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You Promised To Always Find Me

Chapter Text

“How’ you doing Tony?”

“’M good…”

“I’m glad baby. Let me know if you need anything.”

Tony just hums and Bucky turns his attention back to the TV. Tony seems to be completely relaxed by now. He had come back from a meeting feeling agitated and stressed, so Bucky had made him put on some soft clothes and lie down on the couch next to him. Tony may not sit on the floor like most subs, but using a solders thigh as pillow seems to be a big favorite with him.

With Tony drifting in and out of awareness, Bucky spends the next hour watching another documentary on World War II while petting his hair and tries not to worry.

Steve has been gone on a mission for close to three weeks now and it’s putting both of them a little on edge. Steve isn’t usually away that long, mostly for his own sake, as being separated from his lovers still causes his anxiety to flare up. This time, however, the mission is very important and they couldn’t take ‘the need for cuddles’, as Director Fury had called it, into account. Still, he was supposed to have been home by now.

It helps a little to know that he has back up. Bucky trusts Steve’s skills, but he is still glad to know that Clint is there too. It is also a big improvement for Clint. It’s the first time since the Battle of New York that he has volunteered to be away from Phil for more than a few days. It’s been two years and while they all agree that becoming the Avengers was a good thing, both for them and for the city, none of them appreciate the way it happened, especially Phil’s coma and what it did to Clint.

Bucky would have liked to have gone with Steve himself, but he knows that him being safe with Tony is doing a lot to keep Steve calm while he is far away. It also means that Bucky is there to take care of Tony. It’s not as much fun without Steve, but they have had some pleasurable experiences with it that has led to some probably very distracting texts and pictures to Steve. But between teasing Steve and holding him, Bucky knows what has most appeal.

They all work for S.H.I.E.L.D. now, technically, but with the fame they have gotten and the power gathered on the team, they have since agreed that they are not comfortable with Fury pulling their strings, knowing what he has done in the past. So, while they still work closely with S.H.I.E.L.D., Steve is the one to decide whether they accept a mission or not. Their contracts say ‘independent contractor’ and they are all more comfortable with the freedom it gives them. It means they can accept mission abroad without compromising US relations.

There is another reason Bucky is glad they no longer work specifically for S.H.I.E.L.D. Something about it has started to make Bucky feel uncomfortable, reminding him of his time in captivity. When he is at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters he feels like someone is watching him. He hasn’t told Steve, not in so many words, since it’s still just a feeling he can’t explain, but he keeps his eyes open.

This mission is not much different from what they have done before, but for the first time, they have a solid lead on HYDRA and Steve is doing everything he can to track it down. That means turning off all communication, both with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Bucky and Tony through the private communicator Tony made for them. The communicator might have been made for Steve’s benefit, but the truth is that they have all needed it at some point.

Tony was still dozing on the couch when the documentary ended, so Bucky changed to watching the news while petting the brunette’s hair. Nothing that could be related to Steve and the mission and Bucky had learned to take no news as good news a long time ago.

Just as Bucky is deciding if he should start bringing Tony back, the engineer stretches with a long yawn and opens his eyes. They are still a little hazy, but his smile is clear and bright.

“Hey Buck…”

“Hi sweetheart. You comin’ back to me now?” Bucky asks, gently caressing Tony’s face.

“Slowly.” He answers and closes his eyes again for a moment.

“Take your time.” Bucky says and leans down to kiss him. “We have time before we need to leave.”

Tony rolls unto his back and smiles wickedly up at Bucky. “How much time?”

“Not that much, regretfully. We’ll end up keeping the others waiting.” Bucky says, tugging gently in Tony’s hair, making the smaller man flail a little.

“But we could be quick. Really quick Buck.” Tony pleads. Bucky picks him up by the shoulders and pulls him close in a firm hug. “I want to take my time with you sweetheart, you know that.”

Before Tony can answer, Bucky pulls him in for a kiss. It’s long and filthy, Bucky’s tongue exploring Tony’s mouth like it’s the first time, leaving them both a little breathless. It’s a horrible tease, knowing they won’t have time for more before they have to leave, but Bucky can be an asshole like that. Tony whines a little when Bucky lets go of him, his eyes dark with want. “Buuuckyyyyy…”

“How about this?” Bucky says standing up and pulling Tony with him off the couch. “When we get back here, if it’s not too late, we make a video for Steve? He’s been out of radio contact for a while, might be nice for him to have something waiting when he gets back to his phone…”

Tony’s eyes grow as big as his smile. “I like that idea. Do you think he misses us?”

“Baby…” Bucky puts his arms around Tony, letting his hands travel down over his pants. “I miss this ass when I’m at gone for a few hours. Steve has been without it for weeks. Of course he misses us.”

Tony smiles and stands on his toes so he can kiss Bucky. Then he pulls away, suddenly and excitedly. “Oh oh ooh, we should get some pictures too!”

“Don’t you think the video will be enough?” Bucky asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Of all of us, jerk. For Clint too. He must miss me by now.” Tony says with a bright smile. “And maybe Phil a little too. JARVIS can make sure to take some at dinner.”

Bucky smiles tenderly and kisses Tony’s cheek. “That’s a really good idea darling. I think they will be really happy to see us.”

“Well, I am a genius.” Tony says, his smile turning sly.

“We should send them a picture of this afternoon too.” Bucky says. “You were so soft and good for me. I want Steve to see what he is missing out on.”

Tony smile becomes a little shy as he turns towards the nearest wall. “Show me what you’ve got J.”

“Certainly sir.” JARVIS replies as several still images from the surveillance of the room’s flashes up on the wall. Tony hums a little as he scrolls through them. They are mostly the same, Tony lying with his head on Bucky’s thigh, closed eyes and body completely relaxed as Bucky watches TV with a hand in his hair. Tony picks one where Bucky is looking away from his documentary, watching Tony with a gentle smile and so much love that Bucky is almost embarrassed to see it until he sees the way it makes Tony smile. Then he just pulls Tony closer and kisses his hair. “I like that one…”

Despite Bucky’s best efforts, they end up being late. Everybody else is there when they go to the communal kitchen on their shared floor. It has a large kitchen with a big dining table and many chairs, a big movie room with several sofas, soft chairs and pillows for the floor, a well-equipped shooting range and a gym with everything a team of soldiers and assassins could want. Tony had the floor furnished shortly after they all started living in the Tower. With so many of them visiting each other on all times of day, it seemed more inclusive to make a space for everybody. It was easy to find company when you needed it and it left their apartments for more private, naked things.

Within a month of having a shared floor, the team dinners became obligatory for everyone not away on a mission or recovering from an injury. Sometimes they make dinner together, which is how they learned that Clint cannot cook to save his life but Bruce is excellent at making dishes they have never heard of and almost always enjoy.

Tonight, however, they have opted for pizza and Natasha is placing several large boxes on the table when they arrive while Phil and Bruce are finding plates and glasses. Even without Steve and Clint they put away a lot of food, so it takes a while to sort out the pizzas.

While they eat, Tony and Bruce talk about whatever they are working on right now. Most of their work makes little sense to Bucky, but he likes to hear Tony talk about it. He is always so enthusiastic about his inventions. Sometimes Bucky will ask him to explain it a slowly and Tony will spend as long as he needs to make Bucky understand. It doesn’t happen often, because it always ends up taking several hours. He knows Natasha often feels the same with Bruce, so they just smile at each other when this happens.

With Tony rattling off equations for something called ‘nano-tech’, Bucky turns to Phil. “How are you holding up?”

“I manage.” Phil says, smiling a little tiredly. “I’m working too much, but it helps me not worry about them.”

“I know how you feel. But we have to believe they are okay, otherwise we’d have heard something by now.” Bucky says with an encouraging smile. Phil nods. “I know. It’s just… We’ve rarely been apart this long. I know Clint has the suppressant Tony made for him, but I will still feel better when he is back home and I can take care of him.”

No one had liked the idea of the suppressants to begin with, but they were a necessity if Clint was to be away on longer missions. They were an updated version of the ones Tony had used before meeting Bucky and Steve, so they knew they worked and would help him stay balanced for as long as he needed. It was safer if Clint had some with him on missions. The time limit was one of the reasons subs were rarely field agents. Of course, Clint wasn’t like most other subs.

The biggest drawback seemed to be that Clint needs Phil more for a while when he gets back, but since Phil wants to stay close to him after any length of separation anyway, it had not been a problem yet.

“If they succeed in dealing a significant blow to HYDRA, it will be worth it.” Phil says quietly. Bucky nods. It might have been years, but none of them would ever forget what HYDRA did to Clint. To all of them.

“I’m sorry, it’s…” Phil shrugs. “Can we talk about something else? They are safe and they will be home soon.”

“They will.” Bucky agrees with a smile. “Tony told JARVIS to take some pictures of us tonight, to send to them. Let them know what they are missing out on.”

“That’s a good idea.” Phil smiles. “It will be a nice surprise.”

They don’t talk more of HYDRA after that, moving instead to happier topics. It makes all of them worry less for a little while. If they couldn’t do this, they would never be able to do their jobs.

When they go to the elevator afterwards, Tony pulls out his phone and starts finding pictures. In addition to the one from earlier in the day, he finds several of the entire group eating and laughing, one of Bucky kissing Tony’s cheek, some of Bucky and Natasha in a heated discussion about ammunition and one of Phil alone, smiling wistfully. Bucky knows that one is just for Clint and he puts an arm around Tony, so he can kiss his hair.

“J., have these ready to send off as soon as we are done with the video.” Tony says, putting his phone away again.

“Certainly sir.” The AI responds. If it has any feelings about the contents of the video, they will never know it.

“Now…” Tony says, turning to Bucky, just as the doors open. “I think you said something about missing my ass and taking your time with me…”

“Did I really?” Bucky smiles and grabs Tony’s ass with both hands. He easily lifts the smaller man and Tony wraps his legs around the soldier’s waist, his eyes already much darker than before.

At some point it was probably difficult for Bucky to walk from the elevator to the bedroom carrying Tony and kissing him so deeply that opening his eyes somehow seemed like betrayal, but they have done it so often by now that it’s a cake walk.

In the bedroom, he throws Tony on the bed with a smile. “Get undressed.” It’s not a command, it never is with Tony, but that doesn’t stop Tony from obeying as quickly as possible. Bucky pulls off his shirt and throws it on the floor. Clean up is the last thing on his mind right now.

“J., you better be recording this.” Tony huffs, kicking his pants off. For once, there is no answer, but a light blinks and they know JARVIS heard him. Bucky prefers not having the AI talk to them while they are having sex, even if they are filming it.

“Gonna make you look so pretty for Steve…” Bucky growls when he is naked and crawls into the bed.

“Then do it.” Tony teases, lying on his back and licking his lips very slowly as he watches Bucky come closer. Bucky grabs his ankles, holding them to the bed as he starts kissing a hot trail from Tony’s feet, up along his legs to his hips and stomach, over his chest to his neck before claiming his mouth in a long, demanding kiss. He is on top of Tony now, holding him down with his hands and his weight. Underneath him, Tony moans into his mouth and grinds his hips up into Bucky, making both of them pant.

“So fucking gorgeous Tony… Fuck, you are so perfect…” Bucky gasps, breathless and flushed. Tony moans again, panting a little as Bucky slides against him, warm and hard.

“Bucky… Bucky, please…” Tony grabs at his skin, nails leaving red marks next to the scars.

“I know… I know baby… Turn around, get on your knees and hands for me…” Bucky whispers after a moment, pulling back from Tony. He does look beautiful like this with hair ruffled from Bucky’s fingers and body flushed. His eyes are so dark.

Bucky reaches into the nightstand next to the bed, grabbing the bottle inside while Tony gets on all fours on the bed, face turned towards the camera in the wall.

“Look at this Steve… So eager and willing…” Bucky slicks up his fingers, running a hand over Tony’s ass, teasingly. “You gotta miss this by now, huh? You must miss the way he feels…”

Sliding the first finger in slowly, he feels the way Tony clenches around him for a moment. Bucky runs a hand over his back soothingly until he can feels his lover’s body relaxing. “There we go… Breathe for me Tony… Let me be good to you…”

Tony hums quietly as Bucky starts slowly working him open. He does take his time, making Tony beg and moan with need. He is shivering slightly and jerks uncontrollably when Bucky crooks his fingers and hits exactly the right spot.

“Bucky… Come on Buck… I’m ready… I… I need… I need more…” Tony begs, his arms and legs shaking.

“I know what you need…” Bucky says, trying to keeps his voice even through his own raging desire. He removes his fingers and Tony whimpers a little at the loss of contact. Even putting on the condom seems to take too long and as soon as Bucky has slicked himself up, he moves back to Tony, pressing into him slowly. Tony makes the most wonderful sound as Bucky pushes in as deep as he can.

“Look at him, baby. Let Steve see how good you are for me…” Bucky says, turning Tony’s face towards the camera. It’s for Tony’s sake as much as Steve’s. Tony thrives on praises and he really loves when one of them praises him in front of the other. “He is so wonderful Stevie. He feels so good around me, so tight and warm.”

Tony takes a shuttering breath, his body relaxing around Bucky.

“So fucking good Tony…” Bucky mumbles, putting his left arm around Tony’s chest and pulling him up so Tony’s back is pressed against his chest. Bucky thrusts once and Tony moans, reaching out to his right unconsciously.

“See that Stevie? He misses you…” Bucky pants, knowing that Steve would normally be next to them for Tony to grab. “We miss you… We want you here…”

He starts moving in earnest, holding Tony close with his arms around the brunette’s chest, feeling every time he hits just right in the way Tony’s body jolts with pleasure.

“Yes… Steve… Want… Want you here…” Tony gasps. “Want to touch you… Oh God Bucky, yes... Just like that… Just like… Ah…”

Bucky bites into the soft skin on Tony’s neck, knowing the mark will be visible tomorrow and deliberately placing it so the edge will be visible under the edge of Tony’s shirt collar.

Tony is breathing fast, making those noises that mean he is close and Bucky is not going to hold on much longer, so he turns his face to the camera.

“Are you touching yourself Stevie? I bet you are. Watching something this perfect, how could you not? God, I want to see that… When you get home, we have a lot of catching up to do… How are you doing it, hm? Slow and sweet?” Bucky asks, grabbing Tony’s cock with his left hand, jerking him off slowly. Tony moans and presses into Bucky, chasing the pleasure. “Or fast and desperate from being alone for so long?” Bucky moves his hand faster, making Tony reach back and grab his hair to get something to hold on to. Him pulling it only makes Bucky move faster. “Come for me. Both of you.”

Tony arches in Bucky’s arms, his entire body clenching around the soldier when he comes. Bucky holds him close and thrusts a few more times before he looses it too, holding Tony flush to his chest as he tips over the edge.

Tony is pliant and boneless in his arms in a way that tells Bucky he is comfortably under and won’t really be more help tonight. Bucky kisses his neck tenderly before looking straight at the wall where he knows the camera is.

“We are fine, Steve. We are safe and we are taking care of each other. But we miss you. So go kill those HYDRA assholes and get back where you belong, here with us. We’ll be waiting.” Bucky says firmly, keeping eye contact for a moment before speaking again. “Cut it there, JARVIS and make sure to add it to the pictures Tony found when you send it to Steve.”

“I will make sure Captain Rogers does not miss any of it.” The AI replies. It’s a little odd to know that the AI is aware of them having sex (and watching it? Does the camera count as JARVIS’ eyes?), but Bucky has learned not to care about it.

He gently carries Tony to the bathroom to clean them a little before going to bed. Tony just hums softly, snuggling closer to Bucky as soon as he gets the chance.

Chapter Text

Steve is running.

Steve is running very fucking fast.

Steve is running very fucking fast to avoid the explosion and hail of bullets behind him.

“On you left Captain.” Clint shouts and Steve throws the shield without thinking. It slams into an oncoming assailant and knocks him down before spinning back to Steve.

24 HOURS AGO

“How long are we staying Captain?” Clint asks, throwing his bag on the rickety bed in the small motel room.

“Just until we’ve rested and restocked our supplies.” Steve says, sitting on the other bed. It smells moldy and there are stains on the bedspread he tries not to think too much about. It’s cheap and dirty, not a place where you expect to find the world famous Avengers and that’s exactly why they are there. Keeping a low profile has grown a little harder since becoming the Avengers, but they still have a trick or two up their sleeves from a lifetime as spies.

“I’ll go shopping when it gets dark out.” Clint says, closing his eyes and curling up on the bed. Steve is not surprised. It’s been a long couple of weeks and they need to grab any rest they can get. The motel room should be safe, but they can’t really take any chances, so Steve stays awake, going through their information and planning their next move.

What they have learned so far is very worrying. If they are right, they need to get this information back to the Tower as soon as possible. They can’t risk sending it, they haven’t sent any messages since the mission began, even if they have received a few messages. It’s safer. They need to be sure first and they will hopefully learn the truth when they leave the motel.

A few hours later, Clint wakes up and leaves to go shopping. Steve stays, keeping an eye on their things. There is nothing more he can do to plan, so he finds his phone and turns it on. Mostly, it off, even if Tony claims it’s non-traceable and un-hackable, but better safe than sorry. There are a few messages waiting, texts and voice mails from Bucky and Tony. There is also a video and Steve is at once very glad to be alone. The first time they send him a video he had no idea what to expect and opened it with Clint in the room. When he had realized what it was, he had blushed so hard he felt like he could die from it and Clint had laughed until he fell from his chair before leaving with a wink, claiming he needed to get some air. Steve was still not over that embarrassment, so to be sure he goes to the bathroom and locks the door.

He barely makes it halfway through the video before he has to open his pants and free his straining cock. He might be a disciplined soldier, but he is still only human and it’s been three weeks.

Tony looks so pretty for him. Bucky is holding him up, making sure Steve can see everything. Seeing them like this, knowing they did it for him, it makes Steve feel lightheaded with desire. Much as he wants to be there with them, there is something about this that makes him hot all over.

“See that Stevie? He misses you… We miss you… We want you here…” Bucky’s tinned voice says as Tony reaches for the empty air beside him and Steve’s breath hitches. He is stroking himself slowly, wanting to see al of it, but unable to keep still. God, he misses them too. He wants nothing more than to be back home, to be with them.

“Yes… Steve… Want… Want you here… Want to touch you…” Tony rambles, eyes half closed, lost in pleasure.

“I want to be there too baby…” Steve whispers, uncaring that they can’t hear him. “I want you so bad…”

“Are you touching yourself Stevie?” Bucky asks on the video and, oh God, that’s just… Bucky knows him so well, knows just what Steve likes to hear. He watches Bucky grab Tony, matching his own strokes to the way Bucky’s metal hand moves, slowly first and then faster.

“Come for me. Both of you.” Bucky says, and Steve might as well have been a sub, obeying with a gasp and gripping his phone tightly. Catching his breath, Steve watches Bucky come and then hold Tony tight. Tony looks dazed, so soft and uncaring of anything but the safety in Bucky’s arms. It makes Steve’s heart ache not to be there.

“We are fine, Steve.” Bucky says then, looking straight at him through the camera. “We are safe and we are taking care of each other. But we miss you. So go kill those HYDRA assholes and get back where you belong, here with us. We’ll be waiting.”

Steve swallows hard when the video ends, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. God, he needs to get home. He needs to get this mission done and get home to his lovers.

Closing the video, he sees another attachment and opens it. It’s pictures this time, not just of Bucky and Tony, but of all his friends. He smiles, flipping through them and pauses for a moment on the picture of Phil. Clint will be so happy to see that. He saves the pictures, making sure not to mix them with the video and puts the phone away before getting into the shower. The water is lukewarm at best and there is almost no pressure to it, but it still feels good to clean the dirt off.

He keeps it short, both because he thinks Clint will be back soon and because a cold shower is not really something he wants right now. Getting out he stops by the mirror, looking at himself. His hair has grown long during the three weeks away and he has grown a beard, partially to hide his face and make him harder to recognize. It definitely looks different. He is curios about what Bucky and Tony will say when they see him.

The door opens while he is getting dressed. There is a slight shuffle and then a voice calls out. “You hiding, Cap?”

“Just getting decent.” Steve replies, stepping out from the bathroom as he pulls the shirt down. Clint smiles from groceries he is laying out on his bed. “Can’t have Captain America being indecent. What would people think?”

“Hopefully no one will ever know. Did you get everything?” Steve asks, walking over to him. Clint nods. “Yeah, I think so. We should be set for the next few days now.”

“Good.” Steve gets his phone out. “Tony sent some pictures.”

“Ooh…” Clint smirks, raising an eyebrow. “Should I leave again?”

Steve huffs and avoids his eyes. “Not those kinds of pictures.” He hands the phone over to Clint and watches his smile soften as he scrolls through them. When he pauses and his eyes gets a little misty, Steve knows what picture he has found.

“I’ll take a round, see if anything odd is going on.” Steve says, walking to the door.

“Yeah… Okay…” Clint says. His voice is breaking a little and he doesn’t look up from the phone. Steve quietly leaves the room.

Outside, Steve pulls his hood up and stuffs his hands deep in the pockets of his hoodie. It’s windy, but not really cold. He walks around the motel, looking for anything that might point to HYDRA having found them, but doesn’t see any. He feels restless and his thoughts keep drifting from the task at hand.

Even if he is less focused than he should be, the only thing he finds is a man ushering a woman who is obviously not his wife into one of the other motel rooms.

He notices the first twitching when he reaches for the door to their room. It’s faint still, but if he has started twitching, he is going to get worse soon.

Grabbing the handle firmly, he makes sure to open the door loudly, giving Clint a warning should he need one.

Clint is sitting on his bed when Steve enters. Their supplies are packed away and even if his eyes are a little red, he smiles. “Anything suspicious out there?”

“No, nothing more than you would expect.” Steve says, locking the door before going to his own bed. “We should get some rest. I think we’ll find them soon.”

“You go first. I had a nap earlier.” Clint says, still smiling. What he doesn’t say is that he might not be able to sleep right now. Steve nods, giving him the time he needs, and goes to bed. His sleep is restless and filled with half formed dreams. Knowing that Tony and Bucky are together makes it easier to be away from them, but it’s still hard, especially when he has to sleep alone.

Around midnight Clint wakes him up and Steve takes the next watch. From the way Clint is moving in the bed, his sleep is as disturbed as Steve’s was. Sleeping on missions is never fun.

By dawn, Steve has to grab one hand with the other to keep them from twitching and it’s hard for him to focus. He had really hoped to avoid this.

He wakes Clint up a little later, having prepared their breakfast and made coffee. Clint smiles gratefully and eats quickly. Steve tries to eat, but he feels too restless to be hungry.

“You okay there, Cap?” Clint asks, looking at him carefully.

“I’m fine.” Steve says briskly. “We should get ready to leave.”

”Listen, Steve…” Clint starts.

”It’s Captain Rogers when we are in the field.” Steve cuts him off, a little harsher than he meant to.

”And it’s Steve when my friend is being a self sacrificial asshole. You’re twitching. Did you think I wouldn’t notice? Were you just going to hide it?” Clint says, getting up from his bed so he can walk over to Steve, kneeling to get at eyelevel with him.

“I’ll be fine.” Steve repeats, balling his hands into fists to keep them still.

“You won’t.” Clint says, pausing for a moment. Then he seems to chance tactics. “We have a mission to complete Steve. You are not at your best like this. You are unfocused and uncoordinated. What happens if you drop in the middle of a fight? There is an easy fix to this and we can spare a few hours to make you feel better…”

”I’m not… I couldn’t do that to Phil…” Steve says, not looking at Clint. It’s hard enough without seeing his imploring eyes, the way he is practically already on his knees.

”Phil will understand. I’ve gone under for Natasha on missions, he understands that.” Clint explains patiently.

”That’s… That’s different… You two were together and sometimes you need…” Steve stops. Clint is still a little protective about his designation.

