With similar physiques, the same wonderful set of broad shoulders and chiseled features, Steve and Bucky were bound to stand out in the crowd filled with heroes and influential people.
They are beautiful, Tony thinks.
If they weren't so obviously enamored with each other, all the omegas in this charity ball would be all over them, baring their necks and offering their bodies. No doubt there would also be betas and alphas willing to do the same.
Because who wouldn't want to be Steve's or Bucky's object of affection?
Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration but still, the point is those two are the epitomes of an ideal mate.
And Tony, he's not really actively looking to settle down despite his biological clock ticking so loud like it's screaming at him to 'get a life!'. Yinsen told him in that ghastly cave at Afghanistan that he's a man who has everything yet nothing at the same time.
But nah, not anymore. He has the Avengers, a family not by blood but by choice. He almost lost them once, when the Accords fuckery punched them in the faces, twice when Thanos snapped his huge, ugly fingers.
Now, Thanos is a scattered dust while half of humanity lives and the shitshow in Siberia seemed a lifetime ago.
"You seem distracted tonight."
Tony spins around and sees Natasha. She's wearing a tight black halter dress, her hair's loose but with thin crown braid circling around her head.
"Tasha, I'm always distracted."
She smiles and Tony thinks she's beautiful too. She's braver than all the other person in this event. Everyone's so hung up on praising Tony's bravery when he wielded the gauntlet and snapped. But Natsha--she's the true hero. She took the fall, willingly sacrificed her life so that they could have the soul stone.
Tony told her this but she just dismissed him. Told him that if he didn't snap, she'd still be dead along with half of humanity. That if Tony was in the same situation, he would have done the same.
Natasha Romanoff was a beautiful person, inside and out.
She slides her arm around Tony's. "So, how's your other arm?"
Tony holds up his other arm, it was inside the metal device which is painted in red and gold. Half of his face is covered with scars and his right arm will forever be enclosed and supported by the metal device. But that's alright, because he'd rather be covered with scars than live in a world terrorized by Thanos.
"It's better. I'm getting used to this." Tony wiggles his fingers.
"Good to hear."
They head to the bar, and continued to chat. When they're seated and sipping on their drinks, Natasha shares updates on Clint and his family.
"Lila's amazing with arrows. She's already about to surpass Clint."
"Barton must be incredibly proud."
Natasha laughs. "He's too goddamn proud! Sends me videos of her progress everyday." Her phone's buzzing everyday and it's often Clint bugging her, bragging about Lila. As their godmother, Natasha feels proud too.
"In a few years, when we're all retired, I bet young Lila would be the new Hawkeye."
"Or she could be the next Nick Fury, who knows. Maybe she'd be working on her doctorate degree."
Because having an Avenger parent doesn't necessarily mean that the kid will be an Avenger too.
"Well, to young Lila--may she find happiness with her bow and arrows--and not be obnoxious as her dad." Tony raises his glass and clinks it with hers. Natasha rolls her eyes fondly at his antics.
"To Lila. And to the next generation of heroes."
They clink their glasses once more and down their drinks.
Later, as the crowd begins to disperse, he's approached by Steve. Though they've made up and moved on, there's still a bit of awkwardness when they interact. As much as he'd like to slide away and carry on as if he didn't notice him approaching, Tony doesn't because he doesn't want to come off as rude.
They were friends before, quite close actually. And to be frank, there was something growing between them before the Accords shitshow happened.
(Which is probably why it hurt a whole lot more when Steve left him all alone in the coldness of Siberia to be with Bucky.) (But that was Tony's fault--because he was an idiot for harboring a stupid crush over his childhood hero.)
"Tony!" Steve calls out.
Tony straightens his tie and turns towards him. "Hey Cap, what's up? Need a ride back?"
"Uh, about that...I was actually, erm--uh, how are you?"
Slightly confused by the sudden inquiry on his well-being yet somewhat flattered to know that Steve cared enough about him to ask, Tony replies truthfully: "I'm actually quite worn out, but thanks for asking."
Weirdly enough, Steve looked a bit crestfallen at his answer. "Oh, um. Better rest, Tony. Don't overexert yourself."
Tony nods. "Yep. Thanks for the reminder, buddy. So, are you--do you want to hitch a ride?" Happy's waiting for him despite Tony telling Happy that he could drive himself home.
"Thank you for the offer, but Bucky and I are still going someplace else."
