The music stopped. The voices fell to whispers and eyes fell upon her. She slowly walked into the club, and sat at the bar. Slowly, the activity returned to normal, and she ordered a glass of wine.

She caught sight of herself in the mirrored glass opposite her. She could see the sadness in her eyes. Feeling the tears starting to well up, she looked away. She slowly ran her finger over her wine glass, staring deeply into the contents.

She glanced at her watch. It was nearly an hour since she had arrived. Sighing, she stood up and left the bar.

The cold air hit her into the face with a force reminiscent of a punch. Her eyes stung, and she could feel the tears eroding pathways through her thin veil of makeup. She wiped away the tears and headed home.

XXXXXXX

The music stopped. The voices fell to whispers and eyes fell upon her. She slowly walked into the club, and sat at the bar. Slowly, the activity returned to normal, and she ordered a glass of wine.

She caught sight of herself in the mirrored glass opposite her. She could see the sadness in her eyes. Feeling the tears starting to well up, she looked away. She slowly ran her finger over her wine glass, staring deeply into the contents.

She glanced at her watch. It was nearly an hour and a half since she had arrived. Sighing, she stood up.

"I thought I might find you here."

She spun around, and saw him standing there. It wasn't the man she'd been expecting.

"Sir," she started, but stopped at his raised hand.

"Not anymore. You've been formally discharged." His normally hardened features relaxed a bit. His facial muscles strained to form, what became, a sad smile. "I didn't see you at the service."

"Going would be admitting he's gone. I can't do that." Her voice trembled somewhat.

"Carter, the chances of him surviving the crash, are non-existent. Even for him. We haven't found the body. He's there somewhere."

"Sir, I couldn't go to the funeral. I can't accept that he's gone."

"He saved millions of lives. He stopped Schmidt, and paid with his life in the process. He was a soldier. He knew the risk, and willingly did it. I'm sure that if he had to do it again, he would."

"Colonel Phillips, you can say what you want. Until I see conclusive proof of his death or otherwise, I will continue to believe in his continued existence."

"Then where is he?" It wasn't intended to be harsh, but his words cut her like a knife.

"I don't know. I just know that he survived."

Phillips looked at her sadly. He knew what it was like to want to believe in someone, but sometimes, he knew that he had to give up.

"Peggy," his voice was soft. She had her back to him, to try and cover up the tears cascading down her cheeks. "Sometimes you have to let go. He was only a man. Men are, by pure definition, fallible."

Peggy turned to face him. Her face was tear stained, and the tissue in her hand was covered in a mixture of tears and makeup.

"I'm not giving up on him!" It wasn't shouted. It's plainness told him that the conversation was over. She wasn't going to listen to him. He knew what loss was like. He merely nodded, before turning to leave.

"Y'know Carter. You're not the only person who lost someone when he crashed the plane." He breathed heavily before exiting the bar.

Tears bouldered their way down her cheeks. She wiped them away furiously, but they came faster than she could rid them. She hurried out of the bar, and was greeted by rain. Strangely apt, she chose not to run, but to walk slowly. She knew she looked a mess, but didn't even care. The rain was indicative of how she felt.

A car slowed down next to her. She heard her name being called, but she ignored them. She saw it speed off, as she carried on walking.

XXXXXXX

She gripped the cold metal, and pulled the slightly heavy door open. The bar was full, as she stepped inside. She walked straight up to the bar, and sat down. Ordering a glass of wine, she waited. Occasionally glancing at the clock, she waited silently. A couple of men approached her, but she politely and rather quickly denied them. Not touching the glass of wine, she waited until closing. The bar slowly emptied, leaving her alone with the barman. He sidled up to her slowly.

"Er, ma'am, I have to close up."

She was startled by his words. Looking him in the eyes, she smiled and nodded. She slipped off the stool, and headed to the door.

"Hey, didn't you want the drink?"

Peggy didn't hear him, as she was already out the door.

XXXXXXX

"Usual?"

Peggy smiled at him, and nodded. He poured her a glass of wine, and placed it in front of her. She smiled at him again, and handed him a few notes. He took them and headed to the register. He opened it, but stopped. He looked at the notes, and then at her. Her gaze was on the door. He knew that she merely sat there, looking at the door, her eyes full of hope. He knew she would never drink the wine. He closed the register and shuffled back over to her.

"Here's your change."

She looked at him. She looked down at his hand.

"I gave you enough for the drink, without change." Her words were softly spoken. He smiled at her, and offered her the money.

"Take it. You don't drink the wine. I don't think it's fair."

Peggy smiled at him. She shook her head.

"Take them," she said. "While I don't drink it, it still is served. I want to pay for it."

Her expression almost willed him into taking it. He nodded and dumbly placed it in the register. She smiled at him once more before turning her gaze back to the door.

The rest of the night passed, with Peggy not even moving. She sat rooted on the stool. Men had even given up trying to talk to her. Everyone knew she was waiting for someone. None of them knew who exactly, but enough was known to deter any unwanted chat.

The doors opened frequently, allowing people inside the warm confines. The hands on the clock inched their way closer to closing time. The patrons began filing out, leaving Peggy alone again.

She smiled at the barman one last time, before leaving as well.

