She stood there with that familiar look, anxious to give him a piece of her mind. Yet there seemed to be some brighter spark burning in her eyes. Her voice was stronger than it had been the night they got back from Detroit.
"When you told me about the merger, I hoped he would rub off on you. Not the other way around."
He couldn't resist rolling his eyes. Ted Chaough was everything Don never had any intention of becoming. Too damn nice and reads like an open book; a boring one at that. This merger was his idea, and she wasn't going to give Ted some advantage like that. He was already running circles around him, and he might have known Peggy would be where he'd have the hardest fight.
"He's getting everything he wants," he argued. "And obviously you're on his side."
Her exasperation was already peaking at this point, and Don knew how to push her buttons. She hadn't missed this—his never ending mind games. He wanted to get under her skin and make her forget what she had even really come in here to say. Some part of her always hated him for how small he made her feel. Not this time.
"Well why did you do it at all if there were sides," she queried hotly. "You could have just hired me back. You never even asked me to lunch."
Where was this even coming from? She walked away, she chose to go. No amount of charms and words he could have used would have convinced her to stay. She would have seen through all of it anyway, and she still would have gone. He knew that she had to go, but this was about so much more than any one of them. Was she really implying this had all been done for her? She was another benefit to the package, but nothing would make him say that he missed her even a little. That's something Ted Chaough would do. They finally had the opportunity to really fight out there, and maybe—just maybe— be taken seriously.
"Yes, Peggy. We risked our entire company just so I could have you in this office complaining again."
A smile of satisfaction tried to work its way out, but she held her ground. It wasn't an admission, but it was pretty close as far as Don Draper was concerned. With her gone, no one had even challenged him. Pete, Roger, Ken—they all took his bullying without question. Joan would have put him in his place, just not when it didn't concern her directly. Peggy was the only one that cared enough to point out the cracks in his perfect façade. Complaining was his way of labeling what he didn't like to hear, especially when he knew she was right.
"Well he can't drink like you. You must know that because nobody can."
Her words stabbed him in the chest like shards of ice and that memorable sense of guilt washed over him. It wasn't about the alcohol, even though it probably should be. Part of it was that he allowed himself to be petty, and the other part was that she saw right through him. He hadn't been in this place for so long; on the defensive and in the wrong. That wasn't entirely true. He had been in the wrong, but no one made him feel bad about it. Not like she did.
"Peggy, he's a grown man!"
She narrowed her eyes just enough, "So are you."
There it was; that uncomfortable and ringing silence. Their eyes locked across the desk in a firm understanding of where they stood now. She had made it though the fire unscathed and he knew she had won this time. It wasn't meant to be a game, and winning rarely felt this good. Her heart was always fighting with her head, and this time she had let her heart lead.
"Move forward," were the last words she spoke before she turned for the door. She waited until her steps had carried her some 10 feet away before whispering to herself.
"Because I have."