13-16

Chapter 13: Baking a Cake

Summary:

Peggy gets drunk, Bucky frets like a Catholic mother, and Steve is just very confused!

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

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Sitting in pained silence with Bucky was doing no one any favours, so Peggy eventually excused herself to take a bath. Sobbing in the bathtub was therapeutic no doubt, but what she really needed was a drink, and maybe a few more after that. She also knew that Bucky needed some time alone, they both did. Her time would be much better spent with a drink in hand and a little female conversation. She knew that Maggie would be off shift over at O’Brady’s bar, their regular of sorts, and she only lived a block or so from Peggy’s place. They had bonded one evening that Peggy was out with fellow agents, Maggie being Margaret, Peggy being the same, both of them discussing which was the better version of the name in short nickname form. Both argued a solid case and had become friends since. They had dinner once a month to keep the friendship alive. Maggie was a live wire in her own right, and Peggy needed that.  Bucky knew better than to ask too many questions as she informed him of her plans, seeing her resolve and knowing her well enough to know that this was necessary.

An hour or so later she had talked Maggie’s ear off about everything but what was bothering her, omitting all the actually important or incriminating details of course. Maggie, on the other hand, took advantage of the bottle of rum Peggy brought with her. It also kept her mouth running, a distraction Peggy welcomed as much as she welcomed the warm comforting feeling the drink spread through her.

“And it’s not that I don’t love David, I do, and it’s just … well, Tom is so … different.”

“Different how?”

“You know, he’s sweet and kind, and he didn’t serve in the war so he doesn’t have that messy head-space that I sometimes lose David to. I mean, you know how that is with Bucky, right?”

She and Bucky had become something of a regular fixture at their local bar in the years they had been ‘courting,’ always ignoring the looks they got when people – strangers mostly – noticed the lack of rings.

“Or him with me, depending.”

Her friend frowned then and ran a hand through her blonde curls.

“I always forget you’re not a regular girl, Peg.”

“I am a regular girl. I just … have a bit of an irregular job,” she protested with a pout.

“Right, Captain America’s ex and part time rouge Nazi hunter, it’s a helluva job.”

“The Cap thing wasn’t a job.”

“Oh but I would have worked him…” she giggled, slapping her on the arm. “Sorry, I know how tense that topic makes you, and Bucky come to that.”

She had no idea.

Instead of spilling the beans Peggy downed the rest of her drink.

“Alright, you’re drinking as if you have a death wish and I know that’s not you, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Even she wasn’t convinced.

“Mmhm, is it man trouble?”

Peggy wanted to laugh, wanted to laugh to save her from the tears she felt burning in her eyes.

“Something like that.”

“Bucky finally realising he has to make an honest woman of ya? Finally get you in one place long enough to marry you?”

She shook her head.

“We’re happy as we are.”

“Yes, so you say, every time someone brings it up.”

“And I’ll stop saying it when it stops being true. Not everyone needs a ring to prove something Maggie.”

“Ouch,” she said as she flashed her own ring. A ring and vows she often forgot when she was with another of her men. Peggy wouldn’t judge, but she wondered privately from time to time, what was the point in vowing to love and honour one man if you’re gonna lust and fuck half of Brooklyn.

But that wasn’t her business.

“I don’t mean to dig, really I don’t.” She sighed. “I just … I’m a little confused about some things is all.”

“Cold feet? Shit, he’s not with another dame is he? Because that man is stupid in love with you.”

That made her want to smile. He had been, as she said, stupid in love. She’d seen it. The thing was she had also seen it with Steve. She merely shook her head in lieu of an answer.

“Is it possible, Mags?”

“What’s that?”

“To love two people at the same time?”

She looked shocked for a second, “Honey … is he?”

“No! No, this is just … me, asking. If it is, is it real or is it just confusion and lust and chemicals, or is it real love for both, honest to god stupid love for more than one person?”

“I might be the wrong person to ask here,” she said, clinking her glass to Peggy’s empty one. “I love everyone for a time at least; love you right now if you pour me another round,” she said with a wink, making Peggy laugh.

“I’m serious.”

“Oh Peggy I don’t know, maybe it is, maybe it’s not real at all. Maybe this, maybe that. Who the hell knows? All I know is my mother was married to the same man for forty years and was damn miserable for thirty seven of them, once the puppy love wore off she was left with a man she had to tolerate, and she barely did that.”

“That’s sad.”

“It is, and I swore I wouldn’t fall into that trap.”

“But?”

“But a boy promises you the world in the backseat of his car and suddenly you’re in love, suddenly there’s a baby on the way, then a war … and well … he comes back a man, one you barely recognise.”

Maggie finished off her own drink then.

“Is it a sin to seek comfort elsewhere if the man you loved isn’t that man anymore? I don’t think it is, but then I’m not most people. I think if I were to live in a perfect world, I could have my cake and eat it, too. I could have my cake, admire it, love it, adore it even, but devour that damn cake, my figure be damned. If I could … well, if’s and wants don’t really help nobody, do they?”

She agreed that no, they didn’t. They lived in the real world, Peggy more than most.

“You risk your life on the job Peggy Carter; you deserve everything you want in this world, and then some, ‘cause you’re out there saving it for the rest of us.”

And it was those words that lead her into the city to Steve that night.

                                                           ******

The door of the room opened and he was standing there in nothing but black long underwear and the sight of him, sleepy, dishevelled, and half naked gave her pause.

“Peggy? Is … are you okay?”

Was she? She wasn’t sure. The night air and the rum were mixing in a strange manner. She felt bold and brave; a different sort of brave than she was used to being.

He waved her inside the small but functioning room. There was a large bed, a sofa, a wireless and two windows, and she knew there was also a small bathroom to the right. It sat on the tenth floor of Stark Tower, mostly for overnighting staff. She had stayed there a time or two herself.

“I’m fine, really. I just needed to speak with you.”

He blushed then, and it reached his clavicle.

“About … before, I know it was wrong of me to – of us to–”

“I don’t want to talk about that. I mean at least not specifically.”

“Uh … okay?” Confused and still half asleep, he took a seat on his messed up bed. Twice in one day she had seen him in a bed half dressed, twice in a day she longed to be in there with him. She hoped he assumed the blush in her cheeks was from the night breeze.

“I just um, lemme get a shirt,” he said, stepping into the small bathroom and coming back with a white t-shirt on. “Peggy, about before, I feel like I should–”

“Did you get something to eat? Are they taking care of you here?” She knew Steve had an assigned assistant of sorts just down the hall, but she also wondered if he would take advantage of that.

“Uh yeah, I mean I mostly just went and got a bite downtown, no one noticed me or anything. I was walking around all afternoon just … getting used to being able to do that again I guess.”

She looked around the small room, it really wouldn’t do. Stark would have to hurry with the rehousing options for Steve or she’d do it herself.

“Bucky’s freaking out,” she blurted out, not really wanting to allow Steve time to mumble an apology he wouldn’t really mean.

He nodded.

“I figured as much before … is he okay?”

She shrugged, taking a seat on the dishevelled bed. It was still warm, and it reminded her that she was cold to her bones.

“I don’t know, but we talked today and…” she sighed. “He’s talking of being unable to choose–”

“Peggy you two are–”

“I won’t lose him, Steve.”

He nodded then, looking suitably chastised, like a kid in school.

“I … understand that,” he said slowly, taking a seat by the desk.

“You do?” she cocked a brow at him, and she wondered for just that second if she may have to fight Captain America for her man. The thought made her want to laugh a little.

“He’s the best guy I’ve ever known, of course I can understand the desire to keep him to yourself.” He looked her square in the eye, and she saw the Steve she first met in all his scrappy glory.

“I’ve spent the better part of a decade building what life we have together, and it’s been … it’s been wonderful and frustrating and terrifying and filled with love and fighting and sadness and grief and all of the things a life should be.” She had to say it out loud, as much as she knew it pained him to hear. “But throughout it all, there was one constant, one thing that was missing from both our lives.”

He looked up from staring at his feet.

“You, Steve.”

He blinked. Silence filled the room.

“Exactly,” she said with a sigh, nudging herself backward so her back hit the wall. She crossed her legs at the ankles and waited for him to follow her lead and join her. He did. They sat in said silence for a few more minutes before Steve spoke.

“I had figured since you both moved on that … you know, that was that,” he sounded quiet, sad, and she wanted to hug him, but the ground was being laid and things needed to be said first. “I know you sent me there today knowing what might … probably happen … and part of me held onto that because I wanted to be with him, but a huge part of me wants to be with you too and I feel like my brain is broken somehow because–”

“That isn’t normal,” she said and he nodded. “What is normal anyway? We talk about it a lot, but no one seems to know exactly what it is but we all want to be it.” She smiled then. “I knew you and he would … do that. And I was, at least in theory, okay with it.”

“But walking in on the aftermath and seeing what you saw, it wasn’t right of us.”

“Would it have stopped you if you knew I was coming home?”

“It’s not something I wanted to rub in your face, so to speak, even if the last conversation we had made it more than clear to me that you were aware of the possibility of … that.”

She wasn’t sure if she should have felt better or worse that he had still planned on fucking her boyfriend, just that he had wanted to be discreet about it.

“He won’t choose.”

He nodded again, rubbing the back of his neck.

“No, I assumed as much. He would never break your heart.”

“How do you know that?”

“Peggy … Bucky used to date a lot of women before he and I … became something more. And after, when it was just for show, it was just a part of life you know? He’s been faithful to you for almost ten years. I don’t understand why you both haven’t gotten married and done the whole settled thing. That would suit him, he would love that … always wanted kids and a nice place to call home, someone he loved to come home to.” He shrugged. “But then we happened and all that kinda goes out the window. With you he had a shot at a real life.”

Peggy started to laugh then, and she was sure the alcohol was flying through her system because it was a hysterical laugh that had Steve looking at her funny, like he just noticed she wasn’t totally sober.

“Peggy, have you been drinking?”

“I have, Captain, I really have, and to be honest I need more because what you just said? I was his shot at a life? He said almost the exact same thing to me about you.”

They both sighed then and Steve closed his eyes.

“I’ll stay away … from both of you, if that’s what it takes.”

Of course he would, of course Steve would be the one to make the sacrifice play. She felt her stomach sink, having him back and knowing he was staying away just wasn’t an option her heart could take.

“That’s not happening.” She stood, a little wobbly still, placing her hands on her hips.

“Peggy, it’s not fair on you both.”

“And what about you? None of this is bloody fair on you either Steve! Nothing about this is fair!” She began to pace. “He’s at home, fretting like a catholic mother on prom night, I’m plastered, and you’re a sad puppy, and I’m sorry but this is bullshit! We save the world for a living. You DIED to save us all, and what do you get? You get a future where your boyfriend is shacked up with your girlfriend and now everyone is tense and twitching and panicking. It’s not right! We’re good people we deserve things that are fair!”

