The doctor sent him an encouraging smile before slipping out of the room, but it didn’t make Tony feel any better. Pregnant. At nearly fifty years old, Tony Stark was pregnant. It was hard to believe that through all his years of partying and fucking his way through life his luck had held only to run out now. His face dropped into his palms, the devastation threatening to overwhelm him. Well, there certainly wouldn’t be any chance of him and Pepper getting back together now. As usual, he’d fucked it all up…and for some guy he couldn’t even remember the face of.
He’d been a little emotional following the conversation with Pepper about them taking a break. He hadn’t blamed her in the slightest, of course not. He only ever had himself to blame. He’d gone out, after finishing up talks with the Romanian government about the Accords. He’d found some dive bar no one in their right mind would expect to find Tony Stark in and proceeded to get utterly trashed. There’d been some alpha in there, sitting in a back booth by himself, quiet, surly. He’d tasted like plums when they kissed and fucked like he was trying to pour his soul into Tony through his dick.
From what the omega could remember, which was vague at best, the sex had been fantastic. The marks on his skin and the soreness of his limbs the next morning had certainly supported that thought. There was a bite mark on his shoulder that had since scarred, yet another permanent reminder of that night. Now Tony was going to have a kid courtesy of some alpha he didn’t even know. There was literally no way to track him down and even tell him about the kid, not even with Tony’s skills. Welp, all those papers had predicted back in college that Tony would get himself knocked up by sleeping around. Better late than never.
Tony took a deep breath, just like he did for a panic attack, then another. Yes, this was not something he was prepared to deal with but that didn’t mean he couldn’t deal with it. He was Tony Stark and, yeah, he might turn out to be a totally shit parent but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t try his damnedest. He’d taken a lot of lives from the world, he thought as he sat in that exam room. It was about time he brought one into it.
“His name was Charlie Spencer. You murdered him, in Sokovia. Not that that matters in the least to you. You think you fight for us? You only fight for yourself. Who’s going to avenge my son, Stark?” Tony felt sick to his stomach, but he doubted it was the same nausea that came with his morning sickness. “He’s dead. And I blame you.”
He could only watch as the woman walked away. One hand rose to cover his stomach. He was twelve weeks along and his midsection was softening, even if there wasn’t a bulge there that anyone else could notice.
Tony chose his suit for the signing of the Accords specifically because it covered up the weight he was putting on. He couldn’t let his pregnancy get out until all of this was settled and done with. He wasn’t going to weaken the cause by attaching yet another Stark Scandal to it. Already, he hated the fact that Tony’s mistakes would haunt his child throughout his or her life. He wished he could have done better for his child. He would do better from now on. He had sworn it to himself.
The billionaire smiled and shook hands and said all the things that needed to be said when they needed to be said. He glimpsed Natasha floating around the room and knew she would be doing her part as well. Rhodey stuck close to his side, though. In between government delegates, he pulled Tony off to the side.
“So when are you planning to tell me what’s going on?”
“Is this really the time, sourpatch? We’re kind of in the middle of making history here.”
Rhodey just rolled his eyes.
“When aren’t you in the middle of making history, Tones? Seriously, though, I’m worried about you. What’s going on?”
Tony let his gaze dart around the room.
“After, Rhodey. Let’s get the Accords signed and then I’ll tell you everything. I’ve just been dealing with a lot lately.”
His best friend frowned, but nodded anyway before pulling Tony into a rough hug.
“I’ve got you, Tones. Always. You know that, right?”
Tony pushed down the desire to cry.
“Yeah. I know.”
Later, when the bomb went off, all Tony could think was, My baby! God, no, not my baby!
There were three of them. It’d been too early to tell before but in checking for damage from the explosion, the doctor had heard an extra heartbeat. The ultrasound revealed three fetuses in Tony’s belly. He could hardly believe it. His grin was so broad his cheek hurt even as the tears spilled down his face. He was going to need so much help. First order of business, go off active field duty. He wasn’t taking any risks. Second, call Rhodey. They’d never gotten around to having that talk.
