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Aftermath

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One moment they’re fighting, yelling scathing insults and ugly accusations at each other, and the next they’re kissing, all teeth and anger-fuelled desperation. Steve backs him up until Tony’s shoulders hit the closest wall, and hoists him up, giving Tony no choice but to wrap his legs around Steve’s waist for support. Tony bites Steve’s bottom lip, hard enough to draw blood, and Steve growls, and grips both of Tony’s wrists in one big hand, his hold bruisingly tight.

Steve fucks him with powerful, punishing thrusts, his teeth clamped over Tony’s shoulder while Tony claws at his back, and snaps at him to go faster, deeper, harder. Tony comes first, heels digging into the small of Steve’s back, and Steve follows him over the edge with a hoarse cry, slamming Tony up against the wall one last time before holding him there as they both pant, eyes closed, and foreheads resting together for a few short, fleeting seconds of peace.

They don’t talk while they pick up their clothes and get dressed, and don’t look back as they walk away in opposite directions.

The next day, Zemo sets Barnes free, and Steve follows.

* * * * *

Tony stashes the phone and letter away in a drawer. He doesn’t think about them as he starts negotiating plea deals, bullies the government into hiring personnel independent from the military to guard the Raft, and threatens 127 nations into making adjustments to the Accords by publicly threatening to cut all Stark Industries funding, and remove Iron Man from the team.

He doesn’t.

* * * * *

“It’s probably the three-day-old takeout,” Tony tells a clearly sceptical Rhodey. He spits again, then flushes the toilet. “You’d think at least one of us would’ve learned to cook more than burnt toast and soggy eggs since MIT.”

Later, FRIDAY sends the results of the pregnancy test to his phone. Tony blinks, swallows, adjusts his collar, and plasters on his best fake smile for the UN committee waiting for him.

* * * * *

“You know I won’t judge,” Rhodey says, stepping up behind Tony. His eyes are full of concern when they meet Tony’s in their reflection in the mirror. “Whoever he is, I won’t judge.”

Tony can only hold Rhodey’s gaze for a moment before he looks back down at his belly, one hand cupped over the small yet clearly recognisable bump. “I don’t know,” he lies, smoothing his shirt back down. “Never got a name.”

Rhodey has known Tony for far too long to fall for his half-assed bullshit, but he doesn’t push. “Okay,” he sighs, and hooks his chin over Tony’s shoulder. He winds one arm around Tony’s chest, and pats one of his leg prosthetics with his free hand. “Come on, I bet I can still beat your white ass on the court, even with these.”

* * * * *

“Holy shit, dude!” Clint exclaims, grinning widely, and peels away from the group of stunned superheroes to put both his hands on Tony’s stomach. “You’re huge!”

“And you’re still an asshole, birdbrain,” Tony quips back automatically, startled to find himself tearing up when Clint throws back his head, laughs, and envelops Tony in a hug. Tentatively, Tony returns the gesture, his, “Welcome back,” coming out shakier than he would have liked.

Clint pulls back, one corner of his mouth twitching knowingly, but simply shrugs. “Was about time. Did you know they don’t have chili dogs in Wakanda? I mean, sure, cultural differences and everything, but seriously, I don’t think it’s too much to ask—”

The rest of the team groans in resigned unison. Wanda shakes her head, hiding a smile behind her hand, while Sam rolls his eyes, and Scott pulls out his phone to show Vision pictures of, Tony assumes, chili dogs.

“Six months,” Natasha says, appearing at Tony’s side, and taking his hand, giving it a stealthy little squeeze. “I’ve been putting up with this for six months.”

Tony grins, unable to help himself, and leans his head against her arm. “My deepest, sincerest condolences, Miss Rushmanoff,” he drawls sarcastically, then yelps when Natasha pinches his unfortunately somewhat pudgier, and all the more pinchable side.

“All right, children, settle down,” Natasha calls over the noise, sharing one last, long-suffering look with Tony before shooing the bickering group towards where Rhodey is waiting and waving.

Barnes hesitates when Steve doesn’t move, but—after a long, frighteningly intense look at Tony—eventually murmurs a quiet, “Congratulations,” to Tony, and follows the others out of the foyer.

Which leaves Tony alone with Steve. “Right,” Tony says after half a minute of increasingly awkward staring, clapping his hands together. “It’s good to have you back, Cap. I—”

“You’ve met someone,” Steve interrupts, jaw working furiously. “Do I—do I know him?”

Tony laughs, but there’s no humour in it. “Not even sure I know him anymore.”

Something flashes across Steve’s face, something dark and simultaneously vulnerable, there and gone again. “Tony—”

“He wouldn’t care if he knew,” Tony bites out, sharper than intended. He rubs a hand over his eyes, suddenly exhausted. “For once in your life, Steve, just fucking drop it.”

