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The Bonds Made

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Natasha was stunned to see Steve at S.H.I.E.L.D so soon after his heat. He walked past her without saying hello. Something was wrong. Forcing her presence on him was the answer. Time was what he needed. An hour ticked by before her concern got to her. She knocked on his door. 

“Steve, you okay?”

Distress leaked from underneath the door. She picked the lock and let herself in. The full power of his agitated scent sent her reeling back. Taking a deep breath, she steadied herself. She shut the door quietly behind her. No one else needed to see this. Steve curled up on the bathroom floor, shivering. It was wrong seeing him in such a state. She'd seen many a broken man, but this was different. There was hope for repair. 

This can’t be happening! How was this even possible? He wasn’t fit to have a pup, yet he'd been blessed with one. His hand went to his stomach. Even in his chaotic frightened mindset, he was driven to protect the new life growing within him. He barely registered someone entering his room. It was the least of his concerns.  

“Steve,”

Every sound she made seemed to further stress him. She slid off her shoes and slowly approached him. He clutched something close to his chest. She ran her fingers through his hair, hoping to calm.

“I’m calling, Tony,” she said.

Steve tackled her, pinning her to the floor. The phone was knocked from her hand. He growled baring his teeth. Something skittered across the floor, out of her line of sight. She remained calm. Nat stayed calm waiting for Steve to come out of his agitated state. 

“Nat?”

He moved off her.

"I won't call him," 

"Thank you," 

Natasha followed his gaze. She snagged it before he could. Nat couldn’t school her expression. Steve was pregnant.

“Steve,”

He held his head in his hands. 

"What do I do?"

She would get him Plan B, but she doubted it would work on Steve.

“I know somewhere private that can handle this. No judgment completely confidential,” she said.

Steve tensed. He hadn’t thought about ending his pregnancy. When his first pregnancy it was came to mind immediately. Such procedures at that time were dangerous if you didn't find the right doctor. But the thought hadn't occurred to him. How could he raise a child? He'd do the best he could for it. 

“Natasha no," 

"Are you sure?" 

"There was a time where I'd be grateful to have such an option open to me. But I want my baby," he said. 

It was a terrifying idea. But there's no question of what he wanted. 

"You've gone through this before," she said. 

Steve nodded. 

“Does Tony know?” she asked.

“No,”

How was he going to tell Tony? Would Tony still love him? He didn’t want to lose his relationship but wasn’t giving up this pup. Maybe Tony would accept it. Nat squeezed his hand, refocusing his attention. 

“This won’t change how he feels about you,” she said.

"A child changes everything," said Steve. 

"True, but it won't change that," said Natasha. 

 

"How do you know?" he asked. 

"I see the way he looks at you," she said. 

Steve realized he was crying. He wiped them away.

"I need to keep this to myself,” he said.

“You have to tell, Edith,” said Natasha.

“She’ll report it,” said Steve.

“She won’t. Edith is discrete. She puts her patient first. There were some things I wanted off record and she made sure it stayed that way. And she'll do the same for you,” said Natasha.

Natasha nodded.

"This can't stay hidden for long, Steve. In nine months you’ll have a pup,” she said.

Nine months. It didn't seem long enough.

“I know,” said Steve.

Natasha called Edith. Minutes later there was a knock on the door. Nat yanked the doctor inside.

“Came here as fast as I could. What’s the emergency?” she asked.

“Steve is pregnant,” said Natasha.

“What?” she said.

Edith looked at them. They were serious. Steve handed her the pregnancy test. It was a reliable brand. There was little chance of it being a false positive.

“I want you to take another test, Steve. There’s a slim chance of it being a false positive, but I want to be sure,” she said.

Steve nodded. He took another test from the box. He shut the door of his bathroom. Several minutes passed and he hadn't come out. 

"You okay in there?" asked Nat. 

"Pressuring me to pee isn't going to make it happen any sooner," said Steve. 

Knowing they were outside wasn't helping his stress. It came up positive again. He placed it on the kitchen counter. 

“I assume you want this off the record,” said Edith.

Steve nodded. Edith understood. The science team would be all over Steve if they found he was pregnant. He deprived of his privacy.

“For the time being. I’m still absorbing the idea myself. And I have to tell, Tony,” said Steve.

“We have to go my office. I have to remove your birth control. And run some tests,” said Edith.

Steve growled.

“Only tests to see if everything is going smoothly. Nothing that will bring harm to you or the baby,” she said.

Steve relaxed. He nodded.

“I’ll be waiting in my office when you’re ready,” said Edith.

Steve nodded. He was actually going through with this.

“Natasha, will you come with me?” he asked.

She nodded.

“If it’s a girl Natasha is a great name,” she said.

Steve smiled. 

"I'll think about it," he said. 

Steve got up.

“It will be less suspicious if we go separately,” said Natasha.

Steve went to Edith’s office.

“I have this down in the records as a heat assessment. First, let’s remove your birth control ring,” she said.

Steve undressed, changing into the gown given to him. He closed his eyes. Edith was quick as always.

“I’ll run tests to see why it malfunctioned. You can put your pants on,” said Edith.

Steve dressed. Natasha quietly came into the room.

“What made you believe you were pregnant?” asked Edith.

“I was nauseous. Now that I think about it dizzy and sleepy,” he said.

“That’s normal,” said Edith.

His phone rang.

“It’s Tony,” said Natasha.

“He’s checking up on me,” said Steve.

“Should I ignore it?" she asked. 

“No, give me it,” he said.

Steve took a breath before answering.

“Hey, Tony,” he said.

“When are you coming home?” he asked.

Hearing the alpha both panicked and calmed at the same time.

“I finished my paperwork, but I still have to meet with Dr. Star and Turner,” said Steve.

“Call me when you’re done,” said Tony.

“I will. I love you,” he said.

“Love you too,” said Tony.

Steve hung up. Natasha and Edith were smiling. His cheeks burned with blush. He’d forgotten he had company. 

“Aww, you two are so cute,” said Edith.

“Ten bucks, he faints when you tell him,” said Natasha.

“He won’t faint,” said Steve.

He was nowhere near ready to tell him. Tony had a right to know.

“Edith, can we please continue,” he said.

The two women regained their composure.

“I’ll have to ask you some questions,” she said.

Steve nodded.

“Is this your first pregnancy?” asked Edith.

“No,”

“Have you experienced any issues or miscarriages?” she asked.

“What does it matter it was before the serum?” he asked. 

“It matters, Steve," said Edith. 

"Why?" 

"It’s an uncomfortable subject but it’s still relevant to your current condition,” said Edith.

“You have no idea how uncomfortable it is! I loved and hated the being growing in me. It wasn’t its fault, but I couldn’t stop myself. I wasn’t strong enough. It was a constant reminder of what its father did to me!” snarled Steve.

He took a shaky breath. Their eyes were on him. He was shaking with anger. Steve took a breath, calming down.  

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“It’s fine, Steve,” she said.

“I appreciate the option of making my own choice about my body, but I don’t need it this time,” he said.

“I still need to know for the health of this one,” said Edith.

Steve nodded.

“How far along were you?” asked Edith.

“A month in I bled out when I regained consciousness I was in a hospital. Doctors told me that trying to have a pup again would kill me,” said Steve.

“I’m sorry, Steve,” said Edith.

"Will I lose this one?" asked Steve. 

"I don't believe so," said Edith. 

Steve relaxed. 

"Lay down," she said. 

Steve did as told. She pressed gently against his lower stomach, feeling for any abnormalities.

"I don't feel anything out of the normal. I want to get an ultrasound to make sure everything is healthy," said Edith. 

He tensed when she squirted a blue gel onto his stomach. She moved the probe across his stomach. He searched her expression for any signs that he should worry.

“Everything looks perfect,” said Edith.

Edith gave him a paper towel. He wiped the gel from his stomach. Edith hand him a bottle of pills.

“What are they?” asked Steve.

“Prenatal vitamins. Take one a day,” she said.

She gave him translucent bandages.

"Scent blockers?" 

She nodded.  

“Tony will notice if I don’t smell like an omega,” he said.

"These filter out the pregnancy scent. You'll give them off in a few days. Maybe less," said Edith. 

 

Steve put a bandage on each side of his neck. They took on shade and tone of his skin. It was almost impossible to tell the difference. He put on his shirt.

“When will I start to show?” asked Steve.

“Twelve to sixteen weeks, but it may take longer with you since your muscles will need time to soften and stretch,” said Edith.

"Will you wait that long to tell him?" asked Natasha. 

“That wouldn’t be fair,” said Steve.

“You’ll find the right time,” said Edith.

Steve bit his lip.

“What’s wrong?” asked Natasha.

“The baby what will it be like? Will it be affected by serum?” asked Steve.

“Your body hasn't shown any signs of rejecting the pregnancy. It sees the embryo as part of you. This only a prediction but I believe, since its half super soldier it will only have half your capabilities,” said Edith.

He didn’t care if the child had super soldier abilities.

"All I care about is if it's healthy," he said. 

Steve would love the child either way, but he wanted to know what to expect.

“It will be fully protected by your healing and durability. I wish there was information on this,” said Edith.

Of course, there wasn’t. The super soldier serum was never intended for an omega.

“And the sooner Tony and you claim each other as mates the better. It’s been proven that healthy mate bond leads to healthier newborn pups,” said Edith.

"We've talked about it," said Steve. 

"You might want to broach the subject with him again," said Edith. 

"I'll think about it," said Steve. 

Commitment wasn't an easy topic to approach with Tony. Everything came so naturally between them. It didn't work to force conversation on this, but he might have to. 

"Nat, can you give me a ride home?" asked Steve. 

"Sure," 

“Remember you can’t have raw fish, deli meat, high mercury fish, or unpasteurized dairy products, and absolutely no alcohol,” said Edith.

Steve nodded.

“Oh, you should know that’s it perfectly safe to have sex while pregnant,” she said.

Steve turned red.

“I’m sure you’ll enjoy it,” said Edith.

“How you going to explain not taking your bike back?” asked Natasha.

“I’ll say I had a bad session with Turner. It won’t be difficult with the way I’m smelling,” said Steve.

They got into her car.

“When are you planning on telling him?” asked Natasha.

“I need a week”, said Steve.

They pulled up to Stark Tower.

“If you need anything call,” said Natasha.

Steve nodded. He went in through the garage. Steve took the prenatal vitamins from his pocket. He took one and hid the bottle in Vivien’s saddlebag. Steve took out the sketchbook.

“Jarvis, does Tony know I’m home?” he asked.

“No, do you wish me to inform him of your arrival?” asked Jarvis.

“Tell him I’m going for a walk in the Central Park,” said Steve.

“I will,” said Jarvis.

Steve started the walk. He weaved through the crowded sidewalks. One of the things he enjoyed about being in the city was he didn’t stand out in the crowd. He made it to the park. Steve walked until he found an out of the way bench. He watched families walk by. Would he bring his pup here to play? He always loved the rare occasions he left Brooklyn with Bucky to come to Central Park. It seemed so big to him when he was young. There were families playing in the distance. He wanted that. Steve started sketching out his surroundings. At 4:30 pm he started walking home. He made it back to Stark Tower a little after five.

“Welcome back,” said Jarvis.

“Tony in his lab?” asked Steve.

"As always maybe you'll be successful in pulling him away from his most recent project," he said. 

 

Tony was struck by a wave of stale distress. Steve stood in the door of the lab. The man looked exhausted. 

“You stink, sweetheart,” said Tony.

“That’s how you greet your boyfriend after he’s had a long day?” said Steve, draping his arms around Tony’s shoulders.

He nuzzled against Tony's neck. Steve purred. Tony reached back, carding his fingers through the omega's hair. 

“How about a cold one and later the bedroom,” he said.

It sounded perfect to Steve, but he couldn’t.

“Mm, that’s one option," 

"And the other?" 

"Cuddling on the couch and see where it leads," said Steve. 

"That's good too," 

Steve nuzzled against Tony’s neck again, taking a deep breath of that earthly, metallic, clove scent. 

“Why didn’t you take your bike home?” asked Tony.

“Tough session. I didn’t think I could drive my bike safely so Nat took me back,” said Steve.

"I pity the cop to pull you over," said Tony. 

"Mm, that would be an interesting encounter," he said. 

“I could have gotten you,” said Tony.

“I didn’t want to disrupt,” said Steve.

“I wouldn’t mind,” said Tony.

“It was faster for Nat to take me home. Can we order Chinese tonight?” asked Steve.

“Sure, Jarvis place the order,” said Tony.

“I’m going to shower,” he said.

“Want company?” asked Tony.

"Will you ask me that every time I shower?" said Steve. 

“As long as there’s a chance of you saying yes,” he said.

Steve smiled before walking away. He went to the elevator. Steve turned red when memories of their time there came back. Heat warmed his cheeks. Would he be able to go into this elevator without thinking of this moment? He went into the master bathroom and got into the shower. Jarvis set it to the perfect temp. He opened the lavender scented body wash. Tony only bought lavender soaps. The alpha loved how it complimented his scent. Steve let himself soak longer. He ran his hand over his stomach. Steve purred. This was so different from the first time. He was terrified about how Tony would respond. This pup was the start of his family. He hoped desperately that it included Tony.

“I know you can’t hear me, but I already love you,” he whispered.

Steve left the shower. He towel dried and put on a pair of sweatpants. Steve went to the living room.

“You were in there awhile. I was almost to tempted to go in after you,” said Tony.

"You should have you missed out on a wonderful time," he said. 

Tony took a moment to stare at the beauty. It was so rare to see the flirtatious side.

“I also placed an order of sushi,” said Tony.

Steve nose crinkled in the cutest way. He may just order it again next time to earn the reaction.

“I don’t like the idea of eating raw fish,” he said.

“More for me then,” said Tony.

“Enjoy your raw fish,” said Steve.

Tony watched as Steve stretched seductively out on the couch. He didn’t think the omega was aiming for that effect. It just came naturally to him. Steve caught him staring and blushed.

“You’re making me blush,” he said.

“I’m not even trying,” said Tony.

He leaned in closer, causing Steve’s blush to deepen.

“Does it just come effortlessly?” he asked.

“What?” asked Steve.

“Your perfection of seduction,” said Tony.

Steve laughed.

“You aren’t joking,” he said.

“Never about that,” said Tony, caressing Steve’s cheek.

He leaned up, kissing the alpha. Steve deeply breathed in Tony’s scent. He wanted to be covered in it. Steve forced himself to pull away; the motion was completely driven by instinct. His omega wanted him to be bathed in Tony’s scent, so the smell of his pregnancy would be protected from other alphas. He would have to watch out for his maternal instinct. It would only be a matter of days before they started kicking in more powerfully. For now, he could indulge them slightly. This was only his second day off of his heat Tony would think it was related to that.

“Sir, your order is here,” said Jarvis.

Tony went to get it. They set out the food on the coffee table. Steve didn’t bother with chopsticks he just used a fork. When done he helped Tony clean up. They laid down on the couch. Steve pressed himself closely to Tony, craving contact. He started dozing off at some point during the news. Steve was jolted awake by the loudness his purrs when Tony’s hand ran across his stomach. Tony laughed softly in his ear.

“I wondered where it was,” he said.

“What was?” asked Steve.

His mind was getting fuzzy.

“Every omega has a spot that causes them to do this,” said Tony running his hand over Steve’s stomach, causing him to purr loudly.

Tony smiled as Steve went lax. He worried Steve may not have one. Normally, it was a certain place in the neck but it could be in other places. Pepper’s spot was between her fourth and fifth rib. Steve’s was just below his belly button. The moment was ruined when Pepper came walking in. Steve’s purrs transformed into a snarl. He forced down the urge to snarl.

“Excuse me,”

He took shelter in his studio. His inner omega screamed at him returned. Make sure that woman didn’t go anywhere near the sire of his pup. No, he wasn’t going to be ruled by such instincts that wasn’t him. He huddled up on the large love seat. Steve was staring at his most recent painting. It was unsettling. He walked up to it. The paint was still wet. His hand moved to his stomach. He didn’t want to work on it. Steve didn’t want to see it. He put it on a shelf. Steve curled up in the love seat. He pulled a blanket over himself.

Tony looked down the hall to Steve’s studio. The door was shut, a clear sign Steve wanted to be left alone. It was best to let Steve work it out. But he had to check.

“Don’t bother knocking sir. Steve is asleep,” said Jarvis.

“Tell me when he wakes,” said Tony.

“Yes, Sir,”

Tony pressed his ear against the door, from within he heard Steve softly snoring.

“He has to adjust to me being here,” said Pepper.

“Give him a break, Pep. He just off his heat,” said Tony.

Steve never quite warmed to Pepper, but he never unkind or rude. Most omegas would be far worse. That growling was more than a scare tactic it was warning before an attack. It wasn’t like him, even off of heat.

“We need to go over the plans for the arc reactor,” said Pepper.

“Why their mine they’re perfect?” said Tony.

“This will further put Stark Industries on the map as a source of alternative green energy,” she said.

Pepper was losing his attention. Tony gaze was focused down the hall. She sighed. He’d completely moved on.

“When are you going to purpose?” she asked.

The only reason Pepper knew was she found him working on the ring. Tony handcrafted Steve’s wedding band and trinket. At first, she found herself jealous of how quickly Tony was moving on, but she was moving on herself. His relationship with Steve made him more predictable.

“When the time is right,” said Tony.

"That’s not an answer. I have to find a way to explain this to the press,” she said.

“He’s not ready yet,” said Tony.

“Are you sure it isn’t you who isn't ready?” asked Pepper.

“Drop it, Pepper!” he warned.

“Fine,” she said.

They discussed the plans for the announcement and the final touches. It took an hour for them to finish. He went to Steve’s studio. Tony carefully pushed open the door. Steve was curled up on the love seat. It always amazed him how small Steve could make himself. Tony joined him. He instantly cuddled closely to him. It was only nine and it looked like he was going to spend the rest of the night like this.

Steve woke at eleven. He snuggly pressed against Tony. Steve dry heaved. Once he untangled. He ran to the nearest the bathroom but didn’t make it in time he threw up in the hall. Steve groaned. He glanced back at his studio. Tony was still asleep.

“Are you alright? Should I wake sir?” asked Jarvis.

“No,”

“It’s obvious you are unwell,” said Jarvis.

“I’m fine, Jarvis. If you even try and tell Tony I will tear this tower apart until I find a way to unplug you”, said Steve.

“As you wish. I’ve voiced my concern,” said Jarvis.

Steve cleaned up the mess. Then took out the trash not wanting to leave any hints of what happened. He was grateful his morning sickness seemed to happen at night. Steve spent the rest of his night bent over the toilet. At five in the morning, he got to his feet. Steve slowly got up from the floor and went to the master bathroom. He brushed the taste of vomit out of his mouth. He went to the shower. Steve soaked under the hot water. When done, he put on a pair of shorts. Steve looked at himself in the mirror, trying to picture what he would look like further along.

“You should hydrate”, said Jarvis.

Steve was too tired to argue. He went into the kitchen and grabbed a water bottle.

“Why haven’t you told sir you’re pregnant?” asked Jarvis.

If Jarvis knew Tony would know shortly. It was actually a bit of relief.

“How?” asked Steve.

“The symptoms were obvious. To be sure I scanned you while you were sleeping. You are approximately nine days along”, said Jarvis.

Tony knocked him up on the first day. If Tony found out he would never let him forget it. It was a point of pride with alphas.

“You can’t scan me without my permission,” he said.

“I was concerned for your health,” said Jarvis.

“You can’t tell, Tony. This is private,” said Steve.

“It’s also related to sir,” said Jarvis.

“You will not tell him. If anyone does it will be me on my time,” he said.

Steve realized he was growling at the AI unit.

“It's my secret to tell not yours,” said Steve.

“Fine,” said Jarvis.

Three people knew none of them were the pup’s father. Steve went back to the bedroom, resisting the urge to rearrange the pillows. Sleep came swiftly. Tony woke alone on the chair.

“Steve?”

“In the master bedroom,” said Jarvis.

That was the second time he’d woken up alone. He went to the bedroom. Steve was huddled under the blankets. He pulled down the covers slightly. Tony placed a gentle kissed Steve’s forehead. Steve had bad days that extend could into a bad week. An hour later Steve woke up.

“Another rough night?” asked Tony.

Steve nodded.

“Why didn't you wake me up?” asked Tony.

“Tony, you wouldn’t want to be near me last night,” said Steve.

He took Steve’s hand.

“You should have woken me up,” said Tony.

“I’m fine,” he said.

“You aren’t,” said Tony.

“I’m going a walk,” said Steve.

Chapter Text

Steve woke up at four in the morning on May 2nd. He’d fallen asleep in his studio again. Since his recent discovery, he hadn't slept well. Pushing his alpha away became his defensive mechanism in this moment of uncertainty. What was the best way to tell him? If he kept this secret much longer he risked hurting Tony. He thought he'd have years before having to worry about this. His fear was verging on unreasonable and he was aware of it. Tony was frustrated with him. Steve couldn’t blame him. He moved his hand over his stomach.

“I will tell your dad about you. I promise,” he said.

His heart raced. They were going to be parents. That shock hadn't faded. He wanted to call Natasha. Maybe she could give him the boost of courage he needed, but she was on a mission he couldn’t interfere. Edith was too deep in her research he couldn’t disrupt her, scientists and their work. Steve could watch Tony for hours in the lab and he had. It had been a while since he did that. Steve loved to curl up on the lumpy couch in Tony’s lab. Waking up to Tony’s coat or a blanket draped around him always made him feel loved and cared for.

“Will you tell sir today?” asked Jarvis.

The AI unit hadn’t stopped pestering him on this. Every day Jarvis would ask him the same question multiple times.

“We’ll see,” he said.

He went to the master bedroom it was empty. If Tony wasn’t here he must be in the lab. The alpha was asleep at his desk. Steve easily lifted Tony. Sleeping on the lumpy couch couldn’t be good for his back. He pushed open the lab door, carrying Tony into their bedroom. Steve laid the alpha on the bed, taking off his shoes. He tucked Tony in. Instinct told him to join but he left. A quick lap around Central Park then back home to make breakfast. Before leaving he kissed Tony. He ran his fingers through Tony’s hair.

“I love you,” he whispered.

Steve left Stark Tower. He still found the building ugly, but it was home. Steve went into an easy jog. Normally, he would do two or three laps around Central Park at a sprint, but he would take it easy today. He stopped the 107th infantry monument, a dedication to the men of WWI. 

“Dad, I hope you’re proud of me,” said Steve.

Steve never knew his father. He was only a pup when the man died. His pup would know its father. He so wanted that for his baby a family. Not only for the child but for himself.

"I'll tell him tonight. I promise," said Steve, moving his hand gently over his stomach. 

*****

Tony woke in the master bedroom. Steve moved him. The omega always moved him to their bedroom. He would enjoy some physical contact while he was awake. Steve had been so distant lately. Hopefully, he would snap out of it. Tony wanted to talk about it, but it was a conversation Steve wasn't ready for yet. Forcing him to talk would only make him shut down further. He missed their morning routine. Steve would leave a mug of fresh coffee on his bedside table for him to wake up to. When he'd go to the kitchen he'd find Steve working on breakfast. Then later in the day Tony would either make or order dinner. Tony rubbed his temples. Why did this affecting him so much?

“Where is he?” asked Tony.

“In the kitchen, sir,” said Jarvis.

Tony went to the kitchen. Steve was making breakfast. The omega was wearing that perfect warm smile. There was a plate waiting for him on the counter. 

“Morning Tony,”

Tony’s arm wrapped around his waist. Steve purred into their kiss. He relaxed. Finally, he could drop his guard. Today was the day. It was a massive weight off his shoulders.

“Glad to have you back, sweetheart,” said Tony.

"There is no excuse for how I acted. I needed to figure something out," said Steve. 

 “Just glad you're back," said Tony. 

“I shouldn’t have put you through that,” said Steve.

"We all have our bad days," he said. 

Steve turned off the stove before embracing his alpha again.

“I love you,” he said.

“Love you too, Steve,”

He slowly pulled away. Steve filled his plate and took a seat next to Tony.

“I want to make dinner tonight,” said Steve.

"Can we push it back to later tonight?" 

"Sure," 

"I would hate for Pepper to interrupt," 

They spent the day together. Steve was in a cuddly mood and clung to him for hours on the couch. Tony was grateful for the contact. It was a powerful reassurance. At seven Steve got up. The omega was heavily covered in his scent. He took Steve's hand. 

"Where you going beautiful?" he said. 

"Gym," 

Tony didn’t understand why Steve insisted on going to an old gym in Hell’s Kitchen when there was a fully updated gym in the tower. Either way, he’d bought the gym. The owner kept it running and Tony kept it funded under the conditions it remained the same and Steve could go whenever he pleased. He made sure it was stocked with punching bags.

Steve grabbed his gym bag. Tony was making himself a drink. He took the alpha's glass. Steve circled his arms around Tony's neck. He rubbed his cheeks against Tony's neck, transferring his scent. 

“Making sure she knows who you belong to,” said Steve.

“Mm, I love it when you get possessive,” purred Tony.

“You’ve told me,” he said.

Tony pulled Steve close marking the omega.

“Wouldn’t want any alpha getting any ideas,” said Tony.

Steve smiled softly.

"I'll drive you," said Tony. 

“I prefer walking,” said Steve.

He kissed Tony goodbye. Steve enjoyed the walk. Any threat that appeared he could handle. He hadn’t told Tony about the idiots who tried mugging him. That encounter ended with twelve broken bones between the two attackers. Steve pushed open the door to Fogwell’s gym. The room was painted blue and smelled dusty. It was so old fashion Steve felt perfectly comfortable there. He was probably one of the few omegas to come here. In his time omegas weren’t allowed in boxing gyms, unless they were arm candy to the alphas that ran them. When he was young he would climb onto the dumpster outside the gym and watch the alphas box, trying to learn. That was so long ago. 

The lights flicked on. He grabbed one of the punching bags leaning against the wall and hung it up. Steve set an alarm on his phone for an hour and tucked it into his back pocket. Tonight was the night. A good work out would help him be more relaxed when the moment came. As he focused on the task his mind began to wonder. Memories of the war came flooding forward. Steve tried working through it, but his mind wouldn’t let go. As if it were reminding him how unworthy he was of the growing life within him. With a final hit, the punching bag shot across the room.

“I can do this,”

Steve hung another punching bag, becoming lost in the motion. The old gym door creaked open. 

“Trouble at home?”

Fury stood at the doorway. Steve froze. What did he know? Natasha and Edith wouldn’t expose him. He resisted the urge to move his hand over his stomach.

“No, sir,”

Steve broke eye contact with the director focusing on the punching bag.

“Then you should be out celebrating. Seeing more of the world. I'm sure Stark will be happy to take you,” said Fury, stalking closer.

The alpha wouldn’t give him the privacy he wanted. He unwrapped his hands. Fury had a file. No, he didn't want a new task. He wanted to go home. Fury blocked the only exit. Steve doubted he could fit through the window in the bathroom. He would have to hear what the man had to say. 

“When I went under the world was at war. When I wake up they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost,” he said.

“We made some mistakes along the way. Some very recently,” said Fury.

“Do you have a mission for me, sir?” asked Steve.

“I have one,”

“I can’t, sir,” said Steve.

He couldn’t put his baby at risk. His only duty was to his unborn pup. Something both sides of him agreed on. 

“You’re pregnant,” said Fury.

Steve tensed.

“No, one told me. You’ve sweat through your scent blockers,” he said.

“Then you understand why I can’t accept,” said Steve.

“Do think I’d be asking a pregnant omega to do this if I wasn’t desperate,” said Fury.

Steve’s curiosity peeked. He took the folder. Tension spread through him when he saw a photo of the cube. He hoped never to see it again.

“Hydra's secret weapon,” said Steve.

“Howard Stark fished that out of the ocean while looking for you,” said Fury.

Howard should have let him go. Nothing good could come from that kind of power. 

“He thought what we think. The Tesseract could be the key to unlimited sustainable energy. That’s something the world sorely needs,” said Fury.

It wasn’t worth it. Someone would always want control over it. Why couldn’t it be forgotten to the past?

“Who took it from you?” he asked.

“He’s called Loki. He’s not from around here. There’s a lot we have to bring you to speed on if you are in. The world has gotten even stranger than you know,” said Fury.

“At this point, I think there’s nothing that will surprise,” said Steve.

His boyfriend flew around red and gold metal suit how much more surprising could it get?

“Ten bucks says you’re wrong,” said Fury.

Steve headed for the showers.

“There's a debriefing packet waiting for you at Stark Tower,” said Fury.

Steve walked away. He needed a moment.

“Is there anything about the Tesseract that we ought to know now?” asked Fury.

“You should have left in the ocean,” he said.

He went to the showers. Cold water poured over him. The only challenge of the day was supposed to be telling his boyfriend he was pregnant. It couldn’t be that simple. Something from his past had to get in the way. If he didn’t help get the Tesseract from this Loki there may not be a world to bring his pup into. He had to accept.

“Shit,”

Three people knew of his pregnancy four if he included Jarvis. He couldn’t risk telling Tony. This was something he had to be a part of. If Tony knew he'd try to stop him. He quickly changed. Steve replaced the scent blocker patches on his neck. He was relieved to see Fury was gone and grabbed his bag, sprinting home. 

 

*****

As the elevator opened Steve caught Pepper standing in his living room. She was wearing shorts and a cotton shirt. She was studying a holographic image of the tower. The woman seemed far too comfortable in his home. This was his den where he'd raise his pup. She shouldn't be here when he wasn't home. It wasn't that he didn't trust Tony, it was a distrust of her.   Until they were bonded he didn't want a rival tempting his alpha. It was a ridiculous mindset. Tony would never choose her over him. 

“Hey, Steve,”

“Hi, Pepper. Where’s Tony?” he asked.

“Working the reactor he should be back soon,” she said.

Pepper offered him a glass of champagne.

“No thanks,” he said.

“Looking forward to our dinner,” said Tony through to communication system

Steve forgot he’d promised to make dinner for the two of them.

“Me too,” he said.

Steve tried not letting the strain flow into his voice.

“I’ll take that as my cue to leave. Steve, can take over this?" asked Pepper. 

"Sure," he said. 

"Tony, I’m taking the jet to DC,” said Pepper.

“Fine,” said Tony.

Steve had no idea what he supposed to be looking at, but he wanted privacy with Tony. She put on her shoes.

"Did anyone drop off a package while I was gone?" asked Steve. 

“No, were you expecting something?” she asked.

“Only checking. Have a safe flight,” said Steve.

"Thanks." 

Pepper left. She didn’t take Steve’s cool behavior personally. Compared to most omegas in this situation, Steve’s behavior was civil. He wouldn’t warm up to her until he wore Tony’s mark.

 

*****

Tony burst from the water. He was ready to see Steve. Tonight was the night. He'd pop the question to Steve. He flew toward the city.

“We’re good to go on this end. The rest is up to you,” said Tony.

“I think it’s best if you talk this through with Jarvis,” said Steve.

“You have successfully disconnected the transmission line. We’re officially off the grid, sir,” said Jarvis.

“Stark Tower is about to become a beacon of self-sustaining clean energy,” said Tony.

“Assuming the arc reactor takes over successfully,” said Jarvis.

“Why do you doubt me, Jarvis?”

“At times your judgment isn’t the best, sir,”

Steve smiled as the lights flickered on in the tower. Tony and Pepper put so much effort into this. 

“How does it look?” asked Steve.

“Like Christmas but with more me,” said Tony.

He smiled when Steve's soft laugh came over the line. 

“Ms. Potts wanted me to remind you that public awareness is key,” said Jarvis.

Tony's mood sunk at the mention of Pepper. 

“This is amazing you should really enjoy the moment,” said Steve.

He wanted to extend this moment as long as possible. It was only a matter of time before it was ruined by S.H.I.E.L.D.

“I fully intend on enjoying it thoroughly with you,” said Tony.

The deep lustfulness to alpha made Steve shiver. He saw Tony flying in. 

Tony smiled when he saw Steve.

“Sir, Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the line,” said Jarvis.

He wasn’t going to let anyone ruin this moment.

“I’m not in. I’m actually out,” said Tony.

There were soft clinks as mechanical arms removed his armor. Steve maintained a smile even at the mention of agent Coulson. A few more minutes that’s all he wanted.

“Sir, I’m afraid he’s insisting,” warned Jarvis.

“Grow a spine, Jarvis. I have a date,” he said.

“Looks like everything is holding steady. I think,” said Steve.

“Of course they are. I was directly involved,” said Tony.

He swiped away the hologram. Steve turned, kissing him. The omega’s skin smelled of the pine soap that the gym used. It didn't mix well with Steve's natural scent. His scent markers had been washed off. Steve's fingers traced his reactor. 

“What’s on your mind?” asked Tony.

“You,”

“What a perfect place for it to be,” said Tony.

Steve lead Tony to the coffee table where an iced bottle of unopened champagne was waiting. He bit his lip. What else was Tony planning on celebrating tonight? Now wasn’t the right time. He couldn’t agree to marriage without being honest. Tony's hand went to his pocket.

“Steve, I’ve enjoyed this time I've spent with you. And I-

“Sir, the telephone-

“Jarvis, it can wait!” growled Tony.

“I’m sorry sir but I can’t my protocols are being overridden,” said Jarvis.

“Stark, we need to talk,” said Coulson through the phone.

Never had Steve been happier to hear Phil's voice. He didn’t let his relief seep into his expression. Steve wanted Tony to propose but not now. He wanted it more than he'd wanted anything in a long time, but when the time was right. Tony picked up the phone.

“You’ve reached the life model decoy of Tony Stark. Please leave a message,” said Tony.

Steve smiled. Even when he was stressed Tony effortlessly found a way to make him smile.

“This is urgent,” said Phil.

“Than leave it urgently,” said Tony.

The elevator doors opened revealing Agent Coulson.

“Security breach,”

“Mr. Stark, Captain Rogers,”

Steve pecked Tony on the cheek and went to greet the beta. 

“Phil, come in,”

“Phil?”

He hated the familiarity of Steve’s voice. Mostly he hated that his proposal was ruined.

“I can’t stay,” said Phil.

“Uh, his first name is Agent,” said Tony, moving to join his omega.

“We were just celebrating,” said Steve.

“Which is why he needs to leave,” said Tony.

“We need you to look this over as soon as possible,” said Phil offering it to Tony.

In his hand was the debriefing packet. Steve sighed at least he had a few minutes of normal with Tony.

“I don’t like being handed things,” he said.

“Well, I love being handed things,” said Steve.

He took it from Phil and switched out for Tony’s glass for. Tony rolled his eyes and sighed.

“Official consulting hours are between five and eight every other Thursday,” said Tony.

“This isn’t a consultation,” said Phil.

The pieces clicked together. They weren’t only after his help, but Tony’s as well. He read over some note on the Avengers Inchoative.

“This about the Avengers Inchoative isn’t it,” said Steve.

“It was scrapped,” said Tony walking away.

The alpha’s mood was changing swiftly.

“I thought I didn’t even qualify,” said Tony.

Steve heard this before. It was a bit of sore spot for the alpha.

“Yeah, apparently I’m volatile, self-obsessed, and don’t play well with others,” said Tony.

“Yet, he still has his positive qualities,” said Steve.

He saw those parts of his alpha, but he’d seen far more of Tony’s positive qualities.

“This isn’t about personality profiles anymore,” said Phil.

“Steve, come here,”

“Excuse me,”

Steve joined Tony.

“I thought we were having a moment,” he said.

Steve gently squeezed Tony’s hand.

“We were and we’ll have many more. I promise,” said Steve.

He kissed Tony reassuring him further.

“Why is he, Phil?” he asked.

Steve huffed.

“He’s a friend. Tony, you need to focus,” he said.

The images from the debriefing packet hung in the room. 

“You have work to do,”

“Captain Rogers, I need you to come with me,” said Phil.

Tony grabbed his hand.

“Stay,” he said.

“We both have work to do,” said Steve.

“We can do it together,” said Tony.

Every part of him wanted to do that, but Phil’s expression meant no.

“I’m sorry, Tony,” he said.

Steve smiled. His alpha needed some encouragement. He leaned closer to him.

“When you’re done I’ll wear one of those lacy numbers you bought. You can rip my clothes to see which one I chose,” whispered Steve.

Phil kept his expression mutual. He didn’t want to know what his hero whispered to Stark to make him have such an expression.

“That’s a square deal,” said Tony.

“Good,”

Steve kissed the alpha.

“I love you,” he said.

“Love you too,” said Tony.

He was losing Tony to the information. Steve joined Phil in the elevator.

“I’m sorry that I interrupted. It looked like it would have been a wonderful night,” said Phil.

“It did,” said Steve.

Why couldn’t this wait one more night? He should be wearing that beautiful ring. Tony and him should be discussing the start of their family. It should have been a wonderful night.

Chapter Text

The elevator door shut. That brief happiness they'd shared was zapped from Steve's expression. Steve had gone to that distant place again. Tony didn't know how to get the omega out of it. This new task was where his mind needed to be. It was easier than lingering on his relationship issues. Maybe the honeymoon period was over. Banner's studies caught his attention. 

Steve glanced back at the tower before getting into the car with Phil. He skimmed over the packet. 

“We’ll drop you off at the nearest S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. There are other things that need to be handled,” said Phil.

“Do Clint and Natasha know?” asked Steve.

“Clint has been comprised,” said Phil.

Steve’s hands fisted his friend was taken.

“He’s no longer himself. Took a shot at the director,” said Phil.

“Clint would never do that,” said Steve.

“The technology used to do this is foreign to us,” he said.

“Does Natasha know?” he asked.

She had to be told. It didn’t matter where she was. She had the right to know.

“She’s been informed. Once she completes her task. She’ll rejoin us,” said Phil.

“Is he alive?” asked Steve.

“As far as we know yes,” said Phil.

Steve took a breath.

“I’m sorry for bringing you in on this in your current condition," he said. 

Steve swallowed a growl. Too many knew! None of them were his alpha. Now it was a fact in a mission. A handicap that may affect his performance. It was never supposed to be that. 

"Who else knows?" he asked. 

"Fury and me," said Phil. 

"Under no circumstances will you tell Tony or anyone else," said Steve. 

“I’m under strict orders not to tell anyone of your condition by Fury. Especially Stark,” said Phil.

Steve spent the night going over the debriefing packet. The science went above his head. Tony could explain it to him. He pulled out his phone but tossed it away. Doing that would be a distraction for both of them. S.H.I.E.L.D. needed him more than Tony did. 

 

*****

The next morning they were in a jet.

“We are about forty minutes out from home base, sir,” said one of the pilots.

Steve was strapped into an aisle seat, watching the footage of the Hulk. The bears were nothing compared to this.

“So this Dr. Banner was trying to replicate the serum they used on me?” asked Steve.

“A lot of people were. You were the world’s first superhero. Banner thought gamma radiation might be the key to unlocking Erskine's original formula,” said Phil.

“Didn’t really go his way did it,” he said.

How many were affected by trying to replicate the results that made him? It was for the best that formula was lost. 

“When he’s not that thing the guy is like a Steven Hawking,” said Phil.

The name ringed no bells for him.

“He’s like a really smart person,” said Phil.

“Like Tony?” said Steve.

“I'd put them on the same level," said Phil. 

“What’s his field of study?” asked Steve.

“He’s an expert in biochemistry, nuclear physics, and gamma radiation,” said Phil.

Steve paced the small jet. He smiled when he caught Coulson following his posture. Even though Phil knew, it didn’t change how the beta saw him, which was a relief. He didn’t want people worrying over him. It would make his job harder.  

“I hope I’m the man for the job,” said Steve.

He wasn’t sure how big of a job this would be, but he was willing to give it his all if it meant protecting the world for his family.  

“Oh, you are,” said Phil.

“Even though I’m-

“It doesn’t matter. I mean it does, but not in this sense. You’re still the man for the job,” he said.

“I’ll do my best,” said Steve.

“We’ve made some modifications to your uniform. I had a little design impute,” said Phil.

“Uniform? Aren’t the stars and stripes old-fashioned?” he asked.

“Everything that’s happening the things that are about to come to light. People might just need a little bit of old fashion,” said Phil.

He hoped it would be enough to bring what little calm he could to whatever upcoming chaos there was. The jet descended, landing on the carrier. The well-practiced military motions being conducted around were calming. A pang of guilt hit him. He was more comfortable here than the moment when Tony was about to purpose. It was only nerves and the upcoming threat that was making him feel this way. He wanted to marry Tony, but he found comfort in the familiarity of a mission no matter how strange it may be. His inner omega snarled and clawed angrily his subconscious. It fully agreed with him on protecting the world so there be a safer place to raise their pup, but finding comfort here instead of with their mate was a massive no! Natasha was waiting for them. He forced a smile, hoping may offer a brief comfort to his friend.

“Agent Romanoff,” said Phil with a nod before leaving to whatever station he was needed in.

"We'll get him back," said Steve. 

“We will,” she said.

Natasha would do anything to get Clint back to himself and to his family as safely as possible. It was the very least she could do.

“Has Coulson asked you to sign his Captain America trading cards yet? He’s been trying to build up the nerve to ask you for months,” she said.

“Trading cards?”

“They’re vintage. He’s very proud,” said Natasha.

A confused man dressed in a brown suit beat up suit came into view. Dr. Banner. Steve smiled at the sheer out of placeness of the man. He had thick black wavy hair. For all the strength and aggression hidden within him, he had gentle brown eyes. His scent was strong for a beta. Normally, their scents were muted. It was earthy with hints basil, but there was something off about it that Steve couldn’t place. 

“Dr. Banner,”

“Oh, yeah hi. They told me you would be coming,” he said, shaking Steve’s hand.

Banner never thought he’d meet the inspiration for his work. He thought the man would be taller.

“Word is you can find the cube,” said Steve.

“Is that the only word about me?” asked Banner nervously playing with his hands.

“The only word I care about,” said Steve.

Such sincerity was refreshing. Most found his scent confusing too weak to be alpha or omega and too strong to beta. Steve and Natasha seemed fine with it.

“It must be strange, all this,” said Banner taking in the military organization.

He hoped it would remain in this state of calm. The other guy wasn’t a fan of guns or any kind of weaponized group. It didn't matter the side. 

“Well, this is actually kind of familiar,” said Steve.

“Gentlemen, you might want to step inside in a minute. It’s going to get a little hard to breathe,” said Natasha.

“Flight crew, secure the deck,” ordered a voice over the radio.

Large metal parts moved, aggravating the water.

“Is this a submarine?” asked Steve.

They walked toward the edge.

“Really? They want me in a submerged, pressurized, metal container?”

A mist of cool water hit their faces. Large propellers emerged from the water. They chopped and turned it, before elevating that massive ship. Steve backed away as the powerful winds hit them. This was amazing. How could such a massive machine possibly fly?

“No, no, this is much worse,” said Banner.

Natasha led them to control station. A giant glass window revealed a blue sky spotted with white clouds. His hands fisted. He shook away the building tension. This hadn’t been an issue before. Steve looked around the room. At its center was Agent Hill and Director Fury. 

“S.H.I.E.L.D. Emergency 193.6 in effect,” she said.

“Let’s vanish,” said Fury.

“Engage retro-reflection panels,” ordered Hill.

Fury turned to his attention to Banner and Rogers.

“Gentlemen,”

Steve wordlessly walked to him, giving him a ten. Some of the officers were stared at him with fascination. These weren’t the trainees that were used to seeing him on a weekly basis. He hated the attention but did his best to ignore it.

Banner was uneasy with his surroundings. They were high in the sky and things could go terribly if he were pressed too far. He kept an eye on Steve. Staying close to the briefly familiar was easier to focus on. Out of all the people here, Steve’s intentions were the clearest.

“Dr. Banner thank you for coming,” said Fury offering his hand.

He accepted the offer. Bruce was unused to people who knew what he was being so willing to offer physical connection.

“Thanks for asking nicely. So how long am I staying?” he asked.

“Once we get our hands on the Tesseract, you’re in the wind,” said Fury.

“Where are you with that?” asked Bruce.

“We are sweeping every wirelessly accessible camera on the planet. Cellphones, laptops, if it's connected to a satellite its eyes and ears for us,” said Phil.

It seemed like a breach of the public’s privacy, but under this circumstance it was reasonable. Even with all that would it be enough? He wasn’t sure how much time this would use up. Steve watched as Natasha peer at an image of Clint on the screen. Her expression yielded none of her worries.

“That’s still not gonna find them in time,” she said.

“You have to narrow your field. How many spectrometers do you have accesses to?” asked Banner.

“How many are there?” asked Fury.

“Call every lab you know. Tell them to put the spectrometers on the roof and calibrate them for gamma rays. I’ll rough out a tracking algorithm, basic cluster recognition. At least we could rule out a few places,” said Banner.

Fury nodded. That was the simplest request made of him all day.

“Do you have somewhere I can work?” asked Bruce.

“Agent Romanoff, could you show Dr. Banner to his laboratory please?” said Fury.

“You’ll love it, doc. We’ve got all the toys,” said Natasha.

Steve was left in the control room. He was tempted to follow after Banner, but he was afraid to hinder his progress. Watching the agents work proved to a pattern for him to focus on. Coulson moved next to him.

“I have these trading cards. I was wondering if you could sign them if you had the chance. If it isn’t too much trouble,” said Phil.

“No, trouble at all,” said Steve.

“It’s a vintage set. Took me a couple of years to collect them all. Near mint condition,” he said.

“Got hit a 69 no 79 percent match,” said an agent.

“Where?” asked Fury.

“Germany”, said the agent.

“Captain, you’re up,” said Fury.

Steve nodded. One of the agents showed him to a room, sitting on the table was a metal box. Inside was his uniform. He ran his fingers over the star. It had been so long since he last dawned the stars and stripes. He put it on.

“How do you like it?” asked Natasha.

"It's a bit tight," he said. 

“Tony will love it. Shows off your butt perfectly,” she said.

It was an attempt to lighten the mood. Seeing Steve turned a deep shade of red normally got a smile out of her. Steve blushed.

“He probably will,” he said.

It was reassuringly familiar.

 

*****

 

Hours later he got onto a smaller jet with Natasha flying toward their destination.

“How do you feel about going back to Germany?” she asked.

"The past won't affect my opinion of the newer generation," he said. 

They took off in that direction. Standing in front of a kneeling crowd was Loki. He jumped from the jet, deflecting Loki’s blast.

“The last time I was in Germany and saw a man standing above everybody else we ended up disagreeing,” he said.

Steve strode toward Loki. Holding his shield slightly lower and closer to his stomach.

“The soldier. The man out of time,” said Loki getting to his feet.

Steve kept his eyes on the scepter, ready for a strike.

“I’m not the one out of time,” said Steve.

Natasha descended further with jet, weapon drawn ready to fire.

“Loki, drop your weapons and stand down,” she ordered.

Loki sent charge in her direction. Steve tossed his shield, hitting Loki's chest, catching it before charging forward. Loki’s staff slammed against his shield. It hit him in the chest sending him tumbling into a wall. He tossed his shield and ran forward. His fist made impact twice but had little effect. Again he was tossed aside. The point of Loki’s spear was pressed against the base of his neck.

“Kneel,”

“Not today,”

He kicked the man, making distance between them.

Natasha watched Steve from above. There was no clear shot. They were all over the place. He was fighting differently carrying his shield lower, protecting his stomach.

“Agent Romanoff, did you miss me?”

Music played over its intercoms. Tony came flying toward them, hitting Loki with a blast. Tony landed in front of Steve. Multiple weapons emerged from his suit.

“Make a move reindeer games,”

Steve got to his feet. Instinct refused to let him move from behind his alpha. Loki's armor faded in a mist of golden light. He raised his hands in surrender.

“Good move,” said Tony.

“Mr. Stark,”

“Captain,”

They had to be professional in public. Everything in him wanted to nuzzle against the alpha's neck. They loaded Loki into the jet and restrained him. Natasha strapped Loki in. The entire time the man kept a playful smirk but said nothing. Steve doubted the restraints would hold. Loki's scent surprised him. It was sweet. A clear marker of an omega. It was a combination of rosemary and cinnamon. Loki is an omega. The only reason he picked it up was his enhanced senses. That green eyes glare set him at unease. He was planning something. It was all too easy. Steve saw the footage of Thor. Loki came from the same lineage and possessed the same strength. He was holding back. Steve's inner omega urged closer to Tony.

“I don’t like it,” he said.

“What the rock of ages giving up so easily?” said Tony.

“I don’t remember it being that easy. This guy packs a wallop,” said Steve.

“But you’re pretty spry for an older fellow. What’s your thing palaties?” said Tony.

“What?”

“It’s like calisthenics. You might have of missed a couple of things while doing time as a Capsicile,” said Tony.

Steve bit back his frustration. This was Tony's main deflection technique. Tony was upset with him but now wasn't the time. Their issues could be put aside while they dealt with the greater good. He needed the alpha to be serious and actually listen to him. Whatever personal issues they were having they could wait. 

“Fury didn’t tell me he was calling you in,” he said.

Why did he have to be here? The man's presence calmed and infuriated him at the same time. 

“Yeah, there’s a lot of things Fury doesn’t tell you,” said Tony.

Lighting cracked the dark clouds above them. Thunder roared after each glowing bolt through the sky.

“Where is this coming from?” said Natasha.

Loki grew twitchy.

“What’s the matter scared of a little lighting?” asked Steve.

“I’m not overly fond of what follows,” said Loki.

There was a thud on the roof. They readied for attack. Tony opened the cargo door, moving to the exit.

“What are you doing?”

Thor landed on the cargo door. Aggression leaked off the large alpha. He tossed aside Tony. Thor yanked Loki from his seat before flying out. 

“Now there’s that guy,” said Tony, getting up.

“Another Asgardian?” said Natasha.

“That guy is a friendly?” said Steve.

“Doesn’t matter. If he frees Loki or kills him the Tesseract lost,” said Tony.

“Tony, we need a plan of attack,”

“I have a plan, attack,”

Tony jumped out the back after them. Alphas and their egos! Tony was supposed to be smart. This needed be thought through! Steve yanked a parachute from the shelf. Now he had to go after them.

“I’d sit this one out, Cap,”

“I don’t see how I can,” said Steve.

Natasha stared at his stomach.

“I can handle it,” he said.

“These guys come from legend. They are basically gods,” said Natasha.

“There’s only one God, Nat. And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that,” said Steve.

He jumped out of the back of the jet. Steve dove toward the ground.

“I’m sorry, baby,” he said.

*****

 

Thor landed with his brother, tossing him to ground. Loki groaned slowly sitting up.

“Where is the Tesseract?” asked Thor.

“I missed you too, brother,” said Loki.

“Do I look to be in a gaming mood?” said Thor.

Alpha tone. After all these years Thor should have learned that it only annoyed him further.

“I thought by now you’d learned that tone doesn't make me wet and obedient like so many fawning idiots,” said Loki.

Thor growled, breaking eye contact with his brother.

“You should thank me. With the Bifrost gone how much dark energy did all-father have to muster to conjure you here? Your precious Earth,” he said.

Thor dropped his hammer, grabbing his brother, hauling him up to meet his gaze. How could Loki be so blind to how he was missed? Was there anything left of the brother he once knew. 

“I thought you dead,” he said.

“Did you mourn?” asked Loki.

“We all did. Our father-

“Your father,”

His hold loosened. How could he think that? Father loved them both it didn’t matter that they weren’t blood.

“He did tell you my true parentage did he not?” said Loki.

Loki braced his back.

“We were raised together. We played together. We fought together-

“Odin never meant that for me. As soon as he found out I was an omega he forgot whatever thoughts of me as a son. He wanted me to be your bride, hoping to unite two races,” said Loki.

“I always ever saw you as a brother,” said Thor.

Loki rolled his eyes.

“I remember a shadow, living in the shade of your greatness. I remember you tossing me into an abyss. I was and should be king,” he growled.

“So you take the world I love as recompenses for your imagined slight. No, the earth is under my protection,” said Thor.

Loki cackled.

“And you’re doing a marvelous job with that. The humans slaughter each other in droves, while you sit idly threat. I mean to rule them. And why should I not?” he said.

“You think yourself above them,” said Thor.

“Well yes,” said Loki.

“Then you miss the truth of ruling, brother. A throne would suit you ill,” said Thor.

“I’ve seen worlds you’ve never known about. I have grown, Odin’s son, in my exile. I have seen the true power of the Tesseract and when I wield it-

“Who showed you this? Who controls the would be king?” asked Thor.

“I am the king!” yelled Loki.

“Not here! You give up the Tesseract! You give up this poisonous dream! You come home,” Thor neared begged.

“I don’t have it. You need the cube to bring me home, but I’ve sent it off. I know not where,” said Loki.

“You listen well, brother-

Thor was shot off the cliff.

“I’m listening,”

He laughed. Loki got comfortable and watched the show.

 

*****

 

“Do not touch me again!” warned Thor.

“Then don’t take my stuff,” said Tony.

“You have no idea what you are dealing with,” said Thor.

“Uh, Shakespeare in the park. Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”

“This is beyond you metal man. Loki will face Asgardian justice,” said Thor.

“Once he gives up the cube he’s all yours. Until then stay out of the way, tourist,” warned Tony.

A hammer slammed against his chest bringing him to the ground. He shot back at Thor, sending the god into a tree. With a kick, he sent the rival alpha all the way through. Thor raised his hammer, lighting shot from the sky, coursing through his armor. The charge was so intense he was unable to move.

“Power at 400% capacity,” said Jarvis.

“How about that,” he said.

He returned it at full power. They charged at each other in a mid-air battle. Each crashing against the cliff, before falling back into the woods. Thor grabbed Tony's arms crushing the metal in his grip. He opened his hand hitting Thor with a blast. Tony head-butted his rival causing the man to let go. There gong of metal as Thor copied the motion sending him backward. Thor grabbed him and tossed him to the ground. His thrusters activated before Thor could hammer could reach him. Tony used Thor’s loss of balance to his advantage.

“Hey!”

Steve flung his shield at gaining the alphas’ attention. This pointless destruction they were allies. They were acting like children. Well, at least he was getting some practice in before the pup was born.

“That’s enough,”

He jumped down to join them.

“Now I don’t know what you plan here-

“I’ve come here to put an end to Loki’s schemes,” said Thor.

“Then prove it put down that hammer,” said Steve.

“Yeah, no bad call he loves his hammer,”

Thor launched Tony in the opposite direction. Steve didn’t react. Keeping a calm head was the answer to this.

“YOU WANT ME PUT THE HAMMER DOWN!”

Steve raised his shield, in time to block Thor’s hammer. There was gong. The reflected energy force Thor backward. The sound echoed through their surroundings. They cautiously got to their feet.

“Are we done here?” asked Steve.

Thor and Tony nodded.

“Who are you?” asked Thor.

“Steve Rogers,”

Thor nodded. He sparred a glance of blue-eyed omega. A fierce warrior indeed, there were too few omegas that were brave enough to stand against two alphas in mid-fight.

“Thor please take Loki back to jet where you can continue to keep an eye over your brother while we make our way to the helicarrier, so together we can figure out to handle him. Tony and I will be following behind, so we’ll know if you stray. Is that agreeable to you?” asked Steve.

“Fine,”

“Thank you,” said Steve.

Steve took a deep gasping breath, once Thor left. The scent of two powerful rival alphas fighting was making his body haywire. He groaned when slick dampened his underwear. Steve hoped that Phil design of his uniform included some kind scent blocker.

“Steve?”

“Take off your mask!” he growled.

Tony took off his helmet. Steve crashed their lips together. He pushed his tongue into Tony’s mouth. Steve pulled away before he could become too lost in the motion.

“Can you give me a lift?” asked Steve.

Tony nodded. He picked up the omega. In the distance, they could see Thor and Loki.

“Steve, are you alright?” asked Tony.

“It was a lot on my senses. I’m fine now,” said Steve.

Steve pressed his cheek against the cool metal of the suit. He loved flying with Tony. The moment of peace was too fleating. 

Chapter Text

Thor and Loki reached the jet. He threw his brother into one of the seats.

“Where’s Steve?” asked Natasha.

“He’s with the man of iron,” said Thor.

Steve was abruptly dropped off at the jet. Tony speed off before he could say goodbye. He tried not to let his disappointment show. 

“Trouble in paradise?” asked Loki, with a knowing smirk.

Steve shrugged it off, not giving Loki the reaction he craved. 

"Did he not take the news well?" he asked glancing at Steve's stomach. 

Steve's eyes widen. 

"What news?" asked Thor. 

"Nothing." 

Thor walked over to him.

"Don't waste your breath, brother. He'll prove immune to your charms," said Loki. 

"Ignore him," said Thor. 

Steve went to sit up front with Natasha. His hand moved instinctively toward his stomach.  Hours later they arrived at the helicarrier.

Bruce looked up from his work when he heard marching footsteps heading in his direction. A man dressed in green strode down the hall surrounded by a troop of men. Oddly the stranger looked at ease with his circumstances. This must Loki. As their eyes met it set off a twinge of pain. 

 

*****

 

Fury directed Loki to his cell. Loki paced the circular cell, before standing in the middle. Fury took a position at the control panel.

“In case it’s unclear, you try and escape you so much as scratch that glass,”

He opened the panel below the cage, showing the great drop underneath.

“30,000 feet straight down in a steel trap. You get how that works?” said Fury.

The trap door closed. Loki continued to gaze at him in amused fascination.

“Ant, boot,” he said gesturing to the so-called god.

Loki laughed. These humans weren’t much, but they were amusing.

“It’s an impressive cage, not built I think for me,” he said.

“Built for something a lot stronger than you,” said Fury.

“Oh, I’ve heard. A mindless beast makes play he’s still a man. How desperate are you call such lost creatures to defend you?” said Loki.

“How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can’t possibly hope to control. You talk about peace and kill cause it’s fun. You’ve made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did,” said Fury.

“It burns you to have come so close. To have the Tesseract, have power, unlimited power and for what? A warm light for all mankind to share. And then to be reminded what real power is,” said Loki.

The fed cut off. Natasha, Thor, Bruce, and Steve were left processing what they heard.

“He really grows on you doesn’t he?” said Bruce.

“Loki is going to drag this out, so Thor what’s his play?” asked Steve.

“He has an army called the Chituari. They are not of Asgard or of any world known. He means to lead them against your people. They will win him the Earth. In return I expect for the Tesseract,” said Thor.

“An army from outer space?” said Steve.

What kind of strange world was he living in? An army from space. It sounded like the plot to one of Tony’s old science fiction stories.

“So he’s building another portal? That’s what he needs Eric Selvig for-

“Selvig?” said Thor.

“He an astrophysicist,” said Bruce.

“He’s a friend,” said Thor.

“Loki has him under some sort of spell. Along with one of ours,” said Natasha.

“I want to know why Loki let us take him. He not leading an army from here,” said Steve.

It was too easy. Loki was too powerful to be beaten so swiftly. This was something he would want to play out. What was he planning? 

“I don’t think we should be focusing on, Loki. That’s guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him,” said Bruce.

“Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he’s of Asgard,” warned Thor.

“He killed eighty people in two days,” said Natasha.

“He’s adopted,” said Thor.

“I think it’s about the mechanics. Iridium, what do they need the Iridium for?” said Bruce.

An earthy clove scent touched Steve's senses. He moved his hand from his stomach. 

“It’s a stabilizing agent. Means the portal won’t collapse on itself like it did at S.H.I.E.L.D.,"

He moved to the center of the room.

"No, hard feelings Point Break you got a mean swing,” said Tony playfully patting Thor’s bicep.

Steve watched Tony move around the room.

“Also means the portal can open as wide and stay open long as Loki wants. Um, raise the screens. That man is playing Galaga thought we wouldn’t notice but we did,” said Tony.

Steve looked around trying to figure out what Tony was talking about, along with most of the crew. Tony stood at Fury's control station. 

“How does Fury even see these?” said Tony.

“He turns,” said Hill.

“Sounds exhausting. The rest of the material Agent Barton can get his hands on pretty easily. The only other major component he needs is a power source of high energy density. Something to kick start the cube,” said Tony.

“When did you become an expert in thermonuclear astrophysics?” asked Hill.

“Last night. The packet Selvig’s notes. The extraction theory paper. Am I the only one who did the reading?” said Tony.

Steve was almost impressed. He didn’t think his encouragement would work so well, but he couldn’t take all the credit. Part of it was Tony’s natural curiosity. Steve shook the thought from his head. He needed to focus.

“Does Loki need any particular power source?” he asked.

“He’d have to heat the cube to 120 million Kelvin just to break through the cooling barrier-

“Unless Selvig has figured out how to stabilize the quantum tunnel effect,” said Tony.

“Well, if he could do that he could achieve heavy ion fusion at any reactor on the planet,” said Banner.

“Finally, someone who speaks English”, said Tony.

He’d been looking forward to speaking with Dr. Banner for multiple reasons. Banner was someone who could communicate with on the same academic field, so few were capable of doing that.

“Is that what just happened?” said Steve.

“It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Banner. Your work on the antielectron collisions is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of how you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster,” said Tony, shaking the fellow scientist’s hand.

“Thanks,” said Bruce.

He didn’t know how to process Stark. The man was genius in his fields and he respected, but he didn’t know what to think of the person. What was gossip and what was the truth? There was so much conflicting information surrounding him.

“Dr. Banner is only here to track the cube. I was hoping you might join him,” said Fury.

“I’d start with that stick of his. It may be magical, but it works a lot like a Hydra weapon,” said Steve.

“I don’t know about that but it is powered by the cube. And I’d like to know how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys,” said Fury.

“Monkeys? I do not understand-

“I do. I got that reference,” said Steve, now shying away from the attention he’d drawn to himself.

“Shall we play doctor?” said Tony.

“Sure, this way,” said Bruce.

Bruce led Tony away. Steve wished he could understand Tony on the front the same front as Banner. Steve wanted to check up on his alpha, making sure he didn’t press Bruce to far. Before he could Thor pulled him aside.

“Can you explain these flying monkeys?” he asked.

Steve smiled. Thor was the person who may have more trouble understanding the references of today than him.

“It’s from the Wizard of Oz,” said Steve.

“Is this Oz powerful could he help us in our upcoming battle?” asked Thor.

Steve laughed.

“Sorry, Thor I’m not laughing at you. Oz is a fictional character from a movie,” he said.

“And these flying monkeys are from this movie?” asked Thor.

“Yes, they do the bidding of the wicked witch of the west. Once we’ve survived this I’ll watch with you,” said Steve.

“I look forward to it,” said Thor.

*****

 

In the lab, Bruce and Tony studied the most recent data gathered. Bruce scanned over the cane. Tony’s mind was split in its interest. One curious of the scientist working beside him, the other with the subject he was here to study.

“All I packed was a toothbrush,” said Bruce quietly.

“You know you should come to Stark Tower sometime. The top ten floors are all R&D you’d love it, its candy land,” said Tony, picking up a tool.

“Thanks, but the last time I was in New York I kinda broke Harlem,” said Bruce.

“Well, I promise a stress-free environment good pension no surprises,” he said before zapping Bruce.

“Ouch,”

Tony searched for signs.

“Nothing?”

“Hey, are you nuts,” said Steve.

Tony resisted urged to roll his eye at Steve’s stern voice.

“Jury is out,” he said.

Banner smiled not paying him any mind. This joking communication was new to him. It bordered on annoying, but it was refreshing. But there was work to be done.

“You really have a lid on it. What your secret mellow jazz, bongo drums, a huge bag of weed?” said Tony.

“Is everything a joke to you?” said Steve.

“Funny thing-

“Threatening the safety of everyone on this ship isn’t funny. No offense,” said Steve.

“No, it’s alright. I wouldn’t have come aboard if I couldn’t handle pointy things,” said Bruce.

“You’re tiptoeing, big man. You need to strut,” said Tony.

“And you need to focus on the problem,” said Steve.

He was foolish enough to think his alpha could actually take something seriously instead of making a joke out of it.

“You think I’m not? Why did Fury call us? Why now why not before? What isn’t he telling us? I can’t do the equation if I don’t have all the variables,” said Tony, before eating a blueberry.

“You think Fury is hiding something,” said Steve.

“He’s a spy. Captain, he’s the spy. His secrets have secrets. It’s bugging him too. Isn’t it?” said Tony.

“Uhh, I just want to finish my work here-

“Doctor?” said Steve.

Banner took off his glasses while deciding what to do. He sighed.

“A warm light for all mankind. Loki’s jab at Fury about the cube,” said Banner.

“I heard it,”

“Well, I think that was meant for you,” said Bruce.

Tony smirked, offering Bruce bag of blueberries. It angered Steve’s omega, the fact his alpha wasn’t offering him food. 

“Even if Barton didn’t tell Loki about the tower it was still all over the news,” said Bruce.

Steve bit his lip. His home was part of this plan. That was his den, the place where they were going to raise their pup. It was supposed to be safe far from this part of thier lives. 

“It’s powered by an arc reactor a self-sustaining energy source. That building run itself for what a year?” asked Bruce.

“It’s just a prototype. I’m kinda the only name in clean energy right now,” said Tony.

Steve rolled his eyes.

“So why didn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. bring him on the Tesseract project? What are they doing in the energy business in the first place?” asked Bruce.

“I should probably look into that. My decryption program finished breaking into all of S.H.I.E.L.D’s secures files,” said Tony, pulling his phone from his pocket.

“Sorry did you say?"

“Jarvis has been running it since I hit the bridge. In a few hours, I’ll know every dirty secret S.H.I.E.L.D. has tried to hide. Blueberry?” said Tony.

Steve barely resisted the urge to accept.

“Yet you’re confused to why they didn’t want you around,” he said.

“An intelligence organization that fears intelligence historically not awesome,” said Tony.

“I think Loki is trying to wind us up. This is a man who means to start a war. And if we don’t stay focused he’ll succeed. We have orders we should follow them,” said Steve.

“Following is not really my style,” said Tony, before tossing a blueberry into his mouth.

“And you’re all about style aren’t you?” he said.

“Of the people here A of which is wearing a spangly outfit. And B not of use,” said Tony.

“Steve, tell me none of this smells a little funky to you,” said Bruce.

“Just find the cube,” he before leaving the room.

Bruce took a moment to absorb what he’d seen. The conversation he understood, but the underlying messaging between Tony and Steve was something else completely. There was something between those two. 

“This is none of my business but do you two have history?” he asked.

“You can say that,” said Tony.

 

*****

 

Dizziness hit Steve like a wave as he left the lab. He braced himself against a wall. Morning sickness would likely follow. He dashed to the nearest single bathroom and hurled. The door opened. 

“Steve-

“Nat!”

“How-

“You didn’t lock the door. You’re lucky I wasn’t, Stark,” she said.

“He’s occupied,” said Steve.

He wished Tony were here to check on him. There would be impossible to explain this without telling him the truth. 

“The idiot is worried about you. He’s too stubborn to admit it,” she said.

“Can you refrain from calling the father of my child an idiot for the moment?” he said.

“You agree with me,” said Natasha.

“It’s the principle,” said Steve, getting to his feet.

He braced himself against the counter.

“How can you be so calm? One of your closest friends is missing,” said Steve.

“I’m aware and I’m doing all I can to find him. At the moment there’s nothing else I can do,” said Natasha.

“Then why are you in here with me?” he asked.

“I need Stark working at 100% on the scepter. He can’t do that when he’s worried about you. So for everyone’s sake work it out,” she said.

She took a breath.

“And try to get some rest,” she said.

“Will you?” asked Steve.

Natasha shook her head before leaving. He locked the door behind her.  She left behind a toothbrush and toothpaste. He took a breath and steadied himself. For the moment his stomach was calm. Steve brushed the taste of vomit from his mouth. Steve wandered walking ship until he found somewhere secluded. There was a small window ledge where he could sit. Bruce and Tony lodged an uncomfortable thought in his head. He yawned. Steve tried pushing it away.

He looked at the night sky. The star sparkled brightly. An alien army coming down from outer space. The sky always seemed so peaceful to him, it was hard to imagine such a threat coming from there. He rested his hand over his stomach. Steve smiled and began purring. He was already so attached to something so impossibly small. Steve would make it up to his baby for putting it through all this.

“No matter what world I bring you into I will always protect you.”

 

*****

“Fuck!”

Tony gripped his hand and wrapped it in a cloth. He’d jabbed himself with a screwdriver.

“What?” asked Banner.

“My hand slip,” he said.

“That’s the third time. You’re unfocused,” said Banner.

Steve had so easily driven him off his course of thought.

“I’m assuming your current state has something to do with Captain Rogers,” he said.

“He’s hiding something from me,” said Tony.

Bruce sighed. They were facing possible alien invasion and relationship drama seemed to be the only thought on the alpha’s mind.

“Talk to him,” he said.

“No.”

Tony turned his attention to the work at hand.

“Your mind isn’t here, where I need it to be,” said Banner.

“I thought you were just drawn to my charms,” said Tony with a roll of his eyes.

“Talk to him and come back when you’re done,” said Banner.

“Fine,” he said.

Tony went to the hall. Scent tracking wasn't one of his strong alpha strong suits. Tony worked through the maze of halls getting closer to that familiar scent. When he was closer singing could be heard:

Rest tired eyes a while
Sweet is thy baby’s smile
Angels are guarding and they watch o’er thee

Sleep, sleep, grah mo chree
Here on you mamma’s knee
Angels are guarding
And they watch o’er thee

The birdeens sing a fluting song
They sing to thee the whole day long
Wee fairies dance o’er hill and dale
For very love of thee

Dream, Dream, grah mo chree
Here on your Mamma’s knee
Angels are guarding and they watch o’er thee
As you sleep may Angels watch over
And may they guard o’er thee.

The primrose in the sheltered nook
The crystal stream the babbling brook
All these things God’s hands have made
For very love of thee

Twilight and shadows fall
Peace to His children all
Angels are guarding and they watch o’er thee
As you sleep
May Angels watch over and May the guard o’er thee

 

“Beautiful.”

Steve went for his shield. 

“Easy.”

He lowered his shield. Steve wanted to leave, but Tony was blocking the only exit.

“Move.”

“No.”

“Move, or I will move you,” said Steve.

“You won’t,” he said.

“And why is that?” asked Steve.

“Part of you wants me here,” said Tony.

“I’m surprised. Does the great Tony Stark has time to spare for someone of such little use as me?!” he said.

“You’re the most important thing in my life, Steve. Me being here with everything else that’s going on proves that,” said Tony.

“Then why did you say that?” he asked.

“I was angry,” said Tony.

“I’ve done nothing wrong,” said Steve.

“Bullshit! You’ve been going back and forth. Letting me close only to shove me away for days,” said Tony.

“I'm allowed to have bad days,” said Steve.

“Steve, I know your bad days whatever this is, it isn’t that,” he said.

Steve was at loss for words.

“I didn’t come here to fight. Tell me what’s wrong,” he begged.

His tone was so soft, so gentle. It made him wanted to melt into the alpha’s embrace and tell him everything. He flinched when Tony wiped a tear from his cheek. Steve pulled away from the comforting touch.

“Now isn’t time for this,” said Steve, pushing past the alpha.

Tony grabbed his hand.

“I don’t care.”

“There are more important things for you to focus on than me,” he said.

