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It's Our Pleasure

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“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?” 

“Tony’s fine.” 

“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?” 

“Please?’ 

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?” 

“Y-yes?” 

“Can I pick you up? Or would you rather walk out of here?” 

“Um….” 

“Can you walk?” Steve rephrased the question, simplified it. “Can you walk, Tony?” 

“Not–not well. Not when I drop.” 

“Can I carry you?” 

“Yes.” 

“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.”  

****************

Chapter Text

Tony hated the feel of clothes. 

Not–not clothes, exactly. Not all clothes. Stiff clothes. 

He hated the crispness of pressed trousers and the uncomfortable edge of suit jackets and how ties were so soft and yet so menacing all at the same time. 

Tony hated– he hated– 

“You with me, baby doll?” 

He hated clothes that weren’t mean to be relaxed in. Hated clothes that were meant to keep people away. Hated clothes that wrinkled from cheeks pressed tight in an attempt at supplication that only ended in pain. 

“C’mon sugar, come back to us, you’re alright.” 

Tony hated– he hated the perfect smoothness of hands that spent more time signing contracts than working and he hated the slick slide of lotioned, perfumed palms because something so soft shouldn’t hurt so bad and he hated– 

“Is he okay? Do you think I can hold him?” 

“Probably won’t react real well to a Dom in his space right now, but his pulse has steadied so let’s just give him a minute.” 

“You got him, Buck?” 

“You know I do, Stevie.” 

Tony hated being open, being displayed, being spotlighted but then ignored as if he wasn’t worth even looking at. He hated heartbeats that only changed once his was racing in fear, hated blue eyes–he hated blue eyes. 

Tony wanted warmth and he wanted gentle and he wanted to hide in a pile of blankets and he wanted–

“Hey, sweet thing.” 

Blue eyes staring down at him, and Tony cringed away without meaning to, then flinched all over again because he was never supposed to cringe–

Easy, easy–” the voice faded in clearer as Tony came back to himself. “Easy, sweet thing, you’re fine. Come here.” 

“What–” Tony shook his head but that hurt, so he didn’t do it again. “Who–” 

“My name’s Bucky, remember?” The big brunette ran gentle gentle fingers through Tony’s hair and pushed it away from his face. “My Dom and I took you away from the jewelry store cos you said you wanted to go with us. Do you remember that?” 

Tony closed his eyes and searched his memory for a minute. “…yes.” 

“Do you?” Bucky pressed, the question friendly but still pointed. “Because if you don’t remember than we might need to take you to the doctor. A sub drop that affects memory can be scary so think about it, and tell me again. Do you remember saying you wanted to leave with us?” 

“I remember.” Tony said clearly, and it was only then he realized he was still on Bucky’s lap, still wrapped in the brunettes arms and held close to his chest. “Ty was yelling at me and you stepped in first and your Dom– um, your Dom--"

A quick look around a living room– he didn’t remember walking to a living room, but more than likely Bucky had carried him– and Tony stopped when he saw the Dom leaning against the door frame. 

“Hi honey.” the blond– Steve. Tony remembered that. Steve.– said softly, and then with a grimace. “Sorry, I shouldn’t be calling you honey. Are you up enough to give me permission to use your name again?” 

“You can call me Tony.” Relief flashed over the Dom’s face and Tony knew it had been both a test of his memory, and an attempt by Steve at giving Tony the right to re-set boundaries now that he wasn’t dropped. “Tony is fine.” 

“Okay.” Steve didn’t move from the door and Tony appreciated the space. “Are you warm?” 

“I–” Another information dump– Tony wasn’t just on Bucky’s lap, but also wrapped in a weighted blanket with a heating pad at his back. There was a pillow under his knees to ease the strain of them being bent and hugged at his chest, and another under his ear so he wasn’t lying on Bucky’s collar bone. “…yes.” 

“You’ve been out for close to six hours.” Bucky was clearly a Dom in the sure way he held Tony, but also clearly a sub in the way he kept looking up at Steve for affirmation and adoration and –Tony had never actually met a switch. 

Interesting.

Being held by someone that understood the fear of being a sub but could take care of him like a Dom was amazing and Tony leaned in closer to Bucky without even registering the motion.

Tony also didn’t register he’d said those words out loud, but Bucky caught Steve’s eyes over Tony’s head and mouthed a firm, no, when his Dom’s fists clenched in anger. 

The pretty brunette had been mumbling in his sleep for hours, about how he hated suits and hated being hurt and how he was cold and didn’t want to be looked at, how he hated blue eyes. 

Bucky had tried to talk to Tony, keeping his voice low and words soft in an attempt to keep the sub grounded and maybe give Tony a guide out of his drop, but all it had done was break both their hearts as Tony trembled and shook and whispered that he didn’t want– he didn’t want

“I’ve been out for hours?” Tony’s voice was stronger now, though he didn’t make any attempt to move away from Bucky. “You’ve been holding me the entire time?” 

“Sometimes when I drop the worst thing is to be left alone.” Bucky ran the flat of his palm over Tony’s back in comforting circles. “Didn’t want you to come out of it by yourself, not in a strange apartment.” 

“…thank you.” Tony risked another glance at the Dom. “Thank you for allowing me into your home and between yourself and yours.” 

It was a scripted response, the sort of response expected from a sub who spent alot of time visiting other couples along with his Dom. A thank you for being invited to someone’s home, but phrased as if the sub assumed their very presence was an imposition, as if being in the house somehow was a hindrance to another couple’s night, as if just by virtue of being a sub they were somehow in the way. It was the sort of response that hinted at a very specific dynamic with in a couple, the sort of dynamic that made Bucky want to go back to the jewelry store and break Ty's nose.

“S’fine, sugar.” Bucky had to make a visible effort to keep the irritation from his voice. “You aren’t between me and Stevie. It’s no problem.” 

“Our pleasure, sweetheart.” Steve said gruffly, and then shook his head. “Tony. It’s our pleasure, Tony. Sorry, I’ll work on that.” 

Tony smiled briefly, tightly, and Bucky asked, “Would you like a shower, Tony? Stevie’s got a real nice one, different jets and a steam function and we've got real nice towels. It might help with the rest of your drop." 

“No thank you.” Tony said immediately. “I’d rather shower at my Dom’s home and with his scents. Thank you.” 

Another response that sounded as if it had been trained right into the sub, and Bucky took a deep breath in before pressing, "Tony. You don't have to leave yet. You were out for hours. At the very least you should stay and rest, maybe eat a little. Stay." 

“I’m fine.” Tony insisted, and even sat up to push the blanket off his shoulders. “I should be getting back to my Dom’s home.”  

"You said you wanted to come with us." Steve cut in, cringing when Tony swiveled around to face him and dropped his eyes to the floor. Damn he hated that sort of thing. "Tony, look at me. You said you wanted to come with us, and I know you think you have to get back to your Dom, but you don't have to. Not if you don't want to." 

"I need to return to my Dom's home." Tony kept his eyes on the floor, shoulders hunched. "I was acting out in the jewelry store which is the only reason I decided to leave, but now that I've returned to my senses--" 

"Oh for fucks sake--" Bucky snorted and shook his head. "Stevie, can you give us a minute? I need to talk to Tony." 

Steve put both hands up and disappeared into the other room, and as soon as he was gone Tony turned to Bucky with wide eyes. “Your Dom allows you to order him out of a room?” 

“Stevie knows as well as I do that a sub’s never gonna talk about what happens with his Dom if another Dom is in the room.” Bucky lifted the blankets back up over Tony’s shoulder and motioned him down again, wrapping both arms around the slim waist and holding him close. “Now look, I know you gotta insist on only showerin’ at your Dom’s place, but I’m telling you to shower here. You’re safe and I know you don’t want to go back to that asshole.” 

“I don’t have a choice in the matter.” Tony said quietly and Bucky argued, “You definitely do, sugar.” 

“You’re very nice.” Tony pleated his fingers into Bucky’s shirt and inhaled shakily. “And your Dom has been very kind to let you take care of me, but a contract is–” 

“–not an excuse to abuse a sub.” Bucky finished, and Tony went very very still. “I might be a switch, and me and Stevie’s relationship isn’t always traditional, but there’s still a right way and a wrong way to handle this sort of thing–” 

“–how a Dom and sub handle their contract is no one’s business but their own.” 

“–I’ve literally gone to jail fightin’ that bullshit. You know who made that rule? Shitty Doms, same sorta Doms who tried to pass that law about contracted subs not being able to vote cos they were just an extension of their Dom and didn’t have separate opinions.” 

Tony was quiet again and Bucky softened his voice. “Tony. You said you couldn’t go down so the Dom gave up on the scene and took you out to buy a collar. How often does that happen? When was the last time you went down?

Tony swallowed hard and shook his head, repeating, “How a Dom and sub handle their contract is no one’s business but their own.” 

“Sweetheart–” 

“I need to get back to my Dom’s home.” Tony pushed away from Bucky completely and stood to his feet, clutching at the couch when the room spun. “I um– it’s better if I ride out the effects of my drop there. Can I– would you ask your Dom if I could use his phone?” 

“You can use mine.” Bucky handed over his cell and frowned when Tony’s eyes widened. “You don’t have a cell phone, Tony?” 

“I don’t have a reason to need one.” Tony ducked his head, turning away from the sheer incredulity on Bucky’s face. “I’ll just be a minute, thank you.” 

***********

“Hi.” Steve was in the kitchen sipping at tea, but he put his cup down the moment Bucky walked in. “How are you, baby?” 

“M’fine.” Bucky was only two inches shorter than his Dom, but it was two inches he loved, so when Steve moved into his space, Bucky automatically ducked his head so his Dom could feather kisses into his hair and across his forehead. “Are you alright?” 

“Stressed out.” Steve admitted. “But if you’re fine, can you tell me about Tony?” 

“His Dom won’t let him have a cell phone, so he's using mine.” Bucky said and Steve growled in annoyance. “M'thinkin' he was so strung out after a failed scene that he wasn't acting right in the store, that's why he made a scene and that's why he came home with us." 

"And you think now that his emotions and hormones have recovered, he's going to fall back into his usual behavior?" 

"Yeah." Bucky nodded, then hesitated. "...no. It's weird, Stevie. He knows all the right answers, all the right ways to act however his Dom has trained him but the way he was in the jewelry store? He had no problem talking to you or answering your questions, he even let me hold him all that time. It's more like he's been trained in all that Old World protocol shit but it never really took, you know?" 

"He's fighting it." Steve clarified, narrowing his eyes. "Well, there's only one reason a sub fights his Dom." 

"Cos he ain't bein' treated right." 

"And there's only two ways to deal with that. Break the contract on grounds of incompatibility--" 

"--or break your sub." Bucky finished. "Which of the two do you think his asshole Dom is gonna do?" 

"Damn it." Steve folded his arms and stared down at the floor. "So what do we do?" 

Bucky chewed at his bottom lip as he thought about what to say next. It was a real breach of trust to share a conversation between subs with a Dom, but he didn't feel right keeping things from Steve either, and if they were going to help Tony...

"Tell me." Steve ordered, just enough command in his voice to show he meant it, but not so much that Bucky would be disobeying if he refused. "Tell me what you talked about." 

"When I asked Tony about the last scene with his Dom--" Bucky chose his words carefully. "--He told me that how a couple handle's their contract is their business. He said exactly that. Twice." 

Steve closed his eyes, curiosity and anger warring with the need to respect Tony’s privacy. He’d never been one of those Doms to speak about scenes with anyone else– what happened in the intimate moments with Bucky was theirs and no one else’s– and he couldn’t expect a sub to share details about scenes, but Tony insisting that their contract was their business–

–it was a brush off and an excuse and the sort of thing said to cover scenes that bordered on abuse and Steve wasn’t the type of Dom to let that sort of thing slide. 

But what could he do?

“Giving up on a scene cos your sub won’t go down and taking them out into public when they are at risk of a drop is cruel.” he finally said. "Keeping a sub trained in Old World protocol and using it to cover abuse is fuckin-- it's not right. It's not right at all." 

Bucky didn’t lift his head when he muttered, “Yeah, but we can’t stop Tony from going back to him, Stevie.” 

"But we can make sure he knows he as a place to go if he ever decides to leave." 

***************

Tony thanked Steve and Bucky again when the cab pulled up to take him back to Ty’s place, and even though his hand trembled in Bucky’s when the big brunette held it tight, Tony dropped his head in polite deference to Steve and and pulled away. 

"Tony." Steve spoke up and the little sub froze. "You are always welcome at our home. For any reason, do you understand? Any reason at all. If you want to come back and stay, or if you want me to send this taxi away right now, just say the word. It's up to you." 

Tony's dark eyes filled with tears, but he still got into the taxi and shut the door, hiding his face in his hands. 

“It’s not right.” Bucky leaned back into Steve’s arms as the taxi pulled away from curb. “I dunno why it bothers me so much, lots of subs have crazy relationships with their Doms but usually I can hit the Dom and move on with my life. Dunno why I can't get Tony out of my head." 

“I know.” Steve wrapped his arm around Bucky’s chest, pressing over his heart. “I don't know what it is either. But I’m sorry if me worryin’ about Tony makes you feel as if I’m not focused on you or–” 

“Stop that, I'm not worried about that.” Bucky scoffed, turning into his Dom’s embrace and kissing him hard. “I’m yours–” 

“–I’m yours.” 

“–and no one’s gonna tell us what’s right for us, except us.” Bucky breathed, his head falling back when Steve’s teeth landed at his neck. “If you want Tony, I want him too. If he comes back to us, I say we keep him.” 

“I love you.” Steve was never willing to start anything in public that needed to be finished in private, the beauty of Bucky’s submission for his eyes and his eyes only, so he urged Bucky off the street and back towards their apartment and asked in a low, private whisper, “Will you kneel for me?” 

Bucky checked to be sure no one was in the hall before matching Steve’s whisper, “Captain. Of course I will.” 

Chapter Text

It was five weeks before Tony found himself at Steve and Bucky’s apartment building again. 

Well, not five weeks. Four weeks, three days, a taxi ride that Tony had billed to a credit card stolen from Ty’s wallet, and now, an hours worth of staring at the door because he was scared to knock. 

Not scared to knock. 

Sort of scared to knock. 

…Scared to knock. 

Tony sat on the other side of the hallway and leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes to wait

He was scared to knock, but Bucky and Steve had to come home eventually, or had to come out of the apartment eventually, or open the door at some point and eventually they would see him. 

Just because Ty didn’t see him didn’t mean Tony was invisible. 

Bucky and Steve would see him. 

**************

**************

There was a weird corner in the master bedroom of Steve and Bucky’s apartment, an awkwardly positioned cutout that shared a wall with a bay window and plush bench. 

It was a leftover of the massive overhaul the buildings owners had done years ago, when two smaller apartments were condensed into one high dollar, corner unit. The result had been over sized bedrooms, breathable, open concept living areas and the occasional odd angle, weirdly shaped closet or in this case, extra space along a wall too small for a dresser but too big for a lamp or end table. 

It was, however, the perfect place for Bucky’s plush kneeling pillow. It was the perfect space for a large hinged mirror to hug the corner so no matter which way Bucky knelt, his Dom could see every inch of his body. It was the perfect place for Bucky to slip under into the sort of euphoria that only Steve could give him. 

It was perfect.

Steve had painted the walls in painstaking strokes shortly after they moved in, his eyes on the wall but ear turned to his sub as Bucky had whispered, “Blue like your eyes, Captain. And red like the wine we shared on our first date. Green. Purple too, paint me something purple–” 

It was Bucky’s corner, Bucky’s space for when he needed and when he wanted, and Steve asked before joining every single time. 

Bucky had never once told him no. 

“You’re beautiful.” Today, Steve ran his finger along the silver rope to test it for give, for any slack. “And so strong. Jesus, look at you.” 

“Can’t.” Bucky took a deep breath in and flexed his arms forward, knowing full well the display would make his Dom gasp. “I’m too busy looking at you.” 

Steve’s blue eyes sparked, darkened when the rope strained across Bucky’s chest and dug into his biceps, the motion pulling at the collar round Bucky’s neck and tipping his head back. Just the act of tying Bucky up was enough to make Steve come undone, the show of trust from the brunette as Steve worked the beautiful rope into stylized knots both humbling and empowering all at the same time. 

But Bucky with his head back and neck exposed, body heaving as he tried to breathe, myriad of tattoos shifting across his left arm and down his side, ropes straining against strength, tan skin cut through with silver–

–Steve had to cover his mouth and force himself to wait before he  ruined the scene by getting greedy and grabby and moving too fast. 

Stunning

“I can’t take my eyes off you either, sweetheart, but come here and look anyway.” Steve circled the pillow till he was standing behind Bucky and staring into the corner mirror. “Look how strong you are, look right here–” Steve drew his fingers down Bucky’s abdomen, groaning out loud at the ripple of defined muscles. “You take such good care of yourself. I’m so lucky.” 

“Wanna be beautiful for you.” Bucky straightened up under Steve’s touch, widening his knees and arching his back so the silver ropes slid along his skin and sparkled in the low light, his hair falling down around his shoulders as he lifted his chin again. “Touch me.” 

“Oh god, you’re so beautiful, baby. But tell me where.” Steve’s breath ghosted at Bucky’s ear, the words far too controlled for the way he was straining in his pants, so turned on by the sight of Bucky so tightly bound and so clearly showing off that he couldn’t hardly stand it. “Where do you want me to touch you?” 

Bucky made a show of straining at the rope, testing the knots before falling back lax. “You know where.” 

“And you know to ask me.” Steve let just a little bit of command leach into his voice. “So ask me.” 

Sometimes in a scene Bucky wanted it all, the force and the barked commands and the full Captain. He wanted the knots tight and the pleasure to be brought on a fine edge of pain and he wanted to float in a space lit by the sound of his Captain’s orders and warmed by the bloom of bruises. 

Sometimes he wanted a verbal back and forth, a teasing play for dominance and submission between Switch and Dom that went on until either Steve broke and ordered or until Bucky gave in and begged

But usually he wanted this– firm touches and simple orders and both he and his Captain coming apart at the seams in their desperation for one another. 

This was Steve’s favorite too, Bucky’s hints at resistance that made his submission so much sweeter, the comfortable teasing and knowing smiles because they’d done this a thousand times and knew each other inside and you and yet it never got old. 

“Ask me to touch you.” 

“Touch me.” Bucky was the perfect picture of supplication, knelt on his pillow with his collar fit snug to his neck. The ropes wrapped around his chest and then his arms, connected to his collar and looped to his waist, woven around powerful thighs and trailing through the sharp vee of his hips, framing his cock where it stood hard and flushed, tapping against his stomach with every stuttered breath. 

A perfect picture of supplication but his eyes were sharp and smirk challenging. “Please touch me, Captain.” 

Steve smiled, slow and steady and stepped away all together, folding his arms over his chest and meeting Bucky’s eyes in the mirror. “Ask me again. The right way.” 

“I–” Bucky started, but Steve cut in with a quick shake of his head. “Looking at me, please. And not in the mirror either.” 

“Looking at you.” Bucky repeated, and instead of arguing that it would be difficult or nearly impossible, he only nodded. 

It was an acrobatic feat for Bucky to arch his back enough to get his bound hands planted on his pillow, wildly impressive that he could widen his stance far enough to throw the muscles of his legs into stark relief and tighten the ropes enough to leave marks once their scene was over. The stretch yanked at the collar and Bucky let his head hang all the way back, dark hair falling to touch the floor as he looked up at his Dom. 

“Please, Captain.” he whispered, hoarse from the effort. “Please will you touch me?” 

“Are you begging me?” 

“I will if you want me to.” 

… their’s wasn’t a traditional relationship, not in the least. Steve wasn’t a traditional Dom and Bucky was a switch which meant submission wasn’t second nature like it was with others. Sometimes it was a struggle for Bucky to go down, sometimes it was a struggle for Steve to stay set in his role as Dom but really, all the non conformity to traditional roles did was make their moments together unique and intimate and special

Bucky was submitting so now it was time for Steve to take care of him, to be a good Dom and meet his sub in the middle, near the end, somewhere they’d both agreed to beforehand. So Steve knelt behind Bucky and took his sub’s weight against his chest, and Bucky moaned in gratitude, a moan that rose to a shout of relief when Steve’s palm closed hot and knowing around his cock, slipping from base to tip and applying just enough pressure to make Bucky’s vision white out. 

“Quiet.” Steve ordered, slipping further into his Captain side, and Bucky opened his mouth obediently when the Dom for one more loop of silver rope, a wider piece than all the others that had been cut and smoothed and fit exactly to Bucky’s lips. “If you drop this, I’ll stop and we’ll have to start all over.

Bucky nodded and let his eyes fall closed. Starting over wasn’t a threat, not even close. Bucky would let his Dom stop and untie him, then restart and re-tie him a hundred times if that was what Steve wanted. It wasn’t a threat, but he still obeyed without question, letting the Dom fit the piece into his mouth and set it snug against his tongue.

“Look in the mirror.” Another order and Bucky’s eyes snapped open to find their reflection, watching as Steve stroked him. “Don’t look away, and don’t say a word. I want you silent and I want you watching and when you come I want you looking only at me.

Bucky didn’t answer, only nodded again and the kiss Steve left on Bucky’s cheek, on his forehead, on his neck was tender and grateful. 

“You are beautiful.” Steve whispered, and set to work taking his sub apart slowly, purposefully. “And I love you.” 

**************

Steve was the one to clean the silver ropes after they were done, setting them to soak in a solution to clean the remnants of Bucky’s release so they were ready for the next round. Steve was also the one to pull the case from the pillow and put it in the laundry, and the one to lower the light in the bedroom so it wouldn’t hurt Bucky’s eyes. 

Bucky stayed kneeling on his pillow while his Dom cleaned up, stayed kneeling until Steve came back to him and cupped his jaw carefully, and then Bucky’s smile for his Dom was loopy and sweet and satisfied, pale blue eyes clouded over with pleasure and limbs limp as Steve helped him to his feet. 

“How are you, my love?” Steve whispered and Bucky’s answer was automatic and instinctual and honest. “Safe with you, Captain.” 

“I love that answer.” Steve lay Bucky out on the big bed and murmured, “Stay right here, love. I’ll be right back.”  

Bucky was floating, almost purring in pleasure when Steve came back with sweetly scented lotion to rub into the rope marks, pressing firmly into his skin and massaging at muscles so they wouldn’t be sore. Rope scenes were always intense, being bound and out of control something the former Master Sergeant had never thought he would enjoy and yet now something he couldn’t get enough of. Helpless wasn’t a word Bucky had ever used to describe himself but he liked to be helpless with his Captain. 

Steve had taken care of him back when they were punk kids signing up for the military, and he took care of Bucky now that they were three years out of the service and as Steve’s hand landed high on Bucky’s thigh and parted his legs, now it was time for Bucky to take care of Steve. 

“Captain.” he slurred and when Steve checked in with him– “Stars, Captain, still seeing stars–” 

“Still seeing stars.” Their safe word, safe phrase, assurance that Bucky was happy and content and well taken care of, and as Steve slid up Bucky’s body and crushed their mouths together, he was as stunned as ever that Bucky not only submitted so beautifully, but then was willing to offer his body for even more--

–Bucky was still floating after Steve finished, after he was marked all over his stomach and chest with his Dom’s release, and when Steve ran messy fingers across his lips, Bucky moaned and opened up immediately, happily

“I love you.” Steve panted. “Still seeing stars?” 

“Always.” Bucky rolled in the bed and pushed his face into Steve’s chest, letting the steady heartbeat settle his soul and ground him in his euphoria. “You make me float, Captain. 

“I love you.” Steve said again, and again and again. “Oh sweetheart–” 

They weren’t a traditional couple, a sub that was actually a Switch and a Dom that spent more time caring for his sub than ordering him around, but oh were they happy.

Steve could have stayed there forever with Bucky, sprawled across sweaty sheets and letting the fan cool their bodies, but he always set an alarm on his phone for an hour after a scene ended, and today when the alarm went off, Steve slid off the bed and went to the kitchen to find them both water, and to bring Bucky one of the chocolate bars he liked so much. 

“How are the stars?” Steve coaxed Bucky up for a drink, his heart squeezing in fondness when Bucky gave him a lopsided smile. “Still blinding you?” 

“I’m up enough to be safe, Captain.” Bucky murmured, which meant he wasn’t in danger of dropping, but he was still under enough to warrant another hour or so of down time, a clear invitation to cuddle some more, but also an assurance that if Steve needed to do anything else, he wouldn’t have to worry about leaving his sub too soon. 

“C’mere.” Steve broke off a piece of chocolate and pushed it gently between Bucky’s parted lips, easing his love back down to the bed. “The camera outside the door registered someone coming by and sent an alert to my phone. It’s probably those books you ordered, would you like me to bring them to you?” 

“Thank you, Captain.” 

“My pleasure.” Steve gave Bucky one last, lingering kiss and headed to the front door, pulling on his robe as he went, idly wondering if Bucky would want Thai food like he usually did after a rope scene or if he’d changed his mind about trying the new Italian place up the street or–

“Tony.” All the air punched out of the Dom when he opened the apartment door and saw the little brunette huddled on the opposite wall. “…Tony?” 

“Hi.” Tony offered Steve a quick smile and looked back down at his feet. “I’m sorry to bother you and yours.” 

“No, no it’s not a bother. You aren’t bothering us.” Steve tied his robe more securely around his waist. “What are you doing here? We were starting to think we wouldn’t see you again. Are you alright?” 

“Um, no. No I’m not.” Tony lifted his head again and this time Steve got a glimpse of a purpling bruise across Tony’s cheek, dried blood on a split lip. “And I’m sorry for coming to you, I’m sorry for disturbing you and arriving uninvited and un-escorted but I um– I didn’t know where else to go.” 

A beat of silence and Tony whispered, “I don’t– I don’t have anywhere else to go. At all.”

“Well you’re fine right here.” Steve crouched down and held out his hand, curling his fingers to encourage Tony to take it. He wouldn’t go so far as to pick the sub up, but he still offered his hand if Tony wanted to touch him. “Come here, come inside.” 

“…really?” 

