Christ, if that was half the look the poor girls of Brooklyn were getting she was positive why virtues were being lost left right and center to James Barnes and his goddamn beauty.
After the mess he had made that night he skipped out of Washington as soon as he woke up that morning, not bothering to eat and only allowing a little time for a quick wash before he caught the six am train. He was at war with himself over how stupid and cruel he had been to her, out of nowhere, just to prove a point to himself.
He was an idiot.
But she was better off without him. Most people were. And while it wasn’t as if he hadn’t gotten off with a woman or two liquored up before, he knew, even in his messed up state of mind that she deserved better than that. And that’s what it all boiled down to really, she deserved better.
Better than him.
“You’re a dumbass kid, you know that?” Dum-Dum commented when he had reluctantly told him the tale over a few beers a couple of weeks later.
“I know that, but thank you once again for pointing it out.” He was miserable, and this wasn’t helping.
“Bucky, you gotta start living your life. You’re young, and when you don’t have that sour puss on you, I assume people find you attractive,” he said with a grin, sipping his ale. “You need to stop living in the past.”
“Oh yeah, explain to me how I’m meant to just get over it then huh?”
His friend sighed then.
“That’s not what I mean and you know it damn well. I just mean get out there, make an effort to live instead of just existing. He wouldn’t have wanted that. It wasn’t what we fought for Buck, it wasn’t what he died for neither.”
“I mean to,” Bucky sighed finishing off his whiskey. “I mean to do it, you know? But when it comes down to it, I just can’t.”
The older man nodded, patting him on the shoulder.
“Rogers left a gap, no doubt about it. You just … you have to try to mourn his passing but remember that he would be at your back pushing you toward life, toward a good woman or … whatever. That’s what you need to remember. You were always the one trying to get him settled, and you think he wouldn’t be doing the same for you now?”
“What do you mean ‘or whatever’?”
He was terrified of the answer. Of his friend turning to him and rolling his eyes, or worse, acting out in violence, declaring he knew he was a damn queer and to stop moping about his dead lover.
That never happened though, his friend just smiled.
“I don’t know Barnes, maybe a good woman isn’t what you want? We could find you a few bad ones if you’d like. Whatever floats your boat, I say.”
“Yeah well, it feels like my boat’s sunk.”
“Why? Because you put the moves on Agent Carter? Bucky, I’m surprised you did that, then changed your damn mind for one, because … well, because that woman was a bright light of sweet smelling kick ass in the dark of battlefield Europe for many a man.”
“But he was sweet on her, I know, we all knew. That doesn’t mean that your feelings or hers for that matter aren’t valid now.”
“I know that. I know, it still just feels…”
“It feels like you’re betraying him somehow?”
Bucky nodded, signalling for another round.
“Yeah, I only wanted him to be happy and I think with her-”
“He’s gone, Buck. It’s hard as hell, but it’s reality. You can pray to him and for ‘im, but fact is time waits for none of us and if you don’t get busy livin’ you’re just busy dying. And we’re all gonna be dead soon and for long enough. If you and Agent Carter are sweet on each other, I say see where it takes you. It’s gotta be more fun than sitting in a bar with me whining like a baby,” he finished with a smile, which earned him a playful shove.
“You’re an ass, you know that?”
“I do,” the older man nodded. “But I’m not the one that walked out on a revved up Margaret Carter, Jesus. And they call ME Dum-Dum.”
He finished off his drink and headed home, patting his friend on the back and promising to see him soon. And to not fall down and die on the way home, because apparently he was idiot enough for anything after his stunt with Peggy.
He was sure he wasn’t going to live that one down in a hurry.
It felt good to be on a job, a focus, a purpose. Usually she was fine with taking the ones she knew would be a quickie; in and out, as it were. Gathering intelligence, using her wits and Stark’s tech to get the job done was more satisfying than even she imagined. In three months she had infiltrated two Hydra bases posing as upscale businesses both in Los Angeles and Miami. She was then sent to London, in what was meant to be a short term gig, but turned into a long term undercover op at a top London hotel and what was suspected to be a Hydra financing scheme happening in the bowels of the building. If they could find the money, trace the trail they were sure to have far larger chances of putting together an accurate list of locations, financiers, and what exactly the money was funding and where. It wasn’t easy; the hours were long and never ending, and her ‘job’ as a hotel maid actually made her long for the battlefield. Those women did ten times the work of a man and got zero the thanks.
