The school year had finally come to a close and the summer holidays had begun. Tony had spoken to Aunt May about Peter staying at the Tower for the first week so they would have a chance to have some more extensive training sessions. As it was, the twice a week lessons he had with Bucky were relatively short and they needed to ensure that Spider-Man had the endurance to last if he got pinned down in a lengthy fight. May had agreed, and Peter had been overjoyed. Not only had he been looking forward to learning more about the suit’s capabilities and testing them against a super soldier, but he’d also get to fall asleep with his partners every night for an entire week. It seemed too good to be true, but it ended up being even better than he thought it would be.
He learned a few things about Tony and Bucky and their sleeping habits that he hadn’t actually known and confirmed a few more.
1) With three bears in the bed, it was inevitable that there would be sleepy fights over the blankets. The bed they slept in (Tony was adamant that it wasn’t his bed, it was their bed, it just happened to be in his room) was massive and so was the bedding, but generally Peter and Bucky woke up in the middle of the night to find Burrito Tony wrapped up snug and warm while they were left with barely a corner to cover themselves with. Considering that Friday kept the Tower at a very comfortable temperature all year round, it wasn’t a big deal - Bucky tended to run hot anyway (thanks to his super metabolism) and Peter didn’t feel the cold much when he was sandwiched between his lovers.
Although both the heroes noticed the genius’ tendency to hog the covers, they never mentioned it or made fun of him, both knowing exactly why he did it. It was the same reason he always had a hoodie close at hand, even in summer, and the same reason he avoided rooms with the air-conditioning set low, or why he took his showers so scorching hot that he would emerge red raw and looking like a manscaped lobster.
Tony still had panic attacks whenever he got too cold, thrown back into memories of being stuck in a disabled suit, unable to extract himself, his titanium sternum and ribs caved in, lungs filling with blood while he slowly froze to death. Warning him up was the best way to prevent or stave off one of his episodes, and all of the regular visitors to the Tower had at one time or another been found to have a huddled Tony tucked under their arm while they rubbed his back and called for someone to bring a blanket and make a hot drink. One time when Stephen Strange had been over consulting with Tony on how to improve his defenses against magical attacks, Tony had been set off by a malfunctioning air filter. Peter and Bucky had come running to find the sorcerer’s cloak not only wrapped around him but also levitating him out of the room to somewhere warmer. By itself. Whilst Strange opened a portal through to the kitchen and made tea. If he’d not been so worried, Peter would have marvelled at how bizarre his life had become.
And so they never complained when they woke to find that Tony had wrapped himself in all of the blankets; they just maneuvered around the bed so they could snuggle up close to him from either side, pulled a spare blanket up over them, and held Tony close, keeping him extra toasty the entire night.
2) On the second night he stayed over, Peter fell into bed, sore and exhausted. Bucky had pushed him hard all day and had then asked Tony to come to the training room and fire repulsors at Peter to test his reaction times after four straight hours of sparring. The teen’s arm muscles especially were aching, he had bruises up one side from colliding with the wall, and worst of all, he wasn’t sure if his advanced rate of healing included growing back his eyebrow that got singed off when a repulsor blast hit a little too close to home. He was dead on his feet and as soon as his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep.
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed before he was woken up by a bright light shining in his face. Grumbling, the teen opened his eyes to find Bucky with his back to him, his phone in front of his face, scrolling through a website. Tony was curled up behind Peter, one arm thrown over him, snuggling him close and as tempted as he was by the thought of just going back to sleep, he was curious as to what his other love was up to. “Whatcha doing?” he murmured.
Bucky rolled over onto his back so he could turn his head towards him. “Sorry, doll, did I wake you?”
Peter shrugged. “s’ok, just wondering why you’re still up. What time is it?”
“Um, almost 3am I think.”
“Urgh, have you slept at all?”
Peter frowned. “Usually it’s Tony who avoids sleep like the plague - what’s wrong?”
“There’s nothing wrong,” Tony’s sleep heavy voice came from behind him, “he just does this sometimes.”
“Does what?” Peter asked.
“Gets some random question or shower thought stuck in his head,” Tony replied, shuffling even closer and pressing his whole body against Peter’s back. His cock was half hard and it nestled perfectly against Peter’s crack. “He ends up going onto Wikipedia or just Googling the answer and then he finds something interesting when he’s reading about that, so he clicks on that link and then another and another and suddenly he’s as far from the original topic as possible but too engrossed in reading to stop and go to damn sleep.”