“I can't,” said Tony.

He was yanked into a kiss. Steve melted into it, letting Tony hold him. He whined when it broke. Tony backed away before he could nuzzle against his neck.

Tony got what he needed from the kiss. Love was there. It hadn’t given him any answers to why Steve was like this.

“What am I suppose to think?” he asked.

Steve wanted to tell him. But he needed to be free of the protective alpha instinct that would ensue when he did. He had to be free to fight this fight fully.

“You’re right. I have been pulling away. I’m sorry,” he said.

“I don’t need an apology, Steve. I only want to know why,” said Tony.

“I can’t tell you,” he said.

“Why?!” growled Tony.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Then trust that I love you and will tell you when the time is right. Please,” begged Steve.

“I’ve let you close. Why you think you need to keep a secret I don’t know, but fine. For our sake I hope you tell me soon,” said Tony.

He walked away.

“Tony.”

The alpha looked over his shoulder and smiled.

“And I do love your spangly outfit,” he said walking away.

“Tony,” he whimpered. 

He didn’t look back. His emotional defenses were up. Tony closed off the soft vulnerable side of himself, and it was his fault.

“I’m so sorry, Tony,” he whispered.

He needed a distraction. Steve searched the ship, seeing if there was anything to Tony's suspicions.

Chapter Text

Tony returned to the lab.

“Is your mind where it needs to be?” asked Banner.

He nodded. They are dealing with a possible alien invasion and his focus was on his boyfriend. He was left with more questions. Questions that wouldn’t be answered until this was over. 

“He’s not wrong, Loki. He does have the jump on us,” said Bruce.

“What he’s got is an ACME dynamite kit. It’s gonna blow up in his face, and I’m gonna be there when it does,” said Tony.

He looked forward to the moment where that annoying smirk was wiped from Loki’s expression.

“And I’ll read all about it,” said Bruce.

He wanted this to be over. It was interesting to encounter Tony and the others, but he was ready to disappear. This was enough outside interaction for him. The sooner Loki was dealt with the better.

“Or you’ll be suiting up like the rest of us,” said Tony.

“Ah, see. I don’t get a suit of armor. I’m exposed, like a nerve. It’s a nightmare,” said Bruce.

“You know, I’ve got a cluster of shrapnel, trying every second to crawl its way into my heart. This stops it. This little circle of light. It’s part of me now, not just armor. It’s a terrible privilege,” said Tony, gently tapping the arc reactor.

“But you can control it,” he said.

“Because I learned how,” said Tony.

“It’s different,” said Bruce.

He appreciated the comparison. It was closer than most came. Still, it was nothing compared to what he went through. Tony brushed away the data he was working on.

“Hey, I’ve read all about your accident. That much gamma exposure should have killed you,” said Tony.

“So you’re saying that the Hulk, the other guy, saved my life? That’s nice. It’s a nice sentiment. Save it for what?” asked Bruce.

In the beginning, he truly wished the incident killed him, instead of leaving him with this curse. Those thoughts decreased but they were still there. He dreamed of an impossible life, but it was an impossibility. It would forever be a dream. 

“I guess we’ll find out,” said Tony.

“You may not enjoy that,” said Bruce.

*****

 

Steve traveled deeper into the ship, stopping at a door that read:  

SECURE STORAGE 10-C

 

He forced it open. The door groaned and creaked under his strength. The room was filled with large stainless steel boxes. He jumped onto the catwalk above.

Natasha was sent to gather information from Loki. He turned to face her.

“There aren’t many people who can sneak up me,” he said.

“But you’d figure I’d come,” she said.

“After whatever tortures Fury can concoct. You appear as a friend as a bond and I would cooperate,” said Loki.

“I want to know what you’ve done to Agent Barton,” said Natasha.

“I’ve expanded his mind,” said Loki.

“And once you’ve won. Once you’re king of the mountain what happens to his mind?” she asked, striding closer.

“Is this love Agent Romanoff?” he asked with smirked.

He knew of the soldier and the mechanical man but could be far more interesting.

“Love is for children. I owe the man a debt,” she said.

“Tell me,” said Loki.

He took a seat. Loki heard her story from Clint, but it was far more interesting to hear it be told in person.

“Before I worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. I uh well made a name for myself. I have a very specific skill set. I didn’t care what I used it for or on. I got on S.H.I.E.L.D’s radar in a bad way. Agent Barton was sent to kill me. He made a different call,” she said.

Her steady voice leaked with desperation.  Loki loved the way it sounded. It also left him bitter. To love a person so deeply you'd give up an entire world for their safety. Such a romantic thought. 

“And what will you do if I vow to spare him?” he asked.

“Not let you out,” she said.

“I know but I like this. Your world in the balance and you bargain for one man,” he said.

“Regimes fall every day. I tend not to weep over that, I’m Russian, or I was,” she said.

“And what are you now?” asked Loki.

“It’s really not that complicated. I’ve got red in my ledger, I’d like to wipe it out,” said Natasha, getting up from her chair.

“Can you? Can you wipe out that much red? Drakoff’s daughter? Sao Paulo? The hospital fire? Barton told me everything,” said Loki.

She backed away uncomfortable with the knowledge.

“Your ledger is dripping, gushing red and you think saving a man more virtuous than yourself will change anything? This is a basis sentimentality. This is a child’s prayer. Pathetic,” he growled.

He expected more from her.

“You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers. You pretend to be so separate, to have your own code, something that makes up for the horrors. But they are part of you. And they will never go away. I won’t touch Barton, not until I make him kill you,” he said slamming his fists against the glass.

She backed away further.

“Slowly, intimately in every, he knows you fear. And then he’ll wake up just long enough to see his good work and when he screams, I’ll split his skull. This is my bargain to you mewling quim,” said Loki.

Her back was turned him.

“You’re a monster,” she said, her voice quivering.

He laughed.

“Oh no. You brought the monster,” he said.

Her posture instantly straightened and her head rose. She turned to face him, completely collected.

“So, Banner. That’s your play,” she said.

“What?”

She touched her headphone.

“Loki means to unleash the Hulk. Keep Banner in the lab. I’m on my way. Send Thor as well. Thank you for your corporation,” she said to the baffled god.

 

*****

 

Steve opened one of the boxes. Inside were Hydra weapons. He ran his fingers along the symbol making sure it was real. How could they do this? Why wasn't he surprised?

Tony sat relaxed on one the lab table as Fury stormed into the room.

“What are you doing, Mr. Stark?” he asked.

“Ah, kinda been wondering the same thing about you,” said Tony.

“You’re supposed to be locating the Tesseract,” said Fury.

“We know the model’s locked and we are searching for the signature now. When we get a hit we’ll have a location on that monitor,” said Bruce, pointing the screen behind Fury.

“We can get the cube back no muss the fuss,” said Tony.

The screen before him pulled up more information.

“What is phase two?” he asked.

There was a clank Steve placed a large gun on the table.

“Phase two is S.H.I.E.L.D. using the cube to make weapons! Sorry, the computer was moving a little slow for me,” he said.

He glared at Fury. This was what he was afraid of. Weapons like this weren’t meant to be out in the world.

“Rogers, we gathered everything related to the Tesseract. This does not mean-

“I’m sorry, Nick. What were you saying?” said Tony, flipping the monitor for all to see.

Weapon plans.

“I was wrong, director the world hasn’t changed a bit,” said Steve.

He moved closer to Tony and Bruce not trusting Fury. Thor and Natasha came in.

“Did you know about this?” asked Bruce.

“You want to think about removing yourself from this environment doctor,” she said.

He chuckled.

“I was in Calcutta I was pretty well removed,” said Bruce.

“Loki is manipulating you,” said Natasha.

“And you’ve been doing what exactly?” he said.

“You didn’t come here because I batted my eyelashes at you,” she said.

“And I’m not leaving because suddenly you get a little twitchy. I’d like to know why S.H.I.E.L.D. is using the Tesseract to build weapons of mass destruction,” said Bruce.

“Because of him,” said Fury, pointing to Thor.

“Me?” he said.

“Last year Earth had a visitor from another planet who had a grudge match that leveled a small town. We learned that not only we’re not alone, but we are hopelessly hilariously outgunned,” said Fury.

“My people want nothing, but peace with your planet,” said Thor.

“But your people aren’t the only out there are you and you’re not the only threat. The world is filling up with people who can’t be matched. They can’t be controlled,” said Fury.

“Like you controlled the cube,” said Steve.

“Your work with the Tesseract is what drew Loki to it and his allies. It’s a signal to all the realms that the Earth is ready for a higher form of war,” said Thor.

“A higher form? You forced our hand. We had to come up with something-

“Nuclear deterrent cause that always calms everything right down,” said Tony.

“Remind me again how you made your fortune, Stark,” said Fury.

“I’m sure if he still made weapons Stark would be neck deep-

“Wait, wait hold on how would you know about me?”

Did he really have to dignify that with an answer?! Of course, he had to because Tony would take it as a personal victory if he didn’t. Why did Tony have to be like this?!

“I’m sorry isn’t everything?” he said.

“I thought humans were more evolved than this,” said Thor.

“Excuse me do we come to your planet and blow up the place?” said Fury.

Powerful wave alpha pheromones were hard on Steve senses. The urge to protect his pup from this pushed him toward Tony.

“You speak of control yet you cause chaos,” boomed Thor’s voice over the others.

“That’s his MO, isn’t it? What are we a team? No, no we’re a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We’re a time bomb,” said Bruce.

“You need to step away,” said Fury.

“Why shouldn’t the guy let off a little steam?” said Tony.

Steve swatted Tony’s hand away. He wouldn't let Tony endanger their pup along with the entire crew by letting the Hulk loose! Maybe he should have told Tony, so he wouldn’t be acting so idiotically.

“You know damn well why! Back off!” warned Steve.

“Oh, I’m starting to want you to make me,” said Tony.

Steve growled. He might just have to beat some sense into his alpha at this point!

“Yeah, big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?” said Steve.

“Genius, billionaire, philanthropist, oh and your alpha,” he said.

Steve snarled, hating how the alpha used it put him down.

“I know guys with none of that and worth ten of you. I’ve seen the footage. The only thing that you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play. To lay down on the wire and let the other guy crawl over you,” he said.

He wanted to hurt the alpha. 

“I think I would just cut the wire,” said Tony.

“Always a way out. You know you may not be a threat but you better stop pretending to be a hero,” said Steve.

Tony fired back just as hard.

“A hero? Like you? You’re a laboratory experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle,” he said.

“Put on the suit let’s go a few rounds,” said Steve.

He was fully ready to do. Tony needed to be brought down a few pegs. Thor laughed.

“You people are so petty and tiny,” he said.

“Agent Romanoff will you escort Dr. Banner back to his-

“Where? You rented out my room,” he said.

“The cell was just in case-

“In case you needed to kill me, but you can’t. I know! I tried! I got low. I didn’t see an end so I put a bullet in my mouth, and the other guy spat it out. So I moved on, I focused on helping other people. I was good until you dragged me back into this freak show. You put everyone here at risk. You wanna know my secret, Agent Romanoff? You want to know how I stay calm?” said Bruce.

Banner picked up the scepter. Unlike the other, Steve didn’t go for a weapon. That wasn’t the solution. They had to deescalate the situation. 

“Dr. Banner put down the scepter,” he said.

Bruce glanced at his hand. When? He hadn’t even realized. An alert went off on the monitor. He put down scepter, backing away from it.

“Sorry kids looks like you won’t see my party trick after,” he said, walking to the monitor as if nothing happened.

“I can get there fastest,” said Tony.

“The Tesseract belongs on Asgard. No human is a match for it,” said Thor.

“You’re not going alone!” said Steve, grabbing Tony’s arm.

Tony glared into those blue into eyes. They pleaded with him to stay. He shook off Steve’s grip. 

“You going to stop me?” he asked.

“Put on the suit lets find out,” said Steve.

He needed Tony safe. If that meant by force so be it. He wasn’t going to lose his pup’s father.

“I’m not afraid to hit an old man,” warned Tony.

If only he knew the alpha would regret even the mentioning that.

“Put on the suit,” growled Steve.

There was an explosion. The team was sent in different directions. Large parts of the ship fell away. Tony was looming over him shielding him, holding him close.

“Put on the suit.”

“Yeah.”

Steve helped Tony up. They ran down the hall. The others could handle themselves. He hoped. They had their orders. His job was to help Tony fix engine three before another was brought down and they fell from the sky.

“Engine three, I’ll meet you there.”

Steve nodded before running in that direction. Tony opened the container holding his suit.

Steve reached engine three. A giant part of the ship was torn away.

“TONY, I’M HERE!” 

“Good, let’s see what we got.” 

Tony flew toward the broken engine as he stood by. He examined the damage, skimming over the information in his helmet. 

“I’ve got to the superconducting cooling system back online before I can access the rotors and work on dislodging the debris,” he said.

He pushed it back in place.

“I need you to get to that engine control panel and tell me which relays are in overload position,” said Tony.

Steve jumped over to the ledge. He was relieved when his feet touched the floor. Steve pulled out the slot, revealing a glowing orange network of tech.

“What does it look like in there?” asked Tony.

“It seems to run on some form of electricity,” he said.

“Well, you’re not wrong,” said Tony.

The love of his life was technology inept old man. The irony. He had to work with what he had. Tony pushed through to the engine.

“Okay, the relays are intact. What’s our next move?” he asked.

“If I clear the rotors this thing won’t re-engage without a jump. I’m going to have to get in there an push,” said Tony.

“When that thing gets up to speed you’ll get shredded,” said Steve.

The idea nearly made him sick.

“That standard control unit can reverse polarity long enough to disengage mag lab and-

“Speak English,” said Steve.

Tony rolled his eyes.

“See that red lever. It will slow the rotors down long enough for me to get out. Stand by and wait for my word,” said Tony.

“Thank you, honey.”

He leaped to the lever.

“Honey?”

“Focus.”

His laser cut through the heavy chunks of metal clogging the rotors. He dislodged it.

Men came toward them. They were dressed in black armor. One stopped in front of his perch at the lever, ready with a grenade. He vaulted across space, swatting it away. He disarmed the two, throwing one off the ledge. More were coming. He fired back, protecting his place. The ship started tilting. He clutched the railing with his free hand. Another engine was down. 

“Agent Barton has taken out engine one. We’re losing altitude,” said Fury.

“Yeah, I noticed,” said Tony, pushing against the rotor blade. It slowly moved forward.

Return fire sent Steve back. His foot slipped sending tumbling back into the sky. He caught hold of a cord and pulled himself up. Below a container dove toward the ocean. 

Tony pushed against the blade with all his strength 

“Steve, get the lever.”

“I need a minute."

“Lever now!”

Steve's fingers latched to the grated floor, yanking himself up. He kept his head low bullet ricocheted around him.

Tony’s back slammed against rotor blade behind him, unable to move. He slid underneath and became trapped, clanging uncontrollably against the large rotors. They slowed for and he shot out in enough time to see Steve being shot at. He zoomed toward the attacker, knocking him to the ground. Blood puddled underneath them. The man’s skull had fractured. Tony didn't care. The only thing that mattered was his omega. He went to Steve. The omega was tucked in a ball, pressed against the wall. The filters in his were damage, so he could clearly smell the distress coming off him.

“Steve.”

Tony took off his helmet, bringing Steve into his arms. He placed a tender kiss on his lips.

“Fell out,” he whispered.

Steve clung to Tony, needing his comfort. What if he hadn’t caught the cable? He may have survived, but not his pup. Steve pushed into the security of Tony's embrace. He only needed a little while longer. 

“I’ve got you now you’re safe,”

Chapter Text

Tony missed this contact. Neither of them wished it to end. He ran his fingers through the omega’s hair. The smell of distress faded as Steve’s breathing calmed. The must have proven to be a reminder of the war. 

“Ready to move?” he asked softly.

Steve's grip tightened. He pushed his nose closer to Tony’s neck, inhaling his scent.

“A little longer.” 

“Okay, sweetheart.”

Steve enjoyed it for a minute longer, before pulling away. He'd indulged enough. Steve got to his feet, only to stumble forward from dizziness. Tony caught him.

“I’ve got you.” 

“Agent Coulson is down. They called it,” echoed Fury’s voice.

Silent loss filled the space between them. They leaned against each other drawing comfort from the other, letting the moment wash over them. Steve took a breath breaking the quiet between them.

“We have to go,” he said.

Tony followed him. They stopped at his container. It was undamaged from the attack. Mechanical arms removed the beaten armor from his form. He stepped out. Steve went to wipe the blood from Tony's forehead, but alpha caught his wrist. 

"Please." 

Steve wanted to tend the alpha's injuries. To make sure the man was healthy enough to continue. Tony slowly released his wrist allowing him.

"Thank you." 

Steve wiped away the blood. The alpha leaned into the touch. 

"We should go," said Tony. 

They went to control room Fury was waiting for them there. Thor and Banner were missing.

“These were in Phil Coulson’s jacket. I guess he never did get you to sign them,” said Fury.

Steve stared at the bloodied cards before. Gut-wrenching guilt pulled at him. He should have taken the time. It didn’t seem important. He flipped over one of the images it only made him feel worse. Idolization, he wasn’t worthy of it.

“Banner, Thor I got nothing to say to you,” said Fury.

Steve hands fisted. They had to be okay. Thor was a god and Banner must have survived. The Hulk must have protected him. It had to. He looked at Tony.

Tony turned away from that blue-eyed gaze. He couldn’t take someone truly seeing him. Maybe there was something that he could have done? Maybe if he weren’t so concerned about his own issues he could have been more useful.

“Lost my one good eye. Maybe I had that coming,” said Fury pacing the room.

He stopped between two heroes. As stubborn and problematic as they were still heroes.

“Yes, we were going to build an arsenal with the Tesseract. I never put all my chips on that number though because I was playing something even riskier. There was an idea Stark knows this called the Avengers Inchoative the idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to fight the battles we never could,” he said.

Tony played with his hands unwilling to confront the conversation being held, but he couldn’t escape.

“Phil Coulson died still believing in that idea. And he rose,” said Fury.

Tony walked away. This was too much for him. He’d seen good men die and somehow fooled in himself into believing he wouldn't see it again. 

“Well, it’s an old-fashioned gumption,” said Fury.

Steve gazed at the cards in front of him before leaving too. He should have tried harder to bring the group together, instead of getting swept up in the tension. They had to bring themselves together. He went to the infirmary to check on Clint and Natasha. He went inside. Nat sat loyally by her friend's side. 

"How is he?" 

"We won't know until he wakes up,"

His place wasn’t there. He found Tony in the lab. The glass doors stuttered open. Their eyes met. At that moment they both knew whatever issues they had didn’t matter. There were more important things at stake.

 

*****

 

Thor rose from the crater, shaking off the dirt. He stood in a field of yellow flowers. It was unsettling to stand in such beauty after seeing such carnage.  He knew little of Coulson, but his actions revealed so much. The man died a hero’s death. His sacrifice couldn’t be wasted. He would be avenged. Loki would pay for the man’s death along with all the other crimes he committed. Mjolnir stood in the distance. Thor took a breath before taking it up. What was the condition of the others? First, he must find Banner. The man couldn’t have landed too far from here.

The sun stung at his eyes. Bruce slowly managed to open his eyes. He lay in a crater naked.

“You fell out of the sky.”

He sat up. An old security guard stood amongst the rubble.

“Did I hurt anybody?” he asked.

“There’s nobody around here to get hurt. You did scare the hell out some pigeons though,” said the guard.

“Lucky.”

This could have been so much worse. It was sheer luck that landed him here.

“Or just good aim. You were awake when you fell,” he said.

“You saw?” said Bruce.

The man saw what he was yet was calm.

“The whole thing right through the ceiling. Big and green and buck ass nude. Here.”

The guard threw some clothes for him.

“Didn’t think those would fit you until you shrunk down to a regular sized fella,” he said.

“Thank you.”

He quickly pulled up his pants and got his feet.

“You an alien?” asked the guard.

“What?”

“From outer space an alien,” he said.

“No,” said Bruce.

“Well, then son you’ve got a condition,” said the guard.

There was a flash of lighting.

“What the hell was that?” said the guard.

“Hopefully, an alien,” said Bruce.

They went to the entrance. Thor stood outside wearing his armor.

“Banner.”

He was squished in a powerful hug by the god of thunder.

“I’m so glad you survived,” he said.

“Yeah, me too,” said Bruce.

“A friend?” asked the guard.

“From work,” said Bruce.

“What the hell do you do?” he asked.

“Still trying figure that out,” said Bruce.

“And who is this?” asked Thor.

“Thor, this is umm-

“Alan Roberts,” he said.

“Nice to meet you,” said Thor.

“You too,” said Alan.

“We have a great deal to discuss,” said Thor.

“Alright,” said Bruce.

Thor told him everything that happened.

“I’m sorry about Phil he didn’t deserve that,” said Bruce.

“He did not,” said Thor.

“Natasha and the others are they alright?” he asked.

“I believe so. They will find a way to make contact with us,” said Thor.

“Do you have any idea where Loki would go?” asked Bruce.

“No, but we shall find out soon,” said Thor.

 

*****

 

Clint woke in a state of confusion as regained control over his body for the first in days. He was in control. For a brief moment, it felt wrong. Natasha sat by his side. 

“Clint, you’re going to be alright,” she said.

“I know that,” he said, tightly gripping at his restraints.

She poured him a glass of water. He stared at the ceiling trying to put things together. Clint would overcome this.

“Have you ever had someone pick your brain and play? Pull you out and stuff something else in. You know what it’s like to be unmade,” said Clint.

“You know that I do,” she said.

He took a deep breath, forcing down the panic.

“Why am I back? How’d you get him out?” he asked.

“Cognitive recalibration. I hit you really hard in the head,” said Natasha, she said taking a seat on the bed.

“Thanks.”

She went to undo his restraints.

“Don’t.”

She ignored him and released his restraints.

“How many agents did I-

“Don’t, don’t do that to yourself, Clint. This is Loki. This is monsters and magic. And nothing you or I ever trained for,” she said.

“Loki, did he get away?” asked Clint.

“Yes, I don’t suppose you know where,” said Natasha.

“I didn’t need to know. Didn’t ask,” said Clint.

He sat up. Something was off with her. What could have gotten to her?

“We’ll know pretty soon though, today,” he said.

“We got to stop him,” she said.

“Yeah, who’s we?” asked Clint.

“I don’t know. Whoever’s left,” said Natasha.

“Well, if I put an arrow through Loki’s eye socket I’d probably sleep better I suppose,” said Clint.

“Now you sound like you,” she said.

“But you don’t. You’re a spy, not a soldier now you want to wade into a war. Why? What did Loki do to you?” he said.

“He didn’t just-

She turned away. Her voice was timid. It was wrong.

“Natasha.”

“I’ve been compromised. I got red in my ledger. I’d like to wipe it out,” she said.

 

*****

 

Steve jolted in his seat when Tony slammed something down. He barged out of the room. What happened? He followed Tony. He kept at a distance not wanting to crowd him. Something was eating away at the alpha. He needed to find out what. They found themselves at the scene of Phil’s death. 

“Was he married?” he asked.

Steve felt guilty for asking. With all the time he spent with Phil he never truly got to know much about him.

“No, there was a cellist I think,” said Tony.

“He was a good a man. I’m sorry he’s gone,” said Steve.

Tony glared at Steve. How could he be so calm about this? Phil was one of his friends. What does it matter it didn’t change anything.

“He was an idiot,” he said.

“Why? For believing?”

“For taking on Loki alone,” said Tony.

“He was doing his job,” said Steve.

“He was out of his league. He should have waited for a way out,” said Tony.

Steve moved closer. Tony was having difficulty processing. Years of war taught Steve how to deal with death. How could he help Tony through it?

“Sometimes there isn’t a way out, Tony,” said Steve.

“Right,”

He moved away Steve.

“Is this the first time you lost a soldier?” he asked.

“We are not soldiers! I’m not marching to Fury’s fife,” said Tony.

“Neither am I. He’s got the same blood on his as Loki does, but right now we need to put that behind us and get this done. Now Loki needs a power source if we can put together a list-

“He made it personal,” said Tony.

“That’s not the point,” said Steve.

“That is the point. That’s Loki’s point. He hit us all right where we live. Why?” said Tony.

“To tear us apart.”

“Yeah, divide and concur it’s great. He knows he has to take us out to win right? That’s what he wants. He wants to beat us and he wants to be seen doing it. He wants an audience,” said Tony.

“Right, I caught his act in Stuttgart,” said Steve.

“That was just a preview. This is opening night and Loki he’s a full tale diva. He wants flowers, he wants parades, he wants monuments to skies with his name plaster on it-

“Tony?”

“Son of a bitch. I know where he’s going,” he said.

“I’ll get Natasha and Clint,” said Steve.

Tony yanked him into a kiss that made him go weak in the knees. 

“What?”

“Just in case,” said Tony.

“You’ll have plenty of times to kiss me, Tony,” he said.

Steve went to the infirmary sliding open the door.

“Time to go,” he said.

“Go where?” asked Natasha.

“I’ll tell you on the way. Can you fly one of those jets?” asked Steve.

“I can,” said Clint.

He was relieved to see him up again. Natasha nodded.

“Got a suit?” asked Steve.

Clint nodded.

“Than suit up,” he said.

 

*****

 

Thor stood up suddenly.

“What is it?” asked Bruce.

“We have to go,” he said.

“Where?” asked Bruce.

“To Stark Tower,” said Thor.

“How do you know that’s where he’ll be?” he asked.

“I heard it over this,” said Thor taking out his earbud.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” asked Bruce.

“It had broken during my fall. I could hear messages not return them,” said Thor.

Bruce rubbed his temples trying not to be annoyed by the man in front of him. Thor reached his hammer to sky charging himself with lighting.  Thor caught him in his arms.

“What are you doing?”

“I will have to carry you if we are to make in time,” he said.

“No-

They zoomed into the sky. Bruce clung to Thor for dear life. He wanted down.

“Just drop me off at the edge of the city. Then go after Loki. I’ll catch up!” yelled Bruce over the winds.

“Are you sure?” asked Thor.

“I’ll only slow you down,” said Bruce.

“Alright Banner,” he said.

 

*****

 

Natasha, Clint, and Steve made to the hanger. They went to the nearest jet.

“You guy aren’t authorized to be in here,” said a guard.

“Son, just don’t.”

Fury watched from the control room as the newly formed Avengers went out to fight their battle.

“Sir.”

“Agent Hill.”

“Those cards they were in Agent Coulson’s locker, not his jacket,” she said.

“They needed the push,” said Fury.

Tony sped ahead of the jet. Steve bit his lip.  Please, let him be careful. He took a seat in. This was his only chance to rest before the battle started. 

Tony slowed as his tower came into sight. Selvig was there with the cube.

“Sir, the device is already self-sustaining,” said Jarvis.

“Shut it down, Dr. Selvig,” said Tony.

“It’s too late. It’s up now! He wants to show us something, a new universe,” he shouted.

“Okay.”

Tony blasted at the device. His attack was sent back at him.

“The barrier is pure energy it’s unbreachable,” said Jarvis.

“Yeah, I got that. Plan B then,” he said.

He needed to buy time. Tony lowered to the landing pad.

“Sir, the Mark 7 isn’t ready for deployment yet,” said Jarvis.

“Then skip the spinning rims we’re on the clock,” said Tony.

He walked into his home, metal arms disarming him as he moved. Loki followed after him. He seemed to have gained his curiosity for the moment.

“Please tell me you’re going to appeal to my humanity,” he said.

Loki loved to watch an alpha beg. 

“Uh, actually I’m trying to threaten you,” said Tony. 

He went to the bar. 

“You should have left your armor on for that,” said Loki gesturing with his scepter.

“Yeah, its seen a bit of mileage and you’ve got the glow stick death thing,” said Tony.

Loki smirked. This alpha had humor, but it wouldn’t last long.

“Would you like a drink?” he asked.

“Stalling me won’t change anything,” said Loki.

“No, no threatening. No, drink you sure. I’m having one,” he said.

“The Chitauri are coming nothing will change that. What have I to fear?” asked Loki; truly curious to what defense the man could conjure up.

“The Avengers.”

Loki tilted his head to the side an extremely common in omegas. That explains the inferiority issue better.

“What we call ourselves. Sorta, like a team. Earth’s mightiest heroes. You’ve met them,” said Tony.

“Oh yes, I’ve met them,” said Loki.

“Yeah, takes us a while to get traction I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a head count here. Your brother a demigod. A super soldier, a living legend who kinda lives up to legend. A man with breathtaking anger management issues and a couple of master assassins. And you big fella managed to piss off every single one of them,” said Tony, slipping on his bracelets.

“That was the plan,” said Loki.

“Not a great plan. When they come and they will. They’ll come for you,” said Tony.

“I have an army,” he said.

“We have a Hulk,” said Tony.

“Oh, I had thought the beast had wandered off,” said Loki.

“You’re missing the point. There’s no throne. There’s no version of this where you come out on top. And maybe your army comes and maybe it’s too much for us, but it’s all on you. Because if we can’t protect the Earth, but you can be damn well sure that we’ll avenge it,” said Tony.

Loki grew tired of the man before him. He stalked toward him.

“And how will your friends have time for me when they are so busy fighting you?” said Loki.

He tapped his scepter to man’s chest. There was harmless clink and nothing. He tried again. The same result.

“This usually works,”

“Well, performance issues are not uncommon one out of five-

Loki grabbed him by the throat, throwing him to the floor.

“Jarvis, any time now,” he muttered.

He got to his feet only to be caught in Loki’s grasp again.

“You’ll all bow before me!” growled Loki.

“Deploy,” he gasped.

He was thrown out the window. His suit crashed through the window, diving after him. It wrapped around him, moments before he would have hit the ground. He zoomed up the tower, facing Loki.

“And there’s another person you pissed off his name was Phil,” said Tony before sending Loki back with repulsors.

Tony looked up a blue line of energy shot toward the sky, creating a black hole. Creatures riding in chariots came flying down.

“Right army,” he sighed.

He sped toward them. Dodging attacks and firing back. He wouldn’t be able to handle this alone. The best he could do for the moment was trying to keep them at their source for as longs as possible, too many had already reached the city.

*****

 

Loki watched the destruction from his perch. The building may be ugly, but there was something to be said for the view.

“LOKI!”

And now the beauty of the moment was ruined.

“Turn off the Tesseract or I’ll destroy,” he threatened.

“There is no stopping it. There is only the war,” said Loki, pointing his scepter at Thor.

“So be it,”

They charged at each other, their sending sparks into the air as they collided.

“Stark, we’re are on your three heading northeast,” said Natasha.

About time!

“What did you stop for drive through? Swing up Park I’m going to lay them out for you” he said.

He headed toward them with a Chatori tail.

“Sir, we have more incoming,” said Jarvis.

“Let’s keep them occupied,” said Tony.

Steve hung on as the jet lost altitude this would be a crash landing. The wings of the jet slammed against building as it went down. They ran out of the back, to the fight. They stared at the tear in the sky above them. Giant armored flying creatures came soaring out, knocking down the structures. Small flyers broke of it as it moved through the city.

“Tony, are you seeing this?” he asked.

“Seeing still working on believing. Where’s Banner? Has he shown up yet?” said Tony as flew next to the giant beast.

“Banner?”

“Just keep me posted,” he said.

“Alright.”

“Jarvis, find me a soft spot,” said Tony.

Tony could handle himself against whatever that thing was. Steve joined up with Clint and Natasha, taking cover by a cab.

“We’ve got civilians trapped,” said Clint.

Flyers crashed their way through the streets, causing explosions.

“They’re fish in a barrel down there,” said Steve.

Clint stalked forward.

“We’ve got this go,” said Natasha.

“You think you can hold them off?” asked Steve.

“Captain, it would be my genuine pleasure,” said Clint, his arrowhead snapping in place.

Steve dropped off the bridge they were on, landing on the bus below, tumbling to avoiding enemy attack. He swerved through road at top speed. Making his way to blockade of police cars. He landed on the roof of a car. One the cop aimed his gun at him.

“You need men in these buildings. There are people inside that are going to be running right into the line of fire. Take them to the basement or the subway. You keep them off the streets. I need a perimeter as far as 39th,” said Steve.

“Why the hell should I take orders from you?” he asked.

Steve jumped to his feet as explosions went off behind him. Chitarui came at him. He disarmed and killed them. After that, the police listened. Steve rejoined his team, taking an enemy troop in the process. Thor landed moments later.

“What’s the situation upstairs?” asked Steve.

“The power surrounding the cube is impenetrable,” said Thor.

“Thor is right we’ve got to deal with these guys,” said Tony over the line.

“How do we do this?” asked Natasha.

“As a team,” said Steve.

“I have unfinished business with Loki,” said Thor.

“Yeah, get in line,” said Clint.

“Loki is going to keep this fight focused on us and that’s what we need. We got Stark up top. I’m going to need-

A rumbled of a motorcycle broke the thought, on it was Bruce. He went to them.

“So this all seems horrible,” said Bruce.

“I’ve seen worse,” said Natasha.

“Sorry,” said Bruce.

“No, we could use a little worse,” she said.

“Tony, we’ve got him,” said Steve.

“Banner?”

“It's just like you said,”

“Tell him to suit up. I’m bringing the party to you,” said Tony.

Tony turned the corner of a building. A massive alien beast chased after him. 

“I, I don’t see how that’s a party,” said Natasha.

It slid toward on its belly. Banner calmly started walking toward it.

“Dr. Banner, right now would be a really good time for you to get angry,” said Steve.

“That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry,” he said.

He effortlessly transformed into the Hulk, crashing his fist into beast's skull. Its armor fell away from the force.  There was an explosion from one of Tony’s weapon. Steve shielding Natasha from the rain of sparks.  The Chitauri cried angrily from their perches at the display. The Avengers stood together ready to fight. More came flying down from above.

“Guys.”

“Call it, Cap,” said Tony.

“Alright listen up. Till we close that portal up our priority is containment. Barton, I want you on that roof eyes on everything. Call out patterns and strays. Tony, you got the perimeter anything that gets more than three blocks out turn back or turn it to ash,” said Steve.

“Right,” said Tony with a nod.

“Can you give me a lift?” asked Clint.

“Better clench up, Legolas,” he said grabbed Clint before flying up.

“Thor, you got to try and bottleneck that portal. Slow them down. You got the lighting light the bastards up,” said Steve.

Thor nodded before taking off.

“You and me stay here on the ground keep the fighting here. And Hulk, smash,” he said.

Hulk smiled before jumping onto to one of the nearest buildings. Everyone was at their positions. Thor's lighting caused the alien army to pile up at the portal. 

“Stark, you got a lot of strays sniffing your tail,” said Clint.

“Just trying to keep them off the streets,” said Tony as blast went by his head.

“Well, they can’t bank worth a damn. Find a tight corner,” said Clint, shooting down a chariot behind.

“I will, roger that,”

He pushed ahead, taking every sharp he could make. An explosion went off behind him.  Two were still on him. He skidded along a wall to avoid an attack.

“Nice call what else you got?” asked Tony.

“Thor’s taking down a squadron down on sixth,” said Clint.

“And he didn’t invite me,”

Steve raised his shield as Natasha pointed her scavenged weapon at him. She swiftly lowered it. They both took a moment to catch their breath.

“Captain, none of this is going to mean a damn thing if we don’t close that portal,” she said.

“Our biggest guns couldn’t touch it,” said Steve.

“Well, maybe it’s not about guns,” she said.

“If you want to get up there you’re going to need a ride,” said Steve.

“I’ve got a ride,” said Natasha.

He looked at the flyers above them.

“I could use a boost though,” she said.

Steve backed up.

“Are you sure about this?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” she said.

She ran at him, jumping to his shield. He pushed her up onto the chariot. She made it. He dodged attacked. He had to keep moving.

Tony flew past Natasha, speeding to Steve, landing next to him. Steve reflected his repulsor using it as a beam. Then took off again, knocked of Chitarui troops as he climbed up.

Steve was forced to ground, a blade pointed at his stomach. He slammed it away. Steve quickly checked for any harm before getting to his feet.

“Captain, the bank on 42nd passed Madison. They’ve cornered a lot of civilians in there,” said Clint.

“I’m on it,” he said.

He rushed to bank jumping through a window. Throwing his shield in time to knock a bomb from the chitauri’s hand. He hit the floor, dodging enemy fire. Steve kicked a desk at his feet, shoving them back. The bomb was beeping. He went to the railing.

“Everyone clear out!”

An arm wrapped around his neck locking his head in place. His mask was yanked off. He flipped their position, the alien taking the hit from its ally. The other scrambled on the floor for the bomb. Steve jumped tucking himself behind his shield. He launched from the window, landing on a car. His pup was safe he’d land on his back. He was slow to get up.

Natasha sped to the tower. The alien she was using to stir growled underneath her control. She dodged blast going past her head. Loki.

“Hawkeye.”

“Nat, what are you doing?” he asked.

“A little help,” she said.

“I got him,” said Clint.

There was a burst of fire behind that used to be Loki’s chariot. He went toppling down to the tower. Natasha jumped from her ride landing on the gravel roof below. Hulk joined her, sending both himself and Loki into the penthouse. She went to the machine.

“The scepter-

“Doctor?”

“Loki’s scepter. The energy. The Tesseract can’t fight, but you can’t protect yourself against yourself,” said Selvig.

She gently touched his shoulder.

“It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t know what you were doing,” said Natasha.

“Actually, I think I did. I built in a safety to cut the power source,” he said.

“Loki’s scepter,”

“It may be able to close the portal,” said Selvig.

He looked down.

“And I’m looking at right now,” he said.

Tony traveled beside a giant battle worm. His laser was useless against thick metal plating. 

“Sir, we’ll lose power before we penetrate that shell,” said Jarvis.

The beast dove low its belly, breaking the building below it. He flew to the mouth of the beast. 

“Jarvis, have you ever heard the tale of Jonah?” he said.

“I wouldn’t consider him a role model,” said Jarvis.

His weapons deployed as he forced his way through the worm, exiting at the opposite end. Tony was thrown, landing on a taxi.  He got to his feet only to be shot back. Alien troops marched toward him weapons drawn.

“Stark, do you hear me?” asked Fury.

“Yeah.”

“You have a missile headed straight for the city,” he said.

“How long?!”

His head was forced down as he was battered.

“You have three minutes max. The payload will wipe out midtown,” said Fury.

“Jarvis, put everything we got into the thrusters!” said Tony.

“I just did,” said Jarvis.

He shot to the air throwing off his attackers.

“I can shut the portal down. Does anyone copy?” said Natasha.

“Close it!” said Steve.

“No wait!” said Tony.

“Tony, these things are still coming,” he said.

“I’ve got nuc coming in,” said Tony.

His sensors locked on the missile, speeding toward the city.

“And I know just where to put it,” said Tony. He grabbed hold of the missile, leading it to its new destination.

Steve’s heart raced with a building fear.

“Tony, that’s a one-way trip,”

He kept his voice strong. This had to be done, but the price being given would forever take a toll on him and their child.

There wasn’t enough power to get him back.

“Do you want me to reconnect, Steve?” asked Jarvis.

“Yes.”

“Tony.”

“Stay with me."

“Always.”

There was shakiness to his voice. The enemy above became all the more clear.

“Do what you have to, Steve." 

"Tony- 

"I love you.”

“I-

Tony disappeared into the portal. Darkness and enemies surrounded him. Steve’s image disappeared. The result of his sacrifice played out in front of him. He faded into unconsciousness. 

Steve and the others watched from the ground. Chitaur fell around them. The giant war worms dropped. Steve searched the sky for the man he loved, but couldn’t find him.

“Come on, Tony.”

Steve couldn’t find him. He took a breath.

“Close it.”

Thor caught him before he collapsed. 

“You’ve done right at a horrible price to yourself. For that friend I am deeply sorry,” he said.

Chapter Text

“Look.”

Steve raised his head from the shelter of Thor’s chest.

“TONY!”

Joy and relief swept through him. He wasn’t slowing down! Something was wrong!

“He’s not slowing down,” said Thor.

Hulk jumped into the air grabbing the metal man. Metal man was limp. He slid down the side of a building slowing thier descent. They skidded across the road through several cars. He tossed his friend to the side.

“TONY!”

Steve ran ahead of the others. He turned Tony on his back, ripping his mask off. His eyes were closed! He wasn’t breathing!

“Please come back!” he cried.

He clutched the alpha’s chest.

“Please, I need you. You’re going to be a father. I can’t do this alone,” Steve whispered.

His alpha remained motionless. Tears blurred his vision.

"Please." 

Hulk roared. Tony came stuttering back to life.

“What the hell?”

Those blue eyes locked on his. They held such deep relief. He thought he'd never see them again. Tony touched Steve’s cheek, making sure it was real. Steve leaned into the touch, tears dripping down his face. He was real. Steve took him into his arms, bringing him into a kiss. The omega's tears wet his face. 

“I’m here sweetheart."

With Steve’s support, he remained sitting up.

“We won,” said Steve.

“All right yay. Hurray good job, guys. Let’s just not come in tomorrow. Let’s take a day,” he said.

Steve smiled his alpha was back.

“Have you ever tried shawarma?” asked Tony.

Steve laughed not knowing how else to deal with the powerful cocktail of emotions he was feeling. All he wanted to do was savor this moment. He wouldn't let the alpha out his sight for some time. 

“There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks away from here. I don’t know what it is but I want to try it,” said Tony.

“We’re not finished yet,” said Thor.

They were almost done. Then he and Tony could go back to whatever version normal there was after this. There was so much to be done, but they'd done their part. 

“And then shawarma after?” asked Tony.

As Loki rose the gazes of those that brought him to defeat met him.

“If it’s all the same to you, I’ll have that drink now,” said Loki.

“You’ve got him, Thor?” asked Steve.

“I’ll take him to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and then met you for shawarma. Whatever delicacy may be,” he said before flying out the window with Loki.

All of them took a collective moment to relax. Hulk sat on the floor. Steve followed Tony to the lab. It escaped most of the destruction. He caught Tony as he fell from his armor.

“I’ve got you,” he said, hugging the alpha close.

He wasn’t letting go. They needed to talk but they needed some time to come down. 

“I love you, Tony. I didn’t have the chance to say that before."

“I know, Steve.” 

Tony breathed in his omega's scent. There was something different to Steve's scent but proved comforting. 

"You scared me, Tony."

"I'm here now."

Steve pulled him close again.

"I'm sorry, but I had to close it."

Tony kissed him.

"I told you too."

Steve's hold on him grew tighter.

"I don't know what I'd do without you."

"You'd do just fine, big guy."

Steve shook his head. He didn't want to know the life he'd have without the alpha. 

"I will always be here for you," he said.

Steve's grip grew uncomfortable. Tony didn't care. He leaned into the embrace, running his hands up and down Steve's back, waiting for him to relax. Steve finally released his hold.

“The others are waiting,” said Tony.

Steve entwined their fingers.

“Let’s go.”

 

*****

 

The newly formed Avengers went out for shawarma. Steve sat next to Tony. He was starving. He’d burned off a lot of calories without replacement. Steve spared a curious look to the food placed in front of him. It smelled good. He took a hesitant bite, before digging in. Steve wasn’t the only one who was ravenous Thor and Banner shared his appetite. The restaurant owner kept on supplying them until they were full.

“Picture?” he asked.

They nodded. There was a flash of a camera. The owner seemed very proud to have served them. Tony went to pay.

“No, on the house,” he said.

Tony left a massive tip. It more than covered their bill. He’d agreed to host the others in the tower for as long as needed. They each took a room in the private quarters. There was a set of bunk beds on either side of the room. Steve crawled into one, every instinct urging him to sleep.

“Sleep, I’ll wake you up when I’m done with the shower,” said Tony.

Tony watched as the omega gave into a well-earned sleep. He took a moment to stare at the beauty. Steve was all he ever wanted and more. Tony went to the shower. The hot water soothed his aching muscles. He recalled Steve pleading for him to come back. There was something else it could have just been a delusion. No, he would have noticed the change in Steve's scent. Tony changed. He kneeled by the bed, gently nudging the beauty awake. Steve whined, but his eyes slowly opened.

“Your turn in the shower,” he said.

Steve slowly sat up. He nodded.

“I’ll get you some clothes,” said Tony.

“Thanks.”

Tony left, grabbing the ring from its hiding place. He wouldn't wait any longer to have Steve as his mate. Tony gathered some clothes from their closest. Steve was still in the shower when he got back. He waited on the lower bunk for him.

Steve soaked under the hot water. He was waking up. His fingers ran over his stomach. He couldn't keep this a secret any longer. Steve reapplied his scent blockers. Steve went into the bedroom only wearing a towel around his waist. He blushed when Tony’s eyes slowly ran over him.

“You are stunning,” he said.

“Not so bad yourself,” said Steve.

The alpha smiled. He took the clothes. Steve changed. The alpha watched his every motion. He sat next to his mate. 

“Steve?”

“I promised I’d tell you when the time was right. Please, don’t be angry with me,” he said.

“I won’t,” said Tony squeezing his hand.

Steve took a shaky breath.

“I’m pregnant,” he said.

Steve peeled off his scent blockers. Tony eye’s widened when the scent of pregnancy added to Steve’s natural scent. He was going to be a dad! It explained so much. Why didn’t he put it together sooner? It was so obvious now.

Steve watched as the alpha processed the new information. He wasn’t sure which emotion Tony was trying to control. Tony got up from the bunk pacing the room.

“Tony.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?!”

He instinctively sunk further into the bunk at the alpha's anger.

“I had to be a part of this,” said Steve.

“No, Steve you had a chance to tell before all this shit! Did you not trust me?!” asked Tony.

“I do trust you!”

“Then why didn’t you tell me?!”

“I was scared!”

Tony’s expression softened slightly.

“I was terrified of being pregnant. I thought I might lose you-

Tony cupped his face in hands, cutting off his words.

“Steve, no. You won’t lose me,”

He gently nuzzled his omega. The scent of distress faded. Tony moved next to him.

“I’m sorry for keeping this from you. I hated keeping it from you but I had to,” said Steve.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” he asked.

“I needed time to process," said Steve. 

“How is this possible? You were on birth control,” said Tony.

“It malfunctioned,” said Steve.

“How far along are you?” asked Tony.

“Fifteen days,” said Steve.

Tony quickly did the math and smiled.

“So I knocked you up on the first day of your heat,” he said proudly.

Steve nodded. The guilt was still so heavy in his expression. He took a shaky breath. Tony gave his hand a comforting squeeze.

“I want this pup. If you don’t want-

Tony raised his chin, cutting him off. 

“I told you, Steve. You’re not losing me,” he said.

“And the pup?”

“Ours.”

Tony’s hand moved over his stomach. Steve smiled, his fears melting away. His alpha accepted their child. They'd have a family. 

"I want to tell you days ago. Then all this happened. I couldn't tell you. I had to be part of this fight- 

“Jarvis full scan of Steve now!”

“Of course, sir.”

Steve stilled as Jarvis scanned over him. Tony paced the room waiting for the result.

“Everything is fine,” reported Jarvis.

Steve’s shoulders sagged in relief. Even, after all, he’d just gone through his baby was perfectly protected inside him.

Tony relaxed his offspring was safe. Both sides of him were unsettled at the idea of Steve fighting in such a condition. How could he have not put it together sooner? It wouldn’t be possible for Steve to keep this to himself.

“Who else knows?” he asked.

Steve broke Tony’s gaze.

“More people kept finding out-

“How many?!” growled Tony.

The alpha’s anger didn’t phase him. It was caused by fear and a powerful want to protect.

“Natasha found me curled up on the bathroom floor of my apartment."

"That's why you ran off so suddenly." 

"I had to be sure. I didn't want to tell you until I was sure. Natasha called Edith to check me out. Then Fury- 

"Fury knew and he made you do this!" 

He was going personally rip the director a new for putting his omega and their unborn pup at risk. 

"He didn't make me do anything, Tony. He didn't find out until later when he caught me at the gym. I'd sweat through my scent blockers. My first answer was no." 

It was clear he'd hurt Tony. This was a breach of trust. It had been forgiven, but that hadn't eased the guilt he felt. 

“Tony.”

He moved from the bed, taking the alpha’s hand.

“I never wanted it to be like this. But our baby became part of the mission something that may take away productivity. I wanted to tell you first. But I was put into a position where I couldn't." 

“You still should have told me.” 

“Would you have let me fought beside if you knew?” 

“No.”

Tony understood Steve’s reasoning. He was right in hiding it from him, but it didn’t make it any easier to accept.

“Please, don’t hate me.”

“I could never hate you.”

Now was the moment. He got down one knee in front of Steve and took the ring from his pocket.

“Tony.”

“Steve, will you marry me?”

“Tony-

“I’m asking because I love you and I need you in my life. Our pup is only an unforeseen bonus. Will you marry me, Steven Grant Rogers?” asked Tony.

Steve’s eyes watered with joy.

“Yes.”

Tony slid the ring onto his finger. It fit perfectly. They kissed falling back into the bed. Steve's arms wrapped around his alpha’s neck, deepening their connection. They were slow to part.

“Claim me.”

The thought alone sent a spike of arousal through him. He nodded. Steve’s scent revealed how deeply he wanted it. Tony snuck his hand under his omega’s shirt, pulling it off. This needed to be savored. He mouthed over Steve's pink nipples. He suckled softly, not wanting to cause discomfort. Unsure of how sensitive Steve would be in his condition. Steve moaned, throwing his head back. The scent of slick filled the air. He raised his head, lapping over the nipple. The expression was already so clear with want.

Tony gave the same treatment earning the same wonderful reaction. The scent of Steve arousal of slick grew stronger as he moved down the omega flat stomach. The thought of seeing it round sent a near painful shiver of pleasure through him. He yanked down Steve's sweatpants, throwing them to the floor. He gazed at beautiful being underneath him. This omega would be his!

Steve whined. He tugged at Tony’s clothes. They needed to be off! He whined as Tony slowly shed his clothes. Steve whimpered when those brown predatory eyes focused on him with such lust. 

“Alpha.”

Tony moved to him. The touch of their skin was electric. Their lips crashed together but it was all too brief. Tony kissed down his stomach. Steve bit his lip as Tony suddenly took him in his mouth. He fought back a scream as Tony’s tongue circled around the head of his arousal. So close! The balance was broken when the callused fingers pushed into him. Steve arched from the bed Tony kept his hips down.

“So beautiful my omega,” said Tony, kissing his inner thigh.

Steve was sensitive with pleasure more awaited in the alpha's claim. He pulled Tony kissed him, pushing his tongue into alpha’s mouth tasting himself there.

"Claim me," he whispered

Tony’s eyes widened. He thrust deeply into his omega in one motion. Steve moaned into their kiss. His hand tangled in Steve’s hair pulling him into a kiss. He pulled away grazing his sharpened teeth against Steve’s neck. His thrusts were slow.

The mixed scent of their arousal lay heavy in the air. He rolled his hips to meet the rhythm set by his alpha. The alpha’s body gleamed with sweat. Ever so often their lips met in a deep kiss. This was his alpha. His legs wrapped around Tony bringing him closer. He moaned as Tony pulled his hair tilting his head back, deepening their kiss.

The pace changed into animalistic, there need for each other outweighing anything else. Steve desperately clutched to the alpha. The catch of Tony’s knot on his rim had him seeing white. All words beyond alpha disappeared from his vocabulary. He needed his alpha’s teeth in his neck, creating their bond. Steve hadn’t needed anything like this in life, but his instinct cried for it, begging for the connection.

“Omega.”

Steve bared his neck. He screamed as Tony’s teeth dug into his neck. His vision went blank with pleasure. Steve went limp, completely sated. All he could do was purr. Their new bond sparked alive, bringing warmth, safety, and reassurance that he would never be alone. It was so right. His tethered to this world. Whatever remaining strength he went to milking his alpha’s knot. Steve lost himself to the bliss.

“Omega.”

Steve was forced to focus in his current reverie.

“Complete our bond.” 

Steve raised his head, sinking his teeth into alpha's exposed neck.  The newly formed bond strengthened further. They were both so content at the moment. Nothing else mattered at the moment. Tony turned them on their side. As they waited for his knot to go down he tended the newly formed claim mark. Tony watched as his mate fell asleep. When his knot went down he gently slid from his omega. Steve whined in his sleep but swiftly settle down again. Tony moved his mate so he was better hidden. He pressed himself closer to Steve. Tony placed his hand protectively over Steve’s stomach.

 

*****

 

There was a knock on Natasha’s door. She went to answer it. Clint stood outside her room.

“Could I stay with you? My floor smells of Tony and Steve’s mating,” he said.

She let him in. He took the top bunk above hers.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Steve was pregnant?” asked Clint.

“It wasn’t my place,” she said.

“You could have given me some warning,” he said.

“Their behavior was predictable. You should have expected it everyone else did,” said Natasha.

“Their kid will be a little hell-raiser. I’m scared for them,” said Clint.

“And your pups are always angels,” she said.

"Mine, aren't perfect, but I don't have to worry about a toddler with genius level IQ and super strength. Imagine what that will be like as a teenager,” said Clint.

“What do think it will be?” asked Natasha.

“I hope it’s a girl or male omega. I would love to see how Stark would respond to that,” he said.

 

*****

Steve woke up at eight at night. Tony's deep rumbling purr nearly lulled him back to sleep, but hunger outweighed sleep. The alpha's hand rested protectively over his stomach. He quietly left the bed, pulling the blanket back over his mate. Steve picked up his sweatpants from the floor, putting them back on. He put on his shirt. 

“Is anyone else awake?” he asked.

“Thor is at the dining hall,” said Jarvis.

Steve went to the elevator, hitting the dining hall floor. He found Thor sitting on the table eating some kind of dry pastry.

“Steve,”

“Hey, Thor,”

“Congratulations are in order,” said Thor.

“Thanks,” he said.

“Will I be invited to the wedding?” asked Thor.

Steve hadn’t even thought of the wedding.

“You will be,” he said.

Steve nose crinkled at what Thor was eating. It didn’t look particularly appetizing.

“What are those?” he asked.

“Pop Tarts, jolly rancher watermelon flavor,” said Thor.

“What’s a jolly rancher?” asked Steve.

“I believe it’s a type of candy,” said Thor.

“What’s the candy like from where you from?” asked Steve.

“There is such a wide variety. I could possibly name all of them. My favorite has always been honey balls,” said Thor.

Steve snorted, trying to hold back a laugh.

“Yes, it was an unfortunate name. I never had much of sweet tooth. That was Loki. When we were pups spent his allowance of sugar plums and candied apples,” said Thor.

It was hard to picture Loki and Thor as pups. But everyone starts off as a pup. Thor’s stomach growled. Steve quickly hugged the alpha. His instincts fought against such contact to an alpha that wasn’t his so closely after being bonded.

“I’m sorry about your brother,” he said.

“Thank you, he wasn’t always like that. He was a trickster yes we played pranks when we were young. Such laughter,” said Thor.

“Then it changed when he had his first heat,” said Steve.

“Yes, how did you know?” asked Thor.

“It was the same way with me and Bucky. He treated me differently after I had my first heat. Buck, became overly protective of me didn’t treat me like he used to,” said Steve.

“I didn’t-

“Of course you didn’t mean to. It was instinctual,” said Steve.

“Yet you and this Bucky remained friends. How?” said Thor.

“It wasn’t easy," said Steve. 

"How did manage it?" asked Thor. 

"I constantly reminded him I was still me. My heat didn't change that. I wasn't an omega that needed his protection. Eventually realized I still the same person," said Steve. 

“I was young and thick-headed,” said Thor.

Steve laughed. 

"All alphas are,"

He sighed. 

“Thor, I’m no fan of your brother. He killed innocent people for power. And threw my mate out a skyscraper-

“I’m sorry for his behavior. I have no excuse,” said Thor.

"I understand if you forgave him," said Steve. 

“You do?” asked Thor.

“He’s your brother. You and Loki have lifetimes that will span millennia. This is a small blip in time to you. You can’t expect us to be so forgiving though,” said Steve.

“You’re very understanding, Stark,” said Thor.

“Stark?”

“I apologize I thought you’d be taking your mate’s name. Isn’t that custom here?” he asked.

“It is,” he said.

Steve hadn’t thought of taking Tony’s name. He didn’t think he could part with his name. His pup would carry the name Stark not him. He needed the connection to past it gave him.

“I’ll be keeping my name,” said Steve.

Thor nodded.

“May I ask you a personal question, Thor?” said Steve.

“Ask away,” he said.

“Loki’s issues were caused by more than only feeling inferior because of his second gender status. What happened to him?” asked Steve.

Thor frowned.

“You are perceptive, Captain. May ask why you care?” he said.

“I like to know the full reasoning behind the actions of my opponent,” said Steve.

He stopped himself from saying enemy, knowing it could prevent Thor from speaking on the subject.

“He was taken advantage of. There was nothing I could do help him. He wouldn’t let me help him. And I was too you to understand,” said Thor.

Steve dropped the subject. He knew exactly what meant taken advantage of. Thinking further on the topic would give him nightmares.

“You are easy to speak to, Cap,” said Thor.

“Steve, you can call me that if you like,” he said.

“What do feel like eating?” asked Steve.

He was done talking of Loki.

“Whatever you are making?” asked Thor.

Steve took a look in the pantry. He found several boxes Kraft mac and cheese.

“Jarvis is this safe for me to eat?” asked Steve.

“Yes, all in moderation. Even with proportion, you have to consume it will be fine,” said Jarvis.

Thor watched as he got things ready.

“Is there anything I can help with?” he asked.

“No, it isn’t so difficult,” said Steve.

It didn’t take long for it to finish. He grabbed two large bowls and served them both. Thor stared at him. Steve felt embarrassed.

"My metabolism requires me to more than most humans. Even more so now that I'm eating for two," he said. 

“I like an omega with appetite. It’s healthy,” said Thor.

“So you’ll be returning to Asgard after this?” asked Steve.

“Yes, I must bring Loki to face justice for his crimes,” said Thor.

“I did promise to watch the Wizard of Oz with you. Now seems as good as any time,” said Steve.

“Sounds like a marvelous idea,” said Thor.

“Come on,” said Steve.

Thor followed him the movie theater Tony built. They settled in the cushy chairs.

“Jarvis, play the Wizard of Oz,” said Steve.

“Of course.”

Steve missed his mate.

“And tell Tony to join us when he wakes up,” said Steve.

“I will,” said Jarvis.

“Who is this voice you are talking with?” asked Thor.

“Jarvis, introduce yourself,” said Steve.

“I’m just a rather intelligent system. I am an artificial intelligence unit. I assist in running Stark Industries amongst other things,” said Jarvis.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jarvis,” said Thor.

“You as well.”

Tony woke to an empty bed. His newly formed bond let him know his mate was safe and sound.

“Steve wanted me to inform you that he’s watching the Wizard of Oz with Thor in the media room. You are free to join him,” said Jarvis.

Tony went to the media room. Steve paused the movie explaining something to Thor. The possessive instinct wasn’t as powerful he thought. His bond gave him full trust in his mate, which dulled the urge.

“Stark, congratulations on your new bond and pup. Let it grow strong powerful person like its parents,” said Thor.

Steve sent a warning glare in his direction.

“Thanks, Fabio,” said Tony.

“Fabio?”

“No idea,” said Steve.

Tony joined Steve on the couch. Steve cuddled closely. He rested his head against Tony’s chest. He traced the arc reactor. The gentle blue light was a comfort. The metal was cool underneath his fingers. Clint, Nat, and Banner joined them. They started the movie over again. Steve was at ease. A part of him that he'd never known was missing was healed. Friends and family surrounded him. Family, he had a family.

Steve's happiness flooded through their bond. He was complete in a way he never thought he'd be. A mate a baby on the way was something he thought he'd never have. Tony paid little attention to the movie. He was content, running his fingers through Steve's soft golden brown hair. By the time it was over Steve was dozing off. 

"Time for bed, sweetheart." 

Steve lazily got up. 

“Let me see the ring,” said Natasha.

Steve showed her the ring. It was a pale silver band, simple and beautiful perfectly suited to Steve personality.

“Beautiful,” she said.

Steve blushed.

“You owe me ten bucks,” he said. 

Tony entwined their fingers, pulling him away from the others. He wanted his mate to himself. Tony led them back to their temporary room. They settled in the clean bunk. As soon as they were out of the view of the others Tony relaxed confidence faded. He sensed the fear and anxiety building within his mate. The adrenaline of their mating and the battle was gone. Fear was there.

“Tony.”

“I’m fine,” he said.

"You can't hide from me," said Steve. 

Their bond wouldn't allow it. 

"We can't hide our emotions from each other. You’re scared,” said Steve.

"I'm- 

He cupped Tony's face in his hands. 

"It's okay to be scared, Tony. I was." 

Tony moved Steve's hands, bringing him into an embrace. 

"I won't ask you what happened up there. When you're ready you'll tell me. You're here and if you ever needed a reminder of that our bond will reassure you,"

He touched their foreheads together. Steve purred softly, some of the tension left his alpha. Tony leaned into him, pressing a gentle kiss on his lips.

“I will always be here for you,” he said.

They fell asleep holding each other.

 

*****

 

Nausea woke Steve early the next morning.  He was pressed against the wall locked in. Steve crawled over Tony. His foot tangled in the sheets. He landed with an ungraceful thud. 

Tony instantly shot up at the noise, hitting his head on the upper bunk.

“Shit.”

Steve was sprawled out on the floor looking annoyed.

“Morning, honey,” said Steve.

Tony sat on the edge of the bed, smiling down at him. 

“What are you smiling at?” asked Steve, with a dangerous glare.

“I’m mated to you. How can I not be happy?” said Tony.

Whatever potential anger Steve was feeling instantly faded.

“Aren’t you going to get up?” asked Tony.

“My nausea has faded into dizziness. I’m not going risk that changing by getting up,” said Steve.

“Sound enough reasoning,” said Tony.

He lay down on the floor next to Steve.

“I’ve decided our kid is never getting bunk beds,” said Tony, rubbing his forehead.

Steve loved the sound of ours. He sat up. Tony helped him up. They went into the bathroom. There were differences in his alpha. The threads of gray faded from his hair. The line and creases formed by stressed and time were almost unnoticeable. He looked a few years young from a day ago.

“What?” asked Tony.

“You look younger,” he said.

Steve was right.

“Probably a side effect,” said Tony.

“Of?”

“Our bond, when it was made some of the side effects of the serum must have been passed on. Well, that’s the theory. This isn’t my field of expertise. I’ll ask Banner about it,” said Tony.

“I don’t want our pup to be an experiment,” he said.

Tony instantly moved in front of him, placing a hand on Steve’s stomach.

“I won’t let that happen." 

Steve purred. 

"But we can’t go into this blind we need to know what to expect. We’ll look into only enough to ensure both your and our pup’s health,” said Tony.

Steve leaned against him.

“I don’t want S.H.I.E.L.D. to have that information either. Only the people that need to know,” he said.

Tony nodded. They went up to the penthouse. The shower their still worked and there was enough room for the two of them. They got into the shower together. There was nothing sexual about it. The touches between them were nurturing, reassuring, and gentle. They got out. Steve nervously touched one of the many bruises that decorated Tony.

“I’m fine, sweetheart,” he said.

They went to the closet.

“I think you should wear the scent blockers."

"Why?" 

"Only until things have settled down." 

"We don't have to hide anymore." 

Tony caught the self-doubt in Steve's expression. His mate thought he was ashamed. 

"Beautiful, look at me." 

Steve met his gaze. 

"I want you to show you off to the world, so every alpha will know they can't have you. There's too much going on it will a lot going on right. I think the world needs a breather before we announce. And I have a more selfish motive." 

"Which is?" 

"I want to keep and the little one to myself a little longer." 

Steve smiled. 

"This way safer," he said tucking his hands over his stomach. 

Steve reapplied the scent blockers. 

"Smell anything." 

Tony nosed against his mate's neck, scowling when he couldn't pick up the scent pregnancy. But the alteration to Steve's scent from unmated to bonded came through clearly. 

"No." 

"They'll be all over us when they know about us." 

Steve glanced out the tower window. A mob of press surrounding the base of the building. From his perch, he could see the flash of their cameras. His stomach turned. He may crave recognition as Tony's mate, but he was ready for this magnitude of attention. It was at a different from used to. They'd all be put under a microscope. He backed away from the window, fearing he may be caught by one of the cameras. 

“I don’t want all that attention. And I don't want it for our child,” said Steve.

"I don't want that either." 

Tony wanted a peaceful life for them, or close to one as possible. 

“We’ll only give them enough to leave us alone,” said Tony.

"Why do we have to give them anything?" 

"Giving them nothing will only make them more desperate to find something. I'll have Pepper figure something out. She's a master at handling them." 

 

“While we're on topic Ms. Potts has called over a hundred times,” said Jarvis.

“Tell her we’re fine and I call her back later,” said Tony.

"Yes, sir." 

*****

 

They met with the others to the designated area. Loki was in chains and muzzled. Steve watched as Banner transferred the cube into Thor’s possession. If he never saw the cube again it would be too soon. Thor nodded goodbye, before disappearing into a blue light. They said their goodbyes to each other.

Chapter Text

They made it back to the tower through a back entrance. A swarm of people was gathered at the front of the tower.

"Is there another way to get in?" asked Bruce sinking into his seat.

Tony nodded, pulling around to the back of the tower. The road in front rose. He pulled in. Bruce relaxed free of attention.

"We need a favor," said Tony.

"I'm assuming this has something to do with Steve's condition," said Bruce.

A pregnant super soldier. There wouldn't be another chance for him to study such a subject. Banner shook his head. This was a friend. 

"I know you wanted to be in wind, but we could really use your help," said Steve.

"I want to help," said Bruce.

"There more than the pregnancy," said Tony.

"What else?" asked Bruce.

"There have been changes since our bond," said Tony.

"Changes after a bond are to be expected," said Bruce, cleaning his glasses. 

"Not like these," said Tony.

"I'll do all I can," said Bruce. 

They went to the medical floor. 

"Why me and not someone from S.H.I.E.L.D?" asked Bruce.

"We both know what could be gained from this. Do you want that kind of information in their hands?" said Tony. 

"No," said Bruce.

He understood why S.H.I.E.L.D. would want such information. So much could be gathered from this. The stems cell of super soldier the possibilities could be endless. To gather such a sample the pregnancy would have to be terminated.

"I don't want this become a science experiment," said Steve.

"I understand, but I have to run some tests," said Bruce.

"I know," said Steve.

"We have to bring in an expert on genetics and neonatal studies in on this. I'd recommend Dr. Edith Star. She fell off the grid a few years ago," said Bruce.

"Star?"

"Do you know her?" said Bruce.

"She works for S.H.I.E.L.D. Was one of my doctors," said Steve.

"What do they need her for?" said Bruce.

It was concerning that they had an expert in that field. Playing with genetics was dangerous.

"I was told she was an army medic," said Steve.

"She was, then went back to school," said Bruce.

"Can we trust her?" asked Tony.

"Yes," he said.

 Bruce and Tony didn't hold the same trust in her.

"Please, I trust her," said Steve.

"Fine, if she hurts you or our pup-

The alpha was stunted mid-sentence by Steve's purrs. His mate blushed. He smirked.

"Why am I purring like this?"

Steve couldn't focus. His inner omega was happy, but this was overreacting. It was thrilling to have a mate the would kill to protect them. This was his friend they were talking.

"Survival instinct, your inner omega loves the fact that you have an alpha that is willing to go so far to protect your offspring. In freshly bonded omega alpha couples it's normal for them to follow this line of thinking. It only temporary," said Bruce. 

Steve purrs became softened. 

"What do you need?" asked Tony. 

"Dr. Erskine's notes," said Bruce. 

"They were destroyed," said Steve. 

"Have they come close to replicating it?" asked Bruce.

"Nothing has gotten past animal testing," said Tony. 

"I know where a copy might be. Well, half," said Steve.

"Where?" asked Bruce.

"Howard's notes. He wrote down everything. It might include some of Erskine's work. Where did he keep his notes?" asked Steve.

"At his mansion," said Tony.

He hadn't been there since his parents died.

"You have to get them," said Bruce. 

"How long will you be with us?" asked Tony.

"A week at most," said Bruce. 

"We can't get you to stay longer?" asked Steve.

"Can't afford it I can do a great deal over my Stark Pad. It's completely secure and I'll be able to run all simulations I need to. Besides, I only need to visit toward the end of each of your terms. Things may get messy if I stay longer. That's the last thing we need," said Bruce.

Steve nodded.

"Shall we start?" said Bruce.

"Sure," said Steve.

"Let's start with a basic physical and I'll be taking several samples from the both of you," said Bruce.

Steve was perfectly calm while he worked. It was Tony's constant gaze on him that was distracting. Everything was normal. Bruce easily drew blood and collected a skin sample.

"I have to examine your neck. This may be uncomfortable," said Bruce. 

The claim was healing at a normal human rate. Odd, given Steve's advanced healing factor. As soon as he touched the mark Steve snarled. Bruce backed off. He didn't take the omega's aggression personally.

"Sorry, I didn't-

"It's fine," said Bruce.

When he approached again, he was greeted by the same reaction, which he wasn't willing to challenge.

"Tony, could you?" said Bruce.

He nodded. Tony sat next to Steve.

"I don't want to behave like this," he said.

"I know, sweetheart," said Tony.

"It's a normal reaction considering you were bonded so recently. We have to take precautions we wouldn't want to risk anyone getting upset," said Bruce.

"I'm going to scruff you," said Tony.

Steve nodded. Tony's hand moved to the back of his neck. The alpha's hand clamped down on the back of his neck. He went limp in submission, unable to regain control until it was granted by his alpha. Panic bubbled in the pit of his stomach. Tony purred soothed it away.  Bruce wiped a cotton swab over the mark. As soon as it was done Tony released his hold. Steve was slow to regain control. His mind was a bit fuzzy.

"Extend your teeth," said Bruce.

His teeth sharpened.

"Now open. I'm going to take a swab," said Bruce.

Steve opened his mouth. Bruce ran the swab over his gums.

"That's all need from you, Steve. Thank you," he said.

Bruce did the same to Tony. Steve growled when Bruce touched Tony's neck. 

"I'll wait outside," he said. 

Bruce called him back in a few minutes later. 

"Do you have a lab I could use?" said Bruce.

"Jarvis, show him to his lab," said Tony.

"Of course, sir. This way Mr. Banner," said Jarvis.

Steve led Tony to the elevator.  As soon as the door closed he pressed Tony against the wall. He licked over his claim. Steve pulled away, realizing what he was doing. His face heated.

"Mm, I love it when you lose control," said Tony.

"I hate it, but trust whenever I do I have you," said Steve.

"You'll always have me," he said.

Steve scowled when a familiar floral scent touched his nose. What was she doing here? His frustration lessened slightly when she hugged them.

"I'm so glad the two of you are okay," said Pepper.

She took several steps away from Tony when she saw the claim marks on their necks.

"Only stopped by to see if the two of you were okay. And congratulations on the bond. I've already set Stark Industries as clean up for this incident. I'll start working on a plan to disclose your relationship," she said.

"It isn't only our relationship," said Steve. 

"What else is there?" asked Pepper. 

