"He's not here."
Peggy barely heard the voice, over the sound of an out-of-tune piano and men singing. God knew why Steve -- Captain Rogers -- liked this bar; she might have accused him of being just like all the other soldiers, but he generally seemed to have a little more taste than this, and he had access to the officers' mess, after all.
She turned, seeking the source, and then she remembered why he probably liked this one better.
"Sergeant Barnes," she said. "I see you're making the most of your leave."
"Generally do," he answered, slouching lower on the bar stool, elbows back on the bar. "Cap's not here," he repeated.
"What makes you think I'm looking for Captain Rogers?"
Barnes snorted. "Like you'd lower yourself to anyone else here?"
She narrowed her eyes. It was probably better, implying she was a snob than implying she was a slut, as other men who didn't like a woman in their ranks had done, but she didn't care for it either way.
"I have the Captain's new orders," she said. "I know he's fond of this establishment."
"Not fond enough," Barnes said, and Peggy sensed an undercurrent of bitterness there that confused her. "You won't find him here. Leave 'em in his bunk, I'm sure he'll end up there soon enough. Or give 'em to me."
"God knows where you'd leave them," she said.
"Well, then," he replied, standing a little unsteadily, "It's a good thing I'm off duty, Agent Carter, 'cause I'm pretty sure I can tell you to go to hell without getting KP for it."
"Do you really want to pick a fight with me?" she asked. "On duty or off?"
"Right now I want to pick a fight with everyone," he said, leaning in close. "You just happen to be standin' in front of me, Carter."
Peggy knew she should keep her temper, but a combination of weariness, poor impulse control, and self-defense made her do it. Her hand snapped out, over his shoulder, and she caught her fingers in the fine hair just behind his ear. Her thumb and palm curved around his ear, and she pulled; with a yelp of pain he staggered sideways until his head hit the bar. She held it there with her other hand and then reached down and grabbed his belt buckle, twisting it and the fabric beneath it. The crotch of his trousers snugged up tight, strangling his balls -- Colonel Phillips had taught her that one, with a grin and a wink -- and Barnes yelped a second time.
"And now I'm standing over you," she informed him.
The music had stopped, as had most conversation. Peggy was about to release him with a warning when she heard someone clear their throat.
"Not to interrupt," Captain Rogers drawled, "but I'm pretty sure you promised me a dance, Agent Carter."
"We ain't dancin'," Barnes said in a high, tense voice.
"I can see that, Buck," the Captain replied. "Peggy, come on. Let him go. Whatever he said, I'll take it out of his hide later."
Peggy released the belt buckle, then Barnes' hair; she stepped away and smoothed out her dress.
"I have your orders from Colonel Phillips, ahead of tomorrow's afternoon briefing," she said, reaching into the map case slung on her shoulder and offering him the envelope. He took it with raised eyebrows, tucked it into the inside pocket of his uniform jacket, and glanced around. The music was starting up again, now that their little moment of street theatre was over.
"Cap," Barnes said, and the sharp look Steve gave him was harder than she'd seen from him in a long time.
"You take your time, Sergeant, and cool off," he said, in a voice that made it clear it wasn't a request. Then he glanced back at Peggy. "I wouldn't mind that dance now, Agent Carter, if you don't mind me stepping on your feet a little."
"I shouldn't linger..." she began, because this was strange and unusually forward of him, but he gave her a pleading look.
"Lemme make his apologies for him," he said, leaning forward so that Barnes, who had turned back to the bar in disgust, couldn't hear. "Promise, just one dance."
She sighed, but she also smiled. His face lit up when she did that, which was gratifying.
"One," she said, and let him hand her out into the little open space that counted as a dance floor.
There wasn't much room, and there wasn't much skill on his end, but they got along all right, in amongst the other couples. He hadn't stepped on her feet yet when he said, "I really am sorry about Bucky. He's not normally like that."
"You're not his keeper, Steve," she replied. "You don't have to take his blame on you."
"No, but he was mine for a long time," Steve answered. "He's my friend, so. We take each others' blame. That's how it works for us."
"He didn't seem very pleased with you this evening."
Steve sighed, eyes finding Barnes at the bar for a minute before drifting back to her. "You remember what I said after Rebirth, how I felt?"
