(Handful of dust)
Author's Note: Dedicated to the ever amazing Claire who has been with me through thick and thin; her tumblr is littlebitfairytale. She's amazing and you should all follow her!
Disclaimer: I own nothing! The lyrics are: Lions! by lights & I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz
I think it's a given by now that I can't write a fluff story and this is no different. I hope you guys enjoy this, sorry if the grammar is a bit off but I couldn't find a beta and I wanted to get this up before my birthday (five days!) I'm also thinking of writing a Doctor Who/Avengers crossovers (the shipping fics are Bruce/Donna and Rose/Loki) what do you think?
Reviews are as great as Whovengers becoming real!
Lions make you brave,
Giants give you faith,
Death is a charade.
You don't have to feel safe to feel unafraid.
I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up
Poignant: her favourite chair
She sat in her favourite chair by the window. She had always liked that chair because she can carefully observe the world (not that there was much of the world to observe from where she sat.) From her spot, she could see a supermarket, a park and a tree. But, she never chose the spot for the view, no, she chose the spot because it gave her a chance to dream in the sun. Occasionally yes, she would watch the world, but she always saw the same routine: children running to school, people picking up their groceries and seeing young couples in love. That last sight always stabbed her in the heart. Seeing couples in love. She had loved, twice actually. But only once had she been truly in love.
Her first love visits her in her dreams. In her dreams, they share that final dance at The Stork Clubon that Wednesday night. In her dreams, he is clumsy and steps on her feet even so, it was the happiest she'd ever felt. In her dreams, the transmitter didn't break, and he didn't fly the ship into the water. In her dreams, everything was fine.
In reality though, everything wasn't.
This was how she spent her days: dreaming and observing. What a sad sad life for a once great woman. Her family never visits and she has no friends to speak for. Alone is all she has and alone protects her.
The seventeenth of March 2013, started out as a normal day. She awoke at the same time as per usual and went about her day as per usual. Nothing seemed out of place. It was only when she sat down in her favourite chair did she notice a change. At first, she blamed it on her old military habits, but when it caught her eye the second time, she began to investigate. She approached the counter and told the nurses her suspicions. She expected them to usher her back into her chair and dose her with sleeping drugs, instead, they exchanged nervous glances and, with shaking hands, they pointed to the man standing in the corner.
She had never seen the man before in her life. He had thinning hair; a hard-face and he wore his sunglasses inside. His left arm was in a sling and she noticed his discomfort as he moved. She watched as he removed his sunglasses and walked over to her. In his hands he held a thick folder: her folder.
"Ms. Peggy Carter, my name is Phil Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D., I would like to talk to you about something rather important."
"S.H.I.E.L.D.?" She inquired.
"Maybe we should sit down," Coulson said. Peggy shook her head.
"I am not sitting down until you tell me what this about," Peggy retorted. She was surprised at herself; even in her old-age, she could still kick up some dust. Coulson nodded slowly and handed Peggy her folder.
"It's about Steve," Coulson stated bluntly. Peggy fought back a tremor. She hadn't heard Steve's name in…oh, she had lost track of the years now. Steve Rodgers, Captain America. The words she had thought about every single day since Hydra. She had heard rumors that he had been saved from the ice but Peggy had left them for what they were: rumors. Despite her cynical thoughts, Peggy couldn't help but feel a surge of happiness: Steve was alive! Her Steve; the Steve that she had watched throw himself in front of a dummy-grenade, the Steve that had loved her, was alive.
"I see." Peggy replied, licking her lips. Her voice was steady and calm, despite the circumstances. She nodded slowly toward her chair and sat down. Coulson sat down opposite her. Silence surrounded the two strangers as Peggy flicked through her old folder that Coulson handed her. She was shocked that the government had still kept her folder. On the inside of her folder was a photo of herself from the war. She was staring out of the photo with a secret smile on the edge of her lips. Was that really she? Did she really look that elegant? She smiled to herself as she remembered that photo being taken. Steve was standing just outside of the photo, which was why she was smiling. "This was taken just after Steven got back from rescuing Bucky and all those soldiers from Hydra," Peggy explained, holding the photo up to Coulson.
