Ridiculous, the both of them.
Did Steve even know he called out James's ridiculous nickname in his sleep? Likely not; Steve was lovely, and brilliant at all the things he was meant to be brilliant at, such as inspiring feats of valor and concocting wild schemes to injure Hydra supply lines at their most vulnerable points. Self-knowledge, however, was not exactly his strong suit.
And poor James. He reminded Peggy of her uncle Lucian, who carried the Great War like a wound behind his eyes her whole childhood and sometimes wept at the dinner table at Christmas. Sweet uncle Lucian, always happier playing with the littles than choking on cigar smoke in Father's study, until he choked one final time on his own belt on Armistice Day in 1931.
James already had the same wound in his eyes, and his war wasn't even over yet. It wouldn't be over until Steve let them both go home. Or, God forbid, anything happened to Steve. That would be James's last day, too, she had no doubt.
"And you've been an idiot about it," she told the cracked piece of mirror she had propped up on the trunk that served as a dressing table—cum—tea table in the cubby she called her quarters. (She was pretty sure it had previously been a broom closet.)
Every time she thought back to that night in Lyon, the way she and Steve had pretended that James was asleep in the bed on the other side of the room, when the very thought was laughable. That had been part of the thrill of it – the need to stay quiet, the risk of observation. But they hadn't been silent, by a long shot. Of course he'd been awake.
James was sweet enough to pretend nothing had happened.
Was that the beginning of it? Perhaps.
Steve always spoke of James as if every girl within a two-mile radius was wrapped securely around his little finger. She herself had no time for the glib and the charming. A war was on, and she had enough trouble maintaining her role in it without wasting energy on flirtation. And it's not as if James had made a good first impression, with his half-drunken swagger, out of uniform in a way too haphazard to flatter.
But anywhere Steve was, James was bound to be close behind. It had annoyed her at first, their sarcastic third wheel. Peggy had pushed back a few times – suggested brief detours à deux during their returns to base, or dragging Steve into barely-dark corners to muss her lipstick.
"Come on, Buck," Steve always said, taking for granted that James would follow.
Frowning, the few times James bowed out of dinner for three in favor of joining the Howlers' rotating decimation of all other units' treat supplies via poker.
And even when James did join them, he was always three steps behind, or filling doorways with his slender frame, hiding her and Steve from prying eyes.
Peggy had noticed this only gradually. Had noticed even more gradually that her general sense of irritation in James's presence had been replaced by something kinder. Had finally noticed that his eyes were a lighter blue than Steve's, that his thinness gave a Classical cast to the lines of his face.
She had noticed that, in briefings when Steve's ideas grew particularly alarming, James wore a frown that she felt reflected on her own face. That he always had a cigarette to offer her. That if she mentioned missing things from life before – butterscotch boiled sweets, real cream, or a proper tortoiseshell comb – like as not she'd get it eventually, out of Steve's hands with a stammer and that adorable half-smile of his. But she knew damn well Steve had about as many connections for contraband items as said tortoise. After its shell had been removed.
So. It bore thinking, Steve's friend James. The brash, hen-pecking drunkard that he showed the world and the haunted, thoughtful man whom she glimpsed at the edges.
It bore rather more thinking than Steve might've liked, culminating in one very muddy day, a pair of new-to-her boots that were a touch too large, and Peggy pitching sideways ever so briefly, until righted by James's hand on her arm.
She looked down at those long, pale fingers and felt herself ignite.
"Oh dear," she thought.
"Watch yourself, Carter," James said in his soft, slightly gravely voice.
"I'll make you call me Peggy," her traitorous brain thought.
There was no cure for that but to run Steve down and climb all over him like a wanton.
James sat outside the tent flap, cleaning his guns and keeping everyone else away.
Added to which:
"Bucky," Steve said at night, in his sleep, "don't go, Buck."
Or, "Ya gotta take me with you Buck," in all those flat Brooklyn vowels.
Peggy watched James. She watched James watch Steve. She watched Steve watch her, except:
It took some time, but she saw it. When Steve was tired, especially, when his accent thickened and his posture slumped a little. Then it wasn't Peggy he looked for. It was James.
Those poor boys.
Didn't they read The Iliad in America? Maybe they hadn't known anyone like her first cousin once removed, Christopher Hanney, Baron of Kirkdale, and his "special friend," Domhnall MacAuley. She'd always liked cousin Domhnall. A marvelous dancer.
Well. It was wartime, wasn't it? They could all die tomorrow; there was no sense in putting anything off. If everything went to hell in a handcart, well – Steve and James would leave for a new mission any day now, and they'd all have time to lick their wounds. And as much money as she'd paid in Paris to get that little India-rubber device fitted, she might as well put it through its paces.
"Life's for the living," cousin Christopher used to say.
"You must cherish beauty at every chance," Uncle Lucian said not long before he died, "it's all so fleeting."
Right, then. To it.
What a relief. At last here was something normal: his ears weren't working right. Christ, it'd be back to the labs after this one, and another gallon and a half of blood donated to the bone brigade.
First, though, he had to figure out what in the hell Peg was trying to actually tell him.
"I said," and then she pinched his left nipple for emphasis, and Jesus fuck, lady, that was not gonna help with his comprehension, "don't you think we should invite James next time?"
"Invite him to what?"
Because the only thing he could think to invite Bucky to was this, and that was – not possible.
Peg pinched him again.
Lucky for him, unlucky (or maybe not) for her, it was no trouble to wrap her up, flip over, and hold her down so those clever little fingers of hers couldn't cause any more trouble. For a minute or two, anyhow.
"What are you talking about, Peggy?" he asked.
