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The tower is on temporary lockdown while the threat is evaluated. They can’t risk a possible breach and even JARVIS is...malfunctioning. Tony is worried.

There might be someone--something--in the tower and this is exactly all the things he never wanted here. He wanted this to be safe, stupid as it sounds. It’s their base.

But housing a bunch of heroes in one building tends to attract certain unwanted attention. The super villain types don’t have to look hard, although most of them have such unrealistic dreams of grandeur that the problems often solve themselves.

Tony can’t sleep though. He feels responsible.

So, stalking the hallway with just the gauntlet of a suit on one hand and a large drink in the other, he notices things.

Like that Cap’s door had been closed earlier.

As quietly as he can, Tony approaches. He waits a second, listens. His heart is pounding and he tries to tell himself it’s nothing, but if Captain America gets murdered in his sleep--on Tony’s watch, no less--he... Well. He can’t let that happen. He can’t.

Tony nudges the door open slowly, until he can get a good look at Cap and be satisfied in the knowledge that someone really isn’t in process of killing the American hero.

It takes a second for him to make out what he’s seeing and once he comprehends, he sucks in a gasp and shuts the door until it’s open just a sliver. As if he’d never touched it.

There had been a threat in the room, but not the kind Tony had thought to fear. The goddamn Winter Soldier had been curled up in Steve’s arms. Steve’s arm resting comfortably--intimately, his mind so helpfully insists--over the metal. Their legs tangled over the sheets.

Tony feels like the biggest fucking idiot. It should’ve been obvious and the fact that Tony Stark, genius that he is--playboy that he’s been--hadn’t put it together makes him down the contents of his glass.

Once Cap and Falcon found Bucky, Cap took him in. No questions asked. Before they...fixed him, as best they could, Steve hadn’t cared. It was Bucky, he’d said. And that was enough. If things had ever gone badly, Steve hadn’t complained. When they got him to accept who he was, Steve had been so happy. And Bucky had stayed, had made the choice to.

The two of them lived together and Tony had somehow missed it.

The thing is, Tony’s got a massive crush on Steve. How could he not? He’s Captain America and it turns out that this is not such a bad thing. Steve is so fucking admirable but he can snark with the best of them. That’s amazing.

Well, at least now he knows Steve swings that way...but that way means men and not Tony.

He should be supportive. He knows he should. Whatever Bucky did as the Winter Soldier, that isn’t his fault. Tony understands that.

These are two guys that were born before 1920, that fought in World War II together. Tony guesses it would’ve been hard to accept that they wanted to be together now with those ’40s ideals in their heads. Or...well. They could’ve been together then. That’s not the point. He should accept it. Wholeheartedly.

It’s sweet, he tells himself, even though he feels like he’s got the worst heartburn of his life.

~

An hour earlier:

Steve isn’t surprised when the door to his room opens and he can make out shaggy hair in the shadows. He scoots back, tossing the covers open haphazardly. “C’mere,” he murmurs, and the figure acquiesces with this permission given.

Bucky crawls into his bed, but doesn’t say anything--doesn’t need to. It’s late and he’s tired; they both are. At first he stays facing Steve, taking in the face he knows so well even in the dark. Once he’s allowed his mind to catch up to where he is, to adjust and relax knowing that if he’s here in Steve’s bed he must be okay, he also knows that the images in his mind may be real, but they’re only memories. He breathes in deeply, warmth and Steve overcoming his senses. He nuzzles his face into Steve’s chest and an arm wraps around him, a hand rubbing his back slowly until it goes limp and he knows Steve has drifted back off to sleep.

After a bit of squirming, Steve unconsciously gripping at him, he settles his back against Steve’s chest. Steve’s breath is warm where his hair tickles the nape of his neck, but it’s comforting.

He doesn’t feel bad about it anymore. He knows Steve is happy to hold him through the night when he couldn’t have slept otherwise.

~

The next day, things are weirdly normal. Tony had fixed JARVIS and done a thorough scan of the building and, well…nothing. Lockdown over.

The Avengers plus one James “Bucky” Barnes are arranged in various positions around the living room and kitchen. Tony watches as Clint makes a joke that has Natasha rolling her eyes, but what has him rapt is the way Steve is smiling at Bucky as the other man takes a sip from his mug, the corner of his mouth turned up like they’re sharing some secret moment.

Perhaps they’re reliving some of whatever they got up to last night.

It is only when he realizes his hand is now burning that Tony remembers he was pouring himself some coffee. It becomes very apparent to everyone else when his now-scalded hand lets go of the mug and it shatters on the floor, a wave of hot coffee surrounding it as well as his bare feet and pant legs.

“Fuck!” Tony sets down the pot and it wobbles worryingly on the edge of the counter but, despite his luck, does not fall.

“You okay?” Steve asks, the bastard. He’s already stepping towards Tony and collecting fragments of the mug in his hands.

Tony ignores the pain in his feet and fingers and instead drops down to prevent Steve from cleaning up anymore of his mess. “I’ve got it, Rogers.”

Tony Stark does not see the furrow in Steve’s brow at his surname coming from Tony’s mouth.

~

“Did you know?” Tony asks.

Bruce glances up at Tony from the seemingly fascinating stack of papers he has in front of him. “Know what?”

“About Steve and…” He coughs into his hand and pretends he wasn’t going to say the Winter Soldier. “Uh. Bucky.” He winces. “Did you?”

“What are you talking about?” When Tony doesn’t immediately answer, Bruce continues. “I don’t have time for this right now,” he says, forefinger and thumb pushing up his glasses to rub at his eyes.

“Was I the only one who didn’t know? Because I consider myself an expert at this sort of thing. Two people walk into a room and I feel like I know. Well, except maybe with Clint and Natasha but they’re spies, I don’t think that counts.” Tony interrupts his own ramble to frown. He isn’t sure Steve and Bucky don’t also fall into the spy category, but considering how obvious it seems now, he doesn’t think that’s a factor. “Is it just because I…” He stops himself.

“Tony, are you okay?” Bruce asks and Tony can see only concern etched there in his features.

Tony nods. “I’m just super. Well, not literally.” He smiles and Bruce smiles back, slightly confused.

“Alright,” Bruce says. “Just let me know if you need someone to actually talk to? I’ll...try to make time.”

Tony only nods yet again, tapping his fingers incessantly against his leg as he wanders away. He’s pretty sure he was in deep denial before and every time he thinks about it, he just wants to smack himself over the head.

His crush is stupid anyway. Cap is so...so…

He can’t even think of a bad thing to say about the man that he doesn’t find slightly endearing now. And, hey, maybe that is something.

~

Steve’s hand moves, pencil scraping across the paper, but the skyline isn’t as interesting as he had thought. If he doesn’t guide himself elsewhere, just starts to draw whatever comes first to mind, he finds that far too often it is of a certain billionaire who may or may not have built the ridiculous tower he’s currently calling home.

Idly, he lets himself sketch the curve of a jawline, the twist of a smirk.

Bucky slides down next to Steve on the balcony; he peeks at the sketchbook, but he already knows what he’ll find. “You’re pathetic, Rogers.” Bucky laughs and Steve does, too, but his face starts to fall. It’s been weeks since they talked about the past seventy years, about what’s been done and what they must do to fix it.

“Buck…”

 

Bucky’s expression changes instantly, shuttering off. “Don’t.” He runs a shaky hand through his hair. “Just...not now, alright?” He breathes out carefully, his metal hand flexing.

