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dream (when the day is through)

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As a child, she’d always been a heavy sleeper. Her mother had lamented more than once over Peggy’s ability to sleep through damned near anything—rumbling dustcarts or clanging pots and pans. Certainly her name being called again and again by an increasingly irritated parent. She woke to alarms, thankfully, but not much else until her body was good and rested.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a trait that lent well to a life of espionage and peril, nor to the rigors of life in the military. She’d had to adapt, her time training with the S.O.E. spent learning not only practical skills like marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat, but how to simultaneously rest and listen to everything happening around her. How to survive on days upon days of skimming the surface of sleep, ready at a moment’s notice to react to an intruder, or a raid, or the wailing of an air raid siren.

The war had drummed deep sleep right out of her, and it eludes her even now, when she’s living in this quaint little home in the suburbs, her job more advisory and strategic than out in the field. She wakes at the rumble of the dustcart, at the muffled slam of a neighbor’s car door in the early morning, the settling of the floorboards or the jingling bell on the cat’s collar. She sinks back under easily enough, once her mind is satisfied the threat level remains zero.

Or that had been the case, anyway, until Steve’s return a few weeks ago. He’s been staying with her—it’s improper, and she knows the neighbors talk, but after all those years without him (and so many hopeful dreams of his return that had turned into piercing grief at the loss of him upon waking) she can’t bring herself to let him sleep anywhere but beside her. That first night, he’d taken her sofa—or he’d started there anyway. He’d planned on a motel but she wouldn’t hear a word of it, not with the foolish lovesick fear in her chest that if he walked out that door he might never come back. Even the distance between the living room and the bedroom had seemed too far—she’d lain in bed for hours, staring at her ceiling, staring at the back of her eyelids, thinking of him sprawled over her too-short sofa only a couple dozen steps away. Every cell in her body had cried out for her to go to him and either drape herself across him like a heavy blanket or drag him here into her own soft bed and use him as one.

She hadn’t been alone in her thoughts. Her bedroom door had whined on its hinges and she’d opened her eyes to follow the sound, his silhouette in the gap both startlingly foreign and shockingly familiar.

“Sorry,” he’d murmured, voice soft. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

She’d shaken her head and pushed herself up until seated, whispering into the dark, “It’s alright; I wasn’t sleeping.”

Steve had taken the confession as invitation enough, letting himself into her bedroom and settling on the edge of her mattress. She could see him then, his skin blue and glowing in the moonlight. He was so lovely—lovelier even than she’d remembered—his shoulders bare and broad and gleaming as he’d sat there in his vest and trousers. She could write sonnets about nothing more than the bashful way the corner of his mouth had turned up before he’d told her quietly, “I just wanted another look at you.”

“Lie down with me.” The words had tumbled free of her lips before she’d even registered them leaving her brain, and once they were out there was no swallowing them back. In for a penny, in for a pound, she’d decided, adding, “All I can think of lying in here is you lying out there. I want you here with me—propriety be damned.”

Luckily for her, Steve had never minded her boldness and had been thinking much the same. His shoulders had dropped with relief, his head bobbing in agreement and then he’d tucked himself beneath the covers. They’d still been pretending they might take things slowly, so she had resisted the urge to cling to his side, reaching for his hand beneath the quilt and weaving their fingers. Steve had been of the mind that taking things slowly did not preclude cuddling, and had rolled to face her, using their joined hands to reel her in until her head was pillowed on his bicep, her ankle notched securely between his, one heavy arm draped over her middle.

It had been heavenly, and she’d been asleep in moments—and slept like stone, heavy and unmoving, unbothered by dustcarts or morning birds or the bustle of neighbors.

It seems her wary mind finds solace in the promise of super strength and catlike reflexes, and the general Steve-ness of him. Deep sleep is a privilege of the safe and secure, and she’s never been more of either than she is with his long body stretched beside hers. Peggy’s fairly certain that in her entire adult life she hasn’t slept as deeply or as well as she has the past few weeks that Steve has been sharing her bed. These days, she wakes to soft touches along her arm and gentle kisses pressed into the sensitive side of her neck, the tickle of his growing beard making her squirm. Steve has made a habit of rousing her sweetly before the clanging of her alarm, stealing a few lazy morning kisses (or more, if they’ve the time for it) to ease her into the day.

She’s becoming really rather spoiled, to be honest.

Which is why she’s surprised to be awake now—in the middle of the night, moonless and pervasively dark. Something must have woken her, but she’d been down so deep that her mind is still clawing its way to wakefulness from the cozy cocoon of blankets and body warmth. She blinks hard into the darkness and wills her brain to shift into gear and identify the disturbance—it doesn’t take long.

Steve twitches beside her, his arm jerking slightly on the mattress between them. He’s breathing hard, a labored staccato of air sucked in and out, and she hears his head turn on the pillow. If she squints hard and pretends, she can just barely make out the shape of him in the darkness—but she is certain he’s not awake.

A nightmare.

Not the first, for either of them. They’ve both lived hard lives, seen violence, and loss, and war. Some images never leave you; some moments refuse to exorcise themselves from your subconscious.

Steve sucks in a deeper breath, lets it out in a rush, a tremor rippling through his muscles. Wherever he is, he’s fighting like hell.