”And right now, you need something. Steve, listen to me. Phil is your friend. He will understand. You promised him to take care of me, right? Well, I promised to take care of you. To Tony. And Bucky. And Phil. He will be mad at me if I don’t.” Clint says. His voice is pleading.

”I can manage.” Steve says, still avoiding his eyes.

”No, you can’t.” Clint’s voice is firm as he places a gentle hand on Steve’s arm. ”I’ve been there Steve. You need help. Let me help you. I promise, Phil won’t be mad. You are his favorite. Hell, sometimes I think, if you offered, he would leave me behind and join your little soldier-club upstairs.”

Steve smiles and finally looks at Clint. Not because of the joke, but because Clint is able to make that joke. Because Clint is finally in a place where he knows that Phil would not leave him for anything, so it’s safe to joke about it.

“I had hoped to avoid this…” Steve says quietly. It’s completely unpredictable. Most of the time he can go for weeks without feeling anything, but being apart from Tony for so long is taking its toll on him. They have been gone longer than they planned.

“We can’t always get what we want. It’ll be fine.” Clint unclips the suppressant band from his arm and shivers for a moment before putting it on the bed. “I should go under pretty easily. The suppressants are… Working, but it’s… It’s like wanting an ice cold, foamy beer and getting one that is flat and lukewarm. Technically the same, but really not…”

Steve knows Clint is only talking to divert their attention from the fact that what they are doing is far more intimate than anything they have done before and he is grateful for it. Seeing Clint get on his knees in front of him is making Steve feel a tingling along his spine. He does need this. Doms need subs as much as the other way around, even if they are often better at hiding it.

“Okay, so… I… What should I do?” Steve lifts his hands, but keeps it at a distance.

“Just pet my hair and tell me I’m doing good… You’ve done this before…” Clint gets comfortable, leaning against Steve’s leg. “Just… Um… Don’t touch my neck…”

“Okay… Sure…” Steve carefully puts a hand on Clint’s hair, stroking it gently. “How’s this?”

“That’s good… Slow is good…” Clint says, resting his head on Steve’s knee. It feels different than with Tony, not just because Clint is on the floor. They both have strong bonds with other people, making it harder for them to get a connection.

“Thank you for this Clint…” Steve says silently, still petting his hair. “I… I know I’m stubborn… I’m really glad you are helping me… You are right, I would have endangered the mission like this… You… You’re a good friend… You are doing good… Being so good for me…”

It takes a longer than usually, but slowly Steve feels the way Clint is relaxing against him, his body lax and soft against his legs. It makes Steve relax as well. His hands are no longer twitching and he doesn’t feel restless. He feels at peace.

“Clint?” Steve asks carefully after awhile. “How are you doing?”

“’m good… I’m… Yeah…” Clint mumbles, eyes close. His entire body is leaning on Steve.

“Okay… Good… Just… Just stay under… You’re good…” Steve says. He feels a lot better, but he is still a little insecure about how to handle Clint like this. Unlike Bruce, Clint is not on the floor when they watch moves unless Phil is, so having him go on his knees for Steve feels like a show of trust Steve never expected to see. He wants to make sure he does not do anything to ruin that trust.

In the end, he doesn’t.

HYDRA does, when they break down the door with a small explosion, shaking Clint out of his daze abruptly and violently. It’s a surprise to both of them, but luckily their training has not left them since becoming Avengers, meaning that they both have weapons within reach at all times. Steve quickly picks up the shield, sliding to the floor next to Clint and hiding both of them behind it. Several bullets hit the shield at the same second, but they are safe turtled behind it.

Clint shakes his head, clenches his teeth and pulls out the bow. A focused line appears on his forehead as he takes aim from behind the shield and fires three arrows in the direction of the enemy. There are several pained outcries, but it doesn’t sound lethal.

It was not meant to be. The three arrows explode one after another, leaving their assailants scrambling for cover.

“Go.” Steve yells and they both jump from behind the shield, running through the still confused enemies and out the burning rubble that used to be the door. Steve aims for their car and is almost at the door, when Clint grabs him from behind, throwing both of them to the ground.

The car explodes.

Steve automatically raises the shield, hiding them from the flames and debris.

“Guess we’re running.” Steve mumbles when they get up again, watching the flaming wreck of their car. Behind the flames, several soldiers in black uniforms are moving towards them. Steve and Clint turn at the same time, sprinting away from the now burning motel as another explosion shakes the ground.

Steve is running.

Steve is running very fucking fast.

Steve is running very fucking fast to avoid the explosion and hail of bullets behind him.

“On you left Captain.” Clint shouts and Steve throws the shield without thinking. It slams into an oncoming assailant and knocks him down before spinning back to Steve.

Next to him, Clint fires several arrows behind them, creating yet another explosion to slow down their enemies.

They turn down a small alley, trying to prevent HYDRA from chasing them in cars. It’s not an area they have ever been to before, but they hope that HYDRA hasn’t either and Steve has spent an ungodly amount of time looking at maps of the area. Several small alleys gain them some distance to their followers.

When he is sure no one will see them, Steve leads them into a dead end for a moments pause. Clint is leaning on the wall, gasping for breath as Steve knees behind a dumpster to keep out of sight.

“We can’t… Keep running…” Clint wheezes.

“No, we… We need somewhere to lay low…” Steve looks out from his hiding spot and doesn’t see anyone. He still hears them, far away.

“Safe house?” Clint asks.

“No… If what we’ve learned is true, they might be compromised…” Steve says. They need somewhere no one else knows about, somewhere inconspicuous, somewhere they can be safe and regroup. “I know where we can go.”

“Is it far?” Clint asks, looking exhausted.

“A little.” Steve smiles regretfully. Clint rolls his eyes, but nods and gets up from the wall. Then they start running again.

It’s later afternoon when they arrive at a quaint residential area, having lost HYDRA a few miles back and hoping to get to safety before they get close again. Steve goes to one of the houses and knocks on the door. Clint looks at him questioningly, but doesn’t say anything.

After a beat a handsome black man with kind eyes open the door and smiles surprised. “Hey man…”

“I’m sorry about this. We need a place to lay low.” Steve says. The man raises an eyebrow, but opens the door wider so they can go in. Steve steps in first, seeing the increasing puzzlement on Clint’s face when the archer follows him.

“Clint, this is – “ Steve starts, but Clint interrupts him, still looking confused. “Sam Wilson…”

“Yes.” Steve says, returning the confusion. “You know him?”

“He’s my therapist…” Clint says, looking from Steve to Sam. “How do you know him?”

“I… Um… I used to lap him on my runs…“ Steve looks away, a little embarrassed at himself for showing a stranger up like that. “Every morning for a few months… So I stopped to talk to him one day and we really hit it off… I didn’t know he worked for S.H.I.E.L.D...” Because that could be really bad as things are right now.

“He doesn’t. I asked for someone outside of S.H.I.E.L.D…” Clint says quietly. Steve nods. Bucky’s therapist works for S.H.I.E.L.D., so Steve knows they have good ones for the kind of trauma Clint went through, but the archer must have wanted to get some distance between his therapy and work.

“So is anyone gonna tell me what’s going on?” Sam asks from the door to the living room where he is waiting. “And why the two of you look like you’ve just run out of a burning house?”

“Right… Yeah, sorry…” Steve smiles and follows Sam into the living room. They sit down while Sam gets a pitcher of juice and some glasses. When he sits down, Steve places his folded hands on the table and tries to figure out where to start.

“We are on a mission tracking HYDRA. We were planning our next move in a motel room when they surprised us, blowing our car and sending us running.” Steve explains.

“So why not send for backup or go to the other Avengers?” Sam asks.

“Well, the problem is…” Steve hesitates, judging how much to tell. He does trust Sam, but until a few days ago, he trusted S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. “We think HYDRA might have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. If we contacted them or the Tower, they would find out. Right now it’s important that they don’t figure out how much we know. Any safe house in the area would also let S.H.I.E.L.D. know where we were. We had to go somewhere… Off the books…”

“So I’m off the books?” Sam says, crossing his arms over his chest and raising an eyebrow.

“You are someone one the outside I trust.” Steve says firmly. “We need people we can trust right now.”

“Okay…” Sam leans on over the table. “What do you need?”

“A place to lay low, get some rest and plan out next move. We’ll leave as soon as we can, I don’t want to put you in danger.” Steve says.

“Listen, when Captain America shows up at your door asking for help, you don’t pause to think about the danger. Anything you need.” Sam says seriously. Steve smiles, suddenly feeling much safer. “Thank you Sam.”

Sam just waves his hand, like it’s not even a question. “So, you came from an exploding motel. Do you, maybe, want a shower or something? Some clothes that aren’t burned?”

“That sounds nice. Clint, would you… Clint?” Steve turns to the archer, realizing that he hasn’t spoken since they sat down. Clint is slumped in his chair, staring sightlessly at the table. He seems to be trembling slightly. With a jolt, Steve remembers what they had been doing just before HYDRA attacked. Bringing a sub back so violently is a surefire way to make them drop hard, especially since Clint took off his suppressant band and didn’t get a chance to put it back on.

“Clint, can you look at me?” Steve asks softly, letting a bit of command seep into his voice. After a moment’s hesitation, Clint lifts his head and looks at Steve. He seems dazed and it takes too long before he is able to focus on Steve. ”Hi. How are you feeling?”

“’m fine…” Clint mumbles, swaying a little in the chair.

“You’re not… You’re not fine…” Steve says quietly. He hadn’t noticed that Clint was anything but balanced when they fought and ran and this is really bad. He feels cold at the thought of how much discomfort Clint must have hid during the years where he felt undeserving of comfort. Not for the first time Steve is deeply thankful to Phil for changing that. “You helped me a lot before… Will you let med help you now?”

Clint nods slowly after a moment, his eyes going unfocussed again.

“Sam, is there somewhere we can…” Steve asks, standing up and helping Clint to his feet. Sam gets up and shows them to a door that leads to a small guest bedroom. Sam holds the door as Steve guides Clint to the bed. The archer follows blindly, no longer aware of his surroundings.

Sam closes the door behind them as Steve pulls off his shirt. Skin contact is important right now, even if it makes Steve feel a little awkward. It’s not even like he has never seen Clint without a shirt before. They have showered together after missions. Still, this is so much more personal.

He gently eases Clint out of his gear, making sure to touch his skin at all times. Clint is far away, on the edge of a drop that will be very unpleasant unless Steve can help him down gently.

“You are doing so good Clint… I promise I will tell Phil how good you were when we get back… How you saved me… Just listen to my voice, I’ll take care of you… Just relax and let med help you…” Steve says, speaking softly, as he sits on the bed and guides Clint to rest against him. The marksman lets out a small sight at the skin contact, turning his head towards Steve, his eyes fluttering shut. Steve carefully puts his arms around his friend. “You are going to be okay… You can let go now… I’ll make sure you don’t get disturbed this time… You’re okay… Just rest…”

It goes a lot faster this time. Clint is under before Steve stops speaking, which just proves how far gone he already was. But at least he seems relaxed and comfortable. Steve stays very still, not wanting to disturb him.

Chapter Text

It’s not Phil. Phil would never hold him like this, too stiff and loose at the same time. Phil holds him so tight that he can hardly move, because Clint likes to feel controlled when he is under, but his body is always relaxed. The body behind Clint is ridged and unmoving.

He stays still for a while, allowing his brain to come back online and remember what happened. The mission, going under for Steve, being brought back by an explosion, (which has already made it to the top of his list of things never to do again, thank you very much!) running from HYDRA and going to Sam’s place, for some reason. It gets a little hard to remember after that. Logically, he knows that he must have been falling apart. He began feeling it as soon as the adrenalin started wearing off and that explains why his memories are fuzzy. It also explains why Steve is behind him, holding him a little too stiff and loose at the same time.

“Steve…” He says, his voice still a little uneven.

The body behind him shifts a little. “Hey… Are you… Um…”

“I’m back. I’m… I’m good… Thank you…” Clint says. Steve lets go of him and he sits up, looking around the room. It’s small and cozy. The door is closed, giving them privacy.

“It was my fault.” Steve says. “You went under for me, I… If I hadn’t…”

“Okay, you need to stop right there.” Clint says firmly. “I went under to help you. I don’t regret that. And you took care of me when I needed it, so don’t beat yourself up over that, okay?”

Steve hesitates for a moment, probably debating whether or not he can get away with keeping the guilt, but then he smiles, a careful and shy smile that the world never sees on Captain America. That smile belongs to Steve Rogers. “Okay… Call it even?”

“Let’s.” Clint says as there is a knock on the door and Sam looks in. “You guys done with cuddling yet?”

“Why? Are you jealous?” Clint asks, getting up and pulling his shirt back on before going to give his friend a one-armed hug. “Hey Sam. Sorry for being a little off before.”

Sam just smiles and gives him a pat on the arm. “Compared to what I’ve seen, you were doing just fine.”

“I feel like there should be some confidentiality involved here.” Clint says, grinning. He always liked Sam. He made Clint laugh but never took his shit and never let him hide what he needed to talk about.

“Nah.” Sam shrugs. “I made some dinner. Running from Nazis must build an appetite.”

“Thank you Sam.” Steve says, getting dressed as well. Clint goes to his quiver and opens a small compartment at the bottom, pulling out a spare suppressants band, because Tony is good at contingencies. Putting it on, he feels it work immediately, in a clinical and detached kind of way, doing what it’s supposed to, but not being very comfortable. How Tony got by for years on this, Clint will never understand.

While eating, they explain things in a little more detail to Sam. Because they both know and trust Sam, they agree on telling him most of what they have learned. Something is wrong within S.H.I.E.L.D. and it appears to be connected to HYDRA and something called Project Insight. They have a location where they should be able to get some answers, but they lost most of their stuff in the explosion. Clint is low on arrows and Steve only has his shield.

“So you need help?” Sam says when they are done explaining. He gets up and goes to a cabinet by the wall.

“You’ve already done enough Sam.” Steve says. Sam clearly ignores him, looking through some papers until he finds what he is looking for and hands Steve a folder.

“What’s this?” Steve asks, opening the folder with a confused look on his face.

“Call it a resume.” Sam says.

Steve flips through the folder and looks surprised. “I though you said you were a pilot…”

Sam smiles wickedly. “I never said pilot…”

Steve looks back to the folder, reading something Clint can’t see from his seat on the other side of the table. Then he closes the folder and slides it to Clint. Steve looks at Sam. “Where can we get our hands at one of these things?”

“The last one is at Fort Meade, behind three guarded gates and a 12 inch steel door.” Sam says, clearly thinking it’s a problem.

Clint opens the folder. It’s marked EXO-7 FALCON and is classified. It’s also very, very impressive. Especially one picture catches his attention.

“We don’t need the last one… Not if we can get the first one…” Clint says, sliding the picture back to Steve and Sam, pointing to the side of the pack. There is one very important word.

Stark.

Steve smiles. “Sam, do you have a computer?”

“You got some super secret spy skills that lets you find super secret military equipment on Google?” Sam asks, going to get a laptop from his backpack. He opens it and hands it to Steve, who smiles. “No… But I know my boyfriends password…”

Sam looks surprised and a little confused. Clint smiles and walks over to him. “Tony makes all the prototypes himself and he keeps most of them in warehouses scattered around the state. So if we can find the manifests and locate your EXO-7, we should be able to find a prototype.”

“And how do we know that prototype will work?” Sam asks, raising an eyebrow. Steve huffs. “Like Tony would make anything that doesn’t work…”

Sam’s eyebrow does not go down at that, but Clint puts an arm around his shoulders with a smile. “Trust me. If Tony made it, it still works. He is that good.”

“Here it is…” Steve says, turning the laptop so they can see the map next to the list of prototypes. “It’s not far. If we leave early tomorrow, can get there before sundown.”

“Then the two of you better get some rest. Trust me when I say you don’t look like someone who have gotten eight hours shuteye the last few days.” Sam says, looking firmly at them.

“In a moment. I just need…” Steve turns back to the computer, tapping something. Clint watches the screen, but can’t really make heads or tails of what Steve is doing. “Something else you need to find?”

“No… I need to leave Tony a message, so he know who is hacking his system… JARVIS is helping…” Steve says. Having JARVIS help makes sense. Steve is many things, but a hacker is not one of them.

Clint takes a shower and borrows some clothes of Sam, since they left all their stuff at the motel. Sam convinced them to borrow the beds, because Clint is just used to listening to what his therapist says and Sam is stubborn enough to convince Steve it is a good idea.

Phil had been the one to find Sam. They had debated if finding a sub therapist might have been more comfortable for Clint, but Sam was the best and he had a reputation for treating sub and doms alike. His military career also meant that he had most of the clearance he needed to hear what Clint needed to say. Sam had helped him get over his kidnapping and over Phil’s injuries after the Battle of New York. Clint still sees him once or twice a month, when he needs to talk after a mission or just in general.

Sleeping in the guest bedroom is easier than at the motel, but still not as good as home. Sam knows, so he is kind enough to help Clint cover the window as much as possible to make the room almost completely dark. It helps and Clint mostly dreams of Phil, longing to be home again.

He wakes up to the smell of coffee, bacon and eggs, which is a nice change of pace from their meager field rations. When he goes to the kitchen he finds Sam and Steve already eating and quickly join them.

They leave as soon as possible, taking Sam’s tiny car and driving towards the storage facility that holds the EXO-1.

“So we just gonna walk in the front door?” Sam asks when Steve pulls off the main road towards a secure facility.

“Yes.” Steve says, smiling. Clint rolls his eyes, because the Captain seems to be in no explaining mood these days. “JARVIS runs most of Tony’s security. That means there won’t be any guards here and Steve should have access. Tony has given him an all-access pass to everything.” Clint says, drawing the last word out long enough to earn a disapproving glance in the rearview mirror from Steve.

They stop by the gate and Steve rolls down the window. “Can you let us in JARVIS?”

“Certainly Captain Rogers.” Answers the AI from the speakers. “Would you like me to inform Sir that you are here”?

“No, that’s…” Steve looks conflicted. “It’s not that I want to keep secrets from him, but this… We need to keep this close to the chest…”

“I understand. Discretion is key.” JARVIS says. “May I inform him that you and Agent Barton are alive and well?”

“Yes… Yes, we’re fine…” Steve says, smiling a little.

There is a slight pause, meaning JARVIS is talking to Tony somewhere else.

“Sir would like to know what you thought of his latest message…”

The words make Steve flush a deep crimson, Clint burst out laughing and Sam look seriously confused.

“Tell him…” Steve says when he has gotten some control of himself. “Tell him I really enjoyed it and that next time, he won’t have to reach in vain.”

“Very good Captain.” JARVIS answers as the gate slides open.

They drive to the facility and go inside, where JARVIS guides them to the crates containing the EXO-1. Steve smiles and pulls out the harness. “Does this look familiar?”

“Most of it.” Sam says as he gives the equipment a scrutinizing look. “There are some differences, but I can make it work.”

“Excellent.” Steve says, handing it over to the therapist. Clint looks around. “Hey JARVIS, are there any arrows in this place? I’m a bit low.”

“There are some, Agent Barton. However, most have been placed here as Sir did not find them useful.” JARVIS says.

“Better than nothing. Lead the way.” Clint says with a smile and lets JARVIS guide him to another crate with arrows. It turns out that ‘not useful’ arrows in Tony’s opinion are any arrows that don’t explode, taze, track, sedate or in any other way do more than a simple arrow does. The arrows in storage are straight and pointy, nothing more. It suits Clint fine. He has gotten by with arrows like that for years.

With JARVIS help they also find stealth suits for all three of them and a few other things that might become useful on their mission. Then they leave again, thanking the AI and promising to get word to Tony again as soon as possible.

With their gear ready, they drive to their original target. A HYDRA base that promises to have evidence on the infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s in a forest in the outskirts of the city, meaning that it is unlikely there will be any collateral damaged if it turns into a firefight.

“Sam, can you give me a quick survey of the area? Keep as hidden as you can and don’t go too close. We don’t want them to know we are here.” Steve says. Sam salutes him with a smile and for the first time, they get to see the wings for real. It’s impressive as fuck and Sam is clearly enjoying their gawking. It only takes a moment before he is in the air, circling the area carefully. Steve and Clint wait for him behind a small hill close enough to the base to still keep an eye out for Sam, but far enough away to be hidden.

Sam returns after a few minutes, landing gracefully next to them. “There are several guards on patrol and only one way in. It’s not going to be easy.”

“Show me where the guards are.” Steve says, showing Sam a sketch of the base drawn in the ground. Sam adds what he saw, and Steve nods, pointing at the different areas at the map as he talks. “Okay… We’ll need to get as far in as possible before they sound the alarm. We’ll come at them from three sides. Clint, I need you to take out these guards. Sam, you handle these and I’ll come in from the front, taking those. We’ll meet at the door and go in together.”

“I might not be much help inside. The wings are not meant for confined spaces.” Sam says.

“You know how to fire a gun, right?” Clint asks with a smile.

“Sure. I was in the Air Force. I can handle myself in a fight.” Sam says.

“Wings or not, an extra gun will be a lot of help.” Steve ensures Sam. “Let’s go…”

They spread out, surrounding the base as much as they can being only three people. They attack at the same time, taking out as many guards at the same time as possible, Clint using his woefully un-explosive arrows while Steve and Sam both use guns. When they meet out the door, the area is cleared and Clint manages to get a keycard from one of the guards to get them inside.

Moving down the halls, they meet resistance. Steve stays in front, his shield held high and sending the bullets back towards their attackers, Clint and Sam on either side of him, shooting over the edge of the shield. They move slowly, but the halls are narrow enough that no one can get past them and the shield gives them excellent cover.

When they get to a bigger room, they spread out a little, but still stay close. More HYDRA soldiers show up and the fighting begins in earnest. Sam quickly proves to be a great help and the wings turns out to be very useful as cover against oncoming attacks. This means, however, that Clint is the only one with no kind of defense, leading several HYDRA soldiers to go for him. Steve and Sam help pick the soldiers off as soon as the notice, but it still leaves Clint in the middle of a lot of enemies more than once.

It takes a lot of fighting before they find the central control room and Clint can hack into their computers. It’s really not good. It’s actually a lot worse than they thought. And it’s far too much for them to read right there, so Clint downloads as much as possible to a hard drive. Hopefully they can make more sense of it when they are somewhere a little safer.

He just finished hiding the drive in a secret pocket in his suit when there is a slamming sound behind him. Turning, he sees the door they entered from has closed and a hidden door opening as a wall slides aside. Behind the wall is a small army of black clad HYDRA soldiers, guns aimed at the three of them. Clint jumps to his feet, reaching for his bow as Steve and Sam prepare to fight.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you…” A soft voice says. Just hearing it is making Clint’s skin tingle unpleasantly. The soldiers’ part, making room for a beautiful woman, who walks out the hidden door. Her long, red hair falls around her face in soft curls and there is something commanding about her large brown eyes, even when there is no command in her voice. She is followed by a black-haired man with a long spear and oddly fragmented eyes that seem to kaleidoscope in different blue and greens. “You would just get hurt…”

Steve lifts the shield a little, preparing to fight. “Who are you?”

“Oh, don’t worry my pet. We are about to become very intimate.” She says with a patient smile. Even with all three of them getting ready to fight, she seems unafraid as she walks towards them. The soldiers’ stay put, but the black-haired man follows quietly.

“You see I like you…” The woman says, putting a hand on Steve’s cheek. There is something in her voice, something like a command but different. It tugs at Clint a little, making him want to be closer to her. Steve’s eyes widens as he stares as the woman and he stays very still.

“You don’t need this, do you?” She purrs, putting a hand on the edge of his shield and pushing it down gently. Steve lets her move it, leaning a little towards her, looking dazed.

“There we go. You can bring it with you. I’m sure we’ll find some use for it. Now, come with me my pet…” She lets go of him and turns. When she walks back towards the soldiers, Steve immediately follows.