Taking down six members for extraction meant she had to get up and out of there once the team in that location completed their task of retrieval. It also left her with a sprained ankle, serious bruising on her legs and neck from the arsehole who thought he could strangle the life and the mission out of her. He failed and got a taste of his own medicine when she used the steel wire hidden in her bracelet to off him.
Phase one of her mission complete, Howard sent in her replacement and she informed him she was taking a couple of weeks in the country, and her parent’s old place. He didn’t argue, not that she would have cared if he did. He may have been her sort-of boss, but between the two of them she was the one that ‘wore the pants around here,’ and he had no issue with that. If anything she figured early on that he, in fact, liked that she was take charge and no bullshit, and that she frequently told him ‘no.’ He needed a grounding force in his life and she was more than capable of being such a being.
Time in the country was sweet, though things would never be as simple as they were before the war – before she had seen all she had seen and done all she had done, lost all she had lost. But, at least for a time, it was nice to pretend.
For a week she enjoyed walks and the small town where she had spent her summer holidays when they came here. The people knew her. They asked a lot about her role in the war and even more so about Steve – or rather Captain America. She had found that when someone knew Steve they asked about him, but the public didn’t know Steve. They knew the Captain, or at least of his actions and his heroism, and it was a terrific topic for small town conversation. Sadly for her, it was always with her they wanted to discuss him. After the first week she started driving through to the other village for her food and necessities. The rest of the time she buried her head in the books she had been meaning to catch up on, decidedly not case files, and certainly not recruitment applications.
Okay, so a few case files and a few applications, because Jesus the country was boring when you weren’t ten.
She had decided to air out the house, leaving the doors and windows open, and to plant some flowers in the backyard, a task that was soothing and time consuming. Even though there was a caretaker for the place now she was slowly realising that perhaps with her job, that renting the place out would be better for it. It needed life about it again; kids and love, like she had when she was growing up.
The sun had just started setting and since it was late August in England the weather was unpredictable at best. She wanted a fire on and some tea before it got too dark, deciding to bring in a nice stack of logs her father kept in the storage shed at the bottom of the garden. Of course her senses were on high alert when she got inside to see the front door now closed. She had left it open with a frog shaped stopper stopping it from slamming. She dropped all but one log and used it as her weapon as she rounded the corner, spotting the dark haired man peeking up her staircase. She didn’t hesitate, instead aiming to whack him on the head.
Aiming being the operative word. His reflexes were razor sharp and he grabbed for the log and for her, slamming her against the front door.
“BARNES?!” They yelled in unison at each other, and the shocked look on both their faces wasn’t quick to disappear. The log was dropped and he had her hands pinned above her head. She was a split second away from kneeing him in the balls when he spoke.
Luckily for him then.
“What in God’s name are you doing here?” she asked, noting he still had her pinned. She motioned and he let her go, his breathing erratic.
“I … well I came to – THE DOOR WAS OPEN, CARTER. In America that means, hey come on in. Not hey, come on in and get bludgeoned to death with a …” he looked to the ground, “a fucking log and a crazy woman covered in dirt!!”
“I WAS GARDENING AND I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE YOU,” she yelled and he took a step back. “And you know we have phones here and everything what the hell-”
“Howard thought it was a good idea,” he admitted sheepishly.
“And we’re listening to Howard now are we? Thought you hated him?”
“Not thrilled with him, think he’s a live wire and an opportunistic asshole but he was civil enough and when I said I needed to talk to you, his suggestion didn’t entirely suck. I wanted to … aw man.”
He looked to the floor and her eyes followed. There were a small bunch of roses, now thoroughly squashed.
“Oh. Oops,” she said sheepishly, stooping to pick them up. “I … I’m sure they were beautiful. Thank you?”
