“Here.” Nixon threw the scarf at Speirs who caught it effortlessly, only to look at Lewis with a quizzically raised eyebrow, the always present cigarette dangling from his lips.
“I'm not cold, Nix.” he said, his voice quiet in the approaching darkness of the early evening.
“I know.” Lewis replied and sat down next to him on what had remained of the wall that had once separated two rooms, already searching for his own cigarettes. When he had lit one, he looked up and gestured with his hand at his neck, a smirk on his lips. “But you might want to cover that up.”
Speirs just frowned. “Cover what up?”
Nix touched his finger to his own neck, right above his collarbone. “Lip's little message.”
Speirs hand flew up to cover the spot Nixon had indicated, growling a curse under his breath.
“I never pegged him for a biter.” Nixon said with a grin and watched how Speirs quickly wrapped the scarf around his neck. He held out his flask, the smirk still on his face, and after a moment of staring at him almost suspiciously, Speirs accepted it.
Nixon chuckled and blew out a blue cloud of smoke. “Yeah, yeah, it's always the quiet ones.”
“How is Sergeant Lipton?” Dick Winters asked when he entered the house they had commandeered for the night.
Luz looked up from where he was sitting with the radio in front of him, several pieces of it spread over the table. “Still burning, sir.”
Dick nodded, a worried pull around his mouth. “Where is he?”
“Upstairs, sir.” Luz replied and pointed his screwdriver in the direction of the stairs. “Captain Speirs set him up in the warmest room of the house. Said it would do him good.”
“Thank you, Luz.” Dick turned towards the stairs and made his way up to check up on the pneumonia ridden First Sergeant. There was an actual fireplace in the room, a fire burning inside and heating up the air enough that Dick felt comfortably warm for the first time in ages. Lipton lay on the double bed on the other side of the room, huddled up under a ridiculous amount of blankets, obviously asleep. His ragged, laboured breathing was almost loud in the silence of the room.
Dick walked over slowly, taking in the pained expression Lipton's face retained even in sleep. He lay his hand on Lipton's forehead and couldn't help a worried frown at the heat he felt under his fingers. Luz' description of “burning” had indeed been quite accurate.
Lipton began stirring under the touch, turning into it without opening his eyes. “'m fine, Ron.”
His voice was low and rough from sleep, and then a smile spread over his face that was so soft that Dick felt uncomfortable witnessing it. It felt like something private, something intimate that he had no right to see.
“Lipton?” At the sound of Dick's voice, Lipton's eyes flew open and he bolted upright. He had just about a second before a cough ripped through him, shaking his whole body until he was hunched over, curling in on himself as if to ward off the pain. Winters let his hand rub over Lipton's back in quiet reassurance and waited for the fit to finish, knowing there was nothing he could do to help.
The moment he could breath again, Lipton tensed and sat up straighter. “Sir...” He coughed again to clear his throat when nothing more than a hoarse rush of air came out. “I'm sorry, sir, I didn't...”
“Don't worry, Lip.” Dick said with a reassuring smile, deliberately using his nickname to show that he wasn't talking as his superior officer right now.
“I'm only here to see how you are doing.”
“I'll live, sir.” Lipton replied and Dick watched his hands nervously flatten a corner of one of his multiple blankets. For a moment, Dick wondered if Speirs had looted them as he usually only did with silver and other valuables.
“That's good to hear.” Dick said and nodded at the blankets. “I see Captain Speirs is taking good care of you.”
“Yes, sir, he is.” Dick thought there was a hint of a blush on Lipton's cheeks, but it could also have been a result of the coughing. “As are the rest of the men. Actually, they are spoiling me.”
“You deserve it.” Dick said and meant it. “We all want to see you back on your feet, so enjoy getting spoiled as long as you have it.”
Lipton chuckled. “I will, sir.”
Dick walked back towards the door, and when he had his hand on the handle, he turned back. “Oh, and Lipton?”
“You might want to be more careful with his first name.” Dick couldn't help remarking, a gentle but teasing smile on his lips. “Since there are not even a handful of people who actually dare to use it, it's a dead giveaway.”
Another round of rough coughing came from the bed, and although the room was half dark with the approaching dusk, it wasn't difficult to spot the blush that spread over Lipton's cheeks and all the way down his neck.
Dick knew it had nothing to do with the coughing.
Nixon stood on the balcony of Dick's room and looked down on the courtyard where Speirs was talking to Harry and Lipton. He heard Dick come up next to him, joining him in watching. After a moment, Speirs said something that made Harry laugh out aloud, then Ron turned to leave, not without throwing a smirk in Lipton's direction that had the man almost blushing.
Nixon just shook his head with an expression that was an interesting mixture of bewildered and curious. “Are we as obvious as they are?”
Dick was quiet for a moment, then he sighed into his mug. “I seriously hope not.”
Lewis followed Speirs' retreating form with his gaze, incidentally noticing the scarf he had wrapped around his neck, although the sun was shining brightly and it wasn't cold at all.
Nixon chuckled and looked at Dick with a wide grin on his lips. “Sometimes I wonder if anybody caught on how often you wear a scarf.”