Chapter 1: Cabin
They came across the cabin in the pitch black, so the first thing they did was sweep for snakes and raccoons.
Steve took the lead, since he had the shield and Tony was down to just the black and blue version of the undersuit. Not much to this one, just the conductive blue tracks that carried power from the reactor to the suit. Fortunately, they could use him as a nightlight. Unfortunately; he was not snake-proof.
Tony patted his chest on request, though, and activated the power system. He held his arm high to cast the blue glow over the porch and Steve did the required sweep for sneaky bastards.
Under the steps there was a smooth hollow, where a racoon might sleep, but no occupant, so they headed up onto the porch and went through the same routine as they entered the house.
There was a rustling in the corners as they opened the door and Steve froze, watching. The shapes shone in the blue light, glossy white fur and small gemstone eyes, still and scared in the dark corners they’d retreated to.
Steve relaxed and looked away, sweeping the ceiling for other inhabitants.
Tony took a little longer to recognise them, with his poorer night vision, but when he did, he kneeled down and held out his hands.
Slowly, little white faces shuffled into the light of the suit, their tiny paws leaving little footprints in the dust and fur gleaming warmly in the blue of the suit. Tony made a soft, comforting hum, and laid his hands out non threateningly, flat on the floor. An intrepid tsum wobbled onto his palms, their little family peeping in concern and shuffling into a half circle around Tony.
Satisfied the tiny building was hiding no unpleasant surprises, Steve watched fondly while Tony scooped the little tsum to his chest and smoothed down its fur.
“Hello little ones. Who left you here, hmm?” He tipped the tsum gently onto their back in his palms and stroked its tummy with his thumb. “Steve, they're really skinny...” A faint glow of soul energy started up as Tony decided to feed them up, and the chorus of tsum on the floor peeped to each other in relief.
Steve smiled, head turned away so Tony wouldn't feel self conscious, and shut the cabin door. He hadn’t seen Tony with a tsum before; it was making him feel all warm inside. The door latched but had no lock, so after a moment's assessment, he pushed the boot locker next to it over, as a barricade. The cabin was only one room, and had barely been on the map; just a tiny square in the middle of an old growth forest. Why there were tsums here was a mystery; Hydra were out here because it was as empty as the modern world could get.
He went back to Tony and crouched next to him, draping an arm over his back and hugging him briefly to his side. “I'm sure we've got enough soul energy to feed them, and Sam will be here soon enough. We can take them back with us.”
Tony hummed, still petting gently and casting the room in shifting blue shadows. “I think these two were left behind, and the others are the babies-” Tony pointed out the one he was holding, and one that had climbed onto his knee. They did look bigger than the others, and there was a hint of human clothes on the shy one, like it had copied someone but lost hope that they'd come back.
Steve shuffled carefully toward the fireplace on the far wall, nudging the tsums aside and being extra careful when one scrambled onto the top of his boot. There were scraps of fuel left, a bit of branch and some chopped wood, so he tore up a piece into kindling and stacked the fire. A hard slam of the shield on the iron poker made enough sparks to kindle the dry scraps, and lo: they had light.
Tsums purred in a sudden flurry and shuffled around him, their little round bodies bumbling and clumsy. Tony shuffled up beside and they leaned against each other while the little potatoes piled on their thighs and the hearth, enjoying the warmth.
“Oh hey, there's briquette.” Tony pointed and there in the shadows was a bag of fuel, thank fuck.
Losing the armor meant Steve really didn't want to separate to go get wood. Plus, there were tsums climbing his lap, three of them, and he didn't want to make them sad.
They loaded the fire with the long-lasting fuel and tried to bank it as best they could, so the heat would last them all night. Since they were covered in tsums and dog-tired, Steve decided it was good enough, and settled in with a tsum under his palm, petting them slowly.
The small room warmed up quickly around them. There was a hearth kettle, and griddle off to one side; what he’d give for some sausage and eggs to cook... He scooped the tsums off his lap and coaxed them to perch on his shoulders, their tiny little feet clinging to the suit securely. He shuffled around the wooden bench between the hearth and the little kitchen area, and when he carefully peered into the cabins limited storage, all he found was a little nest of torn up paper and dishcloth. He suspected the mom tsum had made it for her babies, and it looked cozy, private. He carefully closed the cupboard again, feeling like he'd intruded.
The rest of the cabin was empty, except for a vase of plastic flowers older than Tony. He gave up on getting them anything to eat; there was nothing in his rations either. At least Tony had eaten some of the high-calorie rations during the trek; he'd be fine for the day.
“Let's get some sleep, Tony. I'm just...really tired.”
Tony, kneeling by the fire and cuddling the biggest tsum, shook himself awake and made vaguely affirmative sounds.
“Not much here to work with, bed wise," Steve said. "But we'll fit if we spoon.” He pointed towards the bunk behind them, which did at least have blankets folded at the foot.
“How terrible for us, having to cuddle all night," Tony murmured to his new tsum friend, cuddling her squishy body to his cheek. His eyes dropped closed while he did, and Steve stifled a sympathetic yawn.
They were both utterly exhausted, and relieved to be safe after a long, hard battle that'd destroyed their ride and the armor. The Hydra base was cleared out though. And now they had tsums to cuddle.
“Let's stack the fire up, shake out the blankets.”