But she was wriggling underneath him, which made conversation seem like a pretty dull option, so Steve worked at the spot just over her collarbone until her breath caught.
She got one hand free and slapped his arm.
"Stop it, I'm trying to talk to you," she said.
"Sure," Steve agreed, and moved forward a bit so the length of him brushed through the curls between her legs.
She shivered, and he grinned in the dark.
Her bringing out his full name and the school-marm voice was generally a bad sign. He rolled to the side and tried to keep his sigh silent.
"No, stop," she said, her voice sounding high all of a sudden.
Peggy pulled at him until he rolled back on top of her, and she tugged him down, rested her face at the crook of his neck.
"What is it?"
"Dammit, I felt so brave a moment ago! I can't believe you're making me say this again."
Oh, right. Inviting Bucky to something.
"Invite him to what, sweetheart?"
Peggy wriggled and made a little frustrated growl. Pretty terrific, and if she didn’t look out, they were going to get off topic again real quick.
"This, you idiot," she hissed.
Steve briefly took a tour outside his body, to some place that was utterly still, and colder than Hell's Kitchen in February.
Invite Bucky? To?
"Steve," she said, with enough worry in her voice to bring him back inside his own skin.
Skin, he noted, that was in no way … diminished by her suggestion.
"Steve, say something."
Silence stretched out between them, magnified by the darkness and how incredibly damn awkward it was to be having this conversation naked in a child's bedroom in a requisitioned farmhouse outside Metz with Bucky downstairs.
"Damn, I've ruined it," Peggy said eventually. "I was so sure."
She pushed at him, and Steve rolled to the side, sat up. Grasped her wrist when she tried to leave the bed.
The inside of his brain was so completely still, so completely quiet, without one single thought in it.
"Just. Give me a second," he said.
Peggy leaned against him, and he could feel her shivering in the cold. He wrapped his arm around her, pulled the quilt up to cover her, and she clung to him in a way she rarely allowed herself to. He could see it, how hard she worked to maintain that tough exterior. He knew how she had to claw and fight for every scrap of everything she had.
"Tell me what you were sure about," he said.
Just to put some sound into that enormous well of silence inside his head.
"I thought," she said, and put her head against his arm, as if trying to hide her face, even though it was so dark that even he couldn’t see, with his miraculous eyes.
Downstairs, the Howlers laughed. Steve told himself that he could distinguish Bucky's laugh from among the general sound. He always told himself that.
"I thought perhaps you. And James. Wanted to. And I. Well. I'm amenable."
She thought perhaps he. And Bucky.
Dernier had blown up a dam once, in Italy near the Swiss border. Steve remembered the soft whump of the explosion, far away, followed by a long silence. Just when Dugan had shifted, clearly working up to a joke, Steve remembered feeling the air shift, like there was a sound he couldn’t quite hear that rose up into a rumble he did hear. Then the dam had cracked, and in the space of three heartbeats, one jet of water became a tower of it, roaring down the valley.
Peggy thought he wanted – that was the rumble.
She thought they both wanted – that was the crack.
Peg was “amenable.”
The inside of his brain broke open.
God, they hadn’t touched each other since they were 14 years old, their ritual of awkward hand jobs brought to a screeching halt the day Bucky skidded to their after-school meeting spot 10 minutes late, red-faced and announcing that he had just kissed Mary-Margaret Branty in the cloakroom.
Steve could remember it like yesterday, that sensation of his belly dropping into his shoes, thinking “that’s it, then.”
Praying that night, like he did every night, that he might actually grow.
And later that week, Bucky reaching up to pull him down onto the pile of couch cushions, like usual, one hand on Steve’s arm and the other at the waist of his pajamas, and Steve had said,
“No, Buck. We can’t do that anymore.”
But Peggy thought he wanted.
Why would she think that?
Did it fucking matter why?
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and all the saints, she wanted to bring Bucky to bed with them.
Did he want.
He could see it clear enough to draw it, all of a sudden: Bucky and Peg. Bucky putting his mouth on her. Bucky grinning at that little growl Peg sometimes made.
Bucky, as pink-cheeked and disheveled as Peggy ever was, afterward, breathless and shaking his head.
Jesus goddamn Christ.
Steve reached out and pulled her hand over until she wrapped it around him; he was hard enough to break a fucking diamond.
“Oh,” she said, and stroked him slowly.
Steve swallowed a groan and summoned just enough control to keep his voice steady.
“I am also amenable,” he said.
Then she laughed, and the discussion was tabled for a time.
Couple of fucking weirdos.
The hell did they keep staring at him for?
His first assumption – that he was finally losing his hair and turning red – didn’t explain it. So far as he could tell in every nearby reflective surface, he looked the same as ever. Maybe a little tired. Too thin, but that’s because he could never seem to get enough food in him, even with the extra Steve always brought him from the officers’ mess.
So what the hell.
Every time he looked up, it seemed like either Carter, Steve, or both of them were looking at him with spooky little smiles on their faces, like they had some big secret they couldn’t wait to tell him.
Bucky, who never could convince anybody that he wasn’t nearly as smart as he looked, took 3 weeks to figure it out.
They were gonna get hitched.
It was the only thing he could figure that would make the two of them so giddy.
And it was – not a surprise, he told himself very sternly, bathing in water that was lukewarm if you thought of it generously, in a rattletrap outfit that called itself a “camp” 30 miles from the butthole of nowhere.
Sure. Peggy Rogers. That had a nice ring to it.
He’d be best man, of course. And godfather to their first kid, if they knew what was good for them.
He’d been waiting for this since about 5 minutes after he met Carter.
