Chapter 6: Should auld acquaintance be forgot ?

Chapter 6: Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?

Wherein I want a group of Howling Commandos all my own & Bucky tries to get lucky.

Peggy was fuming, and still a little confused as to just who her anger was aimed at. Was it him, the waitress, or more likely, herself?

Okay, so it was herself.

She should have accepted his invite, hell, she wanted to! Her first reaction was yes, let’s be normal people for a night, but then doubt and fear crept in and ruined it all to hell. It was stupid, it really was. She had loved a man that died. She was entitled to move on with her life, even if it was a little … odd that it was with the best friend of the deceased.

She wondered how much The Commandos knew of Steve and Bucky’s real relationship status. She knew them to be thoroughly decent men, hardworking and smart. The idea that they didn’t know was a little insane, considering the many months they all spent in each others pockets.

Home after an angry drive and almost knocking down a pair of old ladies on the way, she decided to channel her anger into reorganizing her closet, finally unpacking after so long away, and filing things into neat piles for laundry and what not. He hadn’t come after her, not that she had done it so he would. She had done it because she was mad and didn’t want to witness anymore of his childish flirting with a child. Well, sure, she was probably at least eighteen, but what did that matter? The fact that he did it in front of her was proof enough he was attempting to get a rise out of her – and he’d succeeded. By the time she had cooked herself a late dinner, she was over her anger, and had since moved on to regret. Should have said, shouldn’t have done, the usual mind messing she put up with when she acted hastily. She was just about to fix herself a dish and another drink when a knock came at the door.

She hated herself just a little for feeling excited for a second that it might be him.

It wasn’t.

“Agent Carter,” came the voice from the smiling man she once knew. She was so pleased to see him healthy and well, she had hugged him before she had even spoke.

“Gabe! What a lovely surprise, please come in.”

And he did, taking off his hat as he did, shedding his coat as he walked into her stifling hot living room. The heating was wonky at the best of times, but she was just glad it was more heat and not or she’d be dead.

“What brings you here? Would you like a drink?”

“Oh, thank you, but I won’t be staying. I just popped by to say something – something that might not be my place to say. In fact, I know it’s not my place, but I’ve been elected by the remaining Commandos as spokesman and so, well …” he sighed, so put upon as he sat on her sofa. “Here I am.”

“Oh, I see … and what is this speech that needs a spokesman?”

“It’s about Bucky.”

Her face flushed.

“Now, please don’t … I don’t mean to overstep my boundaries or really butt in where I’m not wanted, but–”

“But Commandos and code, yes, carry on.”

“It’s just these past few months with you in his life, this is the most … well … the most alive we’ve seen him since before.”

That made her take a seat herself. Her vodka soda was sitting in front of her and she was thankful for it.

“It’s none of our business Agent Ca-”

“Peggy, please. We aren’t at war anymore, I’m just Peggy.”

He smiled; he had a sweet smile.

“No offense, Ma’am but you’re always an Agent, our Agent, war or no war. But, I’d like to call you Peggy if that’s okay.”

She nodded, finding herself smiling back.

“Barnes then?”

“Yes. To be honest, it was Dugan that sent me, he said, and I quote – ‘he’s acting like a horses ass and more whipped than his Aunt Bessie’s cream puddin’, if there’s anything you can do to fix that and make it a happy god damn new year he’ll buy you a new hat.’ End quote.”

The man before her was bashful but clearly a few drinks into their evening. The message from Dugan rang in his voice and made her laugh.

“Oh dear that isn’t good.”

“No, it’s not. And I don’t know, we’ve tried getting him drunk but that guy has the constitution of an ox or something because nothin’ but maudlin’ all evening.”

That struck a nerve in her, the only other man she knew unable to get drunk no matter what was affected by some serious injections… It made her mind wander to a place she didn’t want it to go.

“Nothing’s working then?”

“Must have a bottle of whisky in ‘im at this stage, still as sober as I am, which to say I’m a little buzzed I won’t lie–”

“A little Dutch courage then?”

He laughed at that.

“Yes Ma’am. Anyway, Dum-Dum, all of us really, we wanted to invite you to come for the New Year. If you didn’t have any other plans and maybe just–”

“Cheer up the sour puss?”

“If anyone could I’m sure it’d be you, he’s smitten.”

That made her blush, and he saw it.

“Peggy, if I may be so bold?”

She nodded. Why not, she thought.

“I figure you’d be nervous, walkin’ in there alone, and maybe wondering what we’re all thinking because of how things were before.”

She didn’t deny it, she just nodded again.

