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Turns out when you save half the universe, pretty much the whole universe wants to meet you, say thank you, be your friend, and throw you parties.

This is how Tony Stark ends up in space with a bunch of the Avengers 3.0 at a semi-formal party hosted by the Nova Corps in Xandar’s new capitol city. Pretty much every Avenger but himself is in uniform, albeit sans masks where applicable. Tony could be too—his upgraded Bleeding Edge armor would be easy to dance in—but this is a weapons-free gala, and while Bucky probably has at least three knives stashed who-knows-where on his person, and Tony definitely saw Natasha wearing her widow bites and passing them off as fashion accessories, Tony doesn’t have room to judge or rat them out—he’s got his Mark LIII RT housing unit on under his blazer and Avengers t-shirt.

His Stucky t-shirt, specifically. (Tony was delighted when Steve and Bucky’s celebrity couple portmanteau came out—doubly so when they both hated it.) It’s black, with half of Captain America’s patriotic shield emblazoned on the front, joined with half of Bucky’s reclaimed and updated Winter Soldier icon, a red star on a white background ringed with a thin line of blue and one of red. The two halves form a perfect super soldier circle right in the center of Tony’s chest. Tony loves this shirt. It’s an aesthetically striking graphic…and he likes the idea of wearing the marks of the two men he’s secretly been carrying a torch for, despite them obviously only having eyes for each other.

Their ride-or-die friendship turned love story a century in the making makes far more logical sense than Tony’s attraction to two men he nearly murdered in a bunker in Siberia. But feelings aren’t logical, and living with Steve at the Compound during and after saving the universe together became living with Steve and Bucky at the Compound and Avenging together, and Tony’s determination not to like Bucky Barnes proved no match for his very own determined attempts to make the new Avengers a team through constant exposure via necessities accessible only through use of communal spaces, and semi-mandatory group bonding events.

Tony’s worst enemy has always been himself, and he doesn’t see that changing.

Anyway, Tony likes wearing this t-shirt for other reasons. For one thing, the first time Tony wore it, Steve got so wide-eyed and flustered he couldn’t focus enough to finish a sentence for almost three full minutes. His ears still turn pink every time he sees it, and Tony makes a point of wearing it when he knows they’ll be sparring since it throws Cap off his game. Conversely, wearing it has made Bucky more comfortable around Tony; FRIDAY ran the numbers, and Bucky talks to him and touches him more, with the same casual affection Bucky shows Steve and sometimes Nat when they’re hanging around the compound. It happens whenever Tony wears merch for either of them, actually—he may or may not have run a few harmless experiments after he noticed a pattern. His theories were, of course, correct.

Unfortunately, he has no variable data; the other Avengers aren’t fans of wearing Avengers merch the way Tony is, though not for lack of Tony’s purchasing wearable merch for them.

His t-shirt is the only outward sign Tony might be one of the Avengers this gala is being thrown for. Not wearing the suit has made him more or less invisible. Even though the Avengers are currently the only people from Earth at this gala, some of these aliens look just like Earth humans; and the pictures of Tony circulating the galaxy are of him in full Iron Man armor; so he’s been recognized far less often than the rest of the team.

It’s been hilarious. It’s not often someone sees Tony Stark and doesn’t know who he is, and after the initial few hits to his ego, he took his anonymity and ran with it. No less than four people think Manhattan and Malibu are planets in the Milky Way galaxy by the time he finds himself speaking to a golden-skinned, golden-haired woman decked out in gold and a superior attitude common to many socialites in the circles Tony frequents.

“Yeah, I flew in with them,” he tells the woman, who’s figured out he’s from Earth and asks about his relationship to the Avengers. “I’m kinda their version of Q, like from James Bond.” At her blank look, he hurries on. “Never mind, Earth pop culture icon. I just sorta assist, build, repair, bankroll, and try to make ‘em look good. I’m a glorified mechanic and sugar daddy.” Another blank look at this last term. Tony clears his throat and tries not to laugh. “Patron,” he clarifies. “Want me to introduce you to anyone?”