Tony hid behind the pillar, his repulsor gauntlet activated and ready to go. Panic thrummed through every vein in his body. He couldn’t let Barnes get away, not after he’d killed so many people. The alpha was tearing through guards left and right to get out of the building and Tony knew he didn’t stand a chance against the alpha super soldier. As much as Barnes needed to be stopped, Tony couldn’t put his children in danger, either.
Then he saw Barnes pointing his gun towards the glass wall, with only office workers and civilians on the other side. Fuck, but Tony couldn’t let them die. He darted out, grabbing the gun with his gauntlet and jerking it in another direction. It went off pointed at Tony’s face. The omega could only stare in horror. What if he hadn’t been able to completely cover the muzzle? What if he hadn’t been wearing the gauntlet? If he died, the babies inside of him died, too. When Barnes threw him backwards, Tony stayed down. He wrapped his arms around his midsection, curling up to offer what protection he could.
“You’ll be safe, right, honeybear?”
Rhodey rolled his eyes from where he was already in the War Machine armor.
“I’ll be fine, Tones. I’ll have Natasha and Vision with me, not to mention His Highness. I’m sure even that spider kid you found will manage to make himself useful.”
Tony rubbed a hand over his stomach. He felt like the tiny bump there was growing more and more every day.
“I still don’t like sending him into the field. He’s too young to get involved in this sort of mess.”
The smile Rhodey sent his way could only be described as tender and he leaned forward to press a kiss to Tony’s forehead.
“Natasha and I will keep an eye on him. Besides, you gave him orders to stay away from the action and just immobilize Cap and the others with those web shooters of his.” Rhodey pulled the omega in for a hug, careful with the armor. “You’re gonna make a great parent. You’ve already got the mother henning down pat.”
Tony squawked with indignation even as Rhodey laughed and flew away.
Tony sat at Rhodey’s bedside in the hospital, knowing his friend would never be able to walk on his own again. Maybe if he’d been there he would have been able to do something, to catch Rhodey before he hit the ground. Instead he’d sent his best friend off to be shot out of the air. How many missions had Rhodey been on throughout his career in the military? Over a hundred, easily. How was it that this was the one that brought him down? A tear escaped as Tony clutched one of Rhodey’s limp hands.
Tony was seven months pregnant when he turned around from grabbing a plate of toast and nearly had a heart attack in the Avengers kitchen. Bucky Barnes stood in the doorway of the kitchen, Steve just a few steps behind him. The plate shattered against the floor tiles at Tony wrapped both arms protectively around his swollen belly.
“How did you get in here? FRIDAY!”
There was no response and Tony shifted backwards until he bumped into the edge of the counter. He didn’t like the way Barnes’ gaze seemed riveted in his stomach.
Tony’s arms wrapped even more tightly around himself and he all but snarled at the alpha and beta before him.
“I swear to God, if you touch my babies I will make sure you burn, you fucking-“
“No! No, Tony!” Steve was stepping forward then, palms raised as if to show he meant no harm. Yeah fucking right. Tell that to Rhodey. “We would never.”
Tony groped desperately across the counter until he reached the butcher block, pulling a knife out to hold in front of him. It wouldn’t do much good but at least he’d go down fighting. He was not going to let these bastards hurt his kids.
“Stay away from us.”
Barnes was in his face in a heartbeat, grabbing both of his wrists and pressing them to the counter so there wasn’t even the hope of a struggle. He stared into Tony’s fear-riddled eyes for a moment before burying his face in Tony’s neck and inhaling deeply. The omega froze. He could feel the alpha all over his body, the hands on his wrists, the face against his neck, the body against his stomach. A whimper escaped him. He squeezed his eyes shut.
“Don’t hurt them,” he gasped out, right on the edge of pleading. “They haven’t done anything. Please, just give me a month or two and you can do whatever you want.”
“I recognized you when I was escaping from the UN. The programming wouldn’t let me stop but I knew you.”
