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The Safest Place is Under You

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"Come in, Sergeant," Phillips called.

The figure that had been hovering outside the tent that passed for his office ducked inside. The Army uniforms made everyone look as much the same as possible, but Barnes and a handful of others had a patch on their shoulder that made them stand out. A red O. Phillips was of the opinion that if they were going to do that, they ought to make the alphas wear As and the betas wear Bs, but when did the Army actually listen to him?

Earlier that day, Phillips had shared with them some delightful news from the Army for mixed units, of which the 107th was one. Their supply route was cut off. They would no longer be able to get medical supplies to the front line for 3 months (more likely 6 months, Phillips thought), which included heat and rut suppressants, of which the 107th was almost out. So everyone was going to have to find ways to cope with the omegas going into heat and the alphas going into rut and the betas being sick and tired of all this rutting and heating. Phillips had crumpled up the paper at the end and gave his own pitifully inadequate word of advice - if you were an omega, find someone now to watch your back. If you were an alpha, keep your sweaty hands to your sweaty self. Like that was going to solve a damn thing.

So he had expected to see Barnes, the highest ranking omega in the 107th, who probably would tell him where to shove his advice. Well, he kind of deserved it, as a proxy of the US Army.

But, he didn't look angry. He looked … cleaned up. Shaved, his uniform at least all present if not pressed and strictly clean. Soap was being rationed, too. His hair had grown out quickly from the standard Army haircut, given they had been out here for months without a set of clippers, and though he'd slicked it back, his forelock kept trying to fall off to one side. So he at least wanted to bank on making a good impression. Phillips was reminded again that they'd only picked the biggest, strongest, healthiest omegas to draft. Well. Barnes was certainly. Healthy.

"Permission to speak freely, sir?" He had a trace of an accent. Northern. New York, maybe. He hadn’t heard the man talk much.

Phillips raised his eyebrows. "You gonna cuss me out?"

"No, sir."

"Am I gonna think different of you at the end of this rant than I do now?"

A pause. "Yes, sir."

"Then it's probably worth saying." Phillips waved at him. "At ease, Barnes, tell me what's on your mind."

Barnes relaxed some. "We have a situation."

"I'm aware."

"I don't think you are, sir, respectfully. None of the omegas are of a higher rank than me. Most of them are privates. That means there's a whole lot of alphas out there who outrank all the omegas."

He narrowed Barnes’ accent down. Definitely New York. Brooklyn? He frowned. "What's that got to do with the suppressant problem?"

Barnes' brow knit like the problem should be obvious. "Sir, they can ORDER the omegas to … well, to do whatever they want. And if the alphas are in rut -"

"They won’t get disciplined for giving shitty orders, not so long as nobody dies." Great. What a strategist he was, not putting that together. He rubbed his hands over his face. "Do you have a solution for me, Barnes, or just flogging the problem?"

"I do."

That was surprising. Phillips watched Barnes struggle internally with something, dropping his eyes. Those eyelashes just weren't fair. How dare he bring those into the army? You could weaponize lashes like that.

Finally he spoke. "Sir, I think every omega should be paired with the highest ranking alpha officers they can get to agree. Not just someone to watch their backs. They need temporary claims. That's the only thing that's going to prevent something terrible."

Phillips needed a drink. He stood up, paced back and forth, leaned against his desk, crossed his arms, like moving helped him think. "You’re asking me to replace one terrible thing with another terrible thing. I can't order omegas to take a mate, and they’re not supposed to have temporary claims in the ranks anyway, that’s a dishonorable discharge offense. You know that."

Barnes nodded. "I do. But you can make it a temporary field order. These are unforeseen circumstances. Their choices now - my choices, too - are dishonorable discharge for unseeming behavior in taking a temporary mate, taking a permanent mate, or staying unclaimed and taking their chances that they won't be attacked. You're the final authority out here, you can give them the option to take temporary mates from the officers’ ranks without the threat of a dishonorable discharge." He ticked the options off on his fingers. Phillips noticed his fingernails were trimmed and cleaned, too. He really was trying.

"Jesus H. Christ. You’re right. Okay. I'll … spend some time thinking about how I want to phrase this newest load of horse shit. Dear fellas, please pick a boyfriend, harlotry will be overlooked for the next fortnight." He huffed. Cutting his eyes to Barnes, he said, "Who d'you think you'll pick? Out of the dozens of assholes making up the 107th? I assume you have someone in mind."

