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Ticking Over

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Tony "rambled" in his sleep, something Steve frequently got dopey about but Bucky found slightly annoying -- Tony was as manic unconscious as he was during the day, fingers twitching as he dreamed, body restless. It was why Steve frequently got the middle, because Steve found it adorable and also slept like the dead, unmoving, deep and thorough, like he did everything. Bucky sometimes thought that while Tony said a threesome should be an equal partnership, Steve was the foundation, and Tony and himself were built on that. He didn't mind. It was still equal, he supposed, they were all just...different moving parts.

Steve was dead to the world, which was understandable -- Bucky and Tony had given him a pretty thorough working-over as a welcome home. He'd spent two weeks doing what he called the Old Bond Monkey Dance, traveling the country meeting with various politicians and community representatives to try and build goodwill for the Avengers. He'd wanted to do it, but the timing could have been better, and the weariness clinging to him when he returned had ensured that he was the focus of their attention for the evening.

Tony was shifting and twitching in his sleep, now, making the odd snuffling noises that meant he was probably close to waking, and Bucky lay on the other side of Steve, head on Steve's chest, watching. He saw the moment when Tony's eyes opened, and he smiled as Tony curled further into Steve, mirroring his own position, head on Steve's pectoral.

"Can't sleep?" Tony asked quietly.

"Not really desperate to," Bucky replied. "Just enjoying the moment."

"Mark your calendars," Tony said. Bucky rolled his eyes. "You have to admit, you're not good at serenity."

"Are you honestly saying this to me?"

"Takes one to know one," Tony said, unperturbed. He rested a hand on Steve's bare stomach, the glow of the reactor throwing a long shadow across it. "Steve has a type."

"Sometimes I worry a little about that," Bucky admitted.

"Why? You're it."

"Yeah, but I don't have a type, not really. You do."

Tony frowned.

"Leggy blonds," Bucky said.

"Are you...I'm sorry, are you worried I'm not into you?" Tony asked, sounding honestly confused. "Because, I mean, first, if it's you or me, he picks you -- "

"What, why would -- no, I don't -- "

"Second, I don't sleep with people I'm not into, and third, I am the king of driving people away, so trust me, you will get tired of me way before I get tired of either of you."

It was like a tidal wave of insecurity, a tropical storm of all of Tony's issues pouring out at once, and Bucky just sort of clung to Steve and listened in bewildered horror.

"I am kind of useless at providing intangible things like reassurance and stability," Tony continued, "and I am abrasive and insecure -- "

"No kidding!" Bucky blurted. "Jesus, Tony, where is this coming from?"

"A vaguely traumatic childhood and a history of being the smartest but also the most obnoxious man in the room," Tony said.

Bucky was about to try and say something reassuring, and probably fail because emotions weren't really his thing, when Steve suddenly rolled over and slung one giant arm over Tony's chest, nosing into his neck.

"You two could wake the dead with your weird issues," Steve mumbled, one of his legs swinging back to hook under Bucky's and tug him along. Bucky took the hint and crawled over him, settling in on Tony's other side, pinning what little Steve wasn't.

"I genuinely did not think you would need more therapy than the traumatized brainwashed assassin," Steve continued, "but as usual you just have to be the best at everything."

"I'm sort of enjoying not being the most messed up person in this relationship," Bucky added. He glanced at Steve, who was grinning at him. "We make a good team, Steve."

"Clearly he needs it," Steve replied. Tony was staring up at them both with wide, dark eyes. "Go back to sleep, Tony. I'm too stubborn to be driven off and Buck's too tactless to be offended by you."

Bucky curled around Tony as best he could, pleased that Steve's solution to the rambling-in-bed problem was to just hold the man down. Tony seemed pleased too; after a few anxious minutes, he relaxed muscle by muscle, and soon he was sleeping, more still than before.

"You do know how to pick 'em," Bucky said, when Tony was asleep.

"Shut up and sleep," Steve replied. "In the morning we're gonna have a talk about insecure brunets and my attraction to them."


Tony woke, feeling thick-headed and inexplicably embarrassed about something he couldn't identify, to the sensation of warmth at the nape of his neck.

Half-lucid confusion gave way to recognition as Bucky's arm shifted against his bare stomach, the plates sliding seamlessly against each other, so well-engineered that even on the soft skin of his abdomen they never pinched. Bucky's breath against the back of his neck was hot, lips damp, and the pressure on Tony's skin was too intentional to be unconscious. Bucky's knees shifted, thighs pushing Tony's legs up and further apart, growing erection nudging along his ass.

