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The Institute for Omegan Socialization

Chapter Text

Tony bit down a shiver, trying to ignore the scratch of the tag on the inside of his waist cincher and the ache of his knees on the cold marble floor. The silk stockings his mother had assured him were the best didn’t offer much insulation.

He and the other omegas had been waiting for an hour now. After a frenzied morning of hair and makeup, of untangling and adjusting straps, of hopeful and conflicted just-in-case goodbyes, their nervous anxiety was slowly wilting into despair. What if the guardian never showed up? This was Tony’s last chance, and he was willing to bet he wasn’t the only one staring down a lifetime of traditional servitude if today didn’t go well.

Modern technology was making things more equal? Tony scoffed. Not the way alphas were currently deploying it. He chanced a glance down the line of omegas on their hands and knees. Well, he couldn’t actually see the knees part. They’d been led single file into this cavernous hall, ordered to assume the position, and silently endured stomach-turning invisible burns as the floor-to-ceiling electromagnetic wall slowly solidified around their waists.

In the past, this would have been accomplished with curtains with strategic cutouts. At least back then a candidate omega could make a break for it, theoretically. These days, they were well and truly trapped, everything from the waist down hidden behind a glorified laser wall for inspection.

The wooden double doors suddenly flew open and Tony startled. The facilitator from this morning walked in, heels clicking. She was wearing a light blue skirt suit set and scowling heavily. “Two minutes, candidates. Let’s see those smiles.”

The omegas fidgeted in their spots. Tony tried to remember his mother’s whispered advice. Back arched, eyes wide, mouth open. She told him the same thing every time and it clearly wasn’t working.

Tony was in the middle of rolling his eyes when he saw another figure had silently joined them. Some guy in black fatigues and way too much leather. What was the Institute doing, employing dirtbags like that? Everyone else who worked at this place dressed like their daughter was getting married at a country club, to a country club. This guy looked like he had just finished curbstomping some unlucky prick outside a dive bar for asking if he had a light.

The facilitator led Biker Dude towards the omegas and Tony’s jaw dropped. This was the guardian? How did he even get in? The Institute for Omegan Socialization was the most exclusive interdesignation club with an absurd number of old-money alphas; Howard had made sure of it. Tony stifled a gleeful laugh as he imagined what his parents’ reaction would be if his guardian turned out not to be a hedge fund manager or a petroleum manufacturer but a tactical goth with long hair and a week of stubble.

The omegas stayed perfectly still as the facilitator and the guardian approached them. Would the guardian want to look at their faces first, pretending that he was a contemporary alpha who respected omegas as equals, or would he not even bother setting up a facade and head around the back side of the electromagnetic wall for the real inspection?

The guardian strode past the line of omegas and disappeared around the back. Fucking Neanderthal. Of course.

It was painfully obvious when each omega was getting inspected. The wall blocked most scents, but the sudden stiffness in their posture was hard to ignore. After watching the omega next to him try not to wriggle, he knew it was his turn.

He nearly gasped as a gloved hand trailed down his spine. The steady pressure was smooth and almost reassuring. Guardian inspections weren’t usually this gentle. He tensed in anticipation of the part that every alpha cared about most, but it never came. The hand on his back veered down the side of his hip instead and disappeared.

Tony was crestfallen. Had he fucked up so badly that the guardian wasn’t even interested in seeing the most important part? He needed this. The school year was approaching and the Institute didn’t have any more selections scheduled until after the fall semester began. MIT was already making an exception for him and they weren’t going to wait around for him to convince some alpha that he was good enough.

His mournful reverie was interrupted by a hand cupping his chin. He looked up and swallowed. The guardian was crouched in front of him, coiled tension in his body and an indecipherable blankness on his face. He could feel the other omegas’ eyes on him but it was the guardian’s cold stare that froze him to the spot.

He wished he had been allowed to write the placard that hung above him, casually summarizing his whole existence like he was a museum piece on a wall. At the very least, he wished he had been allowed to see it and know what the people determining his future thought of him. Tony Stark is a stubborn little shit who is only doing this because the school of his dreams wouldn’t take him any other way, he wailed internally. Tony has failed every state omega exam not out of inability but on princip-

He suddenly felt two gloved fingers slip inside his mouth and instinctively curled his tongue around them. It felt secure, his body was singing, his mind was blissfully clear and even though his eyes were closed he felt like he could see for miles -

The fingers withdrew and his eyes flew open. What just happened? None of the other inspections had gone like this.

The guardian was standing now. “Are you sure?” the facilitator was asking him with a tremble in her voice. “Of course all of our candidates are of the highest quality, but we have many more suited for tradi-”

She suddenly felt silent. Tony willed himself not to look up and stare.

“Very well,” she squeaked. “This way, if you please.” She scurried toward the door and the electromagnetic wall around Tony dissolved. He crawled after her, wincing as blood returned to his sore muscles. At least the hallways were lined with plush Persian carpets, so the crawling wasn’t so bad.

She navigated the old mansion deftly, stopping at what was presumably her office. She turned toward Tony and gasped.

“Sir! My apologies, I didn’t notice you coming with us. This portion of the process is for the omega only,” she stammered above him.

Tony heard a growl from behind and felt the guardian’s tactical pants brush the side of his thigh.

The facilitator sighed and opened the door for both of them. Compared to the ornately carved decorations in the rest of the building, her office was disappointingly bland. Beige filing cabinets lined the walls and fluorescent lights flickered overhead. It could have been any other office except for the fact that Tony was in lingerie on his knees as his... new alpha??... was sprawled out in the only available seat.

The facilitator had already sat down behind her desk. Tony could hear her frantically clicking. A laser printer whirred to life, spitting out pages and pages detailing what exactly Tony was giving up.

“Since you’re both here, we can begin processing the transfer. Tony,” she murmured softly. “This is your last chance to exit the program without consequence.”

Without consequence my ass, Tony nearly muttered, but managed to keep it in. “I’m staying,” he gritted out, as dignified as he could muster while eye-level with a table leg.

“Let’s get started then,” she nearly sighed with relief. “I know you’ve both already gone over the terms, but I am legally required to read them to you before you sign. You are entering into a three-month contract for alpha guardianship and omega training. In order to earn your omega training certificate, you will complete a series of requirements that demonstrate your fitness as a potential mate and productive member of society. These requirements are scientifically determined by a government-appointed panel of Omegan researchers.”

And the Omegan researchers doing the scientific determining are all alphas, Tony grumbled internally.

“The alpha party is required to provide a safe and stable home environment that accommodates an omega’s needs. Inspections have been conducted prior to today’s selection process to ensure compliance to standards.”

Tony highly doubted that this his new home would accommodate his needs, unless there happened to be a metal fabricator lying around in the basement.

“The omega party is required to provide care and submission in any form that the alpha desires. If you require clarification on how to fulfill expectations, more details are provided in this guidebook.” She slid a thick three-ring binder on the floor towards Tony.

He glanced at the divider labels and tried to suppress his disgust. What, no “How to suck alpha cock” section? Or was I supposed to have taken that class already?

“If, at any point, either of you wishes to end your participation in the program, you may invoke the termination clause. Your registration fees will not be refunded and you will both be barred from program participation in the future.”

Tony shuddered. He wasn’t letting that happen. Wasn’t even considering what life would be like if that happened.

The facilitator pushed a stapled packet toward each of them, with yellow plastic tabs indicating where to sign. At least they let me sign it and not Howard, Tony thought deliriously as he handed the rights to his ass over to some alpha he’d met half an hour ago and still hadn’t heard speak.

“Excellent,” the facilitator said as she collected their signed contracts. “Congratulations, and best of luck. And this is for you,” she nearly whispered as she pushed a red organza drawstring bag at Tony. He grabbed it and couldn’t prevent himself from clutching it to his chest. Whatever was in it would be the only things he legally owned for the next three months. “You’ll need it.”

Chapter Text

Tony barely had time to grab his guidebook before he felt himself being lifted into the air. Christ, was his alpha really this much of a traditionalist? He shifted uncomfortably against the leather covering his alpha’s torso - why were there so many straps? - and the facilitator made a small noise. “Sir, your guidebook as well,” she practically whimpered.

The guardian grunted his acknowledgement and reached out to grab another three-ring binder on the desk. Tony knew he was a twink, even by omega standards, but this guy was holding him with one arm as casually as one might carry a latte back to the office.

The guardian carried him into the mansion’s guest garage. Even though it was kind of dark, Tony was pretty sure there weren’t any cars there. Then he saw the motorcycle.

“Oh, fuck,” he whispered in awe. His dad collected vehicles of all kinds but Tony had barely been allowed to look at the motorcycles. And this one was quite the treat. Vintage but immaculately restored, gleaming chrome and black all over except for a single red star.

The guardian opened up a leather saddlebag and filled it with their guidebooks and the red organza bag from the facilitator. He handed Tony a long wool coat and a sleek black helmet before getting on the bike, waiting for Tony to follow.

Tony gratefully wrapped the coat around himself and straddled the seat, melting into his guardian’s back more than he was willing to admit. He slipped on the helmet and everything went dark. He was momentarily confused. Was it on the wrong way or something?

He was about to ask when the motorcycle roared to life and they surged forward. He tightened his arms around the guardian’s waist and realized the helmet was performing exactly as designed - preventing him from knowing where they were going or how to get back.

Another fucking kidnapping. Tony rolled his eyes. Except this one is sanctioned by the state.

They rode on for a long time, occasionally making sharp turns and aggressive accelerations that Tony was pretty sure were illegal. He lost track of time, focusing on keeping himself plastered to his guardian’s back. He could feel muscles shifting and flexing even beneath the leather. At least he wasn’t stuck with some old alpha who’d blame him when the alpha couldn’t get it up.

Speaking of which… Tony swallowed nervously. The vibrations of the bike and the proximity to a, er, viable alpha were starting to get to him. He fervently hoped his guardian would be too distracted by driving to notice.

He felt the terrain beneath them changing. Smooth freeway sailing turned into slower local roads, and slower local roads turned into a rocky uphill climb. Were they driving up a fucking mountain? Of course this guy had a house in the mountains. Was he a prepper? Would they be sleeping on pallets of canned vegetables and dried beans?

Finally, after what must have been hours, they slowed to a stop. The guardian smoothly slid off the bike and Tony heard gravel crunching beneath them. He felt his helmet being removed, along with his coat, and he blinked as his eyes got used to the evening light.

They were in the mountains. And holy shit, what a view. A pristine valley opened up below them, blue rivers sparkling with the setting sun. Jagged peaks and ridges framed the horizon in not-too-far distance. And nestled among towering pines in what was probably a tactically advantageous location was a two-story cabin.

It looked… surprisingly normal, given who owned it. Maybe the concrete bunker was in the back. Tony was jolted out of his wide-eyed staring by a rough hand wrapping around his wrist and tugging him towards the door.

Right, inside the house. The house where he would be living with a stranger. A stranger who legally owned his literal ass, which was currently being protected by a layer of deep red satin and not much else. Three months was starting to look like a long time.

The guardian stood in front of the door, blocking Tony’s view of whatever he was doing to open it. C’mon, seriously? he thought. He strained to catch a jingle of keys or the beep of a scanner but couldn’t hear a thing.

The door swung open silently and Tony stepped over the threshold, eyes scanning over a sparsely furnished living room. Everything seemed to be made out of wood. Had his guardian whittled the furniture himself, passing time between midnight murders?

The guardian led him deeper into the mostly empty house. Tony immediately recognized what little decoration there was from Amazon’s omega home starter kit. This fucking guy had made his house omega-ready by searching on Amazon for literally three seconds. And the Institute had approved this? Tony expected more from an organization that made him sign a contract promising that he would shave his legs.

They were going upstairs now. The guardian pushed open a door. This would be the bedroom, presumably. Tony tried not to let his apprehension show on his face. Alphas didn’t like it when omegas didn’t at least pretend to want to fuck them, and if Tony was gonna have to spend an entire summer with this guy, he’d rather not start it off on the wrong foot.

The room was - surprise, surprise - mostly empty. There wasn’t even a bed, just a thin mat on the floor. Damn, Tony’s ass was gonna be sore. He started towards it but a hand around his forearm - his entire forearm - stopped him.

Instead, he was propelled towards the walk-in closet. He could see now this was where most of the omega starter kit had ended up. Fluffy pillows and soft blankets were stacked up in the corner. Towels and other heat supplies were tucked into a wicker basket on top of a chest of drawers. There was even a big stuffed bear, which Tony admitted he would not be above cuddling with in this godforsaken nightmare.

His guardian looked at him with a strangely expectant expression. It was… vaguely hopeful? Whatever it was, it was the most Tony had seen from him all day.

“Uh, thanks,” he stammered. “It looks really soft.” He stepped into the closet and reached for the bear, trying to indicate some interest before the alpha got offended that his minimum effort contribution wasn’t all that fascinating.

He jumped as he heard a dull thud behind him. He whirled around and stared at his guardian through the thick Plexiglass panel that had slammed down in the closet doorway.

“What the hell?” he yelped, pounding on the glass. His guardian nodded, seemingly satisfied, and stepped out of the room. Tony continued banging his fist on the panel to no avail. Eventually, he sat on the floor - it was carpeted, at least - and sighed.

What the fuck was he supposed to do in this tiny-ass space? Suddenly, he remembered a phrase he’d heard his grandmother mention… nesting rooms. A phenomenon that had died out during World War II, when people were trying to conserve resources to send to the front instead.

Nesting rooms had been considered a luxury for wealthy alphas to bestow upon their lucky omegas. This was sure as shit not luxurious, he grumbled to himself. Though he had to admit, it was significantly more comfortable than the rest of what he’d seen so far. Everything was soft and light. The drywall looked fresh. Tony wondered if his guardian had gotten it made just for him.

About ten minutes had passed when he heard a sudden hiss behind him. He jumped up in surprise and saw the Plexiglass panel disappearing into the ceiling. His guardian was calmly standing behind where it had been.

“What the fuck was that?” he demanded, shoving past the alpha and into the bedroom.

“Perimeter check,” his guardian growled. Tony whirled around to face him, surprised that he’d actually gotten an answer. Well, if they were finally talking, it was time to talk.

“And who the fuck are you?” he pressed on furiously. This was not how it looked in the movies, where swooning omegas fell into their alphas' powerful arms as entire orchestras swelled in the background.

“The Soldier,” his guardian responded in the same weathered rasp.

“That is not your name,” Tony retorted.

“It is to you.”

Wow, rude. Tony could really use a door to slam right about now. Instead, he just stomped back into the nesting room.

“I’m going to sleep,” he grumbled as he started laying out blankets on the floor, daring the Soldier to contradict him. The Soldier simply shrugged and walked away, the glass panel sliding shut behind him.