Barnes shifted uncomfortably. "Frankly … you, sir."

He must have heard wrong. Did they have a Frank Lee Yuser? That sure sounded like a proposition. Coming from a man half - no, not even half, more like a third his age. Was he sure this wasn't a wet dream? Some old man's fantasy popping up like a dick in sweatpants to make him feel uncomfortable? He found his voice at last and could manage only to say, "WHY?"

"You're the highest ranking officer. There's no one here who'd dare touch your omega. By your side is the safest place there is, for the front lines." He paused. "And like you said. Everyone else is an asshole."

"I'm an asshole too."

"You'd be surprised."

"No, I probably wouldn't be," he said with a long-suffering sigh. “How old are you, anyway?”

“Twenty-six.”

“OOOHHHH GOD I COULD BE YOUR GRANDFATHER.” He covered his face with his hands and made a horrible noise. Well done, Phillips, very sexy.

Barnes hesitantly stepped closer to him. "Colonel -"

"Call me Chester if you're trying to get in my pants."

A crooked smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. Oh that wasn't fair at all. "Chester. I genuinely like you. You give a shit about your men. I don't think you'd abuse your power over an omega." He gave a half shrug. "And … I think you'd be a good lay."

Phillips laughed. "Oh son. Now you're fishing."

"Maybe. Maybe not." Barnes leaned against the desk next to Phillips, just inside his personal space. "I'm offering the only thing I have to give, which is my body. Offering freely. I think I'd enjoy it. I think you’d enjoy it. Sure, there’s an age difference between us, but I … I bet you still got it where it counts."

And the bastard dropped his eyes again, like the submissive, demure ragamuffin Phillips knew he absolutely was not. That little shit. That seductive vixen, wanting to - what, to stay safe in a fucking warzone? Like Phillips could fault him for that. Why the hell did they bring omegas into this, again?

“And dragging me dick-first into this scheme incentivizes me to go along with it, and the other omegas will be able to find protection too, with other officers,” Phillips observed. “Taking one for the team?”

“I like to think having me in your bed would be a perk, yes,” Barnes admitted. “But as for taking one for the team, getting laid with you is one I’m happy to take. I seem to be having trouble convincing you I’m completely willing, even looking forward to it. What will that take, sir?”

He tilted his head, knowing exactly how it showed off the clean, unmarked line of his neck. Mother fucker. His eyes drifted down Barnes' body. The man knew he was pretty. Beneath the dirty uniform was a young, responsive omega, about to go into heat, offering - damn near begging - to fuck him. What alpha could possibly say no? When was this ever going to happen again, in their probably-coming-up-on-expiration-date lives?

Barnes sensed his advantage, and ducked his head in close to Phillip's neck. Which put Barnes’ neck right at teeth level. "Sir - please - if you want me, you can have me."

Dammit. He grabbed Barnes by the back of his neck and pulled him away. "You stop that. You're gonna get me all riled here in a tent without -" He took a deep, steadying breath. "I'll - goddammit. Fine. I’ll be your alpha. For now. We'll … work out the details later."

Barnes nodded minutely, with Phillips' hand still gripping the hair at the base of his skull, and managed not to look triumphant. "Shall I move my cot to your tent, sir?"

In for a penny, in for a pound. "Sure. Why not. Now scram, you’ve just given me more work to do.”

Barnes left. He sat down at his desk. His pants felt a little tight. He stared at the stack of paperwork, about to grow exponentially. He was so fucked.

 

The day Barnes went into heat, Phillips could hardly think. The past three nights he'd stayed up late, purposely avoiding being in his tent until Barnes was asleep. The change in arrangements had missed absolutely no one, of course. Interestingly, even he noticed the shift in the 107th's attitude towards Barnes. They didn't wrestle him or jostle him or any of the casual touches common among soldiers. Barnes seemed perfectly happy to not be touched.

Until today. He managed to get through the day, mostly because there was a skirmish and almost all of the unit - Barnes included, he wasn’t going to let his dick start giving the orders - was gone on patrol until nightfall. They came back into camp, and Barnes went straight to Phillips' tent. Phillips followed him.