“The war changes everyone, Ma’am. Nothing gets to stay the same for better or worse. We all loved the Captain, albeit in very different ways, each of us lost him and mourned him in our own way, but that doesn’t mean we get to lie down to death and stop living because of it. If we did that then his sacrifice was pointless, you know?”

He stayed a while longer but was missing the rounds that the others had promised him if he was the one to break his night and do the talking to Peggy. She knew where they were, and it wasn’t all that far from her place – a few blocks at most – but she promised to think things over and show up if she changed her mind.

She ate and had some more tea before she picked herself up and dusted herself off. She had to get changed and wondered absently if she had any of that old red lipstick she used to favour so often.

                                                           ******

“I’m just saying you’ve got skills, Barnes, skills you should be using.” Morita was making it clear to Bucky that hauling ass at a factory five days a week just wasn’t where his life should be spent. That apparently the SSR and even SHIELD was interested in him. As the majority of his fellow Commandos had taken up military positions in one way or another, raising the ranks quickly because of their war hero status and connection with the American super soldier.

He had explained, as he did every time they got together, that his heart just didn’t lie in the fight anymore. He didn’t explain further that it was because fighting the fight wasn’t worth it without Steve.

“Man, we’ve been over this.”

“And we’re all going to keep going over it until you realise–”

“I like my job, okay? It’s simple, easy–”

“Boring, dull, mundane–”

“Got a thesaurus back there, Dum?”

The older man just put another neat whiskey down in front of him with a grin.

“You can’t deny that I’m right. You’re bored out of your mind there and you know it. Nothing beats the rush you get when–”

“When you kill someone?” he asked, jokingly, but really the truth was he knew all about that rush – it wasn’t just about saving your own life, not really, and particularly after the serum, things … felt more in every way, and killing had given him a buzz that nothing in life had before. And that scared the shit out of him.

“It’s better I stay out of it, trust me,” Bucky gave eventually, downing half his drink in one gulp. The bar was packed but they had commandeered a corner table, and with people in and out – drinking, dancing, catching up – he was already exhausted. He hoped he could make it past midnight and make his excuses. The last thing he needed was watching loved up couples suck face, and there wasn’t enough whiskey in the world for that. By eleven thirty he was well on his way to drunk, the rest of them were more than a little well oiled, the unmarried or unattached of the bunch slowly pairing off, and it wasn’t as if he was a loner or anything, more than that, he enjoyed people – always had. It was just … the one person he wanted there wasn’t and it put a damper on his spirits, no matter how many pretty girls the rest of them tried to send his way. He danced of course, he wasn’t a square, but it was obvious to everyone that his heart just wasn’t in it, no more so than the ladies dancing with him. In the end he made excuses about needing air, or a smoke, or a smoke out in the air – never mind the fact that the bar was filled with men and women smoking more often than not. He got funny looks, but they said nothing, Jones though looked utterly disappointed as he kept watching the door most of the evening after he returned from a very questionable amount of time ‘in the bathroom.’

It was snowing again, of course it was, but there was a weird calm outside in the frigid fresh air compared to the packed, stifling inside of people talking over people. The Irish family that owned the bar had broken out the music a few hours before, and a live band of sorts always lifted people’s spirits, particularly when there was flowing alcohol. He wished he could enjoy it, but fucking things up with Peggy weighed on him, as much as he wished it didn’t. There were times he missed the carefree boy he was before the war, because that’s what he was, a boy, and according to Steve a bit of a whore. He said it jokingly, but for a long time before they had both learned to accept their feelings for one another that went far beyond brotherhood, he had spent most of his nights trying to bury his shame in between the legs of any girl in Brooklyn that might have him.

It hadn’t worked, obviously. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t love it, or them, even if only for the night. With Carter it was different; they had a bond that went far beyond any silly tryst in the doorways of a brownstone or two. Even beyond that, who he was now was falling in love with who she was now, no matter who they had been – or belonged to – during the war. He was halfway through his cigarette, watching a drunk wobble his way out of the bar and down the street, holding onto the walls for dear life, singing a song that only he knew the words or meanings to. He smiled after him and hoped he’d make it home and not fall asleep and freeze to death. He was lost in thought and absently aware of the heels clicking against the sidewalk, approaching, belonging to who he assumed was another tipsy person on their way to the bar. It wasn’t until she was a foot or so from him that he looked up, and saw Peggy. She was wrapped up in her royal blue double breasted wool coat, a hint of whatever she was wearing just below the hem, stockings and black heels that she was somehow able to walk perfectly in, even in the rapidly falling snow.

