"I don't want a scandal. I can wait."
It started the week before Christmas.
Peggy had gotten into a fight with Stan on Monday, as he wasn't ready to have Peggy tell him what to do so soon after he'd lost an opportunity to go out West and make it big on his own. He had ended up slamming her office door (or, was it Don's still?) on his way out while she was in the middle of an apology.
On Tuesday morning, Roger walked into her office casually announcing that it was up to her to throw together a presentation for Hershey's by the next afternoon since they hadn't found a campaign they liked more than Don's first pitch. She spent all day with Ginsberg and a stoic Stan, putting together a presentation that wouldn't be approved by anyone but her.
And on Wednesday, a half hour before Hershey's was due to arrive, Peggy heard a knock on her door while she was sitting in her office chair, bent over her wastebasket behind her desk. She tried to tell whoever it was on the other side to wait but instead, more of her breakfast came up.
"Peggy? What are you doing?"
Of course, it had to be Jim Cutler who showed up at her door unannounced.
Peggy sat up a bit, still holding the wastebasket in front of her face as an explanation.
"...Is it nerves?"
She heaved in response. Jim kept his distance, though he closed the door behind him.
"You don't have anything to worry about. It is a big account, but as long as you don't dive into a monologue about how you were raised by a prostitute -"
Peggy cut him off with one last violent gag.
"You'll be fine." He forced a smile, which she saw when she set the wastebasket back on the floor and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
Peggy nodded and cleared her throat. "I'm sure it's just jitters. Don didn't leave me with a very high hurdle to jump. With the original pitch, yes. But the second one? Not so much."
"Well, as long as you're sure you're okay," Jim said, before Peggy nodded. He then turned and opened the door, but turned back to glance at her down the length of his nose.
"Just remember. No whores." And with that, Jim shut the door behind him.
On Thursday afternoon, Peggy got the confirmation call from Hershey's. Joan insisted they all celebrate with champagne, but Peggy got a knot in her stomach and couldn't drink any, knowing that she'd have to talk to Ted after the holidays about the account.
And on Friday, as Peggy was moving important dates onto her calendar for the new year, she realized she was late. Two weeks late. She checked the days five times before she had to admit that there was no mistake, no coincidence, and no stroke of luck. She was undeniably late.
Peggy slammed the calendar shut and tried to forget about the whole thing. It would come sooner or later - she was just stressed. That was it. That had to be it. And she seemed to forget about it, coming in during the holidays every day to sort out Don and Ted's old accounts in an otherwise empty office.
But unfortunately, two days before New Year's, the nausea resurfaced and Peggy admitted defeat, heading to the emergency room since she knew her physician's office was closed through the holidays. She must have been having a nervous breakdown. Maybe they could give her something for the nerves. Valium would probably help. Lots of Valium.
At the nurse's station, Peggy played up the nausea and insomnia that had surfaced since she'd been promoted. She mentioned the change in her job and her terrible living situation. The nurses took her blood and agreed that stress was probably the factor since she was a working woman in a man's world. They put her in a room with extra pillows and gave her ice water until the doctor could come and visit. Peggy had never felt so pampered and relieved in her life. What was happening to her was normal. The nurses suspected stress.
Peggy had pushed the possibility of pregnancy out of her mind completely by the time the doctor came into her room, but déja vu hit when the first word out of his mouth was, "Congratulations."
Peggy left the hospital in a daze, stumbling out of a cab and into her apartment a while later. She stood in her living room, staring at the same place she did on the wall when Ted was there - the horrible seam of wallpaper that was starting to lift underneath the picture frame hung over it.
She turned away after a while and sat next to her phone, staring at it for a while before dialing a number. She put the receiver to her ear and held her breath. On the fifth ring, someone picked up.
"Don?" She inhaled sharply.
"Peggy? Are you crying?"
Peggy wiped at her cheeks and sure enough, tears were running down them.
"I vomited in your office."
Peggy paused. She didn't really know why those were the first words out of her mouth, but she couldn't think of anything else to say. In fact, she didn't even know why she had really called Don, either.
"I vomited in your office," she repeated. "Hershey's asked for another meeting and right before it, I got sick. Cutler walked in on me. That was weird."
She could hear Don chuckle a little on the other end. "So did you get the account?"
"Yes, but only because they were so in love with your first pitch."
"That's not true," she heard him say on the other end before they both fell into silence for a few moments.
"I didn't…" She paused and held her breath for a second, closing her eyes. The real reason for her needing to talk was trying to sneak its way out, and she was losing control of keeping it at bay. "It wasn't nerves before the meeting."
Don stayed silent for a second, and Peggy figured he was trying to connect her thoughts.
"Are you sick?"
"No." Peggy inhaled deeply. "I'm pregnant."
The weight that she expected to lift off of her stayed despite saying the words. She tried to close her eyes and picture Don in his office, sitting in front of her for this conversation. He didn't even need to touch her at all to comfort her. Just being able to see his expression soften would have helped her feel less isolated.
"Should I congratulate you?"
"No." She held back a sob. "Ted's the father."
"What? But then…" She nodded, knowing he was figuring it out.
"Oh God, Peggy. I shouldn't have let him go."
"No, it's okay. You didn't know. You did the right thing."
"I'm not sure about that."
Peggy sighed. She didn't want Don to feel guilty at all. That wasn't what this discussion was about.
"I'm sorry I just unloaded this on you, but… I just needed to tell someone."
Don was quiet for a moment, and Peggy decided to picture him smiling in the silence, knowingly.
"I understand," he finally said.
Peggy suddenly realized she'd forgotten her manners in their tender moment. She shook her head as she spoke.
"How are you doing? I can't believe I just dove right in without asking first."
"The office isn't. It's not the same without you there." She stifled a yawn. "What time is it?" She heard rustling on the other end of the phone.
"A little before midnight."
"Oh, I should let you get going. I'm sorry for calling so late."
"Happy new year, Peggy."
She smiled as her eyes filled with fresh tears.
"Happy new year, Don."
Peggy hung up the phone and stared at the wall again. She could feel Ted's lips on hers, his fingertips crawling down her sides, and his breath hot on her neck and collarbone. She could feel him everywhere but the pit of her abdomen, where the only part of him remained.