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too many war wounds and not enough wars

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Daniel’s knuckles are streaking white, clenched around the bedstead for leverage. Peggy lets her fingers brush over them, an acknowledgement and a support, before she returns her attention to Jack, bent double between them. The oil slid from his neat hair hours ago and it’s ragged from sweat and Peggy’s hands. She fists a clump of it now, raising Jack’s head enough for her to see his face: eyes tight shut, mouth bitten raw, cheeks damp with something that could be perspiration but isn’t. It takes him a moment to register her attention, and then his eyes struggle open for her; damp lashes surrounding his large pupils, gaze unfocused but trying hard to connect.

“Good boy,” Peggy tells him softly.

The corner of his mouth jerks; it might want to be a sneer or a smile or a verbal response, but Daniel’s working on Peggy’s words already, and the cane cracks across Jack’s upper back before he can form his reaction; all she gets is a breathless groan through his teeth. That’s better than any of the other options, and she lets go of Jack’s hair. He tries to keep looking at her but at the next strike his head drops back down and Peggy looks instead at the bared nape of his neck, oddly vulnerable and naked even though Jack lost all of his clothing the moment he came through the door. That’s one of their agreements; there aren’t many, but they must be obeyed to the letter.

Peggy looks back to Daniel, his cheeks flushed, eyes bright. There’s an element of exorcising some work-related demons here, there always is, but they’re both careful never to let it stray into punishment for every last joke at the expense of Daniel’s leg or Peggy’s gender. The truth is that either individually or between the two of them they could seriously hurt Jack Thompson, hospitalise him for as long as they saw fit, and they all know that; and yet Jack still walks through Sousa’s apartment door and puts himself in their hands and they honour that because how could they not?

Daniel leaves another two livid streaks across Jack’s shoulders, carefully spaced, designed to hurt but not to split the skin. They can’t leave him incapacitated for work tomorrow; perhaps Agent Thompson will wince when he rolls his shoulders or will flinch when he sits down or will limp just a little if you’re looking for it, but he’ll be able to do his job and do it well, even if he won’t want to undress in the locker room any time soon. Daniel shifts on his feet, the balance required for a decent whipping impossible to maintain without his crutch for long, and he curls his hand around the bedstead again, while Peggy leans forward over Jack’s supine body, pressing her palms to the small of his back and then dragging them toward her, fingertips dragging over sore skin. Jack lets out a ragged noise, and then another, and she presses down over the newest marks to make him cry out.

This is still new enough to be exhilarating and frightening, but not so new that it feels like they’re working half-blind, trying out different things and hoping like hell they were on the right track. At least now Peggy knows Daniel can beat Jack quiet and wanton without breaking a rib in the process; she knows how far they have to push Jack to break him apart, to make him obedient and incoherent and oddly much calmer in the morning. The first couple of times were terrifying, the three of them teetering on a knife edge that was at best going to end in a fistfight and at worst hospitalisation and dishonourable dismissal. Now, at least, there’s the sense that they’re all in this together, working for a common goal, and they might just get out of here intact, or at least not broken worse than they were before they started.

Peggy catches Daniel’s eye and he nods slightly; she slides her hand around to tuck it beneath Jack’s chin and tip his gaze up to her again. She’s a relatively inactive participant at this stage, seated on the edge of the bed in her underwear with one of Jack’s hands braced on the mattress on either side of her thighs, but she’s monitoring both men here, and nothing happens here that she doesn’t determine first.

“Five more, I think,” she says when Jack’s foggy expression clears enough that she knows he’s registering her words.

“No,” he says immediately, inhaling and exhaling quick and sharp, “I can’t, not five, don’t-”

“Five,” Peggy repeats, curling her other hand into his hair, tugging a little sharply, “and you’ll be grateful it isn’t ten.”

“Please,” Jack whispers, and she puts a finger to his lips. He blinks, a tear escaping his left eye to run unchecked down his face, and she nods at Daniel, who raises his arm and brings the cane down directly between the two most recent lashes. Quite the marksman he’s turning out to be, and Jack sobs, looking beseechingly at Peggy with his wet eyes.

