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All the Best Things Come in Threes

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Tony wakes up with a pounding headache, sore all over, and his cheek resting in a puddle of rapidly cooling drool. He whines miserably, and rolls over onto a dry part of the bed, vision swimming for a moment as a wave of dizzying nausea washes over him.

“Tequila,” he murmurs to himself, pressing the heels of his hands into his stinging eyes, “is dead to me.”

He wiggles his hips experimentally, grimacing at the trickle of lube lazily running down the crack of his ass, and pooling behind his balls. He feels pleasantly loose and sated, and normally he’d be more than happy to bask in the afterglow of a good, thorough fuck, but the memory of who’d been giving him the best sex of his life last night has Tony wince guiltily, and pull a pillow over his face to muffle a frustrated groan.

One year of friendship, of carefully hiding his pathetic little infatuation, and now everything’s gone out the window because Tony is, apparently, incapable of keeping his hands to himself after a couple of shots. And sure, Bucky hadn’t seemed opposed—quite the opposite, going by his enthusiastic participation—but there hadn’t been any indication that Bucky was interested in Tony like that prior to last night, and Tony can’t help but feel like a giant asshole for taking advantage of Bucky’s inebriated state.

And, Tony thinks selfishly, the whole disastrous affair hasn’t exactly helped him get over Bucky, either. All those people preaching about having sex with your crush just once to get the feelings out of your system are dirty, filthy liars. If anything, knowing how Bucky’s lips feel against his, what Bucky’s sweaty skin tastes like, how Bucky’s face looks when he’s about to come—hell, even the way he’d been snoring softly when Tony snuck out of his room—have only made Tony fall in love with him even more.

With a sigh, Tony pushes the pillow away, and pulls the collar of Bucky’s shirt—liberated during his daring escape last night—up over his nose, eyes fluttering shut as he breathes in the scent of Alpha musk. It sends excited shivers down his spine, his cock twitching hopefully.

“Shit,” Tony mutters, and if his voice is thick with emotion, well. No one’s here to hear it. “Fuck.”

Yeah, Tony’s got it bad. He is so screwed.

* * * * *

Everything is fine.

Sure, there are no more afternoons spent tinkering in the workshop, or evenings eating pizza and yelling at each other over Mario Kart, or cuddles during movie nights, but Bucky still comes to Tony for arm maintenance, and continues to work flawlessly with Tony in the field, so there’s really nothing for Tony to complain about, is there?

Besides, the awkwardness hanging between them now is all Tony’s fault, there’s no one to blame but himself. The team, although unaware of what it is that’s weighing on Tony, proves to be the perfect source of comfort; sparring with Natasha, dicking around on the range with Clint, sciencing with Bruce, cooking with Thor, or just sitting on the couch with Steve, working on his tablet while Steve sketches—it all goes a long way to distracting Tony from missing Bucky.

Getting sick is almost a blessing, considering Tony’s busy throwing up and shivering, and doesn’t have the energy to spend what little time he isn’t kneeling over a toilet thinking about how much his love life—or the lack thereof—sucks. Steve hovers worriedly, the damned mother hen, keeps shoving chicken soup and damp washcloths at Tony. Not that Tony minds, his hindbrain is thrilled to have another Omega close by while he’s weak and vulnerable, but he could definitely do without the constant nagging.

But, after nearly a week of feeling like death warmed over, even Tony has to admit that seeing a doctor might not be the worst idea. He even endures Steve bundling him up in a sweater, a jacket, and the soft, fuzzy blanket from his bed with only minimal complaining.

Steve insists on tagging along, which Tony allows grudgingly, although he puts his foot down when Steve tries to follow him into the examination room. “Calm down, mama bear,” he calls over his shoulder, smiling to himself, fondly amused, when that makes Steve slouch in his chair, and pout.

A nurse draws some blood to be analysed, checks Tony’s breathing and temperature, and asks a few basic questions before Tony’s ushered in to see Doctor Blake, who’s already looking through Tony’s lab results.