Oh. They're likely going to--
"I see. Well, take care and remember to use protection!" Tony winks at him. He couldn't help teasing Steve, even though his heart gives a slight twinge.
Steve flushes bright red. He's too damn adorable. "Tony!"
"Nice blush, Rogers. Seriously, go have fun with Barnes. Be careful! Goodnight!" Tony claps his back goodnaturedly, laughing at Steve's flustered expression.
"Thank you Tony. Go get some sleep." Steve tells him. With a small, sincere smile, he walks away from Tony and goes back to the lounge.
Before Tony exits the building, he looks back and spots Bucky coming over to Steve.
His breath hitches as he sees the soft, warm look on Bucky's face as Steve wraps a hand around him.
Fighting down envy that starts creeping in his heart, Tony turns around, dusts his Dolce & Gabanna suit, and walks away.
Weeks after the charity ball, Tony's eyes seemed to develop the compulsion to automatically find the alpha couple. Sure those two were certified eyecandies but that doesn't give Tony the free pass to ogle them everytime they're in the same room.
He has to nip this compulsion in the bud quickly before someone notices his descent to stalker-like behavior.
"Hey Mr. Stark!"
Peter approaches him, beside him are Shuri and Harley who seem to be in the middle of a slightly heated debate. Which is nothing unusual since those two often argued about technology and their crazy inventions. It wasn't a serious debate, more like an intellectual battle which appears to strengthen their friendship everytime.
"Hey yourself, kid. And what are you two fighting about now?" Tony raises an eyebrow at Shuri and Harley.
"Shuri says it's impossible to melt vibranium using prolonged repulsor technology--"
"--which is true--" Shuri cuts in. Harley glares at her.
"--which I believe is possible, because even though vibranium is the strongest metal, it can still be molded into different weapons." Harley pointedly stares at Shuri who rolls her eyes at him.
"Repulsor tech doesn't have enough heat capacity that the vibranium needs for it to be malleable."
"And I said prolonged repulsor tech--which means its heat capacity will be higher than it normally is."
Shuri crosses her hands across her chest. "We could test it out."
"Okay. Fine." Harley agrees.
Tony couldn't help the fond smile that forms on his lips as he listens to the two youngsters.
Peter leans closer to Tony and whispers: "Don't get them started on my webshooters. They've been debating over Harley's suggestion to fuse vibranium with the web fluid so that it can be stronger."
Tony snorts amusedly. Trust Harley to argue with the lady who's actually an expert on vibranium.
The door opens as Steve, Bucky, and Carol steps in, chatting animatedly with each other. The three alphas are exuding strong pheromones which makes Tony wrinkle his nose. They probably came from the training room because they're stinking up the place with battle pheromones.
(Their scents are actually fantastic but pigs would fly first before Tony admits it out loud.)
Steve is smiling at him as he greets him. Tony--because he's determined to to squash the fluttering feeling in his stomach everytime Steve smiles at him like that--casually greets him back, no warm smiles, just a small nod and a cool: "Hi Cap."
Not calling Steve by his name would put a distance between Tony and his pathetic lingering crush at Steve--which probably stemmed from his childhood hero worship. Fucking comics.
He acknowledges Carol and Bucky too with the tilt of his head.
"That's it!" Harley exclaims excitedly, making every person in the room stare curiously at him. He dashes towards Bucky and pats Bucky's metal arm.
"Bucky's got a vibranium arm and Tony's here. We could test out our theory right now!" Harley explains. He's grinning brightly at Tony.
"Are you crazy?! He might get hurt!" Shuri places her hands on her hips. She looks at Harley in disbelief. Tony agrees with her.
"Bucky doesn't mind," Harley looks at the alpha, slightly sticking out his lower lip. Pouting Harley was way more cute when he was younger. "Do you mind?"
Bucky seems amused rather than offended. First of all, Harley's calling him 'Bucky' and acting like Bucky's just his age. It's fine when he does that with Tony, because they are close and have this mentor-mentee relationship going on. Secondly, what Harley's suggesting is risky and despite Tony being a huge risk-taker, he doesn't want a teenagers' science experiment to risk damaging the supersoldier's arm.
So, as Harley's unofficial mentor, Tony has to intervene.
"Harley, you can do your tests at my lab," Harley lets out a loud cheer but Tony interrupts him by clicking his tongue and adding, "But not using Barnes' arm."
Bucky cuts in and offer, "I don't really mind."
