Avengers-Jack Peggy

Agent Carter fic: A Dollar Fifty and a Pair of Bolt Cutters

Reposting my SSR Confidential fics in no particular order. I'll post one or two a day until I'm done. This one was tremendous fun to write, so I figured I'd start here!

Title: A Dollar Fifty and a Pair of Bolt Cutters
Fandom: Agent Carter
Word Count: 4500
Pairing: gen (with a bit of Peggy/Daniel in the background)
Summary: Jack and Peggy, handcuffed together. Set after season two.
Crossposted: http://archiveofourown.org/collections/SSR_Confidential_2016/works/7132547


"To begin, let's consider our assets," Peggy said briskly.

There was no response, not that she had expected one. She continued, undeterred.

"They've taken our guns, our backup guns, my handbag and all its contents, your knife, the knife in my garter, the knife in your shoe -- I didn't know you had one, by the way; very resourceful. I'll have to consider having the lab modify one of my pumps accordingly. In exchange, they appear to have left us these stylish and potentially useful handcuffs."

She raised her left wrist, giving the cuffs a slight shake. There was no response from the inert lump attached to the other end.

"I also have the hot-wire in my belt, which should be excellent for staging a jailbreak, and a signaling mirror disguised as a collar rhinestone. If there is anything useful on your person, now would be the time to mention it." At the continued lack of response, she reached out with her cuffed hand to grasp his wrist, fingers finding the pulse point. His pulse was still strong. She gave his wrist a squeeze. "Jack, I know you're awake. I can tell by your breathing."

"Go away," Jack moaned. "Let me die in peace."

"Oh honestly, all this fuss over one head wound. I have a broken arm, but you don't hear me complaining about it."

He opened his eyes; she saw the glimmer in the moonlight shafting in through the window of the shed in which they were interred. "They broke your arm?"

"Not seriously, I hope." She'd tucked her right hand between two buttons of her blouse, and was concentrating on not thinking about it too much.

"There's a not-serious version of a broken arm?" Jack started to raise his head, made a faint sound of pain that he would probably have insisted was not at all a whimper, and let his forehead fall back down into the sand.

In all seriousness she was worried about him. He'd been unconscious for quite some time after being pistol-whipped by their assailants; he'd had to be dragged into the shed. But his breathing and pulse had been strong enough, and after prodding at his blood-matted hair, she'd reached the conclusion that there was nothing at all she could do for him here, not locked in a dirt-floored shed in the middle of nowhere. Only talk to him, and wait for him to wake up on his own.

And right now she needed to get him up and moving, all the pent-up urgency that she'd fought down while waiting for him to wake up coming back in force. "Jack, I cannot carry you, and I suggest we make all due haste at escaping before our captors come back to shoot us and dump our bodies in the desert."

"Thanks for the motivational speech." He dragged himself slowly into a sitting position by hanging onto the wall, and let his head rest against the mortared stone wall. This outbuilding was probably a good fifty or sixty years old, made of rocks and adobe, with the roof falling in at one side. Peggy was steadfastly not thinking about scorpions.

"I can cut the lock on the door if we can get there," she said. "Can you stand up?"

"No," Jack muttered, but she was already getting to her knees. They tottered to their feet in an awkward three-armed semi-embrace, with Jack's uncuffed arm over her shoulders and her cuffed hand clasped on his forearm.

"I think I'm going to be sick," he groaned.

"Away from me, please, if you don't mind." Now that they were up, she leaned him against the wall and undid her belt with her left hand, yanking the cuff repeatedly as she did so. She worked with her teeth to free the wire hidden within, and made a low sound of frustration as she struggled with it. "Jack, since you have two functional hands, could you pull this wire out for me?"

"Nargh," was his unpromising response, but when she pressed the belt into his hands, he struggled with it for a minute or two before extracting the wire.

"Hold one end," she instructed, and took hold of the other, pulling it -- to the extent of the cuffs, which was only about half the extent of the wire sagging loosely between her left hand and his right. "Jack. Your other hand."

"You gotta be specific," he mumbled. Eyes closed, he switched hands and tried to use his left to hang onto the wall -- until Peggy pulled it away from the wall by the cuff, as she drew the wire out to its full extent. He nearly fell on her.

"Please hold still," she said, pushing him back against the wall with her shoulder. "The wire needs a sharp jerk to activate the heating element. Keep hold of the end while I saw through the padlock."

The only response was a faint "ow", but he held the end of the wire steady (more or less) while Peggy pushed against the door with her knee -- the old hinges were loose, and it gave readily -- and looped the wire around the exposed padlock. The glow of the wire, slowly brightening from red to yellow to incandescent blue, seemed shockingly bright to her in the darkness, and she hoped their captors were not near enough or attentive enough to notice the faint glow from the shed.