She smiled. "Taller."
"The whole world changed. He didn't know what happened to me. Then suddenly I showed up, in combat, about the size of two of me from before. But to him I'm just...taller. He thinks he has to look out for me still."
"And you told him otherwise?"
"Well, no," he admitted. "Not in so many words. He's all heated up because...see, last mission, I took a bullet."
She stiffened. "I beg your pardon."
"This is why I don't tell people!" he said, as if it were part of a larger ongoing argument with the universe. "It was just in the shoulder, and I handled it fine. We had to get the mission done. So I pushed through, because I can, the Serum lets me, and when we got back to HQ I went to medical and had 'em take it out. Buck just...walked in while they were doing it. So he's mad I didn't say anything about being wounded. But mostly he's mad because he thinks I think I don't need him anymore."
"Do you?" she asked.
"I'll always need Bucky. He's my best pal," he said. "Guess he didn't get that I wasn't just his friend because he could beat up anyone who took a swing at me."
"Have you told him that?"
"Aw, Peggy, fellas don't talk about these things," he said sheepishly. "Not with each other, I mean."
"And you wonder why it takes you so long to get anywhere with anyone," she said. The music was ending, and she drew back from him, straightening the map case at her hip and smiling.
"You should look after your friend," she said. "Take him home, sort yourselves out. For the Commandos, if nothing else."
"Yes, ma'am," Steve said, but there was amusement in his eyes. "Thanks for the dance, Agent Carter."
"You're very welcome, Captain Rogers."
The bar's front door, such as it was, emptied out into a little alley set back from the main road nearby. She left Steve to deal with Barnes, but she hadn't even reached the road before she heard them behind her in the alley, scuffling.
"I don't need you orderin' me around outside base as well as on it," Barnes snarled, and she turned in time to see him shove Steve in the chest. Steve barely moved.
"I'm not orderin' you to do anything, Bucky, stop being such a jerk," Steve replied. "You're drunk and you're picking fights even I wouldn't pick, and Agent Carter said -- "
"I'm sure she did," Barnes interrupted, voice full of venom. "I'm sure she said all kindsa things."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Steve asked, sounding genuinely bewildered.
"Nothin'. Nothin' at all. I wouldn't dare," Barnes said, sullen and clearly angry.
"What's gotten into you? Buck, I told you, it wasn't serious, the docs got the bullet out -- "
"You had a bullet in you!" Barnes yelled. "You had a goddamn slug in your goddamn shoulder for two days! Time was you couldn't get wet without gettin' pneumonia, I just can't...."
Peggy saw him shake his head, turning to slam his fist into the brickwork nearby. "At least you used to let me look after you," he said. "Guess that was only 'cause you had to, huh?"
"Bucky," Steve said, voice full of sorrow. "Bucky no, it's not like that. Things are different now, but that doesn't mean I don't want you with me, on the team. I still need you."
"Sure," Barnes muttered.
"C'mere, jerk," Steve said, and pulled him into a hug. Barnes didn't want to go, she could see that, but after a couple of seconds he leaned in, the line of his shoulders softening, and his face pressed into Steve's neck.
It took her a second to understand what she was seeing, to draw the right conclusion from it, and then she felt both angry and ashamed. Small wonder he didn't like her.
She was the competition.
Unfortunately, even as she realized it, he looked up and saw her, standing at the mouth of the alley. When he stiffened, Steve let go of him and turned, following his gaze.
"Well," she said, because discretion in personal matters had rarely been her strong point, "It's nice to see you two have shouted each other into submission."
To her shock, Barnes laughed. It still had a bitter tinge to it, but it wasn't entirely nasty, this time.
"It still ain't dancing, but I suppose you can't ask for everything," he said. So he knew that she understood, she supposed. She wondered if it was a form of concession to her. She didn't especially want his permission, but she didn't particularly want to hurt him, either. He was a bit of an ass, but not a bad sort, and he did spend most of his time looking after Steve.
Steve, who was looking back and forth between them, an irritated frown on his face proving that he didn't understand.
"Peggy, you need us to walk you back to base?" he asked. Then he turned to Barnes. "If Sergeant Barnes here can keep his damn fool mouth shut? Beg your pardon for my language."
