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Entrenchment

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Bucky was still asleep when Steve came back, in the exact same position Steve had left him. It was unsurprising, given that Madame Claremont had asked before he went up if mon Capitane would like dinner sent up again tonight, and if so, for how many, given that Messrs. Dernier and Dugan were out for the evening, and Messrs. Jones and Morita were (she said, euphemistically) dining privately. So he had told that good lady that a tray for two again was the height of perfection, merci mille fois, and he desired nothing more for his room but more soap, and to never have to leave the delights of her establishment.

(The French he'd picked up from Dernier was perfect for two things: commanding military maneuvers, and accurately describing the delights of French hospitality. The French everyone else had picked up from Dernier also encompassed the delights of French anatomy, but Steve relegated those words to comprehension only.)

So although Steve couldn't help but smile fondly at Bucky's sleep-mussed insensibility, he loosed the knot in his tie and put his cap aside slowly. With dinner coming, he couldn't return to where he was, lift Bucky's outflung arm and ease back under it. (Nor return to the bed differently, hover or slide over him, curl into his space gently or run hands over him, waking him up—not with dinner coming. Not even though Bucky lay so fully asleep on his back that his head overran the pillow, baring his throat and chin to the world, and the ends of his fingers curled up slightly, like they remembered hands that had laced with his.) In the name of discretion and country Steve draped his jacket over a chair, unlaced his shoes instead and placed them outside the door for cleaning, carefully unbuttoned his collar.

In the dim half-light the curtains decorously filtered before it reached the room, Bucky's chest rose and fell with trusting regularity. When Steve struck a match to light one of the gas lamps his expression gained a slight frown between his eyebrows, but that was all. The shadows disguised even the shadows under his eyes, the ones that made Steve feel guilty this morning about keeping Bucky awake for so long; he gets tired more easily than I do now.

Steve was running out of things to do, except undress further. He'd picked up clutter before he left, then delivered his neatly assembled laundry into the arms of the maid who'd arrived in the morning with his dress uniform, cleaned and pressed and shined as needed. Their shaving kits were laid out on the stand neatly, the rest of their kits repacked; his reports all written and, as of this afternoon, delivered into safe hands. What if dinner doesn't come for half an hour? he thought with sudden anxiety. Or longer?

"Just say it," Bucky announced without opening his eyes. "I can feel you staring. Am I gonna have to get up?"

Steve shook his head superfluously. "No, Buck," he said. His voice came out low, almost husky. "It's fine."

Bucky's prostrate form acquired suspicion around its eyes and mouth, although it was just as relaxed everywhere else. "What'd Phillips say?"

"Waiting on information," Steve assured him. "I ordered dinner up."

It was surely safe to go to the bed when his sergeant was scowling, about to prop himself up on an elbow and interrogate him dubiously about his trip to SSR Command. "Casualty reports in from Lynn's and the 107th?" Bucky demanded, and Steve extracted paper from his jacket and pulled the chair over.

Bucky pushed himself upright in bed and read through the lists with a terse hmph at the end of each. "Arnheim?"

"Still holding the bridge," Steve told him; and to his horror, found that the moment that face had turned towards him he'd learned forward, and kissed Bucky. "We have Il Giogo," he supplied, and kissed him again. Bucky's hand slid up into his hair. "Assault on Boulogne—"

None of these turned Bucky back to field reports. He breathed sharply and gripped Steve's neck when Steve turned his kisses to his neck, but asked nothing futher; no number of tidbits swayed him more heavily than Steve's small move to retreat, which brought his hand around to Steve's jaw, tracing a thumb under his ear.

"Then what's the bad news?" he breathed.

"That we have dinner coming," Steve murmured back. "I was trying not to be looking exactly like this when it came in."

"Oh, Steve," Bucky said, then shook with silent laughter. He pressed his lips to the other side of Steve's throat, murmuring low. "I think they already figured us out." He covered those hot, whispered words with his mouth, wet and deliciously cool.

Steve was finding it hard not to shiver himself into pieces as Bucky thumbed open a button on his shirt. "You think they care?"

"You liberate Paris, I think the only question they have is whether you want to eat at the table or in bed."

Steve's knees were finding the mattress, moving his body closer into Bucky's kisses. "We're eating at the table, right?"

"Everything except you," Bucky whispered, his other hand using the proximity to explore Steve's shirt-draped back. "I'm eating you right here."