He smiled his sad smile and she wanted to kiss him. God, all their brains were broken; Bucky was right.

“But we know more than most that life just isn’t fair. Fair woulda been me never falling in love with my best friend, or you, or never having to drive that plane into the sea, never waking up to find my life wiped out from under my feet and no idea how to stand back up again … No… I…” He took her hand then, “But we can kill ourselves with what ‘might have been,’ and I’ve done it all since I woke up in that room … I don’t want to do it anymore.”

Peggy sniffled, squeezing his hand tight as she could.

“Steve, you and I have always been kindred spirits in so many ways, ever since I first met you I have wanted to get closer to you,” she smiled.

“Even at a hundred pounds and lucky to be alive?” he asked bashfully.

“Especially then,” she clarified, squeezing again. “I saw something in you that I recognised, and I think you saw it in me too.”

He nodded, a wistful smile breaking out on his face before he spoke softly, “I did, and you amazed me. Still do. Stark was telling me some things, and I just …yeah. You’re amazing, Peggy.”

She blushed but pushed forward, needing to say what needed to be said.

“But Bucky … is your soul mate, Steve. And that is just another fact of life, like you have blonde hair and a penchant for dangerous decisions that could kill you, or that Bucky hates Jersey.”

Steve laughed then, big and real and it made the skin by his eyes crinkle in a way that Peggy wanted to see every day.

“What does that make you and Buck then?”

She thought and knew exactly what right away; it was how she had always felt.

“Lucky as hell, that’s what.”

There was a beat and they both considered her words.

“I’m a little jealous, I gotta say.”

“Don’t be.”

“How can I not be? I’ve tried not to be but I’m only human, I’m happy you found each other, truly I am, but…”

“It stings.”

He nodded with a sigh.

“Yeah it does. We had a date, Peggy, and I let you down.”

“Yeah Steve, Jesus, you put the whole world before me, I mean how could you DO that?!” she said as sarcastically as you’d like, making him smile. “Seriously, Steve, stop that now.  In a perfect world we’d all just–”

And then it was like the world stopped spinning for a just a second, a shiver ran down her spine at the very idea of what she was considering. It was dangerous, it was reckless, it was probably illegal – but then she realised with a laugh, her life was all of those things on a daily basis and hardly any of them half as fun as what was floating through her head in that moment.

“Just what?”

He looked at her then, so earnest and unaware of what were possibly the lewdest thoughts she’d ever had, and that was including that time that she considered fucking Bucky in the bathroom at the White House.

“We’d have our cake and eat it.”

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His eyebrows knitted together as she all but dragged him from the building, hailing a cab like a pro while doing so.

“I don’t understand what you mean. The cake metaphor is confusing me, Peggy!”

“It’s a thought, Steve, a very … dangerous one.”

“Cake is dangerous?”

The cab stopped and she hopped in. He followed, still lost.

“Yes, consider this, consider that cake was … illegal. It was the most frowned upon, illegal, awful thing in the eyes of the holy joes that run the world, that run this country with a hypocritical fist. That they hated cake and thought that no one should have it, all the while behind closed doors people like the senators and what have you are gorging out on pastries and fancies every chance they get.  But, we’re denied our cake.”

His head hurt.

“Peggy.”

“Steve,” she said, mocking his serious tone. “I miss you and you’re right here. That’s not fair.”

“No, no it’s not.”

“Between us all there is a lot of love,” she whispered into his ear, mindful of the cab driver. “That that should be wasted because our ingredients for amazing cake are wrong in their eyes is just stupid.”

She nodded then as if it all made sense. It didn’t; at least not to him. In her drink fuelled brain it probably was bordering on poetic, but he was just baffled.

They pulled up to the fancy brownstone that he had all but fled early that afternoon, and she paid the cabby and they entered in silence.

“Peggy, I–”

“Shh,” she said, shedding her coat and toeing off her shoes. “He must be in bed. All the better, really. We’ll have this conversation when I’m a little less fuzzy.  I think my friend gave me moonshine and told me it was rum. Wouldn’t be the first bloody time I’ll tell you that–”

“Peggy, I don’t–”

“I’m tired Steve. I’m tired of being sad, and I’m tired of seeing him sad, and you’ve just got back and I’m already tired of seeing you sad. So, let’s not be sad anymore okay?”

She took his hand after instructing him to shed his shoes. He did so obediently, all the while his heart was thumping up into his throat, the hairs had risen on the back of his neck, and he was starting to sweat a little. He wasn’t a hundred percent sure where this was going, but as the seconds passed he was beginning to piece together her plan. They made it to the top of the first staircase and took the turn that led them to the room that Bucky wouldn’t allow them into that day. Their room – his and Peggy’s – and it had stung just then. Unfairly perhaps, considering Bucky’s mouth was on his neck at the time, but it stung to know that they had a bedroom, one they had shared nightly, perhaps for years.

Years without him.

In the present though it seemed that Peggy’s hair brained idea was one of inclusion, confusing as it might have been. They both entered the bedroom silently and Peggy stripped out of her dress, leaving her standing there in the middle of the dimly lit room in just her underwear, her silk, creamy underwear.

He willed himself not to get hard, or at least if his dick insisted, that she maybe not notice. It was clear that, whatever this was, it wasn’t about sex.

Yet.

She slowly rolled down her stockings and Steve found himself in a bit of a trance. He was torn between watching her and glancing at a sleeping Bucky on the big brass bed with the flowery bedspread.

“You sleeping in your clothes?” she whispered and he shook himself out of his state before tearing off his sweater and undoing his pants, leaving him in his t-shirt and long underwear. He was taking things on her say so, and he watched as she went over to the side Bucky faced  – away from him – and slipped into bed with perfect grace and a practiced air, as if she had done it a thousand times with Bucky; and she had, he realised.

“Peg?” he heard Bucky say, his voice raw with sleep, and his heart ached. He shouldn’t have been there, he shouldn’t have been witnessing this. It felt like too much, too intimate. “Peggy I’m sorry I–”

“Shhh. Enough now, okay?”

“I-”

With that she nudged a brow at Steve behind her, which was his green light he supposed, and this was her plan. She was tired, they all were; tired of missing each other. So she decided to make that not be the case. He loved her before but in that moment of realisation as he pushed back the covers and saw how shocked Bucky was to see him, dumbfounded even, he loved her just a little bit more. This was unconventional, this was the banned cake, and this was what they needed.

“What’s going on, Peggy? Steve?” Bucky said, laying flat on his back now. Peggy was on her side facing them both, Bucky looking between both Steve on one side and Peggy on the other. “I don’t understand…”

“Apparently we’re baking a cake,” Steve said looking past his confused friend to Peggy, who was smiling despite the tears threatening to shed in her eyes.

“Yes we are,” she responded. “Now, snuggle in, it gets cold in the early morning.” Bucky’s mouth was still agape as Peggy leaned over and kissed Steve, longing and sweet all at once before pulling back and kissing Bucky just the same.

Steve was so turned on it was ridiculous to think he could possibly sleep, but Peggy was determined to make her point.

“But I don’t understand, Peggy. What’s going–”

“Go to sleep, James. We’ll discuss it in the morning,” she said, and she was every inch Agent Carter in that moment in that no, she wasn’t answering your question, and she’d kick your ass if you kept it up.

He couldn’t help but smile as she reached over and switched off the lamp, leaving them all in the darkness. The only light came from the half opened curtains behind the bed.

“Steve, do you know what she’s talking about?”

“Baking is a complicated process, Buck. We’ll discuss it in the morning.”

At that he heard Bucky blow air through his lips in frustration, then he felt the tension cease as Peggy reached for Bucky’s arm to spoon her. She then reached back at an awkward angle, dragging Steve to Bucky’s back to spoon him. He heard her chuckle when she realised Steve’s arms were long enough to spoon them both, just about.

“This is insane, you’re both–”

“We’ll discuss it in the morning!” both Steve and Peggy said simultaneously, causing them both to laugh, and laugh so hard that poor Bucky was getting jostled.

“You’re both very stoned, but fine, fine. We’ll discuss it in the damn morning then. Goodnight?”

Bucky was so confused, but he gripped onto Peggy with one hand and onto Steve’s that was snaked around his waist with another. Whatever confusion laid with the three of them, Steve knew this was more than okay, this was just what Bucky needed.

It was maybe what they all needed come to that.

Notes:

So there’s that! Hm. Do we think they can do this? Will anyone ever tell poor Bucky what is happening? Can they bake their cake?

Ps. Thank you for the love it makes me giddy and inspired! 😀

Pps. Have we seen the Agent Carter sneak peeks? How effing bad-ass does it look? Did it remind you of her and Bucky going flat to the mat with the Hydra guys a few chapters back? Because that’s what it reminded me of! 😀 Excite! xo

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Chapter 14: Your Boyfriend’s Back?

Summary:

In which Peggy sticks to her guns, Steve readjusts, and Bucky finds it hard to stick to the code.

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Waking up the next morning, Bucky’s first thought was that it was a dream. His dreams since the war had been scarily vivid, though nowhere near as pleasant as that. But then slowly he came around and noticed two things; one, he was hungover as all hell, and two, one of the pillows smelled like Steve. He shot out of bed and dragged on his sleep pants, not bothering with a t-shirt before thundering downstairs.

No, it wasn’t a dream.

Steve was sitting with Peggy having breakfast. He was reading the damn newspaper for crying out loud.

Bucky stood at the door for a few seconds, managing to go unnoticed as he was noticing. They looked good together, not comfortable like she did with him in the way that came with years of mornings like that, but with an ease that made it clear there was something there, a flirtation maybe. He hated darker thoughts of how this would have been their reality a long time ago – minus him – if things had gone differently. He forced those thoughts aside. His current reality wasn’t that painful. It was, if Peggy’s idea was real, going to be something really pleasant.

But then he smelled the food and, damn his stomach for betraying him.

“Uh, morning?” he said, finally announcing himself and they both looked up. Peggy was hung over but as always she did it with an elegance that Bucky seemed to lack. She looked a little pale and tired but a lot fresher than he felt. Steve, fucking Steve just looked like a rose in June, or fresh as a daisy or whatever the saying was. They smiled and bid him good morning, then glanced at each other, clearly knowing something he didn’t know. He ignored it in favour of coffee, and ooh, she made bacon sandwiches.

Score.

“Sleep well?” Peggy asked as she stood. She grabbed another sandwich from the covered plate on the stove before standing on her tippy toes to kiss him on his cheek. He did the same, though conscious of their audience.

“I did actually. Better than I have in a few nights … for obvious reasons.”

“You secretly like being squished to death in your sleep by a drunk woman and a human radiator?” Peggy asked mid-bite, making them both laugh, which thankfully broke whatever tension was in the air. He took a seat next to her, though still close enough to Steve that it wasn’t a slight. Was seating mathematics going to be a thing with them now, he wondered?