Harley immediately beams at his words but Tony dismisses him. "Barnes, do not encourage the kid--"
"Ok, The teenager. The point is you gotta know safety protocols. Human tests are a big no-no." ...Which is rich coming from Tony but hey, he cares about these kids.
Harley raises an eyebrow at him, "Funny, I remember watching you implanting that upgrade chip on your arm without any tests at all."
Steve flashes Tony an exasperated look. He never liked it when Tony doesn't exercise caution when it comes to upgrading his Iron Man tech. Carol's looking at him disapprovingly too. Even Bucky's frowning at him.
Tony ignores them and diverts the attention back to Harley.
"We are talking about you, not me." Harley whines at Tony. "Uh-uh, like I said, my lab's open. You just need to find vibranium which isn't Barnes' arm."
Shuri sighs before making a suggestion. "I have a small piece of vibranium that we can use."
"Once the repulsor shoots, you'll feel the recoil at first," Tony adjusts the armor on Harley. Then, he moves towards Peter and does the same. "Try not to fight the recoil, just let it be. Then everything's smooth sailing after the initial recoil."
Harley and Peter nods in understanding. They focus on the small vibranium at the metal table. Shuri's ready with her own set of repulsor type weapon.
Tony takes a step back. "Ready?"
"Yes." The three teenagers reply in unison.
Then, the lab lights up as they fire the repulsor at the vibranium.
Carol leans on the wall beside him. She accompanied them at the lab because she was also curious at the result. Fortunately, Steve and Bucky didn't follow. They went to the kitchen to prepare snacks for the team.
"You're good with them."
Tony, distracted by the beam of the repulsor and unable to process Carol's words, tilts his head at Carol. "Huh? Sorry, didn't quite catch that."
"You're good with kids." Carol says with a slight smile.
Tony scoffs lightly. "Me? Good with kids? Nah. I'm just indulging their scientific curiosities."
Carol doesn't comment on his casual rebuttal.
"Got any kids, Carol?"
"Not blood-related but I've got this little girl, Monica. She's a bright kid. She's older than these kids and she's in college now."
"So not really a kid now eh?"
"Yep. She's already a lady. But the moments I've spent with her while she's growing up are some of my fondest memories." Carol's smiling warmly as she opens up about herself. "She's almost my height but she'll always be my precious little Monica."
Tony glances at Harley. He remembers when he first met the kid when he crashed inside their garage. He was so tiny but he was bravely aiming a potato gun at a full grown adult stranger. Harley had guts, which Tony admired greatly.
Harley helped him in so many ways. Harley saved him from spiraling down and succumbing to his mental illness.
Peter taught him a lot of things about bravery too. He learned an important lesson from Peter--what it really takes to be a hero inside and out.
And Shuri, though they haven't known each other long, she's a breathtaking badass genius. She helped with his arm and taught him a thing or two about improving nanotechnology.
"You ever think about having one of your own?"
Caught off-guard, Tony sputters and scrambles for a response. "Uhh, wow, okay. Uhh--erm--honestly, I don't know."
Carol's looking at him as if she knows what's going on inside Tony's mind. She doesn't comment at Tony's reply. She answers her own question. "I wanted to have one, but my partner--Maria, she's no longer capable of bearing another child after Monica."
She takes a deep breath then exhales slowly. A beautiful smile blooms on her lips and her eyes are shining as she says, "But that's alright. Because I got her and Monica."
Tony feels the overwhelming love she has for her partner and their child. He smiles before letting himself be vulnerable and share something personal.
"Sometimes, I dream of having someone at my side and watching over a kid or two."
It was Pepper, at first. He dreamt of her, of waking up every day and seeing her face first thing in the morning. He dreamt of a brunette little girl, their kid, playing inside a tent with the Iron Man faceplate and Pepper laughing as he and their kid play around.
He loves Pepper and Pepper loves him back. But Tony chose to spare her from inevitable heartaches that comes with him being Iron Man. So they settle for friendship. And that was the end of it.
But then of course after Pepper came Steve. Before the fallout of the Accords, Tony had once dreamt of Steve, his blue eyes twinkling as he carries their kid on his broad shoulders. He dreamt of Steve kissing him and asking him what he wants for breakfast while their kid is excitedly shrieking her answer.
Tony remembers waking up after and loathing himself for wishing Steve was his.
(Because Steve doesn't deserve to be stuck with an aging omega with laundry list of imperfections and insecurities.)
