Author: Catherine Pugh PM
Peggy and Don miss each other and reassess their lives late one night in a bar. Friendship story, with small hint of romance.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 1,756 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 7 - Published: 06-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8216698
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Peggy Olson looked down at the wet spot on her lap where she'd knocked over her tumbler of whiskey and soda.
It was just as well. The night was getting late. Already midnight, and nothing waiting for her at home. After the last heated blowup, Abe had packed up and left for Chicago. Peggy was truly sorry things weren't working out between them, but something she'd once said to Don – that nothing was as important to her as her job – rang through her ears. Abe understood what that meant – he'd always be second. "Selling pantyhose and tampons means more to you than I ever will!" he shouted, throwing his dinner against her beloved ballet print.
Well, he had a point. That was nearly a month ago.
Peggy poured herself another one and sipped it. She wasn't a whiskey guzzler like her old cronies at SCDP, but it did help her unwind. The office was silent. Everyone else had gone home, sensibly. These quiet nights were Peggy's best thinking times, but something was missing. She ambled over to her sofa and laid down for a few minutes.
Late nights in the office with Don, before the Megan Years. After the night they fell asleep on the sofa together, things between them had gotten more relaxed. Don and she spent many nights drinking, hashing through ideas, laughing at colleagues, and grabbing coffee at a cleaner Greek diner. Don had told her a lot of interesting things – growing up on a farm, seeing hobos, the best place to find morels. No one else knew about his hillbilly upbringing, but she liked that secret about him. He never talked about his parents, so she figured they weren't great people, but she relished tales of the country. She'd barely ever left Brooklyn in her life, and she dreamt of visiting the country. Don told her it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but if she ever wanted to know how to butcher a hog, to come see him. Looking at Don at work, you would never have known he once waded around in cow manure, or that he knew Pennsylvania Dutch.
Peggy didn't have many friends anymore. Joyce had long since run off with a hippie woman and joined a commune; her old roommate, whom she hated anyway, had married a nice Catholic boy and settled down in Queens. No. No friends. She really just missed working with Don. He drove her crazy with his awful temper and mood swings – enough to leave her job at SCDP – but she was flourishing at her new job, and Don was still her best buddy. They still met at the movie theatre every couple of weeks for a matinée. But it wasn't the same.
She fell asleep, her eyes moist with nostalgic tears. She hated to admit it, but she was still sore about Megan taking away all of that when he married her. Megan never really understood Don. Peggy wasn't even sure she understood Don, but that didn't matter.
Don sat at his desk at SCDP, nursing his fourth scotch. It'd been a lousy, lousy year, just when he was hoping to turn a new corner in his personal life. God knows he tried.
In the end, Megan got her shoe commercial, then got picked up for some go-go beach movie or some crap, and she took off. Despite their tumultuous marriage, they had a relatively quiet divorce. At least he'd never have to deal with Émile again. But this divorce rocked him terribly. He'd failed, again. His children were getting older; Sally was starting to call him on his bullshit. Christ, she sounded just like her mother sometimes. Betty would call up in that bitchy sing song voice and dump the boys on him so she could go skiing with that asshole husband of hers. Actually, he didn't hate Henry Francis. Not really.
At least when he was single the last time, he had Peggy to talk to. She was the only one who would listen. He never talked about his romantic life with her; she knew, but didn't care. Just talking about stuff like living on the farm helped. She never judged him, never made him feel like a failure. He would never say this aloud, but on nights like this, he missed Pegs like his right arm.
Peggy's phone rang and startled her awake. It was getting on 1:00 AM. Who the hell was calling her at this hour? ….no, wait. Of course.
"Hi, Don." Her heart was still pounding from the phone's ring. At least, that's what she told herself. "Are you okay?"
"You up for a beer?"
"Actually, I was thinking of giving you a call, myself. I'd love one. Teddy Chaough better not find out, though."
"Fuck him. Come on. You and me. My treat. Usual spot."
"Meet you in twenty."
She found him half an hour later, sitting at the bar, nursing another scotch. He looked worn out. Megan wore everyone out. She tapped him on the shoulder and gave him a big hug. He hugged her back, clumsily but hard.
