The transport truck had roared up to the gully where Steve and the Commandos were hiding, looking like an angel from heaven and smelling like a diesel fire. For a second Steve did a double-take, because the driver yelling at them looked a little like Peggy and sounded like her too, but Peggy was huddled up between Buck and Gabe, holding a clean(ish) cloth to the wound in Bucky's shoulder.
"We haven't much time," the woman at the wheel yelled. Bullets whizzed past.
"Lizbet?" Peggy yelled.
"Peg!" the woman yelled back, cheerily. "Come on, I'd prefer not to be shot!"
Peggy started to move, which was all it took for the rest of them to go too. Steve helped Gabe and Morita get Bucky into the back, then dove into the cab next to Peggy, who was wiping her face with a handkerchief. The driver -- Lizbet, apparently -- threw the truck into gear and took off, bouncing down the road and away from the burning factory that had been....more well-stocked with Hydra soldiers than intel had led them to believe.
"Lizbet, what on Earth are you doing here?" Peggy asked, sounding delighted. "You know you're not meant to be near combat."
"Oh, I wasn't! The truck's full of C-rations, you know," Lizbet said. "But I was at the tail end of the convoy, and I saw the fire. I thought I'd take a detour to see what it was all about. What a lark, isn't it?" she said, baring her teeth in a thrilled smile.
"We're very grateful, ma'am," Steve said, because Peggy looked like she wanted to scold.
"My pleasure, I'm sure," Lizbet said.
"Lizbet, this is Captain Steve Rogers, seconded to the SSR," Peggy said. "Steve, this is Lizbet Windham, she's a subaltern in the ATS."
"Junior commander now," Lizbet said. "You're the big bluff American fellow they put in all the film reels, aren't you?"
"Guilty," Steve said, feeling oddly charmed by the woman's easy manner. "Your timing's nice. Pleasure to meet you, Windham."
"Captain," a voice came from behind them, and Pinky put his head through the small gap where a window divided the cab from the canvas-covered truck bed. "Barnes says -- good lord!" he interrupted himself, staring at their rescue driver with bulging eyes.
"Pinkie," Peggy said, an odd note in her voice. "This is our rescuer, Lizbet Windham. She's a junior commander in the ATS."
Pinky looked at Peggy, eyes still wide, then back at Lizbet.
"Well," he said after a stunned second. "Pleasure to meet you, ma'am. Erm. Cap," he added, turning back to Steve, who felt he was missing a subtext somewhere. "Barnes said he got the paperwork you asked for," he said, handing over a bloodstained packet of papers. "And Morita says Barnes is only pretending he's dying, he's really fine."
"I AM DYING," Bucky's voice drifted out indignantly.
"WELL, TRY TO DO IT QUIETLY," Steve called back, handing the documents to Peggy. Lizbet laughed.
"We aren't far from the road the convoy was on, I should be able to catch them up," she said. "Have you snug in one of those dreadful military tents in no time, Captain."
"Hey," Gabe said, leaning through the window Pinky had used a few minutes before. "Can we open some'a these rations up?"
"Up to Windham," Steve said, nodding at Lizbet. "It's her haul."
"Of course, I'm sure your men are starving. Do hand up something edible for the Captain and Peg," Lizbet said. "Thanks ever so, private...?"
"Gabe Jones, ma'am. Much obliged," Gabe said, and a few minutes later he handed up a package of crackers, a block of "fortified chocolate", and a tin of chicken. Steve opened the can of chicken and scooped some onto a cracker, passing it to Peggy, who ate it neatly and split the fortified chocolate block with Lizbet.
They caught up to the convoy soon enough, and Steve heard Bucky wheeze thank God as they got back onto a solid road. Steve savored his share of the chicken and crackers, listening to Peggy and Lizbet discuss mutual acquaintances. He gathered that they must have met in training, and he wasn't entirely sure Lizbet knew that Peggy was a spy. She very carefully wasn't asking what Peggy was doing in a ditch with a gang of mostly-American soldiers, however, so who knew. Steve left the espionage up to Peggy, who was more suited to it, and just kept quiet and ate his ration.
It was another long hour before he could see the shadowed bulk of a military camp up ahead, mostly dark but with the telltale red-ember bob of men smoking cigarettes at the walls. The convoy passed through easily enough, and Lizbet was out of the truck as soon as it was parked, rounding the back to peer inside.
"Aren't you lot jolly filthy," she said cheerfully, lowering the gate and reaching up to help them ease Bucky down. Steve caught him by the shoulders, checking to see if he was steady enough on his feet to walk, and considered scooping him into a carry.