Carol interrupts him out of his reverie by dropping another bombshell comment. "So, when are you gonna confess to Steve and Bucky?"
The continuous noisy ping of the repulsor covers the tiny 'eep!' that slips out of Tony. He tries not to flush and he thinks he manages successfully. "Carol Danvers, you must be imagining things."
Carol snorts at him. "Oh please, I've seen the intense way you look at those two."
Aaaaand, shit. This is why Tony had to quit his stupid staring. People like Carol are too sharp not to notice shit like this.
He plays it off. Because Tony's great at denying and dismissing stuff. "Soooo? Have you seen them? Everyone ogles those two."
"Except you don't just ogle, your eyes glaze over and you start daydreaming."
Whaaaat. No, he does not. "No, I don't." Deny, deny, deny. Maybe Carol will bite.
"Admit it, you love them." Carol's teasing him now, great. She'll probably tease him forever and ever now.
Sure, he loves Steve. He fell for the guy way back when he promised him 'together'. And though that particular promise was broken, he still can't erase the feelings he had.
So yeah, fine. He loves Steven Grant Rogers.
But does Tony love James Buchanan Barnes? Sure the guy's hotness level is off the charts but he doesn't really know Bucky beside him being a recovering brainwashed HYDRA assassin and Steve's greatest love.
And Tony can't possibly fall for an Alpha he barely knows, an Alpha who's currently in a very committed, loving relationship with a another Alpha--who Tony harbors feelings for.
So he denies, denies, denies Carol and hopes he'll get through the succeeding days without staring at Steve and Bucky.
He hopes his feelings for Steve die and reincarnate into a platonic one.
Tony's an idiot who not only fails at killing his stupid feelings for Steve but also spectacularly succeeds falling for Steve's mate.
Because the agony of pining over someone who's bonded is not enough, his absolutely masochistic brain decided it loves another guy who's bonded to the other guy he loves.
He's pathetic. Now he's cursed with not only one but two unrequited love.
Bucky is a charming fucking bastard. He's witty as hell and surprise, surprise, he has so many similarities with Tony that their chemistry fucking explodes the moment they got the chance to get to know each other.
It starts with an awkward breakfast--Tony and Bucky being the only ones awake at 4 a.m. Tony's up all night working on enhancing the fingertips on his own metal arm. He's in the kitchen, munching on cereal when Bucky wanders in.
It was awkward as hell.
"Oh, uh hey. You're up early..." Tony comments, because if they stay silent any second longer, he'd flip his cereal bowl just to dispel the tension brewing.
Though he seems tense and a bit shaken, Bucky replies. "Hey, whatcha eating?"
Tony raises the cereal bowl. "Honey Stars."
"Ah." Bucky walks towards the fridge and opens it. He scans the contents of the fridge for a minute before closing it. "Actually, I'm not really hungry."
Bucky grabs a glass from the cupboard and fills it with water. He takes a seat across Tony.
Tony notices that Bucky's forehead is covered with a sheen of sweat. He's breathing quite hard too. When Bucky lifts the glass to his mouth, his hands are trembling.
That's when it sinks in--Tony's extremely familiar with dealing with nightmares and Bucky's behavior right at that moment is a carbon copy of how Tony is when his sleep gets plagued with nightmares.
He isn't really sure what made him place his hand on top of Bucky's in attempt to comfort. Probably because the alpha's scent is throbbing with anxiety, his omegan instincts kicks in. Comfort, placate--his own pheromones starts seeping in.
Even though they only had few and short conversations before, even though they weren't exactly the best of friends, Tony gathers enough courage to reach out.
"It's okay, Barnes. Nightmare's a real bitch to deal with."
Bucky looks surprised at first but then he lets out a small, pained smile. "Yeah, shitty stuff keeps replaying on my mind."
They sit in silence for a while. Tony carries on with his cereal and Bucky continues taking a sip of water.
"You have them too?" Bucky asks.
Tony nods. "Yep. Long time ago, it even got to a point where I would deliberately chose not to sleep just to avoid them."
Bucky shudders. "It's horrifying. The feeling after is--it's terrible and," Bucky runs his hands through his hair as he takes a shaky breath. "I did that too--not sleeping."
Tony pats Bucky's hand. "And it worsens things, if we don't sleep."
