Characters: Edwin Jarvis, Anna Jarvis, Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, Angie Martinelli
Warnings/Triggers: people with injuries, Howard being Howard
Spoilers: Rather extensive ones for Agent Carter
Word Count 6,874
Summary: Jarvis wakes up in hospital, and is visited by the important people in his life, whom he also gets to acquaint with one another.
Author's notes: This is a sequel to A Nice Chat. and A Little Help. Originally this section was going to be from Howard's POV, but he was not cooperating at all, so Jarvis decided to take over. And I think, despite not knowing this was going be in three parts when I started the first one, I've managed to get the story to come full circle and set everything up that I wanted to do.
Due to the change in narrator, Anna ended up having a much, much bigger role than I planned, but I figure if you're gonna OC, you might as well OC whole hog. Thanks very much to joonscribble for letting me natter at her and giving me some good headcanon to work with.
Once again, this story won't make much sense if you haven't read the first two parts.
Jarvis was relieved to be in a bed when he woke up. The last thing he remembered was lying on a dock, in considerable discomfort. He was rather more comfortable now, if a bit groggy. He blinked at his surroundings, and tried to make sense of them. He felt as though he'd been drinking. He hoped Miss Carter hadn't kissed him after all.
There was a crucifix above his bed, which ruled out being at home. Anna was there, though, which made home a possibility again.
No, he couldn't be at home. This wasn't his bedroom. He moved his eyes in the other direction. There was an IV bottle above him. He followed the cord down to where it connected to a hand. A hand that had some of Anna's skirt clasped between its fingers, as though trying to keep her anchored there. He tried opening his fingers, and those fingers opened up, too. It would appear to be his hand. He raised it to get a better look at it.
“Uh, uh, uh,” Anna said, putting down the sewing she was working on, and reaching over to take his hand. “Stop that. Behave yourself. You need that in you, stop trying to pull it out, huh?”
Jarvis followed her hand up her arm to her face. She gave him a scolding smile, and put his hand back down next to him on the bed.
“Hello,” he said. His voice sounded thick, and his throat was dry.
“Oh, hello, Edwin,” Anna said. “Are you awake now?”
“Yes,” he said. “I believe so.”
“You have been awake before, but not awake,” Anna said. “Just pretend awake, and behaving very poorly.”
“I'm sorry,” Jarvis said. “I don't remember.”
“Good, you would be very upset with yourself,” she said. She reached over and stroked his cheek, and he turned his face into her hand. “Now I can scold you properly, yes?”
“Yes,” Jarvis said. “Please feel free. I deserve it.”
She smiled. “It's never any good to scold you,” she said. “You always punish yourself much worse than I can. Still, Edwin Jarvis, I wish you would be more careful with yourself.”
Her accent was always much thicker when she was emotional or flustered about something, and she'd temporarily lost her 'w's' and pronounced his name like when they had first met. 'Edvin Yarvish'. She must have left the house to come there very quickly, as her hair was still in pin curls under the scarf she'd tied over it, the way she used to do when she was working sewing aeroplane upholstery at the factory during the war. She was normally very fastidious in her appearance, with her hair carefully rolled to her head, and her clothes neat and tidy. Mr Stark had once asked Jarvis if he and Anna ironed one another before they left the house.
“I'm sorry to have worried you,” Jarvis said.
“Yes, you should be,” Anna said. “Mr Stark explained to me some of what happened; what you were doing. You were trying to stop a man from giving weapons to the enemy. That sounds very important, I think. And you thought to do what is right, yes?”
“Yes,” Jarvis said.
“When you decide to do that, it's impossible to stop you,” she said, with a shake of her head. “I would not like you so much if it was possible, I suppose.” She gave him a small smile. “This is what happens when you marry silly Englishmen. They do silly things.”
She called him silly when she was teasing him, so he knew she couldn't be too terribly angry with him.
“I was very silly,” Jarvis said. “Please forgive me.”
“Yes, of course I do,” Anna said. “I worry more than I am angry. And you were honest this time. You told me where you were going, at least. This is better than before, when you snuck around like a thief.”