"I'm fine, lunkhead," Bucky said, but then he caught sight of Lizbet, and Steve sighed internally. "Well, I wouldn't mind a shoulder to lean on," he added, and turned his big baby blues on her. "Think you could be a soldier's guardian angel for another few minutes, ma'am?" he asked.
Behind Lizbet, Peggy rolled her eyes. Lizbet gave Steve the most knowing look a woman had ever bestowed on him, and tucked her shoulder gently under Bucky's armpit.
"We'll have you right as rain in no time," she said, as he hobbled with an exaggerated limp away from camp. As he passed, Steve hissed You were shot in the shoulder, not the kneecap and Bucky gave him a dirty grin.
Peggy hitched herself up onto the open gate of the truck, legs swinging, and partook of the rest of the rations the boys had opened, demanding some wafer sweets from Dum Dum and sharing cold chipped beef and steamed canned bread with Morita.
"I hope Bucky minds his manners," she said to Steve, as he leaned against the truck next to her and swiped some of her wafer sweets.
"You know Buck, he's all bluster," he said. "He wouldn't take advantage."
"Glad to hear it," Pinky told him. "That Windham -- "
He whuffed as Peggy's elbow landed in his solar plexus.
"Something one of you wants to tell me?" Steve asked, eyebrows rising.
"It's not really of any consequence," Peggy said. "Lizbet's father is quite high up in the Royal Navy, that's all. Bucky could cause something of an international incident."
"Fortunately all she has to do is poke him in the shoulder and he'll probably go down for the count," Steve said drily. "But if you want me to go play chaperone, it's not like I ain't used to it."
"Dear me, no," Peggy said, patting his cheek. "Finish your tea like a good soldier and then we'll go find whoever's in charge and report in."
"I outrank you, you know," Steve said.
"Shall we test that?" Peggy asked. Steve smiled, aware he looked like a schoolboy with his first crush, and stuffed some crackers in his mouth rather than answering.
The next morning, Steve walked into the mess tent to see Lizbet and Peggy sitting together with their breakfasts, chatting amiably. They exchanged a look when he approached with a tin mug of coffee, and Peggy patted the seat next to hers.
"Managed to detach yourself from my sergeant?" Steve asked, and Lizbet smiled sweetly.
"He's a dear. Quite deranged and unsubtle, but very sweet," she said. "Right before he fell asleep from the massive cocktail of painkillers I put in his tea, he asked me to go dancing with him when we're back in London."
"I like her," Steve said to Peggy.
"Just as well; I have our orders," Peggy said, holding up an envelope. "Lizbet's to drive us as far as the Channel, and then we're off to London. You're wanted for a short propaganda film -- "
Steve groaned. "Peggy, nooooo."
"Oh, poor lamb," Peggy said, patting the back of his head as he bent over his coffee. "And I have intel to deliver. Lizbet's coming along too, so Bucky will no doubt get his dance."
"Peggy tells me if I play my cards right and shoot enough Nazis, I may qualify for the Howling Commandos," Lizbet said, the droll note in her voice suggesting this was an unsought honor. "I'm sure father will be thrilled."
"Yeah, Peggy said something about your dad being a Navy man," Steve said. Lizbet nodded, smiling. "Holding up the family name, huh?"
"Well, someone must, and I'm the eldest, so it falls to me," Lizbet said. "Anyway, I must go look over the transport vehicles before we depart. I shall see you again soon, Captain, I'm sure."
She left, throwing a wave to Bucky as he lurked into the tent; Bucky turned and watched her go for so long he nearly ran into the nearest table. He corrected, grimaced, and sat down next to Steve, leaning into him and taking his coffee.
"Hung over?" Peggy asked sympathetically. "Lizbet drugged you."
"Figured that," Bucky mumbled. "Not hung over, just can't quite get awake."
"Take your time, we're being shipped back to HQ," Steve said. "No briefings today."
"Aww -- " Bucky sounded heartbroken.
Peggy grinned. "Lizbet's driving us," she said, around sips of coffee. Bucky perked up a little, as much as he could.
"Great! We can get a pass and go dancing," he said. Steve took his coffee back while Bucky beamed and buried his face in Steve's shoulder sleepily. Steve let him, still thrilled that Bucky could lean on him as hard as he used to lean on Bucky when he was a little fella.
