Two months had passed since Steve’s episode and things were starting to calm down. The most eventful part of the month was Pepper's engagement to Maria Hill. (April 13, 2013) Meeting with Turner on a regular basis was paying off. He still had nightmares, but not as intensely or as frequently as before. There were bad days but Tony as there for. The brief disconnection he felt with Piper was mended.
He was snugly tucked bed with his family. Steve sighed. Tomorrow they were meeting with Dr. Wu. He'd put this off long enough. Piper squirmed against him.
“Morning sugar lump,”
She kicked against him and whined. He put her in a fresh diaper. She relaxed. Piper tugged his shirt.
"I know you're hungry be patient,"
He could have sworn Piper glared at him. They settled down in the living room. Steve turned on the news. He tried not to watch too much of it. Morning Joe was one of his favorites though. They rarely talked about his family, only offering congratulations when Piper was born.
Piper's glowing state of health was a point of pride for him. She loved going to see Bruce for her monthly check-ups. They'd given her immunizations to be on the safe side. Piper had thrown a fit about that, managing to break Bruce's pinky in the process. Recently she'd made her first attempts at crawling.
“Do you want to go on a run?”
She squealed happily.
"So that's a yes,"
Steve changed into his running clothes and bundled Piper up before putting her into the jogging stroller. The pup loved moving. Car rides, strollers, being carried around anything that offered her further range of motion. He buckled her in. A few laps around Central Park would ease some of his anxiety.
He went into a sprint. Piper giggled happily at the change in pace. No one bothered them. Most tourists respected his space especially when he was with Piper. If he were running alone he'd pose with pictures with pups. Thankfully, he wasn't as recognizable as Tony.
Once he finished his laps it was time to go home. Piper whined when he slowed down. Steve stopped and moved in front of the stroller. He kissed her gently on the forehead.
"We'll go on another run soon, but it's time to go home,"
"Don't you want to see, Daddy?"
Piper smiled. They went home. The penthouse smelled of breakfast. A large plate of scrambled eggs and sausage was waiting for him. Tony traded him a cup of coffee for Piper.
“How was your run?” asked Tony.
“When do we have to leave for Baltimore?”
"We can leave whenever we want. One of the benefits of owning your own plane,"
They were going to John Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Wu was mentoring there for a term. Jarvis already made a hotel reservation for them.
"Around eight it will be easier for Piper to sleep through the flight, hopefully,"
They'd never taken her on a plane. The hours ticked by and eventually, it was time to leave. Steve gingerly took Piper out of her car seat. He followed his husband into the plane. Steve settled in the seat next to Tony. The alpha leaned over, checking if Piper was still asleep. As soon as they took off Piper's eyes snapped open. She screamed on the top of her lungs.
“Shh, it’s okay, Piper,”
He tried soothing her. Steve raised his shirt trying to get her nurse to preoccupy her. She pushed away from his chest, whining. They switched off walking her up and down the aisle of the plane. They landed around 9:15 pm. A car was waiting for them. Piper was still crying.
"We are off the plane, Pipes, it's okay," said Tony.
Her cries turned to soft whimpers as he placed her in the car seat. Steve got into the back seat with her. Thankfully, by the time they reached the hotel, Piper was asleep. They checked into their room, quietly shutting the door shut behind them. Tony was exhausted after listening to their daughter cry for one hour and thirty minutes straight.
“I’m going to shower,”
"I've got her, go,"
Tony worked with Piper sleeping on his chest. She started waking up. Piper yawned. Her fingers played harmlessly against the surface of his arc reactor.
"Don't get too use it, pumpkin. I won't have it for much longer,"
Steve came out the shower awhile later a towel wrapped lowly around his waist. His eyes wandered down the omega's form. Steve lost the baby weight, regaining his muscular form. But there was a slight widening to his, which Tony loved. It had been three months one week and five days since they last had sex.
Steve laughed when he caught Tony staring. It had been more than a while since they were last together. Even when he still carried his baby weight Tony looked at him with that lustful gaze. Intimacy proved difficult when they shared a bed with an infant. Piper had a habit of interrupting them whenever they had gotten close.