It seemed surreal, that he's alone with Bucky, exposing their vulnerable sides to each other and bonding over terrible, haunting dreams. But they're here, and having someone to talk about the nightmares always helps.
"You're up early too." Bucky remarks.
"Been working on my arm the whole night." Tony confesses. He shows off his metal arm.
"Oh." Bucky holds his metal arm up. He smiles, genuine this time, just a real happy smile. "Look, we match."
"I guess we're metal arm bros." Tony jokingly adds as he flexes his metal arm.
And Bucky, he laughs. His eyes crinkle as he does. He's even more beautiful when he lets go and Tony's heart jumps.
Hey, taken or not, the guy's way too attractive so the fluttering heartbeat is a totally normal response.
"Since you're awake and all, wanna join me in fiddling with this arm?"
Bucky raises a brow then fucking does the James Dean-esque smolder. Tony wonders is he does this on purpose or if it just comes to him naturally.
"Why, Stark. Are you propositioning me?"
A startled laugh pours out from Tony. He has a feeling they'll get along fine. Maybe it's because it's 4 am and he's sleep-deprived that made Tony flirt back. "Why, Barnes. Are you refusing a good time?"
They spent the whole morning in the lab, with Tony educating Bucky about the wonders of technology. Dum-E and U gain a new ally in Bucky.
From that moment on, Tony's interactions with Bucky became significantly less stilted. The previous short, clipped, and way too polite conversations evolved into nickname calling, inside jokes, and a healthy smudge of flirty banter.
And because more often than not, Bucky is always with Steve, Tony's relationship with the blond alpha is also gradually reverting to its former glory.
Dare he say it, Tony's actually becomes quite close to the alpha couple. Close enough to initiate a frisky exchange with both of them but distant enough to know his limits. His reputation as a former playboy made his flirtations seem like it's part of his normal routine so he gets the benefit of batting his eyelashes at them without the two discovering his unfortunate feelings for them.
The succeeding missions they've had gave Tony the opportunity to discover more about Bucky. God, the guy was just as stubborn and self-sacrificing as Steve. But he's like Tony too, with the habit of not wanting to bother anyone with his shit.
Luckily, Tony's noticed that stiff manner Bucky's metal arm moves. He spots the subtle wince Bucky makes when he moves his arm in a particular angle. Tony steps in to help, because hiding an injury makes it worse.
He catches Bucky in the living room and corners him.
"You're hiding something, man bun."
Bucky raises a brow and feigns confusion. "What d'ya mean?"
"Your arm?" Bucky raises his arm and tilts his head to the side. Tony sighs. "Yes, that arm. Something's up with it."
"I'm fine." Bucky makes a show of closing and opening his palm just to prove that there's nothing wrong. Tony scoots to the table and picks up the pen.
"Here, catch this then." Tony throws the pen at Bucky, who attempts to catch it. His arm's forced to bend at the certain angle that trigger the pain. Looks like a pinched nerve, Tony notes. Bucky fails to catch the pen and lets out a quiet pained hiss.
"No shit." Bucky bites back. Though it's not as harsh and cruel.
Tony draws near him and reaches out. "May I?"
Bucky nods, giving him permission to touch his arm. Tony gently inspects his arm. "From the looks of it, I'm guessing it's a pinched nerve."
"Hurts like hell for just a pinched nerve."
"Did you contact Shuri?"
Bucky shakes his head. "Nah. I don't wanna bother her, she's busy with school."
"So, you'd rather grin and bear it?"
Bucky doesn't answer. "I could try to fix it. That is if you allow me to, or we could go to Strange or any doctor. Whatever you prefer."
At Tony's offer, Bucky smiles genuinely. He spreads his arms wide. "Well, what are we waiting for?"
When Tony walks in on Steve and Natasha honing their skills at the training room, he decides to stay and watch. He sits down the bench beside Bucky.
"Who's winning?" Tony asks as he watches Natasha swing her legs at Steve. Bucky glances at him.
"Close fight but it's Steve." Natasha throws her self at Steve, who expertly dodges at the last minute and trips Natasha using his legs.
Both are panting hard by the time they're finished. Steve helps Nat to stand and Tony internally swoons at the sight of Steve's biceps flexing and Nat's defined back muscles shining with sweat.
Because his heat's due around next week, his hormones are elevated than it normally is. His brain's buzzing with raunchy thoughts. His purpose for visiting the training room was to release excess energy and hopefully, decrease his raring libido.