"I'm pregnant," said Steve.

Pepper stared at him.

"You work fast," she said, aiming a glare at Tony.

"So we'll have to plan the event of the year in three months. Before you start really showing," said Pepper.

"Event of the year?" said Steve.

"The wedding of Captain America and Ironman it will be the hottest ticket of the year," said Pepper.

She was right, but Steve never wanted a big wedding. Unlike most omegas, he hadn't put much time into dreaming of his wedding day. It was always made him feel bitter. But now he could.

"I don't want a big wedding," said Steve.

"I'll get started on working out the details," she said. 

This was too much. First the battle, then telling Tony, and concerns about their family. It was too much. 

"Wait!" 

"Steve?" said Tony. 

He took a deep breath. 

"I'm fine. Pepper, can you give us a week? And I promise I'll go over wedding plans with you." 

"I'll see you in a week then. I've got about fifty calls to return," said Pepper.

She left.

"Are you sure you want her to help?" asked Tony.

"I have no experience planning such an event. Why not take help where I can get it?" said Steve.

He smiled and put his hand over his stomach.

"Besides I have more important things to focus on," said Steve.

Tony's hand moved over his.

"I'm terrified," he said.

"Me too," said Steve.

"Any ideas on a name?" asked Tony.

"Kinda," said Steve.

"Already?"

He nodded.

"So what is it?" asked Tony.

"James after Bucky," said Steve.

"It's fine with me. James Something Stark," said Tony.

"How about Abraham?" said Steve.

"James Abraham Stark. We're set on boy's name," said Tony.

"And if it's a girl?" said Steve.

Tony twitched.

"No idea," he said.

He had no idea on many fronts when it came to the idea daughter. A son omega, alpha, or beta he would at least a common gender.

"Our pup will be baptized," said Steve.

Tony wanted to argue on the subject. What's the harm?

"Sure, who will godparents?" asked Tony.

"I know you want Rhodes", said Steve.

"Rhodey for godfather," said Tony.

Steve nodded.

"I want Natasha as godmother," he said.

"You want a highly trained assassin as our child's godmother?" said Tony.

"Yes," said Steve.

Steve's stomach growled loudly.

"What do you want?" asked Tony.

"Strawberry ice cream," said Steve.

The alpha was smart enough not to mention the whole ice cream for breakfast thing. Well, brunch now. He was actually really craving sherbet, but this would do. Tony pulled up the hologram of the tower.

"I think you should keep the A," said Steve.

"I was thinking that too," said Tony.

"Tony?"

"Hmm." 

"When should we go to Howard's?" 

"I haven't been there for more than twenty years. There is no excuse for me not to go now. We'll go tomorrow," said Tony.

They settled on the couch. Tony turned on the TV every news channel was discussing the incident. A majority of people were for them. Steve saw the waitress from a café he went to thank him. There was a minority who were against him.

"Can we watch something else?" asked Steve.

"Sure, what do you want to watch?" asked Tony.

"History channel," said Steve.

There was a special on the pyramids. Tony worked while Steve watched. He worked better when he was sitting with Steve running his fingers through the omega's hair. He looked away from his work when heard snoring.

"Lower volume."

He changed the channel back to the news. It was a nice change seeing mostly positive things about himself on the news. Steve woke around dinner. It was simple only some pasta.

"Jarvis, tell Bruce its dinner," said Steve.

After ten minutes Bruce didn't come up. Steve grabbed a bowl from the counter.

"What are you doing?" asked Tony.

"If I don't make him eat he won't at all. You scientists become so easily lost in your work you forget to eat," said Steve.

Bruce was amazed at what he'd gathered from the samples. Tony's cells took on some attributes from the serum when Steve claimed him. It would slow his aging, make him heal faster, not as fast Steve, but faster than the average human. He could spend months learning from these samples. What could be learned from it could possibly change the medical field forever. In seven weeks a cell-free fetal DNA could be taken from Steve's blood it would be interesting to see what he could learn from it. He promised not to do such things. It would be a massive breach of privacy.

He couldn't do that to Steve and Tony. Hulk would hate it. The big guy liked Tony and saw him as a friend. In general, he didn't have many. Now he had five among them an alien, super soldier, engineering genius, and two highly trained assassins. They needed to be durable to be his friends. There was a knock on the door. He turned to see Steve with a bowl of food.

"Come in."

Steve let himself in. Bruce took off his gloves and went greet him. He took the bowl from Steve's hand.

"Don't want you working on an empty stomach," said Steve.

"What time is it?" asked Bruce.

"5:30 pm," said Jarvis.

"Thanks," he said.

"No problem. Tony is the same way," said Steve.

"How are you feeling about this?" asked Bruce.

"I'm glad the battle is over. Things won't be the same after this. Normal changes after an alien invasion," said Steve.

"NASA will be a lot more careful," said Bruce.

Steve smiled.

"That was bad," he said.

"A little," said Steve.

"How about personally?" asked Bruce.

"Relieved, before now Tony and I always had to hide. We couldn't risk being out in public. S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't want to risk me being recognized. I can't say I'm looking forward to the attention that will come my way, but I wouldn't change anything," said Steve.

"I don't think I could handle it," said Bruce.

"Not sure if I'll be able to handle it well, but I'm willing to try," he said.

"You have previous experience with this sort of thing. You were a star in your time," said Bruce.

"I wasn't a star."

"You sold more war bonds than any other singular person."

"A fan."

"Coulson told me. Do you know when his funeral is?"

"No, idea. He erased his identity there may not be one," said Steve.

Bruce toyed with his hands, not enjoying the heavy atmosphere that had fallen between them.

"It's different this high-intensity focus on all of us," said Steve.

"How?"

"Then all the attention was going toward a good cause. It wasn't solely focused on my personal life. Even then I wasn't a fan," said Steve.

"What about being a parent?" asked Bruce.

"I'm as ready as anyone can be in my situation," said Steve.

Bruce nodded.

"It's lucky to have parents like you and Tony," he said.

"Tony and I don't make for the most stable of parents," said Steve.

Him and Tony being who they were would put their child at constant risk. S.H.I.E.L.D. sent him around the world for varying amounts of time he could miss out on an important part of his pup's life. He would have to cut back. After this, he was more than happy to do that.

"You and Tony are best suited for this child. It will be special," said Bruce.

"Special?"

"Not that kind special. Unique is better fitting. You and Tony will be able to handle the needs unique for super-powered potentially genius pup. I don't think many others would be suited to handle what could come with this. Steve even if this child doesn't take on any your abilities or Tony's people will always be after it," said Bruce.

Steve snarled.

"I won't let that happen," he said.

If anyone tried to harm his pup he'd kill them.

"I know you and Tony would never let that happen. It's a risk you should be aware of," said Bruce.

"Never thought this would be easy," he said.

Quiet conversation fell between them. Steve didn't leave until Bruce finished the meal. He took the bowl.

"Tomorrow, Tony and I will go to Howard's," he said.

"When will you get in contact with, Star?" asked Bruce.

"Soon," said Steve.

Bruce nodded already lost in his work again. Steve returned to the penthouse. His hand went over his stomach. People would want his baby. That would be constant threat Tony and him would have to look out for.

"I will always protect," he whispered.

The elevator opened. He'd forgotten to take his prenatal vitamins today. Steve groaned. All he wanted to do is eat and sleep for the rest of the day. He didn't want to go down to the garage and get them. Well, why not ask a small favor of his loving mate. He settled on the couch. It took a while to get comfortable. Tony made himself a drink. Steve would have to watch that. He didn't know what Tony experienced up there.

"Tony, could you do me a favor?" he asked.

"Sure."

"Could you get my prenatal vitamins from my motorcycle saddle bag?" asked Steve.

"But I.. fine," said Tony.

Tony went to the garage and took the bottle of pills out. He put them in his pocket and went to the penthouse. When he got there he found Steve rifling through the cabinets, searching for something.

"What are you looking for?" he asked.

"Pickles, we don't have any," said Steve.

Steve was on the verge of crying. Tony couldn't take the crying.

"I'll go get some pickles is there anything else you want?" asked Tony.

Steve smiled.

"I'll make a list," he said.

Steve quickly jotted down a list and handed it to him. He grabbed his Mark 5 suit. The suit quickly melded to him.

"I'll be back soon," said Tony.

To lessen the chance of being crowded by the press he went to a grocery store in Queens. Tony got out of his suit. It folded back into a suitcase. He put it in a grocery cart. As he walked through the aisles many looks were sent in his direction. He looked over Steve's list:

Smooth Peanut Butter
Sweet Pickles
Sherbet Ice Cream
Something Sweet

While in the frozen food aisle a kid ran up to him and hugged him. He stood motionless for a bit, not knowing what to do. This never happened before. Most kids were intimidated by him especially omega pups like this one. The little boy had a mop of messy brown hair and big brown doe eyes. The kid looked seven or eight years old.

"Thank you for saving us from the aliens," he said

"No problem, kid. Where's your parent?" asked Tony, searching for a guardian.

"My Aunt May was getting cereal but then I saw you," he said.

He didn't want to risk leaving the kid alone.

"Let's get you back to her," said Tony.

"Okay," he said.

The boy took his hand.  Tony didn't pull away. Might as well get used to this.

"My name is Peter," he said.

"Nice to meet you," said Tony.

It didn't take long to find Peter's aunt. She hugged Peter close.

"How many times have I told you not wander off, Peter Benjamin Parker?" she said.

"Ironman helped me find way back," he said.

"Ironman?"

The woman's eyes widen.

"Thank you for helping him," she said.

"No problem. Peter, you should listen to your aunt and not wander off," said Tony.

"Okay," he said with a pout.

Tony went check and bought a cloth bag since it would hold up better during flight. A crowd of costumers watched as he suited up. He slung the bag over his shoulder and took off. He found Steve asleep on the couch. Tony didn't risk waking the omega. He put the ice cream in the freezer and left the other things out, so Steve could easily find them. Tony pulled a blanket over Steve. He wanted to check on Bruce's progress.

"Don't."

Tony froze in his tracks.

"Thought you were asleep."

Steve sat up.

"Let him work. He'll tell us when he's ready," he said.

Tony went to the couch.

"You took longer than I thought," said Steve, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"Had to go to Queens to escape the pauperize. Something odd happened at the store," said Tony.

"What?" asked Steve.

"An omega pup came running up to me a the store and hugged me, thanking me for saving them from the aliens. He'd run off from his aunt to see me. Had to help him find his her," said Tony.

Steve was smiling brightly.

"Come here."

Tony was yanked onto the couch. Steve nuzzled against his neck purring loudly. They stayed huddled together on the couch. They moved to the bedroom at ten. Steve was out as soon as hit the mattress. Tony couldn't sleep. He looked up pregnancy books.

*****

At 1:30 in the morning he was finally able to fall asleep, only to be woken up thirty minutes later to the sound of Steve throwing up. He got Steve a glass of water, before entering the bathroom. Steve was bent over the toilet. He set it on the counter.

Tony sat next to him. Steve slowly raised his head. Tony offered him water, which he took slowly drinking. He didn't remember morning sickness starting so early last time. Tony rubbed his back as another wave of nausea hit him. He raised his hand to flush.

"You don't have to stay with me. Get some sleep. I'll probably spend the night here," said Steve.

"Wasn't sleeping well anyway," said Tony.

Steve smiled. He didn't feel like being touched, but the company was nice. Tony got some blankets and pillows from the bedroom.

"You don't have to do this," said Steve.

"I want to," said Tony.

They fell asleep on the bathroom floor. Tony was the first to wake. Steve's head rested on his chest. He was hit by Steve's morning breathing. Tony moved Steve. He went into the bedroom and packed a bag for them in case they needed to stay the night. Then went to wake Steve. He groaned but slowly woke.

"Morning."

Tony helped him up from the floor.

"How much sleep did you get?" he asked.

"An hour maybe two," said Tony.

"One of us at least needs to sleep," said Steve.

"We're in for many sleepless nights," said Tony.

He wasn't speaking about their eventual newborn or morning sickness. Steve wished Tony was, but the battle left its mark. He'd seen the fearful expression crossing Tony's expression, moments before he fell asleep.

"I packed your bag," said Tony.

"Thanks," said Steve.

"I'll make breakfast. Do you want anything?" he asked.

Steve shook his head.

"I'm going to shower," he said.

He waited for the alpha to ask to join him, but he went into the kitchen. Steve showered. He stopped by one of the drawers, pulling it open. His eyes lingered on the lingerie tucked into the corner. He had promised. It excited him. Maybe it would serve as a temporary distraction for Tony. He tucked a random set into his bag. When he went to the kitchen was struck by the smell of bacon. Steve hurled barely making it to the sink. Now he had to brush his teeth again.

"You okay?" asked Tony.

"Jarvis, vent out the room," he said.

Steve took a breath.

"Please throw that out," he said.

Tony quickly scrapped the bacon into the trash.

"Sorry, I couldn't take the smell," said Steve.

"It's fine. Are you okay with eggs?" asked Tony.

Steve nodded. He looked over the food on the counter that hadn't been put away. A jar of Nutella caught his eye. It looked like spreadable chocolate.

"What's this?" asked Steve.

"Nutella popular in Europe. Thought you might like it," said Tony.

Steve made toast and gave it try. He took a timid bite before quickly eating the rest.

"Like it?" said Tony.

Steve blushed. He liked it a little too much because he was currently fighting the urge to eat it directly from the jar. They finished their early breakfast. Steve packed a bag full of snacks. He had to increase his calorie intake by how much he didn't know exactly, but he was constantly hungry.

"Jarvis, when Bruce wakes up tell him we left," said Tony.

"Yes, sir," he said.

They got into one of the cars. To Steve, they all looked the same. It was a long drive to Howard's estate.

"We'll have to get a car with a backseat and a trunk," said Steve.

"I'm not getting a minivan," said Tony.

"Did I ask for one? You can choose any car you want as long as it has back seat for a car seat, safety features, and a trunk," said Steve.

Steve fell asleep an hour into the drive. Tony changed the music rock but kept it at a low volume. When they were ten minutes away he woke Steve.

"We're almost there," said Tony.

"How much longer?" asked Steve.

"Ten minutes," he said.

They pulled up to a large metal gate. The pillars were overgrown with ivy. Tony got out of the car and open before pulling into the stone driveway. It was a giant stucco mansion. It was well maintained for not being lived in for over twenty years.

"It's in better shape than I thought," said Steve.

"Every three months I have someone check in on the place tend the grounds and clean. I can't force myself to sell it," said Tony.

"It's a beautiful home," said Steve.

"Never was a home. It's only a beautiful building," said Tony.

They went to the large double doors. Tony lifted one of the potted plants and took out a key. He thought he'd never come back here, but he had to think of the next generation. There was a loud clunk as the door unlocked. He pushed open the heavy wooden double doors. He flicked on the lights.

Steve instantly disliked it. Even with the lights on the room was dark. It was painted gray with dark red detailing. It was meant to intimidate. He couldn't imagine having a family here it felt cold. Maybe the rest of it would be better. He could only imagine how Tony felt about it. The alpha took his hand and led him up the grand staircase. They stopped in front of the first guest bedroom. It smelled dusty but would be fine to stay in.

"We'll probably have to stay the night. Howard was a pack rat," said Tony.

"Where do we start?" asked Steve.

"Lunch."

"We just got here," said Steve.

"You haven't eaten since breakfast," said Tony.

His stomach growled.

"What if we get caught?" said Steve.

"Take out then. What do you feel like?" asked Tony.

"What's good around here?" asked Steve.

"There's decent burger place and there's a bakery. They have great pies," said Tony.

"Burgers and pie sound good," said Steve.

"I'll be back soon," said Tony.

The kissed him goodbye before leaving. Steve took the opportunity to look around. Spread throughout the house were old photos. All of them highlighted important moment the man's life before and after the war. There were a few wedding photos littered among them, but Steve couldn't find any of Tony. He continued to go room to room. In Howard's office, he finally found a picture of Tony. It was of Howard and Tony working on a car together. Tony couldn't be more than six, but they were both looked genuinely happy. A rare expression shared between the two of them. Steve smiled when he found Tony's room. Old computers and machine parts crowded the desks. Tools hung on the wall. The free space left was plastered with posters of Tony's favorite bands. There was only one family photo in the room. It was of Tony and his mom. He heard Tony pull up the driveway.

 

*****

 

Tony grabbed the bags from the front seat. He doubled Steve's normal order and he got two pies. Steve was in the kitchen, playing a game on his phone. Tony placed them on the counter. He draped his arms over Steve's shoulders and nuzzled against his neck, breathing in that wonderful scent. Steve's purred at the touch.

"What have you been up to since left?" asked Tony.

"Had a look around. Your bedroom is a mess," said Steve.

"Never got around to cleaning it," said Tony.

Tony took out their food.

"Did you find anything?" 

"You mean your Playboy stash?" 

The alpha tensed. Steve laughed. 

"I didn't find anything like that, I know you have now." 

Some of the tension left the alpha. He seemed more relaxed in their settings. They enjoyed a quiet lunch.

"Where do we start?" said Steve.

"The bunker," said Tony.

"Bunker?"

"Yeah, Howard was paranoid. Kept his most valuable things in there. Anything about you would be there," said Tony. 

They went to Howard's lab. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust. Tony took a moment to look it over. When he was young he would constantly try to get in, only to be lectured at and thrown out. It seemed so much bigger then.

"Tony?"

"Caught in a thought," he said.

Tony shook his head clear.

"So where is it?" asked Steve.

Tony pulled a sheet off a piece of furniture, revealing a 40s jukebox. Upon Tony's touch the machine alight.

"Is now the time for music?" asked Steve.

"You'll see. What was their song?" he said.

He looked through the selection.

"There it is," he said.

Stardust by Artie Shaw started playing. A seam appeared in the cement wall. It slid away revealing a giant metal door.

"Why that song?" asked Steve.

"My parents' wedding song," said Tony.

He groaned.

"What?"

"I forgot retinal scanner," he said.

"Could I just force it open?" said Steve.

"As attractive as that idea is it would set off an alarm. It will take me a few minutes, but I'll be able to get it open," said Tony.

"I think you should try to open it," said Steve.

"It won't work," said Tony.

"Then you have nothing to lose," said Steve.

"It won't work," he said.

Tony stared into the scanner.

"Tony Stark, access confirmed," said robotic voice.

The door swung open.

"How did you know?" asked Tony.

"I thought Howard would have it reset to you when he died. He probably thought whatever was inside could be useful to you," said Steve.

"You really did know the man," said Tony.

The light turned on as they walked in. It was filled with cardboard boxes.

"Where do we start? It doesn't seem to be in any order," said Steve. 

"They aren't," said Tony.

Tony froze when he opened a box filled with photo albums. He flipped one open. The photo that caught him was one of him as a toddler, standing on Howard's feet. Howard's obvious pride was cleared. Tony never remembered the man looking at him that way. It must have stopped as soon as he learned how to talk.

"Tony, did you find it?" asked Steve.

He didn't get an answer. Steve got up and looked over Tony's shoulder. He smiled when he saw the photo.

"Cute, you should frame that." 

Tony quickly shut it.

"Why keep this here?" 

"He must have thought it was important. I wish I had something like this. I don't have any photos of my family," said Steve.

Tony hugged him, each took comfort from the touch.

"Let's take a break," said Tony.

"Yeah."

"How long have we been down here?" asked Steve.

Tony looked phone.

"Shit, it's already five," he said.

They went up to the kitchen. The two finished off the leftovers from earlier. Steve started on the apple pie. Tony laughed when Steve growled at him when he tried having some. The omega blushed pushing the pan toward him. Nearly half of it was gone.

"No, you go ahead," he said.

"But-

"You need it more than me. You're feeding a super powdered embryo," said Tony.

It was easier for him to think about it this way. A pup was terrifying. A grouping of cells that didn't even amount to the size of a poppy seed was nothing to worry about.

"Embryo?"

"That's its current stage of development. Nine weeks it will be a fetus," said Tony.

"Whatever stage of growth its in it's ours," said Steve, putting Tony's hand over his stomach.

Steve finished off the rest of the pie. He yawned.

"Get some sleep," said Tony. 

"I'm good," said Steve yawning again. 

"Come on."

Tony led him to the guest bedroom. Steve fell back into the bed. The bedding smelled slightly of dust but he was too tired to care. Tony kissed him on the forehead. 

"Sleep well." 

Steve was already nodding off. 

 

*****

 

Steve woke hours later but wasn't ready to get out of bed. He reached out searching for his mate, but he wasn't there. Steve stretched out before getting out of bed. It was 10:30 pm. He went to his bag, taking out Tony's surprise. Steve put it on. The lace felt nice against his skin. He blushed quickly putting on a t-shirt and sweater. He felt ridiculous, but his alpha love to imagine him, wearing such things.

"Found anything yet?"

Tony turned. Steve was dressed in a pair of sweatpants and a red sweater. In his hand was a mug of coffee.

"Getting closer. Only a few boxes left." 

Steve sat next to him, handing him the mug.

"How was your nap?" asked Tony.

"Good, until I woke up and you weren't there," said Steve.

"It's only 10:40," he said.

Steve took down another box from a nearby stack and started looking through. He took off his sweater. When Steve straightened his shirt, Tony caught a glimpse of light blue lace.

"What?" asked Steve, when he caught him staring.

"What are you wearing?" 

"Sweat pants." 

"Underneath."

"We had a deal. I'm following through." 

Tony stared processing image planted in his mind. Why did Steve choose to fulfill this fantasy now? Fuck, it didn't matter he was grateful! He caught the omega in an embrace, bringing him into a kiss. His snuck down Steve's back into his pants, moaning when he touched the lace. 

"Bedroom," gasped Steve. 

Tony nodded. He took Steve's hand, leading him to the bedroom. He brought Steve into a kiss, slowly deepening it. There was a thump as Steve's back hit the door.

Steve pulled away, his breathing harsh. Everything was so much more in tune. The lust, need, and love surged through their bond. He was lost in the sensation. His arms wrapped around Tony's neck. The alpha arm moved around his waist, keeping Steve pressed against him.

"Tony!"

Yelping as Tony lay a trail of hot kisses down his neck. The alpha's sharp teeth dragged against his claim. Steve shivered his knees going weak. He clutched Tony's clothes for support. Those skilled hands crept lower, grasping his ass, rocking him forward to grind their hips together. Steve keened when his alpha held him tighter. With one clean motion Tony lifted him, he wrapped his legs around the alpha's waist. The bedroom door flung open. Tony set him on the bed. He watched as the alpha undressed. Whimpering with want as his mate shed his clothes. The bed creaked as the alpha joined him. Tony's leg wedged between his. They kissed. Tony's hand moved under his shirt, pulling it off.

Tony savored the image before him. He ran his fingers over the light blue harness top. The color brought out the blue in Steve's lust-hazed eyes. He was yanked into a kiss. Tony moaned as Steve's hand tangled in his hair, keeping him close. His fingers dug into Steve's hips when the omega rolled them against him. The scent of slick leaked from Steve's clothes, darkening the fabric of his sweatpants. Tony pulled away, moving down Steve's stomach. His fingers grasped at the waist of Steve's pants. Steve raised his hips. Tony slowly moved the loose fabric down the omega's long pale legs. He ran his hand down Steve's hip, enjoying the sensation the omega's soft skin and lace. Tony placed a small kiss on Steve's hip before moving up.

His alpha lay on his side by him, his fingers slowly moving up and down his stomach. He instinctively spreading his legs further. A whimper escaped. He jolted when the alpha's hand was on him, tracing him slowly through the thin fabric.

Tony growled when Steve's hand closed around him. He moved atop his omega. Steve shifted underneath him. His arousal moved against the lace. He thrust against Steve's thigh. Tony rocked against the dampening fabric of Steve's lace briefs. Steve canted his hips against. Tony ripped away the fabric separating him from Steve, sliding into his mate. A tight wet heat surrounded him. His thrusts were deep in slow. Steve's legs wrapped tightly around his waist, bringing him deeper.

Ever so often their lips would meet in a kiss. Steve was close. There was a boiling coil of pressure building his stomach. So close. Only a little more. The alpha's thrust grew deeper. All he could do was moan as the alpha worked him. Steve's nails dug into Tony's back as the alpha's knot tugged at his sensitive rim. Steve screamed reaching release as the alpha's teeth sunk into his neck.

Tony held his mate close as the pleasure of his release spread through him. He was slow to loosen his hold. Tony licked his refreshed claim. He shallowly thrust into his omega, earning a soft tired purr. When his knot went down he moved from Steve. He lay next to his mate, running his fingers through Steve's hair.

"I love you."

"Love you too, Tony." 

Tony woke up. Steve back was pressed against his chest. He peeled away from Steve, getting out of bed. It would be hours until Steve woke up. He quietly walked to the bathroom quickly showering. Tony had to go to the store or there be hell to pay. He walked over to the bed. Steve was sleeping on his stomach, snoring his hair a mess, but he couldn't look more beautiful to Tony. He placed a gentle kiss on Steve's temple before leaving. 

 

*****

 

Steve woke slowly. He still wore the top of the lacy outfit. It was plastered uncomfortably to his skin. He tugged it off and tossed it to the floor. Steve was too tired to move. Tony's side of the bed was empty. His phone chimed. He looked over the texts. Steve hated texting so he just called his mate.

"Morning sleepy head," said Tony.

"What time is it?" he asked.

"Ten, have you even gotten out of bed?" asked Tony.

"No,"

Tony laughed.

"You're in no position to judge," said Steve.

"I'll be back in twenty minutes," he said.

"Alright see you soon, honey," said Steve.

He got out of bed. Steve hated the slight unease he felt at his not being with him. He was perfectly capable of handling himself. Steve went to the shower. Thankfully, the hot water still worked. He took his time. Steve towel dried and changed into a fresh set of clothes. He waited in the kitchen for Tony to come back. Steve rushed to the front door when he heard him.

Tony smiled when he was locked in a powerful hug. Steve nuzzled against his neck. The warm greeting melted his stress. Steve's reaction was due to the freshness of their bond and pregnancy hormones coursing through him but he enjoyed it. They went to the kitchen. He took out the box of donuts he got along with some much healthier options. They enjoyed a quiet breakfast.

"Shall we get back to it," said Tony.

Steve nodded. They returned to the bunker. There were only three boxes left. The third one had Howard's notes on project rebirth. There were only two notebooks.

"Is that all?" asked Steve.

Tony nodded.

"I'll read through them. See if I can find anything," he said.

He picked up on Steve's worry.

"You're fine," said Tony pulling him close.

Steve nuzzled against his throat.

"It's not me I'm worried about," he said, lowering his hand protectively over his stomach.

He held Steve closer. His protective instinct flared powerfully.

"We'll figure it out. I'll be there for you the entire way," he said.

Steve smiled, pressing further into the alpha comforting embrace.

"Can we go home?" asked Steve.

"Yes, we've gotten all we needed from here," said Tony.

They packed up their things and locked up the house. He got into the car.

"Have everything?" asked Tony.

Steve nodded. They sped out the driveway, the gate closed behind them. Steve watched the surroundings pass by. He yawned. Tony turned down the music. When they got home he woke Steve up. The omega instantly ran to the bathroom.

He went to the lab to check on Banner's progress. The man jumped when he came in.

"Any progress?" asked Tony.

"There's so much information to be gathered that's unrelated to the pregnancy. It's difficult to sift through what may be relative," said Bruce.

"These may be of some help," said Tony, taking out Howard's notebooks.

"Have you found anything in them?" asked Bruce.

"Still have to look through them. Howard always wrote in code, so it may take me a few hours," said Tony.

He pulled up a chair and started flipping through the pages. The inventor quickly lost track of time.

Steve sat next to the toilet. After two days of no morning sickness, his baby was getting back at him. His stomach was empty, but he kept dry heaving.

"Do you wish me to get, sir?" asked Jarvis.

"No."

He got to his feet. Steve steadied himself against the counter.

"Are you done little one?" he asked.

Steve brushed the taste of vomit out of his mouth. He went into the kitchen. There was a bowl of fruit on the counter. He glared at the apple. Nope, he wasn't going to try that. Maybe in a little while. Steve took out his phone, now was as good a time as any to call Edith. Hopefully, she wasn't too busy after all that's happened.

"Hello?"

Her voice was tired.

"How are you?"

"Oh, Steve sorry I've been processing all the new data from the Incident. This isn't even my field of expertise!" she growled.

"I have something for you that may be more in your field of interest," he said.

"What?" she asked.

"Tony and I need an expert in prenatal studies-

"You know," said Edith.

"That you once the top in your field retired because-

"I had a mental break down. Yet you still want me as your doctor?" she asked.

"I don't know you're reasoning nor do I care. I know you will take care of my baby. That's all that matters to me," said Steve.

"Thank you. I'd be honored to work with Dr. Banner on this project," she said.

"This is not a project, Edith. All Tony and I want is to know how to care for our baby," said Steve.

"Sorry, that was poor phrasing on my part," said Edith.

"You can't report any of the information you gather to S.H.I.E.L.D," he said.

"Understood, I'll be at Stark Tower tomorrow," she said.

"Thank you," said Steve.

"I'll see you soon," she said.

Edith hung up. Director Fury stood behind her. She glared at him.

"I hate this. He's my friend. You're making me betray him," said Edith.

"I'm sorry for that, but it's the job you agreed to. You will report whatever information you gather over the span of his pregnancy to me. Steve is right to fear any of the data related to his pregnancy getting out, but we may need the information gathered from it in the future," said Fury.

"Yes, sir," she said weakly.

Steve hung up his phone, tucking it back into his pocket.

"Jarvis, tell Tony and Bruce that Edith will be here to tomorrow," said Steve.

"Will do,"

Steve noticed a box on the kitchen counter.

"What this Jarvis?" asked Steve.

"Those must be the pregnancy books, sir ordered,"

"He ordered baby books?" he said.

"Yes, he wants to be prepared. This is a very new field of study for him," said Jarvis.

He ripped open the box. The cover the greeted him was:

Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every Hot Mamma or Papa Should Know

Steve turned red. Of course Tony ordered a sex book. Part of him was curious. He quickly shoved the book to the bottom of the stack. The other books were more reasonable. He started reading.

"Learn anything new."

Steve got halfway through one of the books when Tony returned to the kitchen. He marked the page he was on, before closing it.

"There's a lot more information out there now. Did you learn anything from Howard's notebooks?" 

Tony sighed.

"I have the full blueprints for the machine but hardly anything on the serum. The few bits and pieces I have don't have anything to connect it with," said Tony.

Steve bit his lip.

"I'm here for the both of you. And I always will be," said Tony raising Steve's chin.

He wouldn't run for this responsibility. Tony wanted it. He wouldn't be like Howard. No, he'd be there for his pup and husband.

"I love you," said Steve.

"Love you too, beautiful," said Tony.

Tony ran his finger through his mate's hair. He purred Steve huddled against his chest.

"When was the last you ate?" he asked.

Steve groaned at the idea of eating.

"You need to eat, Steve," said Tony.

"It's only going to come back up again," he said.

"How about something simple? Toast may be," said Tony.

"Not hungry," said Steve.

Tony grabbed a box of crackers and placed it in front of him. Steve humored him. He opened a box and ate a few.

"There I ate," said Steve.

Tony rolled his eyes. That would be the best he would get out of the omega. Tony comforted Steve through a night of morning sickness. When morning came he didn't dare to wake the sleeping omega. He placed a glass of water next to Steve.

"Sir, a Dr. Star is here," said Jarvis.

"Let her up," said Tony.

He didn't know what he was expecting from Dr. Star, but it wasn't the gentle round-faced omega that greeted him. She quickly shook his hand.

"It's so nice to finally meet you. Steve has told me a lot about you," she said.

"Nice to meet you too," he said, still not quite sure how to process the woman before him.

She smiled brightly looking around.

"I'll show you to the lab," said Tony.

"Please call me, Edith," she said.

"Sure."

"Could I check on Steve first?" said Edith. 

"Once he wakes up," said Tony.

"How has been feeling?" she asked.

"Nauseous, he's currently asleep on the bathroom floor," said Tony.

"Poor thing best to let him sleep," she said.

Tony walked her to the elevator.

"Take her to the lab, Jarvis," he said.

"What about you?" she asked.

"I'll be down soon enough," said Tony.

Tony quietly walked into the bathroom. He was surprised to see Steve was awake. The omega stared up at him from the floor, shirtless. There was an empty glass next to him. Tony took it from the floor and refilled it before setting it back down.

"Thanks," he said.

"When you get further along laying on the floor like will prove problematic," said Tony.

"For now it isn't," said Steve.

He pressed his skin against the cool tiled floor. Tony joined him on the floor.

"Dr. Star is here," said Tony.

"I heard," he said.

"She's peppy," said Tony.

"I like peppy," said Steve.

"Of course you do," he said.

"It's refreshing," said Steve.

Tony huffed.

"Why aren't you downstairs with them?" asked Steve.

"Wanted to check on you first," said Tony.

Steve slowly got to his feet. Tony stood beside him. He braced himself against the alpha.

"You good?"

"I've been puking my guts out for several hours. Do you think I'm good?" said Steve.

Tony laughed. He only caught a glimpse of the mood swings. As Steve got, further along, he doubted he'd find them as entertaining.

"Go to the lab," said Steve, gently pushing away the alpha.

"Want anything before I go?" asked Tony.

"I'm capable of making my own breakfast," said Steve.

"Will you actually eat it?" asked Tony.

"Yes, Tony. Now go to the lab," he said.

"Alright, if you-

"If I need anything I will tell Jarvis to get you," said Steve.

Tony left. Steve yawned stretching out. He was starving. Hopefully, he would be able to keep something down. He went to the kitchen a made himself breakfast. It was only toast, but he needed something simple that would be easy on his stomach. His breakfast was quiet.

 

*****

May 11, 2012

(22 days) 

The week passed by in a quiet manner he saw little Bruce and Edith. He only saw Tony when he got up in the morning. At times he missed his alpha but Tony was working on finding ways to help their pup. Steve groaned when Tony woke him up from his Friday noon nap.

"What is it?" he asked.

"We want to show you what we have?" asked Tony.

Steve nodded. He followed the alpha to the lab. The three scientists started speaking rapidly in what seemed to be a in different langue.

"Stop!" he growled.

"Steve?"

"English, simple wording please," he said.

"Sorry, Steve we'll give you the basic summary," said Edith.

"Thank you," he said.

"I'll start with the changes we've found in Tony. The bond the two of you share has somehow transferred a fraction of the effect of the serum have been passed on. We're still trying to figure out why and how long this effect may last," said Bruce.

"And the baby?" asked Steve.

"We are unable to determine much," said Edith. 

Steve bit his lip. Two of the smartest people he knew couldn't figure what was going on with his child. 

"We know your child is strong," said Edith.  

"You surviving the battle without miscarrying show how resilient the embryo is. It has most likely taken on your healing abilities. How much of that will be passed on when it's born will be seen," said Bruce.

"I know it doesn't seem like much but those are the bare bone facts," said Edith.

"We wouldn't be able to tell you more until your further along and we can gather fetal DNA from your blood," said Bruce.

"In about a week I'll be able to take that sample," said Edith.

Steve wished there was more. He wanted to know all he could as soon as possible on his pregnancy.

"I know you want more, but get there in time as you get further along," said Edith.

"Alright," said Steve.

He went the elevator with Tony following after him.

"Shouldn't you be with them?" asked Steve.

"I've spent enough time with them. I need to spend time with you," said Tony.

He was tired of spending time with biologists. With Bruce and Edith, he was out of his element, with Steve it was easy. They settled on the couch. Jarvis put on the nature channel. Tony hadn't watched the news for days. He didn't want to be reminded of the portal anymore than he had to. It had already eaten away his nights. Steve twitched uncomfortably bedside him, before finally settling. The nerves coming off Steve was making him anxious. He held him closer.

"What's wrong?" asked Tony. 

"Nothing." 

"Steve." 

"What if it doesn't turn out right?" 

"That's normal fear to have."  

"What if-

"You're going to drive yourself crazy with what-ifs. There have been no signs that anything is wrong. Take comfort in that. Even if there were we would find a way to handle," said Tony.

"You're right," he sighed.

Steve nuzzled against the alpha's chest.

"People will try to take out baby," he said.

Tony hold around him tightened.

"Whoever is foolish enough to harm our child must have a death wish," said Tony.

The protective aura coming of his alpha calmed Steve.

"When is Banner leaving?" he asked. 

Edith had already left for S.H.I.E.L.D.

"My jet will take him wherever he wants. He can handle himself from there," said Tony. 

Steve fell asleep cuddled against the alpha.

 

*****

May 14, 2012 

(25 days)

 

The weekend went peacefully. Monday morning Tony's phone rang, waking him. 

"Tony."

"Mm."

"Get the phone," he said.

"Five more minutes," grumbled the alpha.

Steve growled, before kicking the alpha out of the bed. The alpha groaned from the floor.

"Jarvis, hang up the damn phone and ignore all incoming calls," said Tony.

The phone kept ringing now through Jarvis.

"JARVIS!" snarled Steve.

"I apologize. Ms. Potts calls are wired to go through,"

Steve grabbed the lamp from the bedside table, throwing it at the speaker in the ceiling.

"I'm up!"

"Answer her now!" yelled Steve.

Tony rushed out of the room before Steve decided to throw a lamp at him.

"Put her on."

"Why haven't you picked?"

By her voice, he knew something was irritating her.

"It's ten in the morning. Is there a reason for this current mood?" he asked.

"Turn on the news," said Pepper.

"What channel?" he asked.

"Any," she said.

Tony turned on the TV. His eyes went wide.

"STEVE!"

"WHAT?!" he snarled from the bedroom.

"You need to see this," said Tony.

Steve groaned and forced himself out of bed and went to the kitchen.

"What do I need to see?" he asked.

"That," said Tony pointing to the screen.

On the screen was an image of him and Tony kissing, moments after the battle.

"It's on every channel," said Tony.

Chapter Text

Steve stared at the screen, lower himself onto the couch. He wanted to be out in public with his mate but on their terms. They were forced out by some idiot with a camera phone. He pressed himself against his alpha.

"It wasn't supposed to happen like this," he said.

Steve's distress flooded Tony's senses. He joined Steve on the couch. The omega pressed against his neck, hiding his face there. Tony ran his hand down Steve's back trying to calm him. This was a new unwanted level of attention for him.

"What do we do?" asked Steve. 

"Pepper will handle this."

"Something this big?"

"If anyone can handle this it will be her." 

Steve pulled away from the shelter of his neck. This was a lot to ask even from Pepper.

“Put her on Jarvis,” he said.

She picked up on the first ring.

“What do we do about this?” asked Tony.

“I’ll be there soon,” she said.

“I hope you have some idea of how to handle this,” he said.

“Working on it."

"I need better than that."

"Bye, Tony."

She took a breath. The story had wheels. The press wasn't dropping. It was too juicy. She'd been on the phone with Agent Hill all morning creating a story. Together they'd come up with a believable story. She checked her phone. Her mailbox was filled with requests for an interview.

Steve and Tony stood quietly in the kitchen, still processing what happened. The news was playing in the background.

"Volume," said Steve.

Steve recognized the newscasters from Morning Joe.

"A break from what the tragedy of the what's being called the Incident. This comes with this image of Captain America and Tony Stark caught in a passionate kiss," said Mika.

“Don’t you think this is-

“Mute.”

“I was watching that,” said Steve.

“You don’t need to,” said Tony.

"I need to know what to expect." 

“It’s only unneeded stress.

Steve ran from his mate, hurling in the sink. The stress of the moment agitated his morning sickness. He raised his head.

“Done?” asked Tony, offering him a paper towel.

Steve nodded. He wiped his mouth.

“For the moment."

“Can we talk about how you literally kicked me out of bed this morning?” said Tony.

“You just did,” said Steve.

He took the box of crackers from the cabinet and water bottle from the fridge. Steve went to the bathroom and settled on the floor. Tony watched him from the doorway.

"I'm not in the mood for company," said Steve.

"Shower," said Tony.

“What?”

“You smell.”

Steve growled.

"The scent of distress aggravates morning sickness,” said Tony.

Steve was willing to give it a try to miss an episode of morning sickness. Jarvis filled the bath. He shed his clothes and wrapped a towel around his waist.

“Undress,” said Steve. 

Tony smiled. Steve sunk into the water hot water. Tony got in behind him. The tension left him. His nausea faded as the smell of distress washed away. He purred as Tony groomed him. When clean he got out of the tub. Steve towel dried his hair.

“Feel better?” asked Tony, his arms wrapping around the omega.

Steve nodded.

“I think I might be able to handle cereal,” he said.

“That’s a start,” said Tony.

Getting Steve to eat the last few days proved difficult with constant morning sickness. Unlike betas, omegas didn't get a break from morning sickness when they were further along, it lasted the entire pregnancy. They went to the kitchen. Steve kept slowly ate, while he watched over him. The elevator doors opened.

"Pepper," said Steve. 

He'd never been so happy to see her. He wanted to know the plan. It would help him settled down.

As soon as Pepper entered the penthouse she was struck by the smell of pregnant stressed omega. She forced back a cringe. Yes, pregnancy sweetened Steve’s sent, but it had been overwhelmed by stress.

“Jarvis air out the room,” she said.

“Yes, mam.”

She joined them at the kitchen island.

“How bad is it?” asked Steve.

"Not bad at all."

“Really?”

“There's a lot of attention, but a majority of it good. Unlike what I normally have to deal with-

“I’m settling down,” said Tony.

She rolled her eyes, but it was true the once playboy alpha was settling down and starting a family. 

"People are suckers for a love story, especially between a couple that seems so opposite. You have that going for you. We still have to get ahead of it control the narrative," said Pepper.

"How?" asked Steve.

"You'll have to an interview," said Pepper.

"With who?" asked Tony.

"Oprah Winfrey."

Tony rolled his eyes. Oprah had been trying for years to get an interview with him. Every time he declined. He was sure she would use this a chance to use some of the questions come up with over the years.

"It will be an exclusive with a live audience," said Pepper.

“Who’s Oprah?” asked Steve.

Pepper sighed heavily.

"She's an extremely well-known talk show host. Going on her show will introduce you two formally as a couple to millions. She's respectful and appeals to a wide range of viewers," she said.

“What do we tell her? We can’t exactly tell her the truth,” said Steve.

"S.H.I.E.L.D. has provided us with a cover story. This time Tony follow it," said Pepper.

"I will."

Tony had so much more at risk. He had a pup and mate to protect. She took two large packets of paper from her suitcase.

"Read these. If you follow these it should go smoothly,” said Pepper.

Steve started skimming through it.

“It can’t be that easy,” said Tony.

"It is if you let it," said Pepper.

“Do we have to go to Chicago or is she coming to us?” asked Tony.

“She’s willing to film in New York,” said Pepper.

“That makes it simpler,” said Tony.

“Oh, and Martha Stewart has volunteered to help with your wedding planning,” said Pepper.

“Should I know her too?” asked Steve.

"A TV personality got arrested for conspiracy, obstruction, and lying to a federal agency," said Tony.

"There's more to it than that," said Pepper.

"Why do I want this person to help with my wedding?" asked Steve.

"She's done her time. It's only an option we don't need to give her an answer yet," said Pepper.

“Back to Oprah when does this happen?” asked Steve.

"Saturday at six it will be a two-hour interview live," said Pepper.

“Two hours?” said Tony.

“This isn’t a normal interview, Tony. There’s a lot that needs to be covered,” said Pepper.

“It’s fine. I want to get this over with,” said Steve.

“I have to get going,” said Pepper.

“Already?” said Steve.

“I have to meet with the board,” she said.

"Good luck," said Steve.

He waved goodbye.

“They are changing how we met,” said Steve looking up from the packet.

“What are they saying?” asked Tony.

“That we met during a training exercise at S.H.I.E.L.D,” he said.

“It’s more romantic being assigned as your heat alpha,” said Tony.

“Is our meeting something to be ashamed of?” asked Steve.

“No, sweetheart many couples met in the through the omega alpha heat program. S.H.I.E.L.D. probably want us to say that to prevent conspiracy theories,” said Tony.

“What kind of conspiracy?” asked Steve.

"A government agency, setting up two superheroes. It's a conspiracist’s dream. They’d claimed we were put together to make some super baby,” said Tony.

“We did make a super baby,” said Steve.

“Unintentionally,” said Tony.

"If it weren't accidental would you want pups?” asked Steve.

"Yes, but I’d want to keep you to myself for a bit longer. But I'll happily share with the pup," said Tony, his hands sneaking over Steve's stomach.

He nuzzled against Steve’s neck deeply breathing in the omega’s scent. Steve purred.

“Wait, pups? As in plural,” he said.

“Yes, as in plural. I've always wanted a big family," said Steve.

"Isn't one super-powered genius pup enough?" said Tony.

"We're in a place where we can support a big family. Imagine what it will be like for this one to be the only one like it,” he said.

"Give me a few years with you and this one then we can discuss having more," said Tony.

"Fine, we have plenty of time," said Steve. 

Steve bit his lip.

“What is it?” asked Tony. 

"I want to keep my name."

Tony shrugged. Steve keeping his name wasn't an issue. The omega wore his mark and carried his child. That was more than enough for him.

“Sure."

“You don’t mind?”

“You wear my mark that’s enough for me. You want to hyphenate the kid’s name?” said Tony.

“Stark-Rogers doesn’t roll off the tongue. It will have your name,” said Steve.

Steve purred as Tony's fingers ran circles over his stomach.

“We’ll have to start wedding plans soon,” said Tony.

"Less than three months to plan a wedding," said Steve.

“Any ideas on what you want. You have an unlimited budget,” said Tony.

“I don’t need anything big, but I’m getting it anyway,” said Steve.

"Two hundred people, isn't bad," said Tony.

Most of his parties were at least a few hundred.

“Big to me,” said Steve.

It was more than he'd ever hoped for. When he was young he thought he'd be lucky to have a courthouse ceremony.

“If you don’t want all the fuss. We can go to Vegas and get hitched,” said Tony.

Steve glared at him.

“So that’s no,” said Tony.

“Yes, that’s a no,” he said.

“Are there any other rules I should be made aware of?” asked Tony.

“Military wedding, no patriotic patterns. I don’t need a church, but I want a Catholic ceremony," said Steve.

"And you'll have it," said Tony. 

"What are your plans for your bachelor party?" asked Steve. 

Tony hadn’t even thought of his bachelor party.

“Mmm, not sure,” said Tony.

“No, strippers,” said Steve.

“I’m engaged to a living Adonis why would I want to waste my time with them?” said Tony.

“Good answer,” said Steve.

Steve couldn’t relax the rest of the day. He would love to go outside and clear his head, but there was a swarm of press and fans outside that he didn’t want to go through. He went to his studio, pulling a blank canvas from a shelf.

“Steve.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’ve been staring at the canvas for three hours."

How could so much time have passed?

"I thought painting would help me relax, but I can't think of a subject," said Steve.

“You can paint me."

"That would require you holding still for more than five minutes," he said.

"Try, I'll even pose nude." 

Steve blushed. He wouldn’t want anyone else seeing his alpha in a state of undress. Too many already had.

"I'm fine just need some time alone," he said.

“Are you sure?” asked Tony.

Steve nodded.

“If I need you I’ll get you,” he said.

“I’ll be-

“In your lab,” said Steve.

He took the alpha’s hand.

“Steve?”

His mate pulled him close, resting his head against his chest. Tony ran his fingers through Steve’s hair.

“We’ll get through this,” he said.

“I know we will,” said Steve.

“I can always work in here if you want,” said Tony.

“Go.”

He nudged Tony toward the door. When the alpha was gone he picked up a pencil and started sketching. Then put down the first layer of paint. The rough image, staring back at him was Tony's arc reactor.

“What time is it?” asked Steve.

“12:30 am,” said Jarvis.

He hadn’t heard Tony return to their room.

“Is he still working?"

“Yes.”

Steve cleaned his paintbrushes then went to get his alpha. Tony was so absorbed in his work he didn’t notice him. He took a seat on the lumpy couch. Watching his alpha work was calming. His eyes closed in a deep sleep.

Tony looked up from his work when the scent of calm omega filling his lab. He turned in his seat. Steve was asleep on the couch. It wasn't the best place for the omega to sleep, but he couldn't wake him. Neither of them had gotten much sleep. He took a blanket from the closet and wrapped it around Steve. Tony kneeled down by his mate.

“You are all I need."

He got up.

“Scan him."

“Sir, Steve did not take it well last time I scanned him without permission,” said Jarvis.

“I need to know if they’re healthy,” he said.

“Of course, sir."

The AI unit scanned over Steve.

“They’re perfectly healthy." 

“Thank you."

He went back to work.

“I wish you would take a moment to rest,” said Jarvis.

“I’m fine,” said Tony.

He had to keep working. He had to keep his family protected. The suits were one to keep them safe.

 

*****

 

Steve woke up at ten in the morning. Tony was still working. Had he even slept? 

"Tony."

"Morning sweetheart."

The smile greeting him was tired and fake. It failed to mask his mate's stress and anxiety.

"You worked through the entire night," he said.

Tony nodded, his smile dropping.

“You need to sleep."

“I’m fine."

“You aren’t. You’ll sleep now.”

“Not tired,” said Tony with a wave of his hand.

He missed the glare aimed in his direction. Steve’s arm wrapped around his waist. Then he was thrown over the omega’s shoulder.

"Put me down."

“No.”

“I need to finish this.”

“Will it explode if you don’t?”

“No.”

“Then it can wait."

“Steve.”

“You’re being childish. Everyone needs sleep, Tony."

"And what you're doing isn't?"

"I'm taking care of my mate since he's incapable of doing it himself."

Tony gave up. They got into the elevator. He smirked.

“Do you think you conceived here or at S.H.I.E.L.D?” asked Tony.

Steve shifted on his feet. Tony didn’t have to see Steve’s expression to know he was blushing.

“Careful, Tony I may just lose my grip,” warned Steve.

“You wouldn’t drop me,” he said.

"Dropping you on your head might help with you smartass behavior," said Steve.

“You love it. Talking about ass-

His hand traveled downward groping that perfectly formed rear.

“Tony!”

“You can’t expect me not to touch when it’s directly in my face."

The elevator doors opened. Happy stared at the image before him, not quite sure how to respond to his former boss draped over Captain America's shoulder.

“Hey, Happy,” said Steve.

“Am I interrupting?” he asked.

“No.”

“Are you sure?” asked Happy.

“Do you need something?” asked Steve.

“I’m here to take, Tony to a board meeting,” said Happy.

The alpha groaned.

"What could they possibly need to talk about that they can't discuss with Pepper," said Tony.

"Likely your love affair with Captain America," he said. 

"He's my mate!" growled Steve. 

He hated the word affair. It made what they shared sound dirty. 

"Sorry, Stave. They want you, boss." 

“He’s not going,” said Steve.

“You heard him, Happy,” said Tony.

“They aren’t going to like this,” he said.

“Don’t care. Pepper is the CEO they can talk to her,” said Tony.

"Alright, I'll tell them," said Happy.

Happy waited for the elevator. Tony liked his current position far too much for his comfort. It was only a matter of time before he acted on it.

“Oh and Steve is pregnant,”

“What? And you’re letting him carry you like that,” said Happy.

“Do you think I enjoy being held like this?” said Tony.

"You aren't complaining. Wait, you let him fight in his condition?” said Happy.

"I didn't need his permission. If I hadn't helped who know what world I would have to bring our pup into," said Steve.

Steve’s muscles tensed underneath him.

“Steve, sweetheart can you put me down?” he asked.

He huffed but put his mate down. His arms crossed in slight frustration.

“Thank you,” said Tony.

“I didn't know. Even if I did I couldn't stop him once he has his mindset there's nothing I can do change it. We needed him out there. The pup is fine," said Tony.

“I’m guessing this was an accident,” said Happy.

Steve glared. What did it matter?!

“Unintentional yes but doesn’t make it's any less enjoyed,” said Tony.

“There’s no convincing you to let him go,” said Happy.

“Nope, he’s staying with me,” said Steve, bringing the alpha close.

“Have to listen to my fiancé,” said Tony.

"I can't believe it," said Happy.

“We'll need you to set up security for the big day. I'm sure you can work out the details with Pepper. Planning this will be far more of an important task than driving, Tony somewhere," said Steve.

“You’re right,” said Happy.

"Thank you for handling this for us," said Steve.

Happy nodded. He went to the elevator lost in thought. Tony grunted as his mated threw him over his shoulder again.

"This again?"

"Thought you might run."

"I thought we were over this."

“You could have just walked me to our room,” said Tony.

Steve shrugged. Tony was thrown onto the bed. Under different circumstances, this would be far more arousing. Maybe he could convince Steve.

"We aren't doing that," he said.

"It would tire me out," said Tony.

"Next time."

Steve helped him out of his clothes then tucked him into bed.

"Are you going stand guard or join me?"

Steve nodded. The omega brought him close to his chest, holding him there. Steve's soothing scent clouded his senses. Soft purrs filled the silence. The delicate sound lulling him to sleep. Tony tried fighting the battle against sleep. 

"Sleep, I'll be here when you wake up." 

Steve watched as Tony fell asleep. The alpha twitched nervously in his sleep. Tony expression became fearful. Steve purred and ran his fingers through Tony's hair. It wasn't enough to stop the oncoming nightmare. Tony struggled against him. If he let go he was afraid the alpha may hurt himself.

"Tony, wake up!"

There was no response. All he could do was watch. After five minutes Tony settled down. The alpha even sleeping against his chest his expression peaceful. 

"What did you see up there?" 

"I can show you," said Jarvis. 

He shouldn't but he needed to know. Waiting for Tony to tell him could make things worse. 

"Show me, Jarvis." 

Jarvis played the footage. It was only a few seconds but it gave him an idea of what Tony saw. The darkness of space was haunting. He couldn't imagine what it would be like experiencing it in person. 

 

*****

 

“Sir.”

Tony’s eyes slowly cracked open.

“Time?”

“Four in the afternoon."

"Why'd you wake me?" 

"Rhodes is here." 

Steve’s hold on him had loosened enough for him to sit up. He managed to edge out of bed and quietly sneak out of their bedroom. Rhodey stood in the center of the penthouse shocked.

“Rhodes.”

“You got him pregnant."

Tony nodded.

“How are you handling this?” asked Rhodes.

“Terrified,” he said.

“Every parent feels that way,” said Rhodes.

"And you'd know? You don't have a pup scampering around," he said.

“How did this happen?” asked Rhodes.

"Aren't you a little old for me to explain this? Well, when two consenting adults love each other- 

"Tony, this isn't a joke. You're going to be a father." 

"You don't think I realize that? How unfit I am to father?" 

He took a breath, not meeting his friend's gaze.  

“His birth control malfunctioned,” said Tony.

“Do you blame him?” he asked.

“No.”

He truly didn't. Neither of them could have possibly known.

“Shit, Rhodes I’m not fit to be a father,” said Tony, rubbing his temples.

“You'll do right by the kid," said Rhodes. 

“How do you know?” he asked.

"Despite what a majority of people think you have a heart. You’ll do right by the kid,” said Rhodes.

“I can only hope,” said Tony.

He glanced at the bar. Part of him was tempting to make himself a drink, but he couldn’t. That wasn’t the answer to this.

“I’ll be there for you and the pup. And knock some sense into you when you need it,” said Rhodes.

“You better you’re the kid’s godfather,” said Tony.

Rhodey smiled. It was an honor. He'd be happy to help out, but Tony would need to figure it out for himself first. There was a doubt on in his mind about that.

“Thank you, Tony. I will protect it like it’s my own. Whose godmother?” he asked.

“Black Widow,” said Tony.

"Lucky kid."

Tony nodded. If he screwed up at least the kid would have Steve, Rhodes, and Natasha.

"What do you want to do for your bachelor party? As your best man I should have a clue on what you have planned," said Rhodes.

“So sure you’re my best man?” said Tony.

“Who else would want the role?” said Rhodes.

“I could always ask Happy,” said Tony.

“I can't believe you're settling down before me," said Rhodes.

“You and me both,” said Tony.

“Where’s Steve?” asked Rhodes.

“Sleeping probably will be pissed that I’m not there when he wakes up,” he said.

“How is he handling all this?” asked Rhodes.

“As good as he can. This is a big adjustment for him,” said Tony.

“For you as well,” said Rhodes.

“I can handle the extra attention,” said Tony.

“I wasn’t talking about that,” he said.

“I’ll be fine as long as I have him,” said Tony.

***** 

 

Steve slowly woke. He fell back into the pillows. His arm stretched out for his mate. He growled when he found Tony wasn’t there. Steve got up from bed and went out into the hall. From there he heard Tony talking with Rhodes. He went into the kitchen, giving a quick wave to Rhodes before throwing his alpha over his shoulder and grabbed a jar of pickles from the cabinet.

“See ya, Rhodes," said Tony.

“Later,” he said with a smirk.

“You could have asked me to come back to bed,” said Tony.

"Easier this way," said Steve.

“You won’t be able to do this soon enough,” said Tony.

“More reason for me to use it while I can,” said Steve.

Once again he was thrown into bed. Steve sat next to him.

"Come on I know you wanna cuddle."

He was quick to press close.

"What were you dreaming of?"

"You were watching me sleep?"

"Tony."

He tightened his hold on his mate.

"It wasn't a dream," he said.

"It was a memory," said Steve.

"Heh, I guess you get it more than most," said Tony.

"I couldn't wake you up," said Steve.

"Don't worry about me."

"You can't expect me not to. Jarvis showed me what happened." 

"I'll be fine."

"You aren't fine, Tony!"

He shot from the bed. It was too soon to have this conversation. Steve grabbed his arm, stopping him from leaving.

"We need to talk about this."

"We don't."

"Keeping it in doesn't help."

"I don't want to talk about this. There's no one on earth that has gone through what I have."

"I might not have experienced what you did in there, but I know what it feels be alone," said Steve.

"You're not alone. There are millions that have gone through what you have. It's war. This was flying into a wormhole with a nuc strapped to my back. There isn't a support group for what I saw up there. I'm not dragging you into with me," said Tony.

"You already have. I feel your fear there's no hiding that from me."

"I wish I could!"

"You don't mean that."

"Shit, Steve I just don't want to talk about," said Tony.

He took a seat at the foot of their bed. Steve's arms wrapped around his waist. The omega's chin rested on his shoulder.

"I don't regret our bond."

"I know."

"I can't get it out of my head."

"Whenever you get lost in that amazing mind of yours call on our bond."

Steve nuzzled against Tony's neck, paying special attention to the claim mark he placed there. Together they eased back into bed.

 

*****

 

Saturday came around too quickly. Tony found Steve hunched over the toilet early in the morning. It hadn't taken him long to get used seeing this. He filled a glass of water and handed it to his mate. Steve slowly drank.

“Almost a month,” said Steve.

"Only eight months left."

Steve groaned.

“That can’t be right," said Tony

“It’s correct Captain Rogers conceived on April 21st,” said Jarvis.

"What if this happens during the interview?" asked Steve, wiping his mouth.

“We’ll figure it out,” said Tony.

“And say what for an excuse,” said Steve.

“Nerves,” offered Tony.

"No, one will believe that," he said. 

Tony put his hand over Steve's stomach.

"Be easy on your, Papa little one. He helped save the world for you can't you give him a break," he said.

Steve eyes watered.

“Don’t cry sweetheart,” said Tony.

“I’m not crying,” he said, blinking back the tears.

At four Pepper came the tower, caring two garment bags.

“What are you those?” asked Tony.

“What I picked out for you two wear,” she said.

“I don’t need you to pick out my wardrobe,” said Tony.

“Put it on,” said Steve.

“Yes, sweetheart,” said Tony, disappearing into the bedroom.

“Amazing, he didn’t even question you,” said Pepper.

“This time,” said Steve.

“Oh, I have something for you look over,” said Pepper.

She folder filled with wedding clippings.

“What do you think dark blue and white color the theme?” asked Pepper.

“I like it,” said Steve.

“So I approval to go with it?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Where you want here or California?” asked Pepper.

“California.”

“Any particular location?” she asked.

“Could we have at his mansion?” asked Steve.

“Yes, that's very manageable,” said Pepper.

"Good, is a military wedding still doable?" he asked.

“Yes, there has been a flood of volunteers. So that much is simple,” she said.

Steve smiled. Pepper made wedding planning so easy. She turned it a series of yes and no questions for him.

“A band or DJ?” asked Pepper.

“What’s a DJ?” asked Steve.

"They play music," she said.

"How is that different?" he asked.

"I'll just decide that," said Pepper.

"Thank you for doing all this, Pepper," he said.

"It isn't a big deal," she said.

"It is. I can't imagine doing his myself."

"Compared to some of the things I've organized over the years this is simple," said Pepper.

“I don’t know how you do it,” said Steve.

She smiled. Their relationship had grown into a friendship over the month. Now Steve’s wore Tony’s claim the tension between them faded completely.

“How do I look?” said Tony, coming out of the bedroom.

The alpha was dressed in a light blue pinstriped suit jacket, white shirt and blue tie, black pants, and gray-blue sneakers. The soft colors made the alpha look more approachable.

“Good.”

“Only good?”

“If I say anymore it will go straight to your head,” said Steve.

"Too late for that," said Pepper.

Steve went to change.

"What were the two of you talking about?" asked Tony.

His ex and mate being friends was nerve-wracking at times.

“Wedding plans,” said Pepper.

“Very interesting,” said Tony.

“You could be more involved,” she said.

“I trust him with details. It’s his day. I want it to be exactly how he wants it,” said Tony.

“Sweet, on another note you have to make the baby announcement soon,” said Pepper.

“Neither of us ready for that. But when would be the best time,” he said.

"A week after your honeymoon probably sooner," said Pepper.

“I’ll have to talk to him about it,” said Tony.

Steve came out of the bedroom. His outfight was simple but very him. A blue button-down shirt, khaki pants, and leather shoes.

“Ready to go?” asked Tony.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” said Steve.

They got into the car. It was only a thirty-minute drive to the studio. The host herself was there to greet them in person. She shook Steve’s hand.

“It truly an honor to meet you, Captain Rogers,” she said.

"Nice to meet you too," he said.

"And you as well, Mr. Stark," she said.

“How will this work?” asked Tony.

"We'll start with bringing Captain Rogers on stage then bring you on later," said Oprah.

Pepper and Tony were quick to pick up on Steve’s discomfort.

“I think it will best if they go on together. So they're seen as a unified couple,” said Pepper.

"Alright, that can be done. Makeup will take care of you. I look forward to speaking with the both of you soon," said Oprah before walking off to speak to set manager.

A set hand lead them to makeup. Steve twitched not used to the sensation of getting his makeup done. He hated it. Steve refused to wear it. They were lead to a waiting room.

“How are you feeling?” asked Tony.

“Nervous,” he said.

“It will be over soon enough,” said Tony.

Steve stopped pacing when he became dizzy. He took a seat on the couch, groaning.

“Steve.”

“Dizzy, it will pass,” he said.

He forced down a dry heave. Steve pushed his nose into Tony’s neck. The alpha’s scent helped him calm. There was a knock on the door Steve pulled away from Tony.

“Ready to go on?”

They nodded. Steve and Tony were lead on the stage. He tightened his hold on Tony’s hand when he saw the audience fill the seats. Tony gently squeezed his hand in return. It calmed his worry and smiled, hiding his anxiety. The light came on and the crowd applauded. Steve wanted to hide in Tony’s neck. He was fine with battle but this was something new. Steve took reassurance in Tony’s hands holding his. He put on a mask of calm and smiled.

“I’d like to welcome our guests Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. First, I would like to thank you for all that you’ve done to protect us,” said Oprah.

“Thank you for having us,” said Steve.

With all his time on stage, Steve was used to putting on a fake smile. He could get through this. Some of the questions proved harder than expected. They were of ethics, public knowledge, and what the world should expect after this. These were mix easier softer questions about their romance. That’s what half the audience was here to see. Steve kept up appearances. He felt every second of those two hours. Finally, it was over. As soon as their dressing room shut Steve hurled into a trashcan.

Pepper let herself into the room. She was greeted by the image of Steve puking into a trashcan. Pepper quickly shut the door. No one outside of this room could see Steve like this. It would bring up too many questions. Ones that weren’t ready to answer yet.

“Will he be okay?” she asked.

“Morning sickness it will pass,” said Tony.

“We should be glad it didn’t hit during the interview. That would be a spectacle,” said Pepper.

Steve slowly pulled his head up, wiping his mouth.

“Better?” asked Tony.

Steve nodded.

“We should get you out of here before it comes back,” said Pepper.

Pepper called Happy.

“Please tell me we don’t have to do this again anytime soon,” said Steve.

"This will cover the two of you for some time,” she said.

"How'd we do?" asked Steve. 

"Great, my phone is already buzzing with comments. This should cover you for some time," said Pepper. 

“Thank god,” said Steve.

He was exhausted. All he wanted to do was huddled up in bed with his alpha and sleep. Pepper took a bottle of mouth wash from her purse.

“You need this,” she said.

“Why do you have that?” asked Steve.

“Force of habit,” said Pepper.

Steve went to the bathroom. He swished the taste of vomit out. As they walked to the car people were cheering for them on either side. He was grateful for the silence of the car. When they pulled away from the sight of the cameras he rested his head on Tony’s shoulder. Happy closed the window separating, giving them privacy. His face hurt from keeping on a smile.

“How are you feeling?” asked Tony.

“I’m tired and my feet hurt,” said Steve.

"You were hardly on them."

“I’m aware.”

His mate was exhausted. Steve used his sweet happy exterior on the show. What remained was tired and moody. Their bond did little in helping Tony navigate his mate during this time. Steve's state was in flux. He ran his fingers through his mate’s hair easing him into sleep. When they pulled into the tower garage, he almost did want to wake him. He gently nudged Steve awake.

“Mmm.”

“We’re home.”

Steve took Tony’s hand, following him to the elevator. His face heated. Tony laughed.

"Will you blush every time we're in an elevator?"

He glared at the alpha.

“I hope not.”

Steve did not want to explain the reasoning behind his reaction to his pup. When they got to the penthouse he changed out of his clothes and into a pair of sweatpants.

Tony watched from the bar as Steve struggled to find a comfortable position. He quickly gulped down his drink and went to join him. He put Steve’s feet on his lap. The omega moaned when he rubbed his feet. Even though Steve looked more relaxed the omega still seemed uncomfortable.

“I’m getting you a nesting couch.”

“Tony, don't.”

A nesting couch was a luxury. He wished he had one the first time he was pregnant. It would have made things more comfortable for him.

“Done.”

“What?”

“I had Jarvis place the order.”

“I don’t need one.”

“You want one and I want to spoil you. And we haven’t bought anything for the kid yet.”

Tony was surprised that Steve hadn’t gotten things ready for the kid yet. He hadn’t prepared at all for the pup.

“Please don’t.”

His mate pulled away. Anxiety bubbled over their bond.

“I don’t want to get anything yet.”

“Why?”

“In case we lose it.”

He should have known. Steve was a month along when he lost his first pup. 

“Steve.”

He lifted Steve's chin, forcing him to look up.

“Our baby is safe. Both of you are healthy.”

“What about you?” asked Steve.

“Got some your super serum running through my veins I’ll be fine,” said Tony.

“That only goes so far. You’re still human." 

"So are you."

"I can’t lose you. Almost did," said Steve. 

“You aren’t losing me anytime soon. I think that’s why aspects of the serum were transferred to me,” said Tony.

Steve huddled close to him. His purring relaxed the omega. He would keep them safe. His hold on his mate tightened. They had to be safe. He had to get his will in order, so if anything happened to him. Steve and the pup would be fine without him, but he wouldn’t survive without them.

“Tony?”

“I have to get my affairs in order. A trust fund for the kid and edit my will?”

A billion-dollar trust fund that kid could access when it turned twenty-one should due. 

“I should probably write one as well. Got my finances in order.”

“So how much does Uncle Sam owe you?”

“It’s too much.”

Steve never that many zeros on a check before. He donated a majority of it spreading over worthy charities, leaving only a million for himself on Natasha’s instance. His pay from S.H.I.E.L.D. and those saving were enough. Steve shook his head. He didn't want to focus on this subject.

“Any idea what you want to do for our honeymoon?”

“Somewhere secluded.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re going to trap me in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere with no internet.”

“I’m sure I can come up with something to make for that.”

“We’ll go wherever you want sweetheart.”

“Tony.”

“Yes.”

“Once things calm down here can we go back to Malibu?”

“Sure sweetheart. We can go right after your appointment tomorrow if you want.”

“Perfect.”

*****

 

Early the next morning Steve woke. He lowered the blanket checking for blood. Thankfully, there was none. Tony was asleep beside him.

“How long did he sleep?” asked Steve.

“Good morning. It’s 4:00 am.”

“Morning, Jarvis.”

“Sir returned to bed at 3:00 am.”

“He’s running himself into the ground.”

“It would be worse without you,” said Jarvis.

Steve tried settling beside his mate, but couldn’t. He quietly left the bed and changed into his running clothes. It was early enough that no one would be out. Before leaving he kissed Tony. He ran his fingers through the alpha’s hair.

"I'm going for a run."

Steve took several laps around Central Park, before returning home. He swarmed by a crowd of fans. He'd gotten home too late. As they spotted him people crowded him. He smiled, signed pictures, and posed for pictures until he finally reached the door. Tony was waiting for him there.

“Enjoy your run?”

He nodded. Steve settled in the kitchen. He poked at the plate of scrambled eggs in front of him.

“You have to get your appetite up.”

“It just doesn’t look good.”

He watched as Steve took a Twinkie from a cabinet and dunked it in ranch dressing.

“And that does?”

He barely dodged the Twinkie launched at his head.

“Missed me now you’ve got to kiss me.”

He quickly pecked the alpha.

“Edith should be here soon.”

Steve whimpered his hand going over his stomach. The sudden change was shock through their bond.

“Sweetheart.”

“I’m worried.”

Tony hugged his mate from behind. He purred nosing Steve’s neck. Steve relaxed against him.

“It will be fine.”

Tony kept him in that embrace for as long as he needed. Steve pulled away.

“Before we go to Malibu I think we should visit Peggy,” he said.

“Yeah.”

The alpha took a present from the drawer. Tony handed to him.

"What's this?"

"I meant to give you this when you were in a slump. Forgot about it in the chaos."

Steve took off the lid, revealing a photo of his mother. Tears leaked down his cheeks.

“How?”

“I pulled some strings with the Smithsonian. The frame is extremely durable and in case anything happens to it I’ve made copies,”

He caught the alpha in a kiss, clinging closely to him.

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

Steve huddled close to him. The omega was still crying. Tony tried soothing them away.

“Please stop crying.”

“I can’t!”

Twenty minutes later Steve was growing agitated that he was still crying.

“Sir, Dr. Star is here.”

“Tell her to wait a minute.”

“Tony, make it stop!” growled Steve.

“You want me to command you?”

“Yes!”

“I’m not going to command you.”

“Please.”

“Fine.”

Their gazes locked.

“Omega, stop crying.”

The tears slowed to both their relief. Steve trusted that Tony would only use such commands when absolutely necessary or when he requested it.

"Ready to go? If you're not I'm happy to keep her waiting," he said.

