Categories > Movies > Marvel Cinematic Universe

no one teaches you what to do when a good man hurts you (and you know you hurt him too)

by peitho_x 0 reviews

Peggy transfers to the new SSR office in LA to be closer to Daniel but finds the transition more difficult than she expected.

Category: Marvel Cinematic Universe - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst,Drama,Romance - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2022-03-24 - 4453 words - Complete

They were going to be late for work. It was still Peggy's first week and they were going to be late. And they were going to blame it on the traffic, even though what really happened was that they were somewhat enthusiastic in bed the night before and had knocked the alarm clock on the floor where the batteries had fallen out.

Daniel was honking and swearing at the other drivers and complaining about LA traffic and Peggy couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

"They don't know where you live," Daniel said. "So they can't check up on the story."

"You think they're going to check up on my traffic story?" Peggy asked, holding on to the door for balance as they switched lanes quickly. "There won't be an investigation. The only person who cares about me being late is my boss, and that's you."

Daniel grinned. "You know I keep expecting Dooley to come back from the dead and tell me that Hawaiian shirts are not proper office attire."

"I'll bet he'd have a lot more to say about LA than just the fashion."

When he had parked in front of the Auerbach Theatrical Agency, Daniel said. "Alright, I'll wait five minutes, so we don't go in together."

Peggy smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Ruining your reputation as a punctual supervising officer for me is so sweet of you, darling."

"I'll ruin more than that," he said, pulling her in for a more substantial kiss.

When she pulled away, she smiled and handed him a handkerchief. "For the lipstick," she whispered and got out of the car.

Daniel watched her go, the handkerchief to his mouth not hiding his smile.

Peggy had known, from the first day, it would be difficult. From the first time she'd walked into the LA office, newly transferred from New York, she'd felt the looks sent her way. Her desk was quite near Daniel's office, which her new colleagues were also quick to observe.

And when Daniel had formally introduced her to the other agents, there were knowing glances, nudges, and murmurs. But she was used to all of this. Surely she had gone through worse before, with her relationships with Steve and Howard openly speculated upon in New York. She had handled all of that. She could handle this too.

And Daniel was sweet and understanding and made sure to follow her admittedly strict rules. They did not discuss personal matters at work, ever. They did not even hold hands in the office. If one of them went out for a drink with their coworkers – usually Daniel – then the other wouldn't – usually Peggy. She was determined to give no fodder to the rumours she knew were already pervasive – that she only had the job because she was sleeping with the boss.

It was a little over a month since her transfer to LA, and it was Valentine's Day. She and Daniel were going out for dinner after work. Peggy came to the office and found a pink envelope on her desk, addressed to her in what was not Daniel's handwriting. Inside was a somewhat mundane store-bought secret admirer card. She wasn't quite sure of what to make of it until Sutton – a newer agent who had been hired since the last time she had been in LA – sallied up to her desk.

"So, what about it, valentine?" he asked. "Be mine?"

Peggy rolled her eyes and held the card out to him. "Fortunately, I'm already spoken for."

"Oh." He took the card, acting surprised. "I thought we were taking turns. He's had you for over a month; I thought it was high time someone else–"

"If you finish that sentence and I'll ensure you don't see next month," Peggy snapped.

He laughed. "Threatening a fellow agent, I oughtta report you to the chief, although I've got a feeling he'd let you off easy."

Peggy glared at him, grabbed the card from his hand and tossed it in the garbage can as he walked away.

When Daniel came by her desk a few minutes later, he asked, "Are you alright?"

"Yes, fine," she said. "I left my report on the east side break-ins on your desk."

He blinked. "Right, thanks."

She smiled and she knew he could tell it was forced, but, as per their rules, he didn't say anything about it.

Dinner was at a new restaurant near the beach. It was lovely and romantic but Peggy's mind kept wandering. She kept glancing around the restaurant, worried there might be SSR agents there, seeing her and Daniel out as a couple. It was ridiculous and paranoid and she knew it, but then again, fears are not always rational things.

One evening a week or two later, Peggy was so focused on her work that she hardly realized that everyone else had left. The only light in the office other than her desk lamp came from Daniel's office. She looked over and felt herself relax a little at his presence. She missed having his desk just a few in front of her. Over their months in New York, she had learned to read his mood by the set of his shoulders and how many times he had run his hands through his hair.