Their transport turned out to be a slightly more well-appointed truck than last time, but they still had to haul cargo as well as men, and they weren't always going to be in entirely friendly territory. Steve had planned to ride with Peggy and Lizbet again, but he decided it would be smarter to ride point on his motorcycle. Peggy was going to drive a jeep with Jones and Dum Dum in it as rear guard, which left Lizbet to drive the truck -- and Bucky to pull rank and ride with her in the cab. Every time Steve looked over his shoulder on the long drive to the airstrip, the pair of them were chatting amiably, Bucky occasionally gesturing for emphasis.
God knew, Bucky could turn on the charm when he wanted, but he was usually something of a fly-by-night -- he'd meet a girl, take her dancing, maybe steal a kiss or a little more, and then move on. He wasn't really a making-conversation kind of a fella. At least, not usually. Steve wondered if Bucky was turning over a new leaf.
From France they took a small transport plane across the Channel, a nerve-wracking and unsteady flight. By the time they actually arrived in London, all of them were exhausted and Steve settled the men into the barracks through a sleepy haze before falling into the bed they assigned him in officers' quarters, trusting Peggy and Lizbet to sort themselves out without his hovering. He woke, almost ten hours later, to find that the rest of the Commandos had taken 24-hour passes and gone. The local ranking Army officer had apparently blocked anyone from coming to wake him up, and he grumpily sat through two pointless briefings and then got trapped in small talk for another half an hour before Howard rescued him.
"Steve! I heard you were back in London," Howard called, throwing an arm around his shoulders and steering him away from the colonel who'd been monopolizing Steve's time. "Sorry sir, I've got orders to take Rogers here for materials testing. Chop chop, been waitin' on you..."
"I have to be somewhere else now?" Steve sighed, aware he sounded petulant.
"What? No, hell no," Howard replied with a laugh, steering him down a corridor. "I came to save you, that guy'll talk your ear off. Materials testing is a code."
"A code for what?" Steve asked, mystified.
"Well, let's just say the materials we're testing will be high-proof or wearin' lipstick. The fellas said to convey their regrets they couldn't wait for ya, and Barnes left a pass at the front desk."
"Oh!" Steve brightened. "I don't even know what time it is."
"These gaw-damn bunkers, right? It's fine, I know where they're bound to be. Say, Barnes is keeping elevated company, isn't he? Glad Peg went along as chaperone."
"Hm?" Steve asked, as Howard handed him the sign-out book and his pass paper.
"The ATS girl he's got on his arm tonight."
"Ah yes," Steve said. "Well, you know Bucky."
"Not as well as she will," Howard laughed, leading the way up the stairs and out of the bunker, into the blue light of London just past sunset. Nowhere in the world smelled quite like Brooklyn, but Steve inhaled deeply, because London came close. "Off we go!"
It was a nice night, once he and Howard found the Commandos in a little dance hall full of soldiers. Full of girls, too, but Steve was content to sit at a table on the edge of the dance floor and chat with Peggy while the others danced. He had to keep one eye on the fellas to make sure none of them got rowdy ("Well, that's irony for you," Bucky drawled) so he and Peggy didn't get too deep into anything, but he told her a little about art school before the war, and she promised him a tour of the British Museum once everything was back where it ought to be after the war.
The Commandos, being mostly young men in the prime of life, always thought it was a shame to sleep through any portion of a 24-hour pass; when the bar shut down, the fellas wanted to go get into mischief of some other kind, but Steve would rather not witness whatever they were going to do, and anyway Peggy and Lizbet had reputations to maintain, unfair as it was.
"Come on," Steve said to Bucky, as the dance hall began to empty. "Let's walk 'em home."
"And then get into some kind of trouble without us, no doubt," Peggy said, a little bit of bite to her tone.
"Nah. It's not long until breakfast; we'll go see some nighttime sights and then get ourselves a meal," Steve replied. Bucky was helping Lizbet on with her uniform coat; once she had it done up, he wrapped an arm around her waist. Steve glanced at Peggy, wondering if he could do the same; she gave him an amused look and then sidled close enough that he put his arm over her shoulder instead, which was probably more comfortable. He still wasn't always used to being so tall.
They strolled along the street that way, Lizbet leaning her head on Bucky's shoulder, Peggy warm under Steve's arm, moving slowly enough that they didn't have to dodge the soldiers and women who were coming out of other dance halls and bars and the USO. The closer they got to the bunker where the womens' barracks was, the quieter the streets got, until it was just the four of them.
