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Title: The Truth of Her
Author: [ profile] telaryn
Word Count: 1374
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Characters: Steve Rogers, Angela Martinelli
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: None
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit obtained.
Summary: Steve leaves Peggy's funeral in the company of an unexpected guest.
Author's Note: Written for [ profile] hc_bingo's Round 6, for the prompt "comfort food/feeding someone". Also for a headcanon posted on Tumblr of Steve meeting Angie for the first time at Peggy's funeral.

”Run interference for me, will you?” He’d meant with Tony, but Steve knew he could count on Clint and Natasha to cover his tracks with anyone who thought to question where he’d gone. The last thing he needed on a day like today was people speculating – or worse, making jokes – about who he chose to leave Peggy’s funeral with.

A uniformed driver was standing next to the third limousine in the row of identical black luxury cars lining the street beside the cathedral. Catching Steve’s gaze, he touched the brim of his cap and bobbed his head in a respectful bow straight out of the movies. “I must be out of my mind,” Steve muttered, picking up his pace as he crossed the street.

The back door of the limousine was open and waiting for him by the time he reached the car. “Ms. Martinelli?” he asked, leaning into the opening.

“Who else?” The elderly, bright-eyed woman who’d approached him after the service was settled comfortably in the back – a highball glass in her hand. “Get in, handsome.” She waved at the seat opposite her with her free hand. “I don’t think either one of us fancies being chased down by the gentlemen of the press.” She drained the rest of the amber-colored liquid from her glass. “Not today, at any rate.”

Steve couldn’t argue with her logic. He stepped into the limousine, half-sitting, half-collapsing into the seat. When he looked up, the door was closed and his host was shaking her head. “Your pictures never did you justice, Captain,” she said, reaching for the decanter of Scotch and pouring herself a fresh half-glass. “Can I offer you some?” she asked, raising the bottle in his direction.

Steve shook his head. “No thank you.” She shrugged and set the bottle back down. “How did you know Peggy?” The question felt rushed, but there was something about this woman – one of the “Queens of Broadway”, Tony had called her – that flipped his reality right on his head.

Angela Martinelli smiled at him, and it was one of the saddest, most beautiful smiles he’d ever seen. “I thought about getting in touch with you so many times.” She took a sip of her Scotch. “But then I would have had to face the fact that my best friend in the whole world was dying by inches, and I didn’t have the courage to see her even one last time.”

Best friend… Steve thought back over all the conversations he and Peggy had, all the files he’d been allowed to access. Nowhere had there been a mention of an Angela Martinelli – or any sort of ‘best friend’, really. “When did you and Peggy meet?”

The older woman grinned, and Steve could tell immediately that this was the sort of person Peggy would have responded to. “1946. New York City. I was doing time in an automat, and English was working for the phone company.” She laughed. “Okay, I thought she was working for the phone company. Denial is a powerful force, Captain.”

Steve couldn’t help smiling. “That it is. So she eventually told you about the SSR?”

That question set off a bout of giggles that sounded like they belonged on a decidedly younger woman. “She didn’t have much of a choice after I kept half a dozen agents from arresting her in my apartment.”

It was as if somebody had finally opened a window onto the reality of the woman he’d fallen in love with, and Steve honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The one thing he did know was that he had to hear more – everything this woman was willing to share with him. “There has got to be more to that story.” He paused. “If you don’t mind sharing?”

“Oh Captain Rogers,” Angie said, shaking her head, “the chance to share my memories of the Peggy Carter I knew with somebody who really understands? You couldn’t pay me to keep quiet.”

The ensuing half hour was simultaneously one of the best and worst of Steve Roger’s life. His weekly visits with Peggy since his resurrection had been a continuous retread of their time together – going over good times and bad with an attention to detail only he could share with her anymore. Attempts to get her to talk about what the rest of her life had been like had more often than not met with failure. He hadn’t even bothered trying to talk to her about what his life had become.

Director Fury had made all of SHIELD’s files on the founder available to him, but he had quickly figured out that Director Margaret Carter of SHIELD was a role she had taken on for herself. She had clearly grown into it, in much the same way he had grown into his role as Captain America, but it left very little behind of the woman he’d loved.

That woman lived in the stories Angie told him: late night binge fests where they talked over their hopes and dreams and regrets, reunions with the Howling Commandos that inevitably ended with Howard Stark making a ridiculously large donation to the local policemen’s benevolent fund in order to keep them all out of jail and off the front page, and a reputation for being able to out-fight, out-think and out-shoot any of her fellow agents in the SSR.

The limousine came to a stop. “I hope you don’t mind indulging me a bit longer, Captain Rogers,” Angie said. “It isn’t like the automats we knew growing up, but I’ve been feeling the need to toast my friend with some pie.”

The two of them drew stares as they entered the Shake Shack, but a private word from Steve to the young woman tasked with seating them scored them a booth at the back of the restaurant. “I think I have talked your ear off, Captain,” Angie said, once the two of them had placed their orders. “Surely you have questions?” Her expression was shrewd, but Steve was too full of her stories and memories to care.

After a long moment, he realized there was something he needed to know – and maybe Angie was the only one who could really give it to him. “Was she happy?” he asked. “Everybody I’ve talked to tells me she was, but none of them seem to have known her like I did.” He bobbed his head respectfully. “Except you, of course.”

He appreciated that Angie didn’t say anything right away. “Peggy Carter had a great life,” she said at last. “Friends, family, purpose, and as long as I knew her she never took any of it for granted.” She reached across the table and took Steve’s hand. “She told me once that loving you taught her that. She said you were the kind of man who wouldn’t have wanted her to spend the rest of her days grieving what she’d lost.”

Smiling self-consciously at the praise, Steve ducked his head. “I’d like to think she was right about that,” he said. He exhaled softly. “I’m glad she made the most of everything she had. It’s just…”

He looked up as Angie squeezed his hand. “She never stopped loving you, Captain. She loved her husband and her children and everything about her life, but you could see it in her eyes when she didn’t think anyone was watching. She moved on, but she never let go.”

It was an elegant way turn of phrase, and seemed to finally soothe a part of Steve’s soul that had never made peace with the way things had turned out for him and Peggy. “I hope,” he said finally, covering their joined hands with his free one, “that I can do as well by her going forward as she did by me.”

“Remember the good times,” Angie said as the waitress brought their order. “Focus on what you had instead of what you lost.” She raised her glass of milk in toast. “That’s how I plan on getting through this.”

Steve knew he wouldn’t have argued with her for the world. “To what we had,” he agreed, picking up his glass. “To Peggy,” he added, as they touched them together.

Angie nodded. “To Peggy.”
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September 2015

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