“He asked about you as soon as he was aware of himself again,” Steve contributed, like that make it any better or less confusing. “Why didn’t you say anything, Tony? I mean, I know things were strained between us, but…God, I can’t believe you knew where Bucky was that whole time.”
Tony’s eyes opened again, his brow furrowing.
“What are you even talking about?” He twisted in Barnes’ grip. “Barnes has been with you. Now get your fucking guard dog off of me!”
Barnes’ head popped up so he could look at Tony in the face, hurt in his eyes for no reason that Tony could fathom. He was too close, his nose nearly brushing against the omega’s and his lips and scant inch away.
“Bucharest,” he said as if that made anything clearer. It didn’t.
“What?” His mind churned, trying to find a connection. “That’s…that’s where you were hiding out, right? When Steve found you?”
And the authorities, and T’Challa, and Rhodey. Barnes just blinked at him, then withdrew further, taking the knife with him.
“You don’t remember.”
Steve’s eyebrows rose as the blond looked back and forth between them. Tony had to bite back a retort about how memory loss was Barnes’ MO, not his own. Instead, he just glared fiercely.
“Clearly not. So maybe one of you wants to explain? Because I’m not sure how they did it in the Stone Age but I’m pretty sure breaking into people’s houses was still pretty much considered a no-no.”
Barnes seemed pained, his eyes darting down to Tony’s stomach again. The genius sidled along the counter a bit, hoping he could make it far enough around the island to have a clear path of escape. He did not like the combination of Barnes eyeing his stomach with a knife in his hand. God, where was Vision? What’d they done to block out FRIDAY? He really hoped Rhodey wasn’t going to come into the kitchen later looking for him only to find his dead and mutilated body.
“But you-“ Barnes cut himself off with a noise of frustration. “I mean, in the bar, we-“
Tony sucked in a breath of air so sharp it could cut glass. No. No, no, no no. Please, dear God, no. He might have made a noise. He couldn’t quite be sure because a moment later the floor tiles, porcelain wood-grained, were rushing up to meet him and his world went black.
“No! I don’t want to hear another word! The two of you need to get the fuck out of here before you make things even worse. Do you have any idea the shit he’s been through because of you two? He’s been stuck trying to clean up the messes you and that ‘team’ of yours have been causing all over the damn place. The media’s been having a contest of who can dump on him more and Ross has been all but climbing up his ass because he wouldn’t go after you. He hasn’t left the facility in months because he can’t risk the news of his pregnancy getting out and having it used against him.”
That was Rhodey. Tony would recognize his alpha snarl anywhere.
“I agree with Colonel Rhodes. Your presence here would be detrimental in several ways. The most advisable course of action would be for you to leave now before further harm is caused.”
Ah. Vision. It couldn’t be anyone else.
“We’re not going anywhere.”
Shit! Shit! That was Steve! Fuck! Tony curled as best he could around his stomach, a whimper escaping only for him to be quieted by a hand on his arm and fingers in his hair.
“Get the fuck away from him!”
Tony opened his eyes to find himself laid out across the couch in the communal area of Avengers headquarters. Barnes was leant over him, one hand on his arm and the other on his head, twisted around to all but growl at Rhodey and Vision. The former was leaning heavily on the latter, though it looked a bit like Rhodey had just tried to make a lunge for Tony and the couch, and Steve stood as a solid barrier between them. Tony flinched back violently. Barnes turned back to him instantly, his expression softening.
“Shhh….Shhh…You’re okay. It’s okay. You’re alright.”
Tony made a noise of panic and tried to scramble backwards, hampered both by the back of the couch and a belly the size of a beluga whale.
“Tony!” His gaze snapped up to meet Rhodey’s and Tony knew his friend could see the incoming panic attack from where he was. “Stay with me, Tony. Stay with us. We won’t let them hurt you.”
“We’re not going to hurt him,” Steve thundered. “Why would you even think that?”
Rhodey’s sneer could have rivaled any supervillain’s.