“Well I know one thing for sure,” Peggy began before she took a sip of her coffee and she had both their full attention. He knew Steve was jittery and it had nothing to do with her too-strong-for-normal-people coffee. “We’re going to need a bigger bed.”

Bucky choked on his drink slightly before putting it down, glancing to Steve with raised brows.

“You are actually serious about this, Peggy?” Steve asked, still as shocked as he looked. She merely nodded, taking another bite of her breakfast.

“Yeah, there was something about cake … or something. I was a little drunk last night,” Bucky admitted with a grin toward Peggy who just rolled her eyes as he continued. “Not the only one I recall.”

“Yes, yes I got smashed, wonderful. And yes, I am serious. If … I mean if that’s something that you both would–”

“Yes!” was the clear and rather loud response from both still stunned looking men. She laughed then, shaking her head.

“Alright then, but I think it deserves a longer discussion because–”

Just at that the doorbell rang, causing Peggy to sigh.

“Stark really can’t take no for an answer. I told him I wanted the morning off, he told me Korea was in crisis. Honestly, when aren’t they!?” she sighed again, trudging to the door without her shoes.

“Mornin’ Carter. Here, have some coffee.” They heard from the door and sure enough, flash and style entered in the form of Howard Stark, two coffees in hand.  “Oh, more people. I figured Bucky’d be at work or school or whatever it is he’s at these days and Cap! I almost forgot you were back. Almost,” he said with a wink to which Peggy just rolled her eyes.

“You didn’t need to pick me up, Howard.”

“No, I didn’t, and I wouldn’t normally, except I have some paperwork stored here. In your loft if I recall correctly, and I do. So, if you’d be so kind as to lead the way and I can be on mine?”

Peggy took a sip of her new coffee before handing it to Steve with a sigh.

“Come on then.”

She led him up the first staircase, past her bedroom and the other guestroom before tackling the second staircase to the third floor where the door to the loft was.

“Steve stay the night?” he asked, his attempt at casual, laughable.

“He did. We got to talking late so it makes most sense.”

“Hmm,” she heard behind her but by the time she turned he had a smile fixed. “I know where it is from here, if you haven’t moved those boxes?”

“Nope, it’s all still in there. We were going to turn this place into an office space for me, but I’ve been thinking–”

“It would suit Steve?”

That gave her pause. She hated that he was so perceptive sometimes.

“We haven’t fully discussed it, but it would make more sense than him being on his own someplace that SHIELD or Washington decides for him. We’re his friends, family even, and if he wants–”

“Carter, this is your place, pal. You do with it as you please. All I want is a place for the weapons, both traditional and … otherwise,” he said, rifling through the boxes in the small loft space beyond the second hallway before coming up with an ‘a-ha!’ when he had found the files he was looking for.

“Do I need to know what that is?”

He cocked a brow then, and she knew he was thinking that Peggy being Peggy, there was no way she didn’t already know the content of every box in that loft. He was right of course, but she wanted him to demonstrate trust. Trust with Howard was a huge deal, in that she was one of maybe three people in the entire world that he had it with. She worried about him often, though she tried to hide it.

“You want a ride to the office? I’m heading out to the new base in New Jersey later too, to check up on some things.”

She tried to let the base operators run that side of things as much as possible, trusting them, but wanting them to learn on their feet like the rest of the bases too after the initial set up. She had meetings all morning and a lunch with Chester Phillips, dragging him out of retirement once every few months to catch him up on the gossip. It had been almost half a year since she’d seen him and she wasn’t about to cancel.

“I’ll ride in with you, leave the cars here … in case Steve wants to drive somewhere later.”

“I’m sure Barnes would be happy to drive him anywhere he wanted to go,” Stark commented as they descended the stairs. Peggy rolled her eyes as he mumbled, “Or do anything else he might need, come to that.”

“Thank you for your time, gents,” Howard said with a nod to the two of them standing in the kitchen, now deep in conversation, coffee left to the side. “Cap, we’ll have that meeting at sixish? Discuss the media strategy from here on out.”

At that Steve straightened up, nodding.

“Sure thing, dinner right?”

“Right, I have this chef from Paris, he’s fantastic. You’ll have to sample everything, not that that’s an issue now. You both–” he nodded then to Peggy and to Bucky, “should join us. If you’re both free that is.”

Bucky shrugged.

“I could eat.”

Peggy smiled. Yes, she knew he could eat just about always and anything you put down in front of him. Even her terrible attempt at her grandmother’s famous pot roast that one time, the poor man.

Stark took his leave, allowing Peggy time to grab her coat and to gulp down the last of her coffee that was quickly turning cold.

“Okay, so I’ll just stay on at work then meet you both there to head over to his place at say five thirty?”

They both nodded, Bucky being the first to complete their morning routine; dumping his coffee in the sink and grabbing her for a kiss, coping a feel while he was at it, this time a little less shy about Steve watching. If she was honest, the idea of it now sent a shiver down her spine, making her feel bold. When they pulled back Bucky had that grin, one that told her he knew what he was doing to Steve at this point, so she just played him at his own game and grabbed Steve by the arm, snaking a another around his neck and pulling him in for a kiss too. She swore she could feel the blush from his skin as she did it too, but he kissed her back with just as much vigour and promise and truth be told she was three seconds from telling Howard she was pulling a sickie and letting her body work out all these conflicting feelings. Ultimately she remembered Korea and stepped back, fixing her lipstick and clearing her throat gently, feeling a little light headed. Steve’s eyes were glassy and Bucky was rooted in his place.

“Well, have a nice morning, whatever you two … get up to,” she said, working her hips a little extra as she grabbed her purse from the table and made her way outside.

If Howard knew what she’d done before getting into his car he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he handed her the files for the morning meeting with a nod.

“All set?”

She smiled.

“Yep, all set.”

                                              ******************

“So your boyfriend’s back. How does that affect your other boyfriend?” Phillips asked as their food was delivered. She had spent the previous fifteen minutes filling him in on all of Stark’s shenanigans, as was their usual routine; work first, personal after, then more work until they were done.

Peggy sighed, looking at her grilled chicken salad.

“It’s a wonderful thing and we’re both thrilled that he’s back, that he’s alive, himself, and all of that.”

“But?” the dour man in front of her asked. To look at him no one would have guessed he was a gossiping old hen.

“But nothing, I’m thrilled Steve is back. So is James.”

He chewed his meat, she swore in a completely judgmental manner.

“Sure you are, but what does Steve think of you two? That had to have been a shock.”

Fact, not question, and he wasn’t wrong.

“You really are worse than the ladies at the salon you know that?”

“Sue me, Carter. Retirement, forced might I add, is boring as all hell.”

“Your heart continuing to beat is an important thing, Chester .”

He groaned.

“You sound just like my wife when you start yammering on and on and on and on about my health, Margaret ,” he added, pointedly.

“How is Sheila?”

“Thrilled I’m retired, still. We’re planning a cruise to Europe in the summer, I can’t wait.” The droll tone said otherwise, making her laugh. “Speaking of wives.”

“Ugh…”

“When are you going to put that boy out of his misery and marry him?”

She was almost tempted to ask ‘which one’ just to spite him, but instead she remained silent.

“Peggy, really now.”

“Really now what?”

“Being a wife ain’t so bad, and it would do you some good, get some stability in your life–”

“You have a lot of experience at that then? Being a wife? How’s it working out for you? Got a nice apron? A lovely kitchen to chain yourself to? How’s your womb bearing all those kids?”

He rolled his eyes.

“Fine, I know it’s not tradition you’re after, but he’s a good man. Hell of a sniper too.”

“I agree, on both points. We also agree that it’s not what we need. We’re just fine as we are.”

“So you say.”

“And keep saying and yet it feels like no one is listening. They keep saying that it doesn’t matter what my job entails of me that I am not fulfilled unless I have a baby on each hip and three pies in the oven!”

“Depends on the kind of pie,” he said with a grin and she wanted to smack him. “One has to wonder, now that Rogers is back, if maybe he’s the one you’ve been waiting on.”

That smacked her in the face, knocking whatever air of mocking they had between them right down, so much so she almost dropped her fork.

“That’s not what’s happening at all and I resent the implication.”

He shrugged.

“Everyone knew how sweet on each other you were, and it was a damn certainty that you’d be married after the war. Had things happened differently are you saying you wouldn’t have married him back then?”

“I was a different person back then.” And it was true. She had seen war, yes, but that loss, that deep, personal loss affected her in ways she was still recovering from. He should have known that.

“Perhaps, but you know if it’s my first thought it’s bound to be Barnes’ too.” He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Just food for thought, Peggy.”

Phillips’ visits to the city usually left her feeling self-assured and ready to take on the rest of the week, or month depending on what she had to face. This time though it left her feeling thoroughly deflated.

Not even the saucy thoughts of what the boys got up to once she left them in their worked up state that morning could shift her mood by the time they both showed up at her office.

Both the boys were there, looking as grumpy as she felt.

Lord, perhaps it was catching.

The blinds on her glass wall drawn, she invited them in, closing the door to her assistant’s swooning as she did.

“Good lord you look like someone died, what’s wrong?”

Steve grimaced while Bucky sighed.

“Oh nothing, you know, just Steve and his bright ideas,” Bucky said, then leaned in and kissed Peggy, not a peck on the cheek, but a full on open mouthed kiss that took her a little by surprise.

Oh, something was definitely up with them.

“I’m missing something?” she asked as she stepped back to Bucky’s exasperation and Steve’s blush.

“You tell her, since it was your idea!” Bucky snapped no real anger in his voice only weariness.

Steve sighed before speaking.

“I just thought that if we’re ALL going to do this, then we should do it right.”

Bucky sighed dramatically before going behind Peggy’s desk to take her leather seat, tipping it back and putting his feet on her desk.

She fought the urge to snap at him, instead focusing on Steve.

“And ‘right’ is what exactly?” she asked, still not seeing his full picture.

“I … just think that we should do it right. You and he,” he nodded toward Bucky, “have had a shot at doing this thing properly – you know there’s a code.”

Bucky ‘ugh’d’ to himself, spinning in the chair.

“A code?”

“Yes, I ask you out, we go out. If you want to I mean,” his face flushed and Peggy was reminded of the skinny boy from so long ago now, it made her smile. “And we start things right.”

“If I want to?”

“Y-yes, and then there’s a date and … stuff.”

“Stuff?” She was enjoying toying with him and judging by Bucky’s silence he was enjoying her dragging every detail out of him like this.

“You know, dancing and stuff.”

He was beet red and she no longer had to hold back, instead she giggled and looked at Bucky who merely raised a brow in response before she leaned over, grabbed Steve’s tie, and pulled him in for a kiss that rivalled the one that Bucky laid on her moments before. His hands rested on her hips like a gent. Stock still he stood until she slipped her tongue and meshed it with his, then a moan escaped that went straight to her core, and his grip on her hips tightened. She pulled back reluctantly and Steve’s eyes went straight to her lips.

