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Bucky was right there, greeting Tony the moment he got out of the elevator and pressing up close to him.

"You okay, Alpha?"

Tony nodded, wrapping his arms around his waist and kissing his forehead.

"Yeah, everything's fine, angel. Where's Steve?"

Bucky sighed, looking exhausted and dropped his head to Tony's shoulder.

"I sent him to bed."

"Yeah, you going all strict Daddy on me now, baby?" Tony teased.

Bucky chuckled, but then he bit his lip and shook his head.

"I don't know what to do with him," Bucky admitted. "I've seen him scared before, but I've always been able to settle him and everything was fine afterwards. I don't know why he's so out of sorts over some dream. I just don't get it."

Tony nodded, because he didn't fully understand it either, but whatever it was it had Steve shook up pretty bad.

"He said he saw you die and I could see how that would shake him up, but it's been days now and he's only getting worse. I think coddling him is making it worse. We have to try something else."

Bucky growled, his eyes flashing all possessive and protective.

"No. I won't punish him for this."

Bucky couldn't punish Steve for this, because Steve had seen Bucky near dead, black and blue and struggling to breath from his broken ribs. Steve may never have been beaten by his parents, but he had witnessed horrible things. Steve had always handled it surprisingly well, been calm and patient and joked that he was like Bucky's own personal nurse. Maybe that's one of the reasons why Steve is so worked up about not saving Bucky in his dream. Maybe Steve never really processing all of those emotions when scary things like that would happen is what led Steve to get so freaked out over a dream.

To Tony and Bucky it was just a dream, but to Steve it was a nightmare that he had lived through and the thought of finding Bucky dead and realizing he couldn't save him this time around had always terrified Steve. He had to be strong though and take care of Bucky, because Bucky always took care of Steve and protected him from all the prejudices and cruel things in the world. Bucky was his shield, blocked out the rest of the world and kept Steve safe in their own little bubble in any way that he could. Steve wanted to be a shield for Bucky too. To protect him and provide for him when Bucky couldn't do it himself.

Tony sighed and cradled Bucky's head to his shoulder, scooping him up off of his feet and rocking him slightly in his arms. He rumbled soothingly at the scent of panic coming off of his Omega and murmured soft reassurances in his ear until Bucky had settled.

"Shh, I know, baby. You don't have to worry about anything. I'm gonna take care of it. I'll give our Omega what he needs, okay?"

Bucky tensed up again and lifted his head up.

"No, Tony, you can't. Promising me that you won't punish him for this."

"I won't punish him for a dream, but he's acting out, Bucky. He threw his plate at the wall during breakfast. I'm all for spoiling brats, but there has to be a line and I'm drawing that line at refusing to eat and then breaking our dishes when we try to insist on it."

Bucky groaned and tugged at his own hair.

"I know he's lost it and I scolded him for it, didn't I? But Alpha, he's not being a bad Omega cuz he's just seeking attention or being a brat. He's doing it cuz he's scared of whatever he's feeling and he wants us to take away those scary feelings."

"Which is exactly why we have to do something about it. We have to take away his scary feelings, baby. That's our responsibility as his Alphas."

Bucky could see the logic in that, but his own guilt was clouding his judgement and he shook his head.

"No, I won't allow it. I'll-I'll fix it... somehow... We can find another way."

Bucky really wasn't sure what to do, because Steve had never gotten like this before, not really. He always settled for Bucky and he was always obedient and he never just acted out intentionally like this. He had gotten upset with Bucky on several occasions, sure. He'd gotten jealous when Bucky flirted with other Omegas and protective when Bucky did stupid, reckless shit, but Bucky always just pulled him close and kissed him until he was all squirmy and desperate and the problem just got swept under the rug.

This time was different and Bucky wasn't entirely sure why.

Tony sighed and kissed Bucky's head.

"No, baby, I'm gonna handle this and you're gonna be a good boy and let me do it."

Bucky frowned.


Tony groaned and crowded him up against the wall, entwining their fingers and pinning Bucky's hands on either side of his head.

"I'm not asking you, baby. Now be good for me and don't complain."


Tony cut him off with a stern look and a nip to his lip.

"No, I heard your objection and I'm ignoring it. We can't let this continue or Steve's gonna keep getting worse. Sam thinks we should just give him a light punishment and call it good."

Bucky rolled his eyes.

"Well, if Sam said it then it must be true," Bucky sassed.

Tony narrowed his eyes at the disrespect towards his Alpha, just barely fighting off the instinct to snap at Bucky.

"I'm gonna go talk to Steve."

Bucky pouted when his Alpha walked away and felt his own insecurities bubbling up inside of him. He tried to swallow them down, because he needed his focus to be on Steve, not on his own fears or the slowly building resentment over whatever was going on between Tony and Sam that his Alpha refused to just share with him.