“That was one,” she says, and, yes, he will need the other four, whatever his mouth spills; if he truly needs them to stop then he can ask and they will, but he’s never asked before and he won’t now. Still, she’s not sure he’ll last the next blows if she doesn’t help him along a little, give him something to distract him. Peggy slides her brassiere strap down her shoulder; she can feel Daniel watching her, and Jack whimpers. Pulling him by the hair, she drags him forward and guides his mouth to her left breast. He makes a muffled noise and sucks; his tongue sliding over her nipple, already hard and wanting in the same way Daniel’s trousers are tented at the waist, the way Jack’s cock is twitching even through the pain.

Digging her nails into Jack’s scalp, Peggy nods, and Daniel strikes Jack again. The sound he makes is crushed against Peggy, a vibration that sparks between her legs, and she can feel the convulsive sob he lets out in streaks of damp against her chest.

“Good boy,” she murmurs again, because Jack refuses the accolade until he doesn’t, when he sinks into it like it means more than any medal or rank ever could; perhaps it does. She keeps one hand in his hair, both a comfort and to ensure he doesn’t try to move, and strokes the fingers of the other over the frantic marks on Jack’s shoulders, scraping her nails over the raised lines to prolong the sting.

Daniel’s next strokes hit diagonally, the opposite direction to the ones he’s already made, opening a dozen extra aches across Jack’s skin. He jerks and writhes, but stays where he’s supposed to, hands shuddering against the mattress, lapping earnestly at the peak of Peggy’s nipple between his laboured breaths and moans.

“Last one,” Peggy murmurs, ignoring the tightness in her own voice, and Jack shiver-shakes, then folds into Daniel’s strike, the last of the tension tumbling out of his body. He collapses into Peggy, and she lets him, helping him onto the bed.

He couldn’t look more incongruous, sprawled across Daniel’s faded floral coverlet with his upper back alive with hungry red screams; his skin’s unbroken, but he’ll be sore for a few more days, reminded of this moment every time his undershirt shifts against him.

“There,” Peggy says quietly, stroking a light finger down his spine, “that wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Jack blinks lazily at her, incapable of speech, finally relaxed. She’s not sure what he does inside his head when she and Daniel have stripped him down to this, but it seems to make him peaceful, which is more than he’s had in the last couple of years.

Peggy leaves him where he is, standing up on legs that are shakier than she was expecting. Daniel’s leaning against the bed and won’t be able to stay upright much longer; she takes his weight against her when she wraps her arms around him, pulling him into a kiss.

This part, at least, is more of a known quantity. Daniel is warm, his mouth pliant against hers, his undershirt tickling her bared breasts and his hands strong where they press to her lower back, even though she can feel the shake in them.

In truth, Daniel was never an option until Peggy tilted her head one day and noted that he was a man struggling to redefine himself in the world since the war with things missing that he’d never thought he’d lose. And, well, Peggy reflected, sipping her tea with one ear pressed to her phone and her gaze on the back of Agent Sousa’s head and his immaculate hair: he was hardly the only one.

He looked at her, the night she bit the bullet for the both of them and asked him out for something more than a drink after work where they’d both have plausible deniability, and looked down at himself, and she thought that if he said Steve’s name maybe she’d break after all, maybe it was too soon or too late or something else entirely. Instead, his smile slid sheepishly across his face, and he said: “I can’t exactly take you out dancing.”

Peggy laughed, despite herself, tasting tears and defeat and something sweet like hope, and replied: “well, some of us have put our dancing days behind us.”

The first time she claimed she’d started working night shifts so that she wouldn’t have to worry about curfew when she slid into the sheets of Daniel’s bed, they very nearly gave up more than once. Daniel was afraid, afraid of more things than even Peggy could guess at, and Peggy wasn’t sure what to do with herself; hardly a virgin, but still lingering on the thread of a kiss that was all she ever had of the man she’ll love forever. But Daniel’s mouth was warm and his hands were steadier than hers and she read the fear in his eyes: a fear not unlike the one that flickered in Steve’s when he first looked at her.

