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Summary: Peggy knows it's a mistake. But she's lonely and he's warm and she's far past the point of caring.
"We all makechoices, but in the end our choices make us."
Peggy knows it's a mistake.
But she's lonely and he's warm and she's far past the point of caring.
The alcohol taste bitter on the back of her tongue, but then it doesn't matter because suddenly there's teeth and tongue and lips. He's so warm and safe and she doesn't know how to stop. Doesn't want to stop.
And when they're done and he's fallen asleep with his arms wrapped around her, she feels so very warm.
Three weeks later, she's leaning a over a toilet; crying. She's been sick every morning for the past week and she knows what that means.
She shows up on Howard's door step three months later with a baby bump and a bag full of cash (she doesn't think she'll need it, but it doesn't hurt to be safe).
He doesn't ask questions, just steps aside and lets her in.
Maria stares for a minute, says a quick prayer while holding her wedding ring, and nods her head, "Okay."
The next morning, the paper's headlines are full of the happy news. Maria Stark is three months pregnant.
"You don't have to do it," he says one night when Maria's gone off to bed and she is so tired and so, so cold.
"I don't understand how you can give up your baby like this," Maria says one day over lunch. Howard's in his lab at Stark Internationals.
She wants to tell her how hard it is for her to do this. She wants to tell her how every morning she puts a hand over her stomach and asks God if she's doing the right things. How she cries a little when He never answers. She wants to confide in Maria all her struggles. This woman, this saint-like woman caught in a tangle of mistakes and pain that wasn't hers. Maria had never judged, never condemned. For all the wrongs she has done to this woman, Maria has never spited her. If there was anyone in this world that she could trust, it would be Maria.
But Peggy hadn't trusted in a long time.
She smiles a sad, sad smile, "It isn't my baby."
It's bitter. So very bitter and so very cold, "Maria will make a good mother." And so, so sad.
The baby is born March 3rd, 1973.
She stays for three days to recover before slipping out the back door. She takes a pair of clothes for her trip out of the states and nothing else.
She leaves the bag full of money on the kitchen counter.
She wonders as she boards the plane, briefly, what Maria and Howard will name it. But then remembers she doesn't care, it's their issues now.
The baby is better off without her anyway.
He looks at her for a moment; staring, judging, but never questioning, "Yes, I suppose she will."
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