A Medley of Extemporanea

Author's Note: Outside POV (Pvt. Lorraine).
I'd been listening to the Dorothy Parker Audio Collection. This happened. (I apologize in advance for my butchery of Ms. Parker's style.)
Title from the Dorothy Parker poem "Comment".

***

My, aren't you a handsome fella? Yes, I mean it, especially if you treat me to a drink. It's awfully lonesome spending my precious weekend-pass all by myself… How you stack up compared to Captain America? Oh, so you know that I know him, do you, doll? How delightful! Are you a journo by any chance? Even better!

Can't say you quite match up to Steve - yes, that's what I call him - looks-wise, but then, who does? Aww, don't make a face like that, we can still be friends… Just order me another one of these. Thanks, darlin', you're sweet. Just like Steve. And maybe, if you're real nice to me, I can tell you how kissing you compares to him, since you seem awfully keen on comparisons.

Why yes, I did. You managed to find one girl who can truthfully say she kissed Captain America, aren't you a lucky one? Let me tell you a secret, sweetheart - I might even be the first woman to have ever done so! Yes indeed. You want to know how? Buy me dinner and I'll tell you all about it…

You see, when I signed up I ended up working for Colonel Phillips - yes, that one. There's a lot that I can't tell you about my work, what with it being classified. Darling, I like you, but not enough to commit treason. If you want the scoop on military stuff, you'll have to find another sucker and try to charm her - all the way to the firing squad!

Aww, now don't look like that, you gotta understand that it's war, and a girl has to know where to draw the line. Why don't I go back to telling you how I came to kiss Captain America, and if you're a good boy I might even let you in on some nice, juicy gossip that's not classified? Just order me another cocktail, handsome, to oil my vocal chords.

You like my voice? That's so sweet of you, you're a real gent! I gotta tell you, there have been others who told me I should be a singer - maybe something to keep in mind for after the war. Or maybe I could work for the Wireless, or even the movies! You really think so? Why, I could almost kiss you! Well, maybe later.

But that was how it happened, more or less, with me and Steve. I'd seen him around headquarters, of course, when he came back from rescuing the 107th, with the Howling Commandos. Except they weren't called that yet, they weren't anything yet, really, except maybe in Steve's mind. He's a great one at leading men, everyone says so, just like the papers always make out. I mean, one always hears that the news exaggerate, but when it comes to him, and you can quote me on that, it's all true. He's really done some amazing things, even things you journalists know nothing about!

So when I see him up close for the first time, he's right there, so tall and handsome, like some statue in a museum, except he's real, you know, flesh and blood. I swear he runs hotter than normal people, I could feel it radiating from him. And his smile was so sweet, nothing like a lot of the soldiers I meet. You wouldn't believe some of the things a girl has to put up with on a regular basis working with so many men! Ah look, our main course is here. The food in this place is really good, isn't it? Surprising, what with all the rationing - sometimes I think the army gets fed better than you civilians. But I really do appreciate you taking me out like this - maybe later we could go dancing. I've been told I'm a firecracker on the dance floor, and you look like you would cut a fine figure, too.

Oh, don't rush me, I'm telling you the story in my own time. If you keep acting like this I might think you only wanted my company for a story. But you don't, darling, do you? I didn't think so, not when you've got such a nice smile. I told you, you're a bit like him in that regard, so nice and a proper gentleman. I could tell right away - that he was a gentleman, I mean. Even before I got to talk to him in person.

There's just a… gentleness to him, that one wouldn't expect from the Captain America you see in the newsreels, the guy who almost single-handedly… but I can't tell you what he did exactly, I'd be in awful trouble. I can tell, though, that when he came back with the guys who are now the Howling Commandos - by the way was it one of you news people who came up with that name? I've always kind of wondered. Anyway, when they arrived at headquarters, you could tell that they'd been through a lot, but they were all looking to Steve, as if they would follow him to hell and back. Especially Sergeant Barnes, who was in the worst shape of them all, pale as a ghost and with eyes that were positively haunted, he was looking at Steve as if he hung the moon.

And Steve, and that's what I mean with him being gentle, he was looking after those men the exact same way, as if every single one was precious, most of all Barnes. No "yes, sir; no, sir" with him, despite him being a Captain. Mind, I have heard that the sergeant and Steve grew up together, but still, you don't see that very often with officers. Don't tell the Colonel, but often officers have no idea what makes enlisted men tick.

Why yes, I do see a lot. It kind of comes with the job, you know. And often men do tend to treat us female soldiers like we're invisible. Unless they want something, of course. Not that I'd want you to think I'm easy or flirt around. A man has to treat me like a lady, I always say. So what do you think, buy me another drink? Thanks, sugar.

Anyway, most of the time I get along just fine with the soldiers. They're just boys, most of them, and it's nice to be able to put a smile on their faces just with a kind word, you know. They miss their moms and sisters back home, so they're so grateful for the smallest thing. Course it's easier to be nice when they're handsome. Most men cut such fine figures in uniform, although of course not as fine as the Captain. So really, you can't blame a girl for taking a chance when it came, can you?

I mean, there I was, working hard as always, when he came by and gave me such a charming smile. And I figured, he must be missing female company just as much as the next soldier, and he being such a hero, it didn't seem fair. He was so modest, though, when I thanked him in the name of the women of America, for rescuing our men. I tell you, he blushed, it was so charming! And then he kissed me - nothing salacious, mind, he's too much of a gentleman, and I just about melted into his strong arms...