Barnes looked faintly humiliated, and resentful of her. Steve had a hand hovering over his neck, clearly ready to clamp down if he misbehaved. It was probably hard on Steve, really, trying to fit his existence together in wholly new ways, trying to make room for both his old life and his new. He took up more space than he used to; he must bump into the edges of that old life a little more often.
She made a quick decision, perhaps too quick, but if the SSR had taught her anything, it was that instinctive judgements were usually the best.
"No," she said, in answer to Steve's question. "I'm not going back to base; my apartment is near here. Then again, you needn't be back at HQ until tomorrow noon at the earliest, and I suspect Sergeant Barnes could use some coffee. Why don't you walk me there, instead?"
Barnes opened his mouth to say something, no doubt something biting, and Steve's hand came down on his neck to silence him.
"Thank you," he said. "It'd be our pleasure, right, Buck?"
Barnes was mute, which really was probably the best she could ask for.
It wasn't the most pleasant walk she'd ever had, strolling through the chilly streets with Steve between her and Barnes. Still, it was at least short, and when she led them up the steps to her flat and unlocked the door, Steve and Barnes both politely wiped their boots on the mat before entering.
"One of the very few perks of working for spies," she said, gesturing for them to sit at the tiny breakfast table, "is that once in a while you acquire goods even the black market can't always provide. Including real coffee."
Barnes had thrown himself into a chair, but Steve was fidgeting, hovering now behind her. "Can I help?" he asked, as she spooned ground coffee into a pan.
"The coffee cups," she said, pointing to a cupboard, filling the pan with water. "You might rinse them off, they're likely dusty."
He reached up to the top of the cupboard, muscles shifting under his uniform, jacket riding up, and brought down three cups -- the fine china, nicer than the chipped mugs she used for everyday. He rinsed and wiped them off while the water boiled, occasionally casting little glances at her under his eyelashes.
When the coffee was thick enough to sober up even Barnes, she turned off the heat and poured carefully into the cups. "I'm afraid there's no cream, but probably a little sugar."
"We wouldn't take up your ration," he said, handing one of the cups to Barnes and finally seating himself. She took the chair between them, sipping her own coffee. "That's good," he added, putting his cup down. "Been a long time since I've had coffee that good."
"Yeah, she's a regular mistress of domestic arts," Barnes growled into his cup.
"Bucky," Steve said, clearly about to get really angry, but Peggy interrupted.
"It's fine, Steve," she said, taking out her cigarette case. She offered one to Steve -- he waved it off -- then to Barnes, who shook his head.
"Well, you don't mind if I do?" she asked, holding one up. "Sergeant Barnes, do you have a light?"
He looked surprised for a second, then rolled his eyes and dug in his pocket, producing a tarnished lighter with a dent in one side. She could see the the plating was paler where he'd pried something off the lid -- probably a swastika or a Hydra's head.
"Took it off a Hydra goon," he said, when he saw her looking. He flicked it open and spun the wheel, sparking it to life. She leaned in, took a long inhale, and then leaned back, blowing the smoke away from them both.
"Well, I'm sure he had no more use for it," she said. Barnes's grin was feral. Steve sipped his coffee with visible anxiety.
"This is fun and all," Barnes said, "and thanks for the coffee, but I think three's a crowd, here. So you two have a dance, or whatever it is you do, and I'll see you in briefing tomorrow at HQ."
"You know, I thought Steve was dim about relationships," she said, as he pushed his chair back, "but you're not exactly catching on too swiftly, Sergeant."
Barnes tilted his head. "You gonna grab my ear like a nanny again?"
"I might, if you don't pay attention," she said. Without looking away from him, she said, "Steve, did you know Sergeant Barnes is in love with you?"
Rage flared in Barnes' eyes, but only for a second, because then Steve said, "What?"
"I don't think it's that he dislikes me, to be honest. I don't even think he's angry you didn't tell him you were hurt," she said, taking another drag on the cigarette. "I think he's absolutely terrified of losing you. Which is ironic, since you once did a swan dive into heavily fortified enemy territory for terror of losing him."
"Don't listen to her," Barnes said.
"Little late for denial now," Peggy replied.