“If you don’t mind,” she begins, and points to Steve and Bucky, who’re arm in arm and blatantly together, talking to Drax, Mantis, and a woman with a white up-do wearing military regalia that probably means something to the Nova Corps.

Tony grins and approaches the group from an angle that’ll put him right in front of Steve. He grins harder when Steve notices his shirt and visibly flushes. When the group follows Cap’s gaze, Bucky gives Tony a look that promises retribution. Tony raises an eyebrow and looks distinctly unimpressed; Bucky’s retribution last time was sprawling across Tony and Steve during movie night until Tony gave up trying to escape back to his lab and pet Bucky’s hair instead. Not exactly a deterrent.

Drax and the military woman seem suitably impressed when Tony walks up, plants himself between them, and ushers the gold woman into the circle. “Hey, icemen, this lovely young woman and her people are interested in meeting the pinnacle of human perfection. She’s been kind enough to settle for you two though.” He winks at them and, while Bucky shakes his head ruefully, Tony gleefully watches Steve’s ears transition from pink to red.

“Tony,” Drax says, looking between them, “you are truly a lucky man. These men are so beautiful, it is almost painful to look at them. Like looking into the burning heart of a star.”

Bashful super soldiers are a thing of beauty. And hilarity. “Aren’t they?“ Tony says, eying Steve and Bucky mischievously. “I’d say you get used to it, but you really don’t. You just learn to function while being blinded by hotness. Let me know if you want any tips, I’m pretty much an expert by now.”

“You’re an expert at being a punk, you mean,“ Bucky grouses, but his amusement makes the insult sound like an endearment.

Drax seems inordinately pleased. “I met your friend Thor, but I was not prepared to meet two men like him at once.”

“We’re a gorgeous bunch,” Tony says, because it’s objectively true.

“I wish I had known sooner that you were attending this boring party with tiny, unsatisfying food. I have not seen you since our glorious battle on Titan.”

Tony laughs and shrugs, shoves his hands into his trousers pockets while casually ensuring his arms hold his blazer open enough to show the combined Captain America and Winter Soldier logos on his t-shirt. “Do me a favor and don’t out me,” he tells Drax while thoroughly enjoying Steve’s attempts to reboot. “I’m having fun not being recognized. We should catch up at the lunch thing tomorrow though.”

The military woman’s gaze sharpens.

“Oh?” The gold woman is beginning to look embarrassed, and displeased at said embarrassment. “Who did you say you were, exactly?”

“He is Tony Stark,” Mantis says helpfully before Tony can shush her, “but when he is fighting, he is Iron Man.”

The military woman’s eyes widen with recognition. The gold woman knows him now too, if her sudden hand on Tony’s arm and coy demeanor mean anything.

“Zip it, Mantis,” Tony snaps, waving at her to be quiet and using the motion to dislodge gold woman’s hand and subtly angle away from her. He’s not into fucking groupies anymore.

“He fought Thanos with us on Titan,” Mantis continues. “He even wounded Thanos after the rest of us fell.”

Steve finishes rebooting enough to look intrigued. “You didn’t tell us you wounded him,” he says, tone clearly encouraging Mantis to continue.

“Hey, what happened on Titan stays on Titan,” Tony says desperately. He hasn’t talked to anyone about what happened beyond telling them Strange told him they could still win despite the Snap. Steve gets kind of squirrelly when teammates go down in battle.

“And then Thanos stabbed him and he almost died,” Mantis tells Steve with ramping enthusiasm, “so—”

“Whoa, Mantis, story time’s over,” Tony says, stepping forward to shove Steve and Bucky out of this conversation if he has to.

He’s saved when an orange alien with purple hair bumps Mantis. Steve steadies her with a hand on her bare arm, and Mantis’s antennae glow. Suddenly contrite, she tells Steve, “I am sorry. You do not like to think about the times he has died.”

Steve and Bucky get really still.

Tony winces. He is so fucked. He wonders how much trouble the Avengers would be in if he offended military lady and gold socialite lady by turning and running right now. It probably wouldn’t be too big a faux pas for him and T’Challa to smooth over.

Unfortunately, Bucky pins him with a glare before he can make a strategic retreat. “Times he died?” Bucky says dangerously.

