Year One - Tear Down
(Bucky 25, Tony 18)
Sometimes, Bucky doesn’t know how he gets himself into these situations… One Friday night in August he finds himself playing high stakes poker uptown with a bunch of alphas who represent the worst of society. Sure, their suits probably cost more than Bucky’s car, each, but within five minutes he can tell from their comments and the language they use that they’re self-absorbed alpha elitists that the world would probably be better off without.
So if he plays up the good ol’ boy charm, and the “young gun wanting more out of life” aspects a bit in his effort to clean them out, he doesn’t feel bad about it. He learned the finer points of a good poker bluff at his Dad’s knee, even though his Ma always scolded him for it afterward.
“I’ll see your fifty grand,” Bucky agrees, eyeing the chips he has left, “And I’ll raise you an auto repair shop in Brooklyn,” he says. He doesn’t want to lose the shop he inherited from his Dad per se, but he can admit to himself that his gambit might be fueled just the tiniest bit by the monotony of what his life has become since his parents died...
“What’s your revenue been like for the last few years?” the alpha in the pinstripe suit asks, slurring his words a bit.
“I pull in around seventy five to a hundred grand a year in profit,” Bucky admits, knowing that’s going to be peanuts to this group.
“How many employees?” a different alpha asks.
“It’s just me,” Bucky says, giving them a self-deprecating smile.
“Charming. What’s the tax assessed value of the land?” the alpha to the right of him asks.
Bucky gives him a “thank you” nod and says, “The county keeps telling me it’s worth a half a million…”
“Now that’s more like it. I’ll see your wager.”
“I’m out too. These cards aren’t worth that.”
The alpha across the table from him, the one who asked about revenue, eyes him up seriously. He’s the last one left to decide whether or not to fold. Bucky holds his gaze easily, not backing down. “Just for the record,” the alpha says, “I hope you’re not bluffing. I’ll see your bet...with the ownership of my omega son.”
There’s a bit of guffawing around the table, but not for the reason Bucky would protest.
“Regardless of the assumed value, or lack thereof, of the omega itself, his dowry is a half a million dollars,” the alpha says, which quells the grumbling.
Bucky feels a little sick to his stomach, but it’s not from the small amount of alcohol he’s consumed. If he breaks character now though, it would be disastrous, so he just nods in consensus with the group.
When his full house beats out the other’s three of a kind and flush, respectively, Bucky breathes both a sigh of relief and of trepidation… Well, he supposes he could pull the alpha aside privately and try to make a case for refusing the transfer of ownership… Maybe he’d buy a spiel about Bucky still being too young to get tied down… Although, at 25 years old, that excuse holds less weight than it used to.
“Well played, sonny,” the alpha to the right of him says, clapping him on the back. The others start making moves to break up the game now, since dawn is only a few hours away. The one who bet his son pulls out his wallet. He fumbles a bit for a card out of it, but finally presents it to Bucky with an almost smug grin.
“Here’s my card. Swing by tomorrow-” one of the other alphas points out that it’s already tomorrow, but the alpha in the pinstripe suit just waves him off,”-later today and pick him up. I’ll write you out a check once you’ve taken possession,” the man says, giving him a look like he assumes Bucky is going to try and get out of it, and won’t hear of it. Because he’s drunk though, it comes off more condescending than he probably intended. Or maybe not. Who knows with these rich types.
“Right… I’ll see you later, then,” Bucky grimaces internally. Well, there’s still hope that once the guy sobers up, he’ll regret the wager…
That afternoon, Bucky vacillates on what to do even as he’s driving through a ritzy New York suburb. He wouldn’t necessarily mind having a mate, it would certainly change things up in his life… He assumes the omega is probably around his own age, since the alpha he won him off of, Howard, was definitely old enough to be Bucky’s father.
If the son is too young though, that’s a whole different scenario...but Howard probably wouldn’t have called it a “dowry” if he was underage… Bucky sighs as he spots the right address, the numbers shining gold against the thick columns of the gated property. There’s a huge golden “S” done up with intricate scroll work on the gate.
“Uh, hello? Yeah, I’m Bucky Barnes. Howard told me to come by this afternoon…” Bucky says into the speaker outside, wondering if he might just get turned away entirely and have that be the end of it. He has no such luck though, and the gate swings open, admitting him.
Bucky counts the steps as he walks up the stairs of the mansion. There are twenty four of them.
The front doors have another golden “S” emblazoned on each side of them. The alpha who opens the door is an older British fellow who looks completely unimpressed by Bucky’s Sunday best.
“Mr. Stark will see you now,” he says after taking a moment to eye Bucky up and down. When Bucky gets inside, he can hear shouting going on upstairs. The butler stands stoically at Bucky’s side though, as if it’s an everyday occurrence.
Howard comes into view at the top of the stairwell, dragging a young omega by his upper arm along with him. A blonde omega that is obviously Howard’s wife, judging from her jewelry, follows behind them. Howard continues to move down the stairs at a rapid clip, with his son having a hard time keeping up. The son stumbles a little on the second to last step, but Howard must have an iron grip on him, because he continues to be dragged along until he gets his footing again at the bottom.
“Mr. Barnes, so good of you to come. Here he is. I have the paperwork ready to go,” Howard says with a fake pleasantness and a sneer in his son’s direction.
Bucky could take one look at the son and see how thin he is, how his skin is obviously dry and rashy in places, how his hair is thinner in spots, and know that he’s being abused, even without having seen Howard’s current display. He’s probably been in distress for a long time, for it to get this bad. He’s not as scarily thin as his mother is, but her state is a damn good indicator of what’s in store for him in the future if he stays here.
“Where do I sign?” Bucky asks as he’s handed a stack of papers. He’s never taken possession of an omega before, though he knows all transfer contracts are pretty much the same. As he’s skimming through things, he takes a surreptitious glance at the attached birth certificate. Bucky knows that male omegas have a tendency to look younger than they are, but it never hurts to check… Apparently he turned 18 a few months ago though, so at least there’s that…
They both sign two sets of forms, one for Howard to keep and one for Bucky. Then Howard pulls his checkbook out of a pocket inside his suit jacket and writes Bucky out a check for five hundred thousand dollars. Bucky puts it in his wallet like he’s handed percentages of a million dollars all the time.
He almost feels like he should say, “It was a pleasure doing business with you,” but he holds himself back. He didn’t just get paid for a brake job. The fact that omegas are traded like cattle in their “modern” society rankles him, he doesn’t want to add insult to injury by making it seem like he views omegas as property like Howard does.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” Howard says, grinning like he just pulled one over on Bucky.
Maybe Bucky should have read that contract more thoroughly before he signed, but he gets the feeling Howard’s glee is over the fact that his son is no longer his “problem”, not that Bucky just agreed to something he didn’t realize.
Bucky gives him a nod and a smile that moves his mouth only, while the rest of his face stays somber. Then he turns to Howard’s son, to his new omega.
“I’m Bucky Barnes. What’s your name?”
“Tony,” he says, not offering anything else. He looks resigned to his fate, like he was about to cry a moment ago but has lost the will power.
“Well, you should get going, I’m a busy man,” Howard says, waving them off, “Jarvis will see you out.” He snaps his fingers and motions for his wife to follow him as he heads back up the stairs. She quickly steps over and hugs Tony, telling him goodbye, then falls in line behind Howard. She doesn’t look back.
Tony looks after her though, like it’s the last time he’ll ever see her. Whether he expects that Bucky will keep him from his family, or that Howard will be the end of her in one way or another, Bucky can’t tell. Maybe it’s both.
Jarvis, the butler, makes a motion to show them to the door, even though they never left the foyer. Before it closes behind them though, he steps out with them, pulling Tony into a quick yet fierce hug.
“Bye, Jarvis,” Tony says shakily, his face buried against the other alpha.
“Take care, Master Anthony,” Jarvis says, his voice wavering as well.
There’s the sound of a window opening on the ground level, and a feminine voice, also British accented, loudly whispers, “Edwin?”
“If you would allow us a moment to retrieve some of Master Anthony’s things?” Jarvis asks Bucky expectantly.
“...Uh, sure thing,” Bucky says, following them down the stairs and around to the first floor. There’s a maid waiting at the window, and as soon as she sees them she hefts up a suitcase to the sill.
“I packed you a bag, Master Anthony. One bag is tradition, for a mating, he can’t get too mad at that. At least, not with us,” she says, leaning out to hug Tony after Jarvis has taken the suitcase. Tony does start crying a little while she hugs him. She must hear something from inside the mansion that they can’t though, because she releases him suddenly and says, “I have to go. Take care, Tony.” Then she ducks back in and hastily closes the window, drawing the curtains shut as well.
Tony quickly dries his eyes before turning back to face them.
“Why are you all actin’ like you’ll never see each other again?” Bucky asks, trying not to be insulted that they would just assume he’s every bit as bad as Howard.
“Master Anthony will never be allowed on the grounds again once he leaves with you,” Jarvis explains, “Master Howard has made that abundantly clear.”
“Is there somethin’ that prevents you from coming to see him?” Bucky asks, wondering just how tight a control Howard has over these people.
Jarvis looks hesitantly hopeful at the offer. “No, not as such…”
“Here, take one of my cards then. You and anybody who wants to can come see him,” Bucky says, fishing out his wallet. “Maybe next weekend after he’s had a chance to settle in, that’s traditional too, right?”
“Yes, it is,” Jarvis says, accepting the business card. “A+ Mechanics?” he reads, somewhat incredulously.
“Yeah, my Dad named it that so it’d be right at the top of the list in the phone book… Back when people used to use phone books,” Bucky says, trying to lighten the mood a little.
“You own a car repair place? I’ve never heard of it,” Tony says, which is the most he’s spoken so far. Bucky’s relieved to hear it, because some omegas go mute after being abused for too long. Usually that happens at younger ages, but you never know.
“Well, it’s in Brooklyn, so, it’s kind of out of your area,” Bucky explains, looking around the grounds of the mansion as if to highlight the disparity between the two boroughs.
“If I may ask, sir,” Jarvis speaks up, “How exactly is it that you know Master Howard?...”
“Oh. I don’t know him,” Bucky says, shaking his head a bit.
Both Jarvis and Tony share a look, like they’re checking with the other to see if they have any more information on the situation. Obviously neither of them do, though. “Then how did he negotiate the transfer of Master Anthony to you?” Jarvis asks, frowning slightly yet not looking unapproving.
Honestly, not being in Howard’s circle or “knowing” him is probably a huge point in Bucky’s favor, he’s starting to realize.
“I, uh, won a VIP package on the radio, to this event at the Rose Bar… One thing lead to another and I wound up playin’ high stakes poker with a bunch of these rich assholes, uh, guys,” Bucky says, though no one bats an eye at his description of Howard and his associates, “I knew I had a good hand, so I bet my shop on the raise, and, uh, well, Howard used you and your dowry to call…”
Tony looks stricken, and Bucky knows it’s got to be horrible for him, to know Howard thought that little of him, but he isn’t going to lie.
“Perhaps, Master Anthony,” Jarvis says, glancing at Bucky and then back to Tony, “This might end up being for the best… Time will tell, I suppose.”
“Yeah. I guess it will,” Tony replies, not looking convinced.
“Well, here, let me put that in the car,” Bucky says, meaning to take the suitcase from Jarvis. The man insists on loading it himself though. Jarvis and Tony say one more goodbye before Tony gets in the passenger seat of Bucky’s car and they drive away.
Bucky sees Tony looking back in the side mirror.
Jarvis stands in the driveway, watching them go.
“I’ll be honest with you, Tony,” Bucky says as they’re driving away, “I didn’t exactly expect to be taking on a mate right now, so, I ain’t set up properly to have an omega in the house. I was thinkin’ we could stop and eat somewhere on the way home, since I ain’t got a lot in the fridge to choose from.”
“Is there anywhere in particular you’d like to go?” Bucky asks him, looking at Tony out of the corner of his eye.
“Anywhere’s fine,” Tony says, keeping his head down. He still looks like he’s in shock, but that he’s maybe, possibly trying to keep up hope. Bucky doesn’t begrudge him his hesitance.
“How about Applebee’s, then?”
“Do they have a dress code?” Tony asks, fiddling with the seam of his jeans.
“Nah, they ain’t that kind of restaurant.”
“Um, in the interest of full disclosure, I, uh, kind of have trouble keeping things down sometimes,” Tony says, “I’m pretty high strung, so, sometimes I just throw up for no reason,” he says nervously.
Bucky takes a steadying breath, knowing that if his scent turns angry right now, it will only upset Tony, because he won’t understand that Bucky’s not angry at him.
“That’s bullshit,” Bucky says while merging to get onto the freeway, “I’m sorry, Tony, but it is. That’s not bein’ ‘high strung’, that’s a classic symptom of bein’ in prolonged distress.”
“I’m not in distress,” Tony says immediately, but then hunches in on himself like he thinks he shouldn’t have spoken, let alone contradicted Bucky.
“Ok, I need to make sure you understand somethin’, Tony,” Bucky says, keeping his voice soothing and calm, “I know you ain’t got no reason to believe me yet, but I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not going to hit you, or grab you so hard it leaves bruises, none of that. You are in distress, Tony, anyone could see it. You’re too skinny, your skin looks like sandpaper, and you’ve got patches of hair that are so thin they’re almost bald spots. They’re supposed to take away omegas in your condition from alphas, even though it don’t happen nearly as often as it should…”
“Why’d you take me then, if I’m in such horrible shape?” Tony asks, his scent going sad and sour and fearful.
“Because I couldn’t just leave you with that asshole,” Bucky says, keeping his eyes on the road even though he wishes he could see Tony’s face more steadily, not just in sideways glances.
“But why? Why would you care?” Tony asks.
“Because. … Because my Dad put up a sign in the office of the shop when he first opened it. It says, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,’ and I’ve been lookin’ at it pretty much every day of my life, and tryin’ to do what I can. I’m just a mechanic from Brooklyn, I can’t change the world, Tony. But when I saw him draggin’ you down those stairs, I knew I could save you. That’s why,” Bucky tells him, getting a little emotional at the injustice of it all.
Tony is in tears by the time Bucky’s done, but he doesn’t smell scared anymore.
“You do realize you’re in distress, right, Tony? In all honesty?” Bucky asks him gently, finally getting off the freeway when their exit comes up. He isn’t sure what he’ll do if Howard fucked Tony up that badly in the head, as well as with his physical condition, if he truly, legitimately doesn’t understand that he’s in distress…
Tony rubs his hand over a red, irritated patch of dry skin on the back of his wrist.
“Ok. That’s a starting point, at least,” Bucky sighs.
“What are you going to do?” Tony asks him, still hesitant.
“I’m going to take you out for a nice meal, that’s what. And tomorrow we’ll go get the things we need for takin’ proper care of an omega. For right now, we’ll just take it one day at a time, ok? We’ll get you some chicken strips or somethin’, if you have trouble with keeping things down. Somethin’ nice and mild,” Bucky assures him.
“Can I have ranch?’ Tony asks quietly, biting his lip afterward.
“Of course you can.”
“What about a milkshake?”
“Sure, no problem.”
“What about ribs?”
Bucky smiles, seeing exactly how Tony’s testing him. He reaches over real easy and takes Tony’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Whatever you want, Tony.”
“Oh. Ok,” Tony says, still disbelieving.
Bucky keeps holding his hand until they get to the restaurant. Dinner goes over well, with Tony managing to keep his food down. He doesn’t eat very much in general, but that’s ok, Bucky is fully prepared to start with baby steps. The waitress gives Bucky a sideways look, but she doesn’t know he isn’t the one who brought Tony down this low. When they leave the restaurant, he pulls Tony into a hug before they get into the car.
“You did great at dinner,” he says, placing a kiss on the top of Tony’s head. All omegas need praise and affection, plus a big dose of physical contact, to stay healthy. Poor Tony looks like he doesn’t know what to do with it when Bucky gives it. But he’ll get used to it, Bucky will make sure of that.
It’s still a bit of a drive back to Bucky’s place from the restaurant. They listen to the radio while Bucky drives and Tony looks out the window. When Bucky finally parks in front of the shop, he waves at the building and says, “Well, this is us.”
Tony nods, getting out on his own without any prompting from Bucky.
“It could use a coat of paint, but the structure’s sound,” Bucky says kind of apologetically, because he’ll admit he’s let things go a little bit in the last couple years.
“You live in the shop?” Tony asks.
“Nah, above it. It was my parent’s place, and when they passed away, well, it came to me, bein’ their only biological child…” Bucky explains, getting Tony’s suitcase out of the back and taking him to the family entrance around the side.
“An only child and an alpha,” Tony adds quietly, but he winces afterward, like he expects Bucky to be offended.
“Yeah… Although, there’s a resolution on the House floor right now, to change inheritance laws so that omegas can inherit,” Bucky says.
Tony gives him a look like he’s surprised Bucky knows that.
“There is. It’ll never pass, but it did get there,” Tony answers.
“You never know…” Bucky says, trying to keep a positive attitude as they climb the stairs to the upper rooms.
Tony just shrugs as he climbs with him.
Upstairs is a three bedroom apartment, albeit a small one, though Bucky never had any hope of using all the space on his own.
“Here’s the living room, and there’s the kitchen, and there’s a bathroom down that hall. This is the room I grew up in, the other was Ma’s sewin’ room off and on... I moved into the master a few years after they’d been gone, and I didn’t really have any use for either of these, so now they’re just sittin’ empty. So if you wanted a room for somethin’ you could use one of them,” Bucky says, not really sure what Tony’s interested in or what his hobbies are.
Tony nods, a skeptical look on his face.
“And the other you’ll save for a baby’s room?...”
“Let’s get you good and healthy for a while, then we’ll see,” Bucky says casually, not wanting to possibly insult Tony, “If kids are somethin’ you want, we can look into it, down the road…”
“But not right away, at least,” Tony says, as if looking for confirmation.
“Honestly, I think carryin’ a baby would probably be dangerous for you right now, Tony.”
“Probably, yeah, um, I agree,” Tony says, letting out a breath.
Bucky pulls him into a hug, just holding him for a minute. “I told you, I’m not going to hurt you,” he reiterates, “And that includes getting you pregnant when you ain’t strong enough for it.”
Tony nods in his arms, not making any move to pull away. “I’m assuming we’re still doing the whole ‘legal mating’ thing, though…”
Bucky blushes a little. “Well, I should probably read through that contract I signed word for word to make sure, but, uh, yeah, that’s usually required.”
They break apart to head back out to the living room, where Bucky picks up his copy of the contract.
“Would you mind if I showered, while you do that? I didn’t know any of this was going to be happening today…” Tony asks, running his fingers nervously through his hair.
“Of course. There’s a bathroom in the master, which, I was going to show it to you anyway too, so...” Bucky trails off a little, leading him to the bedroom on the other end of the house. “This is where we’ll sleep,” he says, showing Tony the king sized bed, “Bathroom’s right there. Oh, I’ll clean out part of the closet for you too, my stuff’s just kind of spread throughout it right now…” Bucky adds.
Tony takes in every detail he can in the quick run through he gets, noticing a few stray socks laying on the floor, and an old bowl of cereal sitting on the dresser, but aside from that, things are pretty clean, just like the rest of the house. There aren’t a bunch of used condoms in the trash or sex toys sitting out, so that’s a good sign too. And there are no empty bottles of alcohol rolling around, that’s probably the biggest thing Tony’s happy not to see. Not that it’s a sure fire guarantee, but it at least gives him hope. You can bet he noticed that Bucky didn’t order any alcohol with their dinner either.
“I guess you’ll have to use my shampoo and stuff for tonight, we’ll get you your own tomorrow,” Bucky promises as he gets Tony a fresh washcloth and towel.
“I’ll need my suitcase...” Tony points out, making a move to step around Bucky to go get it.
“I’ll get it for you,” Bucky says, giving him a reassuring smile. Then he leaves Tony alone to go fetch it.
Tony knows it won’t take hardly any amount of time for him to come back, so he pushes down his burning desire to snoop around more. This man now controls every single aspect of Tony’s life. He’d like to know as much about him as quickly as possible, just out of pure self-preservation.
“Here, I’ll set it on the bed so you can look through things. It sounded like you didn’t even get a chance to pick what you wanted to bring,” Bucky says, setting it down. It’s a large, expensive piece of luggage, hopefully the maid was able to fit a good selection of Tony’s things in it.
“Thanks. Yeah, I’ll just grab some clothes right now,” Tony indicates.
“I’ll be in the living room, reading through the legal stuff, if you need me,” Bucky says, “Feel free to poke around if you need to,” he adds, “My Dad always told this story about how my Ma went through every single box, cupboard, and drawer in the house after they got mated, I guess it’s like an instinct thing… Anyway, I don’t mind. What’s mine is yours, now,” Bucky says, giving him an encouraging smile.
Tony tears up a little, because it’s a display of trust he wasn’t expecting at all.
“I’ll come out when I’m done, then,” he agrees.
Bucky gives him a hug before he goes. And he shuts the bedroom door behind him. Tony stares in wonder at the closed door for a moment, then shakes himself and turns to open his suitcase.
The first thing he sees when he opens it is his diploma from M.I.T. laying right on top. Tony can’t help it, he starts crying outright when he sees it nestled safely in his M.I.T. sweatshirt. God, he was such an idiot to believe that his father would ever see him as more than just an omega. He probably only let him go to school because it meant he wouldn’t be around at the mansion. Tony hugs the framed document to his chest for a moment, silently thanking Anna for her thoughtfulness.
He also pulls out a six pack of the meal supplement shakes that Jarvis would try to get him to drink when his stomach got so bad that it couldn’t handle solid food. And buried deep inside the toe of a sock as Tony’s digging through the clothes, he finds a foil packet of pills hastily labeled with a sharpie.
Take 1 each morning for 2 days after an accident.
The peel off paper on the backside labels the drug as levonorgestrel.
Tony’s eyes widen, and he shoves them back into the sock quickly, because what Anna’s done is illegal, at least in the state of New York still. If Bucky can be believed, he won’t be needing a plan b, but it’s far too early to just be trusting the strange alpha outright. There are three more socks with the same packets hidden in them, enough to last Tony a whole year of heats if need be.
He leaves everything in the suitcase, just pulling out the clothes he needs to change into, and hoping he’ll have a chance to put things away discreetly later once Bucky’s made some space for him. The whole house is kind of sparse to begin with, so Tony can’t imagine he has that much to move around…
Since he was practically invited to, Tony does snoop around a little, but he doesn’t find anything alarming. There’s a pack of open condoms in the bedside drawer and a bottle of lube that’s half empty. The other side looks like kind of a catch all junk drawer, which Tony supposes will be his now… Bucky isn’t hiding anything in his sock drawer, unless you count a pair of silk boxers that have red lipstick kisses printed all over them. Hopefully those were a gag gift.
The bathroom is just as minimalist as the rest of the house, with a blue rug in front of the tub to keep from slipping, and one hand towel that’s seen better days. In the medicine cabinet, there’s an old prescription for prozac that expired six years ago without a single pill being taken from it. Tony knows, because he gets curious and counts them.
Finally, he decides he better actually get in the shower. While he’s washing up, he thinks about the fact that while Bucky’s definitely older than him, he can’t be past his mid 20’s, so his parents must have died awfully young. And it sounds like they both died at the same time, from the way Bucky talked about it. So it must have been an accident or that they had a really strong bond... Almost all prescription medicines “expire” a year after they’re filled, so Tony would guess that whatever it was happened seven years ago or more.
Thinking about that kind of stuff only distracts him for so long though. His instincts are at war with each other, the natural omega one to want to please his new alpha, and his trained one to want to cower and hide from a new alpha. Tony’s been to college, he’s learned a lot of things that Howard would never approve of, especially about the truth of an omega’s nature.
Tony always hated being one, because his body never seemed to be on the same page with his mind. He wanted to learn and discover and invent, but he’d be laid up in bed, sick to his stomach for days, usually after Howard hit him, he now realizes. He wanted to put on welding gloves and build things, but if he ignored how they chafed against his already irritated skin, he’d be bleeding and have open sores on the backs of his hands for a week afterward.
Then he went to college and discovered that it wasn’t that he was weak for being an omega, it was the abuse that he was suffering that made him unable to function normally. He’d even start doing better and better as the semester went on, only to go home for a holiday and end up nauseous again. He’d always assumed the nausea stuff was from stress, but now Bucky’s perspective makes several things they would never come right out and say in his classes make sense...
Things had been in a downward spiral since he graduated a year ago, but there was nothing Tony could do about it. Howard owned him, and Howard would treat him any damn way he pleased… Even so, though, he hadn’t thought of himself as being in active distress, not before Bucky pointed it out… Distress was a whole different level of bad shape, wasn’t it? Like the difference between being sad and being depressed… It was almost impossible for an omega to pull themselves out of distress on their own.
Tony shuts off the water, knowing he can’t stall forever under the spray. There’s no way a contract his father used doesn’t include the ‘legal mating’ clause, so he and Bucky are going to have to have sex in order for his transfer as a mate to be binding. He dries off quickly, then takes a moment to examine the new set of bruises Howard gave him on his upper arm before he signed him away. They’re still a deep red color and will definitely be purple and blue by morning.
He doesn’t have any cosmetics with him, so there’s nothing he can do to hide them. Bucky knows though, the situation he was in, so hopefully he’s not too put off by it… The t-shirt Tony picked out for pajamas doesn’t cover them all the way, but he supposes he won’t be wearing it for long.
“Hey, did you make it all the way through the legalese?” Tony says when he exits the bedroom, trying to keep a light tone.
“I did… Jesus, is that what he just did today?” Bucky says, zeroing in on the ring of bruises immediately.
Tony nods, not sure what to say.
“Tony… If you need a little time…” Bucky says, rubbing his other arm soothingly, implying to heal up or something before they have sex.
Tony feels a little spike of fear, but it’s not at the prospect of having sex, it’s at the possibility that Howard might demand him back and that things wouldn’t have been consummated properly. Sure, Bucky’s life looks decidedly more middle class than what Tony had pictured for himself, but the fact of the matter is, Howard was always going to get rid of him eventually. And the looming reality was that it would be to some rich asshole who would treat Tony just like Howard had.
How many times over the years had Tony wished and hoped that he would end up with an alpha who was kind, yet ultimately dismissed it as a pipe dream?
“Bucky,” Tony says, stepping forward slightly so that he’s basically putting himself into the alpha’s arms, “You’ve been nicer to me in the last two hours than Howard has for the last twenty years, give or take, that I was owned by him. I’ll take my chances with you,” he nods, reaching out and wrapping his arms around Bucky’s waist hesitantly.
“Oh… Ok,” Bucky says, putting a hand on the small of Tony’s back, “I won’t let you down, Tony.”
“Ok,” Tony says back, more because he thinks Bucky wants to hear it than that he really believes it yet. But oh, does he want to...
“Let’s get some lotion on you, then we’ll work our way up to the rest of it, alright?”
And with that, Tony lets himself be lead back into the bedroom.
“I keep some lotion around for my hands, they get pretty dry as many times as I have to wash them in a day,” Bucky explains, “It shouldn’t hurt if we put it everywhere on you, though, until we can get you your own.”
“Yeah,” Tony says nervously, “Shouldn’t hurt.” He’s never had an alpha care-take him before. Anna would rub lotion on him when he was little, but that was a family-pack thing… It was different.
“So, uh, I should probably take this off, huh?” Tony says, pulling on the hem of his shirt.
“It would help,” Bucky says, giving him a smile. “Here, I’ll strip down too, if it’ll make you feel more comfortable not to be the only one naked,” Bucky volunteers.
Tony nods, nerves closing up his throat momentarily. He’s distracted after peeling off his own shirt by the six pack and sculpted chest Bucky reveals when he takes off his.
Bucky grins, slow and self confident, seeing Tony’s slack jaw. “I do a bit of heavy lifting,” he says.
“Weights?” Tony asks, still holding on to his own shirt while his mouth hangs open.
“Engines,” Bucky corrects him teasingly.
Tony rolls his eyes, but they come right back to Bucky’s chest again afterward. He’s an alpha, which means he’ll probably be in great physical shape his whole life, but this is ridiculous.
“You can touch too, you know,” Bucky says, taking a step closer. He gently pulls the t-shirt out of Tony’s hands, letting it fall to the floor, then places Tony’s hands on his stomach. Hesitantly, Tony feels his way upward, glancing at Bucky’s face as he goes, to make sure this really is alright. He goes over Bucky’s pecks, up to his shoulders, running his hands down the thick muscle of his arms as well.
Bucky’s hands settle on his back, rubbing up and down in soothing motions.
“So. Pants next,” Tony says, leaning in against Bucky as if drawn by a magnet. Part of him wants to just stretch out and display himself for this fine specimen of an alpha, but part of him wants to go hide under the bed too. He wonders if Bucky can smell the conflict in his scent… He hasn’t said anything about it though, so he must not be too mad if so.
“Yeah. You want me to go first? Or will you just get distracted again?” Bucky teases.
“I make no promises,” Tony says as he pulls away a little. It’s not the nudity itself that makes him nervous, it’s losing that layer of protection, however flimsy, between him and the alpha. There’s nothing for it though. At least Bucky is being nice about it. He’s heard stories of alphas who didn’t give the least bit of consideration to their property while they were claiming it.
Tony does indeed get distracted again when Bucky takes off his pants.
Bucky takes Tony’s hands and places them on his hips, nudging the side of his head and encouraging Tony to touch him again after the second reveal. Tony complies, burying his face against Bucky’s chest as he lets his hands roam. Figuring he might not get another chance, Tony tentatively runs his hands over Bucky’s dick, cups his balls briefly, getting a feel for the size of him. He starts to firm up under Tony’s fingers, so he removes them right away.
“Shh, it’s ok, we’ll get there in a bit, lotion first,” Bucky says, still holding him close. “Is it ok if I take these off of you?” he asks, running a hand over the waistband of Tony’s pajama pants.
Tony nods, partly because he doesn’t have a real choice, partly because he doesn’t really object. He was the one who told Bucky he wanted this to happen tonight, not to wait, so he vows to try and act like it.
“You’re beautiful, Tony,” Bucky says at half a whisper, holding Tony in a hug after they’re both naked. Tony will admit it’s actually helping his nerves a little to be held.
“Thanks. You too. I mean, you’re pretty handsome and all that,” he adds, biting his lip to keep from overdoing it.
Bucky chuckles and has him climb up on the bed and lay down. Tony’s heart pounds in his chest as Bucky picks up the lotion and does exactly what he’d said he would do. He starts with Tony’s feet and the delicate skin of his ankles, gently rubbing the lotion in and not getting mad at all when Tony’s feet twitch at the ticklish spots. He works his way up Tony’s legs, giving extra care to the irritated spots on his knees. Basically anywhere the skin bends regularly, Tony gets flare ups.
Bucky smooths the lotion into Tony’s thighs, not ignoring the skin of his pelvis. He works over Tony’s groin too, which makes him start firming up as well, but Bucky doesn’t linger there. The little bit of pleasure just makes the rest of the rubbing in of the lotion feel better. By the time Bucky gets up to Tony’s shoulders and arms, he’s completely relaxed into the bed.
Tony's instinct to submit and just go with the alpha’s flow is surging right now, drowning out his ingrained fear of showing vulnerability.
Bucky even rubs lotion into the skin of his ears, gently massaging the shell and lobes of them. Tony’s eyes start drooping. He guesses he’s fully and completely lulled, now. When Bucky sets the lotion aside and leans up to kiss him, Tony finds himself melting even further. Mentally, he knows it’s just a result of Bucky pushing all the good instinctual buttons. But maybe it does mean something that he took the time to push them at all…
“I’m going to make you feel so good, Tony, ok?” Bucky rumbles above him, “You’ve had heats before, so you’ve at least had your own fingers inside you, right?”
“Mmm, yeah. Have a dildo too,” Tony finds himself saying before he can think about the wisdom of it. It’s kind of one of those unspoken purity things, that an alpha doesn’t want to hear about anyone or any thing that came before him…
“Perfect, that’s good. That’ll make this a lot easier for you. I don’t want to hurt you,” Bucky says, more like it’s a confession.
The head space Tony’s in right now makes him primed to believe, so he says, “Ok,” and slowly readjusts his legs, wrapping them around Bucky’s waist.
Bucky smiles at him encouragingly. “I was thinkin’ I’d put my mouth on you first, doll, if that’s alright?”
Bucky kisses his way over Tony’s chest, paying attention to each of his nipples in turn, then continues down over his stomach and to his groin. Tony is full erect at that point. The kisses Bucky leaves up and down his cock make little zings of pleasure shoot through him. Then Bucky spreads Tony’s legs wide, which causes a jolt of nervousness through his center, but Bucky lowers his face into the spread of them, instead of lowering other body parts.
“Oh,” Tony gasps as Bucky’s tongue moves over his opening, then pushes higher, up into the folds behind his balls, making pleasure race all through Tony’s groin and legs. “Oh, Jesus…” Tony cries as Bucky eats him out like he’s the one half starved, like he’s never tasted anything so good before in his life. Tony would be embarrassed by the way the fluid of his arousal practically gushes out of him when he comes, if Bucky didn’t groan and lap it all up like that had been his end goal all along.
To say Tony is a little out of it when Bucky finally straightens up is an understatement. He barely even registers Bucky scooting a pillow under his hips, but he does notice when the alpha slides a finger into him nice and gently.
“I’ve got you, shh,” Bucky says, making sure he’s opened up and ready for him.
It’s more care than Tony’s ever heard of an alpha taking. He’s definitely not expecting Bucky to reach up with his other hand and run a finger through the small amount of come on Tony’s stomach, bringing it up to his mouth for a taste.
Tony stares at him with rapt attention as Bucky declares him, “Delicious.”
Tony comes again on Bucky’s fingers as they press over and over that perfect spot inside him, the one he found right away during his first heat and was told to never expect an alpha to be able to locate.
“Fucking hell,” Tony pants afterward.
“Think you’re ready for the main event now, darlin’?” Bucky asks, leaning up over him and cleaning off his fingers with his mouth. Then he reaches for a condom and rolls it onto his own length.
Tony whines in response, which normally would be vaguely mortifying, but as it is, it makes Bucky’s eyes darken just a touch and a thrill run up Tony’s spine to see.
With a gentle nudge, Bucky finally presses inside of him.
Tony did not understand how different it would be. Bucky’s bigger than the dildo he had hidden at home, for one thing. Not painfully big, but he’s a stretch where Tony isn’t used to feeling one. The actual biggest difference though, is feeling the weight of him above Tony, of being pressed down into the mattress, of his instincts chanting alpha alpha alpha in his brain as Bucky begins to move inside him.
Tony groans, completely outside his control, and latches on to Bucky, burying his face against the alpha’s neck.
“I’ve got you, doll, I’ve got you,” Bucky assures him, setting an easy, fluid pace that has Tony rocking up to meet him in no time. “God you’re gorgeous, sweetheart, look at you, stuffed full of my cock and all mine,” Bucky is obviously feeling the hormones too from the way he sweet talks Tony through their coupling.
When Tony comes, it’s a strong, deep orgasm that he’s never experienced before, his body reveling in Bucky’s scent and pheromones all around him and rewarding him accordingly.
“That’s it, that’s it, make as much noise as you want, honey,” Bucky groans as he comes too, “Ain’t got no neighbors to hear us, come for me, Tony.”
Tony’s not sure he could stop the sounds coming out of his mouth if he wanted to, but he appreciates the knowledge that no one else can hear them.
Bucky cleans him off afterward with a warm washcloth, apologizing that it’s not made of softer material.
Tony falls asleep spooned up against Bucky’s chest, with one of the alpha’s arms wrapped protectively around his midsection.
It’s the most comfortable and sated that Tony’s been while falling asleep, well, pretty much ever.
The next morning, Tony wakes up snuggled securely in Bucky’s blankets, but Bucky himself is gone. Then the smell of toast hits his nose, giving him a good idea as to where Bucky went. Even though Tony has to pee something fierce, he doesn’t want to get out of bed yet, so he pulls the covers over his head.
There’s a little bit of an ache between his legs, but it’s not horrible. His lower back aches a bit too, but again, he’ll survive. He wonders how much worse it would have been though if Bucky hadn’t been gentle…
A knock on the bedroom door disrupts Tony’s train of thought. He peels the blankets back away from his face just as Bucky comes in carrying a tray of food.
“Hey, how are you feelin’, Tony?” he asks while Tony scurries to sit up properly.
“I’m fine. How are you?” Tony says on autopilot.
Bucky chuckles, waiting for him to get situated before placing the tray in front of him. “I’m good. Great, even. I haven’t slept that good in ages.”
“Me neither,” Tony admits. There are two plates on the tray, two sets of silverware, two cups of coffee, etc., so Bucky is obviously eating with him. The alpha goes around to the other side of the bed and carefully gets back in it, scooting up to Tony’s side.
“Uh, actually, I… Need to go to the bathroom?...” Tony says, realizing he’s not going to be able to hold it long enough to get through a whole meal. It’s the kind of thing that Howard’s face would cloud over upon hearing, and he’d get cuffed for being an ungrateful brat… Not that Howard ever did anything nice for him like this to begin with.
“Oh, here, I’ll hold this while you get out then,” Bucky says, lifting the tray off his legs right away.
Tony sneaks a glance at Bucky’s face as he goes, but he doesn’t see any anger there. When he gets back from the bathroom, Bucky still looks pleased as punch, waiting for him.
“Thanks, for all this, by the way,” Tony says as he carefully climbs back into bed.
“You’re welcome. I’m sorry it’s only eggs and toast, I usually just load up on protein in the mornings myself. But we’ll get you some fresh fruit and things, stuff that’ll be good for you. It probably wouldn’t hurt me to eat a few more vegetables too, actually,” Bucky admits, giving him a sheepish look.
Bucky clears out half of the closet, half his dresser, etc., for him when they’re done eating, and takes the dishes to go wash them up while Tony unpacks.
“You want to make a list of everything we need, or should we just wing it in the store?” Bucky asks as they’re getting ready to make the much talked about shopping trip.
“I, uh, I don’t need much,” Tony says, “Maybe another pair of shoes, and um, a bathrobe?...”
“Shoes and a bathrobe… Tony, even though the checks from what I won in that poker game ain’t had a chance to clear yet, I can afford to take care of you on my own. I make good money, for an average guy. I mean, as long as you don’t want shoes that cost a thousand dollars a pair or something…”
“No, Jesus, I don’t care about brand names and stuff, I just… I don’t want to be a burden, that’s all,” Tony fidgets.
To Bucky, it seems clear that he expects to have it taken out on him in some way or another later. “Tony,” Bucky says, stepping close and cupping his cheek, “I want to take good care of you. Because it makes me feel proud and happy to see you happy. You’re my omega. It ain’t about being a burden, you don’t have to, to pay me back, or anything.”
Tony nods, disbelief written in every line of his face.
“It’s ok, doll, I’ll show you how things should be. You’ll just have to get used to bein’ treated well from here on out,” Bucky says, giving him a chaste kiss. He understands now that Tony isn’t going to be able to help him much in this arena, likely because even with all the money Howard had, his resentment was greater. What a piece of work…
“Ok. I’ll try,” Tony finally agrees.
Bucky takes Tony to the Target he always goes to when he needs more socks or underwear or something. He knows they have a huge omega section and they can probably get almost everything they need there. Tony doesn’t look like he’d be physically up to walking through a bunch of different stores anyway.
“Here, let’s each grab a cart, I’m pretty sure we’re going to need two anyway,” Bucky urges him.
Tony follows his lead, if somewhat hesitantly, but he does stick close to Bucky’s general area.
“What do you want to look at first?’ Bucky asks.
“Maybe clothes? They’re usually the most hassle, so, we should probably get them out of the way first?…”
“Sounds good,” Bucky says, making a b-line for the clothing department. “That was a big suitcase, but even if it was full of clothes and nothin’ else, there’s no way you had a whole wardrobe in there. We’ll probably need a little bit of everythin’, so don’t be shy, alright?” Bucky insists.
Tony tries on some jeans, and t-shirts, and a couple sets of nicer slacks and button up shirts. Then they stock up on socks and underwear, and a couple jackets, and Tony sees a Nintendo branded beanie that has Rocky Wrench on it with a little wrench flying through the air out of his hands, and he reaches for it before he can stop himself. Bucky smiles when he sees him looking at it, gives him a kiss on his temple, and puts the beanie in their cart. Bucky also doesn’t make him choose between the two scents of lotion he likes when they move to the bath section next.
Bucky’s cart is nearly completely full of clothes, shoes, toiletries, a new softer set of bath towels, and odds and ends things they liked while walking through the store.
“I guess we only needed one cart after all,” Tony says after the new bath set is picked out.
“Well, we ain’t quite done yet,” Bucky informs him, “We still need to get you some blankets and pillows and stuff, and they’ll probably take up a whole cart.”
