Characters: Angie, Peggy, Bond, Jarvis, Sousa
Warnings/Triggers: some violence, lots of sexual badinage, quite a lot of female gaze
Spoilers: Oblique references to Skyfall, general spoilers for Agent Carter Season One
Pairings: heavy Angie/Bond flirting
Word Count 9,142
Summary: Angie is given care of a cute drugged British spy that Peggy brings home, and has a little adventure along the way.
Author's notes: This is one of the less weird results of the crossover memes joonscribble and I did a while back. Her memes kept throwing Angie and James Bond together, and we both decided that sounded like an interesting concept. So, I wrote a story.
The characters refused to do what I originally had planned, and it went slightly odd on me. I hope it's okay. This is also the longest I've ever tried to sustain a Bond voice, and he's very finicky. I hope he's all right as well.
To help my brain, I've simply placed the James Bond universe in the 1940s, rather than involving time travel. I've done my best to patch it over to work. This story takes place post-Skyfall.
Someone coming into the apartment in the middle of the night wasn't new to Angie. Peggy came in at all hours, and she mostly did it quietly, but sometimes Angie woke up and then just rolled over because she knew it was Peggy. Tonight, though, Peggy was being really loud. Angie woke up to a crash and a bang, and voices, and more crashing. That was definitely a thing you couldn't just roll over about. That was a thing you had to get up about and maybe take a baseball bat with you. Which Angie did.
She kept the Louisville Slugger raised up by her shoulder as she peered around her bedroom door and snuck down the hallway toward the noise. There was less crashing now but still some thumps and shuffling. Angie braced herself at the corner of the living room and then jumped into the hall, bat ready to go.
“Oh, really, Angie?” Peggy said. “All the weapons we have in this place and you're still threatening me with the bat?”
She had a guy with her, half-draped over her and half-leaning against the wall. He looked bad--beat up and maybe lit. Bloody nose, bloody clothes, wobbly.
“Look, this bat has scared off two robbers and a guy with very busy hands,” Angie replied. “I can trust it. What's going on? Who's your friend?”
The man looked in her direction, eyes huge like he found her both confusing and terrifying. Nice eyes, though. Wow. Ice blue and just jumping right out at you.
“He's a colleague,” Peggy said. “He's...had a bit of a bad day.”
“No kidding,” Angie said. “What happened to him? Did you kiss him? He looks like after you kiss somebody.”
“No, I didn't kiss him,” Peggy said. “But I wouldn't be surprised if it was a similar compound. It was injected.”
“Before or after they worked him over?” Angie asked.
“After,” Peggy said. “He took several blows on my behalf. I'm afraid I feel rather obliged to make sure he survives. I don't think a hospital is advisable, so I've brought him here. It was the closest. Sorry to wake you.”
“It happens,” Angie said, with a shrug. “You need a hand?”
“Yes, that would be very helpful, thank you,” Peggy said.
Angie went over and slipped underneath his arm on the opposite side to Peggy.
“Hey there, big fella,” she said. “I'm Angie.”
The guy leaned in very close to her face and then back again, eyes still huge. And gorgeous. Up close even prettier.
“Pleasure,” he murmured. “Bond. James Bond.”
“Swell to meet you, Bond-James-Bond,” Angie said. “Let's get you to bed.”
She and Peggy helped him to the guest room. He could walk on his own mostly all right, but he couldn't keep his path straight, so that's where Angie and Peggy came in. Angie pulled down the covers for him and Peggy sat him down on the bed, then helped him lie down and put his legs up.
“Here, hun, let me mop up your face,” Angie said. “You don't want to sleep like that.”
She went and got a facecloth and wet it, then came back. She sat down on the edge of the bed next to him and moved to wipe him up. He flinched back, hands coming up like he was blocking a punch.
“Hey, let me help you,” Angie scolded. “Don't get fighty with me. These are nice sheets. These are Howard Stark sheets. You wanna go messing'm up? Mr. Fancypants'll have kittens.”
James put his dukes down and let Angie mop up his nose and knuckles.
“There we go,” Angie said. “You should take a nap now. You look like you need it.” She pulled the covers up over him.
He still stared at her with those eyes, but they were a little more clear now like maybe he'd figured out she was okay.
“Thank you,” he muttered.
“Sure,” Angie said.
She rose and went with Peggy out to the hall.
“S'he British?” Angie asked. “He sounds British.”
“Yes,” Peggy said. “We used to know each other during the War. He was--is a member of the Interservice Liaison Department.”
Angie cocked her head to the side. “Is that a fake name for something secret?”
“Yes,” Peggy admitted.
“You should come up with something better. It sounds fake,” Angie advised her.
“I'll pass the note along,” Peggy said. She peered into the room, biting her lip.
“If you need to get back out there, I'll be okay,” Angie said.
“No, I can't ask you to do that,” Peggy said. “It's not your job, and I don't know how he might behave. He'd never do anything on purpose--especially to a woman--but he's groggy. It's hard to know how he might react to anyone.”
“He's pretty ossified, Peggy. I think a kitten could take him out,” Angie said. “I'll be fine. I know how to take down a guy who's not behaving like a gentleman.”
Peggy bit her lip again. “I do have agents on their way to keep an eye on here,” she said, reluctantly. “They'll be right outside the door if you need anything. There would just be the period of when I leave and when they get here.”
Angie raised her bat up. “Don't worry. If anything happens during that time, me and Louie can handle it.”