Which does pose its own problems—waking someone from a nightmare is risky business at the best of times. Waking a war veteran from a combat dream even more so. She’d pulled Daniel from the clutches of one once and he’d clocked her so hard it had purpled her cheekbone for several days, much to his absolute horror. And he wasn’t humming with super strength and reflexes that far outmatch her own.

Steve in the midst of battle could make her see stars with very little effort, so she approaches with caution, whispering his name before she dares touch him, then murmuring it a little louder when it falls on deaf ears. Still nothing, so she reaches across the few inches of mattress between them and draws gentle fingers along his bicep much the way he does to her, telling him softly, “It’s alright, my darling; you’re only dreaming.”

He’s in deep, hitching another breath, muscle twitching hard under her fingers.

Right, then. What’s life (or love) without a bit of risk?

Peggy eases in closer, drags her fingertips up to his shoulder, spreading them open until her palm is flat against the heat of his skin. She’s on alert, ready to pull away at a moment’s notice, but he doesn’t spring forth from wherever his mind is trapped. She rubs over his collarbone to the side of his neck, back and forth, keeping her voice low and soothing as she urges, “Wake up, my love. It’s not real. You’re here with me.”

His breath stills for a second, but only one. Peggy lets her palm drag over the span of his chest, leans her head in close until she’s murmuring right into his ear, “Come back to me, darling. It’s only a dream, wake up now, it’s alright, just hear my voice and follow it home…”

Words tumbling over each other, soft and soothing, repeating and repeating until he sucks in a breath deeper than the others, startles, and then stills. All the air whooshes out of his chest, much of his tension along with it as he turns his head toward hers, his sweaty brow resting against her cool cheek.

“There we are,” she praises as he lets out another heavy breath, one hand rising to loop around her wrist, stroking her forearm down to the elbow and back.

His voice is patchy and rough as he mutters an apology into the dark, but she’ll have none of it.

“It’s alright, my darling,” she dismisses, fingers trailing up the side of his neck and drawing out a shiver. “No harm done.”

.::.

Steve has been having this dream for years, waking in a sweat, lungs burning, muscles aching. He really hoped it would stop after they defeated Thanos, but no such luck.

And now it’s keeping Peggy up nights, too.

He’d been fighting—they’d all been fighting. For their lives, for the planet, for the universe. To give Shuri more time and Vision a fighting chance. To stop a universal holocaust. He’s dreamt of that battle in Wakanda dozens of times since the day they lost everything. Imagined ways it could have gone differently, mistakes that could have been rectified. Shifts in timing or strategy. Sometimes they win it, in his dreams. Usually, they don’t.

Usually, he wakes with the heavy dread of universal failure on his shoulders. The weight of billions upon billions of souls he hadn’t been able to save.

For the last few weeks, at least, he has the solace of knowing they rectified it. But still, the dream keeps coming. Haunting him. Now, he just wakes and misses Bucky and Sam. Natasha.

He’d been fighting side by side with Buck tonight, putting every ounce of strength and agility they had into fending off those God-awful alien beasts. All gnashing, sharp teeth and too many limbs. Muscles screaming with effort, lungs burning. He can still remember the heat of the air that day, the muggy oppressiveness of it, the way he’d been slicked with sweat under his uniform.

They’d been fighting—losing again, he thinks—and then all of a sudden, he’d heard her voice. Through the percussion of blows landing and the chaos of battle cries, over Bucky’s shouting and the ground being ripped up by alien tech, she’d been like a beacon: “You’re safe, my darling, find me…”

He’d told himself not to listen, not to lose focus, that there was a universe to be saved and it didn’t have time for his lovesick heart to miss Peggy Carter. But he’d turned his head toward the sound anyway, drawn to her like a compass point, as always.

She’d been standing in the middle of the battlefield, barefoot, in her old uniform from the war. Neatly pressed, lipstick perfectly applied, not a hair out of place. (He’d wondered how she’d gotten this far into the battle without messing up her hair. And without shoes.) Everything had been raging around her, but she’d just smiled at him, said, “Steve, wake up,” and everything had gone into slow motion.

Was he dreaming?

He’d blinked and the uniform was gone, Peggy standing in the middle of the carnage in her favorite robe, hair up in pin curls, no makeup. The way she looks right before she crawls into bed beside him.

Definitely dreaming. And from her bed, he’d realized with a sudden burst of lucidity. All of this was over, and they’d lost, and then they’d won, and he was decades removed from it, safe in her bed.

“Just follow my voice,” she’d urged, holding out a hand. Suddenly she was only steps away from him, almost close enough to touch.

He’d reached out to take her hand, and everything sped up again. The noise, the clamor, the heat.

The moment before their fingers met, one of those beasts had slammed into her, all teeth and claws, and Steve had lunged forward—and woken in the dark.

His heart was pounding, his breath quick, but the din of battle had been replaced by the near-silence of her bedroom, by her voice tucked in close by his ear, lulling and soft. The weight of her body pressed along his side, the warmth of her palm over his heart.

Blinking fast to clear the image of her being snatched by the jaws of death, he relaxes into the pillows, into the scent of roses and Pond’s cold cream. Into the softness of her cheek against his brow.

“There we are,” she soothes, sounding pleased and worried at the same time, and guilt twists in his gut.

Bad enough he has to live with the recurring nightmares of battles long fought. She shouldn’t have to be disturbed by them, too.