Steve nods, lips pursing. All he wants to do is tell Bucky things are going to be alright now but it isn’t the right time. He wraps an arm around his friend’s shoulders instead. “Alright,” he murmurs, resting his chin on the top of Bucky’s head. “I’m--”

“Here,” Bucky finishes. “I know.” He nestles himself into Steve’s arms, inhaling the familiar scent of the other man, no matter how much has changed and how many decades have passed, there’s Steve. He doesn’t even comment when Steve starts sketching Tony again.

~

“Rhodey!” Tony greets and pulls his friend into a hug.

“Tony,” Rhodey returns with less enthusiasm, but they both know he’s only teasing.

Tony nods, as if there’s something to agree to. “So...how’s, um...Carol?”

“She and Jess seem happy,” he answers, raising an eyebrow.

Tony grimaces. “Right. Right. Well, that’s...good.” He winces. “Sorry.”

Rhodey shrugs. “Is what it is.” The corner of his mouth quirks. “How’s Steve?”

“He and Bucky seem happy,” Tony says, resolve crumbling.

“Oh, Tony.” Rhodey wraps an arm around him. “You are the smartest and the stupidest guy I’ve ever known, you get that, right?”

Tony glares at him sidelong but doesn’t comment as Rhodey leads him to one of the many suit rooms. “I tweaked the new prototype,” Tony tells him once they’re staring down his new collection of suits. There are less than there had been before, of course, but he’s been bored. Besides, recent revelations have him eager to make himself busy.

Rhodey runs his hand across the new Iron Patriot chestpiece, ending the motion with a flick that makes a light ting on the metal. “Well, better take it out for a test drive then,” Rhodey suggests with a grin.

Tony shrugs, picking up what Rhodey considers a dubious-looking coffee cup--can never tell how long it might’ve been there with Tony.

Rhodey bumps his shoulder into Tony’s. “C’mon. It’ll take your mind off things.”

Tony starts to smile and it’s only a little self-deprecating.

~

Tony is about five extremely potent drinks in when he says, “Why him and not me?” He turns his head and squints at Clint. “You’re not Rhodey.”

“Rhodey went home two hours ago,” Clint tells him, sipping at his beer.

“Oh.” Tony turns away again, scratching his nose.

Clint eyes him for a moment. “What’re you talking about, anyway?”

Tony glances at him sidelong. “Hmmm?” He blinks. “Nothing.”

“Okay,” Clint says, shrugging. “Didn’t sound like nothin’.”

Tony scrutinizes him and realizes that he’s seriously considering baring his soul to Clint and decides he doesn’t like the thought of that. He hums noncommittally.

“Look, you’re acting weird, so whatever it is...just...just…” Clint shakes his head, scratches his temple thoughtfully. “Don’t let it eat at you.” Clint pats Tony on the shoulder and heads to bed.

Tony lets himself space off for a moment, but when his eyes have closed and all he sees is Steve’s goddamn smile and the way he drinks his coffee, Tony rolls off the couch. He lets himself flop onto the floor with a thud and stares off at nothing again. The wonders of alcohol never cease, he thinks idly, as he feels like he could sleep forever right now. Sleep sounds much better than trying to get up.

“Tony?”

“Fuck.” He recognizes that voice. It’s not as if it haunts his dreams or anything, that totally doesn’t happen. Oh, wait. Tony doesn’t look at Steve, instead scrunching his face up, eyes closed.

“Tony.”

Tony risks opening his eyes and finds Steve squatting in front of him. He stares at Steve’s bare feet but when Steve clears his throat, he’s pretty sure Steve won’t be satisfied until Tony’s eyes meet his. Have Steve’s eyes always been this blue?

“It’s not like they change color,” Steve says and Tony groans as he realizes he had actually spoken.

Tony lets his head smack against the hardwood floors a couple of times, but it just lolls after a minute. He’s lost the energy to try to...do whatever he had been doing.

There’s a long sigh and Tony feels Steve’s hand--in all its warm, comforting, enticingly strong glory--on his chest. “Are you alright?” Steve asks, then his hand is sliding away and Tony panics because he wants it to stay but it settles on his shoulder hesitantly. “Let me take you to bed--your bed.” Tony doesn’t see the way Steve gets flustered, the bright red hue of his cheeks that spreads down to his chest.

“Yeah,” Tony agrees, struggling. “I’m sure Bucky’s already--” He cuts himself off with a sigh. “I can go.” He shuffles, getting up, but he stumbles.

“Let me--” Steve is swooping in, wrapping an arm under Tony’s and around his waist.

“Mmh,” Tony says, in lieu of any real reply and lets himself be manhandled. He leans into Steve a little more, practically getting dragged down the hall. “You smell nice,” he murmurs, face half in Steve’s chest as Steve gently pushes him into his room.

Steve doesn’t say anything--doesn’t know what to say--but Tony seems like he’s fallen asleep anyway. He pulls Tony’s shoes off, no idea why the man was still wearing them when he’s been home for hours.

Steve tries to go over what Tony meant, the comment about Bucky, but Tony might not have meant anything. It bothers him in a way he can't quite put into words and he goes down to the gym to work out all his frustrated energy on a reinforced punching bag.

JARVIS thanks him for his help with Tony when Steve finally goes to bed that night, alone.

~

The mission to clear out a bunch confused Kree had gone better than expected. Everyone is back and uninjured and Tony finds Steve out on the roof.

Tony clears his throat. “I’m...happy if you’re happy, Cap,” he says. It sounds awkward and he tries to smile but it’s more of a grimace.

Steve stares at him hard, confused as to where this has come from. He appreciates the sentiment, however. He supposes this might be Tony’s way of making up for the way he used to push all of Steve’s buttons and cautiously smiles back. “Thanks, Tony. I’m happy if you’re happy, too.”

They stand there in silence for a moment, Tony rubbing a hand nervously across the back of his neck and Steve shifting his feet.

“Good,” Tony says finally. “I’m glad we talked about this. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have...things to do, probably.”

Steve watches Tony leave, his jaw tensing. He isn’t certain what just happened, but it didn’t make him feel as optimistic as those words should’ve. He drops his head and lets out a long sigh. It shouldn’t be so hard to tell Tony he’s got feelings for him, but he’s starting to think that any of those signs that were there before, the ones pointing to the possibility of Tony liking him back? Those don’t seem like such a good indication of, well, anything anymore.

Tony has been distancing himself from Steve for a couple of weeks now, but it doesn’t stop Steve from liking him. He’s seen underneath Tony’s bullshit bravado; Steve knows Tony Stark is a good man, maybe better than his father, although they share certain undeniable characteristics. They certainly have the same kind of charisma, a charm that Steve had tried to deny when he first met Howard, and again with Tony.

Tony hasn’t turned his charm towards Steve as much lately, to Steve’s chagrin.

They used to flirt and now, if they even manage to get started, Tony is the one who shuts it off, changes the subject. It never used to be that way, and Steve doesn’t want to push if Tony is no longer interested. Well, that is, if Tony was ever interested to begin with. For all of Steve’s limited experience, he had sort of thought yes… After Pepper and Tony had amicably separated romantically, Steve had said something to comfort him, and although he can’t quite remember what it was, he remembers Tony’s wry grin.

“What’re you doin’ out here, pal?” Bucky asks and Steve is taken from his thoughts.

Steve shrugs. “Does Stark seem...off to you?”