But, the sight of Steve and Nat does the exact opposite.
"Wanna go a few rounds?" Bucky asks. He gestures toward the padded floors.
Bucky's hand-to-hand abilities are as good, if not better, as Steve's and Natasha's. Tony could learn a thing or two from him.
Tony accepts the offer. "Teach me how to topple a man as built as Cap then, I'm totally game."
Steve lets out an amused laugh at that.
Natasha is smirking at them. "I already taught you that Tony, just go for the knees or the groin."
"Tasha, the move you taught me was way too hard and I'm not as flexible as you."
Tony places a hand on Bucky's shoulder. "Maybe this fossil can teach me a move that's not too complex but still as effective."
Bucky nudges him playfully. "This fossil's about to prove you right. Come on!"
Tony should have refused Bucky's offer. He should have taken a rain check on his offer, shut himself inside the lab, and masturbate his excess energy off.
If he did, then he wouldn't be pinned underneath pounds of pure sinewy muscles. His face wouldn't be inches away from Bucky's and he won't be staring directly at an extremely handsome face with captivating icy blue eyes. He wouldn't be feeling the huffs and puffs of hot breaths near his neck and ears as Bucky leans forward and adjusts himself.
Most of all, Tony wouldn't have humiliated himself by letting out an utterly omegan high-pitched whine when Bucky grips his shoulder with enough force to keep him pinned him down.
Fucking pre-heat hormones!
"....shit." Was the only thing Tony could say after. His face's burning and shame's flooding his insides.
"It's f-fine." Bucky clears his throat as he gets off Tony. There's roughness in his voice and a hint of a growl. His pupils are dilated too. Great, now his pheromones are starting to induce Bucky's rut.
Bucky offers a hand which Tony graciously accepts despite the incident. They dust their clothes and fix their appearance.
No one's making any noise, even Natasha and Steve are quiet.
"Tony?" For the first time ever, Bucky calls him by his first name. Tony suppresses the shudder that's threatening to appear.
"Seriously. It's not something to be ashamed of."
Easy for him to say. He's an alpha. Alphas love it when omegas makes the whine to call out to them. But then again, Bucky's an alpha who's in love with another alpha so--
"Yep. Got it. Just blame it on my pre-heat." Tony's one hundred percent sure that they can scent it from him.
"You know us omegas, when our heat's up we become slaves to our instincts." Though it leaves a bitter taste in his mouth, he blames it on his affinity.
When he leaves the room, he doesn't look anyone in the eye. Especially not Steve.
Tony doesn't know what's worse: basically inviting Bucky to fuck him or doing this in front of the love of Bucky's life.
Either way, he feels like shit.
Despite the bullshit that mass media advertises, heats are actual hell. It's not 'sweet yearning accompanied with a healthy, radiant glow' that Tony feels, it's ugly desperation and whole lot of sweating. He's cramping everywhere, his legs are trembling, and his sheets are a mess.
To make things worse, his stupid horny brain kept torturing him with images of Steve and Bucky getting it on. Of Bucky responding to his whine during that fateful encounter when they trained. Of Steve joining in on the fun. Of two alphas giving him the good dicking her craves.
As if it wasn't enough that his pathetic crush over Steve isn't completely gone. Stupid childhood hero worship. Bucky's added to the equation and now Tony's thirsting over two taken alphas.
The two are way too deep into each other, for crissake!
Tony groans. 'Too deep into each other'--Okay, poor choice of words. Because his mind supplies him with vivid imaginations involving 'too deep' and the two Alphas.
He grabs the knotted dildo and gets to work.
Stupid, fucking heat. Stupid, fucking gorgeous Alphas.
Because life's a spiteful bitch, Steve catches him alone despite Tony's continuous effort to avoid him.
When his heat's calmed down, the respite between consuming desire to be knotted, Tony heads down to kitchen to snuck some food in his room.
He curses under his breath when he hears Steve enter. He hopes the shower he took earlier wiped out any lingering traces of his ongoing heat.
"Ah, hey. How's the--umm, the heat?"
The shower failed. Or maybe it's just because Steve's senses are enhanced. "It's okay--no, scratch that, not gonna lie, it's torture."
Steve chuckles sympathetically. He bites his lips nervously before offering, "A heat partner could help."
The first thing that comes up in Tony's brain is: What is it with this kitchen that makes it attractive for super awkward conversations? It was also in this kitchen where he and Bucky had their first awkward yet quite intimate conversation about nightmares.
