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Title: A Dangerous Woman
Author: Aenaria
Rating: PG, for now at least.  Still haven't decided where it's going to go from here.
Spoilers: The Avengers and Captain America: The First Avenger
Summary: There's a woman running around New York City in 2013 with Peggy Carter's face - the same exact face she had back in 1945. Is it coincidence, or something more? Steve Rogers isn't quite sure. Unabashed Peggy/Steve reunion fic. No matter the fandom, I can't escape them...

The last thing I have time to do right now is write, but somehow I still managed to start this piece and dive headfirst right into a new fandom (where I'm still fascinated by the idea of reunion!fics.  Whatever, I love them and I don't care).  Why am I so busy?  I'm actually going to be moving in a few weeks out of Rhode Island and back to the dear city of my birth, Brooklyn, NY.  Which, coincidentally, is where a lot of this story takes place.  Maybe that explains it, but it could also be the mad, passionate obsession with the Avengers that kicked in after I saw the movie - and then proceeded that same night to hit up every Redbox I could find to grab all of the prequels.  And while he's not the usual sort of hero I go for (I've always had a history of going after the so-called anti heroes), the story of Captain America fascinated me the most.  And, all right, it didn't hurt that he's damn easy on the eyes (that introductory scene in the boxing gym?  YUM).  Needless to say, fanfic was almost an inevitability.

(And man, do I really need to update my icons.  I don't think I've put new ones in there for years...)


I'll say it right now, I know for sure this isn't how the next Captain America movie is going to go. However, when the muse strikes, sometimes it's better to just go with the idea than push it aside. That and it'll give me a chance to write a little bit about Brooklyn, a place which my family seems convinced is the center of the universe (we're a bit odd).

What I do know is that this is my first Avengers fic, so I'm still not sure I've nailed the characters down pat. So, if you have any suggestions, especially in regards to the characters, please let me know so I can fix it up before posting the next part!

Oh, and this is Movieverse only, so everything I know is being pulled from there.

All right, enough with the notes, on with the story.

A Dangerous Woman: Chapter One

            The first time Steve Rogers sees the woman who bears a startling resemblance to Peggy Carter it’s a cold, January afternoon, with the sky hanging heavy and grey amidst the skyscrapers that tower above them.  It’s an eerie coincidence, this young woman possessing the same high cheekbones and deep dark eyes.  The rational part of Steve knows that she’s not here, nor that young if she’s even still alive – but S.H.I.E.L.D. has been rather evasive in regards to that aspect of his past. 

            But the young, dumb, and stupidly brave part of him that the Army found they had to grudgingly put up with at times, especially when it came to the people he cared about, ends up chasing her through the crowds on the street for about thirty seconds.  He weaves through the crowds of people bundled up in winter jackets, scarves, and hats, following the bobbing head for a block or so.  Peggy – or the woman who looks too much like Peggy for Steve’s comfort – turns a corner, disappearing around the edge of a building.

            When he makes it to the corner and turns himself, there’s no sign of her at all.

            Steve’s almost certain that she had no idea she was being followed either.

           

The utter irony of the situation is that the entire reason she’d come to New York was to find him, yet he was the one who had managed to spot her before she even had the slightest idea of where to start her search.

            The last time Steve had been on the Staten Island Ferry it had been spring of 1941.  He’d gone over to the Staten Island Zoo to get some sketches of some of the reptiles in their collection for a class of his, because everyone knew they had the best creepy crawlers in town.  And for the five cents it cost to take the boat, he figured it was a worthwhile splurge.

            Fast forward to February, 2013 and the reptiles appear to have mutated and are currently in the process of attempting to take over the ferry terminal.  With all due haste the Avengers are called out, leading to a…well, what could only be called a bit of a ruckus in the middle of the terminal’s courtyard.  What staff and visitors the police couldn’t evacuate were at least locked down inside the terminal while they deal with the reptiles from hell outside.  There are still far too many civilians darting around for Steve’s tastes, however, and it’s all they can do to keep them corralled away from the lizards.

            Steve resists the urge to shake his head and lament about the past.  Instead he backhands his shield into the torso of one of the lizard things and sends it flying off into the distance.

            “How many points is that if you hit it into the baseball stadium?” Tony calls out, blowing up his own reptile in the process.  An arrow whizzes right past Tony’s head and embeds itself firmly into the neck area of another creature that was fast coming up on the left.