“Captain? Where are you going? Steve?” Clint raises his voice, but Steve hardly reacts. The soldiers, however, all raise their weapons and prevent Clint from following his friend. The woman stops for a moment to look at them. “I don’t need them. You there, deal with them. But do it outside. Let’s not leave a mess.” She looks at three soldiers, who quickly move forwards. The others follow Steve and the woman back through the secret door.

Chapter Text

Even without Steve Rogers and Clint Barton, there is still work to be done. It seems like there is always more to do, especially with a freak thunderstorm covering the city for the last three days.

Phil is halfway through the weather rapports when his phone buzzes.

Agent Barnes: Tony has heard from Steve and Clint. They are alive and well.
Coulson: Thank you.
Coulson: Actually, do you know if Tony has time to come help me? He might be able to make sense of this.
Agent Barnes: I’ll ask him.

Less than half an hour later, Tony Stark enters S.H.I.E.L.D. wearing a smart suit and black sunglasses. He strides into the office where Phi is still trying to make sense of the strange weather.

“So, I hear that, once again, S.H.I.E.L.D. needs my brilliant mind.” He says with a wide smile. Phil sights internally, already debating if asking for help from Tony Stark was the best decision.

“I was hoping you might have some input for this.” Phil says, showing Tony the collection of weather maps, diagrams and numbers on his screen. “I’m looking into the thunderstorm over the city.”

“The weather is the enemy now?” Tony asks, leaning in to have a closer look at the screen and taking his sunglasses off.

“Not the enemy, but it’s… Odd…” Phil shrugs. He is still not sure what he is looking for or why he thinks there is something they need to know about it, but he is sure there is something.

“Hmm…” Tony says, still looking at the screen.

“Hmm what?” Phil asks impatiently.

“Well…” Tony hits some buttons and starts pulling up specs of something that has to do with space. “It looks like an Einstein-Rosen Bridge…”

“And an Einstein-Rosen Bridge is…?” Phil asks. He is nowhere near as good as talking to Tony as Clint is because he does not have the patience for the engineer’s endless rantings or unexplained silences.

“It’s a wormhole linking two distant points in space-time, making it possible for someone to travel an endless distance in a matter of seconds.” Tony says, pulling up some drawings that mostly look like big funnels.

“And that’s… Something that exists?” Phil asks.

“Well, it’s only a theory, but really, with the portal we saw over the city during the Battle of New York? I’m pretty sure we can expect it to be real.” Tony says, finally looking up at Phil.

“So what do we do about it?” Phil asks. He is usually the one to make these decisions, but he knows when he is out of his depth and this is definitely one of those times.

“If we want answers?” Tony says with a smile. “We go find whatever came through it.”

“Can you find out where that is?” Phil sighs and pulls out his phone.

“Can I…?” Tony huffs full of contempt. “I bet you never ask Clint if he can hit something really, really far away.”

“Whenever Clint hits something, I know why.” Phil says quietly. “I have no idea why anything you do works.”

For some reason, that seems to cheer Tony immensely up and he smiles brightly as he starts tapping on the computer. “I should have a location within the hour.”

Phil nods and calls Natasha. Phil is the primary contact between the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. and normally he would call Steve right about now, but with the Captain being gone, Natasha is the acting leader of the Avengers.

Tony is just finishing locating the Einstein-Rosen Bridge when Bucky and Natasha shows up, ready to leave. Phil goes with them, filling in for one of the missing Avengers.

Tony leads them to New Mexico, a large empty area outside of the small town Los Alamos. Standing outside feels like being in the shower and the sky is black as night, even if it’s hardly past noon. Thunder is rolling over the area and lightning sends bright flashes over the desert.

“You’re sure about this?” Bucky asks for the third time, as they sit in the car, looking out. There seems to be nothing but a lot of bad weather around.

“Of course I’m sure.” Tony says, not seeming as annoyed as when Phil doubted him. “It’s here. It’s the center of the energy. Whatever is going to happen, it’s going to happen here.”

“So we wait.” Natasha says, scanning the area with binoculars that probably doesn’t show much more than rain.

They wait for almost an hour. Tony quickly becomes bored and starts doing something on his phone, while the three agents remain vigilante. This is no the longest they have waited on an operation.

Then there is a flash of lightning, bigger than the others. Except there are way too many colors for lightning. And it’s going straight into the ground. And it’s too big. It almost looks like a tornado of colors and sand, whirling in the middle of the storm. It goes on for several minutes, before disappearing as quickly as it came, leaving behind a solitary figure.

No one in the car moves. Tony has forgotten his phone and is staring out with the rest of them.

“That’s alien, right? Got to be alien.” Bucky says quietly.

Tony groans. “Can’t we put up a sign or something? ‘I’m sorry, Earth is closed today.’ I’d really like that.”

“No such luck. Let’s go say hello.” Natasha says, gripping her guns and opening the door. “Agent Coulson, you take point. You have been on the Welcome Wagon before.”

“Yes ma’am.” Phil says, leaving the car and walking towards the silhouette in the rain. He knows that both Bucky and Natasha are armed and ready to engage if it looks like Phil might be in danger. Tony stays in the car, ready to change into the suit if needed.

“Hello?” He calls, loud enough to hopefully be heard over the rain. Getting closer, the figure is clearly male, big and broad and wearing something that looks like a cape. The man turns towards Phil. He has long, blonde hair and what looks to be a hammer in one hand.

“Hail. I am Thor, son of Odin. Are you the lord of Midgard?” The man asks. He has a booming voice and speaks English very well for a supposed alien.

“No, I… My name is Phil Coulson. I work for S.H.I.E.L.D. We came to investigate the… Um…” He gestures to the now gone column of light and color.

“The Bifrost.” Thor says like it’s obvious. He is smiling broadly. “Are you the guardians of this realm?”

That’s one way to put it.” Phil answers, stopping a few feet away from the man. He is really wearing a long, red cap and holding a hammer. He also seems to be dressed in chainmail.

“Have no fear, Son of Coul. I come with no ill tidings to you and your people. My only care is the return of one of our own, my brother, Loki of Asgard.” Thor says, walking over to Phil and slamming a hand to his shoulder with such a force that the agent staggers a little.

“What makes you think your brother is here?” Phil asks when he has regained his balance.

“He comes here sometimes to think, but he has been gone many days and I fear he may be unable to return.” Thor says, a sadness creeping into his voice and Phil gets the distinct feeling that there is more to this Loki coming to Earth than Thor is saying.

“If you can explain this… Bifrost to us, we might be able to help you locate your brother.” Phil says. He is already drenched because of the rain and deeply regretting not having a spare suit in the car.

“The Bifrost is a bridge between the realms.” Thor says simply.

“Yeah, we’re going to need a little more.” Phil says, but he is smiling. Thor, despite his size and his armor, seems to be a pretty friendly guy. “But let’s go somewhere dry to talk.”

“The rain is easily managed.” Thor says, raising his hammer. There is a rumble of thunder somewhere in the distance and then the rain stops abruptly. The clouds part and the sun shines down at the. Phil looks at Thor in surprise.

“Would you like to change into dry garments, Son of Coul?” Thor asks.

“I… Yes… I would prefer that.” Phil says. Thor does not look like he cares about his wet clothes at all, but Phil is definitely feeling uncomfortable in his soaked suit. “My friends are over here. Come with me.”

He leads Thor to the car, where the others are waiting. Tony is still dry in the car, but both Natasha and Bucky seem just as wet as Phil feels. Natasha, still with a gun in her hand, smiles at them. “Made a new friend there, Agent Coulson?”

“This is Thor. He is looking for his brother.” Phil says, gesturing to his friends. “Thor, these are Agents Romanov and Barnes and that is Tony Stark.”

“Greetings friends.” Thor booms. “The son of Coul has generously offered his help in my search.”

“Has he now?” Natasha says with a smile to Phil, who shrugs. “Well, we better hold him to that then. Let’s go somewhere more comfortable so we can talk.” She opens the door to the backseat for Thor, who looks the car over before getting closer.

“This is your transportation? It is a carriage unknown to me.” He says as he gets in.

“It’s just a car.” Bucky says, getting in on Thor’s left side. This puts his metal arm, right now hidden under sleeves and a glove, next to the son of Odin. While Phil was gone, Tony has claimed his front seat next to Natasha, so Phil sits on the other side of their guest. “Why don’t you tell us more about yourself while we drive Thor.”

So he does. During the drive, they learn the Thor is a prince of Asgard, which makes his brother a prince too and suddenly it seems more important to find this Loki and avoid an intergalactic incident. Asgard is the realm where they live and it is rules by the Allfather, Odin, who is also the father of Thor and Loki. That much makes some sense. They Tony starts asking about the bridge.

“Your ancestors called it magic and you call it science. Well, I come from a place where they’re one and the same thing.” Thor says, before going into a quite long and very eloquent explanation about rainbows, nine realms, and several other things that seem to have nothing to do with each other. By the third sentence, Tony is the only one who is still listening.

When they get to the plane, Tony is still talking to Thor, giving the others a chance to change into something dry. Natasha takes off as soon as she is dry again and they move towards home. Phil is in the copilot seat when Bucky walks up to them. “Let’s bring Thor to the Tower. It’s more homey.” He says. In the space between them he signs ‘safer’.

Bucky has been weird about S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while now and Phil has started to think it’s more than just normal paranoia. Something does seem off. Phil has found several references to meetings and missions he has heard nothing about. It is not unusual for Director Fury to have secrets, far from it, but Phil is usually at least partially aware of everything that goes on. So maybe Bucky is right that it would be safer at the Tower. Natasha seems to agree and changes course slightly.

At some point during the flight, Bucky changes places with Phil and Phil goes to see Thor. Apparently, Tony got all the information he wanted, because he is sitting alone in the back of the plane with his tablet, tapping away. Phil sits down next to the Asgardian.

“How are you holding up?” He asks.

“I am well, son of Coul. Only the disappearance of my brother vexes me.” Thor says. The hammer is placed on the floor between his feet.

“I’m sure we’ll find him. And you can just call me Phil.” He says. Being called ‘son of Coul’ is feeling a little weird. His father was named Robert.

“I would be honored to do so, friend Phil.” Thor says, actually looking like he means it.

They are quiet for a moment, before the big man shifts a little uncomfortably and looks sideways at Phil. “The sub… He belongs to you?”

“Tony doesn’t belong to anyone.” Phil says, perhaps a little firmer than necessary. It’s not Thor’s fault that both Tony and Clint have had to deal with too much discrimination because of their designation.

“Forgive me.” Thor says, bending his head a little. “Your customs are unknown to me.”

“No, it’s…” Phil sighs. “You couldn’t know. No one owns Tony, he doesn’t belong to anyone.”

“And he is a defender like the rest of you?” Thor asks, lifting his head again.

“Avenger actually. They are called the Avengers and I’m the only one who isn’t one.” Phil says with a small smile. He is an agent, not an Avenger.

“You are not part of their team?” Thor looks surprised.

“I’m not normally in the field, but we are a little shorthanded right now.” Phil explains. Thor nods and grows quiet again. He seems to be contemplating something and often his eyes will seek out Tony, who is still working on the tablet.

“He is very clever.” Thor says after a while. Phil is not quite sure he understands Thor’s fascination of Tony.

“Tony claims to be one of the smartest people in the world.” Phil says. He is not sure it’s true, but it might very well be.

“I am unfamiliar with subs like him…” Thor says quietly.

“Is that why he interest you? Because he is different than what you know?” Phil asks, trying to understand.

“My brother… He is a submissive… He has lived in the shadows of dominants for all his live and it distresses him…” Thor says quietly. “Stark does not seem troubled to be among you… I wish that I could grant my brother a little of the comfort he seems to have…”

“It helps that we treat him like a person, not a sub.” Phil says, trying to make his voice soft to take the barb out of the words. It seems so simple, but many doms tend to see designations before individuals.

“I have only recently learned of his discomfort…” Thor says sadly. “I never realized before…”

“It can be easy to overlook when it’s not happening to you.” Phil says. He is not quite sure how he ended up as therapist for an alien prince, but since he has strong opinions on the treatment of subs, he might actually be able to help. “But you know now. You can help make him feel more comfortable.”

“I hope you are right friend. But I worry I might be too late.” Thor says. His gaze is far away and he seems lost in thoughts again as the place descends over New York.

Chapter Text

The three soldiers grab Sam and Clint, forcing them out of the base and into the surrounding forest. Clint’s bow has been left in the base and Sam’s wings are not really any help with a gun pointed at his head.

“Move faster sub.” One of the soldiers says. It’s a command and Clint follows, even if he would prefer not to.

“Stop here.” Again, it’s a command. Again, Clint follows. There is only one gun pointed at him, the other two are on Sam. The soldiers don’t seem to think the sub as big a threat as the dom.

The commanding soldier sits down on a fallen three in front of Clint. “It seems stupid of S.H.I.E.L.D. to send a sub into the field. They must be more desperate than we thought. Kneel for me.”

Clint does, slowly. His skin is tingling a bit from obeying the commands. He really hates this.

“I’ve always wanted to fuck a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. I would have preferred a woman, but a nice little sub will just have to do.” The soldier in front of Clint says, smiling widely. All bad guys are rapists. Because of course they are.

“Hey, leave him alone!” Sam yells and receives a whack with then handle of a gun for it. Clint has to fight not to look at him. Sam is a good guy. Clint is lucky to have met him.

“Shut up.” One of the other soldiers says. From the sound of it, they are forcing Sam to his knees as well.

“Ignore that, sub. Eyes on me.” Sitting Soldier says. Clint lifts his eyes to look at him. “Good. If you are good for me, I’ll even bring you under before I shoot you. Doesn’t that sound nice? I bet you wouldn’t even feel the bullet.”

Clint clenches his teeth. He hasn’t been told to speak.

“Open my pants.” Sitting Soldier commands, smiling viciously at Clint. He is leaning on a tree behind him, resting both hands on his thighs. The gun is still in his right hand, but that’s resting against his leg as well. The barrel is pointed at Clint, but Sitting Soldier doesn’t have his finger on the trigger, confident in his control of the obedient sub.

Slowly, Clint lifts his trembling hands, grabbing the edge of the soldiers’ pants with both hands. His thumb is resting against the zipper.

“Good… Come on, open your present…” The soldier above him grins.

Clint steels himself for a second before he pulls at the soldiers’ pants with all his strength. The soldier lets out a surprised yelp as he bangs his head against the tree behind him. Clint moves before he can recover, grabbing the gun from his hand. Without breaking the motion, he turns and shoots the two soldiers behind Sam. It was actually an advantage that they made Sam kneel; it’s much easier to aim knowing his friend is not in the line of fire.

Before he has a chance to turn again, Clint feels a hard hit to his side, sending a spike of pain through his chest. It feels like broken ribs. Gasping, he drops the gun and crumples to the ground.

“I’ll fucking kill you, you – “ The soldier gets out before collapsing at the sound of a gun. Looking up, Clint sees that Sam has gotten to his feet and grabbed a gun from on of the dead soldiers.

“Are you okay?” Sam asks, hurrying over to Clint and helping the archer to his feet. It hurts to breathe, but supported by Sam, he can stand. “’m fine. We need to… Steve…” Clint gasps.

A loud sound makes both of them look back towards the base. Over the trees they see a small plane take off, disappearing quickly. Clint feels Sam’s shoulders slump a little. “I’m sorry man… He must have been on that plane…”

“Can’t be… Sure…” Clint gets out through gritted teeth. He pushes away from Sam, grabbing the soldiers’ guns and starts moving back towards the base. Sam follows him swiftly, even if he looks like this is the worst idea in ever. Moving through the base takes longer than it did when there were enemies. They find nothing and no one, but Clint does manage to retrieve his bow.

When Clint finally gives up on trying to find a flight plan for the plane, Sam looks at him. “So, what now?”

“Now…” Clint sights. “Now we get back up…”

Leaving the base and going back to the car is agony, but Clint clenches his teeth and soldiers on, earning him a lot of looks from Sam, whose worry seems to increase the further they go.

“Man, you are not fine…” Sam says when they are back at the car. Clint is doubled over, gasping for breaths that feel like fire in his chest.

“I’ll… Manage…” He gets out with some difficulty. He has said those words before. He has always been fine.

“There is no way they are letting me in if you are dead from a punctured lung in the back of my car.” Sam says, pushing Clint’s shoulder until the archer collapses on the ground next to the car. “Just let me have a look….”

Everything hurts and he can’t breath. If Sam tried to command him into cooperating, Clint would obey blindly, too exhausted from pain to resist. Sam doesn’t try to command him. Sam is a good guy.

Sam opens Clint’s shirt to reveal a large red area on Clint’s right side. When Sam examines the area, Clint whimpers a little, too tired to hide his pain.

“You need a hospital.” Sam says, looking into Clint’s eyes. Clint shakes his head. “No… Tower… We have medical equipment… They need to know…”

Sam pauses, searching his face. What he sees makes him nod. “Okay. We’ll go to the Tower. You sit in the back, try to get some rest. Can you get up?”

Clint tires, but quickly realizes that no, he can’t. Sam helps him, almost hauling him into the backseat of the car before getting into the front seat and taking off. Clint passes out before they are back at the main road.

He doesn’t wake up until he hears Sam talking to someone. “No, I need to…. It’s really important that I talk to Phil Coulson or Tony Stark.”

“Mister Stark and Agent Coulson are both indisposed sir.” JARVIS’ cool, British voice answers. Clint has asked why Tony had chosen to give his AI a British accent and had learned that it was because of Edwin Jarvis, who had been his family’s butler when Tony was a kid. The story made Clint sad, but Tony had just brushed it off and started talking about his suits.

“JARVIS.” Clint yells from the backseat. “Tell Phil I’m home and I need to see him… See if that makes him disposed...” He has to take a moment to catch his breath after speaking. It hurts.

“Of course Agent Barton. Welcome home.” JARVIS says cheerily and Clint hears a gate open. The car moves again and drives into the private parking garage under the Tower.

Sam has to help Clint get out of the car. He also has to put an arm around Sam’s shoulders to walk to the elevator and doesn’t let go, even when it starts to move. Leaning on Sam makes it a little easier to breathe. They don’t have to press any buttons, JARVIS automatically takes them to whatever floor Phil and Tony are on.

The doors are hardly open before Phil is there, worried eyes and gentle hands on him. “Clint! What happened? Are you hurt?”

Clint lets go of Sam so he can embrace Phil. For a moment, everything else goes away and the only thing he knows is the smell and feel of the man he loves. Then Phil’s arms tighten a little too much and Clint lets out an involuntary groan as they press against his hurt ribs.

“You are hurt.” Phil says, quickly letting go and examining him carefully. He frowns when he finds the growing marks on Clint’s chest. “Is that…”

“Broken ribs.” Sam supplies quickly. “At least two. He didn’t want to go to the hospital.”

Phil pauses, looking carefully at him. “Sam Wilson?”

“Do I know you?” Sam asks, looking back a little confused.

“No, I… I did an extensive background check on you before letting Clint meet you.” Phil says, helping Clint from the elevator to a couch. They are on the shared floor and it seems the entire team is there. Tony comes over to him as he sits down, looking just as worried as Phil when the agent pulls Clint’s shirt completely off to get a better look at the damages. There is also a large blonde man that Clint doesn’t know in a chair next to Natasha.

“Clint, where…” Tony swallows. “Where is Steve?”

“I don’t know… I’m sorry…” Clint says quietly, watching the way Tony’s eyes widen in fear. Bucky steps up and puts an arm around him. “There was… A woman… She did something to him… She didn’t hurt him, but he… He went with her… I don’t know…”

Clint has to stop because he can’t catch his breath. Phil puts a gentle hand on his chest. “Don’t talk right now love.” His voice is soft but he still seems worried. Clint tries to say something more, but it’s so hard to breathe. Black spots are dancing in his vision.

Then the blonde man is next to Phil, holding a small glass flask to Clint’s lip. The content is cool and tastes like flowers. It makes the pain go away and, slowly, the rest of the world as well. The last thing he sees is Phil’s face before the darkness consumes him.

The darkness is still there when he wakes up and the world is completely silent. Someone took out his hearing aid. The bed underneath him feels familiar and there is a strong hand holding his.

“Phil…” Clint croaks. His voice breaks a little. The hand squeezes gently and something small is placed in his palm. Clint sits up slowly, putting the hearing aid in. Phil must have heard him moving, because when Clint is done, he asks, “How are you feeling?”

“I’m… Good… I actually feel really good…” Clint says, a little surprised, as he takes a deep breath. He feels a little sore when his lungs are completely expanded, but that’s it. He prods his ribs experimentally. “I thought they were broken…”

“They were.” Phil carefully moves to sit on the bed next to Clint, who leans into him. “But Thor gave you an Elixir of Healing. It should have healed them almost completely by now.”

“Thor?” Clint asks. He vaguely remembers a large, blond man holding something to his lips.

“He’s… It’s a long story…” Phil sighs, putting his arms around Clint and holding him close. With Clint’s ribs being broken, Phil must have decided to stay by the bed instead of in it, as to not hurt Clint. “Are you sure you are okay?”

“Yeah…” Clint breaths, snuggling close to Phil and kissing his neck gently. It’s the part of Phil that closest to his mouth and he doesn’t feel like moving too much right now. He wants to stay just like this. “I am now…”

Phil lets out a relieved sigh and places a long kiss on Clint’s hair.

“Are you okay to turn on the lights a little?” Phil asks after a little while.

“Yeah, I’m fine…” Clint says. He doesn’t have as big a problem with light as he did a few years ago, but Phil is still careful to always ask before turning the lights on in the bedroom. He has worked hard to make it a safe place for Clint.

When the light comes on, Clint sees that Phil is still in his suit while Clint is dressed in soft pajamas. They are sitting on the edge of their bed, Phil’s arms around Clint, holding him close. It’s nice, but somehow it feels different. A little more muted than usually. Clint lifts his arm to see the suppressant band still locked in place. Phil follows the movement with his eyes. “I didn’t want to take it off yet… I know you prefer not to wear it, but it takes some time for your body to recalibrate afterwards and I… I’m not sure we have time right now…”

“Sam told you?” Clint asks quietly.

“Most of it. Bucky, Tony and Natasha are going through the files right now.” Phil says. “I’m afraid we don’t have much time…”

Clint nodded. This wasn’t how he imagined getting home to Phil. He had thought about dinner and cuddling and being tied up. All that would have to wait. But there is something else that can’t wait.

“Did Sam tell you about the motel?” Clint says.

“He told us you got attacked and had to run all the way to his house…” Phil says, looking carefully at Clint. Clint was never able to hide much from the agent. “What didn’t he tell?”

“I went under for Steve… Twice…” Clint says very quietly. He doesn’t really think Phil will be mad, but he still feels incredibly nervous.

“Why?” Phil asks, his voice not giving away any feelings.

“He was twitching… I… He was getting unfocused and I was afraid he would drop… So I convinced him to take me under… I was under when HYDRA attacked the motel. It wasn’t deep, but I had taken the band off and getting pulled back so harshly is…” Clint takes a deep breath. “When we got to Sam’s place, I was the one who was dropping… Steve took care of me… I’m sorry… I didn’t… I know you don’t like…”

He stops talking when Phil kisses him softly.

“Thank you for telling me… I’m not mad. I could never be mad that you helped a friends who needed it or got help when you did...” Phil says, gently framing Clint’s face with his hands. “I don’t enjoy it when someone else brings you under, but I know it is sometimes necessary…”

Clint sighs a little, resting his forehead on Phil’s. “You do it better… Steve is nice, but he’s not you…”

Phil smiles softly and kisses him. For a long time, it’s just the two of them, wrapped up in each other in the quiet of the bedroom. Then there is a knock on the door and Phil sighs. “We better…”

“Yeah…” Clint grudgingly lets go of him. “Go open, I’ll get dressed…”

When he gets out, Natasha is standing in the door, waiting. “Sorry to disturb you. Thor said the elixir should have taken effect by now. We’ve found something bad.”

“I still need an update on Thor and his magical elixir…” Clint says as they follow her to the elevator.