Tony stumbled to his feet, tsum held against his stomach and headed for more fuel, so Steve sorted the bed. The blankets were rumpled and smelled slightly minty, so this was probably where the tsums had been sleeping. He tidied the blankets carefully, in case anyone was hiding inside and sure enough, a tiny tsum rolled out. He scooped it up and let it cling to his chest while he worked.
“Thanks for lending us your nest,” he told it. “We'll feed you plenty, okay?” He tipped his chin and the littlest tsum snuggled up under it.
Tony joined him and they climbed into the bed, shivering, with Tony against the wall where he'd be most sheltered. Tsums crowded in; Steve counted eight, maybe nine, and they didn't need to shiver anymore. Their soft little bodies were toasty warm, and Steve took a deep breath and finally was able to relax his shoulders.
Tony felt Steve fall asleep and settled in. Once Steve fell asleep draped over you like that, there was nothing to do but go to sleep with him.
“Alright everyone, c'mon, I'm the little spoon, so you all need to be cereal.”
He scooped the nearest tsums into the shelter of his body, making them a little warm nest near his reactor. The energy they ate would be nice and strong there, and they really were skinny. The group slowly grew, tsums arriving from Steve's shoulder and up the leg of the bunk. He counted nine, including the two big ones and the tiny one Steve had found. The others were probably siblings, all the same size and shade of cream. Tony tucked them close and unzipped his suit to let them at his skin. Their little sticky paws papped slightly at his chest and one wriggled into the elastic fabric of the suit, settling against his skin and humming quietly.
Tony smiled, small and secretive, and ruffled the soft fuzz of the biggest one. It bumped up under his chin and he felt tiny paws smoothing his beard down.
A feeling in his belly made him pause, a softening of muscles that he rarely used. He felt a strong urge to pull them closer, to protect them and keep them warm and there was one way that people like Tony could do that, something he'd never thought he would feel like doing. But there he lay, in the safe, cozy shadow of a sleeping Steve, and he wanted to.
“Alright,” Tony whispered. “I'll let you in, but you have to be quiet and careful, okay? Papa's sleeping, and I've never, uh...never done this before, okay?”
He unzipped his suit all the way down, and held his hand over his pouch for a second, comforting himself and huddling into Steve's bulk like the sleeping lunk could protect them. His pouch opening, a slit from just under his ribs to his bellybutton, had gone soft and his fingertips, pressing gently, slipped inside without any ache. Usually, it was sealed up and held closed, but Tony wanted to help the little ones, he really did, and his body knew how he could do that.
Long silver scores like veins in marble streaked across his belly, emerging from the undersuit, crossing his pouch opening, and then disappearing back under the suit. They started somewhere around his hip and ended high on the left side of his chest, where the reactor held the metal shards still. If he had been standing a few inches to the left, they would have gone straight through his internal organs and no arc reactor could close up a shredded spleen. The shrapnel has been hot with still-burning propellant and the smell of charred kevlar--
The tsums chittered, quietly like he'd asked, but worried, and he took a deep breath to pull himself out of the potential flashback. He'd healed. Mostly.
“Shhh, I'm okay, really. Haven't used it in a long time, that's all. Go on.”
The smallest tsum, the one Tony suspected was the only survivor of a larger litter, nuzzled up to his tummy, near the top of his pouch. It was barely the size of a 12v battery, and Tony encouraged it to nose inside. It was what his pouch was for, looking after small things, and tsums are soul pieces; it felt right. Instinctive.
The baby slipped inside after a very careful inspection of Tony's scars, and Tony's body stuttered all over, the sensation referred to his throat and all kinds of strange. He calmed his breathing, made his limbs go soft and loose again, and hushed the little, worried bulge in his pouch. He didn't want to be interrupted by nosy boyfriends just yet. It felt like a lot, letting them in, trusting them, but tsums were pure, tiny pieces of soul that bumbled around the world entirely reliant on humans for warmth and love.
The tsum fell still and went soft, Tony's belly smoothing out as it relaxed in place and let itself be gently squished. Tony could feel it's relief, suddenly, and a faint blue glow started to shine through his pouch membrane. Having it so close, the empathetic transfer felt like a sensation of his own, only barely separate enough to tell the difference. He could do this, for that feeling. And maybe they wouldn't be quite so skinny and weak by morning.
The others crowded close, the largest nuzzling at the faint bump the first had made. The blue glow started to spread between them, and the six siblings were shepherded close by their parents. But they didn't climb into his pouch.
Tony lay still, worried that his scars were too much, that his pouch was too damaged or that maybe...maybe he didn't have enough soul. But once they were all lined up neatly, the momtsum nudged another one forward.
“Okay, yeah. Am I okay?” Tony mumbled at them, his palm drifting over his belly and the first one to join him. The second put it's soft little paws on his skin and, with a push and a flailing of its back feet, popped inside. It was about twice the size of the baby, and Tony couldn't hold back the flinch this time. It kept pushing, slipping between the stretchy muscles and it's little paws patting on the thin skin very carefully. He petted the bulge gently, feeling the tsums relief, it's warmth and gratitude and ...love? Probably? Everyone said tsums were made of love, but Tony wasn't sure he deserved that, maybe it was something else. It was so warm.