He just sighed, a little pink appearing in his cheeks. Right, last time they had seen each other it hadn’t gone well at all.
“I appreciate the gesture, really, and … the fact … strange as it is that you came all this way.”
He just sighed.
“I’m staying at that B&B in the village, there’s only one.”
Yes there was only one, a mile from her, which meant he walked to her place.
“You met Mrs Andersen then, nosy old bat,” she said as she led the way into the kitchen, her smashed roses in her hand. They’d made fine rose water and she liked that for her baths.
“Uh, yeah, she wanted to know why I wanted to know where you lived, I sorta told her that we served in the war together after she was giving me the stink eye for being a yank, apparently it’s a thing … anyway, once I said that she seemed fine, told me it was here. Nice digs by the way.”
The old farmhouse was large and intimidating at times, but it was a family home on the inside and converted grounds on the outside. Her family hadn’t much use for farming, but her father bred horses for years, so the space had come in handy then. Now it just lay unused and unloved.
“Cup of tea?” she offered, teapot in hand, he just shrugged as she waved at the kitchen table for him to take a seat.
“Peggy, I wanted to say that I’m sorry–”
“Barnes, really it’s not–”
“No, okay. I was out of line and cruel and I didn’t … I mean I did at the time I said those things to hurt you, but in my right mind that’s the last thing I ever want, I was just messed up and–”
“And an idiot.”
“And that, and I was a jerk, and I understand if you never want to talk to me again–”
“You and Steve shared the love of dramatics didn’t you? Christ, it must have been a regular drama with you two around,” she said with a slight smile, taking the seat next to him. “You were cruel and stupid and hurt and you wanted to push me away, I get it. I got it then too. You wanted me to think less of you, maybe less of Steve too–”
“Jesus I’m so–”
“Sorry. Yes, I know, stop saying it. But let me speak now okay?” She patted his hands that sat clasped together on the table in front of her. “You hurt me, but not with the truth about you and Steve. Believe it or not I know what happens between two people who love each other and who fancy the pants off each other, as I assumed you both did.”
Her wording made him smile. She was glad; she wanted this to be light. Enough things in their lives were heavy burdens to carry and this didn’t have to be one of them.
“Look you were crass and I imagine if Steve knew you were spilling all his sexual history to people–”
“Not people, just you.”
“Well, even at that, can you imagine the blushes?” she said with a laugh, causing him to sigh with a smile.
“He’d call me an asshole for disrespecting you like that.”
“He’d be right. But you’re also sorry. And you came thousands of miles with Howard might I add, to right your wrong. You get points for that, but you never needed my forgiveness. I wasn’t hurt to find out you both were … doing the do, if you please. It didn’t … and doesn’t bother me. Sometimes people are attracted to the opposite of sex, sometimes it’s the same, and apparently, sometimes now it’s both.”
The teapot started screaming on the stove, making them both jump.
“So much for relaxing in the country. Between screaming teapots, and rouge soldiers giving me a heart attack, never a dull moment.”
A cup of tea, three rounds of sandwiches, and two whiskeys each later, they were still talking. This time in the living room by the fire she had been craving all day.
“And you just punched him? First day?”
“Well,” she waved her hand in the air, “there’s always one on the first day, the one to test you, degrade you, and you nip it in the bud. You show them you’re not afraid or a wallflower. These men understand violence, so…”
“So you sucker punch ‘em in the face. Nice.”
They were sitting across from one another again. This time she was tucked up on her mother’s periwinkle blue couch as he sat sprawled on the matching chair by the window.
“It has to be done, otherwise they think they can walk all over you.”
“I can’t imagine a man dumb enough to think he could walk all over you.”
She finished her drink then with a shrug.
“Trust me, they’re out there.”
“Dum-Dum told me I was the dum-dum by leaving you in that hotel room the way I did,” he said, smirking into his glass. “I can’t say I disagree with him.”
“You told him?” It surprised her a little, but only a little.
“Was going crazy with guilt, had to tell someone, and I thought he wouldn’t judge me but boy did he ever.”
“He was right though.” He spoke clearly then, serious even, making sure she knew he wasn’t making a joke of what had happened.