The lock parted with a sharp snap. Peggy caught it in her palm to stop it from clattering to the ground, gasping softly as the hot-wire came in brief but searing contact with the side of her hand. That was going to leave a scar. She dropped both quietly in the sand at her feet.

"Jack, when I open the door, we need to run. Can you do that?"

"Do I have a choice?"

Well, at least it was a better answer than an incoherent groan. There was a brief comedy of errors as she tried to get his cuffed arm over her shoulders without strangling herself on the chain, finally accomplished with her cuffed arm crossed on her chest, hand clasped around his wrist.

"Ready?"

"Nffff."

Back to that, were they. She nudged the door carefully and winced as the long-disused hinges creaked in protest. With a gap of about a foot to see through, she looked across the yard of the old ranch where they were being held. Light streamed out of the windows of the ranch house, and a number of vehicles were parked in the yard. However, their outbuilding was adjacent to an old wooden fence and, on the far side of that, the scrubby trees and rocky outcroppings of desert wilderness lay painted in shades of moonlit black and silver. They could circle around to the road, she thought optimistically, and either walk to help or flag down a passing motorist.

She entertained the idea of searching the other outbuildings for a pair of bolt cutters, but quickly abandoned it as Jack reeled and leaned on her more heavily, breathing harshly in her ear. If the two of them were uninjured, she thought it would be worth the risk to move unimpeded. As it was ... well, she may as well wish for a pair of bolt cutters, a taxicab, and a dollar fifty for cab fare to the nearest town.

"Jack, on three, we move," she murmured, nudging the door wider. The bright moon gave them a good view of their escape route, but would give their enemies an equally good view of the shed.

"Nnngh."

Peggy kicked the door open and launched them into motion.

For the first step or two, Jack sagged and she had a brief flash of concern that he was going to fall and take them both down. Then he seemed to find his feet, and they stumbled for the fence at the pace of a brisk walk, only with a good deal more staggering and foot-tangling.

At the fence, Jack gasped, "Peggy -- wait -- nngh --" and then made good on his promise to be sick, fortunately not in her direction but into an unlucky clump of sagebrush instead. Peggy gazed worriedly at the ranch house, but there was no sign of alarm.

Jack cursed softly and spat into the sagebrush. "For the record," he whispered, "don't ever throw up with a head injury. I thought I had a headache before." His face was white and drawn in the moonlight, eyes slitted with pain.

And still not a damned thing she could do about it. "Whenever you're finished, we will have to crawl under the fence," she whispered back.

"Lovely."

They awkwardly crouched/fell to the sand. Once they got the hang of crawling in sync, it wasn't that bad, although Peggy had to hop along on her left hand while carefully keep her injured arm pressed to her abdomen. She felt lightheaded from pain when they stood up on the other side. On the bright side, it was much less difficult to get his arm wrapped around her shoulders this time; it only took two or three tries, and just one attempted handcuff-chain garroting.

"You got a plan?" Jack whispered. Before she could answer, there was a loud shout from the ranch house.

Wonderful. The open shed door must be clearly visible in the moonlight, a gaping block of darkness.

"Run?"

They ran, or rather, they awkwardly hobbled at speed, dodging between gnarled trees and scrambling around clumps of brush. The desert looked deceptively smooth from a distance, but was actually a nightmare of ankle-turning rocks, leg-breaking holes, and thorny bushes that tore at their shins. They slipped and slid in a shower of gravel into a dry streambed, stumbling over strewn rocks in the pitiless moonlight.

"I meant a more long-term plan," Jack whispered fiercely through his teeth, as they slogged through a sandbar pushed up by some years-past flash-flood.

"I welcome any plans you have to offer, Chief Thompson!"

"Where the hell are we, anyway?"

Peggy gritted her teeth, jarring her broken arm as they clambered over the bleached bones of a dead cottonwood tree. "I was in the trunk of a car; I hardly kept track of the turns!"

"Hey, I was unconscious and stuffed in a trunk. If we're comparing notes --"

One of his feet turned on a rock and they both went down, hard. For a short while the moonlit arroyo was silent; neither of them spoke or moved, except to gasp as they fought through their respective worlds of pain.

At last Peggy said, in a slightly shaky voice, "Right, I suggest we watch where we're stepping."

"Agreed," Jack murmured, looking wan in the moonlight. The side of his face was dark with blood.

They staggered upright and stood still for a moment, Jack weaving in place, both of them looking back down the arroyo. There were no visible signs of pursuit, which might just mean their pursuers, more familiar with the area, were circling around by some other route.

