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Like Rocks Under Tide

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A secret at home is like rocks under tide. - Dinah Craik

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Tony is sitting on the edge of the tub, left leg jittering nervously, and his bottom lip stinging from the abuse it’s been put through over the last couple of minutes. His hands are clutching his phone—which does frustratingly little to keep them from trembling—and his heart is beating a rapid, almost frantic tattoo against his chest. Out in the hall, Baloo and Simba are snuffling around in confusion, probably wondering about the changes to their morning routine.

“I’ll let you guys out in a moment,” Tony calls, the clicking of nails on the hardwood floors as the dogs excitedly hurry downstairs to wait by the back door drowned out by his phone going off.

Taking a shuddering breath, Tony shuts off the alarm, puts the phone away to stall for another moment or two, and then finally gets up, and reaches for what he has—very aptly, in his humble opinion—named The Stick of Destiny lying on the edge of the sink. He fumbles with it, almost drops it twice before he manages to turn it right side up, and sees the two bright pink lines that mean he’s royally screwed. And not in the fun way.

“Shit,” Tony croaks. He clumsily lowers himself to the floor, not trusting his suddenly wobbly knees to support him for much longer, dropping his phone and the pregnancy test into his lap so he can bury his face in his hands.

What are the fucking chances? After over two decades of short, irregular heats, after all the trouble and hormone injections he’d gone through just to be able to bond with his Alphas, now that he has the life he’s always dreamed of and never thought he could have, Tony’s body decides it’s the perfect time to pull a complete one-eighty. Pregnant. At forty-three.

And as if his age alone wasn’t enough already, there are also Tony’s weak heart and lungs to consider. Is it even possible for him to carry a baby to term? What if it isn’t? Or, what if it is, and it turns out his genius and the latent alcoholism that came with it aren’t the only things Tony has inherited from Howard? What if Tony ends up being a shitty parent? He’s gotten better, but he still forgets to eat every now and again, barely remembers anything but his current project while he’s immersed in his work. What if Bucky and Steve come to this same conclusion, and decide the baby’s better off with them, and without Tony? Sure, Tony might be rich and somewhat influential, but Alphas still win around eight out of ten custody battles simply because of their secondary gender, no questions asked.

Worst of all, though, is the realisation that he can’t even be sure which of his Alphas is the father. Tony’s never been embarrassed or ashamed to have two bondmates—screw the people who insist it’s okay for an Alpha to claim a whole harem of Omegas, but not for an Omega to have more than one mate—but not knowing if the baby is Bucky’s or Steve’s? It’s not a great feeling.

“Fuck.” Tony’s voice is thick with unshed tears, the edges of his vision beginning to turn grey. He gulps in a burning lungful of air in a feeble attempt to stave off the panic he can feel rapidly descending on him, but is only moderately successful.

Shaking all over, Tony heaves himself up and into the tub. Steve and Bucky will be back from their run soon, and they’re definitely going to know that something’s up if they find Tony in absolute hysterics. He turns the water as hot as it will go, hissing in discomfort when he steps under the spray. But the warmth and the rising steam eventually do the trick, slowly but steadily calming Tony’s reeling mind enough for him to wash properly, dress for the day, let out the dogs, and be in the kitchen, waiting for the coffee to brew by the time he hears Bucky and Steve jogging up the driveway.

“Mornin’, babe,” Bucky greets as he walks into the room, coming up behind Tony so he can rest his chin on Tony’s shoulder, and smack a loud, wet kiss on Tony’s cheek.

Tony can’t help but sigh contentedly, and relax back against him, tilting his head to the side with an appreciative hum when Bucky starts nuzzling him. “You’re getting my suit all sweaty,” he complains halfheartedly. “I’m going to smell like horny Alpha all day.”

“That’s what you get for showering without us,” Steve sniffs, but ruins the effect of his pouting by hooking a finger under Tony’s chin to guide him into a kiss. He’s smiling when he pulls back. “Good morning, sweetheart.”

“Maybe Bucky’ll wash your back if you ask nicely,” Tony shoots back teasingly, laughing when Bucky shoves him away playfully, and the Alphas grimace at each other in exaggerated disgust.

The reaction isn’t new, or even unexpected, but it helps to quell some of Tony’s more ridiculous fears regarding the pregnancy. Steve and Bucky are very comfortable with each other—something that comes with growing up practically attached at the hip, and then spending the better part of a decade in the army together—and are more than happy to share a bed with Tony—and Tony himself—but there has never been anything romantic, or even sexual between the two of them. Logically, Tony knows this, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded every now and again.

“Go on, get out of here,” Tony chuckles, giving them both a quick pat on the ass. “I’ll handle breakfast.” That earns him twin looks of extreme wariness. Tony huffs, and rolls his eyes. “Set the waffle iron on fire once, and this is what I get. We still have muesli. I think I can manage opening a bag, and pouring some milk.”

“We’ll see,” Steve says innocently, then squawks, and darts for the stairs when Tony chucks the nearest dish towel at him, a laughing Bucky hot on his heels.

Tony can hear them tussle and shove at each other while he gets bowls and spoons, but the moment the doors to the bathrooms close, cutting off the noise, there’s nothing to distract him from his worrying anymore. In the ten minutes it takes Bucky and Steve to shower, change, and get back downstairs, Tony has talked himself in and out of telling them about the baby several times, and still isn’t sure how—or if—to broach the subject.

“You okay, darlin’?” Bucky asks, making Tony startle, and glance up from where he’s listlessly swirling his spoon through his muesli to see both Bucky and Steve looking at him in mild concern. “You’re quiet, is all.”

“I’m fine,” Tony says automatically, but, knowing that neither of his mates is going to believe that, adds, “Not exactly looking forward to the board meeting later.”

Which isn’t a lie—the board is made up of the same Alpha traditionalists Howard had chosen way back when, and will be until they decide to retire—but not the whole truth, either. But it is enough to appease Steve and Bucky. Steve smiles in sympathy, plopping his feet down in Tony’s lap, and Bucky settles one of his hand on the back of Tony’s neck for a gentle squeeze.

Resolutely pushing away the unpleasant twinge of guilt that comes with purposefully misleading his mates, Tony asks, “What are you guys up to today? Do you need me to come let the dogs out during lunch?”

“Nah, I was thinking of taking them to the park later,” Steve says, running one of his feet up and down Tony’s leg. “Get some sketching done. I’m teaching a class at five, but Buck’s going to be back by then.”

Bucky nods, and expertly ducks the slap Steve aims at his head when he starts talking with his mouth full. “Yeah, I‘m workin’ at the VA with Sam ‘til one, then I have a group session at two. Shouldn’t take too long, though.”

And it’s that—Steve sounding so enthusiastic about his art again, Bucky being back in control of his own mind and body—that decides it; Bucky and Steve have fought too hard to come to terms with their respective trauma, to rebuild themselves, for Tony to mess it all up now.

Tony doesn’t know what he’s going to, but what he does know is that he can’t tell his mates about the baby.

Not now. Not yet.