1963-08-04 - Three Choices and a Pickle Jar
Summary: Peggy refuses Sousa's resignation and gives him three choices.
Related: http://marvel1963mush.wikidot.com/log:1963-07-24-a-husband-s-resignation
Theme Song: None
peggy sousa 

Mid-day. Things are a bit calm. The first round of Paperclip has arrived and nothing has exploded. It's almost regular days at the office except for some people have extra schedules and there's abit more tension in the air. Of course, Zola wasn't in the first round. The man of the hour would be coming later. But so far, so good. Peggy has left a note on Daniel's desk that when he gets done with all pressing work for the morning, he should stop by her office.

Of course, there's never a time when Peggy isn't doing pressing work, but she's at least tucked in her office handling it at the moment. A cup of ginger tea — her constant companion — rests above her hand as she pages through the reports of the first week with the Nazis scientists, looking for any patterns, worrisome words, anything else that could tip her off that things aren't going as well as they should. She's in a looser dress they bought on vacation last summer. While no part of her is showing that she's with child, some things are just more… Tender, and slightly more prominent than before. Being in her tight, tailored suits simply aren't comfortable now, so she's avoiding them. No one has yet asked why. They are wise.

Sousa received the note and finished up what he had to do that morning before limping through the building to get to the Director's Office. Even though they've been married for ten years and co-workers for even longer, he makes sure to wait until her secretary tells him he can go in. Even then he gives a knock on the door before turning the knob and stepping through.

"Everything all right?" is asked first as he looks at her leafing through the pages on her desk. If he recognizes the dress he doesn't say anything about it and certainly not while the door is open. The smell of that ginger tea is familiar — he'll have to write to the Jarvis' to send some more.

Peggy's familiar, business like tone comes as she hears the knock: "Come in!" It's friendly in a distracted way, but also clearly all professional. She's not some puppy of a wife waiting at the door for her husband, kiss and hug in hand. Some nights at home were like that (rarely) but never at the office. She does smile, however, as he comes in the room and looks up from her desk.

"…Sit, dear. Uh… do you want coffee or something? I've just got this tea on right now, but I can have Thomas fetch something." Thomas being the current secretary of the week. Peggy goes through secretaries like she does stockings, perhaps a bit too hard on the young men who she often chooses, trying to break them into agent status. Sometimes she just breaks them. "Everything's fine. We should just talk about matters. So… sit. Get comfortable."

Sousa would offer to lend her his own secretary, Hildie, but he likes her and doesn't want her to get scared off. Then again, she may need a new place to go. The 'dear' at the office gets a raised eyebrow as does the request to 'sit and get comfortable'. She has on her 'boss' voice and he knows better than to fight it immediately. Besides, he's been doing some thinking as well.

"Coffee would be fine, thanks." He doesn't drink the stuff at home, but at work — it's a hidden vice. He does take a seat, setting his crutch near him as he's back to the old leg for comfort in the summer heat.

Well, this is what buzzers are for. She reaches down to her desk comm buzzer and hits it, "Thomas, could you fetch Division Head Sousa a cup of coffee, black and sweet. Thanks." Sometimes, it's good to be the boss. She gives her husband a slightly wry smile as she knows he's going to insist he could have gotten it, but a single hand comes up to stop him. No. This was Thomas' job. Training a secretary was sometimes like training a puppy. Sure enough, a minute later, a fresh cup of coffee is being delivered by the shiny new graduate who is working in front of Peggy's office, and then the Yale-bred polo team member slips back out the door. She really was getting them younger and younger these days.

"Alright. So… talking. First, if you didn't figure it out, I'm not going to to accept your resignation. I simply cannot abide by it and we CANNOT afford to lose any experienced agent in this office. So…you are going to have a few options. Do you want to hear them, or do you care to make your case?"

Sousa does start to argue that he could have fetched his own coffee, but he gives a sigh when the hand is held up to stop him. He's all too familiar with the gesture as well as the argument. When Thomas brings in the coffee, he accepts it with, "Thanks," and waits until the young man leaves before he glances at Peggy, "You know he's going to begin to resent that in a few months." If he's around that long.

When the 'talking' starts, he lifts the mug to his lips but barely has time to take a drink before he's scowling some at the words. "Fine. I'll hear the options and then make my case."