Steve was pouting when Tony came in and settled on the edge of the bed next to him.

"Bucky sent me to bed."

Tony tried to hide an amused smile, but his eyes sparkled with amusement and Steve huffed.

"It's not funny."

"It's a little funny.

"It's not! I wasn't doing anything wrong!"

Tony sighed and put a hand on his knee, squeezing it comfortingly.

"You weren't being difficult?" Tony asked.

Steve glared at the covers and Tony lifted his chin.

"Look at me, baby. I think you've been having a really hard time recently and I think you've been acting out, because you're having some really big feelings."

Steve bit his lip and whimpered, turning his head to nuzzle against Tony's hand.

"It's so hard, Alpha."

"I know, baby. I... don't really understand what you're feeling, but I know that it's been hard on you, little one. It's my job as your Alpha to make sure that you get what you need and you've been telling me what you need and I've been ignoring you. I'm sorry about that, angel."

Steve gasped softly and Tony's thumb brushed over his bottom lip, before he kissed him softly.

"Are you gonna punish me, Alpha?" Steve sounded hopeful, but anxious.

Tony nodded.

"I'm gonna make sure that you get what you need, baby."

Steve bit his lip, feeling all those emotions welling up inside of him and threatening to consume him. He felt so relieved and yet so scared all at the same time and it was so confusing and overwhelming. Tony could smell it on his scent and pulled him close, rearranging them until Steve was curled up in his arms and Tony was laying down with him.

"Please, help me, Alpha. I'm so scared."

Tears poured down Steve's cheeks and he cried into Tony's shirt. Tony's heart broke and he glanced up to see that Bucky was in the doorway, watching them, tears welling up in his eyes. Bucky was hurting because Steve was scared and Tony was hurting because his Omegas were hurting. It was a mess.

Tony felt that guilt welling up in his chest again and he knew that he just couldn't do it. He knew that Steve needed something from him, but Tony felt like he needed to break down, too, like he could use some settling of his own. How was he supposed to help his Omegas when he needed help that he wasn't asking for, and when he was refusing it when it was offered?

Tony thought about what Bruce had said and then about what Sam had said and Tony groaned and buried his face in Steve's neck. He knew what he had to do. Steve needed help, but Tony felt too fragile, like he might shatter if he tried to help him. Maybe that made him weak or pathetic, but Tony knew Sam wouldn't see it that way.

Tony needed Sam to help him help his Omegas, even though he wanted to be strong enough to do it all on his own. Maybe asking for help was being strong. Sam had said that making the right choice usually meant making the hardest choice and this was certainly a hard thing to do.


Tony glanced down at Steve and sighed, pushing up and steeling himself for what he needed to do.

"I know how to help you, baby, but I can't do it. I'm sorry. I want to, but I don't know if I'm... able to."

That was the closest Tony could come to admitting that he wasn't strong enough, that he felt like he was chipping away little by little and that he would soon fall apart. Steve's eyes widened and he pushed up too, confusion swimming in his eyes.


Bucky cursed, pushing Steve back down onto the bed and tucking the blankets around him.

"You stay here, baby. I'm just gonna talk to Alpha real quick, okay?"

Steve whimpered and begged him to stay, but Bucky shushed him and tugged Tony out of the room.

"What are you doing?" Bucky whisper-yelled.

"I'm doing what I think is best."

"Telling him you can't help him is not going to help anything, Tony! You're the Alpha! You have to hold it together when he's falling apart."

"I know, but it's not working, Bucky! I can't hold him together. I can't hold any of us together, because I'm falling apart!"

There. Tony had said it. Finally admitted what he was thinking. That maybe he wasn't capable of doing this, of being an Alpha.

Bucky was taken aback, not sure what to say to that, because Tony was always so confident and had the answers and Bucky could depend on him to always help him. 

What was he supposed to do with his Alpha's uncertainty?

Tony immediately regretted saying it when Bucky just looked lost and scared and so terribly unsure of how to handle that. Tony swallowed hard, sucking in a breath to try and even himself out.

"C'mere, pretty Omega."

Bucky went easily, wrapping his arms around Tony and clutching at his shirt.

"What are we gonna do, Alpha? How do we help our Omega if we're both falling apart?"

Tony nuzzled against him and tightened his hold on him.

"We're gonna ask for help, because sometimes that's all we can do... Sometimes even Alphas don't know the answer."

Bucky whimpered, his lip trembling.

"How are we gonna get help, Alpha?"

"Sam's gonna help us."

Bucky tensed and pulled back, eyeing Tony suspiciously.


"Because I don't know the answer, baby. I don't know what to do, because I can't bring myself to do what I know I'm supposed to do."

Bucky frowned.

"But why Sam? Why not Pepper?"

Tony's lips pressed together.

"Because I said it's going to be Sam. Now why don't you go cuddle with Steve while I make a phone call."