Tony blushes when he realizes Bucky is talking about things for him to nest with. To say that Howard was never big on catering to anything omega would be an understatement, so Tony never had more than one extra blanket for his bed. Granted, it was a huge bed, so two big blankets and his two pillows were always enough for him to make do with if he bunched them up, but he’s never had anything specifically soft or cozy that was just for him to curl up in when he felt that urge.
“Oh wow, feel this one, Tony,” Bucky says, bringing Tony’s meandering mind back to the present.
Bucky has lead them over to the Home Goods section and is rubbing a micro-fleece blanket through his fingers. “My Ma would use this special treatment on her blankets, like, a super fabric softener, when they’d start to lose their softness… But you wouldn’t even have to do that with these. I ain’t ever felt anything so soft before in my life,” Bucky says in wonder.
“Wow, yeah, that’s, that’s amazingly soft,” Tony agrees, sneaking sideways glances at this alpha who doesn’t even hesitate to appreciate a blanket in the omega section.
“What colors do you want?” Bucky says, pulling a blue and a brown one off the shelf.
“I, uh, kind of like the red?” Tony says. He feels a small dash of disappointment when Bucky puts the blue and brown ones in the cart, and he instantly chastises himself, to not get used to having his opinion heard just because Bucky listened to him on a few things before this. Then Bucky grabs three red ones and throws them in, pauses, then grabs a black one too.
“I wonder if they make pillows out of this stuff...” Bucky says, almost as if to himself, looking around the rest of the isle. He spots another section of smaller blankets, more like throws, in between the ones they just got and the pillows. “Tony, look at this one, it’s soft and fluffy,” he says, waving him over.
“You’re right. Soft and fluffy,” Tony says, finding himself unable to resist the urge to rub the throw blanket against his cheek.
Bucky puts it and a couple more like it in their cart. Then they get an assortment of pillows, and some sheets for when the weather is just too hot for blankets.
“You do realize this is like, ten blankets, right?” Tony asks him when they’re done, “There’s no way I need all this. I could never use it all at once.”
“Well, I’ll make a confession, doll,” Bucky says, not bothering to lower his voice at all, “The blue one is for me,” he gives Tony a wink too as he says it. And he keeps moving toward the checkout, as if that resolves the issue.
Tony just stares at him for a second, dumbfounded, but then he shakes himself and gets pushing on his own cart.
Bucky doesn’t even bat an eye at the thousand dollars everything rings up to.
“How about some lunch, then we can drop this stuff off at home before we go to the grocery store?” Bucky asks him as they’re pulling out of the parking lot, car stuffed to the gills with pillows.
“Sounds good,” Tony nods, continually stealing glances at his alpha, like he can’t fathom Bucky’s happy mood.
At the restaurant, which is more of a small mom and pop diner, Tony orders chicken strips again, because his stomach can’t quite believe their good fortune.
“Bucky Barnes? I thought that was you,” an older alpha, female and wealthy if any of that jewelry is real, approaches their table while they’re eating, smiling broadly at Bucky.
“Mrs. Peterson, how have you been?” Bucky says, smiling back but not getting up from the table.
“Oh, you know me, still making the rounds. But I don’t think I’ve met your friend before?...” she prompts, turning to Tony expectantly.
“This is Tony, my mate,” Bucky says, “Tony, this is Mrs. Peterson. Her daughter used to babysit me when I was little,” he adds, so Tony has more of an idea who this person is to him.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Peterson,” Tony says politely.
“Mate? Why, James Buchanan Barnes, did you go and settle down on us? This is news indeed. How long has it been, how on earth did the two of you meet?” she wants to know, placing a hand over her heart dramatically.
Bucky blinks at her.
She turns to Tony expectantly in the middle of Bucky’s pause.
“It’s, uh, been a day. Well, this is the second day. We were mated yesterday. Bucky won me in a round of poker,” Tony shrugs, like, what can you do?
Mrs. Peterson’s eyebrows climb toward her hairline.
“It weren’t supposed to be that kind of bettin’ going on,” Bucky says in his own defense, “But, once I won, and I saw Tony, well…” Bucky trails off, giving Tony a fond look and a smile.
“You’re a softhearted fool, Bucky Barnes, just like your father,” Mrs. Peterson says with a tut, shaking her head slightly.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Bucky says, dipping his own head in acknowledgement.
“Well,” Mrs. Peterson seems to gather herself, “I’ll leave you two to your meal, I’m expected at the bridge club in twenty minutes, so I just wanted to pop over and say ‘hi’.”
“Say ‘hi’ to Chuck, for me,” Bucky says, which must be her mate.
“Of course, Bucky. Tony, it was good to meet you,” she says kindly, a little twinkle in her eye.
Once she’s gone, Bucky sighs, his whole body slouching a little in his seat. That sigh makes a current of wariness run through Tony, because it indicates an unhappy alpha.
“Well, that’ll be all over town in thirty minutes. She’s the biggest gossip this side of the Chrysler building...” Bucky informs him, shaking his head.
“Sorry…” Tony says right away, his body automatically wanting to make itself a smaller target where he’s sitting.
“Eh, it’s alright. I guess it was going to get around eventually anyway,” Bucky shrugs, going back to eating.
Conversationally, that definitely signals the end of it, but Tony’s instincts think they know better. His stomach roils as the worry that Bucky will wait to punish him until they get home sets in.
“Tony? You just went pale… Are you ok?” Bucky asks as he looks up, concern evident on his face.
“Uh, my stomach doesn’t feel so good. The, uh, barbecue sauce might have been a bit much,” Tony says, holding his midsection and dropping his gaze from Bucky’s eyes.
“The barbecue sauce?...” Bucky says, like he doesn’t believe him.
“I think I might throw up, actually,” Tony says, swallowing hard. He looks around for a sign that will lead to the restrooms, but suddenly Bucky is blocking his vision, helping him up out of his chair.
“Come on, let’s get you to the bathroom, it ain’t far,” he says soothingly, guiding him with a hand on the small of his back.
At this point, Tony’s body is waring between seeking comfort from Bucky, and preparing for execution, so to speak. Just the knowledge that he and Bucky will soon be out of the public eye is enough for his learned responses to assume a beating is coming in the near future.
The restroom of the diner is a small, one person set up with the toilet and sink all in one room. Bucky goes in with him, locking the door behind them.
Tony sinks to his knees in front of the toilet, his stomach giving a few practice heaves before he actually loses his lunch. He’s kind of old hat at this part of it by now, but it doesn’t make it any less gross.
“Shh,” Bucky says soothingly, placing a hand over Tony’s forehead and one around his waist to support him.
It startles Tony a bit, because he never in a million years expected Bucky to get this close to him while he’s throwing up.
“I’m so sorry, Tony. I should have known better,” Bucky whispers to him from behind, keeping him close and sheltered even while Tony’s stomach rids itself of every last bit of bile possible, “This is my fault, and no one else’s, ok? And I’ll make it right. I’m so, so sorry, Tony.”
As soon as he’s done throwing up, Tony starts crying, because the idea that Bucky would not only understand what happened, but be sorry about it? It’s more than his frayed nerves can handle.
“Shh, shh,” Bucky shushes him gently, keeping hold of him while he reaches with one hand up to the paper towel dispenser. The sink is close enough that he can run some water on them before starting to clean up Tony’s face. “Let’s get you home, ok? We’ll get you cleaned up, and then we’ll try out some of those new blankets we bought,” Bucky keeps his voice low and calm as Tony nods along. He’s still leaning against Bucky’s chest, which Bucky hopes he can take as a sign that he hasn’t just ruined everything. He’s not an expert on abused omegas, but he does know that it can be hard to break the expectation of abuse.
“Sorry,” Tony croaks out, his voice raspy from the burn of the bile, “Sorry I freaked out.”
“No, it’s ok, I know better than to do anythin’ that makes you think I’m upset with you, I just wasn’t thinkin’, and that’s my fault,” Bucky says as he holds him gently.
“Still, it’s a huge imposition, to have me in your life,” Tony replies, knowing he’s certainly never been good at not setting people off himself either.
Bucky gives him a thoughtful look, reaching to brush a stray curl of Tony’s hair behind his ear at the same time. “You know, they used to say an omega was a blessin’ on a household.”
“In like the 1800’s, yeah,” Tony agrees, not sure where Bucky’s going with that. He’s still shaky from throwing up, but Bucky’s calm apologies are doing wonders for soothing him. He vaguely wonders if he’s started to bond to Bucky already, though he knows one day shouldn’t be enough for that. All he knows is that the nausea is passing much more quickly than any time he remembers before.
“Omegas were a lot more rare back then, before modern medicine gave everyone higher birth rates and longer lifespans… Somehow, people started to lose sight of that, started thinkin’ of ownin’ an omega as a right for a while, then as a hassle… But not everyone always agrees with the common thought of the times, Tony. There were assholes back in the 1800’s who would still have abused an omega, and there are still alphas around now who understand what a treasure they are. You are,” Bucky says, brushing a thumb over Tony’s cheek and looking him right in the eye.
Tony blushes under the scrutiny.
“My parents raised me to understand what an honor it was, to have the affections of a happy, healthy omega. And I ain’t going to ask you to take my word for it, ok? I’m going to prove it to you, I promise,” Bucky swears softly.
In the fluorescent light of a tiny diner bathroom in Brooklyn, after being held through his spell of throwing up, Tony almost believes. He nods his head up and down, careful not to dislodge Bucky’s hand.
“Ok, let’s get a to-go box and get you home,” Bucky nods too.
Outside the bathroom, their waitress approaches them with a worried, concerned face, asking if Tony’s alright, if it was something he ate… Bucky explains that the food was fine, it’s just that Tony’s former owner was an asshole, and Bucky triggered him, it wasn’t anything they were served. He makes sure to tip her well too, for the scare.
“You want to take a shower while I carry everything up?” Bucky asks him when they get home, “I know throwin’ up can make a person feel gross all over.”
“You sure you don’t need help?” Tony asks.
“Nah, it’s mostly pillows and clothes and stuff, I’ll be fine,” Bucky gives him a reassuring smile, shooing him into the shower.
Once he’s brushed his teeth and is under the spray of water, Tony realizes he probably should have waited for Bucky to bring up the new shampoos and conditioners he bought him...but one more use of Bucky’s certainly won’t hurt him or anything. His immediate reaction is to worry that Bucky would be mad if he used his when he just bought Tony some, but… But he realizes Bucky hasn’t actually gotten mad at him for anything at all yet… Not so far, anyway… His one sigh over being honest with the town gossip didn’t have any heat or even real annoyance to it. If the pattern holds… If the pattern holds like Bucky promises it will, then Tony may have gotten just as lucky as Bucky did during that poker game.
When Tony gets out of the shower, he dries off and leaves the towel hanging up before he steps out into the bedroom to get some clothes. For some reason he didn’t expect Bucky to be there, arranging lotions on the dresser. He doesn’t freeze so much as he just comes to an abrupt stop in the middle of the doorway because of it.
Bucky kindly looks back to the dresser when he sees the mild shock on Tony’s face. “I didn’t mean to surprise you. I was just thinkin’ you could use some more lotion, and, after a shower is usually best. Your pores are open and stuff,” Bucky says, smiling a little as he pretends to read the backs of the lotion bottles.
Tony knows that, logically, Bucky’s already seen him naked yesterday, so it’s not like this is anything new. His face does still heat a little as he approaches the alpha though. “Yeah? Is that going to be like, a regular thing?” he asks.
Bucky puts down one of the lotions, wrapping an arm around Tony’s waist when he gets close enough, and kissing his temple. “Everyday, at least for a couple weeks, until the dry patches heal up,” Bucky says. Tony turns toward him more fully, so he puts the other bottle down and makes the contact into a hug. “How does ‘Healing Defense’ sound?” he asks, keeping a gentle hold of him.
“I want the brown sugar one,” Tony says clearly, no mumbling.
Bucky grins from ear to ear. “That sounds amazin’. Sure thing.”
“And you should probably get naked again too. So I’m more comfortable,” Tony adds, tilting his face up to see Bucky’s reaction. He doesn’t look away from his alpha’s gaze, even though Tony’s cheeks do pink up a little.
“Yeah? I can do that...”
“We didn’t really get a chance to talk about it, but, I think I really like the sex thing,” Tony adds, deciding that if he’s going to ask for what he wants, this is definitely an area that most alphas would be receptive in.
“That’s,” Bucky clears his throat a little, “That’s good to know… You ain’t too sore? It can make it worse, to do it again so soon...”
“If it’s anything like the first time, then it will be worth it,” Tony says in a matter of fact manner.
Bucky grins, happy and just the slightest bit smug. He practically preens as he ushers Tony over to the bed.
The brown sugar and vanilla lotion was an excellent call on Tony’s part. He’s still gentle, but there’s just the slightest edge of hunger to Bucky’s attentions this time. It might be because Tony asked to have him when there was no specific obligation for it too, though.
Bucky was right, Tony wakes up later that evening after they’ve fallen asleep in each other’s arms, with the ache back between his legs and more insistent than before. But Tony was right too, because he smiles at the memory of the pleasure Bucky gave him, even as he’s trying to find a way to lay that eases the ache a little.
“We forgot to go to the grocery store,” Bucky mumbles into his pillow as he wakes up too.
“Pizza?” Tony suggests.
“Brilliant,” Bucky decides, pulling him close for a few kisses.
“Well,” Tony says, “I am a genius…”
Bucky smiles at him, but it’s obvious he doesn’t get the joke. Tony doesn’t hold it against him though.
“He didn’t tell you anything about me, did he?” Tony asks, his voice hitching down into seriousness.
Bucky matches his seriousness immediately. “He was too drunk to remember what day it was. We didn’t exactly have a long conversation afterward.”
“Hmm, par for the course, then...” Tony nods. “I have an IQ of 186.”
Bucky blinks at him. “Are you serious?”
“Um, yeah. Really,” Tony nods, feeling a little trepidation at how Bucky will react to Tony being smarter than him. His intelligence has never been something he’s been able to hide for long though, not from the kids in his classes who cursed him for throwing off the grading curve, not from Howard who cursed and threw things when Tony figured out something he’d been working on for decades. Better to get it out of the way now, before Tony lets his guard down anymore than he already has with this alpha.
“So, like, can you do the calculator thing?” Bucky asks.
“Yes. What’s the calculator thing?” Tony asks.
“You just said you could do it,” Bucky laughs, shaking his head, “You know, the calculator thing. Like, I give you two crazy numbers to multiply or divide or whatever, and you can do it in your head without a calculator,” Bucky enlightens him.
“Oh, that… That’s a trick? Yeah, I can do that,” Tony says, giving Bucky a look like he’s the cute one.
“Really,” Bucky says, still incredulous.
“I can’t prove myself if you don’t give me any numbers,” Tony points out.
Bucky holds up his finger for Tony to wait a minute as he peels back the covers, getting out of bed. He leaves the bedroom, still naked, and comes back with a small calculator. It’s not even one of the scientific graphing kind…
“I may have graduated near the top of my class in high school, but I ain’t under any delusions,” he says, scooting back under the covers. “Ok, what’s 13,406 times 2,318.7?” Bucky asks him.
“31,084,492 .2 ,” Tony rattles off right away.
“Holy shit,” Bucky says with feeling, staring at Tony with his mouth hanging slightly open. “Ok, what’s 2,688,545 divided by 313?”
“8,589.6, rounded off.”
“What about not rounded off?” Bucky asks, lifting his eyebrow like that might be more of a challenge for him.
“Ok, ok, you got it, Jesus…”
“Are you just bashing numbers randomly?” Tony laughs, looking at the pure delight on Bucky’s face.
“What else am I supposed to do?” Bucky questions him, laughing in awe still. “What about the square root of 547,963,587?”
“Unbe-fucking-lievable,” Bucky shakes his head, “Can you do more complicated stuff too?”
“I can do calculus in my head, Bucky,” Tony tells him.
“Jesus… I can’t do calculus at all, in or outside my head,” Bucky jokes, tossing the calculator aside. “Don’t take this as anythin’ bad against you, Tony, but the more this is sinkin’ in, the more I want to punch your dad in the fuckin’ face. Even more than I already did. I’m tryin’ real hard not to smell mad, but if anythin’ leaks through, just know it’s for him, and not you, ok?” Bucky says, taking a deep breath and letting it out slow.
“I, um… I did go to college… I mean, obviously it didn’t mean what I thought it meant that he let me go, but, he did let me go. Not that I’m trying to defend him or anything,” Tony adds, because that would be ludicrous.
“Yeah? Did you graduate already?” Bucky asks.
“When I was 17,” Tony nods.
“What college did you go to?”
Bucky stares at him for a moment, speechless.
Tony holds up a finger for him to wait a minute this time, and he climbs out of bed, going over to the closet where his suitcase is stashed. He pulls out the framed diploma that he left in it, not having been sure what to do with it. And his upbringing taught him that when in doubt, hide, so… He’s still a little hesitant when he hands it over for Bucky to see, but he feels like he needs to see Bucky’s reaction at this point.
“You double majored...in physics and mechanical engineering,” Bucky says as he sits up to look at it properly, his voice an odd mix of awe and sadness.
“With a minor in math. I had the credits, so, my counselor said I might as well declare it,” Tony adds, awaiting judgement.
Bucky looks up at him and nods. Then he sets the diploma down on the bed and cups Tony’s face. “We’re going to find somewhere to hang this. Tonight.”
“Yeah?” Tony breathes out, hope filling him.
“Of course. I… It’s just… Bein’ mated to a guy like me... It’s just goin’ to hold you back, isn’t it?” Bucky says tearing up a little at the realization. “There’s a lot I can’t give you, just bein’ a mechanic…”
Tony shrugs, but he reaches up to keep Bucky’s hand on his cheek. “That’s probably exactly why he did it, yeah. But, the jokes on him, because he’s miserable in the life he’s built up for himself, and here with you, I… I mean, there’s a chance I could be, actually...happy,” Tony says.
“You really think so?” Bucky asks, like it matters to him if Tony finds him lacking or would be unhappy.
There’s a weird fizzling, almost crackling sensation in Tony’s chest. Before he can ask if Bucky feels it too, he sees Bucky move his free hand to rub over his chest at the same time Tony makes the same motion over his. Both of their eyes go wide.
“Yeah. Yeah, I think the odds are pretty good,” Tony answers his previous question, knowing the compatibility to bond this quickly is extremely rare. Without any prompting, Tony climbs into Bucky’s lap, careful of his diploma, and kisses him. They make out with increasing intensity until Tony’s stomach rumbles, disrupting the mood just a bit.
“It definitely ain’t a good idea to go for round three this soon anyway,” Bucky reminds him, soothing a hand over Tony’s lower back.
“The only thing I’m puttin’ in you for the rest of the night is pizza,” Bucky says firmly, but with a wink at the end.
Tony groans. “Oh my god, that was awful. Seriously, not imagery I ever wanted to have in my brain,” Tony fake whines.
Bucky’s face scrunches up in a frown at what Tony’s implying.
“Oh!” Tony perks up, putting his hands on Bucky’s shoulders, “You’re a mechanic! We could, like, build shit together!”
“Build shit, huh? You know about cars and stuff too?” Bucky asks, not putting it past Tony at all, at this point.
“I rebuilt my first engine when I was 8,” Tony informs him, giving him a look.
“What kind of engine?” Bucky asks, the look bouncing right off him.
“A 357 Chevy,” Tony says challengingly, like he isn’t naked in the lap of an alpha he’s only known for a little over 24 hours.
“Yeah?” Bucky says, smiling widely, “At 8 years old? That’s amazing, Tony.”
“You don’t believe me.”
“No, I do. I very much do. I’m just having a hard time believin’ someone as smart as you wants to work on an engine with me…”
“Well, I never liked designing weapons and stuff. I always preferred cars, actually…”
Tony’s stomach gives another growl of hunger though, so Bucky insists on calling in their order for a couple pizzas before they talk about anything else. They talk about engines and transmissions and their dream cars while they wait for it to be delivered. After they’ve eaten, Bucky starts a load of wash, so Tony can actually start using the blankets they got.
“So, could I come down to the shop with you tomorrow?” Tony asks, knowing Monday morning is fast approaching.
“I was actually thinkin’ of closin’ up for the week. That’s traditional, to spend a week alone when you’ve mated. People will understand. I’ll put a sign on the window,” Bucky says, looking to Tony as if for approval of the plan.
“That could be nice...” Tony admits, surprisingly not freaked out by the prospect of getting to spend that time alone with Bucky, of getting to know him better, just the two of them.
“Consider it done, then.”
The next morning, Bucky puts a sign on the shop’s window announcing the week long closure for a “Family Emergency”. Under the words “Family Emergency” he writes smaller, (Don’t worry, Stevie’s fine).
“Who’s Stevie?” Tony asks.
“My punk brother. He joined the military, so I don’t want everyone thinkin’ I’m out for his funeral or somethin’. He ain’t my brother by blood, but, he is my brother just the same. My Dad adopted him when his Ma passed away. We’d already been best friends for years at that point, and I was only 13,” Bucky tells him.
“When will I get to meet him?” Tony asks.
“I don’t know for sure. He’s done real well for himself in the service, joined this sort of super secret spy ops deal… I talked to him last month, but before that, it was two years before I’d heard from him. He does some real deep cover type of stuff and can’t be callin’ home,” Bucky tells him.
Tony nods along, filing away another piece of the “Bucky Barnes” story.
They go to the bank to deposit Howard’s check, then Bucky takes him to a jeweler to get them rings, so everyone will know they’re mated and won’t mistake Tony for being a “friend” of his again. They also go to the grocery store and get a bunch of things that will be healthier for an omega to eat, though Tony sneaks some oreos and potato chips into the cart too.
“Double stuff oreos, huh?” Bucky says when he’s unloading things onto the belt at the register.
“They’re good for my, uh, serotonin levels,” Tony says, half teasing, but still half testing too as he examines the magazine rack.
“Is that so…” Bucky says, seeing the way Tony is so carefully not-watching him as he sets them on the belt. “Must be a recent scientific breakthrough…”
“Very recent. I just discovered it,” Tony says, biting his bottom lip.
Bucky just chuckles, not even asking that he share them.
They spend the rest of the week mostly staying at home, where Bucky cooks for him, rubs lotion into his skin every night, and usually follows it up with kisses and mind blowing sex. Bucky also tells him more stories about his parents, and about Steven Rogers, the shrimpy little alpha Bucky pulled out of a trash can when they were 8 years old.
“Thank god puberty was good to him, ‘cause if he’d stayed that frail his whole life, he’d have never made it in the military…”
Tony tells Bucky about Jarvis and Anna, and a few stories about his mom that he starts out telling because of thinking they were “good” ones, but realizes from the look that they leave on Bucky’s face that they maybe weren’t that great when compared to how a real family that loves each other lives...
They don’t talk about Howard. Bucky knows all he needs to about the man, and frankly doesn’t want to hear anymore. Unless Tony wanted to talk about it in a therapeutic effort, of course. But right now it’s way too fresh and traumatizing all over again to think about the things he did to him, so that’s the last thing Tony wants.
After five days of lotion and loving touches and cuddling in his new soft blankets, Tony’s skin is no longer dry and rashy. It’ll take a lot longer than that for his hair to thicken out again, and for him to put on any real weight, but it’s definitely progress. Progress that Bucky rewards with a blow job that makes Tony see stars, so he is definitely on board with this system.
Friday night they go out for Chinese and a movie. It seems like Bucky knows a lot of people around town, but Tony guesses that with running a small business, it’s to be expected. There are a few looks their direction from omegas that are obviously not happy to see Bucky is off the market, but Tony doesn’t let it get to him. Bucky’s been living the bachelor life for years and none of them caught his eye before.
“Do you think Jarvis and Anna will come today, or tomorrow?” Tony asks Saturday morning, trying to decide what to wear for the day.
“Well, today’s technically a week, so they’d be well within their rights to show up today,” Bucky says, making sure to pick something free of oil and grease stains himself, “But I wouldn’t read too much into it if they can’t make it until tomorrow either. It seemed like their jobs were kind of demandin’…”
“True,” Tony agrees, finally deciding on one of his new pairs of jeans and a shirt with Albert Einstein’s head on it done up in flashy colors.
The way the family entrance is set up for the living quarters, there’s an enclosed stairwell leading up to the second floor, but the locks and doorbell are all on the ground level entrance. When Tony hears the buzzer go off as they’re finishing breakfast, he gets a huge grin on his face and throws their upper door open, racing down the stairs to unlock the bottom one.
“You going to make sure it’s actually them?” Bucky asks with a chuckle from the top of the stairs, though he doesn’t exactly get a lot of visitors, so the odds are good.
Tony gives a cursory look through the peephole before declaring, “It’s them!” and sliding open the deadbolt. “Jarvis! Anna!” he exclaims, bounding into their arms for hugs right away.
They both hug him tightly, staying on the stoop for a moment as they give him a quick once over.
“It’s wonderful to see you, Master Tony,” Jarvis says, “And looking so well, at that…”
“I know, right? Bucky got me this awesome lotion, come in, come in, I’ll show it to you, it works great,” Tony says, taking a step back without realizing Bucky has come down the stairs behind him. They bump into each other a bit in Tony’s hurry, but all Bucky does is reach out a hand to steady him. Tony gives him a quick hug as Bucky waves Jarvis and Anna in. “They came today,” he says excitedly.
“I can see that,” Bucky chuckles, “Come on in, welcome. Tony’s been lookin’ forward to seein’ you guys again somethin’ fierce.” He knows better than to ask if either of Tony’s parents came to see him or where they are in lieu of this occasion.
“Thank you, Mr. Barnes, my wife and I have been eagerly awaiting this day as well,” Jarvis says, looking between Bucky and Tony appraisingly.
After they climb the stairs, Tony begins showing them around and showing them all the different things Bucky got for him, and the place where Bucky hung Tony’s diploma up, and the mountain of pillows and blankets on the couch for him to snuggle in. “And these are just the ones out here, we have even more in the bedroom,” Tony tells them.
“I am overjoyed to see you doing so well, Master Tony,” Jarvis says, resting a hand on Tony’s shoulder.
“Yeah, and look at this,” Tony says enthusiastically, pulling up his sleeve, “I’m all healed up. Well, mostly. You know, at least the skin stuff. Bucky got this lotion that smells like brown sugar, and he puts it on me every day. It’s pretty amazing,” Tony informs them, running a hand over his own wrist and the lack of irritation there. “And, he’s going to let me work in his shop with him!” Tony beams, directing the smile both at Jarvis and at Bucky himself.
“It’s a far cry from what he deserves, bein’ as smart as he is,” Bucky says, making it clear he’s addressing Jarvis and Anna, “But it’s what I can offer. I know it seems like a waste of his potential, but, I told him he can build anythin’ he wants to in his spare time, that we can afford anyway, so hopefully he doesn’t get bored too soon…” Bucky says apologetically.
“Actually he said I didn’t even have to work in the shop, but I want to,” Tony says with determination, “It’s not like I know how to cook or clean or anything, and, I want to help. To contribute. Besides, we’ll be working on cars all day, Jarvis. Cars. All day. It’s going to be fantastic.”
“It certainly sounds wonderful,” Jarvis nods, giving him an indulgent smile.
“Oh, that reminds me,” Tony says, facing Jarvis and Anna more fully, “I was thinking, since you guys don’t work for ‘my’ family anymore, maybe you could just call me Tony?”
“We could do that,” Anna nods happily, starting to tear up a little. She pulls Tony into a hug that Jarvis joins as well, the three of them just reveling in Tony’s good fortune for a moment.
They stay for a few hours, talking with Bucky and getting to know him better, still feeling things out even though all indicators thus far have been good. Bucky invites them to come back next week for Sunday dinner, and to make that a standing arrangement if they’d like.
Jarvis agrees readily, promising to bring a pudding.
Bucky knows there’s no better way to build trust between him and Tony than for him to trust Tony, so Monday morning he opens a second bay at the shop for the first time in years. Before his Dad passed away, he had an ol’ timer named Rodrigo that had worked for him for years. The aging alpha was long past retirement age though, even back then, and had already planned on leaving for Florida before the accident. He’d stayed to help Bucky through the worst of it, and Bucky was eternally grateful for that, but eventually he did leave to be closer to his own family. That was over half a decade ago, now.
“Here, I’ll have to order you some in a smaller size, but you can wear one of my work shirts for now,” Bucky offers, handing Tony a “mechanic’s blue” button up with the last name Barnes stitched into the name tag above the pocket.
Tony pretty much swims in it, he hasn’t had a chance to put on any real weight yet, but with being an omega he doesn’t have much chance of ever filling it out like Bucky does. “Yeah, maybe a size or three… I’ll just tuck it in for now,” he says, rolling up the sleeves a bit too.
Their first customer of the day is a beta needing an oil change. Then they get a young couple with a check engine light on. Tony was a little afraid, in the back of his mind, that Bucky being closed for a week would hurt business, but it seems pretty steady. They do a few more oil changes and replace some tie rods that day, but nothing too complicated. Bucky introduces him to a few of the customers, his friends or regulars, but not to everyone.
Things go pretty smoothly that first week, except for a small incident where an aggressive, posturing alpha comes in looking to bully his way into a good deal on a transmission job. Bucky isn’t intimidated by him at all, he stands his ground and sends the guy on his way when he won’t agree to their very reasonable price. But Tony finds himself dropping the spark plugs he was working on and hiding himself behind the station wagon in his bay until the guy is gone.
“Tony?” Bucky’s voice calls out for him.
Tony takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, willing himself to stand up before Bucky finds him huddled against the wheel well. It only sort of works.
“Hey, are you ok?” Bucky asks him, helping to steady Tony as he stands, “You look pale, honey, come take a break for a minute.”
“I’m fine,” Tony says on auto pilot, trying to shake it off.
Bucky eyes him seriously. “Someday, you’ll be able to tell assholes like that to piss off yourself,” Bucky assures him, “But there ain’t nothin’ weak about still bein’ healin’ from a lifetime of abuse. If you need a minute, take a minute, it’s ok.”
Sometimes Tony wants to cry at how understanding Bucky is, but that would definitely be unprofessional, so he takes another calming breath instead. “I guess it is time for my mid-morning coffee… Do you want anything?”
“Bring me back a donut?” Bucky asks, taking out his wallet and tucking a twenty dollar bill into Tony’s pocket.
“Sure, plain glazed, right?” Tony asks.
“You got it,” Bucky smiles at him, giving him a quick kiss before he leaves.
The cafe across the street gets a lot of business from Bucky and Bucky’s customers, since they usually go there to wait while their work’s being done. It’s in even shabbier shape than Bucky’s place though, not that Bucky’s is falling down or anything. While Tony is placing their order, he finds out that the owner of the cafe doesn’t own the building, she just rents, so there’s only so much she can do.
Tony wonders about how much it would cost to repaint Bucky’s building while he’s walking back over. He’s completely distracted from the overbearing alpha incident by the time he presents Bucky with his donut.
“Have you ever priced repainting this place?” he asks.
“Not really. The last time it was spruced up was by my Dad… Does it really look that bad?” Bucky asks with a wince, like he admits his judgement might be biased since he’s used to seeing it everyday.
“Well, I mean, it’s not horrible, but… Pride of ownership and all that… Plus, if you did, then maybe some other places in the neighborhood would start fixing theirs up too, you never know…” Tony points out.
“No, that’s a good point. I know it’s been on my mind lately anyway,” Bucky says, looking at Tony contemplatively, “Maybe this is the year to make some changes all around.”
Tony tips his coffee to him before he takes another sip, feeling a warmth in his chest at the idea that not only would Bucky not punish him for speaking up, but he might actually take his suggestion to heart.
The next day is Friday. Bucky has a guy come out to give him an estimate on painting the building and getting a new sign as well.
“I’ve thought about renamin’ it to Barnes Motors for years now, in honor of my Dad, but it always seemed like a huge ordeal. I’ll have to get new signs, new invoices, refile my business license… But you’re right though,” Bucky says, giving Tony a hug, “I should be proud of what I own and take good care of it. I would if it was anythin’ else,” he adds, giving Tony a little extra squeeze, “So I’m not goin’ to put it off anymore.”
“Hey, at least you can keep the shirts,” Tony says, angling his face up for a kiss.
“Good point,” Bucky says, obliging him happily. He has a sneaking suspicion that it’s not much of a secret, the feeling that seeing Tony in his shirts gives him, but Tony is kind enough not to make fun of him for it directly. “Oh, I was goin' to ask you, do you have any preference on where we eat tonight? I know you ain’t real familiar with the area yet, but I didn’t want just keep pickin’ the place without askin’ you,” Bucky says.
“Like a restaurant? Are we going out again?” Tony asks.
“Yeah, of course. It’s Friday,” Bucky says, like that explains everything.
“Are we seeing a movie too? I’d rather get to pick that, than the meal…” Tony says only somewhat hesitantly.
“Sure thing, doll,” Bucky chuckles, “You can pick both, whatever you want.”
Friday date nights are apparently a tradition. One that Tony is very happy to conform to. The movie they see is an action flick, but there’s a brief mention of the main character’s daughter, who’d been kidnapped, having been conceived when her mother’s heat hit unexpectedly early.
Monday afternoon, Bucky closes up early and takes Tony to the “family” doctor downtown.
“We should have done this the first week,” Bucky admits as they drive over, “I’m sorry I let it slip, Tony, I hope you know I didn’t mean to let any ‘accidents’ happen…”
“I believe you,” Tony says, a little subdued from his nervousness, but being mostly truthful. He never really forgot about the issue himself, being much closer to it, but he didn’t see it as an immediate need either. He had his last heat just a couple weeks before Bucky won him, so he’s got a couple months left to go. Plus, he has the backup plan than Anna left him, though Bucky doesn’t know that.
The doctor questions Bucky when he tells him they don’t want kids right now, like he might get him to change his mind about the birth control.
“I don’t want kids,” Bucky tells him firmly, looking the man right in the eye.
He backs down, writing out a prescription and handing it to Bucky. He never once speaks to Tony.
“We’ll find someone else next time,” Bucky says when they get back into the car, “I ain’t ever takin' you back to this place again.”
“Ok. … I’ve heard that there’s a clinic in Bed-Stuy that’s just for omegas, but, that’s probably farther than we need to go,” Tony adds, automatically giving himself an out.
“Bed-Stuy, huh? We’ll have to check it out,” Bucky nods, like he’s glad Tony shared that with him.
Tony breathes out, holding on tightly to the prescription.
By the time his third Friday in Bucky’s care rolls around, Tony is starting to get used to the feeling he gets when he sees his prescription packet of little yellow pills lined up right along with his vitamins in the kitchen.
His life is still full of ongoing surprises though, because Bucky hands him an envelope while they’re upstairs having their lunch break that day.
“What’s this?” Tony asks, opening it to find a check made out to him, to Tony Barnes, which is really the first time Tony’s seeing his new name written out like that, so it catches him off guard.
“I was thinkin’ the other day, we should open you your own account at the bank,” Bucky says casually in between bites of his sandwich, “And put your name on my accounts too. You shouldn’t have to come to me for every little thing, and you should be able to go to the store or whatever you want on your own too. It never made sense to me, those alphas that don’t want their mates havin’ access to their bank account. Most of them are jerks who ain’t any good with money themselves, so it’s just extra sad...”
“You want me to have my own account? And be on your accounts too?” Tony asks back in clarification, dumbfounded.
“Yeah, of course. The bank will be closed by the time we close the shop today, but they’re open on Saturdays. I figured we could head over tomorrow and get everythin’ taken care of.”
“So, this money is to open the account,” Tony says, still wrapping his mind around it. The odd amount of the check is still throwing him off though. Usually a bank would require something like a hundred bucks as a deposit to open a new account, not $1608.42, after taxes.
“Well, I’m sure they’d take it for that, yeah. Most banks don’t have any problem with payroll checks, even if they’re handwritten,” Bucky says, like he isn’t sure what Tony’s confused about.
“Payroll? You’re paying me?” Tony exclaims, his sandwich falling out of his hand and landing back on his plate with a splat. Eh, egg salad is always messy anyway.
“What? Of course I’m payin’ you,” Bucky frowns, “You do everythin’ I do, you work just as hard as I do.”
“But, you don’t have to,” Tony says, “I’m your omega, everything I own is technically really yours anyway. Hell, it’s worse for you, tax wise, if you pay me for work done in your business. If you just claimed the labor under the omega exemption, you wouldn’t have to pay taxes on it at all.”
“I know,” Bucky says, setting aside his own food to scoot closer to Tony. He cups Tony’s cheek and makes sure they’re both looking into each other’s eyes when he says, “But payin’ you is the right thing to do, even if it ain’t convenient tax-wise. Besides, now that I have a mate, I probably won’t end up owin’ as much anyway,” he adds with a wink and a charm-filled smile.
Tony nods and starts tearing up, because nobody does that. He leans in to Bucky, resting his head on his alpha’s shoulder while Bucky hugs him. It takes a few minutes of Bucky rubbing his back and holding him close for Tony to get himself under control.
“Can I get my driver’s license?” Tony whispers, staying in Bucky’s embrace, “I know we don’t have any kids for me to need to cart around, but, I want one,” he admits, “A driver’s license, that is, not a baby.”
“I ain’t goin’ to insult you by askin’ if you know how to drive already,” Bucky says, giving him a squeeze, “We’ll make an appointment next week. The DMV ain’t open on the weekends at all.”
Tony squeezes Bucky back, the slight apprehension at asking that was making his heart pick up speed turning into pure exuberance instead. “Thank you. You’re like, the best alpha ever, Bucky. Seriously. You probably had all gold stars in your Home Ecc classes,” Tony sniffles happily, wiping at his eyes.
“Actually, I failed Home Ecc,” Bucky admits, “It was taught by an alpha, and we didn’t see eye to eye.”
“...That isn’t difficult to imagine,” Tony chuckles, because the way Bucky’s treated him so far has been like something out of a fairy tale and definitely isn’t standard.
“He was middle aged, no family, and pretty obviously hated kids. Not sure why he decided to go into teachin’ in the first place,” Bucky says, shaking his head.
“Probably the pension,” Tony shrugs.
Bucky nods in agreement, because that makes sense, and they get back to finishing their meal.
On Saturday, they only sleep in a little bit, to make sure they have plenty of time at the bank. Bucky’s heard it can be a little bit of a hassle, getting an omega added to your account. He knows that they’re legally allowed to have their own accounts too, as long as their alpha approves it, but it’s pretty rare among the middle class. It’s usually a rich people thing. He’s fully prepared for the bank to give him some grief over it, so he brings every official document he thinks they could possibly need, including Tony’s transfer contract, with them.
“What do you mean you don’t offer them?” Bucky asks the bank’s representative, “Did the law change or somethin’ and I don’t know it?” He pulls out his phone at the same time, as if to google the answer to that question himself.
“There hasn’t been any change to the law that I’m aware of,” the representative, David, tells them, “But not all banks are required to offer all types of accounts. You’ll need to have a traditional joint account if you want another separate one. But you could nickname the account in our records so you could tell them apart more easily.”
“Nickname it,” Bucky says flatly. He clears the search he was about to do on his phone, and puts in a different one instead. “Can I speak to the manager? I’ve known Cindy for years, so I’d just like to hear it from her, if that’s the way it is,” Bucky asks.
“She’s not in on weekends,” David says with a fakely apologetic smile, obviously not too upset to have to deny his request.
Tony remains silent the entire time.
“Well, I guess I’ll come back on Monday then,” Bucky says with a fake smile back, motioning for Tony to follow him.
Once they’re outside the bank, Bucky immediately starts grumbling about old fashioned assholes and discrimination.
“It’s ok, if it doesn’t work out,” Tony assures him, “I mean, I appreciate the thought, but it doesn’t really make any difference in our day to day lives. I can just use our joint account, if you put my name on it still…”
“I told you I would open you your own account, Tony, and that’s what I’m going to do. If this bank won’t help us, we’ll just find one that does.”
Tony stares at him in awe.
“Here, this credit union says online that they do omega only accounts. I’ll call them to make sure it’s true before we drive over there,” Bucky says, putting the phone up to his ear.
The lady he speaks to assures him that opening an omega only account won’t be a problem, as long as they’re both there in person. Bucky thanks her and gets her name, letting her know he’ll ask for her specifically once they get there.
“Thank you,” Tony says after they’ve parked in front of the new financial institution, “For going to all this trouble, just for me.”
“You deserve it, Tony,” Bucky tells him, not opening his door yet, “You deserve to have your own account, and your own money, and to be your own person, outside of me,” he says, getting a little worked up.
“I do. And I am,” Tony nods, letting Bucky know he understands.
Bucky puts a hand on the back of Tony’s neck and gives him an affectionate squeeze. “Good. Now let’s go talk to this Renee lady, hopefully she can help us.”