He came in as Barnes stripped off his uniform shirt, leaving him in a white ribbed tank. He would have smelled like heat anyway, but after being out in the field, covering mile after mile, his scent was almost overwhelming. How did his fellow soldiers keep their hands off of him?

Of course. He was taken. By their commanding officer. If he'd been paired up with a lesser rank, maybe they wouldn't have been safe around him. Barnes' logic was, like other things, rock solid.

Barnes turned around. He was heat-flushed, sweaty and dirty, and already looked like a sexy wreck of hormones. After several long stares from either side, he said hoarsely, "Sir, are you going to take me to bed or not?"

Oh fucking fine. Phillips crossed the room - such as it was, two steps - and hauled Barnes to him by the front of his shirt. He didn't kiss him. He sank his teeth into Barnes' neck, near where it met his shoulder. Barnes yelped, jerking in his arms, then sank against him. That lithe, strong body, up against him, moaning and trembling, arms around him, pulling him backwards. Phillips paused long enough to get a look at the bite. Yes, that would be plenty visible, would just show beneath a collar, reminding people that this one had a claim on him. He turned gentle, kissing and nibbling his way up Barnes' neck, reveling in his sweet scent, like cloves and ginger and healthy, young, fertile, willing, horny omega.

“Barnes,” Phillips said.

“Ngh,” Barnes said, somehow getting his boot off with one hand while standing. Neat trick.

“BARNES.”

Using more of a command voice had gotten through to him. Barnes’ eyes cleared; he was paying attention.

Phillips cupped his cheek. “You don’t have to do this. You can say stop now, I’ll go take a cold shower, we can both sleep in my bed and you can go out tomorrow with a claim bite and my scent all over you. Getting me off is not a prerequisite.”

Barnes looked mightily offended. He practically snarled. “Have I not made it clear? I want your cock in me, NOW.”

Well that was plain enough. Somehow, he got the buckle of that infernal belt undone, and his own infernal belt, and the three remaining boots. Barnes laid down on his back in Phillips’ bed of his own damn volition, reaching out his hand to grab Phillips and drag him down, too. Phillips managed to shuck off the rest of his clothes before he hit the mattress, then Barnes pulled him down and

Kissed him

And kissed him

And moaned when Phillips slid his tongue in, whimpered when Phillips groped him, feeling the lines of that beautiful young body beneath him. Then, oh fuck he was so fucked, Barnes moved one leg aside

And

Oh shit, he was spreading his legs, encouraging - Encouraging! - Phillips to lay between his legs, to lay on top of him, and Barnes threw his head back and cussed when he felt Phillips' cock hard against his own. He was lost. He rocked his hips, rubbing his long-neglected cock against Barnes', reveling in his body heat, his scent, the noises he was making, the feel of bare skin under Phillip's hands. Phillips was going to have to endure some chuckles tomorrow, Barnes had no compunction about being heard.

“Do you have condoms?” Barnes asked, a little belatedly.

“I do. But we’ve both been tested, thanks to the army, and I got snipped some time ago. No more procreation for me. So, there’s not really a compelling reason to use them, unless you would just rather; I will if you like.”

“Naw. Good enough for me,” Barnes said.

Phillips slid a hand between them. He stroked Barnes’ cock expertly; cupped his' balls, feeling them and stroking them, then moved farther along, to the delicate spot behind his balls, gently rubbing, listening to Barnes moan.

"Oh god, lower, please," Barnes gasped, and Phillips could not deny him such a simple request.

If Barnes had been a male alpha or beta, he'd have just had a cock. If he'd been a female omega or beta, he'd have had just a pussy. But male omegas and female alphas had it both ways. Phillips let his finger sink slowly into Barnes' pussy between his balls and his ass, and watched in wonder as Barnes shook beneath him. He fingered him slowly, watching his reactions, but Barnes was already sopping wet and Phillips could feel his pulse in his pussy. So it was no surprise when Barnes choked, "Please, Chester, fuck me, I need it inside me - "

Well. Who was he to deny someone who asked so politely?

He lined up his cock and slowly slid the tip inside Barnes, watching as Barnes opened his legs wider, arched his back, and asked, tremblingly, for more. He meant to go slowly, but Barnes hooked his legs behind Phillips and dragged him forward. Christ, he was strong. His cock sank into Barnes in one smooth motion, making both of them cry out.