Tony unclasped his waist cincher and slid off his stockings, leaving just his underwear on. At least the blankets were cozy. By the subtle pattern on them, he could see that the Soldier had sprung for the kit’s deluxe version. Nothing but the best for a captive omega, he thought blearily as he drifted off to sleep.

-----

When he woke up in the morning, the doorway was open and the bedroom was empty. His stomach rumbled and he realized he hadn’t eaten lunch or dinner the day before. He wandered downstairs into what looked like a dining room. The Soldier was sitting at the head of the table, reading a newspaper. A newspaper? What was this, the fucking ’50s?

“I’m hungry,” Tony announced. The Soldier looked up.

“You want food, you make it.” The Soldier shoved a pair of knee pads towards him. A traditional omegan courtship gift. Tony’s eyebrows raised. Surely he didn’t mean…?

The Soldier gestured towards the kitchen. Oh. Ugh. He’d seen these kitchens in period dramas and textbooks, but never in person. It was like a normal kitchen, but every work surface was lowered to ground level. The stovetop was on the floor. The refrigerator was in the ground. The tallest shelves were only three feet high.

Tony could not believe how much effort alphas were willing to put in to see their omegas bent over on the floor. “You cook like this?” he marveled.

“I don’t eat,” the Soldier replied. Okay, big guy, Tony rolled his eyes. But the equipment was pristine. Had this all been installed for his arrival too?

Tony begrudgingly slid on the kneepads and knelt on the ground, opening the refrigerator. He startled when he heard a click behind his ear and felt cold metal around his neck. Fuck, already?

“I know you won’t disobey me,” the Soldier growled. “But the Institute requires confirmation that your behavior follows protocol.”

Tony gulped. “Which protocol?”

“On your knees at all times. No venturing beyond the property without prior authorization. No coming without permission,” the Soldier stated indifferently, as if he were telling Tony where the bathroom was.

They can fit all that into a collar these days? Tony mused. He was gonna have to take a look at this later. He didn’t have any equipment with him, but he was taking that thing apart one way or another.

“Yes, sir,” he muttered, and turned back towards the fridge. The Soldier left him to his breakfast, which looked like it was gonna be eggs, and… eggs. Did this guy not believe in carbs?

Whatever. He could fry an egg. He’d watched Jarvis do it a thousand times.

He cracked the first egg on the pan with far too much force and the yolk bled out into the pan. Okay, so maybe he couldn’t fry an egg. But he could pretend that he ended up with scrambled eggs on purpose.

Eventually, he had a plateful of scrambled eggs. He opened the cupboards, looking for hot sauce. Ketchup. Anything. Did this guy not believe in flavor at all?

He settled on just salt and pepper, sitting against the wall with his makeshift breakfast picnic spread out before him. It was the most fucking delicious thing he’d ever tasted, and not because it was actually good.

He heard a snort above him. He looked up to see the Soldier leaning against the kitchen doorframe, watching him with the kind of casual intent that was not casual at all.

“Hey, I made do with what I got,” he muttered around a mouthful of egg. “Why don’t you have any spices?”

The Soldier gestured towards the backyard. It was less of a yard and more of a forest. “Grow some.”

Tony groaned in dismay. “That’s not how farming works. This isn’t even a tropical environment,” he protested.

The Soldier shrugged, then ambled away.

Tony finished his breakfast and loaded up the dishwasher. At least Mr. Traditional Values believed in dishwashers.

He crawled into the living room and realized all the books were stored out of reach for an omega on their knees. God, this whole situation managed to be deeply insulting and incredibly boring at once. He hadn’t seen a TV or computer around, and even then, he probably wouldn’t be allowed to use it. Would he even be allowed to read?

He spotted the guidebook and bag he’d been given the day before. They couldn’t fault him for reading that. He flipped it open and read:

Week 1 Progress Goals

Welcome to the Institute for Omegan Socialization’s world-renowned three-month training program! You are joining a long lineage of distinguished omegas in upholding the omegan arts. Week 1 will be a week of adjustment, focusing primarily on learning your new guardian’s needs. Ask your guardian to fill out the attached checklist with you.

Tony scanned the checklist, eyes widening. He was pretty sure the Soldier was not going to sit willingly through these questions. He paused when he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye.

The Soldier was outside on his motorcycle, driving away. Goddammit. Where was he going? When was he going to be back? Tony had no way to know. He sighed and started reciting digits of pi in his head.

-----

He was up to the 8,734th digit when the front door swung open. The Soldier was back. He was carrying… groceries? Tony crawled over to look. Inside the paper bag was a jumble of spice bottles and condiments. More than he could use in a whole year, probably.

Tony looked up at his guardian and grinned. He thought he saw the slightest hint of warmth in the crinkles around the Soldier’s eyes.

“Thank you, Alpha,” he recited. He hadn’t called anyone “Alpha” since he was a child, but he was pretty sure it was what this guy wanted to hear. Based on the slight hitch in his guardian’s breath, he was correct. Two could play this positive reinforcement game.

Now, there was the question of getting the groceries to the kitchen. God, this was gonna be humiliating no matter what. He shuffled so the bag’s handles were secure between his teeth and picked up the whole thing like a dog playing fetch in the park. Ugh. The things he would do for Tapatio.

He unloaded the groceries into the cabinets and arranged the spices alphabetically. Jarvis would be proud.

He turned around to see his guardian watching him silently. Again.

“Um, sir? Could we go over this list that I’m supposed to do for the guidebook?”

The Soldier shrugged and sat on a window seat overlooking the backyard. He patted the space beside him.

“Oh, hold on, I gotta go get it first.” Tony went to get the list from the living room and returned to the kitchen with the sheet of paper and a pen he found clamped carefully between his jaws. Not being able to carry things with his hands was a real pain in the ass.

He cautiously crawled onto the seat, not knowing how high the collar would let him go. It seemed okay. The Soldier pulled Tony onto his lap and Tony couldn’t help leaning back a little, curling his bare back into the Soldier’s leather-covered torso.

With his face next to the Soldier’s neck, he could tell he smelled good. Like a roaring campfire late at night mixed with the first breath of fresh air after a long plane trip and a hint of grey clouds before a huge rainstorm.

Shit, was he waxing on about his alpha’s smell already? Yikes. He decided to keep that to himself.

“So,” he cleared his throat, trying not to be nervous. “It says for Week 1 I have to ask you a bunch of questions.” He held up the list in front of them.

“ ‘What is your guardian’s name?’ ” Tony read aloud.

“Already answered that one,” the Soldier grumbled, sounding irritated already.

“No, you didn’t,” Tony muttered, but wrote down The Soldier anyways.

“ ‘Where was your guardian born?’ ”

“Classified,” the Soldier stated flatly. Tony rolled his eyes.

“ ‘When does your guardian prefer to wake up?’ ”

“Zero six hundred,” the Soldier replied.

Tony rolled his eyes again and wrote down 6 a.m. He sure as hell wasn’t getting up that early. Back at home, he’d be lucky if he went to sleep that early.

“ ‘What types of food does-’ ”

“Answered that one too,” the Soldier interrupted. “Didn’t you read this before bothering me with it?”

“Forgive me for making sure ‘I don’t eat food’ was your real answer. This isn’t exactly a good time for me either,” Tony scowled.

The Soldier shifted behind him. “Proceed,” he sighed, more gently this time. Tony pressed back into him, hoping to encourage his patience.

“ ‘What does your guardian like to do for fun?’ ”

“Not applicable,” the Soldier responded curtly.

Tony raised his eyebrows. Why had he expected anything from this conversation? “O...kay,” he acquiesced, scribbling down N/A and hoping the Institute wouldn’t think he was just being lazy.

“ ‘How many times per week does your guardian expect to be-’ ” Tony’s voice broke. “ ‘-serviced?’ ” The moment of silence that followed was excruciating.

“Whenever I require,” the Soldier replied firmly.

Tony wanted to scream. What was up with this guy and his non-answers? So far all he’d found out was that his guardian woke up early in the morning, which he already kind of figured, and was a cagey asshole, which he already knew for sure.

“ ‘What can you do to make your guardian happy?’ ” Tony asked, relieved to be on the last item.

The Soldier seemed confused by the question. Tony twisted around to see a faraway look in the Soldier’s eyes. The silence stretched on uncomfortably. Finally, the Soldier spoke. “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”

Shit, dude, Tony thought, grateful that at least the answer was more open than “Nothing.”

He slid off the window seat and knelt on the floor. “Thank you, Alpha,” he whispered, casting his eyes down.

The Soldier made a sort of strangled noise before grunting his assent and striding out of the room.

-----

Tony brought his semi-completed Week 1 worksheet and his new pen - it was his now, dammit - up to his room. He decided to poke around a bit more. There was that small chest of drawers that he hadn’t opened yet.

Inside the top drawer was beauty supplies from the omega starter kit. Lip stain, eyeliner, a bunch of things he didn’t recognize. He didn’t wear makeup at home - Howard didn’t like his son advertising that he was an omega - but he supposed it made sense here. It would really help if he could watch some YouTube tutorials, but it looked like he was going to have to figure it out on his own.

The middle drawer held an assortment of sweet snacks and bottles of water. Aw, that was cute.

The bottom drawer was filled to the brim with lingerie. Silky panties, lacy scraps in unfamiliar shapes, straps on straps on straps. Tony swallowed. This was not part of the omega starter kit. Was he supposed to know how to put these on?

“Questions?” he heard his guardian’s voice behind him and he jumped. Damn, that guy moved quietly for someone with that much bulk.

“Um,” Tony blushed, suddenly aware of his bare chest, bare legs, bare face. “These are really pretty, thank you. I was just wondering where my normal clothes are?”

“Those are your normal clothes,” the Soldier replied, tilting his head at the open drawer.

Tony bit back a groan. Leave it to his future-dreaming ass to get matched with the most old-fashioned alpha there was.

“Do you need me to explain to you how to put them on?” The Soldier asked.

“No! No, I’m sure I can figure it out,” Tony hurriedly replied.

“Go on, then. Get washed up and show me.” The Soldier gestured to the hallway.

Tony nodded, frantically pawing through the pile of unmentionables to find something he sort of understood. He stuffed it in his mouth and crawled out into the hallway, desperately hoping that he got this right.

Chapter Text

Tony knew immediately which room was the omega bathroom because of the half-height doorway that could only be entered by crawling. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about some raging alpha barging in.

Once inside, he was reminded of the kitchen. The counters were at ground level. The showerhead was three feet above the tile floor. The toilet was essentially a basin sunken into the floor.

He used the toilet - would he not be allowed to use the regular toilets anymore? - before filling the tub. He sighed as the water level in the tub slowly started to rise. At least using such a big bathtub would give him an excuse to stay in the bathroom a little while longer.

What did the Soldier mean by “washing up,” anyways? Like, was he just supposed to get ready, or get ready ready?

He wasn’t actually sure how to prepare, exactly. Howard had made sure that he kept his "virginity" (barf) “intact” (BARF) to ensure the best marriage possible. He wasn’t even getting married, and this was still happening. Usually he felt that Howard’s loss was his gain, but today, he wasn’t really sure.

He slipped into the water and felt the tension he didn’t even realize he was holding evaporate from his muscles. Fuck, this was nice. When was the last time he had taken a bath? Probably not since he was a little kid.

He vaguely recalled how Jarvis would give him a bath and then wrap him in the biggest beach towels available. His favorite one was all deep blues and greens, with bits of magenta and orange highlights. It depicted an ocean scene with a shark, a manta ray, and a school of fish all swimming harmoniously through a gently flowing current.

He’d found the towel in a box recently, faded and unraveling at the edges. It was much smaller now, and he knew with a resigned certainty that it wasn’t because it had been shrunk in the dryer.

Jarvis was gone now, too. Respectfully retired to finally enjoy the life he’d built for himself. Tony was thrilled for him to finally be out of there. But there was no denying that the house had an emptiness that permeated the three of them who were still left.

Two, now. Tony resolutely refused to consider how his mother was doing. Her marriage hadn’t been arranged, exactly. She could have left. Should have left. But she stayed, for the sake of raising a child and keeping up appearances and whatever unfathomable reasons there might be to make that marriage the path of least resistance.

And now here Tony was, wearing a strange alpha’s collar in an empty house full of unspoken rules. He really was turning into his mother.

He started shampooing his hair and looked around for distractions from his increasingly disturbing train of thought. The omega bathroom was quite well-appointed, given that it was stocked by someone who apparently considered food optional.

He recognized the colorful soap by the tub from some popular Instagrams. It had little bits of flower petals that dissolved as he rubbed the bar across his skin. He knew it was supposed to make him more desirable to alphas, but he couldn’t imagine his guardian even acknowledging the concept of flowers, let alone their alleged effect on omega attractiveness.

He submerged himself underwater, giving himself one last rinse, and then stepped out of the tub. He toweled off quickly - it was no jewel-toned ocean scene, but it would do - and started applying moisturizer everywhere.

He was supposed to be soft, he knew that much. His mother had been desperately begging him to moisturize more ever since he presented as an omega at 13. She’d tried to send him off to the Institute with some night cream from the omega counter at Neiman Marcus before she found out he wouldn’t be allowed to take anything with him if he was selected.

Finally, skin appropriately glowing, he picked up the lingerie he’d selected. It was an intricate black lace harness that highlighted his bare chest with a matching garter belt for his hips that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. Go big or go home, right?

With a bit of fumbling and a lot of shimmying, Tony finally got them on. He looked at himself in the mirror, taking in the sleek lines and complex lace. The set looked pretty damn good with his collar, he had to admit.

Tony took a deep breath and crawled out the door and back to the bedroom. He felt even more vulnerable than he did entering that room for the first time, when he’d been mentally preparing to get fucked into the floor by someone who hadn’t spoken a single word in his presence.

His guardian was standing against the far wall, waiting for him. He felt sharp eyes tracking his every move.

“Sir,” he whispered, kneeling at the foot of the mat and fixing his eyes on the floor.

He felt the lightest of touches on his back. Damn, this guy was fast.

“Look at you,” the Soldier growled from behind him. Tony felt his skin prickle. “All dolled up for me.”

The Soldier leaned in closer, his long hair trailing across Tony’s shoulders and leaving a faint tingling sensation in its wake. “You know what a pretty package you make for me, sweet thing?”

Tony couldn’t help but shiver. Why was the Soldier bothering to seduce him? He didn’t exactly have a choice in the matter.

“Oh, I think you know,” the low voice continued in his ear. “You know exactly what you do to me.”

The Soldier pushed him to the floor with a casual hand on his shoulder. Tony looked up, blinking dizzily.

“Callin’ me Alpha already,” the Soldier rumbled, looming over him. “On our first full day together. You always run this loose?” An accent was starting to slip out. Tony tried to clear his foggy brain and place it. Definitely the Northeast. New York? Brooklyn, maybe?