Angie sat by James' bedside and kept her bat on her lap, just in case he tried anything funny. He just slept, mostly, but sometimes he woke up, really out of it. He muttered a few things, but he didn't cause any trouble. Around 3AM, he just began to sweat and sweat, until he was soaked and the sheets were soaked, and the pillow was soaked, and then he settled right down and went to actual sleep.
Angie thought it was okay to leave him at that point and went out to say hello to the agents. There was the cute, hick one, Killinger, who was a little too country bumpkin for her tastes, but she liked his accent and the way he called her 'Miss Angie' and put 'ma'am' at the end of all his sentences. He had an older one with him called Myers, who didn't say much, but looked like he could take a few punches without feeling it.
“Everything all right, ma'am?” Killinger asked.
“Everything's fine, Kentucky,” Angie assured him. “You two want some coffee or something?”
“No, ma'am, we're fine, thank you,” Killinger said.
Myers grunted an agreement.
Angie went back in and got a bit of sleep in the chair by James' bed. He had some bruises brewing on his face by this point, but he'd rolled himself onto his stomach and was out cold.
A ringing phone was what woke Angie up in the morning. Well, twelve ringing phones, because a phone in every room was swell when you wanted to make a call but not so swell when someone called you and all you could hear was bells. Angie leaped out of her chair and ran to the hallway to answer that one, hoping to get there before the phone on James' nightstand woke him up.
“Hello?” she said.
“Hi, Angie, it's me,” Peggy said. “Is everything all right there?”
“Yep,” Angie said. “He's been no trouble. He had a big sweat and now he's sleeping good.”
“That was probably the compound leaving his system,” Peggy said. “Excellent. Thank you so much, Angie. I owe you.”
“Don't worry about it,” Angie said. “He's kinda cute, Peggy.”
“Watch out, he bites,” Peggy said, and Angie could hear the smirk in her voice. “I'm afraid I won't be back for some time yet. Can you stay on minding duties for a little bit longer? Just until he's up and about.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“And when he's awake, tell him to meet me at the Automat at 12PM. That should give him enough time to get himself sorted.”
“Wilco,” Angie said, giving the wall a salute.
“Thank you,” Peggy said. “I'll see you later.”
“Bye! Stay safe!”
“I'll do my best."
Angie hung up the phone and stretched out her sore limbs, which were cramped from sleeping in the chair. She turned around to go back to James' room and jumped out of her skin because he was lounging in the doorway, staring at her with those eyes.
“Geez!” Angie exclaimed. “Takin' years off my life! You should take a picture, Mister! It'll last longer.”
His mouth quirked up very gently at the corner. “I have a good memory. Except for your name. I was trying to remember it.”
“Angie,” she said, sticking out her hand.
He nodded and gave it a firm shake. “James,” he replied.
“Should you be out of bed?” she asked. “You had a rough night.”
“Yes, a bit too much to drink, I'm afraid, and a very nasty customer at the night club,” he said, regretfully. “Peggy was very kind to let me stay the night.”
“You don't gotta lie,” Angie assured him. “I know you're a spy.”
Those eyes widened for a split second of surprise before he broke out into a grin that made his whole face change. He had a funny, interesting face--all different angles and chiseled out.
“Well, that saves some effort, I suppose."
“Yep,” Angie said. “But I don't know what you're up to, so you probably shouldn't tell me. Peggy keeps most of that to herself. She wants you to come to the Automat at noon today.”
“What time is it now?” he asked.
Angie looked over at the clock. “7:30."
He looked down at his watch, tapped it a few times, and then held out his wrist to show the cracked glass on it. “Time stopped at 1:12AM. Someone is going to be very upset with me about that.”
“Why, she buy it for you?” Angie asked.
“No, it was from a colleague and he gets very tetchy when you break his things,” James said.
“I know a guy who could have it fixed for you,” Angie offered. “Real cheap, too. He'd have it done in an hour.”
James shook his head. “It's a little more complicated than your average timepiece.”
“Oh, well you should talk to Howard Stark,” Angie said. “He'd probably like it. You should see the percolator we got in the kitchen. It took me three days to figure it out and I serve coffee for a living!”
James looked around. “Is this Howard Stark's flat?”
“No...well, yeah, I guess it still is,” Angie said. “He gave it to Peggy, so it's ours now, but I guess he still owns it. We don't pay rent or anything.”
“Why does Howard Stark pay for Carter to have a flat?” James asked.
Angie didn't like the things he was implying with his voice. “Because she saved his ass if you must know. And he was grateful.” She poked him in the shoulder. “We're ladies here, English, don't be getting ideas. Peggy'd punch Stark in the face sooner than she'd kiss him. She'd do it to you, too.”
“Yes, I learned that during the War,” James said. His lips did that quirky thing again. His face didn't move much, but if you watched his lips and eyes, he was actually pretty sassy.
“Were you in the SSR?” Angie asked.
“No, I was in the navy,” James said. “For a while, at least. I liaised with the SSR, on occasion.”
Angie wondered if he was really in the navy, or if he was just pretending to hide him being part of the Interservice Fake Name Department thing.
“My brother was in the navy,” she said. “He's a jerk, though.”
“Was he a jerk before he joined or was it as a result?” James asked.
“No, he's been a jerk since he was born,” Angie said. “But the navy didn't help him. Do you want some coffee? Or, maybe you aren't feeling so hot after last night, you want some tea? Peggy always has tea when it's been a rough night, but I don't make it good, so if you want some, don't expect much.”
“Coffee is fine, thank you,” James said.