“So, a date then?” she asked, amusement still evident in her voice.

“Y-Ahem.” He cleared his throat softly, his hands falling to his sides. “Yes. So uh…”

“I’d love to, Steve.”

Her phone rang then, and Peggy knew it was downstairs calling to tell them a car was waiting to take them to Howard’s place uptown.

“Thanks Jane, we’ll be right down,” she said after picking up.

“Ready?” she asked, looking between them both, Steve was beaming and Bucky was … oh.

“I swear to God you both are trying to kill me, making out with each other like that, making Steve make noises like that, making my brain make pictures of what it is I’m picturing, but oh no, can’t have sex because there’s a goddamn code. I swear to god-” he mumbled to himself, clearly annoyed at the world in the most hilarious display of petulant child acting she had seen in a while – and she worked on the daily with Howard Stark. Steve laughed, watching him walk past them both, before extending his elbow for Peggy, which she took gladly. Both of them were amused at Bucky’s sour mood all the way to Howard’s driveway, where he promised to can it until a later date.

They both knew he was full of shit, and plotting his payback.

                                                                       ****

“We have to come out swinging, Rogers. You’re a national hero, an icon, a comic book character for cryin’ out loud. We do a press tour, the big cities, the morning radio, some TV maybe too. You’ve got a face for TV now that’s for sure!” Howard, on this fourth drink since they arrived – not counting how many he had before they arrived – was gesturing wildly as they all talked. Or rather, he talked a lot and sometimes other people got a word in. Peggy sat between Steve and Bucky at the dining room table as they awaited their dinner. It was them, Howard, Jarvis floating about in the background doing God knows what, and a press relations woman from Los Angeles who was more than a little bit enamoured with Stark. With all the talk of press tours she noticed Steve had gone quiet, the easy smiles and rapport he had with the group long gone as Howard yammered on about ‘exposure.’ She knew when he blanched white at the idea of live TV that she had to step in.

“Or how about we do one big interview – print – Life Magazine, The Post, something good. Reputable, worldwide coverage, kill all the birds with the one stone?”

She felt Steve relax. Bucky nodded in agreement with her and it stumped Howard and little Miss Exposure, also known as Helen.

“But Carter, we aren’t interested in killing birds, we’re interested in coverage. Coverage means talk and talk reaches the Capitol, and that means funding.”

She hated that he was right, but she would also rather walk on hot coals than have Steve become anyone’s ‘dancing monkey’ once more, and she knew Bucky felt the same as he grasped her hand underneath the table.

“I disagree, Steve isn’t here for our gain–”

“Not our gain, SHIELD’s gain, the world’s gain–”

“No,” Steve spoke up then, cutting Howard off mid-sentence.

Everyone turned to look at the man with the face of stone, resolve and determination. The last time she saw that face was when he disobeyed Philips and was going to walk to another country to save Bucky. She couldn’t have been more proud if she’d tried. It was easy for Stark to overwhelm people at times, his triple speak and grandeur were tricks up his sleeve he played well, very well, and the glamour of his home and the royal treatment of his guests were always something that took some getting used to. Howard Stark was a generous man, but only when he got something in return, and he always got something, not matter how small.

“Steve, buddy, come on. It will be so much fun!” Howard attempted, but he was cut off once Steve stood up, his height dwarfing Howard a little, the subtle intimidation working a charm. She swore she heard Bucky chuckle under his breath.

“I said no. Peggy’s idea is a better one. Kill all the birds, one sit down interview with whomever you all agree on, story and photos, whatever they want. But I tell my side of things once and once only and then I ask them to let me get on with my life.”

With that, Steve excused himself and headed toward where Howard assured them was one of the many bathrooms in the house. Mansion was a better term, a much better term for a house with seven bedrooms alone, never mind the two kitchens and four bathrooms scattered throughout. The pool was indoor and heated for heaven’s sake. They had all, on this occasion, declined a ‘dip’ to relax.

Instead, as dinner was taking some time, Howard offered them the tour of the house. The ladies agreed, though Peggy more so out of politeness as she had been there many times before.

“Go find Steve, okay? Make sure he’s okay?” she whispered to Bucky, kissing him on the cheek before the three of them left the dining room and heading away from where Steve had headed some ten minutes before.

Bucky found him standing in front of the sink in the bathroom, door unlocked. He was lost, just staring into the mirror above him. Bucky’s heart still skipped a beat when he saw him, his mind still not having fully accepted that this was Steve, and that he was really here, that all of this wasn’t a fragment of his imagination. Now that had been the scary thought over the years, that he was really still some sap on Zola’s table of torture and this was all of it, in his head.

But he held tight to the hope that it was real, he had to.

“Hey, they’re serving dinner in a few. You okay?”

It broke Steve out of whatever thoughts he was lost in with a blink and a sad smile. Still a horrible liar.

“I’m fine, just needed a break from all the ‘great’ ideas.”

“Peggy will kick his ass if he tries to force you into something–”

“I owe him–”

“You owe him shit, Rogers.”

Steve gave him that chastising look, the same look he’s been seeing since they were little boys giggling in church.

“Bucky, he saved my life, I owe him.”

“So you owe him your life? That’s not how it works, Steve.”

Steve sighed, turning to the sink to splash some water on his face.

“No, I know that. But I do owe him something. Without him I’d still be a … I just owe him something.”

The shame that Bucky felt in that moment was years worth of missing Steve and wondering ‘if only’ accumulated into one moment. Howard didn’t give up on Steve, but everyone else did. At least that’s how it looked. Bucky had been able to save him so many times except the one time Steve really needed him to.

“Hey–” he attempted to touch him, but Steve stepped out of his grasp.

“It’s fine, okay? Whatever works best for everyone?” Steve whispered, not looking him in the eye.

At that Bucky lost it, because no, he wasn’t about to become Stark’s bitch-boy out of some misplaced sense of honour. He took Steve by his stupidly large shoulders and shoved him against the door.

“Hey, look at me? Look at me, Steve?”

And when he did, Bucky was sure his heart physically broke. The blond had tears in his eyes, his cheeks were red.

“Hey, listen to me, okay? You’re here and that’s what matters. Sure, we’ll thank Stark ‘til we’re old and grey and kicking his ass at backgammon in an old folks home or something,” that made his friend chuckle through the tears, but only for a split second, “but you don’t owe him your ‘right now.’ You owe him nothing, he did what he did because he COULD, because he wanted to prove he could to the world and come the end of the week he’ll make sure the world knows HE’S the reason you’re standing here.”

“But–”

“You’re his masterpiece, Steve. You think he was just going to let you rot?”

That hardened the sad look with something more familiar, stubbornness.

“You’re a cold son of a bitch sometimes, Barnes, you know that?”

He moved to push Bucky but didn’t, instead resting his hands on his shoulders.

“Yeah I fuckin’ know it, but did I lie?”

He swore Steve snarled before he sniffled and wiped his eyes with the cuff of his sweater.

“No.”

“No, I didn’t. You owe no one shit, not him, not me, not Peggy. The only person you owe is yourself. Be the selfish little prick that I know and love that’s in there somewhere, Steve.” He shook him then, forcing Steve’s hands to drop to his sides.

“You know, that little idiot that I wanted to keep safe but before my ass hit foreign soil was strapping himself to some mad scientist’s machine because he’s a reckless little fucker hell bent on giving me an ulcer.”

Now that made Steve laugh, watery as it was before his hands cupped Bucky’s face.

“Okay.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, okay. Peggy’s idea … it was a good one.” He sniffled again.

“Course it was. The woman will rule the fuckin’ world someday, mark my words.”

Steve nodded before leaning down an inch and pressing his lips to Bucky’s softly. Bucky kissed back just as softly before pulling away.

“What about the code?” he whispered with a cocked brow.

“Shut up a minute would you?”

He conceded when Steve dragged his fingers through his hair. He had commented before how he had liked it that little bit longer, that it reminded him of when they were just teens. Bucky shuddered as his fingers dragged on his scalp, deepening the kiss and shifting so they were flush against each other.

“Don’t,” Bucky began but Steve pushed him to another kiss, “start,” and another, “something, you can’t … can’t finish, Steve.”

There it was, that naughty look that he missed so much. God, it had been so long since they had been playfully stupid with each other. His heart ached … among other things.

“As much as I hate to stop the show…”

They turned fast and found Peggy was standing by the door, leaning against the door frame, casual as you like, a smirk on her face that both men wanted to lick off.

“And believe me, with how wrecked you both look right now, I mean that. But, uh, dinner’s ready and Stark isn’t drunk enough to not notice … things.” She nodded to their pants. “So, clean up and come join us okay?”

Both men let out a sigh of relief, and then promptly stepped back in attempts to put themselves back to rights.

“That could have been Howard, or Helen. It was sloppy of us,” Steve said, guilt evident in his voice.

“Yeah, look, let’s just wash up and get this night over with, okay? I don’t know about you but I need to just … not be here.”

Eloquent as always, Bucky thought to himself. He never did make much sense when he was horny. It was as if all his brainpower was routed someplace else.

Sure felt like it.

“I’ll go first, say we got lost or something,” Steve spoke, looking in the mirror to straighten his tie and fix his sweater. He was dressed in black slacks and a navy sweater and blue shirt and tie, his hair combed just so. Bucky hated how much he just wanted to snuggle into him.

“Lost, really?”

“It’s a big house, Buck.” He slapped him on the back with a smile before he slipped out of the room. Leaving Bucky to ignore his own messed up reflection in the mirror.

                                                                       ****

The ride back to Brooklyn was a quiet one, mostly because it was one of Stark’s drivers that Peggy didn’t know or trust, and so they kept quiet about anything important until they pulled up to the brownstone.

“Well that was exhausting.” She commented as she ascended the steps, the men following close behind. Steve was lagging at the bottom of the steps and his absence when Peggy unlocked the door was noticed, causing both her and Bucky to look down at him. “Not coming in for a cuppa tea?” Peggy asked, surprised. They had a very important conversation to finish after all.

He kicked the step absently before shaking his head.

“Nah, I’ll pass if that’s okay. I’m gonna go back to the city tonight, give you guys some space.”

Both Peggy and Bucky rolled their eyes, making him laugh nervously.

“God you’re both so similar, it’s odd.”

“Could say the same thing about both of y’all,” Bucky commented, taking off his hat and throwing it inside. “Steve, just come inside, we’ll talk things out.”

Things had been tense all through dinner, mood wise, and because Peggy was a danger she had been subtly touching Bucky’s thigh sporadically throughout dinner, torturing him silently. But Steve’s mood, while less maudlin than in the bathroom during his little breakdown, was still very subdued.

“No I um, I’d rather just walk for a while, maybe take the peace and quiet around here while I’m getting it, you know?”

Peggy sighed and walked down the steps, taking his hands in hers.