Bucky eyes him curiously. “You afraid something’s wrong or that he don’t wanna get in your pants?”

Blushing, Steve shakes his head. “Why do I ever ask you anything again?” He’s smiling though, and Bucky returns it.

“Because you looove me,” Bucky tells him, planting an obnoxiously wet kiss on Steve’s cheek.

“You’re disgusting,” Steve says, swiping his hand over his spit-covered cheek.

Bucky shrugs. “Your friend doesn’t seem to mind.” He smirks, raising an eyebrow, and Steve gives him a playful shove.

“I’m happy you’re happy.” As soon as the words leave Steve’s mouth, his brain starts working. It seemed like the natural thing to say here, about a friend finding someone. Only moments earlier, it had been...well, odd.

Bucky takes in the furrow of Steve’s brow, the slight frown. “What is it?”

“That’s what Stark said to me just now.”

“What?” Bucky cocks his head and Steve lets out a sigh.

“Nothing, Buck.” He shakes his head, expression turning playful. “Sam comes in tonight, doesn’t he?”

~

Sam’s arrival in the tower does not go unnoticed. He’s in and out of there when he can be, but considering the fact that he still holds a job in Washington DC, it isn’t surprising he can’t spend all of his time in New York.

He’s with Clint and Natasha, playing some dumb game, Tony guesses, by gestures they’re making and the way Natasha frowns when Clint and Sam laugh. The games Clint thinks up aren’t sophisticated enough for her, Tony thinks with a smirk.

When Bucky walks in, he steals the air from the room and Tony wonders if it’s because he views this man as his rival. The man killed his parents, but Tony has gotten that rage out of his system, has screamed at Bucky until his throat was sore.

He knows that he can’t change the past, that it isn’t even Bucky’s fault, but he’d still drunk himself to sleep for a few days after the rehabilitated Winter Soldier’s arrival. It may not sound any different from his normal habits, but the fact is that he often just doesn’t sleep, which also isn’t good--not that Tony pays this fact any mind.

There might be some pent-up anger from that, frustration that the man who killed his parents no longer exists for any revenge he might’ve wanted before, but he’s pretty sure his current feelings about Bucky have nothing to do with his assassin days and everything to do with his relationship with Steve Rogers.

Bucky gives him a nod and Tony’s face freezes, he tips his glass in greeting. Luckily, Bucky’s attention is focused elsewhere and he doesn’t see the tremor in Tony’s hand.

Joining the group, Bucky talks to everyone, but it’s almost as if he’s ignoring Sam, although he stands closest to him.

~

It takes all of five seconds for Bucky to start following Sam back to his de facto bedroom.

“You were gone so long,” Bucky says, shoving his body against Sam’s in the doorway.

“I told you it’d be fine if you wanted to stay with me in DC.”

Bucky shakes his head. “You got a job, a life. I can’t mess with that--I’ve never even met your mother.” His accent on the word is thick and Sam knows it’s something Bucky’s been wondering about.

With a chuckle, Sam asks, “You want to?”

“You want me to?” Bucky returns, smirking and breathless, he crushes his lips to Sam’s before the other man has a chance to answer. His legs wrap around Sam’s waist and Sam grunts with the effort of holding him up.

Although it’s more of a stumble, Sam manages to walk them over to the bed with Bucky attached to him the whole time. He proceeds to fall on top of Bucky, knocking the air out of them both. Recovering, they look at each other, Bucky wriggling his hips. “We don’t gotta rush,” Sam murmurs, kissing him again.

Bucky lets Sam turn it long and languid, enjoying Sam’s weight on top of him, enveloping him. Metal and flesh-and-bone fingers alike trail down Sam’s back, settle onto his hipbones. “I want you though,” he says and Sam pulls back just enough to make eye contact.

“You got me.” There’s a spark in Sam’s eyes when he says it, like he knows what Bucky means but also what Bucky needs to here. “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

Bucky pouts. “You were just gone.” He digs his fingers into Sam’s hips for emphasis.

“You know what I mean, Buck,” Sam tells him seriously, but he smiles, can’t seem to help himself.

In retribution, Bucky arches up to kiss Sam, to draw him back down and grind his hips into Sam’s, gasping into Sam’s mouth at the limited contact.

Sam groans, breaking the kiss. “You want it fast and hard, don’t you?”

As innocently as he can, Bucky shrugs. “We can do it slow later. I’ve been waitin’ all day for you to get here, all sorts’a thoughts runnin’ around in my head.”

“And none of ’em G-rated, I’m guessing.” Sam hums, dipping his hips down to grind himself against Bucky in turn. “Fine. But we’re doin’ it slow later. Painfully slow. I’mma take an hour just to open you up in the morning.”

Bucky’s lip quirks up. “Yeah, yeah. Later.” He squirms.

Sam pinches Bucky’s side--for which he is rewarded with a yelp--and backs off, affording them both the opportunity to strip quickly and efficiently, tossing their clothes wherever. Sam finds himself back between Bucky’s thighs, fingers idly tracing scars. “You got the--”

“Here,” Bucky says, shoving the bottle of lube into his hand. “Back in the war, a guy once did me dry,” he says, wincing. “God, I love these modern advancements.”

Sam grimaces in sympathy and coats two fingers in the stuff, working them in like he’s done a hundred times before. Bucky’s pliant like this, wants it so bad that his control could be that of legend, although Sam’s pretty sure this isn’t the kind of thing people write epics concerning. His fingers sink in knuckle by knuckle and he strokes them a few times experimentally, feels all the minuscule shifts in Bucky’s muscles as he relaxes around them. He knows it’s gotta hurt, knows the burn from personal experience with Bucky, but he also knows that Bucky will be fine.

Keeping his breathing even, Bucky spreads his legs a little more, gives Sam a nod when he makes eye contact.

Sam presses in a third digit and Bucky pushes himself back against it, fucking himself on Sam’s fingers. “C’mon,” Bucky whines. “Do it.”

“You sure? ’Cause--”

Sam.” He wriggles beneath him.

Sam chuckles. “Fine.” He pulls his fingers free and gives Bucky a peck, murmuring against his lips, “Only ’cause you know how much I like seein’ you squirm.” He rocks his hips, pistoning himself into the dip of Bucky’s own.

Bucky wraps his legs around Sam’s waist to pull him in and Sam huffs a breath into his neck. “Okay, I’ll admit it’s been a while.” He holds himself still, giving his cock a squeeze at the base and calming himself down. He’d never been with a man before Bucky--he isn’t sure he’ll be with anyone else, man or woman, ever again though.

“Quick and dirty,” Bucky reaffirms with the wanton canting of his hips in the hope of getting some friction.

Sam slicks himself and thighs tighten around his waist. Sam is watching their bodies come together as he slowly eases himself in, but he looks up to find Bucky’s gaze on him. It’s so intense he wants to say something to break the tension, but he rolls his hips instead and watches Bucky’s throat work, breath catching.

Bucky’s metal fingers dig into the meat of Sam’s shoulder. “New plan,” he says.

Sam pulls out and Bucky flips himself over.

“Alright. Now you can fuck me like you just got back from the war.” Sam laughs, and he laughs, too, but it’s cut off by a groan as Sam thrusts into him, nearly forcing him to buckle into the mattress. “Yeah, like that,” he manages, metal arm holding his body up as his flesh-and-bone hand can’t make it to his cock fast enough. He blows his hair out of his face--little good it does--and drops his forehead onto the sheets.