“Oh, I really have no idea. Maybe it’s because you tore through the people who were supposed to be your friends without a second thought as soon as they didn’t agree with you anymore and he,” Rhodey jabbed an accusatory finger at Barnes, “is an assassin and a terrorist. Plus, we definitely shouldn’t forget that both of you are criminals wanted by over a hundred different countries.”
His glare could have peeled flesh right off of bone. Steve glared right back.
“We were doing what had to be done, what was right-“
Rhodey made a very rude noise.
“Get off your high horse, Captain Clueless. You weren’t doing what was right, you were just doing what you wanted.”
“Enough,” Vision cut in before Steve could retort. “This is not the highest priority. Mr. Barnes, please step away from Mr. Stark. Your proximity is causing him to show clear signs of distress and I must protest on his behalf.”
Barnes’ gaze swept over Tony quickly before darting back over toward Vision and Rhodey. There was a moment’s pause before he nodded shortly and stood.
“No, they’re right, Stevie. He doesn’t remember. He has no reason to trust us. The last time we met-“ Barnes actually looked pretty distressed as he turned back to Tony, visibly fighting the urge to get right back on his knees next to the genius. “I almost shot you.”
Tony, slowly and with great effort, levered himself up into a seated position. Vision helped Rhodey lumber and sit beside him so Tony could tuck himself into the alpha’s side.
“You were going to shoot the people in those offices. I couldn’t let that happen.”
“You were already pregnant!”
Barnes seemed like he couldn’t decide whether to feel devastated, angry, or utterly lost. In his shoes, Tony would probably be feeling a mixture of all three.
“Which is why I stayed down! And why I didn’t come to the battle on the airstrip. I couldn’t just stand there and watch people die, though.”
A metal hand scrubbed roughly over Bucky’s face.
“I know, I know. It was the programming. I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I tried. Please believe me. I never wanted to do something like that again.”
“I know,” Tony allowed him, “but that doesn’t change the fact that you did it. You didn’t want to and it wasn’t your fault but I can still remember the expression on your face as you had a gun pointed at mine. That’s…I’m not just gonna forget that.”
Barnes turned away, his shoulders tensed and his head drooping just a bit. Steve moved to stand beside him and lay a hand on his shoulder. For one surreal moment, Tony could clearly see the parallels between their friendship and the one he had with Rhodey. He winced and gave a pained little gasp as one of the triplets broke the moment by kicking him sharply. Barnes was whirling around an instant later, dropping to his knees at Tony’s feet.
“What’s wrong? What happened? Oh, my God, is it time? Are you giving birth?”
Tony’s bark of laughter was cut off by another kick.
“Not even close, just some adjusting going on down there. Don’t have a heart attack on my floor. There’s no way I could move a body with all this.”
He gestured vaguely at the mountainous swell of his belly and leaned back happily when Rhodey squeezed him a bit closer. Rhodey was still glaring heatedly at Barnes.
“Why do you care anyway?”
“Of course I care! I’m the one that got him pregnant!”
None of them were fast enough to stop Rhodey from launching himself at Barnes and attempting to strangle him.
“No! Don’t you dare get out of that chair!”
Tony stood, glaring with his hands on his hips, until Barnes sank slowly back down into his seat. Rhodey sat in the arm chair opposite with Steve in between on the sofa. Vision hovered just behind Tony himself to make sure the heavily pregnant omega didn’t spontaneously combust or whatever the three hooligans in front of him thought was going to happen. He was probably lucky they’d been too busy fighting each other to team up and insist he go on bedrest. (A fate he knew was coming sooner rather than later, unfortunately. He was having triplets, after all. His doctor had made clear it was nonnegotiable.)
“Alright,” he nodded. “Now, I think there are some things we need to go over. So…”He clapped his hands together sharply. “Apparently you and I,” he gestured toward Bucky, “had sex. I didn’t know who you were because I was drunk off my ass but you knew me?”
“I didn’t know who you were until later. Back in the bar you were just nice and sweet and you made me laugh when I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d laughed. Then I saw you again when my programming was activated and I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t until Steve told me that I knew you were Tony Stark. I swear I wasn’t trying to take advantage of you.”