            Steve glances at the overhead walkway where Clint’s straddling the railing, giving them air cover.  He’s also protecting the civilians that are huddled up there, trying to keep the lizards from scaling the support posts while a few members of the NYPD are working on getting them into the safety of the terminal.  His eyes dart quickly over the people, trying to quickly assess the situation.  He’s about to turn his attention back to the fight on the ground, when his eyes land on her again.  She’s there pressed up against the railing, one hand gripping the top and the other one holding a cell phone to her ear.  And now, she’s looking directly at him.

            He can’t afford to let time slow down for him, not now with the port getting overrun by a genetic experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong.  But the moment that they’re there staring at each other feels interminable, full of the potential for getting lost, falling in, and not finding the way out again.  Her mouth gapes slightly, and the hand holding the phone falls down to her shoulder.  For that moment, the sound of the battle goes away, screams and rough metallic clashes fading and morphing into a rushing noise that resembles crashing waves. 

            Steve sees the woman who looks like Peggy’s mouth snap shut and her eyes flick away for a moment, and then back to him.  “Look out!” she screams, and he knows it’s directed at him.  The sounds come back with a snap, and he feels a clawed limb clamp down on his shoulder, talons digging into the fabric.  Without thinking Steve’s body reacts and he twists, leading with an elbow and following up with the shield.

            When he looks back up at the walkway after the creature’s been beaten into submission, she’s nowhere to be found amidst the clamoring group.  Dammit.

            “I was that bloody close!” she cries out, slamming her fist onto the edge of an industrial metal desk.  “Close enough I could have reached out and touched him.  But no, the bastards had to go and rush us out of there.”

            Another person, also female but with an American accent and sounding far more amused, speaks up.  “So now you’re mad at the NYPD for saving your life?” 

            “I could have handled myself.”

            “I’m sure.”

            She collapses into the desk chair and crosses her arms over her chest, still covered in the battered leather jacket that was older than it had any right to be.  “That’s the last time I go retrieve a guest of ours from the ferry,” she mutters.

            The other woman settles herself on the edge of the desk, and looks down at the sulking figure.  Not that Peggy would ever admit she was sulking, that a WWII veteran was far too dignified for that, but the look on her face at the moment currently resembled a very petulant five-year-old.  “Well, we at least found out one important thing.”

            “And what’s that, Miranda?”

            Miranda grins, knowing that Peggy would kick herself for being so oblivious for missing this one.  “They got on scene awfully fast, didn’t they?  That tells me that they’ve got to be based in the area.”

            “Or an incredibly quick aeroplane.”

            “Don’t be so cynical.”

            “It’s too ingrained in my nature.  Still, New York seems like a better decision every day.”

            The other woman spreads her arms out wide, gesturing around the room.  “Welcome to the greatest city on Earth.”

            “You’re biased.”

            “Damn straight.”

            Two more weeks pass, and Steve thinks he sees the woman with Peggy’s face, as he’s taken to calling her, again.  It’s not the clearest view, as it’s the middle of the night and he’s riding his motorcycle around Brooklyn as a way to deal with insomnia, but he gets that pricking on the back of his neck that tells him to look closer.  So he circles the block and slows down, trying to take in as much as possible without looking like a suspicious character.  The road’s mostly empty, so he’s got to be careful.

            And if there’s any scene to not look like a suspicious person in, it would be this one.  There’s yellow crime scene tape roping off a small park that really is just a triangle shaped plot of land at the center of a few crossroads, with a white tent and a few floodlights set up around the place.  People are scurrying around, dressed in both semi-military garb and plain clothes.  She’s one of the plain clothes people, in those boots and that leather bomber jacket again.  It looks like the jacket he’d seen her wear a few times back in the War, but that could just be his head filling in the blanks and superimposing memory over the present.  As he wheels slowly past the scene he watches her as she taps the edge of a clip board on one of the uniformed men’s shoulders and directs him to the far side of the triangle.

            Steve hits the brakes on the bike quickly as one of the uniformed men steps out into the road, almost directly in the path of his bike.  “Sorry, pal,” the man says, as Steve gives himself a closer look at the uniform.  It’s definitely military, fatigues rather than dress, but it doesn’t quite look like any of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that he’s familiar with.  “Road’s closing down until morning, so you need to turn around and head back.”