"Yes, Steve told me." Coulson replied, feigning interest. Peggy wasn't an idiot, she knew that Coulson wasn't truly interested but she was impressed that he was listening to her. After a few more moments of reminiscing, Peggy handed the folder back.
"So, Mr. Coulson, why are you here?" Peggy asked.
Coulson shifted uncomfortably in his seat and looked out the window. "Steve wishes to visit you." A chill ran down Peggy's spine. Coulson noticed this, but kept talking. "He says that you two had a date and he would ashamed if he missed it. Peggy, I can call you that can't I? Peggy, Steve has been talking about you since the battle of Manhattan. He truly cares about you and would be honored if he could see you one last time." Peggy bit down on her tongue somewhat to stop herself crying. She had wanted this moment to come since that fateful day, and now it was here Peggy didn't know what to do.
'I'm an old woman,' she thought, 'how could Steve possibly love an old woman?'
"He's a little late." Peggy finally managed to say. "About seventy-one years late," she chuckled to herself.
Coulson edged forward until he sat on the edge of his seat. "Will you see him again?" He asked eagerly.
Peggy nodded. "I couldn't refuse." She said simply, unable to hide the smile from her face. Coulson smiled gleefully; he looked as though someone had just given him a puppy for free.
"Oh Steve will be ecstatic. He's wanted to find you since Thor reunited with Jane again; well; actually, he's wanted to find you since he woke up. Did you know that you were his first thought when he woke up? Yep, he told Director Fury that, and I quote, "Had a date." The only reason he hasn't found you sooner was because he was scared,"
"Scared?" Peggy echoed. "Why would Steve be scared?"
"He still doesn't know how to dance."
Bittersweet moments: still can't dance
Peggy twisted her hands in her lap, tucked her grey hair behind her hair, twiddled her thumbs, read a book and had a nap in a forlorn attempt to get rid of her nerves. Why was she nervous? The Peggy Carter that Steve was never nervous.
'Well, there you have it,' she thought to herself, grimacing, 'you're not that Peggy anymore are you? Back then, you took pride in how you looked, you didn't hesitate to punch soldiers into line, now look at you, I doubt that Steve will even like what he'll see. You're not the same Peggy Carter that he used to know. He probably still thinks that you're young and somewhat good-looking, but you're not. You're old Peggy. So old that people are even calling you Margret and you're not doing anything about it. You detest the name Margaret.'
"Miss Margaret?" a familiar voice jolted Peggy out of her reverie. Shaking her head quickly, Peggy looked up and saw her caretaker standing over her. She had a bittersweet smile plastered on her face. "There is a gentleman here to see you, he says that he used to know you back during the war,"
Inexplicably, she thought of the moment when she first saw Steve, standing in that line, three inches shorter and skinner than the rest of the men. He had a look of determination that she had never seen before plastered on his face. It was in that moment—in that glance—that Peggy fell in love and do you want to know a secret? She didn't even know it.
Her body was shivering with excitement and anticipation. "Let him in," she said in the most confident voice she could muster. It would take him at least a minute to walk from the reception to the front room, she thought quickly, one minute, I have one minute to prepare myself. She quickly looked at herself up and down and gave herself a firm nod; she had put on her Sunday best for the occasion and had even dabbled in some make-up. She didn't look incredible, but it was as close as she was going to get.
She could hear footsteps from the hallway.