He reaches for her arm, finds her wrist beneath the covers and strokes over her skin just to root himself here. To add weight to the pressure of her touch on his torso. To feel her alive and safe and young and vital.

“I’m sorry,” he rasps, his voice gravelly from the silence of sleep or the noise of war, he’s not sure which.

Peggy dismisses him, assures him there’s been no harm done.

“I woke you.”

She shakes her head and presses a soft kiss to his cheek, just above the line of his beard, then another, one more, insisting again in between each one that it’s fine, no bother.

Steve turns his head further to see her. Her bedroom gets blessedly dark—no blinking electric lights, no digital clocks—but his eyesight is beyond perfect, so he can still make out the curve of her nose, the shape of her cheek, the dark of her irises. He seeks out her lips, kisses her lazily in the hope it’ll settle his pulse. (It does, some, but he can still feel the itchy energy of the fight beneath his skin. He doesn’t think he’ll get back to sleep anytime soon.)

His arm is trapped between them, and he wants her even closer, so he breaks their liplock to lift it around her, wrapping it over her shoulder and drawing her in against his side. She snuggles into his chest with a sigh, her fingertips tracing a tickling path up his chest, to his opposite shoulder, and down his arm until she can weave their fingers loosely. She’s not really holding his hand, more stroking the muscle beneath his thumb with her own, skimming the base of his palm, then running her thumb lightly up the center of it as their fingers slide and skim against each other.

It feels nice, so he does his best to return the gentle touches, echoing her sigh from a few minutes ago and letting his eyes drop shut. Maybe he can will himself back to sleep.

It’s a mistake; the second they close he sees Bucky dissolving into ash before his eyes, Peggy in her soft robe on the grass with dead eyes. He snaps them open again, and he must have gasped, or tensed, or something, because she’s asking him quietly, “Do you want to talk about it?”

He could. She’d listen, and she already knows about that day, about how they’d lost and how it had been devastating. About how hard they’d fought, only to have it all snatched away in the end. He wouldn’t have to say much.

But he finds he doesn’t want to talk about it, he just wants to forget it already. To wipe it from his mind, or at least from the catalog of available dream fodder, and talking about it won’t do that.

So he tells her no, and presses a kiss to the top of her head instead, murmuring, “I want to put it out of my mind.”

Peggy hums softly, tipping her chin up and asking, “Can I help?”

There’s nothing particularly seductive about the way she says it, but it’s not exactly innocent either. There’s an offer there, an escape if he wants to reach out and take it.

He sees that moment just before their hands met in the dream and closes his fingers around hers now. Just to prove he can. Just because he hasn’t quite settled yet, still feels restless and too alert.

He wants to kiss her again, he decides. He wants to forget about war and violence and bury himself in her soft lips and her soft curves and the soft sounds she makes when he teases the left side of her neck just right with warm, sucking kisses.

Steve uses the arm wrapped around Peggy to hoist her up slightly as he scooches down, and she extricates her fingers from his so she can shift her weight, ending up half on top of him, her knee sliding in between both of his as their mouths find each other in the dark again.

It’s not as slow as before—that had been all gentle pecks, the softest brush of his tongue against her lush lower lip. This, not so much. She opens her mouth on kiss number two, teasing the tip of her tongue along his lip in a way that makes him groan softly—a reaction that never fails to make her grin and do it again. Steve still has one arm around her, his hand planted at the base of her spine, but his other hand rises to tangle in her hair. Or it would, if her dark locks weren't all pinned up and wrapped in a silk scarf.

Steve scowls, unable to stifle a quiet grunt of displeasure as he shifts his hand to cup the back of her neck instead.

“Go on; I can fix them later,” she breathes against his lips, deepening the next kiss.

Steve takes the permission for what it is, worming his fingers beneath the soft material of her scarf, burying them in against the warmth of her scalp between pins and spiraling locks. He wants to tug out every pin, shake out every curl, press her into the mattress and bury his face in the growing familiarity of her shampoo while he takes her quick and deep.

The urge makes his fingers curl, tangling deeper in her hair, and she lets out this soft sound—a quiet Mm! that another man might have missed but Steve’s hearing catches clear as day. He’s hurting her, he realizes with a lance of guilt.

He forces his hand to relax, murmurs a muffled, “Sorry,” against her lips, but Peggy dismisses it again, insisting she’s alright.

He feels pent up again. Restless. Jittery. The way he used to after a battle, before the bone-deep exhaustion settled in.

He retreats from the perilous garden of pins and curls, rubs his palm up and down her arm again while the other squeezes her rear in a way he’d always wanted to decades ago but never dared. He dares now, grinding his hips up against hers as she grinds down against his, another sound in her throat, but this one deeper, and warmer, and not nearly as quiet.

He wants to make her make that particular sound every day for the rest of her life. (And he can now, God, he can…)

Her breath is warm against his skin, her lips damp as she kisses her way from his mouth, past the beard that’s supposed to convince the world he’s anyone but himself, and down along his throat in a way that makes him swallow hard. His hands tighten again, hips rocking, making her breath rush out heavily.

She nips him, teeth catching lightly against his neck as another of those velvety moans spills from her and her hips work steadily against where he’s now rock solid for her. Something about it makes his heart twist, a sharp sensation in the middle of his chest—one he’s intimately familiar with after a decade and change without her: longing. He misses her, suddenly, inexplicably, with her body warm and alive and young on top of him, pressing him into the mattress, hands fisted in the pillow on either side of his head as she teases him.