It wasn't a bad feeling, it really wasn't, but it was a lot, and new, and instincts were yelling at him to do it, but he didn't really know what the fuck was going on--
Steve woke up, a momentous heave of giant shoulders and a big, concerned hand clamping Tony close to his chest.
“Tony? 're you cold?” Steve mumbled, voice horse with sleep already.
“Not, uh, exactly?” Tony replied, smoothing his pouch over the new addition and watching the blue glow swell slightly. The shuffle of tiny paws inside his pouch made him shake again, and there was no way Steve was going to leave him alone now. The bed dipped and Steve hefted himself up onto an elbow to look.
“I know, it's super weird, I'm sorry, I'll go by the fire--” Tony babbled, hunching down around the little family and his belly self-consciously. Steve had never-- he'd never let Steve play with his pouch, during sex. It wasn't-- he loved Steve, he did, but the scars were kind of awful, and snarled and ugly, and pouches were for babies, not sex anyway, who cared what pornstars did with them, it was Tony's--
“Wow, Tony... This is really cool- I had no idea you wanted--” He paused and leaned down, kissing Tony on the temple and lingering there with his cheek against Tony's. “You're amazing, pouches are amazing, but you especially.”
Tony sniffed and hid his face in the pillow because oh.
“I want to keep them warm... It feels...”
Steve tucked back down behind him, crowding close and looking down over his shoulder instead. The blankets settled closer and Steve's furnace-level heat made Tony relax a little.
“Are your scars okay?” Steve asked, tentatively covering Tony's upper flank with a hot hand. Tony wound their fingers together and shifted Steve's hand to cover the deep pull near his hip, where one of the scars reached deep and stopped his pouch from stretching quite right. The heat helped, and when Tony let his hand go, Steve started rubbing in a slow circle.
“They won't hurt me. Maybe...maybe I won't stretch like someone else, but...”
Steve kissed the back of his neck and smoothed along the line of the scar, curling around the underside of Tony's belly, where his pouch ended. “You're doing okay so far,” he finished. “And tsums won't hurt you.”
Tony nodded. “I want to help them all, but the parents are pretty big, and nine is probably too many...”
“I’m right here, you'll be okay. I'll feed the big ones and you can-- If you want to carry the babies, I'll carry you. We can make this work.”
Tony choked up and snuffled, hiding his eyes in momtsums flank. She was so soft, and smelled soothingly of mint. Steve's hand wandered over Tony's belly, pressing warmth into his scars and the edges of his pouch, but carefully avoiding the opening like always.
“You're a sap, Steve.”
“Mmhm. Love you.”
Tony elbowed him gently and arched his back to open his pouch a little. Steve settled, holding him close with his arm across Tony's hips and his hand under Tony's other flank. The tsums nuzzled at Tony's pouch, and Steve's hand, warm and humming slightly.
Tony nodded, feeling very small compared to the way Steve could just wrap around him. “Alright, little ones. Let's do this thing, okay?”
The tsums purred and shuffled one of their number forward, supervised by tsumdad. Momtsum stayed up on the pillow, tucking her soft little body against Tony's face and purring at him.
Tony hid his face in her side and nodded, twining his fingers with Steve's. "I'm ready."
He didn't watch, but a hot little body pressed against his pouch and joined the others, curling up and stretching his tummy out. The shiver was less, this time, with the tight curl of arms around him. Steve rubbed at the scars, soothed the stretch, and kissed the corner of his jaw. It helped a lot, turning an anxious, worried moment into a calm shudder from head to toe.
This one nestled into the other side of the pouch, under Steve's hand. "They're so soft. Still okay?"
A ripple of awareness followed the physical sensation, and Tony peaked down at his pouch, framed by the black of the undersuit and starting to bulge. It was glowing in two places now, and he let go of his death grip on Steve's hand to pet over the mound. He counted four siblings left, and settled into Steve's support again. Tony nodded.
He scooped the next tsum up to his belly and helped it inside, gently pulling his pouch open with his other hand. Steve pressed gently on the other side, copying him, and his pouch gaped slightly, letting the last ones slip more easily into the soft, silky warmth.
Tony whimpered aloud, that time; the stretch was a lot all at once. The tsums hummed, concerned that he'd been too hasty, and he hushed them, he was fine, it felt ...fine. They settled, their bodies going soft and still, and the glow rising. Steve rubbed over his belly and Tony closed his eyes and leaned back, soft and limp. Lazily, without opening his eyes, he shifted Steve's hand over the opening to his pouch and gave him tacit permission to touch.
Steve shivered too, then, and began stroking the join, up and down, up and down.
"Not gonna join them, momma?" Tony asked momtsum. She purred in a satisfied way and didn't make a move. "M'kay, honey. You know best. I'm sure Steve's energy is delicious too."
Steadily, Tony felt his pouch closing up, the skin stretching to encompass the tsum babies and leaving him feeling heavy and sleepy. The strange feeling of air on the edges of his pouch stopped and he realised it had sealed up, the edges stuck together like it would if he'd been given an actual baby. That was... new. Never had that happen before. He put his hand over the little line where his pouch split and copied the gesture Steve had made, up and down, up and down. Momtsum nuzzled at his fingers, gently telling him to stop, and curled up in the space under his palm.