Step, step—What if he has found someone else? —
Step, step—What if he only came to say goodbye? —
Step, step—What if he doesn't love me anymore? —
Step, step—What if he changed? —
Step, step—What if he isn't the Steve that I remember? —
Step, step—What if he still doesn't know how to dance? —
Step, step—What he doesn't think that I'm his "right partner" anymore? —
The steps stopped. Silence followed. More silence. A few more moments of silence. Peggy didn't look up, she didn't even move. The silence seemed to last a lifetime, until…
"Hello Peggy," the sound of his voice sent tremor down Peggy's spine. She dared not look up for she feared this to be a dream. She took the moment to study his voice: he still sounded like Steve, with the note of nervousness in his voice and all. She smiled to herself and, taking a deep breath, she looked up.
There was Steve. And not just any Steve, her Steve, her Steve from Brooklyn. A sense of peace flowed through her when she laid eyes on him. He looked as though he hadn't aged a day since they last saw one another
'If only I could say the same,' Peggy thought to herself
It was Steve, her Steve, the Steve that she had waited at the Stork Club at 8 o'clock every day for six months, hoping, praying that he would walk through the door, the Steve that she had pictured herself waking up to each morning for the rest of her life
She saw Steve Rodgers, the kid from Brooklyn who couldn't bare the thought of bullies and running away. Her Steve. And for that moment, that one shining moment, she felt completely and utterly at peace.
"Hello Steve," Peggy said finally. The name just rolled off her tongue, it was as though she had been saying every day. Peggy found herself smiling. "Hello Steve," she repeated herself.
Steve walked around until he stood in front of Peggy's chair. She wished she knew what he was thinking, she really did. "I brought you these," Steve said, holding a bouquet of flowers out to Peggy. The arrangement didn't look store-bought; Peggy smiled when she realized that Steve had cut the flowers himself.
'Still the same boy,' she mused to herself as he took the flowers from him. "You're late Rodgers," she said in her best stern voice.
"Couldn't call my ride," Steve explained, smiling. Peggy chuckled and smelt the flowers. "May I?" He asked, pointing at the chair opposite Peggy. She nodded and he sat down graciously. Peggy was shocked at how much he was still like, well, Steve. She had expected him to be completely different, she wasn't exactly sure why, she just did. Maybe she had thought that the 21st century would have impacted him more; she was pleasantly surprised. "It took a long time to track you down. Not only that but Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, wouldn't let me visit you without probable cause. He said that he wasn't sure if you could cope with seeing me again."
"I'm glad he came around in the end then," Peggy replied, leaning forward in her chair slightly. A silence elapsed the loveless couple. Peggy's wrinkled fingers traced along the patterns on her armchair; she had never noticed them before. She had never noticed the intricate patterns on the chair that she had been sitting in for years. A smile toyed on the edges on her lips, dancing and threatening to break free. It had been years since she had felt so at peace with herself. Years. For so many years she had been complacent with her life, not wanting to see what other great things the world had to offer, then today happened.
"How are you?" He asked, breaking the silence. "I mean, how have you been?" He asked, correcting himself.
"Well, I'm well," she replied, clicking her tongue.
"So, uh, how were the last seventy years of your life?" Steve asked.
Peggy chuckled under her breath. "Not much to say about them really." She mused, "I got married," she added as though it was only an after thought.
Steve dropped his gaze and shuffled his feet, "What's his name? Your husband?" Steve mumbled.
"He's dead Steve," she replied, Steve's gaze shot up and the jealous look on his face was replaced by sympathy. "His name was Robert Cleaver, I met three years after you left." She explained.
"Do you have children?" He asked, rubbing his hand along his forearm.
"Two," she answered, "a girl and a boy; Amanda, but Mara for short, and Steve. Mara is thirty-seven now and Steve is thirty. They both have children of their own but we don't talk much anymore. After Robert died, we stopped talking. Though, even before that I was never the best mother,"
Steve didn't know what to say; Peggy couldn't blame him. What do you say to the person whom you were going to spend the rest of your life with? Especially when they met someone else?
"Did you love him?" He asked bluntly. Peggy bit her tongue and nodded slowly.
"Yes, yes, I did."