It’s like every dream he had of her in those years apart, but better—real—and it feels suddenly like his brain is playing tricks on him. Like none of this is true and he’s about to wake up in his bed in New York, half the universe gone and hope fizzling with every second he moves closer to being awake.

One of her hands shifts, her fingers combing through the hair at his crown, nails scratching at his scalp in a way that causes a full-body shiver before she grips and tugs slightly, urging his head to the side. It gives her better access to his neck, something she takes full advantage of, treating him to more of those soft bites that usually have him turning to putty in her hands.

But he’s distracted now, the anxiety of his nightmares mixing with that sense of unreality, so he doesn’t melt for her, doesn’t go boneless and breathless. Instead, he touches—both hands to her shoulders, down the sides of her torso, one rising back up to wedge between them and cup one of her breasts where it presses against his chest through thin cotton. He tries to reassure himself with the feel of her, the shape of her.

Breathes in the scent of cold cream and roses and reminds himself that he’d never known that, not the way he does now (during the war she’d always smelled like regulation soap and talcum powder), so he can’t be dreaming.

His thumb finds her stiff nipple completely by accident, and she gasps his name softly when he rubs over it; he’s halfway to flipping them when he stops himself. He needs to settle down. He feels desperate for her, wants to reassure himself that she’s here, and real. He’s too pent up, and too strong. He doesn’t trust his body like this—on edge and tense. He wants to bury himself inside her and take her until this anxious, grasping feeling leaves him, but he doesn't want to hurt her.

The moments he resents this body are few and far between, but this is one of them—when she’s moving to finish what he started, trusting and eager, grasping his bicep and tugging him toward her as she starts to roll.

Steve stops her easily, murmuring, “Not yet,” into the dark. His hands slide down, finding her hips and anchoring her on top of him, squeezing there slowly, again, again, as he tries by sheer force of will to settle every riotous feeling inside him.

Right now, he’d give anything to turn off the super strength, the super stamina, the lingering energy he can never quite burn away.

He should stop this. He should leave her here and go for a run—it’s late, nobody’s awake to notice a supersoldier lapping the neighborhood at forty miles an hour.

He’s about to suggest it when she lets her weight settle back onto his torso, warm and soft and inviting, her fingers winding into his hair again and trailing soft swirls against his scalp.

.::.

This isn’t working.

It’s working for her—she’s increasingly slick and hot where he’s notched snugly between her thighs, her skin feeling electrified everywhere he touches her. He tastes like skin and salt, smells like the dregs of cologne and a faint but not at all unpleasant whiff of sweat. She wants to sink her teeth into him and claim him as her own—the side of his neck, the bend of his shoulder, the muscle of his chest. Wants to take him inside her and let him lay claim right back. She’s feeling quite awake and quite aroused, and would like nothing more than to draw his mind from whatever had plagued his dreams by filling it chock full of her instead.

But he’s distracted and tense beneath her. Not the good tension of lustful anticipation, but something more fraught. He’s not caressing so much as clutching, not nearly far gone enough for the way he’s groping at her. He’s hard against her, so that's working, at least, but something is off. A moment ago, he’d pitched his weight against her the way he does when he wants to reverse positions—but only enough to jostle her an inch. He’d halted himself, and she’s not certain why.

Maybe he wants to have her that way—him on top. It’s not the most effective position when it comes to her pleasure (they’ve discovered several others that serve her much better with regard to reaching orgasm), but she does quite enjoy it. Likes wrapping her ankles around his slim hips and her arms around his broad shoulders, and feeling the weight of him press her into the mattress.

It reminds her that he’s here—warm, alive, vital—and not somewhere in the frozen depths of the North Atlantic, lost to her forever.

She hasn’t told him that, though, so perhaps he doesn’t know. Perhaps he’s holding back out of some gallant desire to prioritize her pleasure? That had been her thinking when she’d tried to roll them—letting him know that she wanted it that way, too. But it seems that hadn’t been what he wanted, either, and her heart aches at her inability to figure out what he needs and deliver it.

At a loss, she settles her body more fully atop his, finds his lips with hers for a few soft pecks, before simply asking him: “What do you need, my darling?”

Steve sighs heavily, ever dramatic, his hands clutching at her hips again, and then admits, “I don’t want to hurt you.”

Peggy’s brow knits; she wishes she could see him. “Hurt me?”

She hears his head move against the pillow and thinks he’s nodded. “I want… I need…” His hands squeeze again, hard, and she thinks she understands.

“You want to get a bit rough with me?” she asks him, making sure to keep her tone light and without reproach or judgment.

Steve releases a breath that feels a bit like letting the air out of a tire, a soft hiss as he deflates beneath her. “I’m worried that I will.”

She finds his forehead with her fingertip, tracing the furrows she can feel there. “Do you think I’d mind?”

I’d mind,” Steve insists, and Peggy smiles; she’s so dreadfully fond of this man and his ridiculous goodness. One of his hands lifts from her hip to cup her jaw, fingertips tracing the shell of her ear. She wonders how clearly he can see her in the dark. “I don’t ever want to hurt you, Peg.”

“And you never have,” she reminds him. “Even when we’ve been… quite vigorous.”