Since about 5 seconds after he first laid eyes on her, watching the way Steve looked at her, like she was the only person around, despite the gigantic goddamn crowd that surrounded them.
Well, not like he hadn’t had time to get used to the idea. And not like it was any kind of surprise, given the number of times he’d guarded doorways, tent flaps, and shadowy corners in the previous 2 years.
Those two fucking went at it like rabbits. Jesus, Bucky would’ve married the girl a hundred times already, just to lessen the fright. If anything happened to her, even the shield wouldn’t protect Steve from sullying the reputation of Britain’s number one lady agent. Number only lady agent.
The Howling Commandos went off into the woods and mountains and blew the holy hell out of a bunch of Hydra supply depots and a couple of weapons factories. Steve spent 15 seconds staring at burning paperwork and came back with enough important knowledge in his head to earn them all 4 days’ leave – and they weren’t too far from Lille.
“Come on, Buck,” Steve said. “I’ve requisitioned a jeep. And button your jacket right, Christ.”
Bucky redid the buttons on his jacket. His fingers never could seem to do it correctly on the first try. Carter was in the front seat of the jeep, looking as neat as ever.
Bucky checked his jacket. He didn’t want to look like an asshole at their damn wedding. Afterward, he could get drunk, even if it took all the liquor in town.
Carter smiled at him as he swung into the back.
“All right, James?”
They bounced into town. Lille was a city of rectangles, so tidy it could almost be Dutch. It was close enough to Christmas that there were green boughs strung everywhere. Even in the middle of all this shit, people were trying to celebrate.
Bucky shoved aside the sinking feeling in his guts. It was a stupid feeling, anyhow. Lille wasn’t too much damaged by bombing, and it still carried a feeling of lightness on account of its recent liberation from the Germans. It was Christmas time. A good time for a wedding. Everybody needed to take what little happiness they could find, these days.
Steve parked the jeep.
“We’ll have to walk a bit from here,” he said.
Bucky took up his usual spot several paces behind them. Carter held Steve’s arm, and they walked close together, one of them looking back every few paces or so to smile at him.
They looked nice together. Easy.
Bucky had to smile at it. All those years he’d tried, cajoled, begged girls to bring their friends along, hoping one of them would be smart enough to see Steve for who he was – the best guy alive.
Now that he was a Charles Atlas lookalike, girls were pretty much drawn to Steve like bees to honey, but Carter seemed to get it. She’d known Steve before. She understood that it wasn’t about the muscles. It was about the quality.
So yeah. He’d stand up with them, sign the marriage certificate, and be honestly happy for them. Nobody would mind if he had to get a little drunk and a lot laid there at the beginning, just to get used to the idea.
They stopped in front of a café.
“This okay, Buck?” Steve asked.
The place was in decent shape – a damn sight better than most places they stumbled into. Their electricity was working, and if the velvet covering the chairs was a little worn, the lights were low enough that it was easy to overlook that and the gilt paint rubbed off on the edges.
Food was good too. Nothing too fancy, but whoever ran the joint clearly had some friends in high places, because Steve kept ordering and food kept coming. They drank several bottles of wine that were probably way too fancy for their mook palates, until Bucky felt actually satisfied for the first time in months. Carter kept telling hilarious stories about growing up around fancy people, and Steve kept smiling at her. The room was warm, his belly was full, and he felt.
He felt good.
When’s the last time he felt good?
“We keeping you up, Bucky?” Steve asked, and Carter choked on her wine.
“Shut up, Rogers,” Bucky said and switched out his empty glass for Steve’s full one.
By the time Steve paid the ridiculous bill for their meal, Bucky felt as close to drunk as he’d been able to get since Azzano, and that was counting the 3-day bender just afterward where he drank everything he could get his hands on, up to and including aftershave.
Outside the café, Steve pulled Carter close and kissed her hard. Bucky was just drunk enough to watch. His cock twitched. His hands itched.
“Come on, Buck,” Steve said, grinning.
God, his signature on that marriage certificate was gonna be a mess. A permanent opportunity for them to yank his chain.
Bucky lurched up the street after them – not even a block. Weird-looking place for a judge’s office, and definitely not a church. Bucky followed inside. He waited in a hallway with Carter, who smiled at him so much that for one vertiginous moment he thought he might kiss her, wouldn’t that have been terrific, and then followed the two of them up a narrow flight of stairs.
At the top of the stairs, Bucky’s brain turned back on, and he recognized the door for what it was – the door to a hotel room.
He looked around for a couch or something. There’d be somewhere he could lie down until they were done.
“Come on, James,” Carter said, and slipped her cold hand into his.
“Come on where?”
“Come in, Buck,” Steve said.
Bucky stared at the two of them: Carter smiling, Steve staring with. Okay, if he didn’t know any better, he’d swear that Steve was staring at him with – intent.
Carter pulled, and Steve pushed, and Bucky found himself inside the room with them.
And then Carter kissed him, her mouth tasting rich from all the wine and her tongue darting out to touch his. She sucked a little on his bottom lip before she let go, and Bucky stifled the sound that tried to come out of him, but he couldn’t quite stop himself from the way he leaned in to keep the contact going just a little longer.
What the hell.
What the hell.
Carter’s smile could light up a city.
He spun around to look at Steve, who was. Who was also smiling.
What the ever-living fuck.
“I dunno, Peg. Bucky looks a little red in the face. Maybe we should get him out of that jacket,” Steve said.
What the fuck.
“I believe you’re right, Steve.”
Because reality had stopped working right, Bucky stood still while Steve – while Steve undid the buttons on his jacket and Carter reached up with her little hands to slide it off his shoulders.
He looked at Steve. Steve was always the instigator. The idea man.