            Before he answers, Steve gives himself another quick look at the triangle.  Now there’s a different woman in civilian clothes resting her elbows between the spokes of the wrought iron fence, idly looking out at the street.  She’s tall and slender, maybe a few years older than he is, with the lines of her face obscured slightly behind a pair of thick-framed glasses.  What gets the attention of the artist in him is the way the wind keeps tugging around the sheets of her long dark hair as if she’s a character in a cartoon.  This all happens in a brief couple of seconds, however, and he turns back to the guy still standing in front of his bike.  “Sorry about that,” Steve says, and makes to turn the bike around.

            “No problem,” the man replies.  “You’re lucky I’m not a cop though,” he continues before Steve can get the bike moving again, “otherwise I’d write you up for not wearing a helmet.”

            There are some things about this modern world he really can’t quite get used to.

            The next day, after the mess has been cleared up and they’re all back at the home base, the other woman barges her way into Peggy’s office, barely bothering to knock.  “Have you no sense of decorum, Miranda?” Peggy asks, sounding a bit frustrated to her ears.  Really, though, she’s a good distraction from the giant stack of paperwork that’s sitting on her desk waiting to be done.

            Miranda hops up onto the edge of the desk, pushing her glasses up in a fluid movement.  “You don’t by any chance have any of those pictures from your days abroad in the office, do you?”

            Days abroad – that’s what they called the time before, the days of the war and invasions where the internet was just a gleam in a science fiction writer’s eye.  But everything is buried under so many levels of clandestine bureaucracy and administrative paranoia that even the slightest mention of something different has to be handled with the utmost care when it’s not just Peggy and Miranda around.

            Peggy looks thoughtful for a moment.  “No, I don’t think so.  Everything’s locked up at the flat.  Wait a minute.”  She pulls open the bottom drawer of her desk and pulls out an old-fashioned leather notebook, complete with wrap-around cords to keep the book closed.  It was one of the first things she had begun to use again after the British government had finally returned what meager few possessions of hers had lasted throughout the years.  The blank pages have been replaced over time, constantly refreshed with new ones – there are some trappings of the past she just can’t escape and there’s something joyful about watching handwriting and dark ink flow across the page – but the leather casing is all original.

            She slides the Moleskine cover out from under the leather flap, and pulls out the ancient photo that’s been pressed between the two layers.  It’s black and white that’s gone yellow with age, but the faces and figures are still as clear as they’ve ever been.  There are four people in the picture, set in one of the laboratory spaces.  Phillips looms in the back, looking as grim and stern as ever, while Howard Stark is bent over the table making some adjustment to the piece of weaponry in front of him.  Peggy herself is there in the photo, tapping her fingers on her folded arms as she looks at the weapon.  Finally there’s Captain Steve Rogers next to her, larger than life even in small print form and looking over at the cameraman for some reason she can’t remember.  Peggy looks at the photo for one moment longer, and then hands it over to Miranda.

            Miranda takes the photo and scans it quickly.  Within a few seconds her mouth twists into a smirk.  “I thought so,” she says.

            “What?”

            She holds up the photo and taps a fingernail against the miniscule figure of Steve.  “This guy, who I believe you’ve talked about multiple times?  He drove past the scene last night, on some big old motorcycle.”

            Peggy pushes herself out of her desk chair to move closer to the photo, as if that one piece of paper somehow manages to hold all of the answers for her.  “What?  Are you sure?”

            “Tall, blond, handsome, and built like a brick shithouse?”  Miranda shakes her head.  “Honey, I’m not getting that one wrong.  That and he wasn’t wearing a helmet.  There’s no mistaking that face.”

            ‘Thank goodness for old fashioned habits,’ Peggy thinks.

            “And I’ll tell you what,” Miranda continues, handing the picture back to Peggy, who carefully slips it behind the leather once more.  “I’ve got a bit of an idea to possibly further your search.”

A month after that the Avengers assemble again, and are sent halfway across the world to help out on a top secret mission for S.H.I.E.L.D.  While the mission is ultimately a success, there are a few sticky moments in the process where Steve may have been slightly, vaguely distracted at a flash of dark hair or the twist of an arm, thinking that somehow the woman with Peggy’s face had shown up at one of their battle sites again.  Unlike last month, however, his teammates have noticed his distraction.  Luckily, no one was injured after his missed call.  Unluckily, that doesn’t stop Colonel Fury from hauling him into his office when they arrive back in New York City and soundly reaming him out.  On days like this, sometimes it’s better to just stand there and take it.  Hell, it almost feels familiar; he’d been on the receiving end of that speech from Phillips when he and the Commandos had gotten a bit too reckless on certain missions.  Besides, nothing Fury can say beats the gnawing feelings of guilt running through his head anyway.