Silence elapsed the bittersweet couple.
"I waited for you, Steve," Peggy said simply. She reached her hand out and took hold of Steve's hand. "I was there; at the Stork Club at 8 o'clock. I waited for you Steve, I waited until close time." When the words started to come, Peggy couldn't stop herself; "I went back to the Stork Club the same day every year and waited for you. I wore that little red dress that you saw me in the night you rescued Bucky. Even though you were gone; that one night of the year I would pretend like all was right in my world, but when I went to sleep that night I always had the same dream."
"What was the dream about?" Steve asked.
Peggy took a deep breath, "I dreamt that I lived in a palace made of gold with you just like the fairytales. We were happy. Then a tidal wave came over and stole you away and all I was left with was a handful of dust." She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. Without answering, Steve stood to his feet and walked over to the ancient record player in the corner of the room. "Steve?" He didn't answer, instead, he flicked through the record's library until he found the song he was looking for. He didn't falter as he slid the record out of his case and onto the player.
"Something slow right?" He asked, holding his hand out to Peggy. Biting her bottom lip, Peggy nodded and gently held his hand. As she stood to her feet, she noticed the contrast between the two hands; his were covered in fading scars and pale while hers were old lady's hands: wrinkled and frail.
'They should be the same,' she thought bitter sweetly.
Steve clumsily put a hand on Peggy's waist and gave an awkward smile. "I still don't know how to dance Peggy," he admitted, hanging his head.
"Well," she said, "we have a slow song playing, I'm sure I could manage to teach you." Entwining her hands with Steve's, she allowed her body to sway you with the music. Steve was clumsy and kept stepping on Peggy's feet. She just smiled and placed her head on Steve's chest. "See, you're getting the hang of it," she assured him.
"That's because I have the right partner with me," Steve replied without hesitation. Closing her eyes, Peggy savoured the moment.
And so, the couple full of such innocence love, danced around the room like there was no one else in the world. And for that one moment, that one shining moment, everything seemed right with the world.
Discombobulated: every story must grow old
Peggy Carter died at 12:36 that night. She went peacefully in her sleep; one moment she was there and the next she wasn't. When the nurse found her early next morning, the first thing she noticed was the smile that was plastered on her face. In the corner of her smile was something that no one that has seen it can ever forget: a "secret" was what they called it. It was as though Peggy Carter had died thinking of the one moment that made her truthfully happy.
Not many people showed up for her funeral; there was Steve and his friends for moral support, her two children, the grandchildren and a few of the people from the aged home. Steve couldn't help but feel angry for the lack of compassion that was shown towards Peggy. To Steve, she was the most amazing person in the world and he was shocked that not many people knew how great she could be.
"After my father's death she began to fade away, slowly at first, too slowly, neither Steve nor I saw the signs until it was too late. She wouldn't get out of bed, wouldn't eat, wouldn't sleep; she would just waste away in that bed of hers mumbling about you and dad. She was unorthodox to say the least, musing the day away within files upon files from her days in the army. Steve Rodgers folder—your folder—was always on her bedside tale; sometimes she would even fall asleep with it in her arms. It was like you were the only thing keeping her alive.
"Then it was like the next thing we knew she was old and we were parents. Her mind began to rot and she began to forget things, simple things like the time of the day and our names; it all got too hard so we left. Sometimes I regret not spending more time with her, I think I was mad at her for being more in love with you then she was with my dad. But you, Mr. Rodgers, kept my mother alive for the longest time possible and for that I thank you. You gave my mother a reason to hold on and to keep watching the sunrise. You saved her Steve Rodgers, you really did. She loved you."
Steve stared blankly at Mara. She looked just like Peggy, he mused, just like her. Steve took a deep breath before replying.
"Every story must grow old I guess," he turned and looked at Peggy's grave. It read:
Margaret "Peggy" Carter
The right partner for two different people
Heaven will greet her like an old friend