“As much as I’d love to no,”
“Now isn’t the time,”
“And when will be?”
“Whenever the next chance arises,”
“I'm looking forward to it,"
Steve joined him in bed. He brought the omega into a kiss. Steve purred as they pulled away.
“I love you,”
“Love you too, sweetheart,”
Steve smiled and brought her to his chest. A peaceful aura surrounded them. From there it was easy to fall asleep. Their morning was slow. (April 14, 2013) They had breakfast in their room. Steve poked at his pancakes with his fork.
“You’re not eating,”
Tony took his hand.
“I’ll be fine,”
Around noon they left for the hospital. Steve resisted the urge to bit his lip, as they grew closer. He had to stay calm for Tony’s sake. His husband needed this. They needed this. It was progress. They pulled into the parking garage.
“It’s not too late for you to change your mind,”
“No, unless you’re having second thoughts,”
They crossed a glass bridge from the parking garage into the building. It was smaller than he thought for such a highly rated hospital.
“Is this it?”
“It isn’t only this building but several around it,”
He took in the large glass and brick buildings surrounding them. These structures proved nothing.
“We can push this back,”
"We've already done that once because of me. He won't be here much longer and we're not taking Piper on a thirteen-hour flight to China,"
Tony cringed at the idea. They went to his office, taking a seat in the small waiting room. The secretary nearly spilled her coffee when she saw them.
“Dr. Wu will be you shortly. He’s currently with a student,”
“Thank you,” said Steve.
Tony’s sunglasses hid the emotions, which Steve could read clearly in his gaze. Tony didn't even look up from his phone his fingers flying across the screen. Who could he possibly be texting? He took Tony’s phone from him.
There was a small tremor to his hand. Steve took his hand. The alpha relaxed. A student came rushing out of the room carrying a large stack of folders.
"Dr. Wu will see you now,"
They went into the office. Dr. Wu greeted them. He shook their hands.
“It’s an honor to meet the two of you. Shall we get started?”
"I believe we can operate this week,"
“This week? Isn’t that a bit fast?” said Steve.
Steve knew Tony communicated with the surgeon over the last few weeks, but he didn't believe they were at that level of readiness.
“I believe the sooner the better, but I can understand if you have reservations. Mr. Stark and I have already informed the S.H.I.E.L.D agents that will be keeping watch,”
Tony tensed when he caught his husband glaring at him. Telling Steve slipped his mind. It would not be a pleasant experience when they got back to the hotel.
“And you certain you have everything you need to do this?” asked Steve.
The man was confident, something that came naturally with alphas. Hopefully, he had the skill to back it up. If Tony died during surgery he would never forgive the surgeon or himself. Dr. Wu went through every step of the procedure with them. He didn't understand some parts but it helped ease some of his nerves.
“I want to perform an x-ray to see if there’s been any movement of the shrapnel,”
Tony nodded. Steve was stuck in the office while Tony was taken for x-rays. He bit the inside of his cheek, fighting off the urge to pace. It was Sunday they have the rest the upcoming week to decide when this would happen.
Tony got up from the table, adjusting his clothes.
“Your husband seems worried,” said Dr. Wu.
“Can’t blame him,”
“You’re in good hands, Mr. Stark,”
For the surgeon's sake, he hoped so. He'd hate to be the subject of Captain America's personal vendetta. But he may be feeling some of that wrath later today.
“Any movement?” asked Tony glancing at the image on the monitor.
They returned to Wu’s office. Steve expression was tight his foot tapped nervously against the floor. Most would read it as calm, but Tony knew better.
“Good, is there anything else we need to cover?” asked Steve.
“Only the date of the procedure,” said Wu.
Tony looked at Steve. Maybe now wasn't the best time.
"Does Friday work?" asked Steve.
“Yes, I’ll schedule that,”
“I don’t want students watching this,” said Tony.
“I understand. This will be kept private,”
The drive to the hotel was uncomfortably silent. Steve’s gaze was focused out the window. They pulled into the hotel. Tony tossed his keys to a valet. He couldn't take much more of this silent tension, but he had to wait till they got to the privacy of their room to address it.