“Of course, come here.” Steve paused, and rethought his words. “But only if you want, Tony. You can say no. That’s your choice.” 

“I don’t want to say no.” Tony closed his eyes tight. “But um–” 

“But you won’t set foot in a Dom’s house without another Dom or the sub to walk you through the door.” Steve finished. He recognized the Old World protocol when he heard it, and had no issue believing Tony’s other Dom had kept his sub on the rigid set of rules. “I’ll go get Bucky, please stay right here. Please?” 

Tony nodded and Steve ducked back inside, knocking lightly on the bedroom door so he wouldn’t startle Bucky too badly.

“Sweetheart?” he asked, and Bucky looked up with raised eyebrows, sitting up further on the bed when he realized how tense his Dom was. “How are you? Still seeing stars?” 

“I’m up enough to be safe, Stevie.” Bucky said clearly. “What’s wrong?” 

“Tony’s at our door.” Steve said quietly and Bucky swore out loud. “He’s got a bruised face and split lip–” Bucky swore again. “–and saying he doesn’t have anywhere else to go.” 

“Well get him in here!” 

“Buck.” Steve cleared his throat and Bucky put up an apologetic hand. “No, don’t do that. I don’t care that you’re upset or that you raised your voice, you know it doesn’t bug me. But Tony won’t come in without you there to escort him.” 

“Jesus Christ.” Bucky growled, and rolled off the bed to get his own robe. “Fuckin’ Old World protocol. Would like’ta see some Dom pull that shit on me, I’d break his goddamn nose, tell me I can’t come into a fuckin’ house–” 

“Bucky.” Steve caught Bucky’s jaw and lay a grateful kiss on his lips. “Thank you for being so understanding. I know bringing another sub into our home is asking a lot.”

“Hell, I already told you if he came back we were keeping him.” Bucky’s eyes softened a little at the gentleness of his Dom. “But are you ready for this?” 

“I’m ready for it if you’re with me.” Steve got real clothes out of his dresser so Tony wouldn’t be uncomfortable around a half dressed Dom. “You with me, Buck?” 

“You know it.” Bucky kissed Steve one more time, then pushed past the Dom to get to the front door, softening his voice to croon a gentle, “Hey sweet thing.” when he saw Tony still sitting there. “You wanna c’mere?” 

Tony held out his hand, and Bucky didn’t hesitate before scooping the little brunette right up off the floor and into his arms. 

“You here to stay this time?” 

“I–” Tony hesitated, knotted his fingers in Bucky’s shirt and nodded. “I’m not going back to him.” 

“You’re damn right you’re not.” Bucky kicked the door shut and the automatic locks engaged. “This is home now, alright? You’re staying.” 

Tony peeked through his lashes to see Steve standing at the door the bedroom, the blond Dom visibly working to keep his emotions under control, arms down by his side to it was obvious he wasn’t angry or irritated at Tony, just by the situation and whatever had led to Tony showing up at their door bruised

“I– I can stay?” Tony asked nervously and Bucky cleared his throat–

“Tony–” 

“You’re staying.” Steve spoke then, his voice ringing with authority and command. “And we’re going to take care of you.” 

And with a determined, protective glint in his eye– “I’m going to take care of you. Both of you.” 

Tony nodded wordlessly and hid his face again. 

This was the first time in his life he thought a Dom might actually mean those words.

Chapter Text

“Do you want a shower, honey?” Bucky shimmied into a pair of jeans and a short sleeve shirt while Tony stood in the doorway of the master bath. Tony had sat in his lap for a good thirty minutes before Bucky had to use the bathroom, and Tony had come along behind with shuffling footsteps and near blank expression. 

Bucky had decided to get dressed even though he hated the feel of clothes on his skin too soon after a scene. He thought Tony might be put off by near nudity, and in an attempt to make the quiet brunette as comfortable as possible, Bucky got all the way dressed again, even wrapping his shoulder length hair up in a bun. 

“Tony?” Bucky slowed when Tony didn’t answer. “Can you hear me? Do you want a shower?” 

“Yes please.” Tony whispered and started undressing right then and there. “Could I have a towel and something–” he stopped when Bucky reached past him to pluck the thickest, fluffiest towel Tony had ever seen from a cupboard, adding an unopened bottle of unscented body wash. “Oh.” 

“I like fluffy towels.” Bucky said by way of explanation. “After my Dom takes me apart, sometimes wrapping up in one of these feels like being held. It’s nice after a shower, specially when he holds me too. We had to special order ones these size.” 

“I can’t imagine.” Tony took the towel and body wash and went right back to undressing, not even bothering to turn away in a show of modesty. “Thank you.” 

“What can’t you imagine, sweet thing?” Unsettled by Tony’s near robotic movements, Bucky watched only long enough to make sure there wasn’t more bruises on Tony’s chest and back, then looked away when Tony kicked out of his pants. “Special ordering insanely fluffy towels?” 

“Being held after a scene.” Tony turned on the water and climbed in without waiting to see if it was cold or not, and as the curtain closed Bucky caught sight of the brunette sinking to his knees in the spray and hanging his head. 

Torn between the need to step right into the shower and comfort Tony, and the need to offer the sub the privacy and autonomy that was so clearly lacking from Tony’s life with his Dom, Bucky stood for several minutes in the bathroom, clenching his fists and trying to figure out what to say–

–and then Tony broke down and started crying, and Bucky made up his mind. 

“Shhh shhh, baby doll.” Bucky climbed right into the shower fully dressed and cranked the knob to warm before wedging himself in the tub behind Tony and lifting him right into his lap. “C’mere and let me hold you.” 

Tony didn’t offer any sort of protest or even any sort of agreement, just put his face in his hands and cried some more. 

“It’s gonna be alright.” Bucky thunked his head back against the shower wall and blew out a deep breath. “Tony, honey, it’s gonna be okay. I don’t know what happened and you don’t gotta tell me but–” 

“It was an accident.” Tony said from behind his fingers, the words almost muffled by the noise of the shower. “If I was down properly it wouldn’t have happened. But I couldn’t go down so I just pretended and since I wasn’t down, it hurt when he hit me and I flinched. Flinched away and cracked my face on the corner of the desk. My fault. It was an accident.” 

Bucky gritted his teeth but tried to keep the tension from his body. “Honey, why did you have to pretend to be down?” 

He didn’t ask why the hell Ty hadn’t noticed his sub was down or why the hell Ty was hitting Tony– it was already obvious from their limited encounter that Ty was exactly the sort of Dom to either not notice or not care– and instead, Bucky asked, “How long has it been since you went down, Tony?” 

“I dunno.” Tony shrugged as best he could without uncurling from Bucky’s arms. “Months?” 

Shit.” Bucky was a switch so he didn’t need to be down consistently like subs, he didn’t need the regular scenes or the presence of a Dom reaching into his every day life to keep him balanced. But he’d been subbing for Steve for years now, and even he felt the itch under his skin when they went too long between scenes, the buzz in his head that made it hard to concentrate if he didn’t get the chance to go down properly. 

A true submissive needed to be down with their Dom at least once a month and usually more often and if Tony hadn’t been down for months

–well it certainly explained why there was no emotion in his voice when he answered, why Tony’s expression was vacant, why he wavered between clingy one moment and completely detached the next, why the act of getting naked in front of a stranger hadn’t registered as off

“How are you feeling, sugar?” Bucky asked carefully and his heart sank when Tony muttered, “Numb.” 

“Shit.” Bucky said again. “Okay sweetheart, let’s get you cleaned up and warm and wrapped in one of those towels. I bet Steve’s ordered food–” 

“I’m not hungry.” 

“Yes you are.” Bucky said firmly, maybe a tad too firmly since Tony stiffened against him. “You are hungry, you just can’t tell because you’re numb. When was the last time you had anything to drink?” 

“…I don’t know.” 

“Okay, here we go.” Bucky was so big he could stand with Tony in his arms no problem and he levered the smaller brunette down carefully. “Do you want me to wash you, or can you wash yourself?” 

“Um–” 

“Tony.” Bucky dropped his voice into the same sort of register Steve used in their scenes, channeling his inner Master Sergeant to make his voice strong. “Can you wash yourself?” 

Tony startled at the change in Bucky’s voice and looked up with wide, hopeless eyes. “Yes?” 

Bucky fought the urge to drop the Dom act and just hug Tony again, but he knew that wasn’t what the sub needed right then. Tony needed someone to take charge and to make decisions and to help him through the numbness of having gone so long without a proper scene, so Bucky straightened his shoulders and cupped Tony’s chin and asked again, “Can you wash yourself?” 

“…no.” barely a whisper, and both Tony’s hands came up to hold at Bucky’s wrist. “Can you help me, sir?” 

“Um.” Bucky cleared his throat. “You call me Sergeant, do you understand?” 

“Sergeant.” Tony nodded with a dazed sort of motion, at danger of slipping under just by being in the presence of a Dom– or at least a switch acting as a Dom. “Yes, Sergeant.” 

“I’m going to wash you.” Bucky kept his eyes firmly on Tony’s face, his words crisp and clear. “I’m not going to touch you more than necessary to get you clean, and if anything hurts, you will say something, do you understand?” 

“Yes, Sergeant.” Tony swayed on his feet and Bucky picked up Tony’s hand and placed it at his own shoulder. 

“You will lean on me if you think you’re going to fall. I’ll catch you.” 

“You– you’ll catch me?” The uncertainty in the words made Bucky want to swear all over again. 

“Every time, beautiful.” Bucky promised. “I’m gonna catch you every time and if not me? Then our Captain will. You don’t have to worry anymore.” 

“Yes, Sergeant.” Tony’s eyes finally closed and his shoulders dropped. “Thank you, Sergeant.” 

“It’s my pleasure, Tony.” 

Bucky reached out of the shower and into the linen cupboard again to get a fresh wash cloth made from the same fluffy material as the towels, then set about washing Tony down, lathering the soap into a mountain of bubbles before very carefully bringing the towel over Tony’s neck and shoulders and down across his chest. 

Bucky kept his head tipped up and watching Tony while he washed down along the dip of a too thin waist and down lean thighs until he got to Tony’s calves and then his feet 

“Is this bruise new?” Bucky asked of the still yellowed bruise on Tony’s shin. He knew the answer, bruises were only yellow when they were almost healed, but he wanted to check anyway.

“No. Not new.” Tony answered automatically and Bucky praised, “Good job, honey, thank you for telling me.” 

Tony’s lips parted over a shaky inhale and Bucky stood to his feet again, the weight of wet jeans pulling uncomfortably at his thighs. “You’re doing really good, Tony. Doing wonderful.” 

Tony’s breathing sharpened again and Bucky took a chance and fit his palm to the back of Tony’s neck like his Captain would to him sometimes. “So good, baby.” he lowered his voice, let it roughen just enough to make Tony shiver. “Do you know you’re good for me?” 

“I’m– I’m trying.” Tony whimpered, his brow furrowing. “I’m trying to be good for you.” 

“You’re already good.” Bucky murmured. “You’re already perfect. You’re perfect, Tony.” 

Tony’s legs gave out but Bucky caught him as he fell, and when Tony went to his knees and tipped his head back Bucky was hard pressed not to join him right there and call his Captain to help them both

Instead he wound his hands into Tony’s hair and tugged just enough to make Tony whimper, no harder than Bucky liked his own hair pulled, just enough that if he wanted, Bucky could direct Tony’s head anywhere he wanted. 

But he didn’t direct and he didn’t pull. Bucky only dug his fingers in and held on, murmuring quiet, positive things when Tony whined, humming encouragingly when Tony reached up and placed his own hands over Bucky’s to keep him there, keeping up a steady flow of words so long as Tony remained kneeling.

“You’re beautiful, sweetheart.” Bucky crooned and the sub trembled at his feet. “Tony, what a perfect, pretty sub you are. You are wonderful and brave and–” Bucky searched his memory for all the things his Captain said that helped him float. “–and so strong, you’re so strong Tony. And brave. Beautiful and brave and such a good sub, such a good–” 

“Sergeant.” Tony gasped, and this time when his eyes opened they were warm and full, dazed but not shell shocked, his entire frame lax but not limp. 

“How are you, sweet thing?” Bucky asked, kicking himself mentally for not establishing some sort safe phrase before hand. But he hadn’t expected Tony to be so on edge to go under with nothing more than a little bit of attention, and he sure as hell hadn’t thought Tony would go under for him. Steve, definitely, but not Bucky. 

He’d never had a sub and being the one watching a sub float instead of being the one floating was different in an intense sort of way Bucky hadn’t been prepared for. 

But he pushed his own misgivings away and the lingering doubt that he could help Tony through this and repeated, “How are you? Alright?” 

“I’m– I’m–” Tony was slurring his words, leaning his head into Bucky’s palms. “So good, so good, thank you Sergeant.” 

“My pleasure.” Bucky whispered over the lump in his throat. 

He kept one hand in Tony’s hair and kept talking sweet, steady things to the sub and with the other hand, Bucky felt for the button on the wall that would alert his Captain that he needed help. 

It had been installed the week he and Steve had moved in to the apartment, a button that rang like a telephone in the living room. Sometimes Bucky liked to shower alone after a scene and started to drop so he called for Steve, sometimes he just wanted his Captain to warm a towel in the dryer so it was extra soft, but either way, Steve was always there within a matter of seconds to see what his love needed. 

Today Steve opened the bathroom door as quietly as he could and peeked around the curtain, keeping his eyes trained on his still dressed sub and not on the sub kneeling naked under the cooling spray. 

Bucky held up three fingers, pointed two towards Tony and one towards himself and Steve nodded, retrieving an extra couple towels from the cupboard and holding them. 

“I’m going to turn the water off.” Bucky said slowly, clearly, and Tony only hummed in contentment, so Bucky motioned for Steve to turn the water off and in the same instant, Bucky swooped a warm, thick towel around Tony’s shoulders. 

“Walk with me.” Bucky helped Tony step one foot at a time out of the tub, and once they were both out, Bucky wrapped a second towel around Tony’s waist so the little sub was swathed from neck to toes in fluffy material. “How are you?” 

“S’good, Sergeant.” Tony mumbled and Steve’s eyes snapped to Bucky’s in surprise and something—something else unreadable.

Later, Bucky mouthed and turned his attention back to Tony. “Sweet thing, I’m going to get out of my wet clothes. Do you want to stand or do you want to kneel?” 

“Kneel.” Tony went down so fast that it was Steve that lurched forward to grab him and ease his descent, and Tony was so far down he didn’t even register the second pair of hands. 

He missed the apologetic grimace on Steve’s face too, the Dom feeling bad for touching a sub without permission, especially once too far down to consent either way. 

“That’s perfect.” Bucky praised and even though Steve backed up a little bit, he still saw the loopy, pleased smile on Tony’s lips. “So perfect sweetheart, you’re doing wonderful. I’m so proud of you.” 

It was difficult to get out of wet clothes and while Tony’s eyes were closed, Steve stepped around him to help Bucky with his shirt, checking to make sure Bucky’s eyes were clear and that his breathing was steady, pushing Bucky’s jeans down to his ankles then bending to pull them all the way off. 

Thank you. Bucky mouthed to his Dom and Steve left a quiet kiss at the junction of Bucky’s knee before standing up again. 

“My Captain will order us food.” Bucky said then, speaking to Tony, but raising his eyebrows pleadingly towards Steve. “You need to eat.” 

“Yes, Sergeant.” Tony whispered. “I need to eat.” 

Steve blew Bucky a kiss and ducked back out of the bathroom to make the call, and once Bucky had secured his own towel around his waist, he lifted Tony back to his feet. 

“Come on, sweet thing. We’re going to walk to the living room and sit on the couch. You will kneel.” 

“Yes, Sergeant.” 

Tony held tight to Bucky’s hand and followed the Switch out to the living room, under to the point of barely registering each footstep, sinking to his knees in relief when Bucky finally stopped at the couch and put a pillow down for him. 

“Thank you, Sergeant.” 

“No no, thank you, sweetheart.” Bucky whispered back, guiding Tony to rest his cheek on the soft towel covering his knee, adjusting Tony’s towels to they still covered as much skin as possible. “You are doing so good for me.” 

***************

The food arrived almost an hour later, and Bucky smiled tiredly when his Captain came to the living room with arms full of Thai food. 

“Thank you, Captain.” he murmured, and Steve checked briefly on Tony before bending to press their lips together. “You take such good care of me.” 

“I love you.” Steve kissed Bucky again and combed his fingers through the tangles in the long hair. “You need to eat and Tony needs to eat and then sleep.” 

“Yes, Captain.” The effort of bringing Tony down and the emotional toll of watching another sub be so obviously hurt had slipped Bucky into a more vulnerable state than usual, and Steve checked his love’s eyes again to be sure Bucky was fully present. “I’m fine, Stevie, I’m fine. Just a little–” Bucky glanced down at Tony, who was practically asleep at his feet, face pillowed at Bucky’s thigh. “–this is a lot. Dunno if I’m relieved I could bring him down or weirded out by acting like a Dom and I–” 

He stopped and Steve slid a big hand down Bucky’s bare chest to rest over his heart, and then brought his fingers back up to wrap gently gently around Bucky’s neck, applying just enough pressure to urge Bucky into going limp into the couch. 

“You what?” he prompted, pressing his thumb into Bucky’s pulse to feel his heartbeat. “Honey?” 

“–you looked at me like you didn’t recognize me when Tony called me Sergeant.” Bucky said thickly. “I didn’t like how you looked at me. I’m not a sub and I know we aren’t a normal couple but I didn’t like how you were–” 

“–I was looking at you in awe.” Steve whispered and Bucky’s eyes widened in confusion, even as he strained his head back so Steve’s hand lay harder on his throat. “Bucky, watching you take care of Tony like that is–is beautiful, it’s amazing. You’re so good at it and I love you for that. You’re mine and I’m yours and I’m not threatened by Tony needing you different. I hope–” 

The Dom cleared his throat, cheeks burning as he admitted, “I hope one day he needs me like that too, but for now, this is wonderful.” 

“Are you–” Bucky swallowed. “You’re okay with it? Cos you playing Captain with me while I am Sergeant to Tony– that’s not normal, Steve. What we’re doin’ isn’t normal. I’ve never heard of a Dom with a Switch and a sub.” 

“Hey.” Steve smiled down into Bucky’s eyes and then lifted his gaze to check on Tony again. “No one’s gonna tell us what’s right for us, except us. Right?” 

“Right.” Bucky finally relaxed, finally went pliant beneath his Dom’s hand. “No one’s gonna tell us what’s right for us. I love you.” 

“Oh sweetheart.” Steve’s kiss was possessive and sweet .”I love you too. Bring Tony up enough to eat, alright?” 

“Yes, Captain.” Bucky waited until Steve had gone to start setting out the food and then bent to dust his fingers across Tony’s cheek. “Sweet thing, how are you?” 

“Mmm, Sergeant.” Tony was no where near up and safe and Bucky’s heart twisted. “Please. I’m being good.” 

“Oh baby, you’re being so good.” Bucky coaxed Tony’s chin up anyway. “I told you to eat, though. We will feed you.” 

“Oh.” Tony blinked, slow and sleepy and then smiled. “Please. Yes.” 

He needs to be praised. Bucky thought to himself when Tony sat up on his knees obediently. Taken care of. Held. Warm. Protected. Not uncommon traits in subs, but Tony had gone under with nothing more than a few words of praise, and looked so pleased by the prospect of being fed that Bucky knew Tony had never been taken care of the right way. 

No wonder he hadn’t been down in months. 

Steve returned with food, and even though Bucky thought Tony might tense or pull away from the Dom, the only reaction from the sub was widening eyes when Steve sat on the couch and opened a box of noodles, swirling a small bite around his fork and offering it to Tony. 

Tony sent a quick look at Bucky, who gave him a firm nod, and then Tony opened his mouth obediently so Steve could feed him. 

“Good job, honey.” Bucky said immediately, and Steve picked up on the hint, “Good job. Tony, that’s perfect, you’re so sweet for me.” 

Tony’s eyes were still dazed but they sparked a little at the positive attention from the Dom, so with the next bite Steve crooned, “Doing wonderful, sweetheart. Thank you so much.” 

He turned with a bite for Bucky too, who normally would roll his eyes and insist he could feed himself. Today though, Bucky took the food from his Dom and leaned in to say thank you with a kiss. 

“Beautiful.” Steve told him, and offering another bite to Tony– “Both of you are so beautiful.” 

“Oh.” Tony wet his lips and nodded. “Thank you–” he hesitated and Steve met Bucky’s eyes for a long minute before prompting, “Captain.” 

“Thank you, Captain.” Tony breathed and Steve made a shocked, helpless sort of sound, more affected than he ever thought he’d be at another sub calling him Captain

“Thank you, Captain.” Bucky echoed and Steve made another of those noises. 

It took them a full hour to eat, with Steve trading off sharing with a still floating Tony and an increasingly needy Bucky, and once the food was gone, the Dom took everything to the kitchen to clean up. 

He came back to the living room in time to see Bucky urging Tony up on to the couch and under a blanket for a much needed nap, Bucky’s large frame nearly swallowing Tony’s smaller size. 

There was a lot to figure out still, a lot of questions to ask about Tony and his Dom and his contract, alot of worrying because Tony had gone under almost frighteningly fast and had remained barely lucid for hours now. There was a lot to talk about with Bucky if they were serious about inviting Tony to share their life and there was a lot to talk about with Tony if he was serious about staying. 

Steve had always been the sort of Dom that believed subs picked their Doms, that a sub or a Switch knew who they wanted and what they wanted and that a Dom should be humbled by the choice. 

Bucky had picked Steve, had went to his knees at Steve’s feet and asked his Captain to take care of him and Steve had been humbled, had been floored, had been stunned speechless and had fallen to his knees as well when he said yes

And Tony– Tony hadn’t asked and he hadn’t come right out and picked Steve and Bucky, but he’d come back to their door, right? That was something of a choice…right?

Steve watched the two brunettes sleep, watched Tony instinctively curl closer into Bucky’s warmth and watched Bucky hold Tony tighter without even opening his eyes and the Dom’s stomach did something swoopy and anxious. 

Steve had always believed subs picked their Doms, but today he was going to pick him. 

First Bucky, who Steve had wanted since they were just punk kids in the Army and who Steve would want for the rest his life. 

And now Tony, who was fragile and hurt and had never known a good Dom in his life, and Steve had every intention of changing that. 

Christ, there was a lot to figure out but for now it was enough that Tony had gone down and was floating peacefully, and the Bucky was bundled up next to him keeping him warm. 

“Mine.” Steve bent down to brush a kiss to Bucky’s forehead, tugging the blanket up further around his shoulders. “I love you.” 

“Captain.” Bucky hummed softly. “I love you too.” 

And then Steve knelt at Tony’s side, ran a careful hand down the pretty sub’s back and tucked the blanket in tighter beneath Tony’s rear and legs. 

“Ours.” he whispered, barely audible as to not bring the sub up out of his daze. “Tony, you’re ours. I promise.” 

Chapter Text

Tony woke up warm, woke up wrapped head to toe in a thick, weighted blanket that scented faintly of eucalyptus. There was a pillow tucked under his head to avoid his neck straining on the arm of the couch, and when he peeked an eye open, he could see the room was lit enough for him to avoid disorientation, but not so bright as to wake him up. 

There was a still sealed bottle of water on the end table next to the couch as well as an assortment of cereal bars and even though a quick check proved Tony was still naked, his clothes were folded neatly on the table as well. 

Someone had taken an awful lot of precautions to make sure Tony didn’t panic upon waking up. 

“Hey, you’re awake.” A deep voice coming from the kitchen and then footsteps on the carpet, accompanied by the scent of coffee. “Good morning.” 

Tony took another few seconds to settle himself, and then sat up in one fluid motion. “Good morning.” 

“Oh oh–easy. Sit up easy, sweetheart.” Steve set the coffee own and then reached over to steady Tony. “You were asleep for a long time, I don’t want you to be dizzy. How are you? Up?” 

“Up.” Tony repeated, noting the way the Dom hovered close enough to catch Tony if he fell, but not so close to be intruding on his personal space. “Yes. Yes, I’m up.”

Steve nodded, obviously waiting for something else and Tony’s eyes widened. “Oh you meant, if I’m up from– from–” 

“From going under with Bucky.” Steve prompted. “Yeah, that’s more what I meant when I asked if you were up, but that’s my bad for not being clear with my words. Are you up?” 

“I–” Tony clutched at the blanket a little tighter “…yes?” 

“It’s okay to say no.” Steve’s blue eyes flickered with something unreadable, but he kept his voice calm and smile soothing. “Alright? If you’re not all the way up yet, it’s fine. We have plenty of–.” 

“–I’m sorry.” Tony blurted, then screwed his eyes shut tight. “Sorry. I haven’t really gone down in months and I am having a hard time coming back from it. Could you give me a minute? Please. Could you give me a minute, please.” 

“Do you need me to move away?” Steve asked in that same, steady tone and Tony hesitated again, eyes still shut tight. “You don’t have to say anything if you can’t handle it, just nod your head either way for me.” 

Tony drew in a shaky breath–

–and shook his head. 

“Can I hold you?” Steve asked quietly, hopefully, and this time Tony nodded. “Alright, I’m going to pick you up. Come here.” 

Steve lifted Tony like he didn’t weigh a thing, bundling the little brunette and all the blankets into his arms and backpedaling towards his recliner. Tony started shaking the minute they were sat down, tucking his face into the blanket and drawing his knees up close to his chin. 

“Easy easy easy.” Steve smoothed a big hand up Tony’s back and then down, up again to tangle into Tony’s hair much like Bucky had done the day before, sifting through the dark strands and rubbing purposefully at Tony’s scalp. He sighed in relief when Tony relaxed beneath the firm touch, limbs going pliant beneath the blanket and his head lolling forward to rest on Steve’s chest. 

“There you are.” Steve kept his tone purposefully low, softer than he did with Bucky. “Come on, sweetheart, I’ve got you.” 

“M’sorry.” Tony mumbled. “I’m not usually like this.” 

“Like what?” Steve held Tony closer when he shivered. “What do you mean, Tony?” 