It’s not entirely true. That first weekend—after they’d given up on the foolish notion that they’d take things slowly—they’d fallen into bed and stayed there for the better part of two days, addicted to the heady feel of each other, to the sheer delight of being able to touch and kiss and please. There had been bouts of languid lovemaking, certainly, but they’d also nearly broken the bedframe in their exuberance (it still creaks ominously if they get too energetic), and her skin had been peppered with tender finger bruises and love bites that she’d hidden with modest professional attire come Monday morning, her thighs sore as she’d slipped into sensible heels and headed off to work.

She hadn’t minded in the slightest, and she’s certain she won’t mind it tomorrow if he gets a bit carried away with her now.

Besides, “If I were ever truly bothered, I’d tell you, and you’d stop. We both know that.”

She hasn’t convinced him—she can tell by the way his thumb traces her cheek and the way he lets out another long, slow breath. So Peggy switches tactics, stealing another kiss from him, letting this one spin out and linger, deepening it with tongue and the tug of her grip against his scalp again. She doesn’t stop until she feels his hips rock up against her slightly, his breath heavy now for a much more pleasant reason.

He’s still tense, but they can work on that.

Their mouths part with a soft smack, but she stays close, close enough that their lips brush as she asks him quietly, “Do you want to know what I’d like, darling?”

He nods, his nose bumping hers.

“I’d like you to pin me to this mattress, and let me feel you on top of me. Inside of me. Heavy and strong, and very much alive.” He lets out a little sound at that, a sort of desperate moan that makes her wonder if perhaps that isn’t the crux of the issue. He’d been dreaming of battle, she knows that much—of death, almost certainly. He’d woken in the thick of it, and he can’t settle; energy to burn and death clinging to him.

She’s seen him lap an army base to shake off the last bit of a good fight; this is no different. He wants to let go.

And here she is, pinning him to the mattress, keeping him docile and still.

That just won’t do.

“I want you to take charge, Steve,” she tells him, closing the scant distance between them to nip at his lower lip. “I want you to take me.”

A groan rips from him at that, and he finally breaks. She’s flat on her back before she even realizes she’s moving, his hips grinding her down into the bed. It’s delightful, and she makes sure he knows it, moaning her satisfaction and winding her arms around his shoulders to press him even closer. He kisses her, hard. There’s not much finesse to it, but that’s alright. This isn’t a seduction so much as a workout, now.

He rocks against her, quick and firm, once, twice, again, and it feels absolutely heavenly. She’s wearing entirely too much—they both are—so she abandons her grip on him to reach down and shove at his pants, pushing them down over the marvelous curve of his arse and giving it a grope for good measure. He follows suit, propping himself up on an elbow and using his free hand to shove at her underthings. Peggy helps out, shimmying until she can kick them off, and then he’s reaching between them, giving himself a quick stroke before dragging the head of his cock through her folds.

Peggy feels a quick ripple of trepidation—she’s wet, certainly, but she usually requires a bit more of a warm-up than they’ve had, and Steve is… not a small man. Ordinarily it’s not an issue, but if he does plan to get a bit rough with her, this might actually turn out to be uncomfortable after all. She tells herself to relax, forces every muscle to go loose and pliant as his head slips up and rubs over her clit before sliding back down. He gives her one more pass, then makes a noise of displeasure, his warmth and weight disappearing from her.

“Steve?” she asks into the dark, just before his palms find her knees and slide up, up, parting her thighs even further before his broad shoulders settle between them.

It seems they’re on the same page, then. Brilliant.

That ripple of concern smoothes out, and Peggy relaxes more fully, curling her fingers into the pillow beneath her head in anticipation. Steve settles one hand just below her navel, his fingers combing through the thatch of dark hair between her thighs, dipping into her slick folds for a moment before parting them.

A second later, his tongue is on her, lapping firmly just where she needs him. Peggy gasps, exhaling a heavy, “Oh, that’s lovely...” as her hips jerk at the pleasure. Steve’s only response is a low moan and heavy drag of his tongue over her. He finishes with a long suck that makes her whine in a way she’d never admit to outside of the bedroom, then somehow manages to crowd even closer to her, the hand not holding her open for him dragging up and down her thigh, grasping at her as he eats her thoroughly.

It’s intense, but divine, the pleasure making her squirm as much as the rasp of his beard against her. He’s still restless, though, and it’s only a few breathless minutes before he stops and mutters, “I want to see you.”

Before she can reach for the light, he’s on the move, his skin hot and smooth as he slides up her body, dragging her nightdress halfway up her belly in the process. She wonders why she’s even still wearing it, and sets about righting the issue as he tugs the chain on the bedside lamp. It seems overly bright after so much darkness, making Peggy squeeze her eyes shut for a moment as she wriggles beneath him to work her nightgown up and off. He’s assisting by the time it hits her shoulders, giving it a yank to clear it over her head. The move dislodges the scarf she’d tied around her pin curls; it catches a ride on the nightgown Steve sends sailing God knows where, and Peggy frowns, wishing they’d kept the lights off after all.

She doesn’t feel particularly alluring like this, curls set and face bare. She’s not vain or simpering, and she knows her value is more than skin-deep, but she does like to look nice for him. For her own sake if not for his. Steve couldn’t care less—she catches him admiring her constantly as they settle in for the night, and he’s told her how damned lucky he feels to see her like this when they’d both thought the chance was lost to them forever—but that does little to quell the urge to begin yanking her pins out in quick succession.