Tsumdad settled against the bulge of their babies in his pouch and cuddled down, too. Both started purring and glowing with a gentle, slightly pink light, Steve's colour, like he'd promised. Tony was okay with that, he had seven babies in his pouch to feed and he could already feel the drain on his reserves.
The long day, the full pouch, started to overwhelm him and Tony shuffled his heavy body deeper into the bed. "Tired."
"Sleep, Tony. We're safe, they're safe, couldn't be happier."
Tony nodded, bleary and soft, and left himself drift off, curled around the quiet contentment of the tsums in his pouch.
Steve woke early that morning, after a long night of the half-sleep half-guarding he'd perfected in the trenches. He snuffled at the back of Tony's neck, curled his arm over his belly--
Ahhh, that was nice. Tony smelled like the tsums, minty, and his pouch was swelled out in a gentle dome, low in the vee of his undersuit. The protected babies inside were still glowing softly, and when he ran a hand over the bump, their purring was just about detectable through the thin layer of muscle.
Steve felt a welling of something so strong it was almost painful; something he couldn't name. Tony was so amazing, when it came down to it, so giving and protective. Steve tucked the blankets over him carefully; with his belly like that, the undersuit gaped.
Everyone, anyone would feed a tsum, and hope that they'd stick around, but it wasn't just anyone who'd carry them like they were children. Who truly understood what these little soul fragments needed was love.
Fortunately for everyone, Tony was overflowing, brimming with so much love he sometimes had to close his eyes against the world in case it broke his heart. Steve, thinking this, had to tuck his face into Tony's hair and screw his eyes shut before he did something ridiculous, like burst out crying. A warm purring body bumped against the top of his head and he let out his breath on a shaky sigh, comforted like only tsums could manage.
He was just so very proud of Tony, it felt like a massive thing. His poor pouch was so scarred and Steve had been so worried that Tony would never be able to use it, what with their lifestyle and his injuries. If he hadn't wanted to, that'd be one thing, but you couldn't be with Tony and not notice the way his hand would drift to his belly, the way he would go contemplative and serious if a pouch-baby came up in conversation.
And then Steve had been worried it wouldn't stretch for all the babies, that momtsum wouldn't let Tony take them all. The scar Tony’d had him massage ran deep, a tissue adhesion. Steve’d had one after a bullet wound. He had healed just fine, but Tony's was over ten years old now, and probably permanent. Baseline human biology. But Tony had tried anyway, and there they were, all safe and warm. Steve couldn't know what Tony felt; he didn't have the instincts or the anatomy to be a surrogate mom, but he was so proud he could barely breathe.
He settled back down, palm over Tony's pouch opening, just where Tony had put it last night. The humm of young tsums rose slightly, and Steve felt the faint surge of them drawing some of his energy too. Tucked under Tony's bulge, supporting him, tsumdad started glowing Steve's colour. It was perfect and he lay there, at peace, and waited for dawn.
He'd left his communicator on over night, like Tony had stayed dressed in the undersuit, so he heard immediately when Sam called in, within moments of the sky starting to lighten.
The hiss of radio in his ear and Sam's steady voice meant he had to get up, but also that they could go home and get out of their battle gear. With one last kiss behind Tony's ear, Steve hefted himself off the bunk, leaving Tony curled facing the wall, still deeply asleep. Steve nudged the parent tsums in around him and tucked the blanket close to keep him warm while he stepped away enough to answer the radio.
Sam was mumbling a rough repeat of the standard message, variety slipping in as he got bored, and Steve let him continue while he put the boot locker back in place and opened the door. Dawn was barely breaking, so he slipped out and shut the door quickly to keep in the heat of the nearly dead fire.
"Falcon to Steve, coming up on your position. Boys, you did some serious destruction on that final pass. Falcon to Rogers, coming up on last known position, what the fuck did you detonate?"
Steve clicked his radio from passive to active, which would give JARVIS an almost-instant bead on their location. "We blew up an arc reactor. Pretty comprehensive, isn't it?"
Sam crowed into the mic, laughing. "Good to hear your voice, Rogers. Been singing to myself for twenty minutes. You missed the Little Mermaid."
Steve strained his ears and caught the incoming roar of engines in the distance. "I'm not sure I'll survive, encore."
"Not a chance in shit, boyo. I'm on approach now, less'n a minute out. I am good."
Steve grinned up at the sky, starting lighten from navy to pink where the clouds caught the distant rising sun. "We lost contact what, twelve hours ago?"
"Eh, you went off grid on purpose. We knew you were fine. What's that, a cabin? Is that woodsmoke? Lap of luxury."
Steve raised his arms and waved to confirm to the incoming jet that he was in the right place. The roaring engines made Steve's mic almost completely useless this close, so he directed Sam by hand, to land on the overgrown dirt road.
The noise didn't stop Sam though; he could transmit all he liked. "You got coffee in there? The flight here was three hours. And I timed it to get here as soon as it was light enough to land; I deserve coffee."
The engines cut out and the jet settled with a crunch of broken deadwood.
"No luck, the place is shut up, probably has been for years. You can have five to stretch your legs, but I want to get back to base after that. Tony's pretty tired."
Sam popped the pilots hatch and pulled off his headset so they could talk normally. "He doing okay? Jokes aside, I got here as soon as I could safely, but if he's hurt, I coulda come faster. You--"
Steve cut him off before he could get a 'tell your sergeant this shit' lecture. "He's not hurt, but we found some abandoned tsums, so he's tired."