“I want to go. I want to see our baby.”

“There won’t be much to see at this stage.”

“I still want to see.”

They went to the examination room where Edith was waiting.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” said Steve.

“It’s okay.”

Steve nodded. He didn’t want to talk about his mood swings.

"We'll be doing an ultrasound today," she said.

Tony stood protectively by Steve. He didn’t trust the woman. It didn’t matter what Steve thought about her. A woman of her abilities working for S.H.I.E.L.D. was unsettling.

“Let’s take a look,” she said.

Steve flinched when the cool gel was squirted on his stomach.

“We won’t be able to see much this early on,” said Edith.

“Doesn’t matter I still want to see,” said Steve.

She moved the wand over his lower stomach.

“See that itty bitty speck that your baby. It only about the size of a poppy seed,” said Edith.

“Something size of a poppy seed has the power to keep you about puking all night,” said Tony.

Steve growled.

“Sorry.”

It was still small enough for him to joke about. He wouldn’t be able to do that for much longer.

“Do you want me to print it out?” asked Edith.

Steve nodded. She printed out two copies for them.

“I’ll need to check up on you in about three weeks. I need to collect some samples,” she said.

The couple tensed.

“At seven weeks I’ll be able to get fetal DNA from Steve’s blood. I’m sure Banner wants to take a look at it,” said Edith.

“And I’ll make sure he gets it,” said Tony.

Steve put his shirt on, trying to ignore the tension between Edith and Tony. He wasn't going to try and make the two like each other. Of course, his alpha was a bit overprotective after seeing their pup for the first time. 

“We just stay here or we'll constantly be going back and forth," said Steve.

“I don’t see why she can’t come to us. I'll even cover her travel expenses.”

"That works for me," she said. 

"Are you sure you don't mind?" asked Steve. 

"I don't mind. It's important for you to be where you're must comfortable. I should get going I'm sure two have packing to do," said Edith. 

"I'll show you out," said Steve. 

He sent a glare back at his mate before, showing her out. Steve went to the lab knowing that was where the alpha was likely hiding from him. Tony was hunched over a suit of armor. 

"You could have been nicer, Tony." 

"I was civil." 

"You glared at her the entire time. She was only doing her job." 

"I'll be better next time." 

"I doubt that." 

Tony's suspicion of Edith would only grow worse as he got further along, it was the protective alpha instinct. 

 

*****

Once they were packed they loaded the car, driving the direction of Peggy's. About ten minutes in Steve was out like a light. The soldier could sleep better in a car than their bed. Tony didn't take it personally. He was glad the omega was sleeping. 

“Steve.”

The omega whined cutely in his sleep.

"Steve, we're here."

Steve stretched out in his seat. 

"How are feeling?" asked Tony. 

"Good." 

As soon as they knocked on the door Peggy launched out, hugging them both.

“Thank god you two are okay.”

“We’re fine.”

“Why didn’t you call me sooner?”

“We were a little distracted.”

“That’s no excuse for not calling, Anthony,”

She herded them inside. They discussed the events. Steve peacefully sipped at his tea. Watson sat in the small space left between him and Tony. He rubbed the dog’s ears.

“So when the big day?” she asked.

“Late July,” said Steve.

“I can’t wait,” she said.

“There is some other big news,” said Steve.

“And that is?”

“We’re having a baby,” said Steve.

“Congratulations!”

Tony winced when Peggy slapped him on the back of the head.

“You couldn’t wait until after the two of you were married,” she scolded.

“It was an accident,” said Tony.

“Then shame on the both of you,” she said.

Her playful expression took away some of the stings.

“When will I get to meet the little darling?” asked Peggy.

“January twelfth,” said Steve.

Chapter Text

June 9, 2012 

Steve woke up on the bathroom floor, a now normal occurrence for him. They’d made successfully through to seven-week mark.

“Jarvis time.”

“5:00 am.”

An hour of sleep. Everything about him was enhanced unfortunately that included his pregnancy symptoms. Mood swings caused him to launch his shield at Tony several times. To lessen the temptation he kept his shield on the top shelf of his closet. At least then, Tony had a few seconds head start. He got his feet. Steve brushed his teeth. He'd grown tired of the taste of toothpaste and mouthwash. Hunger drove him to the kitchen. He nibbled on some crackers. In the living area was his nesting couch. When Tony got him for it he doubted he used, but he spent hours in it every day.

Part of him was tempted to gather some snack and settled back down. He had to check on Tony. Lately, he hadn’t been able to pay as close attention as to the alpha as he wanted. When he was stricken with morning sickness he didn’t want anyone anywhere near him. He went to the lab. Dum-E and U greeted him. He patted each of the robots. Steve tossed a screwdriver and two bots went chasing after it. The lab was a mess. Steve bit his lip. He so wanted to clean it up. Tony was very specific about his lab.

“Tony?”

A suit was laying on the couch. Steve sighed.

“At least he’s sleeping.”

Falling asleep in his suits had become a habit of Tony’s. It made Steve nervous. What if Tony had a night terror in one? Having to take out his mate in such a state would be an easy task. Steve tapped on the mask.

"Hey, sweetheart."

Steve’s arms were crossed.

“What I do?”

“You fell asleep in your suit again.”

“It’s the fastest way to break it in,” said Tony, sitting up.

“You sleep better in your suits than with me,” said Steve.

There was a slight whimper his voice, meaning tears were close. Tony could handle angry, hungry, cuddly, and horny or a mix of those with Steve. Crying was too much. It would be nice to see more of horny Steve. He pulled off his helmet.

“It isn’t intentional.”

“This isn’t the first time. As soon as I fall asleep you leave. You can sleep in a tin can but not by your mate.”

Steve hugged himself. Did his mate love the suit more than him? How could he compete against such an integral part of Tony? He couldn't ask Tony to give it up. That would be like Tony asking him to give up the shield. They each knew that they still needed that part of themselves. Steve didn't want to compete against it for his alpha's affection.

“Tony, I can’t compete against this part of you.”

“It’s not a competition.”

“It feels like it may turn into one.”

“Steve, it won't. I make them to protect you and our pup. So I can feel you're safe,” said Tony.

"I am safe. I'm not defenseless," he said.

"For how long Steve? Sooner or later someone will come after you or the kid. This is one of the only ways I can think of protecting you," said Tony.

"We'll handle that if or when it comes. Right now we are safe you take a break," said Steve.

Tony ran his fingers through his hair. It wasn’t only to keep Steve and the pup safe.

“I will give it up if you want me to.”

“I don't want you to give up unless you want to.”

Tony would hate him if he forced into such a change.

“I love you, Steve.”

“Love you too.”

Steve entwined their fingers. He loved the feel of the metal against his palm. He pressed himself against Tony. The alpha chuckled softly allowing him to continue the behavior. Raising his only when the coolness faded. He picked the helmet.

“What will you call this one?”

“Heartbreaker.”

“Get out of that suit. You’ve been working nonstop for days and need to shower,” said Steve.

Steve got up from the couch.

“If you hurry I may let you join me,” he said, before leaving.

There was that smirk. Mechanical arms came out of the floor unlocking his armor. It has been weeks since they last made love. He ran up the stairs to the master bedroom. Tony shed his clothes as he walked to the master bedroom. Steam clouded the glass wall of the shower. He opened the door. Steam hit his face. Steve stood in the middle of the spray, with his back facing him. His arms moved around Steve’s waist. He ran his fingers over Steve’s stomach. The omega’s core muscles were had started softening. The beauty turned in his arms. Steve nosed against his neck.

“Alpha.”

Steve sighed as Tony’s hands wandered over his skin. Their gentle touches of each other turned intimate. He gasped when Tony’s fingers pushed into him. Steve instantly pressed back against the digits trying to get them deeper. He whined as they stretched him open.

“Tony.”

Steve braced against the wall as the alpha pushed into him. Alpha’s motions were slowly and deep. His eyes went wide when Tony's hand went to his arousal. His release came when Tony’s sunk into his neck. The alpha’s release followed seconds later. They sunk to the shower floor.

"Should have chose the tub," said Steve.

No sleep had taken a toll on both of them.

“Next time.”

"So confident there will be a next time?" 

"Postive," Tony purred. 

"Looking forward to it." 

The two took time washing each other, leaving when the water turned cold. Once they were dressed, Steve led Tony to his nesting couch. They had hours until their appointment with Edith. Sleep was the perfect way to use that time. He wrapped his arm around his mate’s waist, not wanting to risk him escaping. Steve didn’t sleep until he was sure Tony was asleep. He yawned, cuddling closely to Tony’s neck.

 

*****

 

Tony woke an hour later. Steve’s arms were firmly wrapped around his waist. He tried breaking free but Steve's hold only tightened. There was no escape now. If he tried again he risked waking. That was a danger in itself. A screen appeared in front of him and he started working on another suit design.

“Sir.”

“Mm.”

“Dr. Star will be here in ten minutes.”

He woke the omega. Steve briefly opened his then closed them again.

“Steve.”

He snarled, not even bothering with opening his eyes.

“Come on, Steve." 

"No." 

"Edith will be here soon.”

“Five more minutes.”

“Alright,”

Steve got eventually forced himself up with a few minutes to spare. He didn’t bother with changing. He was staying in shorts. The doorbell rang.

"That must be, Edith."

“Great.”

“Can you at least pretend to be nice?” said Steve.

“Mmm, no.”

“Please.”

“For you.”

“Thank you.”

Steve doubted Tony would be nice. He the alpha would at least be civil. Steve let her in.

“Sorry about having you come all this way,” he said.

“No, problem,” she said.

"How was your flight?" asked Steve. 

"Very nice, I've never flown first class before." 

Steve led her to medical office Tony had set up.

“Will this work?” asked Steve.

“Yes, it will work,” said Edith.

She took Steve’s vitals. Tony watched her like a hawk.

“Have you had any spotting?” asked Edith.

“No.”

“Cramps?”

“Nothing that would me to worry. My chest has been sore.”

“That’s normal and should fade soon until. I only need to take your tempt then we can move on the ultrasound. Do any other questions?” said Edith.

“I’m tired all the time."

"That's normal for while you're in the first term." 

"Last time I was rest." 

Tony instantly took his hand. 

"Assume you reacted in such manner due to the circumstances of your last pregnancy. Your inner omega felt unsafe in its surrounding, which causes restlessness. Now you have a mate and well supported." 

"But it seems obsessive. Yesterday, I nearly slept for twenty hours straight." 

"Pregnancy is draining, even more so when you're growing a baby super soldier. Have you had any problem leaving home?” asked Edith.

“No,”

"I mean do not want to leave home," said Edith.

"I see no reason to leave. I have everything I need here."

He’d been a homebody the last three weeks. It hadn’t even bothered him.

"This will only get stronger as you get further along so making trips between New York and California may prove difficult for you," said Edith.

"We'll keep travel to a minimum," said Steve.

She put a thermometer in Steve’s mouth.

"Ninety-nine degrees normal. By your temperature, I'm pretty sure you're only having a single pup. Multiples normally cause omegas to run warmer. I won't know for sure until I get an ultrasound. Lay back on the table," she said.

Steve twitched as blue gel touched his skin. She moved the wand around his lower stomach.

“Perfectly healthy.”

“Only one?” asked Steve.

“Yes.”

The couple relaxed. Edith turned the screen so they could see zooming in the image. The only difference Steve could pick up on was size.

“See that little flicker?”

It was a quick motion that could easily be missed in a blink. Steve nodded.

“That’s your baby’s heart.”

Steve smiled.

“Do you want to hear it?” she asked.

Steve nodded. The sound of their pup’s heartbeat filled the room. Tony braced himself against the counter before lowering himself into a chair. Fuck, this got real. It was no longer a clump of cells. No, now it had a heartbeat. It made it so much more real.

"Tony?"

"I'm fine."

Steve squeezed his hand. 

"At this point, it's just starting to develop arms and legs," said Edith.

She printed out the picture of the ultrasound for them. Steve sat up wiping the gel from his stomach.

“Are we done?” he asked.

“Not yet I need to take a few samples,” said Edith.

“I thought it was only one to take fetal DNA from my blood,” said Steve.

“I need a second to screen for any genetic disorders. It may not be a factor, but I want to be careful,” she said.

She took a sterile syringe from her bag.

“I want you to use these,” said Tony.

The test tubes had time and sealed lock.

“What this?”

"It will tell me if the seal has been tampered with after drawing and the case has a location lock to Stark Tower. The labs there will have all you need. Where you can work under Jarvis' supervision," said Tony.

“Is all this really necessary?” asked Edith.

Steve was tired and in no mood for dealing with this. Edith and Tony were adults capable of figuring this out themselves.

“Humor him, Edith,” said Steve.

“Alright,”

She quickly took two samples. Steve left once it was done, leaving Tony and Edith alone.

"Are you sure it was wise to leave those two alone?" asked Jarvis.

"They have to learn to get along," said Steve.

Edith and Tony glared at each other.

"Do you believe I would hurt Steve and his pup?" she said.

“I’m having a hard time trusting S.H.I.E.L.D. after this mess,” said Tony.

“I had nothing to with the creation of those weapons,” said Edith.

“I didn’t say anything about weapons,” he said.

"You didn't have to. After the battle rumors spread around S.H.I.E.L.D.," she said.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said.

The alpha’s body posture changed to threatening.

“I don’t know why you have such animosity toward me, Mr. Stark. I don’t enjoy this alpha posturing,” said Edith.

The alpha relaxed slightly. Edith didn't let her guard down. Stark was one of the most dangerous alphas she'd encountered. He wasn't only powerful, but intelligent. She could counter strength, but what he could do when he set his mind to it worried her. Not only could he destroy a person physically but in every other way, he had the smarts and funds to do. And this alpha saw her as a threat to his family. Gaining his trust would be impossible.

“I would do nothing to harm. Steve, trusts me why can’t you?” she asked.

“It’s not in my nature. If I’m forced to tolerate you I’ll make sure it’s on my terms. My head of security will be accompanying you to New York,” he said.

"You're only making things difficult," she said.

“We’ll see,”

“I would never hurt him,”

“Then all this was just a precaution. If not well you’ll find out,”

He walked her outside, carrying the case containing the samples. A car was waiting for them. An older boxy alpha stood by the car. Stark handed him the case.

“Dr. Edith Star this Happy Hogan. He’ll be your new best friend for the next eight months," he said.

“Ready to go?”

“Yes,”

Happy opened the car door for her. She got in.

“Thank you,”

He closed the door behind her. Happy placed the case in the front seat with him. He didn’t get why Tony thought this woman was a danger. She was a good-looking gentle-faced omega. Edith didn't have the element of danger that Natasha carried with pride.

Tony watched Happy pull out of the driveway. Steve's arms wrapped around his waist.

“They’re gone, Tony, relax,” said Steve.

“I don’t like it,”

He pulled away from Steve. Tony poured himself a drink. Steve's eyes were on him. Steve went to their bedroom. Tony downed the drink in one gulp before pouring himself another. He hit the ground. Steve's shield shredded through the glass bottle above him.

“Really Steve?”

"Really,"

“I was trying to relax. That was what you wanted right?”

"Not all of us find beating the shit out of punching bags soothing," said Tony.

"Not like that,"

“I’m going to the beach,”

Steve stormed off in the direction of the beach.

“Why is he the one that gets to storm off?”

“He’s pregnant,” said Jarvis.

"Not helpful,"

Circular robots came out of their hidden slot in the wall and started working on the mess. Tony brushed the glass from his clothes and hair. The smell of gin, brandy, and whiskey clung to his clothes. He showered. Then went out to the beach. Steve was sitting at the shore. His shield rested beside him. Tony cautiously approached.
He joined his mate. Steve leaned his head against the alpha's shoulder.

“I’m sorry about the bar,”

“It’s fine. I needed to cut back anyway,”

"I've seen men lost to the bottle,"

"I won't let that happen,"

Even with what he saw in the wormhole, he didn't want to erase what he had here. This was too good. Yisen was right he had nothing before. Now he was getting closer to having everything. They stayed on the beach for a while longer before returning to the house.

The day passed smoothly around ten Steve fell asleep in his nest. Tony managed to doze off about an hour later. He woke with a start, only hours later. His heart raced in his chest. He couldn't breathe! A pair of hands gently cupped his face, touching their foreheads together. He focused on a pair blue. It took a few seconds for him to focus in on their bond. It brought him back. His heart rate calmed.

"Tony, you're safe,"

“Steve,”

Tony pressed his nose into Steve’s neck breathing in his scent. He pulled Steve close, but couldn’t sleep. Steve fell asleep, using his chest as a pillow. He carefully slid away from his mate. Steve whined in his sleep. He leaned over the edge of the couch running his fingers through Steve’s hair. He went to the lab and started working on his most recent designs.

His hands kept shaking. He opened a drawer in his desk, taking out a bottle of scotch. Tony poured himself a glass returned it to the drawer. He quickly downed. His hands steadied.

The next day Edith arrived at Stark Tower. (June 10. 50 days) Happy was waiting for her in the lobby. He offered her a cup of coffee.

“Thank you,”

Happy blushed.

“I’ll show to your lab. Mr. Stark has had it all set up for you,” he said.

They went into the elevator. Her eyes went wide when she stepped foot in the lab. It was any biologist dream.

“Everything to your liking?” asked Happy.

“Yes, all I need are the samples,” she said.

He placed the metal case in front of her. It sprung open. She took out the sample. Happy took a seat on the couch. She started her work. Edith knew she only had a limited amount of time to study. Spending too long study the sample would get Stark's attention.

From Malibu, Tony watched the live footage of Edith from Stark Tower. Everything seemed normal.

“She’s done nothing to garter attention sure. I’ve already sent the general analysis she’s taken to Bruce,” said Jarvis.

“I can’t,”

“Tony,”

He tensed. Standing at the lab entrance was Steve with his arm crossed.

“Hey, sweetheart,”

"Cut the feed, Jarvis,"

“Of course,”

“Do I have to carry you out or will you come willingly?” he asked.

“I surrender,”

He let Steve led him out of the lab.

“So what’s the plan?” asked Tony.

"Pepper said we needed to get out in the public more. Why don't you show me around Malibu?"

“Sure,”

Steve pushed the alpha into his nest.

“Before that sleep,”

Tony leaned back into the nest. He couldn’t deny that it was comfortable. The blanket smelled of Steve. He already found himself calming. The twitching need to work faded. He pushed his nose into Steve’s neck. The omega’s purrs lulled him into a peaceful sleep.

Steve smiled when Tony fell asleep against him. Their bond helped him. His nightmares and anxiety issues became less frequent. Those issues may come back when he gave birth. His body was forced to relax for the safety of the pup he was carrying. He ran his fingers through Tony’s hair. Now his alpha had the same issue. He didn't want to know how much worse it would have been for the both of them if they didn't have each other. His fingers traced over the arc reactor. He would be there to help Tony every step of the way.

“I love you,”

Edith stared stunned at the information she'd stumbled upon. Jarvis hadn't caught on to it. The baby wasn't half super soldier, but a full-fledged super soldier in the making. What was even more astonishing how adaptable the child's DNA was. If it were introduced to the super serum theoretically the fetus would accept to strengthen itself. This child had the potential surpass Steve in its strength if it reintroduced to the serum. If it were any other pregnancy the body would see as a poison and it would most likely kill the fetus.

“Is everything alright?” asked Jarvis.

"Yes, I finished my work. You can tell Steve and Stark that the child is disease-free," said Edith.

"I'm sure they'll be overjoyed," said Jarvis.

Edith would have to report this information to Fury. It wouldn’t take long for Dr. Banner to discover what she had. She could blame her lack of reporting such a discovery on her lack of knowledge on the subject. That would believable enough. She left the lab.

“Where are you going?” asked Happy.

“I’ve finished my work,” she said.

“That fast,” said Happy.

She smiled. They'd only been working together for a little more than a day, but she'd gotten to know the gruff alpha. He was really a big teddy bear.

"I'm sure we'll be seeing more of each other. There are still eight months left in Steve's pregnancy," said Edith.

Happy dropped Edith at her apartment. She opened the door. Something was wrong.

“There’s no need for the gun in your silver wear drawer,”

Sitting in her loveseat was Director Fury.

“I wasn’t expecting you, sir,”

“Tell me what you know,”

"Steve has the ability to produce full-fledged super soldiers naturally. Theoretically, the child’s DNA would allow it to adapt and absorb the super soldier serum to become stronger if reintroduced to it," she said.

Fury didn't look surprised.

“You knew,”

He nodded.

“Than what was the point this. You made me betray my friend’s trust!” she yelled.

“Calm down, Edith,”

“Yes, I knew and I’m about to tell you something beyond your clearance,”

“Why? I could tell them,”

“You have too much to risk by revealing this. Dr. Erskine was forced into his line of research by Hitler. They wanted an inexpensive way of producing super soldiers. Erskine believed an omega if it survived would be able to do this. Hilter didn't want to risk giving an omega that kind of power,”

"That's why Erskine chose Steve,"

“No, Erskine chose Captain Rogers for his merits as a man. Him being omega didn’t matter to him. The U.S. military chose Steve because he was an omega. They needed an omega that was fully willing to give their consent. How do you think Captain Rogers would respond to the fact that he was accepted for project rebirth since he was an omega?”

“It would crush him,” said Edith.

Fury nodded.

“I can’t do this,” she said.

“You will,”

"I'm not a spy, sir. I'm a doctor and a soldier, but not this," said Edith.

“You will continue on this mission. There’s still a great deal of good that can be learned from Captain Rogers’ pregnancy,” said Fury.

“I hate this,” she said.

“Eight more months,” said Fury.

“Dr. Banner will discover what I did,” said Edith.

“But he’ll believe it was an unintended consequence,” he said.

Fury left her.

Tony and Steve sat outside of small ice cream shop. It was a tucked away place. They had yet to gain attention. Steve smiled.

“What?”

A young beta couple came with a stroller and two older children. Tony didn’t know what Steve saw, but he saw a tired couple. They did look happy at the moment.

“Daddy, look it’s, Captain America,”

Steve waved at children. The parents looked stunned. One of the pups came running up Tony.

"Could you beat Batman?"

“Of course I could,”

“Told you he could Bethany,”

“I never said he couldn’t,”

"Who's your favorite Avenger, Mr. Captain America?”

“We’re sorry about this,” said the parents.

“It’s alright. And to answer your question Ironman is my favorite,” said Steve.

“Is he your favorite?” asked the boy.

“He couldn’t like Captain America,” said Tony.

“Cause you love him,” said Bethany.

“I love him very much,” said Steve.

Tony checked his phone while Steve talked with the kids. Steve seemed so at ease with the pups. There was news from Jarvis. They were starting to gain more attention.

“Steve, we got to go,”

Steve nodded. He said goodbye to the pups. They got into the car.

"The pup is disease-free," said Tony.

Steve smiled.

“That great news,” he said.

It was one less worry. Tony started the car.

“How do you do it?” he asked.

“What?”

“You’re so good with them,” said Tony.

“Kids,” said Steve.

“It looks so natural for you,” said Tony.

"Children are easy. Adults are difficult. I'm used to babysit all the time for my neighbors when I was young. It wasn't always easy Tony. You need practice. It isn't something anyone is instantly good at," said Steve.

“All the practice in the world wouldn’t make me ready for this,” he said.

"You're not alone in this," said Steve.

He squeezed the alpha’s hand. Tony smiled.

“I have you,” he said.

“You always will,”

As soon as they got home Tony went to the lab. Steve followed him. He took a seat on the lumpy couch.

“Could we get another nesting couch?” asked Steve.

“Do you not like the one you have?” said Tony.

“I love it. I think it will help you to have one down here. You seemed to sleep better in my nest. If you don’t want one here that’s fine,” said Steve.

The lab was his alpha's territory. Steve was fine giving him that. But it might help to have something of his here too.

“I’ll give it a try,” said Tony.

“Thank you,”

Chapter Text

It was late, but Steve couldn’t sleep. Tomorrow was the big day. They were getting married. He sat alone in the master bedroom. Tony was out on his bachelor party. It would be a few more hours till the alpha returned. He trusted Rhodes to get the alpha back in time for the wedding. Rhodes was well aware of the risks if he failed to do so.

Resting by the side of his bed was his shield. When his alpha was gone he wanted it near. He knew it didn’t need, but it was a security. Steve looked up from his book when he heard someone enter the mansion. He went for his shield.

"Easy,"

"Tony?"

Steve relaxed when Tony entered the room.

Tony got into bed with him, resting his head on his stomach. The alpha purred, causing him to as well. Steve put down the baby book, marking the page. He ran his fingers through Tony's hair.

“Didn’t expect you home so soon,”

“Wanted to be here,”

"You wanted to be with your pregnant fiancé instead of your bachelor party,”

“Much rather,”

Steve smiled.

“Won’t they notice if you’re gone?”

“No,”

“It’s nice to have you there,”

“I’m turning into an old man,” he said.

Steve laughed.

“Says the forty-two year to the ninety-four-year-old,"

Tony moved his hand to Steve’s stomach. The omega finally started showing. (July 28. 98 days). Steve's core muscles softened and a small bump could be seen.

"How big is it now?” asked Tony.

“About the size of a lemon,” said Steve.

“Have you felt anything yet?”

“It will be a little while longer,” he said.

Tony kissed Steve's stomach before getting out of bed. He threw on a pair of pajama pants and a band t-shirt.

“I thought you’d be asleep,” said Tony.

“Can’t,”

“Morning sickness?”

“No, excited for tomorrow,”

Steve yawned feeling more relaxed now that his mate was home. Tony pulled him close. The alpha spooned him.

“You better be here when I wake up,”

“Where else would I go?”

Tony nuzzled his neck easing him into sleep. Steve groan when his alarm forced him from his sleep. His face was plastered to the pillows. He slowly raised his head. Tony was working on a project.

“Morning,”

The smell of coffee woke him up slightly. Tony handed him a mug. It took a sip, taking a moment to savor it. Even though caffeine in such low doses did nothing for him the smell still had the effect. (July 29, 99 days)

“Today is the big day,”

Steve smiled.

“We’re getting married,”

“We are,”

Tony kissed him. He glanced at the clock. It’s already eight. Steve shot from the bed. Outside staff was already were getting the yard ready for the wedding.

“I set my alarm for six,”

“And I reset it to eight,”

“Why?”

“Wanted you to be well rested,” said Tony.

“And what about you?”

“I’d be more worried about Rhodey than me,” said Tony.

“He better be here in his dress uniform at noon,” said Steve.

“I’m sure he’ll be here,” said Tony.

Steve showered quickly toweling dry his hair. He stopped in front of the mirror. He ran his fingers over the small bump. It wouldn’t be much longer until they knew the gender. After their honeymoon, Bruce would reveal what he learned from the samples they sent. Tony hugged him from behind. The alpha had been all over him since he started showing. Tony started licking his neck.

“I’m not in the mood, Tony,”

The last time he pushed Steve a little too far when he wasn't in the mood he was literally thrown out of the room.

"I just hope what Banner has to say doesn't bring an end the joy of this moment," said Steve.

“He has nothing bad to say,” said Tony.

“How do you know?” asked Steve asked.

“He would have told us earlier if he found something concerning,” he said.

“Any word on if he’s coming?”

“None yet,”

“Sir Rhodes is here,” said Jarvis.

Rhodes walked into a room filled with presents. Steve and Tony were at the center of the room.

“What is all this stuff?” asked Rhodes.

“Wedding gifts. They’ve been coming all week. Don't know what we're going to do with all of it,” said Steve.

Rhodes picked up a random gift.

“This one is from Queen of England,”

"I think we got a present from almost every national leader," said Steve.

“How many thank you letters do you have?”

“Jarvis what’s the count so far,”

“Over a thousand. Even senator Stern sent you gift despite not being invited, but it’s addressed to Steve,”

“We’ll throw that one away,” said Tony.

“You’ve got to get on better terms with him,” said Rhodes.

“Why? He won’t win reelection,” said Tony.

“You said that last time,” he said.

“He rigged the thing,” said Tony.

“Do you have any proof?” said Rhodes.

“Not yet,” he said.

There was a boom of thunder. The clouds started to gray.

"I thought it was supposed to be sunny," said Rhodes.

“It was,” said Steve.

His nerves quickly calmed when he saw figure soaring down from the sky.

“It’s only, Thor,”

The demigod burst into the room without hesitation.

“Congratulations my friends. You are glowing, Steve with parenthood,” said Thor.

"Thanks, Thor,"

Steve grew uncomfortable at Thor’s focus on his stomach. Tony was quick to move in front of him.

“What are you staring at, Fabio?”

“You have a little warrior in the making. Do wish me to tell you the gender?” asked Thor.

“How would you know that?” asked Tony.

“I’m also the god of fertility. Blessed several a maiden with child in my youth,” said Thor proudly.

Tony rolled his eyes.

"So there's someone walking around with latent Asgardian DNA,” said Tony.

“It’s diluted though,”

“So what are we having?” asked Steve.

“It’s a-

“No,”

“Why not?” asked Steve.

“There a fifty percent chance that he’ll get right. What the point?”

“I’ve never been wrong. Do you wish it to be a surprise?” asked Thor.

“I rather trust in something more reliable than magic,” said Tony.

“You mean your science,” said Thor.

“Exactly,” said Tony.

"On my world, they're one in the same," said Thor.

Tony rolled his eyes.

"We'll wait and find out," said Steve.

"I brought a gift to celebrate your union and one for the child since I may not be there to celebrate its birth," said Thor.

Thor handed Steve a deep red blanket rolled neatly with a black ribbon. Steve untied it. Woven into the center of the blanket was a large golden symbol.

“It’s a shield knot in the colors of your alpha's armor. It's a symbol of protection in my culture," said Thor.

“This is beautiful. Thank you, Thor,”

“And this is for the pup,” he said.

Thor took out a small box from his bag. From it, he took a silver sphere. He pressed a button on the top. The sphere fell apart and floated into the air. The pieces took on the shape of a tree. Little birds flew around as it slowly twirled. As it moved a lullaby started playing.

“What is this?” asked Steve.

“It a child’s carcel. Hopefully, it proves soothing to the pup,” said Thor.

Thor hit a button on the bottom and the gift took on its original shape. Steve returned it to the box. He knew Tony was itching to take it apart. Steve carefully folded the blanket, setting on the counter. He ran his hand over the soft fabric. Steve was fighting the urge the immediately take it to his nesting chair. He tapped his fingers to the counter. Steve snatched it off the counter leaving to put it in his nesting chair.

“Where he going?” asked Rhodes.

“To add it to his nest,” said Tony.

Thor smiled.

“I’m glad it met his approval,” he said.

The demigod finally took notice of Rhodes.

“I’m Thor,”

“Yeah, I got that. James Rhodes,” he said.

“Nice to meet you,” said Thor.

Soon there was only an hour left till the wedding. Guests were wondering around the ceremony area. Tony and others were dressed and ready. Natasha and Clint arrived at the same time. She wore a deep blue dress that matched the theme of the wedding. Steve asked her and Clint to be groomsmen. Neither held the title of best woman or man. That honor belonged to Bucky.

“Thor, Jane is waiting for you,” said Clint.

Thor left to greet his date. He hadn’t seen her in so long.

“Where’s Steve?” asked Natasha.

“Bedroom,” said Tony.

Natasha let herself into the room. Steve was in his dress uniform. The jacket laid next to him. He sat at the end of the bed polishing his shoes.

“How are you feeling?” she asked.

“I’m happy, but the moment is bittersweet,” he said.

“If you’re having cold feet I can plan an escape route,” said Natasha.

"No, cold feet. I only wish there were some people still here to see this," said Steve.

She went to the window. Part of her was tempted to say those he lost were watching down on him, but that would be a lie. She'd never believed in such things. Below she two flower girls sitting excitedly by the entrance. Neither of the girls had hair and looked rather sickly.

“Who are your flower girls?” she asked.

“Olivia and Isabella. The Make A Wish Foundation sent me their wishes. They wanted to be flowers girls. I couldn’t say no. This means so much to them. That makes this day all the more special, knowing Tony and I could do this for them and their families,” said Steve.

He checked himself in the mirror. His pants snug around his waist.

“No one will notice,”

She handed him his jacket. The medals on it chimed. From the bedroom, he saw everyone had been seated.

“This is your last chance to escape,” said Natasha.

“Not interested,” he said.

Steve watched as the flower girls trotted down the aisle, dropping petals. Natasha walked gracefully down after them. Clint was waiting for him at the entrance.

“What are you doing here?” asked Steve.

“Someone has to walk you down the aisle,” he said.

Steve hadn’t thought of that. The idea of walking down it alone with all those eyes on him was uncomfortable. Most of them were strangers to him.

“Ready to go?” asked Clint.

Steve nodded. They walked down the aisle military members stood attention saluting him. There were six two from each branch. All the eyes were focused on him faded from his attention. When he saw his mate at the other end aisle.

Tony smiled. It was like seeing him all over again for the first time. Nothing could make the omega more perfect to him.

“Who gives this omega away?”

“Clinton Francis Barton,”

Tony took Steve’s hands in his.

“You may be seated,” said the priest.

The audience took their seats. There was one empty seat in the front row dedicated to Bucky.

“Tony Stark and Steve Rogers have you come here to enter into marriage without coercion, freely and wholeheartedly?”

“I have,”

“I have,”

“Are you prepared, as you follow the path of marriage, to love and honor each other for as long as you both shall live?”

“I am,”

“I am,”

“May the Lord in his kindness strengthen the consent you have declared before the Church and graciously bring to fulfillment his blessings within you. What God has joined, let no one put asunder. Let us bless the Lord,”

“Thanks be to God,” said the audience.

“May I have the rings?”

Rhodes took them from his pocket, handing them to the priest.

“May the Lord bless these rings, which you shall give to each other as the sign of your and fidelity,”

They took the rings.

“Repeat after me,”

“With this ring I, Anthony Edward Stark, take you, Steven Grant Rogers, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love and honor you all the days of my life,”

He slid the ring on Steve’s hand. Steve forced back the tears welling in his eyes.

"With this ring I, Steven Grant Rogers, take you Anthony Edward Stark, for my lawful husband to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I will love and honor you all the days of my life,"

“I declared you husband and husband. You may kiss,”

Tony wrapped his arm around Steve’s waist bringing him into a deep kiss. The crowd went into a cheer. They went down the archway of swords. The new couple took shelter inside the mansion. They didn't get much peace. While their guests were enjoying the cocktail hour they were doing wedding photos with the rest of the wedding party. When the photos were done they had a few minutes left before they had to go back out.

“How are you feeling?” asked Tony.

“Happy Tony very undeniably happy,”

“And the baby,”

“Good,”

They made their grand entrance the guests went into a cheer. Tony and Steve went to the dance floor. At Last started playing. The two started swaying together. Everything one else faded away as they danced. At the moment no one else mattered.

“I love you, Steve,”

“Love you too,”

They pulled away from each other once the song ended. Tony and Steve took their seats at the head table. Lunch was served. Rhodes stood up clinking his glasses. Tony sent him a warning glare.

“I’ve known Tony since we were pups. Today, I’m honored to be your best man today on this special day. And I honestly never thought I’d never see this day. I could tell you all the stories, but I am not. Congratulations, you couldn’t have married a nicer guy,” he said.

It was short and sweet, which was perfect. Steve took a small sip of the champagne, not wanting to risk suspicion. Once the meal was done. Steve got up went to Peggy.

“Do you want to dance?”

“I’ve waited seventy years for you to ask me that,” she said.

He lead her out on the dance floor. Steve was careful of his movements, not wishing to hurt her by treading on her toes.

“Steve, look at me,”

He looked into those gentle chocolate eyes. They were still as sharp as they were the first time he met her.

“I don’t want to step on your feet,” he said.

"I'm not made of glass and I'm leading," she said.

The song ended too soon. They were slow to pull away.

"And you said you were a bad dancer," said Peggy.

“Only because I had a good partner,” said Steve.

“Can I have the next dance?” asked Tony.

“I’d be honored to, Anthony,” she said.

Steve's next dance was with Rhodes.

"Thanks for keeping your best man speech civil," he said.

"I didn't want risk getting on your bad side. And I truly am happy for the two of you," said Rhodes.

The music was faster paced, but Steve managed to keep along. Everyone wanted to dance with him. He danced with several previous presidents. President Obama wasn’t able to attend, but his wife and daughters were. Tony managed to pull away from the crowd and get to him.

“I’m fine,”

Steve’s attention was broken from Tony, when he saw Pepper and Agent Hill dancing together, smiling. Pepper was blushing.

“Steve, Tony,”

“Banner,”

“I’m sorry I’m late,” he said.

"We're just glad you could make it," said Steve.

“When would be a good time to talk?” asked Banner.

“Could it wait till after the honeymoon?” asked Tony.

“I would like to run over my results in an actual lab,”

“You’ll have Avengers Tower all to yourself,” said Tony.

Tony was pulled away again. Steve laughed when Natasha dragged Bruce onto the dancefloor. Banner was the only person who looked visibly more uncomfortable dancing than he did. Thor came to greet him.

"How does earth wedding compare to one of Asgard?” asked Steve.

“Very different from the last Midgardian wedding I witnessed. But at that time such events were more similar to weddings of Asgard,” said Thor.

“What are they in Asgard?” asked Steve.

“Our weddings last a week on average. A celebration of new bonds, love, family, and drinking. My parents' wedding lasted two the whole kingdom was invited,” said Thor.

“Sounds fun,”

“There’s nothing like an Asgardian wedding,”

“Maybe one day I’ll see one,” said Steve.

“I don’t think Lady Jane would appreciate such an event. Why are you celebrating the new union and not-

Steve dragged Thor onto the dance floor, shutting him up for the moment.

“Will your mate won’t mind me dancing with you?” asked Thor.

"I can decide who I wish to dance without his permission," said Steve.

“I apologize I did not mean to insult your independence it's a feature I find attractive in omegas. It's a tradition in Asgard for an alpha of any standing to ask for the honor of dancing with the alpha’s mate. Why wouldn’t you want to share such wondrous news?” said Thor.

“We aren’t ready for others to know just yet,” said Steve.

“The attention this world shows into other’s lives is odd. I don’t understand why reality TV is so popular,” said Thor.

“Neither do I,” he said.

The dance ended. Steve watched the motions of his wedding. It was a calm relaxed atmosphere it was exactly what he wanted. After the high tension and action of the recent months, this was perfect. Everyone one seemed to be enjoying themselves. From his seat he watched seat he watched the guests dance.

“Captain Rogers?”

“Yes,”

“I’m Prince Charles,” he said the alpha shaking his hand.

“It’s an honor to meet you,” said Steve.

He didn’t know the proper etiquette for meeting royalty. The only other person of royal descent of he'd met was Thor.

“The honor is all mine,”

The prince pulled a velvet box from his dress uniform.

“My mother Queen Elizabeth wanted to make sure you received this. She didn’t believe you would want the ceremony of a knighthood. And she sends her apologies for not being in attendance wedding. She truly wished to be here,” said Charles.

“Thank her for her consideration. This is a very thoughtful gesture. And I hope to one day thank her for it in person,” said Steve.

“I’m sure she’d be happy to host you,” said Charles.

“I look forward to it,” said Steve.

They talked for a few more minutes before moving on. Steve retreated to his seat again his feet were killing him. Thor took a seat beside him.

“I’m sorry for stepping on your toes,” said Thor.

“I didn’t do much better,” said Steve.

“You were very light on your feet,” said Thor.

Steve laughed.

“One day I will teach you the dance of Asgard,” said Thor.

“I think that’s better saved for Jane. She’ll enjoy it more,” said Steve.

His flower girls came running toward them.

“And what are your names little one?” asked Thor.

“I’m Isabella,”

“And I’m Oliva. We wonder if you two would dance with us,”

“I’d be honored,” said Thor, leading Isabella onto the dance floor.

“May I have this dance, Oliva?” asked Steve.

“Yes!”

Steve walked the little girl onto the dance floor. He let her stand on his toes as they danced.

“Steve,”

“Am I interrupting?”

“No, we’re done,” said Olivia.

“Tony,”

“Time to cut the cake,”

 

"It's a lemon cake,"

"What kind of cake is?" asked Olivia.
He followed after his mate. Thankfully, Tony made the smart decision of not smashing cake in his face. Tony licked the frosting from his fingers. Steve blushed turning away. Well-wishers followed them to the car. Tony sped out of the driveway.

“Was it what you wanted?” asked Tony.

“It was perfect, Tony,”

“Was it what you wanted?”

“We could get married in the parking lot of a McDonalds and it would be perfect because I would be marrying you,” he said.

Steve smiled.

"That has to be one of the cheesiest things you've ever said,"

“It’s true,”

Steve leaned over, kissing the alpha on the cheek. They were relieved when they got to the hotel. The hotel had gotten them a bottle of champagne. Their bags and clothes were already there. Among bag was Tony's Mark-6 suit. They’d only be staying here the day than leaving for their honeymoon tomorrow. Steve kicked off his shoes and unbuttoned his pants.

“That’s better,”

Tony chuckled.

“Let me help you get out those,”

"I've been on my feet all day the last thing on my mind is sex. Save it for the honeymoon,"

He paced the room, looking for danger. Paranoia and maternal instinct made it impossible not to follow. When he was sure it was safe he took a seat at the end of the bed. He took off his dress uniform. Tony hung it up for him and tossed him a pair of gym shorts. Steve pulled them on and fell back into the bed.

Tony went tossed off his clothes and changed into something more comfortable. He smiled when he saw his pregnant, six-foot, super soldier husband spread eagle on the bed. It was a beautiful image. He took a seat beside his mate.

“My face is sore from smiling,”

“None of the smiles I saw were fake,”

“There was no reason for them to be,”

He reached up and kissed his mate. His stomach growled. He’d hardly gotten anything to eat during the wedding. Everyone kept pulling him conversation after conversation.

“Hungry?”

Steve nodded.

"Two cheeseburgers with extra pickles, large fries, and two strawberry milkshakes,"

“That’s the most normal food request you’ve made in weeks,”

Tony called room service, placing the order. He joined Steve in bed. His curled up against his chest. He purred when Steve gently ran his fingers over the arc reactor. There was a knock on the door.

“Leave it outside,”

“Alright, sir,"

Tony got out of bed and wheeled in the cart. The smell of food woke Steve up. It didn’t take long for him to finish off the order. Once done, he settled down by his mate.
After that heavy meal, Steve would be out the rest of day. He hoped that morning sickness wouldn’t ruin the day. Tony ran his hand over Steve’s stomach. The touch instantly drew purr from the sleeping being.

“I can’t believe you’re mine,”

While his mate slept he worked on designs for future projects. He nearly broke out laughing when Steve let one rip. Tony failed to hold back his laughter, waking up his mate.

“Tony?”

His was laughing hysterically beside him.

“What are you laughing at?”

“Nothing, sweetheart,”

Steve was too tired to care. He burrowed under the blankets. Steve groaned when the phone rang. Before he could destroy the bothersome device Tony reached over him and hung it up.

“No reason to destroy hotel property,” said Tony.

"I wasn't going to throw it,"

“Really,”

Steve shoved his husband out of the bed. His husband. He started crying.

“Why are you crying?”

“You’re my husband,”

“So happy tears?”

Steve nodded.

“Almost had me worried,”

“I have no regrets about marrying you,”

“What do you want for breakfast?”

"Blueberry pancakes,"

“You shower and I’ll get that ordered,”

"Thank you, honey,"

Steve got into the shower. He quickly bathed and went out to rejoin his mate only wearing a towel lowly around his waist.

“Will you tell me where we’re going for our honeymoon?”

“It’s a surprise,”

“You know how a feel about those,”

“Trust me you’ll enjoy this,”

“How long is the flight?”

Tony tensed. The flight wouldn't be enjoyable for a pregnant omega no matter how long or short.

“Twenty hours,”

“You’re serious,”

Tony nodded.

"Will, that be a problem? I could always go with plan B or C,"

“Which are?”

“Paris or Amsterdam, but we wouldn’t be left alone there. I found a nice secluded place,”

But it also had Wi-Fi for him.

“Alright,”

Once breakfast was finished it was to the airstrip. For the first two hours, Steve was cranky and unable to get comfortable but eventually managed to fall asleep. Hopefully, his mate slept for the rest of the flight and he did. Steve gave him a death glare when he found he had to go on a boat.

It was night when they got there. Steve found there nearest bed and fell into it. He woke up early late the next morning. Outside he heard waves lapping gently against the shore. Tony had taken him to the beach.

He walked out into the living area. A large breakfast arrange had been put out. The fruit smelled amazing. Some fruits set out he’d never seen before. Tony handed him a bowl of fruit salad. He took a seat next to Tony finally taking a moment to admire the beach view in front of him. The sand was and the water was crystal clear.

“Where are we?” asked Steve.

“The Maldives,” said Tony.

“It’s beautiful,”

"Worth the twenty-hour flight?"

Steve nodded.

“How long are we here?”

“Five days,”

“Perfect,”

Steve settled beside him. Tony was drawn from his work. Steve’s purring was incessant. He took the bowl from Steve. The omega’s growl was soothed with a kiss. The taste of mango lingered on his lips. He ran his hands down Steve’s body. They fell back onto the couch.

His hands went to the omega hair, tilting his head back, deepening their kiss. He rocked his hips against Steve’s causing moan. Tony groped his mate’s rear causing him to gasp. The scent of their combined arousal flooded their senses. Tony broke the kiss. Those lust hazed blue eyes fluttered open. He slid his hand under Steve’s shorts. Slick leaked over his fingers.

“Bedroom,” gasped Steve.

Tony lead him to the privacy of their room. As the moved they stripped each other their clothes. He pushed his mate back into bed. The omega bared his neck in submission. Tony licked his lips. No one else has the right to see this. There sheer angelic beauty of his mate awaiting the pleasure only he could give. Steve spread his legs and whined.

“Alpha,”

He pushed a finger in. A tight wet heat surrounded the digit. Slowly he stretched Steve open. He watched the lustful expressions cross Steve’s face. Steve’s started making short mewling sounds. The omega flexed around his fingers trying to take them deeper. Each one more beautiful than the other as Steve grew more wanting.

“Want more?”

Steve snarled. He grabbed the alpha’s biceps and flipped them over, straddling his waist. In one hand he caught the alpha’s wrists. He sunk onto the alpha’s length into him.

“Fuck!”

His back arched finally being filled. He bit back a scream of pleasure.

"It isn't nice to tease, honey,"

He rocked his hips against the alpha, taking him at his own pace. Steve moaned as Tony pressed against his sweet spot. He tried to quicken the pace. Tony’s grip on his hips tightened. He yelped when Tony's teeth grazed against his skin.

“Alpha please,”

Tony flipped them, pinning his omega underneath him. He gave into his instinct claim, setting a brutal place, only slowly when the felt his omega contracting around him. He sunk his teeth into Steve’s neck right as they reached the release. Tony collapsed onto Steve. He slowly came out of the haze.

“Fuck, Steve are you alright?”

“Perfect,”

“You’re pregnant,”

“And?”

“Was I too rough?

“Like, I said Tony it was perfect,"

“But the baby,”

“It’s fine. I’m pregnant not made of glass,”

Steve got up. Tony groaned when he saw seed dripping down from between Steve’s legs. His mate had grown far more confident in bed. Mm, what fun they could have? He followed Steve open-air bathroom. High wall grantee no one would see his omega. He joined Steve under the spray.

“Are you sure it’s all right?” said Tony running his fingers over Steve’s stomach.

“Yes, Tony,”

The rest of their honeymoon passed peacefully with moments of intense passion. Steve spent most his on beach drawing beside Tony in a chair. It came to end all too soon, but he was ready to home, get his den order for the pup. (August 3, 104).

The flight home was hellish. Steve locked himself away in the bathroom. Tony didn’t dare disturb him. That bathroom now belonged to Steve. He took out his phone and pulled up the most recent stories. All the gossip magazines and several newspapers had his and Steve's wedding photos on the cover or front page. Steve came out of the bathroom.

Steve came out of the bathroom. Tony showed him his phone. It earned him a tired smile.

“We’re getting an album made,”

“Already in the making,”

They were both exhausted by the time they got to their California home. Everything was back in place. Banner was sitting in their kitchen. Steve gave him a small wave before curling up in his nesting couch.

Bruce returned to his guest bedroom. The appointment could wait until tomorrow. He did not want to test Steve in a potentially moody state.

The next day they had their appointment. Steve was still a bit jet lagged, but the excitement being able to know their baby’s gender and see it again woke him up. Edith, Bruce, Steve, and Tony stood in the small homemade medical office. Tony stood next to Steve, holding his hand.

“What did you find in the sample?” he asked.

"It was fascinating before we get to the pup. We should with what I discovered about Steve," said Bruce.

“Me?”

“You’re not just the end result of Project Rebirth, but you are it,” said Bruce.

“What does that mean?”

"I expected the child's DNA to reflect a hybrid of human and super soldier, but instead it's a full super soldier. It's your body's way of protecting and granting the survival of your pup. If the pup was only half I believe there would be a high chance miscarriage,” said Bruce.

Steve relaxed. This entire his body was working with him to protect his baby. It was probably the reason the pup survived the Battle of New York.

“Its DNA is also extremely adaptable. If it were reintroduced to serum the pup would absorb it strengthen itself. Steve, what you were shot with cause your birth control malfunction. I’m concern those responsible knew of this information,” said Bruce.

Steve tensed. Tony tried to sooth the distress leaking off him. He nosed against Tony’s neck, taking comfort in his scent.

“How would they know?”

“I don’t have that answer. If they did Steve they won't only be after the pup but you. To get best the effect they will catch while pregnant reintroduce. I don’t say this to scare, but to warn you of the threat,” said Bruce.

Steve regained control himself. Distress would do nothing but agitated his pup and trigger his morning sickness. They would have to prepare. Steve was worried about his husband.

“Why don’t we calm down and get a look at your baby?” said Edith.

Steve nodded.

“We’ll be able to get a 3-D image of your baby,”

Steve took off his shirt, laying back. He flinched as the cool gel was squirted onto his stomach. Edith turned the image. Unlike the ultrasound, Steve could see the developing face of his child.

“It's sucking its thumb,” said Edith.

“What are we having?” asked Steve.

“You’re having a little girl,”

“Shit,”

Steve snarled.

“Could you two give us a moment?” he said.

Edith and Bruce were quick to scatter.

“Shit, wasn’t the response I was hoping for when we discovered the gender of our pup," said Steve.

“It just slipped out,” said Tony.

“Would be the same be the same if I were having a boy?”

Tony took a seat with his head in his hands. The last thing he wanted to do was argue with his mate.

“I’m terrified,”

The fear seeped through their bond. Steve’s expression softened.

“You aren’t the only one. I’ll have to be constantly on guard,” he said.

“No, Steve it’s not only those threats. I’m worried for her. There’s a high chance of her being omega. Female omegas are the lowest on the societal food chain. How will the world respond to her having such strength? And she has the burden of having me as a father,” said Tony.

“I think you’ll be better at than you think,” said Steve.

“What makes you think that?” he asked.

“You already thinking of all this,” said Steve.

“That does mean I’ll be what she needs,” said Tony.

Steve took Tony’s hand in his.

“We’ll figure this out together,” said Steve.

They kissed softly.

“We could name her Sarah,” said Tony.

“I want to her to her own first name let her make something out of it,” said Steve.

Bruce sat in the kitchen with Edith. He’d expected more raised voice from Steve and Tony, but they seemed to have figured it out peaceful manner.

"You should have noticed that in the sample," said Bruce.

“I was only screening for diseases,” she said.

“Both of know how unlikely it would be,” he said.

“I thought it better be cautious,” said Edith.

“We’re both scientists I won’t deny I’m curious about the pup’s what could be learned from. It begs the question of why S.H.I.E.L.D. would hire someone of your capabilities. I have nothing to be from what can be gathered from. I’m not sure what to make of it. I hope I’m wrong about you,” said Bruce.

Chapter Text

It was almost the end of August. (August 31, 132 days) Tomorrow marked four months for Steve. There was no denying his pregnancy now. The reveal went well. They'd started with being seen a baby stores and eventually they came out announced the news that they were having a baby girl. Baby gifts had been arriving since the announcement. They donated most of the clothes and supplies with a few exceptions. Steve kept the three beautiful outfits the queen of England sent them.

Tony went to the nursery when he couldn't find his mate anywhere else. It was one of Steve's favorite places to be. The room was ready, but the omega always double checked to make sure everything was in its place. Tony entered the room. It was painted a muted green. Steve was checking over supplies. He didn't break his mate's train of thought.

Steve slowly got up. His center of balance changed completely. He rubbed his lower back. For the first time in his life, he felt fat. It was impossible to find maternity clothes in his size. In the end, he had to get them custom made. Steve rubbed his stomach. There gentle kick against his hand.

“Morning little one,”

Tony moved next to him placing his hand on Steve's stomach. He smiled when he felt the gentle thump.

“Jen?”

“No,”

“What the score now?” asked Tony.

"Fifty no. And for maybe Hazel, Piper, Laurel," said Jarvis.

“At least we got the middle names figured out. Something Sarah Margret Stark,” said Tony.

"It's your fault we had to eliminate most of those names," said Steve.

"I didn't want our daughter to have the name of a woman I slept with. I would do the same thing if she were a boy," said Tony.

"And how more names would that add. And I doubt that there were fifty women," said Steve.

"I didn't know most of their names," said Tony.

Steve rolled his eyes.

"I'll decide between those three names when I meet her," said Steve.

He flinched clutching his side.

"Steve?"

“It’s nothing,” he said.

“Did she break a rib again?”

“Only crack this time I think,” said Steve.

Their baby being a super soldier meant there was extra power. The pup had no control over its strength so kicks could range from gentle taps to bone breaking.

“It will heal soon enough,” he said.

"You have to take it easy on your Papa. He's an old man they tend to be fragile," said Tony.

"Shut up!"

They went into the kitchen.

“What do you want for breakfast?”

“Mangos,”

“Haven’t kicked this mango craving,”

Steve shook his head.

“It’s better than the Dorito cravings. I never want to eat it one again,” he said.

Tony cut up some fruit and tossed them into a salad. Steve ate everything except the cantaloupe. Tony finished it off those pieces.

“Have you gotten the mail?” asked Steve.

Tony nodding, handing it to him. Steve sorted through it, tossing out the junk the mail. He stopped at a letter from Martin Lane. He was one of Steve’s VA friends. A fellow World War II veteran. That population was shrinking. Soon enough he'd be the only one left. Steve opened the envelope. He sighed another funeral. He tried not getting too upset. They were old men who'd lived a long fulfilling life. That was something to be celebrated.

“Tony, I’ve got to go to New York,"

“Funeral?”

He nodded.

“When?”

“September third,”

“I can come with you,”

“You can’t,”

"Why not?"

"You're giving a lecture at Georgia Tech. I promised Pepper you'd be there," said Steve.

"Fine, but take Happy with you and you wear the bracelet," said Tony.

“I will,”

The bracelet was a tracker with an emergency alert signal. That would call upon Tony and trigger the nearest suit to his aid.

“You could still fly out with me to Georgia,” said Tony.

“One flight is bad enough,” said Steve.

Steve followed Tony to the lab. He got into his nest there. Steve sketched as his alpha worked. After a few hours, he grew tired and burrowed under the covers. Thor's blanket was on the top of the pile.

Tony looked up from his work. Steve was hidden in his nest. It was helpful having the nesting couch in his lab. He slept better there. It was saturated with the smell of a happy pregnant omega. He went to the small drawer of food he kept and put Steve's favorite snack in the nest so it would have it when he woke up.

Steve woke about an hour later rushing to the bathroom. He came back a few minutes. Steve looked over Tony’s shoulder.

“What mark is this?”

“Twenty-five,”

“What mark is it really?”

“Thirty,”

The habit wasn't healthy but it could be so much worse. He nosed against Tony's neck, breathing in his scent. Steve couldn't pick up on anything wrong with it. It lacked the drunken scent which he'd picked up on occasion when Tony was having a particularly rough day.

"What's its name?" he asked.

“Blue Steel,”

“What does it do?”

“It’s an enhanced energy suit,”

“How many are you going to make?”

“I don’t know,”

“One day your hands won't be so restless,"

The alpha gave a tired smile.

"I hope so,"

Steve stretched out.

“I’m going on a walk,”

Tony handed him the tracking bracelet.

“I’m only going out to the beach,” said Steve.

He sighed taking it from the alpha. Steve left for the beach. He laid out a towel and sunbathed, closing his eyes. When he heard coming toward him left the vulnerable position. There was a click of a camera. Paparazzi.

“You’re trespassing leave,”

The man left. Steve felt uneasy. It was rare to see anyone else on the beach. On occasion, a distant neighbor would jog by but never this. He didn't like it. This was their territory he didn't want strangers on it. He went back to the house. Once he changed he went to the lab.

“Tony,”

“Hmm,”

“There was someone on our territory,”

The alpha looked up from his work.

"Neighbors?"

"No, paparazzi. He snapped a few photos of me before taking off,"

“Jarvis,”

“Yes, sir,”

"Run the face from the surveillance through recognition and buy those photos before they get printed," said Tony.

"Right away," said Jarvis. 

"Thanks, Jarvis,"

“Happy to help,”

“You all right?” asked Tony.

"Fine, it takes more than that to shake me up. I just don’t like a stranger so close to our den,” said Steve.

“Won’t happen again,” said Tony.

He nuzzled closely to his alpha. Steve didn't want to be alone. Jarvis was great company, but he wasn't real.

"I'll go with you to Georgia," he said.

He wasn't going to ignore his instincts on this. The next morning Steve packed a bag for their trip. (September 1, 133) He slept for the entire flight. When they got to their hotel he did his normal pace around the room, checking for danger.

“We have the day want to do something?” asked Tony.

“Sure,”

Tony went to through list activities. Some of the things sounded fun but he couldn't do them while pregnant. They settled on the aquarium. As soon as he got there he regretted not bringing his sketchbook. They had it mostly to themselves. His favorite exhibits were the otters and whale shark. He took a seat on a bench, watching the giant fish swim gracefully through the water.

"This is beautiful. There wasn't anything like this in my time. The closest thing we had to it were the fish you could win on the Coney Island boardwalk. Bucky won me a goldfish. The only pet I ever had," said Steve.

“What did you name it?” asked Tony.

“George,”

Tony laughed.

“What not Goldie?” he said.

"That way I could say I had someone waiting for me at home. They didn't need to know George was a fish. Did you have any pets?” said Steve.

“Howard wouldn’t allow it,”

They went back to their hotel. Steve toed off his shoes and got into bed. He groaned when he couldn’t find a comfortable position.

“Stay there. I’ll make you a nest,” said Tony.

He gathered the extra blankets from the closet. Tony had gotten the hang of building a nest to Steve's high standards.

“It’s almost perfect,”

Tony looked for what could be wrong. Steve grabbed him by the arm, bringing him into the nest.

“Now it’s perfect,” said Steve.

He nosed against Tony's neck. Before he wrapped his arms around the alpha's waist he shot from the bed.

"Let me get into something more comfortable. Then we can cuddle as much as you want," said Tony.

He was quick to change, knowing if he didn’t move fast enough it may bring a drastic reaction. Steve’s arms wrapped around his waist keeping him close. They stay like that for most of the day. Steve woke slowly the next morning to Tony’s alarm. (September 2, 134 days) The alpha was dressed.

“Morning sweetheart,”

“What time is it?”

“Ten,”

He tried getting up but Tony pushed him back into the nest.

“Tony?”

“Sleep,”

Steve nodded, falling back into the pillows.

“Call Happy when you're ready to go," said Tony.

Steve nodded. There was a faint clink as Tony locked the bracelet around his wrist. The alpha kissed him goodbye, before going to his lecture. Steve woke up about an hour later. He got dressed and called Happy.

“Got everything?” asked Happy.

Steve nodded. He texted Tony that he was leaving. Happy pulled the car up to the front of the hotel and opened the door for him.

"Thank you,"

"I'm sorry about your friend,"

Steve nodded. It didn't take long to get to the airport. They got onto the plane. It was only about a two-hour flight. Flying always made Steve tired, he was quick to fall asleep. He was startled from his sleep when he heard heavy footsteps on the roof the plane.

“What was that?”

“Footsteps,”

The emergency exit door was yanked open. A masked figured jumped through. The door slammed shut behind the man entrapping them. He easily knocked Happy out of the way. Steve snarled, baring his teeth. The two circled each other.

They tackled each other. Their arms locked around each other. Steve’s was stunned at the man’s strength it. It was equal to his. How long would his strength last? Their closeness allowed him to take in his attacker scent. An alpha! That was all his scent revealed. They struggled against each other, landing a strike at every chance. How long they fought he did not know. A powerful blow the neck sent him to the ground. A cool metal hand wrapped around his neck, scruffing him. He went limp. He was unable to fight the powerful command. All he managed was to hit the emergency button his bracelet. The alpha stomped on his hand, breaking his fingers, but the signal had already been sent out.

A muzzle was locked around his mouth and nose. A sweet smelling gas filled his senses he couldn't keep his eyes open. Steve fought the losing battle against its effects, but with every passing second his eyes grew heavy. He had to protect his pup. Steve gazed up at his attacker and whimpered. He hated the noise how pathetic it made him feel, but he was desperate to protect his child. She was more important than his pride.

That whimpered sound pried at Winter's instinct protect. A latent compulsion he wasn't aware of before now. It caused a splintering pain spread through his head, but he forced it back. This was nothing compared to what he'd been through. Thankfully, this new ache whatever it may be would be wiped away from his memory. He'd killed omegas before. Why was this one different? It had to be the pregnancy. His kind was hardwired not harm such a being condition. Instincts weren't allowed to play a part in his life. There was only the mission. The only pattern he was able to hang onto in life. He had to keep following it. It was all he had. The time to complete his task was shortening. He had to start.

Even unconscious the omega's hands rest protectively over his stomach. He pried them away. For a few a moments his gaze lingered on the omega's swollen stomach. His mask filtered out the heavy panicked scent of the omega, which allowed his focus not to be so easily swayed by something as trivial as scent. He raised the man's shirt and took the serum dose from his bag. He took out the self-injecting syringe locked in place on the omega's stomach. A fleeting whine left the target as the needle pierced his womb.

The alert went off when Tony was about to walk out on stage. Tony was nearly brought to his knees brought fear, distress, and worry coursing through his bond.

"Tony?" said Pepper

“I have to leave,"

He had to get to his mate!

“What are you talking about?”

Tony ran out the door. He called upon nearest suit. It wrapped around him.

“I’m coming, sweetheart,”

Steve felt heavy. He couldn't move his limbs. His vision was blurred. He tensed when once again he heard a creak. He curled his limbs close, protecting his stomach. A metal hand touched his cheek. He struck out with his shield. Sparks flew at the impact.

“Captain Rogers you’re safe,”

That voice wasn't his mate's but it was safe. He whined.

“Sir, we’ll be here soon,”

He clung to the metal suit hiding his face in its neck. There was no scent of his mate, but it was enough to soothe his frazzled nerves.

Tony soared through air speeding toward the plane. Toward his mate and unborn pup.

“Jarvis,”

“Yes, sir,”

“Contact Fury or Hill and inform them of what’s going on,”

“Already have,”

“I want you to land him at nearest S.H.I.E.L.D. facility,”

“Understood,” said Jarvis.

He distrusted S.H.I.E.L.D. but it was the safest option for his mate. Even at full speed, he couldn't get there fast enough. Finally, he got there. Steve was cuddled against an empty Ironman suit. He was beaten and bruised. One of his eyes was swollen shut. His arms were covered in defensive wounds. Steve was muzzled. Tony released the clasp. Those perfect blue eyes opened.

"Alpha?"

Tony took off his helmet. Steve pressed against him.

“I’ve got you, Steve”

He held him close. The omega was feral.

“Happy,”

The large alpha’s eyes opened.

“Boss? Steve!”

Steve snarled when the other alpha came close. It was a reaction made from an instinctual fear.

“What happened?”

"There were footsteps on the roof. A masked attacker broke in. He was strong Tony. Knocked me out with a single hit. This guy wasn't normal," said Happy.

“What was he?”

“Alpha,”

They plan landed at the nearest S.H.I.E.L.D. agency. Tony picked up his mate. Hill along with a group of agents were waiting for them on the airstrip with a stretcher.

“You’re safe,”

He picked up his mate. When Tony went to put Steve down he whined and clung closer.

“It’s fine I got him,” said Tony.

They were discreetly escorted to the medical wing. In his feral state, Steve refused to even let beta nurses near him.

“You have to get him calm,” said Hill.

Tony sighed. He would have to use a command on Steve.

“Omega,”

Their eyes locked.

“Be still,”

Steve went motionless. Tony scruffed his mate.

“Sleep,”

The omega’s eyes closed. Medics quickly attended Steve's wounds all under Tony's watchful eye. When done Steve lay in bed. Monitors watched both Steve's and their pup's vitals. It was a risk taking Steve here but he couldn't take him anywhere else. Normal hospitals couldn't take care of him. He would have to hack and remove whatever information S.H.I.E.L.D. gathered from this visit. Tony tensed when someone entered their room. He moved in front of the bed.

“Dr. Star,”

“I’m here to check on your daughter,”

Tony grudgingly allowed her in. She turned on the ultrasound machine. A black and white image his daughter appeared on the screen.

“How is she?” asked Tony.

“Healthy, what’s this?”

“What is it?!”

“Nothing wrong with her. It’s this,”

There was a small circular bruise over Steve's womb. At the center of it was a small prick. It could have easily gone unnoticed by the nurses.

"He's been injected with something," she said.

"With what?"

"I won't know that until I take a sample. Will you stop me?" asked Dr. Star.

“No,”

Poison wouldn’t harm his mate, but it maybe it would harm his unborn daughter. His pup came first.

“Send it to Banner as well,” he said.

"Of course, Mr. Stark," said Edith.

“His healing,”

"It's slowed all that energy goes to the pup's development. But he should heal fairly quickly," she said.

Once she left Tony got into bed with Steve. The omega nuzzled closely to him, seeking comfort, which he was more than willing to provide. He had to protect them. He'd failed to do that. As soon as he began to relax Natasha and Clint came storming into the room. He snarled not wanting anyone near his injured mate. The fellow alpha left, not wanting to challenge him. Natasha remained.

“How is he?”

“The pup is healthy and he’s recovering,” said Tony.

“What happened up there?” asked Natasha.

“They were attacked,” he said.

“By who?”

“A single alpha that injected Steve with something. We’ll know more when he wakes up,” said Tony.

It wouldn’t be a pleasant experience when his mate woke up.

“I’ll leave you be,”

Tony nodded. He kissed his mate’s forehead.

“I love you,”

Hill watched the couple from the small window in the door. She'd got a frantic call from Pepper about Tony, leaving in a panic from the lecture at Georgia Tech. She called her girlfriend.

“Maria,”

“What happened?” asked Pepper.

"They were attacked," she said.

"Are they okay?" asked Pepper.

"They'll be fine," she said.

“The baby?” asked Pepper.

"Her too," said Maria.

“Thank god,” said Pepper.

“What excuse did you give the school?” asked Maria.

"That Steve thought he was going into labor. It was the believable excuse I could say given his reaction," said Pepper.

“How are you doing?” asked Maria.

“Stressed but fine,” said Pepper.

"I'll be sure to help you unwind as soon as I get the chance," said Maria.

“I look forward to it,” said Pepper.

“See you later gorgeous,” she said.

“See you, sparkles,”

“You know I hate that nickname,”

“Which makes me love it all the more,” said Pepper.

Steve woke in the earliest hours of the morning. Tears streamed down his face. As panic swarmed his heart. HIS BABY! Steve’s hands went to his stomach hoping for movement. He screamed.

“Steve!”

Tony cupped the panicked omega’s hand in his face.

“Look at me,”

Steve focused in on the alpha’s command.

“Where are we?”

“S.H.I.E.L.D,”

"No, not safe!" said Steve, tried escaping from the bed.

Tony pushed him back into the bed. He continued to struggle against his alpha, only to be scruffed. He went limp unable to move under the power of his mate's physical command.

“I had to bring you here. I wouldn’t do anything to put you or our daughter in danger. Trust in this," said Tony.

Steve's breathing calmed.

"Can I take my hand away?" asked Tony.

He nodded. Tony slowly pulled his hand away.

“Our baby,”

“She’s fine,”

“Tell me what happened,” said Tony.

"He was strong, Tony. Equal to me. I couldn't fight at the same level. I tried. I tried so hard but I couldn't protect her!" he cried.

He felt so weak.

“You did,”

"No! I failed. He injected me with something. I couldn't see it but I felt the needle pierce into my womb,” said Steve.

He broke into tears. It was such a violation.

“I couldn’t protect her,” he whimpered over and over.

“You did the best you could. This could have been so much worse,” said Tony.

"HOW?!”

“We could have lost her,” he said.

Steve sniffled, calming only slightly. Then he felt it. A thump against his stomach. He purred loudly, running his hand over his stomach. It was such a miraculous feeling of relief.

“Baby girl,”

Tony lowered his hand to Steve's stomach. He felt the gentle kick of their child.

“That’s my girl,”

Tony kissed him.

“I thought I lost the two you,” he said.

"We're safe together," said Steve.

Tony's ran his fingers through that golden brown hair.

“What if she’s not okay?” asked Steve.

“She’s healthy,” said Tony.

"I hate the woman, but I have full faith in skill in the profession," said Tony.

"What if she missed something?" he said.

"She didn't," said Tony. 


Their pup was safe.

“Can you tell me what he looked like?” asked Tony.

“An alpha. He had brown hair and metal arm,” said Steve.

“The Winter Soldier,”

“Natasha,”

“He’s a Hydra operative. I've encountered him before. Over the decades he's been off and on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s radar. We only theorized he may be like you. Him going toe to toe with you on an equal level only furthers this. He may have been the sniper that deactivated your birth control," she said.

Hydra was responsible for his pregnancy. Distress leaked off his skin. Natasha left them. Steve couldn't breathe. His heartbeat drummed in his ears. The monitors alerted. A troop of nurses stormed into the room.

"GET OUT!" yelled Tony.

They scattered. The room filled the protective alpha pheromones mixed with those of distressed omega. Steve was having an episode. He was curled in the fetal position oozing distress. He pushed Steve's face into his neck. The smell of urine invaded his senses. Slowly Steve uncoiled from his tense position. He wasn't all way the there.

Steve groaned. His head felt stuffy. Shame washed over him. He’d wet his pants. Steve was a grown man and he’d pissed his pants.

"Nothing be ashamed of beautiful,"

Steve shook his head. Tony picked him up. His mate pressed into his neck. He sat Steve on the bathroom counter. Tony filled the tub and checked the temp. It was perfect. He took off Steve’s medical gown and underwear. Tony took a seat next to Steve on the bathroom floor.

“How can you love this?”

The insecurity of the question was driven by his emotionally unstable state.

"We won't always be perfect. That's impossible when you're married to me. Even at worst of times no matter what they are I will always strive to love you," said Tony.

It was the right answer, but it the answer Steve needed. He ran his fingers through Steve's hair.

"Love you too," whispered Steve.