Peter chuckled. “Really?”
Bucky pouted. “Friday assures me this is something a lot of people do!”
“Yeah, but not usually at 3am!” Peter said.
“What was it tonight?” Tony asked.
By the light of his phone, the teen saw Bucky blush. “Do chickens have tongues?” he admitted bashfully.
Tony, to his credit, didn't seem to find the question weird, just asked another question. “And what are you reading about now?”
“The fall of Julius Caesar.”
“And how many clicks did it take you to get there?”
“I dunno,” Bucky said sulkily, “maybe twenty five?”
Tony snorted. “If Friday didn’t clear it, your search history would be fascinating and probably disturbing at the same time.”
“So, do they?” Peter asked.
“Do they what?” Bucky said.
“Do chickens have tongues?”
“Oh, yeah, yeah they do.”
“Huh, I hadn’t ever thought about that.”
“Well, they kinda need them to swallow.”
“Oh, right, that makes sense.”
“They also have taste buds but there’s some debate as to how much they can actually taste. They -”
“This is interesting and all, but how ‘bout we all get some sleep now?” Tony said, cutting him off. “Since you’re teaching Petey how to throw knives tomorrow, I kinda want you both to have your wits about you so you need your sleep.”
“Yes, Tony,” Bucky said sheepishly, and turned off his phone and placed it on the table.
“You can tell me more about it tomorrow,” Peter whispered to him, ducking forward and pressing a kiss to his cheek in the darkness.
“Okay, doll, will do.”
Peter grinned in the dark, wondering what other things his partner had found during his late night quest for knowledge.
3) Tony was known for his irregular sleeping patterns but when Peter was over, he tried his best to retire at the same time as the other two, even if it meant he would lie awake, scrolling through a tablet while the others fell asleep.
Well, that was when he finally did make it to bed.
It took Peter a while to notice, but the genius took an age in the bathroom before he finally came to bed. Peter and Bucky would brush their teeth, throw on some sleep pants, and then fall into bed. Easy. But Tony had a routine. A lengthy one. A very involved, lengthy one. It was almost a ritual and he did not skip it on those nights. The only time he did miss it was when he had locked himself into the workshop for days on end, only catching an hour or two of sleep on the couch every now and then.
To be fair to Peter, the reason it took so long for him to notice was that the first few months that he stayed over, he and Bucky generally waited quite some time for the other residents to settle before sneaking up to the Penthouse. By then, Tony would already have completed his routine and would be ready for bed. The first time he was there for the entire thing, he had become convinced that his lover must have slipped and fallen unconscious on the bathroom floor, he’d been locked in there so long. Bucky had assured him that it was quite normal and advised him to leave it be. True to his word, Tony had emerged some time later, happily climbed into bed and snuggled with his boys.
It had gone on for long enough that it had become normal to Peter, and during that week the teen grew bold enough to decide to stay in the bathroom, perch on the side of the bath, and chat to Tony while he did whatever it was that he did. He had been a little worried that he'd be chased out, but Tony didn’t seem to care, just continued chatting as he went about his business.
First of all he flossed and brushed his teeth for a full two minutes with his electric toothbrush.
Then he got out a small kit and trimmed his already immaculately groomed goatee.
Then he showered, lathering himself up with his expensive shower gel in a way that made it almost a religious experience for Peter.
Then once he was out and dried off, he got out a special bottle of expensive looking oil. He then rubbed this all over the deep scarring that littered his chest. He caught Peter watching curiously and explained, “It helps keep the new skin supple. The scar tissue is so thick that if I don’t do it, it hurts when I stretch which can be a problem, especially when I’m flying or in battle when I need to be as flexible as possible.”
Peter nodded, and lifted the bottle up and sniffed the oil. “Huh,” he said, “this explains why you always smell like coconut.”
Tony smiled. “There’s always an upside and this one is that I get to smell like a tropical island.”
Peter recapped the bottle and put it back. “I like the way you smell.”
4)”Petey! Petey, wake up, baby.”
The teen murmured and rolled over, but finally roused as he was gently poked in the side. “Urgh, wassup?” he groaned.
“Bucky’s gone again,” Tony told him, a note of worry but also frustration in his voice.
“What? Again?” He sighed. “I thought we’d convinced him it was okay.” He sighed.