Sam’s hand is on his hip as he fucks him hard, watching his cock sink in and slide back out over and over again and increasing his pace until even with his training he stands no chance of keeping it up. He drapes himself over Bucky’s back, hand joining Bucky’s over the other man’s cock. “Quick’n’dirty, quick’n’dirty,” Sam says like a mantra, trying to last when Bucky is making noises that should be illegal.

“You close?” Bucky asks. He’s shaking--his entire body is shaking--and he can’t hold on much longer. Bucky gets desperate for this, starts to almost hurt for want of it. Now that he has it again, he’s got very little control of himself. He’s stuttering over each breath, unable to stop himself.

Sam doesn’t seem to mind and when he mouths the crook of Bucky’s neck, muffling himself, Bucky, in contrast, lets out a loud cry as he comes. Sam follows not seconds later, spilling into Bucky, the way Bucky’s muscles spasm around him making it hard to keep pretending he hasn’t been close since the moment they started.

Bucky sort of likes the weight of Sam over him, listens to the sound of the other man’s breathing, feeling Sam’s heart pounding against his back, his own heart rate far from normal.

Sam places a kiss on his shoulder, hand stroking gently over his spine and settling onto his side, thumb still rubbing circles into the small of his back. He extricates himself despite Bucky’s whine of protest.

They do a half-assed job of cleaning themselves up before Bucky is pawing at Sam, pulling him close and breathing him in. “I missed you a lot,” he says lazily, nuzzling his face into Sam’s chest.

“You gotta come to DC...if you wanna meet my mom.”

Bucky nods, face still pressed into Sam’s flesh. “Soon. Next Friday?” His words are muffled, but still intelligible.

Sam chuckles. “Not sure about that soon. I’ll call her tomorrow,” he says, and hums. He tangles his fingers in Bucky’s hair and presses a kiss to Bucky’s forehead.

When Bucky starts to drool on him, Sam gives him a little shove. “Mmf. What?”

“Up!” Sam gives him another push. “I promised Steve we’d hang out tonight.”

Bucky hums.

“What?”

“Steve thinks Stark’s mad at ’im.”

Sam eases Bucky off of him and Bucky doesn’t complain this time, except in the way he flops back down once Sam is standing, beginning to slide his clothes back on. Sam looks down at his boyfriend--well-fucked boyfriend, he adds with a hint of pride. “We should cheer him up,” he says, nudging Bucky’s bare thigh with his knee.

“Or we could stay here and fuck...y’know...forever.” Bucky smiles up at Sam hopefully and sticks out his bottom lip when Sam only raises a judgmental eyebrow in response. He lets out a long sigh. “You’re right, that’ll only make him sadder. And it’s getting pathetic enough as it is.” He stretches before he snatches Sam’s shirt from where it dangles between the other man’s fingers, giving the garment a long sniff before pulling it over his head.

Sam just stares at him for a moment, slackjawed. “You’re terrible,” he says.

Bucky pulls on his jeans--no underwear--and grins at him as he buttons them up, writhing around on the bed to do so.

~

Steve smirks at his friends and Sam has the decency to look a bit embarrassed. Somewhere along the way as they got dressed to meet Steve, Bucky had ended up with a fresh hickey. His hair is pulled up into a ridiculous ponytail as if to emphasize this acquisition.

“Bucky welcomed you back to the tower, I see,” Steve says.

Bucky steals a crouton from Steve’s salad and pops it into his mouth. “I’m a good host,” he agrees, mouth full.

Sam glances at Steve’s plate and back up at Steve. “Thought we were going to that place two streets down.”

Bucky elbows him. “You’ve seen Steve eat, right?” When Steve looks down, laughing, Bucky mouths a word at his boyfriend. It might be pathetic.

Steve raises an eyebrow at Sam, and says, “He thinks he’s being subtle.”

“He’s an idiot,” Sam tells him seriously. “Mope if you wanna mope.”

The smile Steve gives him is a combination of gratitude and pain and Bucky cuts in, “If I’m an idiot, it’s only ’cause your friend here fucked the brain cells outta me.”

Steve blushes, but it feels better. He isn’t sad that they’re together and he’s alone. At all, in fact.

They all walk to the diner together in hoodies and sunglasses, as if they have any chance at privacy left.

~

Tony had ended up falling asleep in his workshop at about 8AM. This means that when he wakes back up again at noon, it's time to meander out to the kitchen for fresh coffee and some TV.

He stifles a yawn about halfway down the hall, pausing to eye a smudge with the vague kind of curiosity that comes with exhaustion. He shrugs to himself, scratching his chest where the arc reactor used to be--still surprised at its absence, although he shouldn’t be. He had lived more of his life without it than with it, but Tony is still having trouble letting go of the idea that it’s there, that it should be.

There’s a scrape of something against the floor and it doesn’t fully process until he hears a groan.

Tony Stark stops in his tracks, ears straining. There are wet sounds, breathy sounds. The kind of sounds that pique his curiosity.

He should allow whoever it is their privacy, but they made the choice to get busy so close to his coffee maker. He tells himself he just won’t look and nearly laughs.

This could be the perfect opportunity to tease his teammates and he doesn’t want to miss out on that.

Padding silently into the room, he sees a foot propped on the armrest of the couch and sneaks a peek.

It’s easy to make out who they are, what with their differences from the rest of the Avengers. In fact, they aren’t even Avengers and--

Holy shit. Tony freezes. He just caught Cap’s closest friend grinding on his boyfriend. And that was at the very least.

Tony is suddenly very awake and very unwilling to reveal himself in order to get some coffee. Sam and Bucky. Maybe Sam, Bucky, and Steve have a-- But no. He doesn’t think so.

Tony doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do now. Technically, it’s not any of his business, but...Steve is his friend, if nothing else. Is it his duty as Steve’s friend to let him know if he’s being cheated on? He feels like the answer should be yes, but it’s more complicated than that.

If he tells Steve, he’ll probably have to tell him what he saw Sam and Bucky doing--not that he could really see anything. But if he does that he’ll also be the kind of person that tattles on other people and can’t mind his own fucking business.

They should’ve thought of that before they conducted their private business in the common area of the tower, another piece of his brain suggests.

But shouldn’t Steve know?

All of his thoughts seem to be making valid points. Tony isn’t sure what to do yet. If it comes up naturally, he’ll decide. Until then, well… He’ll just go on with his life as usual.

~

Bucky’s toes curl and he goes lax under Sam, sated.

Sam moves off of him, citing his need for a shower. Bucky knows it’s a legitimate need--one that he should probably be taking care of, too. But he likes being covered in the phantom of Sam’s touch, in his scent and his comfort.

It’s like being close to Steve, but...different. Better in some ways. He loves Steve, of course, but it’s not the same kind of love he has for Sam. The more he thinks about it, the more it scares him. He doesn’t get to keep things--not his family, not his friends, his life, not even his self. They’ve all been taken from him and he’s had to fight to get them back.

He’s got Steve and now there’s Sam--plus Natasha and maybe some of the other Avengers, sort of. If he believed in fate, he’d guess the universe is just waiting to rip that from him. He’s not allowed to be this happy--not even by his own standards.

He’s...overly attached to Sam. He’s been thinking that Sam feels the same for him, has hoped that it could even be possible, but what if Sam likes him but doesn’t love him? What if Sam feels sorry for him?