Steve nodded at him. Grinned. So whatever the goddamn fuck was going on in this hotel room was okay, even if it was the weirdest thing he’d ever let himself not even think about.
“Let’s look at you, James,” Carter said, turning him.
He didn’t stand quite at attention, but he let her inspect him. She looked at him like she liked it. Like he was worth looking at. Like he didn’t have bugs crawling under his skin or a million scars or nightmares haunting every step.
"Gorgeous," she said.
She stepped to him and put one cool hand on his cheek, and Bucky couldn’t help but close his eyes. It was as soothing as milk. Her lips weren’t cool. Her little mouth was hot and eager. Bucky drowned in it for a while, until he felt Steve’s hand on his back, and the strangeness of the whole thing rose up, and next thing he knew he was four feet away from them, panting to catch his breath while Steve and Carter looked at him, each with an identical crease between their eyebrows.
“Water closet,” he croaked, and fled.
The hallway was cooler than the room. The WC was uninsulated, and freezing. Pissing and the cold cleared his head a little.
Okay, the two of them had lost their damn minds, but that was okay, he could handle it. Steve had been a crazy person their whole lives, and of course Carter was just as bad. He would just go back in there and explain to them that they were a couple of stupid dumbasses, and then he’d find a nice couch somewhere and pretend that he was able to sleep instead of lying around with an erection the size of a fucking Christmas tree.
Bucky splashed icy water onto his face and stomped back to the room, ready to lecture himself blue in the face, except that he walked in the door, and the two of them looked up from their kiss, Steve’s jacket half undone and Carter’s blouse actually off, and they both – smiled. At him.
Bucky felt dizzy again, and he wasn’t convinced it was the wine.
“Come here,” Carter said, and Barnes moved without thinking. Stood in front of her, where she sat. On the bed.
“Sit,” she said, patting the quilt.
“Now, James,” Carter said, one hand combing through his hair and the other smoothing the front of his shirt, “I thought for a minute that you wouldn’t come back. Wasn’t that silly of me?”
He couldn’t stop staring at the neckline of her slip, shiny pink next to her pale skin.
He closed his eyes. If she kept her fingers in his hair like that, he might agree to anything.
Then she grasped hard, and he made a sound that he hoped nobody would describe as a whimper.
“Was it silly?” she repeated.
He tried to nod, but her hand was damn strong.
“Yes,” he choked out in a whisper.
“It’s okay, Buck,” Rogers said, his voice low and rough.
Bucky opened his eyes, and over Carter’s head he could see Steve’s face – red as a fireplug, but happy.
Okay, this was – this was crazy, but they both looked so happy.
Bucky bent his head again to her mouth.
Carter crawled into his lap, straddling him, and in this completely bizarre reality, Steve slid over until he sat next to them both, one hand on Bucky’s back and the other on Carter’s while Carter nipped at his lips and his neck.
Underneath those tidy suits she was nonstop curves; Bucky couldn’t find a place where he didn’t want to put his hands. He pushed her skirt up toward her waist and snapped her garters; she hissed and bit down a little. Bucky laughed at the same time Steve did. He opened his eyes and for shit’s sake Steve was right there, smiling at Bucky, his gaze so focused, God, Bucky hadn’t seen Steve’s face look like that in years.
Bucky slid his hand up, ran his thumb in a circle amid the heat between Carter’s legs, and she gasped a little, took her mouth off his neck and arched her back.
“James,” she said, her voice deep and warm.
“That’s me, sweetheart,” he said, and she kissed him while he stroked slowly and her breath quickened.
Bucky put his mouth to Carter’s collarbone while Steve reached over to undo the buttons of her skirt, then pulled her slip up, over her head.
Where had she been hiding these breasts? Her skin was softer than anything he’d felt since before the war. Bucky kept circling, circling with his thumb. He cut his eyes over to Steve, who caught his thought and unhooked Carter’s bra.
With his left hand, Bucky lifted one of those heavy, gorgeous breasts and flicked the nipple with his thumb.
“I need,” Carter said.
Sure she did. Bucky pushed her off his lap and held her steady with his hands at her waist but off-balance with his mouth at her breast while Steve stripped her of skirt, stockings, shoes.
Carter, steel pillar of stubbornness and grit, shuddered and whimpered, and Bucky counted it a triumph.
Bucky stood up and hooked his arm around her waist, pulled her against him. Carter. Of all the completely bone-headed, insane ideas, here was Peggy Carter, almost naked up against him, her tongue in his mouth, and Steve standing next to them. Steve, laughing low under his breath.
Bucky turned and dropped Carter to the bed, unbuttoned his shirt only just slowly enough to avoid ripping the buttons off.
Steve helped him pull it off.
Steve knelt to undo the laces of his boots so Bucky could step out of them and climb onto the bed.
“Don’t look at him,” Bucky told himself, “don’t look or you’ll catch on fire.”
Like he wasn’t already on fire.
Carter lay on the bed, her skin tinged pink against the white sheets. Dark hair, dark eyes, and Jesus, blue silk panties. She looked at Steve, and her body flushed darker.
Steve put his hand to the small of Bucky’s back, and Bucky shuddered.
“Go on, Buck,” he whispered.
Bucky climbed on top of her, kissed deep into her mouth, chased past the wine to find the flavor that meant Carter. Found it.
But oh, those gorgeous, heavy breasts of hers. This was so different from quick fumbles in alleyways and stairwells. He could take his time, here. He took it, pulling at her nipples with his teeth, sucking until she moved against him and Bucky had to distract himself with thoughts of rifle butts and wind speed.
“God,” she said.
‘My God,” Steve said.
