Kind of Pushed, Kind of Bent

Summary:
March 12, 2015: Steve Rogers goes to visit Peggy Carter at a retirement home in Virginia after finding out that she was not, in fact, dead.

Fairfax City, Viginia

The older part of the city in Northern Virginia


Characters

NPCs
*


Mood Music:
Down Boy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nYg4Ee2lN0


He had tried to go to sleep but after what happened earlier this evening, there was no hope. He thrashed and tossed and turned, trying to rid himself of the dread he felt when he'd assumed that the green being who had, apparently, attempted to breach the void in time and space was Margaret Carter.

It wasn't, apparently. At least not the Peggy Carter he knew.

But it wasn't just that. One of the things he'd first set out to do when building this new life of his was to visit her. She was in a retirement home, deep into the claws of alzheimer's or dementia (he didn't ask because he didn't want to know). He had visited often. At first. But as his life got busier it seemed he had more and more time for SHIELD and the world and Sara Pezzini and anything else and less and less time for Peggy.

I-95 has far less traffic in the middle of the night and with the milder weather he was to Baltimore before the sun came up. From there an hour and fifteen to Fairfax. As he drove through the older parts of the city he was surprised how out of place it felt. The traffic lights still hung from long cords like they did back in the 1970s and the buildings of the old town area were a mixture of 1830s and early 1900s architecture. It felt so far away from the rest of Northern Virginia. It felt like home.

Taking a left from Old Lee Highway onto Main Street, Steve takes the second left and pulls his motorcycle into the parking lot. It's sort of loud, he thinks to himself too late as he powers the machine down and steps inside.

Soon he's at room 227 and being let in to her room. The nurse pulls a seat up next to Peggy's bed and he has to look three times to be sure it's her.

Peggy's room is much like he left it last. There's still the strange mixture of disinfectant and her perfume. The pictures of her children clutter the table along with a glass of water next to various pill bottles that contain the medications she takes to try and slow the grips of her disease and ease her pain. Books, glasses and knick knacks are in easy reach and within view. Comforting items meant to reassure and make a room - even a comfortable one - in a retirement home feel like, well, home.

Similarly, Peggy is much like he left her last: at least the last time he visited, if not how he best remembers her. Though her characteristic red lipstick has long been abandoned for no make up, her white hair is well combed and she rests in a comfortable bed, blankets and pillows properly arranged. She is well taken care of here, at least.

As the door opens and softly shuts to let Steve in, the elderly Peggy's chest rises and falls steadily, eyes fluttering in what must be dreams. It is late and she is an old woman, after all. Even as Steve pulls up a chair toward the bed, she does not wake for awhile. Her lightning reflexes and combat instincts have melted away. She looks peaceful.

Eyes flutter open and Peggy readjusts to the waking world. Sleep tends to help a beleaguered mind and, mercifully, her dark brown eyes show a lucidity that is oftentimes missing when Steve visits. It takes her a few moments to get her bearings and realize that the Steve in the chair nearby is not a dream. She smiles, a hand reaches out toward him. "I thought you were a dream," she says softly, her voice cracking with both age and emotion. "You should have woken me."

Steve grins at her and reaches his hand over the metal bar of the bed to grip hers, "I didn't want to." His voice is low and quiet. "I wanted to let you sleep."

"Peg, I'm sorry I haven't come as much as I should have. I could tell you excuses about SHIELD, and I know you'd understand, but they would just be excuses. I want you to know I'm sorry."

Peggy holds onto Steve's hand tightly, putting the other on top. A bit of a smirk, strangely so reminiscent of the younger woman she was quirks at the side of her lips. "I am not completely devoid of other visitors, you know." There are her children, after all. And her extended family. Despite that, seeing Steve tends to bring out the more firebrand self she was when he met her. Perhaps it is because he looks exactly as she remembers him. Unfortunately, her family do not have the same advantage when her memory tends to stray to the past and she expects her daughter to be twelve years old and not a grown woman.

The smile fades and her face looks serious as she watches him. "You always take so much on yourself." Even now she is an observant woman. And despite knowing Steve for what, in retrospect, was such a short period of time during her life, she knows him. This has nothing to do with his apology. It's an observation. "I'm simply…I am glad you're here." Her eyes stray to the window and the dark it reveals, even with the curtains drawn, and then returns to him, questioning. "It's late." Meaning, not a time when people normally visit.

"That's why I was created," Steve says with a chuckle, being a bit of a smartass himself. "To take a lot on. It's what I'm best at."

He exhales, "Early, actually. The sun's just come up, but it's on the other side of the building. I'm sorry to come so early, but I needed to see you. To make sure you were alright." Steve consciously decides not to tell her the details; he's somewhat afraid it will cause her distress.

With a squeeze of her hands, Peggy smiles. "They were so proud of you," she says softly at his quip. Even with the light touch and teasing tone she gives the sentence, she sounds both proud and full of love for Steve. She had a lot of practice with children and grandchildren to perfect that tone and yet it somehow doesn't sound motherly.

"You can visit any time you like," she tells him sincerely, the smile back. "I don't plan on going anywhere for quite awhile. Getting out of bed is a bit cumbersome for me these days." However, joking can only stay for so long. She knows his life and what she used to do for a living. Steve showing up at dawn means something. Maybe she doesn't know what, but it's something. "Did something happen?"

"Nah, I mean it didn't. But I thought it did. The truth is that I thought I lost you all over again, last night. I don't know if you were awake but I sent someone by to come check on you. This morning I needed to see it for myself." Steve has a far away look in his eye; he still hasn't been able to process it all yet and he hasn't gotten updates from Fitz or Simmons either.

"Did you ever have a watch? One that Howard gave you?"

If Peggy remembers anyone checking on her last night, she doesn't show it. The attempt to remember it creases her brow as she thinks it over. The question of an old watch startles her out of her thoughts and she blinks a few times. "A watch? Howard…" It takes a little while for her to answer. "He gave me a watch when we started SHIELD. I lost it, though. Could never keep a watch for more than a few months." Trying to remember the very specifics are frustrating, her lips purse. "A dead woman took it…" However, that doesn't make any sense. The contradiction of what she either thinks or does remember starts to unspool her thoughts. The strands of thought leave her. Her eyes look down at her hands, holding Steve's and she attempts to refocus. "Steve…"

"Hey," Steve says getting up from the seat and moving closer to put his arm around her in a half hug. "Hey, don't worry about it." His voice is soft and quiet in an attempt to be reassuring. "It's not a big deal. Like I said, you're okay. That's all that matters."

For a moment, Steve pulls his hand away. He reaches into his bomber jacket and pulls out a piece of paper. "Hey, I drew you something."

Inside is a hand drawn picture of the New York skyline, but the way it would have appeared in the 1940s.

"So you have something to remind you of me."

As Steve half hugs her, Peggy moves to wrap one of her arms around him and holds him as tightly as she can for the moment. "I am. And you're here now." So much has changed around her, but Steve is still the same. It's a strange, horrible fact of her life.

When she pulls back from the hug, she looks at the drawing he brought her with tears in her eyes. She reaches out to take it from him with a careful grasp. "I could never forget you, Steve." In fact, when much of her life roils around her, the moments of the war and being with Steve still remain clear in her mind.

When she looks back up from the drawing, her eyes widen, disbelieving. "Steve…!" she gasps, a tentative hand reaching. "You came back…my god, you came back…"


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