"This is just nonsense talk," Steve said, cutting through their staring contest. Barnes glanced at him. "Besides, doesn't matter what I say, Bucky doesn't like fellas, he likes da -- women. Lots of women," he added drily.
"Is that so, Sergeant?" Peggy asked.
"What d'ya mean?" Barnes said to Steve, ignoring her. "Doesn't matter what you say, what's that mean?"
"Just that it doesn't, that's all," Steve replied, tension filling his big frame. "Even if a fella like me did have more than a friendly feeling for another fella -- like you -- he wouldn't return it. So you might just..." he faltered. "Well, it's no insult to a lady, say, if you felt...strongly for her, too, and you knew that you had strong feelings for someone else who wasn't ever gonna pay 'em back..."
"What...did he just say?" Barnes asked her. Peggy smiled. Steve was flushed a deep crimson color. This was going better than she'd dreamed.
"Bucky, don't say you didn't know," Steve said quietly. "You've always been decent about it, but -- "
"Didn't know what?" Barnes snapped.
"I know you ain't ever had feelings like that for me, but you had to see..."
"Men," Peggy sighed. Both of them looked at her. "I'm sure this isn't nearly as complicated as you've both tried to make it. Maybe it's just America that does it to people. You're both in love, you fools, and frankly while I hate to concede the field to anyone, it's actually painful, how stupid you're being."
"That's not so," Steve said, turning to her sharply. "It -- it's not so, Peggy, you aren't just -- well you gotta know how I feel about you, even if he didn't notice -- "
She smiled and patted his cheek. "Yes, you are obvious."
"Well -- well good, then," he said, not nearly as forcefully as he'd probably hoped he'd sound.
Peggy slipped her fingers down his throat, hooked them in the chain of his dog tags, and tugged. He went with her, clumsily, when she stood and stepped around the table to where Barnes was standing like an idiot, or possibly the victim of a lightning strike.
She cupped Barnes's chin and leaned into him, squeezing gently to make him open for her, lips cold and chapped under hers. He tasted like strong coffee and alcohol, not the most pleasant, but clearly Bucky Barnes had a lot of experience. Even half-drunk and stunned, he was a hell of a kisser. Steve made a choked off noise behind her, pressed up against her shoulder, his dog tags still held in her other hand.
She smiled, leaned back from Barnes without letting go of his jaw, and turned to kiss Steve -- less experienced but very enthusiastic, his hands going to her waist and then falling away as if he'd done something wrong, teeth clicking briefly against hers before he let her take control of the kiss. Barnes was breathing heavily, warm against the heel of her palm, and after a few seconds he ducked his head to press to her throat, grazing her pulse with his lips.
"Tch," she tutted, tipping his face up again, and slid a hand through Steve's hair, gently pushing him forward. Steve glanced sidelong at her, looking almost spooked, but he leaned his head down and said,
Barnes huffed a breath out. "Yeah, punk."
"This all right?"
"Yeah," Barnes breathed, and Peggy watched Steve kiss him carefully, the action fragile and slow. One of Steve's hands was back on her waist, clinging for dear life to the belt of her dress, and the other was on Barnes' face, as if he could hold him there with a touch. Knowing Barnes, perhaps he could.
When the kiss ended, Barnes's eyes shot to her. Steve's were closed.
"Thing is," he said, in a low voice, "He loves you."
She smiled. "He likes me. He hasn't known me long enough for love."
"An awful lot," Steve put in, eyes still closed. "More than just likin', Peggy."
"That may be so," she allowed.
"And he can...be with you," Barnes continued. It was obvious he'd thought this out long before, and was just struggling to accept it. "In public. He can marry you, he can -- "
"Shut up, Buck," Steve said.
"Do," Peggy agreed. "You're accusing him of taking the easy way, which I think we both know Steve has never done in his life."
Steve laughed, and then he did open his eyes. "You don't seem to mind sharing," he said to her.
"I suspect I stand to gain from it," she replied. She put out her cigarette in the ashtray and offered her hands to them. "Come along."
"Both of us?" Barnes asked, disbelieving. "All three together?"
"Like it'd be your first time," Steve said, and Peggy raised an eyebrow.
"First time with two fellas, not two dames."
"Ladies," Steve corrected.
"Some of them weren't ladies," Barnes said.