Bucky moved lower, kissing across the satin of her belly, licking at her sweet little belly button so that Carter laughed.
He moved down. He hooked his fingers into the sides of her panties, and pulled them down, slowly, while he watched Steve unbutton his jacket the rest of the way and pull it off. Bucky settled himself between her legs and watched Steve kneel at the side of the bed and reach out to take Carter’s breast in his hand, then lean toward her mouth.
Bucky hadn’t been here in a long time, between a woman’s legs with his mouth. He hoped it would be like riding a bicycle – the sort of thing he’d remember how to do. He put his fingers to her, opened her up, and the scent of her, salt and earth, brought it all rushing back to him.
Bucky laid his mouth on her. Carter arched up and made a small noise into Steve’s mouth.
He licked at her, slow, then fast, then slow again, knowing he was an obnoxious bastard and planning to be so until she begged for it. Every time he opened his eyes he could see Steve kissing her, Steve’s hand on her breast. Steve’s mouth pulling at her nipple. Once, Steve passed his hand over Bucky’s hair, and Bucky shuddered. Carter made a sound like a small sob, and her legs twitched. Bucky hooked one finger inside her, then a second, curling up to press against that smooth bit in the front, and she hissed, whined once, then arched hard and clenched around his fingers. Bucky slowed his tongue and pressed hard inside her, his hand warm and drenched.
“James,” she said, and Steve gave a low laugh.
Bucky wondered briefly whether he had died without noticing and made it to some completely unimaginable heaven.
He licked again, twice, hard, and Carter – Peggy – arched her back, groaned in a low voice. He stilled his mouth and waited for her shudders to still, then sat up, wiped his chin.
She was gorgeous, flushed and rumpled, an expression of complete delight on her face.
Steve was grinning.
“Please,” she said.
And if this was heaven, then God had a much better imagination than he did, because Steve pulled his shirt over his head while Peggy undid his trousers. Then she turned around, Steve climbed up to sit with his back against the headboard, and Peggy turned to stare at Bucky until he very slowly remembered how to add two with two to make the sum of placing himself inside her while she put her mouth on Steve.
How long? Not since that nurse, just after Azzano. Somewhere in that time he had grown a million more nerves, and Jesus, he was inside Peggy Carter, and she was all wet heat, he was inside her, but when he looked up all he could see was the back of her head, and Steve.
Fuck, Steve pink in the face and grimacing almost as if in pain with her mouth on him, her hands around him.
Steve, looking at him.
They were both here. Together, in this room. With Peg.
How old had they been, when Steve said no? Fourteen?
Bucky grasped her hips and thrust harder. Peggy raised her head to look back at him with heavy-lidded eyes. Christ, whatever crazy science they performed to turn Steve into a giant hadn’t missed any of him, that was for damn sure. Peggy’s hand looked miniature, wrapped around that thing.
His mouth felt dry.
Peg dipped her head, and he just saw her lips surround the head of Steve’s cock before her hair obscured the view, then Steve tipped his head back with a sigh, and Bucky felt it rise up inside him. He reached forward to stroke Peggy until she made small noises and she clenched around him.
Steve lifted his head.
Almost twelve years.
Bucky looked across her to Steve and shattered into fragments, spilling into Peg with a groan, then forgetting how to actually exist when Steve’s eyes went wide, then his mouth, and he gasped sharply while Peggy’s head bobbed faster, went still.
He had to be dead. There was no way this was really happening in the real world.
Bucky moved his fingers, and Peggy dropped her head to Steve’s thigh and shuddered hard around his softening cock.
When she was done, Peggy leaned forward to kiss Steve. Bucky sat back against the footboard of the old-fashioned bed, peeled his trousers off his lower legs, and dropped them to the floor.
Peggy turned and crawled to him, into his lap. Maybe he kidded himself that her mouth tasted like Steve. He didn’t care.
She flopped into the center of the bed, stretched out in a series of completely enchanting curves.
“Well,” she said, “I’ll count that as an acceptable first round.”
First – what?
Who was like this?
Bucky looked at Steve, who was laughing again.
Oh, right. They were both insane, and he was naked in bed with them.
“I’m cold,” Peggy announced.
Steve rolled his eyes and slid down to curl around her left side, his arm over her stomach.
“Wonderful,” she said, “now for the right side.”
She was a troublemaker is what she was. No wonder they liked her.
Barnes lay along her right side, his face resting on her shoulder. But it was hard to know what to do with his left arm. Anywhere he put it he was bumping up against Steve, who similarly flailed, until Peg heaved a sigh, reached down, and put Steve’s arm across one way and onto Bucky’s hip, then Bucky’s arm across to Steve’s waist.
“Much better,” she said.
Sure. If by better she meant completely weird. Peggy snuggled down in a very nice way, which momentarily distracted him from the fact that his fucking hand was on fucking Steve’s naked goddamn waist.
He looked up through his eyelashes from Peggy’s shoulder. Steve wasn’t looking at her. Steve was looking at him. The question was why.
“Mmm hmm,” Peggy said.
The room was incredibly cold. Bucky snuggled up close to her, which only helped with his front half. But that was better than nothing.
They were both so lovely – so very lovely that Peggy found it easy to dismiss any niggling qualms about the acceptability of sleeping with the two most beautiful men in the US Army at the same time. She felt molten; she wound her hand into James’s curls and felt him snug up closer. She tilted her face up, and Steve leaned down to kiss her, pulling James even closer in the process.
James was better with his mouth than Steve – and if she got her way, which she usually did, that would result in the most enjoyable lesson ever known to woman – and smaller overall than Steve but less gentle.