“Please come inside, we need to talk.”

He nodded, “I know we do, just … I’m all talked out for tonight, you know?”

She searched his face and must have found whatever she was looking for because she then mimicked his expression and nodded back.

“If you’re sure. If you want to be alone there’s a couple of guest rooms, one you’re quite familiar with?” She smirked, making him smile and squeeze her hands before letting go.

“Nah, I’ll pass tonight. Thank you though, both of you?” He looked to a confused looking Bucky and then back to Peggy before leaning in and kissing her on the cheek. “Though, if you’re free Saturday night, I’d like to cash in that rain check?”

That made her tear up a little, recalling part of their last conversation before he’d gone radio silent.

“The Stork Club at eight then?”

He beamed before looking to Bucky, almost for permission. What should have been awkward and uncomfortable oddly wasn’t, as she followed his path and looked to see her … their boyfriend grinning.

“It’s a date?” Steve asked, adorably nervous.

“It’s a date,” she reassured.

They both ignored the Bucky Barnes sounding mumbles of ‘it’s about damn time’ as he went inside to leave them to their good nights. They agreed with him, it was about damn time.

Notes:

So baby steps or are we rapidly approaching the point of no return?

Thanks muchly for the reviews on this guys it’s epic as I’ve said before but I do love hearing from you on this, so keep it up 😉

Next up : Date night drama!

xo

Chapter 15: Just A Date

Summary:

Peggy and Steve finally meet at The Stork Club for that long awaited date.

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Bucky had the kettle on when Peggy slipped out of her shoes and onto the couch. He had shed his coat and his waistcoat, shucked off his tie and unbuttoned the first three buttons. He looked deliciously dishevelled.

“He always did this. When anything happened, big or small, I would lose him for hours. Sure, he’d come back with a bloody nose or a black eye or somethin’ but you know…” he sighed, taking his spot beside her and pulling her into his arms for a cuddle.

“I worry about him.”

“Yeah,” he kissed her temple, holding her closer. “He’s stronger than what most people gave him credit for, even then. Now, I think eventually he’ll adjust with our help.”

“Speaking of adjusting…” she looked up at him then. “Are we crazy?”

“Probably. I mean you are. You definitely are.” That earned him a punch on the arm as he laughed. “You are! Hell, we all are.”

“Look, it was a mad idea but it’s one that keeps everyone happy and in the loop. Hard, impossible choices don’t have to be made.”

He nodded. “But it’s crazy, can we really do that?”

“Steve came back from the dead, James. I risk my life every day, you were taken in a war and tortured against your will, we’ve made sacrifices and lost so much. I just wonder if it’s not high time we took something back for ourselves.”

He bit his bottom lip as the kettle started to sing then hopped up to go make the tea. A few minutes later he returned with hers in her favourite cup and his in his usual mug, and a chocolate biscuit for her with a smile.

“Love is love, right?” he commented, sitting back down.

“That it is. I refuse to give you up. I refuse to break my own heart by cutting Steve out of my life and not exploring what that might be like, to have him in it again. I refuse to be the one to conform and step back so we can all pretend that we don’t want each other as much as we do.”

“You could rule the world you know?” He grinned.

“I don’t want to rule the world, Bucky, I just want to live in it. Happily.”

“And this, all of us, would make you happy?”

She thought then, and the idea of it terrified her, but not as much or in the same way as the idea of losing both of them.

“You’ve made me happy, I’ve made me happy … he makes us happy and maybe we make him happy?” Bucky smiled sweetly at that before she continued with a sigh.

“It would make me happy. I only hope that I can–”

“You already do, so much.”

“It would be an adventure, maybe?” Peggy offered. “I’m not saying I’m not scared but I’m just tired of losing people I love, James.”

“Yeah, me too Peg, me too.” After a beat of silence, nothing but their breathing and the tick of the clock on the wall, he nodded again, seemingly to himself this time.

“But what about marriage and babies and all the stuff that might not be possible if we decide we go down this road? I mean, it’s all very huge, very life altering, and heart altering too … I just …  If it’s what you want, and what Steve wants–”

“And what you want. It has to be unanimous. As for the other stuff, well I’m already too old in the eyes of most people to be considering children, and marriage wasn’t ever something I needed, you know that as well as anyone.” She smiled softly. Many a conversation was had on this very topic, many an avoidance too. “It’s a different path is all, but it’s one we all have to decide to take or not take together.”

“Like the Three Musketeers?” Bucky offered.

“With hopefully better choices in hats, but yes, why not?”

“I love you both, I want you both, the world and you seeing fit to allow me that isn’t something I’m gonna question. So I’m in. But you’re right, everyone has to agree together.”

“We’ll meet him for breakfast tomorrow. I’m off until Sunday, and we’ll discuss everything before–”

“Before your date the next night?” He grinned, mischief in his eyes.

“Yes, my date,” she answered with a giggle. “Will this ever stop being strange?”

He shrugged. “I hope not. I like our version of strange.”

“I think I do too.”

“Bucky?”

“Hmm?”

“The code doesn’t apply to us by ourselves, does it?” Peggy asked, already off the couch, her hand extended for his, making him laugh.

                                               ***

It was the night of the ‘date’ and everyone was a little on edge. It was stupid, as far as Peggy was concerned. It was just a date. Except she knew she was bullshitting herself because it wasn’t just any old date with any old guy. It was her first, her first with Steve.

The date she had waited for since 1944.

She sighed to herself, sitting in front of her lit up vanity, knowing that Steve was up on the other floor. His ‘bedroom’ was there, his space. As far as the outside world was concerned it was a whole separate apartment.

They knew better of course.

But he was still up there, with Bucky, getting ready. The idea of getting ready at Stark’s building would just cause too many questions, and on a night like that, the less the better.

She was nervous but equally excited. Though out of the three of them she and Steve were sure Bucky was the most excited. He had been flapping about all that afternoon, humming to himself, and voluntarily doing the dishes. It was a little disconcerting. But, she knew he was happy for them, happy for him, though he was frustrated with their lack of … advancement in the romance area immediately.

In short, he was horny as a goat because he was ‘doing this right’ and making sure everyone was on the same page after ‘jumping the gun’ with Steve. His hilarious choice of words for that had her sick sense of humour tickled. He certainly did jump the gun, Steve’s gun.

Good lord, she mentally chastised herself for thinking such things, and then chastised herself for chastising herself. She was a grown woman who saved the world and had two boyfriends; thinking of them naked was her right.

As was doing a lot more than thinking about it.

Having offered a ‘code free’ night to Bucky, he at first seemed all for it, but then decided that his conscience was louder than his libido and declined, annoyed at himself and leaving Peggy in a fit of giggles. It had been the first time ever – possibly in his life, he ever refused the offer of sex.

They all knew what was meant to happen after their date that night, but it was tentative baby steps, and no one was under any illusion that they ‘had’ to do anything. She was thankful for that. It was a lot to digest. She exhaled again, forcing herself not to sweat as she put on some makeup.

She could do this.

It was just a date!

                                                                       ***

“It’s not just a date, Bucky, Jesus,” Steve was standing in front of the mirror, sweating and feeling like he used to when his asthma would get bad in winter. Bucky was rummaging through a drawer paying him little mind, a stupidly handsome grin on his stupidly handsome face. Even older now, Bucky was still beautiful, if possible even more so. He aged like wine. Steve was sure he would age like milk.

“She’s a cool woman, we both know this. We both love her. She loves us both. Literally, Steve, there is NO chance of rejection here.”

“It’s a hard habit to break though,” he sighed again, trying to fix his tie. He was dressed casually in grey pants and a white shirt; he was toying with a tie-or-no-tie decision for twenty minutes. He wanted to be casual, aloof, and cool. Sadly, in reality he was exactly none of those things.

“No not those grey ones the other grey ones,” Bucky dismissed, taking in his appearance from behind.

“What the hell does it matter what shade of grey pants I’m wearing, Bucky really!”

Bucky rolled his eyes, pushing himself to Steve’s back, his hands on his waist, looking at him through the mirror as his hands slipped lower.

Oh.

“Because, the other ones really bring out your ass,” he grinned. “Now wear this blue tie, it really brings out your eyes.” After a little pat to the ass he was making his way to the door and said, “Two things I know she’ll be interested in!”

“Her or you?” Steve called back but got nothing but a chuckle as Bucky descended the staircase to Peggy’s floor.

He could do this, it was just a date!

                                               ****

She saw him leaning against the doorframe through her mirror, he was admiring her, and she knew that look. She loved that look.

“See something you like, James?”

“Always.”

With that he made his way into the room, sitting at the foot of the bed, behind her.

“You okay?” Peggy asked, finishing off her look with some trusted ruby red lipstick before swivelling on her vanity chair to face him.

“I am. I’m just realising how odd this all is.”

“Just now?”

He laughed.

“I mean it should feel wrong or something, right? I should feel jealous or annoyed or hurt but it’s not happening. I keep expecting it to, and it doesn’t come.”

“Call me crazy, but I’m glad? Those are the last emotions I want you feeling in regard this whole thing.” He nodded, taking her hands in his.

“How do you feel though?” she asked in a whisper, almost scared to really ask.

“Happy? I guess happy is the first one, for Steve, that he gets a shot with the woman – the only woman – he ever fell for. A little anxious I guess too.”

She looked at him with a look at said she felt the same exact thing. He rolled his eyes at them both before kissing her on the cheek.

“I have my study group in the city tonight along with a few more errands to run, so I’ll be back late. There’s a room booked in my name at this little B&B over on–”

“Bucky!”

He grinned.

“As if we all don’t know how this night ends, Carter. Don’t pretend.”

She huffed then, annoyed that it all seemed so final.

“Leave a little room for spontaneity, Barnes.”

He rolled his eyes, still smiling.

“I’m all for that, but honestly I think you’ve both had to wait long enough to get in each others pants.”

“Romantic.”

Realistic ,” he countered. “And can you blame me?” He wriggled his brow at her. “I’ve had you both, I know how awesome everything, everywhere will be.”

“Ah, so this is purely selfish on your part then, wanting me to…”

Fuck Steve . You can say it.”

She fought a blush and he caught her. His smug laugh was almost enough to annoy her.

“Completely selfish on my part, trust me.”

Another kiss to the cheek and he took several steps back and out of the bedroom.

“If it were me we wouldn’t leave the house, but Steve likes to be wooed.”

He said it loud enough that his voice carried up the other staircase, and sure enough a second or so later they both heard a mumbled ‘Shut the hell up Bucky I do not!’

He just winked at Peggy.

“See you later, Carter. Have fun! ”

                                               ************

A last minute emergency forced Peggy to pop to the office, leaving Steve to make his way to the club to ensure their dinner reservations stayed reserved by showing up – alone. It also left Peggy fuming as she rushed from the short and apparently pointless meeting – a point she made sure to reiterate to all involved – that it could have been done over the phone, in the morning. Regardless, it allowed her to sign off on two new recruits for the New Jersey office, ones she would oversee in the coming weeks.