The amount of lying he'd had to do during his efforts to clear Mr Stark's name was not something of which he was proud. It was one of those situations that had escalated, where one lie didn't seem to be very harmful, but then it had spiralled out into a web of lying as he ran around at all hours, chasing down Russian spies and flying aeroplanes to save New York, and nearly getting himself and Anna deported. He suspected Anna knew he was lying, but didn't confront him about it until a week or two after it was over, after Miss Carter had rung in the night to ask if Jarvis might be able to post bail for her. She'd been arrested and needed to get out to continue her investigation and keep her cover persona intact. It had been a simple matter to get the money assembled and provide surety for her, but Anna had demanded to know what it was all about when he returned.
“I know you would not have an affair,” she'd said. “But this is how you behave sometimes, and I worry something is wrong and you hide it from me.”
He could have lied then, too, he supposed. It would have been very easy to say he was merely helping out a friend, or one of Mr Stark's companions. The latter lie would be entirely plausible, considering some of the company Mr Stark kept. But instead, he'd fumbled and panicked a little, and the more he tried to recover, the more he panicked, until the whole story—all of it from Mr Stark's affair with the Russian spy to his nearly releasing Midnight Oil in the middle of New York—all came tumbling out in a long, babbling stream while Anna sat wide-eyed and horrified.
She'd forgiven him then, too, after giving him a good blast about keeping secrets. She understood better than anyone how much Jarvis owed Mr Stark and how much he wanted to fulfil that debt.
“I too would have helped, if I had known how,” she'd said. “You did a good thing.”
But she made him promise to just tell her if he was about to do something so stupid again in the future.
He hadn't expected there to be a future, really. It had seemed rather odd to go back to a more mundane existence once Mr Stark returned home, but he didn't think he'd be called upon again. He'd missed Miss Carter, and, he confessed, missed running around. A little. He wasn't unhappy, but he didn't mind at all when Mr Stark phoned to tell him to bring the party invitation to Miss Carter. It seemed a pleasant bit of adventure, at the time.
“I didn't expect it to be quite as involved a process as it ended up being,” he told Anna, now. “I thought merely to take Miss Carter where she wanted to go, but where she wanted to go was rather dangerous, as it turned out. Do you know if she's all right?”
“I know only Mr Stark said she was not as poorly as you,” Anna said. “He brought me here, and then left to go home and take care of business. He said something about bracing for impact. He thinks the company is going to be affected by what happened. It was all very much stocks and shares, I did not follow. You know he speaks fast when he is thinking hard.”
“How long have you been here?” Jarvis asked. He didn't know how long he'd been asleep for, or, indeed even when he'd first gone to sleep. “What day is it?”
“Saturday, in the late morning,” Anna said. “I came at four this morning, I think. It is eleven now. I saw Mr Stark giving much money to someone and pointing here to your room. I think he paid for me to stay outside of the hours of visitation.”
“Visiting hours,” Jarvis corrected. “Visitation is what you do for corpses.”
“Hmmm, well, when I came in, it was hard to tell the difference, yes?” she said, with a sniff.
She picked up her sewing again and went back to work. It was the shirt he'd been wearing the night before, which she was repairing with her little, neat stitches. Not for him to wear again, he was sure. She would fix it up and send it to the refugee charity like she did for all the clothing they no longer wore, and had him do for anything Mr Stark discarded. It pleased Jarvis to think that war refugees who came with nothing were welcomed to America with a pair of Mr Stark's (slightly scuffed) bespoke John Lobb shoes. Quite the American dream.
“You don't have to stay, Annuska, you must be tired,” Jarvis said. “I'm quite all right now.”
Anna glanced over to him through her eyelashes, and then returned to her work, and that settled the matter. She would be staying. Jarvis had a go at sitting up. The shoulder he'd dislocated was bound tightly to his chest, and made it difficult to sit straight up; he had to roll slightly and push with his other arm.
“Be careful of your needle, drágám, you have already pulled it out once,” Anna said, glancing up to the IV.
“Did I?” Jarvis said. “How rude of me.”
“Indeed!” Anna said. “You were very wild when you first woke up.”
“Oh, dear,” Jarvis said. “That's unlike me.”
“Yes, but no,” Anna said, thoughtfully. “You were upset because you hadn't done the cellar accounts. That is very like you. You thought the needle was preventing you, so you pulled it out. I said to you, 'Edwin, I have done the cellar accounts, that is enough', and you calmed down and went back to sleep.”
“I see,” Jarvis said, feeling rather embarrassed to have put on such a display. “I don't remember any of that.”
“It is the medicine, I think,” Anna said. “After that, when you woke up, you just smiled and patted my knee. This is much more like you.”
Jarvis smiled, and patted her knee. She paused in her sewing long enough to give his hand a squeeze, then returned to it.