“Apparently, magic and science are the same thing.” Natasha says with a wry smile before Phil starts explaining about more aliens, some place called Asgard and a missing prince.

He is still a little confused when he goes to the situation room where the others are waiting. Tony is standing by the screen, looking at several documents at the same time. Bucky is next to him, his face showing nothing but grim determination. Sam is standing next to the blond man, Thor, and looks a little relieved when he sees Clint.

“Hey man, you okay?” He asks, his eyes going to Clint’s previously injured chest.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Science-magic seems to have done the trick. Thanks.” Clint says, looking at Thor. The blonde smiles widely. “It was my pleasure, friend Barton. I would have been sad to see Earths defenders lose a beloved companion.”

“That’s… Okay…” Clint casts Phil a sideways glance, secretly blaming him for not explaining that their guest talks like something out of an eighteenth century novel.

“What did you find?” Phil says quickly, before Clint gets to comment on it.

“Only bad things.” Tony says, turning to face them. He looks tired and his eyes are a little red, but he moves on like it’s normal, his left hand sometimes tapping absentmindedly at the Arc Reactor in his chest. There are several empty coffee cups on the table next to him. “If this is real, HYDRA is everywhere in S.H.I.E.L.D. All branches, all levels, almost all teams… And for where they aren’t, they have this…”

Tony pulls up a document called OPERATION CLEAN NEST. It contains detailed information on Director Fury, Maria Hill, the entire Alpha Team and several other people.

“What is that?” Sam asks, skimming the information on screen.

“It’s a kill list.” Bucky says. “The are clearing S.H.I.E.L.D. of anyone not loyal to HYRDA. And they are going to make their move soon, now that they know we are on to them.”

“Can we do anything? Warn them in some way?” Phil asks. Tony turns back to the screen. “Not from here. All communication in and out of S.H.I.E.L.D. is being monitored. We’d need to tell them directly.”

“So we go warn them in person.” Natasha says. “HYDRA doesn’t know we have this information. They think Clint and Sam are dead.”

“What about Steve?” Bucky says firmly. “We don’t know what happened to him. He should be our first priority.”

“We can’t ignore the bigger threat because of Steve. I know you love him, but there is more at stake here than just him.” Natasha says firmly, standing tall in front of Bucky’s icy grey eyes. She is right, no matter how much they want her not to be.

“We can do both.” Phil steps between them before it can escalate further. “Wilson and Barton can’t go to S.H.I.E.L.D. without revealing they are alive, Stark doesn’t work there and I would still prefer to keep Thor a secret from them. They will stay here and keep looking for Captain Rogers. Sargent Barnes, Agent Romanov and I will go to warn S.H.I.E.L.D.”

He is using that voice. It’s not a command voice and it’s not as efficient as Steve’s leader voice, but it’s the agent voice that reminds them who they are and what they have to do. It’s enough to make both Natasha and Bucky back off. Bucky doesn’t say anything, just nods curtly.

Tony taps something and prints a few sheets of paper. “These are all the people on the list and their itineraries for today. Don’t contact us from inside the Triskellion, we still don’t know how they monitor communications.” He says, handing the paper to Bucky, not looking at him. Bucky’s anger seems to dissipate a little and he pulls Tony in for a tight hug. “I’ll come back to you Tony. I promise.”

“And I’ll find Steve.” Tony says, smiling even if his eyes are shiny with unshed tears.

Bucky nods and leaves quickly. Natasha follows him after a short nod goodbye.

Clint grabs Phil’s arm before he can leave. “Be safe.”

“You too.” Phil says, giving his hands a gentle squeeze before leaving with the others.

The room feels silent and empty without them.

“There is much love among you.” Thor says into the quiet, making all of them look at him in surprise. “I am sadden to see it split by oncoming dangers…”

“It will be over as soon as we take down HYDRA.” Tony says, getting up. JARVIS projects some new documents up for them to see. “Since Steve left with the unknown woman, our best chance at finding him seems to be finding her. Sam has described her appearance to JARVIS and we’ve been able to render a picture based on that. I also have one of the male with him, in case he turns out to be important…”

Tony pulls two pictures up. The woman looks almost right, but there are small things that aren’t right. The hair is a little different and the picture hasn’t managed to capture the intense command in her mere presence. The man is a little more inaccurate, proving that Sam didn’t pay as much attention to him as to the woman.

“What do you think?” Tony asks, looking at Sam and Clint.

“Seems about right…” Clint says, looking closer at the pictures.

“Are you certain friend Barton?” Thor says, staring wide-eyed at the pictures and stepping closer to them.

“Yeah. I mean, some details are a little different, but it’s mostly right…” Clint says, looking at the blond in confusion. “Why?”

“Because they are both of Asgard…” Thor says pointing at the woman. “She is Lorelei, a powerful sorceress. Her words alone bend men to her will. This…” He pauses, looking at the picture of the black-haired man with sad eyes. “This is my brother, Loki…”

Chapter Text

”You see I like you…”

Her voice is so soft, so beautiful. It makes everything else fade away. Makes everything so clear.

“You don’t need this, do you?” The goddess says. She must be a goddess. There is no other way for her to be the perfection that she is. And she is right. He doesn’t need the shield. It’s so easy to let he push it away. He wants to make her happy. Maybe he should leave it here, would that make her happy?

“There we go. You can bring it with you. I’m sure we’ll find some use for it. Now, come with me my pet…” She turns and walks away, so he follows her as quickly as possible. He brings the shield. She will find a use for it.

Someone is calling his name. Clint. He sounds worried. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Steve thinks he should care about that, but the woman is in front of him, walking away and all he wants to do is be with her, so he ignores it to follow her.

The woman walks through the base followed by Steve, the black-haired man and the soldiers. Steve is having a hard time understanding why the HYDRA soldiers are there as well, but the woman seems to want them there, so he does as well. They walk up some stairs and come to a small cargo plane. The soldiers hurry to prepare the plane, while the woman leads Steve and the black-haired into the plane. An area in the back has been organized to give a bit of privacy by making walls with several crates and a blanket serving as door. Inside the small room is a bit of privacy, some chairs, a table and a lavish bed.

The woman gracefully sits down on the couch, resting one leg over the other. The black-haired man quietly sits down by her feet, keeping her eyes at the floor. Steve stops in the middle of the room, unsure what to do with himself. Unsure of how to best please his new goddess.

“Come closer and tell me your name pet.” She says, looking at him with her dark eyes.

“Steve.” He answers, hurrying over to stand by the couch. “I’m… My name is Steve Rogers…”

“Steve Rogers…” She says slowly, standing again and walking up to him until she is just in front of him. He has to bend his neck and look down at her, but he still feel completely at her mercy. Hearing her say his name distracts him from everything else.

“You and I will be great friends, Steve Rogers. I am Lorelei. You will call me Mistress.” She says with a shrewd smile. Steve pauses a little at that. He wants nothing but to please her, to do anything and everything she wants him to, but ‘Mistress’ is something a sub calls their dom. Steve is not a sub. Behaving like one goes against everything in him.

“You think yourself a dom, don’t you Steve?” Lorelei asks him with a strange smile.

“Yes…” Steve answers. He wants to answer her. He wants to tell her anything she wants to know.

“Most men do. But they are wrong. Loki knew before he met me, didn’t you, my puppet?” She says, looking at the kneeling man. “Yes Mistress.” He answers, without removing his fractured eyes from the floor. There is something wrong with those eyes, but Steve forgets them as soon as Lorelei speaks again.

“You are not a dom Steve.” She says and in that moment, Steve is nothing. It feels wrong and cold and empty, like someone tore out his lungs and didn’t replace them with anything. It’s horrible.

“You are a sub. You have been mistaken your whole life. Don’t worry about that, you were never clever enough to understand.” Lorelei continues and the horrible feeling goes away. She is right, of course, he was too stupid to see before. To dumb to realize his mistake until she explained it.

“I think that’s why you joined the army. You longed for someone to command you, to tell you what to do. So you found someone who could. But you don’t have to lie to yourself anymore. You have me now. Kneel.” She says and there is command in her voice. A command that hits something in him he never felt before, a need to obey, even if it feels wrong. It’s not supposed to be like this, is it? This is wrong, isn’t it? But Lorelei told him… She always tells him the truth…

“I said…” Lorelei says, raising her voice. “Kneel!”

Steve Rogers goes to his knees in front of Lorelei and loses a very important part of himself.

“Is not this simpler?” Lorelei smiles down at him. “Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of men that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your lives joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”

Lorelei runs her fingers through Steve’s hair with a satisfied smile. Steve’s head is spinning and he’s not sure why. Lorelei, his mistress, told him to kneel, so it is right. It is where he belongs. She told him. He was made to be ruled. So why does everything feel so wrong?

“I know…” His mistress says softly, lifting his head with a gentle hand. “It takes some adjustment. But you know it’s the truth, don’t you Steve? Tell me what you are…”

“I…” Steve blinks a few times as he tries in vain to clear his head. Her hand feels warm on his skin. “I’m a sub… I am… I am your sub… I belong to you…”

“That’s right.” She smiles at him and that smile makes up for all the discomfort he feels. “You belong to me now. And I’ll take good care of you. There is a blanket next to the bed. Go get some sleep. You will feel better when you wake up.”

“Yes… Yes Mistress…” Steve answers, struggling a bit to get on his feet again. He is dizzy and his body feels too big and awkward. It takes so much of his concentration to walk to the bed that he doesn’t see Lorelei sit down on the couch next to the black-haired man, Loki. He only sees this when he sits down on the blanket next to the bed.

Being on the floor feels a little strange, like putting the shoes on the wrong feet, but Mistress told him to, so it is where he belongs. He curls up on the blanket and closes his eyes.

Mistress told him to sleep, so he does.

Steve wakes up slowly some time later. He has no idea how long he has been asleep. It’s not important. He feels different, but he can’t really pinpoint how.

Slowly, he gets up from the floor and looks around. Lorelei is on the couch, reading a book while Loki stands behind her, slowly brushing her hair. She smiles when she sees that he is up. “Steve, my pet. Come closer.”

He goes a little closer to the couch. It seems like the right thing to do.

“Where are my friends?” Steve asks. Clint and Sam. They had been with him when they attacked the base. He had left them there. Why did he leave them?

“Do you care about them?” Lorelei asks him, cocking her hear with a curious smile as she gets up from the couch and leisurely walks over to him.

“I… Yes. They are my friends. What happened to them?” Steve says. He should have stayed. He should have fought with them. This is wrong.

“No, you don’t.” Lorelei stops in front of him, putting a hand on his neck. “They don’t matter. Only I matter.”

“Of course… They don’t matter…” Steve says, seeing the truth. How foolish of him. They might be his friends, but this is his goddess. This is Mistress. No one else matters.

“Good boy…” Mistress says and the praise sends a shiver through his body. Mistress must feel it, because her smile widens. “Do you like that my pet? Do you like to be a good boy for me?”

“Yes… Yes, Mistress, I do… I want to be good for you…” Steve says. He feels a little breathless, but he is not sure why.

“Good. Come sit by my feet.” Mistress says, walking back to the couch. Steve hurries to her side and slides down to the floor, looking up adoringly. Mistress gently pets his hair with a smile, making him feel dazed and peaceful. His mind is fuzzy and his body feels heavy and relaxed. This is where he belongs.

Loki resumes brushing Mistress’ hair. He hasn’t moved when they talked and he barely looks at Steve. Steve is not jealous of him. Loki is there because Mistress wants him to be. Loki serves Mistress like Steve does.

He doesn’t know how long they stay like that. It doesn’t matter. At some point Loki sits down on the other side of Mistress and she wraps her fingers in his hair, pulling his head back a little. Mistress doesn’t pet him, just holds his hair so he can’t move. Steve doesn’t question it.

At some point, a man enters their area. He is tall and lean, with a hard face and harder eyes. He is dressed in a black uniform with red details and there is a symbol on the shoulder that draws Steve’s eyes. The man glances at Steve shortly before turning his eyes to Mistress.

“I see you have found another toy…” He says. His voice is cool and even, with a strong German accent.

“Johann.” Mistress says with an alluring smile. “Come give me a kiss…”

“I’m afraid you will never get a chance to touch me, Lorelei. I have no interest in becoming your plaything.” He says and Steve is suddenly on his feet. He recognizes the man from S.H.I.E.L.D.s files. His name is Johann Schmidt and he is the leader of HYDRA. He is the enemy. He is a threat to Mistress. Steve takes a step forward, placing himself between Mistress and Schmidt, hands balled into first and ready for a fight.

Schmidt raises a surprised eyebrow. Behind Steve, Mistress laughs.

“There is no need for that, puppet.” Mistress says as she gets up from the couch.

“That’s Johann Schmidt. He is the head of HYDRA. He is evil.” Steve says, still keeping himself between Mistress and the threat.

“No, puppet, you have it all wrong.” Mistress runs a hand over his arm and Steve can’t stop himself from turning towards her, even if he knows he should keep his eyes on the enemy. “You work for HYDRA now. S.H.I.E.L.D. is the true evil and you will help us eradicate them.”

“But… But they…” Steve tries. This is important. He needs to make Mistress understand. Maybe he is too stupid to explaining it correctly.

“Poor puppet…” Mistress says, brushing some hair out of his eyes. “So used to being in control… So locked in the role of the soldier… You don’t need that anymore… You don’t need to lead, to control… You don’t need to think…”

“But I…” Steve sways a little. Mistress is still touching his face. It feels so good it’s hard to concentrate.

“No no…” Mistress says firmly. “You don’t need to think. So stop.”

Steve blinks once and does. His mind goes completely blank, empty of any thoughts, feelings or memories.

“Sit down now, let us talk in peace.” Mistress says and Steve mechanically sits down next to the couch, his unseeing eyes starring at nothing. He doesn’t notice the way Loki looks at him, something almost like pity in the fractured eyes.

Chapter Text

Entering S.H.I.E.L.D. is as easy as always. Everything is as it always is, except for Bucky, Natasha and Phil. They are vigilant and carrying far more weapons than usually for a day at paperwork in Triskellion. But with Bucky and Nat dressed in their Avengers armor, no one dares question them and the only one who could question Phil is the very person they need to find.

Natasha leaves them as they get to the elevators, going to the laboratories to find Bruce and anyone else on the list that works there. Bucky and Phil takes the elevator as high as it goes.

This is not where Bucky wants to be. He wants to be at the Tower, making sure Tony is safe. He wants to be at the base where Clint and Sam were, looking for clues. He wants to be anywhere he has a chance of finding Steve. But he is not. He is here, with Phil, doing his job and saving lives. For once, he hates it.

The elevator dings and Phil leads them through a maze of corridors. He scans his ID card several times on different door and reaches an area Bucky has never seen before. Then more doors and suddenly they are in the middle of a meeting. Director Fury looks up from his place at the table with clear annoyance in his eye. “I suppose there is a reason for you to interrupt this very important meeting agent Coulson?”

“Yes sir. We have a Code 616.” Phil says without looking at anyone else in the room. Several of the people in the room are looking at them with irritation. Bucky stays as neutral as he can, but wonders a little. He has no idea what Code 616 means and for some reason it wouldn’t actually surprise him if Phil had a code that means ‘HYRDA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.’

“I see.” Fury says, raising an eyebrow as he gets up from his chair. One of the men in the room turn towards him. “You cannot be serious Director. We are in the middle of a meeting.”

“This takes precedence.” Fury just says as he walks to Phil and Bucky. “Excuse me.”

Without looking back, Fury leaves the room, leading them to his office a little down the hall. No one says anything until the door is closed behind them. The Director Fury turns towards them and looks at Phil. “So… A Code 616…”

“What is that, actually?” Bucky asks Phil, looking at him. Phil casts him a glance before returning to Fury. “It’s nothing. We don’t have that many codes. But a Code 61 means that the area is compromised. It seemed fitting. Activate the thing.”

Bucky pulls a small devise from his pocket. The ‘thing’ is a scrambler Tony made to make sure that no surveillance equipment would hear what they are about to say. If anyone is listening, they are bound to get suspicious, but it’s better than telling them outright what they know.

“Am I going to get an explanation at some point?” Fury asks, looking from Phil to Bucky. When Bucky holds up the device to show Phil that it’s on, the agent looks back at the director. “HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. We don’t know what their next move is, but we know it’s soon and we know it involves taking out everyone that isn’t loyal to them.” He hands the list over and Fury looks at it carefully. “A kill list?”

“Yes. We are trying to get to everyone on the list, but we wanted to start with you. You seem to be their primary target.” Phil says and Fury nods.

“So we find gather every target and go where?” Fury says. “It’s not like there are any unknown safe houses left if HYRDA has infiltrated us.”

“We go to the Tower.” Bucky says. Fury lifts an eyebrow. “That’s a private building. HYDRA could decide to attack it, to get to us.”

“It’s the home of the Avengers and guarded by some of the most advanced security in existence. If they come for us, they’ll find a fight.” Bucky says calmly. Tony has had the security in the Tower severely upgraded the last couple of years and getting in unnoticed is almost impossible. Bucky and Natasha have tested it several times.

“It’s big enough to accommodate everyone.” Phil says. They might not like the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. invading their home like that, but it is the safes place right now.

“Who else knows this?” Fury asks.

“Agent Romanov. She is in the lab, getting the scientist on the list to safety.” Phil says.

“Captain Rogers?” Fury knows about Steve mission. Knows that this was exactly what Steve left to investigate.

“Indisposed.” Bucky says.

“Possibly compromised.” Phil says. The words sit like a stone in Bucky’s stomach, even more so because he knows they might very well be true. He doesn’t want to believe it, but the way Sam described Steve leaving his friends like that, it’s so unlike anything Steve would ever do that they have to consider something happened to him.

Fury’s eyebrow goes up at that as well, but he doesn’t say anything. Instead, he hands the papers back to Phil. “I’ll find anyone in direction and administration. Barnes, you handle agents, security and medical staff. Coulson, you take anyone else. Any reliable communication?”

“No sir, we expect anything on the premises to be compromised.” Phil says.

“Then we do it the old fashioned way. Meet up at checkpoint delta. Wait no longer than an hour, then retreat to the Tower. Understood?” Fury says, looking at them until he is met with ‘yes sir’ from both agents. Then Bucky turns off the scrambler and they leave the office one by one.

Bucky starts on his list. Most of them are people he knows and have worked with for years, so when he tells them to leave, they do so without too many questions. They trust him. It means that only a few of them have any idea why they are going to checkpoint delta, but it also decreases the risk that someone overhears them.

He is moving on from agents and security staff to the medical a few floors down when the elevator stops on the wrong floor and four people step in. Beta Team. Well, they used to be. Since Alpha Team became the Avengers, Beta Team became STRIKE Team and is now one of the most used field teams in S.H.I.E.L.D. The roster didn’t change. It’s still filled with assholes.

“Barnes…” their leader says, as he steps inside the small, metal room.

“Rumlow.” Bucky answers, feeling the plates in his left arm shift slightly, responding to the way his body has tensed up.

“Where is your blonde captain? Slacking off with that tight little sub of yours?” Rumlow asks with an unpleasant smile. As doms go, Rumlow is the worst kind.

“Captain Rogers is working.” Bucky says coolly, trying not to get riled up. He really doesn’t need to cause a scene.

“You’re right about that…” Rumlow says as Rollins hits the emergency stop button on the elevator. “Question is, is he still working for you?”

Bucky knows he’s in trouble even before he sees the magnetic cuffs.

“You don’t wanna do this.” Bucky warns, looking from Rumlow to Rollins, Pierce and Sitwell.

“Oh, I’ve wanted to do this for years.” Rumlow says as he steps forwards and slams the cuff on Bucky’s left hand. As soon as it closes around his wrist, it slams his arm into the wall of the elevator. “It’s just too bad I didn’t get a chance at that overconfident sub, but from what I hear, someone else already took care of that. No more special treatment for him…”

Bucky bites down hard as not to say something he will regret. From the sound of it, STRIKE is part of the HYDRA infiltration and it scares him a little how that does not surprise him at all. How could they have gone so far without doing anything? How could they not have seen this coming?

“It’s nothing personal…” Rumlow says, pulling out his baton. “Well… Actually, it is!”

That’s all the warning Bucky gets before the staff is slammed into his gut. He grunts and bends over, the left arm still stuck on the wall.

“When I tell Rogers about this, he won’t even blink.” Rumlow continues, as he slams the baton into Bucky’s back and sides. “And when they tell him to shoot your shared little slut, he won’t hesitate.”

It might not be the smartest decision, since he is still pretty much stuck to the wall, but no one gets to insult his lovers. Especially not Rumlow.

Bucky reaches out and grabs Rumlow’s leg, just behind the knee. It’s with his right hand, but Bucky is a big guy and just because that arm is not made of metal does not mean it’s weak. When he pulls, Rumlow’s knees buckle under him and he falls backwards into Rollins, who is standing behind him.

Straightening up quickly, Bucky has to defend himself from Sitwell and Pierce, who are both attacking him next. Luckily, it seems they will not give their attack away by using guns, so at least he doesn’t have to worry about getting shot. He does, however, have to worry about four highly trained specialists with batons wanting to take him out.

Fighting with only his right hand and the left one stuck to the wall behind him is not fun in any way. Slamming a hand into Sitwell’s neck makes him drop his baton and Bucky snatches it out of the air. He has knifes and guns on him, but he would prefer not to kill anyone, even if they are assholes and deserve it.

It’s easier to defend against their sticks with one of his own and standing so close to the wall means that they can’t surround him. It’s still not a fair fight.

Rumlow is on his feet again and seems more than eager to pick up where he left off. The elevator is too cramped for all four of them to hit Bucky at the same time without hitting each other, but even with only three of them, Bucky can’t block all the hits. Being stuck like this means that he can’t get the upper hand.

So he needs to get free.

Most people make the assumption that the arm gets its strength from the mechanical muscles in the upper arm and forearm. While there is some truth to that, those people tend not to think about how much weight Bucky’s shoulder has to carry every day, even with Tony making the arm as light as possible.

Bucky smacks Rollins on the side of the head hard enough to make him stumble into Sitwell and Rumlow and Bucky exploits the break in attacks to turn his shoulder with as much force as he can manage. The sound it makes is bad, but there is enough force behind it to tear the cuff off the wall and Bucky keeps the momentum up, smacking the arm into Rumlows face. The surprised agent collapse in a heap on the floor.

Being able to move again, albeit without getting too close to any metal, makes it easier to fight. His left arm is jerky and unresponsive, but it can still be used as a blunt object when he swings it. He takes Pierce out by banging his head against the wall and Sitwell by kicking him in the face. That leaves Rollins, who pulls a knife, crouching and ready to attack. Bucky waits for him to attack and then turns in the last instant, so Rollins hits his left shoulder and Bucky can slam the end of the baton into his neck.

With the entire STRIKE team unconscious by his feet, Bucky pushes the stop button, making the elevator move again. He takes a look at the arm. The cuff is still on and he’s not sure how to get it off. Tearing the arm free of the wall has twisted the elbow and created a long gash from that to the shoulder.

Bucky is going to kiss Tony all over for making sure there was a failsafe in the sensory systems inside the arm. Much as Bucky likes having some feeling in the metal arm, if he could feel it now, he is pretty sure he would not be able to stand from pain. As it is, the arm is just numb and unresponsive. Sparks fly from the rips in the metal and when they hit his skin, it hurts pretty badly. He needs to get out of here.

The phone only rings once before Phil answers. “Agent Barnes?”

“They know. We need to hurry.” Bucky says, still slightly out of breath.

“Tell Romanov. I’ll get to Fury.” Phil answers before hanging up.

Bucky calls Natasha on his way to medical. People who see him stop and stare and several of the doctors offers to have a look at it, but Bucky brushes them off before finding the people he needs to see. He is not as patient or kind with them as he was with the agents, but they are running out of time and he needs them to move.

He gets texts from Phil and Nat, letting him know that they have found everyone and are leaving. The little debacle in the elevator delayed him and he is the only one still looking for people. He assumes that Fury is on his way out as well.