Renee escorts them over to one of the desks away from the tellers, offering them both coffee, water, etc. Bucky feels like they’re off to a better start already. She goes right into all the requirements needed for opening an account for an omega to be on by themselves. Bucky is able to produce all the documents they need, since he came prepared.
“Do you want your alpha to be an authorized signer on the account?” she asks Tony directly.
“What does that mean if he is, exactly?” Tony asks, only stealing a small glance at Bucky beforehand.
“It means that if a check or card transaction came in with his name in the signature, it would still be processed and honored, even though his name isn’t on the account,” Renee informs him. “I’m required by law to make sure the both of you know it’s an option,” she adds somewhat apologetically.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Bucky says, guessing at the conflict that Tony’s having internally. “I wouldn’t have any reason to have his card or checks on me, and if we were together, it’d be a moot point.”
“Ok, let’s do it for just me then, if that’s alright,” Tony agrees.
Renee smiles at them and finally gets to printing the forms they’ll need to sign. Most other accounts will accept electronic signatures, but there are state regulations that say they have to keep the alpha’s original authorizing signature on file for this one.
“What would you like the opening deposit to be?” she asks, taking back all the signed documents.
Tony pulls out his payroll check and signs the back of it, handing it over. “So, um, now that I have the checking… Can I have a savings account too? Or any other type of account? Or is it just this type only?…”
Tony wants to put $1000 into a one year CD, and open a regular savings with $250 of what’s left, which Renee assures them is completely possible.
“Actually, before you decide how much to move where,” Bucky says, pulling out his checkbook, “I was wantin’ to move my own accounts over to this bank, er, credit union, too, personal and business. We recently came into a bit of money that we ain’t done anythin’ with yet either.”
“What do you mean?” Tony asks.
“I mean, you still have your dowry to decide what to do with, and I have all my winnings from that poker game, and I don’t know much about investin’ or anythin’. I was just going to stick it all in a savings account and call it good, but maybe it’d be put to better use somewhere else?” Bucky says writing out a check as he talks. He tears it out and hands it to Tony when he’s done.
Tony just sits there and stares at the check for a moment. Then he puts it on the desk as his eyes start watering. “I guess there’s been a change of plans,” he says, wiping at his eyes, but not crying crying, “What are the rates on your jumbo CDs?”
He ends up putting $250,000 in a five year CD, $100,000 in a money market account, opening a Roth IRA, and putting the rest in regular savings.
“Now, you’ve still left your checking account with a balance of only $1608.42, is that what you want?” she double checks with him.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” Tony assures her.
Bucky’s accounts actually take a lot longer to set up, because he insists on them all having Tony’s name on them too, even the business ones.
“You should probably set aside at least $100,000 in something liquid for ongoing business improvements,” Tony says, losing his hesitation more and more as Bucky asks his opinion. “That way as things come up, you don’t have to worry about incurring a penalty if you need to get access to funds immediately.”
“That’s a good point, doll,” Bucky says, beaming at him. He writes the checks for his new accounts so that it only leaves a small buffer in the old ones, for a few things that haven’t cleared yet. “I ain’t interested in doin’ business with an institution that doesn’t want to serve omegas on their own,” he explains, “I’m real glad you took all this time out of your day to help us, Renee.”
“It was no problem, Mr. Barnes, you two let us know if there’s anything else we can ever do for you.”
After they finally step outside the building again later that afternoon, Bucky says, “I’m goin’ to go close out my accounts with the old bank as soon as everythin’ clears."
“Can I go with you when you do?” Tony asks hopefully.
“Of course you can,” Bucky beams back, having figured that Tony would want to see the look on David’s face when he realizes they lost over a million and a half dollars of business because of the way he treated Tony. It’s silent for a while in the car as they drive home, but Tony does speak up again after a few minutes.
“Thanks again, by the way, for giving me back my dowry. A lot of alphas wouldn’t have done that, even if they were already wealthy. I, uh, wasn’t expecting that…” Tony admits.
“I know. That’s part of why I did it. You should have been able to expect it,” Bucky tells him.
“Just that CD alone will be worth a little over a million dollars by the time I’m 65, even if I never add anything to it,” Tony tells him, “So that’s a huge peace of mind for me.”
“We need to go see my lawyer too,” Bucky says, now that his mind is on legalities and everything. “When my parents died, they didn’t have a will. Since Stevie was only adopted, not theirs by blood, he didn’t get anythin’ when the estate was settled, so I made sure I had a will drawn up first thing, and left everythin’ to him.”
“Well, if he’s an alpha, and your only legal relation, even if it’s not by blood, then he’d get everything if you died anyway...including me,” Tony adds sedately, not wanting to think about being transferred off to another stranger anytime soon. He knows it isn’t in his cards to get this lucky twice, that’s for sure.
“I know, but I need to make sure he knows what I want for you. People can leave stipulations like that. And since these accounts were yours already, he shouldn’t be able to touch them. Not that I think he would, but… I don’t have a way to contact him to even tell him I’m mated now. If somethin’ happened to me tomorrow, he’d show up to a situation he wouldn’t know anything about…”
“I guess it would be prudent, yeah…” Tony agrees.
“Sorry, if it’s getting you down, talkin’ about this kind of stuff,” Bucky says, “It’s just, when it’s happened to you before, it’s a lot harder to push it off and say ‘It won’t happen to me' like a lot of people do.”
“No, I understand,” Tony assures him. “Do you mind if I ask, how your parents died?...”
Bucky takes a deep breath, like he’s steadying himself, not like he’s upset. He goes ahead and parks in front of the shop before he answers, since they were almost home. “My Ma was killed in a car accident one day while I was at school. Rodrigo said my Dad just dropped the solenoid valve he had in his hand and fell to the floor, right in the middle of helpin’ a customer. Ma always joked that when my Dad went, she would to, but it ended up bein’ the other way around,” Bucky says. His eyes get a little moist, but he doesn’t actually cry thinking about it anymore.
“They must have had a strong bond,” Tony says, condolences lacing his voice.
“Yeah, the strongest.”
“Sorry…” Tony says, for asking and for what happened and just for everything.
“It’s ok, Tony, it ain’t your fault. Sometimes bad things just happen,” Bucky sighs.
“You want to go inside and cuddle for a while?” Tony offers.
“Yeah, actually, that would be great.”
Pssst, hey kids... (opens trench coat) Would you like to buy a hint of plot?...
Three days later, a FedEx truck pulls up in front of the shop. Tony’s head pops up over the hood of the Toyota Corolla he has in his bay and he starts wiping his hands off with a shop rag.
“Got a package for Tony Barnes?” the guy says after he wheels up a massive box on a dollie.
“That’s me, I’ll sign for it,” Tony says, grinning as he heads over.
Bucky is elbows deep in a radiator replacement, but he keeps an eye on their interaction. Carl has been FedEx’s delivery driver to this part of town for a decade, so Bucky has a pretty good read on him. While he doesn’t expect anything resembling aggression from the alpha, Carl is a terrible flirt more than anything else.
“Perfect. Where do you want me to set it, darlin’?” the driver asks Tony with a wink.
“Oh, uh, right here is fine,” Tony answers, blushing just the smallest bit.
“You sure you don’t want me to take it up to the house for you? I wouldn’t want a sweet thing like you gettin’ hurt on my watch,” the alpha says, though he takes the signature dock back like normal and doesn’t make any move to get closer to Tony.
“No, it’s for the shop anyway, and, my alpha, Bucky, can handle it just fine, I’m sure,” Tony says, gaining a little more confidence.
“Your alpha, Bucky? Bucky Barnes?”
Tony gives an exaggerated look down to the name tag on his shirt, as if the package coming under that last name too wasn’t enough.
“Well I’ll be… Bucky!” the alpha shouts up toward the shop, waving the clipboard in the air.
Bucky has already begun extricating himself from the radiator, so he takes a rag with him to wipe off his hands as he heads out to the parking lot as well. “Hey, Carl,” he says, giving the man a nod.
“James Buchanan Barnes, did you go and get mated? For real? After all these years?” Carl says disbelievingly. It seems like he’s definitely playing it up for the drama though.
“I’m only 25, Carl. And yeah, this is my mate, Tony. Tony, this is the FedEx guy, Carl.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Carl gives him a little half bow, “Dang, now I owe Scooter twenty bucks…”
“That’s what you get for bettin’ on other people’s love lives,” Bucky says, shooing him off. It’s all in good fun though. Carl chuckles and waves as he climbs back into his delivery truck. Bucky goes back into the shop to get one of their own dollies, to wheel the box inside with.
“Is he always like that?” Tony asks, understanding now that this guy is known to Bucky.
“Pretty much. He used to make a game out of gettin’ my Ma to blush, until Stevie saw it one day and read him the riot act. Carl don’t mean no harm by it though, so they were able to come to an understandin’,” Bucky says, smiling at the memory.
“And your Dad was ok with it?” Tony asks, hovering excitedly as Bucky sets the box down.
“Yeah, he knew Carl did that with every place he delivered to. And speakin’ of, what did you get?” Bucky asks as Tony attacks the package gleefully with a box cutter.
“A BassMaster 3000,” Tony says, pulling out the styrofoam top piece to reveal a high end, multiple speaker sound system. “In a controlled environment, with the right song, you can break glass with this baby. I mean, not that we would set it up that way here, but we’ll definitely be able to hear it over the air compressor,” Tony beams, looking to Bucky for approval.
“Holy shit, 3000 watts? Are we hostin’ a rave in here?” Bucky jokes, but he’s obviously pleased. He gives Tony a hug and a quick kiss before they start pulling it out of the box. They have to finish up their work for the day before they can start installing it though. Once they’ve sent the last customer on their way and closed the doors, Bucky gets a ladder out and starts hanging speakers at Tony’s direction.
Tony has to thread together some extra wiring to get everything to reach, but when all is said and done, the sound is loud enough to rattle a can of WD40 off the shelf, so Tony counts it as a win.
“You know I would have gotten a better radio for the shop if you’d said somethin’,” Bucky tells him, but there’s no admonishment in his voice.
“I know,” Tony says, starting to actually believe, “But I wanted to be able to be able to just, do it myself… You made it possible for me to just do it,” he explains, giving Bucky a meaningful look.
“I know what you mean, Tony. Good.”
The painters come the week after that and put a new coat on the whole structure, both the shop and living space above it. They do white with a red trim this time, to make it pop. The new sign Bucky ordered will have red lettering anyway, so it will all match when it gets there.
“I was afraid the place had changed ownership when I first pulled up,” a customer tells them after the switch.
“Nah, I’m still here, Edith, just put on a fresh coat of paint is all. What can I do for you?” Bucky asks.
She’s probably a few years older than Bucky, an omega, and the sort of blonde that can only be described as dishwater. She also looks like a strong breeze would blow her away. Tony can see a cigarette burn on her arm and the telltale discoloration of a cheap concealer that doesn’t quite cover up her black eye.
“I’m in desperate need of an oil change. Harold keeps sayin’ he’ll get around to it, but, you know how busy he gets,” she says with an obviously practiced facade of indifference toward her mate, “I’m pushin’ seven thousand miles as it is right now…”
“Well, I’m sure Tony could work you in. I’ve got a brake job that’s got to be finished in the hour,” Bucky says, waving Tony closer. “I just got mated about a month ago,” he explains. “But I lucked out and ended up with someone who knows just as much about cars as I do,” Bucky says, talking Tony up a bit. “This is Tony, Tony this is Edith Barton, and her boys, Barney and Clint,” he adds, motioning to the boys still in the backseat.
“Nice to meet you,” Edith says, seeming a bit hesitant.
“You too,” Tony replies, giving her a kind smile. “How about I check out your engine, see what kind of oil it takes?” he adds when the silence becomes awkward. Edith smiles, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. Tony gives Bucky a nod and goes over to the car, giving them the illusion of privacy while he pops the hood.
“I don’t quite remember what the goin’ rate on oil changes is,” Edith says, glancing between Bucky and Tony and looking ready to be disappointed.
“Well, oil and a filter will set you back about eighteen, twenty dollars or so…” Bucky says, leaving out the labor.
“I, uh, I have fifteen?” Edith says, obviously embarrassed.
“Fifteen? I can work with that,” Bucky assures her.
She nods in relief, like she was afraid Tony’s existence would keep Bucky from “working” with her.
“Well, if we’re going to do it for fifteen, we might as well do it for five,” Tony says, since it only takes half a second to read the oil cap, “That way you and the boys can get a snack across the street. It’ll be at least an hour wait for an oil change. Have to let the engine cool down a little first,” Tony explains.
Edith looks from Tony back to Bucky.
“Yeah, that’s a good idea. Come back in an hour and it’ll be ready for you,” Bucky nods.
“You don’t have to do that,” Edith says, giving Tony a little bit of a skeptical look.
“We don’t. But we want to,” Tony says simply, not going into an explanation of how much she reminds him of his own mother, in different economic circumstances of course.
Edith just nods her acceptance, then gets her two boys out of the backseat and takes them across the street. The older one has a cast on his arm and the younger has visible bruises. Tony has to make a point not to stare.
“If she ever shows up here with her alpha, you go into the office, alright?” Bucky says quietly.
“Ok,” Tony agrees, giving Bucky a sad nod.
Bucky puts his hand on the back of Tony’s neck and kisses his temple before he goes back to his brake job.
When Edith comes back after an hour, Tony takes her five dollars, rings up an oil change at the normal $29.95, then puts a 50% discount on it. He prints it out, hands it and two pennies to her, and then voids the entry.
Edith just stares at the pennies and the paperwork for a moment. “Thank you,” she says quietly, looking about ready to cry.
“Well, Bucky won me in a round of poker, so...I understand,” Tony says back just as softly.
Edith nods and dries her eyes, making sure the moisture never actually falls, then rounds up the boys and heads out.
“Whenever Edith comes in, I don’t charge her for labor,” Bucky says with a sigh after they’re gone.
“Just parts, got it,” Tony confirms.
“She’s normally in every couple months or so. If it’s somethin’ bigger, I’ll trade her the labor for a pie or homemade bread or somethin’, but I usually don’t worry about oil changes. I wish I could do more, especially for those boys, but… They ain’t mine, the law ain’t on my side…” Bucky says, shaking his head.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Tony says, “It’s good of you to do what you can to help them, though. Most people would just do nothing.”
“Well, people just actin’ like ‘most’ people would is how society gets into these messes,” Bucky says, but their conversation gets cut off by the alpha with the brake job coming back to pick up his car.
After they close the shop for the day, Tony goes into the ancient DOS based inventory system and adjusts it for three quarts of spilled oil and a defective filter, then charges five dollars for topping off a quart of oil after a free diagnostic, without performing any work.
A couple days later, Tony and Bucky are having a pretty intense make out session after breakfast when the alarm on Bucky’s phone goes off. He breaks away from the hickey he was leaving to look at the screen, causing Tony to pout in annoyance.
“Oh… That explains a lot, actually…” Bucky says, peeling himself away from where he had Tony laid over the table.
“What? What does?” Tony asks, giving Bucky a put-out look over the kissing stopping.
“Uh, that’s my one week alarm, for my rut,” Bucky says, looking a little sheepish, “I use a different tone for those alerts than for everything else, so it registers,” he adds, tapping the side of his head.
Normally Tony wouldn’t feel particularly vulnerable just sitting on the edge of the table, but, once Bucky says the word rut, his mood shifts drastically. A wave of uncertainty and a small prick of fear wash through him, completely outside his control.
“Tony? Hey, it’s alright, it ain’t startin’ right now,” Bucky says comfortingly, cupping Tony’s cheek when his scent turns sour.
Tony nods, closing his eyes and leaning in to the touch a little. “It’s, um, it’s ok. This is what I’m here for, right?” he says, steeling himself. Mentally, he knows Bucky is nothing like Howard, but it’s hard to make himself believe that there won’t be any similarities involved when reduced to his base, alpha state.
He remembers the awful, angry bite marks his mother would be covered in, and how she’d be bed ridden herself for a few days afterward, recovering.
“Here for?” Bucky says, echoing him with a frown.
“I’m your omega,” Tony shrugs, forcing himself to open his eyes.
Bucky strokes his thumb over Tony’s cheek, watching him with a worried gaze. “Just because you’re an omega doesn’t mean you have to do anythin’ you don’t want to… And frankly, the way you smell right now has me pretty convinced that you bein’ involved in my rut in any way is a bad idea.”
“What do you mean?” Tony frowns, not understanding.
“You smell scared, doll, just from us talkin’ about it, there ain’t no way you’re goin’ to be able to handle bein’ there for my actual rut.”
“Not being there is an option?” Tony says, before he can think better of it. He bites his lip afterward, as if assuming a reprimand is coming.
“Of course it is. I’ve been gettin’ through them on my own just fine for years. You can stay in the spare bedroom for a week or so, we’ll move some clothes and stuff over for you,” Bucky insists.
“Yours last a whole week?” Tony asks, apprehensive for the future upon hearing that, even if Bucky does let him sit this one out, so to speak.
“Well, not the rut itself. That’s usually just two or three days, but the couple before and after, I’m still pretty out of it,” Bucky says, wiggling his fingers at the side of his head, “I wouldn’t want to do anythin’ to scare you ‘cause I’m not thinkin’ straight.”
“Having an omega around is supposed to lessen the effects of the pre and post rut stuff,” Tony says, like Bucky wouldn’t already know that.
“True. Maybe you can leave me a shirt or somethin’, one you’ve worked in. We can do a little scientific experiment,” Bucky smiles at him, “See if it helps.”
“Um, ok, we can do that,” Tony answers kind of breathlessly. “Are?... Are you sure about this?”
“Completely. In fact, let’s move some of your things over right now, in case it comes on quicker than normal,” Bucky nods.
“Ok. That’s a good idea… Bucky?” Tony says to catch his attention as he starts to turn away from him and toward their bedroom, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Tony. It’s no problem,” Bucky says softly. “I care about you feelin’ safe with me.”
Tony nods. His chest fizzles with a bubbling warmth, one he recognizes as their burgeoning bond growing stronger. “Do you think you’re alright for one more kiss?...”
“One more?... Yeah, I think that would be fine,” Bucky grins, “It ain’t started yet. It’ll probably start ramping up in a few days, but right now I’m ok.”
“Ok, good to know,” Tony says, tipping his face up to meet him.
They actually exchange a lot more than just one more kiss before they’re done, but Tony will totally admit to the blame for that.
They go to the store after work and make sure they have plenty of supplies for Bucky to be holed up in their room for almost a week. And they stock up on a few easy to make meals for Tony too. He’s been learning a few things here and there, like how to make a salad, mac and cheese, etc., but he isn’t really comfortable cooking a whole meal on his own yet.
Bucky manages to get through the workdays just fine for the rest of the week, mostly, except on Friday he’s suddenly supremely distracted by Tony’s presence. The third time Tony looks over and finds Bucky staring at his ass while he’s bent over a car, instead of doing his own work, he decides enough is enough.
“You going to get back to work anytime soon, Barnes?” Tony says, straightening up and giving him a raised eyebrow. This is a place of business after all, and he’s trying to remind Bucky of that.
“Uh, sorry. Yeah, I’ll just finish this up,” Bucky says, watching Tony walk over to him instead of going back to said work.
“Oh really? And what exactly are you doing to this poor Chevy?” Tony asks, knocking out the support on the hood so that it closes with a clang and Bucky can’t see inside it.
“Um…” Bucky’s eyes dart to each side, but then they kind of lose focus, and he takes way too long thinking of a guess.
“Wrong answer,” Tony tuts, pulling the air filter out of Bucky’s hands, “I think it’s time you went upstairs now… I’ll finish this up,” he adds more gently.
Bucky rubs a hand over his eyes and nods. “Yeah, that’s probably a good call. You’ll check it over for me?” he asks, implying the work or lack thereof that he did on the Chevy.
“Of course. You go get cleaned up, ok? Your scent is getting, well, pretty thick… I’ll be up later.”
“Thanks, Tony. You, uh, you probably won’t see me, though. I think I’m just goin’ to stay in the room after I shower,” Bucky says.
“Ok. I’ll see you, um, later later then…”
Bucky just nods and turns away from him, heading toward the office. There’s a door there that leads to the enclosed stairwell of the family entrance. The shop has its own separate back door of course, leading to the alley as per building code, but Brooklyn gets the kind of winters that you don’t want to have to go out into if you don’t have to. Hence the shortcut.
Tony busies himself finishing his own work and double checking Bucky’s, to keep his mind off what might or might not be going on upstairs. After the last customer is rung up and the doors are pulled down, Tony briefly considers starting on the comprehensive inventory he and Bucky have talked about but never gotten around to...but that smacks of cowardice to him.
If Bucky promised to stay in their bedroom, then the odds are that he’ll stay in their bedroom. All evidence points toward Bucky keeping his word. Except… Except Tony doesn’t have any data on what Bucky’s like when he’s in rut… Well, he can’t stay down in the shop forever anyway, so there’s really nothing for it.
Tony climbs the stairs with a small amount of trepidation, but when he gets inside, he’s greeted with nothing but Bucky’s scent and a note on the table.
I left a plate in the microwave for you, don’t forget to eat something besides oreos this week - Bucky
And he drew a little happy face with its tongue sticking out underneath that.
Something loosens in Tony’s chest upon reading it. He does know what trust is, he’s felt it before with a few select people, namely Jarvis and Anna. He trusted his old bodyguard, Happy, when he was in college too. Mostly because he was a beta at first, but then because he’d proven himself later on.
“Ok, Bucky,” Tony whispers to himself, “If this doesn’t count as proving yourself, I don’t know what does…”
Granted, they haven’t gotten all the way through Bucky’s rut without incident yet, but from the strength of the smell that’s filling the place, it did indeed come on quick this time. They must have passed through the pre rut without realizing it, with Tony’s presence lessening Bucky’s symptoms. Which means… Which means Bucky was probably going into full-on rut with Tony standing right in front of him earlier, and he just, walked away.
“The least you could do is keep your own word, Tony,” he pep talks himself as the realization sets in. He leaves the plate of food in the microwave for now, heading over to their bedroom door. He doesn’t have the courage to knock on it, but he does take off his shirt and stuff it under the door, knowing the scent will lead Bucky to it anyway.
Then he goes and gets in the shower himself, their routine being to clean up before dinner each night anyway. It feels a little weird to be showering in the hall bathroom, and to be eating alone, and to be laying down alone… But the awkwardness is overshadowed by his relief, so Tony has no trouble drifting off to sleep.
By Monday morning Bucky’s rut still hasn’t broken, judging from the smell, so Tony opens up the shop on his own. He has a good handle on how Bucky does things, and on interacting with customers, so he’s not worried about it. If any overly aggressive alphas do show up, he’ll just kindly inform them that his alpha is in rut upstairs, so it’s probably not a good idea for him to need to be called down… Tony smiles to himself as he installs a water pump, picturing Bucky beating up any alpha that upset him.
Hmm, maybe the pheromones from Bucky’s rut are getting to him a little bit too, if that’s the kind of thing he’s daydreaming about…
“Who are you? Where’s Bucky?”
Tony’s only been introduced before to a few of the customers that come in that day, so he ends up having to explain his and Bucky’s mating over and over again. Once they see the ring on his finger and the “Barnes” name tag on his shirt though, most people go with it.
“My daughter needs an oil change on her car, do you think you’d have time to do her’s today too?” a middle aged omega asks him.
“Sure, if she swings by in the next couple hours,” Tony agrees. When the mother shows up again later in a different car, with her daughter in tow, Tony can hear the obvious sound of a bad wheel bearing coming from down the street.
“You want me to take a look at that sound too?” Tony asks, knowing they’d have to be able to hear it from inside the car, as loud as it is.
“If you don’t mind?”
Tony can tell as soon as he gets in there that he was right, it’s a pretty distinctive noise, after all, but he checks a couple of the other usual suspects too, just in case.
“Yeah, you’ve got a bad wheel bearing on the driver’s side… With this model of Hyundai, you’re looking at about $400 total, to replace it,” Tony tells them, “Plus the $30 for the oil change.”
“Just the wheel bearing? What about the tie rods?” the mother asks, giving him a calculating look.
“Well, I mean, they’re worn, this thing’s 10 years old, but they’re not what’s causing the noise. It looks like your tires are wearing evenly, so I wouldn’t be worried about them. Unless you’re getting shaking or looseness in your steering wheel?” Tony asks.
“No, nothing like that. The meineche across town quoted us almost a thousand dollars for the wheel bearing and tie rods to fix the noise,” she informs him.
“That’s unfortunate,” Tony says, giving her a commiserating half-smile. He’d bet money on that puffed up estimate coming from some puffed up alpha thinking they could pull one over on an omega who doesn’t know anything about cars.
“Well, fortunately for us we found you instead.”
“It never hurts to get a second estimate,” Tony nods.
It takes him the rest of the afternoon to replace the wheel bearing, and he has to turn away a couple people and ask them to come back tomorrow, because of being short staffed. When he rings the two omegas up, the mother promises to recommend Tony to her all friends.
“I’d appreciate it, ma’am.”
Sometime during the night, Bucky’s rut breaks, which Tony can tell as soon as he wakes, just from the change in scent. He opts to stay in the room though, since his post rut come down is still affecting him. From what Tony’s heard, most alphas end up sleeping for a good 24 hours after their rut ends anyway.
That Tuesday two different omegas come in saying they were referred to Tony. He wasn’t necessarily expecting anyone to show up that quickly, but he’ll certainly take it. He’s busy all day again, and again, has to tell people to come back later on in the week.
Edith Barton comes by though, much sooner than the anticipated couple months, looking haggard and needing a headlight replaced. Tony really doesn’t have time to work her in before closing...but he tells her yes anyway. He buckles down and stays as focused as possible for the rest of the afternoon, not even stopping once to play air guitar.
Miraculously, or maybe because Tony is just that good when he gets in the zone, he has Edith out the door by 4:15, giving her just enough time to get home and make dinner before her alpha gets home. And he still manages to get the rest of his work done by 5:15, so he counts the day a victory on multiple fronts.
Tony can hear Bucky snoring softly through the door of their room, so he doesn’t make any further attempt to check on him. He does slide his shirt under the crack though, just in case Bucky needs or wants it when he wakes up. He’s been doing that every night during Bucky’s rut, which he’d assured him yesterday had helped immensely. It doesn’t look like they’re going to get to talk through the door tonight though, so Tony eats some dinner and watches a rerun of the Simpsons before heading to bed.
When he knocks on their bedroom door Wednesday morning, there’s no answer. Tony isn’t sure if Bucky should still be sleeping at this point?... He doesn’t hear any water running, so he’s not in the shower… Tony was kind of hoping he’d be with it enough to come down to the shop with him, but he did say in the beginning that his post rut normally lasted a day or two.
Tony diagnoses six different mysterious noises that day, all for omega customers, but there’s no way, just absolutely no way he can get them all taken care of today.
“Can I make an appointment for tomorrow then?”
“Well… I don’t see why not,” Tony says. He knows Bucky’s always operated on a first come, first serve basis, but he’s never said they don’t take appointments. Technically, this guy in with the all wheel drive problem right now was here before anyone who might walk in tomorrow. “We open at eight, would that work for you?”
By the end of the day, Tony is completely booked for Thursday. And he has two appointments for Friday. And he’s had several people ask if they’re open on weekends. When he gets back upstairs, he finds Bucky in the kitchen, cooking dinner.
“Oh thank god,” Tony says, going over and collapsing into his arms dramatically.
“Did you have to go down to the shop for somethin’?” Bucky asks with a chuckle, holding him close and scenting him right away. “I came out and you weren’t here.”
“Oh… No? I mean, I was down there until 5:00, like normal… You’re on walk-in duty tomorrow, by the way, because I’m booked solid,” Tony says as he holds him tight, not having realized how much he missed Bucky.
“You… You opened the shop? Without me?” Bucky asks, sounding surprised.
“Um, yeah? Was I not supposed to?” Tony asks, peering up at him.
Bucky keeps his arm around Tony’s waist, cupping the back of his head with the other. “I guess I just kind of assumed you wouldn’t, but, if you felt like you could handle it, then that’s great,” Bucky tells him, smiling fondly.
“Good. Because I did. Handle it, that is. How on earth did you manage by yourself without me?” Tony asks.
“Well, I just never took on more than I thought I could handle. I’ve done alright by myself, and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of hirin’ someone else…”
“I just can’t stand turning people away, I guess…” Tony sighs, burrowing closer to Bucky.
Bucky chuckles and kisses the top of his head. “We’ll get it sorted out tomorrow,” he promises.
“Good. I missed you,” Tony admits, “And...not just in the shop…”
“Yeah? You want me to put some lotion on you, after we eat?” Bucky offers, which is basically asking if Tony wants to have sex, since it pretty much always follows.
Tony nods against Bucky’s chest, squeezing him tighter for a moment. “I’ll shower real quick while you finish dinner, then?” he suggests.
“Sounds good,” Bucky agrees readily.
Finally releasing him, Tony goes and gathers all his stuff out of the spare bedroom and moves it back into the master. Thankfully Bucky already put the bedding in the wash, so it doesn’t smell too strongly in there anymore. By the time he’s done showering, Bucky is done with dinner, and they eat together for the first time in a week. Then Tony gets his lotion massage and they have sex for the first time in a week too. Maybe it’s not typical for two strangers having mated, but that’s the longest they’ve gone without having sex since they met.
“You made how much by yourself in three days?” Bucky’s jaw drops when they get down to the shop the next morning.
There’s already a car waiting outside for them to open, his first appointment of the day, so Tony hits the latch on the door to his bay and starts pulling on the chain to reel it up. “Honestly, Bucky? If the two of us didn’t screw around as much, we could probably make that all the time,” Tony says, giving him a shrug that lets him know he doesn’t mean any insult by it, it’s just his opinion.
“We don’t need to be workin’ ourselves to the bone, either,” Bucky says, because it’s not that either of them are lazy at all, not by a long shot.
“I know, it’s just… We should make hay while the sun shines, you know? The business is here now, so, we should take it if we can. Because it won’t always be like this. Every industry has its ups and downs,” Tony says, pausing when the customer gets out of their car. “Good morning, Andy, ready to get that limited-slip differential replaced?”
“I am. I’d hate for it to give out on me once it starts snowing. Oh, I was going to ask, do you do snow tires?”
Tony glances at Bucky, which is partly for the question he was just asked, and partly over the conversation they were having a second ago.
“We’d have to order them in, so you’d have to pay up front, but, yeah, we could do that,” Bucky agrees, nodding his head.
“Well, you can’t run with studs on for another month in the state of New York anyway,” Tony points out.
“True. I just like to be prepared. If you wait until first snow to worry about it, then everyone’s scrambling for them at once,” Andy nods along too.
Once Andy has left his car in Tony’s capable hands and gone across the street to the cafe, Bucky goes over and gives Tony a quick hug. “Make hay while the sun shines,” he says in confirmation, kissing his temple.
Bucky quickly discovers that Tony wasn’t kidding about being booked all day. He has a steady stream of clients, with some pulling right in as Tony’s finishing up the car before them, but some having to wait a few minutes. Bucky works the walk ins, which are plenty to keep him busy, but there are a few people who specifically ask to see Tony.
“He’s completely swamped right now, sorry…” Bucky says, when they decline his help.
“We take appointments!” Tony shouts across the shop, eavesdropping as he grabs a part from the shelves.
Bucky makes him an appointment for Friday.
“We should probably get an actual appointment book, if we’re goin’ to keep doing this,” Bucky says on Friday, while setting up a brake job for the following week.
Carl’s FedEx truck pulls up in front of the shop literally as he’s speaking.
“One step ahead of you, babe,” Tony grins.
When Jarvis and Anna come for their weekly dinner, Tony goes on and on about all the changes they’re making to the shop, and how business has really picked up for some reason.
“It ain’t really that much of a mystery,” Bucky chuckles, passing more green beans to Jarvis, “They’re there because of you, Tony. I wasn’t tryin’ to hide you, per se, but I just didn’t want you gettin’ overwhelmed with the state you were in at first. That’s why I didn’t make a point to let everyone know you worked here. A good 80% of our increase in business is omegas though, way more than I’m used to seein’ come in with their cars. I think they feel more at ease with you, which is good,” Bucky explains.
“It’s always nice,” Anna agrees, “When there’s another omega to deal with at a place of business. I can’t always take Edwin with me when I run errands and some alphas can be down right impolite.”
“I don’t think Bucky ever had that reputation,” Tony is quick to interject, “He’s got lots of regulars who are omegas. And you know if they’d ever felt uncomfortable with him, they’d never have come back. Especially the ones like Edith.”
Bucky gives him a smile for the defence of his character, but it’s tinged with sadness, for the turn the topic took.
“While I find it commendable, your concern for Mrs. Barton and her children, I would caution you,” Jarvis speaks up, well versed in the story of her visits by now, “To not get too involved.”
It’s Tony that bristles first. “What? What do you mean?” he asks, sounding as if he’s afraid the world is about to be turned upside down on him, to hear Jarvis advocating not getting too involved.
Jarvis takes his hand and puts it on the back of Tony’s neck, a motion only ok now that he’s mated because of Jarvis’ status as family.
“I discovered quite early on, Master Tony,” he says, emphasizing their former situation, “That if I said too much, if I pushed too hard, if I brought to light any of your father’s faults and named them, that he would only take it out on you and your mother later… Mrs. Barton’s alpha does indeed seem like the worse type of man, but drawing attention to the situation will likely only cause his rage to increase, for having been made to look bad. And since he cannot harm you or Bucky and get away with it, he will likely turn on his family instead,” Jarvis explains with a quiet horror. “I have seen it happen… So that is why I caution you.”
Tony nods, unsuccessfully blinking back tears.
Jarvis pulls him into a hug.
While he hates that he’s right, Bucky takes Jarvis’ words to heart too. The last thing he’d ever want to do is make things worse...
Business doesn’t slow down. Bucky and Tony keep making appointments to try and work in as many people as possible. It’s getting to the point where their schedule is set a full week out now, for anything except a quick oil change.
“So, heads up,” Tony says at breakfast one day, “We shouldn’t set any appointments for the week of November 20th.”
“Yeah. For the whole week,” Tony reiterates.
“It will be three months since my last heat, on the 20th,” Tony spells it out for him.
“I, I figured that was what you meant,” Bucky says, stealing a glance at him across the table. “You want me to close up the shop for it?” he asks, as if he wants to make sure he’s understanding correctly.
“Yes,” Tony says, meeting his gaze with only a small blush, “I want you to close the shop for it.”
“Ok. … Are you sure? I just, I don’t want you to feel like you need to let me spend it with you,” Bucky says.
“Bucky, listen to me, ok? I don’t want to go through it without you, now that I know what the real thing is like,” Tony tells him.
“Oh. Ok. We’ll just, close the shop then,” Bucky agrees, sounding a little breathless.
“Have you ever spent a heat with an omega before?” Tony asks him.
“No,” Bucky says seriously, shaking his head, “I ain’t ever been in anythin’ resemblin’ a real relationship before. Didn’t want to risk it.”
“Oh. Ok. I haven’t ever been knotted before, which, I guess you probably knew that, since I hadn’t had sex before you…” Tony says, “But, I was thinking, if it goes well, maybe we can try spending your rut together, the next time it hits? I’ve heard that ruts aren’t so bad, if you’re already used to the knotting thing…”
“I’ve, uh, heard that too,” Bucky nods, clearing his throat.
“Do you need a minute?” Tony asks, grinning at Bucky’s obvious arousal.
“I’m just goin’ to go splash some water on my face,” he says, getting up from the table.
“Don’t take too long, we both have appointments for 8 o’clock!” Tony calls after him, feeling a little smug.
Bucky comes back from the bathroom only a few seconds later. “If it weren’t for those appointments, I’d be bendin’ you over this kitchen table right now instead. I really did just splash some water on my face,” he says, giving Tony a look.
“I believe you,” Tony says, biting his lips to keep from smiling at the look on Bucky’s face.
“Will you get down to the shop already?” Bucky says, motioning to the door. It would seem like an order, if he wasn’t grinning and smiling at Tony with nothing but affection.
Tony hops up from the table with a salute.
He also runs a completely uncasual hand over Bucky’s ass as he walks past him to the door.
“Are you goin’ to be actin’ like this the whole time until your heat?” Bucky says, but his sigh is so fake it’s almost a laugh.
“Maybe. Are you going to let me get away with acting like this all the way until my heat?”
Tony is nowhere near as nervous for his heat as he was for Bucky’s rut. Maybe it’s because it’s his hormones that are shifting and ramping up this time… Or because Bucky was willing to let him sit out his rut with no repercussions… Either way, he takes his birth control pills with very little trepidation, counting down the days until his heat and trying to think of new ways to get Bucky increasingly flustered.
Thankfully the 20th is a Monday, because when Tony wakes up on the 18th, two days early, he knows this isn’t just pre heat anymore. He starts pulling Bucky’s sleep pants off without even bothering to wake him. That’s a thing, right? Alphas like waking up to having their cocks sucked, so waking up to being inside Tony already should be fine. Should be great. Bucky would love that. Hell, Tony would have loved to have woken up to find Bucky was inside him already… Maybe they can do that tomorrow.
“Tony?” Bucky’s voice is gruff from sleep, or maybe from the way Tony was stroking him to hardness.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” Tony says, then slides down over his alpha’s cock.
“Holy fuck,” Bucky groans, reaching up to grab Tony’s hips. He sits up with a single powerful flex of his abdomen, keeping Tony perched in his lap the whole time. “Jesus, Tony, that smell…” Bucky groans again, burying his face in Tony’s neck.
“Mm, smells like you want to fuck me?” Tony asks.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what it smells like,” Bucky rumbles, rolling them over so that Tony is underneath him. Bucky’s eyes have already gone deep and dark in response to all the pheromones Tony is putting out. He only gets a brief glimpse of them as Bucky slips out and turns him over, but Tony pictures him in his mind’s eye as Bucky slides back inside right away.
Tony clings to the sheets while Bucky pounds into him, the only time he can ever handle having it this intensely right from the start. But he can handle it, he’s aching and wet and so, so open for his alpha, just, ready and ripe to be filled with his seed.
And fill him, Bucky does, knotting him on the first try and holding him down firmly while it expands and expands and expands. Until Tony is mewling and writhing in place on his cock. Bucky’s come feels cool inside him, which he knows is just a function of his own increased body temperature, but it’s a contrast to the burn being created by the stretch of Bucky’s knot.
“Holy shit. Holy shit,” Tony keeps saying over and over as the pressure just, doesn’t go away.
Then Bucky slips a finger into the folds above his opening, teasing over the nub there that brings Tony all of the most intense pleasure.
“Bucky… Bucky! Oh God,” Tony cries out when he speeds up faster and faster. Tony isn’t sure what will happen if he has an orgasm right now, stuffed so full of Bucky’s knot that he can barely move…
Apparently the answer is come his brains out, because Bucky doesn’t stop, and Tony’s body surges with an orgasm so strong that it knocks the breath out of his lungs. He couldn’t get away, even if he wanted to, from the amplification it brings being stretched around Bucky’s massive knot. He draws in a shuddering breath as soon as he’s able to and shouts into the sheets. They’re not even words, just tonal exclamations of pleasure that are too loud to be moans.
Bucky is a good alpha, and lets him rest for a couple minutes before making him come again. He strokes Tony’s cock this time, and while it’s on the smaller side with him being an omega, he can definitely still come from the firm, twisting pressure Bucky applies up and down.
Tony sobs that time, partly because it’s just so new and overwhelming with being knotted, partly because Bucky uses his free hand to press on Tony’s clit at the same time that his balls tense, causing his whole groin to light up with pleasure.
Jesus, he’s only been in heat for maybe a half hour at the most, and it’s already the best, most intense sex of his life.
It continues on that way too, round after round of intense pleasure, until Tony loses all track of time. He’s vaguely aware of Bucky praising him, because every exclamation of, “So fucking gorgeous,” makes him preen happily. He also registers Bucky stopping to make him eat and drink, because it makes him pout unhappily when Bucky’s cock isn’t inside him. Bucky makes up for it by praising him liberally for every bite and swallow he takes though, so it’s not too bad… His whole heat passes in a haze of “Is Bucky’s cock in me?”, where “yes” means he’s happy and “no” means he pouts and whines until Bucky fixes it.
“God, you’re a demandin’ little thing, aren’t you doll?” Bucky chuckles as he slides back in.
“Demand you fuck me...” Tony mumbles, arching his back and pressing his hips toward the intrusion.
“It’s ok, I got you doll, don’t worry,” Bucky shushes him, ramping up his thrusts into a good hard pounding, the way Tony likes.
By the time his heat ends, Tony’s voice is raw from all the shouting. It takes three days for the itch inside him to go away. But even after that, he’s exhausted and in post heat for a couple more. Bucky carries him to the bathroom and they bathe together once the “fuck me now” part is over. Tony isn't able to stand for any amount of time on his own yet, so he sits on the closed seat of the toilet while Bucky changes their sheets and cleans up a little.