“I can’t-” Daniel began, uncertain, her hands tangled in his braces, catching her fingers and holding them in his. “Peggy, I might not be able to-” His head ducked to bury his face in her shoulder, where her dress was slipping to reveal skin that felt his anxious inhale. And, well, yes, Peggy understood: this was all new again, from new angles and new weight distribution to the fact that nothing below his waist had worked properly for him since the war, and there was a possibility that his eyes were making promises that his body couldn’t keep.

Peggy stroked his hair and tugged him back up again to kiss her. “You lost neither your hands nor your mouth,” she reminded him, “you cannot disappoint me.”

She could tell he didn’t believe her, but at least he didn’t use the words Captain America, and his smile was very nearly something real.

It could’ve been traumatic, their first tentative scared forays into sex with all the boundaries changed, the goalposts moved; it very nearly was, Daniel’s frustration at himself teetering on the edge where he might shout or cry, Peggy contemplating smacking him the face just to get him to focus. In the end, though, she eased herself into his lap and they clutched one another and laughed, a little light-headed, a little desperate, until his cock brushed her stomach and she was kneeling over him, holding his gaze, and if he was ashamed of a woman seeing his mangled scars and missing leg in a romantic context for the first time, he wasn’t by the time he was gasping Peggy’s name into her hair, anyway.

They both cried a little afterwards, tangled in his sheets. It seemed the most natural course of action.

“It’s been a while, you know?” Daniel admitted weeks later, head pillowed on her chest, while she curled her fingers through his hair. “Even before… you know.”

“You must have had leave,” Peggy responded. “You can’t tell me you didn’t look good in uniform.”

Peggy has told herself over and over that she’s spent so much time around soldiers, in uniforms herself, that they no longer do anything to her. It might perhaps be true; perhaps one of these days she might even learn better.

“Girls like a confident soldier,” he said, sounding tired, sounding like somewhere around the edges it still stung, the things he didn’t do when he could have. “They want a guy who smiles, not a guy who just wants a scotch and a Philip Marlowe.”

They’d have noticed anyway, Peggy thought, a man with eyes like Daniel Sousa’s. She stroked the corner of one with her thumb, where lines of care and exhaustion were just starting to etch themselves, and thought, with something fond and bitter in it: always the shy ones, Peggy.

It works, anyway, for a given value of working. They’re not dating or whatever words Angie likes to slip in slyly when she’s sipping schnapps on Peggy’s bed, begging for details and painting her toenails with Peggy’s favourite red. Even if they weren’t working together, she’s not sure either of them are prepared for that kind of commitment; if either of them have enough of themselves to gather together and offer up. Angie likes Daniel well enough, anyway; she calls him a gentleman and it’s not just because he tips reasonably and doesn’t complain about the coffee. He’s chivalrous, kind, wants to treat Peggy more nicely than she really wants to be treated; he’s not Steve, not quite, but there’s something reminiscent there in the curl of his hand at her elbow, in the way he respects her but would still like to hold doors open for her, cane allowing.

Sometimes, Peggy wants that. Sometimes, she wants the way they manoeuvre themselves with skin and determination until he’s reciting e.e. cummings into her cunt, her signature red lipstick in streaks on his thighs. They’re adults, and the world is better and worse and different and theirs, if they’re quick enough to take whatever’s left.

Peggy eases Daniel onto the mattress beside Jack’s prone form, helping him lose his trousers on the way and climbing easily into his lap. He pulls her back into a kiss, one hand tangling into her loose hair, the other cupping a breast and pinching the nipple between finger and thumb. Peggy hisses into his mouth, all of this extended foreplay starting to chafe a little. They play fewer games when it’s just them, but Jack brings something else with him, and they’ve committed to that and to the patience it requires.

Daniel kisses the corner of her mouth, the curve of her jaw, the skin behind her ear that makes her shiver.