The last person he finds, a leading doctor on their prosthesis team, the same one who attached his first arm, doesn’t give him any trouble. She knows that he would not ignore the damaged to his arm without good reason and leaves as soon as he tells her. He takes a longer way out to avoid drawing attention to her.

He is almost by the door when he senses it. He can’t tell exactly what alerts him, a sound, movement, a change in the air or something else, or maybe just instincts honed over years in the field, but once again, it saves his life as he ducks behind a pillar a split second before the gunshot rings through the hall.

The screams that fill the air reminds Bucky that most of the people left are not necessarily HYDRA, they just weren’t important enough to be on the kill list. Pulling out a gun and looking carefully out besides the pillar, he sees Rumlow running towards him, his nose bloody and broken and the rest of STRIKE Team close behind.

Bucky fires several shots back towards his attackers, intentionally aiming high above them. The shots are enough to make STRIKE Team dive for covers, but never endangers innocent bystanders. More people are screaming when Bucky dives out from behind the pillar and sprints for the door.

On the outside, he barely makes it five steps before a care pulls up in front of him. He recognizes it as one of the many cars from Tony’s garage and dives in to find Natasha behind the wheel. Before he even has time to close the door, she hits the gas and the care speeds off.

While she drives, Bucky manages to turn himself the right way and even buckle his seatbelt before letting out a sigh. Natasha gives him a sidelong glance. “You okay?”

“’m fine…” Bucky says, arranging the arm so it doesn’t pull on his shoulder. When he is not able to move it, it ends up in awkward and uncomfortable places on its own. “Arms broken. Did everyone get out?”

“Everyone we could get to.” She answers. “Coulson and Fury are taking care of getting everyone to the Tower and settled in. all Stark Industries employees are getting evacuated so they don’t get caught up in anything.”

“Is Tony still at the Tower?” Bucky asks, hoping that his boyfriend will have time to fix him up with another arm. They have some old ones lying around and Tony is always working on making newer, better ones in his sparse spare time.

“He is. And he’s got news…” Natasha says, making a rather illegal turn before speeding towards the Tower.

Chapter Text

“It makes little sense to me.” Thor says, still staring at the pictures. “Loki has no quarrel with Midgard. His anger is with our father.”

“But he does have anger?” Sam asks quickly. Thor’s face falls a little. “Before he left… My brother learned a truth that hurt him greatly. I had hoped…” Thor stops and shakes his head with a sigh.

“What kind of truth?” Sam asks carefully. At Thor’s hesitation, Sam gently continues. “Maybe it made him react in a way you didn’t expect. We can better help you if you tell us.”

“He… He learned that he is my brother in name only…” Thor says, his normally booming voice going very quiet. “Our father… My father found him as a child after defeating the Frost Giants of Jotunheim…”

“Oh…” Sam says, looking from Thor to Clint, who just shrugs. “And… Loki was… A child of one of these Frost Giants?”

“He was the son of their king, Laufey, whom my father had slain in the battle.” Thor says solemnly.

“That’s… Probably not very good…” Sam says.

“But it give Loki no reason to come to Midgard.” Thor says again, sounding so sad and confused. “No reason to join forces with your foe.”

“But he did.” Tony says, turning from his screens. He doesn’t have time for this. “We’ll find out more about why when we find them. Tell me about her.” He points to the drawing of the woman. “Tell me what you mean, when you call her a powerful sorceress?”

“Lorelei can bend the will of men to match her own. Her voice will compel any sub to serve her.” Thor says.

“But Steve is a dom and a stubborn one at that.” Tony says. He has never known Steve to do anything he didn’t consciously choose to do.

“The touch of Lorelei will make even the strongest dom serve her.” Thor says, something like apology in his eyes. Tony looks away, only to see Clint pale a little. “What?”

“She… Steve didn’t start acting strange before she put a hand on his cheek… But I felt… Something… Like wanting to be close to her…” Clint says quietly, putting his arms around himself and looking away. Sam gently puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Is there a way to break her… Spell?” Tony says, looking back at Thor in the hope that a semblance of privacy will give his friend some comfort. Tony already hates magic. “A way to reverse it?”

“A muzzle will quiet her voice and take the power from her touch, although I have none with me.” Thor says thoughtfully.

“Do you know how it works? Can you explain it to me?” Tony says, already making the preparations in his head.

“I am not as skilled in the arts of magic as my brother, but I know what is needed, even if I cannot make it.” Thor says.

“I can make it. Just tell me how.” Tony says firmly. He is not going to let anyone take Steve away from him, not when the soldier is one of the main reasons Tony is feeling safe and happy and loved. Not when Steve is his boyfriend and Tony loves him. He is not going to let anyone take Steve away ever.

Tony leads the four of them to his workshop, making JARVIS turn off all other projects so they can focus on the muzzle. As Thor starts explaining what is needed to make it, Sam pulls Clint away to a quiet corner of the workshop to talk. Tony has heard a lot about ‘therapist Sam’ and meeting him has really not made a big difference in what he thinks about the man. Sam helped his friend get better after being tortured by HYDRA and that’s really all Tony needs to know about him.

At some point, Tony has no idea when because he is absorbed in work, Sam and Clint come over and offer to help. Tony makes Sam help with finding thing, holding things and getting coffee while he get Clint to work with JARVIS to search for any traces of Lorelei, Loki or Steve.

He doesn’t notice that the others are back before Bucky puts his right hand on Tony’s arm, forcing him to put down the muzzle he is working on. Tony looks up in surprise to see his boyfriend standing right in front of him, sparks flying from his left arm.

“Buck! What happened?” Tony gasps, almost falling over his own feet to have a look at the damaged.

“STRIKE Team is HYDRA. They attacked me, I had to break it to get free.” Bucky says, then winces when a spark hits his shoulder.

“Here, come. Sit.” Tony leads him to a chair and quickly finds the tools he needs to dismantle the arm and free Bucky of any pain. Somewhere else in the workshop, he can hear the others talk, but Tony is too concerned about Bucky to listen properly. Sam seems to be telling Phil and Natasha about what they have found out.

Tony focuses on taking the arm off. The damaged is too extensive for him to repair while it’s on Bucky, so he needs to replace it. There is no time for proper repairs. Bucky doesn’t say anything while he works, but Tony can feel the storm grey eyes on him whenever he moves.

He replaces the arm with on older model. It’s a little heavier and bulkier than the one he had before, but it works just as well and Bucky never complained about the extra weight.

“Tony…” Bucky says softly when Tony is done making sure the new arm is working. “When was the last time you slept?”

“Dunno.” Tony shrugs, making sure the fingers are working properly. He doesn’t have time to sleep. There is too much to do.

“Tony…” Bucky says carefully, reaching for him.

“I’m fine.” Tony says firmly, pulling away from him. He is. This is far from the longest he has gone without sleep. He needs to keep going. He can’t lose momentum now.

“Sweetheart…” Bucky gently takes his hand, stopping him from moving too far. Bucky could command him, force him to listen, but he doesn’t. He never does. In reality, he doesn’t even have to. Bucky is so much stronger than Tony, he could just drag the engineer from the workshop. But he doesn’t do that either.

“Please…” Bucky says softly, getting up and putting his arms around Tony. He moves the left a little slower, a little more carefully. Tony resists a little, but Bucky is warm and soft and firm at the same time. Suddenly, Tony feels incredibly tired and fragile and cold.

“Bucky…” He whispers.” I… I need…”

“I know…” Bucky says softly, kissing his hair. “Me too… Come on…”

This time, Tony doesn’t resist as Bucky gently guides him towards the elevator. Tony is surprised to see that only Natasha, Bruce, Sam and Thor are in the workshop.

“Where… Where is…” Tony says, looking around.

“Phil and Clint left a little while ago. Nat took over the search and Thor and Sam can work on the muzzle alone for a while, they know what to do and Bruce is helping them. Fury is still dealing with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the tower.” Bucky explains. Tony just nods, leaning into Bucky’s side as they get to the elevator.

When the elevator stops at their floor, Bucky picks Tony up and carries him to the apartment. “Are you hungry baby?” He asks softly, walking to the kitchen. “Have you eaten anything since we had dinner together?”

“Power bar in the workshop…” Tony mumbles, resting his head on Bucky’s shoulder. Sam had given it to him after he had yelled at DUM-E for dropping a screwdriver. It had helped a little.

“No wonder you are falling over your own feet.” Bucky says, putting Tony down on the couch. “You can’t get by on coffee alone.”

He moves to stand and Tony whimpers a little. He doesn’t want to be alone. Being alone means being cold. He needs Bucky to stay.

“It’s okay baby, I’m just going to grab some food.” Bucky kisses him firmly and wraps Tony in a blanket. “I’ll be right back, I promise.”

Then he is gone and Tony curls up in the blanket, holding on to the warmth from the kiss.

Bucky does come back a few moments later, carrying a plate and several bottles of water. He sits down next to Tony, unwrapping the blanket just enough to get it around both of them and putting an arm around Tony’s shoulders. “There… How are you feeling Tony?”

Tony makes a small sound, borrowing into Bucky’s side and hiding his face in his neck. He wants to answer, but he can’t find the words. Luckily, Bucky doesn’t mind. “It’s okay baby… I’ll take care of you… Can you sit up a little so we can eat?”

With Bucky’s help, Tony sits up properly and Bucky slowly feeds him whatever leftovers he found in the fridge. It’s not something they do much. Mostly, Tony prefers to eat on his own. Being fed makes him feel helpless and childlike, but this once it feels nice.

When they are done eating, Bucky makes him drink almost an entire bottle of water and runs a hand through his hair. “Do you think you can go under for me? I think it would be good for you to drift a little…”

“I… I should…” Tony looks at the door. He needs to go to the workshop, to get back on the muzzle and help with the search.

“You can’t help them if you’re falling apart.” Bucky says, gently turning Tony’s face back towards him.

“But I… I need… Steve…” It’s hardly more than a whisper. Bucky’s eyes are soft. “I know… We will find him Tony, I promise. But he would want you to be okay.”

“He’s… He’s out there… I have to… That woman… She has him… She did something… We have to find him… I can’t… I can’t lose him… I can’t…” Tony is not aware he’s crying before Bucky pulls him in close and starts rocking him gently. He only knows he is shaking because it’s hard to focus.

“Shhh… Shh, it’s okay… We’ll find him, I promise… It’s going to be okay… We’ll find him, you and me… I know you are worried… I’m worried too… But we will find him, we will…” Bucky says gently, petting Tony’s hair and kissing him in between words. “You know he needs us… Our poor Stevie, he can’t function without us to take care of him… He’ll just end up working too hard and running laps… He needs us… We’ll find him…”

The promises help a little and Tony slowly stops shaking. The tears take a little longer to stop. Then he is just leaning against Bucky, feeling spent and exhausted.

“Just breath Tony… I know you want to go help… You’ve helped so much already… You’ve done so much… You don’t have to do anything else right now… You just have to relax and listen to me… You have done real good today… I’m so proud of you… You are so smart sweetheart… That’s why I know we’ll find Steve… Because we have you…”

Bucky’s voice is warm and gentle, slowly making Tony’s world grow fuzzy. He really should go do more work, there is so much to do and they still have no idea where Steve is, but it feels so good. Bucky’s arms are strong and holding him close. He can feel the rumble of Bucky’s words in his chest when the soldier talks. He can feel the beat of his heart. It makes Tony feel relaxed and safe.

Too tired to fight it, Tony lets Bucky’s voice guide him to the soft, dark place where nothing can hurt him.

When Tony wakes up some time later, Bucky’s heartbeat is no longer steady. Tony turns a little to see that, even though he is asleep, there is a faint line on his brow and he is making a quiet, distressed sound.

Tony places a hand on his lover’s chest, feeling the quickened heartbeat underneath. “Bucky… Bucky, baby, wake up… You’re dreaming… Wake up Buck…”

Bucky’s eyes spring up with a gasp and for a moment he just stares unseeing. Then he blinks a few times, looking confused. “Tony?”

“I’m here.” Tony says, kissing him softly. “It was just a nightmare…”

Bucky sighs, pulling Tony close for a moment before kissing him on the cheek.

“Was it about Stevie?” Tony asks, rubbing a gentle circle over Bucky’s slowing heart.

“Yeah, I… We need to find him…” Bucky says, looking away the way he only does when he thinks about how he lost his arm. Tony knows he was tortured, but Bucky never told him or Steve exactly what they did. It’s not the first time Steve or Tony have taken Bucky’s place in the soldier’s dreams.

“We will… We’ll… We can go see if the others have found anything now. I’m okay…” Tony says, trying for a smile. It doesn’t feel quite right, but it seems to be enough.

In the workshop they are met by the smell of coffee and Phil, Sam, Thor and Clint, all looking at the many different screens still searching for clues on the whereabouts of Steve Rogers. Without a word, Clint just hands Tony a cup of coffee and points to Sam and Thor. Sipping his coffee, Tony goes to the two men.

“We’re almost done.” Sam says, showing Tony what now looks like an actual muzzle. “We need you for the final adjustments.”

“Let’s get it done then.” Tony says, draining his cup and turning his full attention to the muzzle.

Making the magical-scientifically Asgardian-inspired muzzle had turned out to be easy enough, when he got over the fact that Thor didn’t know any scientific words at all and had different names for all the things they needed. When they had found a common language, making the muzzle had been simple enough. Thor had done some things that Tony couldn’t explain (yet), but the blonde assured him it would work. They are almost done with it when Natasha shows up with Bruce and Fury.

“Did anyone else notice there were only a few leaders on the kill list?” Natasha says after having watched them work for a few minutes.

“Is that important?” Sam asks, looking up from the muzzle.

“The kill list was to make sure HYDRA could take over S.H.I.E.L.D. When you take something over, you take out all the leaders that might go against you. So, if they don’t need to kill off more leaders…” Phil says.

“They already control them.” Sam realizes. “That’s… Really bad, isn’t it?”

“Really bad.” Fury agrees. “It means that most of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been run by HYDRA for who knows how long. It also means that we have a lot of work to do to root them out.”

“We can’t rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. Not in any way we know it. We need to flush any and all HYDRA out before we can do anything else. We need to start over.” Phil says quietly.

Tony looks around the room. It’s easy enough for him, he never really had any strong ties to S.H.I.E.L.D., but most of his friends have been working there for most of their lives. For a lot of them, it was where they met. It was the first place Clint got any recognition for his skills, the first place Natasha felt like she had a family, it was the only thing that made sense in Phil’s life for years, it was where Bucky lost his arm and got a new one, it was where Steve became a leader and gathered them together. Letting go of that, losing it to the enemy like that, must be incredibly hard for them.

“So we start over.” Tony says firmly. “And we make something better. We makes sure HYDRA can never do anything like this again.”

Chapter Text

Fury tells them about Project Insight. It’s bad, but that just seems to be how everything is right now. Going from bad to worse. No one else talks as the Director explains about the three helicarriers outfitted with every weapon imaginable and ready to lock on the DNA of any target suspected of being a threat. No one talks for a long time after he is done either and somewhere, Tony is glad Steve is not there to hear it. He would be livid.

They are set for launch later in the day and now, HYDRA has control of them. All of them.

“They don’t even need that Kill List anymore.” Clint sighs after a while, resting his head in his hand. He looks as tired as Tony feels. The archer turns to look at the engineer. “Any chance you can shut them off?”

“Not from here. I’d need to be on one of them to hack it, but they are probably interconnected, so anyone of them would do.” Tony says, drumming rapidly on his chest with two fingers until Bucky gently takes his hand to stop him. It’s a nervous habit. He really should stop doing it.

“So we get Stark on one of them and he makes them shoot each other out of the sky.” Fury says. “End of HYDRA.”

“That’s not enough.” Phil says, looking firmly at Fury. “This should never have happened. There are too many secrets Nick. HYDRA is in more places than S.H.I.E.L.D. and we won’t end them without exposing all of them.”

“What would you have us do?” Fury asks, a dangerous note in his voice. Tony has never heard of anyone calling Fury by first name and it makes him a little nervous.

“We share all the files Barton and Wilson brought back and everything else S.H.I.E.L.D. has. We expose HYDRA and everything else that’s corrupt. We let the world know. No more secrets.” Phil says.

“You will expose us as well. All of us, all missions, all agents.” Fury says.

“So that’s what we do.” Natasha says calmly. “No more HYDRA. No more S.H.I.E.L.D. No more secrets.”

No one speaks for a moment. All missions, all agents mean that there will be no secrets for the team either. Not about what Natasha and Clint did before joining, not about what Phil has done for S.H.I.E.L.D., not about how Bucky lost his arm. Tony looks at his friends, his family, knowing this is not a decision he can help make. He doesn’t have to. They all seem to have made up their minds.

“That still leaves us with having to get Tony on a helicarrier filled with HYDRA.” Bucky says. He is still holding a hand over Tony’s, covering his heart.

“He will not be alone.” Thor says. “Friend Stark, I would accompany you in this fight. There is hope that my brother will be there.”

“We should probably all go.” Clint says. “There is going to be a lot of HYDRA, maybe Lorelei and Steve as well. It’ll take the whole team.”

“Agreed.” Natasha says. “Bruce will stay here with Agent Hill and start getting the data out. JARVIS can assist with that, right?”

“It would be my pleasure, Agent Romanov.” JARVIS answers.

“Good. Let’s go take down HYRDA…”

Preparations are quick and efficient. Tony dons his nano-tech, which have yet to be tested in the field, but this mission requires stealth and none of his suits are suited for that kind of work. He usually doesn’t go on these missions. The nano-tech is practically invisible until activated, so he can avoid too much attention. Well, as much attention as Tony Stark can avoid. Everyone else is suiting up in quiet concentration. Fury is going with them, but only after promising to defer to Natasha for leadership. He and Phil are not really Avengers and are only allowed on the team as long as they behave. It’s never been a problem for Phil.

The jet is quiet. Clint is flying with Phil to assist, leaving the rest of them to mentally prepare for the mission and be briefed by Natasha. “Out top priority is to stop the launch before they get a chance to fire. The goal is to get Iron Man close enough to hack them and turn them on each other. Failing that, we need to destroy them any way possible.”

Tony hands out a series of small connectors. “If any of you can get to a control panel, plug this in. It should make it possible for me to hack into their systems if I can’t get to them myself.”

“And if Steve shows up?” Bucky asks Natasha.

“Our priority is taking the helicarriers down. Much as we all want to, saving Captain America is secondary.” She says, something hard in her face that comes from making a decision nobody likes. Bucky doesn’t answer.

Tony looks around at the group. Clint and Phil, listening quietly from the front of the plane. Bucky with a cold, hard look in his eyes that Tony isn’t used to. Natasha with her arms folded across her chest, forced to choose a thousand lives over a friend. Thor watching quietly, part of a struggle he has no true involvement in, in the hopes to find his lost brother. Fury, helping to tear down everything he helped build. Sam, the newest member of their little team, adjusting the wings that Tony just had a chance to tune up before leaving. They are all expecting this to be bad. They are all prepared to go anyway.

Closing the faceplate to hide his own worry, Tony pulls up a map of the area to get an idea of how to approach the helicarriers. All three of them were set to launch from bay under the Potomac River next to the Triskellion. Getting there was easy enough. Getting inside one would be trouble.

They split up into teams, targeting one helicarrier each, hoping to divide their enemy between them and letting at least one group get close enough to take over and stop them. Tony and Bucky would go for one, Clint, Phil and Thor another while Sam, Natasha and Fury would go for the last one, putting a flyer on each team should the helicarrier get too far off the ground. Thor had explained what he could do and would hopefully prove a great asset, both as a heavy hitter and a surprise to HYDRA. His powers were also the key factor in one of Tony’s several back-up plans.

They land the plane a good distance away from the Triskelion and split up from there. Bucky leads the way and Tony follows as quietly as he can. He is not exactly trained for this kind of secrecy and moves with a lot more sound than Bucky does. Bucky is eerily still when he moves, hardly making a sound at all.

While Sam, Nat and Fury go in through the front door both Clint, Phil and Thor and Tony and Bucky sneak in through hidden entrances to avoid attention. As it turns out, there are several secret ways into the Triskelion and Bucky knows more than a few.

Without meeting anyone they get into the building and make their way to the launch pads. They are moving down a fire escape when the alarm starts blaring, letting them know that Phil and Clint have started the evacuation. Hopefully, all non-HYDRA will leave so they can avoid unnecessary casualties. They argued about that for a while, knowing it will alert HYDRA that something is going on, but in the end they agreed to try and save as many lives as possible.

They arrive in the launch bay as another alarm starts going off to see people moving about in a hurry. The helicarries are whirring and buzzing, preparing to launch. The roof above is moving, opening to let the carriers out into the world.

Bucky makes a quick motion with his hand and they move faster, running in between the many presumably HYDRA agents on the ground next to the carriers. Before they get a chance to get over the surprise of seeing the two Avengers moving towards the platform, Bucky has a gun in each hand, shooting the ones who move towards them. Tapping his chest twice, Tony activates the nano-tech and is almost instantaneously enveloped in an Iron Man suit. He takes off, following Bucky from the air and taking out enemies who are still too far away from Bucky to be hit by his guns. They make it to the helicarrier without much resistance and it’s no problem to force the door open and get inside. Once inside, Tony welds the door shut to make sure no one follows them.

Bucky pauses, looking around carefully. “Where to now?”

“Control room. This way.” Tony says, moving quickly through the hull of the helicarrier. They meet several HYDRA agents on the way but none of them pose a threat to Iron Man and the Winter Soldier.

They don’t slow down until they reach a larger empty area in front of what the blueprints claim is the control room and meet a familiar figure. The shock is enough to make both of them stop.

He looks different. It’s not just the beard or the longer hair. The uniform is new, black with red markings and a well-known, unwelcome symbol on the shoulder. Even the shield is changed, painted black with the red symbol of HYDRA on the front.

They painted over the star.

“Steve?” Tony says, voice quiet and filled with surprise.

The soldier hardly reacts, his eyes flicking briefly to Tony, more of an assessment of the threat than a reaction to his name. Then he lifts his right hand, pointing a gun at Bucky.

“Whoa, hey, Stevie, it’s us.” Tony quickly steps in front of Bucky, shielding him with his armor and opening the faceplate so Steve can see his face. “It’s us baby. Don’t you know us?”

“You are a threat to the mission.” Steve says, his voice firm. “Leave now so I won’t have to hurt you.”

“Hurt us?” Bucky takes a step out from behind Tony so he can see his lovers face. “What are you talking about? What happened? Are you okay?”

“You are a threat to the mission.” Steve repeats, adjusting his aim towards Bucky’s chest. “Leave now.”

“We are not going to leave.” Tony says, sounding more secure than he feels. “Not without you.”

“Then you will die.” Steve says and fires the gun.

Years in the field have honed survival instincts and reflexes to save lives and they do exactly that when Bucky quickly raises his arm to deflect the bullet and the faceplate slides into place to protect Tony. Bucky swears profoundly in Russian and Tony consciously does not have his suit translate. He knows Bucky well enough to get the gist of it. He feels the same.

Steve fires again and Tony hurries in front of Bucky, giving him more cover than the arm alone. It works well enough until Steve throws the shield, hitting Tony in the head and sending him staggering a few steps back. Bucky uses Steve’s distraction to move around Tony and attack the soldier.

“Fuck Steve. It’s us!” Bucky yells as he punches Steve in the ribs with his right hand. “Don’t shoot at us! Don’t shoot at Tony!”

“You’re… A threat!” Steve grunts, gripping the shield as it spins back to him, because of course it does. He was always a wonder with that thing, knowing exactly how to throw it so it would return to him afterwards.

Tony shoots at the shield, knocking it away from Steve before he can use it to hurt Bucky. At the same time, Bucky grabs for the gun, but Steve moves too fast and gets it away from him. With the two of them tangled up so close and punching each other, it’s almost impossible for Tony to get a clear shot.