“My apologies, sir,” he says once Fury’s finally run out of steam and there’s a break in the stream of angry words.  “It won’t happen again.”

“It had better not, Captain.  Now get out of my sight.”

“Yes, sir.”  Steve spins around and makes his way out of the office, heading back to the Tower without even thinking about it.  He’s not disturbed until he exits the elevator on his floor at the Tower, and spots Tony walking right by the door.  When he stops to think about it afterwards the timing is too coincidental.

“How was the ass-chewing?” Tony asks, coming to a quick stop.  Steve resists the urge to roll his eyes.

“Nothing less than I deserved,” he conceded.  “I was distracted and it put the team in jeopardy.”

Tony shrugs.  “Well, we can’t all be perfect…although I like to think I can be pretty close.”

Now Steve gives into the eye-roll.  “If you’re all done I’m going to go wash up and get some sleep,” he says, turning towards the door to his quarters.  Before he can make it there he feels Tony’s hand on his shoulder pushing him back towards the elevator.

“You seem like a man with something on his mind,” he says, pushing them into the elevator and hitting one of the buttons. 

“I’m fine,” Steve says, crossing his arms over his chest and staring resolutely at the doors in front of him.

“Uh-huh.”  In the reflection of the doors, he sees the sideways glance Tony cuts his way.  “Yeah, I call bullshit on that one, Cap.”

The doors open up onto Tony and Pepper’s lounge with one hell of a view of Midtown at nighttime spreading out in front of them.  Enough time has passed that they’ve been able to remove the Loki-sized dent in the floor; there’s no sign that any sort of a battle has ever taken place in that room.  Steve lets Tony lead him to the bar and pushes him down on one of the stools.  He’s not quite sure why he’s being so compliant, but he figures he’ll run with it for now and see where it goes.  Besides, he does owe his team a bit for earlier.

Tony goes behind the bar, pulls a bottle off the wall that looks suspiciously like scotch, and then grabs two tumblers.  He sets the whole mess on the bar counter and begins to pour out two healthy portions.  It’s times like this that Steve wishes he could actually feel the effects of alcohol.  (There was supposed to be an experiment involving some Asgardian mixture Thor had brought back, but the plan hasn’t come to fruition just yet.)  Still, he clutches at the tumbler when it’s pushed his way and sips carefully.  Even with his inexperience at drinking he can still tell that this is a good whiskey – spicy, warm, and biting all at the same time.  He takes another, deeper gulp, wishing it would kick in and knowing that it wouldn’t.

“So what’s going on?” Tony asks, bracing his elbows on the counter as he indulges in his own drink.  “What’s got your star spangled tights in a twist?”

Steve shakes his head, and traces a fingertip around the lip of the cut-glass tumbler.  “It’s nothing important.”

“See, I don’t know if I’d agree with that.”  Tony pointed a finger at him.  “If your distraction gets me hurt, then Pepper’s going to come out and let us both have it.  And believe me, you do not want to deal with that, not if she actually means it.”

Steve looks out the window, staring at the cityscape below.  At this time of night, and as high up as they are, the city’s turned into a grid of multicolored lights and stripes, radiating out and twinkling as if they’ve got nothing in the world to worry about.  It’d be easy to get lost in those too.  But Steve pulls himself away, looks up at Tony, and arches his eyebrows.  “You really wanna know what’s bothering me?” he says, feeling oddly calm despite everything that’s happened.

“Only if it’s not something I’ve done.  And for once, I can’t actually think of anything I did recently so I’m feeling surprisingly blameless.”

 “I keep seeing Peggy around town.  For a couple of months now,” Steve blurts out, burying his nose back in his tumbler once more to avoid Tony’s pointed gaze.

“Ahh, girl trouble.”  Tony nods and takes another drink.  “I’m not the best person to give relationship advice, of course.  And I’ve never had any experience with that much of an age gap in a relationship either.  A seventy year age difference is a new one, even for me.  Still, if it works for you—“

“I keep seeing Peggy as she looked back in 1945.  And whoever she is, she knows exactly who I am.”

That brings Tony up short.  “Oh,” he eventually says, quite possibly at a rare loss for words.




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