“Ok, doll, it’s all ready for you, come here,” Bucky says, lifting him into his arms again. Tony is more than content to be carried around by his alpha right now. He buries his nose against Bucky’s neck as they go, not wanting to release his hold when Bucky lowers him to the bed. “You tryin’ to tell me somethin’, sweetheart?” Bucky chuckles, choosing to heft Tony back up and carry him further toward the center of the bed so they can both lay down without letting go.
Tony intends to, and is thinking in his head about, awarding Bucky more gold stars for being the best alpha ever, but he’s also crashing hard. All that comes out is, “Best alpha…” and a sleepy nuzzle at his neck.
The increased hormones and pheromones of a heat or rut make the participants primed to bond, so Tony isn’t surprised to feel a warm fizzle in his chest as he drifts off.
“So what was in that package you got earlier?” Bucky says, putting his arms around Tony from behind while they’re waiting in line at the movie theater.
“It’s a surprise for later,” Tony says nonchalantly.
“A surprise? A surprise for me?” Bucky asks, his interest piqued even further.
“Well,” Tony says, tipping his head back to talk to him, “Technically it’s actually something for me to wear, but, yeah. It’s a surprise for you… ”
“Are you sure you want to see this movie right now?” Bucky asks, his voice having gone a little husky.
“I’m sure,” Tony chuckles, “We’ve been waiting for this sequel for months.”
Bucky sighs dramatically, but he says, “True… I guess I can hold out a little while before the anticipation kills me...” then kisses Tony’s cheek as the line moves forward.
“Tony?” Bucky calls out for him as he exits the office, having come down from the apartment through it.
The music is so loud though that it would be a miracle if Tony did hear him. Bucky turns the volume down, but not off, as he goes and searches for his mate. Tony comes over from the back area of the shop with a frown on his face.
“Hey, I was listening to that,” he says in a mild scolding.
“Yeah, to that and nothin’ else,” Bucky says, but he’s not really put out, “Dinner’s ready, babe.”
“Oh. I’ll get cleaned up then,” Tony says, a little sheepish that he lost track of the time.
“What are you workin’ on down here?” Bucky asks, seeing the frame of a car set apart from the bays they work in.
“Well, I wanted a car,” Tony says, as if it’s no big deal, “So I got this one and it was delivered this afternoon. Marquell and Tyson brought it over from the wrecking yard. I checked it over first though, made sure the frame really is sound,” Tony assures him.
“You wanted a car, so you’re goin’ to build one from scratch?” Bucky asks.
“Yeah? I mean, it was really the only way I’d know every nut and bolt myself, know it was done right. And I wasn’t about to buy something off the lot,” Tony points out, because they both know exactly how much new cars are marked up before they’re sold.
“Do you want any help?” Bucky offers, smiling at Tony fondly.
“Seriously? I’d love-...some, forever. It. The help, that is,” Tony sputters a little, getting his words back under him after realizing what he almost just said.
Bucky is kind enough not to call him out on it, but the twinkle in his eyes makes Tony wonder if he wouldn’t be completely freaked out by it, if Tony did venture into such territory eventually. Some day. When it isn’t a week before Christmas and totally cliche to be getting all emotional about each other…
To: Bucky & Tony, From: Santa
Tony raises an eyebrow at Bucky when he reads the tag on the present Bucky hands him. “You know I stopped believing in Santa around the same time I learned about the theory of relativity, right? Which was at five years old…”
“That don’t surprise me at all,” Bucky says, his smile never faltering, “But it’s tradition to label family presents as bein’ from Santa.”
“Oh, well, if it’s tradition... ” Tony says, “So this is for both of us, huh?”
Bucky nods. “Yep. But since I already know what it is, you get to open it,” he adds with a wink.
Tony peels off the wrapping paper, which is surprisingly well done, for having been wrapped by an alpha, revealing a box with a smiling mom on it and a child wearing large, clunky, over the ear hearing aids. “Learning software… Oh, this is to learn sigh language!” Tony realizes, reading the front of the box.
“I know you’ve been thinkin’ about it, and learnin’ some here and there to say hi to Clint, after we realized he couldn’t hear. I’ve been thinkin’ about it too... Even if we don’t see him that often, he won’t be the only deaf or mute person we ever come across, I’m sure, so I-” Bucky gets cut off by Tony jumping into his arms and kissing him.
“I take it you like it?” Bucky asks with a chuckle as Tony nuzzles his neck afterward.
“It’s perfect. Thank you,” Tony says sincerely. “I’m tempted to go try and install it on your ancient dinosaur of a desktop down in the shop right now.”
Bucky squeezes him tight.
“Actually, I’m not sure it can even run this program…” Tony says as he looks at the box more carefully while moving back to his own spot on the floor.
“Oh… Maybe we need a newer one for that?” Bucky says, but there’s something in his voice that isn’t disappointed, which makes Tony look up at him again. Bucky’s face is nowhere near as carefully blank as he’s obviously trying to keep it, so Tony immediately knows that something is up.
Tony sucks in a breath, his expression shifting into a don’t mess with me, mister look. He turns toward the packages still under the tree, trying to see if any of them are the right size… But Bucky darts in and sweeps a box behind his back before Tony can complete his evaluation.
“You have to open this one last,” Bucky says, grinning from ear to ear.
“Hey! No fair!” Tony says, practically pouncing on him, “Give me that present!” He makes sure to not pounce too hard though, and actually push Bucky over and squish the box behind him. Bucky laughs as Tony tries to reach around him, playing keep away behind his back. He pushes it farther out of the way and the two of them have a sort of impromptu wrestling match in front of the pile of presents, with Bucky being kind enough to let him win and finally claim his spoils.
“Oh, it’s a laptop. This is… This is top of the line. Jesus, you probably paid way too much for this... Thank you so much,” Tony says, tearing up as he goes back to Bucky’s lap again, but without any fight in him this time.
“You’re very welcome, Tony.”
After the New Year, the cafe across the street shuts down. There’s a “For Sale” sign from one of the local realtors in the window, though the dead of winter is a horrible time to try and put anything on the market. Tony is personally greatly inconvenienced by not having a coffee place right across the street, but he knows the bigger inconvenience is for people who were used to having somewhere to wait while Bucky and Tony worked on their cars.
“There’s a foot of snow on the ground, Edith, you and the boys can wait in the back, if you want,” Tony offers, eyeing the thinness of all their jackets.
“I’d be much obliged,” she says, ducking her head.
Tony lets Bucky do the work on her car and spends his lunch break showing the boys how to play darts with the old board nailed up on the wall back there. It’s probably something that would be “labeled” for kids a little older than ten and six, but it’s all they really have entertainment wise. The boys do grow bored of it eventually though, so Tony lets them pretend to drive his car frame, making sure they each get five minute turns. He shares his stash of oreos with the family too.
Bucky is done with Edith’s car right around the time the sugar is really kicking in.
“Sorry to get them all wound up right before you head out…” Tony apologizes genuinely, knowing first hand how alphas with short tempers usually deal with hyper kids.
“It’ll be hours yet before he gets home,” Edith assures him, catching Tony’s meaning immediately and like there would never be any other interpretation to his words, “...Thank you.”
“Any time,” Tony tells her, “Any time.”
“So, what’s behind this wall?” Tony asks, “I mean, I know the other side is the ‘family’ garage, which you never ever park in, so I’m assuming it’s full of either storage crap or a secret sex dungeon or something…”
“Why would I be keepin’ a sex dungeon secret from you?” Bucky says calmly right back, instead of choking on his drink as Tony had envisioned.
Tony blushes at the implication and the quickness of Bucky’s comeback, just a little though, and turns back to the wall. “So, storage then? Have you ever considered having a yard sale?...” he asks, using his fingers in the air in front of him to frame up where he’s thinking of knocking out the wall to make a doorway.
“It’s my parent’s stuff,” Bucky says more sedately, but he doesn’t sound upset at all.
“Oh…” Tony drops his hands, letting them hang at his sides for a second as he steals a glance at Bucky, “Sorry?... I, uh, can be kind of stupid, for a genius, sometimes…”
“It’s ok,” Bucky says, giving him an understanding smile, “Why were you askin’?”
“Well… Our customers need somewhere to wait for their work to be done. I was thinking we could go through this wall and turn the private garage into a waiting room? Obviously it would need quite a bit of renovating to be converted, but I think this is quickly falling into the ‘need’, not ‘want’, category, as far as business decisions go…”
“No, you’re right,” Bucky says, setting his water aside. “I guess… I guess I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it all back then, even though I knew I’d never use any of it. Even if I’d ended up with a female omega as my mate, it’d just be weird seein’ my mate in my Ma’s clothes…”
“That’s a valid point,” Tony agrees, not wanting to push him too hard, especially since Bucky seems amenable to the idea already.
“And I can’t picture myself using any of my Dad’s clothes either… Maybe an old jacket of his, but that’s about it. The rest is stuff from around the house that just kept remindin’ me too much of them, so I packed it away. Oh, and Stevie’s stuff is in there too, the little that he had that he didn’t take with him.”
“I’ve heard that army alphas travel light,” Tony nods.
“It ain’t the right time of year for a yard sale… But we could go through everythin’, pull out the few things worth keepin’ and donate the rest,” Bucky says, coming up behind Tony and wrapping his arms around him. He rests his head in Tony’s hair, taking in slow breaths of his scent.
“We could do that. Only if you want to,” Tony says, giving the arm around him a squeeze.
“You’ve let go of a lot of your past,” Bucky says, “For me and in learnin’ to trust me... I think it’s time I let go of this. It’s just stuff. I can only think of maybe three things off the top of my head that I’d want to keep. The timin’ feels right. It feels right, lettin’ go of the past, if it’s because of buildin’ a life with you.”
Tony doesn’t try to stop the tears welling up in his eyes at all, he just turns in Bucky’s arms so that he can bury his face against his alpha’s chest.
The next weekend, Bucky shovels away the snow piled up in front of it and opens the garage door for the first time in six, almost seven years.
“I didn’t exactly label anythin’, so we might as well just start at the front and work our way back…” he indicates.
They set aside his Dad’s old leather jacket and a couple other mementos that will stand the test of time, like a pocket knife and Bucky’s grandfather’s dog tags from the Korean War. The rest isn’t sentimental like those items are. Bucky also takes the box of Stevie’s things up to the house, to store in one of the spare bedrooms instead now.
Bucky actually keeps a lot more of what he deems as his Ma’s stuff, because of the pictures. There’s one taken on the day his parents became mates and tons of baby pictures of Bucky in albums, usually with one or the other of his parents in the background. As he gets older, there are a few camoes of a tiny blond that Bucky informs him is the mysterious Stevie too. The pictures slow down and kind of stop after Bucky’s last year of junior high though.
“That was the year Stevie’s Ma died, and, I guess it just didn’t seem like there was much good goin’ on to take pictures of for a while…” Bucky shrugs.
Tony finds a jewelry box, but Bucky says the only real item his Ma had was her ring, and Bucky has hers and his Dad’s upstairs already. He saves a few more things throughout the rest of the day, but by the time they’re done, they’ve taken three loads to the local Goodwill.
Now that the space is cleared out, Tony goes on a hunt for the plans from when the shop was first built. He finds them in the back of a filing cabinet in the office after only twenty minutes.
“Good news,” Tony says, spreading the blueprints out over the kitchen table, “The shop was originally built with four bays. It looks like when your Dad bought the place, he put in this dividing wall himself to give you guys some private parking. So we can tear into it, no problem, without having to worry about it being load bearing or having any wiring or plumbing running through it. The only other issue it brings up is whether you want to leave the third bay that’s unused right now as part of the shop, or turn it into part of the waiting area too,” Tony explains.
Bucky takes a moment to think about it. “If business kept goin’ like this, to the point of it makin’ sense to hire on more help, it’d be a huge waste of money to have made the waitin’ room too big and need to scale it down again.”
“Very true. We can line chairs and benches all around the edges of the walls and seat like nine people if we needed to in the space of a single car garage. Even if we had three bays going, that would have to be all three of them coming in at once with two passengers each to wait. That should be plenty,” Tony agrees.
“We’re makin’ it a family friendly room, right? Like at a doctor’s office?” Bucky asks, having already told Tony he could design it however he wanted.
“Definitely. In fact, I was thinking since we’re going for a full remodel anyway, we could turn part of the office into a bathroom that opens from the waiting area. There’d be just enough room for one toilet and sink, with a changing station too on the opposite wall in case people have kids still in diapers,” Tony explains, motioning over the blueprints to the area that would be converted, “We could run the plumbing down from the upstairs piping along this wall and hook into the sewer line over here.”
“The office ain’t very big to start with,” Bucky points out, “How are we going to make room for that?”
“Get rid of the filing cabinets,” Tony says easily, “Go digital. If we got rid of the row of them, that gives you three feet of usable space to cut into, and we’d only have to bump out a little ways into the seating area.”
“What about this area over here? Why couldn’t we just make it into a bathroom and run the piping a little farther?” Bucky asks, pointing to an empty section Tony hasn’t addressed yet.
“That’s the coffee bar. That’s non-negotiable,” Tony crosses his arms over his chest.
Bucky holds his hands up in acquiescence.
They do as much of the work as possible themselves, though Tony insists they hire a professional plumber.
“Do you want to cut in to the existing sewer line?”
“... You’re right, I’ll call Dugan’s Plumbing. I went to high school with his son.”
By mid-February, they’re ready to open the new waiting room. It’s also been six months that Tony’s been with Bucky now, and the change in him is nearly as drastic as with the shop. He’s a much healthier weight now, his hair is thicker, and he hasn’t had a rashy spot on his skin since they healed up that first week. All the hard work at the shop and constructing the waiting room in their off hours has made him especially fit and muscular for an omega too.
After having reconnected with his old high school pal, Dum Dum, when he showed up to do the plumbing job, Bucky gets teased a little about “How well he’s done for himself,” while Dum Dum makes eyes at Tony and elbows Bucky in the ribs a few times.
“So, are we goin’ to have a new generation of Barnes’ around soon? Hmm? I can almost hear the pitter patter of little diesel mechanics runnin’ through the halls,” Dum Dum says, startling a laugh out of Bucky.
It’s that laugh that makes it click for Tony. His alpha does actually, genuinely like kids. Plus, he’s been helping Bucky all this time, to build up a business and a legacy that would be worth passing on out of more than just nostalgia…
Bucky denies the imminence of any additional Barnes to his friend, but Tony keeps thinking about it for the rest of the weekend, even after Dum Dum is gone.
“So, we only talked about it the once before,” Tony prefaces the conversation with, “But I’ve been getting healthier and healthier, I mean, I’m pretty much healthy now, so, I wasn’t sure if, uh, me getting pregnant was something I should, like, start preparing myself for, mentally,” Tony rambles, his nervousness over the topic abundantly clear.
Bucky frowns when he realizes what Tony is talking about. “Hey, come here, honey,” he says, pulling Tony in for a hug. “Even in the beginnin’, I knew in the back of my mind that I’d heard somewhere that it was risky for an omega who’d been in distress to get pregnant,” Bucky says, rubbing Tony’s back gently, “That’s why I said that if you wanted kids, we’d need to get you good and healthy for a while first. I did look into it more after that though, especially after we had to deal with that asshole doctor to get you on birth control. I wanted to have the facts if we had to go through that again,” Bucky informs him.
“What did you find out?” Tony asks, wondering what conclusion he came to. The thing about the internet is, it’s really good at telling you what you want to hear, and at telling you what it’s advertisers want you to hear. There are a lot of sources with very old fashioned advertisers and funding, that are really good at picking the parts out of already biased studies so that they support their viewpoint.
“Basically that the longer and more severe the distress is, the riskier gettin’ pregnant is. If you really, really have your heart set on havin’ kids, then we’ll do what we can, but it’s goin’ to need to be years down the road Tony, not six months. The study I read said that for prolonged distress, you should wait to get pregnant until you’ve been completely healthy for as long as you were in distress,” Bucky tells him.
There’s only one study that Tony knows of that dared to put forth such a radical suggestion.
“You read the Apgar Study?”
“Well, I’m pretty sure a study done on omega reproduction by omegas is goin’ to be more accurate than one done by alphas,” Bucky says, “Although, I have to be honest with you, Tony, I didn’t actually read the study itself, just some articles that summarized it…”
“So you’d be fine with not having kids until I was 36?” Tony says in disbelief.
Bucky goes still for a second, then he hugs Tony tightly. “If we never had kids, I’d survive just fine, Tony. The point is for you to be ok.”
“Oh. Ok,” Tony replies, breathing out a sigh of relief.
It’s not that he doesn’t like or want kids, it’s just… He’s scared of being pregnant and what it would do to his health and body. But getting and being pregnant is an omega’s thing, it’s their purpose, so situations like his are much more commonly viewed as one where he’s just the “first” omega. Because it would be assumed he’d die in childbirth eventually and his alpha would have to re-mate.
“I’m so sorry, Tony,” Bucky says softly, one hand going up into the back of Tony’s hair as the other continues to hold him tight.
“Sorry?” Tony questions, feeling like he just got great, incredible news, not anything to be sorry over...
“That you were in distress your whole life, before I got you,” Bucky explains, sounding even sadder that Tony didn’t get it.
“Oh... It happens,” Tony gives a little shrug, “But it’s over now. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I know, but I’m still sorry.”
“Now, we don’t have oreos,” Tony says, having rehearsed this speech in sign language ahead of time, “But we have a popcorn machine and a TV up in the corner that plays Disney movies, so you guys should be pretty comfortable,” Tony tells them as Barney and Clint run around the room, exploring the new setup. “There’s coffee for adults,” Tony shows Edith the Keurig, “And other less caffeinated beverages too,” he says, pointing to the hot chocolate K-cups without saying what they are, in case she doesn’t want the boys wound up on a bunch of sugar this time.
“A cup of coffee sounds amazin’,” Edith agrees.
“Can I have coffee?” Clint asks, in sign language and out loud. He wasn’t born deaf, so he can speak clearly just fine, he only lost his hearing about a year ago from having his ears boxed in too many times.
“Not until you’re older,” Edith says and signs tiredly, likely envisioning the way Clint would bounce off the walls if given such a thing.
“Can I have coffee?” Barney asks, being older.
“No, but you can both have some hot chocolate if you tell Mr. Barnes ‘thank you’,” she tells them.
“Thank you!” they chorus together, immediately making a beeline for the drink counter.
Tony leaves them to it, having to get back to work now, but seeing all three of them smile puts him in a good mood for the rest of the day.
That spring, Bucky and Tony finally do the comprehensive inventory they’d been wanting to. Tony fires the supplier that had been ripping Bucky off here and there and they start ordering everything online, even if it’s just going to be delivered from the NAPA across town. That way there’s no room for “accidental” clerical errors on their receipts.
Bucky flips through the channel guide on the TV by himself one day while Tony’s at the store. Next weekend, June 2nd, would have been his Ma’s birthday, so when he sees her favorite movie on, he goes ahead and selects it. It’s part way through already, but that’s fine, he only intends to watch it for a minute or two. Just to call up the memories.
“Do I love you?” Golde sings, flustered, sticking the stirring spoon back in the pot. “For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now ?”
Bucky feels his eyes suddenly beginning to water and his throat tightening, but it’s not because of the memories of his mother.
“The first time I met you was on our mating day. I was scared,” Tevye admits in song.
“I was shy,” Golde answers.
“I was nervous.”
“So was I...”
Bucky’s eyes continue to water, because the twisting sensation in his heart at the thought that Tony might not love him back has made him realize that he loves Tony.
Holy shit, he loves Tony.
The angst initially produced by the song falls away, especially as the two characters on screen admit their love for each other. Bucky’s heart swells, because when he thinks about it, there’s a good chance Tony does love him too… With the situation they’re in though, Bucky doesn’t feel like he can be the one to say it first, but he feels it. He feels it. If Tony ever says it to him, he’s going to be prepared, he’s going to say it back right away, with no hesitation.
Bucky turns off the TV after that, too happy and excited for Tony to come home to stay idly sitting on the couch. He moves around from room to room, nothing really able to hold his attention, until finally he hears the car pulling up out front. He throws open the window that looks down on the street, calling Tony’s name as soon as he gets out of the vehicle.
“What the- Bucky! You scared the crap out of me,” Tony says, his voice raised but not yelling nearly as loud as Bucky did.
“Sorry… Did you need some help carryin’ things up?” Bucky asks, looking hopeful.
“Um, sure? I guess? It’s not a lot though…” Tony answers, but Bucky is already gone from the window as soon as he hears the word “sure”.
Ten seconds later, Bucky is out the door, heading right for Tony with a cheesy smile on his face.
“Here, doll, I’ll get those for you,” he says, grinning like an idiot all the while.
“Ok…” Tony says skeptically as Bucky takes the three grocery bags from him.
“Hey, why don’t you hop on my back? I’ll carry you up too,” Bucky suggests, like he just came up with the best idea ever.
“What? You don’t need to carry me,” Tony frowns, wondering what the hell has gotten into him.
“Come on, it’ll be fun,” Bucky wheedles, obviously in some sort of overly playful mood...
“You’ve lost your mind,” Tony says, shaking his head, but he’s starting to smile too.
“No I ain’t. I just want to carry you upstairs, but I’m out of arms,” Bucky says, as if it makes perfect sense.
“Oh my god,” Tony fake sighs, like letting Bucky carry him is a huge ordeal, even as he’s climbing on his alpha’s back, “Are you going into rut again or something?”
“I don’t think so,” Bucky says, heading for the stairwell, “It’s only been a few weeks since my last one.”
“Hey! Watch my head!” Tony shouts as Bucky ducks under the doorway at the bottom of the stairs.
“I got you,” Bucky assures him, kicking the door closed behind him.
Bucky makes it all the way up the stairs and over the threshold with his cargo before he stumbles. With bending down to make sure Tony doesn’t hit his head on the second doorway, he misjudges the lip between where the flooring meets the door jam and doesn’t quite pick up his foot enough.
Bucky drops the bags of groceries automatically, hoping there wasn’t anything too fragile in them, and catches himself on all fours. Tony yells as they go down, clinging to Bucky, but the momentum makes him slide forward over his alpha’s shoulder.
“Bucky! You lunatic!” he laughs and grumbles at the same time that he’s falling.
Bucky tries to catch him and ease his meeting with the ground, but he’s laughing himself and it’s just not an angle he can get any leverage on. Tony tucks and kind of rolls onto his back, at least managing not to hit his head on anything.
“Sorry, doll,” Bucky apologizes in between breaths of laughter.
“You’re insane,” Tony says, pulling Bucky down for a kiss as the man crawls over him.
Bucky takes a moment to just nuzzle and scent him, making sure there’s no pain or displeasure in his mate’s smell.
He’s just about to pull back and start helping Tony off the floor when something happens that Bucky hadn’t even thought to hold out hope for yet.
Tony starts purring in his arms.
It starts out as a soft, almost hesitant sound, but Bucky buries his face in the side of Tony’s neck and hugs him tightly, feeling the reverberations in his own chest as Tony grows louder. Purring is such a huge sign of happiness and contentment, of love and trust, that Bucky feels like he just got an unspoken answer to his unasked question from earlier.
Eventually the purring does die down again a few minutes later, likely because their food is still laying on the floor and so are they, and the floor is hard and not exactly comfortable. As Bucky finally pulls back, to help Tony off the floor for real this time, Tony cups his cheek and says, “Bucky? I love you...”
Then he bites his bottom lip afterward, like he isn’t 100% sure what Bucky’s response will be.
Bucky’s face just melts into the sweetest, goofiest smile he’s ever given anyone, he can feel it, and he says, “I love you too, Tony.”
And he’s going to spend the next 25 years, the rest of his life even, making sure Tony never doubts the answer he’ll get to that again.
July brings an unusually long rainstorm to Brooklyn and the whole island, halting all outdoor activities and festivals that weekend. It rolls in Friday afternoon, but since they’re indoors, Bucky and Tony keep working like normal. The storm is still going strong Saturday morning, but it’s ok, they didn’t really have any plans anyway.
Tony feels restless with Bucky down in the office, catching up on some paperwork, but he doesn’t want to be down in the shop himself. He paces from one room to another for a while, rearranging the pillows on the couch and then rearranging the pillows on their bed. It takes the rainstorm turning into a thunderstorm for him to get a clue.
After that first long peal of thunder rolls across the sky, Tony feels the yearning to be snuggled up in the blankets with his alpha like a physical weight in his chest.
He moves every single blanket and pillow from the living room onto their bed, then he goes down to the office.
“Hey, Tony, what’s up?” Bucky asks, only glancing at him out of the corner of his eye before looking back down at his papers.
Tony huffs, irritated at the lack of attention. “Can you come upstairs for a while?” he asks.
“Right this minute? I’m kind of in the middle of something… What did you need?” Bucky asks him back.
Now, Tony knows that Bucky has no particular love for paperwork or any of the office type stuff that goes along with running a business. Which is why his records and accounting were from the stone age when Tony arrived. But he’s a very responsible alpha, and he rarely puts off the things that need doing, even if he doesn’t like them. Even so, Tony feels incredibly off kilter right now, and he has no qualms about playing a little dirty to get what he wants.
“I need you, for my nest…”
Bucky’s pen stops in the middle of whatever he was writing and he looks up at Tony quizzically. What he sees must convince him that Tony is serious, because he drops his pen entirely and gets up, coming to Tony’s side.
“Ok, I can do that. You look kind of pale, honey, are you alright?” he asks, concerned.
“I just… I don’t feel right… I need you to come lay down with me.”
“How long have you been feelin’ this way?” he asks, guiding Tony to the stairs and turning out the lights behind them.
“All morning. But I didn’t realize what I needed at first, I was just restless,” Tony explains. He doesn’t feel better yet, not really, not even with Bucky following him dutifully upstairs. When they get to their bedroom, Tony pauses in the doorway, suddenly unsure about Bucky climbing into the bed as it is.
“You need to rearrange some stuff first?” Bucky asks him kindly.
Tony nods, going over to the bed and feeling the sheets for a minute before deciding that they’re just not soft enough. He lays down one of their microfleece blankets on the bed as a base before placing the rest in strategic positions around it. There are a lot of blankets and pillows so it takes him a few minutes to get everything just right.
“Ok, it’s ready,” Tony finally declares, standing back to look at it.
“It’s perfect, sweetheart. Where do you want me?” Bucky asks.
Tony nearly tears up at his thoughtfulness to ask first. “Um, right in the middle, would be good...”
Bucky crawls in, carefully replacing the pillows he bumped into while doing so. Tony climbs in on top of him, having to take another minute to make sure everything is just so before he lays down sprawled across Bucky’s chest. With a sigh, he relaxes against his alpha. A minute later, he’s purring in Bucky’s arms. The purring cuts out after only a few seconds though, prompting Bucky to lay a worried hand on the small of Tony’s back.
“Are you ok, doll?”
“It’s just… When I purr, I can’t hear the rain anymore,” Tony confesses, feeling frustration welling up inside him.
“Shh, shh. It’s ok, I’ll fix it, honey,” Bucky says, planting a kiss on the top of his head. He extricates himself with exceeding gentleness from Tony and the nest, which Tony is grateful for. Then he goes to the bathroom and gets one of their big bath towels that they dry off with, and lays it in front of the window on the floor.
“Oh…” Tony says as Bucky opens the window, letting in the full sound of the storm even though it’s only a gap of a few inches, “That’s perfect.”
“Glad to be of service,” Bucky smiles, getting back in the nest with him.
Again, Tony has to fidget with everything disturbed by the movement, to fix it, but he finally gets things just the way he wants them. He begins purring again, content and warm and lulled by the sounds of the storm while in his alpha’s arms. It’s just, perfect, and Tony drowses in and out of wakefulness for a couple hours, purring all the while.
Bucky just basks in the sheer joy of being an integral part of Tony’s contentment, the warmth in his chest growing and growing the longer Tony purrs on top of him.
The sound of Bucky whistling cuts through the music playing in the shop, getting Tony’s attention right away. Bucky’s face is set in a hard line as he makes a quick jerking motion with his head, for Tony to get over there. Tony drops his tools right away, picking up a shop rag to wipe his hands with and shutting off the music as he goes.
“Go in the office, Tony.”
Edith’s car pulls up into the bay right in front of Bucky at the same time. Tony had his focus solely on Bucky, considering the look that was on his face, so he wasn’t paying attention to who was arriving. His eyes widen a little.
“Is the waiting room alright?” he asks, not looking at the car.
The engine shuts off right as Bucky says, “Yeah, that’s fine too. He always makes sure to ‘watch’ me work.”
Tony goes into the waiting room, pretending to be restocking the coffee bar area so it looks like he’s working. Originally, Tony had wanted to do floor to ceiling glass windows between the waiting room and the rest of the shop, but it was outrageously expensive for panes of glass that large. And if they ever got cracked they would be outrageously expensive all over again to replace. So they just have a door with a window made of safety glass in it and one large picture window, also with safety glass.
Tony doesn’t feel safe per se, knowing who just pulled up, but he does feel safer with some real walls between himself and Harold Barton.
Tony looks up when the door to the waiting room opens. He smiles as best as he can when Barney and Clint come in, their faces drawn and pale. In the background, he can see Harold holding on to Edith’s upper arm in a way that prevents her from going into the waiting room with the boys. It makes him feel sick to his stomach to see it, because he knows exactly what that grip feels like.
“Hey, boys,” Tony says and signs, “Who wants some popcorn?”
They both do, so Tony scoops some out of the popcorn machine with shaking hands. He can hear raised voices, even through the wall, but not exactly what’s being said.
“Can we watch a movie?” Clint asks, signing the words ‘please’ and ‘movie’ slowly, without his usual exuberance.
“Sure,” Tony answers him, “I don’t know how long it will take Bucky to fix up your guys’ car, but we’ll get through as much as we can.”
“You’re going to stay?” Barney asks.
“Yeah,” Tony says, thinking fast, “I’m due for my break anyway.”
He starts up Disney’s Robin Hood for them, because it’s the next one suggested in the queue and neither boy has seen it. Tony didn’t watch a whole lot of kids movies growing up, but he does remember liking that the hero was omega-coded in this one, even though most of the animals weren’t given specific secondary genders in the cartoon.
It’s almost an hour later that the smell of angry alpha starts seeping in under the door. All three of them tense up when they smell it. Tony is only sort of watching the TV screen anymore, keeping one eye on what’s going on through the window. Bucky must be finished working on the car, because he and Harold are both standing in front of it now.
Harold is practically screaming at Bucky’s face, but he doesn’t actually lay a hand on him. Bucky just stands there with his arms crossed, muscles and youth on full display, waiting for Harold to give him a reason. Tony can see Bucky’s mouth moving, him answering Harold every once in a while, but he never raises his voice loud enough for Tony to be able to hear it.
Then Harold clumsily takes out his checkbook, writing one out and tearing it off with a sneer. Then he shouts over his shoulder at Edith, who’s nowhere near far enough away to need that level of volume. She beats a hasty line toward the waiting room.
“I think your parents are ready to go now,” Tony gives the boys a heads up, pausing the movie.
Barney gets out of his seat without a word. Edith opens the door to the waiting room, motioning for the boys to follow her. Harold gets into the car, slamming the door loudly. As the boys are heading to their mother’s side, Clint turns back to Tony.
“How does it end?” he asks.
Harold lays on the car horn, impatient that they’re not immediately running to get in on his orders.
It doesn’t bother Clint one bit though, he just keeps looking at Tony expectantly.
“The good guys win,” Tony says and signs, his own ears already ringing from the horn being blasted continually in the enclosed space.
“Hey, knock it off,” Bucky scowls and bangs on the hood of the car, the only aggression he’s displayed back throughout the whole thing. Miraculously, Harold listens to him, probably because he isn’t actually willing to get into it with the younger alpha.
Clint just nods at Tony, following his mother’s and brother’s urging to get in the car.
After they’re gone, Bucky has to hold Tony for an hour before he stops shaking.
“I’m not even upset for me,” Tony says, tears of frustration leaking out, “It’s just, I know what they’re going through, I know what he’s probably putting them through right now, and I just… There’s nothing I can do…” Tony cries.
“I know, sweetheart, I know,” Bucky rocks him back and forth, “I wanted to sock him in the face so fucking bad… But anything short of killin’ him would just make things worse for the rest of his family, like Jarvis said. If the cops in this town ain’t done nothin’ yet, with all the reports that have been filed against him, then they ain’t never going to do anythin’ at all.”
“I hope you charged him for labor,” Tony says, wiping at his eyes angrily.
“Well…” Bucky sighs, “Technically, I don’t think he paid for anything at all...”
“What do you mean?”
“I knew it was going to be a fight with him, no matter what, so I looked at the car and did the fix first, to try and speed things up. When I told him the price, he flipped out of course, and started goin’ on and on and lyin’ about how I just rip everyone off and I have a horrible reputation around town, and he didn’t know why he bothered comin’ into the shop at all… I was gettin’ pretty mad at that point, even though I wasn’t really tryin’ to get into an argument with him, but… I may have let it slip that I ain’t been chargin’ them the full amount of labor for years now, and that their car would be sitting in a scrap heap if it wasn’t for that. Then he wrote out a check for ten grand to ‘Fuck you Barnes’, which of course is just goin’ to bounce if we actually tried to cash it. I’d rather not be out the returned check fee and the parts, so I didn’t even put it in the system,” Bucky explains, still petting Tony calmly.
Tony nods against Bucky’s chest, agreeing with his decision and still needing the comfort and security of his alpha’s arms. Bucky will have to get back to finishing the couple cars they still have in the shop soon, even if he turns away all the rest of the day’s appointments due to an emergency.
“I’m not going to be able to eat anything fancy tonight,” Tony tells him with a grimace, putting a hand over his twisting stomach, “I may not be able to handle going out at all…”
“Hey, it’s ok,” Bucky says soothingly, “We can celebrate our anniversary on Friday night instead, no problem.”
“Ok. …Happy anniversary, Bucky,” Tony tells him sedately.
“Happy anniversary, Tony.”
I'm home sick again today, so you guys get back to back chapters.
Year Two - Aftermarket Parts
(Bucky 26, Tony 19, Barney 11, Clint 7)
The next morning after the Barton family’s visit, Tony still isn’t feeling well. The stress of having been suddenly subjected to so many of the same factors that surrounded his own abuse is too much for him. He assures Bucky that it will be fine if he goes down to the shop without him, but Tony isn’t up to dealing with people himself today.
After breakfast he goes back to bed for a little while, but once he wakes up again he’s listless and bored, in addition to queasy. Tony puts the TV on in the background while he does the dishes from breakfast. Usually they let them soak until lunch time, then wash them up together when they’re on their break, but he figures if he does them now, Bucky can spend those few extra minutes at lunch holding him instead.
“And in local news, there was a double fatality as the result of a single vehicle crash on Ocean Parkway, near Midwood, last night. Witnesses say the vehicle was speeding and lost control before striking a light pole. Both the alpha driving and his omega were killed, though the couple’s children had been left at home, unattended. Police say alcohol was a factor.”
Oh god, Tony knows that car. Tony knows that license plate number, and the rusted out spot on the back left fender, and how the passenger side door was a different color than the rest of it.
“Jesus Christ,” he says, finding himself sinking to his knees on the kitchen floor, soapy water trailing down the lip of the counter after him.
He killed her.
Tony cries into his own hands at first, but the soap on them stings his eyes, so he pulls the hand towel off the oven rack and sobs into it instead. Even as he’s crying, the words of the report ring through his head.
The boys are still ok then, they weren’t in the car with them… Tony may not know everyone in this town like Bucky does, but he does remember Bucky telling him that the Barton’s didn’t have any other family around. That was part of why Bucky felt such a need to help, because Edith didn’t have anyone to turn to.
The boys will go to an orphanage then.
Even being from the upper echelons of society, Tony has heard the stories of what happens to omegas in orphanages. Being sold off to the highest bidder would be the best case scenario. The far more likely one is that Clint will end up disappearing in an omega trafficking ring. There might be some hope for Barney, since he’s an alpha, that someone could scoop him up thinking to have him work for them… But it’s still a dismal prospect, even if it’s not as bad as his brother’s…
Tony’s tears eventually dry up, mostly because he feels pathetic and useless sitting there crying on the floor. He’s so, so sad, but at the same time… He’s mad too. He’s furious at Harold and at society and at his own father as well.
While Tony can’t do anything to get back at either alpha, he can do something to circumvent society’s rules. Taking a deep breath to steady himself, Tony gets up off the floor. He splashes some cold water on his face, to rinse away the tears and the soap. Then he goes down to the office where he knows Bucky left Harold’s “Fuck you” check in the desk drawer. Tony breathes a sigh of relief to see it’s still there.
Thankfully they upgraded the shop’s computer too, because Tony would be going crazy right now if he had to deal with that old, clunky monstrosity since they don’t have a printer upstairs. A quick search and a few clicks through “legalzoom.com” get him what he needs. He prints out two separate forms, one for Barney and one for Clint, because you have to pay money to access modified contracts that merge more than one transfer together. And anything like that would show today as the payment date, instead of yesterday, if it ever became an issue… He knows with the way computers work, if anyone really questioned it, they could see that the forms weren’t searched for or printed out until today either… But he’s hoping this is one time where the lack of value society places on omegas will work in their favor. Who’s going to go to all that work to look that far into the transfer papers for a couple of kids nobody else wants anyway?
Tony takes a blank piece of paper out of the printer and goes back up to the apartment with everything, so there’s no evidence left behind in the shop. Then he practices forging Harold Barton’s signature, until he’s reasonably certain it will pass muster. If anyone questions it, well, the man was drunk half the time anyway, so there are bound to be irregularities in his signature all over the place.
Tony signs the bottom of Barney’s transfer with Harold’s name, a soft sale/apprenticeship of the eleven year old, since he’s an alpha. Then he signs Clint’s, an outright sale of the seven year old since he’s an omega. It burns him up inside, but he skews the numbers higher on Barney’s contract than on Clint’s. They still total the ten grand together, but Barney’s indicates he was worth seven of that, and Clint’s only three. It’s what Harold would have done though, and they don’t want anything to look out of character. There’s no way an alpha like Harold would have assumed his omega son was worth just as much as an alpha. Tony’s scheme is entirely dependent on it being in-character for Harold to be the kind of man who would sell off his kids to pay a debt anyway.
He doesn’t think it’s going to be much of a stretch.
“Tony? How are you feelin’, sweetheart? What’s goin’ on?” Bucky asks, coming up from the shop and looking at everything spread out on the kitchen table.
Tony glances at the clock, realizing it’s now lunch time and Bucky was checking up on him. “I’m doing horrible,” he says, holding out the contracts to Bucky, “He killed her. I saw it on the news. He wrapped that fucking car around a pole driving drunk and it killed them both. But the boys weren’t in the car with them. You need to sign here, and here,” Tony points, flipping through to the signature portion.
“I what? Are these transfer contracts?” Bucky asks, his brow furrowing as he takes in everything Tony’s saying.
Oops. Tony may have forgotten to actually ask Bucky if he wanted to commit a felony with him…
Tony picks up the remote to the TV, because he left it on the whole time in his hurry, and rewinds to the news segment he saw earlier.
Bucky’s face goes pale, recognizing the car right away too. “Jesus…” he whispers, running a hand through his hair and looking like he wants to cry.
“You said they don’t have any family,” Tony reminds him, “You know what will happen to them in an orphanage, Bucky… We can’t let that happen,” Tony pleads.
“So you printed up these forms… And got his signature off the check…” Bucky says with a nod, holding back his own tears in the face of having a plan of action.
“Harold Barton owed you a lot of money,” Tony says calmly, praying Bucky is willing to go along with this.
Bucky steps forward and kisses Tony soundly. Then he picks up the pen off the table and signs both sets of forms. “I’m goin’ to call the sheriff. Harold was supposed to come by this mornin’ with the boys’ and their birth certificates, since he didn’t have the certificates with him when they were here yesterday.”
“You wanted to give him a couple hours leeway, in case he was running late,” Tony nods, “But at this point, he’s absconded with your property. Legally,” Tony adds, starting to smile from ear to ear.
“Exactly. You think you can come down to the shop for a while, pretend like his visit yesterday wasn’t a big deal?” Bucky asks. “I mean, gettin’ kids is a big deal, but not the same kind…”
“Yeah, I can do that,” Tony assures him, “I do feel a lot better, having a plan.”
When Bucky calls the property theft in, the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office tells them to come down to the courthouse to make a report. Bucky decides to go as is, still dirty from work, because if he really didn’t know Harold and Edith were dead, he wouldn’t be expecting this to take long.
Tony changes into his work clothes and drips a little oil on them, then wipes his hands and forearms with a dirty shop rag, like he’s been working as usual too.