He walks away before Steve has a chance to answer.

* * * * *

The team settles in again without much more than the usual roommate problems consisting of wet towels on the floor, moldy food in the fridge, and Clint’s socks all over the couch. Wanda and Vision spend a lot of time in Wanda’s quarters, which, yay, good for them. Clint moves his family in seemingly over night. Tony frowns at the children sitting at the breakfast bar one morning, and adds “buying a bouncy castle for the yard” to his mental to-do list. Scott brings over his daughter once it arrives. Sam, bless the man, actually knows how to cook. Natasha and Rhodey spar. There’s a lot of shouting and colourful language involved, but they both seem happier for it. Barnes barely registers.

Steve and Tony don’t talk.

It’s for the best.

* * * * *

Steve has Barnes caged in against the sink, his hands on the counter on either side of Barnes’ hips. Barnes is leaning back against Steve’s chest, hands curled around a cup of steaming coffee, eyes closed, and a soft smile on his lips while Steve trails kisses up his neck.

Tony backs out of the room before they notice him.

* * * * *

Tony jerks awake, and he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe in the void, and all he sees are his mother’s lifeless eyes, and he can’t breathe, he can’t breathe, he can’t—

“Easy,” Barnes whispers, and catches Tony around the waist when Tony flails, and nearly tumbles off the couch, gently guiding him back down. “Take it easy. Here,” he says, taking one of Tony’s hands, and pressing it against his chest. “Feel that?”

Tony nods shakily, and swallows hard, instinctively curling his fingers into Barnes’ shirt. They breathe together, slow and steady, just looking at each other. Neither of them speaking.

“Are you sorry?” Tony asks eventually, more curious than anything. He doesn’t specify, and Barnes doesn’t need him to.

Barnes keeps looking at Tony, unflinching. Face blank. “Would it make it easier for you? If I was?”

Tony considers that. “I don’t know,” he admits. “Probably not.”

Barnes nods, accepting. He licks his lips, glances away for a moment, and when he looks back at Tony, his expression is raw, full of guilt, of anguish. “I am. I am so fuckin’ sorry, about every single one of them. Doesn’t matter if I didn’t choose any of it, I still did it. Remember it.”

“I never blamed you,” Tony blurts, hand moving from Barnes’ chest to squeeze his shoulder. “Not really. Yeah, sure, I was pissed, it hurt. Still does. But I didn’t blame you. Wasn’t even angry at you, really.”

“For what it’s worth,” Barnes says, something amusedly mischievous in his voice, “I’d have punched Steve a whole lot harder if I’d been in your shoes.”

Tony snorts, and then he’s laughing, and Barnes is laughing too, deep and gravelly like he isn’t sure how to properly do it anymore. “For what it’s worth,” Tony gasps through his snickering, “I’m sorry about your arm.”

“Eh,” Barnes says, smirking. “You’re gonna build me a better one, anyway.”

“Oh?” Tony arches an eyebrow at him. “I am?”

Barnes scoffs. “Please. As if you could resist,” he drawls, and winks, setting them both off again.

* * * * *

Tony has been in love with Steve Rogers for nearly half a decade. It doesn’t stop him from falling for Bucky Barnes as well.

* * * * *

“That don’t look right,” Bucky says, completely missing Tony’s indignant glare while he’s studying the prenatal yoga video. “Gotta adjust your legs.”

Tony glares harder. “Fuck you,” he hisses, flopping down on his back. “You go ahead and pretzel yourself, but I’m done. This is stupid. You’re stupid. Why did I let you talk me into this in the first place?”

“‘Cause you’re bored out of your mind,” Bucky points out, and joins Tony on the carpet, bumping their shoulders together. “And sulkin’ cause your house is full of superpowered people again, and you’re benched until you pop.”

Tony pulls a face. “Nice image. Thank you, asshole.”

Bucky beams back at him, innocent like he absolutely is not. “You’re welcome.”

* * * * *

“Ow,” Tony whines tiredly, rubbing at his swollen stomach. He waits for a moment, but the baby won’t stop its assault on his kidney, so, with a huff, he throws back the blankets, and heaves himself out of bed. “This is revenge for me falling asleep during parenting class yesterday, isn’t it?”

He shuffles out of his room, and down to the communal kitchen, scolding himself when his heart speeds up at the sight of Bucky standing by the coffee machine. “Hi,” he greets softly.

Bucky glances over his shoulder, and manages a tight smile. His eyes are bloodshot, though, with dark circles under them, and he’s holding himself rigidly, tensely, clearly on high alert. Nightmares, then.

Pulling out the teabags, Tony watches as Bucky twitches, and swallows reflexively, unable to settle. “Hey,” he says, gesturing at his belly when Bucky looks at him. “Want to feel the baby kick?”