He realized belatedly that the Soldier was waiting for an answer. “No, sir,” he breathed. “Haven’t called anyone Alpha in a long time.”

Good,” the Soldier replied firmly. “My baby’s dance card is full.”

Tony wasn’t familiar with that term. He didn’t really get invited to a lot of dances outside cotillion season.

“I don’t have a dance card, sir?” he asked softly. “I don’t think they gave me one, unless it’s -”

His guardian chuckled. “Sometimes I forget how young you are. It don’t matter what it used to be, what it means now is that no one else is puttin’ their paws on my sweetheart.” He ran a possessive hand down Tony’s cheek, lingering over the small scar that Tony had gotten from a miscalibrated soldering iron.

“Who did this to you, baby?” he growled, suddenly serious.

“Huh? Oh, me. Just a little accident repairing a solar panel array last year,” he tried to explain, struggling to think much about anything beyond the steady touches lighting up every synapse in his brain.

He could feel himself getting wet, and he flushed as he realized that in his bottomless bottoms the scent would permeate the air immediately. Not that any of the other options in the drawer would have offered that much more protection.

“Good. It’d be a shame to have to land some punk in the hospital when I have so much sweeter places to put my hands.”

“Wha?” Tony frowned. “You don’t have to go around beating people up for me, I can manage things on my own. Sir.”

“Not lookin’ for an alpha to handle your brawls for you, dollface? So why’re you barkin’ for your alpha so soon?” the Soldier continued, lazily stroking Tony’s smooth chest with one finger and lighting Tony’s nerves on fire. “Just couldn’t wait for a piece of me, could you?”

The finger slid down Tony’s chest, dipping just below the waistband of Tony’s garter belt. “Any alpha within 10 miles of here could smell how ready you are. Well, you don’t gotta wait any longer. Your alpha’s gonna give you everything you need.”

Tony froze. Oh God, this was it, wasn’t it. The moment where the sweet-talking would end and the monster would take its place.

His guardian noticed his hesitation. “What is it, doll?”

“Oh, I…” Tony squirmed. What was the answer he was supposed to give? “I didn’t…”

“Didn’t what?”

“Didn’t mean… but I know the contract…” Tony grimaced.

The Soldier brought his hand back up to rest on Tony’s cheek. “Oh, no, sugar, it’s okay. We ain’t gotta do nothin’ tonight. Good to know my sweetie’s eyes are bigger than his stomach.”

Tony squeezed his eyes shut, cursing himself for not doing a better job of feigning interest. He’d never had the patience nor the skill to sugarcoat things for the alphas around him. Maybe if he had, he wouldn’t have been enrolled in this program in the first place.

The Soldier smoothed Tony’s hair back, out of his face, and slid a calloused thumb over his forehead. “Hard to know what’s going on in there sometimes.”

Oh, like YOU’RE one to talk, a voice in Tony’s brain wailed hysterically, but he was too tired to let it out.

He felt himself being picked up off the ground and deposited onto a fluffy cloud. His nesting room, he groggily realized. The stuffed bear was placed into his arms and he latched onto it immediately. Being in his nest, surrounded by fluffy things, felt safe and warm and right.

“Get some rest, sweetheart,” the Soldier whispered as Tony slipped into blissful nothingness.

-----

Tony woke up with his face smushed into the stuffed bear’s chest. Memories of how he’d gotten there flooded his mind and he cringed. At least the Soldier had been kind about it. Shockingly kind. And shockingly human?

He crawled out into the bedroom and saw his guardian standing in the opposite corner, waiting for him. Had he been watching him the whole time?

The Soldier grunted towards a plate of food on the ground. They were back to caveman noises, apparently.

“Thought you said you don’t cook,” Tony remarked.

“I said I don’t eat,” the Soldier corrected. “But you do.”

Tony sat down in front of the roasted... was it venison? Whatever it was, his mouth was watering. “Thank you,” he whispered, suddenly hesitant. He hoped his guardian knew what he meant.

The Soldier just nodded. Tony started scarfing down the roast. Damn, he was starving. He must’ve napped for a while. But between the nap and the protein, his energy was really coming back.

“So,” Tony began between bites, because he never knew when to stop. “Why do you have to tell me your birthplace is classified if your Brooklyn accent comes out as soon as you get your hands on an omega?”

The Soldier glared at him from the corner of the room. Was he actually… blushing behind all that hair? But the flush of color, if it had even been there, was gone as quickly as it came.

“Because it is classified,” his guardian replied.

“You a top secret agent or something?” Tony asked, raising his eyebrows. “Punching bad guys every day at the office?”

The Soldier scowled and Tony knew he was onto something. “All the pockets in your pants aren’t just for show, are they? How many knives you got in there?” His guardian didn’t respond.

“I’m counting at least six,” Tony continued, eyes flitting over the subtlest of folds in the fabric.

“And how would a pretty boy like you know an ugly fact like that?” the Soldier growled, but with a warmth Tony hadn’t heard in it before.

“Been kidnapped one or twelve times,” Tony shrugged.

The Soldier growled again, and the warmth was gone. “That ain’t happening again.”

“Only fair that you know what you signed up for,” Tony explained. “What did they tell you about me, anyways? I’ve been dying to know what was on that card.”

“Finish your dinner,” his guardian ordered, pointedly ignoring the question.

“I’ll finish my dinner if you finish yours,” Tony pouted, not caring how petulant he sounded. “How do you not have to eat? Are you a robot?”

The Soldier fixed him with another long look. “That’s classified.”

Tony threw up his hands. “Everything about you is classified! Are your dick pics classified too?”

“Alright, you’re done,” the Soldier declared, and started walking towards him. Tony’s eyes widened and he thought he must really be in for it now. But the Soldier just leaned over to pat him on the head and pick up his nearly empty plate from the ground.

“Thank you… sir,” Tony called out softly as his guardian left the room. The Soldier didn’t say anything, but the pause in his step was enough.

-----

Tony spent the next week attempting to cook, clean, and sleep with his guardian lurking silently behind him. He was almost relieved to start his next assignment. Then he actually read it:

###########################################

Week 2 Pre-Training Evaluation

Rate your abilities (0 - 10, 10 being the best) in the following omegan arts.

After completion, bring this form to your guardian. Your guardian will determine which of your skills should be prioritized for further development. Professional instruction may be provided at your guardian’s discretion.

Domestic Responsibilities:

Baking: __/10
Childcare: __/10
Cooking: __/10
Drink Mixing: __/10
Gardening: __/10
Hostessing: __/10
Housekeeping: __/10
Sewing: __/10

Artistic Responsibilities:

Dance: __/10
Fashion: __/10
Flower arranging: __/10
Haircare: __/10
Illustration: __/10
Knitting: __/10
Makeup: __/10
Painting: __/10
Penmanship: __/10
Piano: __/10
Singing: __/10

Mating Responsibilities:

Compliance: __/10
Flexibility: __/10
Gag reflex suppression: __/10
Massage: __/10
Orgasm delay: __/10
Pain tolerance: __/10
Responsiveness: __/10
Self-lubrication: __/10
Stamina: __/10

###########################################

Tony sighed. He’d never done most of the things on this list. Even the ones he could sort of claim were weak. Like, he wrote letters to his grandparents every Christmas because his mother insisted. Did that count as penmanship?

He was really not looking forward to whatever the Soldier thought might be appropriate training for increasing one’s pain tolerance. And how exactly was he going to work on his self-lubrication? Was there a machine for that at the gym?

He didn’t bother filling in any of the blanks because even though he didn’t believe in magic, writing “0” over and over again sounded like a jinx if he’d ever heard one.

-----

When he brought the worksheet to his guardian, his brain suddenly blanked. He’d forgotten all of his elaborately constructed explanations and well-reasoned excuses for why he had nothing to show for himself.

“You didn’t fill this out.” The Soldier simply stated.

Tony swallowed. “No, I didn’t. Because… there’s not much to put down.”

The Soldier raised his eyebrows. Tony tried to anticipate his next question. Then why are you here? How did they let you in? What have you even been doing your whole life?

His downward spiral was roughly interrupted. “You ready to learn, then?”

Tony nodded. He was passing the program, penmanship be damned.

Chapter Text

Tony crawled out of the nesting room the next morning to find a massive bed set up where the thin mat had been before. Was the Soldier getting soft already?

It was far more extravagant than any of the other furniture the Soldier had acquired for himself. Tony could see that the mattress was thick and incredibly plush, even under the heaps of pillows and airy down comforter that covered it.

Tony wouldn’t put it past the Soldier to be the type of guy who, if he’d acquired a mattress for some reason, would put it directly on the floor. But not only was there a box spring under the mattress, there was an elaborately carved four poster bedframe as well.

It reminded Tony of his friends’ bedrooms as a kid, where they’d pretended to be princes and princesses without realizing that they essentially already were. He wondered what they were up to these days. Probably not crawling around some mysterious alpha’s house wearing just their underwear and a collar that would report back to some asshole in a Baroque mansion whether they’d had an unauthorized orgasm or not.

After washing up and getting dressed (if he could call the panties he was wearing “dressed”), he went downstairs to find the Soldier sitting at the dining room table behind a tall stack of books.

“Barnes & Noble going out of business or something?”

The Soldier jerked his head up, then relaxed. He grabbed a book from the pile and placed it on the floor, where Tony could reach it. It was a large hardcover with a picture of a smiling omega on the front. The omega was kneeling in the doorway of a classic Craftsman house underneath a cheery arc of text that read “Happy Home Essentials: An Omega’s Guide to Entertaining Guests.”

“Read this today,” the Soldier grunted.

Tony held the book up skeptically. “You host a lot of dinner parties up in the mountains?”

The Soldier shrugged, then turned back to his newspaper.

“Well, I guess it’s more likely than needing to know the difference between a foxtrot and a waltz,” Tony sighed as he looked at the other titles. He picked up the book between his teeth - his goddamn teeth, he would never get over this - and headed into the kitchen to make breakfast.

-----

After a quick breakfast of more eggs (scrambled on purpose this time), Tony settled into the window seat nook in the kitchen and opened the book he’d been assigned.

Welcome to the latest installment of our Happy Home Essentials series, written just for omegas like you! Hosting at home is an incredibly important and complex responsibility to hold. Our advice is generalized for a wide audience, so be sure to ask your alpha if you have any questions or don’t understand something! They’ll be able to explain it to you so you can focus on what’s important: providing a clean and happy environment that will impress your guests and make your alpha proud.

Tony rolled his eyes. Jesus Christ. He’d actually already gotten this condescending lecture in middle school, when they shuffled all the omegas into one room and all the alphas into another. He’d learned a lot that day - namely, that everything he’d been told about growing up to be whatever he wanted was a fucking lie.

Since our earliest days as a species, the most stable home has been the one protected by an alpha and maintained by an omega. If you are reading this book, congratulations on finding an alpha to be the bedrock of your home! You will find that it is an honor to uphold this rightful balance and create harmony in our increasingly unprincipled world.

Yikes. Was the whole book gonna be like this? At least there were lots of photos, so it’d be over soon.

-----

Tony waited all day for the Soldier to quiz him or at least ask about the book he’d been assigned, but it never happened. He crawled upstairs and got ready for bed, counting down the number of days until the end of the week, the number of weeks until the end of the month, the number of months until he could finally be out of here...

Tony was surrounded by his blankets and pillows, about to go to sleep, when he heard a small commotion downstairs. In any other house it would have been a normal amount of noise, but with the his guardian’s silent stalking around, Tony rarely heard anything besides himself.

He scooted up to the glass panel and saw a little bit of light leaking into the hallway from downstairs. The Soldier never turned on that many lights at night. Tony smelled it before he saw it - the Soldier had brought home another omega.

He smothered a yelp of surprise. His guardian was allowed to have friends. His guardian was allowed to have lovers, too. There wasn’t anything in the Institute’s contract about who his guardian wasn’t allowed to fuck. Tony’s mind was whirling too fast to figure out if he was upset or not.

He heard muffled steps approaching. Tony shrank away from the glass, hidden in the shadows, and watched as his guardian carried a slim figure into the bedroom and dumped them on the bed.

Tony leaned forward and stared. Did the Soldier have a type or something?

Though at least several years older than Tony, the omega on the bed was just as lean, with similarly messy brown hair. Their skin tone was a shade lighter than Tony’s, close to what Tony’s had been during the first year that he’d owned a computer and forgotten that the outdoors existed. The omega was even wearing a long coat similar to the one the Soldier had given to Tony for the ride over from the Institute.

The Soldier gave the omega a small paperback and stepped into the bathroom. Tony heard pipes gurgling, which meant the shower was on. The omega opened the book and pulled out a stack of cash, counting it quickly before stashing the whole thing in their coat pocket.

Tony thought about his worksheet and the tall, empty column of “mating responsibilities.” He was grateful that at least the Soldier could go to someone who actually knew what they were doing, instead of witnessing Tony’s inexperience first-hand. And maybe Tony could put off having to “service” his guardian for a while longer.

For now, someone else seemed to be taking care of that. Tony focused his attention on the omega on the bed. They were slowly unbuttoning their coat and… oh. A hint of bare skin, a flash of pale pink satin, and suddenly the coat was thrown off and Tony’s entire consciousness was occupied by the most entrancing omega he’d ever seen.

The omega was stretched out, simply luxuriating in a pink full-body harness. Thick shiny straps crossed the omega’s legs and torso, outlining expanses of gleaming skin. Had the Soldier picked this out too?

The omega laid back on the bed as if they were the one who owned it. Tony watched with wide eyes. He could barely comprehend this omega’s sheer confidence, walking into the belly of the beast.

The Soldier stalked out of the bathroom, naked and dripping wet. As if Tony’s mind wasn’t already blown enough. He had known that this had to have been the case, but finally, confirmation: his guardian was fucking jacked.

The Soldier’s muscles actually rippled as he moved. Tony had thought that “rippling muscles” was just an exaggerated saying, but on his guardian, it was just describing the truth.

One thing he hadn’t expected was that his guardian’s left arm was made entirely out of metal. Glinting silver plates shifted as he moved, recalibrating with every breath. A red star, the same one from his motorcycle, adorned the shoulder.

That explained all the leather, Tony supposed. And thinking back, every time his guardian had touched him, it had been with one hand.

Now the Soldier was standing, tension coiled in his body as he gazed at the pretty omega all stretched out on the bed for him. Tony swallowed. He was nervous for whoever that was, waiting there like a pinata about to get destroyed.

He’d heard the old saying once, that an omega’s body was like a sack, made to endure. So maybe the dainty omega on the bed was tougher than they looked. But Tony still felt an urge flare up within him to bang on the glass, to warn the other omega, to give them one last chance to flee.

The Soldier was on the bed in an instant, and Tony flinched. But instead of whatever horrors he’d been expecting, the Soldier simply stretched out next to the omega and placed a hand on their cheek. The omega was the one to lean forward and close the distance between them.

