Drinking was a terrible idea. It had never been a good one, but at Pepper and Rhodey’s wedding, it had seemed like the only one. Watching the only person he’d ever been able to make any sort of relationship work with marry someone else was bad enough, but that it was Rhodey, and he was happy for them -- he really was -- was even worse.
They both knew he was hurting. No one wanted that for him Not Pepper, who was thrilled to find love and stability, didn’t want to hurt Tony. She loved Tony. And not Rhodey, who’d been brother/best friend/surrogate for so long that sometimes Tony forgot that they weren’t actually related at all. Rhodey would have cut off body parts to avoid hurting Tony.
But what they all knew was that there was no way around what had happened.
One person could be hurt, and probably get over it. Or all three of them would be hurting, and probably never get over it. Even at his very-most selfish, Tony couldn’t deny the math.
It was just gonna suck for a while.
Booze didn’t change anything, but it did make all the jagged edges hurt a little less.
That was the theory, at least. He hadn’t quite gotten around to it, yet. The drinking until he couldn’t see; pick up someone who was also drunk and who wouldn’t notice Tony’s secret. Having a not-completely satisfying fuck, but that might hold off the depression for a while. Have Happy drive someone home that he’d never see again. He’d done it most of his life, ever since Howard had filled him in on the Truth of the Matter.
He drained the glass. Pondered throwing it off the side of the balcony. He’d skipped out on the reception as soon as he wouldn’t be missed. Well, Rhodey might miss him, but he wasn’t going to come looking. Not tonight.
Tony had done his bit. Stood at Rhodey’s side for the joining ceremony.
“That was generous of you,” a deep, rumbling voice came from behind him.
“What was?” Tony wasn’t drunk enough to go with Bucky; he’d need a lot more booze before he was willing to force himself to act the part. But oh, sometimes he wanted to. Bucky was a beautiful man. Luminous.
“Back in my day,” Bucky said, “two men like you and Rhodes, you would have fought over someone like Pepper. Didn’t matter that you were all but brothers.”
Tony scoffed. Checked his glass. Still empty. Boo.
“She loves him,” Tony said. “I’m supposed to, what? Fight Rhodey for a woman that’s never going to love me?” It wasn’t like Pepper could bond with him, anyway. Even if she hadn’t found her true match with Rhodey, they’d have gone through their lives together, incomplete. Tony scowled at his empty glass, gave in to temptation and threw it, hard as he could, off into the garden where it smashed against one of the cement walkways.
“You should go clean that up,” Bucky said, and despite the mild tone, it did not come out sounding like a suggestion.
Tony glared at him suspiciously. “Yes, sir,” Tony snapped, and that came out sarcastic, but also… wanting.
Even in the dim light, Tony watched Bucky’s eyes widen, his pupils go round and dark. The fucking hell? The Winter Soldier was a sub. Tony knew that. Everyone knew that.
And almost no one knew that Tony was a sub. He’d been on black-market drop-suppressants for decades. He even had a special blend of cologne that masked most pheromones, including his own.
“What did you say?” And Bucky was crowding into Tony’s personal space, forcing him back, forcing a retreat. Tony was shivering even before his back hit the wall, because damn, it’d been such a long, long time, and he was just a little bit drunk, and he was caught unaware by Bucky’s powerful Dominating presence that--
Tony went to his knees.
Slow and easy and as graceful as if he did it every night. His gaze dropped to the floor, hands went to the small of his back, and if Bucky didn’t back off right that instant, Tony was going to be groveling, because he hadn’t felt a Dom’s command in so long, he’d almost forgotten it.
No one tried to Dom him; everyone knew Tony Stark was a Dom. And that just wasn’t something you did in public anymore, unless you wanted to be arrested. (Mostly. There was still a hard push back movement from the Dom-ass contingent, who were of the opinion that all a sub wanted was to be dominated, and they were only doing what biologically came naturally by ignoring consent.)
“Oh, my god,” Bucky said, “look at you. Good, oh, that’s so good, baby.”
“No,” Tony managed to snarl, between clenched teeth. “No, back off, back--” He wasn’t going to submit, not again, no. Not--
“Hey.” Bucky’s hand, cupped under his chin. “Hey, baby, can you look at me, come on, it’s all right, come on… there you are. Tony. Tony, what’s wrong?”