"Female secretaries don't resent it and are asked to do it their entire career. Or…hell, even female agents. Though, when I resented it I sure as hell still did it because it's a part of the job. He can learn or I can hire someone else. He's too damn soft to be an Agent, so if he wants to prove himself, this is where he starts." Peggy has utterly no patience for it after years of fetching coffee herself, even if there is a touch of hypocrysy in asking someone to do something she hated. Still, she settles back in her desk and gives a simple smile. This is how things operate now.

"Very well then. Option one — you remain as you are but need to take a *greater* handle on the Avengers initiative. Fury is great in the field. He's even great at talking. But he has no clue how to keep a schedule and tends to follow through on his terms, not our terms. Steve is strictly a field commander. I still need someone who can walk both sides of that line, and just because it didn't work with the mutants doesn't mean it won't with others. You need to work on your diplomacy, I think…but do we run away from the things we need to work on, or do we work on them?" Peg asks with a pointed sort of look. She was not always comfortable to speak with when in boss mode. "Secondly, you can go back to being a field agent yourself. I need someone who can take command of various teams in the field who aren't handling super human matters. Someone I trust. This will probably involve heading up what overwatch is going on with Paperclip right now and handling any specific messes that go down there, but it can expand to other missions. Lastly…" She sighs, "…I acknowledge I… won't quite be up to my position for much longer. Maybe I shouldn't be here now, but…there's no one else I can trust. If I had an assistant director I knew who could do the job…then I could take…more time off."

This is when their relationship gets tricky. Husband and wife vs. boss and employee. The coffee is set down as Sousa listens, his expression not brightening any as the options are laid out for him. When she sets the final one out there, his expression is definitely a frown but he shifts on the couch and then takes a moment before he responds.

"All right, to address the first option, I want clarification. Steve and Fury have made it clear that they were going to choose their team. In what capacity are you expecting me, or any other in that position, to be involved? Schedule training? Schedule missions? This is a separate team from the Agents I already have and I'm curious as to what your expectations are for someone taking a 'greater handle' on the Avengers Initiative?" There's another little squirm when she mentions the mutants and him working on his diplomacy. "Low blow, Peg," is murmured before, "How do you…diplome…with someone who can read your unspoken thoughts? With someone who can threaten your very unborn children?"

The second is then addressed, "A Field Agent…you know how dangerous those can be." It was one thing when he was single but with a wife and kids, "I won't deny that I miss it sometimes, but I'm not twenty-five anymore." It hasn't been entirely discounted yet. It's enough to have him retrieve the coffee and take a sip before he looks back to Peggy at the third option. "Honestly, that should be Brian. If anything were to happen to you…or me…or Mickey…we'd both be out and you know it. Better to have someone who is outside of our family in that position. Just in case." His demeanor does soften though, "Are you feeling all right? The Doctor wanted you to check in…I know this is the more sensitive time…"

Work. This was about work. While there was a part of Peggy which wanted to talk about personal things, things she's been avoiding discussing or thinking about because it's simply too hard, she knew this wasn't the time. She takes in a breath and responds to his last question. "I'm fine. Truly. I'd be with the doctor if I felt something was wrong." It's an honest answer. No, she doesn't feel great. But not beyond what is typical — she has done this before, after all. She tries to give him a small, reassuring smile, but the tone of her voice was sharp enough that she doesn't intend to talk about THAT issue further.

"And…you *diplome* with them the same way you do anyone else. You smile. You hear out their concerns. You express your concerns. You try to meet them half way. Yes, they can and do know everything. It doesn't mean that we're on opposite sides. Everyone who fights us is threatening your child whether they know it or not. So.. we just be the better people. As ever. That is how you do it." She seems dead serious about this, not happy about the whole mess and not letting him off easy because he is her husband. "As for the Avengers Initiative — you do recruiting also. They are still a SHIELD branch. If they don't like someone you recruit, they can bring it to me, but I trust you. So, yes. Recruiting. Directive setting. Training. And a greater outlook about things that special team might be needed to handle. So, all of those things. And this is coming from ME, not from anyone else, so Fury and Rogers and just suck it up." She really was salty this morning.

Lastly, a quiet sigh escapes her lips about the assistant director matter. She frowns, "You…may be right. I don't like it…but… Damn, you may be right. Even if you're the most qualified."