“You walk all the way here?” he asked in lieu of a hello and she shrugged.

“No, I’m not an idiot, my car is around the corner. Parking isn’t the best here, plus I don’t really want a drunk throwing up on my car.”

“Makes sense,” he nodded, throwing his cigarette down and stubbing it out with his foot.

“I thought you quit those?” she asked, nodding to his foot before walking to settle against the wall beside him, both of them their backs to it.

“Old habits …” he shrugged, finally looking at her properly. She’d curled her hair, styled it with some pinned back bits, and her makeup drew his eyes to her perfect ruby red lips.  A chill ran down his spine in recollection of the last time he saw her with lips that red.

She touched his arm then, noticing his distraction with a smile.

“I’m sorry.”

He squinted at her, surely he was hearing things, or he was drunker than he realised.

“What are you sorry about? I’m the one that fucked things up by acting like a child, I just–”

“I over-reacted.”

“No you didn’t I–”

“Let’s agree we both messed up then, shall we?” she said, sensing things weren’t going to get any clearer if neither was willing to admit to being solely at fault. Peggy didn’t have much use for stale arguments.

“Yeah okay, but I am sorry too … just so you know.”

She nodded then, rubbing her gloved hands together.

“So you just standing out here by your lonesome for fun?”

“Needed a break from–” He waved a hand toward inside and she smiled.

“I can understand that.”

“I’m glad you came, you know?”

“I almost didn’t… One did wonder if you had taken the little waitress up on her obvious offer for a good time.” That had earned her a cringe from him, which she was secretly happy with. “I mean but then Gabe showed up and sort of demanded it, a little.”

Bucky’s eyes went wide. That little fucker!

“He did what? Peggy, seriously you have to know, I didn’t know he was gonna do that!”

She was laughing then, and he loved her laugh though hated that she tried to stifle it behind her hand.

“I know, calm down. He said you were bringing down the room as it were, that maybe I should talk some sense into you. And after our stupid fight I thought maybe we could talk some sense into each other, see how that went.”

“Maybe that’s true, but I’d never force–”

“Oh would you shut up and kiss me?”

He scratched the back of his neck as she walked in front of him, her heels bringing her to chin level with him. He grabbed both her hands in his and stifled a nervous laugh of his own before leaning down to kiss her. Warm and open, their kisses like this always seemed to consume everything else. Neither of them were paying attention to much else when suddenly the bar erupted with cheers and counting from ten. They paused for a second and glanced at each other, only this time she placed her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss and allowing him to grab for her waist. The counting stopped and suddenly there were cheers and the choruses of what Bucky always thought to be one of the world’s saddest songs began. A new year had begun and he wasn’t sure there was a much better way to end one and start another than by getting kissed how he was getting kissed by the most beautiful woman in the world.

They finally broke apart when she started to shiver and few merry people inside the bar decided to come outside to announce the New Year to the world, but she kissed him again before pulling back, both of them breathless.

“Happy New Year, James,” she offered with a smile, which he instantly returned, surprising himself. They rarely used the other’s first names, it was nice when she did though, it felt special.

“Happy New Year, Peggy. I think … it’ll be a good one.”

She nodded before her lips were back on his, her whole body pushing him against the brick wall with a force that turned him the hell on.

“My God Carter, you’re a brazen woman,” he said into her neck, making her laugh as a call back to their first time getting intimate.

“And don’t you bloody forget it. Now Soldier, buy me a drink?”

With a grin and a nod he took her hand and all but dragged her past the stragglers into the smokey warm atmosphere.They walked in all but unnoticed at first, the crew too busy drinking, dancing, and in some cases full on smooching in the corner, the world but a distant memory.

“Well look who it is!” Dum-dum commented first, grabbing the attention of the others, and suddenly the group’s eyes were on them.

For a tense second both Bucky and Peggy worried what would be said, but instead of judgement or teasing Jones bunched up on his seat, shifting his woman – Samantha – into his lap to make room on the round seating surrounding the table.

“Take a seat Agen- Peggy!” he called.

“Yeah, Barnes, isn’t it your round?” Morita said with a smile, shooing him with a hand back to the bar, leaving her to chat with them. Pleasantries were exchanged and New Year wishes were spoken, and she instantly relaxed, shedding out of her warm coat, revealing a dress she hadn’t worn in quite some time. When Bucky returned with drinks, muttering annoyances at having to bartend these idiots too, he shuffled the drinks to their respective owners before returning for a second handful, this time passing it off to the ladies of the group.