Behind him, a door slides open. Tony turns around to see a minor army of HYDRA soldiers in black uniforms moving in, guns raised. Hoping that Bucky can keep their surprisingly hostile boyfriend occupied, Tony turns his attention to the newcomers. It’s easier, really, than fighting Steve. Both because none of the HYDRA soldiers have the skills or training Steve has and because they are not Tony’s much-loved boyfriend. He can’t wrap his mind around fighting Steve.

He can hear Bucky and Steve fight somewhere behind him, but Tony doesn’t turn. He keeps his attention on the oncoming attack and makes sure none of the HYDRA agents gets past him to the two soldiers.

Several of the agents shoot at him, but the armor was made to withstand more than bullets and none of them really pose a threat to him. The confined space makes it hard for him to use his full arsenal, but there are several things that work close range. For a while, he doesn’t notice anything but the oncoming enemies and how to deal with them. Then Bucky is hurled through the air next to him, into the last two HYDRA agents, who collapse under him. None of them get up after that.

Tony turns and finds himself face to face with a very menacing Steve Rogers. His eyes are cold and before Tony can do anything, Steve reaches up and grabs the failsafe on the side of Tony’s chest piece. It’s been there since the first time he fought in the suit and they had no way to remove it afterwards. In the blink of an eye, the suit retracts, leaving Tony in his undershirt and a pair of boxer shorts.

“Steve, don’t… It’s me…” Tony says, looking at his lover. “Don’t you know me?”

“I do.” Steve says, his voice unnervingly calm. Then he slams the handle of the gun to the side of Tony’s face, making the smaller man collapse on the floor. Tony’s head is ringing and he can taste blood. It takes him a moment to focus again and when he does, he sees Steve stand over him, a gun pointed at his face. “I did love you. But now you are the enemy.”

“That’s… That’s not true… Stevie…” Tony whispers. He can feel the hot tears on his face and does nothing to hide them. This can’t be happening. Everything about it is wrong. Steve always protected him. Steve kept him safe.

“You promised you would always find me Steve.” Tony yells, fear and anger and worry bleeding into one inside him. “I need you to find me now. I need you, Steve, find me! Please! Find me!”

For a brief second, Steve hesitates. His eyes change, something almost like recognition behind the cold hostility. The gun hangs motionless in the air between them.

Then Bucky slams into Steve, grabbing the gun with his left hand and crushing it into scraps. Before Steve can recover from the hit, Bucky turns his metal arm on him, hitting his face hard enough that Steve collapses on the floor.

When he is sure Steve isn’t moving, Bucky kneels down next to Tony, reaching for him gently. “Tony… Baby, are you okay? Did… Did he…”

Tony just shakes his head, forgetting for a moment where they are as he hides in Bucky’s arms.

“I’ve got you… I’m here, I’ve got you…” Bucky says softly, holding Tony close. “He didn’t mean any of it… Steve would never hurt you… They did something to him, that woman… We’ll help him… It’s going to be okay…”

For as long as he will allow himself, Tony just breathes in the smell of Bucky and feels the warm safety of his arms. Then he pushes away and gets to his feet. “I’m okay… We… We have to stop this… Keep an eye on him, then I’ll…” He looks towards the door Steve was guarding.

Bucky’s mouth is a thin line of worry, but he nods and finds some strips to tie up Steve while Tony goes to what turns out to be the control room. He activates the nano-tech, letting the armor surround him again.

“I’m in.” He tells the others. “I’ll be turning the helicarries on each other in a moment. Get ready to get as far away from them as possible.”

“Roger that Iron Man. We’re moving out.” Comes Natasha’s answer. Tony trusts her to get her team to safety.

“Understood.” Agent Coulson replies. With the knowledge that his friends are leaving the danger zone, Tony starts turning the hellicarriers against each other.

“I’m setting a five minute delay.” Tony says, his hands flying over the keyboard. “Winter Soldier, you better start hauling the good Captain out of here.”

“Aren’t you coming?” Bucky asks, clearly unwilling to leave Tony even if he basically got an order to.

“I’ll be out as soon as I’m done.” Tony says, focusing on the screen in front of him. It’s not hard to reprogram the helicarriers, not with JARVIS helping. It’s made to be aimed by non-Tony-Stark-people, so it has a pretty robust targeting system. They delay is simple enough to set up as well and in a few minutes, everything is ready. Soon, the helicarriers will shoot each other out of the sky. It should be enough. Still…

“Thor. Think you can add a little sparkle when the fireworks starts?” Tony asks with a smile.

“It would be my genuine pleasure friend Stark.” Comes Thor’s answer through the comms.

Satisfied, and with some help from his booster rockets, Tony makes his way towards the door. He finds Bucky with a still unconscious Steve moving slowly and takes the Captain so Bucky doesn’t have to struggle with him. When they reach the door and find that they are already high above the city, Tony is very pleased to know that any non-flying Avenger (and Phil and Fury) have been outfitted with a parachute of Tony’s own design.

With Bucky’s help, they arrange Steve so Tony can fly and carry him at the same time. Then Bucky pulls the door off and jumps from the plane. Tony has a brief moment of fierce pride that Bucky doesn’t even hesitate to jump from a plane on nothing more than Tony’s word he will be safe, before following him.

In the distance, his scanners pick up movement from the other planes and he identifies it as the other Avengers leaving the helicarriers. A moment later, the shooting starts. Just after that, lightning splits the sky and hits the carriers. Tony and the others are barely on the ground when the first of the helicarriers crashes into the Potomac River, quickly followed by the burning wrecks of its two brothers.

Chapter Text

Sneaking someone who claims to be the Norse god of thunder into S.H.I.E.L.D. turns out to be surprisingly easy. Both Phil and Clint have been in situations where they wanted to leave work without being seen, so they know where to go. Despite the benefit for sneaking in, Clint can almost hear Phil noting all the surveillance errors and figuring out how to fix them.

The move through the parking garage, doing their best to keep Thor quiet. Apparently sneaking is not included in his otherwise impressive skillset.

“You are a sub as Stark?” Thor asks as they move up a deserted flight of stairs. At least he is not as boisterous as he was back at the Tower.

“I’m much more than my designation.” Clint says, perhaps a little harder than necessary.

“Forgive me friend Barton.” Thor says, looking truly sorry. “I am still unfamiliar with you Midgardian’s aversion towards designations.”

“It’s not all of us.” Clint says, getting an odd look from Phil, but the agent doesn’t say anything. “Most people are pretty happy with what they are. It’s just… The world hasn’t been too kind to me because of my being a sub. I’m not comfortable talking about it.”

“I see…” Thor looks thoughtful. “I have learned recently that my brother is troubled by his designation as well. It is something I wish to understand better. Phil, son of Coul, has been kind to share his knowledge, but he is dominant as myself and therefore cannot understand submissives as well as you.”

Clint smiles a little. Phil is making sure no one sees them, so it’s safe enough for them to talk if they keep their voices low. “We’re not all the same. But it can be hard. Not as much as it has been, but often subs are still seen as lesser than doms and that can be really hard. Being treated like we are worth less because of something we have no choice in, is… It’s not fun…”

Thor nods. “I see… Loki said he only wanted to be my equal… I think I understand better now… It was never my wish to belittle him, but my actions may have seemed such to him…”

Clint doesn’t answer. At least Thor is trying to understand. It’s more than can be said about most doms.

They don’t get to talk much more as they get to busier halls and have to be quiet to avoid detection. They are almost at the launch pads when Phil stops. “Here is as good as any place.”

Clint nods and jumps up on the filing cabinet next to them. Sitting on it places him directly below the smoke detector and when he lights a small piece of paper on fire, it only takes a few seconds for the alarm to start shrieking. It’s very unpleasant and for a brief second, Clint is back at the floor in front of the man, blinding lights and deafening sounds.

It’s only for a second, though, and Clint jumps down again next to Phil.

They move quicker after that, getting to the launch bay where another alarm is ringing and people are running all over. The helicarriers are just about to take off, and somewhere off to their left, Clint sees Tony and Bucky speeding towards their carrier. He looks back in time to see Phil give the sign and then they are running as well.

Thor easily opens the helicarrier door and they move inside just as it lifts off the ground. Inside are several HYDRA soldiers, but between Thor, Phil and himself, Clint is not worried.

They hardly slow down to deal with their enemies and move quickly towards their target, the control room. The hope is still that Tony will get there first and take care of it, but if something prevents him, they need a back up plan.

They fight their way through the hull of the helicarrier until they reach a larger room filled with equipment. The control room. Clint would have expected it to be better guarded, but inside they only find two people. The woman who took Steve and her dark-haired companion. Lorelei and Loki. Lorelei is wearing a long dress and would fit better in at one of Tony’s partiers than on the helicarrier. Loki is dressed in black and green armor, holding a long spear in his hands.

Lorelei is smiling. “Thor. How wonderful to see you, my liege. Welcome.”

“Lorelei.” Thor says carefully, stepping in front of Phil and Clint. “Why are you here?”

“This world needs a queen.” Lorelei smiles, making a sweeping gesture with her hand.

“It is not yours to rule.” Thor says firmly, but Lorelei just smiles. “All men are mine to rule.”

“Brother…” Thor tries, turning to the man next to Lorelei. “You cannot agree with this.”

“I’m not your brother…” Loki says, his voice quiet and slow.

“Disappointing, isn’t it?” Lorelei says. Clint isn’t sure if she is talking to Thor or Loki.

“Listen, ma’am.” Phil says calmly, stepping in front of Thor. “I’m going to have to ask you to move. We cannot allow this plane to take off.”

“It seems they have come to stop us…” Lorelei says softly, walking closer to Loki and smiling at him. “We can’t have that, can we, puppet?”

Loki’s hand grips the spear tighter and suddenly they are surrounded by him, each one a perfect copy of the original. For a brief second, nobody moves, Phil and Clint simply too surprised to react. Then the Lokis move as one, attacking them en masse. Most of them disappear on impact with them, even as they try to defend themselves, and then suddenly one of them will land a painful hit.

“Loki! Call back your illusions!” Thor yells, throwing his hammer at an enemy that turns out to be nothing. He gets no answer.

Being in the middle of so many enemies means they can hardly see each other. It’s as efficient as a smoke screen and Clint finds himself separated from the others. He can hear them fighting, but he can’t see anything but the dark-haired Asgardian. At least not until Lorelei is suddenly in front of him, making the illusions draw back a little.

“I remember you…” Her voice is honeyed sweet, making his skin crawl. “I seem to have underestimated you…”

“Sorry to disappoint you.” Clint says, aiming his bow at her, but before he can let the arrow fly, she speaks again. “You don’t want to do that, sweet sub. You don’t want to hurt me. I’m not the enemy. The ones you came with, they are. Kill the dominant and I will let you serve me. Kill the Odinson and I will make you my consort.”

The words are tantalizing, hypnotic. They pull at him in a way he hasn’t felt in years. He can resist commands, he does resist most commands unless they are from Phil, but this is different. He is still holding the bow, aiming at Lorelei, but he has yet to take the shot. She is too close for him to miss, but his hands are trembling and unmoving.

“Kill them.” Lorelei says. Her voice and brown eyes seems to be the entirety of Clint’s world by now. “Kill them for me.”

He should kill them. He could. He is skilled enough. They are distracted by the illusions. Thor doesn’t know his skills, doesn’t know what he can do. It will be easy to surprise him. Phil is different. Phil knows him. Phil knows what he can do, he is the reason Clint is as skilled as he is by now. Phil took a chance with him, trusted him to be more than just a runaway carney sub. Phil trusts him every day with his love.

Clint takes a wobbly step backwards, shaking his head to clear it. “No…”

“No?” Lorelei seems surprised. “Are you saying no to me sub?”

Clint doesn’t answer. It takes all of his concentration to focus on not doing what she wants. He is all too aware that he won’t be able to resist her for long.

“How dare you say no to me?” Lorelei says, a hint of anger in her melodic voice. “I’m offering you a reason to live, to serve your queen. If you know what is good for you, you will kneel before me and beg forgiveness. Kneel!”

Everything in Clint is screaming to obey. His knees feel like jelly, his body is shaking. It physically hurts to stay on his feet. He really, really wants to kneel.

Before he does, a hammer hurtles through the air between them, slamming into the wall next to them. The explosion throws both Clint and Lorelei through the air. Clint loses sight of Lorelei as he tumbles into someone else and they both fall to the floor.

He is surprised to find the confused blue-green eyes of Loki looking back at him when he untangles himself. Not so surprised that he doesn’t react though, and Clint quickly grabs Loki’s hands, forcing the spear to the ground. It turns out that Loki is not as strong as Cling and the spear is not really a useful weapon when fighting this close. They are both still on the floor, making it hard for Loki to get away from Clint.

Still holding on to Loki’s hands, Clint pushes his shoulder into the Asgardian’s chest, punching the air out of him. While he is stunned, Clint grabs both wrists with one hand, so he can grab Loki’s collar with the other hand and pull him in for a headbutt. Loki groans and falls back on the floor, blood running from his nose.

The room seems to become brighter as the illusions disappear. Luckily, taking out the original seems to make the magic falter.

Looking up, Clint sees Thor and Phil, both quickly adjusting to the surprise of the disappearing illusions. Lorelei looks angry now, her beautiful features contorted with the unfamiliar feeling. Then it’s gone, replaced with an alluring smile. “You don’t want to hurt me. You only wanted to prove yourself worthy to serve me.”

The words makes it very hard to focus, because they are the truth, aren’t they? It makes sense. Why else would they be here?

“You have pleased me greatly.” Lorelei says, making a shiver run through Clint. This is what he wants. All he wants. To please her. But there was something else, wasn’t there? Turning his eyes away from her beauty for a moment, he sees that both Thor and Phil are staring at Lorelei, their faces displaying confusion. They are hesitating. Lorelei steps forwards, reaching out for Phil.

“No!” Clint is surprised to hear himself shout and all eyes turn to him. Lorelei’s hand hangs motionless in the air in front of Phil’s face. “There’s… We have a gift…”

“A gift for me?” Lorelei says, turning from Phil to face Clint, something greedy in her brown eyes.

“Yes… Yes, of course.” Thor booms, a look of understanding on his face. “While it cannot rival your beauty, it is but a small token of our esteem for you, loveliest Lorelei.”

With Lorelei’s attention fully on Thor now, Clint steps over to take Phil’s hand. It feels easier to resist her voice when he is close to Phil. Normally Phil is very firm about PDA on missions, but for once he just holds on to Clint without comment.

“And what is this present, then?” Lorelei asks, tilting her hear a little. Phil slowly moves behind her, making as little sound as the wind. Clint, still holding his hand, follows just as quiet.

“A necklace, to adorn your beautiful neck.” Thor says, taking the muzzle out. It does look a little like a necklace when folded up. They agreed to let Thor have it because he was the only one who had dealt with Lorelei before and Clint is very thankful for that. He and Phil are right behind Lorelei now.

“A necklace you say?” Lorelei says, looking carefully at the muzzle. “It seems an unusual necklace… How did you know to bring it to me here? You seemed surprised when first you saw me…”

“I… Ah…. One should always carry gifts for a lady…” Thor says, looking a little sheepish. Lorelei tilts her head again, obviously suspicious and Thor gives up the ruse. “Now friends!”

Moving like one, Phil and Clint jump forwards, gripping Lorelei from behind. Thor unfolds the muzzle quickly and steps up to her.

“Let go of me! Let me – “ Lorelei shrieks until Thor clamps the muzzle over her face, efficiently shutting her up. By then, both Phil and Clint have let go, Lorelei’s power much harder to resist when touching her. As soon as the muzzle is on, though, the effect vanishes and Clint feels a little foolish for obeying like that. Phil quickly grabs Lorelei’s hands and ties them up so she can’t take the muzzle off.

Thor looks relieved. “You have my gratitude, friends. Lorelei is a dangerous woman and capturing her alone is only done with much difficulty.”

“I’m just happy you knew what to do. Seems like she had plans for our world.” Phil says, handling Lorelei over to Thor before going to have a look at the control panel.

Clint walks over to Loki, who is still unmoving on the floor.

“You need a zip tie for that one Barton?” Phil asks without looking up, already working on getting into the helicarriers systems.

“He doesn’t need one…” Clint says.

Phil looks up at that. “Barton…” There is a warning there. A special ‘don’t do anything stupid’ that Phil reserved for Clint even before they were together. It most likely comes from the fact that Clint is often prone to doing stupid things. This is not one of them. He is sure of it.

“You’re okay… We are not going to hurt you…” Clint says carefully, kneeling down next to Loki, only to have the Asgardian pull away a little. His eyes are very green now, confirming Clint’s suspicions. “I know you must be scared and confused… Just let us help you…”

Clint holds put his hands, seeing the way Loki’s eyes flit around the room, from Clint’s outstretched hand, to Thor, Lorelei, Phil and back to Clint. He is shaking visibly now. Even if Thor had not told him, it would be clear to him that Loki is a sub, and one that is not doing good. Lorelei must not be a kind dom to have him end like this. Then again, she tried to control Clint to kill his love. She might be unkind in more ways than one.

“Let me help you…” He says again, not moving his hand. It seems like Thor is trying very hard not to interrupt, like he wants to move closer or say something, but is doing everything he can to trust this to Clint. It’s probably for the best. Doms can be overwhelming and too much of anything will most likely scare Loki. He can’t get away from them and that would only make him panic.

It takes a long time with the only sound being Phil’s tapping on the computer behind them before Loki slowly reaches out to take Clint’s hand and lets the archer help him up.

“Sorry about the nose.” Clint says, looking at the blood still on Loki’s face. Loki reaches up to touch it absentmindedly, like he forgot it was there. He seems a lot more distant than Clint would have liked.

“Brother…” Thor says, taking a careful step closer.

“I’m not your brother…” Loki says again, his voice quiet and wavering.

“You say that as if it would make me care for you less.” Thor replies gently and there is a flicker of something desperate on Loki’s face. Clint can’t figure out why, but he gets the feeling that Thor knows.

“Thor… I… I…” Loki sways and Clint grips him a little firmer to make sure he doesn’t fall. Thor doesn’t answer, just steps up to them, grabs Loki and pulls him gently from Clint into his own arms. Clint quietly steps over to Phil, leaving the two Asgardians to take care of each other.

Before he gets a chance to ask if Phil is getting anywhere, Tony’s voice interrupts him. “I’m in. I’ll be turning the helicarriers on each other in a moment. Get ready to get as far away from them as possible.”

“Roger that Iron Man. We’re moving out.” Replies Natasha promptly.

“Understood.” Phil answers, moving away from the control panel. “Come on, we need to leave now.” He continues to Clint and Thor.

“I’m setting a five minute delay.” Comes Tony’s voice a moment later, letting them know how much time they have before the explosions start.

They make their way back towards the door as fast as possible. Thor seems to be mostly carrying Loki, but it doesn’t slow him down in the least, so Clint mostly ignores it. Phil is guiding Lorelei none too gently.

“Thor. Think you can add a little sparkle when the fireworks starts?” Tony asks over the comms as they move.

“It would be my genuine pleasure friend Stark.” Thor answers with a broad smile just as they reach the door. They are already high above the ground, so Phil check Clint’s parachute and then his own before turning to Thor.

“Do you need help with him?” He asks, casting a glance at Loki.

“Nay friend Phil. Bring yourself to safety. Loki and I will end this.” Thor says, lifting his hammer and spinning it rapidly. Instead, Phil grabs closely on to Lorelei. When he smashes the door, Clint and Phil jump out, activating their chutes on the way down. Thor goes the other way, one arm around Loki and the hammer in his other hand.

The glide to earth is actually pleasant. On the way, Sam swoops by, checking in on them with a smile and a wave, before returning to Natasha and Fury. Above them, lightning flashes from the sky to the helicarriers, helping bring them down very efficiently.

Chapter Text

Everything around him is stained glass, a kaleidoscope of colors obstructing his view.

You want to serve, she tells him, so he does.
You want to fight, she tells him, so he does.
You want to kill, she tells him, so he does.

Then the glass shatters, piercing him with shards of agony.

After that, there is darkness, but it doesn’t last long enough. Everything comes back and it’s painful and cold. Loki tastes blood and his body hurts. He can hear people talking around him, but doesn’t register the words. Not until someone moves closer. Close enough that Loki looks up, afraid.

“You’re okay… We are not going to hurt you…” A man says. Sandy-blonde hair and clever eyes, he is kneeling in front of Loki. He looks kind. He looks like a sub. “I know you must be scared and confused… Just let us help you…”

The sub is holding out a hand, waiting for Loki to move. There is a dom there as well, but his attention is on the machinery and not on Loki. Thor is there too and that’s the worst part. Thor is so close, looking as strong and bright as always. Too bright for someone who belongs in the shadows.

“Let me help you…” The sub says. He hasn’t moved since he held out the hand, all kind patience. Thor is between Loki and the door, not that Loki would have the strength to run. He feels colder than ever and his body is shaking.

The sub does seem kind.

Slowly, carefully, Loki takes his hand.

The sub helps him to his feet. “Sorry about the nose.”

The words don’t really register until Loki reaches up to touch his face. There is pain there, but it seems dull and distant. He can feel the blood, but it’s too hard to focus.

“Brother.” Thor’s voice is so warm, so full of concern. Loki looks at him. At his broad shoulders and strong hands. He remembers those hands on his skin, the way they made the pain warm and soft. All he wants is to feel that again, but he doesn’t know how to ask. Instead he says, “I’m not your brother…”

“You say that as if it would make me care for you less.” Thor says gently.

“Thor… I… I…”

I’m sorry.

I’m scared.

I need you.

I care.

Please help me.

Please hold me.

Anything.

Please…

He doesn’t know how to ask, he can’t find the words. He just sways a little, making the sub grip him firmer so he doesn’t fall.

He is lucky it doesn’t matter. Thor is there in a matter of seconds, pulling him from the grip of the sub and steading Loki in a firm embrace. Thor’s skin feels so warm it almost burns, but Loki still tries to get closer, tries to chase the cold in his own body away. He is not really aware of what is happening around him. Thor is talking, softly and gently close by, but the words make no sense to Loki’s addled mind. Still, it’s nice to hear his voice. The deep timbre is familiar and soothes something deep within him.

When they start moving, Loki follows blindly. The world around him seems too far away, but Thor’s warm hands never let go of him.

They are moving quickly, metal all around them. Then a pause and after that, the wind whirls around them. There is nothing underneath Loki’s feet, but Thor’s arm is around his waist, holding him up.

Lightning flashes all around them, light and sound and the smell of ozone. Loki is vaguely aware of the explosions, of Thor directing the lighting before landing somewhere shielded from the wind.

“Loki? Look at me…” There is command in the voice. It’s the only reason Loki is capable of obeying, of opening his eyes and finding some focus in his fractured world. Thor is there, right in front of him. His blue eyes filled with lightning and worry.

“Are you with me, brother?” Thor asks carefully.

“’M not…” Loki mumbles, without any force. He isn’t. They were never brothers. He doesn’t know what they are. He feels dizzy and untethered.

“I know…” Thor’s voice is very soft as his warm hand as he tucks a few strands of errant black hair behind Loki’s ear before coming to rest against his cheek. Loki’s eyes drift shut as he lean into the touch, soaking up as much warmth as he can. Everything but Thor seems distant and unimportant.

“I will take care of you Loki. Do not worry. You are safe with me.” Thor says, somewhere very close by. His lips grace Loki’s brow as the smaller man lean into him, falling into a soft, warm darkness.

When he awakens again, Loki finds himself in a bed, soft and comfortable, with strong arms around him. Surprise makes him move a little, but the arms hold him firmer.

“No Loki. Not this time. This time, you stay with me. This time, we talk.” Comes Thor’s voice almost next to his ear and Loki freezes. Thor might want to talk, but Loki has no idea what to say.

Thor sits up, but doesn’t let go of Loki. Instead, Thor guides him up so they are sitting in front of each other in the bed. Thor looks as good as always, even with his hair ruffled from sleep. His eyes are clear and attentive. “Are you well Loki?”