“Hindsight is a fantastic thing, I suppose.” She tried to keep her voice casual, she probably failed.
“Yeah if I could do it over again–”
“Is that right?” she chided playfully, sliding off the couch, her glass in one hand whilst bending to retrieve his. She just grinned, a sly grin, taking his glass from him and sauntering over to the drinks cabinet behind the door.
“Another?” she called back, only to feel his hands on her hips. Her breath stilled and her heart stuttered.
“I don’t know what I want in the grander scheme of things, not really. But I know I don’t want to not … to not see what this is. If – I mean if you want, only if you want.”
He was whispering, why was he whispering?
She turned and took in his form, how nervous he seemed still, how he had in fact travelled thousands of miles just to apologise, albeit months later. She couldn’t fault him for the time though. Their bond was complicated, beyond complicated really, but it was also theirs and theirs alone now. They had a connection that couldn’t be denied, one that went far beyond the love of another they shared a long time ago.
She wanted to see what it was too, just the two of them.
She nodded, slightly, and it was all the encouragement he needed as he kissed the air from her lungs as he had a habit of doing, it seemed.
Drinks long forgotten, they stood like that, rather chaste – his hands on her hips, hers against his chest, all perfectly acceptable and nice. But neither she nor he was nice, not anymore.
Peggy’s lips parted in a charmed grin at his impulsive actions, a thrilled shiver running down her spine in anticipation of what he might do next. A gasp left her lips when his fingers clasped around the sides of her neck, threading into her hair before pulling her tight to his body. Both of them lost balance slightly as her hip hit the cabinet and the bottles there clanked in annoyance.
Her skin felt aflame instantly when his lips crushed against hers in a fervent kiss, this time without any hesitation, and she grew momentarily light-headed. She wanted nothing more than to have his hands and lips all over her, touching her, tasting her to his heart’s content. She was eager to explore him as he was herwithhis probing tongue at her mouth, and she moaned softly as his strong hands roamed her curvaceous – if she did say so herself – frame. She enveloped her arms around his shoulders, then his neck, intuitively trusting the safety in his hold, allowing him to easily hoist her up against his hips.
He pushed her hard against the nearest flat surface, this time it was her mother’s living room door instead of a hotel room door. Barnes and doors, she wondered, maybe it was his thing.
“Bed?” he asked, and she nodded in between kisses.
“Up … up …” His mouth was on her neck, by her ear this time, and it made it difficult to talk, or think, or do much else other than feel and breathe.
“Stairs?” he finished, and without waiting for her to respond, kept her in his arms and opened the door. Expertly, he carried her as if she weighed nothing all the way up the wide staircase.
“First left,” she managed before she dissolved into giggles.
“Sorry, it’s just … this was my childhood bedroom. The idea of what we’re about to do in there … my poor mother will be spinning in her grave,” she admitted before smiling as he dropped her softly on the bed. Thankfully, her childhood things were long in storage and the room she had now had been used for guests for a few years since. He looked around, noting her old small writing desk still sat in the corner.
“That got to stay though.”
He half smiled before leaning down and kissing her again. She yanked him the rest of the way, all his weight falling deliciously on top of her as she wrapped her legs around his middle, keeping him right there.
“Goddamnit Carter, you’re a brazen woman,” he joked, nipping at her neck again.
“Shut up. With the stories I heard about you Barnes, I’m practically a blushing virgin.”
That made him stop and pull back, looking her in the eye, almost scared.
“Oh for Christ sakes, I’m not actually a virgin. Why? You got something against those?”
“No, been with a few, been one myself once – a long time ago.”
She rolled her eyes at that.
“Uh-huh. Well are we going to get on with it or shall we wait until I’m a born again one for your pleasure?”
He just looked at her then, and that look … Christ, if that was half the look the poor girls of Brooklyn were getting she was positive why virtues were being lost left right and centre to James Barnes and his goddamn beauty.
“Ain’t much pleasure in bedding a virgin actually, you have to be too careful, too gentle.” He ran his hand down her arm, down her side and to the hem of her skirt, playing with the edges there.
“You don’t do gentle?”