God, that voice… it was like quicksilver down Tony’s spine, keeping him supplicant on the ground. All he ever wanted, needed, swirling in his stomach. Heat that seeped through him, from Bucky’s hand down to Tony’s toes. This was exactly what Howard had warned him about. Jesus, he hadn’t responded to a Dom’s voice…
… since Afghanistan.
“Don’t call me that,” Tony gritted. “I’m not yours. How are you fucking doing that? You’re not a Dom.”
Bucky spluttered, made a protesting noise in his throat. “You’re not a sub,” he whispered. “What the hell, Tony?”
It took everything Tony had left to raise his head and glare. “Well, now you know the truth,” he spat. “What are you gonna do about it?”
He’d be lying to himself if he tried to say he didn’t want Bucky to just tell him what to do. To finally be conquered. To let go.
“Nothin’,” Bucky said. He twisted into a squat and then was down on the ground, sitting cross-legged, on Tony’s level. “Didn’t mean t’... I was bein’ an ass, Tony, that’s all. You just. You looked sad an’ angry, and I thought you might need an argument. So I was--”
“You were domming me to piss me off? Well, congratulations, mission accomplished!” And fuck, he still couldn’t get off his goddamn knees. Bucky was holding him right there, he’d whipped his words right around Tony’s spine. Compelled him, crushed him. Tony fought against it, and it hurt, and it kept hurting, because he knew as soon as he stopped fighting, everything was going to be fine. “Stop it! Let me go, goddammit! You’re a goddamn sub, everyone knows that!”
“Winter Soldier’s a sub,” Bucky said. “I’m not. That’s how they broke me. How they made him. Forced conversion, sublimate the base instincts. Enough pain, enough drugs, enough… force and reward, and anyone will break.”
Didn’t Tony just fucking know it? Ten Rings had offered him subs at first, thinking he was a Dom, but exposed like that, deprived of his suppressants, on limited food and water and crude medical care and exactly zero human decency and privacy, Tony had eventually lost control of his secret, and then they had a dozen Doms in there with him, working him over, until he would have promised anything, would have given anything.
If it hadn’t been for Yinsen, for the arc reactor, and for a glimmer of hope in the form of the Iron Man Mark I, Tony would have given up, given in. As it was, three months of that, and Tony was never going to be all right again.
He didn’t really want to feel sympathy for the man who’d put him on his knees. Tony wanted to know what the fucking consequences were going to be.
Tony was dizzy. Sparkles of color danced in front of his eyes. He swayed, but had no urge to get off his knees, he could just--
“Fuck,” Tony said, and that came out almost as a request, a suggestion, and not a swear. “What-- what’s your rating, I’m…”
“You’re dropping,” Bucky said. “I see that. Tony, before the War, I was a DT-9. I never got tested, after…”
Everyone knew the serum enhanced… everything. Pre-serum Steve had been a DB-2, barely able to control even an excessively submissive sub; afterward, a DB-10, with subs doing violence for the opportunity to stand near Captain America. And Jesus, if Bucky had already been over a nine, no wonder Tony couldn’t resist it.
Bucky shrugged. “After everything? I can control it. Keep my pheromones down, unless I’m actively prowling. I don’t need a dozen subs hanging on my word. I just… want one. Someone special. Someone I can trust, that’ll be good for me. That I can be good to.” Bucky sighed. “It’s strong enough that I used to knock Steve on his ass from time to time, when we was growing up. Learned I didn’t want that. I don’t… Tony, I don’t want you to submit to me, if that’s not what you want. Please. Please get up.”
And it just had to be Tony’s contrary fucking nature, because as soon as Bucky said to get up, told Tony that he wasn’t wanted… well, Tony didn’t want to go anywhere.
“You’ve already got me down,” Tony said, still spiteful after everything, because Bucky might be a ten, or even one of the rare ones who broke the ten marker, but Tony was also a damn nine, and he was an SB-9 who’d learned to suppress the shit out of his instincts and cycles, and he wasn’t going all the way down without a fight. But he could play to that. He’d done enough pretending to Dom to know. Doms wanted a sub who would fight them, just a little. Just to enough to have to exert their control. “You may as well take it.”
