“Here.” the blonde man snapped his fingers and pointed to a spot at his side and just slightly behind, ordering the pretty brunette to stand in a position of obvious deference. “I want you right here.”
The brunette swallowed, jaw clenching in a visible attempt to keep himself under control, but didn’t move.
“I told you–” the blonde leaned in and hissed something furious and from the other side of the jewelry store, Bucky turned to Steve with narrowed eyes and gritted teeth.
“I see it.” Steve kept staring down at the display of rings, his entire frame nearly vibrating with tension. “Not our problem, Buck.”
“He wants his sub to stand behind him like a slave?” Bucky spat. “In public? He’s over there looking at collars and his sub clearly doesn’t want that!”
“We don’t know that.” Steve maintained, his fists clenched so tight his nails were leaving marks in his palm. “Another couple’s dynamic isn’t ours to judge, or ours to understand or ours to intrude on. Unless his sub is visibly being hurt, and even then, even if his sub obviously doesn’t want it–”
“I’m going over there.” Bucky decided and Steve’s head snapped up. “I’m going over there and gonna tell him to lay the hell off. Can’t treat a sub like that, it just ain’t right!”
“Bucky!” Steve grabbed at Bucky’s wrist to stop him, applying just enough pressure to make Bucky’s pale eyes widen in surprise. “It’s not our place.”
“Look.at.him.” Bucky ground out, not shaking off Steve’s grip but also not backing down. “Look at his eyes, Stevie. He doesn’t want any of that.”
“Bucky–” Steve started to argue again, to remind Bucky that stepping between a Dom and sub wasn’t tolerated, to remind Bucky of the night they’d both spent in jail just a few months ago. Bucky had clocked another Dom for manhandling his sub, and when the Dom had gotten up to go after Bucky, Steve had stepped in and laid him out cold.
No one touched Bucky, no one except Steve, and even the police officers responding to the scene hadn’t handcuffed Bucky, telling Steve to do it instead. What happened between a Dom and a willing sub was nobody’s business but–
The brunette ducked his head and cringed away when the blonde Dom went to touch his hair and Steve practically growled.
“It ain’t right.” Bucky said again, and this time Steve nodded.
“It ain’t right.”
Tony didn’t mean to cringe away, but his face still stung from the last slap his Dom gave him, and when Ty reached to adjust the curl that always seemed to fall into Tony’s eyes no matter how much gel he used, Tony flinched and stumbled back a step.
“Get back here.” Ty’s eyes lit furious and embarrassed, well aware that more than one person in the jewelry store had seen the sub pull away from him. “This is why you need a collar, isn’t it? To remind you of your place!”
Tony closed his eyes and tried to steady his breathing. “A subs place is at their Dom’s side, not behind as if we are less.”
“A sub’s place is to be where their Dom demands!” Ty was nearly purple with rage. “Now stop embarrassing me and–”
“Seems’ta me like you’re a shitty Dom.” Tony jumped when a voice spoke from over his shoulder, the words dragging with a slight Brooklyn drawl and weighted with danger. “So why don’t you back up and give him some space?”
Tony shuddered when a big brunette with long hair moved into his space and then was surpassed by an even bigger blonde who went nose to nose with Ty and ordered quietly, “Stand down before you make a scene.”
“Can I touch you, sweet thing?” the brunette muttered, and Tony was too shell shocked to answer, and the stranger nodded and took a step away. “Alright. No worries.”
“My name is Steve Rogers.” the blond didn’t look away from Ty, but he kept his tone quiet and soothing as he spoke to Tony. “Bucky is mine and I am his, and if we are over stepping our bounds right now, please say so clearly.”
Tony stayed quiet, and the brunette– Bucky– asked again, “Can I touch you, sweet thing?”
This time Tony nodded, and immediately a big hand settled at the flat of his back, fingers spread wide to cover as much as possible and Tony’s knees went weak, a whimper building in his throat at the gentle, protective contact.
Ty’s mouth dropped at the sight of a stranger touching his sub but when he went to move, Steve shook his head.
“No. Don’t move. Will you tell Bucky your name?”
“Tony.” he said in a near whisper and Bucky whispered back, “Is it alright if Stevie calls you Tony, or should he call you something else?”
“This is Tony.” Bucky said loud enough for Steve to hear. “And it’s alright for you to call him exactly that.”
“Tony.” Steve said firmly, and Bucky smiled when he felt Tony tremble beneath his palm. Steve had a way of saying names that made every sub or switch in the area want to shiver, and it was only one of the things Bucky loved about his Dom.
“Tony.” Steve said again and when Ty jerked like he was going to protest, Steve cleared his throat loudly to bring the other Dom to a halt. “Tony, we couldn’t help but notice you flinching away from this Dom, are you hurt?”
The slightest, tiniest nod and Bucky slid his arm a little more secure around Tony’s waist.
“Tony,” Steve kept saying his name and Tony quietly loved the acknowledgment. “If you would like to leave with us, please state so clearly. There are no other expectations except keeping you safe, but you are allowed to say no, or to decide anything else you’d like. It’s up to you, sweetheart.”
“How dare–!” Ty almost shouted then, and with good reason. Interrupting and confronting a Dom in a moment with his sub was bad enough, but to casually use a term of endearment while openly defying their Dom’s wishes crossed about a hundred different lines of acceptable behavior.
“I’d like to leave with you.” Tony interrupted before Ty could yell more or before Steve could apologize for calling him sweetheart. “Please?” His heart was pounding, palms sweaty at the thought of walking away from his Dom, but Tony kept his chin up and eyes forward and nodded. “I’d like to leave with you.”
