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The steward opened their room with a flourish and showed them inside. “This will be your room for the night Mr. and Mr. Rogers. I hope you find everything satisfactory, and if you need anything just ring down to the lobby and we will do our best to accommodate all of your needs.”

Steve nodded politely and suppressed the urge to shut the door in the man’s face. He was only doing his job. Tony didn’t say anything behind him and Steve wondered if he just wasn’t the talkative type, considering he had said nothing but what the officiant told him to say, a quiet mewl when Steve had broken his bonding gland and quiet polite conversation with guests at the reception through the whole wedding. “Thank you,” the blonde said. His Ma didn’t raise with no manners.  “We’ll be sure to.”

The steward smiled tightly and left, and Steve shut the door, turning to where Tony was standing in the middle of the room with his arms turned around his waist and nibbling on his lower lip. “Hello,” Steve tried, sighing with disappointment when Tony just whispered a quiet ‘hi’ and looked at the ground. “Are you cold?” he asked, trying to build a conversation. Their marriage was going to be pretty miserable if they didn’t talk to each other at all. “I can turn up the thermostat.”

Tony flinched, looking at him through surprisingly thick lashes and shaking his head, before flinching and mumbling, “Whatever you would like, sir.”

Steve blinked and took a step back. Sir? That was deeply enrooted in Old Way protocol, and as far as he knew it was just Howard’s generation that followed that still. It didn’t make sense for Tony to be calling him that basically saying that he, as an omega, was somehow less than Steve. “You don’t need to call me sir,” he said definitively. “Just Steve is fine.”

“Sorry,” Tony muttered a flash of something going across his face before evening out into Tony’s placid if nervous look. “Sorry.”

Steve rolled his eyes and sat on an armchair to get his shoes off, wiggling his toes thankfully. 

“How do you want me?” Tony asked, interrupting his train of thought. “I am yours to use as pleased, but how do you want me?”

Steve frowned and got up, stepping closer to Tony when he was hugging himself. “How do I--what?”

Tony's shoulders were shaking and the omega wiped at his face--was he brushing away tears?. “I am yours, so you can use me how you’d like--”

Steve jolted and had swept Tony up in his arms, pressing a kiss to Tony’s cheek and giving him a firm hug before he realized it. “Oh my god, sweetheart no,” he gasped before realizing what he’d done and dropping away from Tony abruptly. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have touched you without asking, I--”

“No,” Tony moaned, a dam breaking, clutching onto Steve’s jacket with a desperate kind of urgency. “It’s been so long, it’s been so long since someone touched me like this, please.”

Steve leaned in and pressed their lips together again chastely, guiding Tony’s head to the hollow of his neck and rocked them slowly back and forth, his heart aching for how young Tony sounded and how stupidly happy he was that Steve was just hugging him. “So long since somebody touched you like what sweetheart?” he said softly rubbing Tony’s back through the thin fabric of his dress. God, his omega must be freezing and Steve wouldn't have even been able to tell. He felt another surge of anger go through him as he realized how used to suffering Tony must’ve been to be able to stand in thirty-degree weather in what was basically just lace and not have even a single tell. 

Even though Tony was crying and obviously upset, and Steve wasn’t exactly happy either, this was a nice change from ignoring each other.

“Without wanting to hurt me,” the quiet response came and Steve bit his lip. His omega pushed up against him to scent him, and Steve let him, walking them back to the bed and tugging Tony into his lap, a soft noise of pleasure coming out of him as he was warmed from head to toe. His omega was so pleased with such a simple act of being cuddled and held, something that all omegas should be accustomed to. The poor thing must’ve been so neglected to get so happy at such a basic touch from what was essentially a stranger to him. 

“C’mon, honey,” Steve murmured instead of the choice words he had for Tony’s family and reached for the zipper and clasp on the back of the dress. “Let’s get you into something comfortable.”

His omega froze, and a soft noise escaped Tony. Steve didn’t even think Tony recognized it and belatedly he realized that this was probably a little more intimate than either of them were ready to get to, but the omega looked halfway to down from a little and touch and some praise and Steve would be surprised if he could get his clothes off all the way without going into shock or having a panic attack. 

“Sweetheart?” he asked gently, nosing at Tony’s cheek. “Is something wrong babydoll?” 

“Nothing, Alpha,” he mumbled but the poor thing was as stiff as a board and his hands were curled into fists against his thighs. “I yours to use as wanted.” The thing was obviously rehearsed, and Steve just about fell off the bed when he realized what Tony was referring to. 

“Oh, no!” he exclaimed, something that gave Tony quite a jolt. “I’m not going to, I would never,” he babbled, setting Tony down and kneeling in front of him, off the bed. “I would never, ever have sex with you unless you wanted it.” 

Tony bit his lip and wrapped his arms around himself. “Howard said that--”

“Fuck Howard,” Steve said vehemently, causing Tony to jump. “I would never, and any decent alpha wouldn’t either. Just because we’re an alpha and are biologically equipped with a knot doesn’t mean we have the right to go sticking it anywhere we want.” By the end of the rant, Steve was flushed in the cheek and Tony looked dubious. “I promise you unless you explicitly tell me you want it, babylove, I would never.”

“Babylove?” Tony said his cheek flushing. 

Steve smiled and squeezed Tony’s knee, standing up and helping Tony up too to give him a hug again. “I’ve liked you since I heard that you got mad at your sexist physics professor at MIT and you put his car on top of the social studies department.”

Tony pulled away, mouth opening and closing comically. “You like me?” he squeaked. “Like, like like?”

Steve smiled fondly, if a bit nervous, and squeezed Tony’s arm. “I do. You don’t have to agree or say it back until you’re ready or anything. But I want to put that out there.”

Tony flushed and looked down. “I don’t--” 

“Take your time, Tony. That’s okay.”

Tony nodded. He didn’t look entirely convinced, but Steve would convince him. He had the rest of their lives to do so anyway.

“Do you want me to help you get undressed?” he asked, squeezing Tony’s hand gently and then dropping it. “I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable, but I figured you would need help getting all the pins out--”

“Okay,” Tony’s voice is still quiet and painfully shy, but he was responding, which Steve would take as an improvement. “You, you can help.”

Steve smiled, and went for the clasp on the back of the wedding dress, undoing the clasp with careful fingers. He hopes that the dress can eventually be something that they can, or at least Tony can look back on with fond thoughts, and not something that symbolized the end of his world. “Okay?” he asked, as his fingers brushed the porcelain skin of Tony’s back. 

Tony shivered. “Feels nice.”

Steve smiled. “Yeah? I’m glad I could make you feel that way.” he sees Tony melt and his shoulders lose their last remaining tension, and he kept one hand on his waist, as high up as he could without touching his chest or his ass. “Good boy,” he murmurs, quickly unpinning some safety pins from the bodice and skirt, before turning Tony around with gentle hands on his waist. “Tony?” Steve asks quietly when the omega just stared at Steve with big doe eyes, brimming with tears. “Hon?”

“I’m,” Tony’s voice cracked “I’m a good boy?”

How alone must Tony be if he was so overjoyed at simple praise?

Steve felt his heart break all over again as Tony shivered. “Yeah, Tony,” he whispers. “So good for your Captain.”

Tony whined, clutching Steve’s forearms. “Captain,” he breathes. “Captain.”

Steve smiles, helplessly fond, dragging his hands over Tony’s waist and helping him step out of the dress. “Captain is so proud of you,” he praises and he can feel Tony practically lighting up underneath him, looking up at him with so so grateful eyes, just happy to be touched without intent to harm and few words of praise. Christ, he can’t imagine what Tony’s life has been like if Tony was expecting him to hit him and hurt him and fucking rape him, good god, and Steve restrains himself from tensing up. He knows omegas like Tony would always expect to be the reason for the anger, or at the very least something to take his anger out upon, and this is probably a rash decision, but Steve promises that he won’t ever make Tony expect to be hit on purpose. He’ s not gonna continue the cycle of violence. “You’re so good,” Steve croons, guiding Tony onto the bed and very forcefully not looking below Tony’s neck where he’s sitting in nothing but a sheer bralette and panties. He knows what they dressed Tony up for, and Steve would rather die than make Tony…

Never mind. 

He goes to Tony’s tiny, tiny, suitcase -- for someone who is moving away from a home he is never to return to except for short visits deemed by Howard as appropriate , his suitcase is awful small -- and digs through the case for something for bed. Everything is something sheer and tiny, and probably not at all comfortable from the way it feels in his hands, and even in their fantastically rich hotel room, it’s still chilly. “Fuck,” he breathes, sitting back. His family, his mother and father, the people who are to care for and nurture the little omega haven’t even left him something comfortable to wear and the alpha swallows the anger in him, the instinct to hurt and protect whoever had harmed his omega . And that would be the effects of the still-healing mating bite on Tony’s neck. Steve sighs and rakes a hand through his hair. 

“Alpha?” Tony whispers behind him, and Steve turns to see the brunette looking at his lap. “Was--did I do something wrong?” He flushes and stares at the ground. “Am I allowed to ask?”

Steve shudders and hurries towards Tony, kneeling right in front and holding his ankles, smiling up at Tony’s uncertain face. “You didn’t do anything wrong, baby,” he murmurs, patting Tony’s knee. “And you can always ask, I’ll never be mad at you for asking a question.”

Tony flushes and Steve makes up his mind, grabbing one of his own comfortable t-shirts and pulling it over Tony’s head, grabbing his sweatpants and guiding Tony to his feet. “I’m going to dress you now,” he says firmly. “If you’re uncomfortable, or anything, anything at all, just say Manhatten, alright?” Steve says, picking something random for a safe phrase. “Say yes if you understand.”

“Yes, Captain,” Tony breathes, sinking lower. 

The alpha moves Tony’s little hand to his own shoulder and gives him simple commands, ‘leg up’, ‘put it in through the leg hole’, easy things that Tony can follow, and Steve awards Tony with praise everytime, a part of him warming up from the way Tony smiled a little bit more. 

He scooped the little brunette up and tucked him into the sheets, stipping out of his suit and getting a t-shirt and sweatpants on as well. Normally he slept with just boxers, or at least bare-chested, but he figured the skin-on-skin would just make Tony uncomfortable, judging by how awkward he was already with him. Lord knows they’ve broken more than enough boundaries for the day. “Okay, doll, let’s go ta bed.” he hurried across the room and slid under the sheets with Tony. He swallowed, suddenly nervous and reached a hand across the bed. “If you want to cuddle, you can just come here, but--” Ton moves so suddenly that Steve is taken aback when Tony burrows into his arms. 

“You’ll hold me?” Tony’s voice is devastatingly uncertain. “You won’t leave me?”

Steve bites back the curses and kisses the top of Tony’s head. “Yeah, baby. I got you.”

Chapter Text

When Steve wakes up, Tony is fast asleep, still burrowed into his chest and wrapped in the blanket cocoon that Steve had tucked him into. He’s drooling, Steve notes affectionately, rubbing his back and carefully tugging his shirt down from where it had ridden up. He looks over Tony’s fluffy little head and slumps when he realizes that it’s already six and they had to be catching a train in an hour, just enough time for them to shower and grab something for breakfast. He sighs again, the I’m-annoyed-but-I’m-gonna-suffer-tragically-but-while-looking-pretty one that Nat had so aptly named (he assumed, he got that a lot), and yes, Steve knows the names too. “Tony,” he leans down and murmurs into the omega’s ear. “We gotta go, sweetheart and I need to make sure you’re up.”

Tony whined helplessly and throws a leg over Steve’s. The alpha’s snort makes Tony’s hair ruffe up. “C’mon,” he crooned, propping Tony up and giving him a little shake. “Upsie-daisy.”

Tony whined but blearily blinked his eyes open, crust at the corners and his hair askew, but Steve still couldn’t help but think of last night, of how little it took for Tony to fall into subspace, just a few words and touches, and he was down on his knees. The alpha shuddered to think what might’ve happened if Tony had married someone else, someone who wouldn’t have helped Tony down gently and would’ve gone with whatever twisted image of alpha that Tony had in mind.

Tony on the other, was slowly regaining his mind back and was blinking at Steve owlishly. “Alpha?” he mumbled. 

Steve smiled as reassuring as he could, taking Tony’s hand in his and squeezing. “Hi, sweetheart,” he said, careful to avoid looking at where his shirt had slid down Tony’s shoulder and exposed a strap of his underthings. “You up?”

Tony looked confused. “I am up? What--oh.” he rubbed his eyes. “I--” he flushed and looked at the blankets “I don’t know.”

Steve sighed. “Do you want anything?”

Tony flinched and shrunk into the headboard. “Whatever pleases you, sir. Captain.”

Steve winced. “Tony--”

“Can we not? Just for a second? I--sorry. It’s been months since I went down, can I have a second? Sorry. Please? Then,” he swallowed. “You can--”

“I’m not doing anything you don’t want to do, Tony,” Steve interrupted. “If you want a moment, then that’s no problem, I can wait. But if you don’t want to be alone…”

Tony shook his head slowly. “Promise?” he was so cautious, the poor thing. “I don’t,” he paused. “Can you,” he tried helplessly. He chewed on his lip carefully and Steve could see him debating to ask his question. He wondered if anyone had ever told Tony limits and then had shouted at him or worse when Tony tried. “Sorry.”

“Do you want me to hold you?” 

Tony nodded his head so fast that Steve worried about his neck. “Yes, yes, please!”

Steve smiled and gathered the little brunette into his arms, pushing the hair away on his forehead and holding him close as the omega started trembling as soon as they were situated. “Sh,” he crooned, rocking them back and forth. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

Tony snuggled his head against the crook of his neck. “Hm?”

Steve exhaled heavily through his nose, smiling when Tony twitched at the air brushing against his neck. “I overstepped last night. I was more overwhelmed than I should have when you went down and I’m sorry if I stepped over my boundaries. Especially because we barely know each other.”

Tony gave him a soft half-smile. “Captain. You’re the first dom I’ve ever met who has even bothered to care about my boundaries, non-existent as they are. Thank you for bringing me down.”

Steve gave him a smile, kissing his forehead affectionately. “Is that okay?”

Tony pushed his face into his chest. “More than.”

When they were both showered (separately, of course), and Tony had squirmed into the most comfortable thing he could find (still ridiculously stiff), they headed down for breakfast. Steve was always hungry, his metabolism crazy fast up to the point where he was eating four meals a day, especially due to the super serum thrumming through his veins. Natasha and Clint made fun of him for it, but neither of them got in his way when he was hungry, and Steve could admit he was starting to get hangry. 

Tony had stared as Steve loaded up his plate, but the alpha admitted he was worried about how much Tony was eating. He had only grabbed one singular piece of toast and the tiniest bit of eggs, and even then he had only eaten half, picking at the leftovers on his plate. “Tony?” Steve asked, stomach rumbling still after his massive plate of food. “Are you not hungry?”

“No.” It was so forced that even Steve cringed. “I mean I--sorry.”

Steve leaned back and gave Tony his best encouraging smile. “I’m not mad, hon’. Just worried. Is there something wrong with the food?”

Tony shook his head. “It’s just that--I’m not supposed to eat the whole plate. It makes me look greedy,” he explained, tugging a strand of his hair. “And I’m not allowed to gain weight.”

“Allowed,” Steve repeated, his heart sinking.

Tony shrugged. “An omega is supposed to be of prime beauty to please their alpha. And,” he swallowed hard enough that Steve could hear it. “Nobody likes a fat omega.”

Steve shuddered and couldn’t help the low growl in his tone. “Who told you that.” 

Tony made a soft noise at the anger scent the emanated out and hunched his shoulders. “Sorry,” he mumbled, chewing on his bottom lip. “Sorry.”

Steve winced.  That was not what he’d meant. “I’m sorry Tony,” he said as gently as he could. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

Tony shrugged and ducked his head so his hair fell over his eyes. “‘S my fault.”

What kind of dom made their sub think that their own reaction was their sub’s fault?

Steve closed his eyes and counted to ten once, and then backward to make sure he didn’t just growl again. He tugged Tony’s chair next to him with a screech as the chair rubbed the ground, and Tony cautiously leaned his head on his shoulder. “It’s not, Tony. I wanted to apologize because I acted untoward and in a way you didn’t deserve. Anyway, I couldn’t care less about your weight.”

Tony tensed. “I--”

Steve squeezed again, watching his now-wife settle again. “You’d be beautiful no matter your weight, and besides, your weight is your business, and any dom who says they control what you do with your body is full of shit. I just want you to eat, Tony.” His voice softened. This omega was doing all sorts of things to his heart and mind. “I want you to feel comfortable, and I would prefer if you put some weight on yourself, you’re not healthy skinny, but it’s up to you what you do with your body.” There were obviously some boundaries, like if Tony was hurting himself then Steve would step in, but they would get to that later.

Steve held no doubt.

Tony winced. “Promise?” 

His voice was painfully untrustful, and Steve fought the urge to swear all over again. “Yeah, sweetheart,” he rumbled, giving in to the urge. “Do you wanna sit on my lap?” he wasn’t sure if Tony was ready to step through those boundaries, but also Tony was snuggling so far into his side that his bony shoulder had to have hurt. 

Tony ducked his head with a noise of pain, leaning away from Steve to sit up ramrod straight in his chair. And normally Steve wouldn’t mind, if he didn’t want to cuddle that was fine, but…

Tony was not comfortable. “I’m sorry. I not usually this...needy.”

Steve bit his cheek to keep from growling. The poor thing, like he expected to be screamed at or worse just for wanting affection, something omegas needed to balance their body chemistry out, platonic or otherwise. And judging by how distant Tony seemed from his family except for maybe his mother, he knew that he wasn’t getting a lot of that. “It’s not a problem, Tony. Do you want to?” he murmured instead of the choice words he had for whoever taught Tony like this, and the man who had probably paid for it. 

Tony nodded his head so fast that Steve worried about Tony hurting himself. “Alright then,” he rumbled, scooping Tony up and settling him in his lap. “Good?”

Tony relaxed, loose-limbed and putty in Steve’s hold. He was warm, and his head only went up to Steve’s chin, and the omega tucked it under Steve’s chin when he lifted his head up to accommodate Tony. “Mhm,” he whispered, pressing the barest kiss to Steve’s neck. “Feels good.”

“I’m glad I could make you feel that way,” Steve said, before picking up Tony’s fork and plate. “Do you want to keep eating?” he rubbed Tony’s back. “Remember what I said about how much you eat, honey.”

Tony nodded. 

“I’m gonna feed you alright?” Steve picked up the fork again and grabbed a forkful of eggs. “You’re still a little down, and I think this will help. Say ah.”

Tony opened his mouth obediently, and part of Steve wondered if it was because of what Tony thought he would do to him.  

By the time Tony whispered to stop Steve could count the number of bites he had taken on one hand. 

And it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t nearly enough for how thin Tony was and how Steve could feel Tony’s ribs through his clothes. But it was progress.

They were finally getting somewhere.