When Bucky nods, wide-eyed, Tony takes his hand, and guides it to where one tiny foot is moving restlessly. Bucky sucks in a sharp breath, staring down at his hand in awe, and breathing out a quiet, “Wow.”

Their faces are close, with Bucky bent down a little like this, their mouths almost level. It would be easy to kiss him, Tony thinks, he’d just have to—

“Buck?” Steve asks from the doorway, yawning as he walks into the room, eyes bleary and hair a mess. “You okay? I woke up, and you were—oh,” he trails off, taking in the way Tony’s leaning into Bucky, and Bucky’s hand is splayed over Tony’s stomach. “I—I, uh—”

“Baby’s kicking,” Tony says lamely, feeling a guilty blush creep up the back of his neck. When no one says anything to that, he offers, “Do you want to feel?”

Bucky moves to the side a little, beckoning Steve closer. “C’mon, Stevie.”

“I—yeah, okay,” Steve breathes, walking over to them. Bucky removes his hand to make room for Steve, whose whole face lights up after a moment. “This is—oh, wow.”

“That’s what he said,” Tony says, going for teasing, but missing by a mile.

He hasn’t been this close to Steve, or talked about anything other than the Avengers with him in so long, having him standing here right now, with his hand on Tony’s belly, and grinning like a dork is—overwhelming. Fantastic. Painful. So much.

“You’re doin’ great,” Bucky whispers, pulling Tony against his side. His face, when Tony peeks up at him, is entirely too smug, for some reason.

* * * * *

Telling Braxton Hicks contractions from real labour contractions is, at it turns out, not one of Tony’s many talents.

* * * * *

“Sirs,” the paramedic says, calm but firm over Bucky and Steve’s increasingly panicked questions. “He’s going to be just fine. But I can only let one of you ride in the ambulance with him.”

“You go,” Steve insists immediately, but Bucky shakes his head, and gives him a shove towards where Tony’s already strapped to a gurney. “Buck—”

“For fuck’s sake!” Bucky snaps. He ruffles his hand through his hair, then points a finger at Tony. “I love you, you dumbass, and I’m sorry, but this is fuckin’ ridiculous.” Turning to Steve, he says, “‘M not lettin’ you miss the birth of your child. Get in the fuckin’ ambulance, Stevie.”

The sound Steve makes is barely human. “What—I—are you—Tony? Is it—why didn’t you say?

“Probably ‘cause you never actually apologised?” Bucky suggests, grabbing Steve’s chin, and giving his head a shake. “Steven Grant Rogers, I love you, you know I do, but you’re a fuckin’ idiot sometimes. Apologise to Tony, tell him you love him, and then get in the goddamned ambulance. I’ll be right behind you, okay? Go!”

Steve blinks, frozen for a second, but then he hurries into action. He sprints to Tony’s side, and takes his IV-free hand, linking their fingers together. “Tony,” he says helplessly, walking with the paramedics when they start pushing the gurney. “I—I don’t know how—I—what Bucky said?”

“You’re shit at this, Rogers,” Tony groans, clutching at Steve’s hand when the next contraction hits. “Fuck, please, I—don’t go? Please, please don’t go, I—”

“I’m right here, Tony,” Steve promises as he climbs into the ambulance with Tony, never letting go of his hand. “I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere. And Bucky’s on his way, okay? We’re both going to be there, we won’t leave you. Not—not again, I won’t Tony, I swear. Never again.”

Tony screams in reply, and squeezes Steve’s hand harder.

* * * * *

“Maria,” Tony slurs when the nurse places his baby girl on his chest, nuzzling the crown of her head. “Her name’s Maria.”

Steve presses a smiling kiss to Tony’s sweaty temple. “Of course it is.” He strokes his thumb over Maria’s chubby little cheek, eyes growing impossibly fond. “Hello, beautiful.”

It takes Tony a moment to realise that Bucky’s gone suspiciously quiet on his other side, and when he glances up at him, Bucky looks torn. Conflicted. Steve notices as well, clasping a hand over the back of Bucky’s neck with a quiet, “Bucky.”

Bucky chews his bottom lip, insecure like Tony hasn’t seen him before. “I should—”

“Hold your daughter,” Tony cuts in, and Steve, without hesitation, carefully plucks Maria off his chest, and transfers her into Bucky’s arms.

He beams, proud and adoring, brushing a soft kiss over Maria’s forehead, before pecking Bucky on the lips. “Looking good, Buck.”

Bucky doesn’t say anything, but his damp eyes, and the way his lips tremble when he leans over to kiss the top of Tony’s head tell Tony everything he needs to know.

That night, Tony falls asleep with Steve curled up against his left side, Bucky on his right, and their tangled fingers resting protectively on Maria’s back.