“Did you do the cellar accounts?” Jarvis asked.
“No, of course I did not, Edwin,” Anna said, looking at him through her eyelashes again.
“Someone needs to do them,” Jarvis said.
“Mr Stark has many bottles of wine and spirits, I don't think him waiting to know the exact number will cause any great harm,” Anna said. “It's best that you rest.”
“You've no idea how much he consumes in a week,” Jarvis muttered. “I'll be terribly behind.”
“Rest, Edwin,” Anna said. “I say this seriously.”
Jarvis was rather tired. Even the effort it had taken to sit up merely made him want to lie down again. He stayed up long enough to be examined by a nurse, who checked the wound on his leg and cleaned it. Miss Carter's work had done the job admirably, but were not the tidiest of stitches, and they seemed to have been removed and his wound resewed in a less haphazard fashion. He was bruised in many places, and his body was very achy. The nurse asked him if he wanted something for the pain, but he accepted only aspirin. Anything stronger was unnecessary, and he didn't wish to get 'wild' again.
“You wilt, Edwin, lie down,” Anna ordered, after the nurse had left once more.
He couldn't deny that he seemed to be listing to one side. He lay back down, and watched Anna sew through heavy eyelids.
“Szeretlek,” he murmured, giving her knee a pat.
“I love you, too,” she replied. “Now go to sleep.”
He was awoken by a gentle rap on the door. This time he felt considerably less groggy and rather more achy. He had less of a feeling of the world existing without him in it, and more as though he were a solid part of it. An achy solid part of it.
“Hello,” Anna greeted the visitor.
“Hello,” Miss Carter replied. “I'm sorry to bother you. My name is Peggy Carter, I'm—are you Mrs Jarvis?”
“Yes, I am her,” Anna said. “Please come in, Miss Carter.”
“Yes, please do,” Jarvis said. Sitting up was much easier than before, and he managed to get himself leaning against the metal bars of the headboard, using his unbound arm to beckon Miss Carter in. He caught a glimpse of another person in the doorway. “Hello, Miss Martinelli, how are you? Please come in.”
“I'm swell, thanks,” Miss Martinelli said, bouncing in ahead of Miss Carter, who seemed a bit cautious. “Whoa, nice shiner, Mr J.”
Jarvis felt at his eye and discovered it was extremely tender, but he had no mirror to see how bad it looked. “Thank you,” he said, before he considered that it wasn't something he should be very proud about. “How are you doing, Miss Carter?”
“I'm quite all right, Mr Jarvis, how about you?” Miss Carter said.
“I could be better,” Jarvis admitted. “But I could also be much worse. Please come in. This is my wife, Anna. Anna, this is Miss Margaret Carter, and Miss Angela Martinelli, her room mate.”
Anna rose to offer her hand. “How do you do? I'm sorry, I don't look my best.” She touched the scarf in her hair self-consciously.
“Please, I'm hardly one to judge,” Miss Carter said, gesturing down to her legs, which were yellowed with bruises, and badly scratched in places. “I'd look much worse, except Angie was kind enough to bring in some proper clothes and make-up for me.”
“Those hospital gowns don't do nothing for nobody,” Miss Martinelli said. “I couldn't let you walk around like that, not as a friend.”
Jarvis watched Anna closely as she shook hands with Miss Carter and Miss Martinelli. Anna was very astute in her judgement of character. She would come home with tales of customers she'd met in the shop that day: “He is a cruel man, I think he makes his wife afraid of him”, or “she is a good person, and had sad eyes, so I spoke to her for a time because I think she is lonely”. She made judgements very quickly, within seconds of seeing a person, and Jarvis expected that talent at reading people was what made her a good saleswoman. She could take the measure of someone and know how to approach them. “He is very shy and kind, and he likes things just so,” was what she'd once told him she'd thought of him when they'd met. Jarvis wasn't sure how kind he was, really, but the rest, he admitted, was accurate.
He couldn't tell exactly what she made of Miss Carter, only that it was approving, as her head gave a little bob to herself, and she smiled.
“Edwin speaks of you very highly, Miss Carter,” she said. “It is so nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Miss Carter said, giving her hand a firm shake. “I've heard a lot about you from Mr Jarvis. He speaks very highly of you, as well.”
“I don't know about you at all,” Miss Martinelli declared. “But it's nice to meet you, anyway.”