He could do this. After all, he's known Steve for almost a decade now.
"I make do with my toys." Tony tries to sound nonchalant with his answer. The only alphas he'd want to spend his heat with are both taken.
"You offering yourself?" He teases, only because he's certain that Steve would find it amusing and dismiss him lightly.
To his horror, Steve's reaction is to look at him with unreadable expression in his eyes.
He fucked up.
The 'ding' of the microwave spares him from making it worse. He turns away from Steve and retrieves the heated mac and cheese.
He spares a quick glance at Steve and before the man can speak, Tony interrupts and retracts his statement. "It's a joke, Steve. Anyway, gotta go now."
He scurries off the kitchen like a coward.
His body's determined to ruin him completely.
It's been almost two weeks and his heat's still not over. He still feels feverish, desperate. He's slowly losing his wits because of his goddamned biology. Everything hurts, the cramping's worse the the usual. His slick's all over the place and his legs are weak. He's so light-headed and he can't even remember the last time he ate.
His hole clamps down on the dildo as he cums for the nth time. It's too much stimulation and he's exhausted. He passes out afterwards.
When regains consciousness, it's to a gentle, calloused hand petting his hair. He wants to slap the hand away but it feels too good. He wants to open his eyes but his eyelids are too heavy. Tony opens his mouth to talk but all that comes out is a pitiful moan.
The person patting him shushes him and strokes his head even more. "You need to drink."
Tony senses another person settle beside him. The cold rim of a glass is pressed on his lips. "Here, take a sip." The other person says.
The water slides down his throat and gives his overheated body immense relief. He sniffs the air and realizes that the two persons taking care of him are alphas. Alphas who smell so divine, like the best vintage wine matched with a juicy steak.
The two alphas laugh. Did Tony say that out loud?
"Yes, Tony, you did. You must be hungry." Oh, it's Steve. Steve with the golden smile and great ass.
Tony hears some more snickering. He must have said that aloud again.
"He does have a great ass. Your ass ain't so bad either, Tony." He learns that the other alpha with him is Bucky. Bucky with the James Dean-esque smolder and pretty lips.
"Thanks Tony. Glad to know you find Stevie and I attractive."
"Don't tease him, Buck. He needs to rest more." The hands on Tony's hair move to cup his face.Tony moans as the touch soothes him.
"Sleep, Tony. We'll be back with food. Anything you want?"
Something that he wouldn't chew sounds good. Maybe some--"Mmm, soup, chicken soup."
"Got it, rest up doll."
Bucky calls him 'doll', and it feels nice. His heart's fluttering as he smiles with his eyes still closed. Sleep consumes him as soon as the two leaves.
The hazy yet pleasant fog clears out by the time Steve and Bucky returns with the soup. Their smell still lingers and Tony dreads the onslaught of another wave of heat.
As he eats the soup, Steve tells him FRIDAY called their attention and informed them about Tony's condition. Bruce came in first, cleaned Tony up, and dressed him. Bruce told them that even though Tony's unconscious, he's still seeking out both Steve and Bucky.
Tony flushes and rubs his face in mortification. "Goddamned shit! I'm fucking sorry."
"--I swear, despite what the media insists, I'm not a homewrecker." His lips presses into a thin line. "I'm sorry." He says again. Because he really is sorry, it's pathetic. "It's disgusting, right? I'm not--whatever I said, that's just the heat talking. That's just omegan hormones. Forget about it." The please goes unsaid.
Bucky holds Tony's gaze. "Is it really just that?"
"Yes." Tony insists. What good will it do if he confess? There's no place for him between Steve and Bucky. He just has to suck it up and wait until the feelings fade. And if doesn't, he can bear it. Suffer in silence and all, he's used to it.
"I don't think so." Bucky stubbornly stares at him. He crosses his arms over his chest. "There's something else."
Bucky turns his head towards Steve. "--No, Steve. Enough. If we don't fess up, nothing would happen." He looks at Tony again, whose eyebrows are furrowed in confusion. Puzzled at how Bucky's acting. "At least this way, whatever Tony decides, we can move on."
And then comes the reveal: "Steve's been in love with you for a long time now. Remember that charity even months ago? He was gonna ask you out, to join us but you were tired."
Paralyzed with disbelief, Tony could only stare back, speechless at the confession. Steve loves...him?
"It's not just him. I've also fallen in love with you."