“I guessed whiskey neat?” he asked as he handed Peggy hers, and she nodded, waiting for him to notice the dress, which he did. Biting his lip ever so quickly before the mask of socially acceptable behaviour went back up as he took a tightly squeezed seat next to her.

“Glad you showed up, Ma’am. We weren’t sure how much more of his sour puss we could take. It’s the damn New Year after all. You about saved our lives!” Dum-dum admitted rather dramatically, tipping his pint in Bucky’s direction, a sly grin on his face with the teasing.

“Yeah, yeah, shut the hell up and drink your drink you drunk.”

He just wriggled his brows in return, taking a healthy sip of his beer.

Luckily after that the conversations broke off and continued easily. Peggy found herself catching up with each of them individually and each of them very much not asking about the status of her relationship with Bucky. She was glad for it, as she wasn’t really sure how it would or should be classified. With her job, steady and traditional wasn’t really possible at that point in time, not that she assumed James Barnes was a stickler for tradition, but if he expected a little woman to become his housewife he had bet on the wrong horse right off the bat. She figured a conversation was necessary, maybe sooner rather than later, but whatever it was in that moment it didn’t need to be defined. It was fun and they were enjoying it as far as she was concerned, and that was definition enough for her. By the time the bar had locked the doors the music was still playing and the dancing was getting messier by the minute, she realised it was after 3 AM. They all should be home and dry, but these places rarely worked like that, particularly on a holiday as celebratory as the one they were in the middle of. But there had been a lull in the grab for Peggy’s attentions and she finally got a chance to speak to her … date.

“I’m just saying it makes sense.”

“What is it with all of y’all trying to get me employed? I have a perfectly acceptable job.”

“Stark thinks you’d make an excellent Agent of SHIELD and truth be told, so do I.”

He just grimaced.

“Look, Carter, he and I are on … alright terms right now. Plane rides to England are long and the guy likes to hear himself talk, but, beyond that, I want nothing to do with his flights of fancy.”

“It’s not a flight of fancy it’s a legitimate–”

“I’m sorry, I don’t mean to diminish your work. Believe me, I understand what you do it beyond difficult and for the greater good and that’s fantastic.”

“But?”

“But, I fought for the greater good once before, and while I don’t regret fighting for the people who couldn’t fight for themselves, I’m not exactly itching to get back into the ring.”

She understood that, she really did, even if she and the rest of the Commandos thought it was a damn shame.  She dropped the topic and got into a debate with Jones on all things Stark, and clearly after a half hour or so, Bucky was feeling a little neglected, or bored, or just plain horny. Because that’s when she felt his hand under the table, slip to her knee. Her coat sat between them, which he casually moved so it basically covered the lap of her dress. She should have realised.

At first she thought nothing of it. He was a tactile guy, even if he was used to keeping his displays of affection behind closed doors. But then, slowly it started to feel less affectionate and more … purposeful. Casually his hand sat on top of her knee at first, his fingers just ghosting the hem of her dress under the table as he nodded along with the conversations being had, even participating. But then his hand slowly inched higher, warm fingertips pressing into her skin through the delicate silk of her stockings. They were sitting so close that even if people were looking it would be difficult to guess what was happening under the large, drinks filled table, and no one was looking, too busy arguing in jest or conversing in pairs. She took a deep breath, causally shifting so she could grab his hand to a halt. He just squeezed in closer, his strength subtly overpowering hers.

His jaw clenched when she dared to look at his face, fingers silently travelling and making contact with the small piece of exposed skin between the top of her stockings, suspender belts and her underwear. She took another silent deep breath as his other hand grasped the table.  With the noise of the music and the chatter, no one so much as batted an eyelash at the change in her breathing, or his come to that.

But surely this wasn’t actually happening. He was playing a game of chicken with her. He had to be, right? There was no way that he would do that, in a room full of oh –

Oh, okay, so he would do that, in a room full of people. He was doing that.

His hand shifted slightly as his fingers explored and she tried to yank his hand down discreetly, but it wasn’t happening. Instead he kicked her legs apart under the table, and used that time to get even closer.  She fought a gasp as two fingers slipped inside her. She was beyond turned on at that point, and judging by the flush in his face, he was feeling the same. It was a dangerous game he was playing, and she knew he got off on more than a little bit of danger; they all did, these band of merry lunatics of which she was a leading part. Circling, pressure, sweet torture, she wanted him right there and he knew it. He smirked slightly, able to fully keep up a conversation while slowly, painfully so, working her up and winding her like a jack in the box. She was almost there, so terribly close when the barkeep called for last orders and that sadly they had to shut up shop. She took that as her sign, pushing him away begrudgingly, but making her– their excuses, and beginning to say their goodbyes. Promises of seeing the women were made, and a dinner and a ‘proper’ catch up with the commandos was also promised. The speed at which they grabbed their coats was bound to have cause suspicion, but neither of them cared, not even a little bit.

