,

Then kiss me once again –

It’s been a long, long time.

As the singer’s voice faded and the instrumentation swelled into its ending flourish, Steve and Peggy slowly drifted apart to look at one another, as if the whole world could be found in the other’s eyes. Steve couldn’t help but grin, and his heart leapt at the flush in Peggy’s cheeks. He knew they’d found “their song.”

Dark eyes shining, Peggy smiled back. ‘That was the dance you owed me.’

“And the others before?”

‘As you said, you’d accrued a great deal of interest,’ she teased.

Steve squeezed her hand. “I’m glad you’re still interested.”

‘You’re not the only one who failed to move on,’ Peggy admitted in a hushed whisper. ‘I imagine that other version of me also never fully succeeded.’

Steve felt his eyes cloud with unshed tears at the emergence of a memory: as part of the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian, a monitor played an interview with a married Peggy in the 1950s; even a decade after the fact, the recollection of losing him still utterly shattered her collected composure. “I know,” he whispered back. “I’m sorry.”

‘You were gone so long,’ she mused, nearly sobbing but barely holding together. ‘Now that you’re back, I’ll be damned if I let anyone take you from me again.’

Steve exhaled raggedly. His heart soared at the implications of what she’d said. Her name escaped his lips, but nothing more.

Peggy disentangled her fingers from his, the better to run them all the way up Steve’s arm to his shoulder. On the way, her fingernails raked lightly along the bicep exposed by the short-sleeved shirt he’d worn, a prickly sensation that sent a shiver up his spine. ‘I’ve made my choice,’ she murmured. ‘I hope I shan’t need to spell out the implications.’

Steve chuckled. A feather could easily knock him over right now. “I’m not that dense.”

They stared into one another’s eyes. ‘I love you,” they both said at the same time. Both laughed and kissed again.

“I’ll put on another record,” offered Steve.

Peggy’s expression fell. ‘I can’t, I’m afraid. It’s only a quarter to two, and I have other cases besides you.’ She punctuated that with a playful peck on the chin.

Steve regarded her for a long moment before it clicked: “You need to tell Daniel.”

Peggy nodded, pursing her lips. ‘If I’m to tear his heart from his chest, I at least ought to look him in the eye when I do so.’

Steve clasped one of her hands and kissed it. “You’re an honorable woman, Peggy Carter.”

‘You’re not making it easy to remain so, Steve Rogers,’ she replied in a husky tone that jolted him as though he’d grabbed a live power line. With visible reluctance, though, she disengaged herself from him. The static from the exhausted record hung in the air between them.

Finally, Steve found his voice and broke the silence: “Call me when you’re off for the day? I wanna take you to dinner.”

Peggy smiled and blushed. ‘I can hardly wait. I might recommend—’

Steve held up a hand, cutting her off. “Please, let me pick the place. So it’ll be a surprise.”

Peggy’s dark eyes glittered. ‘Very well. It’s a date.’

Long after he’d escorted her to her car and watched it vanish into the distance, that last look in Peggy’s eyes stuck with him. Her dark irises held so much warmth and joy, but also something Steve couldn’t identify – something approaching or approximating hunger. He felt like he’d seen that look before, somewhere… but where?

Finally, after making reservations for the evening, it clicked.

Natasha had looked that way at Bruce, just before that business with Ultron.

Now, Peggy was giving him that same look.

“I need a cold shower,” Steve muttered to himself.

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A/N: A link to the song in question - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP0tHmoc1rs

I will admit to altering the context of the final Endgame scene. In the film, it's implied Steve showed up at Peggy's house and they immediately danced together - their first dance. However, I decided to recontextualize it a bit and ultimately make it their first dance (i.e. as a couple).

As always, I invite feedback on this story.



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