“You should have a shower and get cleaned up,” Angie said. “You probably feel pretty yucky, and I bet you don't smell great after all that sweating. I don't think we got any clothes for you...but I think there's a pair of Howard Stark's PJs around here...Mr. Fancypants missed them when he was cleaning the place. Peggy says it wasn't his fault, they were in a very 'unorthodox place'. We got a washer and dryer here, so I can do your clothes up. Took me a week to figure out how those worked, but I got it now, and it saves lots of time.”
James nodded along as she spoke and gave a final nod. “Sounds like a plan,” he said. “Full service here, I'll have to recommend it.”
“Hey, we don't take just anybody."
“Well, I'm touched to be considered then, Miss...I don't think you told me your last name.”
“Martinelli. But you can just stick with Angie.”
Angie set the coffee perking and got the PJs Peggy had found. They'd decided not to tell Jarvis about them because Peggy thought he'd get real upset that he hadn't cleaned the place out properly, and Stark wouldn't really miss them much anyway. They were going to put them in some donation box, but both of them kept forgetting about it.
She brought some coffee out to the boys in the hall. Killinger thanked her, ma'am, and Myers gave her a nod. She went back to the guest room, giving the door a knock.
“Come in,” James called.
Angie opened the door. She wasn't sure what she was expecting, considering he'd had a shower and she knew he didn't have anything to put on, but him sitting on the bed in a towel and only that was kind of a surprise for some reason. Not one she was going to complain about. He had muscles on him she didn't even know existed. She tried not to stare too hard but didn't really succeed. She remembered Peggy telling her about the first time she'd seen Captain America and how she'd gotten hypnotized. 'All I wanted to do was stroke him'. Angie suddenly understood that a whole lot better.
“I brought the PJs,” she said.
“Thank you,” he said.
She came in and handed them over. He had lots of bruises over him and two nasty scars near his left shoulder. His right shoulder was yellow and purple and blue and looked real bad. She touched it, lightly, her tongue tsking. It looked sore. His eyes flicked to her fingers and then to her face.
“You should put something on that, maybe,” she said. “Some ice or something. Does it hurt? Do you want some aspirin?
“No,” he said. “I'm fine, thank you.”
She was suddenly really aware she was in her nightie and hadn't even put a robe on over it. It hadn't bothered her until right now when she was close to him and he had his chest out and was looking at her with those eyes.
“How do you like your coffee?” she asked.
“Black is fine,” he said.
“Ew,” she said. “You ever had coffee before? You want some sugar, Sugar.”
“I got hooked during the war,” he said, with a little smirk. “No sugar then, Sugar. I prefer it bitter.”
“Your funeral,” Angie said, with a shrug. She picked up his clothes and looked them over. They were pretty high quality. “I don't know if I should put these in the washer and dryer. I'll probably ruin'm. Maybe I should just buy you some new stuff.”
“I can put them back on,” James said.
“Ew,” Angie said, again. “No, you've been putting all kinds of sweat and blood into these. I'll figure something out, give me a minute. I'll get your coffee.”
She hoped he'd have clothes on when she got back. Actually, she hoped he didn't, but she thought it might be better for them both if he did. It was distracting.
He did have the PJs on when she brought the coffee to him. He thanked her and took a sip and didn't spit it out in horror, so she guessed he really did like it black.
“There's food in the kitchen if you want something,” she said. “Help yourself.”
Angie decided to call Jarvis about clothing. He seemed like the guy who would know how to get some. She called the number he'd left for them. It wasn't really an emergency and she hoped it wasn't a secret line or anything that would set off alarms.
“Stark Residence, Jarvis speaking,” was how the phone was answered.
Probably not a secret line, then.
“Hey, Mr. J, it's Angie,” Angie said. “Martinelli? Peggy's friend.”
“Yes, of course, Miss Martinelli,” Jarvis said. “How might I be of assistance? I hope you and Miss Carter are well.”
“Oh, yeah, we're fine,” Angie assured him. “But Peggy brought home a guy last night and he doesn't have any clothes to put on. I was wondering if you could help with that.”
After she'd said it, she realized it sounded bad. She was about to try and explain better, but Jarvis didn't seem phased at all.
“Do you know his measurements?” he asked.
“No,” Angie said. “I guess I could ask, but that seems rude, don't it?”
“Indeed!” Jarvis said. “We can work without that information. Is he built more like myself or Mr. Stark?”
“Definitely like Mr. Stark,” Angie said. Jarvis was a beanpole and James was not.
“I should be able to find something. I'll be there presently,” Jarvis said. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“No, that's plenty, Mr. J. Thanks."
She said goodbye and hung up, then went to get dressed because she probably shouldn't be entertaining men in her nightie.
James made her breakfast. Fried eggs and toast. He had it waiting on a plate for her when she got back from putting on some clothes.
“This is swell,” Angie said.
“I owe you at least breakfast after bleeding all over your flat,” he said.
“I ain't gonna complain,” Angie said.
He pulled out her chair for her. “I will remember your name this time, I promise,” he said. “You don't need to label yourself.”
Angie looked down at her uniform where her name tag was. “Oh, it's not for you. I gotta work today. I have to wear it so customers know who to complain about.”
“Where do you work?” James asked, taking a seat himself.
“At the Automat,” Angie said. “I'm a waitress. Well, I'm an actress, but mostly I'm a waitress.”
“I see,” James said. “What sort of actress? Film or stage?”
“Whatever'll take me,” Angie said. “Even radio. But I want to be on Broadway.”
“Do you sing?” James asked.
“Yep,” Angie said. “And dance. I'm a triple threat, but no one's noticed.”
He smiled. “You'll have to show me sometime.”
“Why? You got a production for me?” she asked.
“Well, why should I waste my efforts on you then?”
“I'll clap very loudly,” James said, a little twinkle in his eyes.