Steve smiled down at the two of them with an expression Peggy had only seen a few times. Contentment wasn’t his strong suit – that had been clear since she met him. But in this moment, he looked simply happy. She kissed him again.
As nice as it was to lie between them, warm and gradually growing more interested in a second round, she wasn’t very well going to allow these two to be idiots.
She looked up at Steve, cut her eyes to James, and nodded.
Steve frowned at her.
“Go ahead,” she mouthed.
He shook his head, clearly not understanding.
Oh dear. She hadn’t thought they would be so obtuse.
“Well, my girl,” she told herself, “in for a penny.”
“Kiss him,” she mouthed at Steve.
Who smiled and leaned down to kiss her. Which of course was very nice, but utterly beside the point.
“James,” she said in a deliberately light tone when Steve lifted his head, “I’ve been attempting to tell Steve to kiss you, and he seems to be misunderstanding the point.”
Steve’s mouth dropped open. James went stiff. Then his head flew up, and four blue eyes stared at her in utter shock.
Good heavens. Was it really this bad?
“What,” James croaked.
“Peggy,” Steve croaked.
Hopeless, the both of them.
“Well I don’t see the point of sleeping with two gorgeous men at the same time if I don’t get a bit of a show,” she said.
They each turned an adorable shade of crimson. And looked at one another.
“Peggy,” Steve said, “you can’t really think –“
“Oh I can’t, can I? I beg to differ, Steven. You Yanks are supposed to believe in equality and all that. So get to it.”
She recognized that expression of growing outrage on his face, but James quivered with laughter against her and dropped his forehead to her shoulder.
“Sweetheart, you are beyond the beyond,” he said.
When James raised his head, his smile only dimmed a little when he looked at Steve. It was worry, she thought. She stroked his back, and he looked down at her, then back up.
“Better do as the lady says, Steve,” he said, “or we’ll never hear the end of it.”
“I will have my way,” she said, and wriggled in a way calculated to distract the both of them.
It worked. James grinned, and Steve laughed once.
“Bucky,” he said.
“Shut up, Steve. This is already so far past crazy. What’s one more mile post?”
Oh, she had thought they were lovely before. But to watch them kiss over her, hesitant at first, until Steve made a noise deep in this throat, put his hand on James’s neck, and fairly attacked: well. She might be interested in rounds three, four, and five.
They were rougher with one another than with her. When she could feel them both leaning in but straining not to crush her, Peggy slid out from between them, and Steve pulled James close, wrapped one leg over James’s, and they kissed like they were starving.
They might well have been, if this was the first time. Peggy felt a knot in her throat, watching them overcome their awkwardness and cling to one another, finally, because she had asked it of them.
“Damn it,” James said when they broke off, running his hands over Steve’s chest, “you’re the size of a fucking mountain.”
“It’s bizarre, isn’t it?” Steve grinned down at him. “About every other morning I wake up expecting to be little again.”
Peggy hadn’t known that. She ran her hand over his hair, and he smiled up at her, let her lean down to kiss him briefly.
His expression turned soft and solemn when he looked back down, his hand spread across James’s chest.
“You’re so thin, pal,” he said.
He made the word into an endearment.
“There’s nothing to you but skin and bones.”
Bucky cringed back, worry lines all over his face, tears in his eyes, even.
For one instant, Steve panicked, but he knew this. He knew Buck.
“I can’t ever seem to get enough to eat,” Bucky babbled, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I can’t –“
“It’s okay, Buck,” Steve said, and moved his hand over that pale, thin chest that he knew better than his own.
Bucky shook his head, tried to protest, to pull away.
“It’s okay, shhhh. I know.”
And Peggy was there, pressed up against Bucky’s back, her arms around him, until they had him sandwiched up tight, shivering.
How many times had he wanted to do this since Azzano? Pull Bucky in, bury his face in Buck’s neck, and inhale the scent of him, the only thing left of home. Once only, on a very bad night, had Bucky let him do it. But now. Now Steve gathered him in and breathed deep.
“We’ve got you, pal.”
Steve could tell when Peg started kissing the back of Bucky’s neck when he went stiff, then relaxed all over, and Steve felt Bucky’s breath hot on his neck. He kept on stroking in circles over Bucky’s chest, too thin but still – like Peggy said, gorgeous.
Why hadn’t they ever done this before? Why hadn’t he ever reached out like this, put his hand to Buck’s chin and lifted his face for a kiss? Why was he just now learning the taste of Bucky’s mouth?
He’d been an idiot. He’d been a stupid moron of the highest magnitude to miss out on any opportunity to put his mouth on Bucky, to lie next to him, their bodies pressed together, while Bucky made that eager little sound in the back of his throat.
“There you go, James,” Peggy said.
Steve raised his head to meet her gaze.
If he hadn’t been such a dumbass, they wouldn’t be here now, together, in this moment.
“So lovely,” she murmured.
How many times had he drawn this face? He’d do a better job going forward, now that he knew its contours with his fingers. Now that he had traced its lines with his mouth.
“Steve,” Bucky said.
And for a minute, it was too much; he felt as panicked as Bucky had looked just now. He had no idea what to do.
“Let’s get our boy comfortable,” Peggy said.
Steve wanted to laugh with sheer relief.
He hadn’t gone wrong following Peggy’s orders yet.
They pulled Bucky up so that he lay against the pillows, and Steve let himself stare at Bucky’s body – too thin, sure, but familiar and comforting. That body was home, because it was Buck. Every inch of it.
Peggy kissed Bucky, and Steve watched their mouths move together. Put his hands on Bucky’s legs, slid them up to feel Buck’s belly clench.