“You’re beautiful like this, Peg,” he whispers, and Peggy Carter could respond with I’m beautiful all the time, I think you’ll find, but she smiles into it instead, taking the words in the spirit they’re meant. She’s learning to compromise, though perhaps not in any way that Howard will ever really appreciate.

It’s with a snap of regret that she slides away from Daniel, curling her sore wanting breasts back into her brassiere for now, and turning her attention back to Jack, who is starting to show a certain interest in proceedings, the blazing high from the caning starting to ebb a little. Sometimes, that’s enough: the release that comes from the pain and the loss of responsibility, enough to knock him out for the night. Sometimes, they decide he doesn’t get to orgasm, passing him between the two of them until they’re both sated and he’s breathless with denied pleasure. They’re all learning, Jack Thompson perhaps most of all.

“Welcome back,” Peggy says, running light fingers over the marks across Jack’s back. He tries to push into her touch and pull away at the same time, and she smiles at the response, trailing them down to where his lower back curves into his arse. That still bears the faintest yellow-green bruise traces of ten days ago, when Peggy took a firm wooden hairbrush – borrowed from Angie, who can never know what it was used for – to his buttocks until he was sobbing into the sheets, fingers curled into his palms hard enough to leave creases she spotted at work the next day and felt in the pit of her stomach. Jack’s arse clenches a little under her touch, flinching away from a ghost of a blow, and she hears the way Daniel’s breath catches behind her.

“He was good for us, Peggy,” Daniel says quietly, in the tone he only uses in this room, for this reason; dropped just a little in pitch, words that she can see make Jack’s skin tighten a little, something like want and denial all in the same movement.

“He was a good boy,” Peggy agrees, once more stroking Jack’s ruined hair; so smart for the office, so wrecked for them now. “He didn’t think he would be, but he was. I think that means he gets a choice tonight.”

Even while she can see Jack’s basking in the praise, unable to help it, she also sees the flicker of unease cross his features. Jack comes here – here, with them, as opposed to the myriad of other options boys like him with bright eyes and brighter smiles have – because he doesn’t want any of it anymore; Peggy knows that much. Agent Jack Thompson has become a shield, a persona, that he can’t control anymore, that’s gone to places he can’t follow, and he stumbles to Sousa’s apartment because he wants Peggy and Daniel to take it all away: the guilt, the responsibility, the decisions. He wants to be someone who doesn’t get to choose anything, to take what he’s given.

Peggy strokes a reassuring hand down over Jack’s ribs, catching the puckering edge of a scar; they all carry them, some better healed than others, some more visible, more honest, than others.

“It’s not a big choice,” she says, soothing. “How would you like to come, Jack? With my fingers up your arse, or with Daniel’s cock?”

It didn’t start like this, of course. Thompson didn’t walk up to her in the SSR office and drop to his knees and bow his head and ask her to help him, though they both entertain that fantasy a little sometimes: Jack knelt on the thin carpet with his face buried in Peggy’s cunt, while Daniel clenches his fingers in Jack’s hair to keep him right where he is, and Peggy informs him how the boys will never let him back in their locker room once they’ve seen him like this. Sometimes they’ll swap, and it’ll be Daniel’s cock choking Jack, while Peggy curves fingers over his skull to keep him steady, eyes streaming and cock ever-erect despite it all. Jack wears his shame so constantly with no one to see it that it seems to be a relief when he can carry it visibly.

It actually started, as most things seem to, over the uneasy equilibrium of after-office drinks; none of them completely sure if they’re friends or colleagues or barely even that, taking it in turns to buy beers and bourbon and scotch and whisky, swapping exaggerated war stories full of girls and guns and single-handedly liberating entire POW camps that they were never near in the first place. After a drink or two herself, depending on how many men have slipped up and asked her for coffee that week, Peggy might even share a Howling Commandos story that didn’t make it to the public, Steve and Bucky’s names tripping off her tongue more easily each time she tries.