Jack was wheezing faintly, which reminded her he wasn't that long out of hospital. Two people handcuffed together were only as fast as the slower one ... though, based on her own lightheadedness and the very distracting throbbing in her arm, she wouldn't be much faster. Besides, it wasn't like she was going to leave him concussed in the desert.

"How are you holding up?" she asked, moving a little closer to help steady him without being obvious about it.

"Fine," he said, predictably.

He seemed to be a little less wobbly than earlier, at least. She thought about trying to get another look at his head injury -- there was more light out here to see by -- but it wasn't as if she could determine anything by looking that she didn't already know. Besides, that might lead to Jack deciding he needed to try to set her broken arm for her, and she wasn't that desperate yet.

"I don't suppose you have anything on you that we might use to pick these," she said, shaking the cuffs with a soft clank. "I should have kept the hot-wire; it might have been possible to use it. I don't even have a hair pin."

"Pretty sure they got everything useful. Including my shoes, which would really come in handy right now."

She'd forgotten he was running in sock feet. His socks were spotted with blood; she thought about what they'd gone through already, with all its numerous rocks and thorns, and tried not to wince. "You won't be able to walk far like that."

"You think?"

Nor would she, even in the low-heeled pumps that were already starting to hurt her feet as she'd struggled over rocks and through ankle-deep sand. "I was thinking we might circle around to the road," she said. "They drove us here, so there must be a road, and presumably other houses somewhere along it." Although now that she saw how isolated they were, she was starting to have doubts about that plan. They could be walking for hours, if not days. Also, he didn't seem to be listening to her. "Jack, what is it? Are you all right?"

"Do you hear an engine?"

Peggy listened, standing beside him in the desert night. That was an engine, a low drone that seemed vaguely familiar. A car, driving fast? No ...

"Airplane," they said together.

It swooped down on them out of the starry sky, a winking light that was most certainly not a star. Their pursuers must have been very determined, or very reckless, to fly at night, especially to fly this at night. It was an old prewar biplane, probably an old crop-duster or barnstormer's plane, and so the pilot would have nothing but dead reckoning to avoid crashing into hills and rock stacks in the dark. However, the moon lit up the arroyo almost as bright as day, and there was nowhere nearby to take cover; the land had flattened out, and the sides of the dry streambed were no higher here than Peggy's waist.

It took her an instant to hear the chatter of an automatic weapon over the roar of the propeller as the biplane swept over them. The machine gun stitched a row of shots across the sandy floor of the arroyo; rock chips and sand flew. Both the intended victims tried to do the same thing -- fling the other person to the ground and cover them -- but since they were handcuffed together, all they managed to do was collapse in a tangle of arms and legs. On the bright side, the pain of falling on a broken arm was more than enough to distract Peggy from the bullets hitting the sand inches from her nose.

"You okay?" Jack asked hoarsely.

"I wasn't hit, if that's what you mean."

The airplane made a wide turn, banking for another pass. Peggy raised her head to watch it, and announced, "I have a plan."

"Oh God."

"Come on." Gritting her teeth, she struggled to her feet, pulling him up with her, and led him in a stumbling run toward a cluster of nearby boulders. "We pretend to be hit and fall among those. They'll have to land and come investigate."

"You hope we'll be pretending."

She decided to ignore that. "When they start shooting at us, we go down together."

Their timing was better than she'd hoped. They reached the boulders just as the biplane began another strafing run. Next to Peggy, Jack jerked and stumbled, and she hoped it was only play-acting as she tried to do the same, letting her knees fold and carrying her down -- Bloody Nora, this is going to hurt --

They tumbled bruisingly among the boulders. Peggy clenched her teeth and tried to protect her injured arm with her other one, which dragged Jack's cuffed arm across her front and inadvertently caused him to land on top of her.

"Shi -- crap, sorry, Carter. Tell me you're not dead."

She couldn't see the plane -- she couldn't see much of anything except Jack's shoulder and a sliver of star-dusted sky -- but she heard the engine change as it banked.

"Carter!"

"Yes, I'm fine, see if we can get further under cover before they fly over us again."

They squirmed hastily between the rocks. Peggy winced as she discovered new bruises and scraped the skin off the back of her cuffed hand.

"They're comin' around."

"I know. Lie still."

It was hard to do, forcing herself not to run, not to struggle, trusting only in the rocks and the shadows to conceal their exact location from the biplane. There was another staccato burst of gunfire, and her cheek stung as a chip of rock creased it. The airplane's engine faded again, then came back stronger: it roared across the boulders, so close the downdraft swept a cloud of sand over them.