“…needy. I’m not usually needy. M’sorry. Don’t usually need to be held. Sorry.”

Steve closed his eyes and counted to ten once, twice and then a third time just to be sure none of his anger bled through as he said, “Tony. Please don’t ever be sorry for needing to be held.” 

“…Taking you away from Bucky?” 

“Not at all.” Steve readjusted his hold so Tony’s head was tucked up and under his chin, and when the sub made a quiet, grateful noise Steve had to count to ten all over again. 

What the hell kinda asshole Dom would make a sub feel bad about being held, about wanting to be close? 

“I need to start bringing you up, alright?” Steve said instead of all the things he wanted to say about Tony’s former Dom. “I’m going to ask you questions and you can answer me as simply as you need to, alright? Just gonna bring you back to present because you’ve been down for a long time.” 

“Okay.” Tony nodded obediently. “I’m ready.” 

“A yes or no answer is just fine.” Steve reminded him. “Do you remember where you are?” 

“In your apartment on Dorton Drive.” Tony said immediately. “You and yours invited me to stay when I left my Dom.” 

“Okay, that’s good.” Impressed with Tony’s quick answer, Steve smiled. “Do you know my name?” 

“Steve Rogers.” No hesitation on Tony’s part. “And your sub– no, your switch is Bucky Barnes.” 

“That’s right, honey. Good job. You’re doing great.” Tony felt the approval like a physical touch on his skin, and he was grateful that Steve couldn’t see his cheeks flush under the unexpected praise. “Do you remember what happened yesterday afternoon?” 

“I left my Dom’s apartment and took a taxi ride here. I sat outside for approximately two hours until you came to the door, you had Bucky bring me in because I know better than to enter a Dominant’s apartment unescorted or unwelcome by their sub. Bucky held me on the couch for a while and then I took a shower and then we–…” Tony’s rapid fire recitation stalled. “We um–” 

“You and Bucky took a shower.” Steve prompted. “It’s okay if you don’t remember that, it was a pretty intense moment.” 

“I remember.” Tony leaned away until he could see Steve’s face. “And I’m sorry for coming between you and yours. It wasn’t my place.” 

“Wasn’t your–” Steve looked away, his jaw clenching in anger. “Tony. Stop apologizing. None of this is your fault. None of what happened is your fault.” 

“Captain–” 

“Shit.” Steve surged forward and crushed his lips to Tony’s. “Sweetheart please please always call me Captain but you cannot keep apologizing for–” 

He stopped, recoiled, blue eyes wide with shock and remorse. “Oh my god. Tony I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to kiss you. I wouldn’t ever assume I could–” 

“No no no.” Tony came right back for another kiss, grabbing at Steve’s shirt and yanking him down. “Please kiss me, please I haven’t been kissed in so long–” 

Steve lost himself for a minute in the taste of Tony’s lips, in the sweet little gasp the sub couldn’t quite muffle, in the desperation of Tony’s trembling frame and the softness of the skin beneath Steve’s fingers as he brushed over Tony’s cheek. 

It was the hint of blood on Tony’s still healing lip and the tenderness of the bruise on Tony’s face that broke the moment and Steve pulled away reluctantly, guilt flooding his core. 

“Tony. Tony, we can’t do this. You’re not all the way up yet, and I’d be taking advantage.” he whispered, and when Tony’s dark eyes dimmed and fell away, Steve added, “Not your fault, honey. Not your fault. It’s all mine. You’re very vulnerable and I–” 

He blew out a deep breath. “You called me Captain and I wasn’t expecting to be affected like that. I’m very sorry. I should be better.” 

“Why are you sorry?” Tony was ramrod straight in Steve’s arms, stiff and tense. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I wanted to kiss you.” 

“Tony–” 

“I’d like to leave please.” 

“Tony–” 

“I’d like to leave now.” 

Steve was torn, not wanting to overstep his bounds anymore than he already–regrettably– had, but also not willing to let Tony go when there were tears gathering and slipping down Tony’s cheeks. 

“Captain.” Tony said again, his voice shaking. “I’d like to leave. Let me go.” 

“No.” Steve made the decision in a split second, lifting his chin and letting the command settle into his voice. “No, you’re not leaving. You said you were here to stay, and if you’re going to call me Captain then that means you’ve chosen me and that means–” he captured Tony’s chin, cupping his jaw gently. “–that means you’re giving me permission to take care of you. You’re not leaving.” 

He was taking a risk, a very real risk, telling a sub that wasn’t all the way his that they couldn’t leave. Telling anyone they couldn’t leave a situation was a risk, but it was different between Dom and sub, different because the sub had to trust the Dom was trying to protect them, not trying to control. 

And all Tony had ever known was control

So Steve took another risk and asked, “Do you trust me to take care of you, Tony? Just in this right here?” 

And Tony looked back with wide eyes–

–and nodded.

“Come back, then.” Steve cuddled Tony close again and pressed a kiss into Tony’s hair. “Let’s go back to talking. How old are you?” 

“Twenty seven.” Despite his earlier insistence on leaving, Tony curled right back into Steve’s chest, his breath hitching. “My birthday is in May.” 

“What’s your favorite color?” 

“Red.” 

“What’s your favorite movie?” 

Steve kept asking calm, direct questions until Tony started to answer them with more detail, his lean frame relaxed against Steve but not limp with the lingering effects of being under for the first time in months, and then sleeping for close to twelve hours. 

Once Tony was starting to sit up again, Steve loosened his hold but kept one hand at Tony’s back and the other on Tony’s knee to make sure the blanket didn’t go anywhere. Tony was still naked underneath the covers, and while Steve was still kicking himself for his lack of self control when Tony called him Captain, the attempt to keep Tony covered was more about making sure the sub was comfortable and warm, safe in the blankets and not feeling exposed in any way. 

Tony’s sleepy, mumbled refrain from their first meeting, his quiet cries about hating to be cold, hating to be looked at was something Steve couldn’t get out of his head, and he tugged the blankets a little further up over Tony’s shoulders just to be sure Tony didn’t feel looked at

“Are you warm enough?” he asked softly. “Up and safe?” 

“Up and safe.” Tony answered, and this time when he looked at Steve, his dark eyes were clear and sharp, cataloguing the Dom’s expression and twisting his lips into something of a smile when Steve met his gaze straight on. “Most Doms don’t like it when a sub looks them right in the eye.” 

“Most Doms are idiots.” Steve stated, and Tony’s smile grew a little bit more. “Are you warm enough?” 

“I am.” Tony didn’t move off Steve’s lap, but he craned his neck around to try and see as much of the apartment as he could. “I’ve been here twice and I don’t think I remember any of it.” 

“Take your time.” Steve assured him. “Bucky is working today, and I didn’t have anything pressing on my schedule for my day off, so I’m here if you want me. If you need me.” 

“….Thank you.” Tony didn’t seem quite so distressed now, just blatantly curious about the apartment, about Steve, about the unorthodox relationship that so obviously existed between Switch and Dom. “Can I sit here a little longer?” 

“Of course you can.” 

*****************

The shower was running when Bucky got home from work a few hours later, and Steve was sitting on their bed with his arms crossed and a miserable enough expression on his face to send Bucky’s hurried pace skidding to a stop. 

“Stevie?” he tossed his bag aside and bent to kiss his dom hello. “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Is Tony okay?” 

“Tony’s fine.” Steve kissed Bucky back and then pulled him down to the couch, holding at his hands tight. “But I need to talk to you.” 

“Okay.” Bucky pushed his hair out of his eyes so he could see Steve clearly, ignoring the itch under his skin that told him to go find Tony and get his hands on his the sub. “Okay, what’s going on?” 

Steve chewed at the inside of his cheek as he thought his words through. “Buck I– baby, I–” 

Bucky waited as patiently as he could and finally Steve whispered, “Bucky, I kissed Tony today.” 

“…oh.” Bucky blinked a few times, his stomach doing something uncomfortable at Steve’s obvious guilt. “That’s um– I mean. WhyWhy did you kiss him?” 

“He woke up but he wasn’t really up yet.” Steve explained lamely. “So I ended up holding him for a while and trying to bring him back all the way. He acts like he’s never been held, Buck, and he was being sweet and being so so good for me and–” 

And?” 

“And he kept apologizing for being needy.” Steve finished all in a rush. “Kept apologizing for not being up all the way yet and I told him he didn’t have to apologize and he called me Captain–” 

Bucky sucked in a quick breath and Steve grimaced. “And I kissed him. Didn’t mean for it to happen, but it was sorta– sorta a knee jerk reaction. He called me Captain and it felt so right that I– I acted without thinking. Kissed him.” 

“While he was still down?” 

“I apologized for it.” In another show of just how different he was from other Doms, Steve ducked his head in shame. “I apologized and tried to tell him I wasn’t assuming I could kiss him just cos he called me Captain but he–” 

“–kissed you back.” Bucky finished. “Cos he’s so goddamn attention starved. And his fuckin’ Dom probably never gave him any affection outside of a scene.” 

Steve looked up in surprise, expecting anger from his love but finding only sorrow in Bucky’s pale eyes. “Well yeah. He kissed me back and told me he hadn’t been kissed in a real long time and I– I didn’t stop kissing him. Not for a few minutes. I’m sorry, Buck. And I apologized to him about it too, told him I’d be taking advantage cos he was still a little down.” 

Bucky was quiet and Steve whispered, “M’sorry baby. Sorry to Tony and sorry to you. There’s a lot you and I have to talk about before anything like that and I had no business kissing Tony when he was still too emotional to be clear headed.” 

“You’re such a good Dom.” Bucky hooked his arm around Steve’s neck and dragged him in for a messy kiss. “Damn it, Stevie. Captain. You don’t gotta feel guilty about that.” 

“But–” 

“Tony chose us.” Bucky said firmly. “Chose you when he came back to our place, chose me when he let me scene with him last night. M’not sorry I left you guys alone today cos now he knows how good you are just like I do.” 

“Bucky.” Steve closed his eyes, a wash of relief making his shoulders sag. “I’ve been stressed out about it all day. Damn it. I love you so much.” 

“I love you too.” Their next kiss was sweetly possessive, Bucky plastering himself as close to his Dom as he could get to project absolute acceptance, Steve holding his love in a near bruising hold as a promise to never let him go. 

“I’ve um–” Bucky cleared his throat when they parted, tucking his head into Steve’s shoulder and letting his Dom pet through his hair and down across his shoulders. “Feels like I’ve been itchin’ to get back to Tony all day. Different than how I need you sometimes. Different sort of intense. Like I’m gonna crawl outta my skin if I can’t touch him. But not uh– not like sex. Maybe like sex. But mostly like I’m burning up and he’s the only thing that’s gonna cool me down. Sorta jealous you got to kiss him, if that makes any sense at all.” 

“I know the feeling.” Steve drew idle circles down Bucky’s broad back, tracing the lines of tattoos hidden beneath his long sleeve. “It’s how I feel when I need you, babe. Like I’m on fire and you’re the only one who can put it out. It’s not about sex, not when it feels like that.” 

“Dunno how you handle it.” Bucky confessed. “Gettin’ used to subbing for you was easy. Just trusted you to take care of me and it’s all good feelings. But wanting to Dom for someone– it’s a lot. Feel’s like responsibility and I dunno if I can do it right. I’ve just been doin’ the sorta of stuff you do for me, but I don’t know what I’ll do if Tony needs more.” 

“We’ll figure it out.” Steve scooted back on the pillows, bringing Bucky with him until they were settled in the bed. The shower was still going, and he’d given Tony towels and clothes and a new razor, so he knew they had a few minutes together. “I’m glad you chose me, Buck. Glad Tony chose us. I think we’re in for a whole lotta learning together, but we’ll make it. We’ll talk to him tonight and maybe work some things out. You with me?”

“M’with ya Stevie.” Bucky mouthed a kiss to Steve’s jaw, then further back to his ear, then down at the base of his neck before snuggling close and sighing in contentment. “Always with ya Captain.” 

******************

“My name is Anthony Edward Carbonell.” Tony was freshly showered and freshly groomed, his goatee trimmed into an intricate design, split lip cleaned and the bruise on his cheek looked much better after being held to an ice pack for most of the day. Tony’s hands nearly swallowed in the sleeves of Steve’s blue henley, Bucky’s sweatpants dragging at least six inches too long over his ankles. He looked adorable in their clothing and both Dom and Switch had to quiet a possessive noise when the sub smiled shyly in their direction. 

“I am twenty seven years old, and I’ve had a contract with Tiberius Stone since I was twenty two.” Tony continued, the shower apparently giving him the confidence and presence of mind to speak clear and concise. “As my Dom, Tiberius has control over almost all my finances, and most of what my parents left me when they passed, and as his sub, my name isn’t on the lease of that apartment or any of the cars so as of right now?” 

Tony shrugged and the collar of the henley slipped down to bare a shoulder. “As of right now, I don’t have a whole lot of anything. Some money I can get access to, but it might take a while, so if you keep a running tab of my expenses while I’m here, I’ll be happy to reimburse you.” 

“Tony–” Bucky started to interject, folding and unfolding his arms because he was half insane with the need to hold Tony and it was a sensation he wasn’t really used to. “Tony, you don’t have to pay us back.” 

Belatedly realizing that any sort of financial issue was something his Dom should handle, Bucky turned to Steve and raised his eyebrows, waiting for the big blond to chime in. 

“Bucky’s right.” Steve agreed and pressed a warm hand to Bucky’s thigh. “When we told you that you were welcome here, that you were staying, that doesn’t depend on whether or not you pay rent, Tony.” 

“All the same.” Tony smiled a little and straightened his shoulders even more. “I have a Master’s degree in engineering and had almost completed my Masters in physics when my contract went into effect, so I should have no problem getting a job and contributing to the expenses here. I am well educated and well rounded and despite my behavior for the last twenty four hours and the day we met, I’m normally very in control of my emotions make every attempt to be a fully functioning, contributing member of society and now that I’ve been down and my mind is more settled, I hope to never inconvenience the two of you in that manner again.” 

“I’d like to apologize for kissing your Dom.” Tony said this to Bucky and before Bucky could argue either way, Tony held up a hand to stop him. “My own issues with intimacy and self esteem and touch deprivation don’t give me the right to kiss your Dom without your permission, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Steve putting a stop to it when I was clearly not coherent enough to make any decisions. And since I can’t imagine anything romantic developing naturally between the three of us, I can assure you it won’t happen again.” 

Steve looked just as stunned as Bucky, if not even more so. “You– you can’t imagine anything romantic developing between the three of us? Tony–” 

“Please, let me finish.” Tony took a deep breath and readjusted the shirt so it covered him again. “There’s a very real chance the two of you saved my life. I’ve been aware for a long time that my Dom used Old World Protocols as a way to control me, as a way to abuse me. Scenes as an excuse to hit me, my submission as an excuse to humiliate me and–” 

Tony’s words faltered and Bucky grabbed at Steve’s hand to keep the blond from vaulting over the kitchen table and snatching Tony up. They’d promised to hear him out, and that’s what they needed to do.  

“– I was always aware.” Tony said again. “But after a while, I suppose I forgot. Meeting you two and seeing how much you love each other and the way–” his voice caught again. “–the way you see each other, all the time. You see each other even when one of you is focused on me and you are always aware of each other and that’s amazing. I’ve been invisible since the day I signed that contract with Ty and you two make me feel seen and that’s amazing. Thank you.” 

Bucky dropped his head because he thought he could cry listening to Tony talk about being invisible, about being hurt. What kind of Dom–

“I don’t want to submit anymore.” The words shocked a gasp out of Steve and Bucky wasn’t far behind. “I hate it, if I’m being honest.” Tony’s knuckles were white as he gripped at the kitchen chair. “Five years I submitted and I hated every minute. Bucky, I appreciate you taking me down when I needed it, but I don’t ever want to do it again. I’d appreciate your discretion in the matter, and of course, I won’t interfere in your time together at all. What the two of you have is something I can’t even imagine and I’d never do anything to subvert that.” 

“Tony.” Steve had to clear his throat several times before he could talk. “Tony, you chose us. You called me Captain and called Bucky Sergeant and we–” 

Tony shook his head. “I think there’s a reason why I haven’t been able to go down in months, and why I had to be at my breaking point before it happened at all. Obviously I’m not the sort of sub that’s well suited to life with a Dom and even though I am very grateful for the both of you I– I just want to feel like me again. Me before the contract and before Ty. Thinking about my behavior before is like thinking about a stranger. I never wanted to be that sort of person, that sort of sub, and I never want to be that again. I need to just be me, just be Tony and that won’t happen if I feel like I’m being forced to–” 

“–we would never force you–!” 

“–and I know that.” Tony’s smile was equal parts comforting and melancholy. “Somehow I know that the two of you would never force anything, but all the same, I don’t think I can do it. I understand if my living here is contingent on me being willing to sub for you both, that’s not an unreasonable expectation–” 

“–what the fuck? It totally is!” Bucky exploded. “Tony, how can you think that demanding you sub is a reasonable expectation?” 

“– so if this decision on my part negates your offer, please let me know as soon as possible so I can attempt to make other arrangements.” Tony finished with a weary sigh. “You’re very kind to let me sleep in the second bedroom, and if neither of you mind, I’d like to call it a night.” 

He waited for nods from both Bucky and Steve, and then Tony picked up his water bottle and shuffled his way to the extra bedroom, locking the door behind him. 

Steve and Bucky sat in stunned silence for a good ten minutes before Bucky asked, “Stevie, what sorta things does a Dom do to a sub to make them never want to submit again?” 

“If I answer that, I might throw up.” Steve said woodenly. “I still can’t get over how different he is now that he’s been down and had some time to recover. Is this who he was five years ago? Well spoken and articulate and practically genius with a master’s degree and another one almost finished? What the hell kinda Dom would take someone as smart as Tony and demote him to nothing more than something to be looked at?” 

“Yeah, and having him thinking its all his fault.” Bucky added in disgust. “Did you hear that? Because of everything that asshole did, Tony thinks he’s the one not suited to life with a Dom.”

“Yeah well that’s usually how it works.” Steve’s lip curled in a sneer. “It’s never the bad guy who goes through life feeling worthless afterwards, right?”  

“Well, what do we do now?” Bucky wondered after another moment. “I’ve been feeling all day like I’m gonna die if I can’t hold him and now he says he can’t see anything romantic between us? D’ya think he doesn’t feel it like we do? Or d’ya think that since he was all needy and vulnerable, we’re feelin’ something that ain’t true?” 

“…Do you remember the first time we kissed?” Steve drummed his fingers on the table. “And you looked at me like it was the first and only greatest kiss of your life?” 

“Yep.” Bucky popped the ‘p’ of the word. “Yep, I sure do. It was like all the other people I’d been with just didn’t matter anymore, and even though I’m a Switch, I knew subbing for you would be the best thing I’d ever done.” 

“It was the same for me.” Steve picked up Bucky’s fingers and kissed them. “You know that. You know that I always felt like I wasn’t a good Dom until I had you, and then I knew I’d just been waiting for the right one.” 

“Yeah, I know.” Bucky tugged his fingers free of Steve’s and leaned over to kiss him. “Tony makes you feel that way too?” 

“Doesn’t he make you feel like a good Dom?” Steve asked pointedly. “You always said you knew you were a Switch cos subbing never felt quite right and neither did Domming. But with me–” 

“–subbing feels natural, and with Tony, being a Dom does too.” Bucky nodded. “Yeah. So it’s real then. What we feel for Tony.” 

“Yep.” 

“But he doesn’t want any part of it, so what do we do?” 

“Same thing we did with each other when we were figuring out how to make this work.” Steve pushed away from the table and went to start some milk for hot chocolate, pulling down the dark chocolate Bucky liked and setting it to melting. “Learn each others boundaries and meet in the middle.” 

Apparently satisfied with his Dom’s answer, Bucky leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes, letting the scent of rich, dark chocolate fill the kitchen as the hot cocoa began to boil.  

“He’s fuckin’ gorgeous, isn’t he?” He muttered out loud. “All that hair and those pretty eyes. Can’t wait to see a real smile outta him. Bet it will knock me right over.” 

“I bet Tony’s smile will about stop our hearts.” Steve sent Bucky a wink over his shoulder. “I’ve got a type you know. Dark hair, beautiful eyes, and a smile pretty enough to get absolutely anything outta me. Best thing in the world, what else could a Dom want outta life?” 

“So he’s staying, right? Whether he wants to sub or not?” 

“He’s ours, Buck.” Steve said firmly. “No matter which way it all ends up, he’s ours. Belongs here and I’m not letting him go.” 

Chapter Text

Thank you for calling Haven Way Taxi Service, how may I direct your call?” 

“Good morning.” Tiberius scrolled through the credit card statement on his phone until he reached the one he was looking for. “My name is Tiberius Stone, and my credit card was used to pay for a car from your service not last night, but the night before. The charge on my credit card is a fare of exactly a dollar, and I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why.” 

Mm-hmm, and how can I help you with that, Mr. Stone.” 

“I would like to know exactly where the car went, and if you have any in-cab video surveillance of the person that stole my credit card and used it to pay for the ride, I’d like that as well.” Tiberius drummed his fingers on the massive mahogany desk that took up most of the far wall of his in home office. “I suspect the culprit is male, brown hair, brown eyes, about five foot eight, I would appreciate if you would validate that information for me.” 

Oh.” the cheerful voice on the other end of the line hesitated, dipped into something wary. “Mr. Stone, Haven Way Taxi Service is not at liberty to divulge any of that information without a subpoena from a judge. I’m sure you understand.” 

“I am sure I do not understand.” Tiberius sat up in his chair, squaring his jaw and gritting his teeth as if the woman on the other end could feel the force of his glare. “Why would I need a judge’s subpoena to track down the person that stole my credit card?” 

Ah, Mr. Stone.” She cleared her throat delicately. “Haven Way Taxi Service is an anonymous, discrete service used by individuals who are looking for a way out of an unsavory relationship. To maintain their safety and the safety of anyone else involved, we do not release any sort of records to the public without a judge’s order.” 

“…I must have misheard you.” The Dom worked to keep his voice level. “You are a taxi service for what again, exactly?” 

“If I can be blunt, sir, if you have to ask why someone was calling our service, you are exactly the sort of person we are helping others to avoid.”

Tiberius ground his teeth together so hard he thought he might actually crack one and slammed the phone down on the desk, breaking the screen and effectively ending the call. 

“Tiberius!” A burst of laughter from the shockingly expensive leather couch along the other wall and Tiberius snapped his phone right in half in irritation. “Your precious little sub ran away? Called that stupid safe haven service and bolted?” 

Sunset Bain didn’t laugh at much, but the female Dom was laughing in Ty’s face now. “And that little bitch that answered the phone knows you must be the asshole that poor innocent sub was running from?” 

Sunset tossed her head back and absolutely cackled, and not for the first time in their long business relationship, Tiberius briefly considered breaking the woman’s neck. At the very least shoving her to her knees and forcing a ball gag past her lips. 

That would shut the slag up. 

“Tiberius.” Sunset was still chuckling as she sauntered over to his bar and ripped the top off a bottle of water. “I can’t believe Tony left you in the first place. I thought after his tantrum in the jewelry store your discipline scene set him straight. How on earth did he manage the brain power and will power to leave?” 

“I don’t know.” Tiberius snarled. “But when he comes home–” 

“–if he comes home.” she corrected. “I think you are underestimating your sub. Don’t you remember who he was before you contracted him? Stark men are not to be trifled with.” 

“No, Stark Dominants are not to be trifled with.” Tiberius rolled his shoulders, popping his jaw to release some tension. “As a submissive I own everything of Tony’s, right down to every penny dear old Dad left him. He has nothing without me, and no Alpha in the world would challenge a contract signed by a both a Stark and a–” 

He stopped mid sentence, eyes sharpening in realization. “That Dom. The one from the jewelry store. Steve Rogers.” 

“What about him?” Sunset already looked bored with the entire conversation. “And didn’t you say he had a Switch as a partner? That’s odd, even for someone not linked to Old World protocols.” 

“If Tony went anywhere, he went to them.” Tiberius decided. “And when I find that Dom, I will tear him in half for daring to touch my sub.” 

******************

“Good morning.” 

Steve looked up from his coffee with a ready smile when Tony spoke from the kitchen door– but words faltered when he saw Tony wearing another one of his shirts, the soft gray material looking warm against Tony’s skin, the neckline just wide enough to show the edge of Tony’s collar bone. 

Tony’s hair was worked through only with water, the lack of gel making it lay in gentle curls at his ears and even though determination lit his dark eyes, the sub still looked soft and touchable and innocent

–and it nearly sent the Dom to his knees. 

“Good morning, sweetheart.” he managed. “You look wonderful this morning.” 

“You could pack clothes in the bags beneath my eyes.” Tony informed him, and the unexpected quip made Steve laugh in surprise. “This is awkward, and I’m sorry to ask, but I need to ask to borrow some money. I have errands to run today and no way to pay for a cab.” 

“Oh.” Steve shook himself away from staring at the hint of skin where his Tony’s shirt gapped at his chest. “Oh Tony, of course. How much cash do you need?” 

“I need fifty one dollars and forty three cents.” Tony said immediately, and then after a second of thought, “Plus an additional fifteen percent for a tip, so fifty nine dollars and fifteen cents, but I suppose we should round it up to sixty.” 

“Right.” Steve raised his eyebrows. “I can barely talk before coffee and you’re calculating mileage and cab rates and tips? Impressive.” 

“I don’t know if it’s impressive.” Tony flushed a little at the praise. “It’s certainly not the hardest math I’ve ever done.” 

“Right. Master’s in engineering, how could I forget?” Steve put his coffee aside and dug in his pockets. “Alright I got um– I’ve got forty– forty one, forty two and some change. Hold on baby, let me ask–” he stuck his head towards the bedroom and called, “Bucky?”

“Captain?” Bucky popped into the kitchen and sent Tony a sweet smile. “Oh heya sugar, how you doin’ this morning?” 

“Fine.” Tony’s eyes fell towards Bucky’s bare chest, then lingered at the tattoos down Bucky’s left arm. “I’m fine, Sergeant, thank you.” 