Wha-what the heck's going on...? Tony's mouth is hanging open and both his eyebrows are raised as high as it can be.
He must be-"Dreaming. I'm still asleep, this is insane!" He lets out a derisive laugh which dies down as soon as he sees the two looking at him with fondness in their eyes.
Tony awkwardly clears his throat. He squeezes out, "Since when?"
Steve replies first. "From the moment you offered me a place to stay. You gave me somewhere to belong. You gave me a home."
Tony blinks and stays silent as Steve continues, "Tony, when I woke up in this era, I had no one. I lost so much and I felt so hollow. All of a sudden, Fury recruits me for a mission-to fight against Loki. I got to know you, got to know the team. And, shit-we were such a mess."
It's true, they were a chaos They clashed, had a nasty exchange. They didn't act like a team, they were a time bomb.
"Then, we made it through. You were willing to die to save everyone and I start thinking that I was wrong about you. A few months later, you invited everyone, gave the team a place in your tower which you didn't have to do. No one's forcing you to do that but you still did."
"Months pass and then one day I just woke up and realized the hollowness was gone." Steve smiles and laughs breathily. "I remember that moment when the team's busy with movie night, you insisted on playing Star Wars next because I let it slip that it was one of my favorites. You laughed so hard when I was so shocked with the Darth Vader twist. I remember thinking how wonderful it was to hear you laugh and see you having a good time. I remember thinking: this is home."
Tony's heart is pounding so loud and so fast. Hope is blooming inside him. Could it be? That his feelings are actually requited?
Bucky starts confessing too. "You weren't really around to see him when he thought he lost you forever. After undergoing Shuri's cryotherapy, Steve often visited me in Wakanda. He kept the phone with him everywhere he goes. Even grew out his hair and a beard and ended up looking like a lumberjack."
Steve lets out an indignant 'hey!' but Bucky rambles on. "Even when you're apart and not talking, you're still on his mind."
"But he has you." Tony protests.
"He has me, yes. He still loves me even though I wasn't really the same Bucky he fell in love with." Bucky flashes a warm, soft look at Steve. "I still love him too. Then, Thanos fucked up everything. But you didn't give up, fought him and risked your life to end him."
"You gave Steve a home and Steve gave me one. Despite everything's that happened, despite what I've done to you, you still welcomed me in the Avengers compound."
"You were brainwashed--"
"--I know. Both you and Stevie keep on saying that. But that's not my point, my point is being around Steve and you makes me feel like I'm me again. Like I'm back to being the Bucky that Steve loves. Like I'm no longer defined by my past."
Doubt still clouds Tony. He can't surely have that much of an impact to Bucky.
Bucky continues, "We had that moment in the kitchen, then at your lab, where you talked up a storm about your metal arm, about Dum-E and U and FRIDAY just so I'd wipe the nightmare off my mind. Then, we had these missions and you keep showing how much of a hero you are both inside and out. You go to great lengths just to make everyone feel at home in this compound."
"I start seeing you in a different light the moment you saw through my shit and offered to fix my arm. So to answer your question, I loved you since that time. It may not be as long as Steve's regard for you but I still love you the same."
Despite the lengthy heartfelt confessions from Steve and Bucky, Tony still weakly protests. "You can't possibly want me. You two are at your prime. I'm an aging omega. Probably can't give you a family since my biological clock's almost at its end. I'm too complicated."
Steve and Bucky share a look before moving closer to Tony. Steve sits down on Tony's left while Bucky on the other.
"Sure we'd love to have kids but that isn't the reason why we love you." Steve says.
Bucky adds, "Alpha, beta, or omega, it doesn't matter. We love you because you're you, complications and all."
The whine that comes out of Tony is gut wrenching. Because this was so impossible, it's like he's trapped in another reality. Steve and Bucky wrap him in their arms, consoling him as sobs pour from him. Because there's a lot of people who claim to love him only for Tony to find out what they're really after. Often, what they really love was his fame, his fortune, his genius. Not him, never him.
When Obadiah ripped the arc reactor from his chest, Tony learned his lesson. Never let anyone too close.
"I've been so alone. Fuck, I've been so lonely." Tony whines pitifully. How many years has passed since he dreamt of having someone holding him like this? How many years has passed since Yinsen slapped him with the truth?
"I was so lonely." He repeats with a sob. After years and years of holding his tears, he let himself cry as Steve and Bucky hold him.