"Hit?" Peggy asked.

"No."

The pitch of the airplane's engine changed again, and Peggy could hear the sudden crunch of wheels on gravel. They bought it. They're landing.

"Got a problem with your plan," Jack whispered.

"Just one?" They were squeezed down between the rocks, twisted in awkward positions as they tried to wedge their bodies into crevices between the boulders. Her cuffed hand was pulled over his shoulder, his head twisted to the side.

"They've got guns and we don't. If it were me, I'd send one guy forward to put a bullet in anything that looks like it might move, and have the other guy hang back to cover him."

"Then we will have to utilize the element of surprise, won't we?" She made clutching motions with her cuffed hand. "Do you see any conveniently hand-sized rocks nearby?"

The engine noise died completely, and in the sudden quiet, she could hear low men's voices not too far away. In the silence, Jack's small scuffling noises as he felt around for rocks seemed much too loud. A fist-sized lump of rock was pushed into her waiting fingers.

"You got a plan other than 'jump up and clobber 'em'?" Jack whispered.

"I prefer simple plans. There's less to go wrong."

"Other than us tripping on each other, you mean?"

"Shhh." Footsteps crunched on sand, coming closer. Moving her lips near his ear, she breathed, "Wait for my signal."

A sudden burst of gunfire rattled off the rocks, as the weapon's owner raked the cluster of boulders with bullets. Peggy jerked involuntarily, and felt Jack flinch against her. The gun fell silent again, and she tensed.

"See anything, Bill?"

"Nothin'." The voice came from right on the other side of the rocks.

Peggy tapped Jack twice in the shoulder with the fist holding the rock, and launched herself up and over the boulders.

Her worst fears failed to materialize: Jack came with her as smoothly as if they'd rehearsed it. They hurled themselves on top of their stunned assailant, flattening him to the ground. Peggy hit him in the head with her rock while Jack scooped up his discarded gun. As Jack swung around with the gun, Peggy was dragged by the hand, the cuff slamming painfully into her wrist; the rock fell from her suddenly nerveless fingers. Jack snapped off a burst of semi-auto fire at their other attacker, who collapsed to the sand.

Jack sank down, too, dropping the gun and resting his head in his hands. Peggy was dragged with him. For a moment or two, they sat on the sand, while the feeling gradually returned to her aching left hand. She used her foot to prod the man she'd hit with the rock, but he seemed to be either unconscious or dead. He was one of the ones who'd pistol-whipped Jack, so she couldn't bring herself to feel too sorry for him.

"Think you can stand up?" she asked, giving Jack a nudge.

"Yeah. I'm good." He drew a shaky breath and got unsteadily to his feet. "Okay, we got guns now. That's an improvement."

"Actually, we have something much better." Peggy turned toward the dark shape of the biplane, parked a short way distant. "I think we have our ride out of here."

"Excuse me, did you miss the part where neither of us knows how to fly a plane? We established that back during the Stark thing, didn't we?"

"They will have seen the plane land and heard the gunshots. They'll certainly be on us in a few minutes. Unless you fancy outrunning them in your socks?"

She started toward the biplane. Jack came with her, having little choice, limping slightly.

"Besides," Peggy said, trying to convince herself, "how hard can it be?"

The airplane had two open cockpits, one in front of the other. Climbing inside, with Peggy's only functional hand attached to Jack's opposite wrist, was an exercise in cooperation that resulted in a couple of new bruises and a near-fall. Peggy got into the front seat, Jack into the back one. She struggled to get her left hand far enough forward to touch the control yoke, while Jack made protesting noises as she pulled his right hand as far forward as it would go. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that he was standing up in his seat.

"Hmm. This poses a problem."

"Ya think?" Jack demanded, arm stretched over her shoulder.

"I think two hands are needed for this. Jack ..."

"Carter, I can't fly a plane!"

"Does your seat have controls? Most of these older planes were designed to be flown from either seat."

"Yes," he admitted. "But Peggy, I'm still seein' double. If I pass out or screw up, we're gonna be kissing desert."

"I have faith in you."

"I'm glad one of us does."

There was a silence while they both studied the controls, Peggy with her left hand stretched over her head to give him enough slack to get both hands on the control yoke. Then Jack said, "Call me crazy here, but don't you have to spin the prop on these old gals to get 'em started?"

"Oh Lord," Peggy sighed wearily.