Bucky’s pale eyes flared with something heated and Tony thought he suddenly might suffocate as he quickly corrected. “Bucky. I’m fine Bucky, thank you.”  

Steve glanced between the two of them with an unreadable smile on his face before clearing his throat to break the moment. “Buck, Tony needs some money and I’m short on cash, you have any?” 

“Oh yeah, yeah I sure do.” Bucky patted through his pants and retrieved a crumpled roll of bills. “Here, take this Tony, Is that enough?” 

“I only need sixty dollars.” Tony unfolded the bills and counted them quickly then tried to hand a few back to Bucky. “Sixty is fine.” 

“Keep it so you have lunch money or whatever.” Bucky waved the money off and hooked his arm around Steve’s neck to drag the Dom in for a long kiss. “I have to run or I’m gonna be late. I love you.” 

“I love you too.” Steve brought Bucky back for another kiss before the brunette could pull away completely. “Have a good day.” 

“I will.” Bucky chugged the rest of Steve’s coffee and wiped his mouth, yanked his t shirt over his head and then blew Tony a kiss. “I’ll see you both tonight, alright? Tony, I wrote my cell and office phone number down and taped it to your door. If you need anything, just call me.” 

“Oh, I–” Tony started to answer, but Bucky was already running out the door, shouting, “Bye!” over his shoulder as he went. 

“Alright then.” Tony cleared his throat and folded the money away into his pocket. “Um. Where does Bucky work?” 

“He’s a physical therapist.” Steve refilled his coffee cup and went back to sipping at it, watching Tony over the rim of the mug. “What’s on your mind, Tony?” 

“Nothing.” Tony said automatically, then frowned and corrected himself. “Actually, I was wondering why you weren’t going to work today. And why you didn’t yesterday. I was wondering what you did for work, and how it is that you seem to make your own schedule. You and Bucky were at a jewelry store in the middle of a weekday, dressed in casual clothes the first time we met. It took me hours to come out of my drop, but neither of you had anywhere to be.” 

“Okay.” Steve could practically see Tony’s mind working, his eyebrows scrunching and eyes darkening in thought. “What else?” 

“I’ve been here in the apartment for almost forty eight hours.” Tony continued. “You and Bucky were spending the day together when I was sitting outside waiting, yesterday Bucky went to work but you didn’t, and today again, he went to work but you are still in your pajamas sipping coffee at almost nine in the morning. I’m sleeping in the second bedroom, which means you don’t use it as an office, which means you probably don’t work from home. So–” 

Tony paused and Steve smiled when he saw the exact moment the beautiful sub put it all together. 

“You’re staying home because I’m here.” Tony said slowly. “Called out of work most likely stating a submissive related event, and since it’s against the law for a workplace to penalize a Dominant for needing time off to help their subs, you aren’t worried about losing your job.” 

“I teach Art and Art History at the college.” Steve clarified. “I only teach Tuesdays through Thursday, so Bucky takes Monday’s off with me which is why we happened to be at the jewelry store a few weeks ago. And yes, I handed over my classes for yesterday and today to my assistant so I could be home with you.” 

“But I’m not your sub.” Tony met Steve’s eyes steadily. “I told you I didn’t want to sub for anyone anymore. You should be at work.” 

“I know what you told me.” Steve said mildly, as if hearing those words from Tony didn’t feel like a stab right through his chest. “But you chose us, Tony. You chose us when you came back here, which means you chose me. And that makes it my responsibility to take care of you, to be here for you, to provide for you like any half decent Dom with a brain would be thrilled to do.” 

“Thrilled.” Tony blinked at him. “…thrilled?” 

“Thrilled, sweetheart.” Steve confirmed. “You said you have errands to run today, would you like me to go with you?” 

“…no?” 

“Alright then, I’ll be here when you get home.” Steve took another sip of his coffee. “And I’d never tell you to be back at a certain time, but please let us know if you’re going to be out past dinner so I don’t worry.” 

“How–” 

“Here.” Steve guessed what Tony’s question would be and handed over his phone. “Bucky’s number is speed dialed to one, his work is two. Call him and if he’s at work, he’ll email me and let me know what’s going on. It’s unlocked, so don’t worry about a pass code or anything.” 

“Thank you.” Tony looked down at the phone and then back up at Steve with a smile bordering on shy. “I’ll bring it back in one piece.” 

“I’m sure you will.” Steve raised his mug in a faux cheers. “Do you need anything else?” 

Tony looked for all the world like he was a half second from asking for something, a half second from stepping towards Steve and asking to be held or maybe just a half second from calling Steve Captain, and the blond Dom held his breath and waited

“I’ll be back before dark.” Tony said instead, and Steve hid his disappointment behind a smile. 

“Enjoy your day, sweetheart.” 

*****************

The cab ride to the bank cost Tony exactly fifty nine dollars and fifteen cents, tip included, and Tony handed over the sixty dollars with a murmured “Thank you” and a smile for the friendly driver. 

It felt weird to be standing in the lobby of the bank in someone else’s clothes, but it felt even weirder to be standing anywhere in public without Ty hovering over him, so Tony ignored the looks sent his way at his baggy pants and borrowed shirt and marched right up to one of the desks and announced, 

“Tell Ms. Potts that Tony Carbonell is here to see her, please.” 

“I’m sorry.” The banker blinked at him a few times. “Did you call ahead? Or have an appointment? Ms. Potts is very busy and–” 

“Call and tell her Tony Carbonell is here.” Tony said again, lifting his chin and attempting to find at least a hint of the dignity Ty had stolen from him over the last five years. “Now.” 

“Yes sir.” the banker’s smile was placating and condescending, the Switch obviously believing there was no way that the bank president Virginia Potts would come down to see a sub dressed in obvious hand-me-downs. “Just a moment please.” 

Tony didn’t let himself pace, and he didn’t let himself twitch or fidget or pick up a pen and tap it across his palm like he wanted to. Five years with Ty had cured him of most of his nervous habits, and right now Tony was the tiniest bit grateful for the level of self control the Dom had instilled forced into him. 

No matter how badly he wanted to panic at being out in the open without a Dom– even one as awful as Ty had at least been protection from other people– and no matter how badly he wanted to hide his face behind his hands so he wouldn’t have to see all the people looking at him, Tony held his head high and forced himself to relax enough to return the curious glances with bland smiles. 

“Mr. Carbonell.” The banker didn’t even have a chance to tell Tony that Ms. Potts was on her way downstairs before the manager herself nearly ran down the steps to get to the lobby, her sky high heels clicking on the floor as she hurried towards Tony. “Oh um– here is Ms. Potts.” 

“Tony.” Virginia Potts stood almost six feet tall in her stocking feet, nearly six foot four in her heels, all red hair and sparkling green eyes and perfect clothes, the sort of Dominant demeanor that made most other Doms think twice before opening their mouths in the woman’s presence. 

But she was simply Pepper to Tony, and as the beautiful Dom bent down and wrapped both arms around Tony’s frame, he started to cry without even meaning to. 

“Come on, my love. We can do that in my office.” Pepper clasped Tony’s hand in her own and led him back up the stairs, jabbing a finger at the girl behind the desk and ordering, “No calls. None. I am not available.” 

“Uh, yes ma’am, Ms. Potts.” 

“Come on, come on.” Pepper hustled Tony up to the second floor and into her office, locking the door behind them and then yanking Tony right back into a hug, burying her face in his hair and crying out loud. 

“Heya Pep.” Tony mumbled and Pepper choked out a laugh that sounded more like a sob and only held him tighter. “Long time no see.” 

“If you make jokes right now…” Pepper warned and Tony clutched at her back, wrinkling her expensive suit between his fingers and letting himself cry over the familiar scent, over the safety. 

“Tony, where have you been?” Pepper finally gathered herself enough to lead Tony over to a couch, kicking off her shoes and budging close to his side. “It’s been years, it’s been five years since I’ve even heard from you! The last time I saw you was when Peggy came to set up that bank account the night before you contracted with Ty and–” 

The Dom went very still, and Tony looked away, his chin dropping and eyes shuttering. 

“Ty.” Pepper said slowly. “…Five years, Tony?” 

“I left him.” Tony tried so so hard to keep his voice from breaking. “I left him a few days ago.” 

“And you didn’t come to me?” Pepper sounded outraged, but when the sub in her arms flinched, she softened her tone again. “I’m sorry. Five years with no word and I’m sure you didn’t even know if you could come to me. I’m sorry. Are you safe? Are you somewhere safe?” 

“I’m safe.” Tony didn’t want to tell Pepper that he’d gone to the home of an already contracted Dom and his Switch, didn’t want to tell her that he’d gone to complete strangers instead of someone like her who had known him most of his life. “I promise.” 

“Okay.” Pepper nodded and leaned in to press their foreheads together. “If you need anything, Tony, anything– please let me know. What can I do to help you?” 

“The money my Aunt Peggy put aside for me.” Tony pressed closer with a shaky sigh, and the Dom hummed something comforting and sweet into his ear. “Ty has no access to it since it was set up before we contracted, but he hasn’t let me go anywhere by myself since then, so I’ve never been able to use it.” 

“Your Aunt deposited money into once every three months until she passed, and in her will there was strict instructions for monthly deposits into this account. You have plenty of money.” Pepper confirmed, and then quieter– “I didn’t see you at her funeral.” 

“I don’t want to talk about that.” The words were ash in Tony’s mouth, the memory of Ty locking him inside the bedroom the day of Peggy’s funeral still sharp enough to be painful. “I have enough money to take care of myself? Even without my Dom?” 

“More than enough.” Pepper assured him, and without letting go to Tony’s hand, she urged him up and over to her desk so she could get into her computer. “Tell me who you are staying with?” 

“I’d rather not.” Tony stated, and even though Pepper’s green eyes sharpened in curiosity, she accepted his answer and simply nodded. “I’m safe though.” Tony added after a minute. “Safer than I’ve felt in a really long time.” 

“That’s all I care about then.” Pepper kept their fingers twined and tapped at her keyboard with her free hand, entering pass codes and accessing Tony’s bank account. “I know it’s been years since we’ve so much as had coffee together Tony, your Uncle didn’t want you associating with a Dom you weren’t going to contract to and apparently Ty didn’t want you associating with anyone at all–” 

Her voice dropped in anger, and when Tony flinched again, Pepper made a visible effort to bring it back to something neutral. “– And I’m not going to ask about that, I promise. But I hope you know you can come to me with anything, even now, even after all this time.” 

Pepper didn’t mention that if Tony needed a Dom to bring him down, she would do that too. She knew just by the look in his eye that Tony didn’t want a Dom, and she kept her mouth shut about it. 

There had been a time when Pepper had thought she and Tony would contract, a time before Obadiah Stane had met Tiberius Stone and for some unfathomable reason had decided to contract his nephew and ward out to someone simply for the money the Stark-Stone contract had brought their respective companies. 

But that had been a long time ago, and Obadiah had long since sold off everything Stark Industries and retired somewhere warm, leaving Tony in the hands of Tiberius, not caring a single whit that as a sub, Tony didn’t have any rights at all. 

Thank God for miracles named Peggy Carter. 

“Here, lovely.” Pepper turned the screen and showed Tony the bank account Peggy had opened the night before Tony was contracted, transferring chunks of Tony’s inheritance into a private account open only to him, an account his Dom would never be able to touch. 

“See this? This is the original deposit, and here are the additional ones she made, as well as these smaller ones, that were stipulated in her will. You have enough money to rent your own place and so long as you live somewhat reasonably, you won’t have to work, which is good because–” 

“–because most people still think subs are too unpredictable to work in a professional capacity.” Tony finished. “And even if they didn’t, Tony Stark is contracted to Tiberius Stone, and no one would go against his wishes and hire me.” 

“Which is why you’re going by Carbonell now?” Pepper guessed and Tony nodded. “That’s smart, Tony.” 

“How much money can I move at once without attracting any attention?” Tony tapped the screen, eyeing the commas and zeroes with a flush. He’d known Peggy had left him a lot of money, but he hadn’t expected that much. “Ty’s involved in finance and since we are contracted, he might have alerts set up if my name comes up in any sort of banking transaction.” 

“You can move anything under ten thousand at a time without us having to write up anything for the federal government.” Pepper answered authoritatively. “But I can open a new account for you with quite a bit as an initial deposit, then set up repeating transfers under the federal limit so there are no red flags for anyone to notice.” 

“Let’s do that, then.” 

“Not a problem.” Pepper went to work immediately. “I can get you a debit card issued today and a little bit of money for your pocket and–” 

Pepper kept talking but Tony zoned most of it out, content to lean against her shoulder and close his eyes. safe and content with a Dom he trusted with his life. 

Why hadn’t he come to Pepper after leaving Ty? Why had he gone to Steve and Bucky instead? 

Tony wasn’t ready to answer that question yet.

************

It only took an hour for Pepper to set Tony up with everything he needed, but the Dom made him stay an extra hour while she ordered in food, and they sat curled up on her couch sharing from various take out containers and talking about anything that didn’t have anything to do with Ty

Pepper finally let him go, but only after dotting kisses all over his face and demanding that Tony call her. “If you need anything ever.” she cupped his jaw and stared into his eyes. “I mean it. Even if it’s just to get an attorney to help break your contract. You call me. Promise.”

“I will.” Tony promised and kissed her goodbye before heading out to his next errand.

With money in his pocket, Tony first went to buy a no-contract phone, quickly programming Bucky and Steve’s numbers into the contacts as well as Pepper’s number from the bank, and after that was done, he caught a cab to a part of town he hadn’t visited in a long time.  

The bell above the door tinkled just like Tony remembered, and even though the outfits on the mannequins had changed, the place still looked the same as it had when he’d gotten his suit for his first homecoming, his first prom, his eighteenth birthday, his parent’s funeral, his twenty first birthday, his contract ceremony…

“Well well well.” A familiar voice from behind the counter and Tony smiled– really smiled– for the first time in a long time. “If it isn’t Mister Tony Stark. Been a long time since you came by for a suit, son. What can I do for you today?” 

“Mr. Lee.” Tony smiled at the old man, the shock of white hair and big glasses. “You look wonderful.” 

“And you look like a hobo.” Mr. Lee pushed his glasses up his nose and squinted at Tony. “Are you wearing Walmart brand sweatpants? I didn’t even know you knew what that store was.” 

“I’m um, borrowing someone else’s clothes.” Tony explained sheepishly. “But I’d really like some of my own.” 

“Don’t you have a Dom to buy you this sort of–” Mr. Lee let the sentence trail when Tony grimaced. “Ah. I see. I’m real sorry about that kiddo.” 

Tony forced a brave smile and shook his head. “I’m not.” 

“Oh, well then I’m not either!” Just that quickly Mr. Lee changed his attitude. “Who needs a Dom? Fuck ‘em. I’ll get you fixed right up, come on back, you know the way. Say, do you remember that suit I made you for your twenty first? All bright red and obnoxious gold?” 

“I remember.” Tony picked up a bolt of dark gray fabric and ran his fingers over it. “I’m afraid my tastes aren’t really bright and obnoxious anymore.” 

“Well, they aren’t depressing and gray either.” Mr. Lee slapped the fabric out of Tony’s hands and replaced it with a gorgeous, deep red and lay a swatch of rich, pitch black over the top. “Every man needs a black suit, and a sub back out on the market needs a shirt in come hither red.” 

“Come hither red?” Tony surprised himself by actually laughing. “Is that what you call this color?” 

“We could call it fuck off red if that’s more aligned with your current mood?” Mr. Lee offered, and patted Tony gently on the back. “Old Dom like me doesn’t care much for all that stuff anymore, but I still know how to treat a submissive who needs cheering up. Come on, up on the stool so I can get you measured. There’s something real relaxing about this sort of thing, so just settle down and let me work alright? Get you out of these knock off sweatpants and into the clothes Stark’s are meant to wear.” 

“I just go by Carbonell these days.” Tony corrected and Mr. Lee’s eyes flickered in sadness at the implication behind the words. 

“That’s alright son, you take back that control any which way you can. Reclaiming your name and dressing the way you want is a real good start.” 

****************

Tony made his way back to the apartment by four pm, and even though Steve smiled up at him from the couch, Tony didn’t give the Dom much more than a quick nod before going to his borrowed bedroom and closing the door.

It felt foolish, outright ridiculous really, to stand in front of the narrow mirror and try on all the clothes he’d bought from Mr. Lee and the additional pieces he’d purchased at the upscale department store up the street, but Tony did it anyway. 

The jeans fit him perfectly, which was the benefit of paying so much for them, he supposed and Tony reveled in the softness of the denim and the way they framed his legs and rear. It was a silly thing to enjoy, but Ty had picked out Tony’s clothes for so long, that the chance to choose had nearly made the sub giddy. 

There were six different pairs of jeans, two pairs of khakis and stacks of shirts– piles and piles of shirts in all his favorite colors and shades, t shirts and long sleeves and v necks that showed off his collar bones in a way Ty had always hated. 

From Mr. Lee was a collection of collared shirts and suit pants, anything that had been ready-made and simply needed a few stitches to tailor to Tony’s body. Several different ties, two suit jackets and two belts, a set of cuff links because Tony missed dressing up, and at Mr. Lee’s insistence– a new watch from the collection he kept up front. 

And Tony tried every single piece on again even though it took close to two hours. He’d blown through the cash Pepper had given him, put almost three thousand dollars on his credit card and for the first time in a very long time, Tony looked in the mirror and actually felt like himself

Mr. Lee had been right. Dressing the way he wanted was a great way to start taking back the control his Dom had stripped away. 

“Sweetheart?” It was Bucky knocking on Tony’s bedroom door and the sub jumped, feeling as if he should be guilty for wasting so much time in front of the mirror. “Hey, we got dinner, are you feeling hungry?” 

“Um–” Tony blinked at his reflection a few times and scolded himself for feeling guilty. There were no restraints on his time, he didn’t need to feel bad. He didn’t. “No, I’m not hungry.” 

“But you should eat?” Bucky asked through the door, and even though it wasn’t really a question, Tony appreciated Bucky giving him the chance to say no. 

But he said, “Yes, yes I should eat. I’ll be out in a minute, thank you.” and changed out of the fancier clothes and into a butter soft pair of leggings and an over sized hoodie that fell to his thighs. It was comfortable clothing, clothing he would have worn before Ty, clothing that was meant for easy staying in evenings and cuddling up on couches and long movies. 

Tony loved it, and after a day spent in the company of familiar Doms and independent identity affirming activities, he was smiling as he left his room and went to the kitchen. 

“Oh holy shit–” Bucky blurted when he saw Tony, and judging by the way Steve’s jaw dropped, the Dom’s reaction wasn’t too far behind. “Tony, did you get new clothes?” 

“I–” Tony paused mid step, tugging the hoodie down a little further in a rush of self consciousness and completely unsure how to react to the comment. “Yes?” 

“They look… nice. Did you have a good day?” Steve was having a hard time looking away from Tony, the Dom’s blue eyes lit with– with something Tony couldn’t quite decipher. Not quite lust and certainly not disgust– Steve almost looked pleased to see Tony dressed in nothing more than comfy clothing and that wasn’t a look Tony was used to seeing. 

“Tony?” Steve prompted when the sub didn’t answer. “Have a good day?” 

“I did.” Tony dug into the pocket of his hoodie and handed Steve back his phone, as well as some money, exactly the amount they’d loaned him that morning. “Thank you. How was your day?” 

“I got a bunch of papers graded for tomorrow’s class.” Steve took his phone, but handed off the money to Bucky, who pocketed it without taking his eyes off Tony, too distracted by the way the leggings hugged Tony’s legs to remember to insist he didn’t have to pay them back. “So it went alright. Did you get everything done you wanted to?” 

“…yeah.” Tony hesitated, meeting Bucky’s eyes cautiously, feeling less and less certain about his clothing choice the longer the Switch stared. “Is everything alright? You’re staring at me weird.” 

“Don’t mean too, sugar.” Bucky’s voice was very soft, his eyes even softer. “But you sure look like you want to be held, all bundled up in those comfy clothes. Makes a fella about half crazy to do the holdin’. You um– you gonna let us hold you a little tonight? Not– not anything like Dom or sub but just– just cos it’d be nice?” 

Oh.” Tony didn’t mean to sound breathless and needy, but he must have anyway, since Steve sucked in a quick breath and Bucky jolted forward like he might grab Tony up that very second. “I um– I wouldn’t hate that.” 

Tony did want to be held. He was still emotionally and physically worn out from the ordeal of leaving Ty, exhausted from forcing himself out of the house today when really all he’d wanted to do was hide in bed with the covers up to his nose. And despite his insistence on never wanting to sub again, Tony was a submissive. He needed to be held and he needed to be warm and to be told he was good….

“I wouldn’t hate it.” He said again, this time with a tremulous smile. “If you wouldn’t hate it?” 

“We would love that.” Steve stood up so fast his chair tipped over and clattered onto the kitchen floor, and Bucky righted it with one hand while holding the other out for Tony. “Want to eat dinner in the living room? We can have dinner and wrap up on the couch, put in a movie. Come on.” 

Tony had never just cuddled with Ty. Sex and what passed for physical affection from his Dom had always been limited to their scenes, rarely before and certainly not after, so when Steve slouched onto one side of the couch and Bucky took over the other side and motioned for Tony to sit in the middle, his movements were slow, maybe even a little unsteady. 

“Is this okay?” he asked awkwardly, and both Dom and Switch assured him that it was fine. “Can I have a blanket?” 

“Yep.” Steve spread out a blanket over their laps and Bucky flipped through the television channels until they found a movie, and dinner was eaten mostly in comfortable, warm silence, the most peaceful meal Tony had had in ages. There was no expectations of behavior, no silent judgment if he spilt anything and even though Tony stopped eating halfway through his plate purely out of habit, when he saw Bucky and Steve still eating, he decided to give in to his still growling stomach and finish his food. 

Ty had never really let him do that either. 

Wen the food was finished, Steve was the one to get up and clear away the dishes, waving Tony’s protest and bending one to kiss Bucky before heading to the kitchen to clean up. 

“I could have done the dishes.” Tony whispered to Bucky. “Doesn’t seem right for a Dom to do that sort of thing.” 

“Stevie’s not a typical Dom.” Bucky said easily, switching channels to a different movie and pushing Tony over on the couch until he was practically in Steve’s spot. “For him, being a Dom is all about protecting and taking care of us, not about what we can do for him.” 

“…and you?” Tony asked lowly. “When you Dom, what’s it about for you?” 

“I dunno sugar.” Bucky shoved Tony over a little bit more and then settled in next to him so they were knee to knee, thigh to thigh, shoulder to shoulder. “You’re the first one I’ve ever wanted to Dom for.” 

“I’m the first–” Tony’s mouth fell open in shock, but whatever else he was going to say was quieted when Steve came back with a bowl of popcorn and fresh water, a smile splitting the Dom’s face when he saw Bucky and Tony all over his space. 

“Find another movie, Buck?” 

“Sure did, Captain.” Bucky said lazily, and this time when Steve bent to kiss him, Bucky chased the kiss for a long minute until Steve sighed and whispered, “I love you.” 

Then Steve had another smile for Tony as he passed over a bottle of water. “Gonna pick you up sweetheart, come here real quick.” 

Tony found himself sat firmly on the Dom’s lap, Bucky scrunched up against Steve’s side and as a result, still plastered close to Tony as well, all three of them tucked beneath the blanket. 

Tony was warm, safe and held, and as the movie played and Steve and Bucky chatted idly about different scenes and munched through popcorn, he found his eyes slipping closed, his head falling back onto Steve’s shoulder, then slipping sideways to rest against Bucky as well. 

At some point, some one murmured, “We got you, sweet thing.” but Tony was half asleep– or maybe he was half under, slipping into a daze with nothing more strong arms and quiet words– and didn’t answer. 

Earlier today Tony had wondered why he hadn’t gone to Pepper after leaving Ty, why he hadn’t ran to someone he’d known for years and instead had come here, to a place where the Dom and Switch were practically strangers, in a long term committed relationship that realistically, shouldn’t have room for Tony at all. 

Maybe he should have gone to Pepper. 

But as Tony drifted further towards sleep, tucked into Steve’s chest and with Bucky’s arm tossed around his waist, he knew he had made the right decision. Somehow, two perfect strangers in an already unusual relationship with dynamics that went against everything Tony had ever been taught a Dom and sub should be were the right decision. 

Bucky and Steve were the right decision. 

There were a thousand things to figure out and a whole new life to adjust to, and things Tony had to work through that he didn’t think he’d ever be able to say out loud, but Bucky and Steve were the right decision, he knew it. 

Somehow he knew it. 

“Can I stay here?” he mumbled at some point, and someone kissed him very very gently and whispered back–

“This is home, honey. Of course you can stay.” 

Chapter Text

“Hi Mama.” Tony knelt on the cold ground and brushed the lightest layer of snow from the top of his mother’s headstone, tracing the letters of her name with his finger. “Hi Dad. Sorry I haven’t been by in a while. Long story, trust me, you don’t want to hear it all.” 

The graveyard was empty this morning, not even the caretaker braving the chill yet, and Tony rocked back on his heels and exhaled loudly, his breath puffing white clouds into the air. 

“It’s been uh– well it’s been five years since I contracted with Ty, little bit over five years I guess. Five years and six weeks and a day and a half, actually. If we’re counting.” Tony shook his head and stood to his feet, shoving his hands deep into his coat. “It doesn’t matter now. Doesn’t matter that I know exactly how long it’s been since I signed my life away, what matters is–” 

Tony closed his eyes. “What matters is that I miss you. I really really miss you. Mama you– you treated me normal, treated me like I was a whole person even with my sub designation and it wasn’t until you were gone that I realized no one else in the world thought the same way. Uncle Obie he uh–well he didn’t think I was a whole person, that’s for sure. And he sort of sold me to Ty? Sold off your company and sold me off too and now I’m…lost. What am I supposed to do now?” 

“I didn’t get to go to Peggy’s funeral.” Tony whispered then. “Ty didn’t let me. And they took her body overseas to be buried with the rest of the war heroes. She belong there, I know. But I miss her. And I miss you. And I have so much I need to talk to someone about but I don’t know where to begin which is probably why I’m here, talking to– talking to rocks.”  