"You look wonderful," he murmured. "You smell nice."
"Your classic pick up line. I know your tricks."
"Doesn't mean I don't mean it. You do smell nice."
"Evening In Paris. My father always got it for my mother for Christmas. She never wears it anymore, but I love it. It's kind of old fashioned."
"You and Paris. When are you going to get off your ass and finally go?"
"Well, Virginia was a close second."
"Bullshit, Peggy. Heineken?"
"Budweiser for me, thanks. It's…homework."
"Well, we don't have them yet. We're working on it. We're ALWAYS working on it."
Don finished his scotch.
"Sally was visiting yesterday, to raid what was left of Megan's closet. There was an old movie on the late show last night. I stayed up to watch it. Ever see 'Now, Voyager?'"
"No. I was too young. My sister probably saw it in the theatre, though."
He smiled. "Bette Davis. What a woman. She plays this old biddy that gets made up like a movie star, and she goes on a cruise and meets a handsome married man. They fall in love and have an affair."
"Oh. Sounds like a good movie."
"I liked it. Sally thought it was old fashioned, but she watched the whole thing."
"It must have been good. That kid never likes anything."
"Anyway, there was a scene in the movie I want to try."
"We're not having an affair. I spent six years of my life telling people we weren't."
Don calmly took out two cigarettes, lit them both in his mouth, and handed one to Peggy. She giggled for a second, then took it graciously, doing her best Bette Davis smoking impression.
"See? Wasn't that a slick move?" he asked, with a grin.
"Corny. But cute. Thanks for the cigarette. What has you in this mood? Shouldn't you be picking up a date?"
"Not tonight. Why are you at work so late? Shouldn't you be home with What's His Face?"
Peggy's face fell.
"Work got in the way. Again."
"Want another beer?"
Don looked at Peggy. Maybe it was the scotch doing the thinking, but she looked exquisite tonight. She'd gotten prettier and prettier since she left SCDP – better clothes, better hairstyle. Her confidence was attractive, too. He took another sip. His thoughts were going somewhere he didn't want. Not really. God, she really did have nice tits.
"You'll find someone else, Peggy."
"I don't want to. I think this is just the universe telling me to focus on work."
"It's not healthy."
"It's what I want."
"Suit yourself. By the way, I'm leaving SCDP."
Peggy really was floored by this. So casual.
"Please fill me in."
Don explained what had happened after her departure. The embezzlement. Lane's real cause of death. Joan's prostitution. Megan's acting career. The distasteful business with Jaguar; Stan and Ginzo's failure with Topaz. He knew there was some risk in telling her all of this, now that she was working for his rivals, but she sat there in silence, taking it all in.
"Oh, Don. You haven't spoken about this to anyone, have you?"
"Shit. Lane. They told us it was a heart attack. That's horrible."
"It's been…on my mind a lot." His voice began to crack.
"It wasn't your fault."
"But I…I set him off. I should have just kept him on."
"No. Not after that. Lane made his own mess. You did the right thing."
"There's something else."
Don explained what had happened to his brother, Adam. Peggy's eyes began to well with tears. No wonder Don was so fucked up. This explained a lot.
"Don, suicide is never your fault. The person doing it has to be in a desperate situation."
"I could have helped."
"No. It's ultimately their decision. It's mental illness. Not you. You can't make someone kill themselves."
"I needed to hear that, Pegs."
Peggy reached over and rubbed Don's back. He looked really broken.
"I don't want to go home," he croaked.
"Me neither. We don't have to. It's only three."
They sat there in silence for a few minutes.
"Peggy. I once told you a long time ago that I'd spend the rest of my life trying to hire you."
"I take it back. I…would you…consider working with me? Starting a new agency?"
"I have to consider it. I am making big money at CG and S."
"No. Are you kidding me? Those idiots couldn't land a client for themselves if they were held at gunpoint."
"I mean…I'm doing fine," she continued. I'm making plenty of money. But I don't like them very much."
"In this business, it's hard to find anyone you like."
"I like you, Peggy."
"I love you, Don."
"Olson-Draper has a nice ring to it."
They clinked glasses.
"Teddy Chaough is going to shit himself."
"It's okay. Charmin is one of my clients."