Steve carefully rocked Piper. She was already getting fussy because of the delay in her feeding. Piper pulled at the fabric of his shirt. She whined. Steve rubbed her back and started humming to her. Tony pushed open the door to their room.
“After I feed her,”
Steve settled in bed with Piper. He turned on the TV to fill the quiet. The impatience in Tony's posture was clear but he would not ruin this important time with Piper. After several minutes Tony surrender to a project. Piper was ready for a nap. He set her down in the playpen.
“I’m not angry, Tony,”
"I don't enjoy surprises that's all,"
“I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret from you. It slipped my mind,”
Steve moved to his husband, kissing him. Tony reached for him bringing him close, his arms wrapped tightly around his waist keeping him there. The alpha's tongue crept into his mouth. He purred his hands wandering Tony's form. Slick dampened his underwear. He moaned as Tony's teeth scraped against his neck. They froze when Piper stirred. She went still.
"I love the sounds you make, beautiful, but we need to keep quiet,"
He pressed his nose against the alpha’s neck deeply breathing in his scent. The smell of their combined lust was so thick he could almost taste it. He yanked the alpha into the bathroom, quietly shutting and locking the door behind them.
Tony held his mate against the door slotting their bodies together. His eyes widen as he inhaled Steve's scent. The faint smell of milk mingled with the omega's honey vanilla scent.
“You smell so good,”
Steve carded his fingers through his mate's hair, dragging him into a deep kiss. Tony's callused hand traveled down his chest, stopping briefly at the waistband of his pants, before yanking them down. The alpha sat him on the counter. There was something primal to his expression, mirroring his own. Tony’s increasing touches melting him to putty. He rubbed his hips shamelessly against his mate’s.
The alpha broke their kiss. Steve whimpered as Tony kissed down his stomach. He brought the man back up, locking them in a kiss. He didn't need foreplay, all he wanted was his alpha on top of him.
“Alpha,” he whispered.
They gave in. Tony flipped Steve over pinning him underneath him. In one motion he thrust fully into his mate. His jaw locked forcing back a deeply satisfied moan. Their reflection showed Steve frantically biting a hand towel to silence his pleasure.
His alpha’s pace was brutal, but exactly what he needed. Their release was hurtling toward them. Tony’s thrusts were becoming erratic, hitting climax as teeth sunk into Steve’s neck, setting of the omega’s own release.
Tony collapsed on top of him. Steve pushed against the cool marble counter. His breaths came in heavy pants. The alpha's teeth slowly left his neck. Tony softly lapped away the blood from his neck, each moaning as he pulled out. He slowly got up his legs still shaky. Tony gently touched their foreheads together. Steve purred.
He did know if it was the recent orgasm, but he somehow he felt relieved. A weight was off his shoulders and he was calm. He hoped it wasn't a post-sex haze of bliss. They nuzzled. Tony led him into the shower. As they bathe they exchanged gentle kisses. They changed into a clean pair of pants. Piper was asleep. She would be out a little longer.
Tony yawned one round and he was done. Steve took his hand, bringing him into bed. There was a plea for comfort apparent in his eyes. It had been there for some time and he was just taking notice now. With Piper and all the new arrangements, they'd made it took him this long.
Tony brought his mate into his arms. Steve hid his face in his neck. He ran his hands down Steve's back, earning a soft purr. Steve traced the outline of his arc reactor.
“It’s hard to think of you without this,”
It was a safety for him. As long as that reactor was alight his mate was safe. His mate would always be there, but it was a safety crutch for him. He couldn’t let his need for a crutch to affect his family.
“It’s only a part of me,”
"I know. I've been using it as a crutch. I'm sorry,"
“As long it's there I knew you were safe. A sure easily recognizable sign that you're okay. It wasn't only my fear of losing you that made me uneasy about the surgery, but my fear losing its security. You are still you without. It was ridiculous and selfish. And I'm sorry,"
A mixture of guilt, relief, and insecurity played across Steve’s expression. He raised Steve’s chin. His heart wrenched when a tear slid down Steve’s cheek. He kissed his love.