Tony smiled, ignoring the twinge of something feels wrong, and stretched out an arm, searching for Steve. Bucky hated being in the middle, so if he was behind Tony, then Steve would be off somewhere in front of him.

He cracked his eyes open to slits when his searching hand encountered empty sheets.

"He's makin' breakfast," Bucky said into his skin, pulling Tony back, pressing their bodies closer together. "He'll be back soon."

Tony arched his back and rolled his hips to help Bucky ease his pyjamas down, then gently kicked them away. Bucky slept nude by preference, unsurprising given how hot he ran, and with all that bare skin pressed up against his, Tony felt his sex drive begin to sit up and take notice.

"Don't worry about Steve," Bucky said, and Tony was pretty sure it was just meant as a general statement, but it brought back the night before with sharp clarity.

Tony cringed at the rush of memory: the private pillow talk between them that had gotten out of hand, the sudden outpouring of insecurity from Tony's mouth that he'd been utterly incapable of stopping, the humiliation of admitting out loud that he knew Bucky and Steve were the kind of meant to be that people wrote novels and epic poetry about, and that he knew they'd get tired of him before he got tired of them. It was safe to say; he couldn't imagine tiring of them, not the amazing sex or the way they worked like two bodies with one mind sometimes, not Steve's stubborn forthrightness or Bucky's dry, cynical humor or the way their respect for his work sometimes seemed like awe. He'd never get tired of them and he'd hold onto them as long as he could, but now they knew that he knew that he couldn't hold them forever.

Oh God, he'd let all his vulnerabilities and his fear and his crazy just dump out of him and onto Bucky's poor head in the middle of the night, until he'd actually woken Steve. Steve had just impatiently pinned him down between them and told him to go back to sleep, and Tony had finally managed to shut the hell up, but now --

"I told you not to worry," Bucky said, as Tony stiffened in awkward embarrassment.

"Last night -- " he started, twisting to try and gauge Bucky's expession, but Bucky just pushed himself up to a sitting position against the headboard and effortlessly dragged Tony with him, holding him in his lap with one arm around his waist and the other across his chest, hand hooked on his shoulder.

"Don't you mind about last night, either," Bucky said, nuzzling into Tony's cheek. "Breathe deep, you did nothing wrong. You want me to let you go?" he asked, when Tony stayed stiff and tense.

"No," Tony said, before his brain fully engaged with the question. The confinement was comforting, like the safe tight grip of the armor's undersuit. Bucky's hand drifted up to brush Tony's hair off his forehead, and the familiar gesture made his shoulers drop, his head tilt to one side, body going limp.

(Bucky always played with his hair. It was strange, oddly intimate for Bucky, but Tony hadn't mentioned it because he liked it and if he brought it up, it might stop.)

"Much better," Bucky said, fingers still smoothing his hair back, nails scratching his scalp gently. Tony twisted just his head and shoulders, and Bucky craned his neck around for a kiss.

"Didn't know you were so worried," Bucky said into his mouth, steel fingers spread out on his stomach and dipping lower, rubbing circles on his skin. He could feel Bucky's erection, snug against his ass, could almost feel his pulse in the heat of it.

"I'm good at faking it," Tony answered.

"Did know that," Bucky said. "Shoulda guessed the rest."

"You think Steve will remember?" Tony asked, squirming into him now, settling in the cradle of his thighs. He was rewarded with a gentle grip on his cock, warm steel and the soft whirring vibrations that came from the arm's internal mechanisms. God, that was hot, hand jobs from the robot arm, it was always just insanely arousing. "He was mostly asleep."

"He remembers," Bucky said, and Tony reeled with warring sensations, panic over what had happened and desperation over what was currently happening. He gasped and arched into Bucky's slow, even strokes. "We talked about it after you fell asleep."

"Can we pretend it didn't happen?" Tony groaned.

"No," said a voice from the doorway, and Tony opened his eyes.

Steve was standing there with a tray, food and juice and coffee. Bucky twisted his hand slightly and tightened it, and Tony made a humiliatingly high-pitched noise.

Steve set the tray on a desk by the window and came to the bed, sitting on the edge, looking golden and perfect in the sunrise light.

"Don't let me interrupt," he added, eyes drinking them in. Tony imagined how they must look, Bucky pinning him down and jerking him off, Tony writhing into it like a desperate man. A spike of arousal overcame the urge to run and hide.

"The two of you are so damn beautiful together," Steve murmured, leaning in to kiss Tony's mouth, tasting like mint. "Never get tired of watching you."

"Which one?" Tony asked, because he'd already fucked all this up, he might as well go the distance.