Chapter Text

Being married is weird. Everyone keeps looking at him with reverence and intrigue when they see the Captain walking alongside him, the hero from the war, the one that all the omega’s swooned over and the alphas wanted to be like. Before everyone looked at him like he wasn’t worth their time or ignored him completely, and to be scrutinized now whether he is worthy of the Captain is different. 

He doesn’t think he likes it. 

Tony leaned his head on the window, relishing the cold and the slight bumps as the train carried him farther away from home. Really, he wasn’t going that far, just an hour by train, and if they got the service they got that morning, it would be even less. 

Tony leaned his head on the window, relishing the cold and the slight bumps as the train carried him farther away from home. Really, he wasn’t going that far, just an hour by train, and if they got the service they got that morning, it would be even less. But to be away from Jarvis, and Ana, and his Mamma ? To be away from early morning snacks in the kitchen with Ana when he couldn’t sleep, and late-night baking cannolis with his Mama because of their mile-wide sweet tooth? To be away from Jarvis who had patched him after many of Howard’s outbursts and the training sessions with the instructor who was supposed to teach him how to be a proper omega--something he was terrible at? 

"So," Steve said, breaking the silence and making him jump. "Tell me about yourself, hon."

Hon . That was another thing throwing him off. Tony couldn’t deny that it made him feel fuzzy inside, but he didn’t get why Steve kept using the nicknames, considering that he was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. This behavior couldn’t last forever. “Uh...I like to build things?” He winced inwardly. That was not an omega task, he probably should have said stitching or handling kids or something, they were certainly more of an omega’s tasks. “I used to have a workshop at home and Howard, erm, father, would leave me,” he mumbled, tugging his lower lip in between his teeth, a nervous tick that Jarvis used to say would make him chew right through his lips. “‘Was nice.”

When the omega looked back up, Steve was sitting forward curiously. “You build?” He said and Tony flinched, ducking his head to block Steve’s view of the tears that would probably come when Steve started shouting. He was pathetic. Twenty-two years of being shouted at, and he still started to cry as soon as the voice came. They were in a private compartment if Steve cared, so their shouting would be muffled, but considering how revered Captain America was after his win over the Red Skull and the Nazis, Tony knew that not many would care about him shouting.

They would probably think that Tony deserved it. (Not that he didn’t).

“Honey,” Steve said, and when Tony looked cautiously back up through the hair that covered his eyes he could see Steve’s crinkled up face. “I’m not mad.”

He realized belatedly that he probably smelled distressed considering he hadn’t had time to pop a scent blocker in between going down (God, he was never gonna live that down, he was so stupid ) and breakfast. “Oh.”

“It’s interesting that you like to build,” Steve went on, and when Tony looked up, he looked nervous, rubbing his wrist. “I can’t do anything mechanical for shit.” His eyes opened comically wide and Tony tried -- badly -- to muffle a laugh. Steve blushed all the way down to his neck. “Sorry, I gotta curb in my tongue, Buck says that I’ve got a dirtier mouth than a sailor, though he never spent any time with th’ Tommies, I swear they were worse than me--” Tony noted with amusement that Steve was rambling and rubbing the back of his neck--nervous?

“Steve,” he interrupted, going out on a limb. At the very least, he would at least know Steve’s boundaries for punishment. “Howard’s got a worse mouth than you do. I don’t mind.” 

Steve relaxed, albeit reluctantly. “Well, sorry anyway.”

Tony quirked his mouth and looked at him through the hair that fell in front of his eyes anyway. “Mhm.”

“Well, anything other than building? Likes, dislikes, friends?”

Tony grinned and sat up, ignoring the way that Steve blinked in surprise and started to smile back. “I’ve got two best friends and they’re the best people in the whole world. Rhodey’s one of ‘em, he’s an alpha and I met him at MIT, we met in physics when I fell asleep during an experiment and almost fell straight forward into acid, but he stopped me. He’s the best, even though he’s a little overprotective. Fought in the air force, but he’s home now, and last I heard, he was visiting his sister in Pennsylvania. The other one’s Pepper, she’s the most fierce omega I’ve ever met, not weak like me--” he ignored Steve’s frown. “And she bosses me around and it’s great, she gonna take over the world and I can’t wait.” he sat back, a grin still on his face before he realized that he was rambling, something very unbecoming for an omega. “Sorry.”

Steve was still frowning slightly but he mostly looked amused. “Nothin’ to be sorry about. It’s nice ta’ know you’ve got good friends, sweetheart,” he smiled comfortably. “I know I wouldn’t be alive if not for Buck.”

Tony smiled, trying to keep the nervousness out of his expression. “Buck? You mean the Sergeant?”

Steve smirked. “You know about him?”

Tony nodded. “Father used to go on about you and your whole squad for ages. I know more about you than I think I ever needed to know.”

He loosened as Steve laughed, blue eyes sparkling with mirth. “Nice ta’ know honey,” he managed through laughter as the train’s whistle blew, shrieking and making Tony cringe unbidden. The alpha stood smoothly but Tony didn’t miss the way Steve flinched right along with him at the shrill squeak. He offered Tony a hand, and Tony took it, relishing in his warm hands, and purring unintentionally as Steve helped him into his coat and slid his hands into gloves. “Thank you,” he murmured, curling up under his arm instinctively. 

Steve smiled down at him and Tony didn’t even have to look to see it considering he could smell it. “No problem,” he murmured, and Tony whimpered under his breath as his new husband kissed his hairline. It was so nice being touched, he had forgotten how good it could be. 

Steve helped him off of the train car, swinging him down with ease by his waist as he tripped over his own dress-- clumsy , Howard’s voice hissed in his ear--and he took Steve’s hand with ease, slipping a newspaper smile onto his face with practiced ease as the reporters scrambled around them, shouting questions as they stepped off the platform. He had forgotten how bad press could be while he was holed up at college, but Steve was clearly a newbie at it and he ducked his head and pressed himself to Steve’s side. The alpha was as stiff as a board and his smile was obviously fake. “Stop looking so uncomfortable,” he mumbled, letting out a breath of relief as their car showed up at the curb to take them to their new home. “The newspapers are gonna eat that up.”

Steve didn’t respond until they were both in the car, only then turning to look at him with something unreadable in his eyes. “How did you know to do that?” Steve demanded and Tony flinched unintentionally, ducking his shoulders to make the hit he suspected was coming to avoid his already bruised shoulder from before the wedding. And Steve was a supersoldier, his hits had to hurt more than Howard, though the old man had a mean swing. 

“Sorry,” he whispered, flinching, and then cringing all over again because he wasn’t supposed to do that--

“Easy, easy,” Steve’s voice came closer, and Tony clenched his eyes shut. He would not cry, he wouldn’t--He tensed as he felt Steve put a hand on his back. “I’m not mad, baby doll, just confused. You did so well, so perfect with the journalists, much better than me, I’m so proud.” Steve ran gentle fingers through his hair and Tony sagged, his drop fading away from him. 

“Sorry.”

Steve didn’t say anything, but Tony felt his being pulled into Steve’s lap and turned to hide his face in Steve’s shirt. It smelled nice, like healthy alpha and apples. He moaned quietly as Steve returned to massaging his scalp, and went limp. “You wanna take a nap?” Steve’s voice seemed far away and Tony whined, butting his head against the hand that was rubbing his head. 

“Mm.”

Steve folded him into his arms and Tony was enveloped in warm alpha scent and something that his brain screamed as mate . “Sleep well, Tony,” he heard and he let his mind drift. 

Getting into their new house is uneventful. It’s a big apartment on the nice side of Brooklyn, a part that Steve admits he’s never been to, and Tony couldn’t say he’d ever been either except for maybe when he was little and unpresented, and Howard still liked him. 

Come time for sleep, Tony shrugged on a sheer nightgown and did his best to cover himself with his robe that his Mamma had thankfully slipped into his suitcase. 

“We’ll get you new clothes soon,” Steve’s voice came from the doorway of the master suite. “I can’t imagine that’s comfortable.”

“Not the most comfortable, no,” Tony admitted and they stood in silence for a moment. “So--”

“I have nightmares,” Steve interrupted, staring at a spot on the wall behind Tony’s head. “They ain’t pretty and it was luck that kept ‘em away th’ night in the hotel. I scream and kick, and I’m a supersoldier, Tony,” Tony was surprised to see the shadows lurking in Steve’s eyes and the pain that swam unfiltered. “I don’t want ta’ hurt ya, so we should probably sleep in different bedrooms. There’s--”

“No,” Tony interrupted. “I have nightmares too, and,” he hesitated. “The scent of your mate in your arms might help soothe them, alpha.”

Steve looked agonized. “Tony--”

Tony strode forward and cupped his alpha’s cold cheeks. “There have been studies that say a man with shellshock’s mate can keep the symptoms away. Somethin’ to do with pheromones, or whatever, an’ it’s been proven globally.” He paused and, carefully, went up on his toes to kiss Steve’s jaw. “C’mon alpha.”

They sleep in the same bedroom that night and Tony learned that his new-husband was an octopus, though neither of them could say they minded.

Steve leaves early the next morning for something, and with his warmer gone, Tony is forced to wake up. He blearily wanders into the kitchen, already unpacked by whoever was in charge of welcoming America’s beloved Captain back home. He looks, but there’s no coffee maker. He’ll have to remedy that as soon as possible, but for then he settles on grabbing a cold glass of water. At the very least it’ll shock him awake. But he’s tired and bleary-eyed and he drops the glass, the cup shattering to a million pieces under his feet and the noise is enough to shock him right through his bones. 

His eyes water at the pain and oh no, he knew it wasn’t going to last, he fucked up, he did, and he had to get it cleaned up before Steve came home. He doesn’t know where the broom is, he realizes belatedly and drops to his knees, ignoring the sharp pain of glass in his legs. 

How hard was it to just be normal for once? Couldn’t he go one day without fucking up?

He’s crying now, tears slipping down his cheeks and soaking into the already-scratchy neckline of his nightgown. It’s a matter of time before Steve comes home and he tried to think of the floor and the glass between his fingertips and palms and desperately tries not to lose this fight. 

He considers leaving, just getting out the door before Steve lays into him, and he knows he won’t be walking right at least, most likely not being able to move without wincing. He remembers when Howard laid into him the first time, how he couldn’t sit down or lie on his back for weeks. He considers dropping the glass and grabbing his case and leaving.

It’s a bad thought, a disobedient, ungrateful thought--

The door opens with a click and he hears Steve’s called out, “Tony?’ before hearing his footsteps approaching behind him and a little gasp. He supposes he makes a sight, blood dripping down his palms and scratches all over his legs. “What?”

“I’m sorry,” he whimpered and no no no no no he doesn’t want scars for this too, doesn’t want it anymore than anything else he’s got. “I’m sorry.” he tries with shaking fingers to pick up the little pieces of glass but he knows he’s got some in his feet and there’s probably blood dripping on the ground, but he’s so tired and he needs to fix this right now .

“Tony,” he is saying. “Tony, please, tell me what’s wrong.” Steve.

He sobs and the tears are making it hard to see the glass and his vision is whiting out, panic on the brink of tipping and he sobs even though he is already short on breath. 

“Tony!” The alpha turns him around with calloused fingers on his shoulders and Tony drops his eyes and oh god he’s going to be punished, he knew that the kindness couldn’t last, and he knows better than to expect a safeword or being able to stop. 

A good sub does what they are told to do and are there to please their alpha.

Steve tilts up his chin, looking into Tony’s own before he remembers to drop them. He knows better than to look a dom in the eyes. Strike two. 

“Honey, what happened?”

And then it all comes spilling out, how he’d startled and dropped the glass, and he didn’t know where the broom was or if he was allowed to use it, and how he was sorry he’d broken his property and he was trying to clean and---

“That’s it?” 

He stops. What? Steve looks confused. Is this a part of the punishment? Make him repeat it often enough for him to know what he’d done wrong?

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles because that seems like the best bet. “I await your punishment, sir. Master.”

Steve whispers something like, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” and Tony whimpers a little bit before clamping his mouth shut. He’s becoming weak, months ago before college he could take shouting and beating without noise and before he’s even punished he’s crying. Christ, he’s weak

“Tony, sweetie, I’m not mad,” Steve hushes and he can feel himself being pulled into Steve’s lap. “I’m not.”

“Not allowed, not allowed,” Tony whispers frantically, shaking his head. “Good subs take their punishment without complaining, and I-I, I did, I did bad, so bad, I broke the glass and I can clean it all up, I promise, I’ll take my punishment,” he can feel his voice rising frantically and he tries to control his sobs without erupting into incoherent whimpers and tears as he does to Howard and his teachers. “I’ll be good, I can be a good boy, I can, I promise, just don’t, don’t be mad?” he pleads, and fuck he’s so greedy, he’s not supposed to make deals with his alpha, his dom, he knows better. “Please, please don’t be mad, don’t shout, I’ll be good, I promise.” 

He’d do anything, give one of his limbs, maybe all of them, just to be able to go one day without being bad.

“I’m not mad,” and weirdly enough Steve sounds earnest. “I’m not mad, babydoll, it was just an accident. I’m just worried that you’re hurt sugar, I don’ want ya to be hurt, sweetheart, and I’m not gonna punish you, not ever for an accident.”

“Bad,” he whimpers. He wants so badly for Steve to not be lying, but he knows what alphas are like. He’s not stupid, he learns from his mistakes and he won’t expect any dom to be lenient. “I was so bad, I didn’t mean to be, I promise!” 

Steve hushes him. “No doll, you’re so good, my perfect omega, can’t imagine how I lucked out with you. Would Captain America lie?”

Tony hid his face, ruddy with tears-- pathetic , his brain hisses--in Steve’s shirt. “No.”

Steve smiled into his hair, his lips ticking the omega. “Yeah, babydoll. C’mon, let’s get you cleaned up.”

Tony clutches him.

He can’t help but hope, more than anything, that Steve is right, that maybe, maybe , he can one day be able to walk through a room without worrying that he was being too loud, or drop a glass and not collapse to tears. 

More than anything, he starts to hope for the first time in years. 

Chapter Text

Tony woke up warm, wrapped in blankets and on the verge of overheating. He looked out of the blanket burrito he was in, seeing their sparse bedroom, with the plain walls and absence of paintings. They really were gonna have to fix it up. “Alpha?” he croaked. 

Steve arrived in the doorway as if by magic, arms crossed and smiling at him in a way that made his stomach feel funny, but not the bad kind like when Howard would look at him and let him know silently that he wouldn’t be lying down or sitting well for the next two weeks. “Hey, sweetheart,” Steve said, putting down a tray next to him. “How you feelin?” 

Another infodump later, He realized that was wearing Steve’s clothes, with a hot water bottle pressed to his stomach and bandages covering his fingers where they cut with glass.

Tony shoved himself to a sitting position hastily and tried to smooth down his likely bedhead. Steve had probably put him to bed after he had passed out crying, considering that was the last thing he remembered, and upon feeling at his face, he could feel his puffy under eyes and Tony didn’t need to look to see the ruddy marks of tears. 

how are you useful if all you fucking do is cry? useless fuck.

“I’m alright,” he said hurriedly, watching for Steve’s expression. He didn’t know what he was looking for specifically, but it was a precaution to keep looking at an alpha’s face--it let you know what you were in for. It’s hauled his ass out of the fire more than once.

Steve gave him an awkward grin. “Good.” He picked up the tray and deposited it in Tony’s blanket-covered lap, tucking it in the blankets to presumably making sure the tray was carefully balanced and not in danger of falling. Now that it was closer the omega could tell it was soup, tomato from the look, and a hunk of bread on the side. “I figured you should eat something,” Steve murmured, tucking the blankets in tighter around him. “And my ma always said that some warm soup is the cure to most everythin’.”

Tony felt like his heart was splintering apart and landing in shards in his stomach.

“Is something wrong?” Steve looked nervous, which Tony could admit was adorable as fuck. The newsreels weren’t that off with the abashed next-door-neighbor smile. “If you don’t like the soup, I can take it back--” he made to reach for the tray and Tony quickly covered the tray with his arm.

Tony smiled up at him reluctantly. “Thank you,” he said honestly and tried to blink away the tears that irrationally pressed at the back of his eyes. “It’s not the soup, I just--” he rubbed at his eyes. “Nobody’s ever brought me soup before.”

Steve’s face shuttered and he looked hurt. “No?” his voice seemed quieter. 

Tony thought of Jarvis flitting over him, bringing him lemonade and small snacks from the kitchen to soothe his stomach and sitting with him to read him a chapter from their latest book. “No,” he said sincerely. “Not in a very long while.”

Steve looks like a kicked puppy, and Tony hastily brought his spoon to his lips to hide his smile. That was making fun of an alpha, and his tutors had almost killed him with his punishment the first time he did it. 

(He hadn’t been able to sleep on his back for a month and a half, and it was the first time he saw his Mamma cry rather than hear her through the walls.)

To be fair, it was his fault considering he was a disobedient omega at the very best, a piece of shit at the worst, and Tony hasn’t believed in the best since Howard had first yanked his clothes off and beat into him, leaving him bruised and hurt in his own puddle of blood.

That was the first time, and Tony is much better at containing the mess now. 

“Good?” 

Tony nodded enthusiastically, before squeaking and grabbing at the tray when it tipped. “Oops,” he muttered, righting it nervously and looking at Steve. Steve wouldn’t be happy if he spilled it, that was just being stupid and he knew deserved at least the belt, but the blond just smiled at him warmly. 

(The glass yesterday would’ve been the Cupboard and a beating, but to his knowledge, there’s no cupboard in their apartment. He saw a closet that would work, though, and he’s not looking forward to getting blood all over it when Steve finally used it.)

The soup made him feel all warm and fuzzy in his stomach, but Steve’s beaming smile when Tony moaned involuntarily at the soup did something else to him. Tony could tell himself it was just the soup pleasantly warm in his empty stomach, and stoutly ignored the swirling feelings in his gut. 

(No-one ever said he was good at emotions.)

“Sit with me?” he asked, forgetting himself. 

Steve looks surprised for a flash of a second before slipping right under the covers with him and nearly giving him a heart attack. He wasn’t mad? That was what surprised him the most out of Steve--the patience. “You sure you’re feelin’ alright? You’re not usually this--”

Oh shitshitshitshitshit

Tony flushed. He knew he was bad, but hadn’t realized how needy he had been sounding with everything else since, like on the car here the very first time and the train, what with the pleasant feeling of waking up somewhere far away from his other “home”. 

(He wondered who would be worse; Howard or Steve when Steve gave up on him. Only a matter of time now.)

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I didn’t mean to--sorry.”

Steve hushed him and scooted closer so they were pressed comfortably from leg to shoulder, though Tony’s head only went up to Steve’s chin. “It’s not a bad thing, sweetheart, I’m glad you’re feeling better. Was just surprised tha’s all.” 

Tony took another spoon of soup, the bowl rapidly cooling in his lap. “It’s needy,” he murmured into the bowl. “Needy is bad,” he said simply when Steve didn’t respond, taking another bite. “Nobody likes a needy sub. And moreover, nobody wants to keep a needy sub.”