He got into the tub with Steve. It was cramped, but the closeness relaxed them both. Tony got a washcloth and soothed away the distress. Steve's muscles relax underneath his touch. Tony helped Steve up, wrapping a towel around his waist. When they returned to the room the bed was remade and two sets of scrubs. They dressed.

Steve tensed when Tony strapped the fetal heart monitor around his waist. Their child's heartbeat appeared on the screen. It was a comfort to see it. They got into bed. The sheets were uncomfortable sterile of scent. Steve couldn't get into bed. Tony got into the bed rolling around in it, rubbing his cheeks against the pillow. Steve got in feeling much more relaxed.

“Better?”

Steve nodded.

“Steve, how are you feeling,”

“No,”

"You don't get to do that,"

“I can,”

He turned his back to his mate. Tony made Steve face him.

"I have a right to know how you're feeling about this," he said.

"The enemy I fought seven decades ago I still fight today. They set things in motion. But we are the ones that created this life. I will not let them steal the joy of the creation of our daughter. Not their daughter, ours," said Steve.

Their hands rested over Steve’s stomach.

"I'm sorry, Steve,"

"For what?"

"I build all these suits to protect, but I've still failed to do so," he said.

"You can't blame yourself for this I won't let,"

"But-

"No, without what you've made I could have lost you and our child. It may not be one of your Ironman suits, but your tracker saved our family's life. You didn't fail, Tony,"

Tony held him even closer.

"Thank you," he whispered.

Neither of them could sleep. They spent most of the night watching their child's heartbeat. Every now and then their pup would kick against their hands, somehow knowing that was a comfort to them. At one the next morning Edith burst into their room. Tony shield him with his body, snarling.

“Alpha’s it’s fine,”

Tony was slow to relax from his position over him.

“What do you have?”

"They reintroduced the super soldier serum to the fetus," she said.

"How? I thought it was lost," said Steve.

"So did we. Dr. Banner's theory was correct. Hydra somehow knew that detail of your pregnancy," said Edith.

“S.H.I.E.L.D. has a leak,” said Tony.

He needed to get his omega out here, get him Avengers Tower where it was safe. Where things were more under his control.

“What does that mean?” asked Steve.

"In the simplest term. Your pup will be powerful. In mind and body. She'll do great things," she said.

Chapter Text

It was mid-December he was almost eight months along. Steve woke to an empty bed. Ever since the attack made on him, he'd woke up more frequently to an empty bed. Tony was more restless than before. It was worrying. They were processing it differently. He couldn't sleep well alone without having his shield within arm's reach. Even though he sometimes felt alone he knew his mate was never far.

The reintroduction of serum affected his pregnancy. Morning sickness was sometimes so intense it quickly dehydrated him and would cause him to blackout if he weren't careful. The pup's kick became a painful experience. She frequently broke his ribs and left large dark bruises on his sides and stomach.

“Jarvis,”

“Yes,”

"How long has Tony been awake?" he asked.

“Seventy-two hours,”

Steve slowly got up bracing his lower back.

“Should I warn him of your arrival?” asked Jarvis.

“No,”

Jarvis wasn't allowed to warn Tony of his visits. They had recently gotten into a fight when he discovered a bottle of scotch Tony had hidden there. The two hadn't talked for two days after that fight.  Steve glared at the steps of to Tony's lab. The stairs were half the reason he spent less time in his nest there, but he managed to get down them with little difficulty. Christmas music was playing. He stood at the doorway. At the center of the room was his mate. Steve smiled as the alpha started dancing. Pieces of armor flew toward Tony, latching on him.

“Alright, I think we got this send them all,”

Steve shook his head. This wasn’t going to end well.

Sparks flew as different pieces of armor crashed through the lab.

“That’s a little fast slow it down a little bit,”

Soon his mate was being comically thrown around the room. The alpha managed to strike a dramatic pose before being sent to the ground by a flying ass plate.

“As always sir it’s a great pleasure watching you work,” said Jarvis.

"He's right. It never proves to be dull," said Steve.

Tony looked up. His mate was standing by the doorway smiling. He took off his faceplate. Steve went over to Dum-E, taking off its dunce cap.

“Did I wake you up?”

“No,”

Steve sighed.

“Come here,”

Steve took off the alpha’s helmet. He wiped the blood Tony’s chin.

“You need sleep,”

"I'm fine,"

“You were just taken out by a flying ass plate. That isn’t fine,” said Steve.

“A miscalculation,”

Steve rolled his eyes.

"I guess seventy-two hours siesta is a bit much," he said.

"You think so,"

Steve led him upstairs. He got into bed with his mate. Steve was out seconds later. One of the positive side effects of the pregnancy was it made it easier for Steve to sleep and lessened his nightmares. He ran his hand down Steve’s stomach. There was a gentle kick against his hand.

“Shh, little one it’s time to sleep,”

She settled. While his mate slept he stared at the ceiling. He was so tempted to leave. Tony hated how idle his hands were. Sleep something he needed but didn’t want. Those hours could be used better in his lab. Fuck, what kind of husband was he? He used to love the peacefulness of sleeping beside his mate and he wanted that back. But now sleep brought darkness and an unknowing of what he saw up there. He couldn't go back to that place even if it was only a dream.

At five in the morning, he got out of bed.  Steve's hand searched for him. He kissed his husband's forehead, before pulling the blankets over him. He made breakfast. Steve woke about an hour later. He felt Steve glaring at him.

“You didn’t sleep,”

“I tried,”

“Do you even want to?” asked Steve.

He shook his head. Steve came closer, running his fingers through Tony's hair.

“It isn’t you,” he said.

“I know,”

“At least I got you out of the lab,"

They settled down for breakfast. Steve hadn't kicked his mango craving yet. Tony turned on the news.

"Do you have to put that on?" asked Steve.

"Only a few minutes," said Tony.

Steve focused on his breakfast. At least cable news was better than gossip news. Ever since the photo of him and Tony kissing was leaked after the Battle of New York, Steve hated it. The only thing that caught his attention was the renaming of War Machine to the Iron Patriot.

“It’s an improvement over War Machine,” said Steve.

“Really?”

"What you don't like it?"

“I prefer only one patriotic hero. Besides you look so much better in the stars and stripes," 

“I won’t be putting on the uniform any time soon,”

“Doesn't matter I'd still love to see you in it,”

Steve frowned when the news focused on the recent Mandarin bombings.

“Steve-

“No,”

“But,”

“This isn’t our problem,”

“Why?”

“There other people capable of solving this,” he said.

“I could help,” said Tony.

"I love that you want to and if this were another time I'd be happy for you to help, but we don't need any more attention on ourselves right now. I need your mind here," said Steve.

Tony sighed. He shouldn't be interested in the bombings, but he wanted to claw into it and solve the problem. A new challenge to distract from the constant stress and fear over losing his family. Without distraction, all the anxiety and stress he was feeling might be unleashed on Steve. He didn’t want to burden his mate with that, not after all Steve had been through. Keeping it redirected was the only way he could he manage it.

Steve didn't let Tony returned to the lab for the rest of the morning. Around noon Rhodes came to pick Tony for lunch.

"You sure you don't want to come with us, Steve," asked Rhodes.

“Thanks but no,” he said.

“We’ll bring you something back,” said Tony. 

"How's my goddaughter?" said Rhodes.

“She's being a bit temperamental," he said, rubbing his stomach.

“Already taking after you, Tony,” said Rhodes.

He tensed. Tony hoped for their sake that the pup took after Steve.


"Very funny let's go," he said, shoving Rhodes out the door.

They went to a family restaurant. The only reason Tony knew about was it was the few places the sold strawberry milkshakes a three in the morning. The news was playing on one of the TVs.

“You ripped off Steve’s look,” he said.

“It tested well with focus groups, alright,” said Rhodes.

“I am Iron Patriot,”

"Listen War Machine was a little too aggressive. This sends a better message,” said Rhodes.

“So what’s really going on with Mandarin?” he asked.

“Tony, you’ve paid your dues this isn’t your problem you and Steve have a baby on the on the way,” said Rhodes.

“I know but can we talk about this guy?” said Tony.

Rhodes sighed. He didn't want to drag Tony into this. Rhodes saw what Steve could do when he was angry. He didn't want experience it first hand.

"It's classified information. There’s been nine bombings,” said Rhodes.

“Nine bombings,”

“The public only knows about three, but here’s the thing nobody can id the device. There’s no bomb casings,”

"You know I can help. Just ask. I got a ton of new tech. I got bomb disposal, catches explosions mid-air," said Tony.

"When the last time you've gotten a good night's sleep?" asked Rhodes.

"Einstein slept three hours a year. Look what he did," said Tony.

“People are concerned about you, Tony. Steve is and I am too,” said Rhodes.

Tony's hands clenched.

“You’re going to come at me like that?”

“I’m not trying to-

“If you’re going to be a dick dictator-

“Do you mind signing my drawing?”

A little girl and her brother snuck passed their guard.

“If Richard doesn’t mind you alright with this?” said Tony.

“Alright,” said Rhodes.

Tony ignored the image. It may have only been a child’s drawing, but the poorly drawn symbol was enough to frazzle him slightly.

“Listen the Pentagon is scared. After New York aliens come on you need to look strong. Stopping the Mandarin is priority but it's not-

"Superhero business,"

“It’s not,”

A sudden wave of panic spread over him. The crayon snapped in his hand. He covered his face trying to work through the building panic.

“You okay?’

“I broke the crayon,”

“Are okay, Mr. Stark?”

"Tony, take it easy,"

Their voices were dulled out. Only one question pierced through the haze.

“How’d you get out of the wormhole?”


That snapped what little control he had over his oncoming frame of mind. He shot from the table, pushing his way through the crowd to his suit. It opened to meet him, closing securely around him. He went to his knees.

“Check the heart. Check the heart. Is it the brain?”

Something had to be wrong. He had to be healthy. He needed to be there for his family.

“No sigh of cardiac anomaly or unusual brain activity,”

“Okay, so I was poisoned?”

"My diagnosis is you've experienced a severe anxiety attack," said Jarvis.

“Me?”

“It’s happened before, sir. When Steve was having a panic attack,”

"Steve?!"

“He’s fine sir. He’s currently eating ice cream on the couch,” said Jarvis.

There was tap against his helmet.

“Come on man this isn’t a good look. Open up,”

“Sorry I got to split,”

He shot into the sky. He had to get home. Make sure his mate was safe, despite Jarvis’ report. He tugged on the bond, trying to reassure himself as was flying.

Steve jumped when the front door of his home swung open. Tony emerged from his suit and embraced him.

“Steve,”

“Tony,”

The walls blocking all Tony tried hiding came crumbling down. Steve was hit by the anxiety, stress, worry, and fear his mate had been bottling up. They sunk to the floor. Steve was still as Tony as scented him. He ran his hands over the tense muscles of his alpha. He pushed his positive emotions through their bond, hoping to offset what Tony was feeling. Slowly Tony relaxed against him.

“Tony?”

“I’m fine I just needed you. You’re the only that can get me down from the state,”

“I’ve got you,”

Tony rested his head against Steve’s chest, listening to his heartbeat.

“Honey?”

“Hm?”

"Can we get up?"

Tony helped Steve from the floor.

“I didn’t want to unload that on you,”

“I’m glad you shared this with me,”

“Why?”

“We have to share the bad and good with each other. It lessens the burden,”

“I didn’t want you to have to deal with this, not after-

“Tony, I’ve always felt it,”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“I was waiting for you to tell me,”

Forcing Tony to tell him something was the best way to get what he wanted from his mate. Steve led Tony to his nest. The alpha still carried a tension. He wrapped the blankets around them. He purred. Tony coiled around him, pushing his face into his neck. The alpha entered a light sleep. Steve's phone vibrated against his leg. He pulled it from his pocket. 

“Steve,”

“Rhodes, what happened?”

"It looked like he had a panic attack. Is he alright?"

“He got back safely. I’ve got him calm,”

“He needs help, Steve,”

“It’s difficult for him to share this with me. I can’t imagine he talking about this to anyone else,”

“Take care of him,”

“I always will,”

Steve hung up. His eyes grew heavy. He didn't want to close them. Every time he fell asleep beside his mate, he'd wake up alone. It eventually he gave in to the urge.

Tony woke a few hours later. He was in a cocoon of blankets. His arms were wrapped around Steve. The omega was purring in his sleep. He left the nest, refolding the blankets around Steve. The separation instantly caused the omega's purrs to stop. Tony took Steve's shield from its place on the couch and leaned it against the edge of the nesting couch.
He went down to his lab and down into the wine cellar. His phone rang. Happy’s large forehead appeared on the screen.

“Is this forehead of security?”

“What? Look I got a real job you know. What do you want?”

“You called me,”

“I have something going on here,”

“What?”

“You know what would happen when I told people I was Ironman’s bodyguard. They would laugh in my face,”

Tony laughed.

“I had to leave while I still had a shred of dignity. Now I got a real job I’m watching Pepper,”

“What’s going on fill me in?”

“For real?”

“Yeah,”

Steve was asleep so there wasn't much else for him to do.

"Alright, so she's meeting up with this scientist, rich guy handsome type. I couldn't make his face at first. You know I'm good with faces,"

“Oh, yeah you’re the best”

“So I run his credentials and made him. Aldrich Killian, we actually met him. Back in 99 where were we?”

“Umm, Switzerland,”

“Right,”

“Killian, I don’t remember him,”

“Of course you don’t. He's not a blond with a big rack. First, it was normal they were talking business, but now it's getting weird he's showing her his big brain,"

“He’s what?”

“His big brain and she likes it. Here, I’ll show you,”

Happy raised his iPad.

“See?”

“What? Look at you watching them? Flip the screen. Then we can get started,”

“I’m not a tech genius like you,”

“My ninety-four-year-old technology inept husband can do this,"

"Just trust me, get down here,"

“Flip the screen so I can see what they’re doing,”

“I don’t know how to flip the screen! Don’t talk to me like anymore. You’re not my boss. I don’t trust this guy. He has another guy with him, he’s shifty,”

“Relax, secure the perimeter,”

“You should take more of an interest of what’s going on here,”

“Why?”

“She’s your-

“She’s my what? Pepper can handle herself. Call Hill she’d be far more fascinated by this. I’m sure she's taught Pepper plenty of fun things to deal with this,"

"And if it were Steve,"

Tony nearly growled. If it were Steve the guy wouldn’t breathing.

“It isn’t,”

“I’m going to follow this guy. I’m going to run his plates. If it gets rough so be it,”

“I miss you, Happy,”

"Yeah, I miss you too, but how things used to be,"

“You mean before I met the love of my life?”

"No, now that you've gone off and joined the super friends. I don't know what's been going on with you lately. The world is getting weird,”

“Hey, I have to cut you off. Do you have your taser on you?”

“Yeah, why?”

“I think there’s a gal in HR trying to steal some printer ink. You should stop her,”

He placed his phone in the wine fridge in left. But his curiosity was peaked.

"Jarvis pull information on, Aldrich Killian,"

The man's bio appeared before him. It was nothing interesting. Just another well dressed alpha man trying to compete or join his company. Happy’s concern over Pepper somehow called on his protective instinct check up on Steve, even though he just been with him minutes ago.


He went upstairs to check on his mate. Steve had burrowed underneath the blankets. Resting under one of the layers of blankets was Steve’s shield. He slid in next to his mate. The purrs instantly started back up again.

“Mm, Tony?”

“Hey, beautiful,”

Steve yawned. He kissed Tony. The taste of wine lingered on the alpha's lips.

“You shouldn’t drink alone,”

“A few more months before you can do that with me again,”

“I like the smell,”

Steve cuddled up against him.

“Next time,”

“Remember today is date night,”

"Wouldn't forget it,"

Tony carded his fingers through the omega’s hair. He stayed by his mate’s side until he fell asleep.

Steve woke around five in the afternoon. His nest was empty. He should have kept a tighter grip on his husband. When he looked out onto the front yard he saw a giant stuffed rabbit. He rubbed his eyes making sure it was really there. Only a few hours he was asleep and his mate does this.

“Jarvis?”

“Yes,”

“Why is there a giant stuffed rabbit in my driveway?” he asked.

“It’s sir’s gift to Ms. Potts,”

“And how does he plan on getting it out of our driveway?” said Steve.

“I don’t quite know,” said Jarvis.

“Tony!”

A suit came shooting up the stairs.

“What’s wrong? Is it the baby? Is it time?”

The concern in Tony's voice melted away some of Steve's frustration.

“No,”

“Phew,”

"I want that rabbit out of our drive by the end of the week," said Steve.

"Can do,"

He took a seat by the coffee table. On it was several thank you letters from children for saving the world. Tony’s cool hands touched his shoulders.

“Ohh, those shoulders,”

Those metal hands always felt wonderful against his heated skin. He purred as those deft fingers worked into his tired aching muscles. Steve moaned. Slick dampened his undergarments.

“Come here, alpha,”

Tony kneeled down beside him.

“Take off that face mask and kiss me,"

“Oh, this doesn’t come off,”

“Take it off before I lose my patience,”

“Do you just want to kiss it on the facial slit?”

Steve growled. Tony backed away from him before he could get a grip on him. Steve managed to get his feet. By then Tony was back in his lab. The alpha had never run from a chance for sex. He waddled down the stairs. Steve snarled when he found his husband doing pull-ups in the lab. He'd been talking to an empty tin can this entire time. Dum-E offered him a plate of fruit.

“You weren’t even talking me,”

“We were,”

"The suit isn't part of we. It's just like all your other gadgets,"

Dum-E dropped the plate of fruit in its hand and rolled into the corner.

“Sorry Dum-E”

The robot was sadly started picking fruit off the floor.

“Tony, I understand these suits are part of you, but they aren’t part of us. I need you to refocus your attention back on our family. I need you more present. We need you more present," said Steve.

He went to stairs.

"Wait, I'm sorry," 

Steve froze debating whether to give him the chance. He turned to face him, waiting for an explanation. 

"I'm a piping hot mess. It's been going a while and I haven't said anything. Nothing has been the same since New York," said Tony.

“Not everything has changed,”

Tony looked up at him. Those brown eyes lost. Steve sighed, caressing his alpha’s face.

“I love you that hasn’t changed," he said.

"That will never change," said Tony. 

It was the stable thing he could truly rely on.

“You experience things then they’re over and you can’t explain them. Gods, aliens, other dimensions. At least you had something more explainable. I'm just a man in a can. The reason I haven't cracked up is you. I love you. I'm lucky. But sweetheart I can't sleep. You go to bed I stay here. I do what I know. I tinker. The threat is imminent and I have to protect the two things I can't live without. That's you and our daughter. My suits they're uh-

“Machines,”

“Maybe,”

Steve moved closer. Tony was a man who enjoyed figuring out a problem understanding and making sense of it. How does one make sense of the implausible? He couldn't answer this for him. But he could try and comfort him through it, so the answer didn't seem consuming or cause such a great need for distraction.

Tony sighed as Steve’s fingers carded through his hair, removing the headset he was wearing. He rested his head against Steve, running his hands over the omega’s growing stomach.

“Tony, you don’t need these suits to be a hero,”

Steve placed a parting kiss on the alpha’s forehead.

"I'm going upstairs,"

“Okay,”

“You’re joining me,”

“That’s better,”

They undressed as they moved. Tony's hand wandered over Steve’s form. His skin was so perfectly soft to the touch. They pushed through the bedroom door. His grip tightened around his mate's waist, causing a small gasp to leave Steve's lips. All the omega was left in were pair black boxer briefs.

He took a few seconds to look at the glorious scene before him. His pregnant omega spread out on their bed. It took his breath away Tony slowly removed the last pieces of his clothes. Those crystal blue eyes were locked on him. The omega’s hands were twitching wantingly. His mate so desperately ached to touch himself. The omega wouldn’t dare touch himself without his guidance. His belly so round. It was perfect.

Steve whimpered, begging him to come closer. He slowly strode toward the bed. Tony carefully ran his fingers over Steve’s stomach, before his hand traveled lower to Steve’s leaking arousal. He breached him with his fingers. Steve was so wet and tight around him. They kissed quieting their moans.

Tony pulled away to kiss across Steve’s jaw, tugging the omega’s hair lightly. He ran his teeth against that perfect neck, so willingly exposed to him. His arousal throbbed when Steve arched from the as he mercilessly stroked the omega’s sweet spot.

“Alpha please,”

Tony bent down taking Steve's nipple into his mouth. At the same time, he twisted his fingers in the motion for his omega to come. Steve wailed softly convulsing around Tony’s fingers. Slick soaked his hand. Tony pulled his fingers away his fingers. The omega moved into his lap. His mind went blank as Steve slid into onto his length.

Tony’s hands dug into his omega’s hips. Steve growled. Tony forced down the urge to set the fast wanting pace he wanted. He groaned the slow pace Steve set was a torturous pleasure. Soon enough the omega became lost to his desire the pace became more frantic. Tony moved his hand between, wrapping around Steve's length. He moved his hand in pace with the frantic rhythm of their pace. Steve howled as pleasure swept through him. Tony's vision went white as he emptied his seed into his mate.

Tony helped Steve from his lap. Steve yawned nuzzled into his sheets, ready to sleep. He whined when Tony left their bed.

“I’ll be back my sweet omega,”

Tony cleaned himself with a wet towel. When he returned to Steve was asleep. He nestled underneath the blankets with his mate. Steve back pressed against his chest and his protectively over his omega’s stomach. Sleep came to him unusually swiftly.

Steve woke to the sounds of Tony’s nightmare.

“Tony, wake up. Tony,”

A metal hand locked around his wrist. He yelped.

“Power down,”

The suit fell to pieces. Something he’d built could have harmed Steve. The light flickered on.

“That shouldn’t of have happened. I must have called it in my sleep. I recalibrate the sensors,” said Tony.

Steve paced the room not able to fight the instinct to move away from a threat.

“Let me catch my breath. Don’t go don’t go,”

Steve sat next to him. He ran his fingers through Tony's hair. The alpha leaned into him, breathing in his scent.

“Shh, I’m not going anywhere,”

Steve started humming. Tony’s breathing and he slowly met his gaze.

“I’m so sorry,”

“This wasn’t your fault,”

Tony left his hold.

“How can you say that?!”

“It was an accident. You’ll fix the sensors and this won’t happen again,”

“I could have hurt you and the baby!”

“I’m fine, Tony. You would never hurt us,"

"What if you weren't okay?"

He cupped Tony’s face in his hands.

“I’m fine and so is the baby. We’ve survived an alien invasion we can survive this,” said Steve.

Tony took a breath. He moved Steve’s hand from his face.

“What would I do without you?” he asked.

“I could ask you the same question,”

Steve took Tony’s hand leading him to his nesting couch. He coiled the blankets around them.

“I love you, Tony,”

"Love you too, sweetheart,"

Tony waited for his mate to fall asleep before leaving the comforts of the nest. He couldn’t let the sensor problem go unresolved he had to fix it now and left for the sanctuary of his lab.

Chapter Text

A call at four in the morning broke Tony's focus. (December 20)

“Who’s calling?”

“The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center,” said Jarvis.

“Hello,”

“Is this Mr. Stark?”

“Yes,”

“I’m Dr. Ben Kildare I’m calling on behalf a Harold Joseph Hogan. You were his emergency contact,”

“What happened?”

“Mr. Hogan was caught in an explosion-

"Is he alive?!"

"He's stable,"

"Will he survive,"

"We aren't sure. It could either way at this point,"

“The bombing was it the Mandarin?”

"I don't have the authority to say,"

"Than your opinion,"

"I believe so,"

"I'll be there in an hour," said Tony.

He went upstairs carrying his Mark 5 suit. Tony bit his lip. He couldn't take Steve. The press would get wind of this if they hadn't already. Exposing to Steve to that level of attention when he was so vulnerable wasn't something he could do. 

“Jarvis,”

“Yes,”

"Take care of all Happy’s medical arrangement. I want him given the best care possible,”

“I’ll do so at once,”

“I want a car sent to where I land,”

“Of course, sir. Anything in particular?” asked Jarvis.

“You know what I like,” he said.

“And what should I tell Steve when he wakes up?” asked Jarvis.

“Tell him what happened and I’ll call him when I get home,” said Tony.

“Sir, he won’t be happy,”

“He’ll understand,”

Tony left. When he landed there was a car waiting for him. His armor fell away from him, folding into suitcase once again. He sped toward the hospital. Tony pulled into the parking garage. The press hadn't shown up yet, but it was only a matter of time. He went to the front desk.

“Happy Hogan’s room,”

The receptionist dropped the phone.

“Of course Mr. Stark I’ll have a nurse show you right away,” she said.

Tony nodded. A red-headed nurse led him to Happy’s room.

“I’ll leave you two alone,”

“Thanks,”

Happy was wrapped in bandages. His face was swollen and bruised. He wasn't breathing on his own.

“I’m sorry, Hap,”

He didn't know what else to say, so he turned the TV on the rerun of one Happy’s favorite shows.

Steve woke up around eight. His nest was empty. He was alone. Tony wasn’t home. And the giant rabbit was staring loomingly at him. How had Tony gotten it inside?

“Jarvis, where is he?”

“He’s at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center,”

“Why?!”

“I apologize he's visiting, not hospitalize,” said Jarvis.

“Who?”

"Happy,"

"What happened?"

"He was caught in an explosion at the Chinese Theater," said Jarvis.

He dug his phone out from his nest and called Tony.

“Steve,”

“How is he?”

"In a coma. The doctors aren't sure if he'll wake up,"

"I'm so sorry, Tony," 

“This is the Mandarin. It follows the same patterns. Steve, this guy is picking a fight with me,”

“No, Tony. How do you know that?”

“How can you deny it?”

“That theater is a known location. I don’t know why Happy was there but it could have been a coincidence that he was caught in the crossfire,” he said.

“I don’t believe in coincidences. He was following someone,”

It was a bit thin, but he didn't want Tony near this. That would only fuel whatever this was. He wanted his mate safe, but Tony seemed to want to rush to danger. What was he trying to do?

"Please, be careful,"

“I will be,”

“Don’t do anything rash,” he said.

"I won't,"

"Promise me,"

"I'll try,"

"Tony,"

“I love you, sweetheart”

Tony hung up.

“Jarvis put on the news,”

“What channel?”

“Whichever one will be reporting on this,” said Steve.

Jarvis switched on the TV. Steve nervously ran his hands over his stomach. All he could do was watch and wait. And hope Tony didn't do anything foolish.

“We are awaiting the arrival of Tony Stark hoping he will give us his reaction to the attack,"

As soon as Tony left the hospital he was swarmed by reporters.

“Mr. Stark, Mr. Stark,”

He remembered what Steve asked of him. There were other things to take into consideration. Happy was family, but he had also Steve and their pup, that arrive in less than two months. Even if he couldn't help directly he would make sure Happy would get justice. He pushed through to his car. All he wanted was to go home. Maybe a visit to Aunt Peggy wouldn't be so bad. The fresh air would do them good. His hand wrapped around the handled.

“Mr. Stark, when is someone going to kill this guy?”

He’d almost made it.

“I’m just saying,”

“Is that what you want? Here’s a little holiday greeting I’ve been wanting to send to the Mandarin. I just didn't know how to phrase it until now. My name is Tony Stark and I'm not afraid of you. I know you're a coward. So I've decided that you just die, pal. I'm going to come and get the body. There's no politics here just good old fashion revenge. No, Pentagon it's just you and me. In the off chance, you're a man here's my home address 10880 Malibu Point. I'll leave the door unlocked. That what you wanted right?"

“GOD DAMN IT!!"

Steve grabbed the couch tossing it across the room.

"Egotistical jackass!"

He’d never been this furious with him. Steve marched to the garage. This would show the alpha just how much he managed to piss him off!

Tony was cursing himself the entire drive home. Steve had most likely seen the news. He checked his phone. No voicemails or calls. Steve wasn't the type to vent his anger over the phone. No, he'd want to do this in person. He slowly pulled into the driveway. His Audi R8 and R8 Spyder were twisted wrecks of metal, laying out on display.

“Fuck,”

Tony took Mark 5 from the passenger seat. He wasn't going into this situation unarmed. Tony opened the front door. Only to be sent crashing into his car. He yanked the shield from his armor. Steve was glaring at him from the doorway.

"I deserved that," said Tony.

“Jarvis, don’t allow him in until I say so,” said Steve.

The front door slammed shut.

"Jarvis, let me in,"

"Sorry, sir I'm not permitted,"

“I created you,”

"True, but I'm in agreement with Captain Rogers. What you did today was foolish," said Jarvis.

“My own creation turning against me,” said Tony.

“It’s nothing personal, sir,”

He'd screwed up. The threat had gone too far. He put in danger the security of his den and those that lived there. Tony went to the garage he didn't try to get in through there. He took off his suit. It creaked and groaned as it tried transforming into a suitcase before it finally gave up. He grabbed a random set of keys and sped out the driveway. Steve needed time to cool down. He drove into town, going to Steve’s favorite bakery, The CinnaMan. It was packed.

“Mr. Stark,”

Mr. Pray the owner beckoned him to the front of the line.

“I have your usual,” he said.

“Thanks,”

“Busy,”

"Yes, your frequent visits have drawn quite a crowd. But I set aside your favorites. Half a dozen cinnamon buns and half a dozen blueberry muffins," said Pray.

“What can I say Steve loves them. Put them on my tab,” said Tony.

“Of course,”

Tony paused at the pet store next to the bakery. He stared at goldfish swimming in a tank. The story of Steve's goldfish came to mind. It might earn him some points. It would at least get him through the front door.

There was a knock on the door. Steve glared at the entrance.

"Please, Steve let me in. I got you something," said Tony.

Jarvis pulled on the footage from the front door. From a box, Tony pulled out a goldfish in a bag. For the goldfish's sake, he would let the alpha in. He opened the front door. Steve took the box from Tony. Steve silently readied the small fish tank, ignoring the alpha. Once the fish was settled he turned his attention to his mate.

“I asked one thing of you, Tony, not to drag us into this,”

“He attacked Happy,”

“Not every attack is about you,”

“My friend was attacked,”

“You invited danger into our home!”

“I was defending a friend,”

“You went too far. What if something happens? You're supposed to protect our family!"

“Happy is family,”

Steve growled.

“What would you do if you were in my position? What if it were Clint or Nat? You can’t tell me you wouldn’t pursue it,”

"I'd pursue it but I wouldn't welcome danger into my home. You went too far,"

Steve walked away. Tony caught the wince of discomfort traveling crossing Steve's expression. He rushed to his mate's side helping him into a seat.

“Steve,”

“Broxton Hick contractions,”

Steve relaxed, running his hands over his stomach.

“We must have stressed her. She doesn’t like raised voices,”

After ten minutes the tightening sensation across his abdomen faded. He went to their room, locking the door behind him.

“I’m sorry, Steve,”

He wanted to say getting back home was the only thing on his mind before that reporter got in his face, but it wouldn’t do any good. Tony wasn't going to force his presence. Hopefully, Steve would forgive him before the holidays. He went to the counter where the goldfish was lazily swimming around its surroundings.

"You got me in, little guy,"

Tony went his lab. There was a temptation of looking into the Mandarin data, but he couldn't. Not when Steve was so upset. He didn't want further stress his mate. Tony spent the rest of the day working on Mark 42. His attention wasn't all there. He likely wouldn't see his mate for the rest of the day. It was a bitter realization. He wanted comfort that came with being near his husband. Late at night, he heard motion upstairs. He rushed up the stairs. Steve sat at the kitchen island picking apart the cinnamon buns. Steve growled at him when came near.

Steve was too tired to use words with the alpha. Tony backed off. He gathered a few pastries before returning the sanctuary of his room. This time he left the door unlocked. He doubted the alpha would join him and he wasn't sure if he wanted Tony there. Steve stared at the ceiling unable to sleep.

Tony emerged from lab around seven the next morning. There was one sure-fire way to get back onto Steve's good side and that was through his stomach. Blueberries and mangos prove to be the omega's favorite. He flipped open the pastry box. Steve had eaten the centers of the remaining cinnamon buns, leaving the outer shell.

Steve woke to the smell of waffles. His stomach growled. The pup kicked against him. He purred to his child, gently running circles over his stomach.

"Morning little one,"

He hurried to the bathroom the babe pressing down on his bladder. The smell of breakfast proved too enticing. Tony offered him a plate. Steve poked at his plate.

“Tony, I’m still upset with you-

“Steve I-

“I know you’re sorry, but it's clear you don’t regret your actions fully,” said Steve.

“He’s my friend,”

“And I understand, but it-

“But your priority is our daughter,” said Tony.

He respected and loved the care Steve had for their unborn child and he was pleased to hear it. His instincts screamed in approval at Steve's care.

"I can't let this rest," said Tony.

“God, you’re stubborn,”

"God has nothing to do with it, sweetheart,"

“As much as I hate admitting it I would have done the same, but I wouldn't have taken it so stupidly far,"

Tony didn't say more. He didn't want to risk breaking the delicate balance that had fallen between them. They ate silently side by side. He smiled when Steve began purring. At least he made the baser side his mate happy.

“I didn’t sleep last night,”

“Nightmares?”

“No,"

"Than what?"

"I don't feel safe here. I'm on edge. We can visit Peggy. I'm sure she'll be overjoyed to see us,"

She would also be on his side with this.

“We’re fine here,” said Tony.

“We aren’t!”

“I don’t care if I have to drag we’re leaving today,"

“We are staying,”

Steve stormed out of the kitchen, slamming their bedroom door. Tony went to his lab. Steve would need a few hours to cool down. Then maybe the omega would come to his senses. He went down to his lab.

“Starting virtual crime scene reconstruction,” said Jarvis.

The holographic blue image of the scene appeared before him. He walked to the center of the room, information floating around him.

"What do we have here? There's a lot of pageantry going on here. Lots of theater,"

He brushed away all the useless bits of information.

“The heat of the blast was an excessive 3,000 degrees Celsius. Any subject within 12.5 yards were vaporized instantly,” said Jarvis.

"There were no bombs part found in the three-mile radius of the Chinese Theater,"

“No, sir,”

“Talk to me Happy,”

The image of his hospitalized friend appeared at his feet. He followed Happy’s line of sight.

“When is a bomb not bomb,” he muttered.

He lifted the virtual segment of Happy’s focus. A pair of dog tags were among the damage.

“Any military victims?”

“Not according to public record, sir,”

"Bring up the thermogenic signatures again. And factor in 3,000 degrees,"

He climbed onto one of his toolboxes to get a better view. Jarvis started plotting the information on the map below.

"Take out everywhere there was a Mandarin attack,"

The one the stuck out from the rest was one from Rose Hill Tennessee.

“That, are you that’s not one of his?”

A military photo, footage of the explosion, and newspaper articles pulled up.

"It predates any known Mandarin attacks. The instant was the use of a bomb to assist a suicide. The heat signature is remarkably similar. 3,000 degrees Celsius,” said Jarvis.

“Have you ever been to Tennessee, Jarvis,”

“Making a flight plan for Tennessee,” said Jarvis.

“I can feel you judging me, Jarvis. Spit it out,” said Tony.

“Shouldn’t we give this information to Rhodes. I don’t believe this will help your current standings with your husband,” said Jarvis.

The front gate doorbell ran.

"Are we still at ding dong? We're supposed to be on total security lockdown. Come on I threatened a terrorist," said Tony.

There was some woman waiting there. Jarvis was already running her through facial recognition.

“Who is that?”

"There's only so much I can do when you give the world press your personal address," said Jarvis.

He went upstairs in his suit. A stranger in his den near his pregnant mate beckoned on his protective instinct. Helicopters circled above. A brunette beta woman stood at the entrance to his house. There was some vague familiarity about her. Jarvis hadn’t picked up anything on her.

“That’s far enough. You’re not the Mandarin are you?”

He flipped open his facemask.

“You don’t remember,” she said.

She laughed.

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Don’t take it personally. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast,” said Tony.

"Gluten-free waffles, sir," said Jarvis.

“That’s right,” he said.

“Okay, look I need to be alone with you. Somewhere not here it’s urgent,” she said.

“Normally, I’d go for that sort of thing, but I’m happily married,” said Tony.

Steve knew that there was a stranger in his den, but what he didn't know was if she were a threat. This woman was encroaching on his mate. It didn’t matter they were getting out of here and going to New York or to visit Peggy for a few days. He was sick of the helicopters circling around their home. He tossed their bags to the lower floor.

“Tony is somebody there?”

“Yeah, it’s my old botanist pal. I used to know barely,” said Tony.

Steve made his way down the steps, shield in one hand. Tony hurried over to the woman.

"Please don't tell me there a twelve-year-old kid waiting in the car out there. That I've never met," said Tony.

“He’s thirteen,”

Tony stiffened, his life flashing before his eyes.

“No, I need your help,”

He took a breath, relaxing.

“What for why now?”

“Because I read the papers and frankly I don’t think you’ll last a week,” she said.

“I’ll be fine,”

“I didn’t know we were expecting anyone,” said Steve.

“We weren’t,”

“An old girlfriend?” said Steve.

“Not really it was one night,” she said.

“That’s how you did it,” said Steve.

“It was a great night,” said Tony.

Steve flashed a warning glare at his mate.

“Well, you saved yourself a world of trouble,” said Steve.

“What?” said Tony.

“Trust me. We’re going out of town,” said Steve.

“We’ve been through, nope,”

“Yep!”

“The alpha says no,”

Steve’s jaw locked; nope he was not falling for that bait.

“We’re leaving now!”

"Sweetheart, that's not going to work," said Tony

“Great idea let’s go,” said the beta.

“I’m sorry that’s a terrible idea. Please don’t touch his bags,” said Tony.

“This is how normal people behave,” said Steve.

"Than what's best for us,"

"Since, when are we normal?"

“I can’t protect you out there!” said Tony.

“I don’t feel safe here!”

“Is that normal?” asked the beta.

“Sadly, yes,” said Steve.

“It’s a big bunny relax about it!” said Tony.

“Calm down,”

Under all the bluster was fear. Tony wouldn't be acting this way otherwise. Steve had to push through it, a task that was made all the more difficult by having a stranger in their den.

"Hey, guys. Can we um. Should we worry about that?" said the beta.

On the TV a missile was speeding toward their home. The impact was instant sending them into the air. Tony sent his armor after Steve. He had to protect them.

Seconds seemed to slow. Cold iron wrapped around him, lengthening to accommodate his growing stomach. His eyes were locked on his mate. More were coming. Their surroundings were falling apart. He jumped on top of his mate, shielding him from the rubble.

“I’ve got you,”

“I got you first. Like I said we can’t stay here,”

More missiles came crashing through their home, tearing them from each other.

“Go, I’m right behind you,”

He ran after his mate; the ground fell out from beneath him.

“Get her I’ll find another way around,”

Steve nodded and went to grab the beta. Tony could do this. The alpha disappeared from his sight. Steve helped the woman up, heading toward the door. They crashed through the glass door, tumbling onto the ground.

“TONY!!”

Tony was caught in the destruction around him.

“Sir, Steve is out of harm’s way,” said Jarvis.

Steve was forced to as feet as the armor flew from him to the falling mansion. He so wanted to go in after his mate, but a powerful alpha command to stay flood through their bond. There was nothing he could but watch.

Tony hit the floor as bullets flew past him. His armor wrapped around him, protecting him from the fray. He went sliding toward the cliff's edge.

“Jarvis, where’s my flight power!”

“Working on it sir this is a prototype, sir,”

Tony clung to the edge but was forced to let go when the piano came rolling toward him. A blast from his gauntlet sent it crashing into one the helicopters.

“That’s one,”

Another flew above him.

“Sir, the suit is not combat ready,”

Gunfire clinked off his armor. He was forced to manually engage the weapon system. Throwing the weaponized capsule, setting it off with a blast.

“That’s two,”

A helicopter fell from the sky. Its blades shredded through what was left of the house. Tony was caught in the falling rubble. His was work and possessions exploded around him. Water engulfed him. He sunk.

Steve rushed in, looking over the edge, searching for his mate. There was nothing.

“TONY!!”

Water leaked into his armor as he sunk further. He powerless. Chunks of cement piled on top of him.

“Sir, take a deep breath,”

His gauntlet unlocked from his hand, yanking him out of the rubble. The water drained from his mask.

“Flight power restored,”

He went surging toward the surface, shooting into the sky. A sight that escaped his mate.

Steve fell to his knees. His last moments with his mate were spent in an argument. His hand traveled to the claim, marking his neck. A bond truly is broken by death. The connection it carried was still present, but he couldn't travel after it. He entered a combat mode to escape the stress of what happened. It was the only way for him to process clearly. He tapped his watch. His shield broke free the rubble.

“Captain Rogers,”

“You!”

The beat took a submissive stance. He grabbed her by the neck, not tight enough to kill, but enough bring fear. His shield grazing against her neck. She whined. He dropped her. She gasped for breath.

“I’m sorry,”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Dr. Maya Hansen,”

“Why did you come? What was so important that you had to speak to Tony?”

“I think that my boss is working for the Mandarin,” she said.

Chapter Text

Emergency services came rushing to the destruction. Reporters would be here soon enough. Paramedics hurried around him and Maya. He wasn't letting the woman out of his sight. He was currently being looked over in the back of an ambulance.

“Mr. Stark we need to take you to the hospital,” said the paramedic.

“It’s Rogers and I’m not going anywhere,” said Steve.

“You’re in shock it common for omega who have recently lost their mates,”

“My mate isn’t dead!” he yelled.

Steve got up, leaving the ambulance. His unborn pup was healthy. She'd survived worse than this. She kicked reassuringly against his hand. He growled when the paramedics tried coming near him again. Steve sighed. He traced his claim mark. It tingled under the touch. At his feet was an ironman helmet. He struggled to reach it.

“Let me,” said Maya.

She handed it to him. He clutched it firmly.

“Thank you,”

“Steve!”

Pepper was stopped by police.

"Mam, we can't let you through,"

"Let her through," said Steve.

They let her through.

“What happened?”

“We were attacked most likely by associates of the Mandarin,” said Steve.

“Where’s Tony?”

“He fell into the water,” said Steve.

The coast guard was searching the water underneath his home. His gut told him they wouldn't find Tony. He called upon their bond, hoping for a response, but there was none, but that connection was still there.

Pepper didn’t dare cry she could tell Steve was barely holding it together. There was an unknown woman standing by his side.

“Who are you?”

“Dr. Maya Hansen,”

Pepper shook her head. She could focus on the beta doctor later.

“Let’s go,”

Steve wanted to be there despite how ridiculously slim the chance was of Tony returning here. But it wasn't safe here.

“You’re coming with us,”

They got into Pepper's car. The drive to Pepper's home was quiet. Steve spent the entire drive watching the scenery pass. At his feet was his shield next to him was Tony's helmet. They pulled into Pepper's driveway. She unlocked the large double doors.

“Where’s Maria?”

“On a mission,”

“I’ll get the two of you some fresh clothes,” said Pepper.

Maya followed Steve into a living room. He turned on the news. Every news channel was reporting on it. She wanted to talk about Killian, but now clearly wasn't the time. Everyone here was exhausted and stressed. At the moment she did not want to risk getting on Captain America's bad side. He may be pregnant but he was a force to reckon with.

Steve noticed the beta was twitching.

"We should be safe here for the time being. Tony set up the security system here,” said Steve.

“That didn’t do much for you,” she said.

Steve growled lowly.

“Sorry, I’m just nervous,”

He sighed.

“It’s fine,”

There was a sharpness to his voice that made her wary. She didn't take it personally. He was a pregnant omega whose alpha was lost. She looked over him there were no so sign of injury. The super soldier serum may not work as fast as Extremis, but it was stable and long-lasting. Her discomfort grew enough for her to move. She wandered into the kitchen. Pepper handed her a set of fresh clothes.

“Thank you,”

“There’s a bathroom over there you can change in,”

She quickly changed.

“Don’t take it personally,” said Pepper and she came back into the kitchen.

“What?”

“The way Steve is acting. He has difficulty trusting scientists,” said Pepper.

“He married to one,”

 

"Tony was different,"
Pepper made Steve a sandwich. He stared blankly at the wall. His shield rested by his feet and Tony’s helmet sat on the coffee table in front of him. She gently squeezed his shoulder. Maya followed her back to the kitchen.

“Can I please discuss this with you?”

“No,”

“Why not?”

“Because Steve is the best person to discuss this situation. This is more his world than mine. I wouldn’t know what to do,” said Pepper.

“I don’t think he’s any position to handle this. He’s a pregnant omega in shock,”

"Who wouldn't be in shock after this?"

“He needs time to snap out this,”

“We don’t have that kind of time,”

"I'm not equipped to help,"

Maya went back into the living room. She had to try and get through to Steve.

“I should say this sooner, but I’m sorry,”

Steve nodded.

“Sir, sir,”

Tony slowly opened his eyes. An alarm was ringing in his ears. He was flying.

“Alright kill the alarm,”

“That the emergency alert trigger by the power dropping below five percent,”

He was speeding toward the ground. This was going to be a crash landing. He skidded across the road barely missing an oncoming truck. Trees snapped as rocketed through them, before finally stopping in the snow. He slowly moved onto his back, catching his breath. Tony took off his mask. Snow fell onto his face.

"It's snowing right. Where are we upstate?"

“We are five miles outside of Rose Hill Tennessee,”

“Why?! Jarvis not my idea. What are we doing here? This is thousands of miles of away. I’ve got to get Steve,”

“I prepared a flight plan this was the locations,” said Jarvis.

"Who ask you? Open suit,"

“I think I might be malfunctioning, sir,”

“Open it J,”

The suit unlocked. He sat up breathing in the crisp air.

“Ah, that’s brisk,”

He warmed his hands, before rubbings snow over the road rash on his arms.

“Maybe I’ll just cozy back up for-

“Actually, I think I need to sleep now, sir,”

"Jarvis. Jarvis? Don't leave me, buddy"

He was alone. Something he hadn't truly felt for some time now. He touched the claim marking his neck. Steve, the man was probably furious and worried sick about him right now. Staying here was an option. He got to his feet and found some old chain and looped them around his suit. Then began trudging through the snow. Only five miles.

An old gas station came into view. He dropped the chains and went to a wooden Indian wearing a poncho, taking off and putting it on. He went to the phone booth. Did he even have change? He panted down his pockets and finding a dollar in quarters. Tony dialed in the number for his secure server.

"Stark secure server now transferring to all known receivers,"

"Steve, it's me. I've got a lot of apologies to make but not a lot of time. First off I'm so sorry I put you in harm's way. That was selfish and stupid of me and it won't happen again. Also, it’s close to Christmas time and for the first time, I had a family to celebrate it with again and managed to mess that up, sorry. And I'm sorry in advance because I can't come home yet. I need to find this guy. You gotta stay safe that’s all I know. I just stole a poncho from a wooden Indian. And I love you,”

The line went dead as his time ran out. He pushed open the door, grabbed his suit. Shelter and time to think were what he needed. He knocked down the door to an old garage. It would do. He dragged his suit in, placing it on the ragged old couch.

"Let's get you comfy,"

He moved the armor into a comfortable position.

“You happy now?”

He took a moment to catch his breath. Why didn't he just listen to his mate? He shook away the thought and went to the work desk, switching on the lamp. From the toolbox, he took a pair of needlenosed pliers and started removing the shrapnel from his arm.

“Freeze!”

There was a kid. A young alpha armed with a potato gun. Maybe ten.

“Don’t move,”

“You got me,”

Tony raised his hands.

“Nice potato gun. The barrel is a little long between the and the long gage you’re going to admonish your distance"

The kid shot off a potato shatter a jar behind him.

“And now you’re out of ammo,”

“What’s that thing on your chest?”

“It’s an electromagnet. You should know you got a box of them right here,” said Tony, rattling the box.

“What does it power?”

Tony moved out of the way so the kid could see his suit.

“Oh my god!”

The kid dropped his gun to get a better look.

“Is that? Is that Ironman?” he asked.

“Technically, I am,”

“Technically, you’re dead,” said the kid, handing him a newspaper.

MANDARIN ATTACK STARK PRESUMED DEAD

“Valid point,”

Tony looked over the paper. Searching for any mention of Steve. He was relieved when he read that his mate and unborn pup were healthy. If something had happened them! No, they are fine. He had to stay focused. The sooner he figured out this the sooner he could get back to them.

“What happened to him?”

The boy sat next to his suit playing with its fingers.

“Life, I built him. I take care of him. I’ll fix him,” said Tony tossing the paper the couch.

“Like a mechanic,”

“Yeah,”

“If I were building Ironman and War Machine-

“It’s Iron Patriot now,”

“That’s way cooler,”

“No, it’s not,”

"Anyway, I would add in umm the retro-

“Retroflexive panels?”

"To make him, stealth mode,"

“You want a stealth mode,”

“Cool right?”

“That’s a good idea. Maybe I’ll build one,”

He twitched when the kid accidentally broke off one of the suit’s fingers.

“Not a good idea,”

“Oops,”

“What are you doing? You’re going to break his finger. He’s injured. He’s in pain. Leave him alone,” said Tony.

“Sorry,”

“Are you?”

The kid just looked up at him.

“Don’t worry about it I’ll fix it. What your name kid?”

“Harley Keener,”

“And you’re?”

“The mechanic, Tony,”

“So who’s home,”

“My mom already left for the diner and Dad went to 7-Eleven to get scratchers. I guess he won because that was six years ago,” he said.

“Mmm, which happens dads leave. There’s no reason to be a pussy about it. Here’s what I need a laptop, a digital watch, a cell phone, the nomadic actuator from your potato gun over there, a map of town, a big spring, and a tuna fish sandwich," said Tony.

“What’s in it for me?” asked Harley.

“Salvation, what his name?”

“Who?”

“The kid that bullies you at school. What his name?”

“How do you know that?”

“I got just the thing,”

He went his suit, pressing down on one of the panels. It opened.

“This is a pinata for a cricket. I’m kidding it’s a very powerful weapon. Point it away from your face and twist the button on top and it discourages bullying. Not lethal just to cover one’s ass. Deal?” said Tony.

He gave it to the kid.

"You know what keeps going through my head? Where's my sandwich?"

The kid left. He didn't want to work. Just a moment of rest so he could function. He sat down on the couch with his suit and closed his eyes.

Steve had been staring at the wall for hours now. A red blinking light in Tony helmet caught his attention. He put it on. The electronics came alight.

“Stark secure sever rental scan verified,”

He gasped when he heard Tony’s voice.

“Steve, it's me. I've got a lot of apologies to make but not a lot of time. First off I'm so sorry I put you in harm's way. That was selfish and stupid of me and it won't happen again. Also, it's close to Christmas time and for the first time, I had a family to celebrate it with again and managed to mess that up, sorry. And I'm sorry in advance because I can't come home yet. I need to find this guy. You gotta stay safe that’s all I know. I just stole a poncho from a wooden Indian. And I love you,”

“Who is your boss?” asked Steve.

Maya looked. The omega seemed to have broken out of his shock. In his hands was Tony’s helmet.

“It’s safe for you to talk,”

“Tony, said you were a botanist,” said Steve.

"It figures what I actually am biological DNA coder running a team of forty out of privately funded think tank, but sure can call me a botanist. So any ideas on what to do?” asked Maya.

"We lay low. Tony has a plan. I'm going to trust that he knows what he's doing,"

“How do you even know he’s alive?” asked Maya.

“He’s my mate. I know,” he said.

Steve handed helmet to Pepper.

“Put it on,”

He had to prove that he wasn’t an omega going insane with grief. Her posture changed as the message played.

“Tony!”

He jumped from the couch in panic. The kid was staring at him. He was backed into the corner with a bag of supplies. Tony wiped the sweat from his forehead.

“You okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine what about you?”

“I have an anxiety issue,"

The kid came back about an hour later with the supplies. Harley dropped some clothes next to him.

“What this?”

“Thought you could use something wear. My mom won’t notice they’re gone. She packed my dad’s clothes years ago,” said Harley.

The spring was a bit rusty, but everything else would make due. He quickly unwrapped the sandwich.

“This is good,”

“Thanks, so what’s Captain America like?”

Tony smiled.

“He lives up to the legend,”

“What his shield made of?”

“Vibranium, it’s stronger than steel and a third the weight. It’s completely vibration absorbent,” he said.

He finished off the rest of the sandwich before they left for town.

“The sandwich was fair. The spring was a little rusty. The rest of the material. I’ll make do. By the way when you said your sister had a watch. I was kinda hoping for something a little bit more adult,” said Tony pulling back his sleeve to reveal the Dora Explorer watch.

Harley laughed.

“She’s six. Anyway, it's limited edition. You should get used to Dora the Explorer. I'm sure you'll be watching plenty of it soon enough," he said.

"I think my pup will be a bit advanced for Dora the Explorer," said Tony.

“Sure, when can we talk about New York?”

“Maybe never. Relax about it,”

“What about the Avengers can we talk about that?”

“Later, give me some space,”

The reached the explosion site. It was light with candles. Flowers, wreaths, and crossed decorated the scene. The black vaporized shadows of those caught in the explosion marked the cinder block walls.

“What’s the official story here? What Happened?”

“I guess this guy named Chad Davis used to live around here won a bunch of medals in the army. Then one-day folks said he went crazy and made a bomb. Then he blew himself up right here," said Harley.

Tony traced his hand along the shadowed marks on the wall.

“Six people died right?”

Harley nodded.

“Including Chad Davis,”

“Yeah,”

"Yeah, that makes sense,"

He took a seat beside the kid, looking over the shadows.

“Think about it. Six dead only five shadows,” said Tony.

"People say these shadows are the marks of souls going to heaven. Except the bomb guy went to hell on account that he didn't get a shadow. That's why there's only five,"

“Do you buy that?”

“That’s what everyone says,”

Tony shook his head. He doubted the kid believed in that, for now, he could along with the story, instead of telling the true reasoning behind the shadows.

"You know what this crater reminds me of?"

“I don’t care,”

"That giant wormhole in um in New York. Does it remind you?"

"That's manipulative. I don't want to talk about it," said Tony.

He didn't see that resemblance before now the small crater they were sitting in was a staunch reminder of it. He backed away slightly.

“Are they coming back? The aliens”

“Maybe, can you stop?”

That edging panic was growing uncomfortably near and the kid wasn’t helping. He took a breath trying to steady himself.

“Remember when I told you I have an anxiety issue?”

“Does this subject make you edgy?” asked Harley.

“Yeah, a little bit. Can I just catch my breath for a second?”

The simple task of breathing was becoming a difficult task.

"Do you need a plastic bag to breathe into? Do you have medication?”

“Nope,”

“Do you need to be on it?”

“Probably,”

“Do you have PTSD?”

“I don’t think so,”

“Are you going completely mental? I can stop. Do you want me to stop?”

His breaths came in short puff.

“Remember when I said stop doing that? I swear you’re going to freak me out,”

The kid stopped but it was too late. He got up not wanting to be anywhere near Harley if this went bad.

“Ah, you did it now. Are you happy now?”

“What did I say?”

He ran. Partly from the kid but mostly because of the panic.

“Hey, wait up!”

Harley chased behind him, which didn’t help. The creeping anxiety became too much. He tore off his coat hoping it would release the constraining sensation engulfing his chest. He toppled to his knees landing on the snow. Tony tried focusing on the feel frigid snow under his hands. Any sensation was better than the nervous rush of adrenaline coursing through his veins. It seemed to be working.

“What the hell was that?” asked Harley.

He pressed snow against his face. The stinging cold sensation gave him something focus on until he was brought back to a better state of mind. He threw the snow at Harley.

“Ah,”

“Your fault,”

“You spazzed me out,”

The kid smiled.

“Back to business where were we? The guy who died. Relatives? Mom? Mrs. Davis where is she?”

“Where she always is,” said Harley.

“See now you’re being helpful,”

Mrs. Davis location was a bar called Walker's. The kid followed him.

"No, you stay here,"

"Why?"

"If this turns I don't want you getting in the way," said Tony.

"Fine,"

He kept his head down as he walked toward the bar. Accidentally running into a woman. She'd dropped her wallet. He picked it up.

"Lady is this yours,"

She took it. There were burns a long one side of her face. He was staring.

“Nice hair cut,”

“Nice watch. Yeah, it’s a limited edition,”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” she said.

She smiled.

“Well, have a good evening,” she said.

He went in, taking stock of the bar audience. Country music was playing in the background. There was only one weapon he could spot, the sheriff's revolver. Toward the back, he found who he was looking for. She sat alone with a heavy expression, fiddling with some dog tags.

“Mrs. Davis, mind if I join you?”

“Free country,” she said.

“Sure is,”

He put down his glass and took the seat beside her.

“Alright, where’d you like to start?”

She took out a folder placing it on the table.

“I just want to say I’m sorry about your loss. I want to know what you think happened,” said Tony.

She bit her knuckled, trying to process him. Tony didn’t know who the woman had been expecting, but he needed to gain all he could from her.

“Look I brought your damn file take it and go. Whatever was in here he wanted no part of it,” she said sliding it toward him.

He flipped it open.

“Clearly you’re waiting for someone else. Were suppose to meet someone here?” said Tony.

“Yeah,”

MIA was printed on the corner of one of the pages. He closed the folder.

“Mrs. Davis your son didn’t kill himself. I grantee you that he didn’t kill anyone. Someone used him,” said Tony.

Her saddened eyes widened.

“What?”

“Someone used him as a weapon,” said Tony.

“You’re not the person who called me after all,” she said.

“Actually, I am,”

A badge was stamped down on the table. It was the woman with burns. She pinned his armed against his back, slamming him against the table. He snagged to dogs from the table, tucking them into his pocket. His hands were cuffed.

"Hey, hey what's this all about," asked the sheriff.

“It’s called an arrest,” she said.

She pushed him to ground.

"It's the sheriff isn't it,"

“Yes, and you are?” he asked.

“Homeland Security, we good here,” she said.

"No, we're not good. I need a little more information than that," said the sheriff.

“Well, I think it’s a little above your pay grade, sheriff,”

While the two were talking Tony gestured to Mrs. Davis. She slid the file under a pool table.

“Deputy get this woman-

She slammed glowing badge into his face, cutting him off. It seared into his face. Her heated hand stabbed into his chest before she tossed him back. A deputy ran to intervene but stopped when she drew her gun. She fired.

Tony took the chance to escape. He needed to get her out of there.

“Hey, hot wing want to party just you and me. Let’s go,”

He ran out onto the road. Stopping in his tracks when of her friends appeared. The man raised his cup to him, with a glowing orange smile. Tony shot passed his head. He dove for cover behind a car. Tony jumped through the window of a nearby diner, sliding across the floor.

He lunged over a countertop, dodging the shotgun blast aimed for his head. A second passed and peaked over the counter. She grabbed him by the collar, dragging him to his feet. A punch to the jaw knocked him off balance. They tangled in battle. He locked the chained of the handcuffs around her neck. Only for the metal melt against her heated skin.

He ducked behind the kitchen. The cuffs burnt against his wrist, but they fell away, giving him more of a chance in this fight. He pushed a can of gas into the kitchen, tossing his molten cuff liquid, catching it aflame. He turned on the microwave, tossing the dog tags inside. She came through the flames.

“You walked right into this one I’ve dated hotter chicks than you,”

Her skin was covered in ash, glowing as it tried to repair. He pulled the gas tube.

"Is that all you got? Cheap tricks and cheesy one-liners,"

“Sweetheart, that could be the name of my autobiography,”

He took shelter behind an ice machine. The dog tags tinged against in microwave before the explosion went off. He slowly got his feet. Scared citizens ran passed him. Hanging on the electrical wire above him was the woman. She didn’t seem to be waking up. There was a groan of metal behind him. The water tower was tilting toward him.

He ran through the Christmas tree farm, ducking when he hit the chain link fence. The trailer behind crumbled as the water tower collapsed. Water rushed over him. Fuck that was cold. He ankle was caught in under the metal.

“Let me go!”

The kid! The buzzed cut asshole had the kid! He tried moving the metal but he was helpless. Every instinct screamed at him to protect the pup. He struggled against the metal pinning, growling at the man. The jackass was sitting in Santa chair in front.

"Anyway, kid what do you want you like for Christmas?"

“Mr. Stark, I’m so sorry,” cried Harley.

“Up no, no. He was trying to say I want my goddam file,”

“Not your fault kid. Remember what I told you about bullies?”

It clicked. The kid set off the flashbang made a run for it. Now that he was safe Tony could focus.

“Like that West World? That’s the thing about smart guys we always cover our ass,”

He shot of an arc reactor blast, sending the jackass backward. Tony dislodged himself from the metal. He snagged the guy’s keys. Then snuck back into the bar to snag the file. Quickly, thumbing through it outside.

“You’re welcome,”

It was Harley. The kid looked perfectly fine.

“For what did I miss something?”

“Me, saving your life,”

“Yeah, A I saved you first. B thanks sorta. And C if you do someone a solid don’t be a yutz play cool or you come off grandiose,” said Tony.

He unlocked the car.

“Unlike you?” said Harley.

Tony took a breath and faced the kid. He really wanted a clean getaway.

“Admit it you need me. We’re connected,”

"What I need is for you to go home be with your mom. Keep your trap shut and guard the suit. And stay connected because when I call you better pick up, okay? Can you feel that we're done here? Move or I'll run you over,” said Tony.

He got into the car and rolled down the window.

“I’m sorry, kid. You did good,”

“So now you’re just going to leave me here? Like my dad,”

“Yep, wait you’re guilt tripping me aren’t you?”

“I’m cold,” whimpered Harley.

“I can tell. Do you know how I can tell? Cause we’re connected,” said Tony pulling out onto the road.

The kid would be safer now that he was gone. So was his mate.

Chapter Text

Steve watched as another Mandarin message played. The phone went unanswered and shot the poor accountant in the head. His hands fisted there was nothing he could. But he'd made a promise to stay safe. He had to. It was too late and he was too far along to be truly part of this fight. He bit his lip. Please, Tony, be careful. This man was dangerous, but so was his alpha.

Tony sped down the road, reading over the file as he went. His thoughts traveled to Happy. The man had been swept up in this mess. The corner of the page broke his thought. It was MIA it was AIM. He called Rhodes.

“Hello,”

"Have you ever had a chick straddling and you look up and she's suddenly glowing from the inside out? Kinda a bright orange,”

"Yeah, I've had that. Who is this?"

"It's me, pal. Now last time I went missing if I remember correctly you came looking for me. What are you doing?"

“Look, I’m not one to talk. I’m making friends in Pakistan,”

“You’re big redesign was AIM right?”

“Yeah,”

He crumbled the paper in his hand.

“I’m going to find a heavy duty COMPSTAT right now. I need your login,"

“It the same as it always been Warmachine68,”

“And the password please,”

“Well, I look I got to change it every time you hack in Tony,”

“It’s not the 80s no one says hack anymore. Give me your login,”

“Warmachine rocks with an x all caps,”

Tony laughed.

“That’s so much better than Iron Patriot,”

The wheels of the car squeaked as he turned back toward the town. He parked near the town hall. News vans were parked around the building. He put on the cowboy hat he took from Harley and walked through the crowd of cameramen and reporters. He opened the back door of the nearest van and got in.
He took a seat by the monitors. A local beauty pageant was being broadcasted. The van door opened.

"Excuse me, sir,"

Tony turned in his chair. He didn’t have time for this.

“Shh,”

The cameraman’s jaw dropped.

“I’ll have to call you back something magical is happening. Tony Stark is in my van,”

“Keep it down,”

He could not let this guy blow his cover.

“Tony Stark is in my van,”

“No, he’s not,”

“I knew you were alive,”

The man was almost jumping with excitement. It was cute in beautiful women, omegas, and children, but it proved a slightly disturbing occurrence when it was a full grown male beta. The man clumsily got into the van with him. Tony sighed. He should be grateful this guy wasn’t a legitimate reporter.

“Wow, can I just say something?”

“Yeah,”

“I’m your biggest fan,”

“Okay first is this your van? Is anyone else going to come in?” asked Tony.

"No, no, just us,"

"Good, what's your name?"

“Gary,”

Tony shook the man’s hand. He put up with the awkward gawking if it helped through this.

“Oh wow,”

Gary was close to hyperventilating.

“I get a lot of this. It’s okay,”

“Can I just say-

“What do you want?”

“I don’t know if you can tell but I’ve patterned my whole look after you. My hair doesn’t look right but there’s no product in it,” said Gary, taking off his hat.

"It's fine,"

“I don’t want to make things awkward for you but I do have to show,”

Gary raised his sleeve revealing a poorly tattooed imaged on his forearm.

“Uh, a Hispanic Scott Baio?”

Gary laughed.

“Sorry, is that me?”

“Yeah, I had them do off a doll that I made, so it not like its off a picture,”

He didn’t have time for this. Tony grabbed the beta by the arms.

“Look I don’t want to clip your wings here. We’re both a little over excited. I got an issue I'm chasing a bad guy. I'm trying to grab a little something. Some hard creed data files. I don't have enough juice. I need you to jump on the roof recalibrate the ISDN and pump up by about forty percent,” he said.

“I’ve got it,”

“This is a mission,”

“Tony needs Gary,”

“And Gary needs Tony,”

“Be quiet about it,”

Gary jumped out the back of the van to complete his mission. The beta signaled that it was ready. Tony logged into Rhodey's account, pulling up anything to do with AIM. A video interview with Chad Davis played. Among others was the woman who attacked him at the bar. She was missing an arm when this interview had taken place. The camera panned over to Killian, telling of the warning of the dangers of the experiment.

Tony went to the footage of Extremis human testing. The subject began to glow as they were injected with the serum. Their screams were a jolt to his system. One of the subjects showed signs of rejections. The others were escorted out of the room. The man exploded seconds later in a flash of orange light.

“A bomb is not a bomb when it’s a misfire. This stuff always work, right pal? It's faulty but you've found a buyer didn't you. Sold it to the Mandarin"

The tension at Pepper’s house had been soothed for the moment. The three of them sat at her coffee table trying to relax. Wine had taken the edge of Pepper and Maya, but Steve remained alert.

“What happened?” asked Pepper.

“Fun fact before he built rockets for the Nazis the idealistic Wernher van Braun dreamed of space travel. He star gazed. Do you know what he said when the first U2 hit London? The rocket performed perfectly just landed on the wrong planet,” said Maya.

Steve growled, getting up from his seat. He didn't want to hear about the war. He'd seen what those rockets could do. Steve pushed the thought from his head. That was the past. He wanted to focus on the present, getting his mate back. There was nothing he could do. He was trapped here. His mate was somewhere and there was nothing he could do to help.

“What does this have to with our current situation?”

Maya ignored him.

"See we all begin wide-eyed pure science. Than ego steps in, the obsession and you look up you're a long way from shore," she said.

He sighed. This woman had been lost to the passion of work. He'd seen it before.

“You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself,” said Steve.

“You gave your research to a think tank,” said Pepper.

“Yeah, but Killian made that think tank on military contracts,” said Maya.

“That's exactly what we used to do, so don't judge yourself too harshly," said Pepper.

“Thank you, Pepper. I really appreciate that,”

Steve tensed. He heard footsteps not far. He closed his eyes trying to figure out how many. There were twelve maybe.

“Steve, what is it?”

The front door burst open. He threw his shield.

“Run!”

It was too late the room was flooded with armed men. They had Pepper by the throat.

"Still have quite the arm, Captain Rogers,"

An unknown alpha came striding into the room. In his glowing orange hand, he held his shield.

"We haven't formally met. I'm Alrich KillianAlrich,”

Steve growled as he circled close.

“Get him,”

He was tackled to the ground by ten of the men. Steve fought against them. Their glowing bodies struggled to keep him pinned. He hissed as contact with them burned him. His arms were pinned behind.

“I thought you’d be more impressive, but this is to be expected given your condition,”

Steve spat in the man's face. Killian slapped him. Steve still glared at him with stubborn determination. He only flinched when the molten hand traveled toward his stomach.

“Stop!” yelled Maya.

Hurting an unborn pup went too far. His attention turned to her.

“Do you want to tell me why you were at Stark’s mansion?” he asked.

“I’m trying to fix this thing. I didn’t know you and the master were going to blow the place up,”

Steve snarled, managing to toss off one of them men pinning him to the floor. They should have never trusted her. He should have left her to fend for herself in the explosion.

“Oh, I see you were trying to save, Stark when he threatened us?”

"I told you, Killian we can use him,"

The omega constant snarls were starting to bother Killian. He strode over to him. The foolish creature didn’t know how to act.

“Hush now you wouldn’t want anything to happen to your baby,”

“I kill you before you have the chance,”

Killian laughed. He pulled a muzzle from his jacket pocket. Steve had seen one just like it before. His fight doubled. It locked around his face. A vapor filled his sense. His vision grew dark.

“Steve!” yelled Pepper.

“Don’t try and wake him,” said Killian.

“If we’re going to launch product next year I need Stark. He lacked a decent incentive he has one now,” said Maya.

Tony called the kid.

“Harley tell me what happening give a full report,”

"I found that candy. Do you want to keep eating it?"

“How much have you had?”

“Two or three bowls,”

“Can you still see straight?”

“Sorta,"

“That means your fine,”

Keeping a kid awake on sugar rush wasn't one of his best ideas. He'd more sugar than that in one sitting as a kid, so he could stay up and work on a project, but that was before discovered coffee.

“Give me, Jarvis,”

The cell phone moved.

"How are we, Jarvis?"

"Totally fine, Sir. I seem to do quite well for a stretch. Then at the end of the sentence, I say the wrong cranberry. But sir you were right. Once I factored in available AIM downlink facilities I was able to pinpoint the Mandarin's broadcast signal," said Jarvis.

“What are we talking about? Far east Europe? North Africa, Iran, Pakistan, Syria? Where is it?”

“Apparently sir, it’s in Miami,”

"Okay, kid, I'll have to walk you through rebooting Jarvis' speech drive, but not right now. Harley where is he really? Just look on the screen and tell me where he is"

“Uh, it does say Miami Florida,”

“Maybe you should lay off the candy,”

“That’s what it says,”

"Okay, first thing first I need the armor. Where we at with it?"

"Uh, it's not charging,"

Tony slammed on the brakes. How could it not be charging?! The kid must have done something? Damn it!

“Actually sir it is charging,” said Jarvis.

Tony took his hands off the wheel. They were shaking. Fuck, it was going to happen again!

“Sir it is charging, but the power source is questionable. It may not succeed in revitalizing the Mark 42,”

“What questionable about electricity? It’s my suit. I can’t. I’m not gonna. Oh god,"

He fumbled with the car but finally managed to break into the cold winter air, stumbling to his knees. Tony couldn’t get air into his lungs. His breath came in heavy pants.

“Are you having another attack? I didn’t even mention New York,”

“Right, and then you just said it by name, while denying having said it,”

Tony struggled to get back up. He braced himself against the car for support.

“Okay umm,”

"God, what do I do?"

He gave up standing and sunk to the frigid road.

“Okay just breathe. You’re a mechanic right?”

He focused on the kid’s voice, trying chaotic loudly screaming thoughts running through his head.

“Right,”

“You said,”

“Yes, I did,”

“Why don’t you just build something?”

He regained control over his breath. The panic slowly started melting away. He found the strength to stand.