Flashes of images raced through Tony’s mind. He was a strong sub, he needed a strong Dom to handle him. Fantasy became fear. Maintenance spankings and loss of privacy. Being told what to wear and how to act. Providing sexual service to his Dom and knowing he’d have to be good as gold to get any satisfaction of his own. Being told he couldn’t masturbate. Tony was shuddering; whether with need or loathing, he couldn’t even tell anymore.
“The fuck? Tony, Tony, wait,” Bucky said.
“I don’t want to wait,” Tony snarled. “Either get me the rest of the way there, or back the fuck off and--” He could smell his own pheromones now, and they always smelled to him like Howard’s office, stale whiskey and furniture polish and fear. Pathetic and craven and cowardly.
“Oh god…” Bucky leaned forward, nostrils flaring. Tony wanted to press against Bucky’s body, cuddle himself against that heat, lay on the ground in front of his boots and show his belly. Bucky drew back, suddenly, and Tony couldn’t help letting a small, dismayed whine slip out of his throat. He was never, ever going to be good enough. Certainly not for someone who was that--
Jesus fucking Christ, did Tony actually want to behave? To deserve someone like Bucky?
“How long has it been? Since you last went into subspace?”
… Afghanistan… “Eight years,” Tony managed to say. Bucky was no one’s fool; he knew the timeline as well as anyone, knew what that meant, and his eyes widened with horror.
“Before that? With someone you trusted?”
That morning, Tony would have rather ripped his own heart out rather than admit the truth. “Never.” Who the hell was he ever going to trust? Tony knew the consequences of being a sub in a position of power. Doms would have been lining up for the opportunity to bring him to heel; to be able to take what they wanted from him, whenever they wanted. And they wouldn’t have just stopped with Tony’s utter and complete subjugation. They’d have taken his money, his influence, used his genius brain… if he’d had any sanity or self-will by the end of that, it would have been a miracle. Howard was very clear. He’d used Tony’s nature against him a few times, to teach him a lesson. To--
Tony was gagging, choking for air.
“Shhh.” Bucky was holding him and Tony both wanted to, and didn’t want to, and was anyway, clinging to him. “I’ve got you. It’s all right.” Wrapping Tony up in that smell, like motor oil and heated metal and dark soil in the forest, the sweet tang of fallen leaves and a bitter note, like coffee, underneath. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
And when had any ever wanted to protect Tony Stark? He could have wept, if he knew how.
Tony was being carried and he didn’t know where. He didn’t struggle, but he did look up, curious. It was dark, and Bucky was moving quickly, as if he already knew where he was going, and had no fear of running into anyone in the darkness.
“You probably want some privacy,” Bucky said. “Listen, I’ll… I won’t tell anyone, but if anyone saw us…”
Tony shuddered. It would all be over, the grand facade.
“I’m not going to do anything you don’t want,” Bucky promised, and he said it with his Dom voice, and it sounded like a promise that meant something. “But I can’t leave you to hit subspace alone. I won’t let that happen.”
Tony was put down, like he was a precious package, on something soft, the fabric under him some sort of microfiber. A sofa? Bucky left him there a moment and Tony heard the sound of a lock being engaged. “Not to keep you in,” Bucky promised, “but to keep everyone else out. Do you want light? Or would you rather not look at me?”
As if not looking at Bucky in any way diminished the aura of authority he put out. It might be easier in the darkness, though. Whatever Bucky was going to do. “Dark,” Tony managed.
“All right. All right,” Bucky said, soothing. “Look, Tony… I don’t want to leave you alone. If all you want is me to sit here, that’s what I’ll do. I want to help. Tell me what you need, an’ what you want, an’ I’ll do whatever I can t’ get you safely into subspace an’ back out again, okay?”
That wasn’t right, that wasn’t right at all. “Aren’t you s’posed to hit me?”
Bucky’s eyebrow went up. “Do you want me to?”
“I’m a sub-nine,” Tony retorted. “You need to push me down.”
“No,” Bucky said, and his voice was full of Command, and his scent was in Tony’s nostrils and Tony didn’t want anything in the world aside from to please his Dom. “I don’t need to push you down, honey. What I’m gonna do is lift you up.”
“Then do it. Sir.” Tony let go of the last bit of his control. He was tired of fighting. Let Bucky have what he wanted, and Tony would clean up the mess when he was done. Just like he always did.