The Soldier and the omega were kissing now, slow and soft. They looked like reunited lovers on a big screen with lens flares and strategic angles.

But these two had no bad angles. Tony watched with wide eyes as they continued covering each other’s bodies with touches, kisses, the smallest of bites. The Soldier’s hands were roving around the omega’s back as the gentle pace gradually intensified.

Tony slipped out of his panties, now fully naked except for his collar. He started slowly stroking his dick, trembling at the shock of it all. His alpha! With another omega! Wasn’t he supposed to feel jealous? All he could feel was thrilled... and relieved.

With the omega’s back towards him, it was easy for Tony to pretend it was him on the bed, tangled up in the Soldier’s arms. That it was him getting pressed up against the headboard, garters snapping, limbs askew. He closed his eyes and imagined what it would feel like to have the Soldier’s precise hands mapping out new coordinates across his body, the Soldier’s low rumble whispering in his ear...

“You been payin' attention to tonight’s lesson?”

Tony’s jaw dropped. The glass panel was disappearing into the ceiling as the Soldier stood just outside the doorframe, arms crossed. Tony tried to remove his hand from his dick as subtly as possible.

“Sure looks like it. I don't recall giving you permission to come, Tony,” the Soldier growled.

“I wasn’t gonna!” Tony protested in a voice that was more of a squeak than he would ever admit to. The Soldier ignored his claim, picking him up off the ground and tossing him onto the bed next to the other omega.

“Tony, this is Peter. He’ll be helping us out tonight. Peter, meet my new omega Tony.”

Tony felt distinctly underdressed and outclassed, sitting next to this ridiculously pretty omega who was apparently so good at fucking that it was his job.

“Nice to meet you, Peter,” Tony stammered.

“A pleasure,” Peter replied, shooting Tony a friendly smile so warm his insides melted.

The Soldier turned to Tony. “You ever been with an alpha before, sweetheart?”

Tony winced, shaking his head at the question and at his own inexperience. “N- no, sir. But I did… I did practice…”

“Practice? Practice with who, baby?” The Soldier’s eyes were sparkling and his mouth was turned up in what could almost be categorized as a smile.

“With… with other omegas,” Tony whispered, looking away as a flush covered his cheeks.

“You wanna show me what you learned?” the Soldier asked, tipping his head towards Peter.

Tony’s cheeks were on fire. He’d never told anyone about his late-night fumblings, furtive kisses in the dark while the credits to some movie scrolled by on the old projector in the basement. It just wasn’t done.

He remembered the first time he’d seen two omegas holding hands on the street. A car sped by and a sneering voice shouted, “You still need an alpha to make a pup, ya freaks!” He’d heard about some places where it was safer to be out like that, but where he’d grown up definitely wasn’t one of them.

Peter was looking at him now, sitting back on his heels and waiting for him to make the first move. Tony gulped audibly. Tony shifted towards him, lightly placing his shaking hands on the other omega’s shoulders. They leaned towards each other and Tony closed his eyes, hoping for the best -

It was all teeth clacking at first, and Tony had to break them apart to let out a small giggle. Then he closed the distance again, and they kissed for real. For a minute his whole world was soft, soft lips coaxing him closer, inviting him in.

He ran the tips of his fingers up and down the other omega’s spine and got a breathy groan in response. “Fuck, just like that,” Peter whispered, before shoving a hand into Tony’s hair and tugging lightly.

Tony’s scalp lit up with tingles and he couldn’t prevent a moan from escaping. Peter tugged again, harder this time, and Tony’s vision exploded with stars. He could feel a wet spot spreading on the covers underneath him.

“You like that, huh?” Peter grinned. Tony nodded, trying to catch his breath.

“Looks like you like it, too,” Peter continued, glancing at the Soldier. Tony turned his head to see the Soldier steadily stroking himself while staring at the two omegas like he couldn’t believe this was happening.

“It might - it might be a thing for me,” the Soldier managed weakly.

A thing? Aw, look at this old man and his new slang,” Peter giggled. “C’mon, Tony, what do you say we give this geezer a show, let him know what the hot young omegas do for fun these days?”

Tony felt a slow grin spreading across his face, and he nodded with fresh determination.

Peter smirked. “We’re gonna destroy you, Голубка.”

Please,” the Soldier rasped, sweaty hair sticking to a face Tony hadn’t ever expected to see this disheveled.

Peter looped a finger through the front of Tony’s collar and tugged him closer, bringing their lips together again. Tony felt his blood pounding in his ears as the other omega ran his hands through Tony’s hair, down Tony’s back, around Tony’s waist. He’d been kissed before, but never like this.

Peter pushed Tony so he was lying back on the bed and climbed on top of him. Then Peter nudged Tony’s thighs apart and started grinding down on Tony’s dick with his leg as he sucked a bruise onto Tony’s neck.

Tony’s mouth flew open in a silent scream as his whole body lit up with pleasure. It had been a week since he’d been back home, so it had been a week since he’d been able to get off, and just watching the Soldier naked with this radiant omega had pushed him much closer to the edge than he’d intended.

Tony felt that familiar flare in his pelvis and pushed Peter off of him, gasping. “S-sorry, I’m… it’s too…”

“No need to apologize,” Peter smiled. “Wanna see a cool trick instead?”

Tony nodded faintly, still trying to reorient himself with reality.

Peter lay down on his stomach, between the Soldier’s legs, and propped himself up on his elbows. He leaned in close to the Soldier’s cock and slowly ran his tongue from the base to the tip. The Soldier groaned, and Tony could see that his guardian’s grip on the sheets had already ripped open a few small tears in the fabric.

Peter turned to Tony. “You wanna try?”

“I - I haven’t…”

“It’s okay, just stick your tongue out and make sure your teeth don’t get involved.”

Peter shifted out of the way so Tony could take his place between the Soldier’s legs.

Tony leaned forward and placed his tongue tentatively at the base of the Soldier’s cock. He was suddenly overwhelmed with the same woodsy scent he’d noticed earlier while he was curled up by his alpha’s neck. This time it rang like a bell clear through his consciousness, spurring him onwards.

He started moving his tongue upwards and a guttural moan filled the room. When he got to the tip of the Soldier’s cock, he lapped up a bead of pre-come that had formed there. He closed his eyes, savoring the slight saltiness soaking into his mouth and his mind, mixing with the smoke and the air and the clouds that told him he was home.

Fuck, baby, you’re ruining me,” the Soldier gasped. “Licking that up on your very first try?”

Tony grinned. “Peter, what’s next?”

“Lick all around the head, then make a tight seal with your mouth and flatten your tongue as you move down.”

Tony leaned forward and swirled his tongue over the tip of the Soldier’s cock. He tasted more of the saltiness that was setting him right and wondered if this was how it went every time. Then he opened his mouth and slid halfway down the Soldier’s cock.

Its heavy presence on his tongue made him feel full and satisfied, like the way he was made was the exact right shape for where he was right now, at this very moment. Like there were so many ways their bodies could fit perfectly together, and beyond tonight lay endless new configurations just waiting to be discovered.

The Soldier let out a choked sob above him. “Sweetheart, I don’t know what I did to deserve this but you gotta tell me ‘cause I sure as hell don’t want it to stop.”

Tony started bobbing up and down like he’d seen in some of the videos he would watch in incognito mode on his phone late at night. He got a steady pace going, using his hand to cover the parts of his guardian’s cock that he couldn’t fit in his mouth.

The Soldier was softly groaning above him. “Oh, fuck, baby, you’re killing me but it’s worth it.”

Tony noticed that his guardian’s knot was beginning to swell. He continued sliding up and down his guardian’s cock, wondering what he was supposed to do about that. He wasn’t really in a convenient position to ask.

Peter interrupted Tony’s train of thought. “Oh yeah, don’t forget to look up. Everyone talks about what you should do with your tongue, but eye contact is the secret weapon.”

Tony strained to keep the Soldier’s cock in his mouth while tilting his head back. He moved his gaze upwards, locking eyes with the Soldier. He saw awe and admiration and astonishment and wondered, was that really all for him?

“Fuck, baby, I’m gonna -” The Soldier made a strangled noise and tried to push Tony away, but Tony was determined. If it was only a matter of seconds left, he was pretty sure he could handle it - he slammed his mouth all the way down until he bumped up against the Soldier’s knot, shuddering as the Soldier’s come flooded his mouth and his consciousness.

He held the position for as long as he could while the Soldier flailed around him, babbling nonsensically in what had to be six different languages at once. Finally, Tony ran out of air and slid off, careful not to spill the come that was pooled in his mouth.

The Soldier blinked his eyes open to see Tony leaning forward, eyes wide, mouth open, showing him how he’d captured every last drop.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…” The Soldier whispered reverently.

Tony closed his mouth, swallowed, and stuck out his tongue to show off his now-empty mouth. He looked up at the Soldier with wide eyes. “Did you like it, Alpha?”

The Soldier seized Tony and pulled him into his arms, enveloping him in his warmth. The steady pressure bearing down on Tony could have felt claustrophobic, but it was simply comforting instead. He didn’t have to make any decisions or worry about whether he was right or wrong. He could just be.

“Baby. I loved it. Your fuckin’ big brown eyes lookin’ up at me like I hung the moon while your tongue was writin’ the filthiest story of all time on my cock. How in the world did I get so lucky?”

Tony blushed, relieved and exhilarated that his first time had gone so well. It wasn’t how he’d imagined it, that was for sure.

“But what about you, sweetheart? Something you wanna ask me?”

Tony buried his face in his guardian’s chest. “Alpha, can I… can I please come?”

The Soldier squeezed him impossibly tighter, then let go. “Of course, sweet thing. I would be honored to watch you come. Show your alpha how you like it.”

Tony shifted around so his back was pressed against the Soldier’s chest. He started touching himself slowly, heart still hammering from before. He was so wound up that it was only a few strokes before his exhilaration crested over into ecstasy.

“I’ll be happy to take care of that mess,” Peter piped up, crawling over to lap up the white streaks on Tony’s stomach. Tony felt his stomach flutter as the other omega’s tongue flicked over his skin.

“That’s it, my official time of death,” groaned the Soldier. “371 successful missions and I get taken down by two omegas in bed. Do you know how many slugs I’ve dug out of my own goddamn flesh-” he abruptly stopped, and his grip on Tony minutely tightened.

“Aha!” Tony shouted triumphantly. “I knew it. Super secret agent man right here.”

“Plyin’ me for information in my most vulnerable moments,” the Soldier growled, but there was no heat behind it. “You’re a natural.”

“That’s my cue to leave, before I hear something that might earn me a surprise visit from the feds,” Peter announced.

Tony’s euphoria was interrupted by a tinge of disappointment at that proclamation. He had hoped to spend more time with the other omega, asking him how to… do pretty much everything, basically.

Peter caught the look in Tony’s eyes. “Aw, Tony. You’re not as helpless as you think, you know. You did an amazing job tonight, and if that was just your first time, think about how the others’ll go.”

Tony smiled faintly. “Thanks, Peter. For that. And for everything.”

Peter waved him off. “Don’t sweat it. I had a great time.” He leaned over and pressed a kiss to Tony’s lips, but before Tony could react, it was over. “Have a good night, you two.” Peter hopped off the bed, slipped on his coat, and disappeared into the hallway.

“Get home safe,” the Soldier called after him. Then he turned to Tony. “How you holdin’ up, dollface?”

“Tired,” Tony yawned. “Can I sleep in the bed with you, Alpha?”

“Of course, baby,” the Soldier replied as he cupped a hand around Tony’s cheek. “Got it just for us.”

Chapter Text

Tony woke up the next morning in an unfamiliar bed feeling inexplicably calm. Then he remembered… the omega in the pink harness, giving him instructions. The Soldier leaning back against the headboard, cursing in half a dozen languages.

The Soldier had gotten up already, of course. Tony washed up and went downstairs to find him. He crawled over to the Soldier’s spot at the head of the table and cautiously laid his head on his guardian’s lap.

“Good morning, sir,” he whispered.

He had so much he wanted to say, but he bit his tongue and waited for a response. Was he going to get the usual gruff dismissal or the smooth-talking charm from last night? He’d grown used to the former, but he’d just had sex for the first time, goddammit. He deserved something.

He felt a gentle hand smoothing his hair, and he leaned in to the touch. God, that felt good.

He felt himself being lifted up - and up, and up - and placed in his guardian’s lap. Strong arms curled around him and he felt the scrape of the Soldier’s stubbly chin coming to rest on his shoulder. The Soldier pushed his nose into the scent glands in Tony’s neck and inhaled deeply.

Tony shivered, adrenaline coursing through his veins, and bit back a moan. This was the first time the Soldier had scented him so obviously. It was the first time any alpha had scented him so obviously, and it was making him fall to pieces not even an hour after waking up.

He tentatively brushed the tips of his fingers against the Soldier’s weathered hands. His guardian’s right hand was rough yet nimble. Scars dusted the knuckles and Tony wondered if those scars were older than he was.

The Soldier’s left hand looked shiny and new from far away, but now Tony could see that the plates were covered in tiny dents and scratches. Tony was pretty sure that it took more than a wayward tree branch or an angry cat to leave a scratch on those.

Tony felt himself holding his breath as the Soldier slowly shifted to lace their fingers together. When their fingers were fully intertwined, Tony finally exhaled. He leaned back into his guardian’s chest, curling his and his guardian’s arms tighter around him.

He felt so safe, wrapped up like this. He could truly relax. His guardian wouldn’t let anyone or anything get to him.

Suddenly, his guardian’s phone rang.

Wait. His guardian had a phone?? Tony had been living in his house for over a week and had never seen it.

The Soldier stiffened, pushing his chair back and placing Tony back on the ground. He strode into the kitchen to take the call, but Tony could still hear snippets of the conversation.

“How many?”

A pause.

“Ninety minutes.”

Another pause, longer this time.

“Unnecessary.”

The Soldier started moving towards the door, and Tony scrambled to crawl after him.

“Sir? Where are you going?”

The Soldier ignored his question. “Book on the kitchen counter. Read it and complete the exercises by 8 p.m.”

8 p.m. Tony could make it til 8 p.m.

“Yes, sir,” Tony whispered softly as his alpha closed the front door behind him. He heard the motorcycle’s engine starting up and watched from the living room window as the Soldier sped away.

Tony crawled to the kitchen, his neck still tingling from the Soldier’s attention just minutes before. He looked at the book on the counter. It was from the same series as last time, but this one was about housekeeping. An omega with an alarmingly wide smile was holding a vacuum cleaner with the same expression Tony had seen farmers use while holding their prize-winning giant pumpkins.

He flipped open the book. He caught some glimpses of the exercises at the end of each chapter - dusting, sweeping, mopping. But explained over the course of a thousand times more words.

