At the end of the day, Daniel turns his chair and tries his luck with Peggy.
‘I’m sorry, Daniel.’
To credit him, Daniel does a good job of hiding his disappointment. Looking down with a sad smile, he says, ‘That’s alright. I understand,’ He reaches for his crutch, ‘I think I’m gonna go.’
‘Wait, Daniel…’ Peggy reaches out, as though her hand can stretch as far as his shoulder, ‘What do you mean, you “understand”?’
Daniel coughs, ‘It’s nothing, just… Nevermind.’ He stands, and begins to walk away from his desk.
‘Agent Sousa,’ The way she says his name sounds like both a command and a question. Daniel turns on the spot. She softens a little, continuing, ‘Please, tell me what you wanted to say.’
‘It was just something Krzeminski said before… It’s nothing you need to hear.’ The glare returns. Daniel lets a heavy breath flow through his nose, shaking his head, disappointed with himself. He shouldn’t have said anything at all.
‘“What woman’s gonna want to trade in a red, white, and blue shield for an aluminium crutch”.’ He knows the words exactly, no matter how hard he tries to forget them.
Peggy sinks into herself. ‘That’s why you think I’m saying no?’
Daniel shakes his head, ‘No, no I think more of you than that. It’s just… It’s hard to shake it.’ He starts to turn again, wanting the conversation to be over more than anything.
Peggy stands and approaches, but lets his desk stand between them. ‘Let me tell you about the man I fell in love with during the war.’
‘Steve Rogers, a man who was rejected by the army so many times for his body, but didn’t give up; who risked his life in every alleyway fight; whose ribs showed through his shirt. That’s the man I fell in love with, not the shield,’ She swallows, leaning her palms on the desk, ‘There are so many people who will love you, Daniel, I’m sorry that you want it to be me. There’s…’ She cuts herself off, taking a steadying breath, ‘There’s someone in my life, at the moment, whom I care about very much.’
‘Oh?’ Daniel appears less heartbroken than before, ‘You’ll have to tell me about him, someday.’
‘Actually, you’ve met her already.’ It’s a risk, Peggy knows it.
‘H- Oh. Alright, then.’ His ears redden.
‘Agent Sousa, what I’ve just told you is to stay between us, am I making myself clear?’