The process of starting the airplane could not possibly be too different, she reasoned, from starting an old automobile, the hand-cranked kind, and she had driven those. Some experimentation followed: setting the throttle, clambering out of the airplane, spinning the propeller, climbing back in to reset the controls --

They were both shocked when it finally caught -- only to stall an instant later. Some hasty resetting of the controls ensued, followed by the engine catching a second time and both of them desperately tumbling into the same seat, grabbing for the controls in a tangle of limbs. "Ow -- Carter -- the choke, choke that sucker hard --" A brief power struggle over the controls followed, and the engine died a second time.

"I think we almost have it," Peggy panted.

"I think I'm gonna pass out if we can't bring down the activity level a little."

One more round of propeller-spinning did it. This time, when they frantically catapulted themselves back into the cockpit and attempted to feather the controls in the correct direction, the engine settled down to a smooth, though shockingly loud, rhythm.

Peggy clambered into the other seat, wincing as the bones in her broken arm twisted, and leaned back to give Jack as much slack on the cuff as possible. "Once you start us forward, lift the nose of the plane gently. I think that's all there is to it -- Jack -- are you --"

He was retching weakly over the side, one fist pressed to his temple. "Fine," he gasped. "I'm fine."

Peggy told herself firmly that they were not about to die and that their odds of survival were better if the person with two functional hands controlled their liftoff. Also, far down the arroyo, she glimpsed a motivational factor. "Jack, men with guns are inbound in our direction."

That got him upright with both hands on the controls. "Here goes nothing."

The plane jolted and slewed to the side, then bolted in a more-or-less forward direction.

"Gently!" Peggy gasped, stretching her left arm over her head as he did something with the controls that made the airplane's nose lurch.

A bullet blew a hole in the fabric covering the right wing.

"Jack! Anytime!"

"Right!" he yelped, and then, "Okay, that's interesting, I guess they kinda take off on their own!" as the wheels left the ground with a sharp bump.

"Really?"

"Well, we just did! Maybe when you go fast enough -- oh fff --"

They slewed around a rocky outcropping and roared down the dark arroyo, emerging over open desert. On the bright side, Peggy thought, this had to be one of the easier situations in which to fly an airplane as a novice. The brilliant moon lit up the desert and cast long black shadows from every tree and rock below them. On the distant horizon, the glow of L.A. could be seen.

"Peggy?"

"Yes, Jack?" she shouted over the roar of the propeller and the wind.

"You know we're gonna have to land this thing, right?"


***


SSR AGENTS LAND AIRPLANE UPSIDE-DOWN IN MGM BACKLOT
NIGHT FILMING OF WESTERN PICTURE INTERRUPTED
NO ONE INJURED EXCEPT STARTLED DONKEY
STARS SHOCKED! RUSSELL RAVES: "I CAN'T WORK UNDER THESE CONDITIONS!"
NO OFFICIAL STATEMENT - POLICE DECLINE TO COMMENT



***



"You realize you could've been killed, don't you?"

Daniel had one hand clamped around Peggy's good one, carefully avoiding the bandages over the bruised, abraded places on her wrist. Jack and Peggy had been installed in the same hospital room while tools had been found to remove the handcuffs. And they remained in adjacent beds even now, having resisted all efforts to move them: Peggy with her arm in a cast (and Daniel attached to the other one, which put him between the two beds) and Jack with his head swathed in bandages -- also his feet, though they were covered up with a blanket now.

"Tell her that," Jack said, cracking open an eye. "It was her idea."

"I was talking to her."

"Oh, I see ... I land an airplane while suffering from a concussion and this is the thanks I get."

"Thank you for not killing us," Peggy said, giving up temporarily on her efforts to nap. "Thank you, also, for landing upside down on top of a donkey, and thank you for continuing to speak while I am trying to sleep."

"I'd like to point out that airplanes are very unstable, and flipping one over while someone is moving the arm that's attached to --"

"Jack," Daniel said, reaching out between the two beds to punch him lightly in the shoulder, "she's trying to sleep and you have a concussion; shut up and get some rest."

"No respect," Jack announced to the room at large, closing his eyes.

Daniel leaned back against the wall, hand firmly entwined in Peggy's, and kept watch on both of them until the sun came up.

---

Notes: Russell = Jane Russell, 1940s/50s actress and sex symbol.

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Such pure awesome :D

Funny thin was I saw the summary in the archive before I realized it was my gift (as I was in a meeting on a phone and browsing distractedly) and was like: whoa, I have GOT to read this. And then I realized it was for me XD

The sneaky thing was slipping it in among all the other fics you knew I was writing without having you be suspicious that I'd suddenly "stopped writing" for a few days. ;D
That's why I was like..." No way! D: when did she find the TIME?"

Ahahahaha!

(I do generally assume you do things other than write fanfic from time to time you know...)

fantastic story a resourceful Peggy and peotective Jack. Loved the snark