Anyway, it was one of those nights, and slowly everyone stripped away, back to homes and wives and girlfriends and children and the need for some goddamn sleep; Peggy lingered, comfortable in her seat with Daniel’s good leg resting between hers, safely out of sight beneath the table, and part of her was already skimming ahead to not bothering to head back to the hotel, to running a hot hazy bath in Daniel’s apartment and curling herself around him in it, a little tipsy, a little giggly with it. The others weren’t quite gone, but she was in no hurry, and the desire was just a little coil in her stomach, simple and happy and a pleasure she hadn’t allowed herself in years. There are some things she had with Steve that she’ll never have with anyone else; there are some things she never had with Steve, but that doesn’t mean she should deny herself them forever.

Howard said something similar once, between cigarettes and martini glasses, but it was more crude when he said it, and it sounded worse, and she called him a lot of names that he laughed at because they were nothing he hadn’t heard before.

Thompson, though, was drinking as though he didn’t intend to stop; not quickly, exactly, but steadily enough that it caught Peggy’s attention as their other colleagues went home, and a glance at Daniel showed he was watching too, mouth thinning. There are good and bad days for all of them: for missing lost friends, for losing limbs, for carrying impossible truths. They handle their bad days differently, or at least they used to, and Thompson’s way seemed to involve quietly but firmly drinking himself into a state.

“We should do something,” Daniel remarked, watching as Thompson lurched his way to the bar to buy another drink, and Peggy mentally flicked off the light switch on her bath fantasy, wondered if she could call Jarvis for a ride at this time of night, or if he’d be too busy getting Howard home from a bad idea of his own, and sighed.

“I’ll get us a cab,” she said, and went to fetch her coat.

The cabbie was only too happy to stop for a pretty woman in heels this late at night; if he hadn’t bargained for Daniel pushing a barely-conscious Thompson into the backseat, he at least had the grace not to complain, other than to ask if he was going to be sick.

“He’d better not be,” Peggy replied, crisp, and gave him Thompson’s address.

Wrangling him up to his apartment was difficult; Peggy was a little unsteady on her heels and Daniel was combining his cane with half of Thompson’s dead weight, and more than once Peggy thought they were just going to end up in a heap on the pavement. They finally crammed into the elevator and got Thompson upstairs, who remained silent and pliant throughout, as though he’d given up all responsibility for himself the moment Peggy grabbed his arm in the bar and said: “we’re taking you home” in a tone that brooked no argument.

Peggy flicked lights on, pulling Thompson into the apartment behind her, as Daniel pushed him. As the front door slammed behind them they stood in the half-lit hall, and Thompson swayed between them, expression lost and uncertain and Peggy was reasonably certain he was about to drunkenly attempt to kiss one of them. She wasn’t sure which one of them he was going to fall into, and, looking at him, she realised that neither was he.

“You need to sleep,” she said with brutal firmness, pushing him down the hall toward where she assumed his bedroom was, breaking the moment before it could become anything longer that would need analysing, need a conversation she wasn’t awake or sober enough to have tonight.

Thompson let her manhandle him to his room, and she left Daniel to make sure he got into bed before she went into Thompson’s kitchen, raiding his miserably empty cupboards until she found some coffee, making two cups. When she returned to the bedroom, Thompson was collapsed half-dressed in his bed, and Daniel was perched on the edge of the mattress, looking exhausted. Peggy handed him one of the coffee cups and, after establishing there wasn’t much else in the way of furniture, sat down on the mattress too. Thompson watched them both through slitted eyes, though he didn’t demand his own coffee, which Peggy took to mean he wasn’t exactly awake or himself right now.

“You staying?” he asked, voice thick, glancing between Daniel and Peggy.

“Go to sleep, Jack,” Peggy said quietly. “It’s late, and god knows how you’re going to get into work tomorrow.”

Thompson swallowed. “Don’t go,” he said.

Daniel was watching Peggy, who sipped her coffee and said nothing. Eventually, Thompson’s eyes drifted shut, and she stroked his dishevelled hair back from his forehead until his breathing slowed out.

“You’re petting him,” Daniel remarked, in a tone that sounded more bemused than accusatory.

“Barely,” Peggy replied, removing her hand. “I’ve shepherded a lot of sad boys around Europe, I know the drill.”