"To Sam?"

Tony sighed, sounding exhausted and so done with this game of twenty questions.

"Yes, Bucky. To Sam. Now go do as you're told."

Bucky bit his lip, looking like he wanted to protest, then he made a sound of annoyance and stomped his foot before heading back to their room. His Alpha was annoyed with him and Bucky was annoyed with his Alpha. He didn't want to send Steve to Sam. Sam was not Steve's Alpha. Sam was not their Alpha.

Bucky didn't see why Sam should be allowed to punish them. Even letting another Alpha settle your Omega was a lot, said that you trusted that Alpha immensely and most Alphas wouldn’t allow it because of how intimate it was to settle an Omega, but to let them sort out or punish your Omega?

That just didn't happen.

Sure, some Omegas had more than one Alpha. It wasn't exactly common, but it happened. In most case like that, one Alpha, the more dominant one, would be in charge of dealing out punishments. Bucky had expected that Tony wouldn't let him punish Steve, but then again Tony seemed to do a lot of things untraditionally.

Lots of Alphas swapped their Omegas, threw parties just to watch their Omegas play together and play around with someone else's Omega. Alphas didn't let their friends sort out their Omegas though and they certainly didn't let them deal out punishments. It was one thing to be physical with someone else's Omega, but the other stuff, the stuff that required an immense amount of trust, the stuff that was emotionally intimate. That sort of stuff was only for mates, for Alphas and their Omegas to share.

Punishing someone else's Omega? It just didn't happen and the fact that Tony was even suggesting it meant there was clearly something going on between him and Sam. That wasn't exactly new news, but it was frustrating nonetheless. Bucky didn't care if Tony liked Sam or submitting, but why did he have to be so damn secretive about it?

Steve didn't understand what was happening. Tony told him he was going to get help from Sam, that Sam was going to punish him, and Steve didn't get it at all. It didn't make any sense and all he could think was that maybe Tony was so fed up with him that he was being sent away. Maybe Sam had agreed to take over and be Steve's Alpha, because his Alphas didn't want him anymore.

Tony had said all sorts of soft and nice things and made all these promises about how everything would be fine, but Steve barely heard it. Sam said nice things, too, murmured reassurances that Steve couldn't process. He just felt numb and so terribly confused and rejected.

He was such a bad Omega. He couldn't save Bucky and he wasn't good enough for anyone to want him. Steve was devastated about it and it only got worse, because Bucky threw a fit. Steve wasn't entirely sure what he was saying, because his ears were buzzing and he felt like he wasn't really there. 

Bucky was pissed off that Tony was doing this, allowing this, allowing Sam to punish their Omega. Clint had to pin Bucky down and threaten to restrain him if he didn't calm down. Steve just watched, feeling strangely apathetic and detached and yet still like it was all his fault. Tony kissed his forehead and scooped him up, taking him into a bedroom.

Steve turned to sniff at the pillow when he was laid down on the bed and he knew it was Brock's pillow from the scent of fresh rain fall and a rushing river. He thought maybe he was put there on purpose, because he instantly relaxed and melted into the bed, burrowing deeper into the nest. Sam and Tony were talking, but Steve wasn't really listening. He had settled to the point where he was almost asleep and he started when Sam sat down next to him.

"Shh, it's okay, little one. I know this is a big change for you, but I promise that you're safe here."

Steve glanced around and noticed that Tony wasn't there anymore. Steve's lip trembled and Sam cooed at him and climbed onto the bed next to him, snatching up a fuzzy blanket to throw over them. Steve snuggled up close and buried his face in Sam's chest.

"Your Alphas are just right outside and if at any point this becomes too much for you, you can go be with them, Steve. I want you to know that you can always stop this at any time. If you tell me to stop, I'll stop. I'm not gonna force you to do anything, but your Alphas don't want to punish you. They feel guilty and they want to help you, but you don't need to be coddled right now, do you, little one?"

Steve shook his head and whimpered.

"I need to be punished."

"That's right and since your Alphas can't do it, they've asked me to help."

"You're going to give me what I need?"

"I am. I'm gonna tell you exactly what you need to do to earn your Alpha's forgiveness, then you're gonna be so good for me and take your punishment like a good Omega. Then you're going to tell your Alphas that you're sorry and get settled and go back home. Do you understand?"

"Yes... sir?" Steve said it hesitantly, like he wasn't sure what to call Sam.

Sam didn't comment on it. He just smiled reassuringly and brushed his fingers through Steve's hair. Steve bit his lip and let Sam shift them until they were sitting up.

"I have safewords. I like to be able to fight back." Steve blushed, clearly embarrassed, but Sam just nodded encouragingly. “I use the traffic lights.”

It wasn't like Sam didn't know that Steve liked to say no and be ignored. He had seen Steve play before. Not to mention he was close with Tony and mated to Clint and Brock. The way Steve played wasn't exactly a mystery to Sam.