It had been simpler then. They had been a bit of a team – both outcasts from the other agents. As she turned back to her work, the vague thought came to her that maybe they were no longer on that team. Daniel had moved up in the world. She shook the thought away; Daniel had risked his career – and his life – backing her play against Vernon. He was on her side and had been since the beginning.

About twenty minutes later, Daniel's office door opened and closed. Peggy looked up and smiled at him as he approached her. "Late night, chief?"

"Always," he said. "You done for the night?"

Peggy glanced at her desk and sighed. "I can probably leave the rest till tomorrow."

"Well," Daniel said, drawing out the word as he pulled Peggy to her feet. "Since neither of us is on the clock and no one else is here, I'd say we're not technically at work."

"I like the way you think," Peggy said.

Daniel pulled her into a kiss, holding her close. Peggy wrapped her arms around his neck and tangled her fingers in his hair; she let herself sink into and get lost in it. There was no work, no stress, no fat-headed male coworkers; there was only her and Daniel and far too many clothes between them.

They stumbled their way back into his office, refusing to let go of each other, crashing into chairs, desks, and the doorway on their way. Daniel lost his footing as he opened the door, but Peggy managed to hold onto him until they both tumbled onto the couch, her on top of him.

Peggy had just gotten her blouse unbuttoned when there were footsteps out in the bullpen.

"Hey, chief," Vega's voice neared them, and Peggy tried to hastily do up her top again. "I realized I forgot to give you the report on–" He stopped when he stood in the doorway and stared at them, before quickly turning his head away. "Sorry for... interrupting."

Peggy quickly got up and, holding her blouse closed with one hand, walked over, and grabbed the report from his hand. "Thank you, Agent Vega," she said. "Have a lovely evening."

Daniel sat up and watched as Peggy placed the report on his desk, waiting to see what her reaction would be. He knew this kind of thing was exactly what she had been afraid of being insinuated in the office, and here they were, actually doing it.

Then she laughed. "I feel like I just got caught kissing a boy in the bathrooms at a school dance," she said, turning to him.

Daniel relaxed. "That happen often?"

"It wasn't really the boys I liked," Peggy said, straddling Daniel's legs where he sat. "More the rebellion of it all."

"Rebellion, huh?" Daniel looked around them. "Should I be nervous?"

Peggy just smiled and kissed him. Daniel's hands roamed up under her blouse before he pulled away.

"That wasn't a no," he said.

"It wasn't a yes, either," Peggy said teasingly.

He looked at her for a moment then grinned. "I'll take it."

It wasn't until Peggy got home that night that it really hit her. She sat down on her couch, surprised at the rate of her heartbeat, the way her breath was trying to come out in short shallow gasps. She held out her hands and found they were shaking.

"Alright, Peggy," she said to herself. "Pull yourself together."

It was fine. She was fine. Everyone had been caught in a compromising situation at some point in their lives. If Captain America could snog someone on an army base and have no one say anything about it, then... Well, then this was nothing compared to that.

(Except it was something, because it was different, and she knew it was but God she was just so sick of it all.)

Mr. Jarvis and Ana were currently back in New York, where Howard was too, on business. Peggy sat in her empty apartment and realized that she did not have many friends in LA – except for Violet, who she couldn't talk to about this for obvious reasons.

Angie's voice was such a comfort – even over the phone – that Peggy nearly teared up. "Hey, English."

"Angie," she said, relaxing on the couch. "It's so good to hear your voice. I hope I didn't wake you."

"Don't worry about it," she said, a bit more hesitant at the quiver in Peggy's voice. "Are you okay?"

"Well, I–" She sighed. "Not really." She explained the situation to a patient Angie, pulling her legs onto the couch and leaning against the armrest. "I just feel stuck," she concluded. "And with no one to talk to about it."

"Other than Daniel, you mean."

Peggy doesn't say anything, which Angie immediately picked up on.

"You've talked to him about it, right?"

"Not really," Peggy said, quickly continuing before Angie said anything. "Because I know that if I do, he'll want to talk to them, and tell them off."

"Which will only make things worse," Angie finished.

"Yes, exactly."

"Peggy," Angie said, and Peggy already knew what she was going to say. "You need to talk to him. You two were friends before you got together, right? Tell him like you told me."

Peggy sighed. "You're probably right."

"It happens more often than you think."