Daniel tipped his head. “You know something that I don’t.”

“I do,” Peggy agreed.

She watched him drink his coffee, sitting on the edge of Agent Thompson’s bed, while the agent himself slept half-dressed sprawled beside him, and wondered once again how exactly she’d got here. Daniel was poised on asking her about that moment in the hallway, but he didn’t have the words yet, and she watched as he gave it up for lost.

“So, what you’re saying is that we shouldn’t shave his eyebrows off while he’s lying here at our mercy.”

Peggy laughed. “Oh, don’t tempt me.” She drained her cup, and stood up. “I should be getting home.”

“It’s hours past curfew,” Daniel reminded her.

“I’ll manage,” Peggy replied, and left before she said or did or thought something that she shouldn’t.

That night was the catalyst, anyway. It took weeks where Thompson acted like an arsehole because that’s what he’s good at, but couldn’t actually look Peggy or Daniel in the eye, where Daniel very deliberately said nothing about a number of things, and where Peggy sat in meeting rooms where the tension pulled in strings she recognised because the same strings often pulled between Steve and Bucky, though they weren’t aware of them, and Daniel and Thompson very much were.

I’m keeping busy, she wrote in yet another letter to Duggan, checking in on her wellbeing like any good mother hen.

Finally, she got Howard’s favourite cocktail recipes from Jarvis, set about doctoring them, and then proceeded to drink Howard under his own table because this was the only way she could face having this discussion.

“What kind of man do you think I am, Peg?” Howard asked, trying for scandalised and just sounding drunk, flat on his back on a ridiculously expensive carpet, his head pillowed on Peggy’s hair, because she was lying right there next to him. She was saved from answering by the fact he burst into laughter at himself, bright and amused and ridiculous; half the reason she still lets him back into her life when she probably shouldn’t.

“Just tell me,” Peggy told him, “and don’t tell me which starlets tried them out on you, or I’ll tell Jarvis exactly what happened to that ugly vase he loved so much.”

“You wouldn’t,” Howard said.

“Anna already knows, and she’s hardly your biggest fan,” Peggy reminded him. “Talk. Tell me what I’m going to need to know.”

She stored the information somewhere deep down in the filing cabinets of her brain, ready for when Jack Thompson broke down and asked.

It’s been trial and error since then: she knows Jack liked it when she stepped onto his bare back in a pair of heels, the spikes digging into his skin, clutching Daniel’s arm for balance – as though he’d be much good if she did fall – but Peggy won’t do it again, not the unremitting terror that she’d somehow puncture something she shouldn’t. Howard rolled his eyes when he teased that one out of her, while Jarvis sighed heavily in the driver’s seat, as though that was something he’d seen far too many times to be shocked by now.

“You should have asked me, Peggy,” he said later, over milk and pie at the diner, while Angie made faces at them from behind the counter, “Howard may partake in… certain activities, but I’m the one who procures the props and cleans up afterwards.”

“This was never supposed to become public knowledge,” Peggy told her cherry pie a little mournfully. “Or to happen in the first place, I think. Maybe that was my first mistake.”

Peggy has the strange suspicion that Jarvis and Anna have decided to adopt her happiness as some kind of project, though they both deny it vehemently when asked. In any case, she and Daniel and Angie are invited over for far too many dinners, which they go to anyway because if Anna isn’t making them Hungarian dishes they’ve never heard of and pouring them straight vodka into their water glasses, Jarvis is whipping up French food far better than any of the meals Peggy had when she was actually in France; she can hardly turn all that down. They play cards and tell each other different lies and it’s strange to think that her friends approve of Daniel, when he’s something Peggy can’t define for herself, doesn’t even know where to begin.

And then there’s Jack Thompson, who becomes Jack within the safe four walls of Daniel’s bedroom, where he lays himself at their mercy and they do something that isn’t a long-term solution by any stretch of the imagination, but it answers a question Peggy wasn’t even aware she was asking, and it seems to keep Thompson together enough to keep doing his job, which culminates to more miracles than Peggy feels she can really ask for.