They managed to get maybe half a block away. The street was all but abandoned, beyond a few stray drunks going the opposite direction and a few stray dogs looking for warmth across the street by the nearest café, no one but them. They were headed silently toward her car, but first Peggy had to even the score.

She pushed him as hard as she could against the wall of an alleyway between two buildings, shadowing them from the street light. He groaned as his back hit the brick, but there was still that smug smile that in the moment was angering her.

“That wasn’t very smart, Barnes. Any one of them could have clued in…”

“Too drunk … and even if they did, I don’t care. I wanted to feel you.”

His pupils were blown as he worried his bottom lip between his teeth. A shiver not from the cold ran through her when he looked her up and down.

“I don’t care, it wasn’t smart.”

“Then it was dumb. Still had you on the ropes though didn’t I?”

She pushed into him at that, her hand spanning his chest, down to his tummy, to his belt, and finally to the healthy bulge straining his pants.

“Was I the only one on the ropes back there?”

He bit his lip again before smiling.

“Maybe not.”

She just laughed, stroking his hair as she kissed him again.

“Do you know what else I’ve wanted all night?”  His lips brushed hers before moving down to her neck, pushing, nipping, and relentless. “To hear you whimper my name in that delightful little accent of yours.”

She looked out beyond the alley and sure enough they were alone, but it was also insanely cold and were they really that stupid?

Apparently.

Suddenly more aggressive, and wrecked by his husky tone, she broke another kiss and reached for his belt. His eyes went wide and she got a thrill out of surprising him, upping him at his own game.

“Jesus, Carter,” was about all he could manage when she stroked him to full attention before bending at the waist, to taste. His huffing breath visible around them in the frosty air, her mouth hot and welcoming as his hands gripped the brick behind him.

“Someone is gonna see…”

She stopped for a second to meet his eyes.

“I thought you liked to live on the edge, Barnes. Or is it only when it’s my orgasm being denied?”

He huffed another breath as she went down again.

“I’ve gotten off too many times to the idea of taking you in that dress to not do it when I have the chance. Do you have any idea how badly I wanna fuck you?” It was almost a whine now, his voice, completely wrecked with arousal.

She smirked, stopping again but not looking at his face.

“I think I have a fair idea…”

He loses it for a second, letting her go to town, her lips and mouth creating waves of pleasure until he was almost there, his hands gripping into her hair, his legs shaking, he was almost – almost –

And she stopped. She just stopped?

She pulled back with a pop and the frigid cold air hit him like a brick, fucking fuck!

“What? Wait, what?” he managed before she checked her lipstick in the mirror she had in her purse. There wasn’t much left on her mouth but he was sure his dick was a nice shade of ruby red.

“My car is around the corner, you can wait until then, surely?” she grinned, and it was evil. Underneath the heroic woman was also an evil orgasm denier.

“Peggy, Jesus Christ!”

She giggled before walking away, the clip of her heels the only sound on the street.

“If I get back to the car before you, I’ll finish what you started and leave you to do the same, don’t you think I won’t.”

She had thought of maybe driving out of the way somewhere, but neither of them were very patient people, and certainly not when they were both as turned on as they were. And when he all but began undressing her before she even managed to get the door open, well, that was that.

Backseat sex was tricky. He was tall and all elbows when he was trying not to be awkward. But with her on his lap, underwear discreetly tangling around one ankle, it looked like a semi innocent make-out session should anyone pass by. The fact that she was in reality riding him like a rodeo bull was just a bonus. All rolling hips, grabbing hands, curious mouths and panted breaths, the frigid cold car soon started to steam a little, and then a lot. By the time they were trying to gently roll away from the other – over-sensitive and wrecked, they were both giggling like fools.

Happy fools though, and that was the main objective.

Happiness.

Their lives – her life more specifically – was still so dangerous, unpredictable, and could at any moment simply end and that would be that, as they say. So whatever it was she was doing with James Barnes remained label-less when she took him home that night, and the next night and the two weeks after that night. It remained label-less as she went off for Stark on another mission, this time taking her away for a month, then another for two, and by the time summer rolled around they were still as casual as they both felt comfortable with, but just as happy remaining so.

It would be, as it turned out, everything that would come at them from the world that would cause their main issues, and in times like that she really wished she had a shield to protect them both from the horrors of the world, but life just didn’t work out like that, did it

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