At 2 PM of a rather cloudy afternoon, an elderly lady's phone rang.
"Why hello, I was just about to call you about something," she exclaimed. Her voice was worn, but still stable.
"You were?" His was calm and unchanging.
"Why yes. I have a surprise for you," she said.
"And I have one for you. I'm even willing to bet that it's more surprising than yours."
She raised an eyebrow and smiled. "Well, what is it then?"
"We found him."
She froze. Half of her knew who "him" was, but the other half deemed it impossible.
"I think you know. The missing hero."
She couldn't speak.
"We found him two days ago. When we chipped the ice off him, well, Agent Carter...he's still alive."
She was a tough damsel. Always had been. Still the phone clattered to the floor.
Agile for her age of 94, she quickly bent her admittedly aching knees and picked up the phone.
"He's what?! What the bl-," she started.
"Our scientists say he was in suspended animation."
Peggy said nothing. Coulson on the other end took this as a cue for further explanation.
"Suspended animation is when extreme temperature causes the molecules of the -."
"I know bloody well what suspended animation is, thank you. I just thought it..."
"Wasn't possible?" he supplied. "We thought so, too, until now."
Peggy's hands shook and it wasn't just from being elderly. This was shocking. Overwhelming.
"Is he conscious?"
"No," replied Coulson.
"Will he be?"
"I'm not sure."
"Will he survive?"
"We've had no experience with something like this until now," replied Coulson patiently.
"My goodness!" She pulled a wooden chair towards her and sat down shakily.
She needed a cup of tea. Strong tea. Some aspirin maybe. Everything came too quickly, and she needed time to think.
"Is there anything else I should know?" she asked.
"Well, you're granted permission to come and see him, Ms. Carter. We could get transportation to you so you can come, if you'd like?"
Normally, she would have scoffed at this. Permission? Ha! She was one of the founders of SHIELD. She didn't need permission to go visit. Who did they think they were?
At the moment, however, rights were the last thing on her mind.
The captain? Alive? She hadn't even processed that yet, and he was saying that she could come see him? She didn't know how to respond to his offer. It was hard, but she recollected herself and delayed her answer.
"I, um..." she searched for something to say. "You must be very excited about all this."
"Yes, I'm thrilled." She could hear him smiling on the other end. Coulson's usually nearly monotonous way of talking had lightened up.
"I really hope I can meet him conscious. I mean, when he is conscious. I mean, if he gets to that state," he continued in a nervous ramble.
"Remind me- you are missing two Captain America cards from your vintage collection, am I correct?"
"Actually," Coulson replied, "I'm only missing one. Just recently Barton came back from a mission in a small town in New Jersey. There was an antique-."
"Barton? Oh, Clint Barton, right? The archer agent?" she interrupted.
"Yes, that's him."
"Ah. Sorry for interrupting. Carry on."
"Sure. As I was saying, there was an antique shop in a small town in New Jersey, and Barton found a trading card I was missing from my collection. It was Silver-42.
Said that it cost him an arm and a leg, but it was worth it. I paid him back, of course."
"Yes, now I just have to look for the last one. And these cards are vintage - have I told you that?"
"Yes." Several thousand times, thank you very much. She was happy for him nonetheless.
Her mind still reeling about the news of the Captain, she continued to postpone answering his offer.
"Oh yes, as I said before, I have a surprise for you. My cousin's son came over to check on how I was doing with the arthritis in my right knee. He's a doctor, you know. Anyway, he knows I knew the Captain. He had a gift for me, which I'm going to give to you. And guess what it was?"
"I can't imagine."
"A vintage Captain America trading card, Silver-45."
"Really?" Excitement was evident in his voice. "You're not playing with me are you?"
"Why on earth would I play around with you?!"
"That's the exact card I need. Right. I'm coming over right now."
"You do that. I'll have tea and some pie ready for you."
He thanked her a billion times, and they hung up.
Immediately she leaned back in her chair, shocked at what she had just heard.
However it was that they had found him, it had taken way too long.
She stared out the window of the sunlit room. The cheery yellow curtains were drawn apart so she could watch a little bird land on the branch right outside the window.
She replayed Coulson's words in her mind.
I can go and see him. He is back.
Oh, part of her wanted to, badly - that dashing legend who was forever in her memories.
Oh stop it! She scolded herself. You're almost 95 for crying out loud!
She was so old now. Life had moved on! And he had come back.
It was tearing her in two.
Then she thought about how Steve would feel.
With a sigh she got to her feet and put a kettle on the stove.
She was exhausted - so exhausted. Even her remaining agility and sprite from her youth couldn't change that.
She had seen many things come and go. Sometimes the things that go never come back, and you just have to deal with it.
Still, Steve came back.
Retrospectively she examined herself. Where did her heart truly lie?
As she set two slices of lemon-meringue pie on the table, she knew what the answer was: she had moved on, and she was going to let Steve do as well.
It was a painful decision, but things weren't the same anymore.
Coulson brought his and Peggy's plate to the sink and rinsed them off for her.
"That was delicious. Thank you."
"Oh, I didn't make it. That was from Costco's."
"Well, thank you anyways."
Coulson stood up, grabbed his coat and put on his shades.
His cellphone rang.
"Hello. Yes, I see...really? I'll be there in 15."
Peggy walked with Coulson to the door him to see him off. Coulson turned to her.
"I've just received news that the Captain has woken up and has found out that he's been sleeping for 70 years."
"What?!" Peggy exclaimed. "I thought you said SHIELD would reveal everything to him bit by bit."
"Well, he was suspicious and he ran outside. And you know better than I do how New York has changed."
Peggy nodded and sighed.
"At least it shows that his mind is still sharp."
Coulson nodded in agreement.
"Stay well, Agent Carter," Coulson said and got into his car. He started the engine, and then stopped. Coulson rolled down the window.
"Are you sure?" Coulson asked hesitantly. "I mean, about your decision? I could easily take you with me now."
"I'm sure," she finally said firmly.
"We're giving him a file, though, with your address and information."
Peggy guessed she had no say in this.
"Oh well, I'm sure he'll use his judgment and make the right decision."
Coulson didn't really know what she meant by this but he didn't ask.
"Yes, ma'am," replied Coulson, saluting her.
"Oh put your hand down."
Coulson gave a smile and drove away.