"Good. Neither am I," Steve retorted, and gave him a shove that nearly pushed him into Peggy.
"Have you ever been with a man before, James?" she asked, as she pulled him gently towards the bedroom.
"James," he repeated, rolling his eyes.
"I like it. Besides, I suspect I'll have to earn the right to call you Bucky," she replied. "Have you, Sergeant Changes-the-subject?"
"No," he said shortly.
"Once," Steve said, his voice quiet. James looked startled. "Wasn't...you know, elaborate or anything," he added. "And that was before."
"Well, then you'll be a great help with James," she said. She turned, pulling her hair off her neck. "If you'd unbutton me, gentlemen?"
She felt James's hands at the nape of her neck, undoing the small buttons that ran in a row down to her waist. Steve, coming to her side, took her wrist and gently worked open the buttons at the cuffs, his smile tentative until she smiled back. James, tugging on the shoulders of the dress, maneuvered her around until she was facing Steve. Steve let go of one of her wrists to kiss her, and when he did James slid her sleeve down, running his hand under her dress and around her ribcage, cupping her breast through the thick lace of her brassiere. His other hand was busy unhooking it.
There was a certain thrill in the carnality of it, kissing Steve like a schoolgirl while James rubbed her nipple up to a tight point before starting on the other one, hand underneath her bra now as well. She sighed into Steve's mouth, and James tugged her just close enough to him to pull her sleeves down and off, letting her dress fall to the floor.
"Steve," James said, and Steve lifted his head, eyes bright.
Peggy let her head tip back onto James's shoulder as Steve went to his knees and unbuckled her shoes. His hands were warm, sliding up her ankles with a shy, exploratory air. He paused with his hands on the sides of her knees, lifting his face.
"He's waitin' on permission," James said in her ear. "Steve's a gentleman."
"And you aren't, I suppose," she said.
"Would you really want two gentlemen?" he asked, pinching a nipple lightly. She swatted at his hand.
"Steve," she said. "Please."
He nodded and rolled the nylons down her legs slowly, careful not to run them.
"You want to put some hustle into it, Cap?" James asked.
"There's a war on, Bucky," Steve said, face hidden but voice amused. "Be careful in your work!"
James laughed; Peggy smiled. That had been one of the Captain America's Home Safety posters they'd left behind in the states.
Steve laid the nylons on the trunk at the foot of the bed, rising and stepping in, covering Bucky's hands on Peggy's waist.
"What would you like?" he asked her, nuzzling along her cheek to her ear. "I got no agenda, and Buck's not allowed a say -- "
"Hey!" James said, outraged.
" -- on account of being trouble to you earlier," Steve finished, unruffled but pointed. "Lady's choice."
She curled a hand back and around to cradle James's head, pulling it forward until he rested his chin on her shoulder. Steve's eyes were soft and fond, without the usual anxiety he always seemed to have around her.
"Hey, Steve," James said. "I think you got a type, pal."
"Bossy bare-knuckle fighters?" Steve said. "Yeah, I suppose so."
"That sounds like an invitation to take him to pieces, doesn't it?" Peggy asked James. "Steve," she added, "Take off the uniform, please."
Steve reached for his jacket buttons, then paused. "Just...in front of you?" he asked, voice rising a little.
"Yes," Peggy said.
"Like I never saw you naked before?" James added.
"You never saw me do a striptease before," Steve said darkly.
"Maybe if I had, we woulda had lots more fun these last few years."
Peggy laughed, and color rose on Steve's cheeks. "Fair's only fair, Captain," she said. "I won't be the only nudie in this room, and James has other duties to attend to."
James, who did seem to catch on quick once you dropped enough hints, tucked a hand between her knickers and her belly, nipping her shoulder. Steve's eyes darkened, and he unbuttoned his jacket in a hurry, tossing it over the post of the bed. His tie and shirt followed, and then his belt dropped to the floor; he toed off his shoes as he pulled his undershirt over his head, and Peggy wondered if this was what the men had seen in the barracks in training, what his men saw now. Steve's grace hadn't come from the Serum, she knew that; he'd moved sleekly, like a dancer, long before he had the muscle to back it up.
"Stop lookin' at me like that," he grumbled, shucking his trousers. His erection was evident under the military-issue boxers.