There was a spike of fear as to what exactly this would be if not gentle. She may not have been a virgin, but it had been a long time all the same.
He just kissed her and whispered in her ear, as if he was afraid anyone else would hear him.
“I can do whatever you want, darlin’.”
Admittedly, that left her a little speechless, not to mention setting her heart pulsing.
He smiled at her when she didn’t speak, threading his fingers through her hair.
“I wanted to do this the moment I saw you,” he exhaled hotly against her lips, releasing her soft hair from his grip as his fingers unbuttoned her silk blouse, pulling the fabric open past her bra, admiring her, taking his time. Before the war, before everything, his time with girls was just that, girls. It was clumsy and rushed. Very rarely did he get the chance to spend a whole night with a woman, and certainly not a woman like Peggy. He was a little delirious at the thought if he was being honest.
“You’re not subtle,” she said, biting her lip as he fixed his mouth in the valley of her cleavage. “Not many soldiers are in the company of a woman though, so I didn’t take offense.”
“Kind of you,” he mumbled before puckering his lips on her nipple and making her gasp. She felt him grin, the arse. She had forgotten she still had her knife in her garter, until she felt him feel it and he groaned into her skin.
“Carter, this is far too … Jesus.” He pulled out the small but insanely sharp knife, un-tucking it from its case. Her heart stuttered, as he looked to her, it, then back to her.
Then he grinned.
That grin meant trouble, she knew that now.
He wasn’t listening. Instead he was bunching her skirt and white silk slip around her waist, drinking in the view of her in her champagne coloured underwear and matching garter belts attached to her nude stockings.
He looked at her for a second beneath his lashes, and she rolled her eyes.
“Don’t you dare!” she all but hollered with a laugh, but she was too late. He had cut her straps with the knife, one, then another, and they snapped up to hit her on the thigh.
“You actual arse.”
He just shrugged, kissing her hard on the lips. “I’ll make it up to you, promise,” he said before he all but buried himself between her legs, kissing her thighs and slowly peeling her underwear down.
Panic flooded Peggy, forcing her to grab his face to make him look at her.
“What are you doing?”
He just looked confused.
“What does it feel like I’m doing? Trust me, it’s good.”
“No, I mean no I – You’re not doing that.”
He cocked a brow at her then.
“You don’t … want me to?”
She flushed, the truth wasn’t that she didn’t want it, it was just she had never had it, and wasn’t sure what to expect. She was never one to keep her opinions to herself but she suddenly found herself shy.
“Oh your beau before never tried this? Shame on him, may I?”
She just gestured with her hands as she feared her voice would give her nerves away if she spoke.
He slid his hand between her hot thighs, rubbing his fingers over her wet slit before his mouth took over completely. She jerked up and away, but he just held her in place, strong and sure, safe. It felt like he should have to breathe, shouldn’t she be breathing? Thoughts of anything else other than what he was doing – and doing so fucking well – flew out the window. She gripped his hair, directing his movements, not that he really needed any help in what he was doing, but it helped her feel more grounded.
Growing up she had heard talk of boys with mouths made for sinning, but she never ever thought this was maybe what they meant. If it wasn’t, by God it should have been.
He craved the feeling of her squirming and grinding relentlessly hard against his mouth. With her hands digging hard into his arm or his scalp, anywhere she could touch, the feel of her nails making him growl roughly against her lips. He nestled his face deeper still between her thighs, sucking, then thrusting his tongue, making her squirm more each time. His fingertips were pressed hard into her soft skin, kneading the smooth flesh between his fingers. He couldn’t help but look, to see what pure bliss looked like on Margaret Carter’s face, a look he was partly responsible for. It egged him on when she’d moan his first name or his nickname even, to want that look to never leave her face if possible. When he moved her legs up on his shoulders, opening her even more to his ministrations, adding fingers and more thrusting, she was done for. Lip biting was useless, and truth was she wanted him to know how he was making her feel, so she didn’t hold back the moans that were going to escape her anyway as she came so hard her head felt like it was lifting off her neck.