Rushing to a cab in the rain was one thing, rushing to a cab in the rain on a Saturday night was another.

All in all Steve had been there almost thirty minutes alone.

She cursed Howard again under her breath as she shook off her wet coat and attempted to fix herself in the little mirrors that adorned the entrance hall.

Deep breath.

She walked in and scanned the club, couples everywhere. Some at tables, others standing mid-conversation in every space, most at the bar, and sure enough there he was, standing, taking in the scenery around him like he always belonged there, sipping a beer.

Her breath hitched.

It was a moment she had imagined so many times over the years, especially the first few. This moment, one she never really believed she’d get to have in reality.

He spotted her when she was a few feet away, and it was as if time stopped. It was just her, walking into that club in a fitting V-neck dress, different from the red he remembered from his dreams so long ago, but still as stunning, if not more so.

A light in the dark, as always.

“You’re late,” he quipped, a cheeky grin on his handsome face. Another call back from a time long forgotten by most. It caused her to smile as she leaned in and kissed his cheek.

‘I couldn’t call my ride…’

“I had no ride, cabs are terribly unreliable. Do you forgive me?” she asked with a smile, taking the pre-ordered whiskey sour he had for her. His heart swelled. This was real.

“Considering how late I am, I think it’s safe to say we’re even.”

A few more minutes of jibes well placed and they were informed their table was ready. Seated and ordered, they had a couple more drinks delivered.

“This place is nice. Not sure how it looked right after the war, but it’s nice now,” Steve commented.

“I wouldn’t know. I never went … with anyone.”

With Bucky. He knew that’s what she meant.

He nodded.

“It’s nice. You look beautiful by the way, I forgot to tell you that before,” he blushed again, before taking a healthy sip of his drink.

“You too.”

He laughed.

“Yeah uh, Bucky was pretty insistent I wear this grey three piece…”

She took him all in once again, allowing her eyes to roam shamelessly.

“Bucky has good taste.”

He looked at her then, as if right through her, and there was a sudden pang of want and regret that ran through her.

“Yes, he does.” He cocked a brow, making her smile.

The dinner went swimmingly. It was like old times, except with actual food and nice music in place of rations and the sounds of bombs in the distance. Steve spent most of his time wanting to know about her since before; everything and anything she wanted to tell him he was more than happy to listen to. At times she felt those pangs of guilt as the majority of her stories involved Bucky and them as a couple, but if it bothered him he never showed it. Smiling and laughing at all the silly antics, from the Coney Island Vomit-Fest of ’49, to the fear of God on her face when faced with babysitting her niece and nephew for an evening when they were tiny babies.

“It was entirely unfair how easy he took to it.”

Steve laughed.

“Yeah, he’s a natural. Had a lot of cousins, lot of neighbours with kids … and then there’s me. Poor shmuck was forever picking me back up and putting me back together. Sometimes literally.” He shook his head, most likely recalling a million stories she longed to hear.

“I’ve been trying to woo him,” Peggy said, a conspiring smile, knowing that this was viewed as her wooing Steve, “to come work for SHIELD.”

“And he hasn’t?”

“No, he hasn’t. I knew why, but I always thought I should try, you know?”

“Why?”

She finished a bite of her dinner before she continued.

“Isn’t it obvious?”

Not to Steve.

“He wouldn’t fight the fight without you. With you … gone, it was obvious any fight he had in him, emotional or otherwise went out like a light when you did.”

Steve grimaced then.

“But in a way I’m glad. He found school – which he’s fantastic at – full of new things and people and opportunities.”

“I’m glad too. It kept him safe. Kept him out of war.”

Peggy nodded. “A luxury few of us can afford.”

“You could just quit,” he offered with a grin, knowing how well that would go down.

“I could, couldn’t I? Schedule me for that lobotomy for next week and perhaps I shall.”

Steve laughed then, big and loud, taking her hand across the table. He loved the almost physical sparks that flew when they touched, still after all this time. “No, you’re a soldier Peg, an Agent, but a better soldier than most men.”

“I do like to think so,” she preened in pretend arrogance. “What about you, super solider that you are.”

“Are you asking me to join SHIELD?”

“Heavens no,” she grinned, sipping her wine. “Merely inquiring your plans is all.”

Steve sat back, taking in the room for a minute.

“It’s been on my mind since I woke up almost. What do I do now? Where do I fit in?”

Peggy’s eyes softened. All joking aside, she felt so horrible for how out of place Steve must feel in his own life still. She longed to give him a place where he belonged, first with her and Bucky and maybe, in time, with SHIELD, but only as with all things, if it was what he truly wanted.

“Any answers?”

His sad tell gave him away, the dipped headed smile that never reached his eyes.

“I have until tomorrow evening to figure it out I guess.”

She knew why he had a deadline, it was Stark’s deadline. They couldn’t sit on his return much longer and everyone knew it. Living in blissful ignorance was nice, but sooner or later the world would know their hero had returned and whatever balance Steve had found since waking up would surely be shaken to the core.

“I can put him off a little longer if you need it. You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to Steve.”

He smiled genuinely then.

“I owe him something.”

“So? Buy him a drink. He’ll appreciate that just as much as you baring your soul to the world for some puff piece.”

“You don’t mince your words do you?”

“Should I?” she asked, brow cocked.

“Absolutely not, it’s one of the things I love about you.”

If he had realised what he had said she didn’t notice. Peggy wouldn’t bring attention to it either, instead focusing on finishing her meal.

“You don’t have to decide anything so soon, Steve. Once people find out you’re back there will be a scuffle for information and stuff, but it will die down.”

Peggy had experience with the press on such matters. After he had died to save the world she was the one they sought out as Captain America’s would-be widow. It had been awful at the time, and ever since then had left a bad taste in her mouth.

“I can deal with it, it’s you and Buck I worry for.”

“Why?”

He looked at her as if she didn’t get it. She didn’t.

“I’ve read some of the things they wrote back then, about you and me, and how it was picked up when you and Bucky got together.”

“Fodder, that’s all.”

“Still, it wasn’t right.”

“No, it wasn’t but that is all in the past.”

“Past has a way of coming back to haunt you,” he blinked, taking another slug of his beer. “I’m living proof of that.”

There was a beat before Peggy spoke again.

“Is that what you think you’re doing? Haunting us?”

He shrugged.

“Steve!”

He tried to laugh it off, but she had him cornered.

“You stop that right this minute, you hear me? That is not what you are!”

“If I hadn’t come back you and he would have went on with your life; a normal life without this conflict and confusion and crazy plans of trios having relationships.” He leaned forward to whisper, “And this is all amazing, being here with you and knowing we can talk and maybe dance and all of that, but it’s not real.”

She narrowed her brows at him.

“What do you mean not real?”

“I mean…” he sighed. “I mean I don’t belong here, not anymore. Bucky was happy with you, you were happy with him, you both had a life together, going somewhere real. A wedding or kids or growing old or whatever you wanted. Then here I am, messing all that up.”

“Ste-”

“No, think about it.”

“I have!” she whispered harshly.

“Have you really?”

“I had wanted to talk all this over with you, to make sure it’s what you really want. Now I see that maybe it’s not.” Her heart sank and she didn’t care enough to hide it.

“It is, it really is, believe me but–” He grabbed her hands again, their dinners long forgotten.

“I’ve had the same conversation with James, and I said the same thing to him I’m saying to you now,” she leaned in, and whispered, “Stop thinking with your dick for a minute and really think about what we’re doing here. I have gone over it from every angle.”

It made him smile, her potty mouth.

“I have, too.”

“Have you? Because I get what this means for me, the giving up as you call it of ‘normality’ as if he and I were your traditional Mr. and Mrs.” She huffed. “But for you? It means lying to everyone we know, it means awkward singledom, it means–”

“It means nothing if I get to be with the two people I loved most in the world again, Peggy. The rest I can deal with.”

“It’s not as simple as before, we all know this. With you and him, no one knew or cared who you were or what you did behind closed doors. Now, if Howard has his way you’ll be a celebrity. A, what did he call it, a ‘super hero’ for goodness sakes.”

“I’m just a soldier. One that doesn’t want to live with the idea of either of you getting hurt because of me.”

“We’ll have to remind him of that I’m afraid, as I remind you, Bucky and I are more than capable of looking after ourselves. You don’t have to worry about us Steve.”

“But I do, you’re both the world to me.”

That made her smile, albeit sadly.

“What a pair we are, huh?”

“You can say that again.”

                                                           *****

Before they got as far as dessert, never mind dancing, a massive scuffle broke out inside the club. A mob boss had apparently been shot in one of the upstairs rooms. The place erupted into chaos in a matter of minutes. People were screaming, there were bullets flying, and the police were there, all within what seemed like seconds.

“What do we do?” Steve asked, unsure as they took cover. “I don’t have my shield and I know you’re not armed!”

She had her knife, but this wasn’t her fight.

“It’s not our fight. We need to get out of here.”

Peggy!”

“Steve, not our fight. You aren’t even meant to be out tonight, we need to get out of here. There’s a side exit, most are leaving that way, we take the back, come on.”

She yanked him by the sleeve, grabbing her purse as they all but crawled out from under the table. Peggy grabbed the arms of two women frozen in fear and pulled them with her toward the other exit.

“Steady along now ladies, there’s a lot of glass, be careful!” she said, Steve taking to her side, helping another small woman with red hair to her feet. She looked up at him with a thankful gaze, one that turned to recognition instantly.

“Oh my word!”

“Come on now ma’am, keep moving!”’

“You’re him, aren’t you? You look just the same, oh my word!”

Steve blanched and passed the woman to Peggy, helping the others outside. Once out in the air, everyone went different directions. There were flashes of police sirens and ambulances outside the main entrance, the flash of press flashbulbs went off here and there too.

Steve pushed up on Peggy and all but dragged her down the alley. They went back three blocks through the alleyways, and came out by the park. It wasn’t until they were safely at the entrance of the park that they both took a breath.

The adrenaline of the events of the evening overtook them both and caused them to laugh hysterically.

“Oh my god,” Peggy said, holding her stomach, her other hand on Steve’s arm. “Can’t even have dinner in peace, it seems.”

Steve laughed too. “We sure know how to pick the nice and peaceful times for conversations don’t we?”

“That we do. A war, a shooting, what will tomorrow bring?”

“I shudder to think.”

She noticed then that his hand was cut. There was a little blood but not enough to alert or alarm and without thinking she took his hand to her lips, and licked. It broke whatever humour was floating in the air between them and Steve stood stock still, his eyes transfixed on her and her wet lips.

He inhaled loudly as she lapped at his scrape, warm and welcoming, and the sensation of it went straight through him.

Her big eyes under long lashes found his, and she smiled with something wicked behind it.