“I'll think about it,” Angie said, airily. She took a bite of her eggs, which were very good. She was worried he didn't have any taste buds, considering how he liked his coffee, but he knew how to use spices at least. “How about you, English? What did you do before the war?”
“I was in the navy,” James said.
“Oh, even before?” Angie said. “I didn't know you were a career sailor.”
“I have a limited skill set and I don't get seasick,” James said. “It seemed a good choice.”
“Well, you got more good qualities there than a lot of fellas I've met,” Angie said.
“I'll show you them if you sing for me."
“We'll see, Sugar. You'll have to play your cards right, though.”
James' eyes twinkled. “Playing cards happens to be part of my limited skill set.”
There was a knock on the door around 8:30. Angie found Jarvis standing up against the opposite wall, clutching a garment bag, with his hands slightly raised like maybe he thought someone was going to shoot him. Myers was giving him a dirty look and blocking his path. Killinger was the one who'd knocked.
“Hey, Mr. Jarvis,” Angie said.
“Hello, Miss Martinelli,” Jarvis said, politely. His eyes didn't move from where he was staring Myers down.
“You know'm, ma'am?” Killinger asked.
“'Course. I invited him,” Angie said. “That's Howard Stark's butler, Kentucky. Don't want to go messing with him. C'min, Mr. J.”
Myers stepped back and Jarvis gave him a snooty nod as he passed by into the apartment.
“Sorry about that,” Angie said.
“It's no trouble. They were just doing their jobs,” Jarvis said. “It's actually quite a warmer welcome than I usually get at young ladies' residences.”
Angie brought him through to the kitchen where she and James had been doing the dishes. She guessed James didn't do a lot of dishes, because she'd had to show him how to dry them and he couldn't figure out how to get the plates in the drying rack properly.
“Hey, Sugar, I got you some clothes,” Angie said. “This is--” she turned to Jarvis. “Hey, what's your first name?”
“Edwin,” Jarvis said.
“You look like an Edwin,” Angie decided.
“Thank you,” Jarvis said.
“This is Edwin Jarvis,” Angie went on. “He works for Howard Stark. This is James Bond, he's a friend of Peggy's.”
“Pleasure, Mr. Bond,” Jarvis said. He offered a hand.
“Likewise,” James said, giving it a shake.
“You look to be a decent match for Mr. Stark,” Jarvis said. “I think the clothes should fit you well. I've brought a suit and something more casual if you'd prefer that. I've also brought a shaving kit. I didn't think Miss Martinelli and Miss Carter would have the appropriate materials.”
“Thank you,” James said. “This really is the best hotel I've stayed in.”
He took the stuff from Jarvis and went into the guest room with it.
“Do you want something, Mr. J?” Angie said. “I got coffee here, or I could make you some tea. There's cake, too.”
“You don't have to go to any trouble,” Jarvis said.
“You went to trouble for me,” Angie said. “Least I could do is get you a drink. Coffee's already made, anyway, and it ain't hard to slice a cake.”
“I'll have a cup of coffee,” Jarvis said. “Thank you.”
Angie poured him one. He liked sugar, at least, and lots of milk.
“Is Miss Carter home?” Jarvis asked.
“No, she's at work,” Angie said. She felt like she should clarify, for the record, that Peggy hadn't brought home a naked guy to sleep with or anything. Not that it was anyone's business if she did, really, but facts were important. “James works with her and he was hurt last night, so she brought him here. She's out doing whatever they were doing before.”
Jarvis nodded. “I see. I did wonder about the bruises. Is he wearing Mr. Stark's pajamas?”
“Yeah,” Angie said. “Peggy found a pair here.”
Jarvis looked as upset about it as Peggy predicted he would. “I thought I did a very thorough cleanout. I apologize if I missed an area.”
“I think Peggy said they were stuffed between the bathtub and the wall,” Angie said.
“Ah,” Jarvis said. “I didn't think to look there.”
“How do you suppose they even got there?” Angie asked.
“Miss Martinelli, I believe it's in our best interest if neither of us attempts to suppose anything,” Jarvis said, solemnly.
He sounded like a guy who'd seen some stuff, so Angie didn't press him, the way you didn't press a guy who didn't want to talk about the war. You just let them be.
“Is the rest of your apartment to your satisfaction?” Jarvis asked.
“Yeah! It's real great, Mr. J.,” Angie assured him. “I never thought I'd live in a place like this. Well, maybe after I've had a few hit shows or something, but this is even better than I thought that would be.”
Jarvis looked assured now and smiled. “I'm glad you enjoy it."
“How about you?” Angie asked. “How's your life going? You must be happy to have everything quiet again.”
“I am,” Jarvis said. “It's been relaxing, though I must admit that I do miss the excitement, just a little. I wouldn't want anyone to be in that sort of danger again, but it did break up the routine somewhat.”
“Well, if you ever get bored, you should come visit us!” Angie said. “We got excitement here for days.”
“I can see that,” Jarvis said. “I'll keep it in mind.”
James took a while to get ready. Angie gave Jarvis a second cup of coffee and a slice of cake, just in case he'd stop being so polite if she put it there to tempt him. He looked conflicted about it before picking up the fork and starting to eat. They looked up when James came back into the kitchen and Angie's heart did a little tha-thump in appreciation. He looked better in a nice suit than he did with no suit at all. He'd shaved, too, which didn't do much for the bruises, but he cleaned up real nice, especially with his hair Bryllcreemed to the hilt.
“A bit snug in the chest, but otherwise you're rather a good match,” Jarvis said, with satisfaction. “Your hem should be a quarter of an inch longer, though. I could let it down for you if you'd like.”