Sam immediately softened. "Alright, that I can forgive. They okay?"
"Yeah. They'd gone white, but they're all glowing merrily now. Fed the biggest myself, but you know what Tony's like."
"That I do," Sam said, ducking into the back of the jet. "I brought breakfast, it's cold but the calories are still good," he yelled.
Steve cracked the cabin door and peeked in; Tony had rolled onto his other side, into the dent Steve had left. The blankets hadn't weathered the move well though, and one black bootie was sticking out. Tony had a momtsum in his arms, so he looked comfortable enough, but he was well on his way to waking up. Steve left the door open a crack so Tony'd hear them talking when he did.
"I could eat," Steve told the jet, and the vague clunking noises that indicated Sam was activating the hatch ramp. "Losing our ride was off-script, that's for sure. My belt pouches are empty."
Sam popped out of the hatch before it lowered all the way, all jittery with energy. "That's not supposed to happen. You been forgetting to take care of your equipment, Cap?"
"There was food in our jet, Sam, I took extra C4 instead."
"And used it all."
Steve opened his arms and Sam, unable to resist, leaned into them and thumped Steve on the back while they hugged. Steve did notice the discrete riffle through his belt though; decent prankster or not, Sam was no Nat.
"No, no, it's cool, my best guy just casually starving himself in favour of grenades he never uses. It's all cool. Steve Rogers this is not cool I am being sarcastic."
Steve grinned though, Sam was a little shit about it every time. "Alright, I'll try and ease off the grenades. You wanna come carry a tsum for me? I want to get Tony in the jet."
Sam frowned at him as they mounted the porch. "He's not up to walking?"
"Dunno, I offered to carry him around today though, so he gave em a lot." Steve opened the cabin door and they slipped inside, aware of the morning chill. Tony was half awake, blinking and sitting up with the blanket bundled over his shoulders and wrapped around his belly.
"Sam! Good to see you; I'm so tired I could cry. Look what I did." He patted his big tummy. He looked dazed to Steve's eye, and he wasn't sure if Tony would have been this open with Sam on any other day.
"Steve, you coulda warned a guy," Sam hissed. Steve shrugged; he hadn't known what Tony had wanted to reveal, so staying quiet had been the easiest way to leave it in Tony's court. Sam gave him the evil eye anyway.
"So, this is new," Sam told Tony, crouched by the bunk and looking at the bump from multiple angles.
"It's helping. Best way; warm, safe, lots of energy."
Sam nodded, scritching at his beard. "They pretty hungry?"
Tony shrugged, letting the blanket down and showing the faint blue glow under his skin. It was barely visible in daylight, but still there. "It's more efficient this way, it's not like feeding seven by skin contact. But still, it's a lot."
"Alright, they're the experts. They communicating to you okay?"
"I'm hearing every thought. The pouch is very sedative though," Tony said, palm on the top of the bump and rubbing a little circle. "They're sleeping."
"May I?" Sam held his hands out, over the bump. Tony nodded, but was looking a little baffled, so Steve went to sit by him, on the edge of the bunk.
Sam's hands started glowing as soon as he touched the bump, the deliberate push of energy a soft, orange-red. It didn't last long, but Tony thanked him quietly when it was done. Sam's soft touch turned inquisitive, then, pressing on the skin of Tony's pouch and checking that it was all okay, that his scars weren't tender. He and Tony murmured quietly about the largest one, about the tissue adhesion Steve had noticed last night.
"It's tight, Tony, I'm worried it won't hold if you shift their weight forward to walk."
Steve didn't like the sound of that, and fussed with momtsum in anxiety.
"It's a long way from that, Sam, it'll hurt before any damage happens and they're just not heavy like a baby would be. Anyway, I've had enough released in the doctor's office to know what it feels like, so I should get some warning."
Sam nodded at this. "That's all good then, we'll just move slow and careful. You let us know what you need for em, we'll work it out."
"Thanks Sam. It's not exactly...anything I was expecting, so. Communications open here," he said, gesturing between the three of them.
"Yeah. Scarring aside? You're built for this, you're fit and strong, we got this." Sam, who's hand had been resting comfortably on the side of Tony's bump, shifted to run his fingers under the zip of Tony's undersuit. "This looks kinda uncomfortable though. We've got sweats in the jet if you wanna change."
Tony brightened. "Fuck yes. Please, that would really-- the zipper is cold, and the belly sticks out."
Steve chuckled and reached over him to pull the blanket back in place. "It sure does. I'll carry you over, blanket secure?"
Tony nodded, the ends wrapped in his fist, and swung his legs off the bed. "I can probably walk, though, you parked pretty close."
Steve let him try and stand, because this was how Tony operated, and was right there to scoop him up when his balance faltered. Tony settled into his arms with a wry smile and hooked an arm around the back of his neck.
"Thanks. I retract my previous statement. God, I'm tired."
Steve kissed the top of his hair and adjusted his grip carefully. "You're doing some pretty hard work for them, you focus on that and we'll get you home."
"Sweet talker, with all your priorities and your division of labour."
Sam snorted at them. "Yeah, how dare he. Like he can talk."