Anna gave a delighted laugh, and agreed it was nice to meet.
“You know, I got a brush in my purse,” Miss Martinelli said. “If you wanted to do your hair. Not that you need to. You got nice cheekbones; you can pull off a scarf real good. You'd look pretty in a turban. Like Heddy Lamarr.”
“Oh, I don't think that is true,” Anna said. “But thank you very much for the compliment.” She touched her scarf again, and looked torn. “I might accept your brush, Miss Martinelli.”
“Call me Angie,” Miss Martinelli said. “Come on, we'll go to the powder room. I've practically smuggled a whole salon in here for Peggy.”
Anna glanced to Jarvis, and he nodded that he was fine if she wanted to go. Miss Carter smiled after them, then approached the bed.
“How much trouble are you in?” she asked. “Will you be sleeping on the couch for very long?”
“No, no,” Jarvis said. “She knows me too well to be very surprised, I think, and she's very forgiving of my flaws, for which I am grateful. Have you been discharged, or do you still have to stay in hospital?”
“I was given permission to leave once they felt all the sedation had worn off,” Miss Carter said. “They insisted on knocking me out to remove the rock from my shoulder, even though I told them I would be fine awake. It was something about not knowing how badly it would bleed, so they wanted me unconscious in case they had to take me into surgery.”
“How very annoying of them to be be cautious with your health,” Jarvis said, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, quite,” Miss Carter said. “Very inconvenient. I have things I could be doing. Daniel says they're going on without me, as though that should be reassuring. I don't want things to be got on with in my absence. I'd rather my presence be vital.”
Jarvis smiled. “You know how much of an asset you are, and I expect they do as well,” he said. “A few days leave won't see you lose ground.”
“A few days!” Miss Carter said. “I intend to be back tomorrow morning, Mr Jarvis.”
“That's a Sunday, Miss Carter, it's meant to be a day of rest,” Jarvis said.
“Not when you've wasted a full day resting already,” Miss Carter said.
Jarvis shook his head, realizing he wasn't going to win the argument. “Did Agent Sousa have any information about the investigation? Did you get your man?” he asked.
“Daniel said the information I found was very useful, and they rounded up the majority of the parties involved this morning,” she said. “Except for Cecil Hayden. He was murdered last night, after we left the party.”
“Good Lord,” Jarvis said, somehow not very surprised. “By whom?”
“Daniel didn't know. It's Thompson's investigation,” she said. “Daniel's given as much information as he could to him, and he's concentrating on our line of inquiry.”
“Mr Hayden was not a very nice man,” Jarvis said, thoughtfully. “I met him a few times while accompanying Mr Stark on business, and on none of those occasions did he strike me as anything but a spoiled, inconsiderate man with far more dollars than sense. I suppose that's a dangerous combination.”
“One of the worst, in my experience,” Miss Carter said. “But he's gone now, and the damage is done. At least we're on the road to cleaning up the mess.”
“So, all our foolishness last night did some good?” Jarvis asked.
“Yes, I believe it did a great deal of good,” Miss Carter said.
“Excellent. I'd hate to think we were foolish to no end,” Jarvis said.
“That would have been extremely vexing,” Miss Carter agreed.
They both smiled.
Anna and Miss Martinelli returned a few minutes later, Anna's hair now done in the neat style she preferred to keep it in. This particular variation was more elaborate than the usual, and Jarvis suspected Miss Martinelli might have had a hand in that.
“You look lovely,” Jarvis told Anna.
“Thank you,” Anna said, giving her hair a proud pat that let him know she was pleased with it, too. “Angie was very generous with her things. I will get your rats back to you, I promise.”
“Don't worry about it,” Miss Martinelli said. “The way Peggy goes through stockings, I've got enough material to make a dozen more. I gotta run, though, I have an audition to make. I just wanted to make sure you weren't gonna collapse getting to Mr Fancypants here, Peggy.”
“Mr Fancypants?” Anna murmured to Jarvis, with a grin. “I like this, yes.”
Jarvis could easily see Anna taking it up as a nickname for him. It would be something she'd find amusing. He gave her a pained smile, and she giggled, hiding her mouth behind her hand, her eyes dancing.
“I'm fine, Angie, thank you for coming in,” Miss Carter said. “Good luck. Knock 'em dead.”
Miss Martinelli struck a dramatic pose, and gave Miss Carter a quick hug before she left, with a cheerful call to Jarvis that she hoped he felt better soon, and that it was nice to meet Anna.