Yeah…That’d been something Rhodey had accused him of mid-strangulation attempt.
“Right. Yeah. I can get that. You’d spent decades being mind whammied and fucked over by HYDRA. I’d take my comfort where I could get it, too. What I don’t understand is what you’re doing here now. Why did you come here when you could’ve just kept hiding out wherever the Hell you two and the others have been these past five months? We clearly weren’t getting anywhere with trying to find you.”
Rhodey started to open his mouth and Tony simply pointed a finger at him threateningly with a stern look. Vaguely, the genius wondered if this was what his life was going to be like from now on with three kids.
“I needed to make sure you were okay, at first, and then after Steve told me who you were…It wouldn’t have been right to just disappear. Not with…everything. And I thought you still remembered me, so…” Barnes took a deep breath as if to steady himself. “The programming Zemo activated is still inside of me. We’ve tried a few things but it hasn’t worked. I was going to go back into cryo until Steve and the others could find a way to get what they put in my head out.”
“’Was’?” Steve interrupted and Tony sent him a glare that went completely ignored. “You’re not going anymore?”
Barnes gestured at Tony, a look of wonder and almost disbelief on his face.
“He’s pregnant, Stevie, with my kid. I can’t just leave them!”
“Kids, actually. Three of them. Triplets.” Barnes looked like he might be the one to faint this time. “And you damn well better leave us.”
Barnes flinched even as Steve shot out of his seat, Vision moving closer in order to head him off if he lunged for Tony.
“They’re his kids, Tony! You can’t just keep them from him!”
“The Hell I can’t!” And, yeah, now Tony was feeling pretty pissed. “He said it himself! The programming HYDRA put in him is still in there! I’m not having him around my kids and, if he actually gives a fuck about them like he claims, he’ll make the same choice.”
“He’s trying to be there for you! He doesn’t want you to have to do this alone!”
“I’m not alone!” Tony’s chest was heaving with anger and Vision had an arm wrapped around him to keep him steady. “You may have left, Steve, but that didn’t mean everyone else did, too. Believe it or not, I actually have friends outside of you and your little boyband. I have people who are going to be here to help me, Rhodey and Vision included.”
“You’re still a single parent, Tony! That’s a struggle.”
Tony’s bark of laughter was a bitter thing.
“Oh, like I don’t know a thing or two about what it is to struggle. Trust me, these kids are gonna be a breeze compared to-“
“Stop!” Barnes had both hands fisted in his hair, dragging his head down until it was practically between his knees. “Just…stop. I can’t-“ He made a choking sort of sound that could have been a sob except that his eyes were dry a moment later when he finally raised his head. “Tony’s right, Steve. I shouldn’t be here, and not just because of the programming.” His gaze switched over to Tony. “There’s something you need to know, what we came here to tell you.”
“No! He deserves to know!” Barnes stared Steve down until he could be sure the beta wouldn’t interfere again and then turned back to the genius. “You might not want me around ever, after this, and I’ll respect your decision if that’s your choice but please, please just know that I never wanted any of this and I would do whatever it took to prove to you that I can be around our kids. I would never hurt them, or you. Okay? Please?”
Tony eyed him warily.
Barnes gave him a ghost of a smile and took a breath, eyes darting toward Steve briefly for what might have been reassurance.
“I-The Winter Soldier-“ He cut himself off again and looked down at his feet, scowling. There was perhaps half a minute of silence before he raised his head again. “There was a mission HYDRA sent me on, to steal a formula for creating more super soldiers.”
“The one that was used on the five people we found in Siberia?”
Because once Zemo’s murder of the doctor had been discovered, Tony made damn sure Ross sent a team out to that base to check things over. Steve and Barnes had already been gone by that point, Zemo dropped off with the authorities later the same day. It didn’t make them any less fugitives, but Tony was sure it made Steve feel a whole lot more justified in his actions.