"Like what?" she asked, and he paused in the act of hooking his thumbs in his waistband. "Like we enjoy what we see?"
"Didn't know a fella could feel nakeder than naked," he muttered, but he did step out of his underwear, and James's fingers dipped between her legs.
"On the bed, if you please," she said, because poor Steve looked like he didn't know what to do with his hands. He sat, folding his hands in his lap, and Peggy fought down a laugh.
"James, put him out of his misery," she whispered, and he let go of her to cross to Steve, taking his hands and lifting them to his own shirt. Steve, eyes wide, worked the buttons open and then his belt, while Peggy circled the bed and knelt behind him. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and watched as he worked James's shirt off, then his trousers, and then (to her mild surprise) the two knives strapped under his trousers.
"I like a little insurance," James said, when he saw her eyeing the knives. "Speakin' of which," he added, catching his trousers before they dropped and pulling a tin out of the back pocket. He tossed it on the bed and she picked it up, studying it.
"Peacock brand," she said, as the light caught the brightly colored picture on the prophylactic tin. "Apt."
"You'd better be glad someone was prepared," James replied, which took enough attention off Steve that he apparently felt all right pulling James closer, face pressed to his abdomen. James looked down, startled.
"Hey," he said fondly, fingers in Steve's stiffly-brylcreemed hair. "Don't have a panic, lug."
"I'm not panicking," Steve said, loudly enough that he clearly had been, at least for a minute. "Buck, can I..."
He nuzzled down James's ribs, over the thin lines of his abdominals, and James said "Yeah, hey -- yeah but -- wait a second, Christ -- " and gently pulled away, tugging his shoes and socks off and climbing up onto the bed with them. He stretched out, utterly unconcerned with his nakedness, and reached for Steve.
Peggy let Steve go and joined James, kissing him, occasionally glancing down at Steve, who was working his way along James's body slowly, broad hands holding his hips down, mouthing over the skin.
She'd always been told this particular act was unpleasant, and just something a woman must tolerate for her husband's sake. No man she'd been with had asked her for it, but as with most things she'd been told about the opposite sex she rarely believed it was all that unpleasant. When Steve took James in his mouth, James groaned Steve and Steve smiled, bending to his work with an eagerness she rarely saw in him outside of combat strategy.
"I don't blame you, you know, for falling for him," she said to James, kissing him, one hand reaching down to pet Steve's hair. He didn't seem to find any of it unpleasant at all. "I mean, of course he's lovely like this, but he was such a pretty, charming boy before, too. And the delightful eagerness to please hasn't changed at all, has it?"
James tipped his head back, breathing harsh, but he was watching her face keenly. The hand that wasn't resting on Steve's head slid around her waist, cupping her bum, and he tugged her closer.
"Bet we could both get what we wanted outta him," he said, grinning, and then grunted again, his whole body flexing as he fought Steve's hold on his hips. "Steve, come up here."
Steve lifted his head, then bent and nosed at the soft skin just below James' bellybutton. "No."
"Stubborn asshole. We're neglecting your girl, come here."
"Our girl," Steve corrected, and then, further, "Our lady."
"Makes me sound rather like a lady of the night," Peggy remarked, as Steve reluctantly crawled up to lie on James's other side, hiding his face in James's chest.
"I thought you said you only done that once," James said to him. "Guess you're just a natural."
"Didn't say the one time wasn't educational," Steve replied, muffled by his skin.
"Roll over, lay out," James ordered. "Yeah, sit up just a little."
Steve complied, looking confused as James stuffed pillows behind his shoulders, and then heaved out a breath when Peggy shed the last of her underwear and opened the tin. He held tremblingly still, skittish and disbelieving, as she put the condom on him ("Pinch the tip -- " "Thank you, this isn't my first condom, James.") and straddled his thighs, one hand holding him gently.
"All right, Steve?" she asked, because he looked terrified, but she'd never seen that particular expression on him before, and it was difficult to tell. James put a hand on Steve's chest.
"Are you sure you wanta -- " Steve started, and then, "We could roll over, I thought -- "
"Yes, I'm quite sure," she said. "May I -- "
"Oh, well, yes...." he said and then his whole body coiled and jerked as she took him inside her. "Oh, Jesus -- "
His hands lifted, confused, and then went to her hips; she tried a little oscillation, a little bounce, and he bucked against her, groaning. He was big, insistent in a way she hadn't felt before, and when he moved, sparks danced in her eyes.
