1963-11-10 - The Ghost of a Friend
Summary: Steve comes to visit Peggy in the hospital at her request. She shows him the sketch of her suspected assassin, and the photo of James Barnes that looks an awful lot like him.
Related: All the Bucky assassination logs
Theme Song: None
steve peggy 


While Peggy was laid up in hospital, she definitely wasn't idle. Idle was very difficult for Peggy Carter. Ava's been released but the Ava wasn't five months pregnant and middle aged. The brunette has been quite insistent that everyone is fussing too much, but it's a losing battle. So, two days after, she's still laid up. A few files in her lap which she's paging through with her non cast covered hand. She looks fine other than the ring of nasty yellow and green bruises around her neck and that cast on her right wrist. She's sent a message to Steve that, when he's free, she'd like to speak. He's on the allowed visitors list also, which is being kept quite stringent by her several guards.

*

There's a quick knock on the door and Steve slips in. "Hey," he says quietly as he looks to the bed, making a sour face. There's a deep intake of air as he thinks of something funny to say to keep the mood light. "What sort of trouble did you find this time?"

*

The woman looks up to him with a touch of a smirk as he comments on the trouble. "I was doing nothing but attempting to go home from work for the night. Minding my own business for once, actually. Apparently, someone disagreed with my continued ability to draw breath and attempted to end it. The… matter worked itself out." Peggy tries to lightly tease back, but it doesn't reach her eyes. There is something heavy, almost wary, behind her gaze.

*

"Well, I bet the other guy looks even worse. Hopefully you went easy on him," Steve says as he cracks a smile. He takes the lack of a real smile as more concern about the baby than anything else.

*

A slight clearing comes from her throat and she reaches her good hand over to the file she has laying face down on the table next to her. She is careful not to show him the front, not wanting to put presumptions on it. Instead, she slides the top piece of paper out of it, a sketch artist's rendering and a very good one at that. "…The other guy looks like this." She states flatly.

The sketch she's handed him is of someone who looks just like James Buchanan Barnes, but with longer hair and colder eyes.

*

Steve's eyebrows pinch as he takes the sketch into his hands and peers down at it. "Hmmh," he says absently as he flicks the paper with his finger. "Funny, that guy looks almost like a guy I used to know." It's the look of this guy that gets Steve. So much so he forgets to put Peg and Bucky together at the same time and space.

*

But they were. Hell, Peggy even snubbed the man for a dance at that bar. She was partially responsible for planning the mission on which he was killed. Peggy will never forget that face, the first man she KNEW she sent to die. "Yes. A certain Sergeant James Barnes. Bucky… if I have the nick name right." And then she turns over the rest of the file she'd been studying. It's his file, including Steve's report on his death.

*

Steve's eyes trail to the paperwork and he nearly recoils. Eyes back to Peg now as he slowly asks, "What is this?"

*

The woman pulls out James' enlistment photo, not forcing Steve to look at the whole file, but she sets that photo side by side with the drawing. Together, they are even closer. Peggy's eyes look pinched. Tight. She doesn't want to put him through this but, after a breath, she starts softly. "…The man who tried to kill me… and should have succeeded, looked exactly like James Barnes. Ava confirmed it. She did this sketch independent of anything I said. The only reason he stopped is because I said his name… and he called me Peggy. Then dropped me and ran."

*

Steve rubs at the bottom part of his face as he tries to take this all in. 6 months ago he'd waken up from being in an ice cocoon. It felt like moments before that that he watched Bucky die. "But how?" He never did actually see Barnes die. There was a lot of assumptions about his death.

*

"I…don't know. I could be wrong. If he hadn't reacted so sharply to his name, I would have convinced myself I *was* wrong by now. But the only reason I'm alive is because he stopped what I was doing when I said that name and he seemed to recognize me. Not as a name in some generic assassin's file. But as *Peggy*. Otherwise… he had me dead to rights. And I cannot get that face out of my head." Peggy breathes out quietly, sinking back a bit more in the pillow, exhaustion crossing her face for a heartbeat or two.

*

Steve does a bit of a double take and then looks to the photo and then to the rest of the file, "You mind if I take that?" Another shake of his head as he's just sort of in shock, "Is it possible?"

*

A slight shake of her head and she slips both pages back into the file, handing it over to Steve, "Just get it back to the office in the morning. Or come to the office and they'll make a copy for you." Peggy murmurs softly, he being one of the ONLY people she'd trust with that. "…Steve. When he fell… What happened that day? How deep was that cliff?"

*

"Deep, but, I don't really know. Things happened so fast," Steve admits. "There wasn't a lot of time to stop and figure things out. I think we just assumed he was dead. I have no idea how he could even be alive."