Steve looked hurt when he risked a glance over. “Tony honey, it’s okay. You’re not bein’ needy for wanting to be held, it’s just somethin’ you need to feel good.” the alpha’s voice softened. “I like it when you feel good, hon’, and I’m a cuddle bug too.” Not a lie, Tony had woken the first night with Steve on top of him, with his nose pressed to his neck. He’d relished it as long as it lasted, but he knew he’d be kicked out soon, and Tony prayed that Steve was nice enough to let him at least sleep in the living room, but the basement was always open and he wasn’t looking forward to having to sleep in the cold.

Tony sighed. “You might feel that way Captain,” he mumbled under his breath. “Most alphas don’t.” 

Steve sighed, frustrated, before asking and referring to his earlier statement, “What do you mean, keep?”

Tony smiled without humor. “It’s not up to a sub about much. Most parents are willing to marry an omega off quick and easy to get them out of the household and less dependent on themselves, and in a bad contract is still better than on the streets. And every omega knows how to bear a belt or a whip, and all of us know better than to ask for a safeword, so comparatively an alpha that can feed you and put a roof over your head is enough.”

Steve made a constipated noise again. “Sometimes you say things and it makes me sad,” he admitted. “I didn’t realize it was like that.”

“Most don’t,” Tony whispered. He had seen enough empty-eyed omega’s at the elite parties that he’d been taken dragged to, omegas that looked like the zombies described in The Magic Island and went willingly when their alpha dragged them into their laps and paraded them like dogs at a slaughter. “What do you want me to do?” he asked instead, changing the topic as Steve’s scent took on a sour note that indicated his down turning mood. He put the partially empty tray to the side. “I--”

“You full, darlin’?” Steve hummed, interrupting him and rubbing his back. “You left the bread and some soup. You remember what I said about your eating habits?”

Tony flushed and picked at the hem of his nightgown. “I wasn’t sure if that was a dream.”

Steve made a soft whining noise, before reaching for him and then stopping abruptly. 

“Steve?” 

“Can I hold ya?” Steve breathed. “Please?”

Tony nodded shyly. 

Steve tugged the omega into the alpha’s lap, kissing the side of Tony’s head with soft lips. “Christ, ‘m so sorry that you grew up in that household, Tones, Jesus .” 

The omega did his best to shrug indifferently and stoutly ignored the prickling of tears behind his eyelids. Nobody ever told him that they were sorry , that they made a mistake , that anything and everything that went wrong wasn’t his fault, and Tony was trying to trust him. “Thanks,” Tony breathed and wiped a hasty hand over his eyes to sop up the tears. 

Steve tugged him closer to his chest and they sat in silence. His chest was warm and muscle-y Tony thought, tucking his nose into Steve’s generous pecs. “You wanna finish eating?” Steve hummed, pressing his face into Tony’s own curls, and Tony muffled and leased moan as Steve trailed a large hand up his back to knead into his neck. “It’s probably cold now.”

Tony shook his head. “Baby steps,” he murmured. 

Steve’s chest moved pleasantly underneath his head and Tony reluctantly picked his head up. “So,” he said, twisting to face him. “I--”

“We need to talk about expectations in this marriage,” Steve interrupted. Tony swallowed. He did know that the sweet nicknames and the touching (God, he was feeling better than he’d felt in years) had to end eventually.

“Okay.” Tony rubbed his throat and prayed that Steve didn’t like breatheplay. “I am here for your pleasure alpha, and on top of that I am well-versed in cooking, cleaning, and I can adhere to any of your--” he swallowed nervously and avoided looking at Steve’s face. “Sexu--”

“No!” Steve’s growl echoed off the wall and Tony shut his mouth with a snap, racking his brain for what he’d done wrong. He’d said what he could do? Was he missing something? “No, that’s not what I meant, Tony, fucking Christ!” Steve was flushed a dark red and he smelled furious, and Tony couldn’t help but whimper, rounding his shoulders and he prayed desperate;y for Steve to not want sex. That was the worst, especially when they didn’t use lube and he’d feel it for weeks. “When I said expectations, i meant like boundaries! What you like and what you don’t, and what I like and where my boundaries are.”

Steve came down as quick as his temper shot up. “I don’t know what your teachers or Howard taught you,” he practically spat the words. “But I wouldn’t!” He sagged and Tony hastily wiped his eyes to hide the tears. 

“I’m sorry,” Tony whispered. 

“Tony,” Steve’s voice was softer. “Can you tell me what you’re apologizing for?”

Tony shuddered. “I don’t know,” he mumbled shamefully. He was an ungrateful sub, an undeserving, stupid--

“Exactly!” Steve wrapped both arms around his waist, and Tony shuddered. “That’s the problem. Somebody told you that it’s always your fault, that somehow it’s always the omega’s fault for getting beatin’ ta death, but nobody ever asks what they did to get beaten!” Steve pressed his face to Tony’s hair and he went still. Was-was Steve crying?

“Alpha?” he whispered. 

“I’m not going to beat you,” Steve said finally, and he was definitely crying. “If you do something wrong, if you make a mistake, we will talk about it and we’ll fix it. And by God,” he swore, holding Tony close and Tony shuddered, wet spilling down his cheeks as they held each other in their tears. “I’m never gonna hit you for something menial like yesterday.”

Tony whimpered. “I-I don’t--”

Steve rocked them back and forth, the tray forgotten. “I’ve seen those omegas. The ones that look dead inside? And I never ever want to be the reason you look like that. All I need is for you to trust me.”

“I’ll try,” Tony croaked. “I can try.”

Steve gave him a blinding smile and leaned down to give him a hug, and Tony clutched him back just as fiercely as Steve clutched him. “I swear,” Tony said, wiping away his own tears as Steve looked at him with a look in his eyes that didn’t make him afraid. “I’ve not cried so much in the last couple of days then I have in the last year.”

He jumped as Steve shouted with laughter, and melted into the squeeze of his waist that Steve gave him. “Me too,” Steve said through laughter. “Me too.” 

Chapter Text

Tony was, surprisingly, the one who decided that it was about time they left their bed after they had held each other for hours, dozing off and then just cuddling together. “Steve?” he whispered, and the alpha tried to not jump at the sudden voice in his ear. 

He sighed, rolling them over so they faced each other on their sides. “Yeah, sweetheart?”

Tony scooted closer to him, nuzzling at the hollow of his neck and Steve could feel his muscles going limp as Tony’s soothing omega scent rolled over him. “We gotta get dinner.”

“Yeah?” He smiled. “You hungry?”

Tony hesitated and began to pull back to eye him. Steve tried to keep his face as impassive as he could as Tony studied him. “Lil’ bit,” he admitted quietly. “But I can hear your stomach growling.”

Steve felt his ears burn. “Oops.”

Tony laughed out loud, before covering his mouth in a futile hope of stopping his surprised laughter. “You burn like a lobster,” he giggled, pressing close to him. “I thought I blushed, but I guess not,” he wheezed, laughing harder as Steve blushed harder judging from the way his face felt like it was on fire. 

“Alright, alright,” he said after a few moments of Tony shaking uncontrollably next to him. He couldn’t really bring it within himself to actually be mad, considering Tony was smiling wider than Steve’d ever seen him. “C’mon, you were saying dinner?”

Tony smiled sweetly and scented him softly, burrowing close to his chest. “I can cook,” he said, muffled into his chest. “I got it.”

Steve wouldn’t have a problem if Tony wanted to cook, but he knew enough about the Stark household to know their expectations, and he worried (understandably) that Tony only did it out of obligation. “Sweetheart if you don’ wanna cook, I can do it.”

Tony frowned and worried his lip. “Doesn’t seem right for an alpha to do the house chores.”

“Thas’ shit,” Steve said vehemently, surprising himself as forceful as it came out. “It’s not jus’ for ‘an omega ‘ta do all the work at home, baby, it ain’t right.” He took a deep breath when he saw Tony staring at him, lips parted. “My Ma didn’t raise me that way, babydoll, it ain’t right.”

Tony stared at him a while longer. “I lucked out in the alpha department didn’t I?” he breathed, and Steve’s brain went blank. Hundreds of tours across Europe and the country, giving speeches to thousands of soldiers, and he couldn’t think of anything to say to that. 

“Here,” he said instead. “Why don’t we make a schedule for chores later today or tomorrow. We can decide who does what, babydoll, you don’t gotta do everything on your own.” 

Tony ducked his head, but Steve tipped his head up with a gentle hand under his chin. Steve still saw Tony flinch every time he moved too fast, and Tony was still holding rather terrifying expectations, but he needed to get this through. “Babydoll,” he murmured, brushing the barest kiss over Tony’s cheekbone. “I’m gonna ask you again. Do you wanna cook?”

Tony hesitated and Steve internally cheered as he saw Tony think about what he wanted. “Yes alpha,” he whispered after a moment. “And I’m not just saying that. I like cooking,” he said, pinking. “I can cook for you, alpha.”

Steve stares at him in awe. His sweet thing—not his, he wouldn’t be his until Tony knew he was his own first—was so giving, so kind. “Can I kiss you?” Steve barely recognized his own voice as rough and low as it went. “Please? You can say no of course but, please?”

Tony stared at him for a minute. “Okay,” he whispered ducking down to just pass his lips over Steve in a way that made the alpha want to roll them over and stay in bed until To u couldn’t walk right tomorrow—but.

He could wait till his sweet thing was ready. Until then, he’d just court his mate the way he deserved.

Tony smiles at him shakily and rolled out of bed, padding softly to the door as he stayed draped in Steve’s clothes that made Steve’s inner alpha growl. 

“Oh, and Tony?” He called, smiling widely and not bothering to hide any emotion that thrummed through his blood and head and heart until all he could think of was Tony’s soft, chapped lips against his. “Think we both lucked out,” 

The omega turned and give him a blinding smile.

“That we did.”

… 

“So,” Steve announced. “We’ve been doing this all backward.” He bit his cheek to keep from laughing when Tony jumped about half a foot in the air and whirled to face him, waving his spatula with one hand in mock threat. 

“You always jump these things on me with no warning!”

They had come a far way in two weeks from their first few days together and they’d put together a schedule about how Tony did that cooking, and Steve did the laundry (Tony vehemently hated the laundry), the rest of the chores divided by day. Tony smiled more, he laughed more, he lounged semi-comfortably in their living room with less fear of judgment. He joked, and as the weeks passed, Steve got more and more of a look at Tony , the Tony who laughed and giggled at random things and made snippy jokes when he disagreed with Steve.

(He’d admit he did stupid things sometimes just to make Tony laugh and coax him out of his shell, and stoutly ignored the fluttering in his stomach that was distinctly unlike friendship. The very first time Tony had disagreed with him, he’d clapped a hand over his mouth and sank to his knees with a sickening crack, turning pale enough that Steve worried for his health. They’d come a long way from that.)

Steve didn’t like to think about what Tony would be like if he’d grown up in a household like the Rogers’, where love passed freely, and how sweet Tony must’ve been to be like that, joyful and free. 

Steve laughed, and reeled Tony in, kissing his stomach teasingly and blowing a raspberry. He clutched Tony as he squealed, and tugged him into his lap, hugging him warmly as Tony relaxed. “Sorry, Tones,” he chuckled, ignoring the way his hindbrain (stupid things with its outdated ideas) urged him to sink his teeth into Tony’s unblemished neck. “But we do gotta talk about it.”

Tony squirmed and Steve shifted, trying to hide what that did to him. He knows that this is not something either of them are ready for, but he’s self-aware enough to know that he wants . “Steve,” Tony’s voice had laughter, but as much as Steve hated it, still had trepidation. “Dinner’s gonna burn.”

Steve didn’t bother to hide his pout. “Dinner, then we’ll talk, alright?”

Tony gave him a nervous smile but brushed a soft kiss over his cheek, and Steve melted, squeezing his hand between his own. He was warm and softening, gaining weight and starting to get that glow that healthy and happy omega’s always had. “Okay,” he murmured,  turning back to the pan. “Okay,” he whispered again, and Steve ignored it. It wasn’t meant for him, but his heart ached at how Tony still got anxious at things that most would assume would be completely undeserving of punishment. 

Steve sat in silence and flipped through the sports section from the newspaper, where it sat on the table from that morning when Steve had tossed it on the table after breakfast. “Baby?” he said softly as Tony stood stoutly facing the stove. The easy warm atmosphere from before was gone, and Tony stood rigid. With his enhanced hearing, Steve could even hear Tony’s hand shaking as his grip on the spoon made it clank against the pan. “You okay?”

“Do you use a belt or a paddle?” the question came out of nowhere. What on--Steve washed cold when he realized what Tony was referring to. “Or your hand?” Tony turned and gave him an empty look. “Can I ask you a question, sir?”

“Don’ need ta’ call me sir,” Steve whispered, already dreading what Tony had to say. “But sure babydoll.”

“What did I do wrong?” Tony whispered, feet fidgeting and Steve could hear their soft scuffle against the flooring. “Or, is-is it stress, because I can attend to that alpha--”

“No babydoll,” Steve interrupted, standing up so fast he knocked the chair right over. “You think--I would--you--oh sugar,” he whispered, going behind Tony when e turned back around to wrap his arms around Tony’s waist, and nuzzling at his shoulder, tantalizingly close to his marked-up bond mark. “Oh, sweetheart.”

“Nobody ever tells me what I do wrong,” Tony whispered out of the blue, and when Steve peeked his head up to look Tony looked ashamed, flushed and lip wobbling. “I’d do better if I c-could, but How-Howard said that I do most things wrong, but I don’t know what I did, and-and he said I’m too loud, and the tutors said I was too clingy, but you won’t tell me what I did wrong and-and-and every time you look at me, you look at me like I’m pitiful, some horrifying little thing that can’t do shit right--”

Steve burned and felt tears prick his eyes. “Sugar--”

“And you keep calling me pet names and I don’t know what to do and the last few weeks have been wonderful and the best I’ve ever had,” he swallowed, hiccuping, “and sometimes I wish I could just go, it’s not like anybody’d miss me, you’d probably be happier with me gone and you could find a good omega that can follow commands and is skinny and pretty and isn’t fat , and-and-and--” Tony voice broke as he trembled, clutching the wooden spoon with white knuckles. “I--”

Why was it every time that his beautiful, brave, strong omega spoke, it broke his heart just a little bit more?

Steve reached around to turn the stove off and led them both back to the couch. “C’mon, let’s sit down sweetheart,” he crooned, holding him close. “Sh-sh-sh,” he murmured, brushing away Tony’s hair from his face and running his hand over his back as Tony hid in Steve’s lap. “Baby, I am so sorry.”

“You didn’t--”

“Yes I did.” Steve took a deep breath. “I made you think that I was gonna punish you and that me being, I dunno, nice to you was a phase of some sort and that I’d drop the other shoe, but that’s not gonna happen. I made you feel like you were some sad little omega and that’s so far from the truth it’s bonkers. Baby, you are so strong .”

Tony hiccuped and wiped his face, staring at Steve with something hideously unbelieving in his eyes. “I am?” he asked softly. “Really? Me?” He sounded so sweet and so breakable at that moment that Steve felt his own eyes prick. “You really think so?”

“Yeah, love,” Steve chocked out. “I didn’t--you, so you came from a terrible household, and when we met you had all these expectations, and I thought it was nuts, baby, couldn’t believe it, and I might’ve gone overboard because you’d been out in the cold by everybody so often that it looked like you needed somebody to warm you up, and with that I made you feel less and I’m so so sorry.”

Tony’s mouth opened and closed without saying anything. “You mean that? Because Steve if you’re not, I really can’t--” He stammered, breath going hysterical. “I--”

“Hush now,” he crooned, kissing Tony’s temple and rocking them back and forth. “I’m not lying to you baby, you really are so strong, you made it through Howard and those infernal lessons of yours, baby, I am so so proud. I am in awe ,” he said, scratching at Tony’s scalp. “In awe, darlin’ none of that pity.”

“You promise me?” Tony asked, turning to straddle him. “You won’t treat me like something breakable?”

“No darlin’,” Steve said with full sincerity. “No longer, and thank you for tellin’ me.”

Tony ducked his head. “But-But you’ll still be gentle with me? You won’t--”

“No,” he hurried to say. “Not to my babydoll, not for my babydoll, you deserve the best. Nothin’ but that.”

Tony leaned in, “Tell me if you want me to stop,” he murmured. “But I’d like you to know this is because I want this, and not because I think you do.” He brushed his lips hesitantly over Steve’s and he--snapped. 

He reeled Tony in by the nape of his neck, stretching them over the sofa so he could explore his omega’s mouth and the way he panted so sweetly against his lips, mewling and pressing into his body. “More,” Tony moaned, curling closer and closer until Steve tugged him down so they were laying on top of each other on the cramped couch. 

“I’ve got ya, c’mere,” he crooned when Tony whined against his mouth, whimpering as Steve sucked on his bottom lip before nipping gently at it. “That’s it.”

Tony sobbed into his mouth before quieting as Steve pulled one hand strategically on his waist and squeezing , just right. 

“Darlin’” Steve’s voice was raspy when he finally pulled away so Tony could breathe. Tony, on that hand, was panting hard, cheeks blotchy and lips bruised and smiling so wide that Steve felt like he couldn’t breathe, extended lung capacity be damned. “Goddamn, I’ve gotta be the luckiest alpha in the world.”

Tony grinned, dinner ignored. “I think you just might be,” he joked shakily and purring as Steve sighed, chest rumbling and brushing his lips against Tony’s soft cheek, and the omega leaned down to brush his lips against Steve’s again. “You just might.”

Chapter Text

"Hey, Steve?" Tony asked, rolling over in bed to look at him. He sighed, shivering as Steve put an arm around him and hauls him closer, melting when he squeezes the back of his neck. "Don't distract me," he grumped as Steve dug his thumbs in right where it ached, moaning quietly.

"Sorry, doll," Steve laughed, and when Tony looks up, the alpha doesn't look very apologetic. "You're very tense ya know." Another thing he'd grown to like about his alpha; he was ready to give Steve a Look, and his alpha was always ready with a rueful smile and a kiss on his forehead.

"Steve," Tony complained, corners of his mouth crinkling as he frowned. "Steve!" he squeaked as Steve crept his cold hands up his shirt in retaliation.

The shirt on that hand, was something that finally fit him, thank god. They'd gone shopping the week before, Steve standing by awkwardly as Tony bounced around the store with Pepper who'd come to visit that week. She'd taken one look at what he was wearing and had gasped, horrified at the scratchy fabric and how sheer it was for the Brooklyn winter before yanking him out the door with Steve to the tailor and department store. Now he finally had things to lounge in at home, and soft nightgowns for when he went to bed that Steve always nuzzled into and a brand-new pair of stompers that he was gleeful to try out. "You're distracting," he whined, curling closer as Steve tugged him close.