What this has all finally lead to is the way Jack groans and shakes, wordless, as Peggy slides Vaseline down the crack of his arse, teasing him with fingers that are too much and not enough at once. Daniel watches, eyes wide, and Jack arches his back, all fours on the bed. They’ll need to move him soon, but Peggy likes him like this, glittering with sweat and self-control, thighs shaking as she slides an unhesitant finger inside him. Jack gasps, and Peggy twists her wrist, pressing deeper. She knows where to touch him to make him enjoy this, of course, but she’s more interested in prolonging this, in pushing Jack back down again into that place where all that exists for him is need. They don’t talk about all this as much as they probably should, because once he’s out of the bedroom Jack goes back to being Thompson, cocky and defensive and too sharp, and he’s difficult to pin to things, to find out exactly what it is he gets out of this and how they can give it to him more. He has a word that will get them to stop, and he agrees or disagrees to planned activities or punishments beforehand, and that’s as much as they can get from him. It’s more than Peggy would ever have predicted, but it doesn’t make things as simple as she thinks they could turn out to be.

“Wider,” she orders, and Jack obediently spreads his thighs further, pressing back into her finger. Peggy adds another before he’s really adjusted, and he makes a soft mewling sound and wriggles as she spreads them inside him. Something Howard mentioned to Peggy with an illustrative hand gesture shortly before he fell asleep beneath the grand piano he doesn’t play flickers back into her mind, but that would require more time and a day when Agent Thompson didn’t need to be able to walk the following morning. Still, Peggy looks at her fingers sliding sleekly into Jack’s body, and at her wrist as it presses between his legs, and thinks: maybe.

“Here,” Daniel says, tugging at Jack’s hair and guiding his mouth down to his cock. Jack makes a grateful sound as he takes it into his mouth, eyes shivering shut. Daniel’s around average in length, nothing too spectacular, but he’s deliciously thick and he knows what to do with it; Peggy clenches her thighs at the thought, keeps herself focusing on curling her fingers inside Jack, but she keeps watching the way his lips are stretched around Daniel, cheeks flushed pink, the way Daniel keeps a tight hand in his hair but can’t stop looking up at Peggy. She winks at him, and adds another finger to Jack’s arse, working it inside as Jack lets out a strangled, muffled groan. She’s using enough lubricant to keep this possible, but not enough for it to be entirely comfortable; she wants Thompson to regret sitting down at his desk tomorrow morning, feel it twinge with his every moment, remember when he was here, bare and shivering and begging for more fingers inside him, more cock in his mouth.

She’d like him more if he was like this all the time, she reflects, stroking three fingers in and out with a squeak of Vaseline, resisting the urge to press her free hand between her thighs because she’ll be rewarded if she can hold on long enough.

Instead, she uses her free hand to press down on the raised red welts appearing across Jack’s shoulders, making him choke a little on Daniel’s cock, bucking between them for a moment before a scrape of her fingernails reminds him to stay still, do as he’s told.

“Make Daniel come,” she says, “and then maybe we’ll let you come.”

Jack starts sucking harder, little sounds escaping him as he does, and Peggy curls her fingers inside him and presses them deep enough to make him jerk like she electrified his spine. She likes the idea of cramming four into him, but it’s not something to try for today; instead, she strokes over the nerves inside him, while his cock drips onto the sheets and Daniel braces a hand to the mattress so he can thrust up into Jack’s mouth, gag him a little. In this moment Jack isn’t Jack, he’s something or someone else: it’s all in the loose line of his spine, the drop of his shoulders, the way he presses himself back into Peggy’s fingers while his body shakes, holding himself in the position he’s been given because that’s what he’s been told.

Peggy’s worked with soldiers for too long: she knows the tones of voice that work.

Daniel’s losing control a little himself, and Peggy loves this; loves that she gets to see him professional and smart and competent at work, gets to strip his clothes off and watch him fall apart, to hold both of those pieces in her hands. Jack is shuddering under her touch, wanting more, wanting less, and his mouth is getting sloppy on Daniel’s cock, spilling sounds that are incoherent but which betray begging anyway.