Steve blushed hotly, from bellybutton to shoulders. Fortunately, he could hide 90% of his blushes under the uniform if he kept a straight face. "You got the two parents, Sam? Time to go."
Sam scooped momtsum and tsumdad up, one cuddled to each side of his chest. "Unless you put your book in the bedside drawer, we're good."
Steve shook his head. "We stayed battle ready, except for the obvious."
Tony smacked him on the shoulder blade. "I am not-- I'd lost the suit anyway."
"Tony, when does that ever slow you down?"
Tony paused to consider this, and Steve got them halfway to the jet before he spoke again. "I do try to be in the way of fewer bullets when I'm out of the suit."
Steve squeezed him a little tighter for a second. "I really appreciate when you manage that. Stops my ulcer from growing."
"You can't get ulcers," Sam added, unhelpfully.
Steve ducked under the bulkhead, carefully swinging around so Tony's feet didn't get bumped. The hatch was crowded by the trees and shrubs that had grown up in the track.
Inside, Steve sat Tony down on the bench seat that doubled as a casualty bunk. Tony sat back against the wall and blinked, dazedly, his hands trailing off Steve's shoulders like he didn't really want him to go. Steve's heart ached pleasantly and he resolved to come back soon.
"Here you go, Tones," Sam said, putting the two bigger tsums on the bench with him. They immediately crawled up to sit together on Tony's thigh and he petted them sleepily.
"You wanna lie down or take the nav con, Tony?" Sam asked. "I'm gonna need you to strap in."
"I'll lie down, not sure the chair harnesses will fit right now," he said, patting his blanket wrapped tummy. "I want to change first though. I was promised comfort."
"Sure. Steve, pick out some boyfriend-clothes that'll fit Mr. Mom." Then, turning to Tony, he started picking at the undersuit. "Let's peel you outta this thing."
Steve smiled and ruffled his hair self-consciously. 'Boyfriend'. Sounded nice when Sam said it. They were officially ‘partners’, since Tony thought anything else sounded juvenile. Steve thought they could use a bit of youthful care-free in their lives though. He rummaged in the spares locker to hide for a second and pulled out some generic sweats and an SI hoodie that had last seen use when Clint had gotten stuck in a rainstorm. To Steve's nose, it still smelled slightly like him, even.
Tony grumbled at Sam, but still turned his arm so Sam could get at the tiny zips that cinched the elastic suit around his wrists. "What am I, a banana?"
"You designed it," Sam pointed out.
"And I can't get out of it myself, shoo."
"Don't pretend you can reach your lil booties right now, Stark."
Tony looked down over his belly and visibly went through denial, irritation, and acceptance in sequence.
"Fair point. Also I don't want to try. You're gonna have to forgive me sleeping the whole way back. Reports can wait."
Steve put the clothes down and knelt at Tony's feet. "I'll write 'em. Hill will be too relieved at being able to read it that she won't care it's my handwriting."
Tony unsteadily lifted his foot and put it in Steve's waiting hand. "You naughty devil. Cheating on the homework."
Steve, working the boot off, shrugged. "The goal of the reports is to disseminate information. We weren't separated or otherwise situationally compromised. It won't make any difference." The boot popped over Tony's heel and pulled the rest of the way off, revealing a blue and red sock and Tony's wiggling toes. Steve indulged for a second and dug his thumbs into the arch of Tony's foot; his toes curled and then relaxed. Steve cradled his ankle and pulled the sock off, revealing the white stars on the cuff. He raised an eyebrow at Tony and was summarily ignored in favour of telling Sam something utterly inane. The other boot and sock followed quickly, and by then Sam had released both cuffs and disconnected the computers installed in the forearms.
"I'll leave you to the rest, start on the preflight," Sam said. "No funny business on my bird!"
"Yes sir, captain bird, sir," Tony said, falling short of the mocking he'd usually infuse it with because a yawn was taking up half his mouth.
Sam laughed at him, looking fond, and ducked into the pilot seat. Behind them, the hatch swished closed, only trapping a small branch in the process.
Tony wiggled out of the top of the undersuit in a show of muscular flexibility that Steve always appreciated, then flopped against the skin of the jet, puffing. The top rolled down under his belly and he rubbed at the faint impressions the zipper had left on the taut skin. Steve, still kneeling at his feet, was able to lean forward and kiss them gently away, his hands on Tony's thighs.
"Love you, Steve. What do I look like though, all fat."
Steve huffed and leant the side of his face against his belly, hands easing the undersuit down all the way to Tony's hips.
"No one could mistake this for fat, Tony, and even if you put on a few pounds, you'll still be beautiful." He leaned up onto his knees to kiss Tony on the lips. "You're hot as all get out, and nothing can change that."
Tony flushed slowly red, starting at the top of his pouch and spreading up over his chest, all the way to the tips of his ears. The tsums on the bench started squeaking in excitement, tottering in little circles. Steve kissed him again, because it was adorable and because Tony deserved it.
"Alright, stop," Tony muttered. "Just let me be humble sometimes, jheeze."
"Not today, Tony, not when you're being such an upstanding human, and sharing your body with little lost souls you literally met yesterday."
Tony put a hand on his face and pushed him down. Steve went with the gesture and rubbed his face against the bulge of the tsums inside Tony. "All warm and safe, mm?"
When he glanced up, Tony had gone dazed and inwards looking, listening to the tsums purr. Steve could feel them, just about, a haze of contentment.