“She is a very nice girl,” Anna said, decidedly.
“She's a very good friend, too,” Miss Carter said.
“You please sit,” Anna said. She brought another chair from the corner of the room and placed it on the opposite side of the bed to her own.
Miss Carter made a few protests about being in the way, which Anna ignored, and Miss Carter took a seat.
“I feel as though I should apologize to you, Mrs Jarvis,” Miss Carter said. “I put your husband in a lot of danger last night. It wasn't my intention, but I am very sorry to have done it.”
“Did you tell him not to do it?” Anna asked. “Did you say 'no'?”
“Yes,” Miss Carter said.
“And did he do this thing anyway, even after you said no?” Anna said.
Miss Carter glanced to Jarvis before she answered. “Yes,” she said.
“This is what he always does, Miss Carter, so I cannot blame you,” Anna said, with a resigned shrug. “This is how we ended up married, even! He does the thing I told him not to do, and, 'boof', here we are.”
“That's not precisely what happened,” Jarvis protested.
“Yes, that is precisely what happened,” Anna replied.
Jarvis tried to think of a reason why that wasn't precisely what happened, and failed. “That was rather what happened,” he admitted to Miss Carter. “However, in that particular case, I do think the results were worth the risk.”
Anna gave his hand a pat. “Yes, csilligom, I do not regret it,” she said. “But it was still foolish, and I did tell you not to do it.”
Jarvis conceded both those points.
“The doctor said to me that Edwin would have been very much sicker if he had not been treated so well when he was hurt,” Anna said to Miss Carter. “I thank you for looking after him.”
“He's looked after me very well in the past,” Miss Carter said. “I was glad to return the favour.”
Anna and Miss Carter seemed to get along, which pleased Jarvis. He wanted Anna to like Miss Carter, and he wanted Miss Carter to like Anna. He didn't need them to be bosom companions, but it would be nice if Miss Carter could come to tea once in a while without it being awkward. He didn't need Anna's permission for that, of course, but he wouldn't make it a habit if it upset her. He didn't think it would. She'd taken her measure of Miss Carter and approved, and they all spoke pleasantly together.
“How do you like America, Mrs Jarvis?” Miss Carter asked. “Do you enjoy living in New York?”
Anna beamed. “Yes, very much,” she said. “It is a nice place. So many people, all different kinds from all different places. Mr Stark was so generous when we came here, he gave us many things to help us, and made it easy for us to settle in. Sometimes I miss my old home, but I don't think that home is there any more. Just my memory of it. Maybe that doesn't make sense...”
“No, it makes perfect sense,” Miss Carter assured her. “Sometimes it's just best to move forward and onward than to look back.”
“Yes,” Anna said. “You have to make the home where you can find it, and I think we made a good one, yes?”
“Yes,” Jarvis agreed. “An excellent one.”
Mr Stark arrived half an hour after Miss Carter had come, waltzing into the room without knocking.
“Oh, hey, gang's all here,” he said, opening his arms in greeting. “Good thing I came now, huh? I hate when I miss a party. God, you look awful. Not you, Annie, you look swell. I like your hair; looks good.”
“Thank you, Mr Stark,” Anna said.
“You read him the Riot Act?” Mr Stark asked.
Anna frowned. “I don't know this phrase, I'm afraid,” she said.
“Did you tell him he was an idiot?” Mr Stark clarified.
“Yes,” Anna said. “He knows it.”
“Good, that just leaves you,” Mr Stark said, pointing to Miss Carter.
“Daniel and I had a very in-depth discussion on that topic already today,” Miss Carter said. “There's no need to tread over it again, thank you, Howard. Besides, you're hardly one to talk.”
Mr Stark lost some of his righteous indignation. “Okay, yeah,” he said. “But don't do it again.” He pointed to Jarvis now. “You either.”
“Yes, sir,” Jarvis said.
Miss Carter made no such promises.
“Did you hear about Cecil Hayden being involved in all this?” Mr Stark asked, his indignation flaring up again.
“Yes, sir, Miss Carter explained it to me last night,” Jarvis said.
Mr Stark glared at him. “I don't suppose it occurred to you to give me a head's up about it?” he said. “Do you know much we rely on Hayden Steel? They're going to take a massive hit from this. Not that they don't deserve to be knocked down a peg, but they don't have to take everyone with them.”