This is where being the husband of the boss is uncomfortable. This and Yearly Reviews. "So just smile and be the better people even though they can tell that you're ready to rip their head off? Not sure it works the same way," Sousa points out but she also makes sense. He had a lot of hopes riding on the meeting that weren't met and that added to the frustration. He could tip the cops off to that underground club but that just seems petty.

He listens to Peggy, scowling some into his coffee as he drinks it, and tries to think. There is definitely a look of surprise when she concedes that he's right about the Assistant Dirctor position. At least that's something. "Thanks for the compliment." He manages a wry smile then before it fades, "How long do I get to think about this?" It seems like it's between Option 1 and Option 2 at this point.

"…Is until the end of the week fair enough? If you decide not to focus more on the Avengers, I need to start getting someone else in that position fairly quickly. So…I can't let this languish." Peggy admits with a bittersweet smile, not pushing more about the diplomacy thing, even if she still doesn't look like THOSE arguments are winning her over. She takes a sip of her now-cool ginger tea, having been neglecting it the whole conversation as she just wanted to get her words and feelings out while everything was fresh and focused on her mind.

"That's fair," Daniel offers with a sigh. "I don't even know who Captain Rogers and Fury even recruited so far from that, Peggy. I have no information," and he was supposed to be ultimately in charge. That in itself is frustrating and tempting to just wrench control away from the ones not following the rules. "I agree we need them out quickly and we need to decide if they're a public team or, like our agents, working in secrecy."

"I suspect they've recruited no one. Jessica Drew, someone *I* recruited, has super human gifts and should be on the team. Possibly you should start by speaking with her. Samuel Wilson also. He and those…new things Howard has made for him — wings, I think — should be quite effective. Otherwise, keep your eyes open. There are rumors of super humans in the news all the time. Go out. Meet them. Talk to them. Then tell Fury and Rogers they are on the team if you find them to be suitable. It's that simple. These are *my* orders." Peggy states flatly, "And…if they find others, I will make it clear they need to tell both you AND ME each time they recruit. This can operate…with autonomy, but it's still a SHIELD initiative." Peggy seems to be in a mood about it now, she's not going to put up with any shite.

Sousa nods, "I know Wilson…don't know Drew." A hand lifts to scrub at his face, "I'll think about it." Maybe he'll try to talk to Wilson and see what was pitched to him. "This was sort of how I hoped it would have worked in the first place, you know," he offers over his coffee. "But I'll think about it." He has to weigh things and figure out if he's actually up for being a field agent again. With one child and another on the way, it's looking a little more dangerous than he might like.

"To be honest, I was kind of looking forward to staying home with Mickey for a little…" is managed with a slight smile.

That slight smile is met with a bit of a smirk, "You'd enjoy it for the first few weeks and be stir crazy within six months. You know it's true. I…I don't ever want you resenting me because I'm the one who goes off to work and you're the one who stays with the kids. I… I love you, and I think we can both still do this and still be parents. We've managed so far." Peggy murmurs, not pushing work any longer because she did say she'd give him time, so the conversation seems wrapped. Which means she can take a moment to reach her hand across the desk in his direction, palm open. Just a simple touch, but something reassuring and loving. Something that isn't about being the boss at all.

She has a point in that. Daniel can't really deny that he'd probably get bored. "I guess I'll just have to wait another twenty years or so for retirement. And you know I don't resent that, Peggy." This time, he does get up and move over to the desk so he can sit at the edge of it and hold her hand. "I never did and I never will. This is where you need to be." Before and after kids.

"I guess we should see if Victoria is comfortable with babies. And if not, look for a new nanny."

The last comment gets a deep, slow breath in through Peggy's nose. She's not spoken much about it at all, outside the few times in their bed. Over all, she's been doing her best to operate like nothing is changing. Because if she says more, then they get their hopes up, and she's too scared for that right now. She tightens her hand in his, sinking back a bit deeper in her desk chair and just trying to relax a bit. It never works well.

"…In another month… a few more weeks. Once… we really know… I don't want to make anyone… I just don't want anyone getting… invested." Peggy explains softly, not quite meeting his eyes. It's easier to talk about like it was business. It makes it all a bit more distant.

Sousa nods, "I know." And he does. The superstition has a basis in reality and he is well aware of waiting until the first trimester before making announcements and plans. "We have time." And at least one of those weeks is a vacation if things continue to go as they have been.