"Okay, that's okay, angel. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Do you want me to ignore you if you say no then?"

Steve nodded, peering up at him.

"Please, sir?"

Sam nuzzled against him and gripped his neck until Steve sighed and melted into his arms.

"There you go, just be nice and soft for me."

Sam didn't do anything at first. He just held Steve and murmured soft words, releasing c alm and safe until Steve wasn't scenting anxious anymore.

"Good boy. So good, Steve. It's time now, little one. I'm gonna tell you what I expect of you and you're going to tell me that you understand before we start, okay?"

Steve nodded, lifting his eyes to look up at Sam. He felt slow and heavy, but he blinked back that floaty feeling as Sam slowly coaxed him back to the surface.

"I'm going to give you twenty swats, no pants, but over your underwear, and you're going to count each one. Then you're going to sit in the corner for five minutes before I take you back out to your Alphas to apologize and to be settled. Do you understand?"

Steve furrowed his brows.

"That's it?"

"That's exactly what you need."

Steve frowned. That didn't sound like nearly enough.


"Uh-uh, none of that. I've told you what I expect and you're going to give it to me. If at any point it becomes too much then you're going to use your safeword and I'll stop. Now say yes, sir if you understand."

Sam's tone of voice left no room for arguing. He wasn't raising his voice and he didn't sound angry. He was calm and patient, but firm and decisive. It made Steve feel safe to have the decisions stripped away from him. He didn't have to decide, he didn't get to decide, because Sam had already decided for him.

"Yes, sir."

"Good boy. Do you want to lay over my lap or do you want to present for me?"

Steve gasped softly. Bucky always spanked him over his lap, had never given him any choice, but there was something about being told what was going to happen and then being offered this small choice that was intoxicating. Steve felt a rush of arousal and his hole clenched in anticipation. He scrambled to present, whimpering when Sam settled behind him and leaned over him, gripping the back of his neck.

Sam was strong and confident, a dominant presence, almost oppressive, but in the most delicious way. Steve could see why Clint had fallen for him almost instantly and why Brock had fallen into bed with him once and had become absolutely obsessed with him. If being with Sam was like this, then it wasn't shocking that even Tony liked to submit for him. Steve whimpered and cursed softly when Sam tugged down his pants.

"I'm gonna give you one more chance to choose to go over my lap, because if you take your spanking like this then you better keep your ass up or I'm gonna start all over. Got it, angel?"

Steve moaned and nodded.


Sam just hummed and rubbed his ass over his thin panties. Steve wanted them off, wanted to feel each spank on his bare cheek, but he didn't have time to ask for it. The first swat came without warning and Steve jerked forward, making a surprised sound, his fingers clawing at the blankets. Some of the swats came in quick succession, others had more of a pause between them. 

On the ninth swat, hard and unyielding against his ass, low enough that it was on bare skin, below the hem of his panties that really showed off much more skin than necessary, Steve screamed and forgot to count. Sam was patient with him, gave him a moment to settle, before telling him they were going to start over. 

It wasn't fair, because Sam didn't tell him that would happen, but Steve was so grateful for it. He had never seen Sam quite like this before, so firm and demanding. He had seen Sam be dominant before, of course, but it was never quite like this, never quite so strict. Then again, Steve had never seen Sam punish his Omegas before. That kind of thing was usually done in private.

He sobbed when it ended and begged Sam for more. Sam just silenced him and leaned down to nip at his thigh before grabbing Steve's ankle and pulling his legs right out from under him. Steve squeaked in surprise, flat against the mattress now, and melted when Sam hovered over him, his weight pressing down on him just ever so slightly, comforting and safe as he grabbed Steve's wrists and pinned them above his head.

Sam murmured soft words in his ear, told him how good he was and how beautiful he looked with his ass all red and Steve floated under him. The pain hadn't been much to Steve. He was used to so much worse and he'd been in a good headspace, pretty much already floating by the time Sam even started spanking him. He had a feeling that that was intentional. Sam didn't want to hurt him, he just wanted to make him feel dominated.

Steve did, oh God, he did. He felt so good and so soft and he whined when Sam told him it was time for his timeout. Steve pouted when Sam scooped him up off the bed and placed him down on his knees in the corner, kneeling behind him for a moment, letting Steve lean his weight back into him.

Sam talked to him softly, asking him questions and slowly bringing him back up until he was a bit more coherent before reminding him that he has to stay in the corner for five minutes and backing away. It felt like the longest five minutes ever and Steve was so relieved, so grateful , when Sam scooped him back up and murmured more praise.

Steve snuggled closer to him as Sam carried him out to the living room. Steve had been scared and confused, but Sam had a way of just putting people at ease and Steve was no exception. He was like putty in Sam's large hands and Steve absolutely loved it.