Tony sighed. Fuck that noise. He had better things to do.

Things like… he frowned. He couldn’t actually think of anything. The house was completely devoid of entertainment. The omegan arts books the Soldier had gotten for him did not count.

He stared out the window resentfully, taking in the sweeping views of the valley as best he could through the layers of trees. If his guardian was going to keep him cooped up in this sick parody of a vacation home, he should at least be allowed to go outside.

An idea suddenly occurred to him. He’d never been told specifically not to go in the backyard, just to stay on the property. And the backyard was part of the property, after all.

He crawled into the kitchen and onto the window seat. His heart was beating faster as he tried to keep his hopes from getting any higher than they already were.

He pushed at the window, just as he had before when he was cooking and needed to air out the kitchen faster than the range hood above the stove could. It opened as easily as it had before, and his heart leapt.

The kitchen was on the ground floor and the window went pretty far down the wall, so the drop was only about two feet. He slid out feet first, mind racing with exhilaration as his toes touched the bare earth for the first time in ages.

Sure, he’d never been a big nature guy. But after ten days cooped up in an empty house with no communication to the outside, it was a relief to feel so viscerally that some things would always be there.

He wriggled his torso through the window, nearly free. He felt like his mind was going to explode. And suddenly, it was. An earsplitting alarm sounded from the collar, reverberating through his entire consciousness.

He fell into the dirt, hands clamped instinctively over his ears, before scrambling back onto the window seat, inside the house. The alarm immediately went totally, blissfully silent.

“Thank God,” Tony whispered in relief. He was pretty sure the Soldier didn’t have any neighbors who’d come knocking, but he wasn’t trying to find out.

He rubbed his aching temples and crawled upstairs. This simply wouldn’t do.

All the makeup in his chest of drawers had remained untouched. He’d never tried to use the types of tubes and tools in there. Well, he thought grimly, there’s a first time for everything.

He grabbed the bright pink tweezers from the top drawer and crawled to the omega bathroom, stopping in front of the mirror. He frowned as he studied the collar - stainless steel, polished to a high shine with no visible imperfections.

But there - a seam. He bit his lip as he fiddled with the tweezers. With just the right angle, he could pry it open.

He strained to see what was inside. A tiny microcontroller, a bunch of sensors, and the alarm. All housed in an enamel casing the size of a grain of rice.

He sighed. He’d worked with that enamel before. There was no getting around it without specialized equipment, though it might be possible to fabricate his own out of what was in the house. He went back downstairs to scavenge for parts.

-----

Nine hours later, Tony was hunched over in the omega bathroom, surrounded by scraps of metal he’d twisted off of forks, wires he’d pulled out of light switches from empty rooms, and gears he’d stolen from the inside of the stand mixer.

He was leaning over a sink full of near-boiling water, heating up what used to be part of a spatula, when he heard a motorcycle roar in the distance. Fuck, how was it 8 p.m. already?!

He quickly drained the sink, shoved the mess of metal into a drawer, and squeezed the seam of his collar closed.

He wouldn’t have time to complete today’s assignment. All he could hope for was a repeat of yesterday, when the Soldier didn’t even ask him about it.

Tony rushed downstairs and knelt by the front door. He was breathing slowly, trying to coax his heartbeat lower, when he heard a motorcycle peeling into the driveway.

A few moments later, the front door was opening and the Soldier was back. He was carrying a few large paper bags that were bulging with food.

“Took you all day to get groceries?” Tony asked, because he really couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

“Nice try,” the Soldier grunted. He carried the groceries into the kitchen, and Tony crawled after him.

“I’m just curious about what my guardian had to leave me all by my lonesome for,” Tony protested. “Was that phone call this morning a fighting evil robots type of emergency or a come to the office because no one else knows how to fix the wifi type of emergency?”

“Those aren’t the same?” the Soldier asked as he put the bags straight into the refrigerator.

Tony was about to inform him that wasn’t how putting away groceries worked, but canned it in favor of plopping down on the floor and letting a little bit of a whine slip into his voice. “You really won’t tell me anything about what you did today?”

“Got a funny message from the Institute.”

Tony froze.

“Something about an escape attempt and tampered equipment.”

Tony’s hands flew to his collar. “No! I can explain-”

The Soldier was on him in a second, hauling him up off the ground and pinning him to the wall so high that his feet dangled. Tony hadn’t stood in more than a week, so his tingling legs couldn’t have offered him support anyways.

“Look me in the eye and tell me what happened,” the Soldier demanded evenly.

“I…” Tony took a deep breath, then continued before he could think of some way to fuck this up more. “I opened the collar with tweezers. Tried to turn off that noise it was making when I went into the backyard. I wasn’t trying to leave, I just wanted to go outside.”

“Noted,” the Soldier growled. “If you want to go outside, that can be arranged. Talk to me next time. But first, you have a kitchen to take care of. This place is filthy.”

“Yes, sir,” Tony agreed hurriedly. Was that all? “I’ll make sure it gets cleaned right now.”

“Like hell you will,” the Soldier responded, and Tony’s eyes widened. “It’s my responsibility as your guardian to guide you through the Institute’s curriculum. And clearly, I’ve failed.”

Tony wasn’t sure where this was going, but it didn’t sound good.

The Soldier pulled him off the wall and set him down in the middle of the kitchen floor. He wasn’t too rough about it, but he wasn’t too gentle, either.

“Wait here,” his guardian growled.

Tony gulped. He shifted into a kneeling position, put his hands behind his back, and a branching tree bloomed in his mind of options that could be next.

Was his guardian going to get something to use on him? A paddle, or maybe a whip?

Would his guardian just leave him there, cold and hungry and alone, until the morning?

Or was his guardian going to serve him his termination papers, quietly ending all of Tony’s hopes and dreams with a single scribbled signature?

“Open your eyes,” he heard the Soldier say. He hadn’t even realized he’d been closing them, and that tears were starting to form.

The Soldier was standing in front of him, holding a… sponge? It was definitely a sponge. An absurdly shaped yellow sponge similar to the ones Tony had seen Jarvis use to wash Howard’s car collection, and a bucket from the laundry room.

“Put the bucket in the sink.”

Tony rushed to bite down on the handle, dragging it to the kitchen sink.

“Add soap.”

Tony squirted a couple tablespoons of the soap from the counter into the bottom of the bucket. He looked to the Soldier for confirmation that it was enough.

The Soldier ignored him. “Fill it with water.”

A huge mound of bubbles formed as the water hit the soap at high speed. Tony filled the bucket about halfway before he heard the Soldier growl, “Enough.”

He slammed the faucet shut so hard that it wobbled a bit. If this were happening to anyone else, he probably would’ve laughed.

“Take the bucket out of the sink.”

He bit down on the handle and pulled it up out of the sink in the ground. It was a lot harder to lift the bucket with water in it, but he managed to get it to floor level without spilling anything.

“Get the sponge wet.”

Tony crawled over and reached for the sponge, but the Soldier stopped him with a look.

“With your mouth.”

Tony blanched. I guess that’s how I do everything these days, he thought to himself. He bit the edge of the sponge tentatively, and then crawled back to the bucket.

He positioned himself on his hands and knees above the bucket and lowered his head until the sponge hit the soap. There was so much soap that it was impossible to get it wet without really pushing it down in there. And it was impossible to really push it down in there without really pushing his head down in there too.

He closed his eyes and held his breath as he felt bubbles brush his forehead and his cheeks. He submerged the sponge a couple times, then came back up for air, frantically trying to wipe the soap suds off his face and onto his shoulder.

“Here,” he heard the Soldier rumble from somewhere very close. He felt a soft towel being pressed to his face, gently scrubbing to get all the water and soap off.

He blinked his eyes open and saw the Soldier crouched in front of him.

“Thank you, sir,” he whispered.

The Soldier nodded. “Put the sponge over here.” He motioned to the closest corner, under some cabinets.

Tony picked up the sponge with his mouth and immediately gagged. The sponge was filled with soap, which he hadn’t really ever tasted before. Upon quick analysis, he was able to determine that soap was fucking nasty. The bubbles were so deceptively cute and round and clear, while their taste was overwhelmingly bitter and sharply chemical.

He coughed a few more times, trying to clear his throat, then held his breath before trying to pick up the sponge again. This time he didn’t let go of it, bringing it to the corner by the cabinets that the Soldier had indicated. He set it down on the floor and exhaled shakily, waited for further instructions, though he was pretty sure he knew what was coming.

“Wash the floor. Don’t miss anything.”

Tony lowered his head to the floor and cringed as his mouth filled with the soapy sponge he’d prepared for himself. He steadied himself with his hands, slowly rocking forward and backward on his knees so he could cover the surface of the floor as thoroughly as possible.

His head was down and his ass was up and he knew it. He was fucking presenting and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

There was no other way to accomplish the task with the given parameters. The only thing to do was keep waving his ass in the air.

He pushed the sponge back and forth, trying to get it into the small crevices between the appliances. Sometimes it was just too big. This thing wasn’t designed for kitchens, it was designed for cars.

He felt a hand on the back of his neck pushing his head even lower. He almost collapsed - not because the pressure was too much, but because the pressure pushed some very specific combination of buttons in his brain that he had not been aware of until this precise moment.

His neck felt like it was on fire and his whole head was tingling. There was a whooshing noise in his ears that he was pretty sure wasn’t from the ceiling fan. And, goddammit, his dick had definitely taken notice.

The Soldier crouched next to him and guided him with his hand, moving Tony’s whole body back and forth from that one point of contact. Tony felt himself sinking into his guardian’s grasp, like all of the nerves in his body had rearranged themselves to end under the Soldier’s fingers.

It was so easy this way. He didn’t have to think, he could just be and his guardian would let him know when and where to go. The scrubbing was like a moving meditation, a repetitive cycle that he could lose himself in, giving his entire being to its natural ebb and flow.

“Get some more water.”

Tony snapped out of his reverie. The Soldier had pushed him to the bucket. Tony dropped the sponge (and his head) into the bucket, sloshing it around.

“Continue.”

Tony grabbed the sponge with his mouth and put it back on the ground. He could see the fresh bubbles but he couldn’t taste the soap anymore.

He couldn’t even remember what he’d thought was so bad about the soap in the first place. This was amazing. So fuzzy and comfortable, floating here under his guardian’s fingertips.

Everything would be okay. He just had to go wherever those fingers wanted him to go. And why wouldn’t he, when they felt so good?

Eventually he heard the Soldier’s voice from somewhere very far above him. “You can drop the sponge. You covered the whole kitchen.”

Tony let go of the sponge and beamed. He had done exactly what his alpha had told him to do.

“But you missed a spot.”

Tony’s blood ran cold. How could that be possible? His guardian had been guiding him this entire time. His guardian wouldn’t steer him wrong.

The Soldier pushed him to where the mess was.

“Lick it up,” his guardian ordered.

Tony eagerly lapped at the puddle of clear liquid pooling on the ground. It tasted like oddly familiar. He couldn’t quite place it.

“That wasn’t there before. Do you know what it is?” the Soldier rumbled.

Tony shook his head. He couldn’t speak, even if he tried. He was underneath the ocean, leagues and leagues below, and he would have to fight so hard to burst through the surface.

“It’s from my pretty little omega,” the Soldier continued, his voice dropping into a low purr. “Got so wound up doing his job that he couldn’t contain himself.”

Tony cocked his head, confused. The Soldier’s pretty little omega was him. He hadn’t brought anything to the kitchen. All he’d done was do what his guardian told him to do and feel himself melting und-

He suddenly realized what the taste was. It was the taste of his own slick.

“Oh, baby, you don’t need to be embarrassed. It’s perfectly natural for omegas to react that way when they follow their alphas’ orders so well.”

Tony shuddered. He felt a pulse of sticky wetness drip down his thighs.

“Better clean that up too, before you get too excited and make more. You could be stuck here all night.”

Tony licked at the fresh puddle of slick that had dribbled onto the floor, savoring the complex mix of mineral salt and alpine air. And… a hint of his alpha’s scent too? He couldn’t tell if he was really tasting it, or just really wanted to.

“That’s good. That’s perfect. You did so well for me, baby. Alpha is so proud of you.”

Tony smiled, glowing at the praise. He dropped his forehead to the floor and angled his ass upwards towards his alpha. He had done a good job. He knew what his reward should be.

“No, sweetheart. I ain’t knottin’ you tonight.”

Tony wailed. How could he have disappointed his alpha? He had done everything his alpha had told him to do and somehow, he had still failed to prove himself to be a worthy mate.

“Shhhh, you didn’t do anything wrong. But you’re way too young to have a baby and I know if I try to put a condom on, you’re gonna get real cross real fast.”

Tony pouted. A condom? Why would his alpha want to use a condom? Couldn’t his alpha see how good Tony had been for him? Why would his alpha deny him what he deserved?

“See, just like that. C’mon, babe, I can still make it good for you.”

Tony whimpered. He needed to be filled up now, didn’t his alpha understand?

He became vaguely aware that he was being carried to another room. He felt himself landing on a soft surface and saw the four posters of the new bedframe towering above him.

“Ever put a finger inside yourself?”

Tony nodded. Of course he had. It was the only way to get through his heats, especially in the awful days before Howard had agreed to get him proper heat supplies.

“Okay, darling. Mine are gonna feel a little different.”

Obviously. Tony huffed at all the talking that was somehow still happening. How the hell did he end up with an alpha who was completely silent except at the most inopportune times?

Tony rolled over and propped himself up on his hands and knees. His alpha apparently needed some guidance on how this process was supposed to go.

“Alright, alright. I’m gettin’ a move on it.”

Tony felt a cool finger trail down his spine. He shuddered as sparks erupted in its wake. The finger slid under his panties and between his cheeks, teasing him but never quite pushing in. His hopes would rise as it got so, so close and then plummet as it just moved away.

Tony sobbed.

Finally, he felt a steady pressure slowly making its way inside him. He sighed with relief as the internal screaming subsided and a feeling of peace overtook him. This was exactly where he was supposed to be.

He felt his panties being tugged halfway down his ass and The Soldier started fingerfucking him in earnest, establishing a steady rhythm that shook Tony to his core. Never before had he simultaneously felt so deeply sated yet so desperately hungry for more.

He rocked back onto the pressure that was demolishing and reshaping his brain, and felt a second finger slide in.

Was this what his alpha had meant by his fingers feeling a little different? This was more than “a little” different. He felt like he’d lived his life in Plato’s cave, watching shadows pass by, and was just stepping into the light for the first time.

He heard the Soldier’s voice above him, sounding both impossibly close and incomprehensibly far away. “Something’s got my pretty omega all worked up. Look at your cute little dick, strainin’ inside those panties. You wanna come tonight, baby?”

Tony had been so preoccupied with the monumental shifts happening inside him he’d almost forgotten about what could happen on the outside too. He started to reach for his dick but the Soldier blocked his hand and set it back down on the bed.