James looked down at his feet. Angie didn't see anything wrong with his pants. They were nice pants.
“I think I'll survive, thank you,” James said, shooting Angie a subtly amused look. “I'll try to get it all back to you in one piece.”
“Please don't worry. Lack of clothing has never been a problem of Mr. Stark's,” Jarvis said.
“But the cufflinks,” James said. He held up a wrist and pointed. “They're worth a good deal, I would expect.”
“Mr. Stark frequently gives that style away as gifts to friends,” Jarvis said. “Miss Carter is a friend, and you are a friend of hers, therefore you are entitled to them.”
James' eyebrow flicked up in appreciation. “Thank you.”
Jarvis nodded and rose. “I should get going. I have to stop at the jeweler's and then take care of a task I've been putting off. Thank you for the coffee and cake, Miss Martinelli.”
“Sure,” Angie said. “Thanks for the clothes! You're a good guy, Mr. Jarvis.”
Jarvis chuckled, softly. “Thank you, Miss Martinelli. It's nice to hear that every once in a while, especially as I'm on my way to be a bad one.”
James decided to come with Angie when she left for work, even though it wasn't time for him to meet Peggy yet. Killinger and Myers made sure the coast was clear and then Angie and James walked down to the subway station and boarded the line that would take them to the Automat. James was cagey on the train, looking around with those eyes constantly. Angie didn't think she would have noticed if she wasn't aware that he was the kind of guy who would do it. He just looked like every other commuter, though the bruises got him a few looks. Not a lot. This was New York, after all.
He put himself in Peggy's usual booth with some newspapers he'd bought and was no trouble at all. Angie served him a cup of coffee and he asked for a refill at one point, but otherwise, he was just quiet. The whole place was quiet. It wasn't a busy day of the week and it was the time after the breakfast rush and before the lunch rush when she only had a few customers come in for quick things on their way to work.
Around 11:30, four business-looking men came in and sat down at a table. They looked like they were having a meeting, and the Automat was a funny place for it, but customers were customers. Angie put on her smile and went over with her pad to take their order.
Only one of them spoke, and he didn't sound like he knew what a burger even was. Probably too fancy for the food there, which made Angie wonder why they'd chosen a diner. He ordered burgers for everyone, 'just how they come', and then ignored Angie when she tried to see if they wanted drinks or anything.
“I gave you my order,” he snapped. “Fill it.”
Angie had lots of practice being yelled at. She kept up her nice smile and went back to hand the order off to Carl, the cook. When she came back out to the diner, James raised his cup and wiggled it for a refill. She bent over to fill it and he grabbed her wrist.
“Get out of here,” he said, very quietly. “Walk normally, go into the kitchen, get the cook out, and follow him.”
“Huh?” Angie said.
“Do it now,” James said, through a flirty smile. He rubbed her arm like he was being a fresh customer and pushed her away by her ass.
Angie did as she was told, mostly. Except she didn't get to the kitchen before the first gunshot sounded and had to duck behind the counter instead. It was amazing how fast you reacted to a sound when you knew it was a bad one. She wasn't exactly new to the sound of gunshots, but she wasn't usually that close to them, and her body still knew to get somewhere safe and stay there.
More gunshots sounded and lots of shattering glass and stuff being knocked over and people yelling and grunting. She could sort of see what was happening in the reflection of some of the appliances. Mostly just people running around and falling down and getting up again. A gun slid over to where she could see it beyond the counter and she crawled and picked it up. Not to use it. Just so nobody else could. She wasn't sure what to do with it, so she took the lid off a pot under the counter and put it inside and put the lid back on. That seemed like a sensible thing to do, but she wasn't sure if it was. It was hard to think because her heart was pounding so fast.
Someone crashed into the counter, hard enough for her to feel it on the other side. Then James came leaping over it, landing in a crouch beside her. She gave an involuntary squeak and slammed her hand over her mouth to stop it from becoming a shriek.
“Are you all right?” James asked as he fiddled with his gun. He pulled out a handful of bullets from his pocket and started to load them in. His hand wasn't even trembling.
“Yeah, I ain't hurt,” Angie said. She opened the pot and took the gun out and handed it to him.
He looked at the pot for a moment, checked the gun, nodded to her, and rose and started shooting. Angie covered her ears. A bullet knocked a napkin holder off the counter and it landed on the floor with a crash. James leaped over the counter again.
There were no more gunshots after that, so Angie figured they must be out of bullets. She rose slightly in a crouch and peered over the counter to see what was happening. Two of the jerks were on the floor, both bleeding. James was fighting the other two off. One had a chair and one had a knife and James had a tray that he was using to fend them off.
He got the guy with the knife out of the way and concentrated on the one with the chair, but the knife guy came back. Angie didn't think James was going to get to him in time. She ran out from behind the counter and threw the contents of her coffee pot on him. It wasn't hot enough to burn real bad, but enough to make the guy yell and stop trying to stab people. He whirled around and Angie kneed him the groin, then, when he was bent over in pain, she hit him over the head with the urn and he went down.
James had the chair guy on the floor and turned with his tray still ready to hit things. His eyes were huge and he was breathing heavily and he had blood running from his nose. He looked down at the knife guy and back up to her.
“Thank you,” he said, politely.
“Uh-huh,” Angie said, saluting him with the pot. Her voice sounded a little squeaky.
The chair guy tried to get up again and James brought the tray down on his head. Then he didn't try to get up any more.
“Are you all right?” James asked, again.
“Yeah...” Angie said.
She started to look around, but James put his hand on her cheek and made her look at him.