All notions of being gentle and slow left him. Phillips grabbed Barnes' wrists, pinned them to the mattress, and snapped his hips forward and back, driving into this beautiful, young omega who wanted him for some unfathomable reason, who was saying yes over and over. It felt so good, felt so unbelievably good to fuck him, to rock back and forth on top of him, like he hadn't done with any omega for how many years? Too many years.

HIS omega. HIS. Begging to be fucked. Couldn't spread his legs open wide enough to ask for Phillips' cock. Gasping in pleasure and asking for more, more, more. Phillips gave it to him. If he had no other advantage over young men, it was endurance, and knowing what the hell he was doing. He brought him to climax easily, watching him shudder in pleasure for not much more than a few moments before he was driving back into him. He loved that Barnes came easily. He was going to chase that.

He flipped Barnes over, and his sweet little (not so little) omega obligingly raised his ass up, head down against his arms on the mattress, knees spread wide. He watched wonderingly as his cock penetrated his omega’s pussy, slow this time, making him feel every inch, until Barnes was rocking back at him, begging for more. Phillips gave it to him, but at his own pace, thank you very much. He knew exactly how to stroke from this angle to hit the most pleasurable spots inside his omega, and he was relentless in stoking that fire. He reached around and pumped his omega's cock in time with his own, until he felt the muscles tighten around his cock and warm wetness spread over his hand. His omega cursing up a storm beneath him was a good indication he liked what was going on, too.

Barnes collapsed under him, sweating and shaking. "Oh my god," he croaked, "no one's ever gotten me to come both ways at once before. Holy shit."

Phillips settled his weight over Barnes' back and kissed and nipped over the back of his neck. "Well, you were right. Experience is good." He waited until Barnes was breathing normally, then began again.

He rode him at least another hour, bringing his omega to climax as many times as he could before he couldn't stand it any more, he sped up, driving into his omega almost desperately, and finally spilling into him, still pumping his cock into that hot pussy. He thought he might have a heart attack.

He laid beside Barnes, catching his breath. God that had been good. He hadn't had sex like that in way too long. When his breathing was normal again, he rolled over towards Barnes, who rolled to face away from him - which was alarming only for a moment, until Barnes snuggled back against him, for Phillips to spoon him. Why yes, he would happily rub his cock against that magnificent ass all night long, even if he wasn't "up" for anything else that night.

"Chester?" Barnes said, softly, after blowing out the light.

"Yeah, Barnes."

"You ought to call me Buck."

"... Ok."

"And hey."

"Yeah?"

"That was … really good. Like, it was really fucking good."

He smiled, and kissed the back of Bar - Buck's neck. What a fucking catch.

 

Phillips wasn’t supposed to overhear. He’d slunk off behind the showers to have a cigarette and finish his coffee without someone interrupting his thoughts. It was cold, and wet, and his body was complaining that it was too cold, too wet, and he’d spent the last several weeks trying to keep with the libido of a 26 year old, what was he thinking?

“So we’re supposed to follow your lead then,” Phillips heard from inside the showers, which were not running. Amateurs, if they really didn’t want to be overheard they should have started the showers.

Then, Barnes’ voice, of all people. “You are absofuckinglutely supposed to do exactly that, if you would like to remained unraped and alive.”

What?

“It’s disgusting. The colonel is - he’s so old! There’s what, a 50 year age gap?”

“We’re not picking out curtains, dumbass. I’m hot, he’s protection, it’s an exchange. And to my delighted surprise, he’s really good. Don’t knock what you ain’t tried.”

Oh, the Brooklyn accent was coming out. Barnes was getting mad.

“You fucking whore.”

“What, because I’m trading on my body? How exactly is offering my body for sex worse than offering my body for warfare? I wager you haven’t known desperation like I have, made the kind of choices I’ve had to make.”