“How is it okay?”
"I understand needing a crutch. Before you and Piper the ironman suits were that for me,”
“But already had you and Piper,”
He soothed Steve until Piper woke up. The omega allowed him to leave long enough to get their daughter. He placed her on Steve's chest before lying down with them. A soft little rumble sounding quiet. Steve smiled.
“I love the both of you,”
Steve quickly kissed him.
“What do you want to do with the rest of our day?”
“I want to stay like this,”
“We can do that,”
“I want to go home tomorrow,”
“I’ll make the call,”
They spent the rest of the day cuddled together, drawing comfort from each other. The next morning they left for New York, enduring Piper’s wailing through the entire flight. (April 15, 2013) All of them were relieved when the plane landed. After Piper’s feeding Steve put her down for a nap in the nursery. Tony got was just getting off his phone when he came into the kitchen.
“Who was that?”
“Rhodes, he’s finally off assignment. He wants to meet Piper today. Is that alright?”
“It’s fine. It will be nice to see, Rhodes again. When will he be coming over?”
“I have an appointment with Barny today at ten so I’ll be late,”
“Shouldn’t you get going?”
“I have time. I only have to go down a few floors,”
“Piper will be up in an hour maybe more,”
He kissed Tony goodbye. He met with Barny one of the tower’s empty floors. Steve liked the emptiness of the room. He didn’t feel contained here. At the center of the room were a couch, armchair, and coffee table. Barny was already there with a box of donuts.
“Good morning, Steve,” he said brushing the powdered sugar from his shirt.
Steve bit his lips. Sometimes talking with him was like pulling teeth. Today may be verging on one of those days.
“Relax Steve have a donut,”
He flipped open the box, choosing a glazed donut. His pregnancy driven sweet tooth was gone. Unlike his husband, he preferred his donuts simple.
"How was your visit to John Hopkins?"
“All of it,”
“Be more specific,”
“A stranger will be cutting into my mate’s heart!”
He sprung up pacing the large room. Barny got up and followed him.
“Please don’t run, trying to keep up with you will give me a heart attack,”
“I only need a few minutes. Let me walk for a few more minutes,”
"Alright, five minutes and I want you back on the couch,"
Five minutes ticked by too quickly.
He bit his lip but returned to the couch.
“What if something happens? This is dangerous,”
“So is him being Ironman,”
“I don’t know,”
“I believe you do,”
“Than tell me,”
“That’s not how this works,”
He took a breath.
"Ironman I can control. If I ask him he'll give it up, but this no. It's out of my hands and I hate it,"
“You have to learn how to give up control, Steve. You’re used to being in command. I understand how stressing this is for you,”
“I don’t think you do. If something happens to him I’m alone,”
He ran a hand nervously through his hair. His feet tapped nervously against the ground.
“You have Piper,”
“I know what it’s like to grow up without a father I don’t want that for her. I don’t think I’ll be able to do it alone,”
“Steve, take a breath,”
Tony looked up from his work in the living room. Jarvis had pulled up the footage from Piper's nursery. She was waking up. He went to her, putting her on the changing table. After the hundredth diaper change, he'd grown immune.
Rhodes followed Tony’s to the nursery. He laughed when he found the womanizing alpha changing a diaper.
"I never thought I'd live to see this,"
“Neither did I,”
He put her in a rose print jumper. Tony easily balanced Piper on his hip.
“Piper this is your Uncle Rhodey,”
“She’s already trying to speak. Has she her first words yet?”
“Not yet, want to hold her?”
Rhodes nodded. Tony handed her off. Piper reached out and patted out his face. She smiled.
She waved her hand. He followed Tony into the living room. Piper played with his tie.
"With his therapist,"
“How’s he been?”
Piper started wiggling in Rhodes when she spotted a new toy.
“Don’t take it personally. I got her new toy,”
Tony laid a soft blanket on the floor and spread a few toys out on it. He took Piper setting down on the blanket. She instantly tried crawling toward a plaything of interest. Piper was still figuring out crawling.
“How are you feeling about this?” asked Rhodes.