Peggy knew Angie was right, and she would talk to Daniel about it. Eventually. After she tried to do things her way a little bit longer. Because she was doing what she had always done, working as hard as she could until she finally won the begrudging respect of her coworkers.

She worked long hours, taking the shifts no one wanted, and made sure her reports were detailed and above reproof. She responded to the comments from Sutton and the others with witty retorts until that became too tiring, and she just ignored them.

Around the time she thought she was finally gaining a little respect, she also realized she was seeing less and less of Daniel. She made a note to figure out a day they could go out for dinner, but it was soon buried by paperwork.

One evening, as she was going over the weekly records of a florist they were investigating for being one of the mob's fronts, there was a knock on her door.

"It's me!" Daniel called.

"It's open!" Peggy said, not looking away from the papers.

Daniel came in, carrying what smelled like Chinese food from the place around the corner. He set the bags on the dinner table and then came over to her, kissing the top of her head. "Have you eaten?" he asked.

"I had a coffee after work," Peggy said distractedly.

"That would be a no then," he said. "Come on, you need a break and food."

"Just let me finish this," Peggy said, flipping to the next page.

Daniel came around the couch and manoeuvred himself into a kneel beside her. "Peg," he said, and she finally looked at him. "Hi."

Her face softened and she smiled wearily. "Hi," she said and leaned forward to kiss him. "Sorry."

He smiled. "Come on, you need to eat."

She sighed and put the papers down. "Did you get Pork Chow Mein?"


Peggy smiled and kissed him again.

They sat at the table, unpacking and dividing up the food.

"So, how's the florist looking?" Daniel asked.

"Pretty normal, except for the high demand for tiger lilies. I didn't think orange was very in right now."

"Do you think it's code for something?"

Peggy shrugged. "Or it's simply me being behind in LA floral fashion."

Daniel laughed. "Maybe we need a fashion consultant in the office."

"Mm, maybe we do."

They ate in silence for a bit.

"Oh, I've been meaning to ask you," Daniel said. "The office has tickets for the Rams game next Saturday. Do you wanna go?"

Peggy smiled. "Daniel, I don't know anything about–" She stopped. "Wait, are the Rams baseball or football?"

Daniel sighed, exaggeratedly exasperated. "Football. And I can explain while we watch."

"I wouldn't want to spoil your fun."

"You wouldn't be," he insisted. "Besides, Peggy, we hardly ever go out."

"It's a work event, Daniel, it wouldn't be a date," Peggy said. "And anyway, I don't want to be the girl who needs the rules of the manly sport explained to her."

"You don't know the rules because you're British," Daniel said. "If we went and watched a game of cricket or polo or whatever, I'd need you to explain what was going on."

Peggy sighed. "That's not how they'll see it."

"Since when have you cared how people see you?"

Peggy's gaze dropped to her food, and she took a deep breath. "Fine, I'll go then."

"Wait, I– I don't want to force you to go."

"Okay, then I won't go." She looked up to meet his eyes. He looked at her, confused, before looking away again.

"Well, there's still over a week, if you... change your mind."


They ate in silence again until Daniel said gently, "Are you alright, Peggy?"

She looked at him and smiled softly. "I'm fine, just tired."

Then one day, like some malevolent trickster, Jack Thompson showed up. "Hey Marge," he said, walking through the bullpen. "Hope you're keeping everyone on their toes."

"Chief Thompson," Peggy said. "What a lovely surprise."

"Have I ever told you you really know how to make a guy feel welcome?"

Peggy gave him a small smile. "I believe Chief Sousa is on the phone right now, so you'll have to wait."

"Are you his secretary now too?"

"That's what we've been wondering," Sutton said, approaching Jack with his hands held out. "Agent Sutton, sir."

Jack shook it. "You know she almost shot me once," he said, jerking his head toward Peggy.

"What?" Sutton asked, confused.


"Women and their aim, right?" Sutton tried to recover.

"Oh no, she woulda gotten me, except the building behind us exploded." He leaned in and lowered his voice. "Just don't piss her off."

Sutton glanced between her and Peggy. "Right..."

As he walked away, Peggy shook her head and stared at him. "What was that?"

"Seeding fear amongst the new recruits," he said. "He's new, right?"


He grinned. "Wait till I tell them about the time Sousa tried to kill me."

"In my defence," Daniel said, who had come to stand beside Peggy's desk. "You were being, well, yourself."