“Go to the kitchen,” he said. “Stay there. If I tell you to run, run this time. I don't think there's anyone else with them, but if there are, I want you to go. All right?”
“Uh-huh,” Angie said.
“Good girl,” he said, giving her a little smile. He rubbed her cheekbone with his thumb. “Nice use of the coffee pot.”
“Thanks,” she said.
“Go now, Sugar,” he said.
She gave him her rag for his nose and hurried off to the kitchen. Carl wasn't there anymore and the burgers were burning on the grill. He must have run. Coward. Smart coward.
She took the burgers off so the place didn't catch fire in addition to everything else.
“Angie!” she heard Peggy yell, a little while later. “Is she here? Where is she? Angie!”
“I'm in here, Peggy!” Angie called back.
The door swung open and Peggy came rushing in. “Oh, thank God!” she said, giving Angie a firm hug. “Are you all right? Were you hurt?”
“No, I'm fine,” Angie said. “Not even a scratch. I got a few hits in, too.”
Peggy pulled back. “I'm sure you did,” she said. “I'm sorry you had to give any hits at all, though.”
“It's not your fault,” Angie assured her. “Well, probably. I don't know. Maybe it is, but I'm not mad at you. Who were they?”
“I'm not entirely sure, but I have a very good idea,” Peggy said.
If she was being vague, that meant Angie shouldn't know, so she didn't press it any further.
James came into the kitchen, with that agent with the bum leg that treated Peggy okay. Sousa? De Sousa? Something like that.
“Well, Mr. Bond, danger does seem to follow you around,” Peggy said.
“You're hardly one to talk, Carter,” James said. He gestured to his bruised face. His nose had stopped bleeding now, but it looked sore. “You do remember how I got these?”
“I didn't ask for you to do that,” Peggy said.
“I didn't ask for this to happen today, either,” James replied.
“Then you should have watched your tail better,” Peggy said.
“I wasn't tailed,” James said. “They didn't follow me.”
“They must have, how else would they know to come here?”
“I don't know, but the only person who knew I was coming was Angie, and I doubt she said anything. Maybe you need to look for something on your end.”
“I hardly advertised it, Mr. Bond. Perhaps you missed them.”
“I didn't notice anything, and your two agents followed us here. Do you think all three of us missed a group of--whoever they were?”
“Wait,” Angie interrupted. “Killinger and Myers were tailing us? I didn't even notice that.”
“I did,” James said. “And that was all I noticed. No one else followed us here.”
Peggy opened her mouth again.
“Hey,” Sousa said, stepping in. “Hey, let's not pass the blame around. You and I were here yesterday Peggy, someone might have seen us. Maybe they were just hoping to get lucky by coming today or were looking for information. Maybe Myers or Killinger missed something. We don't even really know who they are. They could have found out a lot of different ways. The more important thing is figuring out how they fit into everything else.”
“And we're all okay,” Angie added. “So we don't need to be fighting about it.”
“Yes,” Peggy said, relaxing slightly. “Yes. I suppose you're right.” She nodded to James. “Thank you for looking after Angie.”
James nodded back. “She didn't need much looking after,” he said, with a glance to Angie that was appreciative. He held out a hand, showing off something he was holding. A little metal box that was making a whirring noise that Angie didn't like. “Any clue what this is? I found it in a pocket.”
“Looks like Stark tech,” Sousa said.
“No, Howard doesn't make anything without a logo on it somewhere,” Peggy said. She took the box from James. “It might be a knock-off, though. I think I saw something similar in the collection we took from him before.”
“What did it do?” James asked.
“I don't know,” Peggy said. “I didn't memorize the list. Knowing Howard, nothing very pleasant.”
“We should get it back to the science team,” Sousa said, reaching for it.
Peggy moved her hand away. “No,” she said. “We should take it to Howard. He'll be faster.”
Angie saw another argument about to start up, this one between Peggy and Sousa, but the sound of sirens got in the way and they didn't get started.
“We don't have time to liaison with the constabulary,” James said.
“No,” Peggy agreed. “We need to get out of here before they get in, or we'll be here for hours.”
“You go out the back,” Angie said, pointing to the door to the alley. “I'll keep'm busy up front. What do you want me to say?”
“Anything but the truth,” Peggy said, with a little frown. “I'm sorry, Angie. The SSR will get in here as soon as possible to let you off the hook.”
“I'll be fine,” Angie said, firmly. “You go save the world, sweetie.”
Peggy smiled. “Thank you." She gave Angie a hug.
“NYPD!” someone shouted from the diner.
Everyone but Angie headed for the door. Angie took a few deep breaths to get herself together and burst into tears in preparation. She worked herself up to some sobbing, glancing over at the door to make sure everyone was gone before she threw herself at the police. James lingered there, looking curiously at her. She gave him a wink and he smiled and winked back. Angie started to wail and then rushed out into the diner and collapsed onto the first policeman she saw.
“Oh, Officer!” she said. “It was awful! They just started fighting with each other, and they had guns, and I didn't know what to dooooooooo!”
Boy, being a witness to a crime was hard work. Angie had to answer all sorts of questions at the scene while keeping herself mildly hysterical and remembering what she'd said before. Then they took her back to the station and answered it all again. She thought she did a pretty good job. She didn't mess up her story. She had a headache from crying so much, but everyone was really nice. Angie felt kinda bad for lying. It was a crime to do that, but Peggy had asked her to, and Peggy wouldn't let her go to prison, so Angie supposed it was okay. A little lie didn't hurt anybody, especially if the safety of the nation was in peril.