“It needs to be done,”
“You’re dodging the question,”
“Worried for what will happen to them if something goes wrong,”
“You’ll be fine, Tony,”
“Friday it will happen. I want you there,”
“I will be,”
"Rhodes if anything happens to me promise you'll watch over Steve and Piper,"
“You aren’t just talking about the surgery,”
Steve was mentally drained, but there were about ten minutes left in his session. All he wanted to do was cuddle up with Piper.
“Are we do for today?” he asked.
“Yes, I think we’ve made some progress in this session,”
“Doesn’t feel like it,”
"I know it might feel like you're at a standstill, Steve but you are making progress,"
“So this isn’t a waste,”
“See you next week, Barny,”
“Thank you, if you need me don’t be afraid to call,”
Steve went to the elevator. He put on a smile when it reached the penthouse. Piper started crawling toward him. He picked her up, nuzzling her. She purred softly. He purred in return. Everything in him needed this time. Steve took her with him into the bedroom for some cuddle time.
“I take it his session didn’t go well,” said Rhodes.
Tony shook his head. This wasn’t a good time. Rhodes knew that. He could always visit later. It was clear he’d lost Tony’s focus.
“Tony, I think I’ll go,”
“I’ll see you soon,”
Tony went to check on Steve. The omega was asleep with Piper in his arms. No, point in disturbing them.
The date of the surgery came rolling around. (April 19, 2013) Steve sat next to Tony. It wouldn’t be much longer now. In one hand he cradled Piper and held Tony’s hand tightly in the other.
“Steve, you’re crushing my hand,”
He instantly loosened his grip.
A surgical tech approached them.
“Mr. Stark, it’s time,”
Steve released his mate’s hand and kissed him.
“I love you,”
“Love you too, sweetheart,”
Piper started wailing when Tony was wheeled away. She struggled in Steve’s arms.
Tony’s heart melted. Such a simple word brought such pride. Steve walked over.
“Using your first word on me now, Pipes. That isn’t fair. I’ll be okay,”
He kissed her on the forehead.
“Love you, pumpkin,”
Tony let the tech take him to the OR. Steve stood there. He couldn’t go any further than this. There was nothing he could do but wait.
He turned to see a nurse behind him. Steve sighed. He couldn’t stay here.
“He’ll be okay,”
She nuzzled against him and purred, pressing against him.
His heart missed a beat.
“I’ll be okay too,”
He left and went to the private room given to him by the hospital to wait in. Rhodes was there too.
“How was he?” asked Rhodes.
“Relaxed, but that could have been the drugs,”
Steve hated the waiting. He paced the room with Piper in his arms. He didn’t want to put her down. She’d long since fallen asleep. Strapped to his back was his shield. This was the first time he’d taken up since Piper was born. This was a worthy reason, protecting his mate and their child.
“Steve, I can watch her. Why don’t you try and get some sleep,”
“Thanks, but I don’t think I could even if I wanted to,”
“I’m going to cafeteria do you want me to get you anything,”
Rhodes got a bagel for going back to the room. Steve stood frozen in front of the window with Piper a sleep in his arms. The only time he’d break from stance was to tend to Piper. He wouldn't be able to get to through to him, but he could offer the comfort of his presence.
Steve kept waiting for his bond to break with Tony, but it remained steady. It was late when Tony was brought into the room. His chest was wrapped in bandages. Steve handed Piper off to Rhodes, rushing to his mate’s side. Dr. Wu stood proudly by Tony’s bedside.
“The surgery was a success,”
A smile cracked Steve’s tense expression. The stress and anxiety melted away. He offered Steve a box.
“The arc reactor. He wanted to be sure it got to you,”
Dr. Wu placed a small tube containing the shrapnel he taken from Stark’s chest. He left them family giving them privacy.
Steve kissed Tony’s forehead. He made it. All that worry was seemingly for nothing. He pulled a chair as close to the bed. Rhodes gave Piper to him, before taking the seat across from him. Steve remained awake watching the rise and fall of Tony's chest. At five in the morning, Tony's eyes fluttered up.
Steve carefully leaned over gently kissing Tony.
“See, you had nothing to worry about,”