"Look how nice she sits you," James crooned in Steve's ear, one hand sliding down to rub where their bodies joined, and just a little higher, the center of her pleasure. "Isn't that nice, Steve?"
Steve breathed in hard and managed a rough, "Yes." One of his hands reached for James, to pull him into a kiss, but James tugged away and sat up on his knees.
"Think you can take both of us?" he asked, rubbing Steve's lips with his thumb. Steve nodded, turning his head towards James, and she stilled as she watched him take James in his mouth again. She thought of the boy-next-door smile, the hard, serious curve down of his mouth when he was angry, the pout of his lower lip when he was thinking and unself-conscious.
The way being engulfed like that must feel.
James curled over him, groaning, and when Peggy began to move again, Steve echoed the noise deep in his throat. She rested her hands on his abdomen, fingers brushing his pectorals, and rode him in earnest, even when he bucked and jerked unexpectedly. She looked up to where Steve twisted, to where James had his head cradled in his hands, Steve's throat working hard as he swallowed, and she thought, with a rather inappropriate fondness, My lads.
Steve, probably overwhelmed, didn't take long; his whole body tensed and he backed off from James, then buried his face in James's thigh and made a low, drawn-out noise as he came. It sounded almost like it hurt, but when James pulled his head up to kiss him, Steve's eyes were glazed, mouth open and lax, happy. He kissed James with a laugh and then turned to Peggy, pushing himself further upright enough to kiss her, too.
"Sorry," he said into the kiss. "Gun's on a hair-trigger."
"That's dreadful, don't say that again," she replied, wriggling away from him. He let out a sharp breath, apparently sensitive, and eased himself back down as James took her arms and turned, deft, to lay her back against Steve's side, Steve's arm bracing her. James rummaged for the condoms, gave her a questioning look, and then grinned and opened the tin when she nodded.
"Think I still owe you somethin' for that show at the bar," he said.
"Punishment for humiliating you?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Are you that bad at it?"
"Thanks for not castrating me," he said. "I'm that good at it."
"He probably is," Steve murmured into her hair, his hand tracing circles on her collarbone. "Seen him in action."
"No you ain't," James replied.
"I did that one time with the girl in the blue dress when I didn't knock," Steve answered. Apparently sex made him talkative. "And that time with the girl who had the butterfly hair doodad when you didn't knock. And that girl you practically did it with in that alley."
"You were meant to see that one, you dumb elephant," James retorted. "I asked if you wanted to join in, I wanted you to join in -- "
"Scuse me for not wanting to get arrested in an alley for it, or punched in the face 'cause you weren't exactly sendin' semaphore," Steve replied.
"Gentlemen," Peggy interrupted, and Steve tightened his arm, kissing her hair again. "James."
"Yeah, all right," James agreed, and Steve shifted up, pulling her with him, until she was more-or-less settled in his lap, James kneeling between her legs. James kissed her as he entered her, and she thought he was perhaps smaller, but much more controlled than Steve. James knew exactly where to touch, exactly how to move, and a little part of her anticipated with delight the lessons Steve had ahead of him -- but the rest of her arched back against Steve's chest, into James's embrace and Steve's hands. They were both so warm, and they knew how to move together, knew each other so intimately it felt like they were two parts of a single person, surrounding her, holding her up --
She dug her heels hard into James's back, orgasm fluttering gloriously through her, and felt him tip over the edge just after her. There was a moment where they almost seemed to float, a breathless second of euphoria, and then both of them collapsed down onto Steve. He was quiet, hands slow and deliberate as he touched them everywhere, drifting back and forth between them, a smile on his face. He seemed dazed again, slow to react, and then she realized why; his erection was hot underneath her, hard again from holding them.
"Serum," he muttered, when he felt her squirm against it. "Don't worry, it'll go away. Usually does."
"I got two hands," James offered, but he didn't move from where he was essentially a dead weight on Peggy's shoulder and waist. She poked him in the collarbone, and when he swatted at her hand, dug her heels into his back again, right over his kidneys. He groaned and rolled off, turning away to dispose of the condom, and she let Steve help lift her to one side, so that she could curl up against him. On his other side, James flopped onto Steve's chest, hand fumbling around his stomach.