XXXXXXX

It had been sometime since, she had been back. A visit from Stark, and Steve's friends had convinced her to give up on her Saturday ritual. She had begun to reintegrate herself back into the community. She had met a man, who vaguely reminded her of Steve, but he seemed to be a pale imitation. She knew she had settled and, despite the military declaring Steve KIA, she still hoped he was out there somewhere.

It was a warm Saturday night, when she found herself outside her old haunt. It was a little before eight, as she opened the door and stepped inside. The d├ęcor had changed somewhat, and a new face was behind the bar. She walked up to the bar and ordered a glass of wine. Handing over the necessary notes, she sat down. Gripping the glass firmly, she brought the glass to her lips. As she was about to drink, the doors opened. She stopped almost instinctively, and held her breath. A quick glance at the clock told her it was dead on eight.

Her heart sank, as an elderly gentlemen entered, with his family. She placed the glass back on the bar, and left. Tears threatened to pour down her face. She breathed slowly, concentrating on each breath.

"I thought you'd given up on this pointless charade."

She turned to face the source of the voice. Colonel Phillips was leant on the front of the bar. He stood straight and walked over to her.

"Stark told me that you'd promised not to come back." His demeanor reminded her of a particularly strict school master.

"This is the first time I've been back."

"So, I'm to disregard the fact that it's been a year?"

Peggy felt her face flush. She suddenly felt as if she had been caught red handed.

"Colonel," she started, but he raised his hand.

"Chester. I'm no longer your commanding officer. Not to mention, I've retired."

Her body loosened, and her shoulders dropped. She let out a weak smile.

"I guess it's stupid of me to ask why?" Phillips smiled at her. She nodded. "Want a ride home?"

Peggy nodded and smiled at him. Phillips head over to the parked car and opened the door for her. She slipped inside. Phillips sat next to her, and the car sped off.

XXXXXXX

For casual observes, Peggy Carter looked like she was waiting for someone. It most respects they would be right. However, a vast majority would assume that she had been stood up. Peggy knew that they were wrong.

The faces, and facade had changed over the years, but it didn't stop her. She still kept coming back, ensuring that for year after year, this night was free. She hadn't even told her husband where she went. She knew he thought that she might be having an affair, but this particular event, was a personal tradition. Her husband knew enough not to press the subject. He had once, and she had yelled at him for it. He knew enough that it was very personal.

Peggy sat at the bar, and slowly stretched out a hand. She loosely grabbed the wine glass. It was dead on eight. Her features had changed substantially with the passage of time.

Time wouldn't stop her from engaging in her tradition. She brought the glass to her lips at the stroke of eight, and looked up at the clock through her glasses. Turning to the door, she slowly took the glass from her lips, and placed it carefully on the bar. Sighing, she slowly hopped off the barstool. She hobbled slowly out of the bar.

"That's it for another year," she whispered sadly.

XXXXXXX

'Last one standing,' she thought to herself, bitterly.

Age had played games with her. Threatening to stop her from coming to the bar, she battled through them. Reaching out both hands, she grabbed her wine glass, and brought it her lips. As tradition dictated, she looked at the clock, on the stroke of eight, and then the door. Not even expecting it to open, she placed the glass back on the bar. Slowly, she clambered off the stool. She grabbed her cane, and slowly hopped to the door. It opened before her. A tall man, walked in. He held the door open for her.

"There you go, ma'am." His voice and face hadn't changed. Peggy blinked up at him.

"You're late!"

"Excuse me?" He asked.

"You're late!" Peggy repeated, faux tones of anger and indignation lacing her words.

"I'm sorry, I..." He paused mid sentence. He squinted down at her. His jaw dropped slightly.

"Peggy..."

"You're late!" She repeated, a smile on her lips and a twinkle in her eye.

"My ride..." Steve stammered, as Peggy chuckled. He offered her his arm, and they walked slowly to the bar.

"You haven't aged a day," she remarked, as she took a sip of wine. Steve chuckled.

"Yeah, it's a long story."

They chatted for hours. Laughing and talking just like they used to, it was as if they hadn't missed a day. The bar emptied around them.

"How about that dance?" Steve asked, and Peggy chuckled.

"Oh, Steve, I'm a bit too frail to dance. I can barely walk."

"Don't worry. It'll be easy." He smiled down at her. He helped her off the stool, and steadied her, as they walked to the dance floor. An old-fashioned jukebox stood proud. Steve slipped a coin inside it, and selected a tune. It crackled before the music started to play.

He offered her his hand. She giggled as she took it. They slowly waltzed on the spot, enjoying the moment. The song ended, and they broke apart.

"Thank you, Steve." She looked up at him. He helped her to the bar, and she grabbed her cane. They ambled out of the bar, and he slowly walked her home.

XXXXXXX

Peggy limped over to her music player. She carefully selected the right vinyl record, and carefully placed it in the player. The music crackled as it played. She hobbled over to the armchair.

Finding herself a comfortable position, she relaxed. Her cane rest limply at the edge of her fingertips. Her eyes closed, and her breathing became slow and controlled. Flashes of the night flew through her mind. A soft smile grew over her lips.

"Thank you, Steve," she whispered. The music stopped playing, and the cane fell from her fingers, clattering loudly on the floor.