"I'm sorry, baby," Steve said, laughter in his voice and rolled Tony on top of him. The sheer strength Steve possessed and the casual way he used it, though never carelessly, still awed Tony as he moved. Steve was probably the strongest person in the country, the world, and Tony would always be surprised that that man was with him and was the same as the one who whistled songs to the radio as he made dinner and blushed every time someone of the opposite presentation even smiled at him.

He was too fucking cute for his own good, and it made Tony want to snuggle him in bed for the rest of time.

"Anyway," he sniffed teasingly and yelped as Steve flipped them over and began to tickle him mercilessly. He squealed, squirming as the sheets rubbed against his nightgown and Steve twitched his fingers against his ribs before picking up on foot and looking at Tony with mischief. "No! Not my feet, please, plea-Steve!" he yelled, writhing on the sheets, "Okay, okay, I yield!" he giggled helplessly, squirming, breathing hard when Steve finally let him go. "You're a jerk," he gasped quietly, propping his chin on Steve's chest.

"Sorry, sweetheart," Steve said amusedly. "You wanted to tell me something though?"

"When am I gonna meet your friends?" he asked and watched Steve's mouth drop open. "You talk about your Bucky all the time, but I've barely met him."

"You sure, doll?" Steve asked, and while it was kinda cute, it felt awful too much like Steve thought he couldn't handle it. The alpha'd gotten an awful lot better at trusting Tony to know what he wanted, but he slipped up now and then.

"Steve," he murmured, sighing. "Coddling, darling."

"I'm sorry, I'm trying not to, really," Steve said sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck.

"I know," he murmured back, sighing as Steve kissed his cheek soothingly "And I thank you for that."

Steve nodded in acquiescence, before asking "You really wanna meet Buck?"

Tony nodded enthusiastically. "I wanna know about Steve Rogers," he said, smiling quietly and he thought of what Jarvis would've said about young Tony. Something along the lines of about the kind of trouble he'd caused, he was sure. "Not Captain America." He was realizing the difference rather quickly. Captain America was supposed to be kind and polite and sparkling clean; Steve was clumsy and interrupted without thinking when he got excited, and he dropped things more often than he cleaned things

(it was why Tony did the cleaning, but Steve did the laundry and the dishes; Tony shuddered to think of what would happen if he'd have to all of it himself. Not for the first time, he thanked his lucky stars for ending up with Steve.)

Captain America would never wash the dishes; Steve always did a little foot shuffle like he was dancing when he scrubbed at pots and pans. Captain America wouldn't let his omega out of his sight; Steve was the one who told Tony he should go out more.

"Oh boy," Steve groaned. "I can imagine the shit you'd get up to together. You'd get along like a house on fire," he said, squeezing his waist.

"Tell me about him," Tony asked, flushing when Steve chuckled at him. "I know he was doll-dizzy."

"Yeah?" Steve said, sitting up with Tony in his lap. A few weeks back, Steve would never have even touched him without asking, now Steve carried him around everywhere and kissed him whenever he felt like it. They'd never gone farther than that though, and he still felt stiff and cold inside whenever Steve's hand dipped too low on his back, or too high on his leg. "Well, Buck was also a science buff, ya'know. We went to the Stark Expo the night before he shipped off and I cheated my way into the army--"

"Wel, at least you admitted it," Tony agreed dryly.

"And he was a total science buff. Swear, he was so excited at that car of your father's. It's a shame I never saw his reaction when it failed," Steve said wistfully. "Bet it'd knock your socks off."

Tony stilled. He could remember Howard coming back from the expo, red with rage and stomping around the house till Tony had the misfortune to be spotted when he crept back from the kitchen. "Yeah," he said softly. "I remember."

Steve smiled at him, hooking his chin over his shoulder. "You were there?" he asked dreamily, lost in memories.

"No," he swallowed, remember his back lighting up from the belt and the humiliation as Howard's friends laughed at him as he cried. "I remember what happened when father came home."

"Oh," Steve said, scent dropping into something unpleasant that made him feel like he was about the burst out of his skin. Disappointment. "Tony--"

An emotion he was very familiar with.

"IM sorry," he managed. Steve had promised him that he wouldn't get punished for talking about the old Stark household, and least of all for the feelings that usually came out of it, but he. Worried. "I didn't mean to ruin the mood," he said softly, careful to keep his bad shoulder out of the way. "Sorry."

Steve kissed his temple. "Can you remind me what I told you?" he asked simply.

Was this a trick question?

"That, that it's not my fault. That I'm not--" he stumbled over his word and looked up at Steve. The alpha didn't look mad, and Tony felt his hand run over the back of his neck comfortingly. "Not bad?"

"That's right," Steve praised. "Good boy."

"But--"

"You made it sound like it was our fault for saying something that had a bad impact on your mental health," Steve said seriously, continuing. "I"m happy that you feel like you have been with me long enough to make you trust me."

"You sound like you've read a lot of self-help books," Tony said, surprised.

"Well," STeve's cheeks pinked, "I thought it'd be better going into this that I picked up a book on helpin' out messed up omegas."

Tony's ears started to rings as his brain went blank. "Messed up?" His voice sounded faint to his own ears. Did he really think--Of course, Tony was stupid for thinking that maybe somebody loved him for him. He had a nice ass and he knew it, but, just this once--

"I'm not messed up!" He snapped, the words falling from his lips before Tony could think on it anymore. "I'm not!" Well, what now? Steve had the potential to make his life hell, but, maybe, it could be worth talking back. This might be his last test of character anyway, Steve had already witnessed and dealt with his other meltdowns.

Steve looked taken aback, and Tony felt a wash of cold run through him, though he clenched his jaw to keep the tears from running down. "I'm not!" He insisted, scrubbing at his face and clambering clumsily out of Steve's lap, heart sinking when he saw that Steve hadn't said anything yet. "I can't believe, I thought you'd be different--" he laughed hysterically, a precarious drop creeping upon him, and shoved the fuzziness away as much as he could.

"Sweetheart," he went still when Steve interrupted his wobbly train of thought that was about to fall off its rails. "C'mere, you're gonna drop, doll, and we don't want that." Steve patted his lap.

Tony studied him, before shuffling forward to sit in front of him, leaning back on his heels. "You're not messed up," Steve said firmly. "And I hope," he said soothingly. "That you know that. But--" he held up a hand when Tony's mouth automatically dropped open to argue. Mentally, he seethed, when his mouth automatically shut and his brain went white. Stupid omega biology. "You have been messed with," Steve said, smiling at him a little bit, mildly uncomfortable. Good. He wasn't the only one. "And I want to make sure that you can be yours, doll, before you become mine if you want it." Steve crooked a smile hesitantly. "I'd like to see you with my collar someday."

And God, Tony knows this is what the dancing around each other had been leading up to, but hearing it is a completely different story.

Tony feels like he'd been punched in the gut, like his traitorous lungs couldn't suck in enough air, because God, Steve's looking at him like a gift he'd like to unwrap, but it's not even sexual. Tony's been leered at and smiled at, and giving enough bedroom eyes for his pretty ass and big doe eyes. He's also been given glaring eyes that promised he was in for it and cold eyes that made him want to crawl out of his skin, but he'd never been looked at like Steve's looking at him now.

"Oh," Tony whispered, and Steve reaches for him, dubiously.

"Can I kiss you, doll?"

Tony scrambled into his lap and pressed their lips together, hoping that their kiss would convey everything he could say and couldn't, all the hopes and the dreams that churned around in their apartment.

"Steve," he whimpered against the other's lips, moaning softly as Steve tightened his grip on his waist and hauled him over the alpha so they had a better angle than the clashing one Tony had thrown himself into. "Yes."

Chapter Text

“D’you think he’d like me?” Tony asked shyly, and Steve stifled a coo as Tony peeked up at him under bangs, his face covered with smudges of machine oil. Tony crept out from the back of the car and leaned a hip against the bumper of the car. “Bucky?”

Steve bt his lip and thought about it. “Yeah, dolly,” he settled on finally. “How could anyone hate you when you make me so happy?” He said, smirking when Tony ducked his head. 

“We can’t have a conversation without you flattering me,” Tony chided, before striding up to him and Steve had to muffle a whimper at the flash of Tony’s chest through the loose shirt that he wore. The workshop had finally been finished a few days ago, and since then Tony spent most of his waking moments in it, asides from eating meals with Steve and a few chores. Steve would feel neglected except for the fact that Tony always came out of the workshop looking pleasantly tired and reeking joy, and how could he take away something that Tony coveted?

Also, Tony had been robbed of autonomy and prohibited from doing what he loved for so long that it made Steve feel good (and his hindbrain rumble satisfactorily when he provided for his omega) to see his omega so happy. They were finally starting to turn things around, but as Tony rose up Steve just felt like he was drowning. There was nothing to do; he went on runs all day and meandered around the city, but he’d spent so long fighting for his chance to get into the army, and then actually being in the war that he’d forgotten about life .

He hadn’t picked up a stick of charcoal and his sketchbook in months when all he could remember was men laying in puddles of their own blood on a battlefield, and his own self being unable to stop. The murky darkness of crashing the plane and jumping out before getting fished out haunted him, and whenever he woke from the occasional nightmare he could barely breathe at the darkness of their room. 

But Tony is worse, so much worse, and Steve knew it was selfish to be complaining about his own menial problems about his brain not working right when Tony thought he was gonna hit him every time he lifted a hand to push the hair out of his eyes. 

“Honey?” when Steve came back Tony was frowning at him and waving a hand in front of his eyes. “You went somewhere else there for a second, you okay?”

Steve stuck his best smile on his face and felt the way it pinched the corners of his eyes uncomfortably. “O’ course Tones,” he said, leaning back and tugged Tony along with him so that Tony was settled securely between his knees. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Tony bit his lip. “You’ve done a lot for me,” he started, and Steve felt his heart twist. “And--being here has been the best time of my life. But, but, I wanna take care of you too.”

Steve sighed. “Baby, you don’t have to--”

“I want to.” Tony leaned in to straddle his lap and Steve clutched his waist with shaking fingers. “I want to--alpha.”

“I don’t feel so good,” Steve admitted quietly. “An’ I don’t know why.”

Tony leaned his forehead against his. “Yeah?” His voice was soft but shaky and Steve curled a protective arm over his waist. “Can you describe it to me, honey?”

Steve smiled from the corner of his mouth when he heard Tony using the pet name, leaning in to bump their noses together. “I dunno,” he said finally, shutting his eyes and letting his forehead slump to rest in the hollow of Tony’s neck. “I just--I can’t sleep anymore. Not well. And when I do, it’s just--just nightmares. And I don’t--I’m just numb,” he muttered, frustrated. “It’s--I came back from war with more money than I’ve ever seen in my life, and, and I just, I’m lost .”

Tony sighed above him and started to cart his fingers through his hair, and Steve rumbled, nuzzling at Tony’s clavicle and reaching up to nose at his bonding mark. “You need to get into activities again, alpha,” he murmured after a second. “What do you like to do?”

Steve huffed a frustrated noise from the back of his throat. “I don’t know. All I’m good for is war .” He huffed, disgusted. “This is pathetic,” he straightened, “I should be fine, I’m not-I’m not broken .”

“Am I broken for when I have nightmares about what I dealt with at Howard’s house?” Tony asked quietly. When he looked at the omega’s face, there was no anger, just a disapproving eyebrow cocked. “Am I broken?”

“No!” Steve rushed to answer. “You’re not, you’re so strong , sweetheart.”

“If I’m not, then why would you be?” 

Steve opened and shut his mouth. “I don’t know,” he said faintly. 

Tony smiled down at him. “I’ll put in a telegram to your Bucky and we’ll see about this,” he said softly, “Do you want to get lunch with him tomorrow?”

Steve just pressed his nose into Tony’s neck and began to trail kisses over the sensitive part of his neck that made Tony squirm and giggle. “You’re so good to me,” he exhaled.

Tony’s hands stilled in his hair. “Yeah?” He asked leaning down to press their lips together and Steve sighed as Tony let him take control. “Thank you.”

Steve grinned against his lips. Tony was accepting compliments, and as far as he was concerned that was a huge step up from their wedding night. “You’re welcome, doll.”

… 

“Do I look okay?” Tony said, fiddling with the buttons on his shirt and fumbling with the waistline of his skirt and how his top was tucked in. “I’m split.” 

“Sweetheart, you look beautiful,” Steve said, chuckling as Tony turned to look at him with an adorable pout. “What’s got ya so nervous, doll?” He leaned in to press a kiss to Tony’s cheek as he eyeballed himself in the mirror. 

“I just want Bucky to like me,” Tony mumbled, turning in his arms and wrapping his thin arms around Steve’s waist. The alpha sighed, nosing at his neck and nipping gently to make Tony smile and show his cute dimples. 

Adorable. 

“He’s gonna love you, sweetheart,” Steve crooned, kissing away where Tony’s forehead crinkled as Tony probably scrunched up his face. “How could my best friend not like someone who makes me as happy as you do?”

“If you say so,” Tony sighed and shifted his skirt one last time. “Shall we?”

Steve grinned and tucked Tony into his side, bumping hips and elbows as they walked together out into the elevator, shoving the doors shut and holding Tony close as his scent clouded with anxiety, close enough that their shadows melded together into one heart. He hurried Tony into the car as the biting wind nipped at any bit of exposed skin it could find, his mind clouding for a second as snow ruffled into his hair and thinking of the Arctic winds, how he’d hugged himself and staggered out of the valkyrie, nothing but his shield on his back and his uniform and the sound of Peggy’s voice on the line. How he’d sobbed, the tears freezing on his face before they’d even gotten very far down his face and Peggy’s horrified darling when she saw him. 

He’d been told later that he was inches from death when they’d found him and if he didn’t have the serum, he’d be long dead. 

“Steve?” Tony called, and he shook himself back to reality with difficulty, snow still creeping in his peripheral. 

“Yeah, sweetheart?” He said, a wave of self-loathing rolling over him as he heard his voice shake. Tony had ushered him into the taxi and ordered the cabbie to roll up the partition, from the look of it, and the omega was sitting next to him with a look of worry on his face, hand clutching his. 

“Yeah, no, we’re not--” Tony simply crawled into his lap, and Steve sighed, clutching his waist. “Where’d you go there, alpha?”



“Crashing the plane wasn’t a fun experience,” he muttered, voice flat. He pressed his face to Tony’s soft hair and exhaled a shuddering breath. “Sorry.”

“Yeah?” Tony said, softly, and Steve could feel him pressing a soft kiss to his collarbone. “Is there anything I can do to help? I’m right here, alpha.”

Steve shook his head and straightened up. “I’m supposed to be stronger than this,” he growled and then felt even more horrible when Tony stiffened and turned pale. 

“Sorry,” he mumbled and started to crawl out of his lap. 

“Now where are you goin’?” He crooned, and Tony nuzzled back into the hollow of his neck with a soft whimper. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

Tony lifted his head and rested it on his shoulder and they sat in silence as they got closer to the restaurant. “Am I weak?”

“What?” Steve had never heard such an outlandish thing in his life, and he grew up next to the most gossipy Irish women he knew. 

“Am I weak?” Tony repeated. “Am I weak when I wake up crying and I freak out sometimes and I can’t breathe, and how I can’t bring myself to even initiate kisses farther than kisses on the cheek? I told you this before, but does that make me weak?”

“No!” Steve said, aghast. “No! You are so strong babydoll, and so brave, and that just shows that you dealt with something bad and now you’re healing.”

“Okay, so then why are you weak for being a little messed up after war?” Tony said amicably before his face turned serious. “Honey, I know, war is hard and gruesome, and you’ve seen somethings that I wish no man should ever see. But I’m here for you, and if you’re not always perfect all the time, that’s okay!”

Steve couldn’t find the words to say to that, but it was okay because Tony seemed to understand. “You might need to remind me.”

“As long as you keep holding me,” Tony said with a smile. “My, look at how the tables have turned, huh?” Tony scented him softly, squirming as Steve wrapped his hands around Tony’s waist and squeezed. “We can be a little worse for wear together.”

Steve didn’t know what to say when he saw Bucky for the first time in months, something melting in him and going ‘ this is home, this is safe ’. The other alpha gave him a shit-eating grin and stood up to greet them both in front of the diner booth. “Stevie.”

Steve grinned. It was good to see his friend, something familiar. Tony let go of his hand and nudged him forward and Steve didn’t even have to look to know he was smiling. 

“Buck,” he snarked back, leaning in to give him a hug. “Good to see ya, pal.”

“Wish I could say the same,” Bucky drawled, before turning to Tony. 

“Mr. Rogers,” he said smoothly. “Nice to meet you up close, shall we sit?” 

Tony took his proferred hand with a mild amount of shock and settled into the seat right next to Steve as the alpha lifted an arm for Tony to snuggle under habitually. “Thank you, Mr. Barnes.”

“Call me Bucky,” the other alpha said, shifting and leaning back to relax, the metal covering his stump gleaming in the sun reflecting off the snow. “Even my Ma does.”

“Then Tony,” his omega said firmly, and Steve softened with pride. A month ago, Tony wouldn’t have dared adopt a firm tone while talking to an alpha, much less his alpha’s friend, someone who would likely get possession of the marriage contract should something happen to himself. These days, Os were treated like cattle, like dirt beneath their feet and it hurt Steve to think of all the little omegas growing up and thinking that they were less than everybody else for their designation. 

People took an omega’s submission, and omega’s gift and ran with it, and it hurt. An O put their life on the line when they submitted and put their life in the hands of their doms, and people took that gift and treated it like shit

“So, when did you two meet?” Bucky said, smirking. “I’d never even heard that he was seein’ an omega until he invited me to the wedding.”

Steve rubbed his jaw. When he thought about it, it was like he could still feel his jaw smarting from Bucky socking him in the jaw for ‘ NOT TELLING ME YOU STUPID-ASS PUNK! ’. 

“Um, Howard offered me to Steve as thanks for, y’know, making sure we all didn’t die to the Nazis.”

“He offered you?” Bucky sounded incredulous, sitting back and rubbing his stubble. “Like, like, a farmer would a cow?”

Tony shrugged, but STeve could see and feel through their bond how this tore him up inside, how his father had jumped at a chance to rid himself of him. “Maybe not, I’m pretty sure farmers actually appreciate their cows.”

Steve cleared his throat. “I accepted, and I figured if Howard was offering himself up like that he’d probably be better off without that household.”

Tony leaned his head on Steve’s chest, and he rumbled soothingly as his scent turned bitter with grief, kissing his temple. “Howard wasn’t exactly the best father.”

“What?” Bucky growled, aghast, and softened when Tony turned pale and shrunk back into Steve’s side. “Sorry, Tony.”

“S’okay.” Tony bit his lip. “But I’m better now, Steve--Steve’s been taking good care of me.”

“‘Course he is,” Bucky crowed, and if Steve didn’t know any better he’d swear he saw pride written all over his face. “Been motherin’ people since he was ninety pounds soakin’ wet and prone to a coughin’ fit from anything. Christ, I gotta tell you about the time--”

“Alright, alright!” Steve interrupted. “Last thing I need is for you to be ruinin’ my good name.”