"Sure. Yeah, upstanding human Tony Stark. Whatever you say..."
Steve, satisfied by this, backed off the pressure and leaned over to get the sweater. Tony pulled it on with visible relief, pulling it over his belly and letting the hood flop back. The undersuits bottom half was a little trickier than the top; the elastic of the suit tighter to help Tony take the high g-forces the armor created. Once Tony pushed the suit off his hips, Steve had to roll it down his legs like a wetsuit.
"No wonder you let JARVIS do this, it's..." Steve faltered, not quite knowing the right word.
"Inelegant? A pain in the ass? Yes to both. At least I'm not wearing the lube filled one, that's a real mess."
Steve put on his best leer, and Tony laughed at him for it.
"It was supposed to boost myoelectric reception," Tony rambled, flopping back against the side of the jet and stuffing his hands into the front pocket to cuddle his pouch. "Theoretically. But the signal to noise ratio was terrible, I tell you. Like a radar dish full of bees. It made getting into a high-compression suit easier but I came out slick as a fish and twice as likely to fall over in the shower." He made a demonstrative gesture that certainly captured the essence of falling ass-over-tit in a shower cubicle.
"Sounds impractical," Steve observed, popping the suit off Tony's left foot and moving on to the right.
"It was much less sexy than I originally thought. Zero friction, lots of flailing."
Steve freed Tony's other foot, and fell backwards into his ass; it had been easier than he was expecting. He bundled the undersuit into a lump and shoved it into a locker. Tony, bare legs poking out from the sweater, was laughing silently at him.
"Speaking of flailing."
"Shush, you," Steve warned him, then got back up on his knees for another quick kiss. The sweat pants went on relatively easily after that, though Tony's limp noodle limbs did their best to fight him.
Eventually though, Tony had himself wrapped back up in his blankets, looking pink cheeked and sleepy and comfortable. Steve was almost envious.
He sat on the edge of the bench next to Tony's knees, and started velcroing him into the safety straps. Tony rolled his eyes and tucked the two parent tsums into the blankets with him, letting Steve do what he wanted.
The pressure of the straps, and the kerfuffle, was obviously enough to send Tony back off to sleep, because he was drifting off with long slow blinks before Steve had even finished. Steve pressed a kiss to his temple, petted the nose of the only visible tsum, and quietly retreated.
Up front, he strapped into the copilot's chair and gave Sam the go-ahead to take off.
"Up we go, Cap. Home in a couple of hours."
When they got home, Tony woke up enough to waddle to his bedroom, let Steve force water into him, and went right back to sleep.
He woke, god knew how long later, feeling deeply rested, but still a little heavy around the eyelids and a lot heavy around the midsection. The two adult tsums were bouncing amongst the covers, apparently having a great time, and Tony let himself luxuriate in his lassitude for a bit longer. A palm rubbed over his bump rewarded him with the warm affection of his passengers, and a soft glow. Much softer than before.
He felt a swell of pride, eyes stinging, and curled over onto his side around his bump.
Holy shit he'd done it.
He couldn't quite believe that it could be that easy, but he'd done it, and they were nearly healed.
He thought of Yinsen, ten years ago, pulling apart a silk tie to make thread delicate enough to repair a pouch, and whelp there he went. He curled tight, both hands over his belly, and hid his watering eyes in the pillow.
So many doctors over the years, humming and prevaricating and not willing to commit--
And okay, tsums were a damn sight easier to carry than a baby but his pouch had worked, it'd accepted them, healed them, and held them close enough to him that he could feel their little hearts beating.
The momtsum invaded his little confused ball of emotions, and Tony switched his grip from his pillow to her squishy, cuddly body so he could hold her tight to his chest.
"Thank you, okay? I'm not really sad, I'm just, this is great and I'm ... Reverse grieving or something." She purred into his chest, little nose tucked against his chest.
He must have gone back to sleep, because the next thing he knew, Steve was checking up on him and the parent tsums were both glowing Steve's colour. Tony leaned into the hand on his face and mumbled something not even he could understand.
"Hey, sleepyhead. It's lunch time, do you want to join us, or do you want some privacy?"
Tony pulled himself closer to Steve's leg and buried his face in his thigh. "I don't mind them seeing. Not if I can borrow some clothes that'll fit. Give me a few minutes to wake up?"
"Sure. Want me to bring you anything? Coffee?"
Tony laughed and pushed himself up to kiss Steve on the cheek. Steve curled an arm around his shoulder so they were leaning together, Tony's belly resting more comfortably on Steve's flank. "Yes please. Iced?"
"Don't think we have any left, sorry. Tower's warm today."
"I'll live. Sun must be fierce. Do I need sunglasses for the gallery?" He joked, eyeing the blacked out windows.
"It's nearly midday, we're mostly in our own shadow."
Tony paused, surprised. "I really have been sleeping, huh. Surprised you didn't get me up for breakfast."
Steve went pink and fidgeted suspiciously.
"Did you... Did I sleep-eat breakfast?"
Steve burst out laughing, barely restraining himself to a snuffling chuckle after the initial outburst. "You really did. I made you a fancy, delicious breakfast, continental, with poached eggs and lemon spinach and everything. Croissants! You seemed to enjoy it at the time?"