Tony grimaced, digging the heels of his hand into his eyes. “Damn it, I’m doing this wrong. I’m out here talking to gravestones at six o clock in the morning. Closest thing I’ve had to talking with family in five years and six weeks and a day and a goddamn half. I’m free for the first time in five years, able to do pretty much whatever I want and the fuckin’ irony of it all is that I don’t know what to do and I don’t know where to start figuring it out. How do I pick up my life again when it’s been five years since it was my life? 

Tony’s breath caught over a sob, tears falling down his cheeks and freezing into the snow at his feet.  “I’ve been with Steve and Bucky for just about two weeks, and they– they are amazing but I think they want something I can’t give anymore. Ty took everything from me. Took everything that I thought was me and made me feel– I feel– I’m not even whole anymore and I don’t know how to fix it, I don’t know how to–” his breath started coming faster, panicky. “ and I–I–I–Oh shit, I’m having a panic attack.” 

Tony dropped to his knees and then fell back onto his butt, gathering his coat around himself and tucking his chin. “Oh oh oh shit I’m having a panic attack, I’m having a panic attack–helpmehelpmehelpme—” 

****************

****************

The morning sun hadn’t made it’s way through the curtains of Steve and Bucky’s bedroom yet, their alarms not due to go off for another half an hour so when Bucky rolled over in bed and pressed tight to his Dom, Steve came to attention almost immediately. 

He was more than willing to spend the next thirty minutes trying to make Bucky scream in pleasure, and in no time at all the big brunette was arching off the mattress with both hands buried in his Captain’s hair, moaning out loud and gasping for more as Steve’s lips slid up and down his length. 

Steve wouldn’t let Bucky finish just like this, he never did. It was a matter of control for the Dom to have something of himself buried inside of Bucky before he let the sub come, whether it was his cock or his tongue or his fingers. Steve needed to be a part of it, needed to know Bucky was coming on him and him alone. 

It was a small thing for a Dom to demand, that he be the reason for his sub’s pleasure, and it was something Bucky would never argue or fight or protest. 

Why wouldn’t he want to come with his Captain inside him? 

So when Steve slid a lube slicked finger through Bucky’s entrance and into his body, the sub gave himself over completely to the heat curling at the base of his spine, the sparks popping behind his eyes as the Dom added another finger, crooking and twisting until he was stroked inside exactly the way he knew Bucky liked. 

“Captain.” Bucky struggled to stay lucid as the edges of his mind began to fog. “Captain.” Sometimes it was like this, sometimes he slid under almost frighteningly fast when he was too emotional and the past couple weeks with Tony had been so unexpectedly emotional. “Captain oh my god–” 

“I’ve got you.” Steve pulled off long enough to say, flattening his other hand warm and solid and grounding in the center of Bucky’s chest. “I’ve got you baby, come on.” 

Bucky came with a shout that was nearly a scream and Steve worked him through each pulse, each crash, every rise and fall until the sub was wrung out and shaking, trembling beneath Steve’s hand. 

“How are you?” Steve asked immediately, anxious because Bucky had sounded so panicked there at the end. “Sweetheart?” 

“So close…” Bucky gasped weakly. “Almost stars– almost–” 

“Stay with me.” They didn’t have time for Bucky to go under, not enough time for Steve to bring him back safely in time for a full day’s work, but more than that, Steve was worried that Bucky had slipped so quickly. “Stay with me, love. Bucky. Bucky! Right here. Look at me right here.” 

The Dom stayed covering Bucky with his body, but he cupped the sub’s jaw and forced Bucky to meet his eyes, even reaching over to turn on the lamp to brighten the room. “Bucky, I need you to stay with me. Come back. Come back.” 

Steve edged the words with Command, deepened his voice and sharpened his tone and Bucky snapped away from the edge just like that, his eyes clearing and hands tensing at Steve’s side. 

“You with me?” Steve didn’t let his own nervousness show in his voice. “Buck, are you with me?” 

“I’m with you, Captain.” Bucky said clearly, and then softer, “Stevie. I’m with you. Are you alright?” 

“Are you alright?” Steve eased off of Bucky’s body but covered him up with a blanket so he wouldn’t get cold. “Babydoll, I’ve never seen you go under that quickly. What happened?” 

“Sorry.” Bucky turned his face into the pillow, closing his eyes and trying to regulate his breathing. “Nothin’ takes the fun outta sex like havin’ your partner drop into messy subspace with no warning, huh?” 

“That’s not–” Steve shook his head. “No. That’s not it. I’d just’ve called out of work if you went down and needed to stay there. I’m worried cos it happened so fast. We weren’t in a scene. What happened?” 

“…it’s uh– it’s Tony.” Bucky admitted, turning further into the pillow to hide his face, a rush of embarrassment tinting his face red. “Usually a sub bein’ emotional doesn’t really affect me, but he does. And I can’t figure out if it’s empathy cos we’re both subs, or if it’s responsibility cos he let me Dom for him so now I feel like he’s mine to take care of, and then I get all confused cos bein’ a Dom for him and sub for you is…” 

Bucky’s throat worked as he swallowed. “I don’t really know how I’m supposed to feel, and it’s making me slip. I feel like I don’t know much of anything right now and I’m unbalanced. I hate it.” 

Steve was quiet for a minute, and then said, “I love you and you love me and even though we don’t know everything that will happen with Tony, we know that he belongs here with us. That’s enough for now.” 

“Stevie–” 

“It’s enough for now.” Steve repeated. “Everything else is details, Buck. So long as we are all okay, everything else will come in it’s own time, alright?” 

Bucky was silent and Steve gentled to a whisper to add, “And sweetheart, if you need to be down more often, you need me to take care of you more in the meantime? Just let me know. I’m your Dom, your Captain, and I’d do anything for you.” 

“I love you.” Bucky murmured and Steve pressed close for a long, sweet kiss. 

“I love you too. I’m going to start the shower for you and make some coffee, then I’ll wake Tony up and maybe we can all have breakfast together.” 

“Man, I’d fuckin’ love that.” Bucky stretched out in the bed, smiling because his Dom didn’t look away until it was obvious Bucky really was up and safe. “Toss me my phone?” 

“Sure thing, babe.” Steve slid out from beneath the covers, not caring one whit that he hadn’t managed to get off this morning, and unplugged Bucky’s phone from the charger. “Will you let me know if–” 

Stevie.” Bucky sat bolt upright and Steve turned back, his heart sinking when he saw the panic on his sub’s face. 

“Buck?” 

“…Tony’s called me six times.” Bucky turned the screen so Steve could see it. “My phone is on silent till seven am so it didn’t ring.” 

“Shit.” Steve went scrambling for his phone where it sat in the kitchen, and Bucky heard him curse out loud. “There’s ten missed calls on my phone! Tony!” 

Steve went skidding over to the second bedroom and pounded on the door. “Tony? Honey are you in here? I’m going to open the door if you don’t answer, I don’t want to scare you but–” 

“Tony?” Bucky answered his phone when it rang again. “Sweet thing, are you not at home?” Whatever Tony said on the other end was enough to make Bucky’s face wash pale. “Okay okay okay. What’s the name of the cemetery? Yeah, sugar, we’ll be right there. We’re on our way out the door right now.” 

Bucky hung up and ran back to the bedroom to start throwing clothes on, dialing work as he went. “Hey, this is Bucky. Sorry for the short notice but I won’t make it in. Reschedule anyone you can reschedule, I had a family emergency, thanks bye.”

Steve wriggled into a pair of jeans, calling towards the bathroom. “Buck? What the hell is happening?” 

“Tony left early this morning to go visit his parent’s graves.” Bucky spat into the sink and put his toothbrush back. “He’s having a panic attack and called us for help and–” 

“Shit.” Steve swore and then swore again. “We gotta go.” 

***************

***************

“It’s so stupid.” Tony clutched the mug of hot chocolate in both hands, hunched over on the couch, a warm blanket over his shoulders. “It was– oh my god, it was so stupid. I can’t believe I freaked out like that.” 

“Not stupid, sugar.” Bucky still looked halfway to panicked, his eyes a little wild even though he was working to keep his voice level. “Can you tell us what happened? Are you okay now?” 

“I think I’m okay now.” Tony nodded, darting anxious glances at Bucky, obviously distressed by the Switch’s visible uneasiness. “I um– I wanted to go visit my parents. Ty never let me go see their graves or put flowers down or anything…” 

He faltered when Bucky barked out a curse and jumped to his feet to pace. “Um. So I went to see them, I left early so I could be back before you went to work but–but–” 

“It’s alright, honey. Take your time.” Steve gave Tony a quick, calming smile, and motioned for Bucky to settle down. “It’s perfectly understandable that you wanted to visit the cemetery. You’ve been here with us a week, it’s been a few days since you went shopping, you had ever right to leave the apartment, and every right to visit your parents. No one’s mad about that. What else happened?” 

“I don’t really know.” Tony took a sip of the hot drink and made a surprised, pleased noise at the dark chocolate. “One minute I was telling them about Ty and how long are contract was and the next I was um–” he sighed shakily, sending another look towards Bucky, who was looking increasingly agitated. “I was saying that I didn’t know what to do with my life, or with the freedom I have now and that I didn’t know where to start and then um–” 

“Then you called us and we didn’t pick up!” Bucky burst out. “We promised we’d take care of you and then when you needed us we weren’t anywhere to be found!” 

“Bucky it was okay, I was just a little–” 

“Sergeant! You call me Sergeant!” Bucky snapped and Tony’s mouth fell open just before his expression shuttered and closed off and that was quite enough of that

“Come here.” Steve straightened up off the door jam and dropped his voice to a tone he rarely used. “Bucky, come here. Now.” 

Bucky started towards Steve and then stopped, swiveling to look over at Tony and Steve took two steps forward right into Bucky’s space, put a big hand at the back of Bucky’s neck and squeezed just enough to get the Switch’s eyes on his. 

“That’s enough.” he said slowly, firmly and Bucky’s eyes widened. “That is enough, do you understand? You are upset, which is making Tony upset, and I am upset watching the two of you. Do you want to upset me?” 

“…no.” 

“No?” 

“…no.” Bucky ground out, and then his shoulders sagged as he seemed to come back to himself. “No, Captain. No I don’t want to upset you. Don’t want to upset Tony. I’m sorry.” 

Usually Steve insisted apologies weren’t necessary, since he was a Dom that found very few things disrespectful, but in this case he nodded and said, “You also need to apologize to Tony.” 

“Yes, Captain.” Bucky breathed out and his shoulders dropped even more, his tone softening. “Tony, m’real sorry about that sugar. Real sorry.” 

“It’s okay.” Tony whispered, but he hunched a little further into the blanket. “Sorry, I’m sure I’m throwing everything out of balance being so emotional.” 

“It’s not your fault, sweetheart.” Steve kept his hand at the back of Bucky’s throat but he stroked soothing circles over Bucky’s pulse with his thumb. “It’s not anyone’s fault. Not yours, Tony, and not yours Bucky. You’re both–” his smile for Bucky was practically worshipful, his smile for Tony just as sweet. “You’re both perfect. So so good for me.” 

“Oh.” Bucky whispered, blue eyes falling shut as his body swayed towards Steve. “Captain.” 

“Oh.” Tony echoed, hoarse and sort of brittle, his grip on the cup turning his knuckles white. “St-Steve, I–” 

Oh

Oh oh oh. 

Steve had put a lot of thought into how he was going to take care of two subs. When they’d first met Tony at the jewelry store, Steve’s initial undeniable instinct to bundle the sub up and carry him away had been answer enough to the question of whether Tony was meant to be his or not. Bucky’s immediate acceptance of the sub had answered Steve’s misgivings about whether Tony would fit into their life. Watching Bucky take Tony down had been beautiful, the way Tony snuggled into their arms during a movie was nearly intoxicating and the trust the sub showed when his entire life was so wildly out of control was humbling. 

Steve had thought about all of that. 

But he hadn’t thought about what he’d do if he needed to take care of both his subs at the same time. 

Bucky was wavering at the edge already, the near slip to subspace this morning coming back in full force as his emotions bubbled out of control. The beautifully pale eyes were already glazing over, Bucky’s lips parted as his breathing slowed, a mumbled, “Captain.” barely more than a whisper. 

And Tony– Tony had been so firm when he said he hadn’t wanted to sub anymore, but it was written all over his face, in his body posture, in the way his each breath was shaky and his eyes were dull– he needed to be let down gently and slowly and with every bit of adoration an overwhelmed sub deserved from their Dom. 

I’m not your sub. Tony had said, but as Steve watched the beautiful brunette sag onto the couch, heard the bone weary sigh still catching the edge of tears and as he turned back to Bucky and saw the silent plea, Steve made up his mind. 

“Come on.” he tugged at Bucky’s hand and went to pick up Tony’s as well, waiting until both were standing at his side before saying, “We’re going to go lay down in the bedroom. I’m going to keep you warm–” he kissed Bucky’s cheek. “–and safe–” a quick brush to Tony’s temple. “–and settled. I’ll take care of you. Both of you.” 

“Thank you, Captain.” Bucky whispered and in a very quiet voice, nearly inaudible, Tony whispered, “Thank you….Captain.” 

Steve tamped down the urge to nearly howl with excitement, with victory, with the surge of possessiveness that came with having two beautiful, perfect, mind blowing sweet sweet submissives trusting him. “Bedroom. Now.” 

**************

It was easy to bring Bucky down. 

The Switch was already so close to the edge that Steve didn’t have to do more than walk Bucky through getting undressed– “Take your shoe off, sweetheart. Now your socks. Your jeans. Your shirt.”– and as Bucky followed each simple command he slid under until he was floating, grounded by the feel of Tony’s hand tight in his, taken through the steps by the comforting rumble of his Dom’s voice. 

“How are you?” Steve asked and Bucky tipped his head back so Steve would tug at his hair, soft and pliant as he answered, “Seeing stars, Captain.” 

“Perfect.” Steve’s heart squeezed when he heard the words, and as he helped Bucky into the bed, relief over Bucky being down safely warred with a thread of nervousness over what came next. “You’re perfect, Bucky. Thank you.” 

Tony was staring at Bucky in shock, as if he’d never seen a sub go down before, and he jumped when Steve took his hand and squeezed lightly. 

“Tony.” Steve met Tony’s eyes steadily. “You need to go down and I’d like to help you. Is that alright?” 

“You were so gentle with him.” Tony was still wide eyed, but he didn’t let go of Steve’s hand. “I’ve never– you were so gentle. It was so easy, is it always that easy?” 

“Well not always, but as far as gentle–” 

“Is that how you’ll be with me?” The question stunned Steve speechless and broke his heart all in the same second but Tony kept staring at him, waiting for an answer. 

“Yes.” Steve finally said. “I’ll be gentle with you. Of course I’ll be gentle with you.” 

“I don’t want to go down.” Speechless and heartbroken all over again, and Steve could only stare as Tony pressed at his hand and then pulled away. “I’ll get in bed like you want me to, and I’ll stay here for as long as you and Bucky need, but I don’t want to go down. I don’t um– I don’t know if I can. Please don’t make me try. But will you– can you please–” 

Steve waited, and Tony finished, “–will you be gentle with me anyway?” 

Tony needed to go down, his fingers shaking and tears gathering in his eyes as the emotional toll of the morning and still too present panic attack visibly wearing on him. He needed to go down but he was saying no, so Steve forced himself to  just nod. 

“Of course, Tony. Come here.” Steve helped Tony to the other side of the bed, his hand gentle at the small of Tony’s back as he helped him up on the tall mattress. “I’m going to take your shoes off.” 

Tony had never had a Dom kneel at his feet before, and he flushed dark red when Steve went to his knees so quickly, tugging at Tony’s laces and slipping the shoes off before carefully putting them aside. 

“I’m not going to take your pants off.” Steve held up both hands peacefully. “But if you’d like to get undressed more–” 

“No no, take them off.” Tony bit at his lip and undid the button of his jeans, pushing them down his hips and waiting with bated breath for Steve to do the rest. A Dom undressing him was something Tony hadn’t ever enjoyed but it had never been done just– just for this, just for him to be comfortable. “Please?” 

“Alright.” Steve saw the show of trust for what it was, and he kept his eye’s on Tony’s face as he drew the jeans down long legs and off over Tony’s feet. “Better?” 

“Yeah.” Tony worried at the inside his cheek as he inched backwards on the bed towards where Bucky was waiting. “Steve–” 

“Tony.” Steve bent over the bed to tuck Tony under the covers, smoothing his fingers over Bucky’s cheek as he went. “I’d like if you called me Captain.” 

“But I’m not–” 

“Call me Captain.” Steve lowered his voice and Tony shivered. “Cos I’m gonna take care of you whether you sub for Bucky and me or not, whether you ever let us take you down. So when you need something, you call me Captain and I’m going to give it to you, alright?” 

“Yes, Captain.” Tony said, and curled into Bucky’s waiting arms, pressing close and hiding his face while the Switch murmured something soft and pleased into his hair. “Thank you.” 

Steve wove his fingers into Bucky’s hair and scratched at his scalp until Bucky melted further into the pillows, then switched and gave Tony the same treatment, not letting up until the sub’s breathing had slowed and steadied, Tony nearly asleep in Bucky’s embrace. 

“You’re both wonderful.” Steve tucked the blankets tighter around their shoulders. “I’m going to let you rest, but I’ll be right there at the window seat working on a few papers. Rest, and I’ll–” he couldn’t resist another kiss at Bucky’s cheek, up to his temple, and down feather light over the thick eyelashes. “I’ll be right here.” 

**************

Steve should have spent the few hours that the sub’s were slipping in and out of sleep to grade his student’s papers for his class that afternoon, but instead he spent it sketching. 

Tony and Bucky were both beautifully similar in looks and so strikingly different that the Dom couldn’t help drawing them. Tony was so soft, easy lines and curly hair, porcelain skin and gentle curves. He was dark and light, just like Bucky but Bucky’s frame was solid with muscles, skin filled in with dozens of tattoos, his hair straight and body hard

One-two-three hours slipped by as Steve lost himself in the art, trying to capture every second, every breath, every tiny movement between his two subs. Bucky’s expression had faded to peaceful, down and safe thanks to his Dom, arms full of the one he Dommed for, and even though Tony wasn’t under, he was at least resting, safe and secure. 

They were perfect. 

Steve finally put his sketch pad away when the clock chimed eleven, standing up from the window seat and stretching. He hated to bring Bucky up when the Switch had gone down so hard, but Steve couldn’t miss another class and it would be good for Tony and Bucky to spend the time together alone. 

But then Bucky shifted on the bed, sighed lowly and turned onto his back so he could bring Tony up to his chest. Tony hummed a contented, “Mmm, Sergeant.” and Steve–

–Steve sat right back down and picked up his sketch pad again. 

Another hour wouldn’t hurt. 

Chapter Text

It took every ounce of Steve’s strength to leave Bucky and Tony lying in the master bedroom, and he must have checked to be sure they were covered and warm and comfortable at least a half dozen times before he forced himself out the door and to his afternoon class. 

Tony had been around home for just about two weeks now and Steve had taken most of the first week off work all together, had taken cab rides from the campus to get home in between classes so Tony wouldn’t be alone for more than a few hours at a time. While the time had been worthwhile– seeing Tony smile every day and earning bits and pieces of the beautiful sub’s trust was worth while– Steve was a full week behind in grading, he hadn’t been around to answer student’s questions in days and he desperately needed to do some lesson planning. 

Bucky was up again, even after crashing so hard earlier. Four hours in their bed with Tony in his arms had done wonders for the Switch, settling Bucky’s anxiety and placating the part of him that was so affected by the sub’s emotions. 

Bucky was up and safe, Tony was calmed after his panic attack that morning and Steve had no reason to stay any longer.

And yet–

“Captain.” Tony peeked up from the blankets when Steve came back into the apartment, back into the bedroom to check on them again. “Go to work, we’re fine.” 

“I know you are.” Steve agreed but he stayed another moment all the same. 

“Captain?” Bucky this time, whose words was still soft, dazed and slow even though he wasn’t under anymore. “Stevie, is everything alright?” 

“Everything’s fine.” Steve maintained, a soothing rumble in his voice. “I’m just um– just looking.” 

Tony ducked his head again and Steve felt a flash of guilt. Tony didn’t like to be looked at. “Sorry, sweetheart. What I meant is–” 

“Stevie’s all flustered cos he already thought he got lucky findin’ a pretty switch like me.” Bucky interrupted, shooting Steve the sort of lopsided smile that never failed to make the Dom’s heart clench in happiness. “But then a pretty sub like you comes along, and Stevie’s over there wonderin’ how he’s suddenly the most spoiled Dom in the world.” 

Tony laughed quietly and inched across the bed until his forehead rested against the broad chest, and Bucky dropped a kiss into his hair before giving his Dom another smile. “Go on. You got students to teach and all my bills to pay. I’m up and safe, Tony’s safe with me, go on.” 

Steve stalled for another minute before finally blowing them a kiss and ducking out and only after the apartment door had locked behind him did Tony whisper, “Steve pays all your bills?” 

“Nah.” Bucky slipped his arm around Tony’s waist and tugged him even closer, tangling their legs beneath the blankets. “All our money goes in the same account, don’t matter who’s paying which bills so long as they get paid right?” 

“You share your money?” 

“We share our hearts, sugar.” Bucky couldn’t help gathering Tony even closer, making room for the sub right up against his body and breathing in the scene of Tony’s new shampoo. “We share our home and our bed and everything else, why wouldn’t we share our money? I’m his and he’s mine and everything else is just ours.” 

Tony was silent, his fingers tight at Bucky’s side and Bucky asked, “Your Dom never shared anything with you, Tony?” 

“…no.” Every line in Tony’s body was tense, uncomfortable. “I was his and he– he was Tiberius.” 

“That ain’t the way it’s supposed to be.” Bucky rubbed up and down Tony’s back to try and get him to relax again. “Not at all. You’ll see though. Th’longer you’re with me and Stevie, you’ll see how it’s supposed to be.” 

“I can stay, Sergeant?” 

Christ–” Bucky had had every intention of simply holding Tony, of simply talking and spending some time in each others arms. Subs needed to spend time with other subs because being with someone who’s emotions ran along the same lines was healthy. Bucky was a Switch so he could also hold Tony as a Dominate, leveling the sub’s mind and settling the itch that ran under their skin when the need to be touched wasn’t filled. 

He had had every intention of simply holding Tony, but Christ Tony had called him Sergeant while asking if he could stay and Bucky almost broke

Their mouths crashed together in a near feverish kiss, Bucky coming back again and again to taste Tony’s lips, to know his mouth, to try and tell the little brunette in a hundred ways that Tony didn’t have to ask to stay, that he belonged here, that he belonged with them–

–and then a flash of horror as Bucky realized he was doing exactly what Steve had done. He was kissing Tony because the words had affected him, because hearing Tony wanted to stay, knowing Tony was offering a form of submission just by way of using a title had done things to Bucky’s heart and mind. 

He hadn’t asked if Tony wanted to be kissed, or stopped to think that perhaps a sub so badly traumatized wouldn’t want this sort of affection and oh no Tony had said he couldn’t imagine anything romantic– “Jesus, I’m sorry.” Bucky wrenched away and wiped at his mouth. “Oh my god Tony, I shouldn’t have done that. Or-Or I should have at least asked. I’m sorry, shit.” 

Tony blinked at him a few times, the stunned expression on his face fading into something flat and resigned. 

“I would be nice to be asked.” He said stiffly. “But then again, it would be nice if people kissed me without looking disgusted afterwards too. Don’t remember the last time that happened.” 

“Um–” Bucky’s mouth opened and closed a few times, too thrown by Tony’s answer to form a reply. “Tony–” 

“It’s fine.” Tony pulled away and rolled onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. “If you’re up and safe, I’m going to take a shower and leave for a little while. I meant to do more today than visit the cemetery and have a break down, and now I’m running out of daylight.”

He got out of bed without looking at Bucky and gathered up his clothes, trying for sass that only sounded miserable. “I promise I am usually good for more than awkward crying spells and cringy needy behavior. Sure can’t wait to be feeling like myself again. Sure can’t wait until this part is over and I’m fucking normal again.” 

“Tony.” Bucky scrambled from the bed and lunged for Tony’s arm before he got to the door. “Tony, just wait a minute.” 

“I don’t want to sub.” Tony looked down at the floor, hunched his shoulders as if he were trying to hide. “And no matter how many times you and Steve call me sweetheart and want me to call you Captain and Sergeant, I can’t imagine anything like this ever working. Not romantically. Not without me being willing to go down. And I say that, but then you both kiss me and that’s–” he blew out a deep breath. “–that’s wonderful. I haven’t been kissed in a very long time but I swear–” 

Tony’s breath caught and he shook his head. “–I swear I am tired of being looked at if I am horrifying.” 

Tony–” 

“Cos that’s how you look at me.” he continued in a near whisper. “You and Steve, you look at me as if you are so sorry for me. You treat me like I’m going to break and like I’m this poor wounded mess that has to be taken care of, and then if you mess up and treat me like you treat each other, you pull away like I’m horrifying. Like you’re ashamed that it happened. I’ve been looked at like that a whole lot in the last five years and I gotta say, it really sucks.”  

“Shit.” Bucky didn’t know what to say to all, didn’t know how to react. It was obvious Tony didn’t want to be held right now or even touched and Bucky knew no matter what he said, right now it would only come across as pitying, but he tried anyway. “Um, Tony I– I can promise you that Stevie and I aren’t looking at you like we’re ashamed of kissing you. It’s just that we’ve both kissed you without asking, when you’re real vulnerable and that ain’t right. So we– we stop. That’s all.” 

“I’m sure that’s all.” Tony nodded as if he agreed, and gave Bucky another one of those painful smiles. “But all the same…” 

He let the sentence trail off and went to his bedroom, shutting the door firmly behind him. 

Bucky stared at the spot where Tony had been for a full two or three minutes, his mind racing and heart breaking and hand already reaching for his phone because he needed to talk to Steve right now. 