“Tony,” Bucky said, “only if you want. Okay? If you want, then I want you to undress. Kneel down, facing the sofa, okay? An’ I’ll take care of you.”
It felt weird, and wrong, and strange, and frightening -- and also exciting and freeing and tempting -- to have Bucky cajoling him into accepting what had to be accepted. To at least allow Tony the illusion of control, of choice.
But he was Tony Stark, and he could never, ever resist pushing. “What if I say no?’
“Then you said no, Tony,” Bucky said. “And I won’t touch you. I promise.”
That… that was a concept that Tony was going to have to come back to, at length. “And what… what if I said I wanted to fuck you, instead? If I wanted you on your knees?”
Bucky gave a shiver, and even in the dark, Tony could see his eyes widen.
He was going to say no, Tony knew it, he knew it and it shouldn’t hurt that he was lying about trust and about what Tony wanted, but it did and Tony was--
“If that’s what you want,” Bucky said. “If that’s what you need t’ feel safe.”
Tony blinked. A DT-10+ would… there weren’t even words for it. “We’re gonna talk about that,” Tony promised him. “Later. I don’t have lube here. You’ll have to settle for hands and mouth tonight.”
“I can do that,” Bucky said, and his voice dropped into a low growl that sent shivers down Tony’s back. “Take your clothes off, if you want me.”
Tony stripped and by the time he was done putting his clothes in an untidy heap to one side of the sofa, Bucky had likewise gotten naked. And he was a step ahead of Tony, because he’d put one of the sofa cushions on the floor for Tony to kneel on. Like Tony was already a coveted pet, a-- No. Bucky wasn’t doing that, and if Tony was going to have his trust broken once again, he was at least going to extend it in the first place.
He got on his knees, faced the sofa like Bucky told him to.
Obeying… obedience… submission. He bowed his head and damn if that didn’t feel good. Accepting his place.
“Look at you,” Bucky said. “So good, baby. God, you look so good, you’re so sweet for me.” Bucky was touching himself, stroking up that proud, fine cock. Tony shivered. He heard Bucky spit into his palm and if there was one moment that Tony really wanted to run away, it was that one, because spit did not work, he knew it--
Bucky pushed Tony’s knees together, just a little, and slid himself into the hollow between Tony’s legs, rubbing at his thighs, at the bottom of his balls. Wrapped his arm around Tony’s waist and took Tony in hand. “Trust me,” he whispered. “I’ll make you feel good, baby, if you’ll just… be good for me, okay? Can you do that? Do you want that?”
Bucky’s movements were slow, sinuous, a delicious tease against Tony’s dick, and he couldn’t help but respond. A Dom’s scent around him, a Dom’s hands on him, a Dom telling him how good he was, how much Bucky liked him, how sweet, how perfect.
Tony whined in his throat and pushed into Bucky’s touch.
“That’s it. That’s a good boy,” Bucky praised him, and it had been so long since anyone had told him that he was good. Even Pepper, who was a level two switch, had never told Tony that he was good. Mostly she’d scolded him and teased and they’d had fun, but it had never… never been like this.
Bucky rocked against him, the head of his cock teasing, a hot pressure against Tony’s ass. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he promised. “Not gonna force anything. Just let me make you feel good. I want that. I want you to feel good. Show me, show me what you like.” And that Command voice, pleading with him, asking him. It was… heady.
Tony covered Bucky’s hand with his own, showed Bucky how Tony liked to touch himself. And Bucky was a fast damn learner. In moments, Tony was braced against the sofa, arms spread to keep himself still, while Bucky worked him over with one hand, the other one hold fast to Tony’s shoulder, metal fingers pressing out little bruises along his collarbone, a sparkle of pain against what was an overwhelming amount of pleasure.
“Oh, god.” Bucky was bent over him, hot, lean body lightly coated with sweat; they rubbed together as he moved. Tony could feel every inch of him, and it wasn’t enough. “I… can I bite you, please?”
Marks? Oh, fuck, no. Not yet, not-- “Don’t,” Tony told him. Denied him, and Bucky whined in his throat, but he didn’t touch Tony’s back with his teeth, didn’t do anything except the one protesting whimper and then kept moving, his hand on Tony, stroking him out in delicious shivers.
Tony’s thighs clenched up and Bucky was still fucking through the hollow between his legs, that tight, hot gap.