Bucky relayed the message to Steve with a smug grin on his face, going so far as to turn his nose into Tony’s hair and hum comfortingly when the pretty sub started shaking in his arms. “Can I take you out of here?”
The note of begging in Tony’s voice broke Bucky’s heart and he held the little brunette tighter to his side and hustled him out the door, checking over his shoulder to make sure Steve saw where they went.
“Doms like you miss the point of a relationship.” As soon as Bucky was gone with Tony, Steve stepped away from the other Dom and folded his arms, staring the blond down. “Our sub is the one in control, not us. Willing submission, not forced. What the hell are you thinking, dragging Tony in here to pick out a collar, making him stand and act in ways he doesn’t want to?”
“It’s not your business, Steve Rogers.” Ty straightened his jacket with a jerk and a scowl. “My sub and I have a contract and agreed upon parameters and I could have you arrested for interfering.”
“Arrest me then.” Steve’s smile was ice cold. “I’ll tell the officers all about how your sub flinched when you tried to touch him and how he asked to leave with us. Contract or not, abuse is abuse.”
“Right.” Ty scoffed. “As if you don’t slap your sub around if he gets mouthy. Big brute like that, no way he let’s you Dom without a fight.”
“I would never.” Steve said coolly. “A real Dom doesn’t have to.”
Ty’s lip curled in disgust, but he still backed down, avoiding Steve’s eyes as he muttered, “Do whatever you want with the brat. He’ll come home again. He always does.”
Steve found Bucky and Tony sitting by the fountain, Tony sitting stiff backed and staring at the floor, Bucky sitting plastered to his side, his arm still tight around Tony’s waist.
“Sweetheart.” Steve bent to kiss Bucky first, his concern for Tony not outweighing his need to be sure his partner and sub was alright first. “Doing okay?”
“Of course.” Bucky tipped his head towards Tony. “But–”
“Tony.” Steve knelt down in front of Tony, close but not too close, well aware that he’d crossed several lines already and not willing to cross another by touching the sub without permission. “Is it still alright if I call you Tony?”
“What else would you call me?” Tony didn’t look up. “That’s my name.”
“But if you would rather me call you something else…?” Steve pressed. “I’m a Dom and a stranger and if you don’t want me using your first name, I understand.”
“Um, well–.” Tony hesitated as if he’d never been given the choice before. “No. Tony is fine.”
“Okay.” Steve sent Bucky a quick look, checking to make sure his sub was okay with him talking to another. “You said you were hurt, is that something we need to take you to a hospital for?”
“No.” Tony tugged at his sleeve but Steve had already seen the imprint of bruises. “No, nothing like that.”
“Can I touch you, Tony?” Steve asked next, checking in with Bucky yet again. “Is that alright?”
Tony swallowed and went very tense, then quickly nodded, holding his breath as Steve reached out and lay a big hand at his knee.
“S’alright, doll.” Bucky had no issue calling Tony sweet names or dropping a gentle kiss at his temple. “Stevie’s gonna be good to you. Don’t worry.”
“I’m cold.” Tony whispered and Bucky’s eyes widened when Tony’s skin washed pale, his dark eyes glazing over. “I’m c-cold.”
“He’s dropping, Steve.” Bucky said in alarm. “Steve he’s– Tony, are you fresh outta a scene?”
“Um…sorta.” Tony was starting to slur his words. “Never went down so Ty gave up and brought me to get a collar. Thought it would help.”
“Shit.” Steve swore out loud, then swore again. “God dammnit, fuckin’ irresponsible Doms–”
“Not the time.” Bucky interrupted. “Not right now, Steve. Time to pound on that asshole later. Focus.”
“Yep, yep.” Steve leaned up and kissed Bucky for being level headed enough to bring him back around. “Okay, Tony is it still okay if I touch you?”
“Can I pick you up? Or would you rather walk out of here?”
“Can you walk?” Steve rephrased the question, simplified it. “Can you walk, Tony?”
“Not–not well. Not when I drop.”
“Can I carry you?”
“That alright with you, baby?” Steve asked and Bucky just rolled his eyes, lifting Tony from the fountain bench and pressing him into Steve’s arms. “Alright sweetheart, usually I’d ask before taking you back to our place, but I promise you’re safe with us. With me and Bucky. He’s mine and I’m his and we’re going to take care of you.”
Tony didn’t answer, but he curled into Steve’s chest and wrapped his arms around Steve’s neck, breathing in deep and letting out a low moan when Steve held him closer.
And when Steve set him in the backseat of the truck and Bucky climbed in alongside so Tony didn’t have to sit alone, Tony crawled into Bucky’s lap and hid his face, knotting his fingers in Bucky’s shirt.
“Stevie.” Bucky met Steve’s eyes in the rear view mirror and saw his own anger and heartbreak mirrored in Steve’s gaze. “What are we doing?”
“I don’t really know yet.” Steve admitted, then twisted around in the seat to reach over and run a careful hand through Tony’s curly hair. “But I think I’m too far deep to stop.”
“I know what you mean.” Bucky subbed for Steve, but really he was a switch, and Tony curled into his arms was doing all sorts of things to his heart and mind. “Me too.”
“First we have to get him through his drop.” Steve said firmly. “And figure out what the hell is happening with his Dom. Then we can talk about–” he cleared his throat. “Whatever else is going on here.”
“Thank you.” Tony murmured then. “For rescuing me.”
“Oh sweet thing.” Bucky kissed Tony’s head and hugged him close, meeting his Dom’s eyes steadily. “It’s our pleasure.”