When they get to the court house, there’s a bit of a wait, but eventually they do get to speak to one of the clerks. Bucky looks appropriately shocked when she tells him Harold Barton is dead. She takes their transfer papers to look over, commenting on the lack of attached birth certificates.
“He was supposed to bring them this mornin’, with the boys. He didn’t have them on him when they came into the shop needin’ more work done yesterday,” Bucky explains.
“Why didn’t you just wait to sign until this morning then?” she questions, because that would be the normal thing to do, to wait until everything was together.
“Harold Barton owed me a lot of money,” Bucky says with a grimace, “I was afraid he’d back out on his word later if I didn’t get somethin’ in writin’ from him right then.”
The clerk tips her head, like that was a wise move on Bucky’s part. Harold’s reputation is probably well known to them.
“The Barton boys are still at a temporary foster home, pending transfer to an orphanage upstate. Here’s the address. I’ll send Merle with you to pick them up, so there won’t be any question,” she nods, picking up the radio to call him in to the office.
When Deputy Sanderson arrives, he shakes Bucky’s hand. “We have both their birth certificates in a file here. I was the one who picked them up last night, and they were layin’ on the kitchen table. Struck me as odd, ‘cause we normally have to dig around for important documents, but it makes more sense now.”
“Huh. I wouldn’t have pegged Harold as bein’ the type to get prepared the night before…” Bucky says, to cover his surprise.
“Edith might have, though,” Tony speaks up.
If the deputy finds anything off about their reactions, he doesn’t say anything.
They’re handed the boys’ birth certificates by a different clerk, and Bucky staples them all together right then, before they leave. They follow Merle’s cruiser out to the halfway house, with Bucky and Tony holding hands tightly as Bucky drives.
“We’re here for the Barton boys, ma’am,” Merle tells the harried looking foster worker when she comes out to greet them.
With a nod, she ushers them inside. Before they get to the room where the boys stayed the night, they can hear Barney’s voice through the door.
“Well you better learn to read lips real quick, ‘cause ain’t nobody goin’ to want to buy up a retard.”
The words are harsh and demanding, cruel even, but when they open the door, the scene playing out isn’t what Tony expected. Barney has Clint in his lap on the bed, rocking him back and forth while they both cry.
The movement of the door opening draws both their attentions though.
“Boys,” Tony says, signing at the same time, “You’re coming home with us. Both of you.”
Clint perks up, hope filling his eyes and a grin spreading over his face.
Barney starts crying harder.
They both cling to Tony in relief while he hugs them and rocks them. Bucky wraps his arms around all three of them at once, finally getting them calmed down enough to gather their bags and get into the car. Before they leave, the deputy takes Bucky aside for a quick second.
“Your Dad would have been proud of the alpha you’ve become, Bucky,” Merle says, squeezing Bucky’s shoulder.
“Thanks, Merle,” Bucky nods.
“We still miss him on poker nights,” Merle adds.
“Me too,” Bucky confirms, giving him a sad smile.
“You know, you’re still more than welcome to come yourself. The invitation still stands,” Merle tells him.
“I appreciate it… I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, with the shop, and Tony, and now with the boys… I don’t think I’d feel right, takin’ off and leavin’ them alone so soon.”
“That’s understandable. Just know, it’s a standin’ invite,” Merle says, clapping him on the shoulder one more time.
“Thanks, Merle, I’ll see you around.”
Merle nods and gets back into his cruiser, and Bucky finally gets into his own vehicle.
“Clint’s hungry,” Tony tells him, a knowing sadness in his eyes, “So I told him you wouldn’t mind stopping to get something to eat on the way home.”
“Of course not,” Bucky says right away, “How does McDonald’s sound?”
Tony and Bucky forgot to hide the check and the practicing of Harold’s signature before they left, so it’s all still sitting on the kitchen table when they finally get back with the boys. They’re both distracted though, with thinking of everything they need to do to have the boys in their lives now, and neither of them even realize it until Barney picks up the check and the page with his dad’s name written on it over and over again.
“What’s this?” he asks, frowning in confusion.
Tony and Bucky both freeze, because Barney is eleven, and definitely old enough to understand on his own if he thinks about it. Tony looks at Bucky, silently asking him what they should do…
Bucky goes over and gets on one knee in front of Barney, so he knows this is serious. Clint comes over too, picking up the mood shift in the room like a good omega, and clings to his brother’s side. Bucky and Tony already decided on the drive over to pick up the boys that they would start signing every time they speak, to set a precedent.
“Your dad didn’t really sell you two to me,” Bucky says softly, being truthful, “He did owe me a lot of money, actually probably more than ten grand, but that’s beside the point. The truth is, me and Tony saw on the news, about your parent’s accident. We couldn’t stand the thought of you two goin’ to an orphanage, bein’ split up, and never gettin’ to see you again. So we printed out the forms and made it look like he sold you to me yesterday to pay off the debt, before the crash happened…”
“Who’s ‘Fuckyou Barnes’?” Clink asks, looking at the check, then looking around at everyone in the room, like there might be another Barnes he doesn’t know about.
“That ain’t a person, that was just Pa bein’ an asshole,” Barney signs to him, rolling his eyes.
“We don’t swear in this house,” Bucky says, “Or at least, we try not to… I know it might take some gettin’ used to, but I want you boys to try, ok?”
“Ok,” Barney nods, with Clint copying him as soon as Bucky is done signing it.
“You really want us? Why?” Barney asks, skeptical about the whole thing. And with his upbringing, he’s got good reason to be.
“We do,” Bucky confirms, “Because it always made us sad, to see the way your Pa treated you. We wished we could do something for you, but we weren’t allowed to, because you weren’t ours.”
“The alpha who owned me before Bucky,” Tony speaks up, signing everything as well, “Was a bad alpha, the same way Harold was a bad alpha. He had me in distress for so long that now, even though Bucky helped me get healthy, we can’t have kids,” Tony tells them, which is close enough to the truth that it really doesn’t matter. “So now you and Clint can be our kids instead.”
It’s that more than anything that seems to make sense to the boys. Because if Tony can’t have kids himself, then of course they would have to find some other way to get them.
“And I normally don’t allow keepin’ secrets in this house, but if people found out that wasn’t your Pa’s signature on those forms, they would take you away from us and send you back to the orphanage, so it ain’t somethin’ any of us are ever goin’ to talk about again, understand?” Bucky says seriously.
Barney and Clint both nod.
While Tony shows the boys to Bucky’s old room, Bucky takes the check and Tony’s practice page and lights them on fire over the sink. When they’re reduced to nothing more than ash, Bucky rinses them down to the sewers, right where Harold Barton’s name should be.
Later that evening, Tony asks the boys if either of them know why their birth certificates were sitting out on the kitchen table that night.
“Oh, I got them out to prove to Clint that he’s an omega,” Barney says, “He didn’t want to believe me, but it tells you right on the certificate when you’re born. He’s got an “O” for omega in his second box, so they knew right from the beginnin’ that he was one.”
Clint scowls, looking disgruntled.
“Uh, there’s, well, there’s a bit more to it than that, but, we’ve all had a long day,” Tony says quickly, “We can talk about alpha and omega stuff some other time, when we have more time…”
Bucky makes fun of him when they’re finally crawling into bed themselves that night, but it’s a gentle teasing. “I can’t believe you stumbled right into ‘the sex talk’ on your first night as a mom,” he chuckles.
“Shut up. He caught me off guard ok? I didn’t want to make him think that was right though, god only knows what kind of crap Harold told them about alphas and omegas before this…”
“Hey, it’s ok, there’ll be plenty of time,” Bucky assures him.
“Yeah. They’re so young still, there should be time. … Bucky?”
“You’re welcome, Tony. Thank you.”
“What about bunk beds?” Bucky suggests the next morning when they’re thinking about how to set up the boys, “Me and Stevie always wanted them, but we were too big for that kind of thing by the time he moved in with us…”
“We’re not too big!” Clint exclaims, signing furiously, with Barney agreeing and nodding vigorously, “I’m small, I can have a bunk bed!”
“Aww, I guess that means we’re too big for a bunk bed,” Tony says, giving Bucky a fake, exaggerated pout.
“We already have a bed,” Bucky reminds him, stealing a kiss, “But bunk beds for the kids, yes.”
Both Bucky and Tony know the boys won’t be able to share a room forever, but it’s what they’re used to right now, so they don’t want to separate them.
“There’s no way we’re gettin’ any type of bed in the back of the car, so we’ll have to have one delivered.”
“We’re still going to go shopping, though, right?” Tony asks, like he wants to make sure Bucky isn’t planning on ordering everything online.
“Of course we are. As soon as we’re done with breakfast. The boys can’t be livin’ out of their backpacks,” Bucky assures him.
“Oh,” Tony says, glancing at the calendar, “When does school start?”
“Great Oaks starts in two weeks,” Barney volunteers, old enough to have been keeping a countdown.
“We’re in Brooklyn Garden’s district here, or at least, we still should be. That’s the one I went to, and I don’t think they’ve changed anything since then. I guess we’ll need to check out what we need to do for that,” Bucky makes a note in his phone to research it later. They already agreed Tony would need his own phone too now, so that’s on the list for today as well.
“What school did you go to?” Barney asks Tony.
“Uh, a private one,” Tony says.
“Like Berkeley Carroll? I hear they have a pool,” Barney asks, shoveling eggs into his mouth almost non-stop throughout the conversation.
“No, more like Leman Manhattan,” Tony answers.
“Ain’t that a high school?” Barney asks.
“Tony graduated from college when he was 17, so he was a little ahead of the curve,” Bucky explains, giving his mate a fond smile.
Tony smiles back, all of a sudden realizing that he’s used to the praise.
“Look, my eggs are a monster truck!” Clint says as he picks up a handful of them and makes them ‘jump’ over a neatly assembled row of sausages. Then he lands them on the other side with a splat, causing pieces of egg fly all over the table. His plate also tips from the force being applied too far to the side of it, and most of his food sloshes over his hand and onto the table. He looks a little shocked at the outcome.
Tony starts laughing right away, but it isn’t until Bucky starts laughing too that Barney and Clint both relax.
It’s ok, they’ll get used to their new life eventually too.
“So, I didn’t want to finish registerin’ you boys for school until we talked about the name thing,” Bucky says, gathering the boys to him. “Clint will get my last name now, bein’ an omega, but you can keep yours as ‘Barton’ if you wanted to Barney, since you’re an alpha.”
“But we’re brothers?” Clint says, confused, “We have to have the same last name.”
Barney nods seriously. “Yeah, my name should be the same as Clint’s. That way if anybody wants to mess with him, they’ll know they’re messin’ with me too,” he says, puffing his chest up a little.
“Ok, we’ll put you both down as Barnes then,” Bucky smiles, glad to see that Barney doesn’t hold any sentimentality toward Harold’s name, “And both Tony and I are going to go with you to look around on the first day, so everyone knows who you belong to now.”
Tony smiles to himself at the little alpha-to-alpha approval moment, but he doesn’t say anything aloud. At least not about that.
“You do realize that you talked him into going by the name Barney Barnes, right?” Tony snickers later, after the boys are in bed.
“Hey, it wasn’t me, it was Clint.”
“These are my...friends, Jarvis and Anna. They, uh, helped raise me,” Tony introduces Barney and Clint to the Jarvis’s when they arrive for Sunday dinner.
“A pleasure to meet you, young Masters Barnes.”
Three days later, Bucky gets his first real test at this new parenting thing. Barney and Clint are fighting over the remote to the TV, and Barney hits Clint, just, smacks him across the face like it’s nothing.
“Hey!” Bucky is on his feet before he even knows what he’s doing. The fact that the entire room freezes makes him realize that he needs to be very careful here, to make sure and resolve this the right way.
His mind races, thinking back to what his Dad did when he caught him and Stevie slugging it out with their alpha hackles up. This isn’t exactly the same thing, but if his Dad could make them see reason without resorting to popping either of them, then Bucky can definitely show Barney that hitting his brother isn’t ok. Hopefully he won’t have to get out the garden hose, though...
“Charles Bernard Barnes,” Bucky says sternly, looming over him, “Don’t you ever hit your brother again, you hear me?”
Barney still looks a little mad from the fight with Clint, but he also looks scared as he nods.
Bucky tones down the pissed off alpha-ness a bit. “Listen, Barney, I know you only had horrible examples from a bad alpha all your life, of how to treat omegas, but I’m tellin’ you right now, you will never, ever be allowed to act like your shit-stain of a father, from here on out. There’s a reason everyone around him hated him. He was mean, and hurtful, and selfish. But you can be better than him. You can have a happy family, and friends, and people to count on when the goin’ gets tough, ok? And all you have to do is choose to be nice. It don’t cost a thing to be nice,” Bucky says, hoping he didn’t belabor the point too much.
“And you need to tell Clint you’re sorry,” Tony says when Bucky’s done.
“Yes, you need to tell Clint you’re sorry,” Bucky agrees, feeling like he had forgotten something.
“Sorry, Clint,” Barney signs contritely.
Clint nods and sniffles.
“Now give him a hug, too. If you have a problem that you can’t resolve yourselves, you come get one of us, ok? You don’t ever hit,” Tony adds, “Do you remember how it felt, when your Pa hit you? I remember how it felt when my Dad used to hit me, and I don’t ever want you or Clint to feel that way. So I’ll never, ever hit you,” Tony promises them, “And you should never hit each other either.”
“Exactly,” Bucky echos, pulling everyone into one big group hug.
He hopes that between his and Tony’s words, something will have gotten through to him.
They keep an eye on it, but Barney doesn’t hit Clint again after that. Bucky keeps pushing peaceful resolutions, taking turns, sharing, etc. It seems to be working so far, but only time will tell if Barney’s able to overcome his initial upbringing. Bucky’s going to do his damnedest to show him the right way in the meantime though.
The boys have to get caught up on their shots and have their annual check-ups before school starts. Bucky and Tony take them to the omega clinic in Bedford-Stuyvesant, since they’ll see alpha children that are underage too, even though they specialize in omegas.
“Well, I have good news for you. Clinton’s hearing loss isn’t 100%. He’s got 95% loss in his left ear, but only 80% in his right. He would benefit from hearing aids…” the doctor says, addressing them both but making it clear she expects any push-back to come from Bucky.
“Wait, you mean he could be able to hear again?” Bucky says, “Like, everythin’? Or just certain ranges? I’ve heard old timers complain about their hearin’ aids not pickin’ up everythin’ right…”
“Auditory aids have come a long way in the last decade, but you have to pay more for the more advanced products,” the doctor says with an apologetic smile.
“That makes sense,” Bucky tells her, “So, how do we do this? Do we have to have somethin’ special from you before we can order them? Do they have to be, like, fitted to him or anythin’?”
Tony is signing the conversation to Clint as Bucky and the doctor talk, because he deserves to know what’s being said about him. When Clint starts crying, Tony knows exactly why. He starts tearing up himself as Clint signs, “Hearing aids, for me?” while crying too hard to speak. Tony nods sharply up and down, so there’s no mistaking it, signing, “Yes, have to order them, yes.”
Barney is crying too, but not as badly. Tony picks Clint up, because he’s still small enough for it, hugging him close in the exam room.
“Pa said they were a waste, for an omega…” Barney tells them, burrowing into Tony’s side as well.
“Nothing is wasted on an omega. Your father was the one who was a waste of goddamn oxygen,” Bucky says, muttering the last part but still signing it.
Clint leans out of Tony’s arms and reaches for Bucky. Bucky takes him willingly, hugging Clint tight while the boy cries and clings to him like a limpet.
“I’ll go write out the prescription for the aids,” the doctor says kindly, giving them some privacy.
They manage to get Clint leveled out enough that he’s not sobbing anymore, but he doesn’t want to let go of Bucky.
“He’s overwhelmed,” Tony says, holding Barney with one arm while he rubs Clint’s back as Bucky holds him.
“You might have to drive home,” Bucky says, keeping Clint close as the boy takes a series of shuddering half hiccups, half breaths. They’re not quite sobs anymore, but it’s a close thing.
“That’s no problem,” Tony says, giving him an encouraging smile.
They get the prescription from the doctor and take it over to the medical supply place across the street right away. All with Clint still clinging to Bucky.
“If you were down to 5% hearin’ in one ear, and 20% in the other, which brand of hearin’ aid would you choose for yourself?” Bucky asks the alpha behind the counter before he even hands over the prescription.
“Oticon,” he says with little deliberation.
“Ok, that’s what we want then,” Bucky tells him, handing the paperwork over.
The alpha glances at Clint in Bucky’s arms when he reads the details of the prescription, but he doesn’t say anything contradictory. He does say it will be a couple days before they can get in the device Bucky chose, though.
“Can we pay extra for faster shippin’? He starts school on Monday,” Bucky asks.
They end up being told to come back tomorrow after 3pm, when the overnight deliveries will have arrived.
Tony does indeed have to drive home, helping Bucky get the seat belt secured around himself and Clint first. Once they finally make it back, Bucky turns to Barney, still not having set down Clint.
“Ok, Barney, I’m goin’ to teach you about how to take proper care of an omega, alright?”
Barney nods seriously, slightly worried over the fact that his brother isn’t walking and running and jumping around like usual.
“Go into your room and fetch his Lightnin’ McQueen blanket for me,” Bucky instructs.
Barney dashes off to get it right away.
“Will you spread out a couple bigger blankets for us too?” Bucky asks Tony.
“Of course,” Tony says, clearing off the couch and laying down one of the big microfleece blankets over the whole thing.
Bucky sits down in the middle of it, keeping Clint resting against his chest as he lays back. Barney comes back with the Lightning McQueen blanket clenched tightly in his hands.
“Should I put it on him?”
“Yeah, wrap him up nice and good. Omegas need to feel safe, and secure, and be snuggled up in all the softest things possible,” Bucky says, helping Barney get Clint tucked in. Tony goes and bumps the thermostat down, figuring they’ll probably be nesting for the rest of the night. The urge to wrap up every single one of his family members and snuggle the hell out of them is hitting Tony pretty hard right now too.
“Their biology is different than ours. They’ve got different hormones, different chemicals, inside them, and they have different needs. You’ve got to hold them, and make sure they know how much you love them,” Bucky says, “They don’t need to protect, like us alphas do, they need to feel protected.”
“And we protect them?” Barney says, half statement, half question.
“Yeah, that’s right,” Bucky says, using his free hand to cup the back of Barney’s neck affectionately, “We protect them.”
Barney snuggles in closer to Bucky, throwing an arm over Clint too. When Tony comes back, he sits down on Barney’s other side, so he doesn’t feel like he’s on the outside. Even though he’s an alpha, he’s still just a kid.
They order pizza for dinner that night, at Clint’s request, since he perks up after a half hour or so of cuddling. They stay in the impromptu nest for the rest of the night though, eating on the couch while they watch Robin Hood all the way through.
One weekend, Tony is showing the boys just how loud the sound system in the shop can go, and one thing leads to another, and Bucky comes down to find Clint laying over the sub-woofer with his hearing aids out, and Tony playing a furious air guitar session while Barney does drums on some old paint cans to “Rock and Roll All Night”.
“What are you doin’ down here?” Bucky asks, signing since he can’t even hear himself think over the sound.
“Uh… Bonding?” Tony signs back, raising an eyebrow at him.
“I’m pretty sure gettin’ shaken around is bad for kids’ brains…” Bucky signs, eyeing Clint’s position over the speaker.
“That’s babies,” Tony replies, “...But maybe we could turn it down just a little...”
“Might be a good idea…” Bucky confirms, shaking his head fondly.
Clint raises his own head to look at them when Tony turns the volume down.
“I can feel the music!” he yells with a grin.
“I’m sure you can,” Bucky says, grinning back. As the next song starts, Bucky is about to suggest something a little more family friendly than the KISS discography, until he realizes it’s “New York Groove” that’s coming on. Instead, he picks Clint up off the speaker and puts him on his hip, dancing around the shop with him as they sing along. The boys don’t know the words already of course, but they pick up the chorus quickly.
Tony is doing some sort of made up dance thing with Barney when Bucky catches his eye across the shop. They both grin and keep dancing.
“Clint is incredibly smart,” Mrs. O’Donnell assures them at parent teacher conference night, “The only thing I’ve seen that’s slightly concerning is that during music time, when we were talking about our favorite kinds of music, he shouted, ‘Kings In Satan’s Service’ in the middle of class…”
Bucky swings his head just a touch dramatically to look over at Tony in the seat beside him.
Tony, for his part, covers his face with his hands.
But then he drops them just a touch dramatically and sighs. “I know, I know, it’s disappointing. I’ve been trying to steer him more toward Ozzy and the early Black Sabbath stuff, but he just loves the ‘70’s, I can’t explain it.”
Mrs. O’Donnell taught Bucky in the second grade too, so he knows she’s not actually that uptight, but she’s definitely thrown off by Tony’s answer.
“Hey, he’s young yet,” Bucky says reassuringly, playing along, “There’s still time.”
Tony gives him a sad yet hopeful smile.
Mrs. O’Donnell’s teacher’s aid looks like he’s about to fucking lose it from suppressed laughter.
“Well… Why don’t we move on to art?”
Jarvis and Anna pass away that winter. Their bond was so strong that they both went when Jarvis’ heart gave out. Tony expected that, to lose them both at once, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less for them to be gone.
He stays well back of the funeral proceedings, waiting to pay his respects until everyone else has left. He’s pretty sure Howard never sees him, because he doesn’t try to have him thrown out of the cemetery or anything.
Tony catches a glimpse of his mom, but he barely recognizes her. She looks like a skeleton wearing a wig, that’s how emaciated she is. He was pretty sure when Howard signed him away that it was going to be the last time he ever set eyes on her, but now he knows this one is.
Early next spring, Tony is almost done with his hobby car, except for a few special modifications that he’ll make later after it’s road worthy. Bucky and the boys are all down in the shop with him, helping finish up the last stages of assembly on a Saturday morning. They have just the one bay door open that’s closest to them, because it’s finally warm enough to get some fresh air circulating, but a little too chilly to encourage a breeze just yet.
Barney and Clint both decided to call Bucky and Tony “Dad” and “Ma”, respectively, about a month ago. It’s still sinking in, that those are names they should respond to. However, the tone in Barney’s voice would have made them both turn around no matter what he’d said.
“Dad? I’m gonna take Clint upstairs,” Barney says, his voice wavering with fear. He pulls Clint to his feet and starts pushing him toward the office, signing rapidly at his brother.
Tony catches the signs for “guns” and “danger”.
Bucky takes one glance out of the bay and tells him, “Lock the door behind you,” as he picks up a tire iron.
The door to the office slams shut as they go.
Bucky walks over to Tony, keeping his gait casual, as a glossy black Cadillac pulls into the bay.
“Whatever happens right now, know that I love you, Tony,” Bucky says calmly, which upsets Tony more than anything else he could have possibly said.
“I love you too,” Tony says back, trying to stay calm.
Two men get out of the car, with the passenger immediately telling the driver, “Close that,” as he points to the door of the bay. The driver obeys right away, pulling the chain off its hook and letting the segments roll down with the force of gravity.
“Hey, Buck, long time no see,” the passenger says, the holster of his side arm peeking through his suit jacket as he leans against the open door of the car.
“Hey, Brock. Don’t suppose you’re here for an oil change?” Bucky says in a meandering drawl that doesn’t show any nervousness.
That’s ok, Tony’s scent is nervous enough for the both of them.
“Nah, we got a guy for that already,” Brock says, not offering anything else. Probably because he’s enjoying letting them sweat a little. He doesn’t even glance at the tire iron in Bucky’s hands, like it isn’t even an issue. And for a guy with a semi-automatic pistol, it probably isn’t.
“What do you want, Brock?” Bucky finally asks, knowing that letting the silence drag out isn’t going to accomplish anything.
“Paulie and I just got off a job, takin’ care of that Marzolf asshole who was double dealin’ us,” Brock explains, pausing for a reaction.
“I don’t know who that is,” Bucky shakes his head slightly, “And I don’t want to.”
“It don’t matter anyway,” Brock snorts, “Cause he’s dead now. The thing is though, he was even more of a sicko than we thought. When we off’d him, we found a bunch of omegas chained up in his basement.”
“...Why are you tellin’ me this?” Bucky asks him.
“Because we weren’t supposed to leave no witnesses,” Brock says, his head bobbing slightly in time with his words, like that should have been obvious, “But one of them was real real young, and I don’t like killin’ kids. I’m a family man, Buck, you know that.”
“Just because we went to high school together does not mean that we know each other,” Bucky says.
“Come on, Brock,” the driver of the car says in Italian, “We’re wasting time. Let’s just off the bitch and dump her body with the others.”
“Can it, Paulie,” Brock says back to him in Italian too. “Look, Buck, you’ve got kind of a reputation for takin’ in strays, just like your ol’ man did, so I thought I’d ask. Do you want her or not?”
“Bucky,” Tony says his name under his breath, not sure if the Mafia assholes will be able to hear him or not, “You do realize they’re going to kill her if we don’t take her, right?…”
“You know I don’t want that, doll, you know I don’t, but, what are we supposed to do?” Bucky stage whispers to him, “I’m sure I ain’t got to explain to you that gettin’ caught up with these guys ain’t a good idea. What would we even tell people? She ain’t got no papers-”
“We can fix that,” Tony interjects, “We can print some off, and, and Brock can pretend to be the alpha signing her over…”
“We have to have a birth certificate to enroll her in school,” Bucky argues under his breath, not that he doesn’t want to take her… But getting involved with the Mafia is something Bucky swore he would never, ever do.
“Eh, birth certificates are easy to come by,” Brock says, like it’s no big deal, proving he can in fact hear them, “I got a cousin in Philly with way too many mouths to feed, we can just say she was one of hers.”
“See? If it’s family, Brock’s totally allowed to sign as alpha-in-fact for her,” Tony says, pleading with Bucky with his eyes to take her, to not let an omega child die because it wasn’t worth it.
“You can get a birth certificate for her?” Bucky asks Brock.
Tony breathes a sigh of relief, knowing he’s won.
“Sure. I mean, it’ll cost you, but it can be done,” Brock grins, sharp and feral looking.
“Five hundred dollars? For a piece of paper?” Bucky asks with a frown.
“No, five hundred gold doubloons. Yeah, five hundred fucking dollars,” Brock frowns at him like Bucky’s crazy for asking.
Bucky runs a hand through his hair. Tony takes a hold of his other hand and arm, beseeching, worried that Bucky’s somehow changing his mind over five hundred measly bucks.
“Hey, it’s ok, doll,” Bucky says, squeezing his hand back, “We’ll just… We’ll take it out of the register, and figure it out later,” Bucky assures him. That’s when Tony realizes that the way Bucky is acting is for show, to make it seem like five hundred dollars is a lot to them.
“Yeah, my sources are goin’ to need payment up front, doll,” Brock echos him, leering at Tony.
“Come on, we’ll go get the money right now,” Bucky says, ignoring the comment obviously meant to get his hackles up. He takes Tony with him to the office, not wanting to leave him alone for even a minute with those men.
“You should stay in here while I get her,” Bucky says.
“No, I need to be there when they hand her over,” Tony argues, “I’m an omega, being handed off to another alpha will probably just scare her even more.”
Bucky looks at him in amazement for a second, for his bravery, then agrees.
After Brock gets his money for the birth certificate, he opens the back door of the car and pulls out a young, redheaded girl dressed in a bloody, over sized t-shirt.
Tony was vaguely expecting them to pull her out of the trunk, though he’s not sure this means they’ve necessarily treated her well at all.
“She’s either still in shock or completely mute, so, have fun with that,” Brock says as he shoves her toward them.
Tony bends down and scoops her into his arms, retreating behind Bucky with her right away.
“I’ll be back in a couple days with the cert,” Brock says as he motions for Paulie to open the garage doors again.
“How many days?” Bucky asks.
“When I get around to it,” Brock reiterates, knowing he has all the power here.
“Don’t you show up here durin’ normal business hours, Brock,” Bucky warns him.
“Relax, I won’t scare away all your little house omegas needin’ oil changes,” Brock rolls his eyes.
Then they get back in their Cadillac and drive away.
Bucky goes over and closes the bay behind them again immediately.
“Let’s get her upstairs,” he says, locking things up quickly.
Tony hurries to the office with her, letting Bucky take care of shutting things behind him. She’s definitely still in shock, shaking like a leaf in Tony’s arms. Not only did she just survive something beyond horrific, but she’s probably terrified of what will happen next. Tony murmurs to her, low and comforting, until Bucky gets the apartment door unlocked for them.
“It’s ok, shhh, it’s ok, we’re going to get you cleaned up, and a nice warm meal, and some new clothes, ok? And then we’re going to snuggle up in a nice soft blanket for as long as we want, alright? And no more bad men are ever going to hurt you. Not as long as we’re around,” Tony says vehemently.
“That’s right,” Bucky agrees, placing a hand on her back, “You’re safe now, sweetheart.”
She tenses up when Bucky touches her, but she doesn’t yell or scream or even cry. She just holds herself still, waiting to see if it’s going to get bad.
“We need to see if any of that blood is hers,” Bucky says gently, removing his hand.
“Yeah, I’ll go get her cleaned up. Maybe you could make her some food?” Tony says, because they can both easily read the signals that she isn’t comfortable with Bucky, likely just because he’s an alpha.
“Yeah, and I’ll let the boys know what’s goin’ on,” Bucky says, taking a step back from them.
“That’s good, they’re probably freaking out right now,” Tony answers.
With a nod and a sad look, Bucky goes down the hall to the boys’ room. Tony takes the little omega girl into his bedroom and the bathroom there, since that feels like the safest place in the house to him.
“So, introductions are in order,” Tony starts talking, mostly so his soothing tone can fill the silence, “I’m Tony, and this is where I live. The alpha who was with me is my mate, Bucky. I know all alphas can be scary at first, but he’s the absolute best kind of alpha, I promise,” Tony swears while running some water for a bath. He sets her down on the closed lid of the toilet while he gathers up a clean washcloth and towel, and makes sure to grab a new shampoo from under the sink, since he used up the old one this morning.
“My Dad used to hit me and yell at me all the time,” Tony confesses, “It was pretty awful, but then Bucky took me for his mate, and he takes real good care of me. You’ll see. He takes excellent care of all of us. Us being me, and the two sons we have already, Barney and Clint. What’s your name?” Tony asks at the end, realizing he doesn’t know what to call her.
She just stares at him.
“Ok… Let’s make sure you’re not hurt, then we’ll worry about names later,” Tony says gently, knowing it’s not a good sign if she’s actually totally mute. She can’t be any older than Clint, and is probably younger.
She’s tense as he helps her out of the bloody t-shirt. Tony inspects her gently, cataloging every bruise and abrasion. She lets him, hesitantly leaning toward him when Tony scents her comfortingly afterward.
“There you go, sweetheart,” he says, starting to cry a little bit himself, “Let’s get you cleaned up now, ok?” Tony motions to the bath, holding out a hand to help her into it. She climbs in with his help. Tony watches carefully to see if she looks like she’s in any pain when she sits down. She winces a little, but doesn’t make a sound.
Tony lathers up a washcloth and hands it to her, to see if she knows what to do on her own. She does, starting to scrub at her skin right away. Tony washes her hair for her while she scrubs and scrubs. He has to prompt her with hand motions to stand up and wash between her legs, but she does it without revealing any red on the washcloth.
After breathing a sigh of relief, Tony helps her rinse off. If they had to get a hospital involved, there’s no way they’d be able to convince them her transfer was legitimate. Then he wraps her up in a big fluffy bath towel, holding her close while he cracks the door open to make sure Bucky isn’t in the bedroom. The coast is clear, so Tony carries her with him while he cracks the bedroom door open too.
“Bucky? Can you send Clint in here with some clothes for her?” he calls.
“Sure thing,” Bucky answers from the kitchen.
Tony dries her off while they wait for Clint. Only a few minutes later, Clint knocks on the door, carrying an outfit with Mater the Tow Truck on it and a pair of underwear with little dinosaurs on them.
“Oh, can I have lotion too?” Clint asks, seeing she just got a bath.
“You know what? Sure,” Tony says, thinking that if she sees how comfortable Clint is with him and Bucky, it will go a long way toward soothing her fears. Clint picks a lavender lotion from the dresser, declaring that his new sister will like this one best, because it’s purple.
She doesn’t respond in any way to Clint, but she watches him with intelligent eyes.
Clint strips down and hops on the bed right away. Tony puts lotion all over him, just like Anna used to do for him, tickling his toes when he’s done and making him laugh. He squirts some more into his palm and reaches for his new daughter next. Tony gently works the lotion over her arms, waiting to see if she’ll push him away or run. When she doesn’t, he continues to lotion her up just like he did with Clint. When he tickles her toes though, she just looks at him, like she doesn’t get what he’s at.
“Must not be ticklish, huh?”
Once Tony hands her the clothes Clint brought, she dresses herself, which is another small good sign. Sometimes omega trafficking rings take kids so young that they don’t even know the basics of taking care of themselves…
“Let’s go see what Dad’s made to eat,” Tony says after Clint’s dressed again too.
“Yeah, I’m hungry!” Clint exclaims, even though they had breakfast like an hour and a half ago. He grabs his new sister’s hand and pulls her along with him.
Tony smiles encouragingly when she looks back at him, both of them following behind Clint’s exuberance. In the kitchen they face a much bigger challenge, in the forms of Bucky and Barney. Barney she doesn’t seem too concerned about. Probably because he’s still small enough to register as a kid, even though he’s an alpha kid. She never takes her eyes off Bucky though.
Tony can see how sad it’s making him, for her to be scared of him, but there’s nothing for it except to show her over time, through acts and deeds, that he isn’t like the alphas that hurt her before.
Brock shows up again that night, at two in the morning, with a Pennsylvania birth certificate declaring her “Natalia Romano”. He and Bucky both sign the papers Tony printed out ahead of time, to be ready for whenever Brock decided to show up.
After Brock has left again, Tony realizes that by chance or by fate, the birth date on the certificate is the exact same one as Clint’s.
The next morning, Nat, as Clint has decided to call her, signs the word “drink” to Tony.
“Drink, please,” Tony signs and says back on autopilot. “Wait, you know sign language?” Tony asks her, signing it as well. They’ve stopped doing it all the time, since Clint got his hearing aids, but it’s still something they all regularly use.
Nat blinks at him.
“I decided to teach her, since she don’t talk,” Clint explains, signing as he speaks, “But she ain’t had a chance to learn very much yet...”
Nat looks back and forth between Tony and Clint during the conversation, then signs, “Drink, please,” after Clint’s done.
Tony gets her a juice box.
Bucky hires two mechanics to help keep up with all the work they have at the shop, now that Tony’s hours have gone from reduced to none. He used to work during school hours and then stay with the boys after they got home. Sometimes if they were super swamped, he’d even come back down with them after their snack, letting them roam around the shop in the background.
With Nat though… She’s not ready to be in school yet. She needs almost constant attention from Tony. Not because she gets into trouble, but just because she needs the emotional comfort to help her recover. Having another omega sibling around is a huge help with that, but she wouldn’t get the same understanding and support from the random kids at school.
So when Tony notices that the growing bond between Clint and Nat is starting to make Barney jealous, he suggests Bucky up the amount of time he spends with the young alpha, instead of trying to pull Clint and Nat apart.
“That’s a good idea,” Bucky agrees, “It would hurt Nat and Clint both at this point, to try and separate them… Barney’s goin’ to be twelve here pretty soon, he’s certainly old enough to start learnin’ the tricks of the trade.”
“Technically he is supposed to be your apprentice.”
“Exactly. Wouldn’t hurt to take him out for ice cream or somethin’ too, just the two of us.”
“He’ll love that,” Tony grins, “And I’ll help the twins with their makeup while you’re gone.”
“Makeup? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you wear any yourself…” Bucky asks.
“Well, I haven’t had to cover up a single bruise since I met you...” Tony says, “But Clint wants to be Gene Simmons for Halloween, so we need to start working on a costume that epic now.”
“Of course he does,” Bucky snorts, “What does Nat want to be?”
“A ballerina. Which won’t take nearly as much effort to put together, but she may actually use the makeup lessons later, so…”
“You’re a good mother, Tony,” Bucky says, kissing his temple.
“I’m turning into a suburban house omega, that’s what,” Tony sighs to cover up how much the compliment means to him.
“Really?” Bucky asks, “You got some yoga pants and a miniature dog hidden around here that I don’t know about?”
Thankfully Nat has warmed up to Bucky greatly over the course of the last couple months, and when Tony comes down with a summer flu, he can take all the kids down to the shop with him to give Tony some peace and quiet.
“I’ll be back to check on you in a couple hours, ok doll?” Bucky tells him. “Call me if you need anythin’ in the meantime, I have my phone on vibrate so I’ll feel it.”
“Ok. Just want to sleep now,” Tony says miserably, dosed to the gills on cough syrup and vitamin C.
“Ok… I love you, Tony.”
“Love you too…”
Bucky lets the kids act as runners for parts and tools, which was how his Dad started him out too, figuring once they get bored of that they can go watch movies in the waiting room. Barney and Clint he lets run for his employees, but Nat he keeps at his side. She’s rightfully wary of strangers and hasn’t ever had much contact with the guys who work for him.
“Mrs. Foster, what can I do for you?” Bucky smiles as one of his regulars pulls up.
“I’m due for my 50,000 mile service on the Subaru,” she says. “Oh, is this your assistant?”
“My daughter, Nat. Tony’s laid up with the flu, so I’ve got them all runnin’ parts for me today.”
“I just love your bandana, darling,” Mrs. Foster says.
Nat signs back “Thank you”, but she stays partially hidden behind Bucky’s leg the whole time.
“A full service will take a few hours, but we should have room to get you done today,” Bucky tells her, then he rattles off a few different tools for Nat to fetch him. She nods seriously, her red curls bobbing as she turns and heads for the shelves.
“It’s good to see an alpha that actually takes a hand in his children’s upbringing,” Mrs. Foster tells him, nodding in approval.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
Year Three - Internal Combustion
(Bucky 27, Tony 20, Barney 12, Clint 8, Nat 8)
Thankfully Bucky already has his pants on after getting out of the shower when he hears the screaming. Because his state of dress is the farthest thing from his mind when everything alpha in him surges to the forefront.
Afterward, he’ll realize he actually ripped the bedroom door off one of its hinges in his haste to get out to the living room.
The sight that greets his eyes takes a moment to process though, because Stevie doesn’t register as a threat to his instincts.
“Buck! A little help her-” Steve goes down like a sack of bricks when Nat tasers him in the thigh. He loses the grip he had on Tony’s arm, where he was trying to stop the omega from stabbing him with a steak knife. Clint is hiding under the kitchen table, screaming and crying as Barney comes bursting out of the hallway with a baseball bat.
“Everyone stop,” Bucky yells, before Stevie gets killed.
As soon as they all see him, they back away from Steve’s prone form and regroup around Clint, with Tony motioning everyone behind him as he continues to wield the steak knife. His hands are starting to shake so badly that it would be a miracle if he did any damage with it though.
“Hey, look at me, Tony, it’s ok, sweetheart,” Bucky says, ignoring Steve for now. They get trained to be tasered and pepper sprayed and all kinds of crazy stuff in the military, so Bucky isn’t as worried for him as he is for Tony, when the adrenaline of the moment starts to dump on him.
“We need to call the sheriff,” Tony says, breathing way too heavily and fumbling for his cell phone.
“Here, give that to me,” Bucky says, gently taking the phone and the knife from him. “That’s Stevie, ok? He ain’t going to hurt you. He probably just let himself in, and scared the shit out of all of you, didn’t he?” Bucky asks, pulling Tony into his arms.
“Stevie? That is not Stevie. You said, you said Stevie was tiny. Pulled him out of a trash can,” Tony says, his scent distressed as the shaking spreads to the rest of his body too, “I’ve seen, seen the pictures.”
“He was, but he didn’t get his growth spurt until after his Ma died, and that was when my Ma tapered off with takin’ pictures...remember?” Bucky says, rocking him firmly and rubbing his back. He makes sure Tony’s nose is tucked up right against his neck, where the calm, soothing scent he’s projecting will be strongest.
“Yeah? ...That’s Stevie?” Tony asks, starting to believe.
“Yeah, that’s Stevie.”
“...Sorry,” Tony curls inward on himself, like he’s afraid he’s messed up really badly.
“Shhh, don’t worry about it, he’ll be fine. He’s one tough son of a b- gun, Steve is. … In fact, once everythin’ blows over, I’m goin’ to lord it over his head for the rest of our lives, that he got taken down by my mate and our eight year old,” Bucky adds, trying to inject a little humor into the mood to lighten it. “...How did Nat get a taser anyway?”
Steve eventually comes to, and Bucky reads him the riot act for showing up unannounced and freaking his family out.
Steve starts to bluster back a little, about “How was I supposed to know?”, but he stops when he sees the seriousness in Bucky’s eyes.