“Okay, thanks kid,”

He got into the car. There was work to be done. He pulled into the nearest hard wear store. The alpha weaved through the aisle, collecting things as he went. Two carts of supplies later he was ready. He checked into a nearby motel and started working. Several hours later he was done.

Distress leaked through his bond with Steve. This level of stress he’d only felt when Steve was having a panic attack. Shit, he wasn’t there to help his mate through this. He should have been there in the first place and now he was placing an unnecessary burden on his mate and their unborn pup.

“I’m so sorry, Steve,”

He chugged several energy drinks and made his way to Miami.

“Steve,”

The omega slowly opened his eyes. He couldn’t move his limbs were impossibly heavy. Steve was barely able to keep his eyes open. Whatever he was dosed with extremely powerful.

“Don’t close your eyes!” cried Pepper.

He managed to turn his head to the side. Pepper was strapped upright into a stretcher. His pup kicked against his rib, urging him to get up.

“I’ll get us out of here,”

He pulled the IV from his arm. Steve struggled to his feet, fumbling toward her. Someone scruffed him from behind. Steve growled but refused to kneel. The pressure on the back of his neck grew, but he stood firm. This wasn't his alpha. His legs were knocked out from underneath him, sending him to his knees.

Killian stepped in front of him. Those flaming orange eyes glared down out him. Steve did not break the stare.

“You may be more stubborn than that alpha of your,” said Killian.

“I prefer determined,”

He barely managed to catch Killian’s visit. Steve clamped down on it. The bone crunched under his touch. The alpha released his hold his neck. Steve struck the alpha. He tried to reach Pepper only to be grabbed. Killian threw him into a cell a glass cell. The pulled a syringe from his pocket. The orange liquid inside it glowed.

“This 1200 cc of Extremis. Less than half of this can kill the average person. It could take hours for it to take effect. I wonder how it will interact with that serum pumping through you? Shall we find out?”

Killian injected him with the serum. A burning sensation spread through. A fire lit under his skin. Killian put the IV back in his arm. The grabbed his chin.

"If you even try to break the glass. Your friend Pepper will suffer the same fate. I'm sure she won't be able to handle half as well as you," he said.

Tony was in Miami. It was a miracle he hadn't been pulled over. He parked a few blocks away from the Mandarin's base. Tony hide among the foliage that surrounded the Tuscan style mansion. From his perch, he spotted several armed guards with dogs.

He jumped the wall, keeping low. No one noticed him yet. He crept toward steps. The first guard came into view. He swiftly took down three guards with homemade weapons. There was no time to move them.

He kept moving, stopping before he reached the courtyard. Two men stood by the fountain. He took the Christmas ornament from his belt and tossed it toward them. It exploded one of the guard's hand, knocking him back. The other came charging in his direction, drawing his gun. Tony took him out with a nail gun. He pushed the man into the fountain, dropping an ornament into the water to finish him off.

He made it inside. The place was a mess. There was a passed out one sleeping on a Ping-Pong table. He maneuvered his way through the building. Tony slowed when heard another guard speaking. He shocked the man unisonous, taking his gun. The beta female there was too high or drunk to care that he was there.

He continued through the building with little issue. Cautiously, he pushed open a set of double doors, with his weapon drawn. He pulled off his glove and moved further into the room. The monitors set up bared the Ten Rings’ symbol. One of the screens was frozen on an image from a recent attack.

A bed came into view. There was motion underneath the deep purple covers. He yanked away the blanket. Two omegas dressed in lingerie jolted when they saw him.

“Shh,”

A toilet flushed. He ducked behind the headboard.

“Well, I wouldn’t go in there for twenty minutes,”

The mandarin laughed.

"Now which one of you, Vanessa?"

“That’s me,”

He tossed the man a fortune cookie.

“Did you know the fortune cookies aren’t even Chinese?”

“There’s some guy here,” said the other omega.

Tony ducked back behind the headboard.

“They were made in America based on Japanese recipe,”

Tony had enough of this.

“Hey!”

The Mandarin instantly put his hands up.

“Bloody hell,”

“Don’t move,”

“I’m not moving. You want something take it. Although the guns are all fake cause wankers wouldn’t trust me with a real one,”

“What?”

"Hey, you fancy either of those,"

“I’ve heard enough. You’re not him, the Mandarin. The real guy. WHERE?!”

This had to be some kind of look alike.

“WHERE?! WHERE’S THE MANDARIN!”

“Whoa, whoa he’s here, but he’s not here. He’s but he’s not here,”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s complicated,”

“Uncomplicate it. Ladies, get out. Get out of bed and get in the bathroom,”

He watched the girls run out of the room. When he turned his attention back the Mandarin was crawling on the floor. This ragged bearded beta wasn't the Mandarin. This guy had to be double. Tony set off a warning shot. He'd wasted his time on this! The beta crawled back to the seat.

“My name is Trevor, Trevor Slattery,”

“What are? Are you a decoy? You’re double, right?”

“What? Like an understudy? No, absolutely not,”

This wasn't moving fast enough. Maybe Trevor needed more motivation. He pointed the gun at Trevor's face. At this point, he was too tired to care about pulling the trigger. He wanted to this entire situation to be over. All he wanted was to be in New York with his mate.

“Don’t hurt the face! I’m an actor!” he begged.

“You got a minute to live, fill it with words,”

“Just a role. ‘The Mandarin’, see, it’s not real,”

“Then how did you get here, Trevor?”

He brought the gun closer. The beta back further into the seat. This either some elaborate lie or this was real. That this was just some washout failing actor that somehow got absorbed into this scheme.

“I had a little problem with umm substances and I ended up umm doing things. Doing things in the street that a man shouldn’t do,”

“Next?”

He’d wasted his time. All the wasted effort. There had to be some link here. Something proved this misuse of time.

“Then they approached me about the role and they knew about the drugs,”

“What did they say they get you off them?”

“Said they give me more. And they gave me things. They give me this palace. They gave me plastic surgery. They gave me things,”

The beta began to snore.

“Did you just nod off?”

Another deep snore. Really? This was what he was dealing with? He’d gone from fighting aliens to dealing with a looped out drug addicted actor. Tony kicked the beta’s feet.

"Oh, and a lovely speed boat. And the thing was he needed someone to credit for some accidental explosions," said Trevor, making an exploding gesture with his hands.

“He?”

Tony took a breath, forcing back the anger.

“Killian?”

“Killian?”

“He created you,”

“He created me,”

“Custom made terror threat,”

“Yes, yes, his think tank thought it up,”

Tony was exhausted this man was hardly a threat. He sat down but kept a wary eye on Trevor.

"Um, the pathology of a serial killer. The manipulation, the western iconography. Ready for another lesson,” he said.

There was the crisp sound of a beer opening. Trevor offered him one.

“No, they didn’t,”

“They cultured my performance and brought the Mandarin to life,”

“Your performance? Where people died,”

“No, look around you costumes green screen. Honestly, I was on vacation for half the stuff when I was movie magiced up,”

“I’m sorry but I got a best friend in a coma and he might not wake up. Do you have the answer to that? You are still going to down, pal”

He turned around when Trevor’s eyes darted away from him. It was too late he was knocked before he could do anything. When he regained consciousness he was standing. His arms and legs were zip tied to a metal bed frame. In front of him was Maya typing away at her computer. They were some kind of dank cinder block lab.

“Ah, okay,”

She turned around in her chair to face him. He bit his lip, forcing down his growl. She had Steve’s scent on her. Worry bubbled in the pit of his stomach. No, Steve would be able to handle himself.

“Just like old times huh?”

“Yeah with zip ties it’s a ball,”

“It wasn’t my idea,”

“Okay, so you took Killian’s card,”

“I took his money,”

"And here you are thirteen years later in a dungeon,"

“No,”

“Yeah,”

“No, you are in dudgeon. I’m free to go,”

“Yeah,”

She climbed down the stairs toward him.

“A lot has happened Tony and I’m close,” she said.

He struggled against the zip ties. He would get out of here it was only a matter of time.

“Extremis is practically stable,” she said.

“I’m telling you it isn’t!”

She rolled her eyes.

“I’m on the street people are going bang. They are painting the walls. Maya, you’re kidding yourself,”

“Then help me fix it,” she said.

In her hand was an old nametag. She flipped it over revealing the formula on the back.

“Did I do that?”

“Yes,”

"I remember the night, not the morning. Is this what you've been chasing around?"

Defeat seeped into her expression.

“You don’t remember?”

“Can’t help you,”

"You used to have a moral psychology. You used to have ideals. Wanted to help people. Now, look at you. I get to wake up every morning as someone who still has their soul,” he said.

Tears threatened to fall from her eyes. There was still part of her that had those morals.

“Get me out of here. Come on,”

She turned away. Killian’s voice echoed down the hall.

"You know what my old man used to say to me? One of his favorite of many sayings, the early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese," he said.

“Not still pissed off about the Switzerland thing?” said Tony.

“How can I be pissed at you, Tony? I’m here to thank you. You’ve given the greatest gift anyone has ever given me, desperation. If you think back to Switzerland you said you meet me on the rooftop. Well, for the first twenty minutes I actually thought you’d show up. For the next hour I consider taking that one step short cut to the lobby if you know what I mean?” he said.

“Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what happened to the first mouse,” said Tony.

“But as I looked out over that city nobody knew I was there nobody could see me. No one was even looking. I had a thought that would guide me for years to come, anonymity, Tony. Thanks to you it's been my mantra ever since, right. To simply rule from behind the scenes, because the second you give evil a face you'll be liable. You hand the people a target,”

“You’re something else,”

“You have met him I assume,”

“Sir Laurence Oblivier,”

“I know it’s a little over the top sometimes. It’s not entirely my fault; he has a tend…he's… he's a stage actor. They say his Lear was the toast of Croydon wherever that is. Anyway, the point is ever since that big dude with the hammer fell out of the sky subtly kinda had its day,” said Killian.

"What's next for you and your world?"

"Well, I wanted to repay you the self-same gift you so graciously imparted to me, desperation,"

Killian tossed three black spheres toward him. A hologram of Steve appeared. He laid on the floor panting heavily. His skin glowed orange in certain spots as Extremis coursed through him. The muted cries of his mate played before him.

He wanted to reach out and touch him, take the pain away. The agony of the sight threatened to call upon feral alpha wanting nothing more than to protect and mend its failure. He deep guttural inhuman sound created by the greatest anger. A zip tie snapped as he struggled forward. Killian pinned the free hand back. He snarled in tried lunging for the man’s throat.

“There’s the alpha. I need Stark. Don’t you want to help your mate?”

The feral side gave way to Tony in a desperate attempt to help their mate. Tony straight the man before him, not daring to look down, knowing it would break the forced calm.

"We have to keep him on IV drip Extremis his body sees it as a toxin and recovers every time. I assure you it's a painful process. Your CEO isn't handling it nearly as well. As soon her body gives up its will to fight. I have to detonation is quite spectacular,"

Chapter Text

Killian smiled. Stark was in the palm of his hand. Mated pairs were so easily weakened. Control the omega and the alpha will fall in line. He switched off the image of Steve. Killian grabbed the alpha by the throat.

“We haven’t even talked salary yet. What kind of perk package are you thinking of?”

Tony glared at the alpha not faltering, even as the constriction around his throat tightened.

“Let him go,” said Maya

"Just hold on," said Killian pulling away.

Tony took a gasping breath.

“Maya,”

“I said let him go!” she demanded.

She was holding a syringe to her neck.

“What are you doing?” said Killian.

“1200 cc a dose half this size I’m dead,” she said.

“It’s time like these my temper is tested somewhat. Maya, give me the injector,” he said.

She shook her head.

"If I die, Killian, what happens to your soldiers? What happens to your product?" said Maya.

“We’re not doing this okay,” he said.

“What happens to you? What happens if you go too hot?” she said, backing up the stairs toward the exit.

Killian turned to face him as he shot Maya. The woman fell instantly.

"Good news is a high-level position has just been vacated," said Killian.

Maya was gasping on the floor. She hadn’t deserved this.

"You are a maniac," said Tony.

“No, I’m a visionary. And I do own a maniac and he takes the stage tonight,”

Killian didn’t even spare a glance at Maya as he left.

Steve opened his eyes from his most recent blackout he couldn't stay conscious longer than ten minutes. He rested on his side, pressing his fevered skin against the cool cement floor. His heart was beating rapidly. He bit back a whine as Extremis coiled through his aching muscles.

Steve moved a hand to his stomach. He knew his baby was alive, but Extremis was taking a toll on her. Steve gotten used her frequently kicking against him. She kicked weakly against his hand. A broken rib from her would be a welcomed relief. He purred hoping to calm from the immense stress being placed on them. The only comfort he came through his mate bond. He felt Tony's presence even though he was absent. His mate would find him.

The doors to their prison opened. Killian walked in. Steve raised his head. The man had Tony’s scent on him. Killian opened the door his cell. He snapped at the alpha when he tried carding his fingers through his hair.

“We can’t have that,”

A leather muzzle was yanked tightly over his mouth.

“Get them ready for transport,” he said.

Tony stared at Maya's motionless form. Now wasn't the time to process this. Two arm guards were assigned to watch him. They shouldn't be a problem. His watch began beeping. One of the guards messed with it trying to get it to shut off.

"Careful, it's a limited edition," he said.

“Hey, ponytail express what’s the mileage count between Tennessee and Miami?” said Tony.

“832 miles,” he said.

“Very nice,” said Tony.

“I’m good like that,” said ponytail.

The watch was still beeping.

“Can you stop that?” asked ponytail.

“You break you bought it,” said Tony.

The guard dropped the watch, crushing it under his shoe.

“I think I bought it,” he said.

“Okay, that wasn’t mine to give away. That belongs to my friend’s sister. And that’s why I’m going to kill you first,” said Tony.

“What are you going to do to me?” he asked.

“You’ll see,” said Tony.

“You’re zip tied to a bed,” he said.

Tony raised his hands.

“This,” he said.

Nothing happened. Where are they? They should have been here by now. He repeated the motion.

“That,”

Same result.

“Trust me you’re going to be in a puddle of blood on the ground in five, four, three, come on! Two,”

Nothing. He was started to feel a little foolish.

“How did we get this shift?” said the guard.

“Alright, I’m going to give you a chance to escape. Put down your weapons tie yourself to those chairs and I’ll let you live. In five, four, bang! You should have already been gone,” said Tony.

“I’m beyond terrified,” said ponytail.

“Here it comes. Three, four-

“Shut up,”

“Five, four, three, two, one,”

A gauntlet came crashing through the window, slamming a guard in the back of the head. It wrapped around Tony hand. He shot the other guard, sending them both backward. Tony freed his arm and charged his other captor. A boot wrapped around his leg. He kicked the guard away. Tony took the man’s gun.

"Where's the rest?"

He blasted the ceiling above the guards storming toward him. It collapsed on them. He twisted awkwardly in the air. Tony set down cover fire, ducking behind a cement wall. He moved through the room taking out guard after guard. Only one was left. He quickly raised his hands, dropping his gun.

“Honestly, I hate working here they are so weird,”

Tony waved goodbye and man went running. As he made his way through halls piece armor attached to him. By the time he made it out he almost wearing a full suit. He grabbed the face plate jetting toward him.

“Not the face,”

He rolled his shoulders, enjoying the familiar comforting weight of his armor.

"It's good to be back. Hello, by the way,"

“Hello, sir,”

His view locked the Iron Patriot suit, soaring upward. He tried taking the air, but his thrusters failed him.

“Crap,”

Tony clumsily made his way down the stair. He was a sitting duck moving like this. Rhodey called.

“Tony,”

“Tell me that was you in the suit,”

“No, you got yours?”

“Uh, mmm kinda. Meet me at the main house as fast as you can. There’s someone I like you to meet,”

They made there way back to the house. He stole care battery and hooked it up to the suit. Two girls were playing ping pong in their bikinis.

“I play next,”

The two guards shoot at the same time. Bullets harmless pinged off his armor. Rhodes crashed through the window taking them out. Rhodes pointed his gun at Trevor.

“You make a move I break your face,” he said.

“I never thought people had been hurt. He lied to me,” said Trevor.

“This is the Mandarin?” said Rhodes.

“I know it’s embarrassing,” said Tony.

“Hi, I’m Trevor. Trevor Slattery,” he said offering his hand to Rhodes.

Rhodes slapped it away.

"I know I am shorter in person most people say that. But if you're here to arrest me uh there are some people I'd like to role on them immediately," he said.

"This is how it works now, Meryl Streep. You tell him where Steve and Pepper and he'll stop doing it," said Tony.

“Doing what?” asked Trevor.

Rhodes jabbed him with the gun.

“Ow, that hurts. I get it. I get it. I don't know about any Steve or Pepper. But I do know about the plan," he said.

“Spill it,” said Tony.

He personally wanted to kill the man. To get out some of the pent up aggression. No, he would save it for Killian. He would be the target of his rage.

"You know what they did to my suit?" asked Rhodes.
"What? No, but I do know it's happening off the coast. Something to do with uh a big boat. I can take you there,” said Trevor.

He yelled a cheer for the soccer team playing behind. Rhodes flinched. He barely resisted the urge to fire.

“Tony, I swear to god I’m going to blow his face off,” he said.

“Oh, this next bit may include the vice president as well. Is that important?” asked Trevor.

“Somewhat,” said Tony.

“Yeah, a little bit,” said Rhodes.

Tony gestured for Rhodes come closer.

“So?”

“What are we going to do? We don’t have any transport,”

The crisp sound of a beer can opening behind them.

“Hey, Ringo didn’t you say something about a lovely speed boat,” said Tony.

They went down to the boat and set off.

“He has my family,”

The sting of saying it aloud was reeling.

“What are they doing to them?” asked Rhodes.

Tony flinched. The image of his suffering mate sped before his mind. His heart gave a painful throb. Thinking of the pain it was causing Steve and their daughter was overwhelming. He clutched the seat in front of him, fighting the anger feral alpha.

“Tony?”

He took a breath.

“They injected them with Extremis,”

“Steve and pup will be fine,”

"They're suffering. They have been for hours. And Pepper is a literal ticking time bomb," said Tony.

“What?”

"If the subject rejects Extremis they explode. The Mandarin bombing were misfires," said Tony.

Rhodes didn’t push further. Tony was barely hanging onto his current state of mind. Rhodes prayed his goddaughter, Steve, and Pepper's safety. Showing concerning would only agitate Tony further. He couldn't risk Tony entering alpha state.

“He was right about the location. We are about twenty minutes away from where Steve is,” said Tony.

“We also have to figure out his vice president thing,” said Rhodes.

"Right, I wonder who I'm calling right now that the vice president," said Tony.

“Hello,”

“Sir, this is Tony Stark,”

“Welcome back to the land of the living,”

“We believe you’re about to be drawn in the Mandarin campaign and we have to get you somewhere safe as soon as possible,”

“Mr. Stark, I’m about to eat honey roast ham surrounded by the agency’s finest. The president is safe on air force along with Colonel Rhodes. I think we’re good here,”

"Sir, this is Colonel Rhodes. They are using the Iron Patriot as a Trojan Horse. They are going to take out the president somehow. We have to immediately alert that plane,”

"Okay I'm on it, I'll have security lock it down. If we need to we can have F32s in thirty seconds. Thank you, Colonel,"

“Rhodes and Stark out,”

“We’ve got to make a decision we can either save the president or Steve and Pepper. We can’t do both,” said Rhodes.

Isn't that what vice presidents were for. He could care less about the president. All that matter to him was his family.

“Tony, I know what you’re thinking, but we have to help the president. Steve would want that,” said Rhodes.

“Sir, I have an update from Malibu. The cranes have arrived and the southern doors are being cleared as we speak,” said Jarvis.

“And what about the suit I’m wearing?”

“The armor is now at 92%,” said Jarvis.

“That’s going to have to do,”

He pulled the cables from his armor.

“We can do both?”

“How?” asked Rhodes.

“Don’t worry about it,”

“That makes me worried, Tony,”

He got out of the suit.

“Aren’t you going to wear that?”

“Nope,”

He sent his sent the suit to the sky. It had locked onto Air Force One's location. He took out the single Extremis soldier. A large hole had been ripped in the plane people were being flung out.

“How many are in the air?”

“Thirteen, sir,”

“How many can I carry?”

“Four, sir,”

He dove toward the nearest flight attendant, catching her. She screamed.

“Calm down relax. What’s your name?”

She was too panicked. He scanned over her name tag.

“Heather?”

The plane exploded behind them.

“Listen to me? See that guy? I’m going to swing by and you’re just going to grab him. You got it?”

“Yes,”

“I’ll electrify your arm. You won’t be able to open your hand. We can do this, Heather,”

She grabbed him by the man by his ankle.

“Remember that game barrel of monkeys. That’s what we’re going to do,”

“18,000 feet,” said Jarvis.

“Come on people! Everybody grab a monkey,”

The chain of people grew.

"10,000 feet,"

They grabbed another.

“8,000 feet,”

“Come on people,”

“1,000 feet,”

Only one more.

“400 feet,”

“200 feet, sir,”

They caught the last one just in time. Tony dropped them into the water. He looked back. All of them surfaced. They cheered.

“Nice work guys. Excellent good team effort all around,”

When he turned to the bridge he struck by an eighteen-wheeler.

"That came out of nowhere,"

Rhodes came to check on him.

“Give me some good news man,” he said.

“I think they all made it,”

“Thank god,”

“Yeah, but I missed the president,”

“You couldn’t save the president with the suit. How are we going to save Steve and Pepper with nothing?”

“Uh, say Jarvis is it that time?” asked Tony.

“The house party protocol, sir?”

“Correct,”

Steve regained consciousness. He was jammed into a small cage, next to Pepper. They were somewhere new. He could smell salt water and oil. She was slowly regaining consciousness. Killian was watching over her. The man had his shield.

“Get away from her,”

“Good, you’re awake. I wouldn’t want you to miss this,”

Steve sat up, unable to stand in his confines.

“He will never help you," said Steve.

“Having you here is not something to motivate, Tony Stark. It’s umm it’s actually more embarrassing than that. You’re here as my uh-

“Trophy,”

Killian nodded.

“Then let her go,”

“I can’t do that. She’s a lesser prize, but she’s a prize nonetheless,” he said.

Steve smiled when the Iron Patriot came.

“Good evening, sir,” said Killian.

The suite opened, revealing the president.

“Welcome aboard Mr. President,”

Steve smile faded. The president looked toward him for. Steve’s jaw locked as Extremis shot up his spine gnawing at his nerves. His eyes closed. All he could do was wait.

Tony followed Rhodes lead as they made their way through the dock.

“You’re not going to freak out on me right?” asked Rhodes.

“I hope not,”

Rhodes froze. The president was in his suit strung up by his arm.

“Oh, my god,”

“What?”

"He's strung up over an oiler tanker. They're going to light him up,"

“Viking funeral, public execution,”

“Death by oil,”

They moved a stealthy as possible toward him.

“Broadcasting will begin shortly,”

"Is your gun up?" asked Rhodes.

Tony quickly raised it.

“What do I do?”

“Stay on my six and cover high,”

They were fired on. Tony fired back before taking cover with Rhodes.

“See that nailed it,”

"Yeah, you really killed the glass. How can you be such a shitty shot? Your husband's Captain America?"

“Going to gun range really isn’t our thing. I was aiming for the bulb. You can’t hit a bulb at this distance,”

Rhodes got up and shot out the light.

“I’m out give me another magazine,” said Tony.

“They’re not universal, Tony,”

“I know what I’m doing I make this stuff. Give me another,”

“I don’t have the one that fits that gun,”

“You’ve got like five of them,”

Tony quickly looked up.

“What did you see?”

“Too fast,”

He looked up again. He ducked back down.

“Three guys one girl all armed,”

They both looked out from their shelter. They were surrounded by Extremis soldiers.

"I'd kill for some armor right now,"

“You’re right. We need back up,”

“Yeah, a bunch,”

“You know what,”

Rhodes lower his gun when several lights were flying toward them. The number of light kept growing.

“Is that?”

“Yep,”

“Are those?”

“Yeah,’

Rhodes could only stare. Tony had made all of these.

“Merry Christmas buddy,”

The suits hovered around them, awaiting commands.

“Jarvis, target Extremis heat signature and disable with extreme predaceous,” said Tony.

“Yes, sir,” repeated the suits.

“What are you waiting for its Christmas take them to church?” said Tony.

The suits rushed to their nearest targets, engaging in battle. It was truly a beautiful sight. Tony braced against a railing as the footing began to sway.

“Jarvis, get Igor to steady this thing,”

"So this is how you've been managing your downtime," said Rhodes.

“Everybody needs a hobby,” he said.

He caught Red Snapper struggling with two Extremis soldiers.

“Heartbreaker, help Red Snapper out,”

Another set of explosions went off around them as Red Snapper crashed into a nearby structure.

A powerful blast sent Steve’s cage slamming into the wall. The glass door cracked. He slammed his feet against it, shattering it completely. He crawled out. His shield skidded next to him.

“Pepper!”

“Over here,”

Her legs were trapped under a beam. He made his way toward her.

“I’m coming,”

Only feet away from her, Extremis sunk into spine his spine again, bring down next to her. He reached a rip off her arm restraints. Another explosion ignite. Steve covered their heads. Debris fell on top of them, pinning them both down.

“Can you get out?” asked Pepper.

Steve pushed against it. There was a slight groan but nothing happened.

“You have to help me,”

“What? Alright,”

She lifted with him. Together they managed to lift it a few feet. It caused the rubble to dislodge further. A pipe cut into Steve's side. He dropped the weight.

“Steve!”

“I’m fine,”

“You’re bleeding,”

The nearest suit landed next Tony, opening up for him.

“Nice timing,”

“Oh, yeah that’s awesome. Give me a suit okay?”

“Oh, I’m sorry they are only coded to me,”

“What does that mean?”

“I got you covered,”

Tony took to the air.

“Sir, I’ve found, Steve,” said Jarvis.

“About time,”

He made way through the maze of metal work, landing outside of where Steve and Pepper were being kept.

Steve heard a familiar set of heavy footsteps.

“Tony!”

“Steve,”

Tony lifted the metal on top of them. Steve caught the metal edge that nearly sliced through Pepper’s neck.

“Stop!”

Tony set it down. He kneeled next to them.

“See what happens when you hang with my girlfriends?” he said.

“You’re such jerk,” said Steve.

“Yeah, we’ll talk about that over dinner,” he said.

Steve reached out for his hand.

“Just a little more, sweetheart,”

Their fingertips just barely touched. A gleaming orange burst through the floor, ripping out the heart of his armor. Tony fell back. Killian emerged.

“Is this guy bothering you?”

Steve snarled baring his teeth. If only he could fight! Killian pounced on Tony.

“Don’t get up,”

Tony groaned as Killian heated his armor.

“Is it hot in there? Feel a little stuck? Like a little turtle, cooking in his little turtle suite,”

He couldn’t move.

“Tony,”

“They’re watching. I think you should close your eyes. Close your eyes you don’t want to see this,”

A blade shot gauntlet, slicing off Killian’s arm before his strike could land. Killian crumbled clutching his arm.

“Yeah, you take a minute,”

He broke out of his suite and rushed toward the stairs. A soldier sped toward, he jumped from the deck to another. A suit flew passed taking care of his pursuer. He glanced back. Steve and Pepper were hanging off a ledge above him.

“Jarvis get me a suite right now!”

He jumped from catwalk trying to get near a suit. A suit opened for him, he vaulted for it, but it shot away before could reach it. He crashed onto the floor below him.

“Come on!”

“Tony, I got the president secure,”

“That’s good,”

Finally, he reached them. Steve wrapped his free arm around Pepper and dropped her down next to Tony.

“I’ve got you,”

Steve reached out for Tony.

“Sweetheart, I can’t reach any further. And you can’t stay there all right you got to let go. You got to let go I’ll catch you I promise!”

Steve nodded and started letting go. The rigging broke sending Steve sliding over the edge. Their hand just missed.

“NO!”

His mate fell into the fire below. Tony couldn't breathe. He searched for anything that would show his mate was alive. It was as if his heart had been ripped from his chest. His mate and their unborn child were gone. They'd slipped through his fingers. And was his fault! He let shock wash over him.

“Get out of here, Pepper!”

“Tony, I-

“Go!”

Killian walked toward him. Tony went to meet him. He would end Killian then himself.

“Shame, I would have caught him,”

They stormed toward each. Tony skidded underneath him, racing to one his suits. The armor locked around him. He charged at him. They traded attacks. His armor was steadily being ripped away. He ejected from the suit as when Killian pounced on him. Another suit caught him wrapping around him. He caught Killian and soared upward.

Killian sprinted toward dodging his every blast. They locked in combat each searching for an edge to put it to an end.

Tony stood on the edge of the platform, kept in place by Killian’s grasp.

“Well, here we are on the roof,”

Tony ejected from the armor, missing the heated hand that would cut through his heart. He was sprawled out on the platform below. The sound of an incoming suite caught both their attention.

“Mark 42,”

"Well, I'll be damned the prodigal son returns,"

It crash-landed next to him and fell to pieces.

“Whatever,”

“You really didn’t deserve him, Tony. It’s a shame I could have made him perfect,”

“Wait, slow down, you’re right. I didn’t deserve him. Here’s where you’re wrong he was already perfect,”

Killian came at him. Tony sent Mark 42 after him. The suite locked onto him sending him backward.

“Jarvis, do me a favor and blow Mark 42,”

Tony jumped on sliding down missing Killian’s demise. He was tossed into the sky. Tony closed his eyes accepting his fate. A suit closed around. It struggled to land him safely. He crashed down, beaten but alive. The empty helmet of Mark 42 landed at his feet. He stared at the empty flaming image. A figure emerged from the flaming destruction. The charred formed moved toward him. He struggled to get to his feet.

“No more false faces. You said you wanted the Mandarin, well you’re looking right at him. It was always me, Tony, right from the start. I AM THE MANDARIN!”

Killian was knocked away by a lamppost. Pepper stood before him. The small glimmer of hope faded as swiftly as it occurred. A suit came jetting toward them, attack ready.

"Jarvis the subject to my 12 o'clock is not a target, disengage,"

The order went ignored. His earbud had fallen out. Pepper took out the suit, ripping off its arm and putting it on. She punched Killian aside. Then kicked a weapon’s capsule setting off with a blast from the suit, finishing of Killian.

“Pepper,”

“Oh, my god that was really violent. Am I going to be okay?”

"Yeah, I almost figured out when I was drunk. I'll get you better,"

“We beat him,” she said.

“What does it matter? I lost what was really important,”

 

Victory had never felt so bitter. The pain of his loss seeped through him.
“I would say it matters,”

They turned. Steve stood with his shield at the ready, only wearing shredded pants.

“Steve!”

They embraced. He nuzzled against Steve’s neck breathing in his scent.

“You’re here,”

“I’m here,”

“You scared the hell out me, sweetheart,”

“Because I fell two hundred feet into a pit of fire,”

“The baby!”

“I think she’ll be okay,”

Steve winced when she powerfully kicked against his side.

“She just broke one of my ribs,”

They all sat down too tired to move. Steve huddled close to him. Tony held him tight so afraid he may lose him again.

“I’m so sorry, Steve. Forgive me,”

“I forgive you, Tony,”

They kissed, accepting each other fully for their flaws.

Chapter Text

Tony moved from his place by Steve.

“Tony?”

"I was distracted. My mind should have been with you,"

All wanted was a peaceful life with his mate. Well, as peaceful as their lives could be.

“Jarvis?”

“Yes, sir,”

“You know what to do,”

“The clean slate protocol?”

“Yes,”

Tony's suits irrupted one after the other. Steve knew what this meant. How difficult this was for him to give up. He joined his mate.

“I love you,”

"Love you too, sweetheart,"

Steve leaned into his alpha. Tony was purring. Sirens could be heard in the distance. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s emergency services got there first. Steve pressed further into his mate. (December 25)

“PEPPER!”

“Maria!”

Hill ran to them, tightly embracing Pepper.

“Are you alright, Pep?” she asked.

“I will be,” said Pepper.

S.H.I.E.L.D. ambulances pulled to the front, setting up a perimeter. Steve and Tony were loaded into one, Pepper and Maria in the other. They were driven to the nearest S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. They were rushed to the medical wing. Edith was waiting for them there.

“Let’s get a look at her,” she said.

Steve anxiously waited for the news. Had Extremis done any damage to her? Edith turned the monitor toward them. Everything seemed normal to him, but what if he wasn't seeing something?

"Will she be okay?"

"Her heartbeat is strong. I don't see any external damage. I'll have to take some samples," she said.

Steve jolted on the examination table when Edith took out a large needle. Tony moved in front of him, snarling savagely. Edith backed away, setting the needle.

“Steve, I promise this won’t hurt the baby,”

"But-

"I know it looks intimidating, but it the only way we can know that she's healthy. I swear this won't harm her," she said.

"Alright,"

“Can you call him off?” asked Edith.

“Tony, it’s alright,”

And just like that, the alpha snapped out of feral state. Steve laid on his uninjured side. She numbed the area. Tony held his hand the entire time, running his fingers through his hair.

“I’m done,” she said.

Steve slowly got up.

"You'll have to be kept under observation,"

"Tony stays with me," he said.

“Of course, we want you to wear a fetal monitor,” said Edith.

The gash his side had mended. Steve put the belt on loosely. A doctor came in to tend Tony’s injuries. She also brought scrubs for them to change into. The shirt didn't completely cover his stomach.

“He’ll have to get x-rays,” said the nurse.

Steve waited outside when while Tony went to radiation. Tony came out.

“What’s the damage?”

“Three broken ribs, broken collar bone, torn my left rotator cuff again, two broken fingers, broken cheekbone, and a concussion," said Tony.

Under Tony’s shirt were the lines of a brace, immobilizing his shoulder. It could have been worse. A nursed escorted them to their room. Tony flinched when he laid back.

“Just a bit tender,” he said.

“Tony,”

An orange glow traveled down Steve's neck. He cringed forcing down a groan. His hand clamped around the bed's railings. They creaked under the immense pressure.

Tony sprung from the bed as Steve writhed. He tried comforting him through it the best he could. The episode passed. Nurses came in placing ice packs on Steve to help keep him cool.

"We need you on a cure, Stark," said Hill.

Tony nodded. He went over to his gently squeezing Steve’s hand.

"Go,"

"I'll be back in a few hours,"

He kissed his mate goodbye. Tony worked through the night. The smell of coffee awoke him. A large mug was placed on his desk. (December 26)

“Fours sugars and one cream,” said Hill.

“How are they?” asked Tony.

"Steve has severe hot flashes off and on. Nurses are struggling to keep his temperature down. The percentage of Extremis in his blood has decreased significantly," she said.

“And Pepper?”

“She’s stable,”

He rose from the table.

“Where are you going?” asked Hill.

“To check on my husband,”

“He's probably asleep,"

"Then it will be quick. Thanks, for the coffee,"

He snuck into Steve's bedroom. It was freezing. Steve was asleep. Despite the cool temperature, Steve was sweating heavily. He caressed Steve's cheek. Tony kissed the omega on the forehead.

“Tony,”

“Did I wake you?”

“No,”

He carded his fingers through Steve’s damp hair.

"I'll get you better. I had to say good morning,"

“Good morning, get back to work,”

“Right, away, sweetheart,”

When he got back to the lab there was a case on his table. It was the safety box he'd given Steve to put his treasures in. He opened the box everything had been protected. He put it down beside him. Two hours later he had a cure. He made two doses. None of the Extremis soldiers survived for it to be used on them. He gave a vial of amber liquid to Hill.

“This should do it,” he said.

“Should?”

“Its worked on simulations. I’m willing to use it on my mate that should be enough for you, Hill,” said Tony.

She nodded. He went to Steve’s room and injected the serum into his IV. The irritated orange glow extinguished. Steve relaxed.

“Feeling better, beautiful,”

“Much,”

Steve sat up.

“Easy,”

He carefully eased out of bed.

“Let’s go home,”

Tony nodded. An hour later they were on a private plane to New York. They slept the entire flight. When they got home they cuddled up in their nest. Steve struggled to get comfortable.

“What’s wrong?” asked Tony.

“It doesn’t smell right,” said Steve.

He got up. Tony sniffed the blankets.

"Smells fine to me,"

“It doesn’t smell like home,”

Their den was destroyed and that was on him. They'd spent a majority of their time in Malibu, rarely visiting New York.

“I have something that might help,”

He took out the case Hill had given him. Steve smiled looking over the items to make sure everything was there. He took the pillowcase from it. It carried the smells of home. He rubbed it against his cheek and purred. Steve settled, allowing Tony to wrap the blankets around them. It was dark when he woke up.

“What time is it?”

“8:00 pm,” said Jarvis.

He rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Steve was comfortably tucked in their nest. He took a deep breath of his scent. It was pure, free of the taint of Extremis. He pulled the blankets back over. Tony groaned he stunk. They both did.

“Jarvis put an order for four large pizzas,” he said.

“Right away, sir,”

Tony shed his clothes as he walked to the shower. The water was set to the perfect temperature. It soothed his aching bruised body. The shower door opened. Steve came up behind him, gently nosing against his neck. Tony turned to kiss him. Steve carefully washed over his wounds. They felt refreshed once done. The doorbell rang.

“Who is it, Jarvis?”

“The pizza, sir,”

Tony paid. Steve was waiting for him in the kitchen with a large first aid kit. He sat through Steve bandaging his injuries. They ate quietly.

“How long do you have to wear the brace?” asked Steve.

"Six weeks might have to get it checked out. I've messed up my shoulder before,”

“How?”

"Was knocked out of the sky by an anti-aircraft shell,"

He picked up the slight nervousness in Steve.

"I'll be fine,"

"When has fine ever been fine for us?" said Steve.

"I've gotten a lot closer to it since I've been with you. The arthritis in my hands has gotten better,"

Steve laughed softly.

“What do you find it funny that your young strapping alpha had arthritis?”

“Maybe a little,”

Tony pulled Steve into a deep kiss, stealing the omega’s breath. He slowly pulled away, touching their foreheads.

“What was that for?”

“I’m so happy you’re here. I was going to… never mind,”

“What?”

“It isn’t important,”

“Tony,”

“I was going to put a bullet through my head after I found a cure for Pepper. There was no reason to live without you or the pup. It would be that or I’d drown myself in the bottle,”

Steve brought the alpha as close as possible. He ran his fingers through his mate's hair. Tears leaked from the alpha's eyes.

“Never scare me like that again,”

“As long as you promise to do the same,”

“I promise,”

Steve slowly pulled away from him, placing a gentle kiss on his forehead. Tony touched on a darker subject that needed to be addressed.

"I need you to make me another promise,"

Tony looked up at him. The alpha looked so defeated. He’d do anything to make up for what he did.

“You must promise me that you’ll never take your own life if something were to happen to me. You have to be here for her,” said Steve, placing Tony’s hand over his stomach.

The pup nudged against his hand.

“I promise,” said Tony.

“One of us always has to be there for her,” said Steve.

Tony nodded.

There gentle kick against his hand. He kneeled down and kissed Steve’s stomach.

“She’ll be here soon. We still haven’t decided on a name yet,”

“We’ll know when we meet her,”

Steve got up. He rubbed his lower back.

"Coming to bed?"

“It’s still early for me,”

“Since you’re staying up why don’t put in the car seat,”

“Why now?”

“Do you have anything else to do?”

“No,”

“Now you do,”

Steve kissed him goodnight.

"Night, sweetheart,"

Tony went to the garage. He’d recently bought a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S 2013. He took the baby seat from its box. After twenty minutes he was cursing up a storm. He looked at the instructions, of course, it was written in Chinese. It couldn't be written in one the many other languages he actually knew. Fuck, it. An hour later he made a self-buckling attachment. He checked making sure the seat was secure.

“Sir, I believe you should patent this. Many parents have difficulty installing car seats,” said Jarvis.

“Take care of it,”

Tony started working on the plans for Harley’s garage and placing orders. Harley would have a dream garage.

“And place a rush order for a limited edition Dora the Explorer watch,”

Tony looked around. His few remaining suits were here. They were barely functional. His insomnia may come in use. Anything that survived the explosion had been brought here in wooden crates. He didn't want to put any strain on Steve.

“Sir, I should remind you that you must keep the heavy lifting to a minimum,” said Jarvis.

“I’ll be careful,”

"Why do not believe that?"

He forced open the crate Dum-E and U. They could be repaired. He cracked open another box, pulling out Thor's blanket. The edges were singed but otherwise was fine. Steve would be happy that it survived. Another box contained Mark 5. Steve damaged it their fight. He placed on his workshop table. It was in terrible shape.

It wouldn't hurt to have one suit for emergencies. No, he'd gotten rid of the armor for a reason. It was a distraction from what was really important. He would always be Ironman, but it needed to remain dormant. Family came first. The armor could always be rebuilt, but not what he has with Steve.

He carded his fingers through his hair. Eventually, he surrendered and joined his mate. Steve was spread eagle on the bed, taking up all the space. The omega was snoring peacefully in a deep sleep. He couldn't get into bed without waking up his mate. He settled in the nesting couch.

Steve woke up alone. (December 27) His was spread out in bed the blankets tossed messily around him. He found his way to the kitchen. Tony was working on some kind of homemade gun.

“What’s that?”

“A potato gun,”

“Why?”

“I owe the kid one,”

“Why does she need one?”

“Not our kid, Harley,”

“The little boy who saved you,”

“He may have played a minor role,”

“If it were minor you wouldn’t be making a potato gun in our kitchen,”

Steve took out the leftover pizza from last night. He ate it cold.

“Aren’t you going to heat that up?”

“Nope,”

“How is our pup this morning?”

"It was a quiet night, but she'll be waking up soon enough,"

On cue, she jabbed against him.

"Morning little one,"

"I got you something,"

“You didn’t have to Tony,”

"I wanted to,"

He pushed a small box wrapped in red and white paper toward his husband. Steve carefully unwrapped it. Tony twitched. It was a present it was meant to be ripped open. Finally, he took off lid.

“Tony, this is precious,”

It was a Christmas ornament. Two penguins in Santa's hats labeled Tony and Steve had an egg between them. The egg was labeled ‘on the way'. He brought Tony into a kiss.

“Thank you,”

Tony turned on the news.

“Five minutes,” warned Steve.

The recent attack on the president and the end of the Mandarin was the main story. It was followed by the arrest of the vice president. The replacement would be Joe Biden. The feed cut off and changed to the cooking channel.

“Steve,”

“I told you five minutes,”

The Pioneer Woman was playing. One of Steve's favorite cooking shows.

“You should get going,”

“Where?”

“Jarvis made the appointment,”

“You told me to make it as soon as possible, sir. I've made it with Dr. Gregory Crane. You’ve seen him before,”

"And while your out could you go to the grocery store?" asked Steve.

“Sure,”

Tony got ready to go. He paused at the elevator, looking back at Steve. The omega smiled.

"Tony, I'll be fine. If you get worried have Jarvis pull up the footage of me. I'm not going anywhere," said Steve.

Tony took a breath.

“I love you,”

“Love you too,”

Tony pulled up to his doctor's office. They were several people in the waiting room. They took a few seconds to stare at him before looking away. He wanted to go home. Tony took out his phone, pulling up the footage from his living room. Steve was resting in nesting couch perfectly relaxed.

“Mr. Stark,”

He followed an omega nurse into an office.

“Please, take off your shirt,”

Tony unbuttoned his shirt, carefully easing it down his shoulders. She stared at the deep bruises marking his chest. The omega quickly took his vital, only touching as much necessary.

“Dr. Crane will be with you shortly,” she said.

Tony nodded. Crane came in. He was a middle-aged beta with thinning blond hair. Crane ran the normal physical exam, testing the range of motion of his shoulder.

“You’ve put yourself through some wear and tear over the years, Mr. Stark. I honestly expected to find more damage. It appears you've torn your rotator cuff. I want to take an ultrasound of your shoulder,"

He remained still as the doctor worked.

"As I expect a full tear. I want you to keep the wearing brace. Visit me in six weeks to see if you'll need surgery or physical therapy. Do you have any questions before I go?” said Crane.

“No,”

"Then you can go to the front desk and make your appointment,"

Crane left him. One of the reasons Tony enjoyed having Crane for a doctor was how straight to point and efficient he was. He eased his shirt back on. Again he checked on Steve. The footage pulled up on his phone. Steve was asleep in his nest. He was perfectly relaxed. Every part of him wanted to race home, but he had to go to the grocery store. Steve would be pissed if left him with empty fridge much longer. He hated going to the store, preferring to have it delivered.

He went through the aisle. Feeding a pregnant super soldier was a constant task. Food was delivered two to three times a week when they were at Malibu. He would have to set it up here. The omega always made sure he was well fed. He crammed the groceries into his sports car. Tony pulled into the back garage. There was always someone at the front of the tower. He grabbed as many bags as could before going up the elevator and put the bags on the counter.

“Steve, I’m home,”

He went in search of his mate. Steve circled around the master bedroom.

“Steve?”

“Oh, hi honey,”

He didn’t have Steve’s full attention.

“What is it?”

"I'm figuring out which room will be the birthing room," said Steve.

It was a regular practice for omegas to have a home birth. Only when an omega was having a high-risk birth did they go to the hospital. The tower had three floors dedicated medical. If anything went wrong they'd be able to handle it. They'd figured this out in Malibu.

“What are you leaning toward?”

“Not sure,”

It was instinct. Omegas were particular about the nesting and birthing rooms. It could take weeks for them to decide over something that seemed so trivial. Tony knew not to question this. Steve would snap him if he did.

“You have time,”

“Sixteen days,”

“What?”

“The baby is due in sixteen days and I don’t know where I’m giving birth or where we’re going to nest after!”

“We’ll figure it out,”

Tony took a breath. Only sixteen days maybe less and they’d be parents. A pup could be born three weeks before or two weeks after the predicted due date. She could come any day now. It was a terrifying thought. Shit, what if she’d come during the battle. He hoped the pup had his sense of timing and would be late.

Steve sat next to him on the foot of the bed. He hid his face in the alpha’s neck. Tony arm wrapped around his shoulder. He felt himself relaxing.

“We have all we need to take care of her and you,”

The omega relaxed.

“Let’s get you something to eat,”

Steve nodded. He followed Tony into the kitchen and helped him put away the groceries. Once done Steve took found the jar of pickles he set aside and helped himself.

“So how’d it go?”

“I have to go back in six weeks to see if I need surgery,”

The pickle jar shattered. Tony quickly wrapped Steve’s hand in a dishtowel. He moved the towel and started picking the glass from Steve's hand. The small wound quickly healed over.

“Sorry,”

“It’s alright, sweetheart,”

"I don't want you to go under the knife,"

"I doubt I'll have to get it. The tearing was minor. I only have to take it easy for a few weeks," said Tony.

Tears started forming in those clear blue eyes.

"No, no, don't cry,"

Tony dabbed away the tears. Steve nuzzled against his neck, breathing his scent. He growled.

“What is it?”

“I can smell another omega on you,”

"The nurse was an omega,"

Steve didn't care. No, omega unapproved omega was allowed near his alpha. He rubbed himself against the alpha covering him in his scent. Every omega would this alpha was taken. Steve snapped out the instinctual state of mind.

“Better?”

Steve nodded.

"Has there been any news on Happy?" he asked.

“None yet,”

Honestly, he’d forgotten about. They just had a moment to clear their heads and relax after on the drama.

“I hope he’s okay,”

The two were never far from each other rest of the day. Cuddling helped build reassurance. Steve fell asleep earlier than usual. Tony fingers twitched. He went into the bedroom and got into bed. Tony closed his eyes trying to sleep. He tossed and turned in bed, waking up Steve.

“Honey, find a comfortable position or you’re sleeping on the couch,”

“Sorry sweetheart. I’ll let you get some sleep,”

He kissed Steve on the forehead, before leaving bed. Steve instantly spread out. The omega was out moments later. He went to the lab and worked on Dumm-E and U. Their systems were simple compared to what he was used to. His mind ached for the intricacies of the armor. What if Steve went into labor and he couldn't get there in time?

He'd only fix Mark 5. Shame swept over him for giving into so soon after. He'd given into to urged to create so soon after destroying what proved to be a distraction. This was only for emergencies if he needed to get to Steve quickly. He worked the night away.

Steve slowly stretched out in bed. (December 28) He put on a pair of sweatpants, pausing in front of the mirror. Maternity clothes had proven to be some of the most comfortable clothes he'd worn. He wanted to get back into his normal clothes, something without an elastic waistband. It would be nice not to feel like a whale. He was six-foot and nearing the end of the third term. There was nothing small about him.

The penthouse was empty. He went to the elevator and went to the lab. Tony was asleep at his work. The Mark 5 in process of being repaired. There was no anger. Tony needed this part of himself. His mind needed to be constantly worked.

“Tony,”

He gently nudged him awake. The alpha’s eyes shot open. He was panicked.

“This is-

“It’s fine, Tony,”

“You aren’t,”

“No,”

“Why?”

“I accept this part of you. This isn’t a step backward,”

"It feels like one,"

"It isn't,"

"You don't think this is hypocritical? Building after what I destroyed. I can't stop,"

"You needed it. It was a cathartic release,"

"I'm doing it all over again,"

"No, this a fresh start,"

"Doesn't feel like it. It feels like I'm taking the same path all over again,"

"You choose what path you take, Tony. It may have the same begin, but that doesn't mean it's the same. You can decide where this goes or how fast you take it. Tony, you know what's important. You won't get lost. And if by some chance you do I'll find you,"

“What did I do to deserve you?”

Steve ran his fingers through the alpha’s hair. He could ask Tony the same thing. He was happy they were brought together. They nuzzled each other.

“We should visit Peggy?”

“Do you want to do this when you’re so close to being due?”

"Yes, she'll want to see you, after all, that's happened. And we aren't taking a sports car,"

Those low sports cars were difficult for him to get in and out of. There was also the fact that he couldn’t fit inside one comfortably. They got into their newest car. Steve smiled when he saw the car seat in the back of the car. He smirked. Tony was only going about ten over the speed limited. This was new.

"I don't think we should mention what happened to you. We don't want to overwhelm her," said Tony.

He could barely tolerate talking about it himself.

“She doesn’t need to know,” said Steve.

She didn’t need to be put through that trauma. He yawned falling asleep.

“Steve, we're here,"

He hastily got out of the car. The baby was pressing against his bladder. They knocked on the door. Peggy came rushing through the doors.

“ANTHONY EDWARD STARK!”

“Hey, Aunt Peggy,”

"This is idiotic even for you. You scared the hell of out of me! Did you even think this through?" she said.

“I-

“Of course you didn’t,”

Steve slipped through the door, hurrying to the bathroom.

“I didn’t mean for it to go so bad,” said Tony.

The flash of anger passed.

“Foolish man,” she said.

“I won’t do something like this again. I have too much to lose,” he said.

“You should have known that from the start,” she said.

“I get it, Aunt Peg," he said.

Tony already felt guilty enough. He planned on making up on to his mate somehow. They went into the living room. Steve was sitting on the couch running his hands over his stomach.

“Anthony, help me make some tea,”

Steve tried getting up.

“Don’t you dare get up, Steve,” she said.

He leaned back, getting comfortable. Watson joined him on the couch. He rubbed the dog’s stomach. Tony came in tea and cookies. Peggy followed behind him, humming happily. He winced. Tony rushed over to him.

“It’s nothing her foot is lodged in my rib,”

He stretched trying getting her to move it. Nope, she wasn’t going to move it anytime soon.

Tony stifled a laughed, when Steve struggled to reach the cookies on the coffee table.

“A little help,” he said.

Peggy swatted him on the back of the head. Tony gave him several cookies. He rested them on his stomach.

“I made you a little something,”

“You didn’t have to do that,”

“I wanted to,” she said.

Peggy hand him a bag. Steve pulled out a crochet lovey that shaped liked duck.

“What is it?” asked Tony.

“It’s a platypus lovey. Any baby can have unicorn or teddy bear one. I wanted her to have something unique,” said Peggy.

Tony took out whatever was left. It was a pair of crochet baby shoes. They were white with little red roses on top with a matching hat. The shoes were so small they fit in the palm of his hand.

“Thank you, Peggy,” said Steve.

“How much longer until she here?” she asked.

“Fifteen days,” said Steve.

“Is everything ready?” asked Peggy.

“It’s getting there,” said Steve.

He still hadn’t decided in room him wanted to have his pup. At six it was time for them to leave. They said their goodbyes and promised to come by once the pup was born. Steve tried staying awake on the drive home but barely managed to keep his eyes open.

“Get some sleep, sweetheart. I’ll wake you up when we get home,”

“Alright,”

The drive home was peaceful. They got home around 8:40 pm.

“Steve, we’re home,”

He stretched out as much as he could in the seat.

“What do you want for dinner?”

“Strawberry ice cream,”

Tony hoped that there was strawberry ice cream in the freezer. He didn’t want to deal with reaction if they didn’t.

“Anything else?” he asked.

“And a BLT with extra tomatoes,”

“I’ll get started on that,”

Steve changed into sweatpants and a baggy shirt. He took a few minutes to studied their bedroom. This would be the nesting room. Their scents were strongly engrained to the bedroom and would help further bond the pup to them. The guest room down the hall would be where he had the baby. He didn’t want the stresses of labor ruin the peacefulness and safety of their bedroom. The smell of food drew him near the kitchen. He took a seat at the counter, watching the alpha cook.

"We're sleeping in the guest bedroom until the baby comes,"

“Which guest room?”

“The one next to the nursery,”

“That’s where you want to have the baby?”

Steve nodded.

“I’ll start moving blanket and pillows into our room,”

“Thank you,”

Tony put the plate in front him with three sandwiches. Steve dug in. When he was done Tony gave him a tub of strawberry ice cream. Steve blushed. He took the tub and settled on the couch.

"You don't have to stay with me, Tony. You can go work on your armor," said Steve.

“Thanks, sweetheart,”

He kissed Steve on the cheek. The omega pulled him down for a deeper kiss. He went to the lab to work. Days passed by smoothly. They were on the last day of December. (December 31)

For at least the hundredth today Steve saw Tony checking his phone. They were supposed to be enjoying dinner.

“No, news on Happy yet,”

“What if he doesn’t wake up?”

“He’s a strong man he’ll wake up from this,”

Steve squeezed the alpha's hand. Words weren't the comfort his alpha needed. He yawned. His body urged him to sleep. The closer he grew to his due the more exhausted him became.

"You don't have to stay up with me," said Tony.

“Make sure you come to bed sometime tonight,” said Steve.

“I will,”

“You better. I can’t drag you to bed anymore,”

Tony kissed the omega goodnight. Mark 5 was almost fully repaired. There were a few updates he needed to add. Around two in the morning he went up the penthouse. He silently pushed open the door to the guest bedroom. There was actually enough room for him in bed. He joined his mate. At four in the morning his phone rang. He quickly answered, not wanting to wake the sleeping being next to him.

“Is this Tony Stark?”

“Yes,”

“This is Dr. Kildare we spoke before when Mr. Hogan was admitted,”

“Is he alright?!”

“He’s awake, Mr. Stark,”

“I’ll be there,”

He hung up.

“Steve,”

The omega growled being woken up.

“Tony?”

“Happy, he’s awake,”

“That’s great, honey. You can go,”

“But the baby,”

"If I go into labor I'll call you. Go check on your friend. Take your suit with you,"

“I’ll be back a soon as I can,”

“You better be,”

He was already losing Steve to sleep. Tony kissed the omega goodbye. He couldn’t waste any time. It would be fastest to take the suit. He put on the armor speed toward California. The suit would have more than enough energy to get him there and back.

Steve woke at eight and started working on breakfast. He felt slightly at edge knowing his alpha wasn’t home.

“Jarvis run a security check,”

“Of course,”

Steve lost interest in his cereal.

“The tower is secure,”

He paused when there was slight cramping in his abdomen. This level of discomfort he'd grown used in this term of his pregnancy. General discomfort was normal for anyone this far along. The pain faded off and on.

Tony got to the hospital. It hadn’t taken him long for California. He found peace in the sky flying at top speeds. A nurse led him to Happy’s room. The man was in rough shape but he was breathing on his own.

“What you doing here, boss?”

His voice was raspy and hoarse.

“I had to check on my Forehead of Security,”

Happy gave a tired smile.

“Glad, your back, Hap,”

“Steve?”

“He’s fine going to pop any day now,”

“Why are you here?”

"I had to be here,"

He filled Happy in on what he’d missed.

“You were right about Killian along, Happy,”

Steve was in the master bedroom trying to get ready to his stander. There was sharp cramping pain his lower back. Then he realized what his making. The startings of a large nest stood before him. No, these had to be Braxton Hicks contractions. He went to the kitchen normally when he ate false contractions came to an end. The cramping returned. Instinct urged him to return to his nest making. He was certain he was entering the early stages of labor.

“Jarvis can you keep track of my contraction,”

“Yes,”

Steve took a breath. He had to call Tony without sending him into a panic. Steve slowly lowered himself into a chair. There was no way of doing this without panicking him. He called his mate.

Tony’s phone vibrated against his leg. He picked it up immediately.

“Hey, sweetheart,”

“You need to come home,”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong but I’m pretty sure I’ve entered the early stages of labor,”

The color drained from his face.

“Boss?”

“Tony?”

“I’m coming, sweetheart,”

The phone slipped from his hand he was going to be today.

“Boss?”

“Steve’s in labor,”

Chapter Text

He had to get to his mate. Of course, as soon as he leaves Steve goes into labor that's his luck. He ran to the roof of the hospital, tossing the suitcase to ground. It transformed into a full suit of armor. It opened for him, locking around him. He took off at supersonic speed.

Steve was working on his nest when someone entered his den. He grabbed his shield. Carefully, he entered the living room. He relaxed when he saw Edith.

"Hey, Steve,"

"Hey,"

Her was scent hidden by scent blockers. Four female beta nurses with her.

“Where’s Tony?”

“He’s on his way home,” said Jarvis.

"How much longer?"

“It shouldn’t be much longer. Do you want me to call him?”

“No, Jarvis,”

He eyed to four nurses, strangers. Steve growled when they approached.

"They are with me. They've all been thoroughly vetted by S.H.I.E.L.D. and approved by Natasha. Introduce yourselves,"

“Taylor Callahan,”

“Carla Reyes,”

“Jackie Falco,”

“Christina Rosenthal,”

“Nice to meet all of you,”

Their names did little to calm him. He winced.

“Sit down,”

Steve glanced back at nesting room. He needed to finish it before his labor became too intense.

"This won't take long," said Edith.

Steve twitched. He glanced at the elevator. Alpha wasn't here. He should have never sent him away.

"What's the space between your contractions?" she asked.

“I don’t know,”

He hadn't paid attention. His instincts had him focused on sol activity of building his nest for after birth.

“They’ve been irregular in there spacing so far, but they've each lasted a minute,” said Jarvis.

“How’s your pain level?” said Edith.

“It varies from one to five,” said Steve.

“When did this start?”

“Eight this morning,”

"Steve, you're in the first stage of early labor. The slow phase,"

“How long does the last?”

“It’s different for every patient. I had an omega in the slow stage of labor for four days,” said Jackie.

“Four days,” he said.

"It will speed up when Tony returns. This is your body’s way of protecting her, keeping her in where she’s safe until your mate returns," said Edith.

“I’m going to my nest,”

“Wait, do you want to keep the cord blood?”

“What is it?”

"Its blood drawn from the umbilical cord after birth,"

“Why should I keep it?” asked Steve.

"It can be used in the treatment of diseases. There's less chance of rejection if it's taken from you,”

“She’s a super soldier. Why would she need it?”

“Better safe than sorry," said Edith.

"I'll keep it, but it doesn't leave the tower. Jarvis do we have the facilities to keep something like that here temporarily?"

“We do,”

Steve returned to his nest.

Tony had to slow down when he entered the city. The tower was within sight. He landed on the penthouse deck. His armor disengaged, folding back into a suitcase. He ran inside.

“Steve!”

“Shh,”

He snarled at Edith. His opinion on her hadn't changed. He didn't want her near his mate, but her presence was necessary. Four betas nurses were with her. They introduced themselves. He couldn't care less about their names. His mate was the only thing that mattered.

“Where is he?”

“Sleeping, don’t wake him,”

Tony nodded.

“How is he?”

"He's in early labor could be in for several more hours," said Edith.

"How long does it normally last?"

“Eight to twelve hours,”

“How long has he been it?”

“Four hours, if he wakes up try and get him moving. It will help him dilate and move the baby’s head into position,”

“Why haven’t you gotten him to move?”

“He’s a bit testy. It's normal for omegas to be defensive in this time. We've each gotten our share black eyes and unintentional kicks from omegas in labor, with Steve, it poses it a bit more of a threat,"

"So it's alright if he breaks my limbs," said Tony.

“He’s your mate,”

He paused when he saw the massive nest Steve built in the master bedroom. He went to the guest bedroom. Steve made a simpler nest there only made of several thin cotton sheets and blankets. The omega was spread out. Even in sleep, he looked uncomfortable. Tony sat on the floor next to the bed.

Cramping pain forced Steve from his slumber. He clenched the sheets as he worked through the pain. A hand traveled through his hair. It provided a minuscule distraction. The ache passed for the moment. Tony sat by his side.

“You’re back,”

“You couldn’t keep me away,”

Steve was breathing heavily.

“Do you need anything?”

“Water,”

Tony got him a glass of water. He took a few sips before losing interest.

"Do want to try moving?"

Steve laughed. He glared when he realized the alpha was serious.

"No,"

Tony didn't press the matter.

“Want me to massage your back?” he asked.

Steve nodded, sitting up so Tony could move behind him. Those deft fingers worked into his muscles, working out the knots. He moaned. Steve braced himself against the alpha as he worked through another cramping pain. It was impossible to find a comfortable position. He was awake now and doubted he would fall back asleep.

“Help me up,”

Tony pulled him up.

“Get me a pair of shorts,”

Tony darted into their bedroom grabbing him a pair of gym shorts. He helped him into them. Steve growled when the nurses came near. The omega moved closer to him.

“We’re taking a walk,”

One of the nurses got up to join them.

“No,” said Steve.

“We’ll have, Jarvis report if anything is amiss,” Tony.

Edith nodded. It was a reasonable request. Omegas were protective and skittish of strangers during their labor. It could prove deadly to push their presence on Steve when it was so clearly unwanted. The couple would seek them out them when they were needed. The elevator door closed behind them.

“What floor?” asked Tony.

“Gym,”

There was an indoor track there that was rarely used. They could walk there without being disturbed. The large room was empty. Jarvis had sealed off all non-business floors of the tower. The elevator stopped on the gym. They slowly stepped onto the track. Steve took his hand, entwining their fingers.

"How's Happy?"

“Beaten and bruised, but nothing can keep that man down,”

“When will he be out?”

"A week probably more. I had the nurse set the TV to his channel so he could binge watch his favorites show,"

"Which is?"

“Downton Abbey,”

“Never heard of it,”

“It’s a British TV show. He thinks it classy,”

“Is it?”

“Not my kind of show,”

“It’s not Top Gear,”

“Exactly,”

Steve groaned, clenching down on Tony’s hand. He braced against the alpha. They stood there for a minute as he worked through the pain. Tony cradled his hand as soon as he let go.

“Tony,”

“It’s nothing, sweetheart,”

“I broke something,”

“No,”

Tony hid his hand behind his back.

“Let me see,”

He snagged the alpha’s hand from behind his back. Steve had further damaged his alpha’s already broken fingers.

“Get the first aid kit,”

"Steve, it isn't that bad,"

"Tony, I'm currently in the process of bringing our child into the world. Follow the understanding that I am always right until this pup is out of me. Got it!”

“Understood,”

Tony jogged over and got the kit. Steve was sitting on a bench. The omega took his hand. Steve splinted his hand with athletic tape. He kissed Tony's hand.

“Sorry, alpha,”

“Alpha?”

Steve blinked away the brief feral haze. He’d rarely called Tony by such a title. His inner omega wanted to call upon his alpha's natural urge to protect.

They continued walking. Tony timed the space of Steve's contractions. Every ten minutes for exactly a minute. Thankfully, every time one hit Steve released his hand.
Two hours later Steve was growing more and more irritated. (6 hours)

Instinct wouldn't allow him to remain still. He walked almost the entire time only pausing briefly to steady himself as he worked through the cramping ache.

“How much longer?”

“Could be six hours or more,”

Steve almost bared his teeth and snarled.

“Wasn’t the purpose of this to speed things along,”

“Mostly to help put the pup’s head in position,”

Steve groaned locking his jaw. His teeth ground against each other as he bared through cramping aching pain. Tony rubbed his back trying to soothe him. He took a breath as it passed.

“I need to rest,”

"I'll get a bath ready for. Then you can try and sleep,"

Steve nodded. He leaned against his mate. Tony wrapped his arm around him. He followed him to the master bedroom. Tony tried setting him down on the nest but he refused. That was for after. He didn’t want to risk ruining it. Steve lowered himself to a bench the cushioned bench in the closet.

"Jarvis, get the bath ready,"

“Of course, sir,”

Tony went to the bathroom to check on the bath. His heart was racing in his chest. It was finally time. This was really happening. In a matter of hours, he would be a father. Panic bubbled in his chest. He forced it down. No, he had to stay calm. This was about Steve. He needed to be there for him, be a good alpha. He wasn't important. Tony took a breath. He tested the water. It was perfect.

He went to get Steve. The omega had stripped. He only wore a towel loosely around his waist. Steve braced against him. Tony lowered Steve into the tub. The omega purred loudly as the jets worked into his muscles. Tony sat on the edge of the tub running his fingers through Steve’s hair. He washed the omega’s hair, causing Steve to sink further into the water. The omega tilted his head back for him to rinse out the shampoo.

He watched as his mate soaked. His belly poked out from the water. Those dazzling blue eyes were closed. Steve was at peace for the moment. He was so beautiful. A brief kiss pushed him from his shock. There was a slight blush across the omegas.

“You still look at me the same,”

“Why would I look at you any other way?”

Steve glanced down at his large stomach.

“As beautiful as ever,”

Steve sunk back into the water.

"How much longer do you want to stay in there?" asked Tony.

"A little longer,"

That translated into twenty to thirty minutes. Jarvis would keep the water at the perfect temp for Steve. He scented the omega’s neck, checking for anything that may be wrong. Steve nosed against his neck. After half an hour he was ready to get out. (7 hours) Tony drained the tub and helped him out. Then helped him into a pair of shorts.

Tony followed him into the birthing room. He lowered himself into bed. The alpha gently rubbed lotion into his into his skin. Then towel dried his hair. He smiled. In his time he'd be the luckiest omega in his apartment building having such an attentive alpha. All the omegas would have been jealous. Seventy years ago Tony would have been kicked out of the room and he'd be left to go through this alone.

"Thank you,"

"Hm, what for?"

"For being here,"

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be,"

He yawned. All he wanted was sleep but the cramping agony coiling down his back put an end to that hope. He whimpered, clenching down the mattress. Steve bit a pillow stopping himself from screaming. His eyes watered as the seconds ticked by.

“Steve,”

He gasped letting going of the pillow. His pain scale with his contractions were two to six before now. It had been decades since he'd last felt anything at this level suffering. He was panting.

“Do I need to get Edith?”

Steve shook his head.

“Only a particularly bad contraction,”

Steve tried sleeping but couldn’t.

“Do you want to discuss the whole name thing?”

“I told you, we’ll know her name when we meet her,”

“All three are great names,”

“They are,”

There was no distraction from the building pain.

“I still think Ali is better,” said Tony.

“What?”

“A better boxer,”

“We’re having this argument again?”

“Yeah,”

“I won't deny the Ali was a talented boxer,"

"So you admit he's good,"

"I never said he wasn't,"

"He won fifty-one fights,"

"And lost five. While Joe Louis only lost three of his sixty-nine fights. He had fifty-two knockouts and held the heavyweight title from 1937 to 1949. Louis still holds that record. I listened to his big fight on the radio,”

“On the radio, huh,”

“Shut up,”

Steve's brows furrowed as worked through his labors pains. Tony got into the bed with his mate, moving behind him so Steve could brace against him. He massaged Steve's lower back trying to relieve the ache. The omega collapsed against him in a temporary state of relaxation.

“Do you really want me to shut up?”

“No,”

They talked sports for an hour. (8 hours) Steve groaned as that cramping repetitive pain returned. He so desperately wanted to reach out for Tony hand. It was an anchor he so wanted.

Tony caught the gesture.

“I’ll be right back,”

“Where are you going?”

“I need to get something. I won’t be long,”

“You better not,”

Tony rushed down to the lab. He grabbed a pair of gauntlets. The newly repaired Dum-E came wheeling over to him with a toolbox. He flipped open the lid, seeing if the bot forgot anything. Tony put a few extra things in the box.

Steve stared at the bedroom door. His was only gone a few minutes and he was already growing anxious. He whimpered. It was a pathetic sound which he despised making. He covered his mouth. His panicked alpha dashed into the room. Tony dropped everything him and joined him in bed.

He nuzzled against Steve, nosing against his throat. Tony thoroughly scented the omega, checking for anything concerning. Nothing was wrong but he was slow to pull away afraid something may suddenly change. Steve grabbed his arm when he tried leaving the bed. He whined. Tony ran his fingers through Steve’s hair.

“I’m not going anywhere, only getting my tools,” he said.

Steve slowly released his arm. He kissed the omega. Tony grabbed his toolbox, placing it by the bed, not wanting to ruin the small birthing nest Steve made.

“What are you making?”

“You want to hold my hand and I want you to,”

“I’ll break it,”

“Not once I’m done with these,”

Tony went through a thoroughly detailed plan of how the gauntlets worked. Steve was out after ten minutes. Tony purred deeply. Hopefully, it would help Steve sleep through the rest of his early labor. Steve was asleep against his chest. He tried reaching for his tools. The motion was impossible without waking his mate.

“Jarvis,”

“Yes, sir,”

“Send Dum-E up here,”

“Of course, sir,”

Dum-E rolled into the room. It happily twitched its claws. Tony worked quietly strengthening his gloves so they'd be able to handle the force Steve could exert. Steve had been asleep for nearly four hours. (8:00pm 12 hours) His limbs were numb from Steve's weight. He had to move. Tony carefully moved from the bed and paced the room, trying to regain some feeling in his legs. Steve whined in his sleep. For the last few hours, he watched pained expressions crossed the sleeping omega's face. Even in sleep, Steve wasn't free from the strain of labor. It would only get worse. He went to the bathroom and got a drink.

“How is he?” asked Edith.

“Asleep,"

He’d forgotten that they were even there. An agonized cry pierced the calm.

“Steve!”

Tony ran into the room. Steve was curled up the fetal position shaking in pain. A thin trail of blood leaked from between his legs.

“ALPHA!!”

Tony went to his side. Steve pressed against him, trying to hide. The omega tensed, snarling deeply when Edith and her nurses came into the room. Tony struggled to keep control over his inner alpha.

"Mr. Stark, you have to calm him, break him from this feral state," said Edith.

Tony nodded. There was no choice but to use a command. He locked eyes with Steve. The omega kept his gaze.