Mr Stark's issues with the Hayden family went back to before Jarvis had known him, but Jarvis had gathered he'd been insulted or slighted in some way by Mr Hayden Sr., and had not forgiven or forgotten it. He was a man who did neither easily, but could smile and feign politeness and do business, while at the same time carrying his grudge tucked neatly away. It had been the same with the General; Mr Stark had neither forgiven nor forgotten with him either, and that had worked very much in Jarvis' favour during his court martial. Mr Stark had enjoyed putting the General's nose out of joint just as much, if not more, as he enjoyed playing hero to rescue Anna and free Jarvis.
“With all due respect, sir, you don't pay me to be corporate spy,” Jarvis replied. “There were more important issues to be considered.”
“I don't pay you to get yourself blown up, either,” Mr Stark snapped. “You're supposed to look out for my interests.”
“I am supposed to take care of your property and person,” Jarvis said. “Your person was absent, your property was not in danger, and I was acting under your orders to help Miss Carter.”
Mr Stark scowled. “I should have never introduced you two,” he said, gesturing between Jarvis and Miss Carter. “He's gotten sassy since he met you.”
“Good,” Miss Carter said. “I approve.”
“I am not sassy,” Jarvis objected.
“What does 'sassy' mean?” Anna asked.
“Impudent,” Mr Stark said, with a glare to Jarvis.
“Cheeky,” Miss Carter said.
“Oh,” Anna said. “Well, this is not new then, Mr Stark, he must just say it to you now, and not just to me.”
“I am not sassy to anyone,” Jarvis objected again. He didn't particularly want any of the conversations he might have with Anna in regards to Mr Stark to be common knowledge. They might have been a touch sassy. “I am always extremely respectful.”
Anna gave him a little amused smirk, before turning to Mr Stark. “Sit down, please. Do not pace. You upset yourself, Mr Stark.”
Mr Stark flung himself down on the end of the bed. Jarvis just managed to pull his foot out of the way before it would have been sat on. Mr Stark looked very tired, and Jarvis expected he hadn't slept. Half of his ill-humour would be because he was concerned—both about Jarvis and Miss Carter, and about his work.
“I hope the company won't be too badly affected,” Jarvis said.
“I gave Mirandez a head's up in L.A,” Mr Stark said. “To let him know we might have hold off on expansion there, if this goes south. Putting him in charge of that was meant to be a reward for keeping things together when I was away, I feel like a jerk to take it back and have him sit on his hands until we know how bad it's going to be.”
“Any delays would only be temporary,” Jarvis said. “I'm sure Mr Mirandez will understand. He's very good with money, he might be able to find better solutions, given the challenge. He is not the sort of man to sit on his hands, whatever the circumstances. I've never known him to sit, period.”
“No, he's probably pacing like crazy right now,” Mr Stark said, slightly mollified.
“And surely no one will blame Stark Industries for what happened with Mr Hayden,” Jarvis went on. “Your weapons were not involved.”
“And there really are bigger worries at hand,” Miss Carter said. “We still have to track down the weapons that were taken. We've stopped the flow, but we'll have to figure out where they went, and precisely which ones were taken. You could help us, with that, Howard. You might be the best person to know who would be looking for them and for what purpose.”
“We just fought a war, you'd think we could have a minute or two before we start stealing and going at each other again,” Mr Stark grumbled. “Someone needs to be watching out for all this.”
“Someone is,” Miss Carter said.
“Not well enough,” Mr Stark snapped.
Jarvis felt it wasn't prudent to point out that only a few months earlier, Mr Stark had had no vested interest in anything outside of his pleasure and his business. It was only once it affected him that he'd become incensed. Pointing it out might be considered sassy.
“How did you get on in Chicago?” he asked, deciding to move the subject away from espionage for Anna's sake. It was all very well to let her have a general idea, but she didn't need the nitty-gritty of it all.
“Good for business, bad for me,” Mr Stark said, touching his cheek where Jarvis could see a faint bruise.
“I'm sorry to hear that,” Jarvis said. “Should I be contacting the jeweller's?”
Miss Carter rolled her eyes.
“Nah,” Mr Stark said. “I think it might be safer for everyone if we just let it drop. She's got a good right hook. Still, if she hadn't clocked me, I wouldn't have been back in time to come and find you two, so we'll call it even.”
“Thank you for coming to our aid,” Jarvis said. “I appreciate it.”
“Yes, it was very decent of you,” Miss Carter said.