*

A slight grimace crosses Peggy's features, but she's had two days trapped in a hospital bed to think about this, and reread the file, and contemplate if she was going crazy or not. She breathes out slowly, "…And when you found him…in the HYDRA Base. Your report said he was in another section from the others?"

*

"Yeah, he was," Steve says, exhaling once or twice between each thought. "He never really seemed that different later, but he was pretty groggy to begin with….How did you come upon this guy?" Whether because of skepticism or a lack of facts, Steve doesn't seem to want to believe it.

*

"He found us. Ava and I were literally just walking out of the office, down the street in Chinatown… and he attacked. He had a modified gun, it's in an evidence bag…" She then blinks, giving a weak little laugh, "…The gun. Maybe it has prints on it. He was wearing gloves but, you never know. Ava helped… fight him off. But he knew code words. From the Red Room, where we got her, when she was a kid… She wrote a report. His fighting style was similiar. If not the same to Ava's training."

*

"Any chance he could be some dupe or guy they made to look like him? I doubt Bucky ended up in Russia. He fell in Germany," Steve says quietly.

*

"Always a chance. But… if he was, why didn't he finish the job? Whatever words he spoke to Ava… they scrambled her brain, somehow. She couldn't think, couldn't function. He destroyed my gun. Was stronger than *anyone* I've fought before. If this is a good dupe… why would he stop?" Peggy asks softly, that being the key in her mental obsession over the last few days.

*

Steve sighs and looks at some X-rays that had been taken, anything to pull him away from lookign at the file. "I don't know," he says quietly. "But I want to find him. Whoever this guy is, we need to know."

*

"…We do." Peggy affirms softly, turning her head, though aching, to look straight back at him. She reaches her good hand out in his direction, offering fingertips for a quiet, centering squeeze. "I'm trying to put together a team. Chances are… he'll come back to finish the job."

*

Steve returns the squeeze, "Let me know when and where. In addition to trying to keep you in one piece, I need to see this for myself."

*

The woman holds onto his hand for a few more heartbeats, cool fingertips keeping that gently tight squeeze there. While she's kept up a good face for near everyone, he probably knows her well enough to see beneath the edges. This has shaken Peggy. "Steve. I…I know you and he were close. If you don't want to get into this… You don't have to. It might hurt… more than it helps."

*

"No," Steve says plainly. "I have to know." His hands are a great deal warmer and he returns the squeeze. "How's Sousa holding up?"

*

A slight nod there, Peggy isn't going to push it, but she had to offer. "When we have the team together, I will let you know. My best idea is stepping out as bait right now and…" She smirks slightly, "I rather have a feeling that is going to be shot down." A slightly resigned chuckle echoes after that. "Daniel is…holding up. We put Mickey with his sister up north for a little bit. It… it's safer, until this blows over.'"

*

"But, the baby," Steve says as he tilts his head and looks to her. Rather than say it, he assumes she realizes the danger. "Maybe after the baby's born."

*

"I know. I'm… not fighting on this one, for once." Peggy seems to finally be mentally somewhere that she's accepting she's going to have to take a step back. "But tracking him otherwise… I suspect it'll be difficult. He was good, Steve. Too good."

*

"Well, if it is Bucky, I trained him. If he wasn't good," Steve says with a bit of a wink. "I'd be disappointed." Apparently it got a little too serious there.

*

"Yes, and who trained you again?" Peggy asks, that smile turning wry and actually reaching her eyes this time as she remembers back to more than a few push up coaching sessions, much less other things. She squeeze his hand one last time and gently lets go, palm settling back against the side of her stomach.

*

"I dunno. Some guy," Steve says with a grin. "Look, I've got to run and go meet up with Jack tonight. You going to be okay in this joint? What are they feeding you?" He winces, imagining.

*

That news makes her eyes widen. Peggy waves her hand almost immediately, "Go! Go. What are you doing with my old ass. You should have said, I could have told you tomorrow. Shoo. Kiss your lady for me. Give her my best, truly. And don't even think about the food here." She smirks, nose wrinkling. Then there is another quick wave of her hand, shooing him out of the room.

*

"Take care of yourself, Peg." Steve leans over the hospital bed and reaches his arm around her to pull her into a long hug. "Please."

*

The hug wasn't expected, but Peggy certainly doesn't push it away. She leans up and into the hug for a long moment, just taking a deep breath there. At least the slow repair of their friendship was a good thing. It felt better than it had in ages. "…I'll be fine, Steve. I always am. Go see your girl." She turns her head, kissing his cheek in a purely chaste way before letting him go. "Good night, Steve. Thank you… for… For coming."

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