“No, sweetheart. You don’t get to touch yourself.”

Tony whined.

“Don’t worry, dollface. I know just what an omega like you needs.”

Tony felt strong, warm fingers wrapping around his throat, and that warmth shot straight through his body. The fingers around his neck tightened and he started feeling light-headed, drifting even higher in this bright new world.

He was floating, he was spinning, he was moving a million miles an hour. He was going to have to invent a new realm of physics just to explain what was happening to his body right now.

“That’s what I thought. I tried to show you a nice time with a sweet omega but there’s nothing like a big strong alpha roughin’ you up, huh?”

He gasped for air. Every part of his brain seemed to be exploding at once.

“I’ve seen how you look at me. I know you’ve been scared the whole time. And now you know why you should be.”

He shuddered as he felt another finger push in. He didn’t even know how many there were at this point. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that the Soldier kept going.

“Never claimed to be a good man. Ain’t got the time or the patience for niceties. In my house, you’ll do as I say.”

Tony nodded frantically, biting his lip as the last bit of air in his lungs dissipated.

“But I think we both know that you like it.”

Tony’s whole body convulsed as he came, feeling like an entire lifetime of pressure was erupting out of him at once. His entire consciousness simultaneously shrank down and expanded so that all he could think about, all he knew and had ever known, was the sensation of the Soldier taking him apart and building him back up again.

The grip on his throat loosened and he started to slide into oblivion. His whole body was encircled by warmth now. His guardian was surrounding him, stroking him, whispering so close that he could feel hot breath on his ear.

“...so good for me, so proud of my omega for bein’ so brave. How’d I get such a sweet, gorgeous thing panting in my bed?”

Tony was still floating, reclining on a cloud in that shimmering golden haze. He couldn’t move. He didn’t have to. All he had to do was lie there as the Soldier stroked his hair and shielded him from the world.

“...my pretty baby. Thank you for lettin’ me see you like this. I’ll never forget it…”

Tony felt himself fading. He curled into the Soldier’s warmth and inhaled deeply, letting the scent of home lull him to sleep.

Chapter Text

The next morning, the Soldier was gone. At least he left a note.

had to go
estimated return: 4 - 7 days

Romantic.

Tony sighed. What was he supposed to do for 4 - 7 days?

He headed to the kitchen and started putting away last night’s groceries properly. The Soldier had unusually consistent taste in food for someone who didn’t eat.

Tony sorted through a bunch of classic American staples like dried pasta, canned green beans, anchovy tins. The Soldier clearly wasn’t a big believer in premade foods. No candy-colored Go-Gurt or frivolous SpongeBob fruit snacks here.

He picked up a massive sack of raw oats. No point in getting those little microwaveable packets when you don’t even have a microwave, he supposed.

He made a baked peach crisp, following one of the recipes in the omega cookbook the Soldier had left for him. It was oddly satisfying to go through a whole process embedded with offhand notes about pleasing one’s alpha and then eat it himself.

His eye caught on the stand mixer sitting forlornly on the counter, missing its internal gears. He should probably replace all that stuff, or at least the stuff that he hadn’t melted down, before the Soldier realized that half his upstairs lights didn’t work.

After loading the dishwasher, Tony crawled back upstairs. He set off to rewire the light switches he’d disassembled the day before. It was a bit of a challenge having to take them apart without getting off the floor, but he managed.

He was on his third light switch when he noticed the red organza bag the Institute facilitator had given him on selection day sitting on a bookshelf.

She’d pressed it to his chest like a benediction and a warning all at once. Her whispered “You’ll need it” were possibly the worst parting words he’d ever received.

What would an omega working for possibly the least omega-friendly organization in the world have to offer him, anyways?

He crawled over and tugged the bag open, dumping its contents unceremoniously onto the floor. Two things fell out. One was a birth control pill. Just one, which would cover him for six months.

He flushed thinking about the night before, when he’d begged the Soldier to knot him. Where had that come from? He didn’t even know what being knotted felt like, but had been so absolutely certain in the moment that he needed it.

Well, if the Soldier was even half as good with his dick as he was with his hands, Tony did need it. He ripped open the package and swallowed the pill without hesitation.

The second item was a bit less straightforward: a small black remote with a single red button on it. Tony admitted he might be on the reckless side, but he sure as hell wasn’t gonna press it just to see what it did.

After inspecting it closely and finding no labels or directions, he put it back in the bag and returned the bag to the shelf. Back on the shelf, next to some papers from the Institute.

Okay, he might be able to exercise some restraint with the mystery button, but this here was too good to pass up.

He sat down in front of the shelf and began to read:

 

####################

Dear Sir:

Thank you for allowing our inspection team to visit your home. We understand that an alpha’s territorial instincts are strong, especially when encountering a group of unknown alphas. After speaking with your employer, our legal team has agreed to forgo pressing charges. The processing of your application for guardianship may now continue.

Based on our inspectors’ notes from their assessment, we have compiled the following recommendations:

Bathrooms
The program recommends that every omega be granted access to their own bathroom. In addition to preventing conflict over resources, this practice allows omegas to dedicate optimal time and energy to beauty and hygiene routines.

Clothing
Omegas are not permitted to bring any of their own belongings, so guardians must provide full wardrobes for their omegas. Inspectors did not note any clothing items at this location.

Furnishings
Omegas prefer soft surfaces and cozy indications of home. We did not note the presence of any such items at this location. We recommend purchasing a pre-made omega home kit available at many major retailers such as Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, or Target.

Kitchen
The Institute’s curriculum includes the preparation of food. Inspectors did not note any facilities appropriate for food preparation at this location. Required equipment includes:

Counter space (at least 12 feet)
Dishwasher
Freezer
Oven
Range hood
Refrigerator
Six-burner stove
Toaster oven
Two-compartment sink

Security
This location far exceeds expectations with regards to perimeter access, construction material, and weaponry. No further recommendations.

####################

 

Tony laughed. The Soldier had almost gotten himself kicked out of the program before he even got to touch any butts.

He looked at the next page, another letter:

 

####################

Dear Sir:

Thank you for implementing the suggested updates to prepare your home for your future omega. You will find that a well-prepared home sets the stage for a fulfilling guardianship.

We have compiled an exhaustive selection of 327 candidates for your consideration. These premium-quality candidates are drawn from the top 1% of omegan candidates nationwide, as ranked by a variety of metrics, and filtered based on the criteria you indicated:

Age
18 - 26

Body Hair
Minimal

Body Type
We regret to inform you that we do not maintain specific listings for “scrawny,” but have a large number of slim candidates available

Hair Color
Brown

Language(s)
English, German, Mandarin, Romanian, Russian, Xhosa

As you did not indicate preferences for education, experience level, height, hobbies, race, or religion, a variety of options are provided.

Please return the attached form indicating your top 30 choices. These final round candidates will be presented in person at the Institute’s offices for your inspection. If you find an omega that meets your needs, legal guardianship will be transferred to you on-site and your 3-month involvement with the program will begin.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Yours in service,

Candidate Selection Office
Institute for Omegan Socialization

####################

 

Tony frowned. “Scrawny”? Who was the Soldier calling “scrawny”? He worked out! Sort of. He lifted his fingers a lot.

He flipped through the thick booklet that was next in the stack. It looked like an analog OKCupid, with profile pictures on every page accompanied by a small amount of text. So that was where the photos they’d been required to send in with their applications ended up.

His eyes widened as he took in omegas walking along the beach at sunset, omegas executing complicated yoga poses, omegas cooking dishes that looked so mouthwatering he could practically smell them through the pages.

Wow. Everyone in this book was hotter than him, that was for sure.

#3972 is an easygoing omega with an infectious laugh. Though only 24 years old, he has significant experience in hospitality and caretaking around the world. Charming and sociable, he would integrate well into a household with other omegas, potentially serving as a mentor for younger/future pack members...

Nicer, too.

#1039 is a promising young omega with an international upbringing and fluency in five languages. He...

More experienced.

#8201 is a nationally-ranked gymnast who holds the current record for...

More… flexible. Flexibility was one of the core omegan mating responsibilities, wasn’t it?

Finally, he flipped the page to find his own photos staring back at him. The corny headshot his mother had insisted on, where even after 50 takes he couldn’t fully conceal his impatience with the whole process.

And, oh god, the requisite full-body shot of him. The guidelines didn’t explicitly state that you had to be nearly naked, but everyone knew. He’d taken this one himself just because he couldn’t bear the thought of his mother art-directing what was essentially a very elaborate sext.

In the photo, he was shaping a glowing lump of iron with a weathered hammer. In his underwear, as you do. A shower of sparks illuminated his bare torso, bathing his smooth stomach in warm light. His skin was gleaming with sweat from the heat of the flame, and iron shavings were sprinkled throughout his messy hair.

It was incredibly dangerous to do metalworking without protective gear, but Tony had been using this set since he was 12, and he trusted it more than he trusted his own hands by themselves. He knew when and how it would act up, and he was pretty sure this quick photo shoot wouldn’t be it.

He’d had to write pages and pages of essays answering questions about his passions, as if it wasn’t already clear that the factor that mattered most was his ass. He’d gone through rounds and rounds of interviews, trying to coax his usual smirk into a passable smile.

And how had the Institute deemed fit to sum up his existence?

#5297 is a curious and expressive omega. Every day will be an adventure with this energetic 18 year old around! His family background in the defense industry provides him with industry-specific knowledge uncommon in omegas, particularly those of such a young age.

Tony dropped the booklet. Wow. Why even bother with the personal essays when they were gonna make him sound like a fucking cat up for adoption?

And the last line, which accounted for over half the length of his summary? Had they seriously sold the Soldier on Tony’s connections to weapons manufacturing?

Tony sighed. No wonder his guardian had up and left. With all this to choose from, he must have been so disappointed.

Tony couldn’t stand looking at any more perfect omega candidates with perfect omega hobbies and perfect omega goals. He put everything back on the shelf and decided to get started on his third assignment. If the Soldier was gonna put up with him, he was gonna show him it was worth it.

He went back to his room to get his guidebook. What was on the menu for today? Was there a section in the appendix under What To Do If Your Alpha Disappears For A Week?

There wasn’t. But there was a section about his nightmare goody bag from the worst party of all time.

Upon transfer of guardianship to an alpha, your possessions will be limited to:

1 contraceptive pill - Oral ingestion prevents 99.999% of pregnancies for a period of six months. We highly recommend that you take this pill immediately after signing your contract. The Institute will not be responsible for any pregnancies that result from participation in the program.

1 contract termination device - Pressing the button on this remote sends a signal to our office indicating that you are invoking your right to terminate your contract with your guardian. Staff from the Institute will escort you from your alpha’s home to your previous place of residence.

The contract termination is irreversible. Your registration fees will not be refunded and you will be barred from participating in any other Institute activities.

Yikes. That remote was just floating around in the bag the whole time? What if it got banged up on the motorcycle ride back, or if he’d dropped it too hard before he knew it was his lifeline?

He was extra glad that he hadn’t pressed the mystery button. Sure, this place could be a pain in the ass, but it was his pain in the ass. And once he got his certificate, MIT would be waiting for him and it would all be worth it.

-----

On the third day of lounging around at home alone, Tony was starting to feel on edge. The Soldier was coming back tomorrow, right? The Soldier seemed like someone who worked fast. He could be home tomorrow.

-----

He wasn’t home tomorrow.

-----

Or the day after that.

-----

Or the day after that.

-----

It was the morning on the 7th day, the last day of the Soldier’s estimated timeframe. The Soldier was a busy guy. He probably had a lot going on. It probably had nothing to do with Tony.

Tony made breakfast, an extra fancy breakfast today. Maybe if he made it smell good enough, his guardian would somehow notice and come back.

The day dragged on. His guardian didn’t come back.

Tony crawled up to his room and sank into his nest of blankets, trying not to cry. There was no point in crying, Howard always said.

Crying wouldn’t make his guardian come back faster. Not if his guardian didn’t want to.

-----

Tony woke up the next morning, shielding his eyes from the sun with a floppy pillow on his head.

He was so used to the confines of the house that it was practically an extension of his body. He knew right away that his guardian still wasn’t home.

It had been eight days. What could the Soldier have been doing for eight days? And what could be happening that was so important that he’d chosen it over coming home?

He started wondering if he was going to have to press the button on the remote hidden in the bag just to get out of this house alive. The Soldier had made sure the kitchen was well-stocked before he left, but it was going to run out of food eventually. Worst grocery run ever, trading his entire future for a ride home.

-----

It was the ninth day. Nine was a good number. The first odd square number that wasn’t 1. A special number indeed. Maybe special enough for his guardian to come back?

Nope. Not special enough.

-----

Ten days had passed. Tony had been spending more and more time sitting by the front window, watching the wind rustle the leaves and imagining the Soldier’s motorcycle rolling up the driveway.

He was like a cat in a window silently watching people on the street, except there were no people to be seen.

-----

The sun was setting on the eleventh day. Tony was sitting by the window forlornly. He knew he must be really losing it because he was starting to hear things.

Things like the dull roar of a helicopter, voices shouting in the distance. Like his reality was so tedious that his mind was playing the soundtrack to some action movie to try to spice it up.

He looked at the trees outside. Their branches were whipping wildly in the wind. Seemed like a storm was coming. He could handle it. He was already alone in this house anyways.

Gravel on the driveway was getting kicked up. He frowned. Must be a big one, even though it didn’t seem that cloudy today.

He looked up at the sky and nearly fell over. It was a helicopter. He hadn’t been imagining it. Or if he was imagining it, it was a very multi-sensory hallucination.

He leapt back away from the window. Was it the feds that Peter had talked about? Was it someone else? Would that be better or worse?

There wasn’t really anywhere for him to hide. The rooms in the house were all empty, and he couldn’t even leave the house without that goddamn collar alerting everyone in a 10-mile radius to his exact location. Even if the helicopter’s engines were deafening, as soon as they turned them off, it would be pretty obvious.

And even if he did make it out, he was still a scrawny omega with no clothes, no money, no way to contact anyone who could get him off this mountain. He’d rather face the music here than die freezing overnight.

He scrambled towards the far wall of the living room as the front door began to shake. Someone was trying to get in, and having a pretty hard time of it. Tony felt a swell of gratitude for the Soldier’s paranoia. Apparently, it was well-deserved.

Cracks started spreading across the door’s wooden surface. Tony was impressed that it had even made it that far. There had to be some sort of reinforced steel on the inside.

Finally, the door was knocked off its hinges and fell flat onto the floor. Through the rising cloud of dust, a huge figure emerged in the doorway.

Captain America?! Or some dude dressed like Captain America? No, it was definitely Captain America. Tony had seen that stupid square jaw a million times all over Howard’s office.