And then --
A fella stepped out of the alley with a kind of calm, assured air, and two cars pulled up next to them with a quiet rumble. For a second Steve thought they were being robbed, because he saw the man's hands in his pockets, and he stepped away from Peggy, wishing he'd brought his shield. Not that he and Bucky couldn't take one man like this with their fists, but the front car was unloading men in dark suits with intent faces, and Peggy could hold her own but he didn't know if Lizbet could --
"Brinton, dear lord," Lizbet said, as Steve started forward to block the others with his body. Steve hesitated, twisting, and Lizbet pulled away from Bucky, putting up her hand. "It's all right, Captain, he's not here to rob us."
"Miss," the man -- apparently Brinton -- said calmly. The other fellas in dark suits were gathering around him.
"Well, this is a parade," Lizbet sighed. "What is it, Brinton? You know I have a superior officer who usually knows where I am."
"I'm afraid there's been a fracas at home regarding your pass this evening," Brinton replied. His eyes drifted to Steve, then to Bucky. "Barnes, I presume?"
Lizbet looked annoyed. "I was on a pass, I told my CO where I was -- "
"And you will note I did not interrupt your evening out," Brinton replied.
"What's this about, please?" Steve started to ask. Peggy poked him. "What?" he asked her.
"I believe these men are with the King's Guard," she said.
"What's that when it's at home?" Bucky asked.
"Personal security to the royal house of Windsor," Peggy replied.
"Just so, ma'am," Brinton said. "Miss, you'll need to come with us," he said to Lizbet. "Captain, Sergeant, in the second car if you please. Ma'am, you're free to return to quarters," he said to Peggy.
"I'm sure I'm also free to -- " Peggy began, but broke off when Steve shook his head. "Steve!"
"You go on, Peg," he said, leaning in close, pretending a kiss. "I don't know what's going on," he whispered in her ear, "but someone needs to tell the base where we are. Maybe call the Commandos for a jailbreak?"
Peggy nodded, then turned and did kiss him on the cheek. "Good thinking," she agreed.
Steve gave Bucky a please go quietly look; Bucky rolled his eyes but followed as Steve was herded into the second car. They watched Lizbet slide gracefully into the car in front of them, and then the convoy was off.
"I don't suppose we get an explanation," Steve said to the driver.
"Sorry, sir. My job's just to fetch and carry," the man replied.
They drove through the darkened streets for what felt like a long time, but probably wasn't; eventually they pulled onto a long drive through a park, and Steve started to get concerned.
"Where are we going?" he asked the driver.
"Buckingham Palace," the man replied.
"Why?" Bucky blurted.
"Search me," the man said, as the cars pulled to a stop. "I drive the car, I don't ask the questions."
"Lizbet, are you all right?" Bucky called, as she got out of the car in front of them.
"I'm fine, Jim, there's nothing to worry about!" she called back. "Just keep mum!"
"Jim?" Steve asked. Lizbet was being guided up a set of stairs; he and Bucky were diverted to another set leading down.
"Bucky's a kid's name," Bucky said. "Jim's classier, you gotta be classy to impress a lady like Lizbet."
"Whatever you say, Jim," Steve replied, ducking through a door held open for him by a servant in real actual livery. "Is this...are we being thrown in a dungeon?" he asked.
"If you would wait here, Captain, Sergeant," Brinton said from behind them, crowding them into what seemed like a disused medieval kitchen. "You'll be sent for directly we have need. If you would like food or some tea perhaps, just tell one of the guards."
"Do we...?" Steve asked Bucky in a whisper.
"I'm not drinking anything being brought to me by some grand vizier who seems very mad at us," Bucky whispered back.
"We're fine, thanks," Steve said to Brinton, who nodded and withdrew. Bucky kicked out a chair, sat down, and took a pack of cards out of his pocket. He always carried one; you never knew when you'd meet a sucker who couldn't recognize a poker hustle.
The two fellas guarding them wouldn't be pulled into a game, so Steve and Bucky played Goofspiel to pass the time. Steve was down, but not by much (he couldn't bluff at all, but Bucky couldn't bluff him), when Brinton returned.
"Come with me, please," he said, as Bucky tidied the cards away. They followed him through a network of hallways and up two flights of stairs; he stopped halfway down another hallway and turned to regard them keenly.
"Well, you don't look too disreputable," he sighed, and Steve was about to take offense when he turned and opened a pair of double-doors, gesturing them inside.
There was a fire going in a large room, which was full of decorative furniture and hung with blackout curtains over the windows. Lizbet was standing near the fireplace, looking extremely angry; there was a middle-aged man sitting in a chair across a wide expanse of carpet from the fireplace. He had a long, narrow face with arching eyebrows and vivid blue eyes; there was an unmistakable familial resemblance.