I gotta admit, I was kind of hoping he might ask me out, but that was when Agent Carter interrupted us. She's some sort of British liaison with Colonel Phillips, and while I don't want to put down another professional woman, it struck me as rather awkward, the way she glared at poor Steve. A girl, especially one who works with lots of men, always has to keep her cool, if you know what I mean, even if I can't blame her for being a bit gone on Steve. But needless to say, that kinda ruined the mood, although you could tell Steve would have liked to keep on kissing me. He did apologize very nicely to me, before hurrying off to some important meeting.

I think that was about the time they formed the Howling Commandos. I gotta say, they're a rather rowdy bunch, but not more than most soldiers, and Steve handpicked them. I've hardly seen him since that kiss, but maybe when the War is won… Because it's gotta mean something that he told his friend Bucky Barnes about me, right? The other day they passed me in the corridor, and Barnes gave me such a grin, all knowing and smug, it would have shocked my mama back home. Not me, though, I'm used to boys and their antics, and it was so sweet, the way Steve blushed and elbowed Barnes.

Such a gent, I tell you! Even defending my honor, he wasn't rough with his pal. He's so strong, after all, it'd be so easy to hurt people on accident. He didn't even flinch when Barnes slapped him, right on his behind, just took him by the shoulder and ushered him away. Honestly, boys… Gotta love 'em.

So yeah, darlin', I kissed Captain America. And such a nice kiss it was. But now, how about you and me do some comparison?

***

What happened later - and what Private Lorraine never told anyone.

Admittedly, she'd been hoping for more from the journo than conversation and a bit of kissing over dinner in a bar. It had been nice to be the focus of someone's attention, and he'd been quite dashing. However, it was still Saturday when she made her way back to headquarters, quite a bit earlier than expected. He'd mumbled something about a deadline and run off, not even walked her to the tube.

Well, at least this meant she'd have her room for herself, since her roommate was gone for the weekend. Might also give her the chance to wash her hair in peace, put it in curlers without risking to run into a handsome soldier while looking a fright. Private Lorraine was nothing if not a glass-half-full kind of girl, so she was already mostly over her disappointment by the time she gave a sympathetic smile to the poor sentry stuck on weekend duty.

There were not many women serving here, but it was still nice to enjoy the empty showers, without anyone telling her she was wasting hot water. She ambled back to her quarters, still towelling her damp hair, when a noise caught her attention. Low laughter reverberated off the walls, and, not wanting anyone to see her in disarray, she quickly ducked into a side-corridor and waited quietly.

"Pal, you're lucky she likes you, because you're obviously still as clueless how to talk to dames as ever!" To her surprise the laughter belonged to Bucky Barnes, who had until now struck her as rather haunted, not one for easy laughter, with the exception of that suggestive grin she'd told the journalist about. But it seemed that this was just another thing the Germans could be blamed for, because this relaxed, happy young man was obviously much closer to Barnes' natural pre-War personality. Captain America appeared to feel the same, walking close to Barnes with a warm, private smile on his face that unaccountably made the hiding young woman blush.

The men passed her by, but she couldn't help herself, curiosity drew her after them. What were they doing back already? And what woman were they talking about? She stayed well behind them, but they weren't paying attention anyway, too focused on each other. It was rather nice to see them like this, their shoulders brushing with every step, they were so comfortable with each other. In her experience, War forced people to be either too serious or too boisterous, but they were neither, simply enjoying each other's company. They weren't Captain America and his sergeant, just Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, a thought that made the private smile.

"She already liked me before… all this, I think," Steve was saying, sounding rather pleased.

Bucky snorted a laugh, but his voice was kind: "She's got taste, that Agent Carter of yours."

"Well, so have you," Steve replied cryptically, and she poked her head carefully around the corner they'd disappeared around. She recognized the corridor, it led to Captain America's quarters. She almost betrayed herself with a sharp intake of breath, shocked by the sight of Steve Rogers pushing Bucky Barnes against the door to his room. Her first thought was that his words hadn't sounded like a threat at all, but that was a ridiculous idea anyway, since it was obvious that Steve's intentions were anything but combative.

Steve had smoothly inserted a strong thigh between his friend's legs, and even from where she stood, frozen, the mischievous twinkle in Bucky's eyes was visible: "'Course. I was there first, and don't you go forgetting it!"

"Never." Steve was smiling down at him, wide and carefree, and he trapped Bucky's hands, which were splayed on his broad chest, with his own, before leaning down to do what the shocked private could only call nuzzle his face against Bucky's. The gesture was achingly familiar, and she felt warmth pool deep in her belly when they fell into a deep, sweet kiss. It only lasted a moment, then Bucky broke away, and Steve let himself be pushed away easily.

"Uh-huh, Captain, can't do that here - I'm afraid you're getting carried away. But then, I am irresistible." Bucky's grin was teasing, but his cheeks were flushed. Not that she could blame him.

The last she saw and heard was Steve Rogers fumbling the door to his room open and bodily shoving Bucky Barnes inside, his voice a growl, almost unrecognizable from his usual polite tones: "A damn tease, is what you are."

The door had long since slammed shut, but she was still leaning against the wall, breathing hard as if she'd been the one being kissed within an inch of her life. Finally, she gathered her wits about her again and made her way back her quarters. By the time she reached them, she'd regained her equilibrium. She was surprisingly alright with what she'd just witnessed - it did at least explain why Steve had never asked her out after that kiss.

Humming to herself, Private Lorraine began to put her hair into curlers. Captain America might be taken, but there were plenty more handsome fish in the sea. A girl should always look her best.

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