After all this time, Steve did still know what to do. He licked his hand and wrapped it around Bucky’s cock; Bucky convulsed, broke away from Peg to stare at him with his mouth slightly open.
Their whole lives, there had been few things Steve enjoyed more than making James Buchanan Barnes jump halfway out of his skin. Why should this moment be any different?
He leaned down and took it into his mouth.
“Jesus fuck,” Bucky said.
“Don’t blaspheme,” Peggy said, and put her mouth on his.
Steve agreed with the sentiment, though. If they’d been brave enough to try this when they were kids, it would’ve been the end of them.
It felt weird in his mouth, soft skin over hardness, Peggy’s flavor over a slight bitterness. He thought about the stuff Peg did that felt good and sucked hard, briefly, ran his tongue over the little flange at the head. Heard Bucky moan into Peggy’s mouth and sucked again, moved his hand up and down.
Steve opened his eyes, and fuck it was a good thing no one was actually touching him or he’d fall apart. Bucky had his mouth on Peggy’s breast and one hand between her legs, and she was looking down at Steve with so much heat in her expression that she could’ve set the room on fire.
He lifted his mouth and licked slowly, pulled with his hand, so Peggy could see, and she grinned sharply at him.
Bucky lifted his head and looked down. Steve could see worry hiding in his face. Bucky didn’t have any expressions that he didn’t know as well as he knew himself.
He was fretting, as usual.
Steve could take care of that.
“You need more, pal?” he said, and moved faster with his mouth and hand, sucking hard.
“Fuck,” Bucky said.
“Yes, that’s rather the point,” Peggy said.
And goddamn the two of them, they made a picture that burned itself into Steve’s brain. Bucky growled and pulled Peg over until she straddled his mouth. Steve watched them while he worked, Bucky’s mouth moving, Peggy flailing, trying to find purchase with her arms.
Steve took his cues from what he could see of Buck’s chin moving; he moved in time, pulling and sucking, licking at the salty fluid Bucky gave him. Under his left hand, he felt Bucky’s hips twitch, and Peggy had that little crease between her eyebrows. Both of them were making eager little sounds. Steve reached down with his left hand to cup Bucky’s balls. Bucky’s legs moved, and his hands gripped Peggy’s belly hard. She gasped, clutched at the headboard behind her, and gave a long, low moan. Steve bent his head, reached as far as he could with his mouth, and drew back slowly, sucking and stroking equally hard, and Bucky’s cry was muffled by Peggy’s body as he spilled into Steve’s mouth, bitter and salty.
Wasn’t that something.
Wasn’t that just a hell of a thing.
Steve raised himself up to kiss Peggy, who met his mouth languid and lazy, then flopped onto the bed.
Bucky’s expression was pure surprise.
“The hell-“ he said, but Steve bent down to lick Peggy off his face, to kiss him until he couldn’t speak.
The two of them.
Where the hell had Steve learned how to do that?
Most girls wouldn’t even do that.
Would he do it again?
The saying went “it’s better to give to receive,” but Bucky for damn sure wasn’t convinced in this case.
He could probably be convinced to give it a try, though. Seemed to be the way this night was going.
And having come twice already, it was gonna need to be somebody else’s turn for a bit, anyhow.
God, the way Steve kept kissing him. The way Peggy kept smiling at him.
He and Peg were shattered at the moment; Steve gathered them up, one on each side, and Bucky let himself go limp. Any other time in this situation – like there had ever been anything like this situation before, ha ha ha – he’d be ready to pass out by now, but he felt wide awake.
Wide awake, but more comfortable than he’d been since Brooklyn.
All these big damn muscles made a pretty good pillow. And he could look across to Peggy, her head resting on Steve’s other shoulder, grinning at him pink-cheeked. God, she tasted gorgeous. She was gorgeous.
And apparently twice the strategist Steve was, assuming this was her idea.
They lay quietly for a while, one or the other of them lifting up to kiss one or the other else. If only they could stay here forever, without any intrusions or ever having to leave.
“Hm,” Peggy said after she’d caught her breath, “what are we going to do about this?”
Bucky looked down to see her wrap her little hand around Steve’s cock. Steve hissed.
He felt like his old self for a minute: ready to take on the world.
“Your wish is my command, sweetheart,” he said, and answered her grin with his own.
“How marvelous,” she said. “Steve, I think you could learn a thing or two from James’s attitude.”
“Learn a thing or two my ass,” Steve said, but whatever else he might have thought to say got choked off when Peg grabbed Bucky’s hand and wrapped it around him.
She got off the bed and went to the leather valise she’d brought with her; Bucky, though, focused on the task in his hand.
It was so different from back in the day. Twice the goddamn size, for one thing. But also the same. Still Steve. Bucky could see it in Steve’s face – a little eager, a little frightened, maybe. Steve never did feel only one thing at a time – he was always having nine different emotions at once. That hadn’t changed.
This hadn’t changed, not really, except that now they had a little gas lamp on the bedside table so they could see, and a door with a lock, so they didn’t have to worry about anyone barging in.
Bucky stroked slowly up and down, moved his thumb in circles around the head, and watched Steve struggle not to squirm.
Yeah. Some things never did change, after all.
And some things changed for the better, like being able to lean in and kiss Steve, let Steve bite at his bottom lip.
“Here,” Peggy said when they came up for air, and handed Bucky a little jar of petrolatum.
“I rather thought I’d like to see you try it as we did before I started practicing the precautionary arts,” she said, looking at Steve, her cheeks red.
Sounding more like a stiff-necked biddy than he’d heard in -
Oh, the expression on his face. It was pure panic.
James did a good job of hiding how utterly sweet he was. But she had his number now.
She laughed and leaned in to kiss him.