Two hours later, she was free to go. It happened suddenly, and she was told that she wouldn't be needed anymore and it was probably best if she just tried to forget about it all. She knew the SSR had come in and ruffled some feathers. Everyone she saw on the way out looked pissed off. She refused a ride home and gave a teary thanks for how kind they all were and hoped that God blessed them for their work.
As soon as she made it out onto the street, someone called out 'Miss Martinelli!'. Jarvis was there with one of Stark's big cars. He gave a little wave and then hurried around to meet her.
“Hey,” she said. “Fancy meeting you again today.”
“Miss Carter asked that I make sure you arrived home safely,” Jarvis explained. He gently handed her a handkerchief. “It seems to have been very trying for you.”
“Huh? Oh!” Angie said. “Yeah, I must look terrible! Don't worry, it's all pretend.” She ducked her head down to the side mirror of his car. “Geez, I do look terrible.” She gave a few swipes with the handkerchief to clear up some of the streaks of mascara running down her cheeks. “You know, if Stark ever figured out how to make makeup that didn't run, he'd have even more of a fortune on his hands.”
“I think he has done something along those lines,” Jarvis said. “Though I believe the purpose was to be used in fieldwork for other reasons and the waterproofing was a side-effect. It also caused blindness.”
Angie offered his handkerchief back. “Well, I guess I'd rather look like Dracula than be blind."
“Please keep it,” Jarvis said, pushing the handkerchief back towards her. He opened the back door of the car. “May I take you home? Or, if you feel uncomfortable on your own Mr. Stark has extended an invitation for you to stay at his home until the situation is resolved.”
Angie didn't know the next time she'd get a chance to stay in Howard Stark's mansion and wondered if she should take him up on the offer. She didn't feel too in danger.
“Did Peggy make him ask that?” she wondered.
“Miss Carter is concerned about your welfare, but I believe it was Mr. Bond who believed most strongly that you should be somewhere more secure,” Jarvis said. “Mr. Stark's offer is sincere, though, I assure you.”
Well, getting invited to Howard Stark's mansion because the cute British spy was worried about you wasn't a bad situation at all. Angie smiled to herself. But she still thought it was overkill.
“That's a real swell offer, Mr. J, but I think I'd rather be in my own bed,” Angie said. “Maybe I could get a rain-check?”
“Mr. Stark enjoys house guests, ma'am,” Jarvis said. “I'm sure the offer will be made again.”
He helped her into the back of the car and closed the door, then hurried around to the front and got in. Before they started off, he opened the glove compartment and pulled out a handkerchief from a pile of clean, crisp, white ones in there and put it into his pocket. She wondered how often he made girls cry that he needed that many of them at the ready.
“So, Peggy and the boys are at your place?” Angie asked as Jarvis drove off.
“At Mr. Stark's home, yes,” Jarvis said. “Or, they were when I left, which was a little while ago. Miss Carter estimated your release would be forthcoming, but she didn't know precisely when.”
“Hope you weren't waiting long,” Angie said.
“No, not at all,” Jarvis said. “Sometimes I like to sit still for a while. It's very calming.”
“Did they figure out what's going on yet?” Angie wondered.
“When I left, Mr. Stark and a member of the British government were arguing over a radio signal about the device Miss Carter, Agent Sousa, and Mr. Bond brought,” Jarvis explained. “But they did identify the item, somewhere in there. It was rather like listening to Mr. Stark talk to himself. The government man has a very similar personality. ”
“Sounds scary,” Angie said.
“Yes, I hope they don't become friends,” Jarvis said. She could see his brow furrowing in the rearview mirror. “I don't think it would be good for the world to have that much bravado and intelligence combined.” He shook his head. “But I believe the matter is under control.”
Angie just wanted to know that Peggy was doing something to make it all better, so she didn't press him any further on it. There wasn't much to worry about if she was doing something.
Jarvis drove her home and walked her up to the door of the apartment. “Please ring if you require anything."
“Yes, sir,” Angie said. “You make sure Peggy and the boys behave themselves.”
“That is a task only the Almighty could handle,” Jarvis said. “But I'll do my best.”
Angie didn't have much to do over the next few days since the Automat was closed for repairs again. She hoped her boss had good insurance on the place, the way it kept getting picked on. The SSR should really be paying for all the damage they kept causing.
Peggy came in and out a few times, only home long enough to shower and change and then run out again after a quick chat. She seemed worried that Angie was traumatized, but Angie didn't feel very traumatized. She had a few moments when she remembered what happened and felt her heart beat a little faster, but she didn't feel like she was going to crack up. A little adventure was kind of fun, so long as it wasn't all the time danger. You had to live a little on the edge, right?
She didn't see any more of James, which was disappointing. She would have liked to at least thank him for keeping her safe at the diner and trying to help her, even if she hadn't made it to safety in time. She wouldn't mind seeing those eyes or that smile again. But maybe they were just going to be ships passing in the night.
Peggy came home and collapsed on the sofa, face first, and Angie knew it was all over. It must have gone okay because nothing had blown up and no bad guys had taken over the country.
“Hey,” Angie said.
“Hello,” Peggy said, her voice muffled by a cushion.
“Do you want some tea?” Angie asked.
“I would love some tea,” Peggy said. “Even your tea.”
“I think I'm getting better,” Angie said. “One cuppa coming right uppa.”
Peggy giggled into the cushion.
“Do you want something to eat, too?” Angie asked.
“Is there any cake?” Peggy said.
“There sure is,” Angie said. “Hold tight, sweetie. I'll get you fixed up.”
She made the tea and sliced off a huge piece of Victoria sponge and brought it all out to the living room, putting it down on the coffee table for Peggy.