“Shit… I’m sorry, Bucky… What’s your mate’s name?” he asks contritely, rubbing the back of his neck.
“This is Tony. Tony, this is Steve Rogers, my idiot brother,” Bucky tells him.
“I’m so, so sorry for scaring you, Tony. I should have called first, let you know I had leave in the States,” Steve says earnestly.
“It’s ok,” Tony says, still getting a hold of himself, “You didn’t know. I remember Bucky saying, back in the beginning, that he didn’t have a way to contact you. It was all just a big misunderstanding...”
“So, who are all these kids?” Steve asks, tipping his head as he takes in the pack of them.
“This is our son, Barney, uh, Charles Bernard, but he goes by Barney. And this is our son Clint, Clinton Frances, and our daughter Natalia, who goes by Nat.”
Clint makes a face when Bucky says his full name, but he doesn’t move from where he’s clinging to Barney’s side. Nat brings two fingers up to her eyes, then points them at Steve in an “I’m watching you” motion.
Steve takes a step back.
“Is anyone going to take that taser from her?...”
Tony is wary of Steve, just because it’s hard for his body to let go of that initial impression. But over the ten days he’s there for his leave, Tony begins to warm up to him. Mostly because the kids do. Children are usually excellent judges of character. Plus, Tony has heard a lot about Steve over the years from Bucky. Apparently he was picturing the wrong size of alpha in his head though.
“I’m just warnin’ you now,” Bucky says to Steve the night before he’s got to take off again, “The next time you come by, you’ll either have to sleep on the couch, or rent a hotel room. The kids are goin' to be too old to expect alphas and omegas to be bunkin' together.”
“Of course, Buck. That makes sense,” Steve agrees, giving Bucky a happy grin.
Tony always thought of Bucky as being stable and independent and in a pretty good place in his life when Tony came to him. But something about the joy on Steve’s face when he looks at their family makes him think that maybe it’s a joy at how well Bucky is doing now, compared to the last time Steve saw him…
Now that he thinks about it, he does remember standing in the driveway of the mansion and hearing Bucky say he bet his shop on the raise when he was explaining that he won Tony in a hand of poker… Back then, Tony had no idea how out of character that was for the alpha, but now he understands that a bet like that had to have come with a dash of desperation.
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” Bucky grins, pulling him closer as they lay in bed that night.
Tony starts purring in Bucky’s arms, which, he can’t exactly do on command, but he wants to. He wants to be able to show Bucky unequivocally how much he means to him and he knows that feeling Tony purr is one of his favorite things. Maybe his absolute favorite. Heats and ruts are all well and good, but they’re hormone driven and hazy, where this is all them.
“Love you so much, Tony,” Bucky kisses his temple and holds him close, “So much.”
“I love you too.”
In the taxi back to headquarters, Steve watches the buildings of his old neighborhood roll by as he thinks about what it would be like to settle down with a family of his own someday.
The rest of the year passes pretty uneventfully. The next summer seems to hit early and a heat wave in May has everyone cranky, especially the alphas suck in the shop without any air conditioning. Even taking the heat into account, Barney seems in an especially bad mood at dinner one night. He’s not taking it out on his siblings, which is good, but he just seems sullen and angry.
“Are you goin’ into your first rut?” Clint asks him loudly, seeing Barney’s shift in mood.
“What? No I ain’t,” Barney scowls at him, blushing slightly.
“Is somethin’ else goin’ on then?” Bucky asks, passing Tony the salad as he speaks and not putting too much attention on the boy.
“My teacher asked me if I could teach sign language to one of the younger kids at school today. A kindergartner who’s been goin’ mute… His Dad killed his Ma in front of him and all the bastard got was two weeks in jail and a fine. Now that he’s out again, the little omega boy’s been showin’ up to class with bruises and stuff and no lunch… Why doesn’t somebody do somethin’ about the murderin’ asshole that’s abusin’ him, instead of just teachin’ the kid sign language?” Barney asks angrily, starting to tear up.
Jesus, that’s an issue that hits close to home.
“Because the law has their hands tied,” Bucky sighs, “It ain’t nowhere near strict enough, so the really bad ones, the alphas who murder their mates and beat their kids, they get away with it, and the ones who maybe weren’t as bad as that, but are still assholes, they see that and think that bein’ a jerk is just fine, because there ain’t even the flimsiest of laws against that…”
“And the few good alphas out there,” Tony says, looking at his plate as he dishes up and pointedly not at Bucky, “If they do try and change the way things work, a lot of times they end up being persecuted by their whole community, losing everything they have because the bad alphas gang up on them. And then they don’t have any way to take care of their own families.”
“I thought you said the laws were gettin’ better?” Clint says sadly, sounding confused, “You said omegas could inhurt now?”
“Inherit,” Tony corrects him gently, “And they can, but there are a lot of stipulations to it. And even then, once the money or whatever passes to them, it’s still really owned by their alpha, not them.”
“It’s not fair,” Barney says, wiping at his eyes one at a time.
“No, it ain’t,” Bucky agrees sadly. He puts a hand on the back of Barney’s neck. “Sometimes all you can do is try to be as kind as possible to people that you know ain’t bein’ treated right, and stand up for them if you can. The cops in this town are known for doin’ nothing about omega abuse, that’s why I always tell you kids that if you ever run into trouble, you call the sheriff.”
“If you kill them, there’s no one to contradict your story when the sheriff gets there,” Nat signs seriously.
Bucky looks like he wishes he could think of a way to admonish killing without undermining their entire conversation about the law not doing enough.
“Well, she’s not wrong…” Tony shrugs, “More mashed potatoes, Bucky?”
“...Sure. Thanks, doll.”
They had started Nat and Clint in a karate class last fall, after the incident with Uncle Steve, so they could learn self defense, and they both liked it enough to want to stick with it permanently. It was a bargain they reached in lieu of letting the redhead carry a taser with her to class, since she’s been going to school this year. Barney wasn’t interested in going with them though, since it would have cut into his time after school at the shop with Bucky.
“Hey, I was thinkin’ we’d run over to the store after work and get a few of those rotisserie chickens for dinner before everyone gets home from practice,” Bucky says to Barney, “That way we don’t have to use the oven tonight.”
“Awesome. Good plan,” Barney nods, wiping the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
When they get to the store, Bucky realizes after a few steps through the parking lot that Barney isn’t beside him anymore. He turns around, looking for him, and sees the young alpha pulling frantically on the door of someone else’s car.
“Dad!” he yells when the door doesn’t open, “Dad, help me!”
Bucky immediately jogs back over to him.
“That’s him, the little boy I was telling you about. The bastard left him in the car!” Barney says furiously.
“Christ,” Bucky says, seeing the little boy still buckled in the back. He’s still moving, he’s crying, though not loudly enough that Bucky can hear it. Bucky already saw Barney running around checking all the doors, so he doesn’t bother doing it again. “Stay here,” he says over his shoulder to Barney as he runs back to their car. The first thing he sees that will work is the detachable lever handle for the jack he keeps in the trunk. Bucky grabs it and runs back to Barney.
“Stand back,” he tells Barney, trusting the boy to obey.
Bucky shatters the driver’s side window with one swing, the sound loud and echoing even in the full parking lot. He reaches in, only mildly mindful of the glass, and pops the lock. Then he drops the lever bar and opens the back door, unbuckling the little omega boy and pulling him out of the car.
“Come on, let’s get him in the store where it’s cooler,” Bucky says, cradling the crying boy.
“His name’s Bruce,” Barney says, following closely and holding Bruce’s hand, “It’s goin’ to be ok, Brucie.”
Bruce continues crying, not protesting at all that a strange alpha is holding him. Well, the instinct to trust your rescuer was why dominance fights over omegas used to be the common practice a hundred years ago…
“Go get some water, the room temperature stuff, we don’t want to shock him,” Bucky says, handing his entire wallet to Barney in his haste. Bucky goes far enough into the store that he can’t feel the heat outside from the door opening and closing, then sits down on the ground right there and undresses Bruce. He leaves his underwear on of course, but every extra scrap aside from that comes off. Barney is back in no time with four one liter bottles in his arms.
“I didn’t pay for them yet, we can do that after,” he explains, “It’s not like we’re leavin’ the store with them.”
“Good point,” Bucky says, unscrewing the first one and helping Bruce to drink from it.
The boy makes grabby hands for it right away.
“Easy, easy, sweetheart, not too fast,” Bucky coaches him, keeping the boy in his lap. “We’re goin’ to get you nice and cooled off, ok?” he takes the bottle from him after a half dozen swallows and pours it over Bruce’s head, using his other hand to make sure the omega’s entire mop of curls gets wet.
Bruce sighs in relief, his cries turning into hiccups as the cool water runs over his scalp and face.
“Take one of them other bottles and get his shirt wet,” Bucky instructs Barney.
Once it’s soaked, Bucky rolls it back over Bruce to help cool his core. They do the same thing to his pants, but drape them over the boy’s forehead instead. Bucky keeps pouring fresh water over him to keep the fabric cool.
“You’re makin’ a puddle, Dad,” Barney points out.
“I ain’t worried about it,” Bucky says, rocking little Bruce in his arms. Bruce sniffles and whines, curling toward Bucky like he wants the comfort, but a hug is too hot.
They’ve drawn quite a few looks at that point, though no one’s tried to interfere. A store employee does come over and hesitantly asks if they plan to pay for those bottles… The kid is a beta that looks fresh out of high school and has probably never seen anything like this.
“Yeah, Barney, why don’t you go pay for them now,” Bucky says, staying right where he is.
While Barney’s off at the register, Merle Sanderson comes walking in the door of the store. He’s in plainclothes, so it’s obvious he’s not here for Bucky, but he does head right for Bucky when he sees him.
“Your trunk was open in the parking lot, so I closed it for you. Hopefully you didn’t get robbed,” he says, squatting down to eye level with Bruce. “Who’s this little guy?”
“Bruce Banner,” Bucky says, controlling his anger as best he can so he doesn’t upset the young omega with his scent. “His Dad left him in the car… I’ve been coolin’ him down for a good twenty minutes now, and he still ain’t come back through those doors, so Bruce would be in stroke by now, if not dead, if I hadn’t pulled him out of there.”
“Hey, I didn’t see no windows get broken out, so I can only speculate as to who the culprit was,” Merle says, raising his hands in a ‘no fault’ gesture.
It makes an idea flash through Bucky’s mind though, a crazy, stupid idea that sounds like something Stevie would do… But if he could pull it off…
“Can you stick around for a minute, and witness somethin’ else for me though?” Bucky asks.
“Of course, Buck.”
When Barney gets back from the registers, Bucky has him sit down and take over holding Bruce for a little bit. “Keep him wet and let him have another drink in a couple minutes. Just a few swallows at a time, ok?”
“You still got my wallet, right? Here, take my phone too, just in case.”
“Where are you goin’?” Barney asks.
“I’m goin’ to have a look around the store, to find Bruce’s father. And then when I find him, I’m goin’ to have a little talk with him,” Bucky says.
Barney just nods again, looking determined. Thankfully Bruce knows who he is, from school, and is willing to be held by him instead.
Merle follows at Bucky’s side while he checks the aisles for Banner. Surprisingly, they find him in the produce section.
“Hey, you’re that Brian Banner guy, right?” Bucky says, getting his attention.
The alpha turns to look at him. “What’s it to you?”
“Well, I was hopin’ you’d let me ‘fight’ you for your son,” Bucky drawls, making finger quotation marks in the air around the word fight. “My mate’s been harassin’ me about wantin’ another kid, and I figured you must not want yours, since you left him in the car out there. So if I ‘fight’ you for him, and you yield him to me, then everybody wins,” Bucky says, laying on the good ol’ boy charm.
“You can’t do dominance fights anymore in New York,” Banner says, like it’s a shame.
“Actually,” Merle speaks up, pulling his badge out of his pocket and flashing it, “It ain’t that they’re illegal, it’s just that they put a bunch of stipulations on them when they became popular with the Mafia. Now they have to be in a public place, and they have to be witnessed by a law enforcement officer, sheriff, or national guardsman in order to be valid. Otherwise the property reverts,” he explains.
“Yeah? You want to take the bitch off my hands, be my guest,” Banner waves at him in acquiescence.
“Now, now, there’s rules that’s got to be followed,” Merle says, stepping up between them and motioning Bucky and Banner to face each other.
They both comply.
Bucky holds on to his easy attitude by the skin of his teeth.
“You’ve both got to state that you’re agreeing to the dominance fight…” he prompts, walking them through it step by step.
“I’ll agree to a dominance fight over the omega kid. Uh, what’s his name?” Bucky bluffs.
“Robert Bruce Banner,” Banner replies. “Yeah, I’ll agree to a ‘dominance fight’ over him,” he sneers, like it’s laughable that the boy would be worth actually fighting over.
“Ok, so when I say go, you two ‘fight’, and then the first person to yield,” Merle looks at Banner with a tip of his head, “Loses, and the property in question goes to the winner.”
“Perfect. You just made my fucking day,” Banner says, standing there completely off guard.
“Ok… Go!” Merle says, bringing his arm down between them in a ‘dropping the flag’ motion.
“Thanks, so did you,” Bucky answers, already starting to grin.
“I yield,” Banner says on cue.
Bucky socks him in the fucking face anyway.
Banner’s head cracks backward in slow motion, blood already spraying from his nose.
He goes down immediately from the hit, completely surprised, and Bucky follows him, pummeling his face in with every pent up, life isn’t fair, there’s nothing I can do feeling he’s ever felt fueling him. Banner isn’t even really fighting back since he didn’t have a chance to recover after being stunned from that first blow. But this isn’t about that. Bucky keeps punching, and punching, and punching, hoping the man feels even a fraction of the fear that he must have made his poor mate and child feel over the courses of their lives.
“Dang,” Merle whistles, “You always did have a powerful swing, Buck. … Stay back sir,” Merle flashes his badge again as a random alpha from in the store comes running over at the sound of the fight, “Official dominance fight in progress.”
“It looks pretty over to me…” the alpha says, nodding toward the scene behind Merle.
Banner is unconscious by the time Bucky is done. His face is such a fucking mess that he’s unrecognizable. Bucky’s knuckles are split open and bleeding as well, and he’s breathing heavily by the time he stands up off of Banner’s prone form. Possibly Banner’s body…
“He probably should have thought twice about gettin’ into a dominance fight with the 9th Circuit’s Jr. Welterweight Champion,” Merle comments, shaking his head.
“That was when I was fourteen, Merle,” Bucky says, catching his breath and sitting on the edge of a produce display.
There’s a visible scattering of blood on the vegetables next to where Banner is laying.
“Still, you were a champion. It’s a shame you didn’t stick with boxin’,” Merle adds.
“Well, I don’t like fightin’,” Bucky tells him, the present situation excluded of course.
“Which is even more of a shame, ‘cause you were always damn good at it, boy,” Merle sighs. He looks at the gathered crowd of shoppers who are watching in silent approval, mostly omegas, and raises Bucky’s right arm in the air. “The victor,” he says, keeping things official.
“The other guy yielded though, and he didn’t listen...” the alpha who’d come running up before points out.
“And he’ll be fined for that, but it don’t mean he didn’t win,” Merle says, “The fine for not respectin’ a ‘yield’ in a dominance fight is anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 bucks, dependin’ on severity.”
“Worth it,” Bucky says, standing up again.
“And if he killed him?” the alpha asks, looking at Banner dubiously.
“Well, that would be the maximum fine, then. Ain’t no jail time for dominance fights. Come on now, alphas can’t be held that responsible for their instincts runnin’ away with them,” Merle says, like they’re all just standing around shooting the breeze. He does turn back to look at Banner after a moment though, as if pondering. “Somebody should probably call him an ambulance though, if they feel so inclined.”
“I ain’t got my phone on me,” Bucky says.
The alpha Merle had been talking to blinks, then pulls out his own phone when no one else in the whole audience makes a move to.
“Well, you’ll get a notice in the mail from the county with the transfer paperwork. They’ll let you know how much they decide for the fine too,” Merle says, clapping Bucky on the back, “I'll stay here and finish takin' care of this. Go take that boy home now,” Merle adds with less showmanship and more sincerity in his voice, giving Bucky a nod of approval.
Bucky goes and gathers up Barney and Bruce, tossing a couple twenties on the register as they leave.
“Sorry about your okra, Cheryl,” he says to the clerk.
“Ain’t no thing, Bucky,” she says, giving him a nod.
When they finally get home, Tony pops his head out of the kitchen as soon as they step through the door. “Where have you guys been? We expected you to- Bucky? Oh my god, what happened? Who is that?”
“Dad got Banner to agree to a dominance fight!” Barney blurts out, shutting the door behind them since Bruce is clinging to Bucky. “Oh, we forgot the chicken…”
“I ordered pizza,” Tony says dismissively, blinking away the extraneous facts, “Is that Bruce Banner?” he asks Bucky, his voice already filling with emotion.
“No,” Bucky says, giving Bruce’s curls a kiss, “This is Bruce Barnes.”
Tony immediately starts tearing up out of sheer joy. “Bucky, I love you so much, you know that, right?” he says, coming close and hugging the both of them together.
“I know, doll, I love you too,” Bucky says, tearing up a little himself.
Barney, Clint, and Nat start making up a nest on the couch right away, using sheets instead of blankets, because of the heat. They also move the pizza over to the coffee table so they can be ready for the long haul. Bucky sits down with Tony at his side, so they can both comfort Bruce. Also so Tony can patch up Bucky’s knuckles with the first aid kit.
Each of the kids takes turns scenting and hugging Bruce, welcoming him to the family.
“Don’t be afraid,” Nat says, petting Bruce’s hair, “Bucky and Tony are good people. They saved my life too.”
Bucky and Tony both stare at her in shock.
“I told you Nat speaks sometimes,” Clint says, right before he tries to stuff an entire piece of pizza in his mouth at once.
“Ok,” Bucky says, putting a hand on her cheek, “That’s good to know.”
Nat leans into the touch for a moment, then pulls away to go get a slice of pizza herself.
“So, tell me what happened,” Tony says to Bucky as he opens an alcohol wipe, not wanting to put pressure on Nat to say anything else if she doesn’t want to.
“Well, I figured it was too hot to be runnin’ the oven today, so Barney and I went to the store…”
Bucky winces a little as Tony cleans him up throughout the telling of the story, but it doesn’t really hurt hurt, it just stings.
“...So, we’ll be gettin’ a letter in the mail with the fine in it,” Bucky says apologetically at the end.
“Hopefully for $10,000,” Nat speaks again.
Bucky and Tony share a look.
“Well, it’s like Obadiah always said,” Tony shrugs, “Fines are just the price rich people pay to do what they want.”
Then he kisses Bucky’s knuckles.
Thank you so much to everyone who has left such kind comments and kudos on this fic!!! <3 Writing is an intensive, time consuming hobby, as any of you who are also authors know. Hearing how much you like this work is the highlight of my day and keeps me wanting to continue to write for this fandom.
Year Four - Diagnostics
(Steve 29, Bucky 28, Tony 21, Barney 13, Clint 9, Nat 9, Bruce 6)
Barnes Motors’ business practically triples over that summer. They have to start taking appointments again, for all three mechanics.
Mrs. Peterson, the alpha who’s daughter used to babysit Bucky, comes by with some work that needs done and assures him that word of what he did to that Banner murderer is all over town. Mrs. Foster, one of Bucky’s regulars, was there in the store that day herself and saw the whole thing.
“There’s change brewing in this country,” Mrs. Peterson nods, “And it’s going to be led by alphas like you.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Bucky nods back, “We’ll get those fluids checked for you right away.”
“So, we had an interesting day, today,” Tony says, carrying little five year old Bruce on his hip when Bucky and Barney come up from the shop.
“Yeah? What kind of interestin’?”
“We did a little experiment, so to speak, to see how far along Bruce was with his numbers and letters and such, to see if he needed catching up in any areas,” Tony explains.
“He can read almost as well as I can. And he can do high school level math. And he built a model of the structure of atomic element number five out of Clint’s tinker toys.”
“What’s atomic element number five?” Bucky asks.
“Boron,” Bruce’s tiny voice answers.
“Oh. Good to know,” Bucky says with a grin, ruffling the boy’s hair affectionately, “...So, college?”
“Definitely. I mean, when he’s ready. I’m sure it’ll be sooner rather than later, but we’ll see where he’s at, maturity wise, when the time comes. In all honesty, I probably wasn’t mature enough to be going off to college at fourteen, but my parents wanted me out of the house,” Tony shrugs.
“But Bruce won’t have to worry about that,” Bucky says, giving Tony a kiss and kissing the top of Bruce’s head too.
“No, Bruce won’t have to worry about that.”
They enrolled Bruce at a private school with an accelerated program that fall. It’s a little bit of an extra hassle to have the four kids spread out over three schools, now that Barney’s in junior high, but it’s definitely worth it. Bruce becomes fast friends with a little omega girl in his class named Jane, who turns out to be Mrs. Foster’s daughter.
So when Mrs. Foster shows up at the shop one day on a Tuesday morning, Bucky isn’t sure if she’s there for business or personal reasons at first.
“I know you’re busy, Bucky, but I was hoping to take a minute of your’s and Tony’s time… This isn’t really a conversation to have over the phone, and I’ve put it off too long already,” she says, looking nervous.
“Of course, Marylin, come on round to the family entrance, I’ll let Tony know you’re here and then meet you down there.”
“I appreciate it.”
All the kids are at school right now, so they show Mrs. Foster up to the kitchen and get her situated with a cup of tea.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever had a cup of tea outside of treating a sore throat,” she comments when Tony asks if she’d like any cream or sugar.
“Well, my parent’s butler was British, so a few things have stuck with me. He did more of the raising of me than they did,” Tony says. He and Marylin have been becoming more like friends since Bruce and Jane have had so many play dates, so he doesn’t feel awkward sharing that.
Marylin gives him a sad smile, then takes a breath, as if steeling herself.
“That’s actually why I’m here, or at least in the same vein. About children being raised by people other than their parents. Biological parents,” she corrects herself.
Bucky and Tony share a glance.
“When George passed away, my biggest concern afterward was that Jane wouldn’t have an omega influence in her life. I thought about remating, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of someone else coming in and taking George’s place, not so soon… But I never expected to have so little time left myself… I have cancer,” she says, pulling a tissue out of her bag.
“Oh, Marylin, I’m so sorry,” Tony says right away, clear regret in his voice.
“It’s bad. Pancreatic. There’s no cure,” she says, dabbing at her eyes. “They gave me six months to live, and that was a month ago. I’ve been trying to get my affairs in order since then.”
“If there’s anythin’ we can do, just say the word,” Bucky tells her.
“I appreciate the offer, Bucky,” she smiles sadly, “That’s actually why I’m here, to ask for your help. I was hoping that the two of you would take Jane after I’m gone.”
Tony and Bucky both look shocked, but certainly not resistant to the idea.
“I thought you had family?” Tony asks, “Not that we won’t take her, but, wouldn’t they be first in line?”
“They would. My brother is an alpha, so she would automatically go to him, but… I’ve never agreed with the way he raises his children. He doesn’t hit them or anything like that, but he does play blatant favorites with them. And if you’re not an alpha, you have no chance of being the favorite,” she explains with a sigh.
“That sucks...” Tony nods, giving Bucky a questioning look.
“Why us, though?” Bucky asks her, “I know Jane and Bruce are friends, but, you barely know us, as the ones who’d be raisin’ her…”
“Well, I may not know your favorite colors or what brand of toothpaste you use, but I know that Tony cuts Bruce’s sandwiches into parallelograms, and makes models of star systems out of his grapes with toothpicks in his lunches. I know that both Bruce and Nat started speaking again, under your care. I know that James Buchanan Barnes would put a man six feet under for murdering their mate and then trying to kill their kid, a child he’d never met before and didn’t even have any connection to. I can only imagine the lengths you’d go to for one you saw as your own… I know all I need to. That’s why I want it to be you.”
Bucky lets out a breath, not even really a sigh, because he’s never been embarrassed about what he did, but it still makes him sad that it was necessary. “Ok then, yeah, we’ll take her.”
“We should ramp up the playdates, so Jane’s more used to us. And have you guys over for dinners too, so she gets used to Bucky,” Tony says in total agreement, reaching over and squeezing Bucky’s hand.
“Just like that?” Marylin asks.
“Well, yeah? I mean, we can hash out the details for the actual transfer later, which we’ll have to do before you, uh, pass,” Bucky stumbles a little over his words, “But, if this is what you think is best for her, then yes, of course.”
“It sounds like you’ve already given this a lot of thought, so we aren’t going to second guess your judgement,” Tony nods, “Especially not when we know for a fact that we can give Jane everything she needs. And deserves.”
Marylin looks at the both of them with approval, obviously happy they’re agreeing, but it seems like there’s even more to it than that.
“When I called my brother to let him know about the diagnosis, and to see how he would react to taking Jane in, his first question was how much of George’s life insurance money was left,” she informs them.
“What an asshole,” Tony mutters, “Uh, pardon my French…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Marylin waves him off, “He is an asshole. Now, actually, there’s a fair amount of it left, but everything I have, I’m going to liquidate and give to you as part of Jane’s transfer, with the stipulation that it be used to pay for her college. She’s a brilliant girl, I don’t want her to end up at CUNY.”
“We wouldn’t have any problem with that at all,” Bucky says, “I know some of the more complicated transfer forms allow for that kind of stuff.”
They don’t go into all the details right then, since Bucky really needs to get back to work, but Mrs. Foster agrees to come back for dinner that evening. They arrange for her and Jane to come over three nights a week, plus for them to spend all day with the Barnes on Saturdays.
It also helps lighten the caretaking load on Mrs. Foster as she grows weaker from the chemo. It won’t save her life, only prolong it, but she’s wants to try for any extra amount of time with her daughter that’s possible.
Jane herself is handling the news that her mother is dying as well as any six year old can be expected to. Being extremely intelligent doesn’t necessarily mean you understand the permanence of death, though. Tony knows the worst of it will come afterward, but for now he just works on making sure Jane knows that their family cares about her and loves her very much.
“That’s a bigger number than we were expectin’,” Bucky comments when they’re finalizing the transfer contract and the amount of money that goes along with Jane is written out on it.
“I took out a second mortgage on the house as well, before I started looking sick. The banks can sell it off when I’m gone,” Marylin says dismissively, then adds, “Graduate school is expensive...”
“I know this may not be the ritziest neighborhood,” Tony says, “But Bucky does really well, providing for us. Even if what you’re able to leave her isn’t enough, we’ll cover the rest, don’t worry about it.”
“Harvard is $45,000 a year,” she sighs, “Not that she has to go there, but, she could, she’s certainly smart enough.”
“Bucky’s worth 2.5 million,” Tony tells her, flat out.
“A big chunk of that is Tony’s though,” Bucky replies right away.
“Only a little over half a million of it. And that’s just the value of his accounts, that doesn’t include this building or the assets of the business. So yeah, I’m pretty confident we can handle it, when the time comes,” Tony counters.
“I see… You do have quite a few children, though.”
“Well, Barney ain’t got no interest in college, he wants to work in the shop, which is just fine, ain’t nothin’ wrong with that,” Bucky says. “Even if Clint and Nat both wanted to go, it would just be at the age a kid normally does, so Bruce and Jane would be, what, fifteen by then? So they’ll more than likely be in college themselves by then too, or close to it. Which means Tony can come work in the shop again if we needed, if things got tight. I’m not too worried about it. We’ll make it work.”
“Plus, with a decent interest rate, that $300,000 you leave her now will be almost $400,000 by then. I mean, we’re talking almost 10 years from now,” Tony points out.
Marylin nods along.
“Tony’s real good with money. These days I mostly just let him handle all that, and stick to fixin’ cars,” Bucky smiles fondly at his mate.
“You’re a good alpha, Bucky Barnes,” Marylin says.
“So are you, Marylin. Most alphas wouldn’t do half of this for their omega kids,” Bucky replies.
“Thank you,” she says, giving them a sad smile, “Well, I’m ready to sign when you are. I don’t want to wait until the very end, and risk it being more sudden than we’re expecting.”
She and Bucky both sign right then and Marylin writes out a check for the funds. Jane will continue to live with her until the end, so she has a small buffer in her account to cover the next few month’s living expenses, but that’s it.
“It’s a shame I won’t be able to see the look on my brother’s face when he finds out that I didn’t have any assets at all anymore.”
“Well, you could facetime him,” Tony points out.
“What are you looking at?” Tony asks, coming over and plopping himself down in Bucky’s lap at their computer desk.
“Townhouses, apparently,” Bucky says, like he didn’t intend to be.
“What? Like, to move into?” Tony says, unable to conceal the excitement in his voice.
Bucky turns away from the screen more fully, so he can look at Tony better. “I originally was lookin’ at gettin’ another bunk bed, but, then I got to thinkin’... Bruce and Jane are probably a little too small for bunk beds right now… But we really don’t have any other way to fit everyone. Then I got to thinkin’ that it wasn’t fair that all four of the younger ones would have to share one room like that, just because they’re omegas. And what would we do when they got older and couldn’t all fit in one? We’d have to move then, so we might as well see what’s out there right now, instead of makin’ them live all cramped for a few years. Is that somethin’ you’ve been thinkin’ about too, doll?”
“We’re already cramped, even without Jane,” Tony nods, “This place is only 1200 square feet, I have no idea why the builders didn’t just make the entire area over top of the shop into livable space, but, yeah… Are you really serious about this? Because the numbers could totally work.”
“I am serious. How long have you been thinkin’ about this, doll?” Bucky asks.
“Well, since we got Bruce. I mean, just the three of them in one room really wasn’t tenable either, long term…” Tony admits.
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I was going to, but I thought, well, we’d be fine for a little while, a few years even, since Bruce is so small. Why take on the expense of a house payment any sooner than we had to?...” Tony shrugs.
Bucky reaches up and cups his cheek. “Listen to me, Tony. Your health, and happiness, and comfort, are more important to me than money in the bank. And the same goes for our kids too. If you ever think there’s something that they need that I ain’t noticed yet, you tell me, ok?” Bucky insists.
Tony bites his bottom lip and nods. “Ok.”
“Ok, good. So, what do you think of this one?” Bucky asks him, turning back to the screen.
“If we can afford it. This particular one, well, it’s actually not in the greatest part of town, but it came up in the price range I searched for,” Bucky explains, “It looks like in the nicer neighborhoods, we’d have to settle for four bedrooms…”
“You do realize we can afford way more than that, right?” Tony says, looking at his search filters, which are set to a max of 500k.
“You think so?”
“I know so. I wouldn’t normally advocate draining down our accounts, but this is for a house, it’s real estate, it’s an investment in and of itself. We could put 500k down easily, and still have plenty left in reserve, in case we have a few bad years or something with the shop. Your credit score is excellent, I’ve made sure of that, so you’ll get an excellent rate on a mortgage. And then, if you were willing to rent this place out afterward, that would probably cover half the new monthly payments right there,” Tony explains excitedly.
“Huh, I never thought about rentin’ this place out...but that makes a lot more sense than just lettin’ it sit up here empty after we move,” Bucky agrees.
“We’d have to redo the locks to the office from the stairwell, so they’re not the same key as the apartment, and spruce up a few things around here, but it wouldn’t be anything too major,” Tony summarizes.
“My Ma always said a new coat of paint goes a long way to livenin’ up a place,” Bucky adds, “So what do you think our price range should be?”
“A million. Not too much more than that though. We could do 1.1, but I wouldn’t want to do more than 1.2 at the very highest. Not without rethinking how much we want to put down,” Tony explains, getting more and more excited the longer they talk about it.
“Ok, that sounds good then, doll,” Bucky says, looking at Tony’s happiness fondly.
“And we’re going down to the credit union to get pre-qualified before we look at anything in person,” Tony nods firmly, “That way if we find the one, we can make an offer right away.”
Bucky gets them both new outfits for going to apply for the mortgage, even though Tony insists that it doesn’t work like that anymore. Loans aren’t based on “looking” the part or knowing the banker or having been with an institution all your life.
“Credit is king, Bucky, I’m telling you, it’ll be fine,” Tony says as Bucky straightens his tie nervously one more time before they get out of the car. “I checked your credit score last night and it was 827, plus your debt to income ratio is zero.”
“Right. And whatever amount they say we qualify for, we’ll be addin’ our own 500k, so we don’t need it to be for the whole million,” Bucky says, as if pep talking himself.
“We’re going to be fine,” Tony says, squeezing his hand, “Trust me.”
“I do, Tony. I do.”
They go inside and are greeted warmly by the tellers. As soon as they hear that Bucky wants to apply for a mortgage, they’re immediately shown into one of the side offices and offered refreshments.
The mortgage specialist asks them what Bucky’s income has been over the last two years, runs a credit check, asks if they have verification of income with them, etc. Tony pulls out their tax returns from his laptop case, handing them over with a smile. He knows Bucky is about to be pleasantly surprised, because most places will lend a mortgage that has payments equal to 25%-28% of your monthly income.
Bucky’s been making $250,000 a year, since Tony came into his life.
“Well, congratulations, Mr. Barnes, it looks like we were able to approve you for $1.25 million.”
Bucky’s jaw just about drops open. He turns to Tony with a huge smile on his face.
“We were only hopin’ for 600k, so that’s amazing,” he says, looking between Tony and the mortgage lady excitedly.
After they leave the credit union, Bucky picks Tony up and twirls him in the air.
Tony pulls Bucky in for a kiss as soon as he’s set down.
It’s kind of an awful kiss, mostly just their teeth clacking together because they’re both smiling so much, but they’ll take it.
They’ll take it.
They end up finding a three story row house for 1.1 million that has eight bedrooms, where three of them are portioned off to be a rental of their own. Clint and Nat wanted to stay in the same room anyway, after they found out about the move, so they really only needed five bedrooms for the family.
Mrs. Foster passes away when they’re still in escrow, so there’s a small amount of time where Jane and Bruce share his little trundle bed, but it’s only for about a week.
Of course, living out of each other’s pockets, especially when Jane was going through such a loss, makes her and Bruce even closer than before. So when the two of them decide they want to share a bedroom too, it’s not a huge surprise. Omegas are very social and form pack bonds easily.
Bruce and Jane decide to paint their room white, but with the periodic table on the walls and the solar system on the ceiling.
Clint and Nat paint their room mostly purple, with one accent wall that’s black, which is a special roll on paint that becomes a chalkboard once it’s dried.
Barney wanted his room to be all black, but was vetoed, and went with blue instead. Tony did let him have his ceiling black though, so he could put his glow in the dark Star Wars decals on it.
“I decided not to rent out the side unit,” Bucky tells Tony during their first weekend at the new house.
“You did?” Tony says, his voice colored with surprise. Not just because they had planned to rent it out, but because Bucky rarely makes unilateral decisions like that without consulting him.
“Yeah. I figured, with Bruce and Jane sharin’ a room, that leaves us with an extra one on this side for guests, and it got me thinkin’... I remembered that when we first mated, I promised you a space for yourself,” Bucky says, stroking Tony’s back as they lay in bed. “And that kinda got pushed to the side as we ended up with more and more kids, but now we have the room again, so, I want you to take it.”
“One of the rooms over there?”
“No, the whole thing, Tony. And do whatever you want with the space. I think I’ve heard you lament at least a dozen times that you don’t have a lab to do more complicated experiments with Bruce in, and now Jane too,” Bucky says.
Tony stares at him in wonder, tears filling his eyes. “You really should have waited another five minutes to tell me that,” he laughs as he cries, “Because I was going to offer you the blow job of your life to get the spare room on this side.”
That startles a laugh out of Bucky, but then he pulls Tony close and hugs him tight. “You don’t have to give me a thing, doll. All you’ve got to do is let me know what you want.”
“Ok,” Tony nods against Bucky’s chest, still crying, “I will. I definitely will. In fact, I think we should turn the living room on the other side into a gym area, so Clint and Nat have somewhere to go to do their thing, since Bruce and Jane will be sciencing it up with me. Oh, and we could make one of the bedrooms into the home movie theater Barney wanted.”
“That’s an excellent idea, Tony. I think all the kids would love that,” Bucky says, kissing his hair.
“And I would to. Those two bedrooms on the top, I’m going to knock down the wall between them in the morning. I’m going to have a lab!” Tony says, squeezing Bucky tightly as his chest bubbles with warmth. Then he releases him enough to be able to tip his head up for a proper kiss. “That blow job is still on the table, just so you know…”
“Only if you want to, doll.”
“Trust me, I absolutely want to suck your cock right now,” Tony says with a grin.
“Well, if that’s what you want, I won’t stop you…”
Steve decides not to reup with the army when his contract is up. He calls ahead to let Bucky know he’ll be in town this time.
“Actually, we have a spare bedroom now,” Bucky says, “So feel free to stay with us while you’re here. Oh, yeah, by the way, we moved.”
“Moved?! What about the shop?” Steve asks, shocked.
“I still own it, we didn’t sell it, just bought another bigger place to live. We rent out the apartment now, so don’t go showin’ up there and scare widower Davis,” Bucky warns him.
“Ok, Buck, I got it.”
“Jesus, how many kids do you have now, Buck?” Steve asks as the whole pack of them comes running to greet him. Bruce and Jane hang back at bit at Tony’s side, but they can tell from everyone else’s enthusiasm that Steve is welcome.
“Five, but business is good, we can afford it.”
“Yep, all I have to do is put Tony out there in a tank top changing tires, and the business comes pouring in,” Bucky grins.
Barney rolls his eyes, the only one of them old enough to catch the flirting.
Tony bats his eyes at Bucky and says, “Well, Bucky pulls in his own fair share of business from little old ladies who like to watch him ‘change their oil’, so it evens out.”
“Hey, when you’re a small business owner, you have to use all your available assets to succeed,” Bucky says, wagging his eyebrows.
“Gross,” Barney says, crinkling his nose.
“Have you ever thought about just, I don’t know, runnin’ an ad?” Steve frowns, agreeing with Barney.
“Eh, our way’s more fun.”
With Steve back in town, Saturday night poker just seems to kind of reinstate itself. Maybe it’s Steve looking for the nostalgia, or maybe it’s all of them just being in the right spot in their lives for it again. Either way, Bucky goes out to Merle’s with Steve and Dum Dum for about a month or so, to get a feel for things, before he decides to bring Barney along too.
Merle’s son Edgar is there also, though he’s Bucky’s age, not Barney’s. Edgar never really hung out with them in high school, and he went on to become a dentist, but he’s an ok guy. There’s also Bucky’s Dad’s old friend John, but he doesn’t have any kids. They don’t have too much trouble keeping things child-friendly, aside from the swearing.
“Language,” Steve says again, for the fourth time, when John gives a “goddamnit” upon having to fold.
“Did you get religion in the army or somethin’?” John asks, leaning back in his chair and giving Steve the kind of look that is meant to remind him which of them is old enough to be the other’s father.
“No, but I was raised not to take the name of the lord in vain,” Steve says, looking blandly over the top of his cards as he bets.
“You really believe in ‘God’? Ain’t no proof of that,” John says, but it’s clear he’s mostly just doing it to pester Steve.
Barney doesn’t pick up on the tone though.
“Maybe there ain’t no proof, but I hope there is one anyway,” he says before Steve can reply, looking at his hand and at the pot of money, not necessarily at everyone else’s faces.
“I didn’t know you were the religious type, Barney,” Bucky says casually as he sees the bet, because it’s news to him...
“I don’t know if any one religion has it more right than another,” Barney says, seeing the bet too, “But I just hope there is a god, because after everything Harold did to us, he deserves to finally get what was comin’ to him. He never got no punishment at all in this life, not for breakin’ my arm, not for burstin’ Clint’s ears, or for...or for killin’ Ma… So yeah, I hope there is a god, so that he burns in hell.”
The silence at the poker table after he speaks is a bit awkward.
Bucky has no idea what to say to that, so he just pulls Barney into a hug instead.
The boy accepts it, clinging just a little to Bucky, but he deflects from the emotion by grumbling after a few seconds about Bucky trying to see his cards. Bucky releases him, giving a quick squeeze to the back of his neck, and they go back to playing poker.
Later that night, after they’re home, after Barney’s gone to sleep and Bucky’s made his nightly rounds to make sure everyone’s safe and sound, he goes to Tony.
“Hey, what’s on your mind?” Tony says, seeing the seriousness on his face right away.
“I think Barney needs counselin’,” he says, “He’s goin’ through things, from before he came to us, and, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to help him. I ain’t got no experience with bein’ beat by my Dad, I don’t understand what he’s goin’ through,” Bucky admits, getting emotional himself.
Tony pulls Bucky into his arms, the two of them just holding each other tight for a minute.
“What happened?” Tony asks him, wondering what’s brought this to a head now, because to him it’s pretty obvious that all the kids are growing up with issues Bucky can’t relate to.