“Congratulations, Mister Stark,” she says, beaming widely. Then, at Tony’s puzzled frown, adds a more tentative, “On the pregnancy? My apologies, I assumed you were already aware—”

She keeps talking—or so Tony assumes, since her mouth is moving—but Tony can’t hear anything over the blood rushing in his ears. Panic, sudden and paralysing, is clawing at him, his throat dry, and his voice barely a squeak when he chokes out, “I can’t be pregnant. I’m 47 years old, it’s not possible. I haven’t had a heat in over eight months, I’m menopausal, I can’t be pregnant.”

The doctor levels Tony with a pointed look. “We have nothing on file about you starting menopause.”

“Well, you know,” Tony says, giving a sheepish little shrug. “Almost fifty, no more heats. It seemed pretty clear to me what’s going on.”

“A not uncommon misconception,” Doctor Blake explains, turning her screen around so Tony can see the charts on it. “There are several factors that can cause a temporary cessation of heats, such as a hormonal imbalance, or, which I’m assuming to be the case here, simply being under a lot of pressure.”

“I’ve never not been stressed,” Tony points out shakily, desperately clinging to that last excuse. “Are you sure I’m—are you sure?”

Doctor Blake nods, and stands up to get a glass of water, which Tony accepts with trembling hands. “We’ll need to do an ultrasound to determine how far along you are, but going by your unusually high HCG levels, we are most likely looking at a multiple pregnancy.”

Tony stands on rubbery legs when Doctor Blake gestures him over the the examination table, mind reeling and heart racing. Granted, he has gained some weight over the last couple of weeks, but he’d attributed that to the post-Bucky comfort eating. And he’s been throwing up a lot, but it isn’t morning sickness if it doesn’t happen in the morning. That’s why it’s called morning sickness.

Right?

The gel is cold against Tony’s stomach, but he hardly notices, attention fixed firmly on the monitor. Doctor Blake moves the wand around slowly, pressing here and there, until she suddenly lets out a small, triumphant hum. “There they are.”

Tony squints at the general area she’s pointing at, not really recognising anything, but feeling his heart pick up speed nonetheless. “They? How—how many are there?”

Doctor Blake abandons the wand in favour of a mouse and keyboard, highlighting several of the larger blob thingies for Tony’s benefit. “Three,” she says, then carefully goes about measuring them. “Around twelve weeks. One of them is somewhat smaller than the other two, which isn’t too worrying at this stage, although we should keep an eye on it just in case.”

“Are they okay?” Tony finds himself blurting, absently dabbing at his sticky stomach with some of the paper towels Doctor Blake hands him, eyes never leaving the picture on the screen. “I wasn’t—I didn’t know, I—fuck, I fought Doom last month, and I’ve been drinking, not excessively but some wine every now and again, and Fury smokes in his office, that’s bad too, and there was—”

“Mister Stark,” Doctor Blake interrupts, gentle but insistent. “Your bloodwork shows no anomalies. I would urge you to stop drinking, and you should definitely consider taking leave from active Avengers duties for the remainder of your pregnancy, but no damage has been done so far. They’re doing great.”

Steve is out of his seat the moment Tony walks back into the waiting room, scent flaring up, sharp and bitter, in concern. “Are you okay?” he asks, rushing over to cup Tony’s undoubtedly pale face between his hands. “Is it something serious? What can I do? What do you need?”

Tony shakes his head, and blinks rapidly, but it’s no use; the tears come anyway. “I screwed up,” he says, sniffling. “I did something stupid, something really stupid, and it’s going to change everything! He’s already mad at me, but he’s going to be so pissed, oh my God, I fucked up so bad, Steve, you have no idea—”

“Hey, okay, ssh,” Steve gently interrupts Tony’s increasingly panicked babbling. “I’m sure it’s not as bad as you think, huh?”

Tony groans, and tucks his face away in Steve’s neck, wailing out a woeful, “It’s worse.”

“We’ll figure it out, Tony,” Steve promises, one strong arm wrapped tightly around Tony’s waist, and his free hand rubbing up and down Tony’s back. “Together, okay?”

The words are meant to be reassuring, and they are, but they also hurt. Because while Steve is one of Tony’s closest friends—stopping a war together during which you’ve fought on opposite sides to prevent a megalomaniac mad man from destroying the universe really brings people together—he isn’t the person Tony wants to hear those reassurances from. But Steve is warm, and he’s here, and Tony desperately needs someone to tell him that everything’s going to be all right, even if it isn’t, which is why he blurts, “I’m pregnant. It’s triplets.”