That’s all the warning Tony gets before Bucky’s metal arm shoots out and drags Tony across their little circle—which Tony very much regrets crashing, goddammit, all he wanted was a few hilarious minutes of throwing Steve off his game—and clamps itself around his shoulders. Tony stumbles into Bucky’s side and steadies himself with a grip on the back of his Wakandan tac jacket (a gorgeous blue that Tony matches clothes for Bucky to all the time; that color makes his eyes pop), resigned to being leashed until Bucky either gets annoyed with him again, or finds holding onto both Steve and Tony too unwieldy and lets one of them (Tony) go.

Tony waves off the grilling he knows is coming. “Let’s not—”

“It would have been a good death,” Drax assures Bucky with the gravitas he reserves for combat. “He was magnificent.” He looks at Tony with unbridled pride. “You are like the shape-changing warrior child of a small human and a battleship—”

“Excuse me, small?” Sure, Drax is big, but Tony is not small.

Steve snorts, which is better than that shadowed look in his eyes Tony was just treated to, and Bucky chuffs a quiet laugh and squeezes Tony closer for half a second, which, enjoying Tony’s pain is also an improvement, never let it be said Tony doesn’t take hits for people he cares about.

But then Drax ruins it by finishing, far too earnestly, “—with the eyes and buttocks of an angel.”

In Tony’s periphery, Steve clears his throat, and Bucky looks distinctly less amused. Tony doesn’t know how it’s possible to routinely have sex with either man and still be a prude, but somehow these two have managed.

“Even marked as he is, I am surprised you let him out of your sight,” Drax tells them. “Some people are shameless. Like this gold whore.”

The gold woman pulls herself ramrod straight and somehow manages to look down her nose at Drax despite being a foot shorter. “I will not be insulted by a primitive life form,” she spits. “Hear me, Guardian, saving the universe will not save you from the Sovereign’s reckoning!” She’s about to storm off when she pauses and turns back to Tony, Bucky, and Steve. “The Sovereign welcome the contributions of exceptional beings to our gene pool. If you are amenable to sharing DNA…” She leaves them with a room number and a sultry smirk.

The way Bucky jerks forward during her proposition makes Tony glad Steve’s dating a man strong enough to hold him back. He’s heard the ‘fondue’ story, seen how jealous Steve gets when people flirt with Bucky, and thanks all that is science that he’s not going to have to do damage control because Steve punched an alien lady for hitting on his boyfriend.

The military lady startles then, apologizes, and beats a hasty retreat while saying something about fixing rooms.

Tony doesn’t think anything of her excuse until he’s stopped on the way out of the party a few hours later and told there was a mistake with his room that the Nova Prime has personally rectified, and his belongings have already been moved to the bonded suite, and the attendant has been tasked with personally taking Tony up there.

The new suite is nice. Tony opens the double doors to the bedroom and finds an emperor-sized bed and a gorgeous view of Xandar at night through what he was assured on the way up is one-way glass. He hasn’t seen his suitcase yet, but there’s a good bet it’s in a closet, probably through door number two. Tony strips down to his red boxer-briefs and Stucky t-shirt and takes door number one into the bathroom. He’s relieved himself, washed up, and figured out the bathing setup when he hears voices moving through his suite.

Tony’s waiting with a repulsor trained on the bedroom doors when they open on—

“Bucky?”

“Tony?”

Tony sighs and recalls the nanoparticles to his RT. Bucky sheathes his knife, eyes intent on the nanoparticles pouring back up Tony’s arm and under his t-shirt. When they’ve disappeared, Bucky jerks and finishes crossing the threshold. He’s in an undershirt that make his shoulders and biceps look edible, and carrying his and Steve’s uniform jackets, which he tosses unerringly over the back of a chair on the far side of the room.

When Steve enters a few moments later, he flushes at Tony’s state of undress and looks away like he’s preserving Tony’s modesty. Steve tells Bucky and the floor near Tony’s feet, “I’ve just been told this is one of their marriage suites. For married…people. Of indeterminate number.”