Brinton shut the doors behind himself. Bucky went to cross the carpet to Lizbet; Brinton slid around quickly and blocked him.
"Getting kinda tired of you, pal," Bucky growled.
"Brinton," the man in the chair said. Steve stared at him, eyes narrowed. He looked familiar. Brinton stood aside, and Bucky joined Lizbet in front of the fire, clearly checking to be sure she was okay.
"Well, nice to know your priorities are correct," the man in the chair said, standing. He was wearing the fanciest pyjamas Steve had ever seen, under a quilted dressing gown.
The penny, finally dropped.
"Captain," the man said.
"Your...majesty," Steve replied.
"Very good. It's sire thereafter. Awkward, I'm aware," King George said, giving him a mirthless smile. "This is my daughter Elizabeth. More properly Her Royal Highness Elizabeth, Princess of York."
"I'm so terribly sorry," Lizbet said, mostly to Bucky. "This is all a dreadful mistake."
"I see we agree on something," the king said drily.
"Father, this is absolutely -- "
"Necessary, Elizabeth," the king interrupted. "I'm sure once they understand, the Captain and Sergeant Barnes will agree."
"Princess," Bucky repeated. Steve understood how he felt.
"It's just utterly mortifying," Lizbet complained. Steve felt this was maybe understating things, but then she hadn't been the one put on house arrest in a medieval kitchen.
"You see, gentlemen, Elizabeth is my daughter," the king continued, looking almost indulgent in the face of her wrath. "She is my eldest and at the same time my baby. She is one heartbeat away from monarchy. When I die she will ascend th -- th -- th -- "
He closed his eyes, mouthed something to himself, and continued.
"Ascend the throne," he said. "I allowed her to join the service corps on the very strict condition that she keep herself far from combat, which I understand she has not done," he continued, a little temper starting to show through. "And that she comport herself with the utmost of decency and discretion, which remains to be seen."
"It was one dance -- !" Lizbet protested.
"I will not see you end up like your uncle!" the king retorted, wheeling on her. Bucky stepped in front of her. "Oh, don't bother with your chivalry!"
"I don't know what you call chivalry, in America we call it common decency," Bucky shot back. Steve readied himself to be the guy who let James Barnes take a swing at the King of England.
"Common decency! Taking my daughter to a dance hall! Keeping her out at all hours!"
"Hey, buster, nobody took Lizbet anywhere, she agreed all on her own!" Bucky retorted. "Just because I ain't got a title -- "
"You couldn't spell a title -- "
"Enough," Steve said, and to his shock, all three of them turned to him, startled. Well, he had a little more...boom in his voice than he used to, he supposed. "There's no call to say that kind of thing," he said to the king. "And you, keep your yap shut, you know you'd do the same if some fella you didn't know was stepping out with Becca," he added to Bucky, who looked taken aback. "And both'a'you better stop yelling over Lizbet's head as I think she knows her own mind well enough," he finished. Lizbet -- the princess, he supposed -- looked grateful.
"I'm not accustomed to that kind of address by Americans," the king observed.
"Well, no, I imagine not, but then most Americans aren't accustomed to bein' taken off the street for showing a lady a nice time," Steve replied. "I know you don't know us from Adam, but I'm not above trading on my reputation. And I think you know Captain America's got a condition where he doesn't like to lie."
The king narrowed his eyes. "True enough," he acknowledged.
"Then you won't mind me vouching for this one," Steve said, nodding at Bucky. "He might not be the most refined fella ever, but he wouldn't do wrong by a woman. If he wants to take a lady out for a dance, a dance is all he expects. And that's a promise from Captain America, on our honor as soldiers."
The king ran a hand over his face. "I'd rather have your honor as men; I've met soldiers," he said, a wry tilt to his mouth.
"That too," Steve replied. "Isn't that right, Buck?"
"Right," Bucky agreed, to Steve's relief. "Well, he is Navy, course he doesn't trust Army," he said to Lizbet in an undertone.
"You can understand my apprehension," the king said. "My family has not had the best luck with A -- A -- A -- "
Steve glanced at Lizbet, who looked agonized on her father's behalf.
"Americans," the king finished.
"Uncle Edward," Lizbet murmured to Bucky.
"Oh," Bucky said. "Yeah, that'd set a fella off, I guess."
"So I had to understand what your intentions were," the king continued hurriedly. "She is my daughter, Captain."