“Jesus Christ … Bucky …” she panted as he finally came up for air, a shit eating grin and remains of her orgasm on his stupidly pretty, pretty face. “Jesus … Christ,” she muttered again. Using the time she needed to catch her breath, he toed off his boots, quickly followed by his sweater and suspenders, leaving his shirt open and his pants still in place. If she needed an out or wanted to stop, he didn’t want to be standing there in his birthday suit.
As it turned out she didn’t want an out; she wasn’t regretting what they were doing – so far at least – and he thought that was a good sign. Instead, she stood on wobbly legs, shedding her clothes carefully as he watched, a little dumbfounded.
She was so beautiful, heavy perfect breasts, a delicate collarbone that he just wanted to lick and kiss, a dipped waist and full hips … hourglass perfection, even if she was blushing and fidgeting with her necklace, it just added to her charm.
“You just going to take in the view, Sergeant?”
“No Ma’am,” he answered standing next to her, close enough to dip his head and kiss her sweetly, not caring if he still tasted like her. Her slim fingers and perfectly painted red nails dragged down his chest, sending shivers up his spine before she slid his shirt off and he caught her admiring him just as he was her. Scars and all, he thought.
Feeling her flick the buttons on his pants open was all he needed to take things over again, shucking them off, toeing off his socks and grabbing her flush against him in a kiss that even make his head spin a little. That’s when things got messy, in the best possible way.
Slipping into bed beside her and waiting for her to initiate things seemed like a lifetime but was probably nothing but a minute or so, but they were both admittedly nervous. Once this happened there was no erasing it. It was a huge step. So they kissed and touched sweetly for a time, just allowing the other to explore a little, if he had his way she would never stop touching him. So uneasy and unsure in some ways, but so utterly confident in others, and then once inside her he realised that not only did she taste like heaven, she felt like it too.
“Ugh, y-yes!” she moaned loudly, locking her legs around Bucky’s sculpted back . Every solid inch filled her as she canted toward him more and more, and they quickly found a rhythm. She trembled at the sensation of fullness between her pale legs. “Oh fuck,” he sighed, as her toes curled with each hard thrust. “You feel so … good inside me,” she gasped, her pulse racing and her skin growing hot underneath his solid clutch. She clenched her thighs, squeezing as his warm palm clasped around the side of her neck, pulling her mouth to his and the intensity was bordering on too much and not enough all at once. It gave way to frustration as his tongue easily overtook hers in their silent fight for dominance. But, as always she gave as good as she got. She was kissing him back just as fiercely, lust consuming her overworked body in the most animalistic of ways just before she lost all patience and rolled them over, his eyes widening in shock for a second.
But quickly following her lead, he was keeping her in balance as they rode out their orgasms. Admittedly, she got hers first, rare as it was she knew as a woman; most men had a one track mind and rarely did it have anything to do with the woman’s pleasure. He would tell her that later, reiterating the fact that he really was a gentleman, no matter what other people might have thought. It made her giggle, because as much as he was the devil may care, the truth was that he cared very much. He was, just like her, great at hiding things.
Howard was right; he would make a great addition to S.H.I.E.L.D.
But work wasn’t on the brain, not when he was sauntering back from her bathroom with a warm wash cloth and a small towel. The good old fashioned catholic way of sex without babies leaves quite a mess on one’s self that she did remember. He tended to her so softly before placing a kiss on her belly button and throwing the items wrapped up together by the door.
“Too cold to go back in there,” he whispered before hopping back in and putting his icy toes on her legs. She jerked away, making him laugh.
“Warm me up?” he asked, this time tucking her under his arm, and she instinctively placed her head on his chest.
“Warm yourself up, the rest of you is-”
“Hot? Am I hot, Carter?”
She didn’t even need to look at him to see the grin; she could hear it for God’s sake.
“Yes, Agent?” he asked, the same laughter in his voice, clearly enjoying this silly game of theirs.
“Go the fuck to sleep, would you please?”
He laughed then, big and true and she realised it was the first time she ever heard it from him. She felt it, lying on his chest, and she saw it in his eyes as they looked down at her, dancing with mischief but with something that might have been contentment – at least for now.