“Punk, he’s been living with you for a month now, if he hasn’t figured out that you ain’t Captain America he’s never gonna find out.” He turned a mock-exasperated look to Tony who was giggling. “Punk’s been gettin’ into trouble since he came outta his mother’s womb .”

“Bucy!” 

Tony giggled harder, and his cheeks flushed darker from laughter as Steve undoubtedly blushed like a lobster. 

Fuck, he was beautiful. 

“Steve, I’ve seen you trip outta bed in the early hours over a blanket and then just lie on the ground, pouting,” Tony said, huddling closer into his eyes to take the sting out of his teasing. “I already know you’re not stock-straight Captain America, I’ve seen the little wiggle you do when you think no one’s looking while you do dishes.”

Bucky roared with laughter, and Steve tried to stifle his undoubtedly sappy expression. 

“I do not pout!” Steve insisted, and Tony just smiled and leaned up to kiss his cheek. Steve caught him and pressed their lips together fleetingly, knowing they were in public, and the fact that Bucky was grinning like a cat that caught the canary and wiggling his eyebrows.

“Sure,” Tony drawled, before standing up and straightening his skirt. “Excuse me, I’ve need of the omega’s room.”

Steve squeezed his waist and Tony gave Bucky a shy smile. 

As soon as Tony was out of earshot, Bucky was leaning towards him, all mirth gone from his face. “Alright spill; what’s up with you, punk?”

“Jerk,” Steve said idly, amusement falling. “I just--” he sighed. 

“You look like you haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep since before Azzano.”

“I just--” Steve bit his lip. “Something’s wrong with me, and I don’t know how to fix it.”

Chapter Text

When Tony comes back, Steve and Bucky are leaning towards each other, foreheads about an inch apart and talking in what looks to be secretive tones. He drops his steps heavier, announcing his presence and the alphas spring apart, Steve looking at him with fond if guarded eyes. Steve opened an arm and he sits down and curls into him gratefully and when he looks up, Bucky is watching him with careful eyes though they are somehow more open than when he’d left for the restroom. 

“Well,” Bucky says, gently after how he had reacted when he had raised his voice the last time, (he’s so stupid , what was he thinking?--Bucky’s the one who was gonna get the marriage contract should anything happen to Steve). He’s so so grateful for it anyway, though, and he thanked his lucky stars that Steve grown up with someone like Bucky, someone to help him through his own times. He doesn’t now the Sergeant very well yet, but he’d always had a good eye for people (unfortunately he didn’t have the good sense to stay away from what would hurt him) and Bucky seems like some of the best. 

Half of the reason for his stupid emotions was his heat, he knew, and he’s all the more sensitive and squirmy, his brain wanting him to sit in Steve’s lap and rub his neck all over the crook of Steve’s neck where his scent was strongest. Unluckily for him, this also meant he was more sensitive to loud voices too, particularly alphas as his hormones went haywire. Howard had taken to shouting at him extra during this time considering he could usually smell it on him and the alpha had always taken sick delight in the way he cried. 

“What d’ya like to do?” 

Tony rubbed the back of his neck and crossed and uncrossed his legs nervously. He knew this was irrational (ish, he figured he’d be seeing a whole lot of Bucky after their apartment was unpacked and decorated, he needed a good first impression) and he debated telling him what he should say versus what he wanted to say. He made the decision that he wanted. “I like to build things?” He said, as confidently as he could (which wasn’t very much, but whatever), ducking his head.

Fake it till you make it right?

“That’s cool!” Bucky exclaimed, and when he peeked up Steve looked unfairly smug for whatever reason. “What kinda things do you like to build?”

“Buck here,” Steve interrupted, and Bucky stuck his tongue out. Tony couldn’t contain a giggle and Bucky grinned sideways at him, winking and rolling his eyes, undeniably fond. The two alphas were like children, he thought, and it made him long for Rhodey and their uncanny ability to finish each other’s sentences and know what the other was thinking at all times. He misses him like Steve would’ve missed his Bucky, and their closeness just amps up Tony’s lack of. “Is bonkers for all things science,” his mate finished and Bucky rolled his eyes again, two blossoms of pink showing up high on his cheeks.

“What would yer Ma say if she heard ya interrupting a conversation?” Bucky drawled, blushing and Tony laughed out loud when Steve gave the other alpha the most impressive bitch face he’d ever seen. “Shame on ya, punk.” 

Steve just rolled his eyes back, and Tony ducked his head to hide his beam. Their lunch was working just how he’d wanted it to! The alpha looked the most alive he’d seen since their wedding where he had looked more uncomfortable than pissed, and after where he either looked pinched or happy. He could admit that Steve perked up when they spoke, (and wasn’t that such a nice boost to his self-confidence) but with Bucky too? Steve was practically glowing. 

“I like to tinker on cars,” Tony said, and Bucky quickly engaged him a conversation. When he looked up occasionally, Steve was smiling indulgently down at him

And fine, he could begrudge that they were good-ass burgers.

“Steve? Honey?” Tony asked, smiling nervously when Steve opened his arms and beckoned Tony towards him and Tony stepped tentatively inside, nails digging into his palms. Steve had beckoned for Tony to come in, but. Old habits die hard, he supposed. 

They’d gotten home close to four hours ago, and Steve had excused himself quickly. He’d prepped dinner while Steve had sat in the living room and read a book, stew sitting hot on the stovetop, the hearty smell of meat and spices wafting through their apartment. “C’mere sweetheart,” Steve murmured and Tony settled himself next to Steve, dropping his head onto his shoulder and listening to the radio croon in the background. 

“Was lunch? Did it,” He huffed a breath frustrated and rubbed the back of his neck. His English was fine except for times like this when he forgot how to word things. It flared up sometimes where the only thing he could remember was Italian and the way his Mama crooned to him when he was sick and fed him slowly, and Ana tutting at him in Hungarian as she bustled around and bossed everyone. 

Steve laughed softly. “Take your time doll.”

“Did Bucky help?” he said bluntly, turning his head to nose at Steve’s generous biceps and swatting at Steve’s abs when the alpha laughed at him quietly. 

“Yeah, he did,” Steve said, sounding distant, and his arm tightened around Tony’s shoulders. “He said I should start to draw again.”

“You like to draw?” He didn’t bother to hide his surprise. Steve had seen all he had been and would probably see all he would be, and he didn’t care that Steve knew he didn’t know things. They were well over that threshold anyway. “I’ve never seen anything.”

“I know,” Steve kissed his forehead, and he squeaked in surprise when Steve pulled him into his lap and Tony saw the cover of the book that had been open in his lap. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn . He made a mental note to take a look at it; the ladies at his mother’s gatherings always fretted about how it made omegas seem way too independent, worrying about things that didn’t concern them. He’d nearly bit through his lip trying not to say anything back at that gathering, and Ana had tsked at him understandingly when she blotted cream onto his bleeding lip later that day. “It’s cause drawing is hard when the only things I can draw are people dying.”

Tony rubbed his nose against Steve’s collarbone and smiled at him encouraging. “You wanna talk about it?” He murmured. It was a more radical movement, that he’d only heard whispers about, where people could go to someone and just talk and the person would help them, like a doctor for the mind. Howard had scoffed, as his buddies laughed, and Tony had burned from embarrassment as he was paraded around in scantily clad clothes to attract alphas for his marriage. Little did he know that Tony was always listening.

Howard had said that men who needed that needed to grow up and take a couple of rounds with their omega. He supposed that’s what he did when he heard his mother was confined to the bed, bite marks littering her neck and looking pained at every which movement.

“War is terrible,” Steve said, his breath ruffling Tony’s curls. “I don’t--there were just boys, coming to war with these bright faces, and so many didn’t even go back.” He sounded broken and Tony could feel Steve sniff and press his face into his hair with an inhale. “They, they had family, and, I thought what it would be like if I never came back after the plane and I had you as my omega, waiting for me.” Tony’s heart dropped, shaking his head and kissing Steve’s clavicle again. He couldn’t imagine it, and wasn’t that far for their relationship? “And, and--” Steve’s breath was coming noisily out of his mouth in little pants.

Tony rubbed his arms. “Deep breath,” he whispered, but Steve just seemed to shake harder against him. “C’mon, Steve, you gotta breathe.”

“Tony,” he gasped, shaking his head. “I can’t, I can’t breathe, the serum, am I dying--”

“Steve, pay attention to me. Steve! You’re not dying, you just gotta breathe, here,” He took Steve’s warm hands and took them in his own and pressed them to his chest, right over the swell of his left breast where his heart was beating. It was still thudding a little faster than normal, but he knew that it was still much slower than Steve’s thundering one. “Sh, just breathe in time with me.” He took exaggerated breaths and Steve, after long minutes where Tony honestly considered running out for a doctor, came back to himself and slumped against him. “There we go.”

“Sorry,” Steve wiped his eyes angrily. “I’m not supposed to--the serum was supposed to cure everything--”

“Illnesses of the body are different than illnesses of the mind,” he said softly and Steve leaned his head against Tony’s. “It’s okay.”

“No! I’m supposed to be strong, I’m Captian America, I have to be strong for you--”

Tony shuddered. “You don’t always have to be strong?” he suggested softly and Stee looked at him with heartbroken eyes. “I, I,” he swallowed nervously. “I’m sorry--”

“You are the best thing in my life right now,” Steve said fiercely and Tony only had to exhale a little ‘ Steve’ before the alpha’s lips were on his. “And I don’t mean to pressure you, doll, but you make me so happy.” 

Tony whimpered softly. “Steve,” he pleaded quietly, not knowing what he needed. “Steve!” He felt hot all over, and he burned and all the blood was rushing downwards and from the feel of it, he could feel Steve had the same issue. 

“Sh, dolly,” Steve said and pulled back, face flushed and lips deliciously red in a way that just made Tony want to lick him. 

Not that he would, as per their discussion and the mutual decision that neither of them was ready for it--but. Sometimes he wanted

“Don’t worry about it,” Steve said, rubbing his back and he melted into putty in Steve’s lap, and Steve held him a little bit closer. “Here, why don’t we go eat dinner, huh? Something nice and easy.”

He nodded and Steve leaned his forehead against Tony’s. “I’d never make you do anything you don’t wanna do, Tony,” he said, his voice serious and he could feel Steve’s eyes on his throat as he swallowed dryly. 

“I know,” Tony whispered back. “And I--” he licked his lips and squirmed. This was either gonna go either very very good or very very very bad. “I love you for it.”

“Oh,” Steve murmured, and his voice was a raspy gasp. “Tony, sweetheart--”

“It’s how I feel. And if, if you’re willing to take me,” He leaned to press a darting little kiss to the corner of Steve’s neck. “I’d like to be yours.” He smiled tremulously and bared his neck, exposing his uncollared neck. “After being mine.”

Steve’s voice was hoarse as his fluttering hands came to frame Tony’s waist through the skirt. “Sweetheart, yes . I love you too, so much, God, you have no idea.” Steve’s eyes were bright. “Yes, yes, yes!” He pressed his nose to Tony’s neck and he braced himself before Steve crept a warm hand under his shirt, untucking it from his skirt and his hand coming to grip Tony’s waist, skin-to-skin for the first time since their wedding night when he had helped Tony get undressed. 

So long had they come from there. 

“Relax, darling,” Steve’s voice was low and vibrating against his skin and he forced his muscles to unclench. As soon as he was limp in Steve’s arms did Steve bite down on his mark. 

“Oh!” It was like nothing else that Tony’d felt before. It was lighting through his very core, and soothing balm over raging nerves, a cool glass of water on a hot summer’s day. It was everywhere and in him, filling him with a warm delight as he slumped against Steve, limbs lax. “Steve,” he mewled, muscles blazing and he knew his eyes were blazing a bright omega gold. 

“Omega,” Steve growled, hiking him up and pressing kisses to his bonding mark that felt like ice water over a burn. 

He fell forward and Steve caught him, both of them trembling from head to toe and Steve pressed his nose to Tony’s neck, seemingly unable to keep himself off his most sensitive area. “I love you,” Steve rumbles, growling and holding him closer as if to protect him from any unknown attackers. “Shit, I love you so much, dolly, love you so much I can’t breathe sometimes. When you wake up and you’re all sleepy and soft and I just want to hold you and never let go, when you’re on an engineering binge and you get that genius look in your eyes, when you’re laughing and there are all these cute little crinkles around your mouth and I just want to eat you up, you’re so sweet--”

Tony felt overwhelmed at the words flowing out of Steve’s mouth, his hindbrain screaming at him to cuddle closer to his alpha, let him protect him forever and ever, and so he did, scenting Steve right back. 

Steve’s arm goes around his waist. “Do you want to go down?” Steve asked, and even though Tony can tell that Steve wants he’s so gentle, arms so careful on his waist that’s certainly filled out after Steve’s habit of stuffing him with food. “I can take you down, sweetheart, it doesn’t even have to be anything sexy.”

Tony shook his head. “Don’t want to, don’t want it to hurt, just want you to be gentle with me.”

Steve’s scent flared for a moment before his whole body was curling around Tony’s, pressing him into the back of the couch and he purred, nostrils full of Steve’s warm scent. “Nothing’s ever gonna hurt unless ya wan’ it to,” He heard Steve say and he sighed, wrapping his arms around Steve’s neck as Steve picked them both up and walked them to their bedroom, holding him jut a little it closer as Tony clung with all the strength he could muster up around Steve’s neck.

“Not ever dolly, not with me. My sweet omega.”

Steve put him down for a second and Tony whined, reaching out blindly for where Steve seemed to leave towards. He felt hands pass over his back, hushing him and he settled, peering up at Steve who was just as flushed. His mate--holy shit he’s bonded now--gave him an adoring look. “I’ll be right back, omega mine,” Steve rumbled, kissing his forehead. 

Omega mine .

“I’m y-your, your omega?” He stuttered out, body flushing hotly at the thought. “I’m yours?”

Mine ,” Steve growled, covering him with his whole body. “Mine, nobody else.” His alpha immediately blushed and Tony cooed mentally. “Sorry,” he mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck and sitting up. 

“Don’t be,” he muttered, kissing the corner of Steve’s downturned mouth and smiling fondly when Steve perked up. “It’s hot.”

“Hot?”

His face was burning, but he shoved down the urge to hide in the sheets, or even better, his alpha’s chest. He held up his hand, fingers pinched about an inch apart. “Lil bit. I mean, it would probably get old--”

Steve silenced him with a kiss that took Tony’s breath away and left his head spinning up in the clouds. “Love you,” he muttered, kissing him again. “Love you, love you, I’m never gonna get sick of saying that.”

Tony sagged back against the sheets in their nest and Steve got up. “I’ll be right back,” he promised, and Tony couldn’t help the pang in his chest when he got off of him. “Thirty seconds, doll,” Steve promised, Brooklyn creeping back into his voice. “Ain’t gonna be longer than that hon’, don’t’cha worry ‘bout it.” He curled his hand around Tony’s squeezing and straightening. “Count.”

“Count?”

“It’ll give you somethin’ ‘ta focus on, anyway.”

Steve hurried to the back of their closet and rifled around in the back. When he came back, walking fast and still in Tony’s line of view, Tony was at twenty-six. Steve pulled him into another kiss and Tony scrambled to sit up as Steve sat in front of him, putting the box into his lap. His alpha swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing and he tried to stop the swelling anxiety that bubbled in him through the bond that sang. He wasn’t ever gonna get used to how his brain wasn’t just him anymore, that Steve was right there and comforting him. He hoped it was just as nice of a feeling in Steve as it was with him. 

“This is my trying to be an alpha worthy of ya,” Steve said, rubbing the back of his neck and jaw clenching. “I hope, I hope you like it.”

Tony peered at him curiously, but didn’t say anything and took the top off the box and couldn’t help the soft gasp that bubbled out of his chest. It was a collar, soft leather, brown and soft on the inside to prevent chafing and a tag that pronounced him ‘love of Steve Rogers’. “Steve--”

“I hope you like it,” Steve interrupted. “I’ve never, nobody’s ever--” he blushed. “Nobody’s ever wanted to wear my collar, but I hope you like it. I know it’s not as expensive as you might be used to--”

“Steve,” he said, laughing, a little hysterical and throwing himself forward, trusting that Steve would catch him. His alpha did, wrapping his arms around himself and he purred, nuzzling at Steve’s collarbone and pulling away, knowing his eyes were wet. “I couldn’t care less how much it is,” he said, kissing the corner of Steve’s pinched mouth. “I’ve never, I’ve never had someone give me their collar,” he said shyly. “An’ it’s all those other omegas’ loss.” He knew he sounded smug, and he couldn’t care less. “Means you’re all mine.”

“D’you, d’you want me to put it on ya?” Steve sounded breathless and Tony just had to kiss him again. 

“Okay, okay,” he said, turning so Steve could put the collar on him. 

Steve’s hands were warm and just the slightest bit shaky as they clasped the collar around his neck. He shivered and felt the leather resting heavy and soft soft soft against his thundering pulse. 

He looked in the mirror and saw Steve looking at him with a satisfied and half-predatory look that made him want to roll over and bare his neck. 

“Lookin’ good darlin’,” his voice was slow and low, arm going to wrap around his waist and haul him up to lean him against his chest, where Tony went willingly. “Lookin’ real good, omega mine.”

Chapter Text

A week later, they’d come even closer if that was possible, spending most of their waking moments with each other in their apartment.

They'd established something of a routine, but to Steve, mornings were his favorite .

Tony sat in his lap, a warm weight for breakfast the next morning. He was helping himself to breakfast from Steve's bowl and occasionally bumped his lips with a spoon to feed his alpha(it was in an omega's nature to nurture and care for what they considered family, and he didn't mind being pampered every now and then).

Frankly speaking, Steve'd never imagined this kind of future, not when he was a skinny punk that got into too many fights, or when he got the serum and had thought the war was never gonna end. He was rifling through the mail, setting things aside until something caught his eyes, a fancy-envelope with an embossed seal on it that probably cost more than his rent before the war. His heart sunk as he realized who it was from and he grimaced, which was, in the end, probably what got Tony's attention.

“Steve? Anything interesting?” Tony wasn’t paying attention, he knew, but he hesitated to give the envelope to him(well not directly--Tony hated being handed things), especially when he caught sight of the return address. “Alpha?”

He nuzzled Tony's neck soothingly, peppering kisses under his collar as Tony purred, languishing in the adoration, soft and sweet and safe as Steve would always hope he'd be, even after he was gone. "Um, nothing much, Tones," he muttered. He wished he was a better actor because Tony turned to straddle him, spoon clanking against the now-empty bowl.

"Spill."

"Yeah, alright, just one thing." He held the envelope up and Tony seemed to recognize it before he opened it.

“Oh.” Tony’s lips parted and his scent took a sour tang as the scent of fear began to permeate into the air. “I--”

“I haven’t opened it, sweetheart,” Steve said quietly, unsure of what to say. “D’you--”

"Open it." Tony's voice was obviously trembling, but if the omega didn't want to acknowledge it, he wasn't going to say anything. "Let's see what it is."