“Shit,” Daniel breathes, “Peggy, shit,” and yanks Jack’s head up by the hair in time to come across it, Jack’s eyes still shut, lashes beading wet, swollen lips open, flushed cheeks now spattered white. He’s a mess, and it’s beautiful.

Peggy thrusts her fingers in deeper, harder, twisting them, and scrapes nails over the longest stripe over Jack’s back. “You can do this,” she tells him, listening to the sounds he makes, frantic and wanting and breathless, and Jack shiver-sobs and manages to come, cock untouched, whole body wracked with it. He collapses onto the covers afterwards, panting and weak, leaking tears down already wet cheeks.

“My laundry, Peggy,” Daniel says, but he shifts closer to Jack, sweeping a broad, steady hand down his ribcage in soothing circles as Jack’s breathing slows and softens.

Peggy wipes her hands clean on a towel she left on the dresser for this very purpose – she’s prepared, even if no one else is – and takes the moment of quiet to finally divest herself of her underwear. Her breasts are aching, hard nipples chafing at the fabric of her brassiere, and her knickers are soaked through with sheer want.

Daniel finishes stroking Jack into something quiet and soothed before he holds his hands out. “C’mere.”

Peggy crawls into the last of the space left on the mattress, propping a pillow beneath her hips for an easier angle as Daniel manoeuvres himself around her, bracing himself on an elbow as he spreads her thighs and lowers his mouth to her cunt.

She won’t ask, doesn’t want to know, who taught Daniel to do this: to be thorough and patient and dedicated, to listen to Peggy’s instructions – no, my left – and to throw himself into cunnilingus with such enthusiasm, but she’s grateful to whoever they were. She enjoys Daniel’s cock inside her too, generally because she has to be on top for him and gets to choose the pace, the depth and the angle, but he’s wonderful at this, wonderful enough that sometimes she thinks maybe she just wants to keep Daniel trapped between her thighs, lapping at her clitoris while he hums softly, making her rock her hips up to his face searching for more. He slides two fingers into her cunt and she clenches around them while he sucks her labia into his mouth, kissing them as firmly as he ever does her lips, and she curls her fingers around her right nipple, pinching and rolling in time with his slow thrusting.

When she turns her head, seeing the world through her messy hair, Peggy can see Jack watching her, his eyes unfocused, wearing something resembling a half-smile. She reaches her hand out to stroke it over his flaming cheek, feeling the trapped heat along with the drying stickiness of tears and sperm, runs a finger over his parted lips just as Daniel slides his tongue inside her, losing her intent in curling her toes in the sheets and moaning. She feels, almost distantly, as Jack sucks on her finger, Daniel bumping her clitoris with his nose while his tongue works in tandem with his fingers, and Peggy clenches her stomach and tips her hips. Daniel says something incoherent into her cunt, the vibration the important part, and she finally feels the jump in her stomach that precedes an orgasm of her own.

She’s mostly silent as she comes, eyes snapping shut, body twisting while trying to lie still so she won’t unbalance Daniel, who licks at her until she pushes his face away, oversensitive and relieved.

Peggy could sleep for about twenty-five years, now, easy, but she’s the only one capable of moving right now and she’ll be the one in charge of running baths and dampening flannels and cleaning this whole mess of bodies and skin up. For now, though, there’s just silence; Daniel kissing her stomach as he slides himself comfortable, and Peggy reaches her arms out to help him settle against her, warm and heavy and familiar, his face pressing into the curve between her breastbone and her chin. She flaps a hand at Jack, who seems to get what she means because he crawls closer, slotting himself into the spaces not already taken by Daniel, touch more tentative and grateful as he falls into place.

They can’t stay like this forever, because parts of Peggy will start to go to numb and it will be unpleasant, and they really do need to get clean and change the sheets if any of them want to sleep tonight, but for now she’s happy to listen to them all breathing in tandem, speechless and comfortable. She thinks, well, if Steve could see her now, she could tell him that perhaps not everything has turned out to be completely awful after all. Not quite.