Bucky knows that if he tells Steve all his doubts and fears, if he tells Sam like he ought to, that they’ll tell him he doesn’t have to think these things, that they’re both there for him one hundred percent. Rationally, he knows he matters to them, it’s just that thing in his head that tells him he’s a worthless fuck-up he has to contend with.

It’s that thing that tells him their lives would be better if he had died when he fell off that train seventy years ago, because that guy wasn’t exactly worth it either. Worth any of it, but mostly worth the love that Sam and Steve give him, that even Natasha sometimes shows. If they knew him inside and out like he knows himself, they’d stay away.

Hell, maybe they’d’ve killed him before he had the chance to do more damage when they found the goddamn Winter Soldier.

It’s selfish of him to want to keep them, to keep this new life. He wants Sam so badly though, but meeting the guy’s mother?

How is a one-armed ex-assassin who is both decades older than her son and, oh yeah, male going to make any semblance of a good impression on Mrs. Wilson?

Before, he could fake it. They’ve been in their little bubble and sex, sex comes easy for Bucky--knows what he wants, how to get it--but how is Sam going to feel once his relationship with Bucky of all people is exposed to the cold light of day?

Bucky hates that he thinks these things, hates that he can’t seem to stop hating himself.

There’s a shuffle and Bruce is so absorbed in his research that he nearly sits on Bucky. At least it forces him to move.

~

Tony builds an entire suit only to break it all apart again. If his crush wasn’t bad enough, now he’s got another conflict of conscience regarding Steve. In an extra effort to avoid the issue, he doesn’t so much as leave his workshop.

He doesn’t know how he ends up calling Pepper, the video popping up on his screen. He’s missed her face, if he’s honest.

“Tony, go to sleep,” she says, taking in the dark circles around his eyes.

“Wha-- That’s not why I called.”

“Then why did you call?” Her voice is comforting, too soft to be truly annoyed.

Tony starts sorting through parts and screwing pieces together thoughtlessly. “Am I morally obligated to tell someone if I see their boyfriend with someone else?”

“Since when have you felt morally obligated to do anything, Tony?” she asks, but it’s teasing. Pepper Potts knows that Tony Stark is ultimately good, even if he doesn’t always think so himself.

“It’s Steve--”

“Oh, god, Tony,” and Pepper sounds exasperated, but suddenly it turns, her eyes going wide and pained. “Oh, god, Tony. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know he was seeing anyone.”

Tony hmms down the line and has cobbled together pieces of a suit around his leg quite by accident. He thinks of redesigning it. Thinking about Steve and Bucky makes him feel heavy and...sick. Pepper’s sympathy doesn’t exactly ease the pain no matter how much he wants to whine at her.

Pepper sighs. “He’s not the only person in the world, Tony. Just because you want him doesn’t mean you can have him.”

He takes a second to glare at her. “I know, alright?”

“But if Steve’s...boyfriend”--she says word questioningly--“is cheating on him…” She makes a face and adjusts her ponytail. “I don’t know. How would you feel if the situation were reversed?”

Tony scrunches up his face in annoyance. “You’re breaking up, Pep,” he tells her, gesturing for JARVIS to end the call.

Pepper rolls her eyes, but she’s smiling. “Goodbye, Tony,” she manages before it cuts off.

“What do you think, JARVIS?”

JARVIS sighs. “It’s none of my business, sir.”

Tony frowns at nothing and hopes that the AI understands nonetheless.

~

Tony thinks he’s ready to accept reality and let things play out, but when he sees Sam grinning at Steve a few days later, he’s appalled.

“Really?” Tony asks with the tilt of his head. “He’s your best friend and you’re screwing him over like this?”

Sam looks rightfully confused, his easy smile changing into something not quite definable. “What are you talking about, man?”

“You’re screwing your best friend’s boyfriend,” Tony accuses. It might be more dramatic than he intends, but he’s had about six cups of coffee today and no sleep in thirty-six hours.

Excuse me?” Sam looks more confused than angry still and it annoys Tony.

“I saw you and Bucky. On the couch.” Sam shakes his head, laughing, and, okay, Tony is getting mad. It isn’t his job to defend Steve-- Or, no. Maybe it is, but not in the way he’s currently feeling. “How can you do that to Steve?”

Sam manages to school his features, although there’s a certain lingering amusement. “Oh?”

~

Steve and Thor are unsurprisingly well-matched when it comes to running, but Natasha joins them on their jogs anyway. She doesn’t show any outward signs of struggle, but Steve knows she’s pushing herself. She’s only human--not that there’s anything only about Natasha, or about most humans Steve has ever encountered. He just has a distinct advantage in comparison.

They’re finishing up and Thor is giving Natasha a slap on the back in camaraderie as they slow. She stumbles ever-so-slightly, but it wouldn’t have been noticeable to most as she recovers quickly, flipping herself up onto Thor’s back. He laughs, congratulating her on her skill and asking where she would like to go.

Steve smiles at them. He doesn’t quite understand their friendship, but he appreciates it. It’s nice to see that everyone on the team gets along so well, no matter the permutation of members nowadays.

“Hold up!” Sam calls and Steve hangs back from the others.

Sam’s out of breath, he’s obviously been trying to catch up for a while. His hands fall to his knees and he pants, glaring at the figures moving farther away. Steve tilts his head at him curiously.

“Swear she scouted me ten minutes ago,” Sam mutters. “She just wants me to suffer.”

“Seems likely,” Steve says with a lopsided grin. He nods towards Sam. “What’s up?”

Sam holds up a hand and Steve waits as Sam catches his breath. “Okay,” Sam says finally. “Okay, I’m okay.” He blows out a quick breath. “Woo.”

Steve can’t help but feel slightly amused at the dramatic way Sam glares again in Thor and Natasha’s direction. “I think you had something to tell me…” Steve tries.

“Yeah.” Sam shakes his head. Suddenly, he’s grinning somewhat wildly. “Ooh. I got somethin’ to tell you, yeah.” He gestures at Steve’s hand. “Give me some of your water first.”

Steve hands over the bottle and Sam downs the whole thing. “Hey.”

“You’ll be fine, superman,” Sam tells him, handing the empty bottle back--Steve takes it, although he’s certain he should make Sam keep it until they get back. He kind of just wants Sam to tell him what the big news is now though.

“Am I supposed to be guessing here?”

Sam shakes his head. “Nah. It’s about Stark.” He sees the way the whole of Steve’s focus turns on him. “Interested, right?”

Steve blushes. “Just tell me already, would ya?”

Making Cap suffer a moment longer, Sam nods at him in understanding, happy at his friend’s obvious crush. “He thinks I’m bangin’ your boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend-- what?” Steve splutters. “I don’t have a--”

Sam lifts his eyebrows, watching as realization dawns.

“Bucky,” Steve says. “He thinks me and Bucky are--” He frowns. “That...explains a lot, actually.”

“Including why you and him aren’t bumpin’ uglies on the regular?” Sam infers.

Steve gives him a playful shove. “Shut up. How did he find out about you and Bucky anyway?” He raises an eyebrow, loving how bashful Sam gets now that he’s able to turn the tables.

Sam shrugs. “He might’a seen something.”

“Uh-huh. And was that you and Buck,” he clears his throat, “fondue-ing?”

Sam shoots him a glare. “I know you know what that actually means,” he says. “Although, I gotta say, I love that you keep sayin’ it anyway.”

It’s Steve’s code word and he’s sticking with it, not that he explains. “So, did you explain it to him?”