“It could just be a letter from your Ma?”

"No," Tony dismissed the notion barely after it passed his lips. "Mamma never used the Stark seal when she mails me letters, she usually doesn't even use the fancy paper that Howard or the housekeepers like."

Steve didn’t have anything to say to that, and he tugged Tony closer into his lap, grip tightening on his thigh as Tony snuggled closer. He read aloud, voice echoing through the otherwise empty room, only accompanied by Tony’s shaking breaths.

Dear Mr. Rogers and family,

You have been cordially invited to breakfast at the Stark Manor with the accompaniment of Mr. and Mrs. Stark this following Saturday. Breakfast will be served promptly at eight AM, and we hope you will be there.

Sincerely,

The Stark household

When he looked back up, Tony was somehow paler than before he read the letter.

"Oh God," Tony mumbled, and Steve was struck with the panic radiating off his omega through his scent and body language, not to mention the closeness in his head now due to their bond (not that he cared when the anxiety came at him; the good feeling of home and happy and safe far outweighed the instances of panic and hurt). "Oh God, shit--"

"Hey! Tony, c'mon back to me, sweet pea." He peppered kisses over Tony's face, cupping his face in his hand so Tony would turn wet eyes onto his. "We don't have to go, doll, I'm not pressuring you. If you don't wanna go, then we don't go. Period."

Tony sniffed hard and rubbed a hand over his face, eyes heartbreakingly sad. "But, but, Howard will think I did something. And, and, it's not good form to be, be rejecting what would be considered a polite invitation from your in-laws, it doesn't make sense," Tony's voice rose in pitch and fervor. "They're going to think I did something, foul play, it doesn't matter."

Steve chewed on the inside of his cheek as he thought. His omega had a point.

“I mean,” Tony sniffed and smiled at him tremulously. “We did know that we’d have to see him eventually. I mean it sucks that it’s on his terms--”

"You're so brave, you know that?" Steve hauled Tony closer and began to walk them to their bedroom.

"Steve!" Tony squeaked in surprise but was laughing wetly, resting his head on Steve's shoulder He had a free glance to Tony's still red and raw biting mark and it was practically teasing him, begging to be kissed and sucked on to make Tony squirm in all the right ways. They hadn't gone any further than making out and some petting, but he can imagine what Tony'd be like under him, flushing and writhing, all sweet and begging pretty.

(He's woken up with his dick begging for attention more than once in the last couple days as Tony stayed curled over him. He knew there would be a lot of long extra long showers in his future as long Tony looked sweetly at him like he always did, even when exasperation or irritation colored his features.

Sometimes Tony would look at him with heavy-lidded eyes, and his shirt will ride up a little farther than natural. He’d bend over, always with an excuse on his lips that Steve knew was artificial. Not for the first time, he thanked Erkine for the self-control he'd instilled in Steve with the serum.)

He caved to his instincts and brushed a kiss over Tony's neck, and his omega shifted in his grip, squirming, delightfully sensitive. "You sad," Steve mumbled. "Don' like that."

Tony giggled, humor filing the bond. “You sound like a caveman.” He lowered his voice in a mock growly voice. “Omega sad. Me no like.”

He bit down on Tony's neck playfully, and Tony squealed, jerking and flopping onto the bed, wrapping his arms around Steve's neck when Steve toppled him onto the bed gently. He growled against Tony's neck, and his omega went limp, squirming. "Me love omega," he lowered his voice in a mockery of Tony's caveman voice. "Omega best."

Tony giggled and then arched off the bed, and Steve dug his fingers into Tony's ticklish sides. He squealed, thrashing as Steve held him down, his hits feeling like a kitten batting at him with its paws as he tickled Tony relentlessly. "Okay! Okay! Manhattan, Uncle, whatever, please!"

He froze. “Manhattan?”

Tony smiled at him, if confusedly. "On, on our wedding night," he began hesitatingly, sweet voice soft and hesitant. "You set, Manhattan as a safe phrase. Is that still, are we still--" he trailed off.

"Yeah, sweetheart," Steve muttered, leaning in for a kiss that immediately turned filthy, as Tony moaned and let Steve take control, letting Steve sweep through his mouth and groaning at the taste of Tony in his mouth and under him and.

Shit.

He reared back and held himself back from where Tony blinked confusedly up at him, mouth wet and shiny with spit, lips bruised and swollen just the slightest bit. “Shit, Tony, I’m sorry,” he babbled, running his hands through his hair just to keep out from touching the omega in the bed. "You said you weren't ready, and I--"

"What, like I wasn't a completely willing participant?" Tony sniped back, and he fell silent, sitting back on his heels.

“I--”

“I told you I wasn’t ready. And I think, I think that in the week from then and now, I’m a lot better. You’re, you’re in my head,” Tony laughs. “I trust you. And also, y’know, we’re bonded.”

Steve let his hands rest innocently on Tony’s shoulders. “Bonded doesn’t mean we need to have sex, sweetheart. Hell, I’d be perfectly happy even if we didn’t have sex ever, sweetheart. It’s not just that I’m in for.”

"So you don't wanna have sex with me?" Tony sounded hurt, and that was so far from the truth that Steve was either gonna laugh or cry.

“No! No no no, honey, you are the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen in all my days, Jesus,” Steve groaned and gave in, wrapping his hands around Tony’s little waist. “The sweetest, most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.”

“Then I want you. And I’m ready,” Tony said, arching to press his chest against Steve and he can’t breathe at the trust Tony’s put in him. “Now, if you aren’t, I can wait.” His eyes sparkle as he repeated something Steve had told him when Tony had confided in his fearfully through tears that he wasn’t ready for sex, that it wasn’t on the table. “I’ll always wait for you.”

"Tony," he groaned, and he whipped off his shirt as fast as he could, rucking up Tony's nightgown and smirking at his startled squeak that tapered off into a soft moan. 

Tony stared at him with eyes that were so dilated he could just see a sliver of the honey-brown behind, and he flexed a little, biceps tensing, grinning when Tony’s eyes dilated. He smirked when the scent of Tony's slick--chocolatey and sweet--began to permeate the air.

In turn, he studied Tony's bare skin, committing the sight of his mate's body to memory, the soft skin that stretched for miles, nicked with scars that make him sick to think about but just looked gorgeous now. His pants got even tighter as he committed the sight of his mate's body to memory.

(He hates the way Tony got some of the scars, but they just add to the story of Tony Stark-Rogers and Steve’s in love with every piece and fraction of that story.)

He told Tony so and his omega arched up to meet him in another filthy kiss, groaning sweetly, as he tugged the rest of Tony's gown off, leaving Tony is soft baby-blue lingerie that makes his mouth water. He's wearing a garter and stocking for the chill, but they were still lace and soft and make his dick take attention. Steve grins and tugs at Tony's bra strap teasingly as his nipples peek through the sheer lace. "This certainly doesn't look like a sleep set, sweetheart," he drawled. "Care to tell me something?"

“I, I might’ve--”

“Planned this? Hm?” he ran a hand up Tony’s thigh and raised an eyebrow in question. “ You went and got some pretty lacy things—“ Steve leaned down to kiss Tony’s stomach. “Christ, you’d gonna kill a fella lookin’ like this.”

Tony had the nerve to giggle while looking so sweet and Steve hurriedly shoves his own his trousers down and tosses them somewhere behind him. “Got them with Pepper,” he said chuckling and dragging him down for a kiss. 

“Yeah, well I’ll have to thank her. Anyway, didja plan this?”

Tony shivered. “I mean not like this,” he said, blushing. “Not exactly the start I was thinking about. But, yeah, I did. You complaining?”

"No," Steve said finally, a smirk starting to spread over his face in awe and a whole lot of lust. His dick strained in his pants and he sighed. He needed Tony out of his clothes now. "You put the garter or the panties on first?"

“Garter.”

Steve smirked, even as he let his voice soften. "Stoplight system okay? Just say Manhattan if you want everything to stop, baby, whatever makes you feel safe."

Tony nodded fast. “Uh-huh, red yellow green, I’m so so so green, please .”

"Gotta get through that first, honey," he crooned even as he unfastened the garter and eased it off with the stockings. He wanted his hands touching all that skin with nothing between them, as gorgeous as the lingerie was. "Gorgeous, I ever tell ya that?" he crooned, rubbing his knuckles against where he could see Tony's slick darkening the fabric of the panties. "Absolutely beautiful."

Tony panted, whimpering and sensitive as Steve pretended he wasn’t rubbing right against that spot that made all omegas go wild. He leaned down and after Tony had nodded pleadingly, he sucked at Tony through the fabric of his bra and his omega squealed, writhing. He pulled back and unclasped Tony’s bra delicately, careful not to let any of the pretty lace snag on anything, not that there was much to snag on in their bed. His panties though were a separate situation. “Shit, honey, you smell like you’ve put out enough slick to drown a fella,” he groaned, easing just the tip of his thumb in through the panties and watching Tony eagerly suck in a breath, absolutely begging for it.

“I’m sorry,” Tony said, gasping, but he writhes obediently. “I just, I just--”

“I know doll,” he crooned, and he forgot how good this could feel. “I know baby, you just need someone to pop your cherry huh?”

Tony flushed hotly and he grinned. Score. "You a virgin, Steve?"

“Nope,” he said, blushing when Tony looked at him with interest. “Uh, me and the Commandos, we were given the high treatment after they proclaimed Hitler dead while we were in London. They gave us access to a pleasure house for a night, booked the whole thing out for me and the guys.” He grinned ruefully. “Any bit of virgin in me was taken right out.”

Tony stared. “You lost your virginity in a whorehouse?”

"Mh-hm," he said. "But it just means I can pleasure you better, huh?" And without further ado, he leaned down to lick at Tony's hole--and Tony wailed . “Means I can play you just like this, honey,” he crooned, and Tony squirmed, groaning and pushing down on his face. He sobbed outright when Steve pulled away after a second to tug Tony’s panties down. “Just takin’ these off, honey, I know, I’ll get right back to giving your hungry hole exactly what it needs.”

Tony moaned, arching up and wrapping hands behind his knees so Steve had full access to his sopping wet hole. He couldn't imagine a sweeter omega. "So good," he muttered thickly, before diving in and setting out to make Tony scream. Tony tasted sweet, dripping all over his tongue and his chin, and the thought of his face being covered in slick served as more of an incentive to lick him out and than a deterrent, as strange as it seemed.

"Steve! Please! Please, don't you want to stick your knot in me?" Tony's voice was cajoling, the plea of a dying man--having nothing to bargain with but begging anyway. "Have me at your mer CY !" His voice rose in pitch and he shuddered bodily when Steve curled his tongue just right and sucked, squealing and shoving back into the pillow, trying simultaneously to get away from and get closer to the unending pleasure.

He pulled away with one final broad lick over Tony's dripping hole and smiled at Tony. His omega was flushed and panting and red all over, squirming fruitlessly as he tried to get his cock some attention when Steve held his hands down. "I'm gonna stretch you now," he said gently. "Color?"

“Green.”

He eases one finger against Tony’s hole and it sucks it in hungrily. “Oh, sweetheart. Your pussy is so hungry for it, ain’t it?”

“I’m not a girl!” Tony panted but a gush of slick heralded his statement. He rocked down on the finger. “C’mon, move, please!”

“For a virgin,” Steve mused. “You are very eager for it.”

“I’ve had heats before, c’mon, just fuck me already!”

Steve laughed and leaned down to kiss Tony's sweaty forehead, his omega going limp with relief. He started to move the finger in and out, teasing Tony and leaving him right on the edge until he found that sweet spot that had Tony arching up with a shriek.

(Belatedly, he worried about what the neighbors would think, but the way Tony was writhing on the sheets outweighed his sense of propriety.)

He eased in another finger, and then another and scissored them until Tony threw his head back and begged, actual tears rolling down his face and Steve--

He can admit that no amount of self-control would have let him say no to that.

He pressed up against Tony's now loose and sloppy hole, and Tony moaned like he was dying just from the blunt pressure where he was the most sensitive, and Steve slipped in.

He had to stop for a second, panting. Tony was screwing his eyes shut under him, corners of his eyes pinched with pain and he groaned, covering Tony with his whole body and pressing kisses to all the skin he could reach. "Shit shit shit, you're perfect, God, you're so sweet, take your time," he groaned, voice hoarse. “No rush, take your time, honey.”

Tony wrapped his arms around his neck and just held on. It's several long minutes later when Tony gives him the go-ahead and, well.

There’s no stopping from there.

He came harder than he'd ever in his life, harder than when his rut first struck and he'd rubbed himself off so many times that his room had stank for days after, as well as in the whorehouse where his insane refractory period kept him going for hours. His knot swelled fast and Tony screamed. He spurted in between them as so much pressure was put right over that spot that made him moan and his cock jump an Steve moans at the rush of heat in between them as Tony twitched. Steve, on the other hand, came back to himself as the aftershocks of pleasure stopped and his knot swelled to its full girth, holding them together for the next twenty-ish minutes.

Tony gasped and whined, wriggling under him and sharply sucking in a breath.

"Tony? Is it too much, sweetheart?"

Tony screwed his eyes shut again and cried out softly, body clenching instinctively around his knot and trying to push him out and suck him deeper simultaneously. "Alpha," he pleaded breathily. "P'ease!" His face was wet with tears, ruddy tracks running down his cheeks. Steve bent down to kiss away any tears that were still rolling down his cheeks, pressing repeated kisses to Tony's cheek as he shuddered and twitched from the remnants of his orgasm.

“Here, okay, just hang on, dolly? Can you do that?”

Tony sagged into the arms that Steve eased under him, completely trusting in the fact that Steve would catch him. "Uh-huh," he hiccuped, "Just, just--"

"Don't'cha worry, c'mon, I gotchu." He eased them over so Tony was straddling his knot and it wasn't pulling uncomfortably, and he finally went limp with a little hiccup, nuzzling into his chest.

"I liked that. it was just—a lot. But I liked it." Tony sounded shy, voice soft in the silence of the bedroom and Steve laughed, Tony whining when he was jostled as his chest moved up and down. He rubbed hands over Tony's shoulders, back, and down between his legs to check the state of his knot every now and then, just to listen to the gorgeous little noise Tony made when he traced his wet rim. "Can we do that again?"

Steve laughed, rumbling to make Tony purr and clutch him tighter. "Yeah, doll. Whatever you want." Tony smiled and leaned up to peck him in the mouth. "Whatever you want."

Tony giggled and started to press little kisses to his neck, over his scent gland and he sighed. "Don't start something, Tony, if you don't intend to finish it."

"Again?" Tony's eyes were wide. "Really?"

"Perks of the serum," he drawled. "'S why I had more than one girl at the whorehouse."

"Yeah?" Tony said, but he seemed a little put-out.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Steve was worried, and he started to sit up but quickly slumped back as Tony let in a sharp little inhale and shook his head rapidly.

"No! No, I'm not, it's too big, wait--"

"Okay, okay," his hands were big and soothing on Tony's sweat-covered waist and Tony flopped back down, breathing shakily. "I'm not going anywhere, don't'cha worry now. You wanna tell me what's wrong?"

"No." Tony sounded mulish and he smiled. His mate's stubborn streak was starting to show and he enjoyed their little squabbles more than he'd thought he would.

"C'mon, dolly," he cajoled. "Please?"

"I just--" Tony huffed. "I don't like thinking about you with those other omegas."

"Oh?" Steve tried to tamp down on his delight but probably failed when Tony glared at him indignantly. "Is my baby jealous?"

Tony flushed. "No! I just--I don't--oh, shut up!" He shoved at Steve's shoulder and he quickly schooled his face into something resembling sincerity and seriousness.

"No, doll, I don't mean 'ta offend you or nothing, sweetheart. It's very sweet, makes me feel good."

Tony hummed, a little proud that he'd taken care of his alpha like he was supposed to, but Steve could tell he was ready for a nap. "Next time, I wanna get my mouth on you," he mumbled sleepily and Steve grinned, dick perking up and knot pulsing, but he didn't move to do anything about it when Tony just groaned slightly and pressed his hand to his belly.

"Not sad anymore?" Steve drawled and Tony huffed. Steve rubbed his shoulders and digging his thumbs into the tight muscle, lulling him to sleep on his knot. "Baby?"

"Can't be sad with you," Tony mumbled, eyelashes fluttering against his skin. "You chase all the bad stuff away."

Steve smiled and rested back, content to lie there and enjoy the feel of his omega on top of him, warm and safe and secure in his love for him like he deserved to be, as Tony took a much-needed nap. "I'm glad I could do that for you, sweet pea."

Chapter Text

Tony isn't sure how this argument started exactly, but it was probably when Steve had seen him sway the lightest when Steve had asked him to wipe down the counters, and he'd hurried to comply. He’d been off-kilter ever since they received the letter, and his grip on his emotions was failing enough that his mate noticed too. Steve saw that his omega was a lot more subby than he would normally be, and while Steve was right--

“I’m not going down,” Tony insisted, trying to hide his backing away.

“You need to go down,” Steve insisted stubbornly, and Tony quelled his fear stubbornly.

“No, no, I’m not gonna go down and have it hurt,” he ignored his voice wavering. “I don’t want it to hurt anymore, no, please, I don’t--” he backed up and met Steve’s wide eyes.

"I'm not gonna make it hurt, baby," Steve said gently, but Tony couldn't get rid of the thought of lying on the ground as Howard brought the belt down again and again, as he cried. How he would whisper 'red' over and over again into his hands. How he'd whispered stop shakily, but Howard had heard and spat at him that no good sub would've said that, no decent omega had the right to say no . “I promise, but you need to go down.”

“No,” Tony mumbled, backing up and whimpering as his sore ass bumped the door. He grabbed his coat and clutched it to his chest. If Steve kicked him out, at least he’d have something warm to be in. “No.”

Steve huffed a frustrated breath. "I." He grunted and stormed past him to grab his own coat, opening the door, only turning to say, "There's no point. We'll talk when you're not hysterical." And with that, he was gone. It would probably be better if he'd slammed the door, but he'd only shut it with a soft click, and Tony dropped his coat unceremoniously onto the ground.

"Steve?" he croaked needlessly at the door, stepping back shakily and tripping over his coat. He landed on his ass and couldn't help the whimper that came when his sore ass and back made hard contact with the ground, curling into a ball on the cold ground. He pressed his forehead between his knees and trying not to hyperventilate.

He hauled himself up later, after what seemed like years, but was only thirty minutes. He missed Steve in his bones, mating mark smarting and sending pangs like hunger through his whole body. He stripped off his clothes quickly. When his punishment came, he could at least be ready. He didn't know what Steve used, a paddle, his hand, or--he shuddered to think of it and nearly fell over with how hard he'd convulsed--a belt. He considered getting a pillow for his knees but didn't get one. Maybe Steve would go easy on him if he realized that Tony had put himself through half the misery.

(Who the hell was he kidding?)