“I…” He doesn’t want to lie. Thor has been kind to him, helped him. He wants to stay close to Thor. But he has no answer. “I don’t know…”

“Why did you go to Lorelei?” Thor asks, taking both of Loki’s hands in his. They are big and warm, calloused from many fights, but ever so gentle as they hold Loki’s slim, pale hands. “You know of her magic. You know her to be dangerous.”

“She… She takes care of me sometimes… When I need…” Loki stops, closing his eyes for a moment. It’s still hard to make sense of the world around him. Everything has been distant for so long. “I didn’t know she would be here…”

“Oh Loki… Had you but come to me… I would have helped you…” Thor says sadly. Loki shakes his head. “You are… You were my brother… It… It would not have been right…”

“You were hurting.” Thor says firmly. “I would have helped. I will help.”

Loki just looks at their hands. Thor is warm and golden and bright, lightning and thunder. He is immense power and immeasurable kindness. He is not meant for shadows and ice and the freezing cold like Loki is.

“Loki… I know you no longer see me as your brother, but my love for you has not diminished since learning the truth about your heritage… It never will… In truth, it has only grown with learning that it would be possible for us to be… More than brothers…” Thor says, his hands gently caressing Loki’s.

“I’m…” Loki sways a little, trying to keep focus. Thor is so close, radiating warmth. It’s making him feel dizzy. “Why me? There… There must be others…”

“There are no others like you…” Thor says, squeezing Loki’s hands gently. It’s making his skin tingle pleasantly and his head feel fuzzy. He feels like it should take more than this, it always did with Lorelei, but it’s been a long time and everything Thor does feels different, warm and soft and pleasant.

“You are drifting…” Thor says, letting go of his hands to place on of his own on Loki’s cheek. “Will you let me bring you under?”

“I… I don’t know… How to ask…” Loki mumbles, trying to focus on Thor’s voice. It feels important to tell him, but he is not sure why.

“You do not have to ask anymore…” Thor gently pulls Loki closer, wrapping his arms around him again. Thor’s chest is broad and strong and so, so warm. Being so close to him, Loki doesn’t feel cold anymore. It’s wonderful. Maybe, if Thor really cares, he doesn’t have to be cold anymore.

“You are well loved…” Thor says gently, running a calming hand over Loki’s bare skin. “You are safe with me… I will be here when you return… I will not let you be alone again…”

The darkness returns, wrapping around him like Thor’s arms. It feels good.

When Loki wakes up again, he is alone in the bed and as soon as he realizes that, the cold returns. Then he hears Thor voice from an adjacent room, loud and mirthful, laughter in-between the words and some of the cold leaves him. Thor didn’t leave at least.

Loki is sitting up in bed when the door open and Thor enters with a tray in his hands. “Brother.” He beams, sitting down so Loki can see the food piled on a single plate on the tray. “I have brought you breakfast. It is not Asgardian, but the spirit of the tower guided me to make a Midgardian feast.”

Not all of that makes sense to Loki and he briefly wonders if he is still too disoriented to understand what Thor is saying. Then Thor sits down next to him, still smiling like the sun and it doesn’t really seem important.

“Come, sit with me.” Thor moves to sit against the headboard and gestures for Loki to sit in the v of his legs. Loki does, not feeling as awkward as he expected. This intense physical contact between them is new, but not unpleasant. Thor puts an arm around Loki and arranges the tray on their legs.

He doesn’t ask when he sees that Thor only brought one fork and doesn’t comment when Thor starts feeding him, alternating between eating himself and holding the food out to Loki. It feels like care and gentleness, not degrading, as he would have thought. They eat in silence, as Loki tires to wrap his mind around everything that happened.

The last thing he remembers clearly is leaving his rooms on Asgard where Thor was fast asleep. He went to Midgard to clear his mind, not thinking to meet anyone familiar on the bustling busy world. Then Lorelei had suddenly been there, voice like honey and dark eyes that made him drown.

Everything after that is hidden behind the stained glass in his mind, only making it possible for him to remember fractures. Lorelei had plans for this world and she wanted his help, so he helped her. He never even tried to resist. He just served her, her puppet and her toy. She had found new allies, men with armies and weapons and their own plans.

There had been another, some poor soul that had taken Lorelei’s fancy and become her slave as well. Her pet. Loki wonders idly what happened to him. Lorelei had sent him away to protect something while Loki had stayed with her.

“Are you far from here brother?” Thor’s voice asks gently. Loki turns to look at his blue eyes. “You keep calling me that… I am not your brother…”

“True…” Thor says, putting the food away and turning more towards Loki. “And I am glad. What I feel for you would not be appropriate to feel for a brother...”

At the words, Loki feels something. It’s unfamiliar, like some many other things have been since he awoke, and very warm. It’s nice. He leans a little into the solid warmth behind him, letting Thor’s sturdy body surround his own. “I’m not sure I understand yet…”

“We have time…” Thor rumbles gently, his hand running softly over Loki’s bare arm. “I will help you understand. I will stay with you.”

They stay like that for a while. They are both silent and Loki is grateful. He still has a hard time finding word. His sliver tongue seems like lead. Loki closes his eyes and relaxes into Thor. He drifts a little and Thor just strokes his arm gently. He feels safe and warm, trying to absorb as much of that feeling he can, still afraid that it will disappear and he will be cold again.

Later, Thor convinces him to get out of bed and take a shower. The water is warm, but not as warm as Thor’s touch and he showers quickly. When he returns, there is soft, clean clothes for him to wear. It’s unlike the clothes he knows from Asgard, but feels comfortable.

They are not home. They must still be on Midgard then. The bedroom is big, but void of personality. The bed is unmade from their sleep, the only sign that someone has been there. Leaving the room, Loki finds himself in a large open room, fitted to be both kitchen and living room. There are several things he recognizes at Midgardian technology, but he has no clear knowledge of any of it. There is a half empty bookcase, a couch, several chairs and a dining table. This room too seems unlived in. Thor gets up from the couch when Loki enters.

“How do you feel?” Thor asks, his lightning eyes searching first Loki’s face and then his body. Loki feels a little warmer at the look and averts his eyes. “I… I think I’m better…”

“I am glad.” Thor says, walking over to him and carefully putting his arms around Loki. “Does my touch unsettle you?”

“No, it’s…” Loki looks at Thor’s broad chest instead of his eyes. “It’s warm… I… I want to feel warm…”

“I will never let you be cold again.” Thor says, putting a hand on Loki’s chin and guiding his head up so their eyes meet. Thor is so close that his breath washes over Loki’s face for a moment, before Thor leans forwards and gives Loki a soft kiss. If Loki had a hard time thinking coherent thoughts before, the kiss made it impossible. It felt like lightning striking his lips, spreading through his body like wildfire. It was nothing like the way Lorelei kissed, demanding and detached, as she never cared about who she was kissing.

“Tell me you do not desire this…” Thor breathes when they part again. “Tell me to let go and you will never suffer my touch again…”

Instinctively, Loki grabs Thor, pulling him closer. Being anywhere but in his arms feels unthinkable right now. “No… Don’t… Don’t go… Don’t let go…”

“Never.” Thor smiles as he claims Loki’s mouth in another kiss, more passionate now that he has permission. When Thor’s tongue slides over Loki’s lower lip, he opens his mouth, letting Thor in. It’s soft and slow, like an exploration or a promise. Loki grabs Thor harder, needing to be as close to him as possible. His head is spinning and he never wants it to stop.

When Thor picks him up and carries him to the bedroom, Loki just holds on and lets the blonde lead. He is gently put on the bed and Thor kisses him again.

“I wish to make you mine. I wish to show you my love. Will you let me?” Thor asks when they part.

Loki has to swallow before he can form any words. This is so different from what he knows. Still, the answer is clear. “Yes…”

Thor smiles as his lips find skin again, moving from Loki’s mouth to his chin and neck while Thor’s hands reach under his shirt to find the skin there. His touch is warm and soft, gently questing over Loki’s chest and sides. This is nothing like Lorelei. With her, it was never about Loki, it was always about her. This, Loki is sure, is about him.

Thor lifts him a little to get his shirt off and Loki follows blindly. He has no idea what else to do. This is new and different and still very confusing. Luckily, it doesn’t seem Thor expects much of him, big hands moving with patient purpose all over Loki’s exposed skin, followed by warm lips. The first time Thor bites a mark into his pale skin, Loki moans.

“I know you desire pain.” Thor says, pausing for a moment to look at his adopted brother. “I will give you anything you want, but this is not the time. There will be ample opportunity for that later.”

“Thor…” It’s a whisper and Loki is not really sure what he wants to say, if he wants to plead or beg or thank Thor. He is not sure if it’s the promise of pain or the fact that Thor knows they will do this again, that Thor will stay with him and that everything he has said is true. Loki doesn’t know. And he doesn’t need to, not now, not when Thor covers Loki’s mouth with his own and kisses him until there is nothing else in the world.

When Thor lets go again, it’s to pull off his own shirt and move them away from the edge of the bed. On the way, both of them loose their pants as well, making Loki vividly aware that they can never be brothers again.

Thor puts a big hand on Loki’s abdomen, then pauses as blue eyes meet green. “Yes?”

“Yes…” Loki is breathless, but there is no doubt in his mind. This feels good. This feels right. Before Thor moves his hand, Loki briefly wonders why he ever let Lorelei touch him. Then Thor does move, folding a strong hand around Loki’s cock and all thoughts of Lorelei disappear.

Thor’s hand moves slowly, almost in time with Loki’s ragged breathing, sending spikes of pleasure through his body. Thor’s other hand is on his chest, sometimes caressing the skin, sometimes pinching him. It’s hard to tell what feels best, so Loki just closes his eyes and lets the pleasure overtake him.

He can’t say how long it lasts, only that the pleasure is slowly building and his breathing is becoming faster. Then Thor lets go and Loki’s eyes spring open. The blonde is above him, smiling. His eyes are dark, like the sky before a thunderstorm. “I must leave for a moment. I will hurry back.” He says and leaves before Loki can answer.

Being alone in the bed is no fun. Loki feels ragged with want and more than a little confused, as he just lies there, waiting for Thor to come back. He said, he would. Loki needs to believe that Thor tells the truth, about this and everything else.

Thor does come back and brings with him a bottle of oil. He coves Loki’s body with his own and claims his lips in his kiss. “I do not want to hurt you.” He whispers and Loki makes a small sound. Everything feels so much better than he is used to and by now, he is about ready to let Thor do whatever he wants to, if it feels like this.

With a smile and several more kisses, Thor moves down over Loki’s body, spreading his legs. His hands are big and strong and warm and sure. No hesitation, no questions now. Just this. Patient touches and pleasure Loki never thought he could have.

The first finger isn’t only pleasant, but Thor moves slowly and the oil helps a lot. When he adds a second finger, it feels more good than bad and Loki moans loudly, making Thor smile again.

It’s not his first time with another man. Asgardians, unlike midgardians, do not perceive sexuality as one thing or the other. All desires are accepted, as long as no one is forced to do something against their will. But it has been a long time since he has been with anyone but Lorelei.

“You are beautiful Loki.” Thor’s voice is hoarse. “There is no one like you. You were always special, always so much more than the rest of us. Like the moon, unreachable.”

Loki makes some kind of sound, but he can’t really describe it. It is need and pleasure and want and joy at Thor’s words, his hands, his closeness.

The next thing he feels is the blunt head of Thor’s cock entering him. This is slow as well, letting Loki get used to the feeling as Thor holds him. When he is fully seated in the blondes lap, Thor kisses him again. “Unreachable no more. You are mine now Loki. More than my brother. More than my friend. More than my comrade in arms. You are mine because I choose you. I want you. I need you.”

Loki just whimpers, hiding his face in Thor’s neck, unable to talk. It’s too much and not enough at all. They are as close as physically possible and Thor’s voice rumbles through him like thunder. For the first time, Loki feels like he belongs.

“Look at me. Let me see you.” Thor says very close by and Loki pulls back a little, so he can meet Thor’s eyes and see his smile. “There you are… So beautiful…” Thor runs a hand through Loki’s hair, making the smaller man sigh.

Thor starts moving then, his physical strength making it easy for him to move Loki as he wants. Even as slow as it is, Loki has to grab Thor’s shoulder to keep himself even a little steady. When Thor starts picking up speed, Loki gives up all pretense of having any control and just grabs Thor to have something to hold on to. He crashes over the edge, shaking and gasping in Thor’s arms, overcome by the peak of his pleasure, before collapsing against the blonde. Thor keeps moving and follows him a moment later repeating Loki’s name like a prayer.

They stay together for a long time, Loki drifting slightly as Thor holds him close. After a while Thor picks him up again and carries him to the bathroom. Having Thor gently clean him up does nothing to make Loki more lucid and when they are back in the bed, Loki nestled in Thor’s arms, he is too far under to care about anything. Sleep claims his easily.

Chapter Text

“You promised you would always find me Steve.” Tony yells, tears on his face. “I need you to find me now! I need you Steve, find me, please!”

And there is something there. Some memory, some feeling. Steve hesitates for a moment, the gun unmoving in his hand. There is something important there.

Then Bucky slams into him.

When he wakes up again, he is in a hospital bed, his wrists and ankles strapped to the bedframe. He feels lightheaded and confused and it takes him a while to remember what happened. Then he jerks in the bed, eyes springing open and heart racing in his chest.

He had hit Tony.

He’d hit Tony.

“So, you’re awake?” A voice says next to the bed. Steve turns quickly to see Bucky sitting in a chair, looking at him with steely grey eyes.

“Bucky…” Steve gasps, pulling a little on the restrains and finding them unyielding. “Tony? Is… Is he…?”

“Tony’s safe.” Bucky says, his face unchanged by the desperation in Steve’s voice.

“I hit him…” Steve whispers, hot tears burning his eyes. “I hit Tony…”

“Yes, you did.” Bucky says, but his voice isn’t as hard as before. “That’s why you are here, with me, and not home with both of us.”

“I… I hit…” Steve sobs, unable to keep the tears at bay. How could he? What kind of monster had he become? He was supposed to protect Tony, always protect Tony! Tony, who needed him and trusted him and loved him and Steve had hurt him. He could remember Tony’s eyes, pleading and filled with tears, as Steve held a gun to his head.

“You did.” Bucky repeats, and at some point he must have moved closer, because he puts a gentle hand on Steve’s arm. “But it wasn’t your choice. Lorelei controlled you, she made you do it. Loki explained what she did to you, both of you. And you stopped. You stopped long enough for me to stop you.”

Steve shakes his head, closing his eyes. He didn’t stop in time. Tony still got hurt and it was all Steve’s fault.

Bucky runs a hand through his hair as Steve continues to cry. It feels like he might never stop crying and that is more than fair. He deserves to feel miserable for what he did, he deserves to suffer. He is never going to be okay and that is nothing less than what he deserves.

“Do you want to hurt Tony?” Bucky asks softly.

“Of course not. I could never…” Steve trails off. He had. He had hurt Tony. How could he claim he never wanted to hurt Tony, when they both knew better?

“But you did. You wanted to hurt him, because Lorelei told you to, right? You wanted to please her.” Bucky says, still carding his fingers through Steve’s hair, his voice kind and patient now when it should be loud and angry. They should be mad at him. “Lorelei controlled you. Nothing you did because of her is you fault. Tony knows that.”

There is a slight pause and Bucky’s hand moves to Steve’s face, turning it towards himself. “Look at me Stevie…”

He doesn’t want to. He is too afraid what he might see. Anger or sadness or pity or rejection. He deserves all of it, but he can’t bear the thought. Bucky is patient, though, and in the end, Steve looks at him. His grey eyes are filled with patience and worry. Steve thinks there might be love there as well, but he does not dare believe that. There is no way they can love him now.

“Tony isn’t mad at you. He understands. He wanted to be here when you woke up, but I told him not to. I told him to stay away until I was sure you were free of her power.” Bucky says. “I needed to be sure. I need to protect Tony. We need to protect Tony. It’s all that matters. That Tony is safe. And he is. And he loves you. I’m going to take you home now, so he can tell you himself.”

But when Bucky moves to undo the restraints, Steve, in vain, tries to get away from him. “No…” He whispers. “I… I should… Stay here… I’m dangerous…”

“Not to us Stevie…” Bucky says gently, before leaning in and kissing Steve lovingly. It makes Steve sob again, crying harder than before, but this time Bucky releases his hands so he can pull Steve into his arms and hold him while he cries. Steve clings to him, even if he still feels like a monster, desperate to know that he is not alone even after what he has done. Desperate to know that he is still, if he is lucky, loved.

It feels like forever, but when Steve finally stops crying, he feels a little better. His head is quieter now and he doesn’t feel as disgusted with himself. He is definitely not forgiven, nor should he be, but maybe, maybe, he can get a chance to earn their trust again.

Bucky frees him and helps him dress in soft clothes before guiding him from the room. It surprises Steve a little to see that they are on the medical floor of the tower and not at the Triskellion. It means they are closer to Tony. Steve can’t figure out if that is a good thing or a bad thing. He wants to see Tony, to explain, even if he can’t, and beg his forgiveness, even if he doesn’t deserve it.

“JARVIS, where is Tony?” Bucky asks, when they get to the elevator.

“Sir is in the living room of your apartment waiting for you, Sargent Barnes.” The AI answers. Steve closes his eyes, trying to figure out if he is still part of that ‘your’.

The elevator stops too quickly and the doors open to the apartment that used to belong to the three of them.

Tony is there, standing in the middle of the room. He hesitates for a second, but then his eyes fall on Steve’s face and Tony hurries over to them, making Steve pull a little away. “D-don’t… I…”

“Are you okay?” Tony asks, ignoring the way Steve tries to move away and putting a gentle hand on the soldier’s chest, over his heart. “I was so worried.”

For a moment, Steve can’t breathe. Tony should be angry or disgusted or even, God forbid, scared of him, but he isn’t. He is worried about Steve, because Tony is a better man than Steve deserves. With a faint sob, Steve puts his arms around Tony and hides his face in the crook of his neck. “’M sorry… Tony, I’m so sorry… I… I shouldn’t have… I’m sorry…”

“Shh… Shh, Stevie, it wasn’t you… You had no choice… It’s okay… I understand… It’s okay…” Tony promises, holding Steve close as he cries again. It feels like tears and pain are the main components of the broken captain.

Steve is not aware of how they get to the couch, but somehow he ends up there anyway, with Bucky on one side and Tony on the other. Tony takes his hands, caressing them slowly with this thumbs while Bucky tells him everything that happened, about Clint and Sam getting back, about Thor and Loki, about HYDRA trying to take over S.H.I.E.L.D., about the Kill List and Project Insight and trying to find him. About everything Loki told them about Lorelei.

By then end of it, Steve feels a little better. He will never forgive himself for hurting Tony, just like he will never forgive himself that he stopped looking for Bucky, but maybe he can learn to live with it. Especially since Bucky and Tony are making it very clear that they are not letting him be alone with this and not leaving him.

He wants to go see Clint and Sam, make sure they are okay after everything that happened. He wants to see his whole team, everyone involved and make sure no one is hurt, but he can’t bring himself to leave the couch. He is afraid that if he leaves Tony and Bucky, they’ll forget that they have forgiven him and he will loose everything. It makes no sense, but a lot of things make little sense to him now.

In the end, he stays with his boyfriends. Bucky makes dinner and they eat together, always close to Steve, always touching him, letting him know it’s okay, that no one blames him and that he is home. When they are done eating, they go to the bedroom. Steve gets the middle spot usually reserved for Tony. Bucky and Tony curl up to him on either side, holding him close. For the first time, Steve realizes how scared they must have been, not knowing what happened to him, not knowing if he was hurt or dead. He remembers the feeling all too well from Bucky and Clint, but he never expected to be the cause of pain like that. Now he is back and they are not mad at him. They are relieved that he is safe with them.

Calmed by that knowledge, Steve falls asleep between the men he loves.

He sees the others the next day, all of them. They are gathered on the shared floor in the Tower and Steve goes there with Bucky and Tony after a thorough shower and breakfast. He still feels a little off, but nowhere as much as before.

The first thing he does when he enters the shared kitchen is to find Clint and Sam. Seeing that they are both well makes him feel better, but it’s not enough on it’s own.

“I’m sorry. I left you. I… I should have stayed, I…” Steve says, not looking at either of them. Sam puts a hand on his shoulder. “Easy man. We understand. You weren’t exactly yourself when you left. We both felt the effects of Lorelei’s voice and she wasn’t focusing on us.”

“We know you tried to fight her. Loki told us that you asked for us after going with her.” Clint says, looking past Steve to the couch. Steve follows his eyes and notices the slender, dark-haired man sitting next to a broad blond, who must be Thor. Loki seems subdued and insecure, but Thor, who has an arm around him, is smiling happily.

Steve tries to apologize again, but neither Sam nor Clint will hear it. They are, like Bucky and Tony, just glad that he is safe and back home. It’s the same with everyone else he talks to. Natasha gives him a hug and a kiss on the cheek while Bruce squeezes his shoulder. Phil thanks him for having taken care of Clint while on the mission and Thor greets him like a long lost friend, obviously more than happy to have Loki back. Loki seems to be as eager to apologies as Steve is and after an awkward moment, it makes both of them smile. Knowing that someone else feels like he does helps Steve feel a little better. It’s just another small thing, but more and more small things gather around him, grounding him and helping him see that there is hope.

Later, Fury shows up. He reports that all the former S.H.I.E.L.D. employees are safe and have returned home. S.H.I.E.L.D. is falling apart, especially with all the information on corruption and infiltration that they put online, but the good news is that HYDRA seems to suffer far more. Almost all of their agents were involved in the battle on the Hellicarriers and have been either killed or captured. Rumlow and the entire STRIKE Team are in custody, none of them seriously harmed by the fight, but neither completely unscathed. It might be petty, but knowing that they got hurt makes Steve smile a little and he is not the only one. Even Johann Schmidt, the head of HYDRA, has been captured and is awaiting trial. Lorelei has been locked up as well and will be taken to Asgard to be held accountable for her crimes when Thor and Loki are ready to leave.

It’s all good news, but Steve still feels a little useless. HYDRA has been brought down and not only did he not help, he was trying to fight his friends. Even if no one seems to blame him for it, he still has a hard time not blaming himself.

”He was right there. The head of HYDRA, unprotected and right in front of me. And I didn’t do anything.” Steve says angrily, pacing up and down the floor. He has been going for a while now and has built too much energy to sit down. There are so many things he blames himself for.

”You couldn’t do anything she didn’t want you to do.” Natasha says, watching him from her chair. Everybody is watching him, even Loki and Thor, who have been quiet while Fury talked.

“I should have fought her! That… That woman… Lorelei…” His tongue twists around the word, but he refuses to call her Mistress. She is not his mistress.

“I should have fought harder, resisted somehow. I should have –“ Steve continues, until Natasha interrupts him. “”Stop it! You could not have done anything more than you did. Stop blaming yourself.”

And he does. Steve stops in the middle of his pacing, eyes on the floor, body motionless. It wasn’t even a strong command, just a change in tone from Natasha being tired of his endless self-blame and guilt. It’s still enough.

“Steve?”

It’s Bucky’s voice. He sounds worried. It’s not like Steve to stop in the middle of guilt tripping himself like this. Steve tries to answer, but he was told to stop. He can’t move.

“Steve… Baby, look at me…” It’s a command, soft and very gentle. Steve obeys to find Bucky standing right in front of him, a thin line on his forehead. “Are you okay?”

“I… I’m…” Steve can feel himself trembling. “I’m not sure…”

“Okay…” Bucky takes his hand. “Why don’t you sit down for a moment? Come…” With a gentle pull, Bucky leads Steve to the couch, where he sits down slowly. Bucky sits down on one site of him and Tony on the other.