They shook hands. "Let's go into my office."

Peggy sighed as she watched them leave. With her luck, everyone would think she was sleeping with two SSR chiefs.

It was Friday and when everyone else had left, Peggy went to Daniel's office, where he and Jack were still talking.

"Peggy," Daniel said when she came in. "Jack wanted to go to The Mint. I've got some stuff to finish up here yet, but maybe you could take him."

She hesitated only a moment. "Yes, alright." It had been too long since she'd gone out with a friend. As much as she could call Jack a friend.

Jack grinned and stood up, holding his jacket. "I promise not to steal your girl," he said to Daniel.

Peggy rolled her eyes. "As if you could."

The bar was smoky and dimly lit, and it was one of Peggy's favourite places to come with Daniel. Maybe it was because it would be difficult for their coworkers to spy them out with the poor visibility, but she didn't put too much thought into it. She and Daniel usually took one of the back booths, but with Jack, she sat at the bar; this was not a semi-secret rendezvous, this was having a drink with a friend in the open.

"Jack," Peggy said after they had exchanged stories from the job for a good twenty minutes. "Do you remember what you said to me in the interrogation room that time? That no men would ever see me as an equal and that it was sad but no less true?"

He looked at her curiously. "Yeah," he said. "Why?"

She shrugged. "I suppose I've just been thinking about that lately."

"I wasn't entirely right," he said after a moment. "I bet Sousa's telling off guys left, right, and center for looking at you funny."

"I've told him he's not allowed to do that."

"What, you guys have rules?" he asked incredulously.

"I'm a female agent dating my supervising officer," Peggy said. "Of course, we have rules. About work..."

"No hand-holding in the office?"

"No anything in the office."

Jack raised his eyebrows and smirked. "Really? Cause I heard this rumour–"

"That was one time," Peggy interrupted. "And we thought everyone had gone home."

"Ah, rookie mistake," he said. "Never assume the office is empty."

"Have you been dallying with anyone at the office, Jack?" Peggy asked with an amused smile.

"Not the SSR's office," he said. "That would be inappropriate."

Peggy rolled her eyes.

"Seriously though," he said. "Since when have you cared what people think? Half the office thought you and Stark had messed around and you still went to bat for him. You didn't give a shit."

"You think I don't go to bat for Daniel? Of course, I do. I just think we should keep our personal and work lives separate, so people don't get any ideas."

"You think they'll think you only got the job because you're screwing the boss?" Jack asked, confused. "They won't. They don't. They're just dicks. Believe me, I'd know."

Peggy nodded. "I know."

"Then what's the problem?"

She sighed. "I'm exhausted," she said, then laughed. "I'm so tired of it. Every day, the looks, the comments. It's like nothing I do is enough."

Jack nodded. "Not to play couples' counsellor, but what are Daniel dearest's thoughts on the situation?"

"Daniel is not fully aware of the extent..." She looked at him. "I don't exactly tell him everything."

"Always the sign of a good healthy relationship," Jack said, nodding sagely. "I never tell anyone what's bothering me and, as you know, I am happily married with like three kids."

Peggy tried to look displeased but couldn't ward off a small smile. "You have a remarkable talent of making things sound worse when you say them."

He grinned. "Happy to help." He downed the last of his drink. "Before you go make your relationship all better and boring, or whatever," he said. "Why'd you come to me about this?"

"I think you and I are quite alike."


"You're more cynical than I am, but we both see the world as it is."

"And Sousa sees it as he wishes it was," Jack said. "He's an optimist."

Peggy smiled slightly. "I suppose I can't fault him for that."

"I do," Jack said. "Makes him too much of a boy scout."

"I happen to like nice men."

"Clearly," he said. "Picking Captain America over Howard Stark? Your type is showing."

Peggy stood up. "This was a more enjoyable and enlightening evening than I expected it to be," she said. "Thank you, Jack."

"And if it doesn't end up working out between you two," Jack said. "I've got a cousin's wedding this summer that I may have promised my grandmother I was bringing a date to."

"As much as I'd hate to disappoint your grandmother, I think we'll be okay."

"Alright, see ya, Marge."

On Monday, Sutton slapped Peggy's ass as he passed by her in the bullpen.

Peggy spun around and snapped, "If you touch me again, I'll break all those delicate little bones in your hand."