He stared straight ahead and chanted ‘ It’s okay, you’ll be okay, you deserve the punishment ' quietly in his head to keep from hyperventilating; that constituted as freaking out and Howard vehemently did not approve of that. He heard the front door open with a soft click, and he bit his lip hard. He'd be fine, it was nothing he'd never taken before.

"Tony? Honey?" Their bedroom door opened, and he heard a soft gasp as Steve presumably saw him. He didn't turn, but he lowered himself so his head was down and ass up. He ignored the way it pulled at his muscles and lowered his head into his arms. He didn't know if Steve wanted him to make noise, but it was probably the safest thing to be quiet. It's not like anyone would wanna hear him anyway. "Sweetheart, what the hell are you doing?"

He should've just gone down as Steve'd asked, but now he was here and Steve was gonna hurt him. He braced himself, clenching down before relaxing because he knew it would hurt more and then doing it again instinctively.

“Hey! Hey, honey, c’mon, I’ve got you, talk to me.”

He took that as permission and started to babble apologies, lips moving as fast as he could to get everything out before Steve laid into him. "I'm sorry, Sir. Master. I didn't mean to be bad, Master. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Master. You can do whatever you want, Master. It's not my place, Master." And on and on he babbled, cursing as he slumps farther and farther down into subspace. He shudders and then flinches when Steve puts a hand on his bare shoulder, before cringing all over again because he's not supposed to do that, not ever--

“Sh, sweetheart, I’m not gonna hurt you.”

That’s--That’s wrong, he’d been bad--

“C’mon back to me Tony, Tones, sweet pea. C’mon, you’re my good boy, ain’tcha? My sweet doll, my fella.”

Tony's face was burning, and he sank lower so his head is on Steve's foot. He bites back the urge to wrinkle his nose and tries--and fails--not to cry. "Bad boy," he whispered, shaking his head. "Bad?"

“No, sweetheart, not my doll.”

“Bad,” he whimpers again, breaths hitching out of him in ungainly sobs that he kept trying to muffle. Crying wouldn’t fix anything, he was bothering his alpha too, he was being weak. Useless . He had to be useful, he had to show his worth, or Steve would throw him out, and it was Steve's right as his alpha to do what he wanted. "So so bad, deserve punishment." He muttered, trying to stop the ringing in his ears. Steve's hand moved down to his back, and he braced himself. If Steve wants to hit him, he can. If he wants to fuck him (he's still loose from the morning before, but it would burn like hell, he knew), he can.

“No, honey,” Steve muttered before Tony is straightened with Steve’s grip on him and pulled into his lap. “Not my sweet pea, not my Tones. I’m not gonna hurt you.”

"Bad," he mumbled one last time, but Steve was pressing kisses to his forehead repeatedly and Tony can feel himself go down more. He was teetering on the edge of a deep drop, and Steve seemed to know it too.

“Not bad, but doll you’re dropping.”

“I’m sorry,” he whimpered, and Steve sighed, pulling him closer and tilting his chin so that he was looking right into Steve’s worried blue eyes.

"I'm not mad, doll. I shouldn't have pressured you into doing that. Do you remember when I told you that I'm not gonna make you do anything you don't wanna do? I stick to that and what happened was a mistake."

“I--” He swallowed. “I’m dropping, Steve--”

Then he fades out and everything goes white.

"C'mon, few more steps," Tony staggered forward, face burning with embarrassment and he shuddered, going to a stop. He doesn't--He doesn't know where the couch is, for all he knows Steve is leading him in front of a crowd who could all be laughing at him. He doesn't know what's going on. He whimpered, and he felt a hand go to rest on his back, warm and safe.

“Sh, doll, the couch is only a few feet in front of ya.”

He shook his head, knuckles white, and Steve cursed. He trembled from head to foot. God, he's being so bad, maybe--maybe Steve would punish him, and he whimpered quietly.

“Okay, too much, breathe for me, Tony.”

He inhaled shakily and he felt Sir put a warm hand on his waist and guide him onto kneeling on a pillow at the base of the couch. He can feel leather bumping against his knees as he swayed, and he knew that he was kneeling facing Steve. He sighed with relief and felt Steve sit down in front of him, two large hands tangling in his hair, and he moaned softly before snapping his jaw shut with a click. His alpha removed his hands from his hair, and he felt his shoulders tense. Was he being bad? He wasn't sure, if--

Lots of alphas liked their subs quiet, and unfortunately for him, he’d always been a loud sub.

Stupid .

He wanted to apologize, but he wasn't sure if Sir would let him, and he let his eyes drop to the ground.

Steve's hands reappeared on his face, tilting his head up and his calloused fingers--two, it felt like, and they were so much bigger than his--brushed his lips. He opened his mouth obediently, but Steve eased his finger back out. “What’re you doin’ baby? Keepin’ all those sweet noises from your fella?”

Tony sighed and tried to take Steve’s fingers back into his mouth. “Sir,” he mumbled.

“Can you tell me how down you are?”

He felt a shock of fear as the answer came up blank in his blissed-out mind. He can't answer the question, he doesn't know the answer. He started to think about how bad he's being, how Steve would be disappointed in him, and he whimpered, curling into himself to at least try and protect his head, he's being so bad--

“Hey! Hey, look at me.” Tony whimpered and felt Steve grab his chin firmly and tug him up to meet Steve’s worried blue eyes. He felt flushed, and he already knew he looked like a mess, eyes glazed and hair probably a mess. “You’re not bad, baby, c’mon you’re such a good boy for me, such a good boy for your Sir.”

He let his mouth drop open a little. “Good?” His head wobbled like it wasn’t connected to his neck. He felt floaty, and Steve’s warm hand on his jaw was the bright point connecting his to their world. “‘M good, Sir? Because,” he swallowed nervously. “I’ve been trying real hard, to be good just for you.”

“I know you have, doll,” Steve murmured, and he felt chapped lips brush his hairline. “I just need to know how deep you are? Can you do that for your Sir?”

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled.

“Stop apologizing,” Steve said, firmly but gently.

“I’m very, ‘m so down, very down, very--” he frowned, trying to make his lips say the words right. “Very under, Sir.”

"Okay, baby." Sir cupped the back of his head, and Tony heard him sigh, wiping at Tony's face. He hadn't realized that he was crying. "Now I need to know why you're crying, sweetie."

He shuddered. He couldn’t answer that question, he didn’t even know, and a sob falls out of his mouth. And unfortunately for him, once he started, he couldn’t stop. “I don’t know Sir, I-I-I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he choked out, breaking, and shit now Sir, Sir would be extra mad. “Please just don’t be mad?” he pleaded, and he’s being so so bad .

"I'm not mad, you're still a good boy," Steve crooned, and the fingers are back at his mouth. "It's okay, you're just a little overwhelmed, aren't you baby?"

He nodded, hiccuping, and Steve took the opportunity to slide two fingers into his mouth. He sucked on them gratefully. It's better now, now that something was in his mouth and giving him something to focus on. He'd always had an oral fixation, and the fingers in his mouth hit every sweet spot in him.

“There we go,” Steve crooned, groaning quietly when Tony lapped at his fingers. “There we go, sweet pea, you just needed something’ in your mouth, huh?”

He tried to nod around the fingers in his mouth, and Steve hushed him gently, wiping away some of the tears that still rolled down his face. "Yes Sir," he tried to say though it came out more as yshshirr .

"There we go, baby, you just kneel there, huh?" Steve was petting his hair, and he melted. Steve guided him to lean against his muscled thigh, enough that his breath was ghosting tantalizingly over Steve's cock that was starting to take attention. Steve didn't acknowledge it, and Tony let his eyes drift shut. "You need to tell me anything, tap on my thigh twice alright? Three times if you're completely safewording for me, dollface."

He mumbled softly around Steve's fingers, and Steve continued to pet his hair.

He pulled out of subspace hard, achy, and understandably grumpy. Steve had eased him up and fed him carefully with little pieces of fruit and nuts, and once he was fully up Steve had carted them both to their nest, where Steve let him wrangle their nest. He pulled Steve in to cuddle.

"We've gotta talk, sweet pea."

Tony shook his head. “No, we don’t,” he muttered. “It’s not my fault.”

“I know it’s not, sweet thing,” Steve said, sounding surprised. “Honey, I know, but we also need to discuss your heat.”

"My heat?" He sat up, and Steve sighed, laying back and opening his arms for Tony to cuddle into them.

"I can smell it on ya, baby, but can you come to cuddle with your fella? Please?"

"No! What the hell?" He scrambled out of the nest, and Steve sat up slowly, brows furrowing. "You--You tried to pressure me into dropping, and now you're telling me that you knew this whole time, that I was gonna go into heat soon and you didn't bother to even mention it to me?"

Steve frowned and him and Tony suddenly wanted to punch him in his stupid, perfect face. He knew that that was the hormones talking, and he was more emotional than he would be, but a good majority of it was at the sheer impudence of it. Heats were a sacred thing, something cherished by a bonded couple, and for Steve to not even mention that he knew something that was intimately close to him as an omega and simply himself made his chest ache and vision wash pale.

"Honey," he said, but didn't make any move to get out of the bed, where Tony was standing with his back flush against the wall. For that, Tony was pathetically grateful. He was no match for Steve, and even though Steve could have him pinned against the wall before he even tried to move, he felt safer standing away. "Sweetheart, please."

“No.” He inhaled shakily and scrubbed a hand over his face. “If you knew I was going into heat, then you should’ve known that I was dropping. And what’s the first thing an alpha should not do?” He turned away and covered his face with his hands.

“Tony,” Steve sounded agonized. “I know, and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.”

“Damn right it is,” he whispered, and when he turned back around Steve’s eyes were bright.

Steve opened his arms out and smiled shakily at him, and he felt his knees wobble precariously. “Can you come here, doll? You’re gonna drop again, sweet thing, c’mon, you have every right to be angry, but you’re gonna be unsteady, especially after coming out of a huge drop like that.”

Tony sighed, shuffled to stand in front of his alpha, and Steve pressed warm hands to his waist, smiling waveringly at him. Steve leaned over to grab his jacket and pulled it around him. He buried his nose in the collar of the jacket and took a shaky inhale, as Steve zipped him up so that the jacket covered him. The jacket was long enough that it passed the curve of his ass. "I'm still mad," he muttered.

“I know. And, admittedly,” he could literally hear Steve swallow. “I wasn’t trying to get you to drop just for you.”

“Not just me?”

“No, well, I did know that you needed to go down, sweet thing, but I, when I don’t take a sub down often enough, it’s like there’s an itch under my skin. And it hurts ," his voice broke and when Tony looked at his face, Steve's face was wet, and he was wiping at his nose messily. "It hurts so bad, and it just gets worse."

“When did you start feeling--”

“Week and a half ago.”

Tony inhaled painfully, and Steve gave him a shrug, scrubbing at his face. “I’m not--I got used to it hurting, especially before the serum because it’s not like any O wanted to go down for a fella like me anyway.”

“That’s stupid,” Tony said, his own eyes prickling. “I’ve seen the picture, you were--you were just as attractive then as you are now.”

Steve raised an eyebrow.

He laughed nervously and pushed closer to Steve, and his alpha moved his hand to rest over the small of his back. "You're cute now, obviously, but you were still attractive. An' I'm glad those omegas didn't," he said, giving in to the urge to kiss Steve's forehead. His alpha's eyes fluttered, and he tipped forward so that his forehead was against Tony's stomach. "Means I landed you, didn't I?"

"I love you," Steve muttered. "And I--what I felt like doesn't excuse what I did. I never should've left, and it is my fault." He sounded tired, like he was exhausted from just talking. He was just 27, Tony thought with horror, and Steve pressed his face to Tony's stomach, sighing and inhaling deeply. His poor alpha had seen more than most others had seen their whole lives, and Tony's heart hurt for the alpha in his arms that had a burden that was far too big for a single man.

"My alpha," he murmured. "My alpha, too good for this, too good for this world. It's okay, honey," he said slowly. And he meant it. He couldn't blame Steve for losing his mind a little and acting funny--Steve was just doing his best in a world of pain. He might be pissed later, but right now he just wanted to give Steve a hug. He tangled his fingers in Steve's tousled hair and tugged gently. "I love you, sweetheart. And it's okay."

He shuffled closer between Steve's spread knees and didn't mention the way he could feel wet seep into the jacket.

 

Chapter Text

Saturday was a much dreaded day.

“I hate this,” Steve grumbled petulantly, and he didn’t bother trying to hide it when Tony glanced at him. He smiled a reluctantly, turning to fiddle with his own outfit. He tugged at his bowtie before sighing and turning to Steve, mouth twisted into a little frown and his tongue poking out when he saw how Steve was fiddling with his tie. He walked over silently and began to tie it for him, nimble fingers trembling on the fine silk. “Thank you, Tony.”

“Mm,” Tony mumbled distractedly, pulling back with his hands on his hips as he looked at Steve approvingly. “You look good,” he said, and Steve reeled him in with a hand on his hip, right above where the skirt tapered out. “Handsome.”

“You’re the pretty one out of the two of us, don’t even try sweetheart,” Steve joked and sat down, careful not to wrinkle his clothes after Tony had spent the night before ironing out the old suit. “Look how beautiful you look, sweetheart.”

Tony didn’t really smile, though he did perk up. 

Steve sighed. Laughter was not going to work. 

“I know,” Steve said finally, addressing the elephant in the room, and Tony went limp. He perched on the bed next to him, leaning his cheek on Steve’s shoulder. “I know, baby, I’m sorry that you have to do this.”

Tony shrugged. “I just wanna get this over with.” He got to his feet and made to leave (and pretend he wasn’t scared out of his mind) but Steve tugged him into the V of his knees. 

“Anthony,” he said softly, and Tony shivered in his grip, blushing. “You look beautiful,” he murmured, and pressed a delicate kiss to Tony’s cheek, stroking his hands up and down the fine cotton of the back of the dress, tugging the deep V-neck and the fine silk of the shirt underneath. He tweaked the bowtie just to get Tony to bat at his hands helplessly, and Steve smiled. He pecked Tony’s cheek again. “Don’t let him win alright?”

Tony muffled a sob into the back of his hand, and Steve tugged him back against him, drawing him up onto his toes. “I’m not gonna,” he mumbled resolutely, still sounding heartbroken. “And I’m better, but why do I still feel like I’m gonna throw up?”

“Trauma isn’t linear,” Steve said, and he mouthed gently at Tony’s neck to get him to relax. “It’s terrible, darlin’, but at one point it becomes a little less terrible, and then less. Halvin’ halves.” He grinned crookedly, watching the flecks of gold dance in Tony’s eyes. “‘Course I wouldn’t know, baby, but that’s what the book said.”

“Using math on me is not winning you brownie points,” Tony mumbled, but leaned in for a kiss, pecking him and burning himself in Steve’s neck. Steve sighed, content, as Tony’s weight fell over him like a warm blanket on a cold winter. Tony pulled away first and Steve tried to grin for him. 

“Shall we?” He helped Tony into his coat and offered Tony his elbow as gallantly as he could, smiling, smug when Tony snorted and took his arm. “The driver should be here by now.” 

… 

“Captain Rogers, Mr. Stark-Rogers. Mr. and Mrs. Stark are waiting in the dining room for you.” The gentleman who opened the door was British, and his heart panged when he thought of Peggy and her no-nonsense matter that reminded him of Bucky. In another life, if Peggy hadn’t decided that the army was for her, or if he’d been brave enough to go speak to her beyond short conversation, maybe they could’ve been something more. But he wouldn’t trade Tony for the world. The man in question looked at him confusedly when Steve pulled him into his body, squeezing the hand on his back. He shook his head silently, and Tony gave him a soft smile. 

“It’s nice to see you, Jarvis,” Tony whispered quietly, and though Jarvis didn’t say anything, Steve caught the meaningful little smile that the elderly man gave him. 

“It’s good to have you home, Master Anthony,” Jarvis whispered as he opened the doors for the dining room. 

Steve tried his hardest to not let his jaw drop when he saw the splendor of the dining room, but the way Tony looked at him seemed to imply that he didn’t. 

“Captain Rogers! Steve, my good fellow,, how have you been?” Steve forced him to smile and accepted Howard’s hug and handshake reluctantly. From the corner of his eye, he could see Tony embracing his mother tightly, both of their eyes wet. “My son treating you well? Of course he is!” Howard said, smirking dirtily. “He’s had the best training, great for some,” he cleared his throat. “ Stress relief .”

He forced a chuckle out of his throat. “Yeah,” he muttered. “Sure.” Tony turned towards them, and Steve stealthily beckoned him to come back. Tony sidled up to his side, and Steve sighed with relief. He was pretty sure that Tony was the only thing keeping him from socking Howard in the jaw right there. 

“Hi dad,” Tony said quietly and Howard’s face immediately darkened looking at his son, looking him up and down detachedly. 

“Anthony.” He soudned dissaporivng and they hadn’t even talked yet. “Arer you being good?”

Tony nodded, biting his lip. “Yes, yes--father.”

“Mm,” Howard grunted before sitting down, his jovial mood entirely gone. “We’ll see.”

Tony swallowed and Steve gently guided him to his seat. As they sat, and the servants began to bustle to get the first course out Steve pressed his lips to Tony’s ear. “DOn’t let him even diminish your worth, Tony. DOn’t even let him in, you understand me? You’re worth millions of him.” He was near-growling and Tony sat up straighter, and Steve squeezed his knee, pulling away. When he looked back up Howard was watching disapprovingly. 

...

“Anthony,” Howard said, out of the blue as they all tucked into the meal. Steve noticed with no small amount of irritation that Tony had been served half the portion that he would normally eat. “Have you been attending to your alpha well? Following the rules?” His tone soured. “I’ve noticed you’ve gained weight.”

Tony blanched, and Steve covered his bouncing knee with his hand, squeezing. “Sir,” he licked his lips. “I--”

“He has, hasn’t he?” Steve said loudly, ignoring the way both Jarvis and Maria stared at him in surprise. Howard looked at him with approval. 

“I’m sorry about my son,” he said, glaring at Tony and Steve saw Tony discreetly brush at his face. “I’m sure that from now on he’ll be following the proper regimen, isn’t that right boy?”

Tony ducked his head and he could see a perfect crystalline tear trailing down his face before he wiped it away hurriedly. “Yes, sir,” he whispered, and Howard sniffed callously.

“You didn’t let me finish.” Steve near-barked, discreetly tugged Tony’s chair closer to his. “I was going to say that Tony looks even better now. He’s glowing and absolutely gorgeous.” His tone hardened as he bared his teeth in imitation of a smile. “Wouldn’t you agree, Howard ?”

“Of course,” Howard said passive-aggressively, mouth twisting with anger. He lifted his wine glass that had already been refilled twice mockingly, and Tony’s hands were shaking on his wine glass. “To Anthony’s everlasting health.”

The toast was listless, and he took a passive-aggressive sip of his wine. The flavor danced across his tastebuds and tried not to blink stupidly at how it tasted. He’d never had such fine wine, and he tamped down a lovesick smile when a burst of happiness flowed through the bond. He peeked out of the corner of his eye to see Tony smiling into his plate, and he squeezed Tony’s knee again. He took a bite of his eggs and had to bite back a groan. 