He’d often imagined what he’d say if he got to meet the recently defrosted national hero his father had been obsessed with for Tony’s entire life, probably even during the moment of Tony’s conception. Something along the lines of “Thanks for nothing,” but with a little more contempt.

The Captain strode into the room, scanning the scene and pinpointing Tony immediately. “We have to go,” the Captain announced. Wow, his voice was clearly designed to be obeyed.

“Why?” Tony asked. He wasn’t keen on staying in the house, but he appreciated a little background before risking the certificate determining his entire future.

“Bucky needs you,” the Captain responded, slowly drawing closer.

“Who the hell is Bucky?” Tony narrowed his eyes.

The Captain abruptly paused. The serum probably prevented him from being caught off-balance, but he was certainly still caught off-guard.

“Bucky Barnes. James Buchanan Barnes. Sergeant Barnes of the 107th Infantry,” the Captain explained slowly, as if Tony was an infant hearing about object permanence for the first time.

“Your bff from the old days?? He’s still alive?”

The smallest of smiles flitted across the Captain’s face, and then he outright laughed. “Yeah, he’s still alive. A little too lively, sometimes. Like right now. HQ needs you to calm him down.”

I’m supposed to calm him down? What the hell would Bucky Barnes want with me?” Tony furrowed his brow.

“I wondered the same thing, to be honest,” the Captain grinned. “You’re a little feistier than I thought he’d go for. But he must’ve chosen you for a reason.”

Chosen me? Out of what, a buffet table?”

“Pretty much. How else would you describe that dog-and-pony show that the Institute puts on?”

“What does my guardianship have to do wi-” Tony froze in the middle of his question as everything suddenly clicked into place.

The Captain smiled. “Now you get it.”

The vague answers, the mystery departures, the old-fashioned values. His unexplainable alpha was starting to make sense, though this opened up new questions than were even stranger than old ones.

“Okay, I’ll come with you. But I gotta warn you, this collar makes the loudest noise of all time when it crosses the threshold. And I don’t know how to take it off.”

The Captain snorted, closing the last few feet between them. He reached down with one hand and snapped the collar like a toothpick before crushing it into a wad of warm metal between his fingers.

“Never much liked these things anyways,” the Captain muttered as he turned around, dropping the former collar on the ground and motioning for Tony to follow him.

“Can I - can I have a hand up? I haven’t stood in like three weeks.” Tony admitted.

The Captain whirled around, so quickly that he hadn’t yet finished smoothing over his expression of indignance. “They have you on the 1940s program?”

“The whole program is the 1940s program,” Tony rolled his eyes.

“Christ,” the Captain muttered. “Okay, grab your clothes and let’s go.”

“Remember what I just said about being on the 1940s program?”

Seriously? I’m gonna have to talk to him about this.” The Captain hauled Tony up and carried him out the door into the front yard, where a helicopter was waiting for them.

They climbed into the cabin and the helicopter lifted off. Tony watched the house below him disappear into the trees, the trees disappear into the forest, the forest disappear into the mountains.

The Captain handed him a white t-shirt. “Here, take one of mine for now.”

Tony held the shirt up against his bare chest. It wasn’t that much bigger than he was. “You fit into this?” he asked incredulously.

The Captain rolled his eyes. “Not you, too.”

Tony slipped the shirt over his head. “Nah, it’s great. My dad is gonna flip out when he finds out my guardian is Captain America’s bff.”

The Captain gave him A Look. “Howard better not find out about this, kid.”

“I mean, wow, my dad would totally flip out if he ever knew. Which he won’t.”

“Better.” The Captain shifted in his seat. “Don’t let Bucky catch you calling him ‘Captain America’s bff,’ either.”

“Obviously. Lone wolf and all that. He’s such an alpha’s alpha. Was he always like this?”

“Ask him yourself,” the Captain replied noncommittally.

“I dunno if you noticed, but he’s not really a talker,” Tony grumbled.

The Captain laughed. “Give it time. And if you need a starting point, you could always ask him about the advantages and disadvantages of long-range versus hand-to-hand combat in urban environments.”

“Romantic,” Tony muttered under his breath. “He hooked all the omegas back in the day with lines like that?”

“He didn’t need lines; he had a reputation all over Brooklyn,” the Captain chuckled.

“I knew that was where the accent was from,” Tony exclaimed triumphantly.

The Captain’s eyebrows shot up. “You’ve heard his accent?”

“Yeah, it comes out when he’s… uh… excited,” he finished delicately.

The Captain nodded, too dignified to give any indication of whether he understood what exactly Tony meant. “He must like you a lot, then.”

Tony shrugged. “Hard to tell, to be honest. But if his time away doesn’t actually mean that he traded me in for a newer, shinier model, I guess he likes me enough.”

“You are more than just ‘enough,’ Tony,” the Captain objected indignantly.

“Tell that to the Institute,” Tony shrugged.

-----

After about an hour, they landed on a helipad in what appeared to be a massive compound hidden under the cover of trees. Smalltalk is over, Tony though as the Captain rushed him through the sterile white hallways of what appeared to be a medical wing.

Tony could hear a commotion not too far away. Indistinct voices shouting, metal scraping, alarms going off.

The Captain burst through a pair of double doors marked “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY: ACCESS RESTRICTED” and Tony finally saw the problem.

Across the hall, the Soldier was standing in the middle of an operating room, fully naked. His arms were outstretched and each hand was gripping the neck of some poor nurse in scrubs. They were surrounded by overturned stainless steel carts, precise tools scattered all over the floor.

He was surrounded by a circle of grim-faced agents, each with a different type of weapon trained on the Soldier. Despite the show of force, his expression was completely apathetic.

“Stay here,” the Captain warned, but it was too late. Tony lunged for the doorway of the operating room, darting in his bare feet between the agents. He heard people shouting in protest, probably at him, but he didn’t care.

The Soldier locked eyes with him and loosened his grip. The nurses collapsed and were quickly dragged off to the side by their colleagues. The cacophonous din suddenly dropped to an eerie quiet. Tony felt a roomful of eyes on his bare legs, his deep red panties almost certainly visible under the white fabric of his borrowed shirt.

Tony skidded to a stop. He hadn’t really planned a next move.

The Soldier stalked towards him, eyes raking up and down his body. They were two feet apart when the Soldier grabbed the hem of Tony’s shirt and ripped it apart before tossing its remains to some far corner of the room.

“That Steve's shirt on you?” the Soldier growled.

Tony swallowed. “Uh, yes.”

“If it were any other alpha's, I'd have to kill them.”

“I know,” the Captain replied calmly from the doorway. He looked like he was trying not to roll his eyes. “Maybe if you gave your omega some real clothes, this wouldn't have happened.”

“Thought you were with me on this, Stevie,” the Soldier snarled.

“Wait, are you saying there's someone more old fashioned than Cap?” interjected one of the agents, the one with the bow and arrow.

“I'm about to put you in the past too if you don't shut up, Barton.” Then the Soldier turned to Tony and his expression changed. “I’m sorry, baby. There was a lot going on.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?!” The relief that was flooding over him was morphing into righteous anger. His alpha had abandoned him for 11 days, posed enough of a threat to others for Captain America to personally extract Tony from his home, and had the gall to summarize it as “a lot going on”?!

“I wanted to. But I couldn’t. Besides, I made sure you had enough food.”

“Is that what you think this is? That your house is an AirBnb and all I need is groceries??” Tony was nearly wailing now.

The Soldier frowned. “Are there other requirements to fulfill?”

Yes, you dense knothead! Like not leaving me alone for 11 days wondering if you’ve decided you don’t want me anymore, or if you got bored, or if you DIED, I don’t know??

I was stuck in your obscene prepper cabin all by myself with no way to talk to anyone and no idea when you’d be back! I was starting to wonder if I would have to press the contract termination button just to get someone from the Institute to come pick me up just so I could avoid starving to death!

And then I get summoned by Captain Fucking America himself because it turns out my alpha has been real busy choking out medical staff and suddenly needs my help!

And when I show up, having just been briefed that my alpha is actually a long-dead war hero who’s older than my grandpa, I get hardly a hello! The first thing you do after two weeks of radio silence is rip off my shirt so I’m pretty much naked in front of all these people and all you have to say for yourself is there was a lot going on?!”

Tony knew he was going too far, saying too much, but he couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“I guess everyone here in Secret Agent Land lets you get away with this shit because you have a very particular set of skills acquired over a very long career or whatever the fuck else but that shit does not cut it for being someone’s guardian.

If you really want me to be your omega so bad you could start by, I don’t know, talking to me ever?? And talking while we’re fucking doesn’t count!”

Tony paused to catch his breath, still fuming. The room was completely silent except for his ragged breathing.

“How are you still alive?” the one called Barton asked, eyebrows raised.

“Which one?” asked a woman with red hair.

“I’m getting some air,” Tony announced as he turned on his heel and stomped out of the room. Or at least, would have if he were wearing any shoes conducive to stomping.

He pushed further into the maze of empty white hallways, making random turns, not caring where he was going as long as it was away.

Suddenly he heard an unfamiliar voice behind him.

“Well, what do we have here?”

Tony whirled around and saw a tall alpha with the kind of muscles that worked for intimidation and not much else following him. This guy was wearing all black, sort of like how the Soldier dressed, but there was a different edge to it. Ruthless. Sinister.

Christ, what was with all the alpha nonsense in his life today?

Tony stared straight ahead and kept walking, trying to strike the perfect speed that would be both casual yet effective at getting him the fuck out. “I’m busy,” he gritted out.

“What's an omega like you doing parading that sweet little ass around a place like this?” the alpha asked, sidling up beside him and matching his stride.

“None of your bu-”

The alpha interrupted him.

“I can tell how long it’s been for you. What a waste of all of that,” he declared, eyes raking up and down Tony’s nearly naked body. “Got nobody at home taking care of you?”

“I can take care of myself just fine.”

“That’s not what it smells like from here.”

“What I smell like is none of your goddamn business.”

“I don't see a collar or a bite, so it’s very much my business.”

Suddenly, the alpha crumpled to the ground, the handle of a knife sticking out of his thigh.

“You get the courtesy of a warning shot since we work together, Rumlow,” Tony heard the Soldier’s voice from down the hall. “Next time, I aim to kill. And you know I don't miss."

“Christ, Barnes. There won't be a next time, okay? What'd you dip this thing in anyways? My face feels like it's gonna fall off.”

“My ma’s secret recipe. It'll wear off in 12 hours.”

“12 hours?! Motherfucker.”

“Plenty of time to think about keeping your hands off what’s mine.”

The Soldier pulled the knife out in one swift motion, and Rumlow winced, muttering curses under his breath. Then the Soldier scooped Tony up and carried him away.

They continued further into the maze of fluorescent-lit passageways, up and down a couple staircases, turning corner after corner. Tony wondered if this was really the most efficient route to get to where they were going.

Finally they arrived at a nondescript door. The Soldier shoved it open, flicking on the lights to reveal a bland and sterile apartment. A kitchen, a living room, a hallway all in a shade of beige that activated exactly zero brain cells when viewed.

The Soldier closed the door behind them and Tony heard mechanical whirring from somewhere within it.

“Stay here,” the Soldier warned, before disappearing down the hallway. He returned a few minutes later, seemingly satisfied. He led Tony down the hall into an equally nondescript bedroom. They climbed into the bed in silence.

“Tony.”

The Soldier looked like something was slowly working its way up from deep within him. His eyes kept on darting from side to side, like something in the shadows was about to leap forward and take his thought away from him. Finally, he spoke.

“I will,” he promised, “deliver more frequent status reports.”

Well, Tony thought, that’s a start. “Thank you, Alpha.”

The Soldier growled, but there was warmth in it. “Say it again.”

Tony shifted closer to him, pressing his face into the Soldier’s neck. “Thank you, Alpha.”

“You’re welcome, baby,” the Soldier rumbled from above him, trailing his fingertips up and down Tony’s back.

“I missed you, Alpha,” Tony whispered into the Soldier’s hair.

The Soldier’s fingers paused and there was a moment of silence where Tony worried that he had drastically miscalculated. Then the Soldier spoke. “I missed you too, sweetheart. So much. Couldn’t stop thinkin’ about you every damn day.”

“You were thinking about me?” Tony asked, eyes bright with hope.

The Soldier nodded. “Things would remind me of bein’ with you. And there were other things that were the exact opposite of bein’ with you, things that I’d swear on my ma - rest her soul - I’d never let close to my baby.”

“I don’t need to be protected from everything,” Tony protested.

“Oh, but you do,” the Soldier murmured. “As soon as you became my omega, you became a target. Even if the people who’d be targeting you don’t know it yet.”

“Uh, remember what I said about the dozen kidnappings? I was already a target.”

“So you’ve had some practice,” the Soldier admitted. “But it only takes one mistake.”

“Can’t we talk about something nice before we go to sleep?”

“I ain’t sleepin’,” the Soldier grunted.

“What?! Why not?”

“Forgot how,” the Soldier shrugged.

Tony groaned. “This has to do with your not eating thing, doesn’t it?”

The Soldier didn’t answer.

“Were you just gonna lie here for 8 hours and watch me sleep?” Tony asked, eyes narrowing.

“That was the plan, yeah,” the Soldier admitted.

“Damn,” Tony exhaled. “Wait. Can you tell when I… when I have…”

“Yeah,” the Soldier smirked. “A nice perk to stickin’ around.”

Tony pouted. “I’m a healthy young omega with needs, okay?”

“I’ll tend to your needs alright,” the Soldier promised, a devilish grin spreading slowly across his face. “But right now, what you need is to get some rest.” He pulled Tony in closer, and Tony breathed in the comforting scent of home.

Chapter Text

A loud knock on the door startled Tony awake. “Whaa-” he croaked, realizing that the light was coming from a different direction this morning because the bed he was lying in wasn’t his bed at all.

The knocking grew more insistent. Tony reached for the nearest pillow and pressed it over his ears, trying to block out the noise. After a few minutes, it became apparent that whoever was outside really wasn’t going to let Tony’s beauty sleep get in the way of their plans.

He lurched out of bed and flung himself at the apartment’s front door, wrestling with the six locks barring it shut until it opened.

He was greeted by a S.H.I.E.L.D. office employee, fidgeting with his nametag and sweating profusely. “Delivery for Omega Stark,” the employee stuttered, eyes darting. “Please sign here,” he continued, shoving a tablet towards Tony’s still-bare chest.

“$528 billion in annual government funding and you’re still using handwritten signatures to verify delivery?” Tony groused.

“I don’t make policy around here, kid.”

“What’s inside?” Tony asked, fumbling with the packing tape on the cardboard box that was now his only possession apart from the contract termination device back at the Soldier’s compound.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” the man responded as Tony squinted at the label. It was addressed to Omega Tony Stark, ℅ Sergeant James Barnes.