“Yes,” Barnes confirmed. “HYDRA wanted to make more Winter Soldiers. I was to kill the targets transporting the formula and steal the samples they carried.”
Tony’s brow furrowed.
“Okay. I’m following you but I don’t really know where this is going.”
“The targets were Howard and Maria Stark.”
Vision’s arm around him was the only reason Tony didn’t hit the floor.
“You killed my parents…you killed my mother,” Tony murmured, still trying to process it.
Steve, of course, had to jump immediately to Barnes’ defense.
“It wasn’t him, Tony. It was the programming! It wasn’t Bucky’s fault!”
Tony saw red.
“Get out! Get out of my house, you fucking bastard! You killed my mother!”
Rhodey held Tony’s hand the entire time he was giving birth, despite all of the obscenities and insults Tony threw his way. Later, exhausted and with his three, beautiful, perfect babies tucked around him, Tony attempted to apologize only to have it brushed aside.
“It was worth it, Tones. You’ve always been worth it.”
Tony grinned so hard his cheeks ached.
Being a parent was exhausting, more so than Tony could ever have imagined, but it was also easily the most rewarding thing Tony had every done. He was almost sad he’d never gotten pregnant earlier. He loved his kids more than anything, from Anne Marie’s excited coos when he tickled her to James Edwin’s fascination with pulling hair to Spencer Anthony Sebastian’s rebellious streak that was already showing by six months old. How had he ever lived without them in his life?
That was why, whenever one of them woke up in the middle of the night and he knew it was only a matter of time before one of the others did, too, he would sneak down to his lab and research the effects of brainwashing and what techniques had proven most effective. He toyed with the phone he’d received in the mail and the letter from Steve that’d come with it. The blond had told him Barnes was back in cryo and that Steve was only a phone call away. If Tony or the kids needed anything, Steve would be there in a heartbeat.
When the night finally came that Tony called the only number programmed into the ancient device, nerves clawed at his insides. Was it the right thing to do this? Even if it was, was it what he wanted? All it really came down to in the end was Tony knowing he wanted to be able to tell his kids that he’d done the best he could for them, even if that meant helping the man who’d murdered their grandparents.
Steve sounded concerned. He probably though only a global catastrophe could get Tony to call after the way he’d thrown them out.
“I need an email address.”
“An email address. Where I can reach you. Come on, Capsicle, I know you’ve caught up on the times at least that much. I’m going to send you some names and contact information.”
There was a short pause and Tony could practically hear Steve switching gears to try and figure out what Tony was talking about.
“Yeah, okay. What’re they for?”
“Different neuroscientists and psychologists who might be able to help. Watch out for Faustus, though. He specializes in brain control but only because he does it himself. I’d use him as a last resort, if I were you.”
“Tony, I…Thank you.”
The edges of Tony’s mouth pulled down into a scowl.
“Don’t thank me. My kids deserve both of their fathers, no matter what I feel about the situation. This guarantees nothing, Steve. If any of these people can help he’s still gonna have to drag ass to get better and prove to me he can be around those kids.”
“Yeah, of course,” Steve accepted easily and Tony had to think that Barnes or someone must have talked to him about Tony’s stance on the matter. “How are they? Think maybe you could attach some pictures to that email you’re planning to send?”
This time, it was a smile that tugged on Tony’s lips.
“They’re good, amazing, really. My God, I still can’t even believe how lucky I am…and yeah. I could send some pictures.”
He and Steve had talked all the way up until Anne Marie woke up crying with a wet diaper. A week later, Tony called Steve again to share some of the antics Spencer Anthony had gotten up to.
Some bitter, vicious part of Tony thoroughly enjoyed the way all three of the kids wrapped arms around his legs and hid behind him the first time Barnes was allowed to come to Avengers headquarters to meet them. Peter and Logan had both shown up to act as extra protection in case anything went wrong and Rhodey was steady enough on his prosthetic braces now that he’d be able to put up a good fight. Tony didn’t expect they’d need the extra security but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel better for it.