"Both of you," Steve said, and Tony realized Bucky was panting harshly into his shoulder, as close to orgasm as he was. "I thought I'd be jealous, just watching. Feel left out, y'know, like I used to when Buck went with girls back in the war. But it's just such a damn fine show."

He leaned in, and Tony couldn't tell whether he was whispering in Tony's ear or making eye contact to say it to Bucky -- maybe both.

"I love it when you come apart for him," he said, and Tony's body heaved as Bucky arched and trembled, coming against him, across the insides of his thighs. He was so quiet when he came, like the eye of a storm.

His hand fell away, across Tony's leg, and Tony whined at the sudden lack of stimulation. Steve smiled and shushed him, pulling him away from Bucky's body and across his own lap, face to face. Behind them, Bucky tilted his head back against the headboard, gulping in breaths, eyes glassy and blissed-out.

Steve reached up and gently tilted Tony's face back so that their eyes met.

"You are not a toy," he said, lowering his hand to spread in the small of Tony's back. "You aren't a game we're going to get tired of. You are certainly not useless -- "

"Oh, God, I said that," Tony said, lowering his forehead to thud against Steve's shoulder.

" -- and you are nothing we can't handle," Steve finished. He reached between them, tugging the boxer shorts he slept in down just enough to let his cock slip free, and enveloped both of them in one big warm hand. Tony sighed in relief at the renewed pressure.

"Everyone who knows thinks I'm such a saint," Steve said, sounding amused. "Poor patient Steve Rogers, with his two broken boyfriends. That Barnes guy's clearly half-catatonic after all he's been through, and everyone knows Stark's a narcissistic neurotic. Gosh, he must have the energy of a horse and the patience of a martyr."

Tony barely registered the words, busy trying to thrust into his grip, to get more friction, more heat. He pressed his hands to Steve's chest, fingers seeking out a nipple and squeezing gently; Steve always liked that, and maybe he would stop talking, stop digging around with the knife in Tony's wounds.

"They don't get it," Steve said. Tony felt him sway forward; Bucky was leaning on his other shoulder from behind, watching them dazedly. "They don't know how gentle you are with Buck when he's not feeling all there. They never see you taking care of him. And they don't know Bucky's the most practical fella I know; nobody gets that he's just what you need when the whole world's coming at you at once. You two tick over like a nice Swiss watch. Precision movement. It's so beautiful."

Tony heard him gasp then, a small, open-mouthed sound, and he raised a hand to Steve's cheek, not sure how to respond.

"Nobody knows how lucky I am," Steve said, voice reedy, hips jerking. "Fine by me, I wouldn't share any more of either of you than I could get away with, 'cept with each other -- " his breath stuttered, cracking on the last word. "Tony -- "

"Tony," Bucky echoed, dark and thick, and Tony came a second before Steve did, the world going hot and hazy and dim.

"You belong to us," Steve said fiercely, through the blur of sensation. "Bucky and me. We haven't got so much we take anything we're given for granted. Especially not such a fine thing as Tony Stark."

"You don't want us to give you up, do you?" Bucky asked, still half-muffled by the skin of Steve's neck.

"No," Tony managed shakily. It felt like the world was shifting, moving around him and without him -- it wasn't an unfamiliar sensation, the disorientation of having badly misread something, but for once it didn't feel like free-fall, like plunging through the air without control.

It felt like the tumblers of a lock slipping into place around a key, like he was being fitted somewhere snug and secure. He was wanted here; more than that, they were three parts of one unit, and they wouldn't function properly without him. He was needed.

"There," Steve said, shifting to tilt Tony back onto the bed, into pillows and Bucky's waiting body. He propped him up in his lap again while Steve cleaned his hand off with a napkin from the breakfast tray, and then brought it over to lay across Tony and Bucky's legs, seating himself on the other side.

"Good talk," Steve said, and handed Tony a coffee just the way he liked it, milkless and oversugared. Bucky reached around him for the tall glass of orange juice, while Steve took the cover off a platter of toast and fruit salad. He picked up a thin slice of apple and held it to Tony's lips, pleased when he accepted it from his fingers, lapping at his fingertips.

"Think we'll keep him," Bucky said. Steve offered Bucky a grape, which he took with a curl of his tongue.

"Think we will," Steve agreed. He popped a cube of melon into his mouth. "Think we'll all keep each other, if Tony'll have us."

Tony leaned back and pressed his face to the side of Bucky's, unsure how to respond, embarrassingly shy. A low laugh from Steve, echoed in the vibration of Bucky's chest, told him he didn't need to.

"Me and my clockwork boyfriends," Steve said affectionately. "You two just stay there and charge up; I want round two after breakfast."