“Be still,”

Steve went still despite the intensifying pain. He whimpered, begging to be released of the command. Steve snarled when Edith neared. Alpha distrusted the woman. If alpha didn't trust her why should he? He was unable to move. Why wouldn't alpha release him? He whined.

“Shh, it will be okay," Tony hushed.

Edith moved between the omega's legs. Steve bared his teeth a snarled, snapping his jaws. He kicked away from the woman. She was quick enough to avoid the attack. A deep rumbling growl from low in his throat echoed through the room. Everyone stepped back.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,”

Tony scruffed Steve. The omega went limp. Steve was crying. It tore at his heart. He wasn't sure if it was solely caused the physical pain or the emotion inflicted by using an alpha command. Tony kept Steve scruffed, knowing as soon as he let go the omega would strike.

“Hurry, up and check him,”

Edith moved a sheet of Steve’s legs. She pulled down the omega’s shorts. Then spread his legs checking how dilated he was.

“His six centimeters dilated,”

Edith moved away.

"I'll have to check again in an hour,"

Tony released his hold. He was panting. Tony felt as if he'd somehow violated Steve's trust.

"Steve, I need you to come back. Please, sweetheart,"

Steve's pupils retracted to normal size. He bit down on a pillow, trying to hide his agony. His form quaked with deep pain. He writhed. Never in his life had he felt anything like. His muscles contorted angrily against him.

Tony watched helplessly as Steve struggled. There was nothing he could do. This was a natural process, which he could only watch. Steve's jaw was so tightly clenched Tony feared the omega's teeth may shatter.

“Steve, look at me,”

Their eyes met.

“You don’t have to hold it in, Steve. You can scream and shout as much as you want nobody will think any less you,”

Steve cried out. Deeply gasping for breath as he worked through the process. Tony was powerless. It was clear that the omega didn’t want to be touched, so he sat loyally the bed. He placed a cool cloth over Steve’s forehead. An hour slowly ticked by. (13 hours) Edith walked into the bedroom.

Steve glared at her. He may be in a proper state of mind, but instinct wouldn't allow him to trust her. She moved to the foot of the bed. He backed away.

"Steve, I won't hurt you,"

“I know. I just can’t,”

Edith sighed. If Tony trusted her from the start Steve wouldn’t be so suspicious of her now at such a critical time.

“I need to check your progress,”

He glanced at Tony.

"Its safe, sweetheart. If she does anything to harm you or the pup she knows what will happen," he said.

Steve nodded.

“Spread your legs for me,”

He did as told. Steve despised being spread out like some exhibit with near strangers gawking between his legs. He whined as Edith pushed a finger into him.

“You only dilated a half centimeter since I last checked. If it continues to follow this pattern you’ll have seven hours left in your active labor,”

Steve twitched. Edith and her nurses left. His fingers tore into the mattress as he suffered through another contraction. He screamed into the pillow. Tony got into bed with him. The alpha was wearing his gauntlets. Those cool metal fingers were wonderful against his heated skin. He purred, pressing against their touch.

“Take a deep breath and let go,”

He rested his head against Tony chest, trying to focus on keeping his breathing steady. Tony offered him his hand. He held it tightly. Steve took to counting down the minutes in his head to focus on something other than the pain. By two in the morning, his water hadn't broken.

The urge to bared down push was becoming overwhelming. The cramping agony left him gasping for breath. He questioned if he had the strength to push the pup from him. Edith wanted to wait to break his water, wanting to give it another few hours for the process to happen naturally.

Tony helped Steve in a pair of shorts. The alpha helped him to his feet. He needed his mate's strength, he was scared. This was something entirely new to him, something that it failed once before. Tony helped him to his feet. He wrapped his arm around Tony’s shoulder. They walked around the penthouse together. Tony stopped whenever Steve needed.

“I need a break,”

Steve leaned against the bar. Tony stood next to him, his hand gently massaging his lower back. He nuzzled against Steve's neck, breathing in his scent. The earthy, metallic, clove scent relaxed him. It helped soothe his anxiety. Edith and the nurses gave them space.

“I’m nervous, Tony,”

“That’s okay,”

He grasped the alpha forearm. There was a pop. Liquid gushed from between his legs wetting his shorts. An instant relief swept over through him, but a stabbing pain swiftly followed it. Tony caught him before he could collapse.

“I’ve got you, sweetheart,”

Steve whimpered.

“Get him to the birthing room,” said Edith.

Tony led him to the birthing room, carefully lowering him to bed.

“Do you want me to take off your shorts or Tony?”

“Tony,”

He nodded. Tony pushed down his mate’s short, tossing them to ground.

“I need you to move down, Steve,”

He moved down the bed.

"Good, now spread your legs and keep your knees bent for me. Mr. Stark, I want you to sit behind him so he can brace against you," she said.

Steve took his alpha’s hand.

“Steve, with your contraction I want you to push,”

It was a task he pushed down. He followed the motion with every contraction he bore down. It was a pattern, which made the intolerable pain somehow bearable. Steve lost track of time.

“She’s crowning. Give me a big push,” said Edith.

Steve pushed, pressing back against his mate. He felt the stretch of her shoulders.

“One more big push, Steve,”

He gave it one more big push. A cry broke through, announcing she was here.

“Tony, do you want to cut the cord,”

Tony nodded. He swept up in the shock of the moment.

“She’s beautiful,” said Steve.

The newborn pup was placed on his chest.

“What’s her name?” asked Tony.

“Piper,”

A sudden light headiness ruined the perfection of the moment.

“He’s hemorrhaging. We need to get him into surgery,”

He gave her to Tony.

"Steve, look at me. I promise I'll take care of her,"

"We need to get him to surgery,"

One of the nurses tried taking her from his arms. He snarled.

"Sleep, we'll be here when you wake up. I promise,"

Chapter Text

Steve fell under the spell of the command. He was loaded onto a gurney and taken away. Tony's heart ached. The life of his mate was in the hands of another. He wanted to be with him. Steve wanted him here, watching over their daughter. Whatever his worries were he had to save them for another time.

The room felt too large. He was alone with his daughter. Her small delicate form was huddled against his chest. Those newly opened blue eyes gazed up at him. They held such a deep fascination, unaware of turmoil he was forced to endure by being here.

Her head fit in his palm. He sired this perfect being. She stole his breath in the most amazing way. Nothing he'd ever create would compare to her perfection. Her tiny hand wrapped around his finger. Tear sprung from his eyes. He kissed her softly on the forehead.

“Mr. Stark?”

It was the youngest of the nurses. He scowled at her. She mid length curly auburn hair and gray eyes. Nothing about her was threatening. That wasn't reason enough to trust her.

"I'm sorry to disrupt,"

“You are?”

"Christina Rosenthal,"

He snarled when she stepped closer, keeping her posture small.

"I'm an apprentice midwife," she said.

She offered him a blanket for Piper. He wrapped her in it. Tony followed her to the bathroom. She readied the shower, setting it to the perfect temperature for a newborn.

“You need to shower,”

His pants were stained with blood. He stunk of Steve's distress and sweat.

“You don’t want her to know your scent like this,”

She turned away as he changed. Before he could get into the shower, she handed him Piper.

“Be gentle don’t get water in her eyes, nose, or mouth,” said Christina nudge him into the shower.

Tony bathed his daughter. He feared his callused hands may hurt her, but she leaned into them seeking thier touch. Her scent came through. She smelled of honey and lavender. The gentleness of her scent marked her as omega. His protective instinct grew. No matter how old she grew he protect her. He shut off the water and got out. Christina was unfazed by his nudity. She handed him some clothes.

“Nice and clean. Where’s her nursery?”

“Bedroom next to the master,”

"Let's put her in a diaper,"

Tony nodded. He laid Piper on the changing table. Christina handed him one.

“Give it a try,”

Tony carefully lifted Piper's legs, tucking the diaper underneath her. He quickly fastened the tabs.

“Almost perfect,” said Christina.

“Almost?”

"You put it on backward. It's a common mistake for first-time parents,"

He redid it.

“Do you have something of Steve's that he recently wore that we can swaddle her in?"

Tony froze. He clenched the changing table.

“Will he be okay?”

The man's head was bowed. His gaze focused on his pup. There was such confliction to him. Prideful and joyful at the birth of his first child, but worried and fearful of the fate of his mate.

“It’s serious, but Dr. Star is a skilled physician. She expected this may happen and made sure plenty of his blood type stocked,” said Christina.

"What is it? His blood type"

“He’s O-,”

Tony smirked.

“How fitting. Him being the universal giver while I’m the universal taker,” he said.

“It’s only blood, Mr. Stark,”

Tony nodded. The alpha wasn't fully there. Christina didn't let her nerves get to her. Edith warned her that Mr. Stark was a difficult man to work with. To her, he seemed a man lost to worry. She needed to get his attention. A single touch to his shoulder was enough to earn that.

“In the closet there should be something he wore in the hamper,”

“I’ll go get that,”

Piper reached for him, wrapping her hand tightly around his finger, with a power unusual for an infant. He shouldn't be enjoying this moment alone. Steve should be here. Christina returned with one of Steve shirts.

“We need to fill out her birth certificate,”

“Name?”

“Piper Sarah Margret Stark,”

Christina took Piper from the changing table on a scale.

“7 pounds five ounces. 18 inches,”

She placed Piper's feet in black inkpad, pressing her feet against a piece of paper. Christina washed the ink from Piper's tiny feet. They went to the master bedroom.

“Take off your shirt,”

“Why?”

"Skin to skin contact helps a pup bond with their parents,"

He took a seat in the rocking chair. Piper was placed in his arms. She was loosely wrapped in Steve's shirt. Piper pressed against him, seeking the warmth and comfort of his skin. He purred. She made a cooing sound. Piper yawned, closing her eyes. He rocked gently back and forth. Holding her, he realized how right Yinsen was. Before Steve and Piper, he had nothing. Now that he had them he would anything to protect them.

“I will mistakes, Piper. God, I'll make mistakes, but I promise I’ll always be there when you really need me,”

He wouldn't fail her as Howard failed him. That mistake wouldn't be repeated by another Stark alpha. It was 5:00 in the morning. (January 2, 2013) Less than an hour ago his mate was wheeled off for surgery.

“Please, let him be okay,”

Edith took a breath she’d stopped the bleeding. This proved to be the most stressing procedure she'd performed. It wasn’t only the looming threat of what Stark would do to her if she failed. Keeping Steve under was a difficult task. Every five minutes he start to come to. If he’d woken up it would be the death of them. Steve full healing capabilities returned. He was recovering and showing signs of regaining consciousness. They had to get him back to his family before he woke up completely.

“Let’s get him upstairs,”

They pushed his gurney into the elevator.

“Sir, Steve has made it out of surgery. They are bringing him up now,”

Steve was wheeled into their bedroom. The nurse expertly transferred Steve into bed. Tony carefully got up not wanting to disturb Piper.

"His surgery was a complete success,"

The weight on his shoulders lifted. His pack was safe.

"He'll be fine. As a precaution, I want him on bed rest for three days,"

"He's won't like that,"

"Normally, I would recommend a week. Don't be concerned if there's some spotting the next few days. When he wakes up he may be out of it,” said Edith.

“How long will that be?”

“A few minutes maybe an hour,” she said.

She handed him a vial of blood.

“What’s this?”

"Cord blood, Jarvis can vouch for its authenticity,"

“Thank you, Edith,”

If the moment weren't so bitter she would have smiled. To finally gain a small semblance of Stark's trust to have already betrayed it.

“I'm only doing my job, Mr. Stark. Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions,”

Tony nodded.

"Don't drop this butterfingers,"

He offered the vial to the bot. Dum-E took it carefully in its clawed hand.

"Jarvis, make sure he gets that to the lab,"

"Of course, sir,"

Tony held Piper in one arm as tucked Steve into the nest. He was exhausted and his shoulder twinged painfully. Sleep could wait until he was sure Steve was safe. He joined his mate in bed. Piper lay on his chest asleep. He rested his hand on her back. Her eyes opened.

“Morning, sweetie,”

Her tiny fingers traced over his arc reactor, fascinated by the soft blue light.

“An arc reactor,”

She raised her head, focusing in on his voice.

“Keeps daddy alive,”

She tried getting closer but was too young to move on her own. He brought her further up his chest. Her litte hand rested on his the reactor.

"Amazing huh? It's nothing compare the man that brought you into the world. He's already done so much for you,"

Steve groaned. A deep soreness penetrated him to the core. The slightest movement sprung forth pain. He heard Tony humming an off-tune song.

“Looks like Papa is waking up, sweet pea,”

He slowly opened his eyes. A small adorable bundle was curled against Tony's chest. All he could see was tuft thick dark brown hair. He hurriedly sat up to get a better look at her.

“Can I hold her?”

Tony smiled.

“Wait,”

“What’s wrong?”

“What if I hurt her?”

“You won’t,”

Tony put her in his arms. She didn't weigh anything. He unwrapped her from the fabric. Her blue eyes locked on his. She smiled. It was the purest expression he'd ever witnessed. Steve nuzzled her, taking in her scent. She smelled of lavender and honey. He counted ten perfect fingers and toes. A deep incomparable love engulged him.

“She’s perfect, Tony,”

“We made her how could she not be?”

Steve couldn’t stop a tear from leaking out.

“Steve?”

“I’m so happy,”

“Me too sweetheart,”

Steve quickly wiped them away. His chest grew damp. Piper licked her lips and whined. He took her to his chest, gasping when she latched. Steve purred.

Tony moved closer, taking in the beautiful scene playing out before him. He wrapped an arm around Steve. The omega leaned into him, nuzzling him briefly before returning his attention to Piper. She pulled away yawning. Steve put her over his shoulder burped her. He set her between them.

“I love you, Piper,” he whispered.

She cuddled against his chest. He wrapped a protective arm around her. Sleep followed swiftly.

Tony kissed both of them on the forehead before fading into sleep as well. Whining woke him only a few hours later. The smell instantly told him what was wrong with the infant. He groaned he'd been dreading this moment. When he to take her from Steve, the omega's eyes snapped open. He snarled at him, tucking the pup closely to him. Several seconds went by before Steve realized it was him.

“Tony, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to-

“It’s fine. I need to change her,”

Steve smiled.

"You're going to change her?"

“Yes,”

“I want to see this,"

Tony laid Piper on her back. He took a deep breath before undoing the tabs. Steve laughed when he made a gagging sound. He wasn't going throw up! He powered through it and quickly disposed of it.

“How can something so little make such a stink?”

She just smiled up at him.

"I'm impressed,"

"Dum-E will have something new to learn,"

“No,”

“Why not?”

“You should get used to it. You won't always have a robot with you,"

“You know full well I could make that happen,”

“You won’t,”

“And how do you know that?”

“Because I told you to,”

Steve batted his eyes lashes. The alpha became lost for a moment. Steve smirked it was good to know that trick still worked.

“Please, don’t teach her that puppy dog look to her. I barely resist it from you let alone her,”

Tony returned her to the center of the nest.

“Tony,”

“Hmm,”

"Thank you,"

"For what?"

"For giving me this life,"

"I didn't give you it, Steve. We made it together,"

Tony smirked at how sappy he sounded but it was true. He kissed Steve slowly, fully savoring his mate. Steve twitched uncomfortably.

"What is it?"

"I have to go to the bathroom. I don't think I can get up,"

Tony got up, bringing a wheelchair over to Steve. The omega glared at it.

“I can’t support you, sweetheart, my shoulder is killing me,”

Tony was wearing a brace. Steve got into the wheelchair. He was only wearing boxers. It felt as if he was wearing a diaper with all the padding.

"What about Piper?"

"Jarvis can keep on eye on her,"

“Yes, sir it would be my pleasure to watch over the little miss,”

“Now might to be the best time to mention this but you’re on bed rest for three days,”

“Why?”

“I could have lost you today,”

He took the alpha’s hand.

“I’m with you to end line,”

It was once reserved for Bucky, but Tony more than deserved. He would go through hell and back for him.

“You are too good for me,” said Steve.

Tony smirked but didn't say anything.

"Let's get you to the bathroom"

Tony helped him to the toilet.

“I’ll be fine from here,”

The alpha gave him a doubtful look. Tony left leaving the door halfway open. He relieved himself. Steve felt filthy. He reeked of sweat and stress. Splotches of dried blood stilled marked his legs.

“Tony,”

The alpha came in.

“I need a bath,”

“Jarvis get the tub ready,”

The tub filled. Tony helped him into the bath.

“What about Piper?”

“She’s asleep. Jarvis is watching her. He’s the best baby monitor around,”

"She's breathing clearly. Her diaper is clean and her temperature is 97.5 degrees the average for newborns," said Jarvis.

Steve relaxed, letting Tony wash him. Once clean and dressed he was more than willing to return to bed. He cuddled up with Piper. She cooed happily, pressing against him.

“We’ll have to announce her birth,”

“I don’t want her to be hounded by the press,”

“She won’t be,”

He would have to tighten up security. Maybe buy a house somewhere out of the way to give his family some well-deserved privacy. It would be good for her to have a yard to run around in. Rebuilding in Malibu wasn't an option. Neither of them would feel safe there after what happened. He would have Jarvis look around.

"I want to keep her to ourselves for a while at least for the first week. We can tell our friends. I know you want to brag to Rhodes,"

The first week of a newborn's life was spent solely with its direct family so the pup would grow accustomed with the pack's scent.

“She’s worth bragging about,”

Steve nodded.

"Natasha won't forgive us if we don't send her a picture," said Steve.

Tony quickly snapped a photo of Piper on his phone.

“You want something to eat,” asked Tony.

“A bagel and coffee,”

Tony left to make him breakfast. Steve sighed happily. He had an amazing mate. His pup rested peacefully on his chest. She was lucky to be born into this era. Piper has so many opportunities open to her, ones he that could only dream of. Being Tony Stark's daughter would open the more stubborn doors.

“Who will you be, Piper?”

“We’ll find out,”

Tony set breakfast on the bedside table. Steve handed her off. She cooed too young to purr. Tony settled into the nest with him. Piper rested comfortably on the alpha's chest.

Those bright blue eyes stared up at him. They held an unconditional love he'd never experienced. It was heart melting. He would do his best to be worthy of it. Nothing could be in the way of protecting her. The clump of shrapnel in his chest would always pose a risk. Why not remove a risk he controlled.

“What’s on your mind?”

"I want to remove the shrapnel from my chest,"

Steve dropped his bagel, stunned at the bomb put in his lap.

"That's major surgery, Tony. A shoulder is one thing this is your heart,"

“I’m not a super soldier I don’t heal instantly, but someone can simply unplug me and I’m gone. I've endured it before. I don't want that worry looming over us. You have a voice in this if you say no I won’t go forward with it,”

“I don’t know, Tony,”

He saw the advantages of getting it removed. There was also blaring fear of potentially losing his mate.

“I thought it couldn’t be removed,”

"There's a doctor in China, Wu that can do it,"

Steve bit his lip.

“I need time, Tony. This is big,”

"Alright, Steve,"

It was asking a lot, but it needed to be done. He couldn't make the decision without Steve's permission. Steve pressed close to him, lost in his thoughts. Piper stirred on chest whining.

“Steve,”

“Hmm?”

“I think she’s hungry,”

Steve brought her to his chest, humming to her as she nursed. He entered a state of relaxation.

“I’m sorry for dropping that on you,”

“It’s fine,”

Steve and Piper settled down. Tony left the nest. He kissed his pup and mate before leaving.

“Jarvis, call Banner,”

After several rings Banner finally picked.

“Stark?”

"How soon can you be in New York?"

"Wha?"

"Where are you?"

“Vanuatu, why the rush?”

“The baby came,”

“I’ll be there in a week,”

Tony wanted to get back to his mate. He sent a text and photo to Rhodes.

Your goddaughter

Not even ten seconds later Rhodes called.

“Hey, Rhodes,”

"Congratulations, Tony. What's her name?"

“Piper Sarah Margret Stark,”

“When did this happen?”

"Seven hours ago,"

“I can’t wait to meet her,”

“I have to go,”

“I won't keep you,”

“And don’t show anyone the picture,”

“I won’t,”

“Bye Rhodes,”

Tony joined his family. He watched as they slept. There was no urge to leave in favor of his lab. He could stay like this for hours. The week passed smoothly, well as smoothly as it could with a newborn. (January 9, 2013)

Steve got up before Tony. Piper’s sleeping pattern was more difficult for the alpha. He tucked her in Tony's arms. It wouldn't be much longer until she would need to nurse. She hadn't displayed any signs of the strength that broke his ribs on a weekly basis. Maybe that power was dormant at the moment.

He went to the bathroom and showered. Steve stopped in front of the mirror. He stared his reflection, glaring at the muffin top he’d formed. It was a first for him. He needed to hit the gym. Part of him was tempted to shave, but he doubted he had the time. He took Piper from Tony’s arm before she could start crying.

“Shh, sugar lump. Let’s not wake, daddy up,”

Tony was a godsend. He’d make breakfast for him, changed Piper, and made sure he was comfortable. Tony earned some rest.

Steve put her in a fresh diaper and onesie. He went into the kitchen and put her down in a playpen. His stomach growled. He cracked several eggs into the bowl. Piper wailed, instantly quieting when he picked her up. He sighed Tony could take over breakfast when he woke up. Steve grabbed a protein bar from cabinet before settling down on the couch.

“Jarvis put Downton Abbey,”

While on bed rest he’d binged the first season of the show. He set her down on the pillow. The pup swiftly latched. He purrs grew louder when his alpha nuzzled against his neck.

“I wanted you to sleep,”

"Been getting more of that now than before,”

Tony worked on breakfast.

“How is she?”

“Hungry,”

Tony placed a plate in front of him.

“When will Banner get here?” asked Steve.

“Sometime today,”

Halfway through the episode, Piper pulled away.

“I’ll burp her you eat,”

Tony put her over his shoulder and burped her.

“You dressed her fittingly,”

She wore a white onesie with a yellow dinosaur on. The text underneath it read boobivore.

“I should have of never let you pick out some of her clothes,”

"I could have done worse,"

Around three Jarvis alerted them to Dr. Banner’s arrival. Steve put on a shirt.

“He’s waiting on the medical floor,”

“We’ll be right down,”

The elevator brought took them to medical.

“Dr. Banner is in examination room three,” said Jarvis.

They opened the door to the small room. Banner stood leaning against the counter his head down in thought. He was dressed in several old jackets. Around his neck was a thick knitted gray scarf that was fraying at the ends. Bruce had grown out his hair, revealing more of its natural curl. A salt and pepper beard covered his jaw.

“Bruce,”

"Sorry, caught in a thought. You two are in better shape than I thought you'd be,”

He took off his winter clothes, hanging them on the chair on behind him.

“This must be, Piper,"

The pup turned its head in recognition of her name.

“Yes,”

“May I see her?”

Steve handed her over. The lack of hesitation caught Bruce off guard. Omegas were extremely protective over their pups, even more so in the first few weeks of life. So Steve giving over Piper, knowing full well what he was it came as a shocker. She stared up him. There was something to those eyes. They were insightful like she was studying him. She smiled and tried reaching out for him.

“She likes you,” said Steve.

“One of the few,” said Bruce.

He took her out of her onesie and laid her on her back.

"Has she shown any superhuman abilities?"

"Not yet," said Steve.

"Her strength may make an appearance when her motor functions are more developed. Has she had any difficulty nursing?"

“No,”

“How often does she nurse?”

“Every two to three hours for twenty to forty minutes sometimes longer,”

"Good, there are no signs of malnutrition. Dr. Star and I were concerned that she may not get proper nutrients from your milk, but your body has adapted to support a growing super soldier pup. You need to increase your calorie take in to support that,”

“By how much?”

"For the average omega 500, but you it's 2,000,"

Bruce suddenly clapped. Piper’s limbs splayed out from her body.

“What did you do that?” asked Tony.

“Testing her startle reflex. In the first month of life pups instinctively spread their arm and legs away from their body at loud noises,” said Bruce.

He took a pen from the counter and placed it in the palm of her hand. She grabbed it. When he tried taking it away he was met by unexpected resistance. She grew fussy and threw the pen across the room. It lodged in the in the wall behind him.

“There’s the strength,” said Bruce.

Tony pulled the pen from the wall.

“Her first tantrum will be a disaster,” he said.

"Hopefully, by then she has better control," said Steve.

“She has you to teach her. I’m sure she’ll be a fast learner,” said Bruce.

Bruce dangled his stethoscope above her. She swatted it. He stood Piper up on the examination table. She pushed down on the surface with her feet. He took a wooden giraffe with wheels from his pocket and moved above the pup. Those blue eyes followed after it.

“Extraordinary,”

“What?” asked Tony.

“It doesn’t seem like much but at one week she's reached all the miles stones of a two to three-month-old. It’s all an early indicator of a high IQ. She recognizes her name, which normally occurs between five to seven months of age,"

Tony smiled proudly. The line of Stark geniuses continues.

“And to why she hasn’t used her abilities to her full extent I believe she doesn’t want to hurt the two of you,” said Bruce.

He redressed the pup, before picking her up. She nuzzled against his chest. Bruce handed her the toy. She made a happy noise.

"She's quite a social baby. I suggest you keep her mind engaged when you can,”

“How?”

“Interactive toys and speaking to her in different languages. Just try and keep her engaged,”

Bruce handed her over to Steve. She whined wanting to be returned.

“Do you like your Uncle Bruce more than me?” he said.

“She’s only curious about a new face. She's only ever seen you and Tony,” said Bruce.

The scientist pinched the bridge of his nose. That single motion caused Steve to worry.

“What’s on your mind, doc?" asked Tony.

“Extremis,”

Tony flinched.

“I want to take a DNA sample from her,” said Bruce.

“She was already examined for it. It was negative,” said Tony.

“I took the treatment for it,” said Steve.

“It’s only a precaution,” said Bruce.

"If that what's best for her, okay," said Steve.

“Did you keep her cord blood?” asked Bruce.

“Yes,” said Steve.

"I would like to take a small sample of it to study with your consent," said Bruce.

“You can,” said Steve.

Bruce took a cotton swab from the jar on the counter. He gently swabbed her mouth.

“I’ll take a look at this. Bye Piper,”

Bruce shuffled out the door.

“What if he finds something?” asked Steve.

"We'll figure it out," said Tony.

Steve looked at the pup nestled in his arms. She seemed perfectly healthy to him. How could something be wrong? Tony squeezed his hand.

“It will be fine,”

Tony hated seeing the worry in Steve's expression. Maybe he could offer some distraction.

"Let's take Piper to meet Peggy tomorrow. Banner won't be done for days. We promised the old bird a visit,"

Steve relaxed slightly.

“That sounds nice,”

The next day they got Piper ready for her first car trip. (January 10, 2013) Steve double-checked the diaper bag.

“We have everything?”

“Yeah,”

Steve checked Piper's diaper before buckling her into the car seat. In her hand was the platypus lovey Peggy made for her. Steve got into the backseat with her. Piper’s eyes widen when the car started. Tony had the Beatles playing on a low volume. Twenty minutes into the drive Piper was out.

Steve watched the scenery change as they drove out of the city. The entire drive Tony barely went over the limit. The pulled into Peggy's driveway. Piper slept the entire drive there. Steve unbuckled Piper from her seat. He carefully tucked into his jacket, protecting her from the cold. Peggy hurried to open the door for them, rushing them inside. Tony helped him out of his jacket.

She took Steve's hand and led him into the living room. They sat on the couch. Piper was still asleep, but was starting to wake up. Steve took her out of the penguin jacket. She blinked a few times before squirming. Steve knew that look. She was seconds away was from crying.

"She's hungry, can I-

“The study across the hall,”

“Thank you,”

Steve grabbed the diaper bag from Tony.

“Thanks, honey,”

Steve left for the study. Tony took a seat in the green armchair across from Peggy.

“Sorry about that,”

“It’s fine, Anthony. Newborns do everything on their own time,” she said.

Peggy laughed.

“What?”

“Only remembering when Howard and Maria first brought you here. He was tired but so proud. The man hardly let you out of his arms the entire visit,”

Peggy frowned. The alpha’s expression darkened for a moment.

"Too bad it didn't last,"

She sighed.

“I won’t deny Howard made mistakes in raising you, but he did love you,”

Tony rubbed his temples. He wasn’t expecting to talk about this. The visit was supposed to be all about the baby.

“I won’t be like him. I want to be part of my pup’s life,”

"You'll be surprised how difficult that can be. Even I struggled with it at times,"

"Seemed perfect to me when I was a kid, but the grass always looks greener on the other side,"

“I missed some important milestones. My son’s first steps, Emma’s first heartbreak among other things. I tried making it up to them spending as much time as I could with them,"

The conversation changed to less serious topics. Steve sat in a cushy leather chair in the study. The room was painted green and the walls were lined with shelves. Little tokens of Peggy and Henry’s life littered the shelves.

His gaze stopped on a framed photo of his first day of training camp. Why did Peggy have this? Back then he never thought he'd have this. Happily married, a parent, and independent it had been such a far off dream. He came close with, Peggy, but reached nearly seventy years later with Tony. So many random chances lead him to this point in his life. Piper pulled away stretching out lazily.

“Done honey bunny?”

He burped her. Her brow furrowed slightly before a look of relief spread through her, followed by a stink. He laid her on the towel and changed her.

"Ready to meet, Aunt Peggy?"

The pup smiled up at him. He threw away the diaper and went into the living room.

“There she is,” said Peggy.

Steve joined her on the couch. He placed the infant pup in her arms. Piper had Steve’s gentle eyes, but she had her father's inquisitive gaze.

"She's precious. She's going to be a brilliant young woman one day,”

“Like her namesakes,” said Tony.

“You didn’t,” she said.

“Her full name Piper Sarah Margret Stark,”

Peggy’s eyes watered but she quickly dabbed them away.

“You didn’t have to do that,”

“We both agreed on it,” said Steve.

The four enjoyed the day together. Around six Piper started getting fussy.

“We should get her home,” said Steve.

"Okay, come in visit again soon,"

"We will,"

Peggy walked them to the door and kissed all three of them goodbye. The drive home was quiet. Steve watched Piper sleep. There was something so calming to watching her. The morning came. (January 11, 2013) Steve yawned stretching out. Piper was asleep for the moment. He tucked her in Tony arms.

“Jarvis put the coffee on,”

Steve scratched at the scruffy beard he’d grown. He checked the bedroom. They were both asleep. He quickly shaved only cutting himself once. Steve returned to the bedroom and went through Piper's morning routine. She stared up turning her head slightly.

“Did you like the beard?”

He lifted her up. She placed her small hands on his cheeks and smiled. He placed a gentle kiss on her head. She cooed softly. He took her into the kitchen and placed her in the playpen. The aroma of coffee lured him to counter. He poured himself a large bowl of Mini-Wheats with blueberries and bananas.

Steve put the bowl in the dishwasher. He was still hungry. From the playpen, he heard Piper playing with one of her toys. She was working on the most recent puzzle toy Tony got her. It would keep her busy for a while. He scrambled some eggs and cooked up some bacon. When everything plated he check on Piper. She didn't even notice him she was so absorbed with her toy. He hoped for an uneventful day.

“Jarvis, if Bruce is awake tell him breakfast is ready,”

“I will,”

A little while later Bruce came up. The beta instantly went to the coffee pot.

“Morning,”

“Good morning, where’s Tony?”

“Asleep,”

“And Piper,”

“Working on her most recent toy,”

Bruce took a look in the playpen. It was a wooden box with different shaped holes to fit colorful wooden blocks. Something that would normally be given to a toddler. She smiled when she successfully put in the star-shaped block in.

“How long does it take her figure these out?” he asked.

“The last one was too easy so Tony got her this one,” said Steve.

He put down his coffee.

“Have you made any progress?”

“I’ll have something to report you tomorrow maybe the day after that at the latest,”

Bruce toasted a bagel before returning the lab. Tony got up a little while later. The alpha kissed him on the cheek before starting breakfast. Tony seemed more relaxed since Piper was born. He hadn’t gone the lab once so far preferring to work in the penthouse with them.

"Sir, Ms. Romanoff is calling,"

“I’ll let you answer that,” said Tony retreating the couch.

"Hey, Nat,"

“I learn you had your pup nine days after she’s born,”

“I’ve been a little busy,”

Nat sighed.

“What did you name the cutie?”

“Piper Sarah Margret Stark,”

“Pretty, I’m coming over. I’ll be there in an hour,” she before hanging up.

“Looks we’ll have company,”

"Ms. Potts also wants to come over this afternoon to discuss the announcement. Should I confirm?" asked Jarvis.

“Yes,” said Tony.

Steve sighed.

“What’s wrong?”

“I want to keep her to our selves for a little while longer,”

“Me too we’ll keep her out of the limelight as much as possible,”

Steve went to take Piper from the playpen. She started whining when separated from her toy. He put her down. There were only four blocks left. She already had her father’s intense focus.

Natasha came exactly on time. She gave a quick nod to Tony before joining Steve on the on the couch. Her eyes locked on the precious little being in Steve’s arms.

“Want to hold her?” he asked.

She nodded gently taking Piper from Steve’s arm. Those intense blue eyes studied her, figuring out how to react. The pup smiled and reached up for her. Natasha smiled and let the pup play with her fingers.

“You are so adorable,” she said nuzzling Piper’s nose.

The pup happily squealed at the new attention. Steve and Tony stared dumbfounded at the two. Neither of them thought Nat had such a maternal side. Tony wandered his workshop, sensing he wouldn’t be needed for a few hours.

“I’m not much of baby person, but I’ll make an exception for yours,” she said.

“You could have fooled me,” said Steve.

Natasha tickled Piper’s stomach causing her to giggle.

"You'll have your hands full with her. She'll be beautiful. You'll have to swat the alphas off of her with a stick. Of course, I'll teach her some tricks to dealing with those silly alphas,"

“There’s still a long time before that happens,”

"It will be here sooner than you know and it's never too early to start teaching self-defense,"

“She’ll learn how to defend herself once she gets older. I'll make sure of that,”

Around three Natasha had to leave.

"I'll be to visit soon, little one," she said before leaving.

Tony came up from his lab awhile later. Steve was almost asleep with Piper in his arms. She was boredly playing with his fingers. Piper smiled when she saw him coming. Tony carefully took her from Steve's arms. The omega's eyes slowly opened.

"I've got her. Get some sleep,"

“She just ate. She’ll want nurse again in a few hours,”

“And I’ll wake you up when that happens,”

Steve kissed him before going to the bedroom. Tony went to the couch and pulled his most recent hologram blueprint and started fine-tuning it. Piper kept trying to reach them. She was so fascinated by.

"Do you want to know about daddy's most recent project? Of course, you do,"

She started explaining it her in Italian. The change in langue kept her interest.

Pepper walked into the penthouse to the sight of Tony changing a diaper with his ironman helmet on. She laughed. Never did she think she would see Tony Stark changing a diaper. She swiftly wiped a tear away.

“Steve, has you on diaper duty?”

“I don’t have much of choice in it,”

“I'm surprised you haven't built something to do it for you,”

“Steve won’t let me,”

Pepper came closer, smiling a cute little pup. Tony handed her the baby.

"Pepper this is Piper,"

“I’ll be right back,”

“Where are you going?”

“I have to throw this away. Unless you want to switch,”

“No, I’m good,”

Tony wandered off. As soon as he left Piper started pouting.

“No, no, please don’t cry,”

She bounced Piper gently on her gently on her hip. Instead of crying, Piper spat up all over her shirt. Tony was smirking, having just entered the kitchen.

“Don’t say anything,” warned Pepper.

Piper started crying, which made the moment all the more, laughable. He rescued Piper from the omega’s arms.

“She normally doesn’t do that,”

“Spit up, she isn’t the first Stark to throw up on me,”

“Not that she'a liked everyone she's met until now,”

Pepper rolled her eyes. She wiped off the spit up the best she could from her shirt.

“How will this work?”

"I'll take a few pictures and come up with little story and a thoughtfully worded request for privacy to raise a family,"

“That’s all?”

“Pretty much. This is unrelated but when is Steve maternity leave over,”

“Six months,”

Piper seemed to tire out after that. He carefully put her in Steve's arms. They instantly wrapped protectively around her. He joined them at a later that night. The next morning Bruce had news for them. (January 12, 2013)

Steve sat nervously in the examination room with Tony next to him. Piper was tucked safely in his arms. He was scared.

“Don’t leave us in suspense, Banner,” said Tony.

“I found Extremis in her DNA,”

Steve bit his lip.

“What does that mean? Will she be okay?!”

"How is that possible they received the cure?"

"First off Piper will be perfectly fine,"

“Thank god,” said Steve.

He kissed Piper on the forehead, so relieved she would be okay.

“But how?” said Tony.

"Steve and Piper had a relatively long exposure. While in utero she had the ability to taken in and adapt substance that would strengthen her. That's why it was accepted into her DNA. Not only
was it accepted but perfected and has coupled with the super soldier serum,"

“What does that mean?” asked Steve.

"Nothing at this point it's dormant,"

“And what will it need to be activated?” asked Tony.

“I assume extreme duress,”

“And if by some chance that happens what will be the effect?” asked Steve.

"I can't say for certain but I assume it will further empower and strengthen the time it takes for her to regenerate. Extremis soldiers recovered from fatal in hours sometimes minutes and could regenerate limbs. If activated she’ll be able to do the same. I doubt it will happen at such a young age,” said Bruce.

"Do you think Killian knew this would happen?" asked Steve.

“I wish I could answer that,” said Bruce.

“He didn’t know. Killian did for the sole purpose of torturing me. He made me watch as you suffered,"

The alpha hands were clenched. Tony was locked in a state of tension.

“Is there anything else?” asked Steve.

"I want to see her every month to document her progress,"

“Alright,”

Bruce left them. Steve cradled Piper in one arm. He touched his forehead to Tony’s, taking the alpha’s hand in his. Slowly Tony unwound.

"I love both of you. I don't know how I survived before the two of you,"

Steve kissed him. He gently touched the alpha's face. Steve didn't ask why Tony hadn't told before. He understood how difficult speaking of these things were.

“I love you,”

Chapter Text

It had been a month since Piper was born and the couple had fallen into as much of a routine as a person could when dealing with a newborn. (February 12, 2013). Steve yawned stretching out in bed, smiling when he found Piper cuddled to his chest. Oddly enough they were sleeping better since she was born.

Steve ran his hand down her back. She was perfectly healthy and putting on weight steadily. There was a time when he believed he would never be capable of producing such a healthy beautiful pup. He found himself frequently counting her fingers and toes, reassuring himself that she was real.

Piper had shown more signs of her intelligence. She was already making cute babbling noises. They constantly had to find new toys for her that would challenge her. Once she'd thoroughly figured out a toy she lost all interest in it and it would be donated. The only exceptions were the platypus lovey and wheeled giraffe Bruce gave her.

He slowly sat up, waking her. She made a small whine at being disturbed. He laid her on her back only for her to roll onto her stomach. It was her most recent accomplishment. Her limbs squirmed desperately trying to move. She whimpered. Her mind was advancing faster than her body. Piper had thrown tantrums when she couldn't move on her own to a toy or something of interest.

Steve cuddled her and purred soothing her for the moment. She snuggled against him cooing softly. It would be a few more months until she could purr.

“I love you,”

"La,"

He put on her back again and she instantly rolled over again, giggling. Steve smiled.

“I need to change you,”

As soon as he undid the band she went still allowing him to change her with little fuss. Once a fresh diaper was on she was back to rolling around. He got up from bed, taking Piper with him. They went into the kitchen. There were signs that Tony had been there. The alpha had an inability to put his dishes into the washer even though the machine was only feet away from the sink.

Tony was probably working in his lab. Piper had proven to be an inspiration. He'd made vast improvements on baby proofing items. As the items were thoroughly tested they were put on market and sold rapidly. Tony tried finding ways to make them inexpensive enough so all family could afford the product. His project most recent project was a diaper trashcan that actually kept in the smell.

Tony working again didn't bother him. Since the alpha was his own boss he could work whenever for as long as he wanted. Every few hours he would come up and check on him and Piper.

Steve put the dishes into the washer and grabbed several protein bars from the cabinet. They were an easy way to take in the calories he needed and had the bonus of being easy to eat while nursing. Piper refused to let him a real breakfast until she was fed.

He placed on her on a pillow and brought her to nurse. Steve loved this intimate time with her. It was relaxing for the both of them. Edith believed the reason his PTSD symptoms became less frequent and serious was the powerful cocktail of calming hormones nursing released. It also had an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effect.

Steve bit his lip he feared he may have an episode that would destroy this newly discovered peace. It had been so long since he'd even had a nightmare. He was broken from the thought when Piper pulled away early looking up at him worriedly. She must have felt him tense.

“Shh, Papa is fine,”

He purred to her. The sound quickly soothed her and returned to nursing. He flipped through the channels, he was a little ashamed of how much TV he'd been watching lately. He liked funny feel-good shows. When Piper was asleep he'd watch Game of Thrones with Tony.

He froze on the history channel. On the screen was a black and white image of a young man sitting on an overturn stool staring at a burnt skeletal corpse of concentration camp prisoner. He was lost in the depravity of the moment. His head bowed as he processed the darkness before him.

Steve understood the deep utter disappointment in knowing mankind was capable of such atrocity. He knew the exact questions running through man's head. How, why, and what would cause someone to do this. The limited tight faced expression of grief that could be shown in war, but the true extent agony could be seen in a soldier's eyes. That anger and pure unbridled hatred at those who committed such horrendous crime against humanity.

Steve liberated several concentration camps. He’d cried at each rescue. Nothing could prepare a person to see such horrific scenes. He distinctly remembered an alpha saying: “this is why you don’t bring omegas to war”.

Piper screamed loudly snapping him out of it. He quickly shut off the TV.

“Piper!”

She never made such a sound.

"Jarvis is she okay?! Did hurt her?!”

Jarvis scanned over her.

“She’s perfectly healthy,”

“But she’s never made that noise,”

“I believe she was scared,”

"I didn't mean to scare her,"

"I know,"

Tony came rushing out the elevator, toward them. He searched for injury. They were fine. He cupped Steve’s face in his hands. His gaze was distant.

“Steve?”

The omega shook out of the trance, but he still seemed distant. Steve took a shaky breath.

"I'm fine,"

"Steve,"

"I just need to work it out. Can you watch her?"

"Okay,"

Steve quickly placed her in his arms. His mate never so clearly wanted to get away from Piper. Steve darted out of the penthouse in his gym clothes. Piper cried in his arms looking uncomfortable. He put her over his shoulder, burping her. Tony groaned when something warm soaked his shoulder. She relaxed against him. The pup was clearly upset. He purred, calming her for the moment.

“Papa isn’t feeling well. He needs a little bit alone time,”

God, he hoped that was all Steve needed. He had a nagging sense it wasn't. Tony balanced Piper in one arm as took off his shirt and tossing it to the floor.

"What the hell happened, Jarvis?"

“I believe Steve had a minor episode when he saw this,”

Jarvis pulled up the image.

“Shit,”

Piper started wailing about an hour later. He did everything that normally calmed her down but nothing worked.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“I believe she’s hungry, sir. She spat up what little she ate on your shirt,”

“Has he calmed down?”

“It seems so,”

Tony went to the gym. Steve was on the weight bench lifting an inhuman amount with ease.

“Steve,”

He put down the dumbbell. Piper was crying. His shirt grew damp. She squirmed in Tony's hold. She'd caught the scent of milk.

"Let me shower then I'll feed her,"

"I honestly don't think she'll last that long,"

He was barely managing to hold her. She was using her strength against him to get to Steve.

“Just give her enough to calm down,”

"Fine,"

He took from him and brought her to his chest. Steve did his best to ignore the sensation. After five minutes he moved her away. The confusion in her expression was clear. He handed her over to Tony.

“That should hold her until I shower,”

“Steve,”

The omega went to the showers. Tony sighed. Piper cuddled against him. He gently rubbed her back.

“Jarvis pull up Steve’s therapist information,”

It appeared on his phone, Dr. Barnaby Turner. It had been almost a year since Steve talked to him.

"Do you want me to call him?"

“Not yet,”

He played with Piper on the floor hoping to distract her from her hunger. Tony placed a new toy in front of her. She was completely uninterested. Her gaze was focused on the elevator. Tony sighed.

“Papa will be okay,”

Steve sat outside the shower listening to the sound of the water. Tony couldn’t spy on him here. He ran his fingers through his hair. His chest was uncomfortably tight. He managed to collect his breath. The water stung his skin. He wasn't sure how long he stayed there. A jolt went through when the water went cold.

Trudging through the thick unyielding mud. The frigid downpour slowing their progress further. Each bitterly cold breath stung at his lung. The air was stained with the scent of mud and decay. The weight of sodden uniform insulating in the cold.

Steve collapsed. The figment of the memory bringing him down. Steve just laid there for a while. He had to get up. Slowly he dressed. He didn't want to go up to the penthouse. His chest was irritatingly tender. He had to go. The elevator stopped on their floor. Tony was running around with Piper above his head. She was giggling when he tossed her into the air. Steve smiled. The brief happiness was replaced by guilt. He looked away.

“Steve,”

He raised his head. His gaze darted from Piper. He shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

"You look tired," said Steve.

“I had to entertain a hungry one-month old for two hours,"

"Two hours? I'm sorry,"

The sorrow was real, but it didn't seem to be over this.

"Can you tell me how you're feeling?"

Piper reached out for him. He had to feed her.

"She's hungry I better feed her,"

He took her from Tony. She nursed hungrily. He didn’t give into the comforting sensation. This unconditional loving warmth she was giving him was undeserved.

Tony watched them. Steve normally purred and was in a state of bliss when he nursed. But the omega was tense his jaw was locked. He was fighting the naturalness of the moment. It was all unnatural. Piper wasn’t making the soft sounds and gestures that he was accustom to witnessing at this time. Steve got up from the couch instantly handing her off to him. Tony grabbed his arm, only for Steve to brush off the touch. Steve went to his studio. Tony stood outside the door, balancing Piper on his hip. Tony touched the handle but didn't turn it.

He brought Piper to his lab. Dum-E and U came rolling over to them. The two bots study her with fascination. She squirmed in his hold trying to reach the mechanical arms.

“These are Dum-E and U. Can you say hi, Piper?”

She waved her little hand. The bots mimicked the motion. She giggled. Tony smiled and placed Piper in her playpen. Dum-E and U moved to watch her. He played with her for a few minutes. Piper nearly yanked him into the playpen when he tried taking his hand away.

“No, Piper you can’t yank me like that,”

Tears welled in her eyes.

“No, no don’t cry. Look at the funny face,”

He started making funny faces. Piper started giggling.

“You want to stay with daddy?”

She smiled. He went to the closet grabbing the unopened Ergobaby baby carrier 360. Tony ripped opened the box. Piper watched him from the playpen. He adjusted the straps and put Piper in facing his chest, so she wouldn't accidentally grab something he was working on. She smiled nuzzling into him, happily cooing.

“Papa loves you he’s just having a bad day,”

“Ba,”

“That’s the sound a sheep makes. Pecora,”

“Pe,”

“And I love you too,”

“La, la,”

"You don't want me to sing, pumpkin. Papa is the singer. Do you want to listen to some of the music from my time,"

She smiled.

“I’ll take that as a yes,”

Jarvis started playing hits from the '60s, '70s, and '80s. ABBA's Dancing Queen started playing.

“What is this?”

“ABBA, sir,”

“I know what it is why are you playing it?”

“I thought it would be more appropriate for an infant and she seems to like it,”

Piper was happily wiggling to the song.

"If you like I'll tolerate it,"

Steve relaxed when he heard Tony leave. He slid to the floor. Jarvis didn't have accesses to the studio. It was a safe zone. The room was covered in a thin layer of dust. It had been months since he was last in here. He ran his hand over the brushes. Before going to the door. He slowly creaked it open the door. The penthouse was empty. He was so used to there being some sound. The stillness was unsettling.

“Where are they?”

His panic built.

"They're in the lab,"

Steve relaxed.

“Do you wish me to get them?”

“No,”

“I’m sure they wouldn’t mind,”

“No, Jarvis,”

He went to the nursery. The room had hardly been used. It custom for a pup to sleep with its parents until it was at least twelve months old. He looked at the crib he couldn't imagine sleeping without Piper. Waking up to her resting perfectly in his arms made his heart melt every time. She was so happy to see him every day. She had no idea what it meant to him.

From the changing table, he took a pump. He frowned but took it from its place. Steve returned to the shelter of his studio, locking the door behind him. He settled in the love seat and set up the machine. Steve growled at the sensation. It went against his omega nature to not nurture his pup naturally. He clutched the armrest and ignored the instinct.

By the time he was done he was agitated. He gathered the bottles and put them in the fridge. Then cleaned the pump before returning his studio. He twitched disturbingly unable to be still. Steve grabbed the cleaning supplies from underneath the dump sink and started thorough cleaning the room.

Piper started whining around noon.

"Looks like its lunchtime,"

They went to the penthouse. There were no signs that Steve had been out of the studio.

"Let's go check on, Papa,"

Steve jolted at the knock at his door.

"I know you are feeling well but Piper is hungry,"

His chest ached when Piper whined for him.

“There are bottles in the fridge,”

“Okay,”

That was worrying. Steve only tried the pump once and hated it. Piper whimpered when they moved away. He went to the fridge taking out a bottle. She whined.

“Shh, you’ll get your bottle soon,” he said placing it the warmer.

The warmer binged. Tony tested it on his wrist, before offering it to her. She glared at it pushing it away.

“I know Papa’s nipples are fantastic, but this will have to do,"

On the third try, she accepted the bottle. He went to the couch. Tony chuckled. Fourteen years ago he never imagined he would be doing this and be happy about it. Top Gear played as he fed her. She finished the bottle. He grabbed a dishtowel and threw it over his shoulder, then burped her. She yawned. He laid her on the couch and changed her. Piper soon fell asleep in his arms.

He put her carefully set her in the playpen. Tony packed a diaper bag. Steve wasn't functioning today. He didn't want to expose Piper to that and Steve wouldn't either. So he would take over parenting today. He grabbed the bottles from the fridge and shoved them into the bag, before picking up Piper. Dum-E and U came racing to him.

“Shh, you’ll wake her,”

He lowered her into the playpen. The two bots surrounded the pen, staring at her. Tony dove into his most recent project. Only pausing to tend to Piper.

Steve twitched in his sleep.

They were in dug. Faceless soldiers stood by him all. The only appearance among them was Bucky. Machine gunfire shot above their heads. The soft cries of a pup broke the continuous shellfire. No, else hear it. Where did he know it? PIPER! Why was she here?! He had to get her! He had to save her! When he tried crawling over the edge Bucky yanked him down.

“Let go!”

“You’ll get yourself killed,”

"I don't care! My daughter is out there,"

Bucky grabbed him by shoulders shaking him.

“They’re gone, Steve!”

He crawled over the edge, kicking Bucky away when he tried dragging him down. A circular blue light cut through the solid darkness. Tony! His formed shielded Piper from the chaos enveloping them. They were cold. Everything was muted except Tony's artificial heartbeat. Footsteps came up behind him, but he didn't care.

“I told you they were gone,”

Steve woke in a cold sweat, screaming. His heart beat in agony. Chilling fear strummed through him. The studio doors shot open. Tony came running it. The alpha's arms were around him. He pressed into Tony’s neck breathing in his scent. The smell of their pup was carried on his clothes.

“I’ve got you,”

“Piper?”

“She’s safe. Look,”

Tony pulled up the live feed of Piper from the lab. She was just waking up. Steve reached out and touched the image.

“Ours,”

“Yeah, ours. Our perfect little girl,”

He eased away the scent of Steve’s distress.

“You want to see her,”

Steve nodded. Tony took his hand, leading him to the lab. He stayed at the entrance. Piper made a small cooing sound when Tony took her from the playpen and offered her to him.

"Take her she's missed you. She's hardly seen you all day,"

Steve took her. He tensed when she nuzzled against him. Steve shook his head as his feral side threatened to take over. He was too tired to fight it.

Tony smiled when Steve's posture relaxed. He started purring and nuzzling Piper. She gleefully giggled nuzzling against Steve. The omega got into the nesting couch. Tony tried returning his work to give the two some personal time, but he couldn't resist checking on them.

Steve was purring loudly. He rested on his side with Piper huddled close to him. She was playing with Steve’s hand. The omega smiled at him, beaming with pride over the small being tucked securely in his arms. His eyes were fully dilated in feral omega state. His scent oozed content.

Tony trusted Steve in this state with Piper. The feral side first objective bonding and caring about their pup. Tony sighed. Fuck, he trusted this side Steve more than in control Steve. The way Steve had acted today had him on edge. He'd never hurt Piper. Why had the omega even entered this state of mind?

“Alpha?”

Tony ran his fingers through Steve’s hair.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

The omega's brow furrowed. He wanted to say something but was incapable. There was a desperateness to his expression.

“Mind,”

Tony put much that together already. Piper started whining, calling both their attentions. Steve soothed her. He kissed Steve on the cheek.

“I love you,”

Steve slowly came to a few hours later. Piper was quietly sleeping against his chest. Her scented her. She smelled of lavender, honey, and milk. She was content. Perfectly healthy and safe. Steve sighed. This peacefulness was undeserved. How did he get his when others didn’t? She deserves better than what he could offer. He carefully got out of the nesting couch with Piper in his arm, setting her the playpen.

“Steve,”

“What time is it?”

“8:30 pm,” said Jarvis.

“Why didn’t you break me out of it?”

"That was the most relaxed you've been all day. I saw no reason to,"

"You should have broken me from it, Tony. I hate being like that,"

“I think you needed it,”

“I didn’t,”

"Really? You're on edge. It feels like I have to walk on eggshells around you,"

“Sorry,”

“I don’t think you are,”

"You can believe me or not I don't care,"

He went for the door. Tony grabbed his arm. He yanked it away.

“What happened?”

“A nightmare,”

“About?”

“Drop it,”

"I can't Steve. I have to know what's wrong with you. I can't wait it out until you're ready to tell me. There are other things we have to consider. We have a daughter. Our problems affect her,"

“Says the man who put her danger by threatening a terrorist!”

Instead of getting the alpha simply shook his head.

“Whatever you saw must have been pretty fucking terrible you to go that low,”

He backed away as Tony came closer. There was nothing threatening about his posture. He would have felt better if Tony were angry.

“You can’t use my own moves against me, Steve. You’re deflecting,”

"There's nothing to talk about,"

“If you aren’t going to talk to me at least to talk to someone else. I’m calling Dr. Turner tomorrow,”

Steve's hands fisted.

"What is it with your generation and wanting to talk about everything little thing to death. Some things aren't meant to be spoken of,"

"Fine, hold it. While your head I'm here with Piper. Maybe think about that,"

"You're the one bringing her into this,"

“I don’t see how I can’t. It’s affecting her too,”

"She's a baby,"

Piper had enough of the tense angered voices and started wailing. Steve went rigid. He rushed to the elevator before the panic could fully take hold. The confined space was somehow comforting. His hearted raced painfully in his chest. He sunk to the corner.

“It appears you’re having a panic attack. Do you want me to put, sir on?” asked Jarvis.

Part of him was so tempted to say yes. He hit his head against the elevator wall. What was wrong with him? Why was this happening? The war was over, yet it returned with vengeance after months of peace. As if it were trying to remind that he was unworthy of his new life. It should have been over when he crashed into the ice. He bit his lip holding back his scream. Blood trickled down his chin.

Why did this have to be hard? This was supposed to be the easy part of his life. Behind the metals doors, he heard Tony pacing. He wanted them near, but far away all at the same time. There was no question of his love for his family, but he felt so disconnected from them, not only them but this era.

"Steve...I'm sorry,"

"No, I am,"

"Okay, so we're both sorry. Can you let me in?"

"No,"

Tony sat outside the door. He wanted to rip them apart but he couldn't breach Steve's boundary.

"Something wrong with, Tony. I'm so screwed up,"

“You aren’t the only one,”

"Not like this,"

"Yes, exactly like this. Panic attacks, anxiety, nightmares, depression. You went through it first but you're not alone,"

The panic was still present in their bond.

"All it took was a picture,"

"When Harley mention the wormhole I had an anxiety attack. I couldn't breathe couldn't function. It was just a kid asking me questions and that was enough to put me in a frantic state. I'm afraid it will in front of Piper when she starts asking me,"

"What do we do?"

“Face our problems together,”

“Together,”

Steve took a breath.

“I was taken back to the war. Among the mud and gunfire were you and Piper on the battlefield...You were so cold. It felt so real,"

Steve's voice broke complete unable to continue.

"I hate that you had to see that,"

The doors opened. Steve was huddled in the corner. He slowly approached him.

"Can I touch you?"

Steve nodded. He sat down next to him, wrapping an arm around his shivering frame.

"I don't know why you put up this,"

Tony laughed softly.

“Sweetheart, I ask myself that every day I wake up with you next to me,”

Steve's heart raced for a completely different reason. He nosed against the alpha's neck, taking in his scent. Tony ran his finger through his hair. He nearly whimpered when Tony got up.

"I'll be right I promise,"

Tony came back with Piper, placing her in his arms.

"She's fine and so am I,"

After an hour Steve felt up to moving. Jarvis took them to the penthouse.

"You should paint,"

“I don’t want to paint that,”

"I think it will get it out of your system,"

“I'll try. Will you stay close?"

"Piper and I will be in the living room. Nice and quiet,"

"No, I like hearing you,"

"I'll put something on,"

"Nothing, about war,"

"Of course. I'll even put Dora the Explorer on,"

That got a small smile out of him. Steve disappeared into his studio. Piper was out. The pup slept like a rock. It had been an hour. He went to check on Steve. The door was ajar. Steve had put down the underpainting. The color scheme with black and white with touches of blue. He recognized himself as the main subjection. Piper was in his arms. There was something so lifeless about it.

“This is what you saw?”

Steve nodded. When was the last time he actually painted something he enjoyed?

“Are you almost done?”

“I need a few more hours. There are bottles in the fridge if she gets hungry,”

By the time Steve was satisfied with the painting, it was one in the morning. His hands and clothes were stained with paint. He washed his brushes and went to the bedroom. Piper was tucked in her dad's arms. His inner omega refused to allow him to join them.

He went to the couch, from there he could look out on the city. Sleep proved elusive. The room was silent, protected from the sound of the city that never sleeps. All he could hear was the quiet breathing of mate and child from the other room. He moved to the floor finding it more comfortable. Sleep eventually came.

A crash forced Tony from his sleep. He crept into the kitchen. Steve’s posture was low and threatening prepared to attack at a moment’s notice. His shield was at the ready. Tony wished he knew what the omega saw instead of the safety of their home.

He had to Piper secure. Tony didn't believe Steve would hurt Piper even like this but he couldn't take that risk. He retreated to the bedroom. Mark 5 slid out from underneath the bed. It unfolded. He wrapped Piper in a blanket. From the bedroom, he heard the destruction caused by his distraught omega.
He silenced Piper with a pacifier. Tony placed her in the suit. Buckles wrapped around her, keeping her supported as the suit stood. It enclosed around her.

“Fortify the room,”

As soon as the ordered was given Steve slammed against the door at full strength.

"Babysitting protocol. Get her out of here,"
The suit shot off the balcony seconds before Steve burst through. He was growling lowly. Tony made himself look as unintimidating as possible. Steve glared at him.

"It's me, sweetheart,"

There was no recognition. He came closer. Steve snarled tensing further, before launching at him. The omega came crashing down on top of him, pinning him down. Their eyes locked. Tears dropped onto his face.

“Alpha,”

His voice was shaky with fear and defeat. Tony slowly touched Steve’s face. He whined. The omega shivered with the effort to control his mind. Steve fell backward clutching his head. He slammed into the wall.

“Jarvis,”

Mark 5 came crashing through the door with a vial in hand. The helmet locked around his head. Even wafting in the smell would be enough to knock him out. Mark 5 clamped around Steve's wrists. It wouldn't hold him for long. Tony ran to Steve tilting the content of the vial into his mouth. It was spat in his face, but it had the wanted effect. He caught Steve before he collapsed, lowering him gently to the floor.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart,”

He ran his fingers through Steve’s hair.

“Jarvis how’s Piper,”

“Slightly stressed but otherwise in good health,”

“Call Natasha,”

“Stark?”

“Are you still in New York?”

“Yes,”

“I need to you to watch, Piper,”

“There must be someone else,”

“Do you think I'd be calling if there was someone else? Steve just had an episode. I can't take care of both of them. So are you still in New York?"

“I’ll be there in thirty,”

She hung up.

“Contact Dr. Turner, Jarvis,”

“Hello? Who is this?” said a groggy voice.

“It’s Tony Stark,”

“Mr. Stark it’s 1:30 in the morning, so I assume this is an emergency,”

(February 13, 2013)

"Steve, he had a breakdown,"

“Are you and the child alright?”

“We’re fine,”

"Where is he now?"

“Passed on the floor,”

“Did this occur naturally?”

“I had to knock him out,”

“I’ll meet you at Avengers Tower at a more reasonable hour. Try and keep him calm until then,"

“I will. Bye Dr. Turner,”

“Goodbye, Mr. Stark,”

The armor wrapped around him. He lifted Steve from the floor and put him in bed. Tony made a nest around him.

“We’ll figure this out,”

He pulled a blanket over Steve.

“When will he wake up?”

"That's difficult to tell, sir. You gave him the liquid form of the knock out gas meant for Dr. Banner. It could be hours or possibly days. But I'm sure instinct will drive him to wake,"

Tony packed a bag for Piper. It should be enough. He went to the lab. Piper cried for him as soon as he entered. He quickly swept her up in his arms.

“Shh, it’s okay,”

He started softly singing to her.

“Papa will be better soon,”

She whimpered. He went to the couch and pulled up the footage from the master bedroom. Steve was unconscious. Piper reached out for the image and whined.

"You miss him,"

Piper eventually calmed enough to sleep. He put her into the playpen.

"Sir, Ms. Romanoff has arrived,"

“Let her out here,”

She silently stepped into the room bag in hand. The woman was dressed in sweatpants and an old sweater.

“How is he?”

“Unconscious,”

“You knock him out?”

"I drugged him. Didn't have any other choice,"

"I understand. I couldn't take him if he were like that. When will he wake up?"

"Hopefully, in a few hours,"

“Go to your mate. I’ll take care of her,”

“There are bottles in the fridge. If you need anything ask Jarvis,”

"I'm happy to be of service," said Jarvis.

Tony went to the elevator turning nervously back at Natasha.

"We'll be fine, go,"

He went up the penthouse. It was a mess. Tony went to the bedroom and joined Steve. The omega's breathing was steady.

"Pull up his vitals,"

He looked over the information. Everything seemed normal. At eight in the morning, Steve showed signs of waking up. He woke with a start nervously taking in his surroundings.

 

"Easy,"

Steve relaxed when he saw his mate.

“Piper?!”

“She’s with Natasha she couldn’t be safer,”

“Did I hurt anyone?”

“No, Steve. You took it out on the penthouse,”

"What if I hurt you or Piper?"

“You didn’t,”

“But I could have. What if I had slept with you and her?”

“You didn’t,”

“But I could have,”

“And I could have been born an idiot. Don’t let what could have happened get to you,”

Steve whined and pressed into his alpha.

“You'll be okay. I've called Dr. Turner. He'll be here sometime this morning,"

Steve nodded. There was no getting out of this. He had to do this for the sake of his family.

“Can I see her?”

“You don't have to ask me, Steve. Can I suggest a shower first? You smell of distress,"

Steve nodded. Tony lead him to the shower. The two soaked under the hot water. Steve pressed closely to his mate, seeking security in his touch. Tony thoroughly washed him.

“I love you,”

Steve went to the lab. Natasha was sitting on the couch, flipping through a magazine. He peered into the playpen. Piper was peacefully asleep. If he'd ever hurt he would never forgive himself. He didn't touch not wanting to risk waking her. Seeing her like this was enough.

"Natasha,
thank you,"

“You don’t have to thank me, Steve. I’m happy to do this. We all have our bad days,”

Steve nodded and returned to the elevator. Natasha sighed. She'd never seen him look so tired. What had he seen during that episode?

Steve’s anxiety lessened but it was still there nagging at him, refusing to let him truly relax. He jolted in his seat when the elevator door opened. Dr. Turner came in.

“It’s good to see you again. I know you aren’t thrilled to see me though,”

Steve gave a curt nod.

“Where would be a good place for us to talk?”

“Tony’s office,”

The alpha never stepped foot in his at home office. Steve only went in there himself to clean.

“Do you want me to come with you?” asked Tony.

“No, but can you stay close,”

“I’ll be right outside if you need me,”

Steve settled in one chair and Barny was across from him.

“It’s been a long time, Steve,”

“Sorry, I’ve been busy,”

“I would say so. Saving the world, getting married, and starting a family. All very big life steps,”

“Where do we start?”

“Why don’t we start with the Incident?”

Steve rolled his shoulders trying to relax. He didn’t want to start the conversation.

“Were you pregnant then?”

He nodded. His guilt turned miserably. He'd put his child at risk. Then it didn't seem such a frightening idea, but now that he had Piper he couldn't imagine life without her. He could have lost Tony too.

“Did Tony know?”

“No, I couldn’t tell him, not when there was so much at risk,”

“I understand your reasoning. It wasn’t wrong, Steve,”

“It felt wrong having to keep secrets from him. He forgave me but I still feel guilty,”

“Let that go. He forgave you. Tony wouldn’t want you to linger on,”

“I could have killed him,”

“What do you mean?”

“When he flew into the portal with the nuc, I could only give him so much time before I had to make the command. If I had given would second earlier his blood would be on my hands,”

Turner took a breath. This issue had been dormant for some time now. One session wouldn't be enough to lift Steve of this burden. This was only a discovery appointment where he could form a basic idea of where Steve was mentally. They moved on touching on easier topics.

“And what triggered your episode?”

“A photo of from the war,”

“Can you describe it to me?”

“I’d rather not,”

Steve groaned when his shirt grew wet. Why now?

“I’m sorry, Piper normally eats now,”

“It’s fine Steve. While on the topic have you had any discomfort nursing?”

“Pipers is good about it,”

“That’s not what I meant,”

He bit the inside of his cheek.

“I should get to her,”

He left. Barny sighed. Hopefully, Steve would willingly come back.

“Steve,”

The alpha paused when he saw the omega’s shirt.

“I’m fine,”

Tony wished he could believe that. It had taken him a great deal of effort not to pull up the footage from his office. He wanted to know what was wrong so he could fix it. There was no easy answer to this.

Steve went to the bedroom, throwing his shirt into the hamper. He grabbed a fresh one from the drawer. The fabric scratched against his skin.

“Jarvis,”

“Yes,”

“Has Piper been feed yet?”

“Not yet but she should be waking up soon,”

It was reasonable excuses to get out of therapy even if it were only for an hour. His dreams and what he saw were the last things he wanted to talk about. That could wait. He went to the lab. Natasha was watching on the computer.

“Have you finished already?” she asked.

“No, only a break. How has she been?”

“The perfect baby. Gave her a bottle in the morning. I played with for a bit then went through the Russian alphabet. Then she was out,”

Piper slowly started waking up. She gave a small cry. Steve picked her up gently rocking her. She nuzzled against his chest. He put a blanket over his shoulder and took her to his chest. Steve relaxed into the chair gently humming to her.

"She's lucky to have you and Tony,"

“I don’t know what I did to deserve someone so perfect,”

Natasha smiled softly.

"I can name at least ten reasons to why you deserve her. You're being too hard on yourself. Be selfish, enjoy this part of your life,"

Piper finished yawning softly. He kissed her on the forehead.

“Love you,”

“La,”

He put her down.

“You won’t have to watch her much longer, Nat,”

“I told you I don’t mind,”

He returned to the office. Barny sat peacefully in his chair.

“Sorry for keeping you waiting,”

"It's fine I think we've finished up here for today,"

“We have?”

"Yes, you can call in Mr. Stark,"

Tony took a seat next to him, holding his hand.

“I believe this is a case of postpartum depression that has been aggravated by PTSD and survivor's guilt. The issues are entangled fueling each other. You aren't the worse case I've seen. Relatively speaking your postpartum depression minor. I believe your episode was so strong because it repressed,"

“What’s the treatment?” asked Tony.

“The postpartum depression is temporary. I wish I could say it was the same for the rest. There will be good times and bad. There's no magic pill. But I can give you the tool to manage it. Steve, I want to meet with you twice a week more if needed,"

“I can do that,” said Steve.

“Mr. Stark, if you can join us for some of those sessions. I believe that will be beneficial for both of you,"

“Anything to help him,”

Steve scheduled his next appointment. Barny took his leave wishing them a great rest of the day. Steve relieved Natasha of babysitting. He cradled Piper. The day went smoothly. He laid in bed next to Tony with Piper between them. Tony was finishing up some note on a project. His eyes went to the arc reactor. The blue light had proven a comfort to him. But it was a burden and remaining risk. Their family had enough dangers in their life and toward their family.

“Tony,”

“Hmm,”

He took Tony’s hand gaining his full attention.

“I want you to get the surgery,”

“Are you sure, Steve?”

“Yes,”

Chapter Text

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,"

"Na,"

"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.

"Uneventful,"

“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,”

“Why not?”

“Now isn’t the time,”

“And when will be?”

“Whenever the next chance arises,”

“I'm looking forward to it,"

“Me too,”

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,”

“La,”

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.

“Steve,”

“Hmm,”

“You’re not eating,”

Steve sighed.

“Nervous,”

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.

“What?”

“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.

“Steve,”

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?”

Tony nodded.

"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.

“Yes,”

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.

“No,”

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.

“Any change?”

“No,”

“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,”

“Thank you,”

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.

“Steve,”

“After I feed her,”

"Alright,"

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.

“Steve,”

“I’m not angry, Tony,”

“You aren’t,"

"I don't enjoy surprises that's all,"

“I wasn’t trying to keep it a secret from you. It slipped my mind,”

“I know,”

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,"

“What?”

“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.

“It’s alright,”

“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,”

"It's okay,"

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.

“She’s purring,”

“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?”

“10:30ish,”

“I have an appointment with Barny today at ten so I’ll be late,”

“Shouldn’t you get going?”

Steve huffed.

“I have time. I only have to go down a few floors,”

“You’re procrastinating,”

Steve sighed.

“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.

“Morning,”

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?"

"Anxiety-inducing,"

“What parts?”

“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,"

“Okay,”

Five minutes ticked by too quickly.

“Steve,”

He bit his lip but returned to the couch.

“What if something happens? This is dangerous,”

“So is him being Ironman,”

"That's different,"

“How?”

“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.

“Tony,”

“Here,”

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,”

“Rudo,”

“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.

“Hi, Piper,”

She waved her hand. He followed Tony into the living room. Piper played with his tie.

“Where’s Steve?”

"With his therapist,"

“How’s he been?”

“Nervous,”

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,”

Tony nodded.

“I promise,”

“Thank you,”

“No problem,”

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,”

“It isn’t,”

“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,”

“Okay,”

“I’ll see you soon,”

“Yeah,”

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.

“Sorry,”

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.

“Dada!”

She whined.

“Wait,”

Tony’s heart melted. Such a simple word brought such pride. Steve walked over.

“Dada,”

“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.