She settles for draping an arm above her head, his gaze dropping predictably to her bare breasts, one hand rising to cup a generous handful.

So easy.

It’s only a temporary distraction. though—he glances at her face almost immediately and asks, “What’s wrong? You’re scowling.”

Peggy looks up toward her hairline and points out, “You’ve stolen my wrap.”

Steve glances over his shoulder, then looks back at her, shrugging and declaring, “Good. It gets in my way.” He smirks as he says it, somehow managing to look boyish for just a moment despite the turbulence in his eyes, and the hair that’s grown over his chin and cheeks. It had seemed the easiest way to disguise him—his blonde locks had gone a bit darker in their years apart and nobody would guess this scruffy man is the clean-cut golden boy who’d been the very picture of wartime patriotism half a decade ago. Even she has moments where she catches sight of him out of the corner of her eye and doesn’t recognize him.

He looks decidedly less boyish when he lets his gaze wander south again, his thumb strumming over her nipple, body settling alongside hers so he can duck his head and suck at the pebbled peak. He’s determined again, fingers kneading, mouth working her over and sending heat streaking down through her belly.

She forgets entirely about the pin curls.

Who can be bothered with such trivial things when Steve Rogers has sent a hand down to chase those shimmering sparks of pleasure, tucking two fingers up into her and pressing the heel of his hand against her clit. His intensity never wanes, his pace steady and firm, so it’s not long before she’s a writhing mess, her hips working counterpoint to his rhythm, her lips tumbling praise (“oh, my darling,” and “just like that” and “God, more…”), her thighs parting wider in invitation or encouragement, she’s not sure which.

She’s not sure of anything except that she’s rapidly approaching that peak of bliss to which he’s so adept at bringing her.

Steve, however, seems quite sure. He stops, drawing his fingers away and leaving her utterly bereft for a moment before he hauls his body atop hers and nestles into the welcome of her thighs. (Invitation after all, it seems.)

He reaches between them and guides himself home, bottoming out in one quick thrust that has a breathless “oh!” tumbling from her lips, her hands grasping at his shoulders.

He stills atop her, burying his face in her neck and muttering apologies. He usually eases in by halves, giving her several lazy thrusts that let her adjust to his girth until all of him is snugly settled.

“It’s alright, I’m alright,” she assures, because she is. It hadn’t been painful, just a bit much. An intrusion, but a good one, and she tells him so, lifting her knees and locking her ankles around his waist, using them as leverage to rock up against him and encouraging, “You feel wonderful.”

Steve lifts his head so he can study her face—trying to determine whether she’s placating him, no doubt. Peggy scrapes the blunt edge of her nails up along his neck until he shivers, his eyes dropping shut just before she combs them through his hair, against his scalp. She’s not sure whether he’s taking a moment to let her soothe him or giving her a moment to adjust, but either way, it seems to work. When his eyes blink open again, they seem a bit less stormy, and when he draws back and gives her another slow thrust, it’s much less overwhelming than the first.

All sorted then.

He starts up a rhythm that’s controlled and measured, pressing in deep, then drawing out almost all the way, in until he grinds firmly against her clit, and then out again. It’s absolutely divine—she can feel every snug inch of him as he moves, and it has her breath trembling, her toes curling, soft moans sounding in her throat every time he settles fully inside her. He could take her apart like this, stroke by measured stroke until she shattered for him, and it would be absolute bliss.

For her.

But she has one hand grasping his bicep and can feel the tension in it, the twitch of the muscle beneath her fingers as he holds himself back. It’s sweet, but it won’t help, and she wants him to feel every bit as swept away as she does.

The hand still clutched in his hair tips his mouth to hers, the kiss wet and heady and indulgent. She gasps as he takes her deep again, then scrapes her nails over his scalp and urges, “Harder, Steve. Don’t hold back on me.”

He’s so close that she can’t look at him, his face a blur that makes her cross-eyed when she tries, but she feels another apprehensive exhale against her cheek before he asks, “You’re alright?”

“I’m fantastic,” she assures him, rocking her hips slightly to shift him even deeper. “Let go with me.”

He nods, once, resolute, then pulls back and surges back in hard. It’s swift and jarring, pleasure swelling up sharply through her middle at the sudden change, and she can’t help blurting another surprised, “Oh!”

A sound she immediately regrets when Steve goes still and pulls back slightly. Before he can fumble them through another apology or ask yet again if she’s alright, Peggy reaches down, grasps his rear end and yanks him back into her until their hips smack together, her nails digging into the firm muscle. She’s done being handled, for God’s sake.

“Fuck me,” she orders, no nonsense now. “The way we both want it. I’m not made of glass, Steve, and you know it.”

He mutters another apology, quick and under his breath, but she lets it slide because he’s almost immediately pulling back and then snapping his hips hard into hers again. She makes a point of moaning (it’s not a hardship), of hissing “Yes, just like that, my darling,” so that he does it again, again. Every time, his pelvis lands against her clit in a way that sends bursts of pleasure racing up her spine.