“You work for a super secret spy agency and you don’t have the slightest bit of curiosity about whose life you could be changing forever?” Tony asked, rambling to cover his surprise at being formally addressed by his accursed designation.

“I’m just trying to get out of here befo-”

Tony heard a muffled gasp and looked up. A massive gloved hand covering the employee’s mouth, another hand wrapped around his throat. The Soldier glowered at Tony over the shoulder of his newest innocent bystander.

“Who. Let. You. Out,” the Soldier growled, each word barely escaping his mouth before it died in the sudden silence.

“Uh. I did. Sir,” Tony responded haltingly.

“You got past six independent access control systems?” the Soldier demanded, unconvinced.

“Well, it’s not like I haven’t seen them before,” Tony huffed.

“There are only twelve people in the goddamn world who have seen every single one of these before,” the Soldier countered. “And I killed nine of them.”

“Okay, I’d only seen the top four, but I knew enough about locks to guess on the last two.”

“Guess? You call decrypting an apparatus that theoretically should not exist, and has only been successfully produced three times in history, a guess?”

Tony shrugged, then made extraordinarily awkward eye contact with the unfortunate delivery guy. “Um. Are you gonna, you know, let that guy go? He was just trying to do his job.”

Fury’s voice echoed down the hallway. “Your omega makes a fair point, Barnes. A word, if you will,” he said, motioning to the office next door.

The Soldier’s eyes darted from Tony to the door to Tony again.

“It’ll take two whole minutes. Your omega will be just fine in the care of our dear Captain and his merry band of misfits,” Fury continued. Tony spotted a crowd of familiar faces walking towards them. The Captain, of course, and some of the same people from the surgery room. They looked a lot less stressed without their weapons drawn.

“I got ‘im, Buck. Don’t worry about it,” the Captain said, the smallest of smiles flickering on his lips.

The Soldier shot one last look at Tony, as if memorizing his features so he could check when he got back that not a hair was out of place. Then he nodded, released his grip on the unfortunate office employee, and stepped into the office, with Fury closing the door behind them.

The employee slid onto the floor, just long enough to regain his bearings and scramble out of sight.

“Bucky Bear has an omega? How did I not know about this?” demanded the one with the bow and arrows. What was his name? Clayton? Curtis? Clint? Clint.

“It’s kinda new. We’re not… you know…”

“‘Kinda new’ like you still haven’t farted in front of each other or ‘kinda new’ like you’ve been hooking up for a while and finally got the courage to call it what it is?”

“‘Kinda new’ like I met him earlier this month when he touched three dozen omegas’ asses sticking out of a wall and decided that mine was the best. We got matched by the Institute of Omegan Socialization for the summer.”

Clint whistled. “Shit, dude. So that’s where all that sweet S.H.I.E.L.D. contractor money goes. He treating you right?”

“Better than anyone else I could’ve picked up in that gilded hellhole.”

“Stellar endorsement.”

“You work with the guy, you know he can be a little… reserved.”

“Well, yeah, I kinda figured he’d be different at home.”

“And I kinda figured y’all would keep your mouths shut for longer than a goddamn second with my omega around," the Soldier growled. Tony startled. How a guy that big moved so quietly, he wasn’t sure. It shouldn’t have been physically possible.

I kinda figured you owe them one since Cap had to spend an entire day at the Institute’s office gladhanding and posing for photos after your little outburst a few months ago,” Fury replied.

“What?” Tony’s brow furrowed.

“What?” Clint seemed delighted.

“Oh, Sergeant Barnes didn’t tell you? He knocked out all seven alphas on the Institute’s home inspection team as soon as they set foot on his driveway. Took a recon team 13 hours to retrieve them.”

“They came to eventually.”

“Tell that to the Institute. You’d be up to your ears in lawsuits right now if it weren’t for your golden boy stepping in and saving your ass. And this pretty little omega here would be sucking someone else’s-”

“Enough.”

“So what’s in the box?” Tony demanded.

“It’s your new uniform,” Fury replied, picking it up off the floor. “Can’t have you parading around here in panties all day.”

The Soldier ripped the box out of his hands. “What my omega wears is none of your business.”

“As Director of the group that runs this facility, it is absolutely my business. We’re operating an international defense organization, not a BBC period drama.”

“Just let him wear it, Buck,” the Captain pleaded. “He’ll freeze his ass off. This place isn’t set to omega temperature at all.”

The Soldier glared at the Captain, who looked back at him expectantly.

“Thermal patterns will be monitored at all times.” A familiar click and a cold pressure around his neck told Tony that the Soldier wasn’t thinking of sticking a thermometer under his armpit all day. He slid to his knees before the collar’s alarm could start wailing again. The laminate tile was hard and unforgiving.

Everyone exchanged uncomfortable glances around him. Director Fury broke the silence. “You have a week, Barnes. Then I’m melting that thing down.”

Chapter Text

Crawling through the spotless S.H.I.E.L.D. hallways, Tony reflected on his newfound semi-freedom:

Pros:
No longer trapped in a mountaintop bunker
Conversations consisting of more than two syllables
Witnessing the Soldier take shit from the Captain

Cons:
Everyone he talks to knows exactly what his nips look like
So cold, all the time
Endless crawling

Tony had never imagined that the life of an international assassin could involve so many meetings. Even someone with as much field duty as the Soldier wasn’t excused from quarterly forecasts, budget proposals, or inventory reviews.

It had been a full day of listening to higher-ups drone on and on about things that seemed to have no relevance to the Soldier’s combat life. No wonder the Soldier was so grumpy when he came back from work.

“Are we really going to another meeting?” Tony groaned, staring down yet another infinite, fluorescent-lit hallway that he was going to have to traverse on all goddamn fours.

“If you’re already tired, we oughta head to the apartment and drop you off,” the Soldier growled, not breaking his stride.

“That’s not what I meant!” Tony protested. “I just thought there would be more punching bad guys. Isn’t that what they pay you to do?”

“It’s your lucky day, Starkers,” Clint’s voice sang out from a nearby meeting room. “The Pew Pew Review is about to start.”

Tony crawled through his 19th unremarkable doorway of the day and assumed his place under the wooden table. He watched as the Soldier’s legs circled around the mahogany surface and settled on the spot at the very far end. Tony scooted closer to the Soldier’s now-familiar combat boots.

The Soldier’s boots were immaculately polished. But when Tony looked closer, he could spot a few scuffs and scrapes that no amount of wax could buff out. What had the Soldier been running to, or from, to create those scratches?

The Soldier’s hand appeared below the table, his fingers curled slightly. Tony hesitated, then nuzzled the Soldier’s fingers with his nose. The Soldier’s hand was still for a moment, then reached out and stroked Tony’s hair.

Tony felt a jolt and his entire awareness of being in this room, at this time, for this reason, was replaced by just one sensation - the light pressure of his Alpha’s steady fingertips on his scalp. God, this was what he was missing all by himself in that godforsaken forest cave he now called home. His brain lit up with that intoxicating campfire smell again, the one that he noticed the first time he sat on his Alpha’s lap. He could sit here and breathe it in forever, he was sure of it-

The Soldier withdrew his hand and the spark of connection quickly faded. Tony landed back in reality, the reality where he was kneeling underneath a meeting table getting scent-drunk off scraps of attention from his preoccupied Alpha.

Another pair of legs appeared in his field of view, and then another, until all the seats were filled. It looked like the whole team was here. After just a day, he was already acutely familiar with everyone’s sartorial choices - at least the ones visible from the ground.

The Soldier wore the same black tactical pants he wore at home, the same three (that Tony could discern) knives hidden in their folds. He could throw on a hoodie and blend into any crowd, just as quick as he could slip on a kevlar vest and storm a hostage-filled building.

Clint wore tactical pants too, but his were halfway covered with sturdy boots going up his calves. Tony figured they were probably holding collapsible flaming arrows or some shit.

Natasha wore black leather leggings and boots that somehow made almost no sound when she walked. The stacked heels were tall enough to intimidate the hell out of anyone, and solid enough to follow through on that promise. She moved with an otherworldly fluidity that should have been impossible in such high-density materials. Tony was confident she had knives on her too, but it was impossible to tell where.

Steve wore goddamn pleated khakis. Embarrassing. This was America’s national hero? The one dressed like he was about to land a solid 5th place in the office foosball league?

Bruce wore loose-fitting jeans. They were, if possible, even worse than Steve’s khakis. They reminded Tony of the worst parts of decades he wasn’t even alive for. The jeans collected in a baggy puddle on the tops of Bruce’s New Balances. Without having reproduced, this outfit made Bruce legally a dad.

Steve and his horrible khakis stood up, and Tony snapped out of his judgmental reverie.

“Alright, team,” Steve began. “We’ve received some feedback from the Board that our mission reports can be, uh, inconsistent at times.”

“Inconsistent in what way?” the Soldier demanded.

“Well, let’s take a look at what we submitted after last week’s expedition,” Steve replied, shuffling through a stack of papers. Papers! They were still using papers! Tony cringed.

“Anyone want to go first?” Steve continued.

The fingernail drumming, foot tapping, and chair spinning all stopped. The room was suddenly silent.

“Anyone? All you have to do is read aloud what you already wrote.”

No response.

“Alright,” Steve sighed. “I’ll go first…

Agents: Bruce Banner, James Barnes, Clint Barton, Thor Odinson, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov

Target: Retrieve ancient sword stolen from Dr. Strange’s collection

Location: Reykjahlíð, Iceland

Synopsis:

0200: descend via AH-6i
0218: disengage peripheral defense system
0231: neutralize 17 foot units
0252: neutralize 2 airborne units
0313: disengage internal defense system
0349: neutralize 120 unmanned foot units
0432: locate sword
0737: remove sword
0818: exit via AH-6i

Injuries:

Banner: none
Barnes: dislocated shoulder, abrasions to legs, probable concussion
Barton: abrasions to face, exposure to unknown toxins
Odinson: none
Rogers: none
Romanov: contusions

Ok, team. Does anyone have any feedback on this one?” Steve pushed forward.

“Well, that certainly sounds like it was written by a guy who eats plain mini-wheats for breakfast with a refreshing side of a stick up his ass,” Clint replied.

“Can you offer more constructive criticism, Clint?” Steve sighed.

“No, sir.”

“Okay, why don’t we take a look at yours, then?”

Clint cleared his throat, then read aloud:

Agents: Black Widow, Hulk Man, Bucky Bear, Captain Cornball, Some Heroes Do Wear Capes, and of course… The Greatest Shot On Earth

Target: bigass sword actually named DRAGONFANG, made out of actual DRAGON

Location: Ye Olde Land of Ice

Synopsis: Fought some bad guys on a volcano. Hawkeye saved the day, of course.

Injuries: Everyone looks fine. Bucky Bear looks pissed, but I think that’s just his face.”

Tony watched the Soldier turn excruciatingly slowly in his chair towards Clint. “This all some kind of joke to you, Barton?”

Clint leaned back, scooting ever so slightly away. “Whoa, there, buddy. Just a little lighthearted recap after battle.”

“Ain’t nothing funny about war.”

“Ok, let’s see yours then.”

When the Soldier spoke, it was a low rumble.

Agents:

Steven Grant Rogers (known aliases: Captain America, The Captain)
James Buchanan Barnes
Natasha Alianovna Romanov (known aliases: Black Widow, Yelena Belova, Mary Farrell, Laura Matthers, Oktober, Natasha Romanoff, Natasha Romanova, Natalie Rushman)
Thor Odinson (known aliases: God of Thunder, Dr. Donald Blake, Sigurd Jarlson, Eric Masterson, Jake Olson, Siegfried, Siegmund)
Bruce Banner (known aliases: The Hulk, Devil Hulk, Doc Green, Joe Fixit, War, World-Breaker)
Clinton Francis Barton (known aliases: Golden Archer, Goliath, Ronin)

Target: Dragonfang artifact, formerly in the possession of Dr. Stephen Strange (known aliases: Master of the Mystic Arts, Sorcerer Supreme, Strange, Stephen Sanders, Captain Universe, Vincent Stevens, Void)

Location: Mývatn Centre, Reykjahlíð, Iceland

Synopsis: Standard extraction from lightly fortified base.

Injuries: None.”

“Hold on,” Bruce protested. “I never call myself those things! Those nicknames are straight from the tabloids.”

“I see there was no reason to bog down the report with your own aliases,” Natasha murmured.

“Why am I listed last?” Clint demanded. “My cover saved your ass!”

The room erupted in shouting. The awkward silence that reigned at the beginning of the meeting was most certainly over.

Tony rolled his eyes. A room full of superheroes and none of them possessed the power of shutting the fuck up.

He wanted to bang his head against the table… the table he wasn’t even allowed to sit at. He settled for gently leaning his forehead against the Soldier’s leg. It was pretty damn solid. He was pleased that the Soldier did not, in fact, skip leg day.

He looked around. Even in a room full of professional world-savers, his Alpha looked pretty damn good. He’d been crawling next to his Alpha all day - how was it fair that he wasn’t allowed to touch? He couldn’t wait to get back to the Soldier’s hextuply-locked apartment and just lie back while the Soldier took care of him the way only he could.

He imagined the Soldier bending him over the bathroom counter, trailing kisses down his spine… the Soldier’s hands roving all over his back, then reaching up to grab a fistful of hair and yanking just hard enough to elicit a gasp that would echo across the tiled room.

He imagined feeling the Soldier’s grip on his hair loosening… hearing the Soldier’s shirt slipping over his head and landing softly in some far corner…

Tony shook his head, trying to dislodge the thoughts that were taking over his brain. He’d rather hit that emergency button and end the whole program than crawl out of this room with a tent in his panties.

He scooted closer to the Soldier, plopping his chin down on the seat of the Soldier’s chair, right between the Soldier’s thighs. He tried easing them further open, but the Soldier wouldn’t budge at all. Tony tried squishing his head further in, closer to what he was really after, but ended up hitting his head on the underside of the table with a loud thunk.

“Barnes!” Fury’s voice cut through Tony’s thoughts. Damn, when did Fury get here? “Does your omega need to be excused?”

A few stifled giggles escaped into the otherwise silent room.

Tony found himself being hauled up onto his feet in the most undignified manner possible. He suddenly felt very naked. Could they smell what he’d been thinking? Was there a wet spot on the back of his underwear giving it all away?

Tony focused every cell in his body on avoiding eye contact with anyone. But he couldn’t prevent himself from catching the utterly blank expression on the Soldier’s face. He would have preferred rage, honestly. Rage, he knew how to deal with. What was he supposed to do with all this… emptiness?

The Soldier hoisted Tony into a fireman’s carry and carried him out of the room without a word.

“I’m sorry!” Tony whispered fervently into the Soldier’s chest.

The Soldier clamped a weathered hand over Tony’s mouth. For once in his life, Tony figured it would be in his best interest to say no more.