“You two've helped me out of jams before,” Mr Stark said, dismissively. “'Bout time I got to return the favour. Your Agent Sousa did most of the heavy lifting, I just threw the money around. He's a swell guy, Peggy.”
“Yes, I know,” Miss Carter said. “He's a very good agent.”
“You should cut him some slack,” Mr Stark added.
“In what regard?” Miss Carter asked.
Mr Stark smirked. “You know what regard,” he said.
“Speaking of throwing money around,” Jarvis said, now trying to pull the conversation away from Miss Carter, who looked uncomfortable. “Anna seems to be under the impression you've been bribing the staff here.”
“False,” Mr Stark said. “I tried to bribe the staff. Didn't work. I did, however, make a very large donation to the local March of Dimes chapter, and the staff were were so grateful that they followed my suggestion to let Mrs Jarvis stay with her husband until she decided to leave.”
Jarvis sighed. “That is very inappropriate, sir,” he said.
“What do you have against people with polio?” Mr Stark said. He often purposefully missed the point just to annoy him. “Think of the children, Jarvis. Do you want me to just take the iron lungs back? Cold-hearted bastard.”
Anna was giggling into her sewing, and Jarvis shot her a glare which made her giggle harder. She pulled the sewing up over her mouth to hide her laughter, and looked so sweet that Jarvis had trouble maintaining his annoyance.
“I'm sure the children will be very grateful,” Jarvis said. “But you can't solve all problems with money.”
“You can if you have money,” Mr Stark replied.
“Isn't there something about when all you have is a hammer, all problems look like nails?” Miss Carter said.
“I'm pretty good with a hammer, too,” Mr Stark said. “It's usually my second choice of weapon. You people are so prissy. Anna had been up all night, out in her curlers, and they were only gonna let her in for five minutes. I do have a heart, you know, somewhere in here...” he made a vague gesture over his chest. “I can be sympathetic.”
“I'm very grateful to you, Mr Stark,” Anna said. “Calm down and don't be silly.”
Mr Stark bobbed his head in a conceding gesture. “So, when do you get out of here?” he asked.
“I don't know,” Jarvis said. “I haven't seen a doctor yet.”
Mr Stark's brow darkened. “You should have,” he said.
“The doctor was in when you were sleeping, Edwin,” Anna interceded. “I spoke to him. He wants to make sure your wound is not infected. If you don't have a fever tomorrow, you can go home, but you must rest and keep your arm still until it heals.”
“Well, looks I'm on my own this week, then,” Mr Stark said.
“I'm sure I can do the majority of my duties one-handed,” Jarvis said. It was his right arm that had been hurt, which would complicate matters, but he could be creative. “I wouldn't want to neglect my work.”
“No, it's fine. I can look after myself,” Mr Stark said.
A sceptical silence followed.
“Okay, we'll work something reasonable out,” Mr Stark amended. He looked to Miss Carter. “How about you? When do you get to go?”
“Right now,” Miss Carter said. “I came down to visit Mr Jarvis while I was waiting for the discharge order to be written up. I'm sure it's ready now. I should probably be going, actually. I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”
“I am,” Jarvis said. “Thank you, Miss Carter. Please rest properly, and take care of yourself.”
“You, too,” Miss Carter said. “Don't let Howard run you down.”
“I can take care of myself!” Mr Stark objected. “Here, Peggy, I'll swing you over to your place. I'm on my way to meet up with Vanko. We're going to try to figure out how that device you found works and see if we can recreate it.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Miss Carter said, getting to her feet.
“It was very nice to meet you, Miss Carter,” Anna said, rising as well. “You must come for dinner some night, when you aren't busy.”
“Annie's a great cook,” Mr Stark said. “Definitely take her up on that. It'll be the best meal you'll have all week, I promise.”
“Yes, please come, we'd love to have you,” Jarvis said.
“I'd be delighted,” Miss Carter said.
“Good,” Anna said, content.
Miss Carter gave Jarvis' hand a squeeze, and Anna walked with her to the door of the room, presumably to cement the dinner plans.
“You shouldn't leave them alone together,” Mr Stark said. “They'll probably talk about you.”
“I'm sure there are more interesting things to discuss than me, sir,” Jarvis said.“And even if they did, I hope I wouldn't have anything to be embarrassed about.”
“Your funeral,” Mr Stark said, with a shrug. He stood up, and offered a hand for Jarvis to shake. “If you need anything, call me and I'll arrange it.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jarvis said.