It takes another few thrusts before he either decides she really does mean what she says or that he simply can’t hold himself back anymore, but she feels the dam break, the moment he finds her hand with his and pins it to the pillow, his pace growing quick and desperate. Her first orgasm surprises them both, one well placed thrust and then another that sweeps her up to a sudden and dazzling peak, his name high and desperate on her lips as she pitches over. She’s vaguely aware of the way he moans in appreciation, a bit more aware of the way he shifts, pinning her other wrist to the pillow alongside the first, his grip solid and strong as his hips press down hard into hers and then slow to a deliberate, firm rocking. It keeps him buried deep, each pulsing clench of her orgasm gripping him as he grinds against her clit again and again and again, drawing out her pleasure until the world narrows to nothing but the two of them, in this moment, in this bed.

She exists in constellation points of rapture—their fingers now gripped tight together; her inner thighs slick with sweat against his hips; his mouth on her throat, tongue swirling, teeth nipping; and the place where they’re joined, burning supernova hot as she moans deliriously and quakes with another shiver of ecstatic bliss. Everything else may as well be the emptiness of space for all she’s able to process. It’s a truly spectacular orgasm, made all the better by the rarity of achieving it in this particular position, where they’re pressed together hip to shoulder, his mouth close enough to catch if she were to turn her head.

And because she loves him to the point of dizziness, she does just that, still moaning and gasping as their mouths meet. It’s a little bit sloppy, quite a bit carnal, and altogether too brief—he veers off toward her neck again after only a few seconds, sucking a streak of burning kisses down her shoulder until his face is buried there. His breath is hot against her skin, his grip still tight on hers (she’s never been one for restraints, but with Steve pinning her down she feels safe rather than smothered), and then he speed ups again, whatever self control he’d mustered to prolong her pleasure clearly spent.

She’s sensitive, almost overly so, but then he shifts the angle of his hips just slightly for better leverage, reaching down and hiking one of her thighs up along his ribs. It takes the brunt of the force off her clit, but sinks him impossibly deeper. After that, it’s bloody splendid. She winds her now-freed arm around his shoulders, digs her nails into the sweaty skin over his spine, and then simply holds on and lets herself be fucked absolutely brainless by the man she loves.

For all his goodness and restraint earlier, he’s fierce now, strong and persistent as he takes and takes her. The bed frame creaks with each thrust, her headboard knocking rhythmically against the wall, and for a fleeting moment she worries this will be the night they truly do manage to break the bed, but she really can’t find it in herself to care. Not with his head ducked so close to her ear that she can hear every gratified grunt and desperate groan their frantic union draws out of him. She revels in each and every one, well aware that she sounds equally debauched as she pants and gasps and moans for him. God, she’d missed him so.

She brings her other knee up along his ribs—a tactical error she only realizes as he lets go her other hand to hook beneath her leg. His next thrust hits deep, uncomfortably so, as does the one that follows; she attempts to drop her leg back down to where it had been, but he has her pinned now. She grunts his name painfully, digs her nails into his shoulder hard as he knocks the breath out of her with another deep push, and he grinds to a halt so quickly she swears she can hear the squeal of his internal brakes.

He lifts his head, levers himself up to get a better look at her, brow knitting as he asks, “Are you alright? Am I hurting you?”

The urge to lie, to spare his feelings when he needs her so, is overpowered by both her assurance that she wouldn’t allow him to hurt her without protesting and the knowledge that quite frankly she won’t be alright if they carry on like that. So she retracts her claws from his shoulders and soothes her palms up along his neck instead, hoping her loving touch will ease the inevitable sting of her nodding at him and admitting, “A bit— but only just now. You’re too deep like this.”

He releases her leg as swiftly as he would a hot poker, drawing back and slipping out of her before she has a chance to urge him otherwise, and she feels a desperate punch of regret. She gropes for the back of his neck, attempting to halt his retreat and offer reassurances: “No, my darling, it was wonderful befo—oh!”

She loses her grip on him as when he flips her like a ragdoll, until she’s belly down on the sheets, his weight settling over her thighs, his hands large and warm as he palms her arse. His cock fills her again a moment later (slowly, this time, but to the hilt again), and she lets out a low, dawning, “Ohh…”

He pulls back slightly, adjusts a bit, then eases in again, before he asks, “How’s that?”

“Perfect,” she sighs languidly, because it is, truly. With his thighs bracketing hers, she’s snug enough to make him seem even larger, and she’s so sensitive she can feel every blessed inch of him move in and out of her. The angle is not nearly as deep, but as he picks up the same robust pace again, every thrust thumps deliciously into that spot inside her that makes her see stars.

She’s grunting her pleasure into the pillow in no time, using it to muffle noises that are too unladylike even for her standards. God, he’s absolutely divine. She hadn’t expected to come again—hadn’t thought he’d last long enough for her to—but with him holding tight to her hips and barrelling into that spot inside her over and over, she can feel it building rapidly.

“Just like—oh God!—justlikethat!” she manages, between exclamations of ecstasy and stuttered words of praise.

Steve’s grip on her goes bruising, holding her steady as he maintains the rhythm that is undoing her moment by moment, her name tumbling desperately from his lips, followed by “close!”’ and “God!”

If he finishes before her now, she might just kill him.

She can’t form thoughts anymore, much less words, so she just nods and moans desperately, and hopes he takes it for the Me too it is and not permission to let go himself. He fucks her just that little bit harder, and suddenly everything clenches tight and then springs free, bliss ricocheting all the way down to her bloody toes, out to her clenching fingers, raising goosebumps along her spine, up the back of her neck. The pleasure is all-consuming, blooming again and again with each thrust.