"You don't have to -- " Steve started, then sucked in a breath as she ignored him, stroking her fingers down his prick from head to root. She lifted her hand, grasped James's wrist, and guided it down; he was half-asleep, and he didn't do much more than hold it, fingers shifting occasionally. Peggy let herself explore, running her thumb across the head, squeezing gently, rolling her fingers over his skin until Steve shifted and muttered, "Well if you're gonna do it, don't torture a fella."
"Oh, my apologies, Captain," she drawled, and the high flush on his cheeks when she called him that was interesting. Something to explore another time, perhaps. She tightened her hand around him and stroked, quick and efficient, watching his face race through emotion -- surprise, lust, desperation -- until he came, silent this time, with a sigh of pleasure when it was done.
"That's a whole lot better than my own hand," he said with a grin, and she kissed it off his face just because she could. Then she left him to enjoy his afterglow while she found an undershirt -- James's, she thought -- and wiped her hand and his stomach. James was passed out already, drooling on Steve's shoulder.
"Well, this wasn't how I was planning on ending my evening, but I can't complain," she said, settling down against Steve's other side.
"That's good," Steve said earnestly. "I mean -- I guess you knew we're sort of a set, Bucky and me, but I didn't mean that exactly like this."
"You didn't know he loved you."
"Like a brother, sure. Never in doubt -- we always knew we were together till the end of the line. But any other way...I thought it was just me."
"That liked him?"
"That liked men. Well, I mean, I like both, but you don't say that. Not in America. Maybe in France," he added, with a grin, and she laughed. "So if you like both, maybe you're not so forward about men. Bucky and I always went with girls -- usually he had to hunt me up one -- and...if I wanted to go with a fella, well, I knew where to go. But I had to go alone -- thought I did, anyhow -- and it wasn't exactly safe. Specially for a shrimp like me."
"So you only tried the once," she said softly.
"To be sure, you know? And it turned out, yep. I liked it a lot." He gave her a shy look. "You don't think that's strange?"
"No. I think it's rather backwards that people do think it's strange, to be honest. And you two look very nice together. I'll see more of that, sometime."
"Oh, you will?" he asked, looking indulgent.
"Yes. Some time I'll make you two put on a show for me," she informed him.
"Bucky won't mind, he's got an ego," he said. "And I only tried it for myself once, but I went to a few clubs, figured out my way around a little. I've seen...things."
He laughed, suddenly, and she gave him a questioning look.
"We coulda gone together, I guess, him and me, if I'd known he felt that way. But if I knew he felt that way, we wouldn't have needed to...and we might never'a had you, so."
She smiled, resting a hand on his skin. "And now there's this."
"Feels greedy, wanting two people. I guess we'll all be greedy together, though. You and Bucky'll be okay, won't you? I don't want you just tolerating each other for my sake."
"James is very different to you," she said, lifting a hand to smooth the worried wrinkles in his forehead. "But when he's not being a prat, he's a decent man. I do like him. Besides, he'll look out for you when I can't."
"You know I'd do anything for you," he said. She lowered her eyes to his chest, unsure how to respond. "Buck would too. On my say so for now, maybe, but he'll figure out how great you are soon enough. We'll be yours. Heart and soul. If you'll have us."
"Don't make promises you can't keep," she said softly. "This war..."
"When the war's over, then. You'll let me make promises when it's done, won't you?"
"What, will you win the war just for me, Steve?" she asked, amused.
"Sure," he said. "I mean, I was gonna try for winning anyway, but why not for you?"
She laughed and kissed his shoulder. "Sleep a little. We have a briefing tomorrow."
"Yes, ma'am. You cold? You want the blanket?"
"No, I'm fine," she said. Steve was warm, after all, and if she stretched out her hand she could tuck it under James's arm for extra heat.
There would be several advantages to having two bedmates at a time, she thought, not least of which was that when winter came in earnest, she could make them keep her in the middle.
She drifted off to plans for tomorrow, and for the following months, and vague, pleasant ideas of what she and Steve and James might get up to, once the war was done.