Mr Stark gave him a nod goodbye, and met Miss Carter at the door. He paused to kiss Anna's cheek before falling into step with Miss Carter. Anna watched them go, then returned, sitting down at the head of the bed with Jarvis.
“Miss Carter is a very nice lady,” she declared. “I like her very much. She is strong and clever. But I think she feels alone sometimes, yes?”
“I think she does, yes,” Jarvis agreed.
Anna nodded. “We will have her to dinner with Mr Stark,” she said. “She won't feel awkward because he is her friend, and he does enough talking so she can get used to us without us staring at her.”
Jarvis smiled at her tone, which suggested it was all fait accompli. He wove his fingers through hers. She bent over and kissed his forehead, then his nose, then his lips.
“The door is open,” Jarvis warned her.
She kissed him again. “I don't care,” she said. “They aren't going to remove me. Mr Stark has used his hammer for me to stay.”
“Edwin Jarvis, what do you think you are doing?” Anna demanded, on Monday morning.
Jarvis carefully flipped the omelette he was making. “I think I am making breakfast,” he replied. “In fact, I'm quite certain of it.”
“You are supposed to be resting, silly man,” Anna said.
“I'm fine,” Jarvis said. “I always make breakfast, and I'm not going to skip today. Today is an important day.”
Anna's brow softened. “Is it?” she asked, in mock innocence. “Is it a holiday?”
“Only in this house,” Jarvis replied.
She stood on her tip-toes to kiss him. “Happy Anniversary.”
“Happy Anniversary,” Jarvis said.
She craned her neck over to look in the pan. “How did you cook with one hand?” she asked. “It is not even the hand you use for being dominant.”
“Carefully,” Jarvis replied. “I'm not actually one handed, I do have my hand free,” he wiggled the fingers on the hand hanging out of his sling. “It just took a bit of manoeuvring.”
“I am impressed,” Anna said. “And also I disapprove. But it smells good. You should not have done it.”
“When you've decided if you're for or against it, you can sit down and I'll serve it,” Jarvis said.
“No, I will help, and we will go together,” Anna said.
Jarvis tipped the omelette out onto a plate, and Anna divided it up. They gathered up the rest of the food, and carried it into the dining room.
“Oh, you made the table nice, too,” Anna said. “It looks beautiful.” She bent over to smell the flowers, then took a seat in her usual spot. She picked up the present he'd left there. “Oh, Edwin, how pretty! Thank you!”
He'd found some wooden combs for her hair. The edges were hand painted with little flowers in bright colours, and as soon as he saw them, they reminded him of Anna, and seem appropriate for their wood anniversary. She fondled them delicately, and smiled in delight.
“I couldn't wrap them, I'm afraid,” he said. “My hand for being dominant wasn't cooperating.”
“It does not matter. I like them plain as much as if they were wrapped,” Anna said. “I will get your present.” She hopped up from the table before he could even sit down and returned a moment later, present in hand and combs tucked into her hair. “I could not wrap your present either, because it is already a box.”
She handed him a beautiful, glossy box, made of dark wood with lighter patterns inlaid in to it, and a sturdy, shiny clasp.
“It is for your desk. I thought you could put your correspondence in it,” Anna said. She gave him a playful smile. “Or your cellar accounts.”
Jarvis thought it might be an appropriate place for the letters she'd written to him before they were married. He'd kept them all, and they were currently tied with a shoelace and in a drawer in his wardrobe. This would be a better place for them.
“Thank you, Annuska, it's lovely,” he said.
She kissed him, then flopped down in her chair. He sat down as well, and tried to make his left hand work his fork in some semblance of dignity. Anna picked up the paper, and began to read. He still needed to figure out how to iron the other copy for Mr Stark when he only had one hand.
“Oh look, Edwin, here is your smuggler,” Anna said.
The SSR must have kept the story very quiet, as this was the first mention in any news source that Jarvis had seen. Anna read the pertinent bits aloud, and there was very little he wasn't already aware of. Mr Stark had been right, it painted Hayden Steel in a very bad light. Mr Hayden Sr. had been quick to disown his son and disavow all knowledge of the smuggling, of course.
“It says that all the men are in custody now,” Anna said. “It is good you helped to stop them, Edwin. I am proud. But I don't like that you were hurt. But it was a good thing to do.”
“When you've decided if you're for or against it,” Jarvis said. “You should eat your breakfast. It's starting to get cold.”