His rhythm falters, goes suddenly staccato and quick before one hand clamps onto her shoulder and he pushes in as deep as he can manage like this, spilling into her with a loud, low groan, then another, a third, broken and relieved as he spends himself completely. His fingers squeeze on her hip and shoulder with each one, holding her firmly in place as he fills her; it feels primal in a way she thinks she ought not to enjoy as much as she does, canting her hips back just a little to open herself even further to him.

And then in an instant, they both go boneless, Peggy into the mattress and Steve into her, his weight solid on her thighs as he slips half out of her.

She’s panting like she’s run a marathon despite doing very little of the work, and even with his super soldier stamina, Steve isn’t faring much better. She feels battered and brilliant, hollowed out in the middle in the absolute best of ways, blood thrumming in her veins.

Bloody Nora…” she breathes, just as Steve trails a feather-light touch down her spine.

His voice is sex-roughened but just as gentle as his fingertips when he asks, “You alright?”

“Never better,” she pants, and it's the Gods’ honest truth. She feels golden. Resplendent. Superb.

His hands continue their lazy journey down her back, coming to rest at her hips and stroking there reverently before going still.

Steve exhales a quiet, “Fuck...” and the corner of her mouth curves up; she’s still getting used to him swearing. She’d echo the sentiment if it hadn’t sounded tinged with just a bit of regret, something she cannot understand in the slightest until he says regretfully, “I should have pulled out.”

Ah. That.

They’re normally fastidious about precautions, Peggy slipping her Dutch cap in before bed if she intends to seduce him, or Steve pulling out to finish on her belly rather than inside her if they’ve gone a bit spontaneous. Thankfully, she’d finished her cycle a mere two days ago, so she thinks they should be safe.

Peggy sends a hand back blindly to pat reassuringly against the closest patch of skin she can find (his knee, she thinks). “S’alright. We should be fine. But I’ll go get cleaned up in a moment.” After a half beat, she adds wryly, “Just as soon as my knees start working again.”

He laughs, finally, at that, giving her rear end a gentle swat, and that's more like it. Tension finally broken, he eases out of her with a gentleness that seems almost absurd after the pounding he’d given her, the bedframe whining ominously again when he flops down to the mattress (her side; she’s currently limp as a fish on his) with a deeply satisfied sigh.

Peggy turns her head to look at him and smiles at the sight—he’s flushed pink down to his chest, skin gleaming and sweaty, his hair a tousled mess with one hand flung up over his head and rooted in the disheveled strands. And he finally looks content—all his broodiness melted away into a smug, happy smile as he stares at the ceiling.

She’ll feel him tomorrow, and maybe the day after, but it was worth every drop of soreness to see him gone utterly to bliss this way. He’s exorcised his demons and spent all his restless energy, and given her two incredible orgasms in the process.

All in all, she’d call it quite the successful mission.

Steve’s head lolls in her direction, his gaze softening at the sight of her in a way that makes her chest flutter every time he does it. He reaches over, drawing a knuckle down the side of her arm tenderly.

“You’re sure I didn’t hurt you?”

“Only for a moment,” she promises. “The rest was bliss.”

He seems mollified, finally, sighing deeply again and nodding, that knuckle grazing back up toward her shoulder as his eyelids seem to grow exponentially heavier by the moment.

If she doesn’t go get cleaned up soon, she’ll lose both her side of the bed and the opportunity to curl up with him and have him rub her back until she drops off into that deep sleep again.

So she levers up onto her elbow, finally, feeling him begin to leak out of her as she leans over to pluck one sweet kiss from his lips. She retreats to the bathroom, naked as the day she was born, her knees still a bit wobbly, the tops of her thighs increasingly slick.

She cleans up as best she can, ridding herself of as much of Steve as she can manage, before relieving her bladder.

When she catches sight of herself in the mirror over the sink as she washes her hands, Peggy isn’t sure whether to feel horrified or smug. She’s still nearly as rosy as Steve was, the flush raising a few stealthy freckles across her chest and shoulders. Her pin curls are beyond repair, several dangling where they’d come loose, others with strands escaping and wild. She decides to abandon them entirely and wear her hair up tomorrow, resigned to plucking each pin free before she returns to bed.

She also takes a minute to dab arnica cream on the red marks his tight grip had left on her hips, and the love bite already blooming on her shoulder, so she can’t say she’s entirely surprised to find him out like a light when she returns to the bedroom. At least he’d rolled into his own side of the bed again—or mostly so, anyway, sprawled as he is in all his naked glory over the rumpled sheets, one arm flung out over her pillow.

Peggy spies her nightgown in a crumpled heap on the floor and is almost tempted to retrieve it, but Steve looks far too inviting in the nude so she decides to join him in kind. She turns the light out, finding her way around the bed in the dark, and sliding in beside him, dragging the quilt up from the foot of the bed and curling up against his side. She uses his chest as a pillow since he seems to have commandeered hers.

Steve makes a soft sound, as if he’s not quite asleep after all, his movements sluggish and sleepy as that arm slips down to span the length of her back, his thumb stroking lazily over her spine.

Perfect.

Peggy shuts her eyes, listens to the steady lubdub-lubdub of his heart beneath her ear, and is asleep in moments.

It is deep and dreamless, and neither stirs again until morning.