He holds her hand in silence for another few moments before he suggests, "You know…I think maybe we should try to talk about less work at home." For one, it might help relieve some of the stress that they're both under, but especially Peggy. It's also been a note of contention more than a few times.

"…Do you think we can really manage that? It's what is on our minds three fourths of the time, even when we are home…" Peggy admits softly. She's still not taken her hand back, but she is listening to him and she hasn't kicked him out of her office yet. Even if they both should be working, she's rather enjoying their chance to talk like this, today. She brushes her thumb lazily back and forth across the back of his palm as they sit there, almost relaxing.

Sousa doesn't answer immediately as he actually thinks about her question. Finally, though, he actually gives a grin, "Tell you what. I'm going to get a jar. Like a pickle jar or something. Every time one of us mentions work at home, we have to put a quarter in the jar." As if that will somehow teach them not to talk about work at home. At the very least, they'll start yet another vacation fund; maybe for a trip to Disneyland in a couple of years.

That actually makes her groan, just a bit. "…thank goodness we don't need laundry money any more. I'd never be able to wash my socks again." Peggy states with a slightly wiry grin, but it's not a complete no. It's one of those mocking, groaning protests that says she knows it's a good idea even if she doesn't like it. She sighs and dramatically flops back in her seat. "I hate it when you are right so often."

Sousa's eyebrows raise, "What am I right about this time? I mean, I'm not going to begrudge the surge of pride I get when you say that, but…about the pickle jar?" He didn't realize that was a 'right or wrong' thing. "We did that as kids although we had a swear jar."

"No…no…" Peggy reaches out and gives his shoulder a little swat, even if it puts them dangerously close for the work day. They did try to keep it distant and professional, even if her door is shut. "Right about talking about work at home too much. It and Mickey are… our entire lives. We don't make room for anything else. I… I guess we could work on that."

Peggy adds quietly with a red lipped smirk, "I also think you just like hearing what I think you are right about. Show off."

"I'm with you that it'll be hard, but I think it might be better for us all. We leave work…at work." As best they can. Surely they can be reached at home if there are emergencies. Sousa mock-winces at the swat on the shoulder, but he's still grinning. "Yeah, I do like it. It's a shame we didn't have any other witnesses to the fact that you actually said it."

"I'll never tell anyone. You better enjoy it here, mister. Not happening again." Peggy states with a teasing huff, though the smile is still in her eyes, as she looks up to him where he leans upon her desk, still close enough to be tempting. Slumped back in her chair like this, especially in the loose blue dress, she's all soft lines and curves. She doesn't look intimidating in her desk chair at ALL, for once, at this angle.

"Well, I guess I'll get my kicks where I can," is offered with pretend resignation. Daniel's smirk softens though as he looks at his wife, slumped in the Director's chair at her desk. "I think this vacation is going to do us all some good. Don't you dare try to make an argument that you have to stay. I will drag you along if I have to throw you over my shoulder and carry you."

A small breath comes in turn, her brows arching, "You wouldn't dare. You know the only reason I'd cancel is if it really was… world threatening. Otherwise, I know we need this vacation. I promised you, I promised Mickey. I'm not going to cancel. We'll enjoy this itme and we both need it, absolutely. So… no arguments unless the world is ending, alright? I promise." She tugs on his hand that she's still been holding, dragging him a bit closer for a single, gentle kiss.

"…but.." she finally murmurs, when the kiss is done, "…it's not vacation yet. We should both get back to working. Like it or not."

"Wouldn't I?" Although it would then make walking kind of difficult, but he'd try it if he had to. His own smirk returns but he nods at the promise, "I'm going to hold you to that, Director Carter." Anything else he was going to say got muffled by the gentle kiss.

Once he straightens back from it, he gives a sigh, "Yeah, I guess you're right." Sliding from the desk, he retrieves his crutch and prepares to move to the door. "I'll think about those options. And I'll go look for that pickle jar." They may be having pickles for a few days to empty one, but he's going to start that little savings fund. There's another brief smile, "I love you too, you know." With that, he opens the door and heads back out towards his own office.

"…I love you absolutely, Daniel. No matter what." Peggy calls after him, softly, just before he opens the door. With that, she gives him a slightly softer smile and then sits up straight to go back to her own work.

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