What in the hell kinda Dom had ruined Tony so badly…

****************

Bucky waited as long as he could before going and knocking on Tony’s door. 

Originally he’d thought to wait until Tony came out for a shower, but that ever happened. Then he thought Tony had decided to skip the shower and just leave, so Bucky posted up in the living room waiting for that as well. 

But an hour passed and there was no sign of Tony, so Bucky gathered his courage and went and knocked on the bedroom door. 

“Sweet thing?” he called through the wood. “Tony, are you still in here?”

“It’s not like I went through the window.” Tony called back. “We’re really high off the ground here.” 

Bucky had to smother a smile at the flash of sarcasm, and he cleared his throat before trying again. “Can I come in? Or can you come out here? I wanna talk to you but don’t really want to do it with a closed door between us.” 

Silence in the bedroom for a minute, and then Tony unlocked the door and pushed it open, watching Bucky with cautious eyes. “What do you want to talk about? I’m not apologizing for leaving. I won’t. I have every right to leave your bedroom if I’m uncomfortable.” 

“I–” Bucky started and then stopped, frowning at the strangely phrased reply. “Of course you can leave if you feel uncomfortable, why would I expect an apology for that sort of–” Bucky’s lips twisted in a grimace as he mentally answered his own question. “You know what, never mind. Come out here and talk to me. Please?” 

Tony ignored Bucky’s outstretched hand and sat himself on the single chair in the living room, effectively preventing Bucky from sitting next to him or even reasonably close. 

“You’ve been reading that book.” Bucky sat down on the end of the couch, hands clasped loosely between his knees. “The one from Stevie’s shelf about protecting your physical space and establishing boundaries in a new place.” 

“He said it’s helped the two of you navigate your relationship.” Tony answered stiffly, thinking of the well worn relationship book Steve had left by his door one morning, the Dom murmuring ‘I don’t wanna overstep anything, Tony. But this helped me and Buck, it might help you too’. 

“He said when you first started to sub for him neither of you had any idea how to draw the line between scenes and reality.” Tony continued. “That you had to learn which boundaries Steve could cross in a scene and which ones were different in your day to day and how to adjust your new dynamic to an already established relationship.” 

“Yep.” Bucky popped the ‘p’ of the word. “Learning my submissive side put us through a few rough years. Stevie and I had hooked up back and forth for a long time, but when he asked me to sub for him it was something else all together. Took a lot of time to figure out where we stood after that. That book helped a lot. Told me which things were always alright to demand and the right to my own physical space was one of them.” 

“Yes.” Tony was visibly uncomfortable in the chair, sitting ramrod straight and clutching at the arm rest. “Yes, I am entitled to my own physical space whether you want to hold me or not. Just because you and Steve are Dom’s doesn’t mean you have the right to physically assert yourselves in any manner without my consent, even if we are in a scene.” 

“Yeah, I remember that chapter.” Bucky’s chest tightened to the point of pain as he listened to Tony repeat the words he had so obviously memorized. “Now a days me and Stevie have hardly any boundaries, but we had a whole lot when we first started, and that part of the book helped me alot.” 

For Bucky the passage about physical boundaries had helped he and Steve establish differing levels of comfort with public displays of affection, and even to talk through just how Dominant his Captain could be during a scene, whether it was words or actions or restraints. 

For Tony the passage about physical boundaries was helping him realize he was allowed to have boundaries and that made Bucky want to be sick. 

Boundaries

“Tony.” Bucky took in a slow breath and tried to choose his words very carefully. “I am sorry I kissed you. Not because kissing you is awful or because it’s something I’m embarrassed by. Only because I kissed you without asking, and because I did it in a moment where you were vulnerable and less likely to say no. Not that I–” he shook his head. “–not that I planned it to happen when you were less likely to say no, but I–” 

“You’ve read alot of relationship books, haven’t you?” Tony interrupted and Bucky smiled apologetically. “I can hear it when you talk. You and Steve both talk to me like you’re quoting from a self help pamphlet.” 

“Sorry about that, sugar.” Bucky cleared his throat. “Probably doesn’t help you wanting to feel like you again if we keep talking like we’re therapists.” 

“It’s better than talking at me like you’re better than me.” There was a fine edge of bitter to the words. “I suppose it’s not the worst thing to have Doms that have read enough to at least put clinical terms to what’s happened to me.” 

“And I don’t let you treat me like a sub, so I guess clinical is the next best thing.” Tony drummed his fingers on the arm rest for a moment. “I need to feel like myself again, Bucky. I need to feel like a whole person. And I’m sure having intermittent panic attacks, and fairly unstable mood swings and needing to be held for hours at a time makes it difficult for you guys to see me as anything other than pitiful, but I need you to try. There’s more to me than what I’m going through and it would be nice to just feel normal. That’s all I want. Normal.”  

“Alright.” Bucky swallowed the urge to run over and snatch Tony up to erase the pain on the sub’s face. “Alright. Normal. We can do that. I’ll talk to Stevie and we can work on–” 

“I’ve been here too weeks.” Tony blurted, the formality slipping from his words as his control over his emotions slipped as well. “And this is the closest thing to home I’ve felt in years. And you and Steve are the sort of Doms I used to dream about submitting for. You’re perfect and you both are beautiful, and you’ve worked so hard at your relationship and I’m in awe of it. I didn’t know things were supposed to be like this, I didn’t know going under could be gentle or that submitting had nothing to do with sex and I know I said I couldn’t see anything romantic happening but that’s because I can’t imagine a world where a perfect couple would take on a mess like me, not because I don’t want you–” 

He clapped a hand over his mouth and shook his head, screwing his eyes shut tight. “I didn’t mean to say all that. What I meant to say is–” 

“Can I kiss you, sugar?” Bucky interrupted and Tony’s “Yes please.” was nearly a sob so Bucky closed the distance between them in two big steps, dropping to his knees in front of the chair and cupping Tony’s jaw a split second before crushing their mouths together. 

“Oh my god.” Tony whimpered, clutching his fingers at Bucky’s shoulders, dragging at the bunched up material of his shirt, kissing Bucky as hard as he could. It had been so long since he’d been kissed, and the warm press of Bucky’s lips on his own was so different than the cold, perfunctory kisses Ty had ever given him, the slick slide of a questing tongue in his mouth deliriously different than the way Ty had invaded him. 

Tony’s head was spinning and his body lighting up, and he knew– he knew– some of this was left over emotion from that morning, the desperation to be held after a panic attack, the loneliness that scratched at the back of his consciousness every single day.

But more of it was wanting to hold Bucky, wanting to lose himself in heat and sparks, wanting to feel human and like he was beautiful and desirable and Tony chased the feeling, pressing closer and closer until Bucky huffed, “I’ve got ya, c’mere.” and with one quick yank jerked Tony to the edge of the seat and right up against his body. 

Tony’s shocked moan at the feel of Bucky so broad between his legs was swallowed by an uncoordinated kiss full of tongue and the hint of teeth and the little sub cried out loud over the grasp of fingers spanning his waist then sinking low at his hips and then falling lower still. 

Yesyesyesyesyes…

It was wonderful–

–and then all at once it was too much too soon–

–and Tony flattened his palm to Bucky’s chest with a quiet, “Sergeant…” 

“I’ve got ya.” Bucky said again, but this time it was as he lifted his hands back to Tony’s waist and then around to gather him in a hug. “Ah sugar, I’ve got ya. Give me a minute to stop shaking–” 

Tony breathed a laugh and tucked his head into Bucky’s shoulder, gratified to realize the Switch was shaking, trembling really, obviously as carried away and overwhelmed by the moment as Tony was. 

“I’ve got ya.” Bucky said again and dotted a kiss to Tony’s cheek before easing him back into the chair to put some inches between their bodies. “That was– that was–” Bucky’s smile was damn near goofy. “Wow, Tony. That was much better than the one I laid on you in bed.” 

“It really was.” There was a splash of red highlighting Tony’s cheeks and his hair was mussed into unruly curls. Dark eyes sparkling with flashes of gold and lips red and a little bruised and Bucky didn’t think he’d seen anything more beautiful in his life

“You’re gorgeous.” he managed and the blush at Tony’s face grew darker. “Oh my god, Tony. The way you call me Sergeant does all sorts’a things to me.” 

Tony hid his face in Bucky’s shoulder again, quietly grateful when Bucky hugged him close and kept whispering sweet things into his ear. 

Ty had never held him like this. 

*****************

From BuckyTony says he wants to be treated normal, not like he’s sick/hurt and that there’s more to him than what he’s going through so we gotta work on that. Says we talk to him like a self help pamphlet so we gotta work on that too. 

From Bucky:  We kissed and I almost died. Fuck me, he’s perfect Captain.   

Steve read the texts over and over as the taxi crawled it’s way through end of day traffic. He’d planned to stay an extra two hours after his class to answer questions with his students and to catch up on his grading, but two hours had turned to three and then almost four and by the time Steve had gathered his things to head home, the streets were packed and traffic lights were slow. 

Part of him was upset over having missed most of the day with his subs, the Dom having had to exercise every bit of his self control to not constantly check in via text after leaving Bucky and Tony in bed so he could go to work. The morning spent sketching them while they rested had been incredible– Steve was a Dom that took just as much pleasure in watching his subs float as he did in actually putting them there, and sure, Tony hadn’t technically gone down but he’d trusted Steve all the same and that was enough. 

More than enough.  

Part of Steve was upset over having missed most of the day, but the other, more sensible part of himself knew that Bucky and Tony had needed the time together. 

Subs needed other subs to talk to, to cuddle with. There were no expectations of service or appropriate titles or even manners when subs were together, not like there was when a Dom was present. Tony would be able to share things with Bucky that he wasn’t comfortable saying to Steve yet, would be able to yell if needed without worrying that Bucky would reprimand him, would even be able to cry because sometimes it was good to just cry

And then if Tony needed to be consoled, to be settled, Bucky could do that too. As a Switch, Bucky could fill all of Tony’s needs all at the same time which meant Steve wasn’t alone in trying to help the hurt submissive. Bucky could take some of the strain, some of the pressure from Steve’s shoulders which meant the Dom would never be too over taxed to be wholly present for his subs at all times, would never be stretched thin to the point of rejecting his subs when they needed him. 

Steve smiled to himself, reminded for about the thousandth time why Bucky was a perfect partner for him, and how together they would be perfect for Tony. 

From CaptainI’m on my way

Steve sent the message off and glanced up at the buildings as they passed, cursing quietly when he realized he was still a good half hour from home, the taxi crawling along in the traffic. 

Maybe he would look into those new apartments being built closer to the campus. He could walk to work every day and it would shorten Bucky’s commute as well. The rent was higher but everything would be brand new and it would give them all a chance to create a home together instead of Tony feeling as if he was intruding into an already established home and relationship. 

Steve would spring for a bigger apartment so they could get a cat like Bucky always wanted, and maybe a ground floor apartment that looked out towards the greenbelt so Steve could get a dog as well and then Tony could go for walks every day if he decided not to work and just to stay home. 

Or a top floor, so Steve could paint from the balcony and Tony had mentioned once about loving the stars at night and Bucky had always loved the thrill that came with being so high up so maybe that would work better…

Steve pulled up the picture of the flyer on his phone and started to dial the number. It couldn’t hurt just to check, right? 

His fingers faltered when he saw the date though. 

Two weeks Tony had been with them, only two weeks, and here Steve was making plans for new apartments and planning out their lives. It was a nice distraction during the never ending taxi ride, but none of it would matter unless Tony decided he wanted to stay. 

There were a hundred different things that could go wrong on any given day and lead to Tony leaving, and there were a hundred different things that could go right and lead to Tony deciding he really didn’t need a relationship or a Dom and leaving. He’d asked to stay, but it was one thing to want to stay when the world was crumbling around you, another to want to stay when things were normal and fine and predictable day to day. 

Steve put his phone down, his heart sinking right along with the motion. He was jumping the gun, being impulsive, just like he always did. What the hell was he doing? Bucky had just said Tony wanted to feel normal and planning out new places to live together after two weeks was definitely not normal–

From BuckyHurry home, babe. We miss you. 

Steve hit send on the screen and put the phone to his ear as it began to ring. 

“Thank you for calling Linden Heights Developers, how may I direct your call?” 

“Good afternoon.” Steve said politely. “My name is Steve Rogers and I’m looking for information on the apartment complex you guys are putting in close to the university. Can you give me a number to call for leasing options?” 

“Yes sir, Mr. Rogers. One moment and I’ll connect you.” 

Bland holding music came over the earpiece and Steve tapped his fingers to the beat, humming along absentmindedly. 

This was definitely impulsive and probably way too rushed, but Steve was finding it hard to care. 

From TonyAlmost home, Captain?

Nope. He didn’t care at all

******************

When Steve finally did make it home he found Bucky and Tony sat up on Tony’s bed, Tony bent over scribbling in a notebook, Bucky scrolling through his phone and reading through dates and times. 

“I just feel like it will help to have a schedule again.” Tony was saying. “I have so much free time right now and so many options what to do with it, it’s sort of overwhelming. Most days I don’t do anything cos I don’t know where to begin.” 

“Sure.” Bucky nodded in agreement. “Mondays are always our day off, though. Mark that on your calendar. We run our errands, get groceries for the week and the afternoons we usually spend here at the house together.” 

“…in a scene?” Tony asked and Bucky nodded again. “So if I’m going to do something on Mondays, do it in the afternoon?” 

“You don’t gotta leave if you don’t want to.” Bucky disagreed. “Mondays are always a little more intense since we don’t see much of each other the next few days, but we keep it to the bedroom. You’d be fine to stay.” 

“Maybe I’ll look into yoga classes on Monday.” Tony decided, effectively announcing that he would rather not be home while Bucky and Steve were together. “Or swimming. You both go to work about eight am on Tuesdays?” 

“Yep. I work until five, home by six. Stevie’s classes don’t start until closer to eleven, but he goes in early to get grading done and all that. We’re both gone all day.” 

“Okay, so I’l need something to do most of the day Tuesday through Thursday and Friday–” 

“Friday I don’t have classes but I still go in for faculty meetings and to prepare lesson plans.” Steve spoke up from the doorway. “That way I’m not working on the weekend or even on Mondays. But Friday’s are optional Tony, if there’s something you’d like to do and you want company, I can move my schedule around.” 

“Oh.” Tony pinked with pleasure, his smile almost shy. “Thank you, Captain.” 

“Hi.” Bucky rolled right off the bed and caught Steve in a long kiss. “You’re late.” 

“I ended up staying longer to get caught up and got stuck in traffic.” Steve turned and pinned Bucky to the door frame, relishing the gasp of surprise from his sub before covering Bucky’s mouth again for a longer, more purposeful kiss. “I missed you.” 

“I missed you too.” Bucky mumbled into his lips. “We both did.” 

Steve lifted his head to send a curious, hopeful look at Tony who met his eyes only long enough to give a quick nod before looking back down at his notepad. 

“Wonderful.” Steve breathed into Bucky’s neck and his sub sighed too, Bucky’s hands tightening at Steve’s side. “How was your day? Are you guys hungry?” 

“Very hungry.” Bucky confirmed, stepping away with one last squeeze and sprawling back out across Tony’s bed. “Aren’t we, sweet thing?” 

“Very hungry.” Tony echoed. 

“I’ll order something in–” Steve stopped and thought back to Bucky’s text about Tony not wanting to be treated like he was sick or hurt or anything else around those lines. “Do you guys want to go out? A bistro opened up down the way and it serves Italian food like you like, Buck. Tony, you in the mood for some Italian?” 

“…could we order in?” Tony recognized Steve’s effort for what it was, and sent  the Dom a grateful smile. “I’d rather not go anywhere. But I do like Italian food. Carbonell, you know? La mia famiglia e italiana, on my Mama’s side.” 

“Holy shit he speaks Italian.” Bucky clasped his hands over his heart dramatically and Tony gave one of those soft laughs Steve was quickly learning to love. “Tony, you are perfecto.” 

Perfetto.” Tony corrected and Bucky made the same, dramatic motion all over again. 

“You took your mother’s name, Tony?” Thoroughly charmed by the flirty play between his subs, but still curious, Steve raised his eyebrows. “Carbonell?” 

“My legal last name is linked to everything that belongs to Ty.” Tony admitted, the smile slipping from his face. Please don’t ask my last name. “I’d rather be Carbonell.” 

“Alright.” Apparently mollified, the Dom shrugged. “I’ll order in some Italian and hop in the shower. Why don’t you too pick out a movie or something?” 

Tony’s quiet sigh of relief was noticed by both Dom and Switch, but Steve didn’t comment and neither did Bucky. Today had been emotional enough without dragging something else into the light, and they were all ready for a break, for some good food, and the chance to relax. 

****************

Dinner was comfortable and easy, big plates of food shared between the three of them as a movie played in the background, a bottle of wine opened and mostly emptied with an hour. 

Tony alternated between working on his schedule and chiming with questions about Steve’s day, Bucky called into work to ask the secretary how many appointments he had the next day and whether or not he needed to be in early to make up for taking today off. 

Steve let himself relax and enjoy the newly found dynamic between Tony and Bucky, watching the small touches and shared smiles, breathing in the lightened aura in the apartment. Whatever Bucky and Tony had talked about today had brought around a huge change in Tony’s behavior, and Steve was struck by the realization that he had yet to meet Tony, to really meet Tony

The sub that spent most of the day sleeping off a bad drop, or crying unexpectedly, or throwing up quickly constructed barriers as knee jerk reactions to unstable emotions wasn’t really Tony, and the longer Steve watched the pretty sub and Bucky together, the more he understood why Tony had practically begged to be treated normal. Just normal. Not like he was broken, not like he was hurt, not like he was less than whole. 

“Tony.” Steve caught up with Tony in the kitchen as they both went to put dishes away. “Tony, I want to apologize to you.” 

“For what?” Tony put his plate in the sink and faced Steve with a wary expression. “What happened?” 

“I just uh–” Steve spread his hands helplessly. “I know I’ve been acting like I have to protect you from everything and like you can’t do anything by yourself–” 

“–you haven’t been doing that.” Tony disagreed and Steve finished–

“– I’ve been acting like who you are and what happened to you are all the same things.” Tony’s face cleared in understanding and Steve tried to smile. “I’m sorry for that. I’m a Dom, Tony, and my instinct with a hurt sub is to bundle you up and put you away somewhere no one can touch you but that’s not right. You’re still a person and still–” he stopped when Tony snorted. “What’s wrong?” 

“You’re talking to me like you’re reading from a self help pamphlet.” Tony pointed out. “And I appreciate the thought but talk to me like I’m real. I promise I’m a real boy. Ain’t no strings on me.” 

It was probably highly inappropriate for Steve to laugh right then, but Tony’s rarely glimpsed sense of humor was so sharp and so unexpected from someone who looked so innocent that he chuckled anyway. 

“You’re right.” he allowed. “You’re right, and I’m sorry. I’m gonna stop acting like you’ll fall to pieces every single second if I’m not watching you. I promise.” 

“…thank you.” Tony kept looking at Steve, obviously waiting for the rest of it and finally the Dom rushed out–

“But it’s only been two weeks, Tony. So if you need to fall to pieces? I hope you’ll let me be there to put you back together. Me and Bucky, I mean. Both of us want to be there for you. I’m gonna stop treating you like you’ll break if I breathe on you, but it’s only been two weeks and we don’t expect you to be okay. Not yet. Not all the way.” 

“I need to tell you–”

“Bucky told me you kissed.” Steve hurried to add. “And that’s fine. I know when you and I kissed you apologized to Bucky but you don’t have to apologize to me about it ever.” 

“Good to know.” Tony said evenly, but his eyes melted warm over the approval from the Dom. “But I wasn’t going to tell you that.” 

“Sorry.” Steve flushed, held up his hands apologetically. “Sorry. Go ahead.” 

“It’s only been two weeks.” Tony started slowly. “And that’s fast by anyone’s estimation, maybe even faster cos I’m just away from a five year long contract but all the same–” 

He hesitated, and Steve crossed his arms to wait, then uncrossed them because maybe that posture seemed too Dominant, and put his hands down at his sides, then behind his back, then crossed them again and undid them with a quiet curse. 

“At ease, soldier.” Tony teased, showing another spark of that beguiling personality. “I um– I know it’s only been two weeks. And I know I said I couldn’t see anything romantic between the three of us. But I told Bucky today that it’s not because I don’t want–” he made a vague gesture between their bodies. “–two weeks seems like an awful short amount of time to go from never wanting a Dom to touch me again to wanting–” another vague gesture that made Steve’s heart pound. 

“It’s more because I can’t imagine two people as perfectly suited for each other as you and Bucky wanting to deal with me.” Tony’s words became crisp, formal as he got more and more nervous. “That being said, I know it’s only been two weeks but you’ve been insistent that I am not coming between you and Bucky, that I’m not intruding and I thought maybe if you are agreeable to–” 

“Can I kiss you, Tony?” Steve whispered, and Tony’s mouth fell open, and then snapped shut and when he nodded, he looked almost scared. 

“If you want to?” he whispered back. “Only if you want to?” 

“C’mere, right here.” Steve urged Tony up to his chest, thumbed over sweetly pink lips and spread his fingers along the small of Tony’s back, bent in so their foreheads touched and then their noses brushed and paused just before their mouths met. “Sweetheart, believe me. I will always want to kiss you.” 

“O–Oh.” Tony said shakily and Steve kissed him, slow and gentle and so achingly tender Tony thought he might actually cry over it. “Captain.” 

“Shh shh shh.” Steve hushed him and then kissed Tony again, calloused palm resting at the base of Tony’s neck and thumb rubbing soothing circles over his pulse. “Shhh, Tony. Baby you are ours, alright? Ours. Don’t care if it’s been two weeks or two years. Just meant to be.” 

Tony startled when Bucky was suddenly at his back, the Switch every bit as wide as Steve, Tony’s smaller frame nearly disappearing between the two. “Bucky–” 

“Hush, sugar.” Bucky rumbled, burying his nose in Tony’s hair and humming in contentment. “Just let us hold you a little bit.” 

Tony went lax in their arms, pliant and trusting and when Steve slid an arm around Bucky’s waist, the Switch turned so his cheek was resting in Tony’s hair, Steve’s two inch height advantage meaning now the Dom could lay a kiss on his forehead and hold them both

And that night when Tony finally went to bed, he peeked back at Steve stretched out on the couch, Bucky laid out on top of the Dom, taking over the space Tony had just vacated.

“Thank you.” he said quietly and Steve’s smile made butterflies take off in Tony’s stomach and settle somewhere near his heart. “Thank you for all this.” 

“Oh sweetheart.” Steve shook his head, blue eyes glowing in the low lamp light. “It’s our pleasure.” 

Chapter Text

On Sundays we clean the house. Tony tapped his finger on the calendar, and went to change out of his pajama pants and into something he wouldn’t mind getting dusty so he could help tidy up. 

His own room was fairly clean since he didn’t own anything other than clothes and a phone, and even though there was a second bathroom in the apartment, it was clean because Tony used Bucky and Steve’s master bath for everything. 

There had been a discussion a couple weeks ago, right after Tony’s talk with Bucky about needing to be treated normal, right after those first incredible kisses, the first time Tony joined in on the Sunday cleaning. In an attempt to continue re-establishing his independence after his panic attack Tony told Steve and Bucky, “I appreciate you allowing me to use your bathroom, but I’ll be using the guest one from now on. I don’t need to intrude on your private space anymore than I already have.” 

“You are definitely not intruding, and you definitely don’t have to talk all formal because you think we will be upset.” Steve stated calmly. “If you want to use the other bathroom then go ahead, but I’d rather you keep using the master bath.” 

Bucky chimed in with a teasing, “Besides, I like knowing you’re naked in the same place I’m naked.” and Steve shot the brunette an exasperated look and corrected, “What Bucky means is that we like you in our space, sweetheart. It’s a dumb thing, but it’s a Dominant thing. You aren’t sleeping in our bed yet, but it calms me down to know you’re still showering and all that sort of thing in our bathroom.” 

“Same.” Bucky grunted. “Want you close, sugar. M’not even a proper Dom and it makes me feel better. 

“Oh.” Tony scratched at his chin and shuffled his feet and– “–wait, what do you mean yet?” 

Steve had turned bright red in embarrassment at his blunder and Bucky had scrambled to assure Tony, “We don’t mean you gotta sleep in our bed at all, Tony. All our Captain meant was–” 

Tony had gathered every single bit of his still recovering courage and leaned in for a very very quick kiss with Steve, just there and gone and another one for Bucky before he practically leapt across the room and stood there with his arms folded, chewing at his lip nervously. 

“I–” he cleared his throat when Steve and Bucky both stared at him. “I didn’t hate that. The yet. I didn’t hate that.” 

“Hear that, Captain?” Bucky’s grin had stretched to mega watt proportions while Steve just stared at Tony with something possessive and hot in his eyes. “Tony doesn’t hate the yet.” 

“I heard.” Steve growled and Tony– 

–well Tony had basically ran to his room and hid, overwhelmed by the urge to kiss his Doms them again, panicking because he wanted to kneel right then and there–

But that had been a couple weeks ago now, and Tony was still using the master bath, still using the ridiculously plush towels, still brushing his teeth in the morning right alongside next to Bucky and even stealing a kiss now and again because why not. 

Sundays were cleaning days, and also mimosa days so Bucky would be drunk on champagne and no doubt crooning love songs to the broom while Steve patiently herded his love around the apartment in an attempt to do some basic cleaning. Tony had better join in and help if they wanted to get anything done, so he wriggled into a pair of leggings and a thin t shirt and made an attempt at patting down his bed head. 

“Sugar pie honey buns!” Bucky called just then, obviously well into his third or fourth mimosa. “Up and at ‘em! I got a broom with your name on it! Get out here and get busy! Let me see that booty!” 

“Ignore him, Tony.” Steve was laughing as he rapped lightly at Tony’s door. “Take your time getting ready, we haven’t started anything except coffee yet. Well, I haven’t started anything but coffee, Bucky on the other hand is a bottle deep and reaching for another. Want me to turn on the shower for you and get it warm so you can come get caught up?” 