"Every lady's someone's daughter," Steve said. "We know that, sir. Sire," he corrected, wondering if Captain America really ought to address a king so respectfully. After all, about a hundred and fifty years ago they'd bucked all this nonsense back home.
"I'm glad you do. And my daughter has reminded me quite forcibly that while our lives are forefeit to the people, we do have a right to some decisions on our own," the king finished, sighing.
"Jim was a complete gentleman," Lizbet put in. Bucky gestured at her, a see? motion.
"I'm certain he was, my dear," the king replied. "But one mustn't take chances. Now, Elizabeth must stay at the palace tonight, and we can arrange -- " he began, but he was interrupted by the doors opening. A servant leaned through and whispered to Brinton, who Steve had totally forgotten was there.
"Sire," Brinton said, poker-faced. "Apparently there is a small platoon of soldiers attempting to infiltrate the east wing of the palace."
Bucky rubbed his eyes. Steve sighed.
"That'll be our ride," he said.
"The infamous Howling Commandos?" the king asked.
"Well, you let Peggy get away," Steve said to Brinton.
"A mistake I will not make again, Captain," Brinton said impertubably.
"Fine, fine. Brinton, deal with them; tell them their comrades will be released shortly," the king said irritably. "You had better go with him," he said to Steve. "And you," he added to Bucky.
"Go on," Lizbet said to Bucky quietly. "It'll all be fine, I promise. Father's really a dear when he's not being utterly old fashioned and horrible," she added, giving the king a significant look.
"She'll be back at her post tomorrow," the king said. "I expect you will comport yourselves like gentlemen."
"You'll understand when you have children of your own and they give you grey hair," the king replied. "Off with you, all three of you; to bed, Elizabeth."
Steve let Bucky and Elizabeth go first, following them out; in the hallway he and Brinton both pretended not to watch Bucky say goodbye, and then they were being hustled along towards the sound of shouting, which turned out to be Dum Dum having a furious fistfight with one of the palace guards while Peggy held off two more with the business end of a bayonet.
"Our heroes," Bucky remarked.
"Let's go keep them from being arrested for treason," Steve sighed.
My dear Captain,
I had meant to write to you before now, but I wasn't certain I ought; I know you must have had a great deal to adjust to, and those of us who took "the long road" from the war to the present day may be an uncomfortable reminder of your loss. I am so sorry for what you have suffered in sacrifice to your country, and yet I was so terribly pleased to hear you had been restored to us.
I write because I understand you have recovered Sergeant Barnes as well, and I simply could not let the occasion pass. I have such dear and fond memories of both of you as young men; young gods in my eyes, to be sure. Running about Europe with the Howling Commandos was the jolliest time any princess ever had, and I treasure those memories to this day. I am ever grateful to Jim for being such a gentleman and to yourself for smoothing over that incident with my father, which I'm sure you must remember. His heart was in the right place, old dear; as a mother, I understand that now.
Please do convey to Jim my condolences on his recent misfortunes and my happy memories of our brief time together during the war. If there is anything it is in my power to provide, don't hesitate to ask. Dear Brinton has passed on but his granddaughter currently fills the role and will be happy to act in your interests should you require. And, when you feel the time is right, you must come to visit. I should greatly enjoy reliving old times with both of you. If you write to me at this address the letter will arrive directly.
In my memories of you both I remain,
Junior Commander Lizbet Windham, Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service
Her Majesty Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith
Steve set the letter aside, folding it carefully up again, fingering the wax seal that had held it shut. It was very ornate. Bucky, on the other end of the couch, looked thoughtful.
"I remember that," he said.
"It was pretty memorable," Steve agreed.
"This is some next-level TMZ shit is what this is," Sam put in from the nearby chair, where he'd been listening to Steve tell the story with rapt attention. "You had a hot affair with the Queen of England," he said to Bucky, who gave him a small smile.
"She wasn't the queen then," Steve pointed out.
"She was going to be! And don't give me that you-didn't-know line, you knew, you fully knew after her dad the king hauled you in for the shovel talk," Sam said.
"She'd like you," Bucky said.
"Everyone likes me. I'm very likeable," Sam replied. "You're gonna take me along, right? I want to have tea with the Queen. I want a selfie with her. Think of my instagram," he told Steve, who grinned.
"She would like him," he said to Bucky. "I'll write her back. Should I tell her you say hi?"
"Yeah. Tell her I remember her," Bucky said. What he remembered and didn't remember was important to him, Steve knew. "Tell her she's still the classiest lady I know."