“I told him me and Bucky got our own thing goin’,” Sam admits. “But you gotta explain the rest.” He gives Steve a look, one that says he’s been putting something off for far too long.

Steve hangs his head. “What am I supposed to say?”

“That you want him to fuck you in his stupid robot suit?” Sam suggests, much to Steve’s annoyance.

~

Steve is watching Clint and Natasha spar. He still isn’t certain what exactly their relationship entails, but they work well together. Natasha doesn’t try anything lethal even when the opportunity arises and Steve knows she’s a bit quicker than Clint. Instead, she tells Clint how to better protect himself from her and he affords her the same right.

They seem to exhaust themselves--or something, Steve guesses--as Natasha is soon offering him the ring.

Thor is tough, but his hand-to-hand combat is not as precise as any of the others. He relies heavily on his brute strength, his size, and on the hammer. When he faces Steve now, they are down to sweats and tank tops and it’s still an odd look on the Asgardian.

“Something distracts you,” Thor says, twisting his arm around Steve’s.

Steve turns, puts his back to Thor’s chest, and frees himself, landing a kick in the process, little good it does. Thor is right--his head’s not in the game. “Yeah,” he admits, backing up a few steps.

Thor looks at him curiously. “What is it that troubles you, Captain?” the god asks. “Our match can wait until you’re able to actually fight me.”

“I’m not sure it’s anything you could help me with.” Steve sighs, adding with a grimace, “No offense, Thor.”

Thor shrugs. “None taken. But perhaps speaking of whatever clouds your good judgment will help.”

Thor sounds so genuine, Steve wants to take him up on that offer. Well, what could it hurt at this point? “I just have these-- Tony,” he interrupts, spotting the billionaire as he enters the gym.

With a look between the two that Steve finds far too knowing, Thor speaks again, “And yet, perhaps it’s best if I allow you two to discuss it.”

“You don’t have to--” Steve starts, then deflates. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“I believe we have the cereal of the fruity pebbles,” Thor declares, walking out with a nod to Tony.

“What was that about?” Tony asks once he and Steve are alone. There’s a tension there that makes the air thick, nearly chokes him. With all that he’s seen and all that’s been said, Tony’s not quite sure what to make of any of it.

“I’m not dating Bucky,” Steve says suddenly. It all comes out in one breath and he hopes it’s enough to start moving things in the right direction. He isn’t sure that Tony feels how he does, but Tony should at least know what’s going on. From what Sam had admitted as their conversation had gone on--and before it had been so rudely interrupted by Bucky stretching ten feet away and thus drawing all of Sam’s attention--Tony had been concerned about his friend getting cheated on. The friend thing, at least, is still true, and Steve feels obligated, as a friend, to straighten it all out.

Tony blinks at him, processing his outburst. “Oh,” he says faintly, shoving his hand into a bag of potato chips.

“‘Oh’?” Steve repeats, raising an eyebrow. He isn’t sure what he was expecting, but it was more than that.

Tony crunches through a couple of chips, then offers some to Steve when the super soldier just stares at the way his hand goes to his mouth. “Chip?” he says. He clears his throat. “I mean...I’m glad you…” He coughs. Anything to keep himself from tripping over his own words, at this point. “I’m glad you cleared that up, Rogers.”

Steve sighs, his expression souring as quickly as his mood. “Yeah. I just thought--” He breathes out. “That you should know.” He smiles but it’s more of a grimace.

Tony immediately turns worried. “You okay, Cap? I mean, if you like him, I’m sure Bucky will--”

“You called me ‘Rogers,’” Steve interrupts, looking a bit sheepish after he says it.

Again, all Tony can do is blink at him, swallowing down another chip. “Uh-huh. That’s-- that’s your name.”

“My name is Steve. You used to call me Steve. That or Cap, which I get.” He stares at his shoes, then looks up forces a better smile. “Sorry. It’s...nothing.”

“Steve,” Tony says.

Steve tries to hide his hopefulness as his smile turns soft and genuine. “Yeah, Tony?”

“Tell your friend I didn’t see his dick. And I didn’t take any pictures.” Tony gives him a stern look, nods, and turns to walk away.

“Which one?” Steve calls after him.

Tony pauses, shrugs, keeps walking.

Steve thinks that’s it and is both thoroughly disappointed in himself and still too scared to do anything about it, but then Tony turns around.

“Coming, Cap?” he asks, as if it’s obvious.

“What? Where?” Steve’s brows furrow. He tries to remember if there was a question he hadn’t answered or a meeting he had forgotten.

Tony sighs, looking at him like he’s stupid. “My bedroom.”

“Your--” Cap starts, then takes in a startled breath. “Oh.”

“‘Oh’?” Tony asks, as it is his turn.

“Yes, sir,” Steve says, giving him a salute and a waggle of his eyebrows.

“I expect you to give me one hundred percent, Captain,” Tony continues.

“I can certainly try,” Steve says.

~

Steve’s somewhat nervous when they get to Tony’s bedroom, however.

He’s never actually done this--although Bucky has been a wealth of knowledge on the subject then and now, whether it’s talking too much about it or not giving Steve any warning when he’s got a visitor. Despite everything people had thought--including the Commandos, Sam before he asked Bucky out, and, most recently, Tony--Bucky’s sexual knowledge had not been passed on to Steve in a hands-on fashion.

Steve sits at the edge of Tony’s bed, fiddling with some electronic device he’s picked up from the floor. It isn’t anything yet, just a ball of wires and metal that look like they’ve been haphazardly shoved together, but he’s sure Tony knows what it all means. He smiles at the thought.

Tony clears his throat and Steve looks up from the whatever-it-is. “Is it weird that I just want to talk?”

Relieved, Steve laughs. “Not at all. I just… Talking is great.” He grins at Tony. “Despite what I might’ve implied back in the gym, I can’t say I’m ready for more.”

Tony nods, pouring Steve a drink he knows will do nothing. There’s something gnawing at him though. “So how are you and Bucky not fucking?”

Tony.” Steve sighs. “Well, why did you think we were?”

Pursing his lips, Tony realizes that it might be another time he’s breached the other man’s privacy, that night in the dark a few weeks ago. “He was in your room,” Tony says without elaborating.

Steve understands. “He has nightmares.” He gestures as if it can encompass the tower in general. “Don’t we all?”

Tony’s brows furrow. “So you two… You’re not…”

“We’re friends, Tony. I’m pretty sure Sam would kill me.”

Tony nods slowly. “Right, right…” He looks sharply at Steve. “Never?”

Steve laughs, shaking his head. “No, Tony. Never.”

They move on to other things, Steve drinking whiskey out of some twisted sense of politeness. Finally, he yawns and glances at the door.

“So...you like me?” Tony asks incredulously as Steve stands.

Steve smirks. “No, not at all.” Before Tony has the chance to react to his words, he takes the initiative and puts his hand on Tony’s shoulder, leaning in to kiss him. “Goodnight,” he says, and it’s a whisper.

Tony spends ten minutes after Steve leaves making JARVIS confirm that it had actually happened.

~

It’s not exactly morning when Tony emerges to greet the rest of the tower, but it’s early enough. JARVIS has already informed him that they’ve all congregated in front of the TV.

Tony stands in front of the television and is grateful Natasha doesn’t throw something at him.

“Attention, everyone.” They all look at him, mostly bored, but it doesn’t diminish his excitement. “Captain America kissed me last night.”

Finally,” Bucky groans and shoots a glare at Steve.