“He said he hopes there is a god, so that Harold finally gets punished and burns in hell,” Bucky tells him.
Bucky seems like he was waiting for more of a reaction than that. “Ok?...”
“Well, he’s hardly the only one in this household that feels like that about their biological father,” Tony says, like this shouldn’t be news to Bucky.
“I don’t- I do not mean to make you think that Harold shouldn’t, that any of the bastards that have hurt all of you shouldn’t be punished, but… It just seemed like, the way he said it, there was an anger behind it that would be real bad if it got out of control,” Bucky says. “I just don’t want to miss the warnin’ signs, you know?...”
“I know,” Tony says quietly, because he wasn't there to see it, but he trusts Bucky's judgement. “Honestly, every single one of us could probably use counseling, if we’re going to ‘go there’, and it certainly wouldn’t be good for Barney to single him out in this either.”
“Ok,” Bucky nods, “Let’s look into it and see what we can find. It, or they, or whoever does the counselin’, we need to make sure they ain’t goin’ to be biased toward alphas and not actually helpin’ with the real issues of the abuse.”
“You think they’d do that?” Tony asks, because he hasn’t ever gone to or even looked into anything like that himself.
“Yeah, some of them… When Stevie’s Dad was still alive, before he drank himself to death, he used to beat on them too. Steve’s Ma was from a real religious background, and she tried goin’ to a counselin’ thing with the church after he was gone. They never once said what he’d done was wrong, just that it was her place as omega to meet any need her alpha had… I remember Stevie being so pissed about it that he wanted to hunt that priest down,” Bucky says with a sigh. “I managed to talk him out of it, one of the few times in my life, only by pointin’ out that if he got locked up, his Ma wouldn’t have any remainin’ alpha relatives, so she’d become state owned… So he didn’t kill him, but the windows of the church were all broken in the next day, though Stevie never admitted to a thing…”
“I guess that explains why Steve always says grace, but never goes to church,” Tony says.
When Tony goes to pick up Nat and Clint from karate practice, he notices in the lobby that they have an area advertising other martial arts classes, self defense classes, and omega support groups. Practice is just getting out though, so he grabs a pamphlet and stuffs it in his bag without having a chance to fully read it.
“Ma! Ma! I did it! I’m goin’ to be a purple belt too like Nat!” Clint says as he bounds over.
“Really? That’s awesome!” Tony says, knowing how hard he’s been working to catch up to her. Whether it was because he really wanted to be in the same belt, or because moving up would feed his obsession with the color purple, Tony has no idea. But it really doesn’t matter. “We should do something to celebrate!”
“Can we have pizza for dinner?”
“Of course,” Tony says, having seen that one coming a mile away.
“And ice cream for dessert?”
“And a dog?”
“...We’ll have to ask your father about that one first.”
“You should have lead with the dog request,” Nat says, her tone slightly chiding but not making fun of him, “Or at the very least, put it second when he was primed to say yes.”
“Ma’s too smart to fall for that though, Nat, and this way we know for sure we’ll get pizza,” Clint says.
“Alright, alright, the effectiveness of various psychological manipulations can be discussed further in the car,” Tony says, herding them out the door, “But thank you for the vote of confidence, Clint.”
Oops, I can't count, this fic is going to be 23 chapters, not 22.
There was a “Team Ironman” fic I read once where somebody (Sharon maybe?) was trying to point out to Steve that Peggy’s quote about planting yourself like a tree was about her experiences combating sexism and misogyny in the workplace, not about refusing to see reason or ever compromising at all in your life. That always stuck with me, even though I shamefully cannot remember what fic it was from now. So here, have some unapologetically feminist Peggy in honor of that.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“The Omega Action Center, huh?” Tony says to himself, standing outside the address from the pamphlet. It’s a unit being rented out of a fairly run down building, but Tony is way past the point in his life that he cares about appearances.
“So, this O-ac thing must be new to the neighborhood,” Tony says immediately after walking in, heading toward the two omegas behind the counter.
“It’s pronounced ‘Oak’, like the tree,” the brunette tells him, her British accent throwing Tony off at first, “But it was hard to find a word that started with ‘K’ that made sense.”
“You could have done ‘clinic’, but spelled it with a ‘K’, you know, like when people want to give their kids ‘interesting’ names but keep the whiteness… Cloe, with a K, Candy, with a K…” Tony replies.
The omega blinks at him, then turns to look at her co-worker, as if asking her if she knows what’s going on either.
“Nevermind,” Tony says, shaking his head and waving a hand dismissively, “What I meant to say, was, hi, I’m Tony, and my whole family needs therapy.”
“I see… Well, I’m Peggy, and I’d be happy to help you get started,” she says, standing up and offering a hand to shake over the desk.
Tony’s face lights up, because not many people offer to shake with him. “Awesome. I have a good feeling about this already.”
“Excellent, come have a seat and we’ll fill out some forms.”
Tony follows her to an office and sits.
“So, you said your entire family? Brothers, sisters?...”
“Oh, no, I was an only child,” Tony says, figuring it’s ok if he rambles a bit here and there, since this whole ‘in-take’ thing is probably about getting to know him. “I meant my mate and I, and our kids. We decided to look for a place to get counseling, and I saw your pamphlet at the karate studio downtown when I was picking up the twins from practice.”
“Twins? That sounds exhausting…” Peggy says, giving him a warm smile.
“They can definitely be a handful,” Tony says, because just that afternoon they’d disappeared, only for Tony to eventually find them crawling around in the space between the ceiling of the top floor and the roof, building a super secret hideout.
“How many children do you have?” she asks, ready to write down his answer.
“Five. Barney, Clint, Nat, Bruce, and Jane,” Tony rattles off, “Clint and Nat are ‘the twins’, because they have the same birth date.”
Peggy looks inexplicably pissed all of a sudden, for some reason.
“Tony, how old are you?” she asks him, voice gentle, belying the fire in her eyes.
“I just turned twenty-two last week, actually,” he answers, trying to think back over what he just said, and if any of it was unintentionally offensive, because he does that sometimes.
“And how old were you when you had your first pregnancy?” she asks him next.
Tony blinks at her.
“Oh, Jesus, no, I’ve never been pregnant, they’re all transfers,” Tony quickly informs her, “Barney’s 13, that wouldn’t be physically possible. No, we either bought them or took them in, or, in Bruce’s case, Bucky beat his murdering asshole of a dad to death for him, so, yeah, no pregnancies for me,” Tony says, feeling sheepish about what he accidentally implied about Bucky.
“Beat him to death… Wait, are you Tony Barnes of Barnes Motors?” Peggy asks him.
“Yes, thank you. Barnes Motors, that’s us,” Tony smiles at her, hoping it eases the slight tension in the air.
Peggy puts her pen down and folds her hands primly on the desk.
“I have to be honest with you, Tony, I have an appointment tomorrow at the garage, where I was going to try and feel out your mate’s willingness to donate to our organization’s cause.”
Tony raises an eyebrow.
“My... sources, indicated that he was the kind of alpha that might be amenable to supporting omegas’ rights, but one always has to tread carefully when approaching people about such a thing,” Peggy tells him.
Tony nods along with her as she speaks, sitting up straighter in his chair before he answers.
“No, yeah, you’re totally barking up the right tree there. Maybe not with Bucky specifically, but with the business, yeah.” Tony pauses for a second when Peggy gets a hesitant look on her face. “What I mean is, he doesn’t know about this kind of stuff. I do payroll, and file our taxes, and set up the ESA’s for the kids, he’d just have to come talk to me about whatever you’re proposing anyway. I’m assuming you guys have your 501c(3)?”
“We do,” Peggy says, looking pleasantly surprised at the confidence Tony speaks with.
“Excellent. So, you guys do omega counseling, I’m assuming with an end goal toward the omegas’ own health and welfare, since you mentioned omegas’ rights,” Tony says, making it into a question with the flipping motion of his hand. “Because that’s actually what I came here to find out to begin with, exactly what kind of counseling you offer.”
Peggy nods. “An omega’s personal health and welfare are our top priorities, not helping them conform to society. We also do nutritional assistance, provide nesting supplies to low income families, offer financial counseling, and partner with the local karate studio to teach omegas self defense.”
“Very nice. And if an omega mother and their children came to you, and their lives were in danger, literal, moment to moment danger from their alpha, what would you do?” Tony asks.
“I would suggest they relocate, preferably under new names, at the earliest possible opportunity,” Peggy says, which is a huge, huge risk for her to take, because everything about that is illegal, but Tony admires the ballsiness it takes to speak it aloud.
“How much did you want?” Tony asks.
“Whatever you’re in a position to give. All our staff are volunteers,” Peggy informs him, which, of course they would be, that way they have plausible deniability as to being associated with the O.A.C. at all, “So any money we take in goes toward helping as many omegas as possible.”
“I just have to ask, what’s your plan if you get caught?” Tony asks, dropping his voice just a little.
“Well, part of the reason I chose to open this center here, in America, and in New York specifically, is because my father is the British Ambassador to the U.S., currently residing in the British consulate in New York. America is one of the countries that provides diplomatic immunity to a foreign dignitary’s entire family. So if I got caught, I would have to go back to England for a spell, but that’s it,” she tells him defiantly.
“Ambassador Carter?...” Tony asks, tilting his head as he eyes her seriously.
“Yes, Xavier Carter,” Peggy says, tilting her own head as if to ask why he’s asking.
“He was Anna’s cousin…”
“Anna? Anna Jarvis? How on earth did you know Aunt Anna?” Peggy asks, looking skeptical.
Tony sits back in his seat, looking at Peggy seriously, like she’s the door to a past he doesn’t want anything to do with. Well, if he hadn’t intended on telling her who he was, he probably should have resisted the urge to bring up Anna… Making up his mind, Tony takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, and motions toward his face as he says, “I’m Tony Stark.”
He adds a little sad smile at the end of it, for what good it will do.
Peggy gapes at him.
“Or well, I used to be. It’s Barnes, now. Howard, got drunk one night and decided he’d had enough of me existing around him, so he bet me and my dowry on the raise in a poker game that Bucky just happened to stumble into… And Bucky got lucky,” Tony says, his smile becoming more genuine as he thinks about everything that night led to.
“Edwin and Anna didn’t get the chance to come home very often, but when they did, they always spoke of you as if you were the child they never had. When she mentioned Howard had arranged a mating for you, and that he turned out to be a good alpha against all odds, she neglected to mention that he was a mechanic from Brooklyn,” Peggy says sitting back in her own seat in a bit of shock.
“They came over to our place above the shop every Sunday for dinner, up until they died,” Tony nods. “They were the parents I never had either,” Tony adds sadly, “But unfortunately I was still subjected to Howard most of my life. Hence the need for counseling.”
“And your mate is ok with this?” Peggy asks, like she needs to double check, because it’s that unusual.
“It was his idea. At least it started out that way. I mean, I’m in a pretty good spot now, I have Bucky, I have all the love and support I could ever want, but the kids… It’s different for them. Each of them come from horrific backgrounds, except for Jane, but even for her, she’s dealing with her mother dying recently and she’s only six, so she could probably use someone to talk to who knows what to say there too… But our oldest, Barney, he’s starting to display some anger that makes Bucky’s red flags go up, so he wanted to get him some help. Because as awesome as Bucky is, as much as he’s willing to stand up for those being abused, he doesn’t understand being abused himself,” Tony says, starting to get choked up a little. “He has, uh, no idea what it’s like to be hit by his dad, to have the smell of alcohol send you into a fear induced panic to hide, his parents loved each other, and their bond was so strong that they both went together,” Tony says, drying his eyes, “Unlike Barney and Clint’s parents, who died at the same time because their dad was driving drunk with his mate in the car, and killed them both.”
Peggy looks properly upset at what Tony is telling her, and she doesn’t interrupt.
“Sorry, I guess you’re not the one who’d be doing the actual counseling part of it,” Tony tries to laugh, “I didn’t mean to just dump all that on you.”
“It’s alright Tony,” she says, reaching for a tissue to give him.
“Thanks. So, yeah… Anyway, about that donation. How much are we talking here?” Tony asks, pulling out his checkbook.
“Well, the more money we’re able to get in donations, the more we’re able to help. This is our first year of operation, so I don’t have much in the way of statistics to offer you yet,” Peggy explains.
“How about I write you a check for ten grand, and you tell me when you need more?” Tony says.
“That would be amazing, Tony. Are you sure you shouldn’t explain things to Bucky first though?” she asks, which is her polite way of asking if he's sure he won't get in trouble for spending that kind of money.
Tony picks up his checkbook, holding it up so that Peggy can see the single name on it, and that it isn’t Bucky’s. “No, I don’t,” he says, giving her a grin, “And don’t feel like this needs to prevent you from keeping that appointment tomorrow either. I’m actually pretty sure Bucky will want to give you some of our joint money too.”
“Thank you, Tony, I will,” Peggy nods, looking a little overwhelmed, but the good kind, the kind that’s because of suddenly being overwhelmed by the possibilities.
“Oh, and you should totally hit up Dugan’s Plumbing too, the son’s kind of a goofball, but the dad’s a good alpha too. If they want to know how you heard they might be interested in donating to your cause, just tell them you’re my cousin,” Tony smiles and winks conspiratorially.
“I’ll do that,” Peggy smiles back. “Now, let’s see about getting you and the kids set up with counselors.”
“And Bucky too,” Tony adds, “He very specifically wanted to have some sessions too, so that he could know what to say to help the kids when their issues come up.”
Peggy nods, tearing up a little herself at how much Bucky just, just fucking cares.
“I know, right?’ Tony gives a little chuckle of a laugh too, having to wipe some stray moisture form his own eyes. “He’s taken though, he’s all mine,” Tony jokes, seeing Peggy isn’t wearing a ring.
She laughs too, shaking her head as she jokes back, “Does he have a brother?”
“Clint wants to take up archery,” Tony says as they’re getting ready for bed one night, “And Nat wants to learn to throw knives… So if you see a huge purchase from Sportsman’s Warehouse, it’s legit, we didn’t have our card compromised.”
“Good to know. Huh, they both seemed like they were still really into the karate thing...” Bucky muses.
“Who said anything about giving up karate?”
Thank you to everyone for all your awesome comments! Real life is super busy for me right now, so unfortunately I don’t have time to answer each one individually. A lot of people ask about Thor and Loki showing up in the fic though, so I wanted to take a second to address that. The Barnes family is complete at this point, as far as adding other children goes, but I can imagine single mother Frigga living next door or something, as was suggested. I do minorly ship Thor and Jane, but you can’t have Thor without Loki, and my other major Marvel ship is Loki/Tony, so it’s hard for me to think of Loki being in this fic without straying from the established plot… So, sorry, they won’t be making an appearance. (ノ_ _)ノ Also, neither will Rhodey or Pepper. In this universe, Tony would never have been “allowed” to make friends with an alpha at school, and I can’t picture Colonel James Rhodes as anything but an alpha. Since Tony’s not involved with Stark industries at all he would never meet Pepper either :(
Bucky answers the knocking on their door one evening to find an alpha in a long black trench coat on the front step.
“James Barnes,” he says, holding up his badge, “I’m Detective Fury, Brooklyn PD.” There are two other cops flanking him, both female and both alphas as well.
“Is this about Stevie?” Bucky frowns, wondering what kind of trouble the damn punk has gotten into now.
“No, this is about you. You’re under suspicion of trafficking omegas. We’re here to take a look around.”
“Trafficking omegas?” Tony says from behind him, indignant and instantly enraged, “Do you have a warrant?” he asks, coming up and crossing his arms over his chest.
“I do,” Detective Fury says, producing a piece of paper and handing it over to Bucky.
Bucky puts a hand on Tony’s shoulder, squeezing it comfortingly before he takes the paper. He reads it over, but he wouldn’t necessarily know a real from a fake. Everything looks legitimate from what he can see though.
“Is this a joke?” Tony asks, “Did Dum Dum put you up to this? Is he hiding across the street with a camera right now?”
“Step aside, sir,” Detective Fury says, indicating they’re coming in now, “Mr. Barnes, you’ve registered ownership of five omegas in the last four years, in addition to an underage alpha. That flagged you in the system as a potential trafficker, so we’re here to see if you can produce evidence that all six of them are still in your custody and being cared for properly.”
Bucky pulls Tony to his side, making sure to follow along directly behind the detective as he heads for the dining room.
“Kids, we’ve got company,” Bucky calls out, warning them that they’re not alone in the house anymore.
“Is it Uncle Steve?...” Barney asks back, though by the time he gets to Steve’s name, the cops have become visible around the corner, so he kind of trails off.
“Oh look, one two three four five six of us,” Tony says, pointing to himself and all the children sitting at the dinner table. Well, Clint is perched on the back of his chair in a way that should be making it tip over, but somehow isn’t… “I guess you can leave now.”
“Relax, Tony,” Bucky says, staying calm and pressing a kiss to the top of his mate’s hair. “Let the officers take a look around if they want to. We ain’t got nothin’ to hide,” he tells him, that last part said while looking directly into Detective Fury’s eyes.
“We’ll see,” the detective says. “Can you produce your copies of the transfer paperwork for everybody?”
“Of course we can,” Tony raises his chin, “I’ll be right back.”
“Officer Hill, go with him.”
Bucky makes a motion to take his hand, like he doesn’t like Tony going off with the strange alpha alone, but Tony turns and presses a kiss against his bicep. “You stay with the kids, alright? I’ll be fine. We’re just going up to the office.”
Bucky takes a deep breath, then releases it slowly. “Ok, doll. Hurry back.”
Tony hurries. He goes up to their home office, being trailed by Officer Hill the whole time. After unlocking the file cabinet, he grabs several different folders in his rage, then slams the drawer closed again. He turns around with them in his arms and pushes his way past Officer Hill, making her back up out of the office or be run over. She scowls at him and Tony scowls right back.
“Here,” he says as soon as he gets back into the dining room, “All of our transfer contracts, with attached birth certificates.” He hands the documents over to Detective Fury, who starts looking through them right away.
“And, here’s the kids’ shot records, along with the receipt and warranty for Clint’s hearing aids,” he says, pulling those out next, and waving them at Detective Fury to take.
He pauses in his flipping through the transfer contracts to take them, albeit slowly.
“And here are the kids’ report cards for the last three years,” Tony goes on, still fuming, absolutely fuming, at the idea that someone would accuse Bucky of trafficking, “Along with the certificates Clint and Nat have gotten for each belt in karate they advanced to. Oh, and here’s the paperwork on each of the kids’ Education Spending Accounts, what’s this doing in here? It should have been filed with our other investments, silly me,” Tony says, throwing each set of documents down on the table when Detective Fury doesn’t take them right away, his hands already being full.
It’s silent in the room for a good few seconds before Tony speaks again.
“I guess that only covers the kids though, maybe you’d like to see the report from my physical where the doctor indicated that a pregnancy would probably kill me? Hm? Is that not considered an official document?” Tony asks.
No one answers him.
The two “backup” officers do look slightly uncomfortable, but Detective Fury just goes back to looking through all the papers Tony presented them with calmly. Somehow, that just makes Tony even more mad, that they’re ignoring him.
“Easy, easy,” Bucky says, wrapping an arm around Tony’s waist. He’d like to think it’s in order to comfort him, but it’s probably mostly to make sure Tony doesn’t jump on them and try to scratch their eyes out or something.
“Well, all your documents seem to be in order,” Detective Fury says, “But we’re still going to have to verify that they’re being taken proper care of.”
Tony stays with the kids this time while Bucky shows the detective and Officer May all their bedrooms. As soon as Bucky leaves their line of sight, all the kids get up out of their chairs and converge on Tony. He picks up Jane while Barney picks up Bruce, but they all stay clustered together.
“If there’s anything you’d like to say while Mr. Barnes is out of hearing range, now’s the time...” Officer Hill says.
Tony just scowls at her.
Jane sits up straighter in his arms though, turning just a bit so that she can see Officer Hill better. She raises her hand like they’re in a classroom. Tony is stunned, though in the back of his mind he knows that trying to stop any of the kids from speaking in this scenario is only going to look suspicious, so it’s probably for the best that he’s too shocked to say anything.
“Yes? Did you have something you wanted to tell me?” Officer Hill says, not unkindly.
Jane nods and puts her hand down. “Last weekend, when Daddy made grilled cheese, he kind of burned it… But I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to hurt his feelings…” she admits.
Officer Hill blinks a couple times, frowning a little before she draws in a breath to respond.
In the meantime, Clint pipes up and says, “I have somethin’ to say too... fuck the police!”
Tony mutters “Christ” under his breath before turning to Barney with an accusing gaze.
“What? I didn’t teach him that!” Barney says, raising his free hand that isn’t holding Bruce.
Bruce turns in Barney’s arms too, scowling something fierce at Officer Hill as he mutters in his tiny six year old voice, “Yeah, fuck the police.”
“Oh my god,” Tony says, “Where did you learn that, Bruce?”
Bruce clams up again though and buries his face in Barney’s shoulder.
“I taught them,” Nat says, flipping Officer Hill the bird. “You’re morons. Real traffickers wouldn’t register the omegas,” she says in a condescending tone, staring the cop down defiantly.
That’s actually a really good point, and it distracts Tony from the disciplinary moment at hand.
“Well, they’re obviously either not too bright, or extremely new to town, if they thought for even a second that your father was a trafficker,” Tony confirms. “After you guys leave here, you should go ask around, what Bucky Barnes is known for. Maybe do a little actual investigating before swooping into a family’s home and scaring the shit out of them,” Tony says, head held high.
Officer Hill just frowns at them, like she’s trying to hold on to being insulted rather than feeling like an idiot.
When Bucky and the other two cops finally get back from their inspection, Tony has given up on dinner and broken out the ice cream. He very pointedly does not offer the officers any.
Even Bucky seems a little irritated after having to point out the rooms, beds, clothes, backpacks, and school books for each and every one of the kids. He doesn’t offer them any ice cream either, just accepts a passive aggressive bowl from Tony.
“Well, I’m satisfied that there’s no trafficking going on here, we appreciate your cooperation,” Detective Fury says, “I hope you all understand that we’re just doing our jobs,” he adds, looking at Bucky when he says it.
“It’s funny how you’re just doin’ your jobs now,” Bucky says, his cadence easy and laid back, “But where were the cops just doin’ their jobs when Barney and Clint’s biological dad had seventeen omega abuse complaints against him, hm?” Bucky stares down Detective Fury for only half a second before continuing. “Where were the cops just doin’ their jobs when Tony was starvin’ from the prolonged distress of his dad’s abuse? Where were the fucking cops when Bruce’s biological dad killed his Ma in front of him and then left him in a hot car to die? Well? Where were you?” Bucky asks.
“Fuck the police!” Bruce yells again, raising his little fist in the air, and is promptly echoed by all the rest of the kids too.
Bucky, god bless him, blushes, but he doesn’t lose his composure. “I think it’s time you left,” he tells the detective evenly.
Detective Fury raises a hand in the kids’ direction, an obvious admonishment for them to quiet down, and Tony shushes them, because the last thing they need is for the cops to make up a reason to arrest Bucky because they all pissed them off too badly…
“Look, I understand where you’re coming from, I really do,” the detective says, “Everyone around knows that Brooklyn is a hotbed of abuse, because of the former Chief of Police’s attitude. But we’re trying to change things now, and the only way we can do that is one step at a time.”
“Former? What happened to Pierce?” Bucky asks, because that’s some gossip that hasn’t made its way through the grapevine yet.
“Placed on indefinite administrative leave,” Detective Fury says.
Bucky snorts. “Pretty sure if I was in bed with the Mafia, I’d get more than ‘administrative leave’ for it… But I guess somethin’ is better than the nothin’ we’ve had for years…”
“That’s our goal,” the detective says, “To do something.”
Then he motions to his lackeys to follow him and they all head for the door. Bucky goes and makes sure it’s locked behind them. When he gets back, Tony pushes his ice cream away and rubs his chest with one hand while reaching for his mate with the other.
“I can’t tell if our bond is surging because I just love you so fucking much right now, or if I’m having a heart attack,” Tony confesses.
Bucky scoops him up into his arms and takes him to the huge, over sized sectional they bought for their bigger living room. “Barney, put the ice cream away,” he calls out over his shoulder.
“Sure thing, Dad.”
Nat stays to help him too, and then they all join Bucky and Tony on the couch. They pull out blankets and pillows and Bruce gets out a sheet, because he still doesn’t like being too warm, and they all pile together in one big nest.
Only once everyone is situated and comfortable does Tony sigh in relief and relax fully into Bucky’s arms.
Then Jane’s little voice speaks up, offsetting one of the most stressful nights of Tony’s life by asking, “What’s ‘fuck’ mean?...”
Year Five - Alignment
(Steve 30, Bucky 29, Peggy 25, Tony 22, Barney 14, Clint 10, Nat 10, Bruce 7, Jane 7)
“Relax, Bucky, it’ll be fine,” Steve tells him for the thousandth time. This will be his first time watching all the kids on his own for multiple days at a time. It had actually been Bucky’s idea to take Tony to one of those fancy heat hotels, but surprisingly, he’s the one having the hardest time leaving things in Steve’s care.
“Just make sure you get them to all their appointments and classes on time. And don’t let them eat a bunch of junk for dinner,” Bucky says sternly.
Steve nods along seriously.
“And whatever you do, do not get my kids arrested, Steve,” Bucky adds a little less seriously, because it’s been long enough that Steve’s juvenile record has become a bit of a running joke in the family.
Steve grins back and says, “I make no promises…” in a sing-song tone.
“Come on,” Tony says, pulling on Bucky’s hand a little, “If Steve can handle super secret missions for the government, he can handle wrangling our kids. Plus, Barney will help him. If we wait any longer to leave, we’re going to run the risk of having an issue in the car,” he points out.
“Ok, we’re goin’, we’ll go right now,” Bucky says, but he pauses one last time to give Steve an ‘I’m watching you’ gesture, “Just remember, Stevie, my spies are everywhere.”
Steve just rolls his eyes and shuts the door behind them as Tony pulls Bucky out to their waiting car.
When Steve turns around, Clint has silently wrapped his legs around the second story banister and is dangling Nat completely off of it, so that she’s eye level with Steve as she says, “Boo”.
“What the-!” Steve flails backward a step in surprise, but the hand he puts over his heart is for pure show as the twins giggle and execute a couple insanely acrobatic moves to run away.
“They want you to chase them,” Barney says on his way through, “I’m going to the mall with some friends, but I’ll be back by curfew, and not a minute later, I know, I know,” he tells Steve, as if having their entire conversation himself.
“Do you need some money?” Steve asks, already knowing that activity is on the list of “approved” ones, so he isn’t going to make a fuss.
“Nah, Dad pays me for workin’ at the shop.”
“How are you getting there?” Steve asks, because Barney isn’t quite old enough to drive yet.
“Laura’s brother has a license, he said he’d pick us all up as long as we gave him gas money.”
“Ok, be safe,” Steve says, “We won’t save any dinner for you then.”
Barney looks him up and down, then makes an exaggerated motion of looking back inside the house and turning his ear to listen. “Pro tip? Pizza will lure them out.”
“You’ve given them way too much time to hide,” Barney says, smiling as he shakes his head. A car pulls up on the other side of the street and honks, so Barney doesn’t elaborate, he just pats Steve on the shoulder and jogs down the front steps. He does turn around briefly on the sidewalk though and wave his phone at Steve. “I’ll have my cell, if you need me.”
Steve crosses his arms and gives him a look that says, “Really?” Because he’s a grown man, he doesn’t need a teenager’s help to locate a couple of kids in a hide and seek match. Steve closes the door and goes to check that Bruce and Jane are still playing in the lab, partly to spite Barney’s assumption. All the dangerous chemicals are under lock and key of course, with Tony being gone, and the two of them are happily recording away at the generational mutations in fruit flies.
“Oh Cliiiiint…” Steve calls out, letting them know the game is on, “Naaaaaat, where are you?”
An hour later, Steve goes back up to the lab, asking Bruce and Jane if they have any idea where their brother and sister might be, where their favorite hiding spots are…
“Nat said, if we didn’t tell you, then, we’d get pizza for dinner!” Bruce says, the seven year old’s eyes looking huge like a bug’s under his magnified safety glasses.
Steve smacks his own forehead in frustration, sliding his palm down afterward to cover his eyes and squeeze a little. This is actually a pretty brilliant psy-op being run against him right now, ages of all parties considered. But he’s not going to give in that easily. They only win if he does end up having to order pizza to draw them out. Feeling resolved, Steve goes back on the hunt, searching through every nook, cranny, and crevasse that could possibly be hiding a ten year old omega, and even some that really couldn’t…
Five hours after Bucky and Tony have left, Steve can verify that whoever did the insulation on the plumbing in this place really took pride in their work, because he has not only been on the roof but under the crawlspace of the house as well. At this point, he’s sitting on the floor of the laundry room, his back against the washer after having slid it out to check the gap, and contemplating whether or not calling Barney would actually do any good. The guy is obviously in on it, since he set up the conditions for Steve’s failure when he was leaving… So if Steve did call, he might just laugh at him and not actually help…
Calling Bucky or Tony is out of the question.
“Uncle Steve?” Bruce and Jane come around the doorway to the laundry room, “We’re hungry… Can we have pizza soon?”
Steve glances at his watch, realizing it’s almost seven o’clock. He sighs, rubs a hand over his face, and then starts to stand up. “Yeah, ok.”
Bruce and Jane cheer.
Steve goes out to the foyer, where this all started, and calls out, “Ok, you win, I’m calling for pizza!”
“That won’t work,” Bruce shakes his head, “You have to order it, and when it gets here, the smell will make them come out.”
“Of course. It’s not a good con if you don’t see it all the way through…” Steve mutters, pretty sure he’s heard Clint utter those exact words before.
Forty minutes later, Steve is waiting by the door for the pizza delivery guy when it opens on it’s own, revealing Barney. Steve blushes as soon as Barney looks at him, sitting there waiting.
“Relax, the delivery driver pulled up right behind us,” he chuckles.
Steve nods, still blushing furiously. “You’re home early…” he says, almost accusatory, like Barney somehow knew exactly when to show up to witness Steve’s defeat.
“Well, Laura’s an omega, so her curfew is earlier than mine,” Barney explains.
Their conversation is cut short by the delivery guy coming up the steps though. Steve pulls out his wallet, makes sure he tips well, and then carries the pizzas over to the dining room table. Bruce and Jane start digging in immediately, only taking a moment to shout, “Thanks Uncle Steve!” before stuffing their faces.
Barney takes a few slices too, thanking Steve with a grin that’s much more smug than actually thankful.
“So, how long do you think it’ll take for the smell to reach them?” Steve asks, deciding to just own up to the loss.
“Oh, not long,” Barney says.
Off to the side of the dining room, Steve catches the movement of something falling out of the corner of his eye. There’s also a loud clattering sound as the cover of the air conditioning duct hits the hardwood.
“What on earth?” Steve gets up right away, frowning as he goes over to investigate. He picks up the fallen cover, examining it and then looking up into the hole in the ceiling while his mind refuses to believe the conclusion it’s coming to...
There’s the sound of a clicking shutter from inside it, and then Clint’s head peeks through as he says, “Catch me, Uncle Steve!” and starts coming out head first from the vent.
Steve drops the cover right away, grabbing a hold of Clint and trying not to get kneed in the face as the boy rights himself. Then Nat’s feet slide through, and Steve sets Clint down with one arm so that he can catch her with the other. She smiles at him victoriously. Clint hands her the fallen cover off the floor, and she reaches up and snaps it back into place.
“How?...” Steve starts to say, knowing that air conditioning vents aren’t supposed to work like that.
“Dad replaced all the screws with clips after Clint got stuck one time,” Nat answers the unspoken part of his question as she’s climbing down out of his arms.
“You know, if you had just asked nicely, I would have ordered pizza for dinner anyway,” Steve says with a sigh and a shake of his head.
“Perhaps, but this was much more entertaining,” Nat grins as she and Clint sit up to the table.
“Hey, wash your hands first, you little gremlins,” Barney says affectionately as Clint reaches for the pepperoni.
“Aw, Barney…” Clint pouts.
“Nope, you’re both filthy, be thankful Uncle Steve doesn’t make you take a bath before letting you eat,” he says, winking at Steve.
They both rush off to wash their hands before Steve gets any ideas.
“Wait, your father knew about the vents?!” Steve realizes.
Barney just laughs.
At the heat hotel, while they’re still waiting for Tony’s heat to fully hit, Bucky gets a text message from Steve.
//Thanks for warning me about the vents, jerk//
With a chuckle, Bucky replies back.
//Hey, if it’s my kids that finally get to pay you back for all the years I spent worrying over your punkass, that’s fine//
Then he sends another follow up one right after that.
//Now quit bothering me, I’m in the middle of something here//
All Steve sends back are the letters TMI.
“Did you tell him we’re putting that picture Clint took on our Christmas cards this year?” Tony asks.
“Nah, we’ll let it be a surprise.”
Tony’s heat has broken, though they’re still riding out the post heat lethargy, when Bucky’s phone rings with Steve’s tone. They both crack an eye open and look at each other warily. Bucky decides to go ahead and answer it, because he knows Steve wouldn’t be calling him if it wasn’t important. His bad feeling intensifies as the call connects and there are sirens going off in the background.
“The kids are fine,” Steve says immediately, “But there was an attack on the O.A.C. while we were there for Clint and Nat’s appointment. Barney’s at home with Bruce and Jane.”
Voices in the background are yelling, “Put the phone down! Put the phone down!”, so Bucky yells into the phone so Steve can hear him as it leaves his ear, “YOU ARE NEVER BABYSITTIN’ AGAIN, STEVE! GODDAMNIT!”
Tony is instantly up, looking at Bucky with a worried frown, his scent turning sour.
“The kids are fine,” Bucky relays to him, because Steve wouldn’t lie about that, “But from the sound of things, he’s about to get arrested, probably for defending the Center,” Bucky says, “Come on, we need to get showered off and head down there.”
“Do we have time for that?” Tony asks, his heart picking up speed.
“Hey, shh, it’ll be ok. Steve’s old hand at this, trust me, and I’m sure Peggy will hold on to the kids until we get there,” Bucky says, helping him up and over to the bathroom.
“Unless she gets arrested too…” Tony points out, knowing that Peggy is not the “stay behind and let the alphas deal with it” type.
“...We’ll hurry. I can’t take you out in public smellin’ like this either way,” Bucky says, going and starting the water.
“Ok, yeah, we’ll hurry.”
By the time they get down to the O.A.C., most of the cops are gone. There’s one patrol car still parked out front, with evidence of a fight all around. The windows of the Center are broken, glass still littering the sidewalk, and yellow police tape is cordoning off the area. One of the O.A.C.’s counselors is outside, just starting to sweep things up.
“Sam! Please tell me you’ve got my kids inside there,” Bucky says as they jog up.
Sam looks up at them, then winces apologetically. “Actually...the cops took them away too, I’m not sure if they were arrested or not?”
“Goddamnit, Steve!” Bucky swears, pulling out his keys again to go back to their car. His phone starts ringing though, so he stops to check it.
The caller ID says “Precinct 73”, but Bucky would still recognize the number without it.
“This is James Barnes speaking,” he says, trying to not sound pissed off as Tony questions in the background, “Who arrests a ten year old???”
Sam looks like he really doesn’t want to be the one to elaborate on the situation, so Bucky gestures for Tony to follow him back to the car, already knowing what the precinct is going to want.
“Mr. Barnes? This is Detective Fury, I’m going to need you to come down to the station. We have a couple omegas being held here that are listed as belonging to you.”
“We’re on our way right now, we’ll be there in fifteen minutes. You better not have put my omega children in holding with a bunch of alpha offenders, or I will personally make sure that you’re made to feel every single thing they were,” Bucky promises.
“Are you threatening me, Mr. Barnes?”
“You bet your black trench coat I am, if you caused any harm to my kids,” Bucky tells him, starting up the car as soon as Tony’s door is closed. Then he hangs up on the detective so he can focus on driving.
They make it to the station in only ten minutes, and as soon as they get through the doors, Tony starts causing a scene.
“Where are my children?” he demands loudly, scowling at everyone. “If the asshole on duty was going to arrest a pair of ten year old children, I’m going to make sure everyone in this city knows about it.”
“Your children jumped into a fight unprovoked, dislocated three kneecaps, caused two bite wounds bad enough to need stitches, and gave one person a concussion,” the detective says as he comes up to them, though the tone in his voice isn’t exactly disapproving. If anything he sounds begrudgingly impressed.
“Do you have proof of that?” Tony asks, raising his chin.
“There’s a camera outside the O.A.C., so yes, the whole thing was caught on tape,” Detective Fury says. “Myself and Officer Hill have already reviewed the footage and there are some questions we’d like to ask you after you’ve watched it.”
“Dad! Ma!” Clint and Nat come running up to them, having been brought over by Officer Hill.
“Oh my god, are you alright? Are you hurt? Are you guys ok?” Tony asks, breathing a sigh of relief once they’re finally in his arms. Bucky immediately bends over hugs the whole group of them, scenting Clint and Nat just like Tony does as they assure them they’re fine. Apparently Officer Hill let them sit in her office until Tony and Bucky arrived, they were never put in holding at all, like Bucky had feared.
After their reunion is over, the detective leads them all to a room with a table and a few chairs, and a TV on a rolling stand with a VCR hooked up to it. There aren’t enough chairs for people though, so Bucky and Tony each sit with a kid in their laps. Without a word, Detective Fury starts playing the CCTV footage.
On screen, a group of traditionalist protesters are picketing the O.A.C., apparently objecting to the fact that omegas might be given any special treatment after suffering abuse, or that they be taught to defend themselves, since they’re just property after all. Peggy comes out of the front door and is obviously telling them to leave, pointing at them to get out of there. They don’t listen, and even though there’s no sound on the recording, it’s obvious they’re talking, arguing about something.
Then one of the protesters pushes Peggy and tries to follow it up with a punch. She ducks it and clocks him so hard that he goes down immediately, only his feet visible in the feed after that. Unfortunately, the rest of the group takes that as open season on violence. Another person tries to attack her too, while someone else breaks the O.A.C.’s windows. Tony notices that Peggy always waits for them to throw the first punch though, before defending herself.
That’s when Steve Rogers comes running out of the Center and starts laying in to protesters left and right. Bucky sighs and rubs his temple, because Steve is decidedly not waiting for people to attack him first. Tony is just starting to wonder how long this fight went on, because the kids haven’t even shown up yet, when one of the assholes Steve’s fighting pulls a knife.
He swipes at Steve a few times, but Steve dodges his clumsy attempts easily. Before Steve has a chance to disarm him, which he totally could have done, the door to the O.A.C. opens again. Clint steps through it and chucks a soda can as hard as he can at the guy holding the knife, hitting him right in the head.
“Well, there’s the concussion…” Bucky says as the guy collapses, knocked out cold. Clint makes a sound like he's going to speak, but Tony shushes him and signs 'don't admit to anything' to him. On screen, Steve kicks the knife away, underneath a parked car, leaving the man to lay there. He briefly turns to the kids, because Nat is right beside Clint, motioning for them to go back inside. Some riled up idiot decides to try and jump on Steve’s back though, cutting the conversation short.
Peggy holds her own in the background the entire time.
That’s when Clint and Nat enter the fray though, ganging up on anyone who tries to get the drop on either Steve or Peggy. Nat bites an honest to god chunk of flesh out of one guy’s arm as he tries to pick her up from behind. Tony is pretty sure there are more than just three kneecaps that get dislocated, and the detective didn’t even bring up Clint kicking a guy so hard in the nuts that his future children probably felt it. He’s seen Clint break planks of wood with that kick, but hey, if they’re not going to bring it up, neither is Tony.
Peggy must have called the cops before she even went out there, because they start arriving on scene shortly after that. As soon as they see the flashing lights, any of the protesters who are still able to walk start running away. Steve doesn’t chase them down, he just looks over at the kids, who don’t even have a scratch on them, and pulls out his phone. Within thirty seconds, armed officers have him face down on the ground and are cuffing him.
Clint and Nat start crying in the background, clinging to Peggy. The officers don’t cuff her or the kids, but obviously they didn’t let them go either.
Detective Fury stops the footage, then turns and leans against the edge of the table, crossing his arms over his chest. “I don’t suppose you all can come up with some sort of mitigating circumstances, for the two of them attacking those people unprovoked…”
“It wasn’t unprovoked,” Tony says immediately, “That guy pulled a knife on their Uncle Steve, they had every reason to fear for his life.”
“Yes. The whole thing about him and Bucky being brothers isn’t just for show. Bucky’s father took legal responsibility for Steve after his mother passed away. The kids have grown up with him being ‘uncle’. In fact, they’re all close enough that Bucky and I left them with Steve for the week while I was in heat,” Tony says, giving the detective an overly sweet smile afterward.