“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”

Steve wasn’t sure what came over him but more adrenaline coursed through his veins and he didn’t want to fight the urge to touch her. Was it being outside, just inside the entrance to the park? Was it that it was night, that it was secluded, that he was hard as hell and all she’d really done was kissed his hand?

Licked, licked his hand.

Jesus.

Either way, when he grabbed her waist and pulled her close, pushing himself and her against the metal railing. His lips crushed to hers in a bruising, hectic kiss that knocked the breath from even his lungs, he didn’t care about decorum.

He had waited too long for that. They both had.

Notes:

Am I evil for leaving it there? Sort of. And because of that I’ll be promising to update with the next chapter tomorrow night if that’s something you guys would like to see so soon? If not I can postpone it a little so it’s on a normal posting schedule, but I have a feeling you might liiiike where it’s headed 😉

Either way hit me up and let me know 😀
Ps.
Major thank yous to Linds for editing and Whitney for pre-reading and for cheer-leading me on this xo

Chapter 16: Just A Date P2

Summary:

As promised the second part because I’m really not a cockblocker.
Steve can no longer call himself a hetero-virgin, Peggy enjoys the show, and Bucky’s just happy to be there 😉

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

                                                ****

They stumbled in the door, lust swirling like clouds around them both. Him against the wall, her against the hallway table, the door, the couch. It’s when they heard someone clear their throat that they looked up like two teenagers caught making out where they shouldn’t be.

Bucky was causally standing by the entrance to the kitchen off the living room in nothing but his sleep pants and a white tank top with a fascinated look on his face.

“No,” he said, nothing but exasperation in his voice.

“No?” Steve asked nervously.

“Seriously?! You two- There is a room waiting for you across town! I’m not meant to be here when–” he hand gestured to them both, “ this happens the first time! I thought we made that clear!”

Oh he was so very annoyed.

For some reason Peggy found this hilarious and dissolved into a fit of giggles, starting Steve up too and only serving to annoy Bucky even more.

“Jesus fuck. Fine, but I need a drink,” Bucky said, then nodded to  his coffee mug in hand. “A real one.” He disappeared into the kitchen, returning to a straightened up twosome with tumblers full of whiskey and an adorably cross look on his face.

 **************

An hour or so later and they were all good and liquored up, even if two out of three of them in the room couldn’t really get drunk. It wasn’t the alcohol that was getting them drunk anyway.

It was each other.

“And what exactly is normal anyway? Twin beds five feet apart, separate bathrooms, separate closets, separate lives except when it comes time to make kids, and then it’s a quickie and some fake moaning until it happens, circle repeat until we die? Well, gentlemen, no offense, but that’s horseshit. I watched men’s heads get blown off, I’ve seen the up close and personal effects of war, I’ve seen more death than I care to remember and I want more from my life.”

They just stared at her as she rambled.

“You’re a bloody super soldier for heaven sake, and you’re the sharp shooter with freakishly amazing aim, hearing and healing – don’t think we don’t notice Bucko. And I’m, well I’m a bloody good Agent of SHIELD is what I am.”

“Co-Founder,” Bucky added with a grin.

“That too, damn right. Why should we pretend to live mundane lives when our lives are so clearly the opposite of that? Why conform when our real world – the one with monsters and evil and chaos — demands that we stand up and put our lives on the line every day? Steve has already lost so much, why should he be forced to lose one of us now just because ‘society’ frowns upon such things. Things people do in the dark but never talk about. I repeat, utter horseshit.”

“She’s a sailor,” Steve commented with a laugh, into his glass, causing her to roll her eyes.

“You have no fuckin’ idea. It’s amazing,” Bucky added.

The record changed and Peggy was feeling warm and fuzzy inside – whiskey had that effect – as did the looks she was exchanging between the men in the living room. The sweet tones of the music filled the silent room; the irony of the song wasn’t lost on them at all.

It had been a long, long time, after all.

“Steve, I do believe you owe me a dance.”

His ears pinked and Bucky smiled, having heard the story of their ill-fated date and disgustingly bad timing.

“It’s not nice to make a dame wait, Steve,” he commented, enjoying it far too much. Steve took the lead though, surprising them both as he crossed the room to take her hand.

“May I have this dance, Miss Carter?” he asked, earnest and sweet, his eyes dancing with mischief, and she felt herself blush in spite of herself. He took her in his arms, strong and sure, pressing up against her beautifully. He was blushing too, but his movements made no show of this. He only stepped on her toes once as they slowly rounded the space between the furniture. Both of them were aware of a pair of curious blue eyes on them, humming lightly to himself happily. Peggy looked to him sitting behind her dance partner and he shrugged, wearing that boyish smile that did things to her. Bucky nodded, and it was as if a switch flipped, this was happening. What they had been dancing around, pun intended, for days. She made the call. She could ignite this or throw water on the fire and walk away.

Steve held one hand softly, the other rested just over his heart. It was beating so fast she wondered if he was okay. Instead of asking she just dipped his chin and kissed him. It was exhilarating and terrifying, right there with a man she was falling in love with, and the man she had been in love with for a decade. And she didn’t have to choose, and neither did they.

Imagine that.

Their kiss got more heated as the record changed and she heard Bucky cough and shift in his seat. Enjoying the view a little too much, perhaps.

“Steve’s a quick study, Carter,” he commented from his position, his voice thicker than usual. That alone sent a shiver down her back.

“I’m sure he is if his dancing is anything to go by,” she answered, full of sass after finally coming up for air. “Have you ever been with a woman, Steve?”

She knew the answer, but both she and Bucky took a little sadistic pleasure in seeing him pinken. It filled her head with naughty thoughts on how else she wanted to get him to colour that way from now on.

“Well … okay no, not technically .” He was beet red and scratching the back of his ear.

Bucky chortled, pouring them all another round. The dancing had stopped but they still held on tight.

“I mean there have been girls. I have done stuff!”

“Fingering Missy Andrews when you were fifteen doesn’t count,” Bucky commented, his glass to his mouth.

Peggy held in her smile at that. Those boys really did know everything about each other.

“Not just that,” Steve huffed as if to say, fuck you, Barnes . “I was on tour with USO girls for a long time. I’ve done stuff, just not, you know … all the way. It wasn’t proper. Some of them had boyfriends at war and it wouldn’t have been right.” Bucky looked shocked and a little proud. Apparently they didn’t know everything after all.

That was good.

Peggy took a healthy swig of her drink. Dutch courage, she promised herself before she asked the next question.

“Do you want to go to bed with me tonight, Steve?”

She forced herself to remember her training; don’t blush, don’t give yourself away no matter what the circumstances. She and they were adults, she could do this.  But, as it turned out, even a well-trained spy such as her had tells. She was rubbing her ring fingernail off her thumb rapidly by her side. This caused Steve to take both her hands in his, his blush now well down his neck and showing no signs of dissipating. It was as if Steve was searching for something in her eyes, on her face. She had almost forgotten how lovely his eyes were, even in a dim room they were like pretty crystals she liked to get lost in.

“I want to do everything with you…” He leaned in, still holding her hands in his and kissed her again, this time sweetly before pulling back. “I’m nervous as hell I just thought you both should know–”

“Steve–” Bucky began from his seat before he stood. “This is something you both should do alone. It was why I went out, why I booked the room. Honestly, you two–”

“Why?” Steve asked. It was part of what they had discussed before, seemingly coming into reality now. Bucky was a part of them now, just as she was a part of them also. He was there for everything else, why not this? It wasn’t as if she had anything he hadn’t seen before, surely.

“What?” he answered, confused.

“Why leave? You’re the only person in the world I’ve ever had any kind of sex with, Buck.” Steve smiled, licking his lips he continued, squeezing Peggy’s hand in the process. “And you and Peggy are you and Peggy now – have been for longer than you and me were you and me, or even me and her … you get where this is  going right?”

“Uh … no?”

“Honestly James,” Peggy laughed before walking to him and kissing him. “Steve wants you to be a part of this, in whatever capacity that feels right to you.”

Bucky looked past her to Steve, who nodded before focusing on Peggy again and whispering, “But no, this isn’t how– you both deserve your shot. This isn’t it. I’m not meant to be here.”

“Says who?” Peggy asked, her fingers snaking around his neck, playing with the hair at the nape of his neck that she knew he liked. “Honestly? Why not be a part of this?”

“Because! Steve has blinders on and it’s not fair, you both deserve your chance to have this moment, this special moment to yourselves.”

Peggy just sighed.

“Bucky–”

“No, seriously, how are we meant to go into this as equals if I’m hogging you both? You for almost ten years and him for a lifetime before that. No. It’s not fair. As much as I want you both, and trust me it’s killing me here,” he grimaced, shifting his pants a little. Subtle as a brick as always, she thought before putting his hands up.

“I … can … I should go?” he offered, awkwardly.

“No! Stay!” Both Peggy and Steve said in unison, causing them both to look at each other then and dissolve into the giggles. Steve had already rid himself of his shirt and tie in the midst of their rationalising, standing there in his grey dress pants that Bucky picked out because they really DID bring out his ass. And his arms in that vest … and all of it was a little too much. Then he leaned into Bucky and kissed him softly once.

“Please just stay?”

At that Steve and Peggy looked at each other and giggled before turning two sets of what could only be described as puppy dog eyes at him.

“Oh my god you’re both such nerds…” Bucky sighed in fake exasperation.

“Nerds who love you, you idiot, now sit back down until it’s your turn,” Peggy answered with a laugh in her voice she never wanted to lose.

“We’re … there are turns?” Bucky asked, now loving every minute of this, the asshole.

“I didn’t say with whom, but yes. And so help me, if you make one joke about Coney Island you’re sleeping in the shed,” Peggy quipped, making Steve laugh again.

Laughing was good, laughing made things easier.

“Yes Ma’am,” Bucky agreed with a cocked brow in her direction.

A few more exchanges of kisses, a little touching here and there, and Peggy knew things weren’t going to stop that night, nor did anyone want them to. So, without saying anything she tentatively led both her boys up the narrow staircase. Everyone was afraid to speak should it break whatever haze of lust and love and curiosity that had washed over them.

The softly lit bedroom awaited them, illuminated only by the old bedside lamp on what was Bucky’s side, closest to the door. ‘ Because, Carter, I understand you can knife a man from twenty paces, but I’m taking point when we sleep.’ It was tactical and romantic all at once, and she found it charming. The double wrought iron bed had been hers since she moved to New York and it had stood the test of time – and Bucky’s sex antics – but looking at it then, she couldn’t help but wish it was somewhere less connected to them as a couple, and more somewhere new, to them as a trio.

Peggy exhaled loudly before Bucky, sensing her discomfort, crossed the room and Steve to stand in front of her.

“You okay there, Carter?”

She nodded. Her emotions were bubbling, but she wasn’t sure why she was feeling this way now. Perhaps the intensity of everything they were about to do and what it meant from here on out was somewhat intimidating, even if they all wanted it.