“What did she say to you, Steve? What did she tell you?” Bruce asks softly, getting up from his place next to Natasha and walking over to them. He kneels in front of Steve, who looks down at his twisting hands. “She… She said I… I was sub and I… I believed her… It felt… It felt right…”

“Okay…” Bruce nods. “Okay, yes, that explains it…”

“But she is locked up. She… Everything else she said, her control over me, it’s gone. Why isn’t this?” Steve asks, desperation starting to creep into his voice.

“My guess would be that, while she had you convinced you were a sub, your brain changed your body chemistry. The brain is very powerful, it can convince your body of a lot of things and it is in charge of most of the chemicals that affect your designation… Your body knows the truth, so, given time, it should be able to make everything right again, but you need to know that it might take a while…” Bruce says, taking his glasses off to wipe them in his shirt.

“I’m not a sub!” Steve says angrily. He might feel strange, but he knows what he is.

“No one thinks you are baby…” Bucky says gently, putting an arm around Steve. “But we have to admit that you feel a little off right now. Until you get better again, let me take care of you…”

Steve practically purrs as he undignified burrows into Bucky, the words alone enough to makes his head spin. He wants that. He wants to let Bucky take care of him, to kneel on the floor in front of him and…

“Sorry…” Steve quickly pulls away, avoiding the eyes of everyone in the room.

“Don’t apologies.” Bucky says gently, running his finger through Steve’s still too long hair. It makes Steve want to curl up at his feet and he bites his lip to keep just a little focus. “You are getting back to yourself, but it’s going to be different for a while. Let’s go back to out apartment, okay? We’ll deal with this, the three of us.”

Steve just nods, not trusting his voice. Bucky gets up and helps Steve to his feet. He feels a little unsteady and, even if he would never admit it, is glad that Bucky keeps an arm around him as they leave. Tony hurries to the elevator and opens the doors for them. Steve feels the eyes of his team on him as he leave, but he can’t bring himself to look back at them.

Steve is quiet in the elevator, keeping his effort on staring straight ahead of himself and not burying his face in Bucky’s neck as he wants to. This is not who he is! This is not how he should behave. And yet, he can’t stop himself from longing for it.

“Steve?” Tony asks carefully, gently taking his hand. They worry. They care about him and they worry.

“I’m… I just need a moment…” Steve says, still not looking up. He doesn’t want them to worry, but he can’t lie outright. Not to Bucky and Tony. They deserve better.

The doors open to their apartment and Steve walks in quickly. He wants to explain himself, but he has no idea what to say, so he opts for ignoring it completely and hoping it will go away by itself. Neither Bucky nor Tony seems to accept that solution as they are both by his side in seconds.

“Steve… Talk to us…” Bucky says, putting a hand on his shoulder. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not a sub.” Steve repeats firmly, finally looking at his lover. “I know what I am. You know too Buck, you always knew.” He really tries to keep the desperation out of his voice and almost succeeds. Almost.

“Of course I know Stevie.” Bucky says with a soft smile. “You are too stubborn for that. Even when you had more fight in your heart than your body could handle. But you have to accept that what Lorelei did might have affected you. Do you feel like you normally do?”

Bucky puts a tender hand on Steve’s cheek, running a thumb over his cheekbone. Steve’s eyes flutter shut and he leans into the touch. It feels so good. He knows it shouldn’t feel like this but it’s Bucky and he is so very much a dom, so strong and protective and right there. If Bucky were to command him, Steve would obey without thinking. He knows that with as much certainty as he used to know his own designation.

Steve takes a deep breath and shakes his head.

“What do you want Steve? Honestly?” Bucky asks, forcing Steve to look him in the eye. It’s not a command, not really, but it’s close. It’s the voice they can use with Tony, because even if Tony doesn’t like being commanded, sometimes he likes to be told what to do.

“I…” Steve looks away, tears of embarrassment burning in his eyes. “I want to sit at your feet while you feed me… I want you to pet my hair and tell me I’m good… I want to be good…” It’s hardly more than a whisper by the end and Steve has to swallow thickly. Even if it’s what he wants, it still feels wrong. How can something be so right and so wrong at the same time?

“Then that’s what we’ll do.” Bucky says gently, guiding Steve’s face to his own again. “Anything you want baby. Do you want me to command you too?”

Steve nods a little, but he still can’t bring himself to meet Bucky’s eyes.

“Remember when we were kids, before we declared, and we talked about what it would be like when we grew up? Sometimes you’d believe it when other people said you’d be a sub for sure and I would promise to always take care of you if you were. Nothing’s changed since then. If this is for today or the rest of our lives, I will always love you, no matter what…” Bucky says firmly.

“No one thinks any less of you Steve…” Tony says, taking Steve’s hands gently. “You are still you… We still love you…”

“We love who you are, Stevie. Not what you are.” Bucky says softly.

And that’s almost too much. Steve takes a shaky breath and leans into Bucky, who puts his arms around him. It feels good and safe. Bucky will protect him. Bucky will take care of him.

“I don’t know what I am…” Steve whispers. Bucky runs his human hand over Steve’s back, kissing his temple softly. “It doesn’t matter. Not right now. Let’s just focus on making you feel better. Let me take care of you.”

Steve nods again. Bucky is warm and strong against him, completely in control and Steve can’t fight it anymore. He just wants to be good for Bucky.

“Good. You are going to be fine Steve.” Bucky says, letting go of him and catching Steve’s eyes again. “Go sit by the couch and wait for me.”

The command that fills his voice makes Steve shiver a little and he hurries to do as he is told. He sits down on the floor a little stiffly. He’s not used to being here. It’s not really where he belongs, but right now, it’s where he wants to be and he feels better. Taking a deep breath, he closes his eyes and waits. It surprisingly easy to relax on the floor and when he hears Bucky return, it feels like he has only been gone a few seconds.

When Steve opens his eyes, he sees Bucky place a tray on the coffee table and sit on the couch close to where Steve is.

“Come here.” Bucky commands and Steve crawls closer. Bucky doesn’t move on the couch when Steve carefully leans against his leg. It’s where he wants to be, even if he knows it’s wrong.

Tony sits down on the floor next to him, smiling at Steve as he lies down and rests his head on Steve’s legs and Steve feels like he might cry. Tony is never on the floor, he is never made to be lesser than them. But today he lies on the floor of his own. Because Steve is a mess. He knows that. He has no idea where he belongs anymore, not back to being a dom, but not really a sub either and instead of being angry or disgusted with him, Bucky and Tony place him somewhere in-between. It feels like love and acceptance and safety and Steve has to hide his face in Bucky’s leg for a moment to regain control of his breathing.

Then Bucky runs his fingers through Steve’s hair and the world starts spinning around him. “You are doing fine baby. Just breathe for me, okay? Breathe for me.” Bucky’s voice is somehow impossibly close and very far away. It’s all Steve can do to follow the command.

“You are doing so good Stevie, being so good for me. I know this is hard for you and confusing, but I’m here, okay? I’m going to take care of you. You are not alone.” Bucky promises, caressing Steve’s face with a soft smile. Steve’s eyes fall shut. It’s getting harder to think, but it’s okay. He doesn’t have to. Bucky will take care of that too.

“Open you mouth Steve.” Bucky commands and Steve does, letting Bucky feed him small pieces of fruit, chocolate and bread. Bucky makes him drink water too. After a few bites, Steve can’t remember his name, let alone why this shouldn’t feel as good as it does. All the tension and worry leaves him as he gives himself over to the care of Bucky. The only thing he knows is the soft praises Bucky gives him and the warm points of contact between himself and Bucky and Tony, who is still lying next to him on the floor, his head pillowed on Steve’s thigh and his arms around Steve’s calves.

At some point, Bucky tells him to stand, so he does. Bucky leads him to the bedroom and makes Steve lie down on the bed. Warmth envelops him as Bucky and Tony lie on either side of Steve and he drifts further into soft darkness until sleep overtakes him.

Waking up seems to take a long time, but it feels pleasant and safe. Bucky has a protective metal arm around his ribcage and Tony is curled up to his chest. Both are sleeping soundly and their slow breathing is the only sound in the bedroom.

He feels better than yesterday. No completely good, but more balanced and less needy. He doesn’t go running as he normally would, he just stays in bed, allowing the closeness of his lovers to ground him. He feels home.

Bucky wakes up a while later, stretching lazily in the bed before sending Steve a sleepy smile. “’Morning babe. How’d you feel?”

“Better… Good, I think…” Steve says, kissing Bucky softly. It feels a little like he should ask permission, but he pushes the feeling away. Bucky would never be mad at him for something like a kiss and Bucky does indeed return the kiss without pause.

“I’m glad. You were far away yesterday.” Bucky looks at him, a thin line of worry between his brows.

“Yeah, I…” Steve looks away. It’s still hard for him to put into words. “I think I… Needed that… It felt good…”

“Do you still need it?” Bucky asks and Steve knows that he just has to say yes and Bucky will give him anything. He always has. Steve could ask for the moon and Bucky would find a way to bring it to him. He’d probably ask Tony to help.

“I’m not sure.” Steve says truthfully. “It’s not… I don’t feel as desperate to be good now, but I still… I think it’d make me happy to…”

“Okay.” Bucky sits up a little. “Okay, I can work with that. How about you go make us some breakfast, then I’ll wake Tony. And then I’ll feed you, would you like that?”

The words send a tingle along Steve’s skin. It’s nowhere near as much as yesterday. Still…

“Yes… Yes, please…”

Bucky leans over and gives Steve another kiss. “Then go. We’ll be out in a second.”

It’s almost a command and Steve gets up quickly. Normally, getting Bucky out of bed can be a bit of a challenge and the same goes for Tony, when you finally get him into a bed. But when there is a clear goal in mind, it’s easier to get them up.

Both Bucky and Tony are in the kitchen before Steve is done with breakfast and help him set the table. Steve sits down on a chair, not feeling like he would be comfortable on the floor. Bucky sits down next to him, gives him a kiss on the cheek and feeds him breakfast in small bites. It makes Steve’s mind go quiet and the world seems a little fuzzy, but not as much as before. Bucky is praising him and when the food is gone, he keeps talking softly, running a hand through Steve’s hair.

The rest of the day goes by like that. Steve never goes as deep as he did the day before, but most of the time he is a little lost because Bucky keeps touching him and talking to him, telling him that he is good and safe and loved. He is aware that Bucky and Tony talk to the rest of the team, letting them know how they are doing and getting updates on what is happening outside of their apartment, but Steve pays it no attention. Bucky will tell him if there is anything he needs to know.

“Do you want to command me?” Tony asks late in the day, after they have had dinner. Steve is on the couch between them, no longer needing to be on the floor or wanting Bucky to feed him. He almost feels like himself again. “It’s okay, just this once.”

Steve looks at him and opens his mouth, but no words come out. After a moment he shakes his head. “I’m sorry… I… I don’t think I can…”

“Don’t apologies Stevie.” Tony says, his eyes soft as he gives Steve a kiss and just snuggles into his arms. Tony feels like his sub again, something he didn’t when Steve first came back but now he can feel the need to take care of Tony, the desire to make sure he is happy and protected.

It takes four days before Steve is able to command Tony and the first time he does it, it makes he so dizzy he almost falls over. After that, it gets easier. It still feels nice when Bucky puts a protective arm around him and tells him everything will be okay, but he doesn’t need it like he did the first day.

Steve slowly realizes that he is not the same as he was before and he won’t ever be. He is not a typical dom anymore. But he also realizes that he is not alone in being unusual for his designation. Tony was always different, never wanting what most subs dream of and Clint had to give up on being like most subs to work at S.H.I.E.L.D. Steve is still a leader. He is still Captain America and his team trusts him. He is not any less than he was before; he is still a soldier, an Avenger, an artist and a trusted friend. He is still capable of protecting Tony. Sometimes, when there is no one but the three of them, he just needs Bucky to protect him too.

Chapter Text

For several weeks, Clint needs more attention than usually as a result of the battles, the separation and the prolonged use of suppressants. It never bothers Phil. He is just happy to have Clint back safely and he enjoys spending time with his lover.

Everything is settling down slowly. Steve is getting better, Natasha and Tony are sorting out the information shared after tearing S.H.I.E.L.D. down with the help from Pepper and the SI PR team as well as helping the staff from S.H.I.E.L.D. find new jobs and even Thor and Loki seems to fit in at the Tower. Loki rarely smiles and there is a haunted look in his eyes that Phil recognizes from when Clint first came back from being kidnapped. Luckily, it seems that Thor is aware of his pain and does everything to help his brother and/or lover get better. They travel between Midgard, as they call it, and Asgard to sort out their lives. Tony has offered them a floor in the Tower and they live there whenever they come over. Of course Tony would offer them a floor. He offered Sam one as well, but Sam declined very politely. He already has a home and likes to live there, but he did accept a permanent guestroom for when he visits.

Sam visits often. Phil was always very happy about how much Sam helped Clint when he needed it and it seems that their friendship has only gotten closer after fighting together. Steve and Sam seem to have grown close too and it’s not really surprising. Sam is a genuinely nice person and all of the Avengers have taken a liking to him. They are all happy to make him an Avenger and Sam is happy to accept.

Little by little, life goes back to normal. Well, as normal as their lives ever can be. Fury leaves, no one knows where, but Phil is sure he will be in contact if he needs them. The rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel get new jobs, at SI or with other companies where they can be useful. Tony and Steve make sure to give everyone a recommendation so it’s easy for them to find work. Things quiet down as more and more people leave to find new lives and soon the only people left in the Tower are the employees of Stark Industries, the Avengers and their friends.

It’s a day like any other, really. Nothing special about it. Not yet anyway.

Clint is standing in the bathroom, brushing his teeth. His chest is bare and the soft pajama pants are sitting low on his hips. Watching the man he loves, the man he waited for for so long, Phil realizes that he can’t wait any longer.

It’s in his pocket, inauspicious and quiet. Waiting, like him.

“Clint… Can you come in here?” he calls and hears Clint turn on the water for a moment before coming into to living room, wiping water from his mouth. “What is it?”

“Sit down here for me.” Phil point to the couch. It’s not a command. This is different. Clint does it anyway, looking a little confused. That confusion turns to wide eyes surprise when Phil kneels down in front of him.

“Clint… From the first time I saw you I knew you were special. And from your first day at S.H.I.E.L.D. I knew I loved you. I was a fool for not doing anything about it for so long. I’m done being a fool. I am yours and you are mine. No one else, forever.” He pulls the box out and opens it. The ring inside is dark silver, gossamer thin as to not be in the way when Clint shoots. “Clinton Francis Barton… Will you marry me?”

For a moment, Clint just stares at him, his eyes round and his mouth open in surprise. Then the surprise is replaced by pure joy and when he holds out his hand, it’s shaking a little. “Fuck yes Phil. Make an honest man out of me!”

Phil blinks a few times to clear his vision before carefully putting the ring on Clint. It’s a perfect fit and looks wonderful on his strong hand. Phil doesn’t get to enjoy it for long, because as soon as it is on, Clint throws himself into Phil’s arms, kissing like it’s the first time. They are both crying now, quietly and so filled with joy that there is no way to contain it.

They end up on the floor together, Phil on his back and Clint covering the agent’s body with his own, their legs tangled together, kissing like it’s their job. Phil feels giddy with happiness. Clint said yes. They are getting married.

“Mine.” Clint almost growls when they part long enough to breathe. Normally, Phil is the possessive one, the one who wants to keep Clint all to himself, but it feels really good to know Clint feels the same way. It feels right.

“Yours.” Phil agrees, his hands seeking the smooth skin on Clint’s sides and back. “No one else.”

Clint makes a pleased sound, grinding into Phil just enough for him to feel the want.

“Do you want me to get –“ Phil starts, but Clint interrupts him. “No. Stay.”

Phil smiles. It took a long time for Clint to be able to ask for this, to feel like he deserved this. Being able to ask Phil to stay was one of the first steps towards Clint feeling worthy of love.

“Forever.” Phil says softly, pulling Clint in for another kiss.

They lose track of time. It’s not exactly comfortable for Phil, but moving would mean letting go of Clint, his fiancée, and he has no intentions of ever doing that.

They might have stayed like that all day, if not for the knock on the door. Clint lets out a disappointed huff and hides his face in Phil’s neck. “Nooo…” He whines, making Phil laugh.

“Might be important.” Phil says gently, kissing Clint’s hair. “Don’t worry love, we can always get back to this. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Mmm….” Clint smiles and kisses Phil’s neck. “’Cause you’re mine now…”

“I was always yours.” Phil says, making Clint shiver a little and snuggle in closer for a moment. It is unfortunately not enough to make the banging on the door stop, so they untangle reluctantly and Clint goes to open the door. As soon as the door is open, he can hear Tony’s voice. “Why aren’t you dressed yet? It’s the middle of the day! What did I just interrupt? Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“Hello Tony.” Clint answers, a clear smile in his voice. Phil can’t help but smile himself. It’s really hard to make his face do anything else when he is this happy. “We got a little… Sidetracked…”

“I can see that.” Tony walks into the apartment and gives Phil a look, raising an eyebrow. “Agent…”

“Stark.” There is really no reason for them to be formal like this, they have become friends since Phil moved into the Tower, but Tony seems to like it and Phil doesn’t really mind. What he does mind, however little, is that Tony’s eyes linger a moment on his disheveled appearance. Phil is wearing a shirt, since he is a lot faster than Clint in the morning, but that shirt has long since been unbuttoned and wrinkled by Clint’s clever hands.

“Can we help you with anything or are you just bored?” Phil asks, only mildly irritated. Tony, as usually, ignores it completely and smiles. “I’ve made new arrows for our hawk. I wanted to have him come test them.”

“That sounds really fun Tony.” Clint says, walking back to Phil and putting an arm around his waist. Phil automatically wraps his own arm around Clint and places a light kiss on his cheek. “But I don’t have time today. I think we are going to stay in and celebrate.”

“Is there something to celebrate?” Tony asks curiously, raising an eyebrow. Clint doesn’t answer, but he does lift his hand to show off the ring.

“Is that… Ooh…” Tony’s eyes grow wide and he grabs Clint’s hand to get a better look. “Did he really promise to put of with you for the rest of your lives?”

“Stark…” Phil says, a quiet warning in his voice. Clint might be better, but Phil still has a hard time when anyone, even their friends, say something that might insinuate that Clint does not deserve the world. Clint, however, just gives Phil a kiss on the cheek and smiles. “’S fine love. At least I don’t need two doms so they can share the burden of taking care of me like Tony does.”

Tony smiles, turning the ring on Clint’s finger. “I’m high maintenance and they love me. But back to the matter at hand. We need to celebrate this properly, not just half naked in you apartment. This needs a proper party!”

“Tony, we don’t need – “ Clint tries, but Tony has that look in his eyes that means that no one else is going to change his mind.

“Yes we do. We all do.” Tony smiles and it gets more genuine for a moment. “We need something to celebrate. We need to remember the good things in life, the reasons why we fight. We need to celebrate this.”

And Phil gets it. The fall of HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. took its toll on all of them and even if things are better now, they have all been a little subdued. Having a real party with a good reason to celebrate would do them good.

“Okay. Let’s have a party.” Phil says and Clint look surprised, but then his face break into a bright smile.

Tony all but jumps with excitement. “Yes! Yes, you just get dressed, nicely dressed, and I will let the others know we are having a party. I’ll take care of everything, don’t worry. You’ll want to tell them yourself, of course, but I’ll let them know they should dress up and meet us at the shared floor. JARVIS will let you know when it’s time to start.”

Tony is already walking towards the door, busy with tapping away on his phone and talking to JARVIS about the planning.

“Thank you Tony!” Clint just manages to call after him before the door closes.

Phil smiles softly and Clint looks at him. “You sure you’re okay with a party?”

“It’s a little more than I imagined. I really just thought we could spend the day together, have a nice dinner and then retire to the bedroom. Seems that’ll have to wait.” Phil says.

“Well, we’ll have a lot of time for that later. We have the rest of our lives.” Clint says, his eyes sparkling as he turns into Phil’s arms with a pleased sound.

“Yes, we do…” Phil says lovingly and kisses the top of his archer’s head.

It takes quite a while before they are able to let go of each other and start looking for something to wear and even then, they end up in the shower together, entangled under the hot water for a lot longer than strictly necessary. Not that they really care. They have something to celebrate and they might as well start on their own.

Finally, they get out of the shower and get dressed. Clint actually wears his suit, which makes him look very good, but they both forgo the ties this time. Ties are too much like work.

Clint is doing something to his hair and Phil is closing the cuffs of his shirt when JARVIS informs them that all their friends are gathered and waiting for them on the common floor. With a smile, Phil put on his jacket before holding out his hands to Clint and together they walk into the elevator.

Phil is actually surprised at how many people are on the floor when the elevator doors open. Tony is there, of course, and with him is Steve and Bucky. Next to them are Sam, Natasha and Bruce. Even Nick Fury and Maria Hill are there, looking about as relaxed as you would expect of them. In a corner are Thor and Loki, the first looking exited to be invited, the latter looking a little confused. They both live in the Tower most of the time, so it is no surprise they are invited, but Loki still seems surprised every time he is included in something.

Everyone is dressed like they are on their way to have drinks at a fancy bar and none of them know why. It’s a little strange to know that your friends are ready to do that just because someone asks on your behalf.

“So, we hear you have something to say…” Bucky says, leaning against the table with an arm thrown lazily around Tony’s shoulder.

“We might.” Clint says, a very smug smile on his face. For someone who normally is hidden as the team’s sniper, he does like to be in the spotlight on occasions like this. Phil suspects it comes from his time with the circus. “It is pretty unusual that Phil is on his knees for me…”

Phil groans quietly, but the comment makes Tony smile widely, even if most of the others are looking a little uncomfortable.

“But then, he had a very good reason to.” Clint continues, lifting his hand to show off the ring and the awkwardness disappears at once as everyone in the room hurries forwards to congratulate them.

It really shouldn’t surprise him that they are all happy for them, but somehow it does. So much has happened in the last few years and getting to this has been a battle. When he started in S.H.I.E.L.D., he would never have expected anything like this. Now S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone, but his team, his friends, are not.

When the congratulations are done, Tony breaks out the champagne and makes a toast to their engagement.

How Tony managed to arrange a three-course dinner in such a short amount of time is a mystery to Phil and he is used to planning S.H.I.E.L.D. operations in a few hours. The food is amazing, elaborate without being too much, as Tony is sometimes inclined to. They spend hours at the table, talking, laughing and drinking. By the end of dinner, everybody is at least a little drunk, but nobody cares.

After dinner, Tony makes JARVIS play music and they move on to dancing and drinks. Phil spends most of the time watching the others dance, but he does go with Clint every time he is asked. Seeing the ring on his finger makes it even harder to say no to the archer and dancing gives him an excuse to hold the man he loves as close as possible.

All around them the room is filled with laughter and talking. Tony is somehow dancing with both Steve and Bucky, none of them moving much, but all looking very happy. Next to them, Natasha and Bruce are dancing together, looking more elegant than anybody else in the room. By one of the tables, Fury is talking to Thor and Loki. Well, mostly Thor, as Loki appears content to just sit with the blondes arm around him, but the three of them seem to have a good time as well. Sam and Maria are nowhere to be seen, but given the time the two have spend together during the party, Phil is not really surprised.

It’s late when the party finally breaks up and they go to their own rooms. Both Phil and Clint are drunk, but they are still too happy to be really tired and when they end up in bed, they have no intentions of sleeping.

For once, Clint doesn’t go under. His eyes are clear and bright, focused on Phil’s from beginning to end, full with love and happiness. Phil is pretty sure those emotions are mirrored on his own face. The darkness around them is filled with words of love and devotion meant only for the two of them. More than once, Phil’s hands find Clint’s, eager to touch the ring and be reminded of Clint’s answer. It’s a simple ring, really, but it means everything. He showed Clint to words on the inside when they had a quiet moment at the party. Three small words priced with an arrow. Words that hold a very important truth for both of them.

>>–No one else–>