All three of them were prone to nightmares, but Bucky’s were always more violent and aggressive than for the other two. When they did manage to wake him, he would come up swinging, and he’d suffered through several guilty episodes when he’d woken the following morning to see one of his partners sporting a shiny black eye. No matter how many times they tried to assure him that getting a punch to the face was worth it if it meant he didn't wake up alone, he always felt that he needed to remove himself from their vicinity when he started to have the nightmares.
Several things were guaranteed to trigger the dreams, ranging from a particularly bad mission, to seeing someone in passing who bore an uncanny resemblance to an old handler, and the super soldier had gotten very good at predicting which nights he would suffer them. At first he had tried to remain awake but after a mission where he had almost missed a target due to being sleep deprived, he agreed that he needed to sleep but took it upon himself to decide to stay away from his lovers.
Neither Peter nor Tony were happy with this and they had protested long and loud, finally nagging Bucky to come to bed with them. The super soldier would always slip away during the night however and would go and sleep in one of the spare rooms in the Penthouse or on the couch.
The two geniuses dealt with these times in a very pragmatic and direct manner. They would simply leave their bedroom to go and find where Bucky had sequestered himself and then join him. Once in a while, the ex-assassin had tried to make another run for it, moving to a different spare room, but like a bad smell, the others followed before he’d even gone back to sleep. Bucky was stubborn and continued to leave, no matter how often they followed, but Peter and Tony could out-stubborn the soldier any day of the week. They would always follow, no matter what. They loved Bucky and weren’t about to leave him to deal with his nightmares alone, no matter how many times they were accidentally punched for their efforts.
And so it was that Peter climbed out of bed, joined by Tony who had the blanket wrapped around his shoulders like a cloak, setting off to hunt down their elusive lover. That night they found him in the spare bedroom in the north east corner of the Penthouse, farthest away from the bedroom. Without a word they piled into the bed - the much smaller and definitely not as comfortable bed - and settled down to sleep.
A few minutes later, Peter felt the mattress shift as Bucky tried to leave but he simply grabbed his arm, held on with his superior strength and growled, “Lie down!”
Meekly, Bucky complied, and when he woke, kicking and screaming an hour later, Peter and Tony just moved closer, held him tight, and refused to let go.
5) Tony was in the bathroom when Peter climbed into bed towards the end of his week at the Tower. The teen was beginning to feel melancholy about having to return home in two day’s time as he was getting used to the bedtime routine he shared with his partners. Or so he had thought.
“Bucky,” Friday announced as the soldier pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it onto a chair, moving to climb under the covers to join Peter, “I have learned another story if you’d like to hear it.”
The soldier smiled up at one of her sensors. “Sure thing, Friday. You’re getting good at them!”
“Good at what?” Peter asked, confused.
“Bedtime stories!” the AI told him happily.
“O...kay,” the teen said slowly. “Um, why?”
“It’s a long story,” Bucky told him. “Best just accept that it’s a thing now.”
Peter furrowed his brows but if spending so much time around a bunch of superheroes had taught him anything, it was to be adaptable and accept some weird as fuck things. “Alright then.”
“This is a book from within a book,” Friday explained, “and it’s called Where’s My Cow.” She paused, and Peter felt the sudden urge to ask for a teddy bear to cuddle but he held his tongue. “Where’s my cow? ” Friday recited. “Is that my cow? It goes ‘baaaaaa’ - that is not my cow, that is a sheep. Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes ‘quack quack’ - that is not my cow, that is a duck. Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes ‘woof woof’ - that is not my cow, that is a dog. Where’s my cow? Is that my cow? It goes -”
“What the fuck is going on?” Tony asked from the bathroom door. He didn’t sound angry, just confused.
“Oh, hi, Tony,” Bucky said, managing to look guilty. “You’re out sooner than usual.”
His eyes narrowed. “Is my baby girl reading you a story?”
“Funny thing about my AIs,” the genius said, walking towards the bed slowly, “is that they have a learning software. I programmed in a certain amount of knowledge at the beginning and they know where to source more from the web, but when it comes to characteristics and mannerisms and such, they learn them from others.”
“Uh huh,” Bucky agreed.
“Which means - “ Tony paused dramatically as he climbed up onto the bed and knelt in front of them, “that someone taught her how to read a bedtime story. I wonder who it could have been?”
“It’s a mystery alright,” the soldier said, his cheeks a dusty pink.
“Why did you teach Fri to read a story at bedtime?”
His shoulders slumped and he sighed. “Because sometimes when I’m having trouble falling asleep, it helps to hear her voice.”