“And Ms. Carter? They attacked people about to engage her as well…”
“She’s their aunt, well, my cousin by pack bond. I was raised by her father’s cousin. We connected when I realized she was working at the O.A.C., and we chose the term ‘aunt’ so it would be less confusing for the kids,” Tony says, glossing over the fact that they really don’t have any contact with her outside the O.A.C. at all.
“Hm, well, I guess since they were overcome by the instinct to protect their pack, I can let them go without any charges. The law has a lot of gray areas when you’re a minor,” Detective Fury nods.
“Thank you, sir, we appreciate it,” Bucky says, giving Nat in his lap a squeeze and Tony a look asking him to please not question it too much.
“What about Steve? Does he need someone to post bail for him?” Tony asks, figuring the blond is probably cuffed in a holding cell as they speak.
“Actually, no. Captain Rogers took a plea bargain,” the detective tells them with a grin.
Bucky says, “Stevie took a plea bargain?” incredulously at the same time Tony frowns and says, “Don’t plea bargains usually happen later?”
“I’ll let him discuss the details with you. We’re releasing him and Ms. Carter now.”
“You’re letting Peggy go too?” Tony asks, surprised, because even though the footage is on her side, usually an omega would have to jump through every hoop on the planet to be cleared of assaulting an alpha, even in self defense.
“Of course,” Detective Fury says, gesturing to the TV behind him, “She did nothing wrong.”
Outside holding, Steve and Peggy are standing in front of each other, awkwardly looking at each other, then away, then back at each other, with a little blushing thrown in every once in a while.
“Aunt Peggy!” Nat says, letting go of Bucky’s hand and running over to her. Clint copies her and runs over to Steve, both of them playing it up and pretending to be way more worried for them than they probably are. Tony won’t admit how long it took him, but he did eventually learn to tell Nat’s real tears from the fake ones. Let it never be said that she isn’t smart enough to go along with something for her own good.
“I’m glad to see you’re ok,” Bucky says to Peggy, ignoring Steve for now, “Let us give you a ride home?”
“Oh, thank you, but just back to the Center is fine. I believe Steven left your other vehicle there as well anyway,” she says, rubbing Nat’s back fondly as the girl clings to her.
In the car, Bucky makes Steve sit in the back with the kids, letting Tony ride up front with him. Steve doesn’t argue a word, just gets in contritely, his knees up by his ears in the smaller area.
“So, what have we learned today?” Bucky asks before he turns the car on, eyeing them all in the rear view mirror.
“Not to throw the first punch,” Steve says a little sheepishly, because it's something he should definitely already know.
“Don’t get caught on camera!” Clint pipes up, thinking they’re taking turns.
“I’m never leaving my taser at home again,” Nat mutters, which, ok, does technically count as a thing she’s learned…
Peggy looks back and forth between the kids and their parents up front, as if she can’t quite believe they’re accepting those answers. Bucky gives her a bland look in the mirror, as if he’s waiting to hear what she learned, but it’s obviously done as a joke.
“I learned...that Clinton has amazing aim?” she says.
“Yeah he does,” Bucky snorts, starting the car up, “I stopped playin’ darts for money with him when I realized he was hustlin’ me for quarters.”
The laughter of four adults and two children rings loudly throughout the car.
“Ok, I’ve got to ask,” Tony speaks up when the laughter has died down and the mood has lightened considerably, “What ‘plea bargain’ did the detective offer you?” he wonders, turning to look back at Steve.
“Oh, uh, I might have agreed to become a cop?”
There is an extra large time skip between last chapter and this one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Year 11 - Give It Some Gas And Let It Idle
(Steve 36, Bucky 35, Peggy 31, Tony 28, Barney 20, Clint 16, Nat 16, Bruce 13, Jane 13)
They have a huge celebration, with banner ads, a radio spot, and coupons on their website for free oil changes when Barnes Family Motors updates its name and unveils its second location. The free oil changes have to be redeemed that opening weekend, so there’s going to be a limit to the loss they take on them, but the goodwill generated is certain to last much longer than that.
The second location is closer to their house, and since Bucky can’t be in two places at once anyway, he’ll be at the new one while Barney, who’s twenty now, manages the old shop. Plus, Bucky told Barney that when he and Laura mated, they could live in the apartment above it rent free for as long as they wanted. So it would be silly for him to commute to the new place.
“I didn’t have my life nearly as together as him, when I was his age,” Bucky says with a grin, watching through the kitchen window as Barney helps a pregnant Laura out of their car when they pull up for Sunday dinner.
“I did,” Tony says, doing absolutely nothing as Bucky steals a crouton out of the salad he’s making, “He must take after me.”
Bucky chuckles and gives Tony a kiss on the cheek, continuing to watch out the window as Steve and Peggy pull up too, and Steve jogs ahead to open the door for everyone.
“Which one’s the one that’s been botherin’ you, Nat?” Clint asks, watching the flow of their fellow high school students go by.
“The alpha that just moved here,-” she says, filing her nails to keep them in barely noticeable points.
“Ok, got it,” Clint says, dropping his backpack at her feet and taking off through the crowd.
Nat raises an eyebrow, because she wasn’t finished… She just sighs though, pulling out a little pouch from inside her makeup bag and putting the file away, then sticking the whole thing back inside her backpack and zipping it closed before going after him. She leaves his backpack on the ground, because nobody at this school would ever dare mess with Clint’s things.
By the time she gets over there, Clint has an unsuspecting alpha laid out on his back on the concrete, with both hands fisted in the boy’s t-shirt.
“Wait. No. Stop.” she says blandly, “That isn’t him…”
Clint stops what he’s doing and looks at her, fixing her with a scowl. “What do you mean it ain’t him? You said the guy botherin’ you was the one who just moved here.”
“I meant the alpha senior who moved here from Newark, not the sophomore from Ohio,” she says, flicking dismissive eyes over the prone specimen that Clint is kneeling on the chest of. He looks half terrified, half turned on, which, actually now that she thinks about it, isn’t exactly the response Clint usually gets…
“You’re from Ohio?” Clint asks the boy.
“And you’re a sophomore like us?”
“I’m going to need to see some ID,” Clint says, getting off of him and patting the guy down for his wallet.
“Uh, I’m Phil, Phil Coulson? I, um, yeah, that’s my Ohio driver’s license,” he kind of sputters as he stands, looking at Clint’s audacity to just start rifling through his things as if he never imagined anything so amazing.
“You can drive, huh? I guess you’re not a total waste of space then,” Clint nods, handing his wallet back to him.
“I have my license too, but Dad took away our cars when he caught me and Nat racin’ for pinks down on Ocean Parkway,” Clint tells him with a sigh.
“Your backpack’s dripping,” Nat points out to the alpha, which makes him blink for a second and then swing his bag off his shoulders. He opens up the main pocket and pulls out a plastic thermos that’s cracked now and leaking tomato soup everywhere.
“Oh… Crap, I’m so sorry,” Clint immediately loses a lot of his bravado, rubbing the back of his neck as he apologizes.
“It’s alright,” Phil is quick to assure him, “I’ll just tell my mom I...fell down some stairs?...” he says, holding the dripping thermos away from himself with two fingers.
“Let me buy you lunch, to make it up to you,” Clint says, “And I’ll replace the thermos too.”
“Maybe get him a metal one this time,” Nat says absently, examining the job she did on her nails, “If you’re going to continue to jump on him.”
“Good point. What do you say, Phil? Let me buy you lunch and jump on you again at some point in the future?” Clint asks him cheekily.
“You can jump on me anytime,” Phil says right away, looking like a love-struck idiot and then blushing like one too.
Clint grins back.
“Come on,” Nat says, grabbing a hold of both of them, “You can buy me lunch too while you’re at it.”
“Yes ma’am!” Clint salutes with his free hand.
Phil wings his broken thermos into the trash can a couple yards away as Nat pulls on him.
“Nice shot,” Clint tells him, beaming as he’s pulled along too.
“Thanks?” Phil answers, feeling like it wasn’t exactly something impressive.
Nat rolls her eyes and heads for the food cart with the pizza pockets.
“So who’s this kid that’s suddenly been in all your pictures lately?” Tony asks Clint as they’re pouring out a pan of developing solution.
“What kid? I ain’t been takin’ pictures of any kids…”
Tony rolls his eyes. “Ok, who’s this guy, the one in the army t-shirt making heart-eyes at you in half these shots?”
Clint doesn’t have a wise ass comeback for that immediately, which lets Tony know this may in fact be serious. Looking up at the row of hanging photos, Clint studies them briefly, as if looking for the evidence of what Tony’s suggesting. “That’s Phil,” he says, stealing a sideways glance at Tony, “You really think he’s makin’ heart-eyes at me?”
“Well, whether or not he’s making full on legitimate ‘heart-eyes’, if you’re going to keep looking at him like that, you better invite him over for dinner,” Tony says, pointing at a particular photo and bumping his shoulder against Clint’s. It’s a shot Nat must have taken, because Clint’s in it too, and they both have the dopiest smiles on their faces that Tony’s ever seen.
“Oh… Ok, I’ll ask him,” Clint nods, probably blushing, but the red light of the darkroom makes it difficult to tell.
“Good,” Tony says, “I’d like to meet anyone who can make you smile like that.”
It isn’t until Bucky gets up to his office that he realizes he forgot his lunch that day. He’s just debating on which delivery place to call when he hears the distinctive sound of Tony’s car pulling into the lot. Bucky leans over to look out the open window, seeing that it is indeed his mate getting out with a bag of food. Not only did Tony notice the forgotten lunch, he knew exactly when Bucky would start to get hungry. It looks like he’s brought food from the good bar-b-q place downtown too, the one that unfortunately doesn’t deliver.
Bucky sets aside the menus he was looking at, rolling his chair over to the big one-way window that looks down over the shop floor. He smiles to himself as Tony comes in the far door, greeting their employees with nods and a couple waves. Bucky frowns when he realizes that every single one of the employees is checking out Tony’s ass after he keeps walking past them. Even the couple of omegas on staff.
Getting out of his chair, Bucky opens the office door and jogs down the metal steps to meet him. If the door opens hard enough to clang against the metal railing as he makes his exit, it’s entirely on accident.
Everyone’s eyes do snap back to their work when they hear it though.
Tony beams when he sees him and Bucky returns the happy smile easily. He also scoops Tony into a hug that lifts him off the ground a little in his enthusiasm.
“Hmm, are you this excited to see me, or the bar-b-q?” Tony teases him, leaning up for a kiss.
Bucky obliges him. “This is all for you, sweetheart.” He also cops a feel of Tony’s ass right there in front of everyone too.
“Down boy,’ Tony says, laughing as he makes absolutely no move to get away.
“Sorry, I’m just so happy to see you, doll. You know I love it when you surprise me,” Bucky apologizes with a wink.
“Uh huh,” Tony says, like he knows the exact real reason Bucky’s making his claim so obvious in the moment, “Let’s get upstairs before our food gets cold.”
“You stayin’ to eat with me?” Bucky asks.
Tony nods, licking his lips.
“I’m takin’ a long lunch,” Bucky says to the mechanic closest to them. The guy just nods, like he’d definitely be taking a long lunch if he was in Bucky’s shoes too.
“Yeah, it’s going to take him a while to eat all this,” Tony says with a barely suppressed smile.
The mechanic does his best not to react, which Tony mentally gives him kudos for as he finally heads for the stairs.
Bucky smacks Tony’s ass as he starts to climb. Not hard or anything, just enough to draw attention to the fact that he’s the only one allowed to have contact with it.
He doesn’t come down from “lunch” for an hour and a half.
“So, you must be Phil?” Bucky says, eyeing the teenager on his doorstep. The kid isn’t particularly good looking, or tall, or muscular... In fact, he looks more like a beta than an alpha.
“I am, sir,” Phil says, holding out his hand to shake with Bucky, “You must be Clint’s Dad.”
Bucky nods and shakes hands with him, pleasantly surprised at the gesture being initiated by the young man. Then he does something even more impressive, moving to shake Tony’s hand beside him as well.
“You must be Clint’s Mom, I’m Phil,” he says again, seeming a little nervous but not scared or anything.
Bucky is beginning to think he can tell what Clint sees in him.
“I am,” Tony answers, maybe a touch more warmly than he’d been intending too, but Phil shaking his hand too has set a much different tone than he was expecting.
“Well, come on in, I think Clint’s about to climb over me to get to you if we hold up the doorway any longer,” Bucky chuckles. Clint scowls at Bucky and elbows past him as everyone shuffles to let Phil in.
“Hey, Phil! Come on, I wanted to show you mine and Nat’s room before dinner!” Clint says enthusiastically, grabbing Phil’s hand.
“Take Barney with you,” Bucky says casually, giving Clint a little bit of a stern look when the omega rolls his eyes at him.
“Hey, you could be taking Dad instead...” Barney points out, ribbing Clint a little.
“Barney’s fine!” Clint decides right away, pulling Phil along behind him. Nat follows too, nodding at Phil and getting a nod in return.
Bucky and Tony follow more discreetly, staying down the hall from the twin’s bedroom door to just listen for a moment. Bruce and Jane don’t hang around though, they keep going on into the kitchen.
“Oh wow, your room really is purple?!? My Mom would never have let me do that…” Phil exclaims.
“Yeah, Ma’s pretty laid back,” Clint agrees.
“He wouldn’t let me paint my room the color I wanted,” Barney fake grumbles.
“That’s because you wanted black,” Nat says.
“You wanted black too!” Barney points out.
“And I got a black wall, because my expectations are realistic,” Nat says, smiling at him sweetly.
“You got your ceilin’ painted black, Barney, so I don’t know what you’re complainin’ about,” Clint speaks up.
“One wall, one ceiling, that’s pretty fair,” Phil’s voice interjects.
“Besides, now that you’re on your own, couldn’t you paint the walls black if you wanted? At the apartment?” Clint asks.
Barney sighs, but it’s obviously for the drama, not because he’s truly upset. “Laura said it’d be too depressin’, so…”
Bucky and Tony grin to themselves and head to the kitchen to finish up a few last things for dinner.
A month later, Tony and Bucky are over at the apartment over the old shop, helping Barney and Laura when she gets home from the hospital after having the baby. Barney isn’t as tidy of a person as Bucky is, so the place is a little more messy than when Tony and Bucky lived there, but it’s not horrible. They do some cleaning up for the new parents, and make some easy to reheat meals, filling their freezer with enough food to last them at least a week.
The baby’s room has already been set up for months, taking over the room that Barney himself used to sleep in. Everywhere they turn is another whammy of nostalgia for the two of them, seeing Barney making a life for himself in the space that used to be theirs.
Tony holds tiny little Cooper Barnes, good god, his grandson, a little stiffly at first, just because he’s never held a baby before. The irony is not lost on him. When the little guy starts to fuss though, he immediately hands him back to Laura. Bucky holds him for a spell too, but he’s just as nervous about it as Tony, so neither of them tease each other.
“Buck,” Steve says as soon as Bucky picks up his call, “The kids are alright, but you need to get down here. Clint and Phil crashed Tony’s car.”
“Jesus,” Bucky’s heart skips a beat just for the knowledge that they were in an accident, “You’re sure they’re ok?”
“I’m standing with them right now,” Steve assures him, “And tell Tony he’s lucky they landed right in front of my patrol car, of all the dumb luck in the world… We need to have a talk about the modifications he’s made to that thing when this is all over.”
Tony is currently giving Bucky a worried look across their table at the restaurant.
“I’ll be sure and let him know,” Bucky says. He gets their location from Steve and signals a passing waiter for their check at the same time. “Clint took your car out for a joyride, they’re ok, but he crashed it, so we’ve got to get down there,” he tells Tony as the waiter is listening.
Tony goes pale, nodding and getting ready to go right away. They’re out the door two minutes later, heading for Midtown.
“Steve said they landed right in front of his patrol car,” Bucky says, giving Tony a meaningful sideways glance, “But he made it sound like no one else was around to see it…”
Tony lets out a breath, nodding quickly. “I never in a million years thought they would just take my car. They know that none of them are allowed to drive it, hell, they’ve seen me tell you you can’t drive it either,” Tony says, scrubbing a hand through his hair.
“Maybe it was just because it was the only one there, since Barney’s been out of the house… I don’t know…” Bucky shakes his head, feeling sick to his stomach at the idea of what could have happened.
As soon as they arrive on the scene, they both jump out of the car and rush to Clint’s and Phil’s sides. Tony is relieved to see they’re mostly unharmed. Clint has a cut on his head, and Phil definitely had an up-close encounter with an airbag, but they’re both upright and walking, no broken bones or anything.
“Clinton Frances Barnes, you are grounded for the rest of your life,” Tony says as he pulls him into a hug.
Clint is shaking even as Tony holds him.
“Sorry, sorry,” Clint signs over and over against his chest.
Tony just hugs him tighter for a second, putting his hand on the back of Clint’s neck and squeezing firmly. “Are you ok?” he asks as he pulls away, and even though they don’t usually sign much anymore, it comes back to him right away.
Clint nods, tears spilling down his face freely as he continues to cry and signs, “Broke my ears in the crash, sorry, sorry.”
“You’re grounded for the rest of your life,” Tony signs to him, not sure if he caught that part in the beginning.
“It’s my fault,” Phil says, obviously shaken himself, but trying to take the fall, “It was my idea to take the car.”
Bucky gives him a flat look and says, “Yeah, I’m goin’ to have to call ‘bullshit’ on that one. But you’re both equally as guilty either way.”
Clint can read lips now, but he’s crying too hard to probably see well, so Bucky signs everything too. Clint nods that he understands and hunches in on himself.
That’s when Tony and Bucky understand the lingering scent of fear that’s still on the air. Because Clint knows he’s fucked up really badly, and as much as they’ve taken the time and effort to prove to each of their children that they’ll never be hurt by Tony or Bucky’s hand, sometimes the wiring of your childhood is hard to undo completely.
Bucky moves first, slowly reaching out to pull Clint into his arms, wrapping him up in a hug and not being offended at all when Clint shakes and shakes for a long while. Tony hugs him from behind too, letting Bucky rock both of them gently from side to side until Clint finally calms down.
When eyes are ready to be dried, Bucky pulls back and signs, “I still love you,” to Clint, “We both do, very much, and we always will. We’ll get you new ears on Monday, ok?”
Clint nods, wrung out and exhausted.
“You can work them, and the damage to Tony’s car, off in the shop,” Bucky tells him, “And so can Phil. You boys better be thanking your lucky stars that you didn’t hurt anyone else.”
“I, uh, don’t really know anything about cars?...” Phil says hesitantly.
“Well, you will by the end of the year then,” Bucky says, “Come on, Harry Potter, we’ll take you back to base. You said your Dad was deployed right now, right? I don’t think Fort Hamilton lets omegas leave without prior authorization from their alphas, do they?”
“Uh, no sir. They’d have to send the MP’s after me,” Phil ducks his head, ashamed.
“Actually, I can’t release him to you, Buck, sorry,” Steve says, having stayed off to the side while they had their moment, “He’s a minor and you aren’t his guardian.”
Bucky gives him a frown.
“But, considering the circumstances, I’d be willing to give him a ride back to base myself. I’ll radio ahead to let them know to have his Ma waitin’ for him,” Steve says with a smile, putting a hand on Phil’s shoulder.
Phil swallows hard.
“Got it,” Bucky smiles back, “We’ll stay here and call Marquell for a tow then.”
Steve nods back and steers Phil toward his patrol car.
“Bye, Clint,” Phil gives him a wave and a hesitant smile.
“Bye, Phil,” Clint waves back sadly. After Phil’s been put in the back seat, Steve drives away, killing the lights since he’s no longer ‘on scene’. “Do you think Phil will break up with me after this?” Clint asks Tony, watching the patrol car forlornly.
“Are you kidding?” Tony answers, finally taking a moment to eye the wreck of his car, “Being with you is probably the most excitement he’s ever had in his small town mid-west life.”
“Hey, look at this,” Tony says, setting a couple papers down in front of Bucky before they’re about to eat Sunday dinner. He’s been getting a jump start on their taxes and he likes to keep a mental tally of their bottom line profits each year anyway.
“Sure, what am I looking at?” Bucky asks him, scanning over the top page.
“Adjusted profit. After taxes, after payroll, insurance, payments on the new building, all that stuff,” Tony says, “Notice anything about it?...”
“It’s seven digits?? Holy shit, we broke a million dollars this year??” Bucky says, getting up out of his seat in his excitement.
“We sure did,” Tony grins as Bucky picks him up and swings him around in a circle. “If you’re ok with it, I’d like to use a big chunk of what we’ve got in savings to pay down the loan on the new shop now that we know things are going well.”
“Of course,” Bucky agrees readily, “Whatever you think is best, doll. You’re the only reason any of this has been possible,” Bucky says, keeping Tony in his arms even after he’s set him down. “We should do somethin’ fun too though, to celebrate,” Bucky adds, giving Tony a wink.
“Can we go to Disney World?” Jane asks, almost completely out of the blue.
Bruce looks at Jane like she’s his new hero for suggesting such a thing. Bucky wasn’t seriously thinking to take suggestions, but, when he glances around the table, every one of the kid’s faces is lit up with hope and excitement, even Barney’s and Laura’s… Bucky looks back to Tony in his arms, and he sees the same holding-your-breath look on his face too.
“You know what?" Bucky grins, "That sounds perfect.”
In case it wasn’t completely clear, Tony had modified his own personal car to FLY, but the kids didn’t know that, so they crashed it when they took it out for a joyride.
Another time skip here, though not as big as the last one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Year 14 - Open It Up And See What It Can Do
(Steve 39, Bucky 38, Peggy 34, Tony 31, Barney 23, Laura 23, Clint 19, Nat 19, Bruce 16, Jane 16, Cooper 3, Lila 3mo)
Nat answers a knock at the door that summer to find an old, bordering on elderly alpha in an expensive suit waiting behind it. She raises an eyebrow at him.
“I’m looking for Anthony Edward Barnes, Miss. Would he be at home?”
She turns her head halfway back toward the inside of the house, keeping the man in her peripherals as she shouts, “Ma!” at the top of her lungs. The alpha winces. Nat grins at him overly sweetly and says, “He’ll be down in a minute,” then she shuts the door on him again.
A few minutes later, Tony makes his way down from the lab, opening the front door to see if the alpha Nat talked about is still there. He is.
“Good afternoon, Anthony Edward Barnes, I presume?” the man asks.
Tony nods, “Yeah, that’s me. Can I help you?”
“My name is Raymond Sturges, Esquire, I represent the law firm of Sturges, Rowe, & Meyer.”
“Ok,” Tony says, since the man stops like he’s waiting for some response from Tony. Of course Tony recognizes the name of the law firm Howard always employed, but he isn’t going to make it easy on the alpha.
“I’m afraid I’m going to need to see some identification, to verify who you are, before divulging the reason for my visit,” Mr. Sturges says apologetically.
“Oh, is that so? Look, if you’re here to serve a lawsuit or subpoena or something, just get it over with, otherwise, get the hell off my doorstep,” Tony says, giving the man a moment to produce any paperwork or documents. When he doesn’t make any immediate move to, Tony starts to shut the door in his face.
“Wait, Mr. Barnes, please, it’s about your father!” Mr. Sturges says as the door is closing.
Tony pauses, having figured as much, but also dreading the turn the conversation just took. He opens the door back up again, slowly, staring down the lawyer intensely. “What the hell could Howard possibly want from me after all these years?” he asks.
“Nothing,” Mr. Sturges is quick to tell him, “Nothing at all. ...I suppose that with that face, the genetics would be hard to deny,” he says, waving at Tony, “So I’ll count that as having ‘identified’ you for now. The reason I’m here is because Howard Stark is dead.”
Tony blinks at him. “Ok, what does that have to do with me?”
Mr. Sturges blinks back at him, not having expected such a response. “Perhaps if I could come inside, we could discuss the matter further?...”
Tony sighs, looking the lawyer up and down before he says, “Yeah, ok.” He swings the door open wide to admit him, then leads him into the dining room. Nat is playing with Cooper in the living room, teaching him some tumbling, and she watches them go by suspiciously.
“Tea?” Tony offers, deciding to be cordial.
“Please,” Mr. Sturges accepts, seeming less off kilter now that social niceties are being observed. It does seem to throw him a little when Tony makes the tea himself, but he says nothing about it.
“Alright, so what exactly are you doing here, Mr. Sturges? Howard specifically took on Obadiah Stane as his business partner so that everything would go to him when he died,” Tony says after they’ve both taken the first polite sips of their cups. Tony and Bucky don’t own any china, so Tony is drinking from a mug that says “World’s Best Mom” while Mr. Sturges’ mug indicates what level of coffee it’s acceptable to speak to him after.
“Obadiah Stane was convicted on half a dozen counts of weapons trafficking almost ten years ago. He’s currently serving 50 to life. His contract with Howard immediately became null and void once he was convicted of treason,” Mr. Sturges says, like he can’t believe Tony didn’t know that.
“Why isn’t my mother dealing with this?” Tony asks, but he has a pretty good idea why already.
“Oh… Um, I’m afraid your mother passed not long after the Stane debacle… Howard narrowly avoided jail himself during the trails, and he liquidated the accounts set aside for her upkeep upon his passing to pay the fines he incurred. She overdosed a week later. I apologize, I wasn’t aware that you hadn’t been informed…” Mr. Sturges looks like he might actually be sorry, at that.
“Not your fault,” Tony says, shaking his head. He’d been living his life pretty much assuming his mother was gone since Jarvis’ funeral. It sounds like she only lasted a couple years past that, from what Mr. Sturges has outlined.
“I have some documents for you and your alpha to look over. The firm has already conducted our investigation and concluded you are the only remaining heir to the Stark fortune,” he says as he opens his briefcase and pulls out a thick stack of paperwork. “You and your alpha will need to come down to the firm’s office to sign for the actual transfer of the estate, since it has to be witnessed and notarized.”
“So, this paperwork here?...”
“It’s the summary of probate, what funds were liquidated to settle which debts, etc., and the description of all property, real or otherwise, left in the estate. A 70% share in Stark Industries Inc., also passes to you and your alpha, as well as the title of CEO, so all its assets and yearly projections are delineated therein. I believe the board of directors is holding off on the annual shareholders’ meeting until they’ve had a chance to meet your alpha,” Mr. Sturges informs him.
Tony snorts at the idea of Bucky sitting down to a highly lacquered table wearing a suit and tie and having any opinion on the state of modern weapons manufacturing. “Do we have a deadline here?” he asks, just to make sure.
“If you do not make a claim within a year of Howard’s passing, then it will revert to the state,” Mr. Sturges tells him, “But since it’s only been nine months, you still have plenty of time.”
Tony nods, then shows Mr. Sturges back to the door since there really isn’t anything else to discuss right now.
“We’ll probably be down tomorrow, no point in waiting,” Tony tells him.
“Indeed, we’ll see you then, Mr. Barnes,” Mr. Sturges says with a tip of his head.
Tony is about to close the door behind him when curiosity finally gets the better of him. “How did he die?” Tony calls out, with Mr. Sturges being on the bottom step already.
“A heart attack,” he turns and indicates, pressing a hand over his own chest.
Tony just nods, then finishes closing the door.
When Bucky gets home that evening, Nat is waiting for him in the foyer.
“Someone named Howard died. Ma hasn’t left the dining room since some old alpha in a suit came to tell him,” she says, smelling just slightly worried.
Bucky didn’t really think about it until that moment, but Tony’s never talked about his past or his family with the kids, aside from to promise them that they’ll never be hurt by him like he was by his dad.
“Does he seem sad?” Bucky asks somewhat incredulously.
Nat picks up on it right away, of course, tilting her head to the side. “I’m not sure…”
“It’s ok, I’ll go talk to him,” Bucky assures her, giving her a hug. He’d bet all the gold in Fort Knox that his and Tony’s conversation will be listened in on, but with as many kids as they have, they’re used to never being truly alone.
“Doll?” Bucky calls out, seeing Tony seated at the dining room table with a bunch of papers spread out in front of him. He doesn’t look teary eyed or anything, but he doesn’t look particularly happy either. Tony turns to look at him, like he’s surprised Bucky’s there.
“Hey, is it that late already?” Tony sighs, rubbing at his face, “We should probably order something in for dinner, I didn’t realize how late it was…”
“Nat told me ‘someone’ named Howard died… Are you doin’ ok, sweetheart?” Bucky asks as he comes over to stand by Tony’s chair.
“What? Oh, yeah, he did. A while ago, apparently. I mean, good riddance to that part of it, the world’s definitely going to be a better place without him,” Tony answers, fiddling with the papers.
“But?...” Bucky prompts him, taking a seat next to Tony.
“No buts,” Tony says, shaking his head, “I mean, I wasn’t expecting him to tell me when my mom died. That’s par for the course. What I don’t understand was why he didn’t remate, try for an alpha heir… The only thing I can think of was that maybe he thought or hoped the law would be changed back before he died...so that omegas couldn’t inherit… Unless he was just that drunk and out of it that he didn’t know about the change at all…” Tony just kind of trails off, looking over the lists and spreadsheets with a shrug.
“Wait, you mean you’re actually going to inherit Howard’s estate?” Bucky says, disbelief plain in his tone.
“Uh, yeah. That’s what the lawyer said. He didn’t have any other living alpha relatives. Hell, I don’t think he had any other living relatives at all, alcoholism runs in the family,” Tony waves a hand in the air.
Bucky watches him as Tony’s face turns down though, finally displaying some of the emotion he’s held back about his childhood nearly all his life.
“It’s just… I don’t want to ever have to live in that mansion again,” Tony says, tears spilling over briefly. He wipes at them right away, accepting the hug Bucky pulls him into as well.
“Shh, of course not, Tony. You don’t have to. Hell, if you wanted to sell the place and just wash your hands of it entirely, I’d be fine with that. It was a gaudy monstrosity anyway. It’s your family’s money and stuff, you can do whatever you want with it,” Bucky says as he comforts him.
“Don’t say that until you hear how much the estate is worth,” Tony jokes to lighten the mood as he pulls away. He wipes at his eyes a few more times, but the worst of it is over. Howard can’t hurt him anymore, and an idea is already beginning to coalesce in the back of Tony’s mind, of how to make sure that the Stark legacy dies with him.
“I’m serious, Tony, I don’t care how much money it is, it’s yours, and we’ll do whatever you want with it. I’ll sign whatever I need to, say whatever I have to, to make sure you get to do what you want with it,” Bucky says vehemently.
Tony believes him.
“Thank you, for that. We’ll need to go down to the lawyer’s office tomorrow and sign some stuff. That probably just starts the process though, I have no idea how long it will be until we actually have control of everything. You’re sure you don’t care how much it is?...” Tony asks again, but his tone has a more teasing edge to it now.
“Tony,” Bucky says, taking a hold of his face, “I don’t care. Not even if it was a million dollars,” he cracks a grin as he says it though, unable to keep a straight face. Bucky did see the mansion once, after all, and just the gold gilded gate probably cost a million by itself. Tony laughs with him, then he gives Bucky a coy look as he flips through the pages on the table until he gets to the very last one in the stack.
He taps a finger over the line tallying all the assets up together, knowing the walls have ears around here.
“Holy fuck,” Bucky blurts out, partly because he didn’t even try to hold his reaction back, knowing Tony was looking for one.
Five hundred and twelve million, four hundred thousand and twenty eight dollars.
“Well, thank god they didn’t leave out that twenty eight bucks,” Bucky says, shaking his head.
Tony bursts out laughing. He takes a moment to appreciate how unbelievably, blindingly lucky he got in having Bucky as a mate as Bucky laughs with him.
Tony is right, and the documents they sign the next day are only the beginning step of claiming Howard’s estate. It takes many months after that for accounts and properties to actually be turned over to them. When the deed on the mansion is finally transferred, the lawyers urge the two of them to do a walk through, implying that they should make sure that nothing valuable that Tony remembers from his childhood is ‘missing’ since the servants have had free reign of the place for over a year now.
“We don’t have to, doll,” Bucky rubs his shoulders, “You don’t ever have to set foot on that property again, if you don’t want to.”
“It’s ok,” Tony assures him, taking a deep breath, “I can handle a visit or two, that’s nowhere near the same thing as moving back in.”
The grounds are still as immaculately kept as ever when they arrive, and Howard’s lawyers are already there, waiting for them. There’s not a dull spot on the front doors when they go inside. Tony muses that the servants probably haven’t had anything to do but clean for a while now, although them having had "free reign" of the place has nothing to do with his reasons for coming.
It feels weird, disjointed to him in a way, to see people other than Jarvis and Anna waiting in the foyer for them. It’s that more than anything that makes Tony start to get emotional, the reminder of how much everything has changed. He gives a year’s pay as severance to them, then releases them right then and there, promising an excellent recommendation if they want it. His reasons for agreeing to this walk through are very different than the lawyers’.
“I’m not some new buyer who needs a tour,” he says, taking Bucky’s hand to lead him up the stairs, “I remember the way.”
He shows him his old bedroom, which is sitting virtually untouched from when he occupied it. Probably because Howard had more rooms than he could have ever used anyway.
“This is where he hit me the first time,” Tony says, staring at a spot in front of the closet while the lawyers look unsettled. “At least, the first time that I remember...” Tony opens a few drawers, but none of these clothes would fit him anymore, not that he wants them. He starts to take a few old text books off the shelves, but then he puts them back. He got by this long without them just fine, after all.
The longer and longer he looks, the more he realizes that anything he kept from this room would only serve to remind him of the bad times.
“Let’s move on,” he finally says, taking Bucky’s hand again.
Bucky gives it a squeeze, following sedately.
“Over there is where he threw a bottle of MaCallans at me, but missed, and it broke against the wall. Boy oh boy was he pissed after that,” Tony says, shaking his head in the hallway.
He points out Howard’s humidor in the study, and how Tony learned not to go near it by having a lit cigar ground into his arm. Bucky holds him close for a moment, then bends down to kiss the circular scar near his elbow that Tony still has from the incident.
In the formal dining room, Tony stands in the spot where he first threw up from Howard yelling and screaming at him. “I mean, I’d dropped something during a very important, very prestigious party, so naturally it was the end of the goddamned world. I don’t even remember what it was now, but I still remember the exact shade of red that his face was, and the smell of bile on the hardwood…” The lawyers have decided it’s ‘polite’ to hang back in the doorway of whatever room Tony enters, so they don’t comment.
“Here’s where he called me a little bitch for the first time. Not that I knew what it meant back then...but I learned quickly…”
Tony saves his Dad’s workshop for last.
“Do you know what the best selling gun of all time is, for Stark Industries?” Tony asks in general as he walks around the dusty work space. The servants didn’t have the code to get in here, but that wasn’t a problem for Tony.
“I have no idea,” Bucky answers.
“The P10,” one of the lawyers speaks up. They’ve overcome their “courtesy” in the face of their curiosity over the place where Howard created his inventions.
“Thank you, yes, the P10,” Tony says, looking sad. He gives the lawyer a smile for participating though. “I drew up the plans for the T10 when I was ten years old. I thought, Howard loved weapons, they were all he ever talked about, all he cared about, you know, aside from money. And I just thought, you know, if I could show him that I could make good weapons for him, that he would, I don’t know, love me or something, I was ten and delusional,” Tony pauses to wipe at his eyes. He carries on though, walking around a workbench with his fingers trailing along the edge of it. “So I did some research on handguns, looked at the designs we were already using, and improved them. Then I took the plans for my T10, which stood for Tony 10, because I was just a wealth of originality at that age, and I left them for him here in the workshop while he was out of town.” Tony pauses, looking around the place with eyes that are obviously not seeing the present. “You know, it might not have been so bad, if Howard had found them... But he didn’t. Obadiah did. And he thought my dad had drawn them up. So he took the plans down to SI, and showed them to the engineers there, who immediately jumped on production, because it was the most promising re-invigoration of the line they’d seen in decades. And before my dad got back from his two week trip, they’d already made a thousand of the things and were getting rave reviews from quality control.”
The lawyers give each other looks like they don’t quite believe what Tony’s saying, because a ten year old, really?... But Tony doesn’t pay them any mind. He’s telling this story to Bucky, not to them.
“And when Howard found out what had happened, word had already gotten out about a brilliant new design, so he couldn’t just pull it from production out of disgust. So he let everyone think he’d designed it, called it the P10 instead, because retooling the existing stocks from T to P was easiest, and then he beat me black and blue when he got home. He broke both of my arms that time, as a lesson not to ever try and upstage him again,” Tony says, staring a little too vacantly into the distance.
Bucky comes up in front of him, horrified, gently putting his hands on Tony’s upper arms to try and draw him away from the past.
Tony snaps to the present immediately as soon as Bucky touches him, blinking and saying, “I want to sell it,” before his mate can get a single comforting word out. “I want to sell it all. Every piece of furniture, all the artwork, every nut and bolt and screwdriver,’ he says, waving an arm to encompass the workshop. “I want to sell it all and donate the money to omega charities,” he says passionately.
“Consider it done then,” Bucky nods right away, loving the idea and loving everything about the incredibly strong, brave man that is his mate.
Tony nods, closing his eyes as a few more silent tears fall. Bucky’s hands cradling the sides of his face keep him grounded though.
He lets Bucky wipe away the tears and the memories for him.
When he opens his eyes again, he only sees the future.
“Well, Mr. Sturges said we have two options,” Bucky tells Steve as the two of them are catching up after a hectic week, “We can either piecemeal things off to auction houses, art galleries, etc, and get the most possible money, but it will take longer, or, we can do batch sales to just get everything sold as quickly as possible.”
“What did Tony decide?”
“He ain’t in any hurry, he wants to be able to do the most good for other omegas as possible, so Sotheby’s is coming by tomorrow to pick up a few things.”
It takes almost six months to sell everything of value in the mansion. The only thing any of the kids make even the slightest noise about wishing they could have kept was Tony’s mother’s jewelry collection. Tony still sells it, but he buys each of the girls, including Laura, a set of Mikimoto pearls to start on their own collections instead.
Tony sells everything, even some things that are nailed down. He even has the teak paneling in Howard’s second study pulled off and salvaged.
Everything, except for Howard’s liquor.
When all else is gone, those bottles remain. After calling and cancelling the insurance on the mansion, Tony sets aside a bottle of Grey Goose, because vodka, and then starts picking up the rest of the bottles and carrying them to various rooms within the mansion. He takes a MaCallan to his parent’s bedroom, knowing that was the smell his mom hated most out of all of them, the whiskey. He pops it open and upends the bottle, dumping it out and letting it soak into the carpet, trailing out to the hallway.
The smell threatens to make him sick right then and there, but Tony pushes on.
There are actually more rooms in the mansion than he has bottles, so he concentrates on the central ones, dumping out trail after trail of hard liquor as his eyes water from the fumes. He saves the Remy Martin Black Pearl for last, making sure it connects with the others and trails through the foyer and out onto the steps.
When it’s empty, he drops the bottle and lets it lay there on the marble.
Tony picks up the vodka he’d set aside earlier, drawing curious looks from his family, who are all assembled along with Steve and Peggy in the mansion’s driveway. Clint’s boyfriend Phil is there too, practically part of the family now, and Barney and Laura even brought their newest baby, Lila. Tony takes the bottle of vodka down to Bucky, who’s waiting for him with a rag. In the end, Steve has to help them fashion it into a respectable Molotov cocktail, but it gets done.
Tony would have thought his hands would be shaking as he lights it, but they’re surprisingly steady.
He hefts the lit bottle once, then flings it toward the front doors as hard as he can.
Never before has the sound of shattering glass felt like such a relief to Tony.
The flames burst in a pool outward at first, then spread farther and farther as the doors catch on fire and then the structure does. Tony can see the floor of the hallway catching ablaze too, and something that had been locked tight and squeezing around his chest his entire life suddenly breaks free.
Tony doesn’t know that Clint is capturing the moment and its progression with his camera, but Clint doesn’t know he’s going to win a Pulitzer Prize for those photos later either.
Only once the entire mansion is on fire, with no hope of being saved, does Tony call the fire department.
“What about the company?” Bucky asks, flames dancing in the background.
“Weapons manufacturing has never really been my thing,” Tony says, accepting a hug from his mate. He continues to watch the flames from within his alpha’s arms as sirens are just barely starting to be heard in the distance. “I’d be inclined to shut the whole thing down and be done with it, but, I know that would be catastrophic for all the employees… I can’t just turn 5,000 people out onto the street.”
“What are you going to do then?”
“I’m going to rebrand, rename, and give them something else to build,” Tony says, determined.
He looks over to his “secretly” flying car, then smiles at Bucky.
“And then once I’m a household name,” Tony says, “Once there isn’t a person left on the planet that hasn’t heard of me and my brilliance, once the name ‘Tony Barnes’ is synonymous with the cutting edge of technological innovation and advancement...then the omega’s rights revolution begins.”
What can I say, Tony is still Tony in every universe <3