“I hope everything is to your liking, Captain Rogers,” Jarvis said, ever polite as his fork clinked the plate. 

“Of course,” he said, trying not to gush. He smiled. “These are--these are some of the best eggs I’ve ever had, Mr. Jarvis.”

“Of course,” Jarvis said, wrinkles creasing his face and making him look much older than he actually was. “It’s been such a blessing now that eggs are sold,” he said, smiling politely. 

Howard groaned. “Breakfast was so limited before.”

Limited.

He tried not to scoff as he thought about how pleased he and Buck would’ve been if their options were just limited . They’d scraped by lucky , and half the time they hadn’t even had anything but stale bits of bread and near-sour cheese to eat for dinner. He knew so many people who had sold everything they’d had for a scrap to eat, selling their wedding rings, and heirlooms, even themselves to make something for themselves and their families. 

Limited

Men who had sat up in their mansions on 5th or Park Avenue had no idea what the Depression was like for the rest of them. None. 

He didn’t realize that his scent had gone sour until Tony leaned over to press his cheek against his suit-clad shoulder, subtly kissing his neck before pulling away. “I know,” he mumbled as the conversation flowed, and nobody seemed to realize how he had reacted. “I know, sweetheart. I walked down to the tenements before, and there were--” he shivered. “So many omegas on the streets. Children, and families--”

Steve kissed his temple wordlessly. Tony straightened. 

The conversation delved into other things, like how Stark Industries was doing after the war and how they were losing money now that weapons were no longer needed in mass supply. Steve ignored the way his hands began to tremble, as the familiar creepings of panic slithered into his mind like a parasite. He didn’t want to think about the way those weapons were used, how he held his own weapons in his own hands that were covered in (not even) his own blood. 

“Steve,” Tony whispered, and he looked over to where Tony was picking at his plate. “Are you alright?”

Steve smiled as convincingly as he could but judging from the way that Tony sighed and pressed his thigh against his own, he wasn’t very successful. “Of course, sweetheart,” he murmured, checking to make sure Howard wasn’t watching before kissing Tony’s temple. “Nothin’s wrong.”

Tony frowned, unsure, and he felt a soothing balm of calm roll over him through the bond, and tension that he hadn’t even realized was there seeped out of him. “Better?”

He reached over to take Tony’s hand in his and squeeze. 

… 

Not even halfway into the meal, Howard was clearly drunk. He was stumbling over a story, and he kept breaking into laughter before he could finish the punchline. Tony was picking at his food, and Maria looked uncomfortable. The woman hadn’t said much. He was considering just starting a story at the risk of feeling awkward, just to get Howard to shut up before Howard called his name to get his attention. 

“You en-enjoyin’ my boy?” Howard giggled. 

His blood washed cold. 

Howard laughed drunkenly. “He’s a good ride, isn’t he? Taught the boy myself.”

His alright tense muscles froze and his stomach felt like it was training to be a gymnast. He’d known that--He’s heard about--he never expected Howard to have--

To hurt your own pup? That was—

He was going to throw up. 

“‘Course I did not really teach him, no, but I was in the room when teachin’. Boy’s got nearly no gag reflex anymore, should’ve seen how he cried!” he belched and Steve tugged Tony’s chair close to his and pulled the petite omega into his side. He was trembling from rage, sickness turning to anger, and Tony was eerily still in his knee, his bounding knee finally still. 

He looked at Tony and Tony was frozen in his seat, burning with shame. Tony flinched, ducking his head and avoiding his eyes. “Honey?” He whispered, and when he looked across the table Maria looked bone-tired and the Englishman looked mortified. 

“Sir,” Jarvis interrupted in his peculiar accent, voice harder than the previous polite but detached way he spoke. Steve knew that he and Tony were close, close as father and son, and Steve didn’t miss the fond look he’d thrown Tony’s way when they’d arrived. “I think it’s time for you to retire to your study.”

Howard went willingly when Jarvis all but dragged him out of his seat, and Maria looked exhausted. “Bambino?” she murmured guiltily, and Tony got up, chair knocking backward, pressing to his mother’s side. Maria tugged him into a hug, and he could see Tony trembling. He wasn’t surprised that Tony had gone to his mother first instead of his new primary “caretaker”. He didn’t begrudge him a touch from his Ma, sometimes all he wanted was another shepherd's pie and a strong hug from a brave woman. 

(He missed Sarah Rogers like hell.)

He heard murmuring but it wasn’t in English. Interesting . He hadn’t known that Tony spoke anything but English. 

He heard the clonk of fine leather on wooden flooring, and Jarvis hurried to the embracing mother and son, and Tony plastered himself to Jarvis’ side. Steve’s heart ached. He stood up, dropping his fork and standing as the trio looked at him with varying wariness. Tony peeled off first, stumbling into his arms, and he tugged him closer, burying his nose in Tony’s soft curls. 

“Steve,” there was an aborted little sob into his fine suit, dirtying the material. “Steve.”

“I know, sweetheart,” he murmured, shutting his eyes and tightening his grip on Tony’s waist. “C’mon, let’s go home,” he murmured, and Tony pulled away, leaning up to kiss him despite it being inappropriate with his mother right there. “C’mon pretty omega, let’s go.”

Tony's face was white and he didn’t react to Steve at all, eyes unfocused. He was trembling minutely even though Howard was gone and the physical danger had left. “Tony, honey?” He whispered softly, leaning down so his mouth brushed Tony's ear and low enough nobody else could hear. “Sweetheart?”

“I wanna go home,” he agreed absently fingers fisting in his jacket. Steve swore mentally and cursed Howard. Cursed him for how he’d hurt the beautiful man in front of him. Cursed him for all the times he’d said the very same things but crueler and hurt his mate. Finally, he cursed him for setting back all their progress. “Steve?”

“If you wanna go home, we’ll go home,” Steve murmured definitively and placed a steadying hand at Tony's back as he pulled away. “We—“

“I hope you feel better young Sir,” Jarvis said, face pinched with grief. No questions were asked, and Steve melted a little bit in relief before ushering his shaken omega closer to him. 

“Steve,” Tony sounded panicked. 

“Tony? Honey?”

“I think,” he swallowed. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

Tony had a greenish tint to him and stumbled a little bit in the direction of the wastebin before Steve lunged towards it and got it in front of Tony just in time for him to lose what of his lunch that they had just eaten. 

“Oh baby,” he murmured, before dropping to his knees and smoothing away the hair on his forehead. “Let it all out, babydoll.”

Tony hiccuped. “Can I—never mind, I got it.” He made to rise but Jarvis seemed to understand what Tony wanted.

“Water, young sir?”  

Tony nodded, fingers rubbing his own temple until Steve knelt behind him and took over.

Jarvis knelt beside him, pressing the cup to his hand. “I’m sorry, young sir.”

“Not your fault,” he croaked, but Jarvis didn’t seem to take it personally when he didn’t say much else. He drained the glass and set it on the ground, before twisting to hide in his suit coat. 

He scooped the omega up, bridal style, and let Maria tuck Tony’s coat over him. “Feel better, mio bambino,” she whispered, voice soft, and Tony cracked a little smile at her when she pressed a kiss to his forehead. 

“Thank you, Mama,” he whispered. He snuggled back into Steve’s chest, and he tucked Tony closer against him. 

“Sleep if you wanna, honey,” he said. He turned to Tony’s mother who had tears in her eyes and Jarvis who looked troubled. He nodded at them and turned to leave, but Maria hurriedly stopped him with a soft hand on his bicep. 

“We’ll see you out,” she said, and he knew that she thought he’d say no. This poor family. 

“Of course, ma’am,” he said, smiling politely. From what he could tell, Maria had done her best to raise Tony, but she couldn’t help him without helping herself first. “Mr. Jarvis?”

“Please call me Edwin,” he said, and handed Maria’s coat to her, helping her in when the elder omega shook. She covered her mouth when Tony snuffled, fast asleep in his arms. She sniffed softly before clamping down on it and wiping hurriedly at her eyes, whispering apologies. 

“Are you alright, ma’am?” 

“Of course, of course,” she said.

“But?” He smiled knowingly when she looked at him with surprise. “If you don’t mind me being frank, you and Tony both make the same face when you’re hiding something.”

Maria gave him a wobbly smile. “I just--I’d hope and prayed that Tony would’ve--that he was safe, that somebody was taking care of my baby, and I knew, I knew the chance that that would happen was slim to none.” Her eyes widened in panic and she looked at him, and in her eyes, he saw the ghost of what she could’ve been, a strong fearless woman who was broken down to scrape the bottom barrel. In her eyes, he saw of the shadow of Sarah Rogers and her fierce determination to do anything for her only son. “Of course, you seemed very nice, but--”

“I understand,” he said, tucking Tony into the car and he grazed knuckles over Tony’s cheek before shutting the door. “I get it, what he’s said about--it makes me sick.” 

Jarvis sighed, eyes trained on Tony’s sleeping form. “I’m glad that he married you,” he said finally. “Anthony is a good man.”

“The best,” he agreed. 

“We should take our leave,” Maria murmured, and she looked pained to be away from her boy. 

“Oh wait!” he recognized the pained look on her face and he saw a mirror of it on Tony’s sometimes when he looked at the picture that was over the mantle of him, his mother, Jarvis, and a petite brown-haired woman who he assumed was a family friend. “I just, I was hoping--”

“Captain?” Jarvis sounded cautious.

“I just--after Tony is out of his coming heat,” he said, keeping an eye on where Tony rested fitfully in the car, head resting at an unnatural angle. “I would love it if you could all come and visit us in the city. I know he’s been missing you, and—“

“My husband would never allow it.” Maria’s voice was soft and full of grief. It seemed that Tony was not the only one that had suffered at the Manor; he hadn’t even considered how Howard would’ve treated his own omega. His heart hurts. He’d always believed in karma, and he knew that what was coming for Howard would be the worst of all. 

“So don’t tell him, ma’am, please,” he pleaded. 

Maria nodded her head slowly, warming to the idea. “I could say I’m meeting a ladies group in the city,” she said, musing. She looked to the butler. “You could “attend” to me,” she added, adding air-quotes. 

Jarvis nodded, looking cautiously surprised. “That might just work. And if Sir was conveniently unavailable on work--”

“Thank you,” he breathed, knowing that they had all but agreed. “I’ll send a telegram when he’s out of heat.” He hurried into the car, rapping on the partition so the driver could take them home. He was about the shut the door when Jarvis stopped him with an elderly hand on the door handle.

“Captain,” Jarvis said, quiet. “Thank you.”

He smiled bitterly. “I wish you didn’t have to thank me.”

He looked in the side mirror just once when the automobile puttered down the driveway. Jarvis and Maria stood on the driveway watching them go. 

Tony woke up about half-way through the trip. “Steve,” he murmured, tear-tracks still smudging his makeup. “Alpha?”

He buried his nose in the crook of Steve’s arm and he pulled Tony into his lap. “Baby,” he murmured. “How’re you feelin’?”

Tony shrugged listlessly. “I think I’m goin’ into heat soon. I just wanna--” he scrunched up his face. “Curl up in my nest with you.”

“Nesting then,” Steve muttered, tilting Tony’s face towards his and kissing him softly, once of the mouth and once on the forehead. “Heat’ll prolly set in early tomorrow or close.”

Tony didn’t say anything, eyes searching his face. “Are you mad?” he asked finally, fingers reluctantly letting go of Steve’s rumpled suit coat. 

“‘Bout what?”

“Howard?”

“Nah, dollface,” he set his chin on top of Tony’s downy hair and Tony gripped his wrists with a desperate kind of hold. “‘S not your fault. Frankly, what that asshole said,” he took a breath. “He makes me sick, baby, ‘s not your fault.”

Tony didn’t say anything, but he could feel tears leak into his shirt the whole rest of the ride. 

He carried Tony in and, true to New York fashion, nobody so much as looked at him twice. He hurried up the stairs (he was faster, and he didn’t want anybody staring at them anyway) and Tony giggled mutedly, nosing at his scruff. “You’re like a prince,” he said, and Steve found it very hard to just walk up the stairs when Tony was nuzzling at his neck. “Carrying your king I suppose.”

“You are,” he pecked Tony’s mouth after he saw that the stairwell was empty of prying eyes, specifically their nosy neighbor Stan who liked to shove his nose where it didn’t belong. “A king, ain’tcha? Sweetest thing.”

Tony giggled again, and even though there were still tear tracks on his face, and his hair was askew, he looked happy. Ish. 

That needed immediate rectifying. 

He dropped Tony on their bed and immediately crawled over him, peppering kisses over his face and holding Tony down as he thrashed. “No!” he jerked, cackling with laughter. “Stahp, stahp!” 

“Feelin’ better?”

Tony pouted and reached up for him, as unwilling to let go of him as Steve was to Tony. “I’d be better if you gave me another kiss?”

Steve snorted and pressed a kiss to Tony’s mouth and pulled away. “Better?” 

“‘Nother one?”

Steve snorted and rolled to the side, suit jacket creasing. He turned Tony, so he was resting on Steve’s chest as he kissed Tony’s nose. “Baby,” he said, before scooping him back up and walking them to their fairly large bath. 

“Bath?” Tony rested his head on Steve’s shoulders, and he clung when Steve tried to set him down. “I’m not a pup, I can wash myself.”

“I know you can, but it’s soothing.” Steve set Tony down on the counter and was delighted to see that his feet didn’t even touch the ground. “Aw, short stack.”

Tony scoffed at him. “I am not!”

He squeezed Tony’s sock-covered ankle and started to strip hastily. “Yes, you are,” he teased. “Tiny little thing.”

“‘M not!” Tony scowled at him and turned his nose up when Steve reached to strip Tony of his clothes too. “Nuh-uh, you can’t be expected to touch me after that. Betrayed.”

“Tony! C’mon, you won’t be kind to your poor fella?” he leaned in to rub their noses together, and Tony dissolved into laughter. 

“Fine,” he managed, and Steve immediately started to tug at his clothing. “C’mon, slow down!” He hopped off the counter and started to take his own clothes off. His eyes widened at the soft brassiere that Tony was wearing, and he leaned in to give Tony’s ass a squeeze when he turned to unfasted his garter. Tony yelped in surprise. “Steve!”

“What,” Steve’s voice lowered. “I can’t give my doll a squeeze? Look how gorgeous you look, Tony, I can’t help it.”

Tony sighed. Once he was bare, he allowed Steve to tug him into their full bathtub. STve pulled him to straddle his lap, and Tony ground down instinctively. He moaned softly and Steve’s lips parted. His dick started to thicken and Tony moaned quietly. “Can we?” Tony’s voice was beseeching. “Please?” 

“Yeah,” his own voice was breathless. “You want it?”

Tony groaned and reached back and Steve could hear the squelch oh his own fingers when his eased one in. “Oh, baby,” he murmured, and he wrapped his own hand around his dick. He let Tony lean against him and Tony sagged, giving him a perfect look at when his fingers were stuffing his pretty hole. “Look at that, feelin’ better now that your fingers are shoved in your pretty hole?”

“Yes!” Tony was breathless already and he smirked, thumbing the tip of his own dick. His hips arched up despite himself, smearing precome over Tony’s stomach. “Please, please, please--”

“I don’t wanna hurt you, sweet thing, take your time.”

Tony groaned but obligingly fit a third finger in, the slick noise filling the room. “I’m ready,” he muttered, easing his fingers out. “Steve--”

“I know, sweet thing, I gotchu,” he wrapped his hands around Tony’s waist and Tony leaned down to line him up. “Good?”

Tony nodded, breathless. “I wanna.”

They took the pace slow. There was no need for rush, they had all the time in the world. 

“Can you ride me, sweetheart?” He asked and Tony groaned, bracing himself on Steve’s chest. 

He took pity on Tony later when his legs trembled and he sat down hard. “Here, Tony, just lean back.”

Tony looked nervous but reluctantly opened his mouth. “Is it okay if—I want to be alone tonight.”

“Yeah?” Steve would like to say he was surprised, but he didn’t blame Tony for wanting to. “That’s fine, honey I’ll just sleep on the couch tonight.” Tony still looked scared, so he cupped Tony’s cheek. He was disappointed, but Tony was asking him and he couldn’t say no. “I’m not mad, baby. If that’s what you want, then alright! No problems.”

“Thank you.” Tony looked relieved. 

“Chances are you’ll go into heat early next morning—“

“I’ll come get you when I’m ready.”

Steve nodded and kissed Tony’s brow. “Sleep well.” Tony squeezed his arms and Steve left him alone--but not lonely. 

… 

Around three in the morning, there were footsteps in the living room, coming to a stop next to the couch he was sleeping on. He’d always been a light sleeper, and he recognized Tony’s scent. 

“Steve?” Tony sounded unsure. “Are you—“

“You okay, sweetheart?” His voice was raspy and he sat up, rubbing his eyes. Tony was swaddled in a blanket and his face was wet with tears. He sighed and pulled Tony close, lying back so they were pressed tight. 

“I had a nightmare.” Tony’s voice was wet and he rubbed between Tony’s shoulder blades where he often got aches. 

“I’m here, doll, an’ I’m never letting you go.” 

Tony sniffled. “This is the worst start to a heat ever,” he said petulantly and Steve snorted, inhaling deep. 

“I love you,” he said instead, and Tony peeked at him with wet eyes. 

“I love you too.”

And on the couch that was way too small for the both of them, and Tony’s elbow digging into his side uncomfortably and Steve’s hair that was probably in Tony’s mouth, he couldn’t have been more content. 

Steve woke up sometime in the middle of the night when Tony’s scent had turned sweeter than normal, nearly saccharine. Tony on that hand hadn’t woken up yet, still resting fitfully on top of him. 

He brushed kisses over his cheek and cheekbones, tucking his hair behind his ear. 

Steve hated the day before, knew it was one of the most terrible days in their relationship. He can see Tony and he must’ve been in the mansion, quiet and hurting silently, flinching at every turn. Tony still flinches when Steve moved too quickly, ducking his head fast. He can imagine Tony trying to take himself down, chanting to himself that he was a good boy, because Steve knew that Tony still told himself that quietly when he “fucked up.” How he’d never been told he was good, or how nobody had been able to hold him gently, and he knew without asking that Tony had never been able to nest properly. Here, Steve made sure that Tony had big fuzzy blankets for him to curl up in, and his shirts to bundle in. 

His heart hurt when he thinks about it, how Tony had pleaded for him to be gentle when Steve had put him down after their disastrous argument a few days before. How Tony had pleaded for it to not hurt, and Steve gathered Tony closer as the like omega shook in his arms even in his sleep. Steve cupped the back of Tony’s neck, rubbing his thumb languidly over Tony’s mate mark and kissing Tony’s hairline as his hair falls into his eyes. Steve let his eyes fall back and held Tony close and promised himself that he would never let Tony back with Howard again.