“Yeah right! I’ve been through some shit. I didn’t get into any of the colleges I wanted to-“

“Shut the fuck up. I left my family in a three room slum in the bad part of Brooklyn, with my sisters still in school, my ma and dad working shit dead end jobs, and Steve not able to work at all cuz his health is trashed. I had an ok job at the docks, but I knew sooner or later I’d get hurt, or they’d use me up and throw me out. Still selling your body, still gotta live with what it does to you. You know what happened when I got drafted? I got put on Army payroll, and that’s HALF what I made at the docks. HALF. I send it all back to my family, but it’s not gonna be enough. Not for six people. So I volunteered for the front lines, cuz that’s more. If I get killed, they get my pension, which makes me literally worth more dead than alive. I’m STILL selling my body, but to the Army this time. And you think you can get on my case for trading sex for a little security?” Barnes laughed. It was cold and harsh, like a fox’s bark.

“My dad always said there was work to be had for whoever really wanted it. So if your folks can’t support all the kids they’ve pumped out -“

The private did not get to finish that sentence. From the sound of it, he didn’t even get punched, but slapped, a smart smack and the sound of booted feet on time stumbling backwards.

Barnes’ voice was low; Phillips could barely make it out. “I put my body on the line so you and the other omegas would have the option of getting temporary claims. You don’t have to show me any gratitude, but you’re sure as hell not going to spite me, you little bitch. You got any sense, you’ll pick an officer and throw yourself in his bed. Or when you go into heat, you better run. Your most dangerous enemy isn’t out there, he’s in the ranks beside you.”

Phillips listened to Barnes’ boots clomp across the tiled floor and out the front door. His cigarette had burned down to ash, and his coffee had gone cold. He threw out the dregs and walked miserably to his tent.

 

“You don’t have to do this. And you really don’t have to call me sir.”

Barnes looked up at him, surprised. He was on his back, legs spread, and didn’t appear to be the least bit reluctant. But Phillips had to make this clear. Barnes grinned, all foxish mischief, and wriggled against him. “What if I like calling you ‘Sir’ in bed?”

“You’re kinky.”

“Lil bit, yeah.” Then he caught the serious look on Phillips’ face. “Hey now. I’m enjoying myself too here, if you haven’t noticed.” He rocked his hips, expertly sliding his cock along Phillips’. The boy was a fast learner.

Phillips leaned down to kiss him, ignoring his aching cock and it’s insistence that it would like to fucking their omega now. “I just gotta get this across to you. I’m your alpha, you got claiming marks all over your neck. I really like banging you, boy, but I don’t want to be the dirty old man you feel revulsion for every time you think of me years from now -“

Barnes locked limbs around him and flipped them over. God, he was strong. Phillips forgot how big he was. Now, Barnes looked over him, dark hair falling around his face. He was so fucking beautiful.

“Chester. I wanna fuck you. When the notion occurred to me, it was mostly for protection, yes. But now, I know I don’t have to. I’m here because I want to be. I promise. I don’t know what else I can do to show it, so you’ll just have to trust me.” He kissed him, and it was sweet, and slow, and warm. He lined up Phillips’ cock and sank down onto it, making them both moan with relief and pleasure. Phillips grasped his cock too, to stroke it as Barnes rode him. It was so much fun, having a male omega. Best of all worlds.

He watched Barnes rock up and down, riding his cock steady and slow, speeding up gradually. By the time Barnes was crying out his name and shaking and coming, Phillips was coming too, and thoroughly convinced his omega had quite enough genuine enthusiasm.

 

One of the alpha officers was the second to find the body. The flies had found him first.

He had been Private Carl Bankman, an omega that had gone into heat the day before, and they’d killed him behind the showers, the very spot Phillips had escaped to a few days before. Phillips thought, horribly, they probably had the sense to turn the showers on, to drown out the noise.

He didn’t need to read the coroner’s report to know what they’d done to him before they’d killed him. He read it anyway, as a sort of self-flagellation. He should have ordered them to take a mate, instead of just approving it. Well, they’d all be scrambling for mates now.

When Barnes found him at the mess hall and sat down beside him, Phillips said, “I hate it when you’re right,” without looking at him.

“I woulda loved to be wrong,” Barnes said. He’d just gotten a cup of coffee and a piece of bread; unlike him. He put his head on his arms, folded on the table.

“You feel ok?”

“No. I didn’t like the guy, but what a shitty way to die.”

“It is.” Phillips rubbed Barnes’ back, and kissed the top of his head.

Barnes turned to look at him and smiled. “Thank you for being my alpha. Protecting me from that.” When Phillips waved it off, he pressed, “I feel safe with you. That’s no small thing.”

