Ever since Bastogne, Lipton has become used to running through a sort of personal checklist – looking in on this group of guys or that one, running through names and faces, keeping an eye out for anything, for anyone. He is used to sleeping in a one man bivouac huddled in nothing but his jump jacket with his M-1 against his shoulder and his collar flipped up, face cold, legs cold. But on the road to Haganeau, he suddenly finds himself a companion. Speirs shows up at unexpected moments, just appears at his elbow and says, "Sergeant Lipton." If this had been months ago, the Captain's ability to materialize out of thin air and say his name might have scared the bajeesus out of him. Now, Carwood tips his head and says, "Sir?"
Speirs, like a feral dog who knows where to find food, doesn't keep Lipton close so much as he does just constantly circle back to him. Sometimes he asks piercing questions - Lipton's opinion of this man or that man. It sometimes takes a few moments to figure out who he’s talking about -- when Lipton recommends certain men for CP, he sometimes feels the overwhelming urge to describe them: 'The one with the scar here' or 'The short guy with the nose.' He doesn't though, keeps it to names, platoons, which is all Speirs really seems to want most times. Other times Speirs doesn’t ask anything and instead just spends a few minutes walking next to him, staring ahead. He sometimes keeps his hand on his rifle's strap, though he never grips or tugs at it, just keeps his fingers tucked under the webbing with a kind of quiet ease. Lipton knows how quickly he can flip it under his arm and down into both his hands.
Part of him doesn't know what to make of Speirs, doesn't quite know what to do with him - one because the man is his commanding officer, but two because sometimes Speirs seems to be ribbing him, makes offhand remarks that Lipton rises to easily, clever but passive. Speirs looks at him them - not from the corner of his eye, but straight at him, and stares for slightly too long. Then he quirks his chin back and his eyes sharpen and he chuckles, bares too many teeth as the only smiles he's seen are ones drawn in bad leaflet advertisements: tense and sharp, teeth too even and tongue pressed hard against the back of them. It should be the sort of thing that unsettles Lipton, but at the same time he tries not to devote too much time to studying the man's face. Partly because Speirs can do whatever he wants - he's captain of Easy and a good leader besides -, but mostly because Lipton knows Speirs would notice if he spent too long looking; honestly, he's even more unsure about that than he is about the way Speirs takes a joke.
Lipton doesn't realize Speirs is angling to seduce him, not even when he asks, "You're married right?" which shocks him because it is such a strangely personal question. It makes Lipton stiffen slightly and he stops what he's doing, which is going through too many bits of paper. He studies his hands for a moment and then glances over and says, finally, completely unable to figure out what Speirs might be angling toward, "Yes sir, I am."
Speirs is quietly reordering a silver teapot, spoons. He polishes a lone silver teacup that has no siblings. He doesn't respond for a few seconds, doesn't even actually look at Lipton.
Lipton figures the line of conversation is over. It's not the first one Speirs has dropped on him. He turns his attention back, licks his thumb and flips to the next piece of paper in the stack. A moment later, there is the sound of Speirs' jump boots on the hardwood floor. Speirs carefully sets the teacup on the dusty, plaster littered coffee table. Lipton looks at the cup then looks at him. "Sir?"
"There's no matches; you can have it."
Even then Lipton doesn’t connect the dots; it isn't until much later when Harry Welsh sees the teacup and remarks, “I see Speirs is rubbing off on you." Lipton gives him this boggled look. Welsh says, "I didn't take you for looting silver."
Lipton starts to explain, tells Welsh that Speirs gave it to him, but doesn't get much farther because first Welsh barks out a laugh, then catches himself and says "You're serious." Welsh gives Lipton a strange sidelong look.
The tea cup ends up stuffed in one of his many jacket pockets that should be filled with other things - extra ammo, bandages. He honestly forgets about it until a week or two later when Speirs is suddenly there, at his elbow. He says, "Lipton," which draws him up. Lipton turns. "Sir?"
They are cornered in a dark hallway where they've set up the company HQ, between one room and the next. No electricity and dirty windows makes it dark, hard to see anything but the sharp gleam in Captain Speirs' eyes. He doesn't say anything right away, then does: "I had a question," and then amends sharply, says, "I'm curious," in a way that's more a statement, some forerunner to a moment of action. Speirs rarely gives warning, but later looking back Lipton will think that's what he was trying to do.
Because Spears puts his hand on Lipton's shoulder for a moment, then pauses. Carwood feels a sharp bolt of tension run through him. He tries not to stiffen, but it's inevitable. A slight tension shows in his neck. He feels a muscle in his cheek jump.
Speirs straightens how his collar lays against his neck. The brush of his knuckles is rough, skin cold. The touch softens. Carwood thinks he's going to step back. Then he changes trajectory; his fingers catch and tighten. Lipton knows the beat before it happens and has enough intelligence that he could stop it if he wanted to.
Speirs kisses him. His lips are chapped.
It doesn't last long. His lips won't work right. After a few seconds, Speirs sways back, stares at him like he's waiting for something. Lipton blinks at him; Lipton realizes his arms are dead at his sides. He clears his throat. Speirs says, "Well." It isn't a question.
Carwood Lipton isn't stupid. He knows what comes after a 'Well' like that. It's a well that says 'Curiosity satisfied.' He knows that much and he is not surprised by the fact that Speirs soon releases his jacket. What he is startled by is how he balks at it; Lipton makes a short noise. Lipton frowns, says, "Sir--?" and then just leans somewhat clumsily into the narrow gap and kisses him. Properly.
Speirs goes sharp all over, then soft, then sharp again. Carwood finds Speir's hand flat across the front of his jacket, shoving him backward which is a shock until he hits the wall with less force than he expects. When Speirs lays his hands on him, his shoulder and hip, his touch is strangely gentle. Lipton catches his eye, stares right back at him as Speirs gets nose to nose with him in the dark hallway. They look at each other for a moment. Lipton thinks he blinks twice as much as Speirs does. Speirs tips his head without breaking eye contact and, insanely, Lipton wants to laugh. The motion is strangely predatory and it should worry him - though so should Speirs' hand at his hip, so should any number of things - but it doesn't. He keeps his eyes open when Speirs kisses him again, soft and experimental -- then again, a slight edge of hot tongue. Speirs' hand slides across his jacket, catches and falters over one of the pockets.
Speirs pulls back, breaks whatever thin excuse of a kiss they’d been sharing. Lipton looks down to where his hand has stopped as Speirs unbuttons the flap of the offending pocket. He put his hand in it; Lipton's breathing hitches at the warmth of his hand - he can feel Speirs' knuckles through fabric. It feels too close. And it's stupid to go hot under the collar over it, but he does. He only belatedly realizes what's there in the pocket, can feel Speirs' fingers tracing the hard rim of the silver teacup. Lipton meant to put it in his musette bag days ago.
Speirs' head snaps up. Lipton starts, looks back at him. There is a wild look to him, like something has come loose or undone. Lipton has time to experience a surge of nerves or excitement or all of the above and then Speirs suddenly knocks against him with force, bangs him up against the wall and kisses him roughly. Speirs' mouth is hot and open and his hands grasp fiercely at Lipton's clothing. Lipton doesn't make a noise until Speirs works a leg between his, rocks against him; he pants then, says, "Speirs," then tries again: "Sir," "Sir."
"Do you want me to stop?" Speirs barks at him.
"Then for god's sake stop talking."