“How long has this been going on?”
“A few weeks.”
Tony gave a sad shake of his head. “Why would you hide something like that from me, babe?”
Bucky shrugged again and he seemed unable to meet Tony’s eyes. “Dunno, just thought you’d think I was bein’ silly.”
It was Tony’s turn to sigh and he turned to look at Peter as if silently asking ‘Can you believe this guy?’ . “Babe, there’s nothing silly about it. Now scoot over so I have some room - I wanna be in the middle tonight.”
They both budged over and Tony made quite the production of wriggling his way between them. Once he was snug and comfy, he closed his eyes and said, “Okay, Fri - carry on. I’m dying to know if that’s your cow this time round.”
“Spoilers boss,” she said. “It’s not.”
“Who’s my sassy cow ?” Tony asked. “Is that my sassy cow? She goes ‘Spoilers, boss’ - she is Friday and she is my sassy cow !”
Peter snorted into his pillow as Tony smirked. “Keep that up and I won’t finish the story,” Friday said sulkily.
Bucky elbowed Tony in the ribs. “Don’t upset her. Sorry, Friday,” he addressed the AI. “Please, continue.”
“Very well, Bucky - just for you,” she said. “Where’s my cow?”
+1) It was the last night of the week that Peter was staying at the Tower and Tony and Bucky both lay awake watching him sleep.
“I’m gonna miss him so much,” Bucky said sadly, reaching out and brushing a lock of the teen’s fringe from his eyes.
“Me too,” Tony admitted. “It’s been so nice having him here every night.” The teen mumbled in his sleep and both men leaned in closer to hear him. “What was that?” Tony asked.
Bucky frowned. “I’m not sure, kinda sounded like ‘flip flop’.”
Tony also frowned. “That doesn't make any sense.”
The soldier quirked his lips. “He’s sleep talking, Tony - he’s not made any sense all week!”
It may have been that because on their usual Friday nights together they were all so exhausted from mind blowing sex that either Peter slept too soundly to talk or the others slept too deeply to notice, but it had only been during this week that they had discovered the teen’s tendency to sleep talk. He spent a good hour or so of each night chattering away in a one sided conversation about anything and everything. If the others tried to interact with him, he didn't reply, even though he would pause and seem to listen to the sound of their voices, before carrying on as if he’d not been interrupted. The conversations rarely made sense and if they alluded to them the next day, Peter had no idea of what they were talking about.
“Tik-Tok, ” Peter said, more clearly this time. “Take that to Dum-E. That’s it, you’re such a good boy! Learning so much, so clever, purple pumpkins. Of course you can help Butterfingers, oh, look at that, you guys are doing great. Oh, that’s good, but not the beanstalk. That might cause the pot to boil over. ”
Tony and Bucky giggled quietly to themselves as they continued to listen, and the genius made sure that Friday was recording it all.
“Such a good bot, you’re a good boy, Tik-Tok. My good boy, and I’m Tony’s good boy, and Bucky’s. Love them so much, boy. Yeah, you know. Oh, watch the rabbit, it has knitting needles. Ah crap, that was the jar of pennies, wasn’t it?”
The teen continued his sleep fuelled conversation but the longer it went on, the less sense it made until he was just shouting out random phrases like the Hogwarts Sorting Hat with Tourette’s. Eventually he stopped speaking completely, falling into a deep sleep, rolling over and drooling slightly against Tony’s arm. He looked down at him and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “You’re so precious,” Tony whispered to the sleeping teen. He then looked up at Bucky. “How did we get so lucky?” he asked.
“I honestly have no idea,” Bucky admitted, “but I am not going to question it. I will happily accept our luck in this.”
Tony kissed Peter’s cheek again and then leaned over and found Bucky’s lips in the dark. He then sighed. “Last night together,” he said morosely.
“Only until next Friday. Besides, you never know - maybe May will let him stay a few extra nights over the break?”
“Yeah, maybe. Okay, well, night, babe.”
“Night, sweetheart. Try and get some rest, yeah - Peter will want to have us at least twice tomorrow before he heads home and we’re both old men.”
The genius chuckled. “He’s gonna be the death of us, that’s for sure, but damn, what a way to go.”
“Exactly,” Bucky agreed.
Peter rolled over, nuzzled against Tony’s arm and then said, “Fuzzy buttons,” before beginning to snore quietly.
Yeah, Tony was definitely going to miss this.