“Captain Rogers,”

He turned to see a nurse behind him. Steve sighed. He couldn’t stay here.

“Dada?”

“He’ll be okay,”

She nuzzled against him and purred, pressing against him.

“Papa,”

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,”

“I’m fine,”

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.

“What’s this?”

“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.

"Hey, beautiful,"

“Tony,”

Steve carefully leaned over gently kissing Tony.

“See, you had nothing to worry about,”

Chapter Text

July 20, 2013

 

Steve followed his usual morning routine, cradling his six-month-old daughter in one arm. After her morning feeding, Piper happily crawled around on the blanket. Steve sighed, setting down his coffee mug, and started flipping through the channels.

He hadn’t sleep last night. For once, his restlessness wasn't due to nightmares or stress, but energy. He had too much of it. Instead, Steve spent the night running laps. Hours of running earned him less than an hour of sleep. He craved activity.

Steve sighed again. He loved Piper more than anything in the world, but he wanted to do more than be at home with her. Following the daily baby routine wasn’t fulfilling anymore, not that he didn't love every intimate moment with her. He just wanted something more.

Tony wasn't stopping him from working or forcing him into the stay at home omega life. Steve had fallen into it. It became a habit. When Steve grew up this was what omegas were supposed to do. This was the kind of life his mom and Bucky wanted for him. There was a time when he actually wanted a life like that, but then he’d realized there was so much more out there. He shook away the thought.

When Steve’s maternity leave ended nearly two weeks ago he had expected a flood of requests, but there was nothing. He'd checked in with S.H.I.E.L.D to make sure they were aware of his availability, but nothing happened. 

Piper was an easy baby, not posing many of the challenges most infants did, so most of his days were spent coming up with new ways to stimulate her mind. Even with her limited vocabulary, she could get her message across without crying. She was already answering yes and no questions. The only issued he'd been having with her was teething.

“Papa?”

“Hungry?” asked Steve.

She shook her head so Steve joined her on the floor. Piper offered him Plats, the platypus lovey Peggy gave her. Piper only offered up her treasured toy when she thought someone was having a bad day.

“I’m fine, sweetie,” Steve

Piper whined and wrapped her tiny hand around his finger, squeezing it.

“Daddy is coming home today.”

“Dada!”

“What? Is he your favorite?” Steve teased.

Piper instantly seemed more interested in a nearby toy. Steve smiled. Tony was in China, having gone stir crazy after his surgery. Bedrest was torture for Tony. At times Steve was almost tempted to tie him to the bed. That thought planted far too many blush-inducing ideas in the omega’s head. He touched the second band he wore on his ring finger. Made of the melted down metal pieces removed from Tony's heart, it was one of Steve’s most prized possessions.

He looked up in surprise when the elevator doors opened. Tony wasn't due home until later tonight. Natasha strode in, dressed in civilian clothes.

“Nana,” gurgled Piper in greeting.

Natasha frequently visited unannounced, seeming to find comfort in their company. Steve enjoyed it. Natasha's visits meant a chance to spar. It kept his skills sharp. She joined them on the couch, snatching the remote.

“What’s the occasion?”

“Don’t you have a session in a few hours?” replied Natasha.

"So, you came to babysit," Steve asked. There was no point in asking how she knew.

"And I wanted some quality time with my goddaughter," she agreed.

Steve just nodded.

Natasha eyed him. “You were hoping I came with a mission.” He nodded again.


“Do you think you’re ready?”

“More than,” huffed Steve. He was itching for it.

“I’ll see if there’s anything we can use you for.”

“Thanks,” said Steve with a sort of sheepish relief.

"There's nothing wrong with you."

“What?”

"Wanting to do more than the Papa thing – it doesn't mean you're a bad parent," explained Natasha.

“Would you want more?”

“I don’t know. I was made so I could never have such a chance.”

“Sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

Soon enough it was time for him to leave for his session with Dr. Turner. Piper was too busy playing with Natasha to notice him leaving.

 

*****

He sat on the couch across from the aging beta.

“Something on your mind, Steve?” Dr. Turner asked.

The question went ignored.

“How’s Piper?” A mention of Steve’s daughter was always a conversation starter.

“Good.”

“Your maternity leave is over are you worried about leaving her?”

“No, it’s the opposite,” sighed Steve.

“You want to leave.”

Steve put his head in his hands. "What kind of parent wants to leave their pup? Is this the postpartum depression coming back?"

“I don’t believe so.”

“Then what’s wrong with me,”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?” repeated Steve.

"How would you feel if you were forced to stay at home with Piper?"

“I love her,” Steve hedged.

"I know, Steve. Anyone can see that, but that's not what I asked. Give me some descriptors," said Turner gently.

“Bored, unfulfilled, uninteresting.” Steve’s guilt grew with every word.

"And there's nothing wrong with that"

“What?”

“But I’m an omega. It engrained into me to care and love my pup,”

"And that's what you're doing," affirmed Turner.

"How? I want to leave her."

 “You aren’t failing as an omega. How does your inner omega feel about leaving Piper?”

“Fine, Piper’s healthy and I trust in Tony’s skill to protect and care for her,”

"Then what's the issue?"

"This goes against every omega instinct."

"You are thinking too traditionally, Steve. Many people have gone through what you're experiencing. There are entire books about it. I would recommend The Feminine Mystique it tackles that exact subject. It was written by a female omega,"

“I’ll consider it.”

*****

The rest of the session went smoothly.

Piper smiled when she saw Steve as he returned to the tower.

“Miss me?”

Piper nodded. He scooped her up in his arms. She beamed up at him. and he could see her teeth were coming in.

"I love you,"

"Luv you."

Steve smiled. There was still enough time to spar. He needed to get this energy out.

"You want a training session," Natasha offered.

He nodded. Steve packed a bag so Piper would have something to do. She got fussy if she didn't have something to engage her mind. He set up a play area for not far from the sparing mat for her.

"Papa play?"

"Yes, Aunt Natasha and I are going to play." Steve emptied a box of Lincoln Logs in front of her. "Be good."

By the time they finished he'd worked up a good sweat. When they went to check on Piper she was tackling a Curious George stuffed animal.

"She's learning quickly," said Natasha.

They spent the rest of the day together.

“Will you be staying for dinner?” asked Steve.

"Sure, what you are making?"

“Pasta,”

“Passta," said Piper.

He put Piper in the playpen. She whined, pressing against the mesh barrier of the enclosure. "It will only be for a little while, Piper. I need to make dinner,"

“Dindin?”

“You already had dinner.”

He got started. Natasha worked on the sauce. Piper started pouting.

“Should I get her?” asked Nat.

“No, she needs to learn to be patient,”

Piper kicked angrily against the pen, causing it to scoot. Steve put the water on to boil. Plop, he looked back to see one of Piper’s toys floating in the water. He fished the teething giraffe from the pot.

“Impressive aim,” said Natasha.

“Piper,”

“Papa,”

“You’re not getting this back,”

She chucked another toy at him. He caught the block.

“Don’t throw things.”

“Don’t trow tigs,” mimicked Piper before she tossed another block at them.

Natasha laughed. “She really doesn’t like that playpen,”

"Ever since she started crawling she hates being penned in," explained Steve.

"I don’t blame her."

"I can't imagine what she'll be like when she starts walking," said Natasha.

"That's what a child leash is for,"

It might be a good investment. Piper seemed like she would wander. He went to the playpen, taking out all the toys. She glared him before crying. He hated hearing her cry, but eventually Piper went quiet, seeming to understand it was getting her nowhere. When the pasta was done and plated, he took Piper out of the playpen. She whimpered and cuddled against him.

“Sorry,"

“It’s okay,”

He set her down on the blanket near her favorite toy a pile of large Legos. Piper loved snapping together the pieces and building new shapes.

“That will keep her busy,” said Steve.

Natasha flipped through the channels stopping on TLC. Say Yes to the Dress was on.

“You like this?”

“A guilty pleasure,” she admitted. Natasha loved watching the reality TV shows. How ridiculous they were never made her smirk. It somehow made her feel better about her own life. She watched Say Yes to the Dress for a different reason; it was something she could never have. She would never have that moment.

“Nat, why haven’t they put me to work?”

“They don’t want to push you into something you’re not ready for or some bullshit excuse like that.”

“Do you think I’m ready?”

“Yes, but the question is do think you are?”

“I do.”

“I’ll make sure they know that.”

Around ten Natasha got ready to leave. Steve walked her to the elevator, Piper asleep in his arms.

“Thanks for visiting.”

“I love seeing her.”

“She always loves a visit from her, Aunt Nat.”

“I’ll call you if I could use you on an assignment.”

“Thanks.”

Steve put leftovers in the fridge for Tony before carefully setting Piper down on their bed. He took his Stark pad from the side drawer and downloaded The Feminine Mystique. Steve only used it to read. Most of what he read was nonfiction that caught him up on current events and important public figures. Halfway through he heard Tony come in so did Piper.

“I didn’t think you’d be awake,” greeted Tony.

“Can’t sleep.”

“Nightmares?”

“No, too much energy,”

“I’d be happy to help you work it off,” smiled Tony.

Steve laughed. "Always looking for an excuse."

"With you as my husband can you blame me."

“No.”

“So, is that a yes?”

“No.”

“I had to try.”

“There’s leftovers in the fridge if you’re hungry.”

“Ate on the plane.” Tony changed then joined Steve in bed. “What you reading?” he asked.

“A book Turner recommended,”

“Enjoying it?”

“It puts a light on things.”

“Is that good thing?”

Steve nodded. "How would you feel about me working again?"

"Steve, I've told I don't mind. It will be good for me to spend more time with Piper."

"Are you sure?"

“Yes,”

Tony kissed him.

“Do you mind if I sleep?” he asked.

“No,” said Steve.

 

(July 21, 2013)

 

Steve woke up the early next morning to the sound of his phone ringing. He quietly left the bed taking his phone into the bathroom.

“Hello.”

“Hey, Steve.”

“Nat.”

“I’ve got a job for you.”

“What’s the assignment?” he asked eagerly.

“It’s with S.T.R.I.K.E team,”

“When?”

“In a week, but there’s a catch,”

Of course, there was a catch. “What is it?”

"It's five days. Can you do that?"

Steve sighed. He would have to use the pump. A week would give him plenty of time to make enough bottles for Piper while he’s gone.

"I can do that. Thanks, Nat,”

She hung up. All he had to do was tell Tony. The alpha accepted the idea of him working in theory, so hopefully, he'd be just as accepting in reality. He tucked his phone into his pocket, returning to their bedroom.

“Papa, hungry.”

He took Piper to his chest. She latched. He winced when accidentally bit him.

“Teeth, Piper,”

She tried following his request, but hunger outweighed her patience. Steve sighed accepting it. Maybe transitioning to the bottle wouldn't be a bad idea. When she was done, Steve put her in a yellow dress. The sunflower headband she wore stood out in her dark hair. He set her down on a blanket so she could play. Tony never was a big breakfast person, especially when he was jet-lagged, so Steve just ate two bagels.

“What to go on a run?” he asked Piper.

“Yay!”

“Jarvis put a pot of coffee on for Tony.”

“Of course.”

Tony woke around 8:30. Steve’s side of the bed was empty. He probably went for a morning run. The smell of coffee lured him out of bed. He poured himself a mug. Tony went through fridge taking out last night leftovers. He took several bites before putting it back in the fridge. Steve came back an hour later. He seemed relaxed.

“Have a good run?”

“Yeah.”

“Dada! Dada!”

“There’s my little girl!”

Tony took her from Steve tossing her into the air. She giggled.

“She missed you,”

“I was only gone a few days,”

"That's an eternity to her,"

Tony nuzzled Piper as she purred. Steve's fingers tapped nervously against the counter.

“Say what’s on your mind,” said Tony.

“I got an assignment.”

“When?”

“A week, I’ll be gone for five days.”

Tony gulped. He would be alone with Piper for five days. That would be the longest the two had ever spent together alone.

“You don’t want me to go,” said Steve.

"No, that's not it. The idea of being alone with Piper for five days is a bit intimidating, but I'm sure I'll manage." With his free arm, he hugged Steve.

“So you’ll let me go?”

“‘Letting’ implies I can make you do anything.”

“You’re okay with me going?”

“Yes.”

 

(July 28, 2013)

A week later Steve woke at four in the morning to leave for the mission. His bag was already packed and ready to go. Tony and Piper were asleep. He glanced back at the bed. Piper was tucked securely in Tony's arms. He returned to bed and kissed them both.

“I love you,”

He crept out of their room and to the elevator. Steve got onto his bike. It had been years since he was last on a motorcycle. He started the engine and speed off to S.H.I.E.L.D. Steve pulled into the parking, freezing for a moment when he saw Agent Coulson's empty parking space. He shook off the feeling. Coulson died over a year ago.

Steve changed into his desert uniform. He paused before putting on his shirt. S.T.R.I.K.E team, especially if Rumlow a member of the assignment, would never let him live it down if he started lactating on assignment. He wrapped his chest before putting on his shirt.

“Ready to go, Cap,” said Natasha.

He nodded, surprised she wasn't dressed in a black jumpsuit. Instead, she wore baggy cargo pants, a t-shirt, and a cotton shawl over her head. He nodded, following her to jet and the four members of the S.T.R.I.K.E. team. Rumlow smirked at him.

“Finally, off diaper duty.”

Steve nodded but stayed silent. It was best not to feed into it. Doing that would only egg Rumlow on. He got into the jet, taking a seat next Natasha. It was a long flight to Egypt. Their target was hidden in the Mount Sinia mountain range. It was supposed to be a place of peace.

Tony woke up to Piper wailing. At some point, while they were sleeping she'd gotten out of his arms and crawled to Steve's side of the bed.

“Papa!”

He picked her up, rocking her gently. Her cries turned to soft whimpers. He gently rubbed her back.

“Papa?”

“He’s at work.”

Her small brow wrinkled. She didn’t understand. Piper wouldn’t understand even if he explained what work was. He rubbed her back.

“Change,” she whined.

"Didn't need to tell me that, sweetie,"

She squirmed uncomfortably in his hold.

“Hold on,”

Tony set her down on the changing table. He took a breath before unfastening the diaper, throwing it out and putting her in a fresh one. Ever since they'd started introducing solid food her diapers had taken on a new level of stink, apparently, that was normal.

“Parrots or elephants?” he asked holding up two onesies.

Piper looked between the two and pointed to the parrots, then smiled. It was a small distraction. Eventually, she would figure out that Steve was gone.

“Parrots, it is.”

“And shoes?” Tony picked up several pairs of shoes. Piper pointed to a pair of red sequined shoes with little flowers along the band. He slipped them onto her tiny feet. She instantly grabbed at her sparkling toes, giving a happy squeal.

“You have an interesting taste in style, Pipes,”

She pointed to a drawer.

“Stay.”

She nodded. He pulled it open. It was filled with headbands and hats. He took out several, holding up different options. She pointed to an orange one lined with small orange flowers.

“Satisfied?”

She nodded.

“Hungry,”

Tony picked her up and placed her on her blanket in front of a pile of blocks. He put a bottle in the warmer and Jarvis turned on the news. The toys seemed to catch her interest while Tony waited for the warmer to bing. He tested it against his wrist. When he tried taking her from her toy she cried.

“Toy!”

“It will be there later.”

“No.”

Tony sighed. He would be hearing a lot more of that in the future. He prayed she wouldn't be half as rebellious as him. Shit, he put his mother through so much when he was teen. He glanced down his baby daughter playing. It was almost impossible for him to believe she’d ever grow up. Why couldn’t she stay this way it would make things so much easier?

She had no idea what he was thinking. Piper was too occupied with the wooden magnetic blocks. She was obsessed with them, unable to figure out how they stuck together. They were big enough for him not to worry about her choking on them. About ten minutes later hunger overcame her interest.

“Hungry.”

Tony scooped her up, offering her the bottle. She huffed, pushing away the bottle.

“Papa?”

“He’s not here,”

She screamed.

“We’ll try this again later.”

He put her in the high chair and put on her bib. Tony placed a bowl of mashed avocado in front of her. She instantly jammed her hands into it and flung a handful of at him.

“Nope.”

He took the bowl away. She huffed at him but settled her back in her chair. He offered her a spoonful of the greenish mush. She opened her mouth to eat, and eventually finished off the entire bowl. He wiped off her face. How she managed to get it all over her face was beyond him. On the second attempt, she accepted the bottle. He hummed to her as she ate. Those innocent blues eyes looked up at him.

“You are so perfect.”

Once she finished he set her back down and packed a diaper bag. Dum-E and U would keep her entertained in the lab. The bots hadn’t lost their fascination with her. He picked her up again and took her to the lab and made a play area for her. As soon as he set her down Dum-E and U sped over to her.

“Dum, U!” cooed Piper.

The two bots happily entertained her. Every time she tossed a toy they'd go rushing after it. Sometimes Tony had to break up fights between bots over who returned the toy to her.

 

*****

Their jet finally landed. Steve instantly got out his seat stretching out. A wave of heat hit him as they stepped foot into a desert. Large sand dunes surrounded them.

“I thought we were meeting at the base?” questioned Steve.

“This is the base, Cap,” said Rumlow.

He looked to Natasha. She nodded. The ground shook under their feet. A massive building erupted from the sand. How many places like this did S.H.I.E.L.D. have? A stern, middle-aged woman stepped out. She seemed irritated. Her curly chestnut hair was tied in a ponytail. Her olive skin weathered from years of working in such terrain. She was dressed in lightweight clothes with her arms crossed. Her brown eyes only softening slightly when she spotted Natasha.

“Neema,” greeted Natasha.

"It's nice to see you, Natasha."

Neema just glared at the rest them. “Follow me.”

Steve relaxed instantly when cool air touched him. He wasn’t built for this kind of heat. The team followed Neema into what seemed to be the heart of the base, where she immediately pulled up an attack plan. The wrath of the woman’s glare seemed to be focused on Rumlow. Steve couldn’t fault her for that. The plan seemed pretty straightforward.

Steve tensed when ‘Ten Rings’ was mentioned. They had kidnapped he and Tony, mutilated his mate, and exposed his unborn daughter to a dangerous chemical. He had a dog in this fight.

“This is pretty straight forward. I don’t see why we need your assistance. My people can handle this,” said Neema.

“Don’t get your panties in a bunch, we’re only assisting,” said Rumlow.

The beta’s hand went to her knife.

“You haven’t changed,” she said.

“Still hanging onto the past. The promotion hasn’t changed that much,” he said.

Neema’s hands fisted. Natasha cleared her throat, breaking the tension between the two.

"A large team will draw too much attention. It will be better to go in with a small squad. Natasha, Captain Rogers, one of my men, and I will make up that group. Rumlow you and your men will provide backup,” said Neema.

Rumlow’s jaw locked.

“Is that a problem?” she asked.

"This is your operation," he said.

"And I thought that fact escaped you," said Neema.

There was something so satisfying about seeing Rumlow put in his place.

“When do we go?” asked Steve.

“Tonight,” she said as they left the debriefing room.

“What is Neema’s position?” asked Steve.

"She head of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s operation in North Africa. She worked ruthlessly to get the position,” said Natasha.

Steve got the idea that ruthless wasn’t only describing Neema’s work ethic.

“What’s her history with Rumlow?”

"They trained together and were rivals for a while, competing for the head of S.T.R.I.K.E. Rumlow was lead on a deciding mission. He miscalculated. Got the entire team was killed except for him and Neema. Him being him, he pinned it on her. By the time it was cleared up he was given the position and she was demoted,” said Natasha.

"And how does she know you?"

"I was the one who cleared things up, but the higherups wanted Rumlow,”

“Why?”

“The board wanted him. There’s always a glass ceiling,”

He spent most of the day with Natasha. Around five his chest a slight ache spread across his chest.

“Steve?”

“It’s nothing.”

She raised an eyebrow. He sighed.

“I didn’t get a chance to nurse Piper before I left.”

“Oh.”

Steve laughed. It so rare that he left Natasha speechless. She seemed to have a response for everything.

“Do you need to do anything?”

“No, I’ll be fine,”

Part of him was tempted to call Tony but now wasn’t the right time.

“It’s okay to miss them,” said Natasha.

Steve didn’t think he’d be missing them so soon.

“It doesn’t make you weak.”

Soon enough it was time to head out. He boarded a jet with Natasha and Neema. They landed as close to the target area as possible. Their small squad made their way toward the base. A dark narrow entrance came into view. Steve crept forward shield at the ready. Instantly ducking as gunfire pinged defenselessly against it. He took out the gunman.

The tunnel forked. He and Natasha split off to the right. They were forced into a single file approach as the tunnel narrowed further. In some areas, he was forced to lower his shield to side at some points.

His keen muscle memory of battle activated for the first time months. The activity he craved for months was finally satisfied. It was over to soon. He continued through the maze of tightly knitted maze of tunnels, Natasha watching his back. An explosion went off shaking the ground.

“Neema?” Natasha called over the radio.

“We’re fine.” Neema replied. "One of them ran, setting off a booby trap. Keep a lookout."

Their pace slowed, barely missing several pitfall traps with spiked barbs. The space was too large for the average person to jump.

“Get on my back.”

Natasha climbed onto his back and Steve easily made the leap, even with her added weight. She slid off him. It took hours just for them clear the maze. Steve sighed knowing it would take days too clear this out.

 

*****

 

Tony sat in bed with the Piper cradled in one arm. With the other, he worked. He'd managed to keep her mind off Steve's absence for most of the day. He gazed down at her, her blue eyes verging on closing. She yawned, falling asleep. He doubted tomorrow would be easier than today.

Around one in the morning, he was able to fall asleep. Three hours later Piper's screaming woke him up. Jarvis instantly turned on the lights. His eyes stung as they adjusted. He searched for any signs that would have caused her to make such a sound. She seemed okay, dry diaper.

“What’s wrong, pumpkin?”

She only cried. He picked her up taking her into the kitchen, taking a bottle from the fridge. While waiting for it to warm he hummed to her. He gave her the bottle as she reached for it

“I thought we passed the late night feedings, Pipes.”

Her eyes began closing again after she finished off half the bottle. He walked back to the bedroom.

“Papa.”

She reached toward the studio doors. Ah. That's where she thought he was. Steve would lock himself in his studio for hours when he was having a bad. Tony thought Piper would put that together. He sighed, pushing open the doors to the studio. Piper looked around. The confusion was so clear in her expression. She started whimpering.

“He’ll be back in four days,”

She started wailing. Looked like three hours of sleep would be all he’d get today. He sighed and started walking her around the penthouse, all the while singing Steve’s lullaby to her:

Rest tired eyes a while
Sweet is thy baby’s smile
Angels are guarding and they watch o’er thee
Sleep, sleep, grah mo chree
Here on you mamma’s knee
Angels are guarding
And they watch o’er thee
The birdeens sing a fluting song
They sing to thee the whole day long
Wee fairies dance o’er hill and dale
For very love of thee
Dream, Dream, grah mo chree
Here on your Mamma’s knee
Angels are guarding and they watch o’er thee
As you sleep may Angels watch over
And may they guard o’er thee.
The primrose in the sheltered nook
The crystal stream the babbling brook
All these things God’s hands have made
For very love of thee
Twilight and shadows fall
Peace to His children all
Angels are guarding and they watch o’er thee
As you sleep
May Angels watch over and May the guard o’er thee

 

 

July 29, 2013

 

By the twentieth verse, Piper fell asleep, so Tony put her to bed again. Hopefully, there wouldn't be any more disruptions. At six in the morning wailing resumed. So much for sleep. He went through Piper’s morning routine. Even after being fed and changed she wouldn’t stop crying. Maybe it was the teeth. He took her teething ring from the freezer offering it to her. She threw it and screeched.

“Can’t make easy for me can you?”

“Papa!”

“He’s not here.”

She screamed directly in his ear.

“That won’t make him come back.”

Those tearful blue eyes did a number on him. They had the same effect as Steve’s -something he would do anything to repair. There was nothing he could do to mend this. Was it to soon to call Steve? It would be twelve in Egypt, the middle of the workday. Waiting until night would be better.

Steve checked his phone for what had to be the hundredth time today. Tony hadn’t called him yet. He expected a call as soon as he left.

“Is someone homesick?”

He glared at Rumlow. The alpha had taken some shrapnel to the leg and was overplaying it to get out of the heavy lifting. They’d spent the night there. Steve went back in to grab another crate. It would take days to catalog, which meant hours of work potentially in front of a computer. He tossed Rumlow a clipboard.

“What’s this?”

"Since you can't help with the physical labor start on the paperwork."

“What’s the rush? Missing your family,”

“Get to work,” said Steve entering the cave.

Steve didn't get a single phone call that day. He couldn't call home himself. This was something he had to get used to this. He would have to go on assignments, so both he and Piper would have to adjust. Steve tucked his phone into his back pocket.

 

August 1, 2013

 

Tony was exhausted after three days with less than six hours of sleep. He wasn't the only one lacking sleep. Piper’s crankiness led to several holes in the walls penthouse from the toys she'd thrown. He would have to patch those holes before Steve got home.

“Sir?”

The only period of silence he was granted was when Piper ate. He could stay up for days at a time with ease working on a project, but that was different. He didn't have a crying pup breaking his concentration.

“What?!”

“I’m only reminding you that Piper has an appointment with Dr. Banner today in an hour,” said Jarvis.

“Fuck.”

Human interaction was the last thing he wanted to deal with right now, but Piper’s checkup was more important than his preference.

“Want to see, Uncle Bruce?” Tony cajoled.

“Bru.”

Piper smiled. It was the first one he'd seen all day and Tony relaxed. Seeing that single expression melted his stress and tiredness away. He put her down in the playpen. She didn't fuss, yawning softly. A small victory. Tony laid down on the couch. He only needed a few minutes to close his eyes, that’s all. In what felt like seconds later, Jarvis woke him up.

“Sir.”

“I’m up.”

He brought Piper to the medical floor. She was only half awake. He rocked her in his lap, waiting for Bruce. The door opened.

Bruce stopped and stared at the tired man hunched over in the chair, bouncing an equally tired pup in his lap. There were bags under his eyes and he was unshaved.

“You look terrible,” said Bruce.

Stark glared at him.

“I thought she was sleeping through the night.”

“She was then Steve left for work.”

“Oh, when will he come back?”

“Tomorrow. Will it always be like this?”

“She’ll adjust.”

“How long will that take?”

“It’s different for every child. Shall we get started?”

Tony handed her over. He closed his eyes resting them for a few minutes, trusting Bruce to take care of her.

“Bru,”

“Hi, Piper,”

She smiled tiredly.

“Not making it easy for your dad are you,”

He performed the average checkup. Everything was fine. Bruce put Piper back in her clothes, Piper nodding off in his arms. Tony was asleep in the chair.

“Jarvis.”

“Yes, Dr. Banner.”

"When Stark wakes up tell him I have Piper."

“Of course.”

Bruce quietly closed the door, taking Piper up to the penthouse. He laid her in her crib. She was out in seconds. Bruce couldn't leave her. There was something wrong about leaving her alone. He settled in the rocking chair across from her, taking a book from his bag. There was something so peaceful to this.

He paused on a page resting the book on his lap. Piper was an amazing child. He truly looked forward to seeing what the future held for her. Children had never been something he'd thought about. It wasn't an option now, of course. Piper was probably the closest he'd ever come. Her parents were some of the few that would ever trust him with a child. He returned to his book.

Tony woke around three in the afternoon. Piper!

“Don’t worry, sir, she’s with Bruce,” said Jarvis.

Tony instantly relaxed. His back was stiff from sleeping in the chair. “How long was I out?”

“Five hours.”

Tony rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He needed a shower. Hopefully, the green giant wouldn’t mind babysitting for a little while longer. When he got to the penthouse he found Bruce laying on the floor running an intelligence test on Piper. She thought it was a game.

Tony shrugged not caring. He constantly tested Piper’s growing intelligence. Bruce didn’t notice when he walked by. He went to his room, shedding his clothes, and got into the shower. The hot water helped wake him up. He toweled off and changed into fresh clothes before heading to the kitchen.

“Bruce, I can take over.”

“Oh.”

“Unless you want to watch her a bit longer.”

“If you don’t mind.” said Bruce.

“She’s all yours.”

Tony instantly went to bed, out as soon as his head hit the pillow. Around eight he relieved Bruce of nanny duty. As soon as Bruce left the crying started up again. The quiet was nice when it lasted.

Steve paced outside the campsite. The night was so much more tolerable than the heat of the day. The sky was beautiful. He checked his phone. Steve twisted the rings on his finger. It was three in the morning here but he was still on New York time. It finally rang.

“Tony.”

“Hey, sweetheart,”

His voice was tired. In the background, Piper was wailing.

“I’m sorry to call you at work but she won’t settle down and my voice isn’t doing it for her. Could you sing to her?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll put you on speaker.”

Piper instantly became alert when she heard Steve’s voice.

“Let me see her,” said Steve.

He smiled when saw Piper. Her face went alight and she sniffled, her tears drying.

“Hey, sugar lump.”

“Papa.”

“I miss you so much.”

She reached out. His heart ached not being able to touch her.

“Having trouble sleeping?’

She whimpered. He started singing to her. When she fell asleep to the song, Tony took him off speaker.

“Thank you, sweetheart,” said Tony

“I don’t mind. I miss you and Piper.”

“I miss you too.”

Steve wanted to reach out and cuddle his mate. Steve sighed. He’d done his job. Now it was time to go home.

“You must really miss us to sigh like that.”

“I should have taken a shorter mission. We’ll start slower next time so we can get adjusted,”

“Yeah.”

“I love you, Tony.”

“Love you too.”

“I’ll be home soon.”

“See you soon.” Tony hung up.

Steve smiled. They would be leaving later today. He couldn't wait to see his family. He groaned, his chest growing damp. The stains were too prominent to hide, luckily most of the camp was asleep. He heard laughter.

“Someone clearly misses his pup.”

He glared at Rumlow.

“You should be with your pup.”

For the first time, he found himself agreeing with Rumlow. He knew the alpha meant a more permanent stay, so Steve only glared at the alpha. Anything more would only tip off Rumlow’s ego. He went to the tent he shared with Nat. She was working on something on her laptop. He took off his shirt drying his chest with it before putting on a fresh one.

“Ready to go home?” asked Natasha.

“Yes.”

On learning that Steve was coming back, Piper was finally settling down for him. She napped, ate, and played with little fuss. It had taken her nearly five days to accept the idea that Steve was away. He would catch her staring at the elevator door every now and then.

“Papa?”

“He’s coming home today.”

She smiled. Tony sat down with on the pink fluffy blanket beside Piper and built a block tower with her. Blocks, Legos, Lincoln logs anything she could build with; she never lost interest in them. Piper handed him Plats.

“I’m fine, baby girl.”

“Dada.”

“Yes.”

“Luv you.”

He kissed her on the forehead.

“Love you too, pumpkin.”

Tony got up, instantly stepping on one of Piper’s Legos.

“Fuck!”

“Fuc!”

"No, Papa will kill me if you learn your first curse word so soon."

“Fuc!”

She smiled brightly. This was more than mimicking behavior. Piper was teasing him. No, he was overthinking this.

“Dora?”

Tony groaned. The last time he watched Dora the Explorer that damn theme song was stuck in his head for days. “Please anything else? Like Sesame Street or Bob the Builder?”

“Bob.”

“Thank you.”

 

August 2, 2013

 

Steve arrived back at the New York S.H.I.E.L.D. facility at eleven that night. It would be close to one in the morning when he got home. He swung onto his bike, starting up the engine and speeding home, not caring if it earned him several tickets. Steve pulled into the garage. He toed off his shoes before entering the penthouse.

“Welcome home.”

"Thanks, Jarvis."

Steve maneuvered through the toys littering the room, shed his clothes and got into bed with his mate and pup.

“Hey, sweetheart,” murmured Tony.

“I didn’t mean to wake you. “

“It’s alright. I’m happy to see you.”

Tony kissed him. Piper stirred against them.

“Papa,”

She wriggled out of Tony’s hold, scooting toward Steve. He held her closely, breathing in her scent.

“I missed you so much, Piper.”

“Papa,” she purred, quickly falling back asleep.

“Glad you’re home.”

“Me too.”

Chapter Text

January 1, 2016

Among the holiday cheer, Piper's third birthday stood out. It was only one day away and their little girl wouldn’t let them forget it. Steve thought about how far they’d come as he finished up his morning workout.

A lot had happened in three years. The Battle of Greenwich was another strike against the normal that followed the chaos of The Battle of New York. Steve’s and Tony’s hands were tied with Piper so young. If they'd gone, they’d only been in the way. They knew so little of what caused it. Even after a full debriefing from S.H.I.E.L.D., there were still unanswered questions.

Eventually, they managed to find some sort of balance between work and family. It wasn't perfect: he'd missed Piper's first steps while on a mission; Tony missed Piper reading her first book. But they did their best.

There were good things too, which brought calm to the chaos. Pepper and Maria Hill got married in a beautiful ceremony - Piper was the flower girl. The couple had tried for a pup. But after multiple rounds of IVF, Maria and Pepper were now excited to adopt.

Sometimes, Steve couldn’t believe that Piper was already turning three. It felt like just yesterday she was taking her first steps. She was capable of such emotional complexity rivaling that of a teenager. Then, at the same time, she could have the naivety and childish behavior befitting her age. They’d tested her IQ when she was two. She’d earned a score of 180, breaking all previous records for someone in her age range.

They hadn’t published the information; it would be too much attention even if the news was positive. Piper’s intelligence made her a greater target, so Steve and Tony kept her out of the spotlight as much as possible. That didn’t stop the paparazzi from trying to nab Piper’s picture. Steve almost lost it when some desperate reporter crashed a family picnic, huge camera in hand. It scared Piper! She was too young to understand the greedy clicks and sharp flashes. Keeping Piper calm was the only thing that kept Steve from attacking. Fortunately, for everyone’s safety, most of the press was respectful.

Steve took a breath as he stretched after finishing his workout. He headed to the shower, giving Piper a few more minutes of precious sleep. Steve got dressed and crept into her room, only to find the floor littered with Legos and Hot Wheels. It was Piper’s attempt at stopping them from waking her. Steve hated stepping on those damn plastic blocks, so he carefully tiptoed toward her. Stacks of books were piled by her racecar bed and all he could see was messy tufts of hair peaking from under the covers. Her dark brown hair had changed color in the past three years, becoming honey brown with golden highlights. It would probably darken, as she got older, as Tony's did.

“Sweetie pie, it’s time to wake up.”

She whined burrowing under the covers. Steve gently shook her awake.

“Papa.” Her voice was groggy.

“It’s time to wake up.”

“No.”

“If you don’t wake up by the count of three the tickle monster will come.”

She whined.

“One, two, three!” He tickled her.

“Papa stop! I’m up,” she giggled.

Piper sat up her tossing off her blanket, revealing her blue fire truck pajamas; she refused to wear anything else since receiving them for Christmas. Becoming a fireman was her most recent career obsession. She'd talked about it nonstop for the last three months.

Normally, her career interests changed from day to day, or even hourly. Steve nearly had a panic attack when she said she wanted to be a soldier. He still wasn't sure if she’d caught his expression, but he was glad she never mentioned it again. A fireman was safe. No one would try and hurt her in such a profession. Steve shook his head; he was putting too much thought into it. She was only three!

“Papa?”

"I'm okay, sweetie."

She gave him a doubtful look.

“Go brush your teeth.”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

“What?”

"Why do you have to brush your teeth before you eat? It makes more sense to brush them after so food doesn't taste funny," she said.

“Go,” Steve instructed.

“Why does Daddy get to sleep in?”

Steve sighed. Tony was slightly hungover from his New Years Eve Party.

"He doesn't. Why don't you go wake him up?"

Piper smiled brightly.

“Really?”

“Go ahead.”

Piper agilely made her way through the minefield of toys and snuck into her parent’s room. Daddy was asleep! She pounced on him. He groaned.

“Daddy, its time to wake up.”

Where did she get this kind of energy? Right, she was a super soldier toddler with near-boundless energy. Maybe he could sway over to his side, Tony thought.

“Isn’t it a bit early?”

“Kinda,” Piper agreed.

She yawned cutely and Tony opened up the blankets. Piper quickly crawled under.

“Daddy?”

“Hmm.”

“Your breath is stinky.”

"And yours smells just as bad, so we're even."

“Okay.”

She cuddled up against him.

“Love you.”

“Love you too, Pipes.”

Tony fell asleep with his daughter in his arms.

Steve waited in the kitchen for the rest of his family. When they didn’t show, he checked in their bedroom. Piper and Tony were cuddled up together. The scene melted his heart.

“Jarvis,” Steve whispered.

“Yes.”

“Can you get a picture of this?”

“Of course.”

“Got it?”

“Yes,”

"Wake up!"

“Why don’t you join us?” asked Tony.

“Yeah, Papa.”

Steve was almost tempted. "No, it's time to wake up. Both of you out of bed, and Piper go brush your teeth."

"Well, you heard him, Piper. It’s time for you to get up."

“Fine.” Piper hurried back to her room. Steve moved next to Tony, offering him an Advil and a glass of water.

“I told you to take it easy."

"It was my last New Year's Eve Party. I had to go out with a bang,"

“You aren’t a young alpha anymore, Tony. You’re almost fifty.”

"Four more years until fifty. That's not almost. And this coming from the ninety-seven-year-old?" Tony took the Advil from Steve. “You’re not going to let me sleep.”

"Nope, that wouldn't be fair. Come on," said Steve dragging his husband out of bed.

"I'll shower, then I'll be right out," Tony capitulated.

Steve kissed him on the forehead. “I love you.”

“Love you too, beautiful.”

Steve went into the kitchen where Piper was already waiting at the counter. He made toast and cheesy scrambled eggs. Steve handed her a plate.

“Thank you, Papa.”

“No, problem, sugar lump.”

“What do you want to drink?”

“Chocolate milk.”

He gave her a sippy cup.

“What do you want for your birthday?”

“A doggy.”

“You how Dad feels about dogs.”

“Can always build you one, Pipes,” said Tony, walking in and settling down at the counter.

“That’s not the same.”

“I don’t see how.”

“You’ve never had a pet before.”

“Neither have you, sweetie.”

“But I wanna know what it's like to have a pet."

“We know,” said Steve.

She'd written a fifteen-paged research paper titled The Beneficial Aspects of Dog Ownership for the Preadolescent Child. It was properly formatted and sourced. It made a convincing argument, but Piper was a handful enough by herself. Adding a dog into the equation would be impossible.

“Papa and I planned something special for your birthday," said Tony.

“Is Uncle Thor coming to my birthday party?!”

Steve chuckled softly. Piper had a crush on Thor. She failed hopelessly at trying to hide it. What was funnier, however, was how awkwardly Tony reacted to it.

"I don't know. Thor is busy in outer space. He has to take care of his people," said Steve.

"Oh, okay," she said.

Steve leaned against the fridge. He hoped Thor was alright. There had been few signs of the demi-god since Greenwich. Thor could handle himself; he was sure the man was fine.

“I'm done," said Piper. She jumped down from her seat, putting her plate in the dishwasher.

“Daddy, would you do my hair, please?”

“Let me finish my coffee first.”

“Okay, can I watch TV?”

“Sure.”

Piper glanced up to Papa to make sure it was okay. He nodded.

"What do you feel like watching, little miss?" asked Jarvis.

“Thomas the Tank Engine.”

Tony finished off his coffee and called “Pipes, get your hair things.”

She darted off to her room, returning with a bag of hair supplies.

“How do you want your hair today?”

"Something simple."

“Bun or braids.”

“Braids.”

“Boxer braids it is.”

Steve watched as Tony did their daughter's hair. Piper sat in front Tony completely relaxed as he combed her hair. He couldn't believe it the first time he watched them. Tony had a remarkable talent for braiding and styling the little girl's hair. The most Steve could manage was pigtails.

"Hair tie," said Tony.

Piper handed him two hair ties, each with a purple bunny on it.

"Thank you," she said when he was done.

"You're welcome, pumpkin," he said.

"Why do you call me, pumpkin? I'm not a cultivar of the squash family," she said.

Tony smiled, kissing her on the head. “It’s a term of endearment,” he explained.

“Why are pumpkins orange?”

“They are orange because they contain an organic pigment, carotenoid, which gives them that color," he said.

“Okay. I’m going to play now.”

“Alright.”

Ever since Piper could string together a sentence she questioned everything. Sometimes even Tony didn't have the answer to her questions. He found himself brushing up on random facts just in case he needed to answer some off-hand question. He glanced at his mate. Steve was staring blankly in the direction of Piper's room.

 "What?" asked Tony.

"Do you ever worry about her?" asked Steve.

“Every day."

"I mean socially," said Steve.

Piper could play for hours alone in her own little world and didn't seem to mind solitude at all. They'd tried introducing her to kids her own but she showed little to no interest in them, preferring to be by herself. Every person invited to her birthday party was an adult.

“She seems fine to me. I was the same way at her age. Any kid my age seemed like an unintelligible idiot to me. And I turned out fine,” said Tony.

“Debatable," said Steve.

Tony rolled his eyes. “You worry too much. Piper is only three, Steve. She has plenty of time to make friends."

"So, I'm worried over nothing."

“It’s in our job description to worry. We’re parents.“

Steve ran his fingers through his hair, his posture relaxing.

“So how long do you think this fireman obsession will last?” asked Tony.

"Hopefully, at least till her birthday," said Steve.

“Besides a dog, has she asked for anything else?” asked Tony.

"Nothing, she told me her Christmas gifts were enough. She has enough toys anyway,” said Steve.

Instead of a playroom, Piper had an entire floor of the tower dedicated to her toys. It was one of her favorite places; her absolute favorite place being Tony's lab. She loved nothing more than to help him work on his latest project.

Piper sat on her bedroom floor building a city of blocks and Legos. She paid a little attention to her parents' conversation. Why were they so worried about her having friends? So what if the average age of her closest friends was 218.66 years? Papa's and Thor's age threw off the average bit. It's not that she didn't want friends her own age, but the only other three-year-old she met blew a snot bubble and that was the end of that interaction.

She grew tired of blocks and took out some of the math problems Daddy had given her last week. The problems varied in difficulty. Some would take her hours, some only minutes. She looked over the problem.

q = 1/2nv2

The dynamic pressure q generated by a fluid moving with velocity v can be found using the formula above, where n is the constant density of the fluid. An aeronautical engineer uses the formula the dynamic pressure of a fluid moving with velocity v and the same fluid moving with velocity 1.5v. What is the ratio of the dynamic pressure of the slower fluid?

Piper jotted down her answer. She grabbed the packet and went into the living room where Papa was looking at something on his tablet. She climbed onto the couch, peaking over his shoulder, catching the glimpse of the title How to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables.

“I won’t eat broccoli even if you put it in a muffin.”

"You've caught me. There has to be a vegetable you like."

“I like potatoes.”

“Potatoes don’t count.”

“Why?”

“They are starch. You need green veggies to grow big and strong.”

“I'm already strong. And I don't want to be big like you when I get older."

“They’re good for you, Piper.”

“Then why do they taste yucky?”

“That’s your opinion, not a fact."

“If I research and find proof that broccoli is gross will stop trying to make me eat it?”

“No.”

“Wasn’t there a veggie you didn’t like when you were young?”

“Boiled cabbage but I grew to like it when I got older.”

It wasn't a complete lie. He'd hated it until recently. During the Depression it was a cheap food source, so he must have eaten several pounds of it. Only recently had he come to almost enjoy it.

"Did you need something, sweetie?" Steve asked.

“Would you go over my spelling?”

“Sure.”

Steve took a pencil from the table. Piper had difficulty spelling. She spelled phonetically. She also had trouble with b and d, using them interchangeably. Years of reading Howard and Tony's handwriting made it easy for him to translate her jumbled words. She looked over his shoulder watching his corrections before he handed it back to her.

“Did I do well?”

“Yes, your spelling has improved,” smiled Steve.

“After Daddy goes over my work, can we paint?”

“Sure, we can.”

Piper hurried off to the elevator. Steve smiled. Piper restored his joy in painting. It wasn't only a coping mechanism, now. Their paintings hung on the walls of the penthouse and her first finger painting was in their bedroom. Steve doubted Piper would come back up from the lab; if Tony was working on a project then so was she.

Piper stood on her tippy toes pressing the button for Daddy's lab. She was only allowed access to three floors: home, her playroom, and the lab. Multiple times she’d tried breaking into Jarvis, but failed every time. Daddy updated the AI’s system every time she got close. The elevator doors opened.

“Daddy.”

He instantly pulled up a stool for her. She quickly took up the invitation.

“I need your fingers.” Tony scooped her up, placing her in his lap. She easily connected the two wires he’d been working on.

“Amazing!”

“It was only two wires. May I have your scraps?”

Tony set her down by her miniature work desk and placed the leftover pieces in front of her. From the top shelf, he took a sticker and glitter encrusted toolbox filled it with spare tools and old ones he never used. Tucked into that sparkling box was the screwdriver from Malibu.

“Don’t make anything has the possibility to explode.”

"Everything has the possibility to explode. I like it when things go boom. Maybe I should make things that explode.”

Tony tensed.

“Not weapons,” Piper explained immediately. “I was thinking of fireworks. I'll be a firewoman that makes fireworks.”

Piper frowned.

"Hey, what is it, baby girl?"

"Papa, wouldn't like that,"

“Why do you think that?”

“He’s doesn’t like the sound. It makes him go dark.” That was her way of describing Steve’s PTSD. It was perfect. "I don't like when that happens. Why does it happen?"

Tony tensed. He thought she’d ask sooner. “I think that’s something you have to ask Papa."

“Okay.”

They toiled away together. Piper started nodding off around one in the afternoon, so Tony picked her up.

“I’m not sleepy,” Piper protested

“Sure, you aren’t,” agreed Tony.

 

*****

Steve looked up from his sketchbook when the elevator doors slid open. Tony strode in with Piper asleep in his arms.

“Shh.”

Tony quietly moved to her bedroom. He pulled the blankets over her. She could be a headache, but he loved her with everything in him. He hadn’t thought it was possible to feel that way. Tony didn't know what he'd do without her.

She never napped long, an hour at most, but it was needed. Missing that nap significantly increased the chances of a tantrum. Her first tantrum was a nightmare which left dents in the floor from where she'd struck her fists. Tony quietly closed the door behind him.

“Steve?”

Blue eyes looked up from his sketchbook.

“She asked about your dark time.”

That brief moment of eye contact told Tony how much the single sentence hit a nerve. Pressing wasn’t the answer.

“She did? How did that come up?”

"She wants to be a firewoman who makes fireworks. But swiftly changed her mind when she remembered you don't like fireworks," explained Tony.

Steve preferred calling it that, ‘going dark’. It felt less broken than ‘PTSD’ or ‘having an episode’.

“I was wondering when she would ask. Why now?”

“Maybe she finally put it together."

Steve nodded. “I was hoping it would take longer.”

He glanced at the clock. “I have to go.” Steve went to the office where he met Barny once a week. A plate of muffins was waiting for him. As much as he hated going to these sessions, he needed them.

“Piper asked about it,” Steve said in place of ‘hello.’

Barny was caught off guard, barely managing to hide his expression. Steve never started the conversation, with the exception of maybe a greeting. “What did she ask you?”

“She didn’t ask me. She asked Tony.”

“Would you have rather her ask you?"

“I don’t know how I’d respond,” admitted Steve.

“Maybe she knows how uncomfortable it would make you.”

“How would she know that? I don’t show that part of myself to her.”

Steve did his best to keep that burden of his PTSD away from her. Piper would have so many expectations placed on her for the sole reason of her being their daughter. She was unaware of it now, but soon enough she would take notice. It was unfair, but that was the world. He could only protect her from so much. Steve could at least keep her safe from that part of himself.

"Even if Piper were the average toddler she would be able to pick on such things, especially in a parent. Her being a prodigy makes her more adept at reading even subtle of emotions. Keeping this a secret will only make her more curious to what you're hiding." Barny spoke gently.

“How do I explain this to her?”

“Tell her what happens to when you’re having an episode.”

“I don’t want to scare her,” protested Steve.

"It's impossible to make this not scary, but you need to put this in terms she can understand. You have the benefit of having a child that can understand how complicated this is. Tell her why you're going through this."

“Tell her about the war," said Steve.

"You don't have to go into graphic detail, only enough so she understands."

"I don't want her to know. What if it changes how she sees me?"

“You’re her parent. She loves you, this won’t change that.”

“I hope so.”

“It won’t.”

 

*****

Piper woke up about the same time Steve finished his appointment. She rushed over to him.

“Hug.”

He bent down to her eye level, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly. Every time he came back from a session Piper would catch him in a warm hug. No matter what mood he returned in, she always greeted him with a hug. It was one few good things about those sessions.

“I love you.”

“Love you too,” said Piper

“What do you want for lunch?”

“Dinosaur chicken nuggets.”

“Sure.”

Steve started preparing her lunch, also making him and Tony something. From the fridge, he took a bottle of PediaSure. It wasn’t that Piper was too small, but as a super soldier she needed the nutrition and calories it offered. He made sure she drank it at least twice a day. Tony scooped Piper into his arms when he came up from the lab, taking her table.

"Rocket ship, Daddy!"

He tossed her into the air as she giggled, before setting her down. Piper scowled at the cucumbers slices on her plate.

“Papa!”

“You like cucumbers last time I checked.”

Piper huffed eating them first to get it out of the way. She quickly ate.

“Slow down, Pipes. You’ll give yourself the hiccups,” said Tony.

“But I want to work on my project.”

“Once you finish your lunch.”

“That’s what I was doing.”

"Whatever you're working on will be there when you finish,"

“Okay,” groused Piper.

Piper tossed a grape into her mouth. Daddy winked at her easily doing the same. She watched as her parents talked. Something was wrong with Papa. He wasn't showing it in his face, but it was there. She wanted to fix it, make him feel all better. If only he told her what was wrong so she could do that.

“Papa?”

“What is it, Piper?”

She bit her lip, deciding not to ask what was wrong. It didn’t feel right. “Can I be excused? I gotta go potty.”

“You may.”

She hurried off to the bathroom.

“She wanted to ask,” said Tony.

“I know.”

“PAPA!”

Steve jolted, darting to the hall bathroom. Tony followed closely behind him. Piper shrieked when he barged in his shield in hand. Relief swept through him when he saw she'd fallen into the toilet. They couldn't help laughing.

“This isn’t funny!”

“We’re sorry Pipes,” said Tony, quickly swiping a tear from the corner of his eye.

She was on the verge of crying.

“Please get me out,” she whimpered.

Steve helped her out of the toilet.

“There we go. All better,” he said drying her tears.

"Why can't you and Daddy remember to put the seat down? I don't pee standing up,"

“We’ll try to do better, honey,” said Tony.

“Let's get you cleaned up. Jarvis, get the bath ready," said Steve, picking her up.

When they got to his bathroom the large tub was filled water and bubble bath. The sides of the tub were lined with bath toys. Steve helped Piper out of wet clothes, setting her in the warm water. She grabbed from the toys from the side of the tub, instantly lost in her own imaginary water world. He gently started washing her.

“Lean your head back.” Steve rinsed the shampoo from her hair, careful to not get any in her eyes. When the bubbles died down he interrupted her play, wrapping her in a fluffy towel. She giggled when he dried her hair.

“All clean,” announced Steve. "You want me to brush your hair,"

“I can do it.”

Steve handed her the brush. She handed it back when she was done.

“You missed the back of your head but I’ve got it,” Steve ran the brush gently through her hair working out the knots. “Go get dressed.”

Piper came trotting out into the kitchen wearing a gray dinosaur onesie. She roared before taking her place at the table.

“What kind of dinosaur are you?” asked Tony.

“A Yutyrannus. No, I don't have feathers so I’m umm … a compsognathus,” she said.

After a peaceful lunch, Piper dragged Tony to the playroom. Steve left Tony to his fate, knowing the alpha enjoyed constructing whatever Lego structures she had in mind.

 

*****

Piper's bedtime rolled around. She was already nodding off halfway through Outrageous Acts of Science.

“I’ve got her,” said Steve, turning off the TV.

“Bedtime.”

Piper took his hand, willingly following him to bed. He settled in the cushy blue and white spotted chair in the corner of the room while Piper looked over her bookshelf. She put Horton Hears a Who in his lap, before snuggling up against his side. Steve opened the book.

“ ‘On the 15th of May, in the Jungle of Nool,’ ” he began.

Steve stopped, closing the book.

“Papa?”

“You asked Daddy what happens when I have a bad day.”

She broke his gaze, her posture shrinking. “You don’t gotta answer.”

“I want you to tell you.”

"You do?"

He nodded, taking a moment to brace himself.

“Piper, when a person experiences something traumatic it stays with them forever, haunting them. Sometimes it gets so bad a person relives those moments forgetting where they are."

Steve drew a breath, his chest tightening. Piper squeezed his hand releasing the clenching hold in his chest.

“What did you see?”

“You are too young hear such things in detail. I witnessed cruelty and depravity on a level I thought impossible and experienced deep loss. And sometimes my mind brings me back to moment."

“So, that’s what you’re feeling when you go dark?”

Steve nodded. He had to give it a name.

“It’s called PTSD.”

“I’m sorry, Papa.” Piper kissed him on the cheek. "I'll find a way to fix it. I promise. I don’t want you hurting.” She wanted to help him so badly. Papa was good. He didn't deserve to have such a problem. Papa hugged her bringing him close to his chest.

“My sweet girl.” Steve kept her face hidden in his neck, quickly brushing away his tear.

“Papa, your heart is beating fast. Are you okay?”

He pulled away from her slightly.

"It isn't something that can be fixed."

“Why not? It’s a sickness, so I can make a cure.”

How could he explain this to her in a way she'd understand? “The mind isn't something that can be mended. You can't erase the experiences that cause it without erasing part of the mind itself.”

“If you could, would you?”

"No, I have to take the good with the bad. Those dark moments make the good moments shine all the brighter,”

“How can I make it better?”

“You already do.”

“How?” Piper pressed.

“You’re my light, Piper.”

“I want to do more.”

“You’ve done more than enough.”

Piper sighed giving up the verbal argument, continuing the conversation may hurt Papa. That was the last thing she wanted. It wouldn't stop her from looking into it though. She would have Jarvis download some books on the brain.

Steve caught the spark of inspiration in Piper's eyes. It would take a while to get her settled back down.

“Let’s get back to Horton,”

“Okay,” agreed Piper. She snuggled against his side again, purring as he read. Papa's voice was always so soothing. Her eyes grew heavy as he read aloud. She was nodding off by the time he finished. Steve put her into bed, tucking her in.

“I love you, Piper.” Papa kissed her on the forehead.

“Love you too.”

“Goodnight.”

“Night, night, Papa.”

He went to the door.

"Would you leave the door open a crack?”

Steve nodded before joining his husband in the kitchen. Tony was quietly making a drink.

“How’d it go?”

“She’s determined to cure PTSD.”

"Who knows she could do it. You may have inspired a future winner of a Nobel prize in medicine."

“How can she cure something like this?”

“You’ll have to ask her that.”

“A Nobel prize is among your vast list of awards?” asked Steve.

“Not my kind of award,” said Tony with a shrug. Steve smiled. Tony brought him a beer. He took a sip before setting it down.

“Are you okay?”

“You know how I feel about that question,” said Steve.

“And?”

“I’m fine.” Steve leaned over, bringing Tony into a kiss. Tony’s hands moved to him.

 

*****

 

January 2, 2016

Tony woke to Piper pouncing on his chest, knocking the wind out of him.

“Daddy.”

“Happy birthday, Pipes.”

She turned her head to the side slightly.

“What’s that purplish mark on your neck?”

He quickly covered it with his hand. Steve covered his head with a pillow, trying to block out the conversation, a blush burning his cheeks.

“Nothing, pumpkin. Go brush your teeth.”

“Okay,” She darted off her bedroom.

Tony laughed yanking away the pillow Steve was hiding behind. "What? It's not like she walked in on us?"

Steve smirked. “Did you ever walk in on Howard?”

Tony made a gagging sound. Steve laughed.

“You don't even want to know what I saw."

"Maybe I do," Steve teased.

"No, you don't." Tony got out of bed. "You get started on breakfast. I need to shower."

Steve got dressed, hurrying to the kitchen. He caught Piper in a hug when she came out. She cuddled against him.

“What does the birthday girl want for breakfast?”

“Blueberry pancakes!”

“Coming right up. Do you want to help?”

Piper nodded, pulling up a step, then helping him with the batter. Steve held her in one arm, letting her sprinkle blueberries into the cooking pancakes.

“May I flip one?” she asked.

Steve handed her spatula.

“What's the surprise? It's my birthday, you can tell me now."

“Not yet.”

“Papa.”

"You'll like it! I pinky promise." He kneeled down, wrapping his pinky around hers. Steve returned to his place over the hot plate.

"Will there be piñata at the party?"

Steve nodded. Piper requests for her birthday were simple pizza, piñata, chocolate cake, and watching two of her favorite movies with all her friends. Nat, Rhodes, and Bruce were coming. Clint couldn't get away and Thor was in space. A flash of rainbow light crossed the sky, followed by the smell of smoke coming from the balcony.

"Steve?" Tony called.

“Watch the pancakes,” he said pushing the spatula into Tony’s hand.

Steve pushed open the sliding door. A steaming trunk sat on the balcony. Carved into the lid was a message:

Happy Birthday Piper, from Uncle Thor

Steve lugged the trunk inside.

“What is it?” asked Piper.

“A birthday present from Thor.”

Piper instantly dashed over.

"I'm guessing there are scorch marks on the deck," said Tony.

Steve nodded.

“May I open it? Please?” asked Piper excitedly.

“Go ahead,” nodded Tony.

She tossed open the trunk, pulling out a large deep green blanket. Woven into the fabric in golden script was the Asgardian alphabet. She wrapped herself in the large blanket. The fabric was so soft she couldn’t help rubbing her cheek against it. Green wasn’t her favorite color, but the softness and beauty of the pattern made up for it. She stuffed the blanket back in the trunk, dragging it into the shelter of her room.

“Daddy,” began Piper once she returned to the kitchen.

“Yes, Pipes.”

“Do you know what the surprise is?”

“I do.”

“Will you tell me?”

“Nope.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. Tony copied the motion. Breakfast went well, and soon enough it was time to leave. Tony helped Piper into a red jacket with cat ears and pawprint pockets.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

“I could answer that better if I knew where we were going,” said Piper.

She took her parents’ hands as they went down to the garage. Piper glared at the car seat, but she buckled herself in anyway. She looked out the window, trying to figure out where exactly they were going. Piper screamed with joy when they pulled into the FDNY Firehouse Engine 54, smiling brightly as they exited the car.

"Captain Rogers, Mr. Stark, and this must be-

“I’m Piper and you’re one of the Battalion Chiefs,” Piper spoke up enthusiastically.

“Yes, my name is Lewis Shay. I’ll be your tour guide. It’s an honor to meet you.”

Piper sighed. She was used to hearing how honored people were to meet her parents. All the firefighters wanted pictures with them. She waited for the general excitement to die down and the tour to finally started. The firefighters were shocked when she named every part and purpose of the fire engine.

She asked as many questions as she could. Piper loved watching the shocked faces of the adults in response to her intelligence. The more she could learn from them, the better she could help them. She started lagging behind. Daddy picked her up.

“I can keep going,” she murmured, resting her head on his shoulder.

Tony smiled when she nodded off completely, a Dalmatian stuffed animal clutched in one arm.

“She’s done.”

“You have yourself an amazing child. We’ll be lucky to have her,” said Lewis.

“Thank you for doing this,” said Steve.

“You’re welcome any time.”

Tony buckled Piper into her car seat, quietly shutting the door behind him. Piper slept through the noise of New York. When they got to the tower he carried her out of the car. As he entered Piper’s room Jarvis lowered the shades. Tony put Piper to bed, taking off her jacket and shoes.

“Daddy?”

Tony tensed. She yawned.

“Go back to sleep.” He pulled a blanket over her.

Her brilliant blue eyes closed. He closed the door behind him. Steve was hanging up the piñata.

 

*****

 

Piper woke up at three after long nap. She ran up to Rhodes as he came through the door.

“Uncle Rhodey!”

He smiled. It was never Uncle James or Rhodes. It was always Rhodey. The smell of pizza and birthday cake filled the air.

“Happy birthday, Piper!” Rhodes handed her a wrapped present. She shook the box.

“Legos!”

"Yes."

“What level?”

“Expert.”

She smiled.

“What set?”

"You'll have to open it and find out,"

“May I, Papa?”

"After the rest of your guests get here."

“Okay.”

Uncle Bruce was next to arrive. He wished her a happy birthday and handed her two newspaper wrapped gifts.

“Thank you, but you didn’t have to give me two.”

“I couldn’t decide so I got you both. I hope you haven’t read them yet.”

“What subject?”

“Biology.”

“I doubt it, but I’ve recently had some interest in the subject.”

“You have? If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!” Bruce said encouragingly.

Piper smiled her agreement.

 

“Aunt Nat!” Piper squealed when the red-haired spy arrived and handed Piper a small package. “Thank you!” Nat picked her up and Piper purred, nosing against her neck.

Soon, everyone was grabbing pizza and having fun. When they broke open the piñata, it was filled with Piper’s favorite candies: Sour Patch Kids, Twix, Kit Kats, and Peppermint Patties. This inevitably caused a sugar rush, which, thankfully, was short-lived. Then it was time for birthday cake. Steve lit the candles.

"Blow out the candles and make a wish," said Tony.

Piper closed her eyes. There was only one thing truly wanted - a best friend. She closed her eyes and blew out the candles.

“What did you wish for?” asked Natasha.

“I can’t tell you, then it won’t come true. At least, that’s the theory behind birthday wishes. It’s movie time now,” said Piper.

“What will we be watching?”

“Paddington and the Lego Movie,” said Piper.

“What about your presents?” asked Steve.

“I can open them now?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Open mine first,” said Natasha.

Piper pulled a pair of frog hair clips out of the cutely wrapped box. She immediately had Daddy put them in her hair. Papa handed her Uncle Bruce's presents after she opened Natasha’s. She tore open the newspaper wrapping.

“The Neanderthal Man,” she read.

The next one was Life on the Edge: The Coming of the Age of Quantum Biology.

“These are advanced books, so some of the language may prove difficult,” said Uncle Bruce.

“Thank you. I’m sure I’ll figure them out.”

“I guess I’m next,” said Uncle Rhodey.

Piper tore open the large box.

“Thank you!” It was a Lego Ferrari F40. Daddy had bought her several of these. She would rip open the bags inside and dump the on floor then put them together without the instructions.

Piper smiled and sat between her parents as Jarvis started the movie. Uncle Bruce and Aunt Natasha sat next to each other. For some reason, Uncle Bruce looked nervous. She shrugged, not getting adults. Halfway through the second movie, Piper started nodding off. She blinked and her friends started leaving. She waved sleepy goodbyes to them.

“I’ll clean up. You put her down,” said Steve.

It was past her bedtime. Tony carried Piper to her room and she changed into her pajamas.

“Come on baby girl.” Tony took her to her bathroom.

“I don’t need you to watch me brush my teeth,” she said.

“I beg to differ especially after all that sugar.” Tony gave Piper her SpongeBob toothbrush, and she dutifully brushed her teeth.

“Would you carry me to bed?” she asked.

He picked her up and set her down in bed.

“Was your birthday everything you want?” he asked.

“Yep! Do you have to go NYU? Can’t you stay home a little while longer?”

“I can’t Pipes. You know I would if I could,” he said.

She frowned. He tucked her in.

“I love you.”

“Love you too, Daddy.”

Tony kissed her goodnight, leaving the door open a crack. Steve was almost done cleaning up, so Tony helped him with the rest. After watching a few episodes of Game of Thrones they went to bed.

 

January 3, 2016

 

Steve got breakfast ready and kissed Tony goodbye before he left for his lecture. Steve’s phone vibrated in his pocket.

“Maria?”

"Steve, we need you to go over mission plans."

“I don’t have a sitter. I’ll to bring Piper with me.”

“That’s fine.”

“When do I need to be there?”

“The sooner the better.”

“I’ll be there.”

Maria hung up. After the ‘Incident’, S.H.I.E.L.D. built a small facility in the city. It was open to the public, though it gave away very little about the organization’s actual purpose. But, it was enough to satisfy the average person and make them feel safe. S.H.I.E.L.D.'s offices underneath it was where the real things happened.

It was a dream place to work for older agents close retirement and those who had families. There was even a daycare a few blocks away, sponsored and protected by S.H.I.E.L.D. It was extremely well guarded but blended into the city naturally. No one would have a reason to question it. Steve had dropped off Piper there before and she hated.

She’d rather be with him near the science lab. Piper had gotten into some trouble when she hacked into S.H.I.E.L.D's network from the daycare's computer. She hadn't gotten far before she was caught. They'd tried getting a sitter but she acted out scaring them off. The only babysitters she tolerated were friends and family. Steve sighed, then woke her up and gave her breakfast.

“We’re going to S.H.I.E.L.D. today,” he said.

“You mean I’m going daycare,” Piper retorted.

“I know you hate it, but we’ll bring things for you do. Maybe those books Uncle Bruce got you. And once I’m done we’ll go get hot chocolate,” said Steve.

“Okay.”

Piper went to her room packing up her backpack. They took the subway there. Piper sighed dramatically when he dropped her off. She had her father’s sense of drama.

"Please, may I come with you?"

“I’m sorry, Piper. This won’t take long. Only a few hours.”

“That’s forever.”

“It isn’t forever.”

“Be good for Ms. Ann today.”

“I will.”

Steve kissed her on the forehead, then watched as Piper found a quiet corner and opened a book, completely ignoring the other children. She’d be fine. Piper spotted him staring and waved to him. Steve left for S.H.I.E.L.D. At the elevator, a secret compartment slid open to reveal a retinal scanner. He leaned over.

"Captain Rogers, access confirmed."

Steve made is way through nondescript hallways, and took a seat in the debriefing room.

*****

It was already two hours since Papa left. So much for not taking long. Piper yawned settling deeper into the beanbag chair. The biology text Uncle Bruce gave was interesting but it was tiring reading. Her eyes grew heavy. Before she could nap, Piper felt a sudden change in the air.

“Ms.-”

An explosion sent Piper flying backward. Flames engulfed the air. Pieces of the ceiling and roof came falling down. Ms. Ann was passed out on the floor, her head bleeding. Piper grabbed her, dragging her toward the window. Piper went back into the flaming wreckage going after the two other children there, leading them to the window.

She tried lifting with all her strength. The glass was bulletproof, strong and durable, impossible for the average person to break. She stepped back, slamming her body full speed against the glass. It cracked. On her third attempt, a small panel shattered. She helped the others get outside and down the ledge.

It was getting harder to breathe. She started coughing. Piper fell onto her side and whimpered. There was another explosion, but she couldn’t move in time. A rafter landed on top her, knocking out what little breath she had. She heard sirens blare in the distance. All she wanted were her parents.

“Papa.”

“Is someone there?”

“Help,” she cried.

A fireman trudged toward her. She reached out to him. He picked her up, putting a respirator over her mouth. It didn’t smell right. Her struggled faltered as she fell to the influence of the gas.

 

*****

 

A feeling of unease swept over Steve. Something was wrong.

“Steve.”

“What?”

“I’ve been calling your name,” said Maria.

“Something is wrong.”

It was an understatement. His inner omega was verging on haywire. He had to get out of here. An agent came running through the doors.

"There been a fire at the daycare,"

Steve bolted out from the room. His inner chaos wracked his nerves. Time slowed. His pup was in danger he couldn’t move fast enough. He sprinted the three blocks. The building was nothing but darkened ruins.

“PIPER!”

The other children were sitting on the sidewalk. Ann was with them.

“Where is my daughter?!”

“She got all of us out.”

“Where is she?!” Steve couldn't find her scent among the ash. Where was his baby?!

“Where’s my baby?!” he cried.

S.H.I.E.L.D operatives surrounded the place, taking over from emergency services. Steve pushed through the sodden ash and destruction as he searched for Piper. He found remnants of her backpack. The shock was overwhelming. He teetered on the edge of a mental break down; frozen, unable to move. Stuck in the failure of not being able to protect his pup. Their connection was alive. That meant Piper was too.

Natasha strode toward him, the only S.H.I.E.L.D. operative brave enough to approach.

“She’s alive,” said Natasha. She pulled up the footage of a fireman carrying Piper out the building and disappearing behind a fire truck.

"He isn't a member of the responding department. We'll find her, Steve. Have you called Tony yet?”

“No.”

 

*****

 

Tony looked at his phone. Steve had left twenty voicemails on his phone. He played the first one, the phone slipping from his hand. Pepper found him like that.

“Tony?”

“Piper, she’s been kidnapped.”

His little girl was gone. He gripped his phone tightly. Whoever did this was a dead man. He called his mate.

“Steve.”

“Tony, I’m so sorry.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Steve.”

“Alpha.”

That one word proved how fragile his mate's mental state was.

“I’ll be there soon.”

“Please hurry.”

Tony ran to his car taking out the newest update of Mark 5. He raced through the sky landing outside the burnt wreckage of the daycare. Every part of him wanted to crumble, but he needed to be strong there was too much depending on him. Steve sat in the middle of it with his head in his hands. Tony kneeled in front of his mate taking Steve’s hand.

A cool touch brought Steve crashing back to earth. Tony’s helmet retracted, eyes watering, and Steve’s defenses fell as he collapsed into his mate.

“We’ll find her. I swear,” promised Tony.

Steve’s grip on him tightened.

“I want them to suffer.”

 

*****

 

January 5, 2016

 

Piper woke up slowly. Her head ached and a muzzle was strapped around her face. When she tried standing her head hit the ceiling of her enclosure. She was shivering uncontrollably. Her limbs had gone numb. Never had she been so cold. She whined.

“Sounds like she is waking up.”

That deep alpha voice sounded familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Where did she know it from? Piper tried sitting up, but her limbs wouldn’t budge. She sniffed. Along with the alpha, there was a beta.

"Should we warm her up?"

“She’ll survive.”

“She just a pup.”

The second voice was unknown to her.

“You’re too soft,” said the alpha.

Piper brought her limbs close trying to warm herself up. Her eyes widened when a blue glow traveled under her skin. Was she hallucinating? As the blue glow spread through her the cold vanished. She kept curled in a small ball, not wanting to reveal to her captors the change that occurred.

Whatever vehicle they were in came to a stop. Harsh winds passed through the grates in her cage as she was taken out of the back the truck. A massive crunch of ice as a large entrance to a facility broke from the ice-capped snow. There was a sudden change in temperature as she was brought inside. She slammed herself against the door of the crate, knocking it off its hinges. Alarms went off. She had no idea where she was going, so she just ran. All the halls looked the same and the signs were written in an unknown language. She easily knocked over those who tried catching her. The bang of gunfire nearly made her stop. A searing pain crossed her arm as a bullet grazed her.

"Don't shoot her, you idiot!"

A safe scent touched her nose and instinct forced her to follow it. She crashed into another prison containing a metal-armed alpha. Heavy footsteps came down behind her. She hid behind the large sleeping alpha. Hoping her chances were better with him than with them.