Being allowed to say no, no to anything, no matter how small, and that Bucky didn’t punish him, didn’t assert his authority, and Tony was flying-- he gasped with the power in it, and all the heat in his body pooled into his balls.
Everything went soft and fuzzy, like being wrapped in a blanket straight out of the dryer. A spill of carbonated water over his skin. Not a sense of sinking down, but of floating up. Not compliant, but accommodating. He didn’t have to fight with this anymore. It was easy. It was… comforting. He found a single, bright spot of serenity, where he would have, could have, given Bucky everything. And knew. Trusted. That Bucky would never take more than he needed.
Tony arched back, cried out.
He came, spilling over Bucky’s hand with a moan, nearly fell into his own come when his arms gave out, but Bucky was holding him up, rocking him through his climax. There was a warm blossom of wetness against his thighs and Bucky was calling his name, praising him, telling him he was so good, that Bucky was so proud of him, and he knew this was hard, he knew it, but Tony had done such a good job, and Bucky was grateful for it. Honored by it.
“I got you,” Bucky was saying, and… he was wiping Tony’s legs clean, using Bucky’s own undershirt to do the job, instead of leaving Tony on his knees in a puddle of come. “You’re so good, baby.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Tony protested, absently pushing at Bucky’s hands.
“Yes, you did,” Bucky said. He put the shirt aside and tipped Tony’s chin up to look at him. “You trusted me, and that’s big. That’s huge Tony, even if you hadn't been through some terrible shit, and you didn’t just watch the woman you love marry someone else. You let me help you, and… I’m happy that you allowed it. Proud, that you let me.”
Bucky hadn’t just… fucked and run, which is what happened with most other Doms that Tony had gone to -- in clubs or bars where he could wear a mask and pretend to be someone else -- or the subs that he’d sometimes make time with, barely able to satisfy them, much less himself. Maybe it was that. Or post-orgasm glow. Or maybe it was just that it was nice to hear someone saying he’d done well, done something right. He didn’t quite want to go back to kneeling at Bucky’s feet, either.
Instead, Tony had an overwhelming urge to curl up against the man and go to sleep. And he thought, maybe he could sleep, longer than forty-minute power nap or the restless up every twenty minutes or so that were his normal habit.
“So, what now?” Tony yawned, and tried not to look at how Bucky was sitting and how easy it would be to just… crawl into his lap and stay there.
“I’m gonna help you get dressed, and walk you up to your hotel room,” Bucky said. “And then I’m going to make sure you have some aspirins and some water. If you still want me to stay, I’ll help you with a shower, an’ tuck you in.”
“I--” Tony waved his hand around, trying to indicate the room and everything that had happened there. “--I mean… us?”
“Is there an us, honey?” That was said so, so gently, like Bucky didn’t want to scare Tony off and not at all like Tony was being mocked, scorned… rejected.
“I don’t know,” Tony said. His bottom lip pushed out, and he knew he was pouting, and he couldn’t help it, because… well, he didn’t know why. He didn’t want Bucky to leave. And it wasn’t like he couldn’t remember trying, really hard, to get him to back up, back off, not an hour ago. None of that seemed to matter anymore. “Stay.”
“I’ll stay the night,” Bucky promised. “But no more messing around until you’re sober, and off this drop. We need to talk. About limits and consent, and what I want from you, and what you expect from me, and that’s not talk we can have tonight.”
“I’m serious,” Bucky said. “I know you’ve been at the hands of some terrible people, and you don’t have any idea what… you don’t know enough about the situation to make an informed decision, honey. And I would be doin’ us both a bad turn if I let you decide anything tonight.”
While he was talking, Bucky helped Tony into his clothes like he was a recalcitrant toddler. Tony didn’t look like the same rich playboy type in his bespoke suit; he looked like he’d been tumbled and that done quite thoroughly, but it covered his bits and pieces, and would get him up to his room without too much attention.
Tony turned his wrist slowly, gazing down at his watch. “It’s tomorrow,” he said, pointing at it.
Bucky made an adorable scowl. “Not until you’ve slept. Come on, honey, be good for me, for just a little longer, yeah?”
“No,” Tony said. “You… should know that. I’m used… used to getting my own way.”
Bucky chuckled, low and wicked in Tony’s ear. “I know.”