“I’m already dressed.” Tony opened the door and smiled up at Steve, flushing a little bit when the Dom’s eyes went dark and soft as Steve smiled back. “And I highly doubt I’ll catch up with Bucky’s champagne today. But thank you.” 

“You’re welcome.” Steve gave Tony’s outfit a quick once over and asked, “You think it’s safe to wear leggings around drunk Bucky? Last time he cracked his shin on the coffee table trying to get a look at you, no telling which wall he’ll walk into when he’s had a bunch of champagne.” 

Tony wrinkled his nose and grinned because he had never thought he’d enjoy being basically leered at while in leggings, but he’d also never thought he’d be kissing two gorgeous men and oh oh oh–-

Tony’s mind screeched to a halt when Steve’s lips met his in a gentle press, the Dom tasting like orange juice and champagne and the sweet cream cheese that came on Tony’s favorite pastries from the bakery down the street. 

“You ordered danishes?” he blurted before they’d even parted and Steve’s laugh was soft and sort of delighted as he kissed Tony one more time before answering, “Of course I did baby. Bucky likes champagne and you like danishes, so that’s what we get.” 

“What about what you like?” Tony asked and Steve’s arm tightened around his waist to lift Tony up onto his toes and into much more intimate embrace. 

“This is what I like.” Steve murmured, his palm steady at the small of Tony’s back, fingers bunching at the thin shirt. “This right here.” 

Captain.” It was little more than a sigh and the Dom groaned and gathered him even closer. 

“It sure does crazy things to me when you call me Captain, Tony.” Tony ducked his head and smiled, hiding his face in Steve’s shoulder. “But if we don’t start cleaning, Bucky’s gonna keep drinking and that’s not good for anyone.” 

Right on cue, Bucky came swaggering over and peeled Tony out of Steve’s arms, sweeping his fingers into Tony’s hair and tipping him back for a long kiss, humming in approval when he could feet Tony’s body heat through the shirt and humming in interest when he snaked one hand down around Tony’s hips and felt his leggings. “Sugar, I love these. Always wear stretchy pants all the time. All. The. Time.” 

Tony laughed because he couldn’t help himself, because Steve looked entirely mortified at Bucky’s comment and also sort of jealous that he hadn’t thought to feel Tony up in leggings first. He laughed because he’d never thought cleaning could be fun but with Bucky and Steve it was, and he laughed because some days he still couldn’t believe he’d escaped Ty and was existing as someone–something-- other than a sub. 

….Some days he still couldn’t believe the thought of kneeling for Steve and Bucky didn’t make him panic. 

In fact, as Bucky spun Steve around and pinned their his Dom to the wall and lay a messy, moaning kiss on Steve’s mouth, Tony realized the thought of kneeling for Steven and Bucky made him ache, made him want

Sundays were good days. 

*****************

*****************

Mondays are Steve and Bucky’s day together. Tony reminded himself as he put the milk in the fridge. Last week he had taken a book from the shelf and gone down to the coffee shop to read for a few hours, sipping at an over priced coffee and losing himself in a tawdry, terrible romance novel about a sub who had stumbled into a secret clan of shape shifters and ended up in love with a Dom who was also, apparently, a wolf. 

It had been terrible, just shockingly awful, but the sex scene had been… interesting. Claiming in a way that hadn’t ended with the sub labelled property, rough in a way that hadn’t left the sub hurt, even the way the Dom’s biting kink bruised the sub’s neck had been–

“Hey sugar.” Bucky scooted around Tony to put a couple bags of chips on the top shelf. “What’r’ya thinking about that has you looking all day dreamy? Can’t be the milk, and I know cheese isn’t that interesting.” 

“Oh, I was just thinking about um– um–” Embarrassment made Tony stutter. He was sitting here thinking about trashy novels and Dom’s that liked to bite instead of putting away groceries so he could get out the door and give Steve and Bucky their private time. “I was thinking about–” 

“Hey, don’t look so flustered.” Bucky reached to cup Tony’s jaw, smoothing away the frown lines with his thumb. “Babydoll, what’s wrong?” 

“Nothing’s wrong, Sergeant.” Tony said quickly, truthfully. “I was just thinking about what book I’m going to read when I go to the coffee shop later.” 

“You know you don’t hafta leave, Tony.” Steve came in with the rest of the groceries and piled the bags on the counter. “We stay in our bedroom. That’s where Bucky’s kneeling pillow is and our space– you don’t have to leave. In fact it might be nice if–” he glanced up at Bucky, and when the Switch nodded in permission, Steve rushed on, “–it might be nice if you were here. So we can hold you.” 

“Oh.” Tony blinked a few times, a shock of unease twisting his stomach. “No. No.” 

“..No?” Steve echoed. “Why not?” 

“I don’t like to watch scenes.” Tony went so far as to take a step away, his back ram rod straight and his chin lifted stubbornly. “I don’t watch them and I don’t like to be watched, to be looked at. What happens with us– with you guys– what happens with you guys is your business and I will not sit and watch someone else be hurt–” 

Stop.” The Command lashed through the air and Tony’s mouth clicked shut, his eyes wide as he stared at Bucky. 

Steve was staring at Bucky too, the Dom not entirely sure what to do with his sub using Commands like that. 

“First of all.” Bucky’s pale eyes were flashing with anger and maybe even a hint of pain. “First of all, no one is going to be hurt. Our Captain would never hurt me, would never hurt you. I would never hurt you. If you ever decide to sub for us, nothing will ever hurt, do you understand?” 

“Yes Sergeant.” Tony swallowed and clenched his fists at his side. “Y-yes Sergeant, I understand.” 

“Buck?” Steve asked carefully. “You alright?” 

“And we weren’t asking you to watch.” The anger left Bucky in a rush, making his big shoulders sag. “Weren’t asking you to watch, or to join or anything like that. But it’s eating me up inside not being able to handle you like I want, not being able to get you down and all soft and sweet and trusting. Our Captain is a real Dom, he knows how to handle all this emotion but I’m not a real Dom, Tony. I don’t know how to balance wanting to sub and wanting to Dom, don’t know how to deal with any of that. But coming outta my moment and knowin’ you are there waiting for me would make–” 

Bucky closed his eyes and shook his head. “Never mind. Captain, I need you. I need– can you please–” he exhaled noisily. “Please help me.” 

“Go into our room and wait for me.” Steve instructed, his heart sinking when Bucky all but turned and stalked out of the kitchen. “Undress first, kneel on your pillow.” 

“Yes, Captain.” Bucky already sounded exhausted. “Thank you, Captain.” 

The bedroom door closed behind the Switch, and the apartment went very very quiet. 

“Shit.” Tony cursed out loud and rubbed his hand over his mouth. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know you and Bucky aren’t anything like Ty and his friends but sometimes I can’t help thinking–” 

“Tony.” Steve leaned against the counter and folded his arms. “At the risk of sounding like those self help pamphlets you hate so much, you never have to apologize for whatever the hell Ty put you through when it spills over into this life, alright? That’s– I can’t tell you how much you do not have to apologize for that.” 

“Okay.” A month ago, Tony would have crumpled beneath the embarrassment of someone else knowing what Ty had done, two weeks ago he would have been frustrated and ashamed that he couldn’t shake certain behaviors, but today he just nodded. “Okay. I won’t apologize for it.” 

“Bucky’s not mad at you.” Steve said then. “He’s not mad at all, actually. Your Sergeant–” he smiled a little. “– Your Sergeant hates that he can’t erase what Ty did, and that’s all there is to it. He isn’t mad that maybe you thought one of us would hurt you, or that I would ever hurt him. He’s upset because you’re upset. He’s upset that you feel like you have to lay down boundaries for things that never occurred to him.” 

“Or me.” Steve added after a minute, and it was only then Tony realized how tense the Dom was, how Steve’s jaw was tightly clenched. “Half the stuff you’ve said you won’t do or don’t want to do anymore– It never would’a occurred to me to ask, Tony. Maybe that makes me a boring Dominant, maybe it makes me and Bucky more old fashioned than we realized. Either way, you don’t have to apologize and no matter what, Bucky isn’t actually angry and especially not with you.” 

“Thank you.” Tony started forward and then stopped, started forward again and drew himself up short. “Captain could you–” 

“Come here.” Steve reached for Tony and pulled him in for a long hug, lowering his voice until it rumbled through his chest as he said, “We’re gonna figure this out, Tony. One day at a time.” 

“Yeah.” Tony let himself sink into Steve’s arms, then sighed and sank a little further, loving that Steve was big enough to practically envelope him. “I’ll get a book and out the door so you can take care of Bucky. Will you apologize to him for me?” 

“Maybe this time when you take a book from the bookshelf avoid the section where Bucky keeps all his smutty romance novels.” Steve said evenly, and even though Tony was mortified enough to almost die, the Dom was obviously grinning through the words. “I’ve read some of the shape shifter ones and they are shocking. Whatever you do, avoid the ones with Alpha or Omega in the title. Sort of hot from a Dom perspective, probably will send you running for the hills.” 

Tony started laughing, muffling it into Steve’s shirt and the Dom insisted, “No. Tony. I swear. Don’t do it. Maybe veer more towards the time traveling ones or whatever the hell a meet cute is.” 

“I will keep that in mind.” Tony managed over a very uncute snort. “Thank you.” 

“And Tony?” Steve brushed his knuckles over Tony’s cheek. “Maybe be here when we’re done. Your Sergeant isn’t the only one half outta his mind to hold you a whole lot, alright?”

“…alright.” 

Steve went to spend time with Bucky and Tony chose a book from the meet cute part of what was apparently Bucky’s smutty side of the bookshelf before grabbing his phone, some cash, and heading out the door to the coffee shop. 

But then….

*********

On Mondays, Steve took his time during their scene. On Mondays he stayed with Bucky while the beautiful Switch was under, taking the time to cover his sub with kisses, to draw lines and swirling designs on the stretch on Bucky’s back with his finger, and to whisper soft, sweet things into his love’s ear. 

On Mondays Steve didn’t move for any reason until Bucky was up completely, until lax lips were returning his kisses and Bucky was coherent, relishing every slow, gorgeous second they had together before the work week started and life got busy again. He didn’t even move to clean up and when Bucky rolled over and moaned as he licked Steve’s stomach clean, the Dom just rested his hand on Bucky’s head and enjoyed the attention, the feel of his sub lying heavy and content across him. 

Mondays were good days, but when Steve came out into the living room for more water and to get the clean towels out of the dryer, Monday was suddenly a better day.

Tony was curled up on the couch sipping coffee from Steve’s mug, one of Bucky’s smutty time travel romances propped open on his lap, looking warm and touchable and gorgeous in a stolen pair of Bucky’s sweatpants and that one Henley that had disappeared out of Steve’s closet shortly after Tony moved in. 

“You didn’t leave?” Steve asked, and Tony peeked up from the book to shake his head. “Alright, upsie-daisy, here we go.” 

A month ago Steve would have never even approached Tony without asking permission, two weeks ago he would have at least checked to be sure it was alright to pick the little brunette up, but today he simply scooped Tony off the couch and into his arms, giving him a long kiss before carrying him to the bedroom. 

“I can walk.” Tony said dryly and the Dom grunted something that might have been ‘don’t matter’ and deposited Tony right on the bed as Bucky was coming out of the bathroom. 

“Tony.” Bucky dropped his towel– and when Steve cleared his throat loudly and Tony turned an unhealthy shade of almost purple– he scrambled to pick it back up again, then fell onto the bed and reached for Tony. “Sorry I was so crazy earlier, I just–” 

“Nope.” Tony leaned in and kissed Bucky to shut him up. “We um– we don’t have to apologize.” 

“Thank God.” Bucky sighed and kissed Tony back. “So which one of my books did you read this time? Was it Claimed by the Alpha DomTaken by the Bear Shifter? The Time Travelers Submission?” 

Tony shrieked and Steve almost collapsed with laughter that was more full on guffaws and when he flopped onto the bed both his Switch and his sub broke apart to cuddle up with him instead. 

Mondays were good days. 

****************

****************

Tuesdays Bucky and Steve went to work, so Tony kissed them goodbye and spent the day doing his own laundry, reshelving the borrowed books and choosing a few new ones, calling Pepper to catch up for an hour or so on her lunch break. 

“You promise you’re alright?” Pepper asked over the speakerphone and Tony hurried to chew the rest of his bite of sandwich to answer, “Pep, I’m alright. Really. Things have been really good lately.” 

“If you swear you’re alright then I won’t tell you how I’ve been panicking.” Pepper conceded. “And I definitely won’t tell you that I looked up your new friends Steven Grant Rogers and James Buchanan Barnes and found out everything from their vaccine records to the terrible terrible prom photo Steve took with some busty gal named Peggy. I also won’t tell you that your friend James has sort of frightening war record. Did you know he was a sniper, Tony?” 

“I didn’t know his name was James.” Tony admitted and Pepper squawked something horrified. “Pepper, stop worrying! I’m safe!” 

Are you?” she huffed. “Because Tony, I can hear it in your voice that you are stressed.” 

“I’m not stressed.” Tony thought about the way Bucky had kissed him this morning before leaving, the way Steve had lingered over their hug, running his big hands up and down Tony’s back and then slipping lower and lining their bodies up in a way that made Tony catch his breath and shudder. “I– wow, I am not stressed.” 

“No? When was the last time you went down, then?” 

Tony stilled, the last bite of sandwich falling from his fingers onto the plate. “Pep. That’s– that’s none of your business. You can’t ask me something like that. That’s not– you can’t–” 

“I can.” Pepper interrupted. “And I will. Because I love you and I’m worried about. Because I’m a Dom and I can tell you aren’t taking care of yourself. You might be eating and sleeping and away from that bastard of an ex, but that doesn’t mean you are doing everything you need to do and you know it.” 

“I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“Tony!” Pepper’s voice sharpened and Tony felt the sting of the Dom’s Command even through the phone. “Tony, you cannot let yourself go too long without that sort of thing! Especially after Tiberius, you are in danger of a very difficult drop–” 

“Don’t tell me what I am or am not in danger of!” Tony raised his voice when the Dominant did. “I have been in danger for the past five years! This is the first time in years I am not afraid to walk too loudly through a room and you are not going to berate me for that!” 

Pepper was shocked silent, and Tony tossed his sandwich away and buried his face in his hands, counting to ten and then counting to ten again until his breathing had settled and his heart wasn’t racing anymore. 

“Sorry, Pep.” 

“…I– I’m sorry too.” Pepper said after a moment. “I’m sorry, Tony. Can I ask you something though?” 

“Yeah.” Tony picked the phone up and carried it with him to the kitchen to put his plate away. “What’s up?” 

“If you needed help.” she started carefully. “If you needed help going down and needed a Dom, would you come to me and let me take you down? I would be gentle with you, I would. And you trust me. We could be very good together.” 

“We could be very good together.” Tony allowed, uneasiness tickling at the back of his mind. “But Pepper–” 

“–you’ve already chosen your Doms.” Pepper finished, and there was no censure in her words. “Captain Steven Rogers and Master Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes.” 

“You are shockingly nosy, Ms. Potts.” Tony tried to hide his relief in a quiet laugh. “I’m telling you, I didn’t know Bucky’s name was James and you’ve found their service records and vaccination cards? I’m appalled.” 

“You are neither shocked nor appalled.” Pepper said dryly. “But thank you all the same. Tony you are being careful, aren’t you? You’re being safe with these Doms?” 

“I’m being safe.” Tony’s phone buzzed with messages from both Steve and Bucky, both probably on their lunch break and checking in with him. “And… and I’m happy. There’s a few words I never thought I’d say.” 

“Alright then.” On Pepper’s end, someone shouted for her and she sighed. “I have to go, Tony. But you’ll call me in a few days, won’t you? We should schedule an actual face to face lunch, there are some very important things happening in the next few weeks.” 

“Important things like what?” 

“You’ve been gone a month, Tony.” Pepper said slowly. “A month without contacting Ty. You have to take legal steps to end your relationship with him or he can take you and your Doms to court for about a hundred different reasons, and walk away with everything they and you own. He can shout kidnapping and coercion, he can swear they took you away and held you against your will, he could even call fraud and say you had every intention of running away and using his money to live your own life. A sub running away for reasons of abuse is one thing, but he has every reason to believe Captain Rogers stole you.”

“And Tony?” She hesitated to add. “Even with all the money you have now, you haven’t tried to find a job, you hardly leave the house, you are living with an already contracted Dom and Switch couple who are both gone with full time jobs. At best that seems like you ran out on your contract to play house with another couple, which paints you as flighty and irresponsible and not able to make mature decisions. At worst, it sounds as if they are holding you under duress and Ty has enough connections to turn either story in his favor.” 

“Oh.” Tony thought his knees might give out, fear rocking his core. “I didn’t– I didn’t think of that. About any of that. I’ve been so busy trying to make it through a day at a time I didn’t realize–”

“Six weeks is the cut off, Tony.” Pepper interrupted. “Six weeks before Tiberius can file papers with the courts. You have to do that first. I can help you if you’d like, but you have to file as soon as you can.” 

“I–” Tony screwed his eyes shut and blew out a breath. “Thank you. I will do some research and call you this weekend?” 

“Sure thing, honey.” Pepper made smoochie sounds over the phone. “Talk to you soon.” 

“Yep. Um– bye.” 

Tony put the phone down and tried not to hyperventilate. 

How could he have been so distracted by kisses and laughing at ridiculous romance novels to forget Ty could still reach out and ruin his life?

****************

****************

On Wednesday, Tiberius Stone was also very much aware that the six week mark was quickly approaching and when his secretary came into the office with a stack of information about one Dominant Captain Steven Grant Rogers and the Switch Master Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, Tiberius snatched it from her hands and ordered her away, practically snarling under his breath as the Switch all but ran out of the room. 

An entire month Tony had been gone, and Tiberius had fully expected him home within twenty four hours, then within forty eight hours, and then he’d thought Tony would have to come home within a week. 

And yet it had been a month, an entire goddamn month of furtive, curious glances from those at his office who wondered why their boss hadn’t gone home even once for time with his sub. There were whispers about why the Dominant had grown snappish and cruel– or more cruel than usual, anyway. 

When Tiberius had been crawling out of his skin needing release and called a service to send a professional submissive to his office after hours, the security guard had looked at him strangely for most of a week. And the cleaning lady that had to scrub blood off the walls and carpet when he got a little carried away and used his lash a little too hard– 

–well she was from the same company he hired to clean his penthouse apartment, and she knew to keep her mouth shut about what she saw. 

“You realize you can’t actually file anything for another two weeks.” Sunset wasn’t only a Dominant from the same Old World Sect as Tiberius, she was also one of the most cutthroat lawyers on the East Coast. She specialized in corporate law but was also first on the speed dial for many Dominants who had issues with contracts, issues with their submissives. Old World Protocol was a less popular lifestyle among Doms and subs these days but it was still prevalent enough to over rule some of the newer laws, and no one knew those laws like Sunset did. 

“You can bitch and moan about your sub running away, but until the six week mark hits the courts will consider this little more than an extended vacation.” She handed him a sheet to sign. “This is an intent to file. Sign and date and I will push it through the proper channels and then keep it in limbo until the six week mark. You submit an intent to file, give it a few more days and then we can drag your sub back from his little love nest with that Dom and take Captain Steven Rogers for every penny in the bank.” 

“I don’t want his money.” Tiberius scribbled his signature and pushed it back at her. “I want to ruin the bastards life, and I don’t want to wait to make it happen.”

“Well, taking his money is a good start at ruining his life.” Sunset said mildly. “And you have to wait. An intent to file at exactly six weeks shows that you spent the six weeks trying to convince your sub to come home or trying to negotiate his release if we’re still going to sell that bull shit story that Rogers and Barnes coerced Tony away, or took him against his will. You wait a few days after the six weeks to show the courts you were willing to wait a little bit longer to try and avoid the legal routes, since these tend to be very costly, very time consuming and generally terrible for everyone involved.” 

“They did coerce him away.” Tiberius scribbled another signature. “There is no way Tony would just leave. I own him and everything that used to be his. He has nothing. Why would he be staying somewhere he is a financial burden and an interloper into an already established relationship? A Dominant with a sub would never take a second sub, and since that big brute Barnes is actually a Switch, there is no way they would accept an unstable sub.”

“The courts will see that he is a financial burden on his new friends, an interloper into their already established relationship and they will not allow a sub to exist as a hardship.” Sunset allowed. “But at the same time, it is easy to tell if a sub is happy and content and healthy, and if Tony appears better off without you, or even nervous in your presence in court, no judge will send him back to you. Not even an Old World judge like my father would force a sub back to a Dominant they didn’t feel safe with.” 

“He was safe with me.” 

“Was he?” Sunset raised an incriminating eyebrow. “Because I remember seeing bruises on that pretty face more than once. Split lips if he didn’t behave, I even saw him cringe if you reached for him.” 

“Some subs like pain.” 

“There is a difference between submissives enjoying pain and a Dominant getting off on spilling blood.” 

Tiberius looked up and settled the lady Dominant with a glare, one that Sunset returned without flinching, her green eyes as cold as steel. “I am an Old World Dominant just like you, Tiberius. I expect absolute obedience from my submissive and will not hesitate to discipline anything else, but there is a line and if you crossed it even once with your sub, the courts will use that as reason to grant him his freedom. You have to be very careful going forward with this. Find a way to settle out of court if possible.” 

“Settle out of court.” Tiberius repeated in disbelief. “You want me to allow him to break the contract. To let him go? Do you know how hard I had to work to ensure the Stark heir as my sub? How many months I spent with the snake Obadiah and how much money I had to give him to make sure he signed the paperwork and went away? Why would I let Tony break the contract when I own all his shares in what is left of Stark Industries and have converted the R&D department to benefit my own?”

“It would save you tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of potential embarrassment.” Sunset pointed out. “I don’t care what you do with the brat, but for your own sake, I suggest settling this quietly.” 

“Breaking the contract would mean I’d have to sign over those shares and a part of my own company.” Tiberius shook his head. “Not to to mention paying support until he enters a contract with another Dominant. No. If I am paying for him to eat, he will be kneeling at my feet to do so.” 

Sunset curled her lip, disgusted with the Dominant’s attitude. She had no particular feelings either way towards submissives and relationships but pettiness and vindictiveness to the tune of piles of money and potentially years worth of court dates was unattractive on anyone. 

“Sign everything else in this stack and I’ll file them in exactly two weeks. Then do whatever you want.” 

The Dominant left the room without so much as saying goodbye and Tiberius clicked his office doors locked after she was gone, leaning back in his chair and staring at the stack of paperwork with a growing frown. 

He hated to admit it, but Sunset was right. Settling out of court would be much easier than dragging everything in to the light and exposing his and Tony’s relationship to uncaring eyes. He knew all of the judges on the circuit and which ones were more sympathetic to Dominants and Old World Protocols, but Sunset was right– it was a risk. 

Perhaps he’d just go and take care of the problem himself.

**************

**************

Thursday was Steve’s night to cook, and Bucky and Tony hung out in the kitchen to drink a beer, dip spoons into the gravy at least a dozen times to make sure it tasted just as good as it did a few seconds previous. 

“How did your students do on the Picasso quiz, baby?” Bucky tore a hunk of bread off the loaf and swiped it through the gravy. You said you were worried about a few of them?” 

“Panini, Buck.” 

“No, I don’t want a sandwich.” Bucky said promptly and Tony inhaled his beer when he laughed unexpectedly. “How was the Picasso quiz?” 

“It was a quiz on Giovanni Paolo Panini.” Steve said patiently. “The Italian painter. He was a hundred years and some change before Picasso. Painted vistas of Rome and was considered a master of perception.” 

“Alright.” Bucky rolled his eyes. “How was the Panini quiz?” 

“It was fine.” Steve opened the oven to check the roast. “I’ve got a few students who are taking my course because they thought it would be an easy pass and are sorely regretting it though.” 

“Are you a strict teacher?” Tony wanted to know. “I took an Art History course as an elective when I was in school and the professor basically smoked pot and talked about pretty colors all the time.” 

“Stevie is definitely not the sort to smoke pot and talk about pretty colors.” Bucky snorted. “More like the one to give ya a pop quiz on the seventy six shades of blue, beginning with Air Force Blue and ending with Zaffre.” 

“You know the colors of blue from A to Z, Sergeant?” Tony teased and Bucky teased right back, “I actually listen when our Captain talks about his work Tony, don’t just zone out staring at his pretty muscles.”

“Oh you listen?” Tony challenged and Steve smiled to to himself, loving that his two subs were arguing over whether or not they listened to him or just admired his muscles. What a terrible problem to have. “Alright, what is Zaffre then?” 

“This right here.” For no reason other than to make both his Captain and his sub Tony stare, Bucky stripped off his shirt and flexed his left arm, showing off the line of tattoos wrapping up his arm to his shoulder and spreading across a good sized piece of his chest. “This color right here–” he pointed to an exquisitely detailed rose in an intensely pigmented blue. “–that’s Zaffre. They used to use it to stain glass blue back in the Victorian days.” 

Steve smiled again when Tony’s eyebrows rose. “I talk a lot when I give Bucky a new tattoo. Tell him about the color, and what it used to be used for and all that sort of thing.” 

“When you give Bucky a tattoo?” Tony repeated. “You did all this, Captain?” 

“This is my first one.” Bucky covered the red and black star that shone so brilliantly on his shoulder. “Matches the blue and silver one over Stevie’s heart. He did it for me after I subbed for him the first time. This is number two.” Delicately numbers, a date written and inked in Steve’s own hand. “The day we decided to contract. Number three is–” 

“Wait.” Tony shook his head. “This is your contract? Tattoos? You don’t have formal paperwork with the courts?” 

“Why would we need paperwork?” Steve checked the roast one more time and then started pulling plates out of the cupboard. “I don’t need the courts to tell me Bucky is mine and I am his. It’s written on our hearts, and now it’s written on our skin.” 

“So every one of your tattoos.” Tony  said slowly. “They all mean something for the two of you? All your important moments as a tattoo?” 

“Sure does.” Bucky put his shirt back on and smoothed it down around his waist. “Helps when I’m all unsettled, proof of how much my Dom loves me all over my body. Helps Stevie when he needs me– all he has to do is look and know I’m his.” 