Tony frowns. “No shock? Awe? Questions as to how to get super soldier of your very own?”

“Got one,” Sam chimes in, slinging an arm around Bucky’s shoulder. Bucky tenses slightly, his expression tight, but no one notices when Steve’s face is so very red.

Steve looks horribly embarrassed, but he pats the spot next to him and Tony takes him up on the offer.

~

Steve only follows Tony to check how damaged he is after the fight. That’s his story, at least. He and Tony have kissed once or twice since that first night, but the villains of the world have decided that it’s high time the Avengers were tested. They must’ve, considering there were eleven incidents in less than a week.

There’s no immediate threat on the horizon now and a part of Steve has been waiting for this opportunity.

Tony’s already got the suit off, but Steve practically pounces on him once they’re alone, peeling off the shirt beneath and murmuring, “Let me take a look.”

“Sure,” Tony agrees, then winces when Steve’s fingers brush his ribs.

Steve examines Tony’s upper body, prodding him carefully. “Only bruises,” he says, his smile gentle as he bends down to examine them.

Tony is holding his breath. Between the post-battle adrenaline and Steve’s proximity, he’s trying hard not to just scare Captain America off.

Then, Steve’s pressing his lips Tony’s ribs, a soft kiss that has Tony’s skin jumping at the contact. “I…” Steve starts, his hands settling on Tony’s sides.

Tony swallows. “Yeah?” He doesn’t want to break the spell.

Steve’s eyes meet his. “I want to… Do you want to…” He clears his throat. “I hope I’m not being too forward.” Tony is staring at him in rapt fascination and Steve takes it as a cue to continue. “Would you want to...make love?” His hands feel awkward--too controlling--and he drops them.

The words have Tony literally choking. “Geez,” he says, scrubbing a hand over his face. “You make it sound like it’s your first time.”

Steve was blushing before, but he’s positively glowing red now. “It would be, if you…”

“You really are Captain America,” Tony says. He hides the way that this revelation is totally freaking him out with the comment, distancing himself.

Steve looks at him incredulously. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Tony shrugs. “Virgin.”

Flustered, Steve shakes his head, “Tony, it’s not that I didn’t have opportunities--from women and men, I might add.” Steve raises an eyebrow meaningfully. “Back then, I was waiting for the right partner. I thought it was Peggy,” he admits, a certain amount of weight to his words.

“And now?” Tony asks. There’s a seriousness there that Steve doesn’t see often. Tony likes hiding behind his playboy persona.

Steve shrugs, feeling rather helpless. “I think I’ve always been waiting for you.”

Tony doesn’t say anything for a moment. There’s something akin to panic in his eyes, but he smirks. “That’s the cheesiest line I’ve ever heard.”

“‘Truth is stranger than fiction,’” Steve quotes. “Seems pretty damn true to me.”

“Huh,” Tony says.

“Are you okay?” Steve asks, tentative as he reaches out for Tony.

Tony shakes his head, running a hand through Steve’s hair. “I think we should have sex now. This is getting weird.”

“You afraid of your feelings?” Steve runs his hands down Tony’s sides, settling them on his hips. He goes for what feels natural.

Tony kisses Steve and the other man seems to follow his lead. The second Tony feels Steve’s erection against him, he breaks it. “Oh, fuck me,” he gasps.

“I think that was kind of the point,” Steve says, and they share a grin.

Tony raises an eyebrow. “So you will?”

Steve’s brows furrow. “Will what?”

“Fuck. Me,” Tony enunciates.

“Oh.” Steve purses his lips. “Me… In you?” he asks hesitantly and Tony nods. “If that’s what you want.”

“And what does Captain America want?”

“To make love to you,” Steve tells him honestly and it’s embarrassing.

“Okay,” Tony says, trying to assume the phrasing has to do with Steve’s age rather than any possible feelings. He kisses Steve again to shut him up and starts slowly stripping off Steve’s uniform. The buckles and zippers and overall tightness make it a bit difficult, but Tony Stark loves a challenge.

When Tony’s gotten Steve down to near nothingness, Steve puts his hands on the shorter man’s shoulders. “Tony…”

“Yeah?” Tony’s thumbs are hooked into the waistband of Steve’s underwear.

Steve looks flustered again and Tony thinks it’s cute, but that he also wants to see that last bit of skin pretty badly at this point. “I want to see you.”

“Oh,” Tony says, nodding. “Okay.” He backs up a step and slides his pants and boxer briefs off without hesitation. “Your turn.”

Steve finishes stripping and his breath catches as he stares at Tony. “Beautiful.”

“Getting into emotion territory again, Cap...”

Sorry, Tony,” Steve tells him with a smirk and kisses the other man breathless. They manage to roll onto the bed together the contact of skin on skin better than Steve could have imagined. Their erections slide together and Steve gasps.

“You like that?” Tony asks.

Steve nods.

“We’re going to have a lot to try after this, but…” Tony grins at him. “I think you’ll like what I’ve got in mind.”

Tony is the one who starts it, but it’s Steve who works him open, slow and cautious, asking him every thirty seconds if he’s alright.

“Fan-fucking-tastic,” Tony murmurs. “Want me to turn over?”

Steve hesitates. “I want to see you,” he says again. “Could we…?”

“Whatever you want, just put your dick in me.” Steve grimaces, but his cock twitches and Tony smirks. “Come on. Show me what Captain America is made of.”

“What about what Steve Rogers is made of?” Steve asks pointedly, his fingers fucking a slow rhythm into Tony even as they speak.

Tony grins at him. “Even better.”

Steve settles between Tony’s thighs. “Is this going to hurt you?”

Tony shakes his head. “Come on, Steve.” He swallows and says the words that he has always sworn he never would. “Make love to me.”

The smile he receives is so warm Tony is pretty sure the mere memory of it will be able to stave off the cold all winter. Steve presses a chaste kiss to Tony’s lips and Tony’s legs settle over Steve’s hips. Steve frees his fingers and slicks himself, still so afraid, but...excited. He thinks it feels like it’s meant to.

Steve presses himself in and Tony bites his lip, slightly uncomfortable as Steve’s gaze never wavers from his own.

“Tony,” Steve breathes. He reaches down to take Tony’s cock into his hand, stroking him slowly. He’s inexperienced and it shows, but Tony can’t even think about that when Steve is so carefully fucking him, testing out each angle until he’s rewarded by Tony shouting and swearing.

Fuck. Jesus Christ, Steve.” Tony pants, squeezing his eyes shut and concentrating on the sensation of each thrust.

“Like that?” Steve asks, sounding rather smug.

Tony doesn’t respond, just moves his hips in sync with Steve’s and starts mouthing a broad shoulder. His hands clutch Steve’s back and he’ll be disappointed later that he can’t leave any marks, that he’s not strong enough. He’ll be feeling this for days, having forgotten all about his bruises in favor of Steve Steve Steve.

Steve tucks his head into Tony’s neck and presses desperate kisses there, murmuring words of affection as he does. Love and pleasure and Tony and, god, he loves Tony. His hand is stuttering on Tony’s cock and Tony is lifting his leg to let him in deeper.

“Fuck, Steve. Are you close? I’m so close,” Tony whispers, pulling back to look at Steve.

“I love you, Tony,” Steve says, and he’s staring into Tony’s eyes.

Tony wants to freak out but he’s coming instead, spilling in thick stripes between them. “F-fuck.”