He just grinned and wasn't backing down and Peggy was just starting to think she'd have to make good on her threat when Daniel poked his head out of his office and said, "Everything alright out here?"

Sutton stepped back from Peggy. "Yeah, chief. Everything's fine."


She kept her eyes on Sutton. "Yes, sir."

"Alright, then." His office door closed.

Sutton grinned again and went back to his desk. Peggy's knuckles were white as she gripped the back of her chair. When she went to the bathroom she punched a dent in the wall of the stall and then almost cried at how tired she was of being angry.

Daniel was sitting on the front steps of the apartment building when Peggy got home that evening. She accepted a kiss to her cheek but put a hand on his arm when he started to follow her inside. "I'm tired, Daniel," she said.

"Is everything alright?" he asked.

"Yes, I just need to rest."

"Was Sutton bothering you today?" he asked. "Because I can talk to him–"

"Don't do that!" she burst out. "I mean." She sighed. "That would only encourage him."

He followed her into the foyer. "So, he is bothering you."

"I'm handling it."

"You don't have to handle it alone."

Peggy sighed. "Remember what I said before: I can handle whatever those adolescents can throw at me."

"Yeah, but then I didn't have any power to help you. Now I do."

They had reached her door. Peggy unlocked it and they went inside. Daniel helped as Peggy began unpacking her groceries.

"I just want your time at this office to be better than in New York."

Peggy turned to him. "Darling, it is." She took his hand in hers. "You treat me the same as all the other agents. That's all you have to do. The rest I can deal with myself." She continued putting things in the fridge.

"When you say to treat you equally, what you mean is that you want me to turn a blind eye to guys bothering you," Daniel said. "Are you telling me Jack never told off a new guy for giving you a hard time?"

"No, he left that to me," Peggy said. "And even if he had, that would be different."

"What? Because we're together?" Daniel said. "I know that's why you weren't so sure about transferring, but–"

Peggy turned to him. "Daniel, if you say anything to them, you will only make it worse. I can deal with them; I have ample experience."

"Peggy, you're working yourself to the bone."

"If that's what I have to do to gain their respect."

"What kind of plan is that?"

"It's my only option," Peggy snapped. "You wouldn't understand."

"Yeah, 'cause you're the only one who was given a hard time in New York," he said seriously.

"And which one of us is now the chief of the new SSR office?" Peggy asked. "Oh, look, it's you!"

"Hey, don't blame me, alright, I recommended you for the job."

"I'm not blaming you, I'm just saying that this is what it is. This is what it was like during the war, this is what it was like in New York, and this is what it's like here." She sighed. "We both know what it's like to be overlooked and viewed as less than ideal. But you can't understand what I go through any more than I can understand what you go through. So believe me when I say: this is the only way. I must excel to be at all respected."

Daniel sighed. He pulled her close and she rested her cheek on his shoulder. "I just wish I could help." They swayed in the dimly lit kitchen.

"Me too," Peggy said. "But you can't."

Something between them shifted that night, but at the time, Peggy wasn't quite sure what it was.

Daniel began acting differently after that as well; he was less accommodating and more clipped and terser with the agents. Mistakes were met with strict telling offs. Peggy found herself comparing his leadership style to Jack's and Dooley's – and even a few of her superiors during the war.

And because she knew what had caused this change, she didn't ask him about it.

Peggy kept working every shift she could get. She pulled all-nighters and cracked difficult cases and arrested dangerous people and it was somehow never enough. She got into petty arguments fueled by too much coffee and not enough sleep with anyone in her way, including Daniel.

Any time they spent together that was not work-related was usually spent sleeping together – in the most literal sense. They were growing apart and they both knew it. Peggy knew Daniel resented her dogged determination in earning everyone's respect; a determination that sometimes felt like running into a wall, getting knocked down and then running at it again anyway. And he knew she resented the fact that he resented it.

He thought that them caring about each other would be enough to carry both of them through the difficulties of the job. And she knew that it probably should be enough, but for her, it just wasn't. She needed more than a supportive boyfriend to come home to at the end of the day.

They weren't broken up yet, but it would happen eventually, and when it did, it will have felt inevitable. It wouldn't be some final argument, but an outside thing – or, more likely, a multitude of outside things piling up until they became unbearable – as it had always been.

But for now, they stayed, tumbling exhausted into bed together after a day of barely making eye contact at work, quietly wondering how much longer it could possibly last.
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