Tony was quiet after that, quiet when Steve gave Bucky a lingering kiss because he loved the reminder that the Switch was his, quiet when they sat down to dinner to eat and quiet when he stood to clear their plates. 

“Tony?” Steve came to help with the dishes. “Everything alright?” 

“Everything’s fine.” Tony looked away from Steve’s penetrating blue eyes so the Dom wouldn’t see that he was lying. “Everything’s…just fine.” 

If only breaking his contract with Ty was as easy as removing a tattoo, or covering it up with something better. 

*****************

*****************

“I can stay home with you today if you want.” Steve told Tony on Friday morning. “All I have to do is some lesson planning but I’m more than happy to do that tomorrow. Friday nights are date nights for me and Buck but I can spend all day with you anyway.” 

“I have um–” Tony cleared his throat and thought about the books on contract law the library was holding for him. “I have some new reading to do today and a couple phone calls to make. I might go have lunch with Pepper.” 

“Oh yeah?” Steve looked pleased at the prospect of Tony going to have lunch with a friend. “That sounds fun, where are you going to go?” 

“I don’t know.” Tony looked away again, but this time the Dom reached for him, tipping Tony’s chin up to peer at him closely. “I’m fine, Steve.” 

“I know you’re not.” Steve said softly. “And I wish you’d tell me what’s wrong but I’m not gonna make you do it.” 

“Everything alright?” Bucky popped his head into the living room. “Cab’s here, Stevie. You comin’ or staying home with Tony?” 

Steve raised his eyebrows, waiting for Tony to make a decision and when the pretty sub shook his head, Steve let him go. “Alright sweetheart. We’ll be home about six.” 

“You gonna come to date night with us, sugar?” Bucky wanted to know. “You’re more than welcome.” 

“Probably not.” Tony forced a smile, but he hadn’t fooled Steve and by the way Bucky’s brow furrowed, Tony wasn’t fooling him either. “I’ve got lots of reading to catch up on. Stumbled upon your Alpha/Omega novels and it looked worth a read.” 

“Huh.” Bucky glanced between the two of them in concern, but didn’t argue. “Alright well I expect a text when you get to the knotting, yeah? That’ll make you scream for sure.” 

“Sure thing, Sergeant.” 

“I’ll see you real soon, sugar.” Bucky promised and grabbed for Steve’s hand. “We gotta go, Captain. Tony, think about date night and let us know, we’ll swing by and grab you on the way up to date night.” 

“I’ll let you know.” Tony agreed, and waved them out the door, already knowing full well that he wouldn’t be joining them on date night. A whole month he’d wasted time shopping and reading and taking his time easing into something of a relationship with Steve and Bucky when he should have been focusing on what was really important–

–making sure Ty could never touch him again. 

The library had eight different books on hold concerning contract law, the rights of submissives in abusive relationships and how a relationship established in Old World Protocol may or may not fall under the confines of the newest laws and statutes, and Tony went out only long enough to pick up his books and a little bit of food and went right back home to get reading. 

He kept a notebook at his bedside and today Tony filled it with notes, scribbling reference numbers and precedents, jotting down key terms and different scenarios and on a page in the very back of the notebook, Tony started a list of all the ways Ty had hurt him. 

All the scenes that had ended in pain, all the times he’d resisted and his Dom had Commanded, all the times Tiberius had stripped away every bit of autonomy and independence and hope Tony had. 

He wrote about how Tiberius hadn’t let him go to his Auntie’s funeral, how the fight a few months ago had ended with Tiberius dragging him to get a collar whether he wanted one or not, how Tony hadn’t been able to go down for seven months and twenty days and his Dom had either not noticed or hadn’t cared. 

Tony wrote about it all and compared his list to the notations within the books that were grounds for a break of contract, even grounds for his former Dom to be prosecuted. 

And when it was all done and Tony was ready to call Pepper to ask her to find him a lawyer, he put the notebook down instead. Put his pencil away and pushed the books aside and with ears gathering in his eyes, Tony clambered off his own bed and went to the master bedroom. 

Bucky kept more blankets on his side of the bed but Steve had more pillows and Tony curled into the middle of all of it and let his tears fall unchecked into the darkness, hugging his arms around his midsection and biting his lip bloody so he wouldn’t sob out loud. 

If only this was as easy as removing a tattoo. Instead he’d have to tell a lawyer, have to tell a judge what had happened, why he’d ran away and how Ty had hurt him. He’d had to testify to the humiliation and the bruises that had already faded but still ached, would have to talk about scenes that had spiraled out of control because he hadn’t figured out how to say no and Tiberius hadn’t cared enough to listen. 

‘In lieu of established safe word, if the Dominant as failed to note their submissives body language and behavior and continued in a destructive manner’

Safe word? They’d never had a safeword. 

Bucky and Steve’s safe word was sunshine because it was the opposite of seeing stars. “Sunshine makes you squint, wakes you up, means it’s time to work.” Steve had explained. “Bucky tells me sunshine and it means he’s not down, not relaxed, not ready to float. But stars? Stars are what dreams are made of.” 

Stars are what dreams are made of.

Tony closed his eyes and cried harder. 

Stars are what dreams are made of. 

He couldn’t imagine. 

**************

**************

Saturday morning, Tony woke up in Steve and Bucky’s bed with no memory of actually falling asleep, his throat scrachy and eyes puffy–

–and surrounded on either side by strong arms, tucked between broad chests, held safe and warm and snug between his Captain and his Sergeant. 

“What–?” 

“Shhh.” Bucky kissed his forehead, and behind Tony, Steve budged up to kiss the back of his neck. “Go back to sleep baby doll, sun’s not up yet.” 

“You’re sleeping in here from now on, okay?” Steve didn’t tell Tony about the stack of books he’d seen last night when he peeked into Tony’s room to check on him, nor the list– the fucking list– he’d found on Tony’s bed that had sent him to his knees in sorrow, had clouded his eyes with rage. 

Instead the Dom held onto his loves a little more securely and repeated, “You’re sleeping in here from now on. You belong with us, sweetheart. And we are never letting you go.” 

Tony snuggled deeper into the blankets, and let himself imagine stars for just a little while longer. 

Just a little while longer. 

Chapter Text

Tony woke up Tuesday morning to a dark room and a window that wasn’t in the right spot, a too light quilt that wasn’t his own weighted blanket and the unsettling feeling of facing the wrong way and for a split second Tony panicked–

–where the hell was he–

“Easy, sugar.” Bucky mumbled, stirring in his sleep when he felt Tony tense in his arms. “S’fine, just in our room, remember?” 

“Oh.” Tony had to work to quiet the ribbon of terror that always came along with waking up somewhere he didn’t recognize. “Yeah. Yeah, I remember.” 

Of course he remembered. Steve hadn’t been joking Friday night when he told Tony ‘you’re sleeping in here from now on’ and Tony hadn’t tried to argue. Falling asleep between Steve and Bucky was the best thing he ever could have imagined. They held him close all night and anytime he woke up one or the other was pressing sleepy kisses to his forehead or shoulder before drifting off again. 

It was wonderful but even after four nights Tony still woke up feeling jittery as if he didn’t belong or as if he’d be in trouble for falling asleep in his Dom’s bed– this isn’t allowed, this isn’t allowed, this isn’t allowed. 

“Mmm good morning.” Steve’s yawn tickled the hair at Tony’s neck as he budged up closer and the Dom reached over Tony’s waist so he could hold Bucky as well, effectively sandwiching him between their bodies and erasing the refrain of this isn’t allowed from Tony’s mind. 

That was left over from Ty. Had nothing to do with Steve and Bucky. 

“You alright, sweetheart?” Steve was only barely awake, his voice little more than a rumble at Tony’s ear. “Everything okay?” 

“I um–” Tony scrunched down further into the blankets and sank into the heat pouring off Bucky, closing his eyes and breathing out in relief when he could lean back against the solid line of Steve’s chest. “No. I mean yes, everything’s fine. Just took me a minute to– to remember where I was.” 

“Don’t worry ‘bout that.” Bucky yawned too, muffling it into the pillow before shuffling closer and winding their legs together. “Y’won’t have to get used to another bedroom after this one. Gonna be wakin’ up here with us for a long time.” 

A long time. Tony allowed himself a small, secret smile and reached back to put his hand on Steve’s thigh to encourage the Dom closer, shifted forward until he and Bucky were plastered together, and then back again so he could feel the rise and fall of Steve’s chest. 

He was squished tight, hardly able to move and rapidly overheating but Tony didn’t care. He was allowed to have this, these few moments before the day started when both his Captain and his Sergeant were wrapped around him, when everyone was awake but no one wanted to move yet, when Tony could close his eyes and pretend he actually belonged

“Mmmm.” A low, gravelly sigh from Steve and the Dom slid his big hand up and over Tony’s stomach, coasting over the dip of his waist before settling solid at his hip. “C’mere, sweetheart.” 

Tony’s breath caught when Steve’s lips brushed over his throat and he arched his back instinctively, offering more of his skin up to the nearly chaste kiss and Steve did another of those sighs that was almost a growl, pulling Tony tighter into his body. 

A reflexive shift of his hips backwards and Tony almost bit through his lip when Steve groaned, the Dom answering Tony’s movement with one of his own, pressing the weight of his morning interest into the curve of Tony’s rear. 

Tony tried to quiet his gasp, but it broke free and grew into an unsteady moan when Bucky fit his leg further between Tony’s thighs and rocked into him. “B-Bucky–” 

“Yeah sugar, we got ya.” Bucky leaned in for a slow kiss, huffing a surprised laugh when Tony clutched at him. “Easy sweet thing, there’s no rush.” 

Tony nodded just once so the Switch knew he was alright and then buried his face in Bucky’s chest, desperately needing something to ground him as sparks skittered up and down his spine, his skin electrified everywhere they touched. Steve wasn’t grabbing at Tony or directing him any which way, but their bodies moved together all the same, slow, lazy, incredible, chasing the heat of the other person and unwilling to pull away, Steve’s hand spread comforting and secure on Tony’s side. 

Every breath Bucky took seemed to inch him closer until there was barely any air between he and Tony at all, and when the pretty sub ground down against him in the barest of movements, Bucky murmured his agreement and wedged tighter between Tony’s thighs, trying to match the barely there rhythm between his Captain and Tony so they were moving in tandem. 

Tony was spiraling, overwhelmed by nothing more than the simplest of touches. Steve wasn’t pushing him for more and Bucky wasn’t trying to escalate the moment but it had been so long since Tony had felt anything–anything– even resembling arousal for his Dom Ty that it took him by surprise, took his breath away, made him gasp and made him burn

“Settle settle settle.” came Steve’s voice, deep and reassuring at Tony’s ear when he felt the sub’s heart rate pick up. “Nothin’s gotta happen love, we’re just enjoying each other.” 

“You feel good, babydoll.” Bucky crooned and Tony whimpered, screwing his eyes tight and digging his nails into Bucky’s chest probably hard enough to hurt. “Mmm Tony, you feel good. C’mere and let me kiss you.” 

He coaxed Tony’s chin up and dotted little kisses over Tony’s mouth, up his jawline and across his cheek, hushing the anxious noise Tony made and pulling away just a little bit, meeting Steve’s eyes over Tony’s head and giving a quick shake no

Their Captain nodded that he understood and then left a trail of sweet, chaste pecks down Tony’s neck and loosened his grip at the sub’s side. “Sunshine, Tony, sun’s coming up.” he whispered. “Why don’t we–” 

“Stars.” Tony blurted and both the Dom and the Switch froze. “St-stars, not sunshine. I’m fine. Please don’t stop.” 

“You seeing stars, sweet thing?” Bucky asked carefully, just to be sure. “Yeah?” 

“Yes, Sergeant.” Tony ducked his head again but it didn’t stop him from curling into Bucky’s arms, pushing his rear back into Steve again. “Please, Captain.” 

Tony.” This time Steve’s kiss wasn’t half as chaste, the Dom sealing his mouth over Tony’s pulse and pulling until a desperate, nearly greedy noise broke from the sub. “Come here, love.” 

Bucky murmured something disbelieving but wasted no time in cupping Tony’s jaw and bringing him back for another kiss, another and another, directing Tony to move into him again, forward to grind against Bucky’s thigh and back into their Dom’s lap;. Steve propped up on his elbow so he could pet through Tony’s hair, pushing the curls away so he could kiss Tony’s forehead, brushing Bucky’s hair out of his eyes as well. He loved to see his sub’s sharing kisses and when Bucky went to grab at Tony’s waist, Steve moved his own hand to Bucky’s side, stroking over the beautifully inked skin, using his leverage and strength to pull Bucky across the bed that last little bit until all three were cuddled up too tight to even move. 

Being close like was better than sex, better than getting off together. There was nothing but thin pajama pants separating their bodies, their legs tangled and hearts pounding and every inch of their bodies touching like they were all  made to fit together. Steve leaned over Tony to kiss Bucky, then switched to kiss their sub as well, murmuring, “Good Christ sweetheart, you are both just so beautiful. Fuckin’ gorgeous. I am the luckiest Dom– you are perfect–” 

–Tony came apart with a ragged little cry, gasping and shaking and clinging to Bucky as he spilled into his sleep pants, his entire body tightening and trembling and even though Bucky jolted forward to crush their mouths together, bringing Tony through the moment with encouraging words and soft, adoring praise, Steve couldn’t do much more than stare

“I am the luckiest Dom.” he repeated after a moment, mouth dry and pulse racing, somehow humbled by the show of vulnerability from Tony and wanting to practically howl in triumph at bringing his sub pleasure all at the same time. Steve was speechless over how right it felt to have Tony there with he and Bucky, and almost itchy to try it all again except this time he wanted Bucky to come too, wanted to prove he was a good Dom because he could please both his subs. 

“Captain.” Bucky prompted quietly, and Steve pulled himself from his thoughts, only barely remembering to cover Tony in a hug as the pretty brunette started to come down and reaching to press at Bucky’s side in a quiet thank you for bringing him back to more important matters.

“There you are, beautiful.” He managed and Tony shivered under the words. “Tony, that was amazing. You are amazing.” 

Any embarrassment Tony felt over coming so quickly and from nothing more than a few touches and some praise from his Captain was washed away when the Dom started whispering sweetly comforting nonsense to him, the sentiments echoed by Bucky over and over, reassurance that Tony was perfect, that he was gorgeous, that he was so so good for them, so so good.

And for the first time ever, Tony didn’t feel guilty for finishing first and he didn’t feel guilty for just closing his eyes and floating in the afterglow. 

I would kneel for you he thought when Bucky brushed a kiss to his forehead. I would kneel for you as Steve asked if Tony would mind waiting just a minute, just a minute for a shower because he really really needed to keep holding both of them. 

“Just a minute, sweetheart. Don’t think I can let go of either of you yet.” 

I would kneel for you. 

*****************

*****************

There wasn’t really a word for what a Dominant felt coming out of a scene. 

There were dozens of words for what submissives felt. The more technical term of subspace, all the variations of spacing, floating, flying. It was euphoria, it was blanking out, it was implicit trust and safety, it was secure and comfortable, it was exhilarating. 

But for a Dominant… powerful, Steve supposed was a good description, though it wasn’t really descriptive enough. Grounded, maybe. As if he knew he could handle anything that happened now. Aware, overly aware, Steve was overly aware of absolutely everything as he strolled through the hall towards his office, but even that wasn’t enough. 

There wasn’t a word that it exactly how Steve felt after his time with Bucky and Tony this morning. 

He was–

He was–

Well, he was seeing stars, and that was all there was to it. 

Seeing stars like Tony had been this morning when both Bucky and Steve had thought they were moving too fast, but their sub had wanted more. Seeing stars like Bucky had after Tony had rolled from the bed and padded to the shower, peeking over his shoulder with a shy smile and closing the door. 

Bucky had gone right to Steve them, letting the Dom manhandle him around until Bucky was stretched out on top of Steve’s broad chest, his back pressed to Steve’s stomach, Steve had closed one hand around Bucky’s throat and shoved the other hand down the front of Bucky’s pajama pants, bending his knees and planting his feet on the bed, stroking his sub sure and fast until Bucky was gasping and swearing and arching, collapsing boneless with a shaky sob.

Stars stars stars. 

It had been a good morning and Steve thought he could vibrate out of his skin with happiness. His blood was pumping and senses thrumming, and he’d been all of three seconds from calling out of work and telling Bucky to call out of work and just falling back into bed. 

He didn’t need sex– though he was practically aching for release, too focused on Tony and Bucky this morning to even remember to take care of himself– but he did need to be home with the ones that were his. He wanted to take hours to bring Bucky down and hours more to earn Tony’s trust and show the sweet sub how gentle it could be, how easy it could be. 

He wanted to sit and draw Bucky and Tony tangled up together, wanted to sketch them as they kissed, wanted to paint them as they were hazy and soft and seeing stars together—

Steve breathed a laugh and dropped into his desk chair, pushing both hands into his hair and telling himself to chill out. 

He’d never get any work done if his mind was on what he’d left at home and not what was on his desk.

From Bucky: I can’t stop thinking about this morning. How bad do we need a paycheck this month, I can definitely leave work and meet you at home in half an hour.

From BuckyFeel’s like I’m buzzing. Didn’t go down and didn’t take Tony down but still sorta feels like I did. Like I’m floating but more grounded than I’ve ever been, if that makes any sense at all. 

From SteveMakes more sense than you think, babe. 

From BuckyWhat are we doing, Stevie? Tony’s coming up on his six weeks leaving his Dom and we gotta do something quick. It might actually kill me if the courts give Tony back to that bastard

From SteveThat’s not gonna happen. I won’t let it. But we should talk to Tony about it anyway cuz you’re right, something has to happen soon and we need to make sure we’re prepared for whatever it is. 

From BuckyYou ever gonna tell me what was on the list you saw in his room on Saturday? You haven’t said anything about it but I know you’re upset.

From SteveNo. And I didn’t tell Tony I saw it. If he wants us to know, he’ll tell us. 

From Bucky : Which means he might never tell us, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

From BuckyThink I already love him, Captain. Is that okay?

From Steve: It was okay three months ago when we saw him in the jewelry store.

**************

**************

By late afternoon, Steve’s feeling of buzzing had settled into a steady determination and focus. Bucky was right about the six week mark coming up quickly and even though Tony had to be the one to file paperwork and agree to court dates, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if Bucky and Steve were also ready with paperwork of their own. 

The courts almost never broke contracts between Dominants and submissives. The process was expensive and lengthy and every inch as complicated as a divorce, and since submissives needed a Dominant, and Dominants needed a submissive, the courts tried very hard to keep previously matched pairs together. Even in cases of abuse, most judges would mandate counseling and perhaps even a limited time period of separation so the couple could re-evaluate their relationship. 

In the irreconcilable cases, the Dominant had to insist the submissive was no longer filling their needs and provide documentation from counselors to that effect, and the submissive had to not only agree to the separation, but also provide evidence that they could support themselves without a Dom, up to and including already having a suitable place to live and a job that would provide enough income for their needs.

The restrictions were supposedly to avoid a Dominant getting rid of their sub for petty reasons and to avoid submissive becoming a dependent on the welfare systems or worse, a submissive ending up homeless– vulnerable to any Dominant that might seek to take advantage of their situation for their own gain, trapped in a dangerous lifestyle simply to survive. 

But of course, most employers considered submissives too emotional and unstable to be decent workers, and since finding jobs was difficult, it was almost impossible for a submissive to have enough steady income to pass a background inquiry so they could rent an apartment.

The laws were supposed to help submissives but all they really did was shackle a sub to their Dom whether the contract was being fulfilled or not. It was almost impossible for a submissive to branch out into the world alone after a broken contract, so most simply stayed, going to to their Dom because they needed to be taken down, staying home and waiting while their Dominant went out and found whatever they needed somewhere else. 

It wouldn’t be easy for Tony to break his contract with Tiberius, but the horrifying list Steve had found citing instances of abuse would go along way towards swaying the judge, and having Bucky and Steve ready to step in and provide for Tony might just do the rest. 

Steve finished up the grading for the last class of the day and switched on his personal laptop, navigating to the bank site and accessing their statements. He and Bucky made more than enough money to support Tony until their sub could get a job of his own, and Steve printed off two years worth of statements to prove it. 

Next was the generic information on their apartment, detailing square footage and the additional bedroom and bathroom proving Tony would have his own space and not be crowding them in anyway. 

He and Bucky had lived in the apartment long enough to be seen as dependable renters and it certainly didn’t hurt that they both had glowing military records. Stable employment history, decorated soldiers, and two full time incomes as well as space for Tony–

—all good things. 

And despite what he’d told Tony about not needing a piece of paper to form their contract, Steve and Bucky did have a perfunctory piece of paper filed with the state listing each other as partners and contracted as Dominant and submissive so in case of any emergency, they each had a say in medical and financial decisions. There were no long, drawn out pages full of terms and conditions and what if’s for he and his Switch. The paper was for legal reasons only, their contract was written on their skin and onto their hearts, but for the courts, Steve would dig up their copy as well. 

All of this would help, and tonight he and Bucky would sit Tony down and ask if he–

“So sorry, Professor Rogers.” A knock on his door, and Steve looked up with a ready smile. “I know it’s after hours for you but I have a Mr. Stone asking to see you?” 

Who?” Steve frowned, but before the secretary could answer either way, a brusque, condescending voice cut over her to say–

“I thought you’d recognize me, Professor Rogers.” Tiberius Stone pushed the girl out of the way and filled Steve’s door, wearing a suit worth more than all the clothes in Steve’s closet combined, and a sneer that hid nothing of his open disdain. “Or were you so focused on taking my submissive to think two seconds about what sort of man you were stealing from.” 

Steve shook his head when the secretary mimed calling for security, and waved her away, waiting until his office door closed before standing up and leveling Tiberius with a look

“If you were a Dom worth half a damn, Tony wouldn’t have been so eager to leave.” Steve rolled his shoulders back and folded his arms, knowing full well he outweighed Tiberius by at least fifty pounds of muscle and not caring a whit if the other Dominant saw the intimidation for what it was. “But you and I already had that discussion didn’t we?” 

A muscle in Tiberius’s jaw ticked in annoyance and if possible, his words were even sharper when he replied, “You are within a week of being dragged to court and forced to relinquish whatever hold you have on my submissive. I suggest you save yourself and that Switch of yours the public embarrassment and financial ruin and send him back to my apartment now.” 

“Tony is at home.” Steve said pointedly, emphasizing both Tony’s name and the fact that their apartment was also Tony’s apartment, his home. “Probably reading, maybe taking a bath. It’s Tuesday so he might be out for lunch with a friend. It doesn’t matter though, so long as he’s no where near you.” 

“He is mine.” A little bit of poison leaking into the answer. “And he belongs at my house, kneeling at my feet.” 

“Tony is–” 

“Do not refer to my submissive by his given name!” Tiberius’s barely leashed anger roiled over into the air and he practically spat the words. “That is not your right! I have his contract, he is my sub, my property!” 

“You certainly treated him like property, didn’t you?” Steve retorted, the list flashing through his mind and making his fists clench with fury. “I saw the bruises, Tiberius. The cut lip, the way he flinches if we move too quickly. That’s what you’ve done to him! Tony is a sweet, perfect submissive and–” 

Tiberius moved faster than Steve realized he could, rage propelling the unhinged Dom around the desk and right into Steve’s face, Tiberius’s eyes wide and voice rolling with hate as he leaned very close and hissed, “Touching another Dominant’s sub without their permission is tantamount to assault, Rogers.”

He jabbed his finger into Steve’s chest and promised, “If I find out you’ve had your hands all over his body I’ll put you and that big brute you call a partner in prison and swear that you forced my sub to your bed and forced him to–” 

Steve grabbed at Tiberius’s finger and wrenched it around, gripping the big Dominant’s arm and twisting it up into a painful angle. Tiberius hit into Steve’s desk face first, his head bouncing off the unforgiving wood and his nose spurting blood where it cracked. 

The Dom howled in pain, and Steve only twisted his arm even higher, pressing his full two hundred and forty plus pounds into Tiberius’s back and using the weight to force the air out of Ty’s lungs. 

“Let me make something very clear to you.” Steve said into Tiberius’s ear and when the Dom struggled, Steve only pressed harder until Tiberius went still. “If you ever threaten either of my subs again, I will rip this arm off your body and beat you to death with it, do understand? Bucky is mine and I am his and Tony? Tony is ours.” 

Steve wrenched Ty’s arm up just another centimeter, almost to the point of breaking. “I may not be a traditional Dom and I may not be part of that bull shit Old World Sect you hide behind, but nothing–nothing–” Tiberius bit off a cry of pain. “–is going to protect you from me if you come after us. You can say whatever the hell you want to me, but if you ever say anything about Bucky, if you so much as look at Tony when he comes to break his contract? You won’t be talking with Professor Rogers, you will be dealing with Captain Rogers and Tiberius?” 

Steve smiled a little and the other Dom almost whimpered. “I will tear. you. apart. Don’t think I won’t.” 

He waited another minute just to be sure Tiberius knew he was serious, and then backed off, stalking across the office and throwing his door open. 

“Now get the hell out of my office and don’t let me see you here again.” 

Tiberius gathered what was left of his decimated dignity and scrambled out of the office, muttering and cursing under his breath, and Steve slammed the door so hard that pictures fell off the walls and broke on the floor. 

He was breathing hard, his vision tinging with red, heart pounding and hands shaking and as he picked up his phone to call Bucky, the Dominant turned around and put a fist through the wall for good measure. 

“Stevie?” Bucky picked up on the first ring. “Hey, I just got home. Tony says he hasn’t heard from you, are you okay?” 

“I need you kneeling.” Steve ordered, working to keep his voice even. “Kneeling, do you understand? I need you kneeling and waiting for me, get yourself ready.” 

“Yes, Captain.” Bucky said immediately, and then softer, “Stevie, are you okay?” 

“No.” Steve ground out. “No, I’m not. Make sure Tony is alright, make sure he’s safe and calm and settled, and then go and kneel for me.” 

“I’ll be waiting, Captain.”