“They think we’re married?” Bucky asks, motioning between the three of them. When Steve nods, Bucky frowns. “You ’n me I get, Stevie,” he says, “we were attached at the hip all night—everyone knows we’re together. That don’t explain Tony, though.”

Steve scratches the back of his neck like a sexy column of awkwardness. “The three of us were attached at the hip for the last two hours of the party, Buck.” He risks a glance at Tony’s chest and inevitably freezes for a glorious few seconds before adding, “And apparently only married people wear each other’s marks here.”

“What? Wait, my shirt? Really?” Tony steadies himself by half sitting on the end of the bed as he mentally cycles through the night. “Huh. That explains a lot, actually. Not just from those last few hours, either.” Drax calling that gold lady a shameless whore was only the most obvious incident, he realizes.

“What happened before you ran into us?” Steve asks, sounding preemptively offended.

Tony isn’t really listening, busy taking stock of the numerous ways he cockblocked himself with his shirt over the course of the night. “I mean,” he mutters to himself, “I thought I got uninvited to that orgy for shaking his hand, but it was my shirt.”

“Orgy?” Steve says testily.

Tony snaps to attention, then realizes the issue and relaxes with a roll of his eyes. “They weren’t all orgies,” he says, hoping that’ll be less of an affront to Steve’s sensibilities, “but people definitely stopped telling me their room numbers after Bucky decided I needed a chaperone.”

“You need a keeper,” Bucky growls.

Tony snorts. “Well I’ve got two now, apparently.” He grins up at them, and it’s only sixty percent press smile. “Who knew all I needed to land you two was a t-shirt? This place is great.” He tries to ignore the phantom pain in his chest because it’s not true, he’s not theirs and they’re not his, and he’s going to have to pretend he’s not pining and humiliated until he’s cleared this up and been given his own room where he can wallow, alone and lonely, in his private devastation.

Because he’ll be alone—it’s too late to un-cockblock himself, and half those propositions have probably already played out. He could’ve had so much consolation alien sex tonight! He’d be willing to have a one-night stand for the first time in ten years if it’s with an alien. Probably. It wouldn’t be as fun as sex with someone he cares about—he learned that dating Pepper—but scientific exploration might make up for some of the emptiness one night stands have left him with ever since Afganistan.

He startles when Steve sits beside him to take off his boots. After a moment, Bucky sits on Tony’s other side and joins him. Their movements are jerky, somewhere between pensive and angry, and they’re quiet enough Tony worries he’s pissed them off. What if they thought he was implying their affection was as cheap as a t-shirt, or that he’d somehow bought them, like they were things and not their own people?

Before he can work himself up too much, Steve asks, far too casually, “Any other clothes we should worry about you wearing while we’re here?”

Tony knows it’s not what he means, but he still feels the familiar sting of the assumption he’s still a playboy, the assumption that he would ever cheat on anyone, and “Worried your husband’s a cheating bastard?” comes out a little too readily, a little too bitterly.

“Tony—”

“Let’s find out what my suitcase says,” he cuts in. He thinks Bucky reaches for him, but Tony’s up and grabbing his discarded clothing on a mission to check his suitcase, which is, in fact, in the giant closet behind door number two. He can hear the susurrus of soft, intense discussion as he folds his dirty clothes on top of his shoes and unzips his luggage.

It’s a mixed bag. A lot of nice mix-n-match outfits, and he’s good for formalwear, but most of his casual shirts are Avengers and band merch. He can probably get away with some of it, but the Avengers hoodies and shirts and socks will be recognizable even out here in the Nova Empire. A lot of it is Captain America and Winter Soldier gear—because their reactions are the best and Tony’s a masochist—but not all of it, and it’s not like he can wear their stuff anyway seeing as, you know, they’re not actually married. He’s down about two-fifths of his outerwear, maybe even a third if things aren’t passable when worn inside-out. Normally he’d just go buy new clothes, but his money is useless on Xandar. Worse, he’s the group clotheshorse, so there’s probably not a lot he can borrow from his friends. If Drax and Quill can’t hook him up with a laundry service, then…

“I’m fucked,” he realizes. Thankfully, his racing thoughts coping mechanism kicks in. Tony follows it down the rabbit hole with a frown. “Wait, no, I’m severely un-fucked. How am I married to so many people I haven’t fucked? Not fucking one spouse would be a miracle, so just this suitcase is proof of, what, twelve? fifteen miracles? Huh. Don’t saints only need three? I think you only need three to be a saint. Did I just qualify for sainthood? Can atheists do that? Hey, Steve!” he yells. “You went to church! How many miracles do I need to be a saint?”