Barnes shifted nervously and gave him a half-wave in response. His gaze was riveted on the kids, eyes full of fascination and wonder. Tony didn’t blame him. Barnes knelt so he was closer to their level.
“Wow…They’ve gotten so big! The pictures don’t do them justice! I can’t believe they’re already two and a half years old.”
Anne Marie glared at him.
Tony rolled his eyes and squatted slowly, letting the kids rearrange themselves accordingly.
“You guys remember me telling you about your Poppa, right? He was sick and had to go away to get better? Well, he’s all better now. That’s your Poppa over there. He’s been really looking forward to meeting you so be nice, okay?”
Their eyes lit up all around.
Barnes’ grin threatened to split his face even as his eyes shone with tears.
“Yeah,” he managed to get out. “I’m so incredibly glad to finally get to see you three. Your dad’s been telling me stories and sending me pictures but it sure doesn’t beat actually being here.”
Jamie popped his head out from behind Tony’s back.
“No mo’e sick? All better?”
Barnes nodded, swallowing thickly.
“All better. Your dad found some great doctors who were really able to help me out.”
Anna Marie took a couple steps forward as if to go to him before stopping and looking back at Tony.
“Go on, hunny. I’m sure your Poppa has been wanting to give you a hug for a really long time.”
As if in agreement, Barnes opened his arms wide, sweeping Anne Marie into a tight embrace the moment she was in range. Tony’s heart twisted at the sight, but he resisted the urge to snatch his daughter away. He also didn’t mention the tears running down Barnes’ cheeks.
Barnes, Bucky, was criminally good at being a father. With only a few minor hang ups he was able to slip right into the kids’ lives. Tony hadn’t let him jump in with two feet, of course, has started off with only letting him visit a bit and then letting the times be longer and then more often. By the time the triplets were three years old, Bucky had moved into Avengers headquarters and was practically never seen without at least one of the kids by his side, on his back, or thrown over a shoulder. He tickled. He chased. He made grilled cheeses without the crusts.
Despite everything, even Tony found himself liking the guy. Bucky loved the triplets and he showed it in every single thing he did. It was hard to keep hating a guy when he spent hours upon hours helping you potty train rowdy toddlers. Most days, Tony couldn’t help but smile when he saw Bucky with the three little rascals. He was supportive and fun but stern when the situation called for it. He was, in fact, far less likely to cave and give in to whatever the kids’ desired than Tony was. (He’d been the one to talk Tony down from buying a live tiger for Spencer that one time.)
It was good, just all around good. He and Tony worked together well and even Rhodey seemed to finally be coming to terms with Bucky’s presence around the headquarters. Tony honestly hadn’t thought that would ever be happening. For the time being, Bucky had made a whole blanket and pillow fort set up in the living room so the kids could watch a Toy Story marathon. He winked at Tony as he came into the kitchen area to make hot chocolate.
“We did good, didn’t we?” he asked as he glanced back at the living room. “We made some good looking babies.”
Tony grinned at him.
“Clearly, that came from my side of the gene pool.”
Bucky just laughed, letting a companionable silence fall over them as he set the chocolate on the stove to melt. He refused to use instant hot chocolate mix. After several minutes he glanced over at Tony again.
“Hey, I, uh…”
He frowned and looked back at the stove. Tony raised an eyebrow at him.
“Look, I don’t want to overstep any bounds here or mess anything up, but…I’d do it again, is all. Have another kid. With you. I mean, I like you. With or without another kid. I’d like to-I’d like to take you out on a date sometime.”
Tony stared at him.
He hadn’t even thought about it. The Winter Soldier had killed Tony’s parents. Their kids were the result of a one-night stand. Tony’d spent a long time talking himself down from the edge of hating the guy. Sure, he was hot, but Tony probably wouldn’t have slept with him in the first place if he wasn’t. Could he really let go of all the history between them? Did he even want to date Bucky Barnes?
“…I want to go for Italian. And I swear if you take me to Olive Garden I’m dumping you on the spot.”
Bucky looked like he’d won the lottery.