Steve stills, but only for a moment. Then he pulls Tony even closer against his chest. “This is why things have been weird between you and Bucky lately, isn’t it?”

Tony chokes on another sob, but nods weakly.

Steve breathes out heavily, and drops a kiss on Tony’s head, repeating, “We’ll figure it out.”

* * * * *

Bucky’s flesh and blood arm is burning, his muscles screaming in protest, but he keeps up his relentless assault on the punching bag. He pauses briefly to brush a few strands of sweat-soaked hair out of his face, letting out a frustrated, “Fuck!” when they stubbornly continue to cling to his face.

Panting, Bucky reaches out to still the swinging bag, then leans his forehead against it, and closes his eyes. He’s done his best to ignore how depressed he’s been feeling ever since that morning, and it’d been working great—apart from the listlessness, the crying, and the almost overwhelming sense of wrong, whatever—until Steve’s announcement today.

Five months. It’s been five months since Tony had just up and left. Packed his shit, and moved to Malibu, taking a break from the Avengers to deal with some personal issues, as he’d put it. And it’s all Bucky’s fault for not keeping it in his pants. Half a bottle of tequila, and Bucky’d conveniently forgotten about the unrequited part of his love, and readily followed Tony to bed. Finding Tony gone the next day hadn’t been a surprise, but it hadn’t hurt any less for that, either.

During the first couple of weeks after their night together, Bucky had desperately clung to the hope that they could at least stay friends. But Tony had steadily pulled away, withdrawing from Bucky more and more. Bucky’d decided to give him space, because he’d figured that some time apart would be good for them both, and help them get back to they way they’d been before. But then Tony had gone to Malibu, and that had been that; Bucky’s frantic calls had gone unanswered, his texts and messages stayed unread.

Bucky’s not nearly as smart as Tony, but he can take a fucking hint, all right?

And now Steve’s flying out to California for a visit. It shouldn’t matter, Tony’s already made it abundantly clear that he’s done with Bucky, but Bucky can’t help the resentment that threatens to choke him whenever he thinks about it. He’s jealous, even if he has no right to be, and knows it’s ridiculous; Steve is with Sam, happy and bonded, and Tony doesn’t owe Bucky shit.

What’s even worse, though, is that Bucky still has to apologise to Steve for nearly biting his head off about the whole thing. Captain America might be the nation’s darling, but Steve Rogers—the little punk who grew up picking fights with people twice his size, and was never too shy to get all up in an Alpha’s face if he thought they deserved a lecture—is definitely going to make Bucky grovel.

With a sigh, Bucky pushes away from the bag, and starts unwrapping his hand as he walks over towards the showers. His knuckles are swollen, and hurt like a bitch, cracked open and bloody in some places. He’s pretty sure at least one of them is broken, thanks to Tony’s specially reinforced gym equipment designed for angry super soldiers. Which, Bucky thinks with a humourless little chuckle, is kind of poetic; Tony keeps giving and giving, and Bucky hurts himself by being too greedy.

Once he’s cleaned up, and has his fingers splinted, Bucky pulls on his comfy lounging sweats, and the tank top Tony’d left behind in Bucky’s bed in his haste to get away. It has been washed dozens of times, and lost its Tony smell long ago, but Bucky can’t bring himself to give it back. It’s indecently tight on him, and Steve keeps shooting him these tortured, pitying looks whenever Bucky wears it around him, but Bucky needs the illusion of comfort it brings him right now.

After grabbing a post-workout snack, Bucky makes his way up to Steve’s floor. He expects Steve to be packing, and sure enough, there is noise coming from Steve’s bedroom.

“—really think you should talk to him. You can’t keep hiding out there forever,” Steve is saying, in that tone he always uses with Bucky when he thinks Bucky’s being a massive idiot.

“You can’t tell him, you promised,” comes the anxious reply, a bit tinny because he seems to be on speaker, but Bucky would recognise that voice anywhere. Bucky’s breath hitches when Tony continues with, “I can’t do that to Bucky.”

“I think you’re underestimating him,” Steve says, sounding tired, as if they’ve had this conversation before. “He cares about you.”