“I’m not Catholic,” Steve says from the doorway, practically on top of him.

Tony’s heart seizes. How does someone that big move that quietly? He glares up at Steve. Well, he starts to and gets derailed, because fuck does Steve look good in that tight white t-shirt and those blue boxer-briefs that look painted on, goddamn. Tony wants to bury his nose in the generous package bulging the front, wants to bite the cords of Steve’s thick thighs, cup that skinny waist. Steve’s voice is amused when he startles Tony—again!—a few long moments later with, “My eyes are up here.”

Tony’s glad he’s mostly lost his sense of sexual shame, because he automatically snaps back, “Yeah, well my knees are down here—” he raps the plush carpet, “—and your dick’s in my sightline. You brought this on yourself, Cap.”

Steve has not lost his sense of sexual shame. Or his ability to be tongue-tied. Or his ability to turn bright red while his brain effectively blue-screens. Bucky has to shove him through the doorway to get into the closet himself with his own discarded clothes, and then Tony’s treated to a similarly distracting view, albeit Bucky’s boxer-briefs are black and oh shit he’s shirtless, can Tony please lick from those abs up to those dusky nipples? And get his mouth on that collarbone? Is it weird to want to nibble the cleft of someone’s chin? And taste the smug smirk you simultaneously want to smack off someone’s face? “Steve’s right—you’re a jerk,” he tells Bucky primly.

“Eh, you like it though,” Bucky says, and cards his fingers through Tony’s hair on his way to his own suitcase instead of ruffling Tony’s hair like an asshole.

Tony sighs contentedly at the touch and doesn’t disagree. He wants to get ready to go to sleep and curl up in that gigantic bed with these men he could happily spend all day talking about nothing at all with, sex or no sex, but someone needs to say it, and it should probably be him since this isn’t actually going to be his bedroom. “I need to change shirts. And put on pants. We need to explain that there’s been a mistake so I can get out of your hair and you can sleep.”

“I don’t think any of that’s necessary,” Steve says, now mouthwateringly shirtless. He curves a firm hand around the back of Tony’s neck, slots a leg against his back, and leans over him, swathes of bare skin tantalizingly close (how does Steve smell so good? Is that aftershave, soap, what? He smells fresh and wholesome, like clean linen with a hint of sharpness)…then deftly swipes Tony’s toiletry bag from the suitcase and withdraws, carries it with his and Bucky’s into the bathroom like his touch didn’t just send lust pooling low in Tony’s gut.

Tony gapes after him. Gets distracted by the play of muscles in Steve’s back and pert ass as he walks. Remembers himself when Steve vanishes into the bathroom. “How is none of that necessary?” he yells.

Bucky is laughing at Tony because Bucky is, as previously stated, a jerk, but Tony forgives him immediately because he’s gone full Brooklyn when he says, “You were right, ya know. You never do get used to that level’a sexy. But if you want some tips on how to function when Steve’s walkin’ around with that ass’a his…” He flashes Tony a shit-eating grin and closes his suitcase.

Not to be outdone, Tony leers back and tells him, “Actually, I prefer exposure therapy. I’m a hands-on kinda guy.”

That was either the right answer or the absolute wrong one, if Bucky’s wicked expression and drawled “’S’at right?” are anything to go by. He slinks over and drops to his knees behind Tony, slides his big, vibranium hand across Tony’s shirt to rest over the mark that got them into this mess, and pulls Tony flush against the hard, muscled plane of his chest. His warmer hand drags Tony’s hips against his in a quick, dirty grind.