“I’m good,” she whispered. “It’s just it’s…” she glanced at the bed again and he got it instantly.

“It’s our bed, I know I … know, but–” He looked at Steve, no doubt recalling their last intimate encounter in the other room for this reason alone.

Steve smiled softly before patting them both on the arms.

“I have an idea, excuse me,” he said, pushing between them and lifting all the blankets from the bed then quickly making a makeshift bed on the floor. It was a sweet and oddly romantic gesture that had Bucky grinning before he leaned in and kissed Peggy on the cheek, then took two steps across the room to the chair that sat by the dresser.

“It’s not stepping on any memories down here right? At least not a lot I hope because ouch.” Steve was beaming and it was adorable. Peggy felt something inside of her relax as he shucked out of vest shirt and they both admired the view, because it was difficult not to. Then when he tentatively rid Peggy of her dress and earrings between soft, pliable kisses she relaxed further, leaving her in her slip, stockings, underwear and bra. Then it was the men’s turn to enjoy the view. She laughed, kissing Steve again until he took to the impromptu nest on the bedroom floor. Three big blankets and six pillows to be exact, all soft and warm and so welcoming, like his open arms to help her to his level.

Peggy put her hands back and unsnapped her bra, beginning to expose herself fully with a flush.

“I’ve … changed a bit … from before. Not as young–” she blushed again, powerless to stop it.

“You’re still the most beautiful woman in the world, Peggy,” Steve whispered – none of them were sure why they were whispering – as he slid some hair from her forehead. She rolled her eyes playfully, trying to keep things light.

“You’re just saying that because I’m the first woman you saw after all those injections.”

“No, I’m saying it because it’s true, and you were the only woman who really saw me, before.”

There was nothing more to say, not really. He gently rid her of her stockings, painfully slowly, and she was enjoying the kisses he left in their path, then same with her underwear until her body was softly humming. Slowly but surely they sank into a rhythm of kissing and touches before shucking the last of their clothes and retrieving a rubber from the nightstand which Steve swiftly put on, no questions asked, both of them hyper aware of Bucky watching their every move. Small, almost inaudible breaths were coming from where he sat, where he would shift every so often. She dared not look, for she knew if she did she would lose whatever nerve she had built, and it seemed as though Steve felt the same way. It wasn’t until Peggy straddled him, slowly sinking down on him hotly, tightly grasping him inside her that he moaned, his bottom lip between his teeth, his eyes flying open, hands grasping at her back. He saw him then, their Bucky, so utterly wrecked from just watching.

Her lips were on his ear, softly kissing and licking, sending shivers down his spine, and yet his eyes never left Bucky’s. It was as if they were both locked in a staring match, each unsure but unwilling to look away. She took his large hands and allowed him – showed him – where to touch, how to touch, and what to do. Steve was thankful; he wasn’t used to being soft, not anymore. Touching her silky skin, her soft, heavy breasts, her curves and thighs, smelling how sweet she smelled – just her being her and surrounding him so completely was almost enough to push him over the edge. Breaking eye contact with Bucky was difficult but necessary as she pushed hard, up and down, forcing him to bury his face in her shoulder, in her neck, in her hair, unable to suppress a rather loud moan. For minutes or hours or years he wasn’t sure, the hypnotic pace of their movements together fascinated him. It felt so good, so, so good but so different with her compared to with Bucky. Even at his most gentle, at his most considerate, there was no softness, no feminine scent of sweet perfume in his nostrils, no long graceful fingernails against his scalp.

He heard Bucky shift then, and that’s when it happened.

Her breathing stopped for just a second as if she was forcing it to, before she whispered Steve’s name. He looked at her face then, blissed as it was before she called Bucky’s name.

If it were possible, it turned Steve on more to know that she wanted Bucky to see, to know everything they were feeling in that moment.

“She feels like warm honey, doesn’t she Stevie?” The broken and utterly ruined voice came from across the room. “Just like heaven.”

Her breathing hitched again, this time her eyes were slammed shut as she went harder, faster, and she bit back a moan when he kissed behind her ear. Little moans of yes, god, yes only added to the heat that surged through him as she canted her hips, biting at his shoulder as he felt her tense.

She met Steve’s eyes with a nod before she called for Bucky again, breathless.

“Come … Fuck … come here,” she said, her hands now on either side of Steve’s head, pulling him into her chest as she fucked him harder than ever, almost manically. She slowed as they both felt the warm and unmistakable presence of Bucky at her back.

“I’m here, it’s okay…” he kissed her naked shoulder, flush against her back, his legs straddling Steve’s, moving her hair from her neck to one side, running kisses up her heated skin, making her moan even louder as he ran his fingers down her spine.

She shifted and turned, craning her neck to kiss Bucky, a kiss that he welcomed like she was an ocean to a man dying of thirst. Steve was pretty sure he was going to explode at the sights and sounds and sensations he was currently confined in. It was when Peggy made the decision to shift again, curling her hand around his neck, another twisted to reach Bucky as she took them both in with her half closed eyes, lip between her teeth, and pushed them into a kiss, that Steve felt himself unravel. Bucky’s hand slipped between them, pushing into her sure and confident, and just at that she was moaning into their mouths as they both attempted to kiss her, squeezing her thighs together as she came with a silent open mouth moan that got lost somewhere in her throat.

There was buzzing in Steve’s ears, then panting, but it wasn’t his panting he heard. It was hers, it was Bucky’s.

Breathe .

“That was um…” he began, but then Peggy pulled away and the sensation ran through him like lightning. “Agh…”

“Sorry,” she whispered sweetly, kissing his nose before moving with Bucky to lie down on the nest of pillows and blankets they had created. “God … almighty,” she huffed, and his eyes focused enough to take in her thoroughly wrecked form. She was breathless still, red patches on her skin from exhaustion and orgasm, her eyes still closed, her hand wrapped around Bucky’s as they took their place beside him.

“Are you alright, Steve?” Peggy asked, forcing him to open his eyes just in time to see Bucky shuck his shirt off slowly, eyes trained on Peggy’s mouth, then Steve’s gaze. The heat Steve saw there made his dick twitch, which was beyond surprising considering a second ago he was about done and ready for a much needed nap.

“I’m good.”

She chuckled.

“Mmm, yes you are.”

It made him laugh, but it caught in his throat as Bucky’s lips latched onto her neck. Her fingers snaked to his belt, yanking it open with no hesitation.

God, the thought of watching them sent a shiver through him that he refused to fight. It got Bucky’s attention though, and his eyes focused in on Steve while his mouth was still making Peggy squirm.

One of her hands was in Bucky’s hair, the other roaming over Steve’s arm as if to bring him closer. All the while Bucky kissed and nipped at her neck and lips, his hands palming her breasts. Before Steve know what was happening her hand was in his hair too. Roughly, she grabbed him and yanked him over to where they laid before breaking the kiss with Bucky to kiss Steve.

She tasted like Bucky.

“I need a minute,” she whispered, pulling back before doing what she did just minutes ago and pushed Steve and Bucky together for a kiss. Bucky laughed, following easily.

“I think she has something in mind here, huh, Steve?”

Peggy shrugged and shifted, allowing Bucky to move and straddle Steve. Annoyingly, he still had pants on.

“I’ve seen the pre-show and the after-party but never the main event, so sue me if I’m a little curious…”

“Curious huh? Hmm…” Bucky kissed Steve, which Steve readily accepted. “What do you say we give the lady a show then?” His fingers sketched lines over Steve’s hips, up his tummy and across his chest so softly it left goose bumps in their path.  Bucky twisted to kiss his way across Steve’s shoulders, to the collarbone, and up his neck. He could feel everything; Bucky above him, Peggy beside them, her eyes never leaving either man, too entranced by what was happening in front of her.

Steve never thought he had an exhibitionist streak before this, but by god he did now!

Steve closed his eyes and tried to calm his breathing, though it was of little use as his heart was already beating out of his chest again, and his cock throbbed relentlessly with need. The need to be touched again, so soon, so much, by both of them, by either of them. It didn’t care, it didn’t discriminate, and it knew the amazing feeling of both of them now and was happy with anything that came its way. The slightest brush with Bucky set him alight, forcing him to grasp him closer, until he made it clear he was ready for more.

Bucky tortured Steve with his mouth, kissing and licking his way down Steve’s body. His tongue and lips lapped along each curve, every dip and little turn. His eyes though, they never left Peggy’s. Steve forced himself to take a deep breath, knowing how this was turning Bucky on, and when he looked to Peggy he saw that she was blushing now, her eyes locked on Bucky’s, on his movements, on them – a thing no one had ever gotten to witness before.

She was fascinated.

By the time Bucky had worked him open, aided by the slick Peggy had so helpfully provided from the bedside locker, Steve was all but babbling and begging. It moved Peggy to come to his side and stroke his hair softly, kissing him deeply before whispering sweet nothings that he never knew he had longed so deeply for.

It was too much, much too much, when he felt Bucky push inside him, new condom, and more slick, all of it perfect.

Moans of ‘oh God ’ coming from his mouth … and hers.

A soft cry escaped and Bucky growled in retort. He pushed his way into Steve, pinning him down on the floor. Steve forgot how much he loved this, all of it. The feeling of utter fulfillment and connection. Bucky’s mouth found Peggy’s and she kissed him, slow and deep as he canted his hips, thrusting against Steve deep and hard. Steve groaned at their kiss and Bucky murmured back. His body was betraying him. He wanted this feeling to last forever, crushing all the pain, uncertainty and fear that the real world brought. This, here, with the people he loved – who loved him back – this, he wanted to hold onto.

It was so much, too much.

But it was when Peggy’s mouth shrouded him, alternating with a soft warm hand, pumping him to a dizzying end, that he felt himself slip, coming hard and fast, his free hand tangled in her hair as it happened without much warning. She never faltered though, taking him in with a moan, one that set Bucky off, and soon enough he felt his whole body shudder to the point of tears. Everything, every nerve, every cell felt alive and he wanted to cry out. He would have if he had found the energy from somewhere. What he did hear though was her. Moans, muffled by a kiss, and more panting. He opened his eyes long enough to see one of Bucky’s hands working her over as he kissed her hard, both of them utterly wrecked and Steve could do little more than lie there.

Bucky got giddy after sex, always. He had spent many a night attempting to keep him silent after, not that he tried very hard. The sound of his laugh was one of Steve’s favourite things.

That night added a lot of things to that list though, as they piled into the nest. Peggy nestled between both men, head on Steve’s chest, leg entangled with Bucky’s as he slotted perfectly at her back, spooning her as she spooned Steve almost.

“Well that was a … first,” Peggy muttered, sounding amused and making Bucky giggle again. The sounds of their soft talking was the last thing Steve remembered before the world went black. This time there was no fear, only bliss.

That was a first, too.

Hopefully the first of many.

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