Maybe. But it was awful that it had to be a thing at all. Fucking humans.

 

“James Buchanan Barnes, B-A-R-”

“I can spell,” Phillips interrupted Steve Rogers. He rubbed a hand over his mouth. Of course Rogers would know Barnes. Of course. Naturally. Did everyone from Brooklyn know each other? He’d even heard Barnes mention a sickly Steve. Fuck. And Barnes would have no idea Phillips had been involved with putting Rogers through a science experiment.

“The name’s familiar,” Phillips said. It was the truth, wasn’t it? “I’m sorry.” Yeah, he was sorry for a lot of shit. He was sorry he’d been fucking the kid before sending him off to die. Sorry for the pain on Rogers’ face now. Sorry the US Army had let omegas in at all. Sorry they were in a war, sorry he’d joined the military, sorry for having been born. Everything felt like a big whopping regret at the moment.

He couldn’t even bring himself to tell Rogers he’d been Barnes’ alpha. What could he say? That Rogers wasn’t the only one who gave a shit? That Phillips would LOVE to go rampaging over into Germany and take his omega back? That there were a dozen other omegas taken and a dozen other alpha officers ready to lose their shit at the Furher, personally? Hell, Rogers was probably his real alpha. Shit, that worked - Rogers was so desperate to get big and strong and fit and go into the Army. So he could follow his omega. Of course. And Barnes had already showed he didn’t much care about physical differences. The big (huge, by omega standards), powerful, beautiful omega who’d take a senior citizen for an alpha could easily take a 90 pound sickly shrimp for an alpha.

He’d even mentioned a Steve who was sick. Goddammit.

He couldn’t remember, later, what he said to Rogers to get him the hell away.

 

And he couldn’t remember later what he said to Rogers when he came marching triumphantly back into camp, having retrieved not only his own omega but everyone else’s. How about that for alpha of the year.

But that look Barnes had on his face when he looked at Rogers. Barnes had sure as hell never looked at him like that. Well. He’d stay out of the way. Even with his claim marks still over Barnes’ neck.

It was agreed by all parties that Rogers would take an elite force behind enemy lines to go after the Hydra bases. Phillips knew without asking who the second in command would be. What a group Rogers was going to put together, from the list he gave them - a Frenchman, a black man, an Asian man, an omega, wow, they might as well call them The Melting Pot Squad. It was something of a promotion for Barnes. Still, he’d miss the kid. And not just in the bedroom.

He was about to turn in when the tent flap moved. Huh. It was Barnes. He looked terrible, even after being cleaned up, with dark hollows around his eyes and a haunted look that Phillips suspected would never really go away.

Phillips managed a smile. “Sure am glad to see you back safe and sound.”

“Well. Safe, anyway. And sound from the neck down.” He tried to make it into a joke, but dropped it when Phillips didn’t laugh.

Phillips crossed the room to him and cupped his cheek. “I never meant to get attached to you. We always knew this was temporary.”

“I know.” But he leaned into the touch and sighed. A little bit of the tension ran out of his shoulders.

Phillips ran his fingers over the claim marks on Barnes’ neck. “Hope you didn’t catch too much grief from Rogers about that.”

Barnes shrugged. “Nah. He knows a little bout what it’s like out here.”

He hadn’t taken Rogers for being terribly flexible. A man could still surprise him. “You going with him?”

“Yeah. Steve’s an idiot; he’s strong now, but he doesn’t know shit about real warfare.”

Phillips smiled. “He’ll do fine, with an omega like you looking out for him.”

Barnes frowned, then looked confused. “Wait. Do you think Steve is my alpha?”

“Is he not?”

Barnes laughed, and reeled Phillips in. “No! Steve - he - well you see, he … likes other alphas. Alpha women, if he has his choice about it. Which is exactly the opposite of what I am.”

“Oh,” Phillips says. “Oh!”

“He’s as close as a brother, but he doesn’t want a piece of this.” He brushed his lips over Phillips’, then said, “Don’t worry, sir. I’ll be your omega still, for now, til I’m not anymore. It can be what it is, for as long as it lasts, and that’s ok.”

Phillips drew him into a tight embrace. He’d take what he could get, as long as they could get it.