Tony’s breath hitches. He grounds himself with a hand on Bucky’s metal wrist and fingers splayed across Bucky’s thigh. He’s hyperaware of each point of contact as Bucky’s electric touches build on Steve’s and send ripples of pleasure down his spine and ass and gut, all streams leading straight to his dick. Bucky’s is firming up against him. Tony feels the hollow inside him waiting to be filled, and his ass clenches with the sudden, consuming desire to be fucked. When Bucky noses behind Tony’s ear, Tony is abruptly so sensitized there he can feel the scrape of eyelashes across the fine hairs of his neck. He doesn’t realize he’s tilted his head to give Bucky more room to play until Bucky uses it.

As if what he’s already done hasn’t caught Tony’s breath, set his heart thundering, and filled his body with a sensual buzz, Bucky strokes up Tony’s torso and then back down to cup his rapidly filling dick.

Tony tenses—and then melts, a low, moaned “Fuck,” rumbling up from his throat. His eyelids dip as all of his focus shifts to Bucky behind him, holding him.

“Good boy,” Bucky breathes into his neck.

Tony’s soft gasp and tremble at the praise earns him a kiss. He can feel Bucky’s smile, feels it widen when his hands spasm because Bucky’s agile fingers are teasing along Tony’s length.

“You want exposure, doll?” Bucky purrs. “Keep the shirt ’n come to bed. Me ’n Stevie’ll give you all the hands-on exposure you can handle.”

Tony can’t help the way his hips jerk at the image, can’t quite stifle the mewl that bursts high in his throat.

Bucky nuzzles Tony like he wants to find and capture that sound. “We’ll be so good to you, baby,” he croons into the sensitive shell of Tony’s ear, “treat you so good you’ll wanna wear our marks all over the goddamn universe. We’ll be the best husbands, you’ll see.” He seals this promise with a kiss—then lifts his face away and removes his hand from Tony’s dick. “Ain’t that right, Stevie?”

Tony’s head snaps around to find Steve dropping to a crouch beside them and taking Bucky’s hand. The way Steve kisses Bucky’s wrist feels just as intimate and intense to Tony as Bucky’s hand had felt around his dick.

“That’s right, Buck,” Steve says. He runs a big, strong hand up the inside of Tony’s thigh and then raises it to twine with Bucky’s over their joined mark on Tony’s chest. He leans over Tony’s shoulder and kisses Bucky then, wet and sloppy, beside Tony’s ear.

The sound makes Tony’s dick throb, sends tingles through his balls as he imagines how hungry for each other they must look. He’s had orgasms blindfolded and tied down with nothing but sound and touch to get him there, and he wants to see them but he knows he wouldn’t need to for them to wind him up and wear him out. When the kiss breaks and Steve shifts back into Tony’s desperate line of sight, his lips are kiss-swollen and red, his eyes dark, his hair fingered a little wild by Bucky’s grip. Steve’s eyes fix on Tony’s lips and Tony licks them, subconsciously preparing for the kisses he craves. Steve’s eyes track the movement, and he leans in.

The kiss he gives Tony is firm but frustratingly, teasingly chaste. The way he nibbles Tony’s bottom lip as he pulls back, however, is not. He strokes Tony’s jaw as he stands. “Since we all got married today—”

His words falter as his thumb drifts across Tony’s lips and Tony opens for it, sucks it inside. Tony laves the calloused pad of Steve’s thumb with his tongue, licks the seam of the nail bed while staring hungrily at the long line of Steve’s hard dick—once more at eye level, but now thick and heavy in the briefs straining to contain it.

Then Steve presses on Tony’s tongue, pushes his thumb in to the second knuckle with eyes so knowing and intent that Tony’s lust-spiraling brain is forced to reevaluate and reject its long-held opinion that Steve is a prude.

Tony’s definitely a fan of this sexy new development. He sucks on Steve greedily, swallows as Steve’s fingers pet his throat from both inside and out, and doesn’t realize he’s incrementally rolling his hips until Bucky runs a gentling hand up his side—then stokes the fire by repeating the gesture under Tony’s shirt, skin to heated skin.

Steve grins down at him, at them, the soft, fond expression belied by the heat in his eyes. When he catches and holds their gazes, his own is hungry. “Tonight’s our wedding night,” he tells them. “Come to bed.”