“I know he does,” Tony agrees, swallowing audibly, “but it’s—it’s not enough, Steve. Not for me. I—I love him, and I wish he’d love me back, but he doesn’t—”

“You don’t know that!” Steve says, defensive, and the protectiveness would make Bucky smile if his mind wasn’t reeling from Tony’s confession.

“C’mon, Cap.” If Steve seems tired, Tony is clearly exhausted. “Why would he? I’m a mess, and he’s—he’s Bucky. He can do so much better.”

Steve—being the awesome friend he is to not only Bucky, but also Tony—starts to protest immediately, but Bucky doesn’t stay to listen. Tony loves him, and is operating under the ridiculous misconception Bucky doesn’t love him back, as if that’s even possible, and Bucky won’t stand for that.

“JARVIS,” Bucky calls as he jogs up the stairs to the rooftop landing pad, impatiently waving the waiting, and clearly confused pilot out of the way. “I’m gonna to take this QuinJet, fly to Malibu, and set things right. Let Steve know I borrowed his ride once I’m in the air. And tell him I’m gonna yell at him so much as soon as I get back.”

“Of course, Sergeant Barnes,” JARVIS answers, and Bucky doesn’t think he imagines how pleased the AI sounds. “I wish you a calm flight, sir.”

* * * * *

Tony is sprawled out on the couch when Bucky bursts through the door of his new California mansion, clearly surprised—thank you for that, JARVIS—by Bucky’s sudden entrance.

“What?” he squeaks, startled, and quickly pulls the fuzzy blanket lying over his legs up over himself, which does absolutely nothing to hide how very obviously pregnant he is. “Bucky? How—What are you—”

“Tony,” Bucky breathes, sprinting across the room, and falling to his knees next to the couch so he can take Tony’s face between his hands. “What the fuck were you thinkin’?”

There are tears gathering at the corners of Tony’s eyes, his mouth opening and closing without actually producing any words for a few long, tense moments before he manages to croak out, “What are you doing here?”

“Telling you that you’re the dumbest genius I’ve ever met,” Bucky says, laughing in relief when Tony’s hand comes up not to push him away, but to curl around Bucky’s wrist. “And that I’m helplessly in love with you, even if you’re stupid, and insecure, and made me think you never wanted to see me again, and ran away with what I’m assuming is my baby in your belly, and—”

“Babies,” Tony corrects softly, and really, how is Bucky supposed to not kiss him after that?

Tony gasps into the kiss, but then he’s smiling against Bucky’s mouth, and cupping a hand over Bucky’s neck to hold him close, fingers pushing into Bucky’s hair, tugging playfully, and—

“Ow,” Tony hisses, glancing down at himself, and grimacing. Then, eyes growing wide, he whimpers, “Ow, ow, fuck, ow.”

“Tony?” Bucky asks, cautiously touching Tony’s swollen stomach. “What’s wrong?”

Tony shakes his head, face pained, but he’s beaming up at Bucky. “Nothing’s wrong. You’re about to be a dad.”

“The—the babies?”

“They’re coming,” Tony confirms, kissing the corner of Bucky’s mouth.

Bucky doesn’t pass out, but it’s a near thing.

* * * * *

“You gotta be quiet, princess,” Bucky stage-whispers, hiding his grin away in Addie’s hair when Tony, lying on the bed with the boys, bites his lip to fight off a chuckle, eyes still closed. “Your papa’s very, very tired. And your brothers are terrible at staying asleep. Which is why you’re my favourite, yes you are, baby doll!”

Tony tisks, peeling one eye open to shoot Bucky a half-hearted glare. “You’re going to give them a complex.”

“Just tellin’ it how it is,” Bucky says, smirking, as he knee-walks across the bed towards Tony. “‘Sides, they know I’m jokin’. They’re all shit at not keepin’ me up all night.”

He carefully leans over Tony, Addie cradled in one arm, to kiss the top of Theo’s head, then Benny’s chubby little cheek, before pressing his lips against Tony’s. “You know I love all of you.”

“Yeah,” Tony hums, eyes fluttering shut again, a faint blush spreading across his cheeks, “I do. Love you, too.”

Bucky kisses him again, deep and lingering, until Addie starts fussing, and promptly wakes the boys.

Tony laughs, reaching for Benny and Theo, while Bucky purses his lips at Addie. “Traitor.”