“Don’t worry, darling. Peggy is always prepared.”
By God, she would drive that haunted look out of his eyes, if only for this one evening.
“You sure?” he asked.
She kissed him again. Then Steve, for good measure.
“Yes,” she whispered, and Steve’s grin made the room brighter.
“Lay down, Buck,” he said.
Could they possibly stay here for all 4 days of leave? She could watch this over and over, Steve leaning in to kiss James, his hand on James’s neck, the long, golden length of his body maneuvering James’s thinner, paler form. James looking up at the both of them wide-eyed.
“Maybe this’ll be a little weird for you, Buck,” Steve said.
“Nonsense,” Peggy said, and hooked two fingers into the pot of petrolatum, then reached down to shut Steve up by applying the stuff with firm strokes, until his breath grew short. “I find it quite nice.”
“Pretty sure I have a few different parts than you, doll,” James said.
Oh, now that wouldn’t do at all.
She leaned down and bit him – not gently – on the side of the neck. She made sure to aim for one of the spots already made red and tender from her and Steve’s ministrations. James hissed.
“Lie back and maintain an open mind,” she said, “and I’ll make sure enjoy yourself, darling.”
She nipped him again.
“Just so long as you never call me ‘doll’ again.”
“Ma’am, yes ma’am,” James said in a low, rumbly voice that made her feel heavy between her legs and inspired Steve to make that soft, filthy laugh she liked.
“Twist your legs together, Buck,” Steve whispered, then fitted himself into the space between James’s thighs.
“What’s this gonna do, pal?” James said.
Steve thrust twice, and surprise broke out ever so sweetly across James’s face.
Different parts, indeed. But some of them still lined up.
“Jesus,” Steve said. “Bucky, my god.”
“Yeah, pal,” James said. “Yeah.”
She’d always liked it this way, but she and Steve were always fumbling around in the dark, trying to keep quiet. Peggy craned her head to see. Oh my, she did like to watch this. To see what was going on. To see how hard James was again, while Steve moved over him. She wanted to get those two beautiful organs side by side and compare them in several different ways.
She very well would, too.
Watching so closely, Peggy saw the moment when James came to a decision, made a swift grin, and reached up to pull hard at Steve’s hair.
Steve gave a sound like a choke, then moaned low and moved faster. James inhaled sharply.
Well done indeed. For that he deserved a reward.
Peggy stretched out next James on the bed.
“Hey there, beautiful,” he said, with a slight hitch in his voice when Steve drove down hard.
Steve leaned in to kiss James, sloppy and eager, then herself.
This was the most wonderful idea she’d ever had.
“And how is it?” she murmured into James’s ear, then couldn’t resist applying her mouth to its curves so that his breath caught.
“Looks like you’re right again, Peg,” he said. “Pretty nice.”
“Let’s make it nicer,” she said, and reached down between them to grasp him with her still-slick hand.
James groaned, and Steve grinned at her. James shifted in a way she well knew, twining his legs closer together to make the space between them tighter, and the sounds coming out of Steve were utterly delicious. He usually tried to hold them back, but she’d remember them, going forward: that low grunt, the breathy, higher cry, and those sweet, broken moans. She’d remember every one, along with every time James made that quiet, surprised little laugh, like he could hardly believe this was happening.
Steve’s rhythm grew erratic – she knew that too, knew he was close, and sped up the movement of her hand. James tossed his head. Steve leaned down and bit him, hard, on the chest, and James cried out sharply. Delicious. She stroked his full length, hard, every time Steve pulled back. As Steve quickened, so did she.
Steve had his head bent against James’s chest now, his teeth clenched. Trying to make it last.
“Your mouth,” James whispered at her, hoarse.
She gave it to him, swallowed his groan and stroked him roughly while he arched and Steve’s thrusts lost all cohesion, and first Steve, then James, made the most glorious mess all over those nice French sheets.
Steve assessed the situation while he caught his breath. He was known for his ability to provide operationally relevant assessments and determine appropriate strategies.
In his considered opinion, this was the best fucking day of his entire goddamn life. Also, too skinny or no, lying on top of Bucky was about the most comfortable he had ever been, and he didn’t even give a damn how sticky they both were. All it would take was shifting his head by 4 inches and he could get to Peggy’s nipple with his mouth, and from there it was an easy thing to make her gasp and wriggle.
All it would take was lifting his head and dragging himself up the length of Bucky’s body a few more inches to kiss Bucky, too.
Jesus. Kissing Bucky. And then Peg. And then Buck again. They were gonna have to end this war soon, because he had some damn plans, most of which involved kissing these two people for about the next four decades.
But before that, it was Peg’s turn next. He figured that between the two of them, he and Bucky could make her forget her own name.
Wouldn’t that be something.
That was one nice thing about this super-soldier business: he only needed a few minutes to be ready for more. And in the meantime, he was about in the best place imaginable.
Couple of fucking crazy people. Crazy, beautiful, perverted people, with ideas that definitely went beyond the boundaries of good breeding.
Bucky shifted, settling down in the bed despite the mess. Maybe in a few minutes he’d mind being crushed by a million pounds of golden boy, but for the moment, he couldn’t think of anything better.
Steve riled Peggy up a little with his mouth on her breast, and Bucky developed a few ideas about how the two of them needed to gang up on her next and see what kind of adorable noises they could get her to make.
He slung one arm around her and pulled her close, wrapped his left leg around the back of Steve’s thigh.
Shit, Morita was gonna sniff this little development out from a mile away.
Bucky grinned. He didn’t give one good goddamn. They could tell the whole world. There were still 3 days left of leave, and a whole lifetime after that. To be right here.