Peggy roused herself to sit up and take hold of the cake in her hand to eat it. “Don't tell my mother,” she said, around her mouthful.
Angie locked her lips.
Peggy leaned back against the couch and chewed on her cake. “Thank you. This is pure heaven.”
“It took me five whole minutes, Peggy. Such a big time out of my days of not having anything to do,” Angie said.
“Is the Automat going to be up and running again soon?” Peggy asked.
“Tomorrow,” Angie said. “I got a shift. It's not totally back together yet, but it's enough for people to have a place to sit. How's your career? Catch any bad guys?”
“Yes, quite a few today,” Peggy said. “And I sincerely hope the bad guys will take a nice holiday before they try anything else again. I'd like a little break from running hither and yon.”
“No, you wouldn't,” Angie reminded her. “You'd get bored and grumpy.”
Peggy chewed thoughtfully and nodded. “Maybe just a short tea break,” she said. “Not anything too long. And nothing involving the British government. I'd like a long break from that. It's really very trying to deal with two government agencies at once. Double the red tape.”
“Double the handsome fellas, though, too,” Angie pointed out. “How's James?”
Peggy smirked. “He's still alive, which is remarkable,” she said. “He has all the confidence of Howard Stark combined with Steve's inability to judge the threat. And he goes headfirst into everything.”
“You ain't one to talk,” Angie said.
“No, I'm not, and two such people should never work together,” Peggy said. “We need to be paired with someone more sensible. Daniel can only do so much with two of us, plus we had Howard on our side. It's a wonder we all made it through unscathed. Mr. Bond should be on his merry way back to Old Blighty where he can bother the ISLD and leave the SSR alone.”
Angie felt herself pout. “He's just going then?”
“I'm afraid so,” Peggy said. “I doubt he'll hang around long. It's not his way. I know he was very charmed by you, though. He said you were very...what was the word he used...?”
“Plucky! I believe that's the term he used. Plucky.”
Angie put her chin in her hand, glumly. Plucky. Like a little kid. “Well, I guess I'll never be a vixen."
“No,” Peggy said, and she sounded like she was trying not to laugh. “And you shouldn't try to be. You're lovely just as you are. That man you knocked out, by the way, turned out to be very important to the investigation. If he'd escaped, we would have been dead in the water for some time. You did well and I'm proud of you.”
Angie perked up a little. “I was pretty great,” she agreed. “Not on purpose, though. Just by accident.”
“I'll let you in on a secret, Angie,” Peggy said. “Half the time, that's all any of us are.”
Angie's first shift back was normal. No one tried to kill her. That was nice. The place was still messed up, but nothing that couldn't be worked around.
There was someone lounging by the wall outside near the end of her shift, but she didn't have time to pay much attention. He moved when she came out, though, and she tensed up until she saw who it was.
“Geez, Sugar, you got a bad habit of lurking!” she said.
James' mouth did a half-smile. “Part of my skill set.”
His face was all healed up now and she could see what he looked like when he hadn't just been beaten up. He looked good not beaten up.
“You should wear a bell,” Angie said, making a ringing motion near his neck. “Then I'd know you were coming. I thought you'd be on your way home.”
“Just waiting on the next boat,” James said. “I thought I'd come and say a proper goodbye.”
Angie felt pretty swell that she warranted a proper goodbye. “How soon are you going?”
“Very soon,” James said, regretfully. “But not immediately. I do have a bit of time to kill.”
“What are you going to do?” Angie asked.
“I have a few ideas...” James said, giving her lips a good long look and the rest of her a nice glance.
Angie was a little bit tempted to take him up on those ideas. But, as Peggy had pointed out, she wasn't really a vixen, and even though she was flattered, she'd like a guy to work a little harder for her.
“We could get dinner,” she suggested.
“I'm afraid I don't have that much time,” James said.
“Well, then, you should have come sooner,” Angie said, with a rueful shake of her head. “Because I'm a girl who likes to eat.”
James smirked. “I'm sure I could find us a snack."
“Nope, I'm really hungry,” Angie said. “Dinner or nothing, Sugar.”
He looked disappointed, and Angie wasn't going to lie, she found that pleasing.
“Maybe next time,” he said.
“You bet,” she said. “Drop in any time. I'll make you some coffee.”
“And you can show me your other two threats,” he said. “I only saw one. Quite the show, though.”
Angie gave a stage curtsy. “That wasn't even my best work."
“I'll look forward to seeing more."
“If I ever get a big part, I'll send you tickets. Hey, thanks for not letting anyone shoot me, by the way.”
He laughed and there was something really, suddenly sweet about it. She didn't think he did a lot of laughing like that. “You're welcome,” he said. “All part of the service. Thank you for not letting me be stabbed in the back.”
“You got it,” Angie said, with a salute. “Don't forget to tip your waitress.”
“I'll make a habit of it in future,” James said.
She stuck out her hand in friendship and he chuckled again. He gave her hand a shake, rubbing his thumb over it, and flipping it over to look at her palm like it was real fascinating. He gave her palm a kiss and Angie's knees went a little weak.
“Enjoy your boat home, Sailor,” she said, through a suddenly dry mouth.
“Thank you, Sugar,” he said.
He gave her a kiss on her cheek, this one more chaste than the one to her hand, and lingered by her mouth for a moment, like maybe he was gonna try for a proper kiss, but nodded a goodbye instead, his nose brushing against hers.
He wandered off toward the subway and she watched him go. She wondered if she should feel regret, but she didn't really. She was fine with being ships that passed in the night.
And maybe they'd pass by again someday.