“You’re gorgeous,” Steve says, and he kisses Tony, but it’s messy and Tony is trying to understand why it’s so wonderful anyway. Steve trembles as he finishes and Tony holds him through it, kissing him and stroking his hands down Steve’s sides.

It takes Steve a minute to get off of Tony and Tony swallows. “That was...weird.” He sees the hurt in Steve’s expression and adds, “But good.”

“That was amazing,” Steve says, gauging Tony’s reaction.

Tony just nods. After a moment, something comes back to him. “Did I use the words ‘make love’?” he asks, sounding horrified.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying--”

“Ah!” Tony interrupts. “Don’t say it.”

Steve frowns slightly. “But I--”

“Shhh,” Tony says and pats Steve’s thigh. He winces. “Ow.”

~

Thor makes breakfast for everyone and tells them that it is an apology, although he does not elaborate for what.

Tony is too busy thinking about Steve to care.

Sam is too busy being ignored by Bucky.

~

“What’s your problem, man?” Sam asks. He doesn’t give Bucky a shove, but he definitely thinks about it.

“Nothin’.” Bucky doesn’t make eye contact and Sam bites his lip.

“Oh, really?” Sam eyes him, then looks away. “Because you’ve been giving me this moody bullshit all day.”

“Trouble in paradise?” Clint infers, attempting to wrap an arm around Natasha before deciding better of it. She senses this, however, standing close.

Bucky shifts, looking from Clint and Natasha and back to Sam. He knows that this can’t last. It’s been eating at him for days now. Sam leaves tonight and he’s supposed to meet Sam’s mom in DC in two weeks, but why? “Why don’t you just go?” Bucky says, and it’s not mean or menacing, but rather pleading. “Come on, Sam,” he adds. “You got no reason to wait any longer.”

Sam looks at him. “You were gonna make me a promise,” he says. “Can’t leave without it.”

“What? I never--”

“C’mere,” Sam says with a sigh, dragging Bucky behind the nearest door and shutting it.

“So?”

“So move in with me,” Sam says with a shrug, as if it’s nothing. He can feel his own heart beating in disagreement as he does but he’s not sure making it a big deal won’t greatly decrease the chance of Bucky saying yes.

“But…” Bucky bites his bottom lip, hands on his hips. “I just don’t wanna do that to you--”

“James Buchanan Barnes.” Bucky shuts up and Sam gives him a wry grin. “You think it’s harder for me to live with the idiot I was stupid enough to fall for than have to come all the way up to New York to get laid?”

“I think I’m ruining your life and that you could do better,” Bucky admits slowly, as if Sam had never quite processed this reasoning before.

“Shut. Up.” Sam pulls him close. “You know that’s not true.” He screws up his face in thought. “Think there’s a finer ass out there than this one?” he says, with mock seriousness, and squeezes Bucky’s ass for emphasis.

“Well--”

“Mm-mm,” Sam disagrees. “This one is the best. And I gotta lock that shit down.” Bucky starts to smile a little and Sam does, too. “Plus, it’s attached to the dude I wanna spend the rest of my life with, someone I actually kinda love more than anything.”

“Sam…” Bucky whines, but he isn’t resisting the embrace, his metal and his human arms winding around Sam’s back.

“I mean, with you, I get this ass and all that other shit. How could I want anything else?” Sam rubs his nose against Bucky’s.

“I love you,” Bucky whispers, his lips a hair’s breadth from Sam’s. He still has doubts, but with Sam it’s hard for him to remember them. He feels loved, he feels safe. It’s different than it is with anyone else, even Steve. He keeps comparing them but it’s times like this he knows he should stop. Sam and Steve are both great men, good men, but Steve is his best friend, and Bucky is head-over-goddamn-heels for Sam Wilson.

Sam kisses him, hand still on his ass. “I love you, too,” he says. “So will you move in with me already or do I hafta beg?”

Bucky hums. “Depends on what you mean by ‘beg,’ I s’pose…”

Sam chuckles.

~

Natasha raises an eyebrow when Sam and Bucky emerge from the closet they had holed themselves up in. “You two lovebirds work things out?”

“Pack up his things,” Sam says, grinning. “He’s moving.”

Natasha asks Bucky something in Russian, to which he nods. “Hm,” she says--Sam understands that part. She follows Bucky towards his room.

“Rude, right?” Clint says to Sam, watching them leave.

Sam shrugs. “Yeah, but what can you do?” He’s too elated right now to be very annoyed, although he wishes he knew if they were talking about him.

Clint sighs. “At least when she just whispers, I can turn my hearing aids up.” He taps an ear. “These things are pretty high-tech.”

“Wait, you’re--” Sam starts, but Clint puts a finger to his own lips.

“Shhh. They gotta figure it out on their own,” he says.

Sam can do nothing but nod, sharing a smile with Hawkeye.

~

It’s been three days since Bucky and Sam headed down to DC together. Tony can’t help picturing the Winter Soldier there in Steve’s bed as he approaches the super soldier’s room. Steve told him it’s fine, but part of him keeps screaming that he needs to turn back.

It’s only the call of his name that cements his decision. He gathers his bearings.

“Tony?” Steve says again, and Tony moves towards that voice.

“Hey,” he tries, but it comes out a rasp.

Steve gets up and shuts the door wordlessly, his hand big and warm on Tony’s shoulder as he kisses him. He leads them to the bed, crawling under the covers and grabbing Tony’s hand to give it a reassuring squeeze.

They should fuck, Tony keeps thinking. They’re in the same bed and it’s so strange that no one is naked, there’s no desperation to get off, the drive of sex the only thing between them. Sure, it hadn’t always been that way with Pepper but she had told Tony a thousand times that she loved him, that it was okay.

Steve is…

Tony is tired--should be tired--but all he really wants is to be close to Steve right now.

Steve kisses him again and wraps his arms around him and Tony should feel stifled, but all he feels is warm. Safe. Maybe even...happy?

Tony sleeps through the night.

~

“Won’t your mom care that we’re...I dunno, living in sin?” Bucky asks. He looks down at his clothes for the hundredth time that day. He doesn’t feel nearly dressed up enough. Sam’s mother is due over at any minute and he is not prepared.

Sam rolls his eyes. “She knows.”

Bucky grimaces. “And she knows I’m…” He doesn’t know what to say here, so many things come to mind.

“A traumatised vet with a metal arm? Sure.” Sam puts an arm around Bucky, kicking his feet up onto the coffee table. “She’s looking forward to meeting you.” He glances at the door.

Bucky sighs, his head lolling onto Sam’s shoulder. “I can’t tell if you’re lying.”

“I’m not,” Sam assures him.

Bucky flexes his metal fingers, the whirring a welcome distraction at this point.

“It’s just my mom,” Sam says and when Bucky only pouts, he chooses a new tactic. Shifting to better face him on the couch, Sam kisses Bucky, putting everything he has into it. Bucky’s hands move down to his hips and before Sam knows it, he’s distracting himself as he moves a leg over to straddle Bucky’s lap.

Bucky runs his flesh-and-bone fingers up Sam’s back, causing shivers in his wake, and Sam lets out a little moan into his mouth. Bucky swipes his tongue over Sam’s, as if tasting the sound. He’s getting hard, and the way Sam is starting to writhe on top of him isn’t doing anything but making him harder.

Sam’s fingernails scratch lightly at the skin of Bucky’s neck. He likes the feel of Bucky’s cock pressing against him through layers of fabric. He likes that this is their house, their couch, just them.

The doorbell rings.