"Well," Tony allowed, shifting his weight around to sit more upright and trying to gauge how much of a drain the tsums were. "Thank you for the delicious food, then. I'm sorry I wasn't awake enough to remember it."
Steve ducked in for a kiss and they leaned, smiling, against each other. "You're welcome. You're cute when you're sleepy."
"Excuse you, I am cute all the time."
Steve chuckled and let him pull away to untangle himself from the blankets. It really was a warm day; he was starting to regret the eco-friendly air-conditioning settings. Except no, he would never actually regret trying to save the planet. Maybe he should get to work on the evaporative cooling system-- except it used too much water to be truly economical, and the filters had to be--
"I'll be right back with a coffee, and I'll grab you one of my Henley's. Just a sec."
Tony nodded absently, mind already whirring with next generation aircon designs.
He stood up just fine, this time; his center of gravity was different, but that was easy enough to compensate for and his energy levels felt a bit more normal. He moved slowly, letting his feet go at their own pace, but didn't really wobble. He opened the closet and scanned the cubbies for his favourite, special occasion sweats, the ones he'd 'stolen' from Rhodey because they were three inches too short for him.
And by stolen, he meant their ongoing tradition of leaving things out for the other to take.
He tucked them under his arm and pondered the shirt situation. The Steve-sweater would fit, obviously, but he wasn't one to go without an undershirt. He picked through the options, hand on his belly to ask their opinion. The tsums hummed gently and radiated a quiet positivity that didn't really contribute.
Eventually, Tony unearthed a bamboo silk tee that was designed to be loose, for hot weather, and tried it on. Sure enough, the fabric stretched over his bump and felt nice enough. Soft. He pulled it off again and tucked it with the sweats.
"JARVIS, put an order in for some more of these? Some in normal size, and some with bump space."
JARVIS chimed softly in agreement.
"You're quiet today, J, how's my tower doing?" Tony asked on his slow way to the bathroom.
"I'm doing well, thank you sir. As the Captain observed, it is a warm, sunny day, and I have gained six inches in height due to thermal expansion."
Tony chuckled, examining his stubble in the vanity mirror. "Kinky. I'm thinking about the central column HVAC conduit. Think it's wide enough for a rainfall air conditioner?"
He decided he could get away with a buzz trim and fished out his clippers.
"The downward pressure generated by the falling water would create a significant pressure differential; dependant on drop size and overall water volume, the breeze created could be quite significant."
Tony hummed to himself, unable to reply while he ran the clipper guards through his beard. Once that was done, he popped the guard off and neatened up the edges. His bump briefly got in the way so he twisted sideways to get closer to the mirror.
"Calculate the crude air volume movement without peripheral resistance on the rainfall system for me, and plot an X Y Z of drop size, flow rate and bulk air movement. Then cross reference to the current fan installation and plot energy efficiency of raising the water against the energy spent cooling and moving air in the existing system."
"Yes sir, it may take a moment to retrieve the necessary data, however."
Tony hummed in forgiveness, following the line of his jaw carefully before speaking. "Commission a study with the research team if you need to. No particular urgency."
J beeped in agreement and went quiet, though Tony could hear the gentle hum that meant his speakers were still active. Tony had cleaned the trimmings from the sink and was considering a shower by the time he spoke up again.
"I doubt I will understand the tsum phenomenon on any personal level, sir, but I find myself ...pleased that this has occurred. I share my physical body with many other beings, and find it quite rewarding. I am glad it can be the same for you. Humans are so... Squishy."
Tony grinned and started to wriggle out of his clothes, not the easiest thing in the world when you had a big ol' beach ball belly.
"I'm happy too, buddy. Glad I went for it."
Tony got free of his pants, finally, and shuffled into the shower. The warm water felt great, soothing away any residual mission grime and making all his muscles feel loose and pliant. He turned his back to the jets and leaned against the wall so they would drum against the small of his back, where the muscles that held up his pouch connected. They were mildly sore, unused to holding any weight. Fortunately, even seven tsums didn't weigh very much.
Once he was washed up and dressed, he shuffled back into the bedroom to find Steve offering coffee. Henley first though.
Steve popped it over his head unceremoniously, then held the hem so Tony could wiggle into it. The soft blue fuzz was just right, and the larger fit pulled down over the bump nicely.
"Thanks, honey," he said, and tugged Steve down for a thank-you kiss. Steve put the coffee in his hand while they were occupied and Tony was conflicted; more kissing? Or coffee??
"You are a kind man, Captain Rogers, my cup runneth over," he mumbled without pulling away.
"Drink your coffee and come to lunch," Steve said, dropping kisses on Tony's cheeks as he paused. "And then after? I'll show you what 'runneth over' really looks like."
Tony felt the blush rise and took a sip of coffee to distract himself from the look on Steve's face. "Even though I'm..."
Steve pulled him into a sideways hug, so he could rub Tony's belly soothingly. "Only if you're comfortable with it."
"I don't know, it's different. Feels rude to them, to have sex while they're recovering."
Steve, ever the gentleman, accepted this with a calm nod. "Then I'll keep my innuendos to myself for a bit."
Tony reached up on tiptoes and kissed him on the lips, a silent thanks.
Supplied with coffee, Tony led the way out into the commons. Steve followed along behind, the parent tsums on his shoulders and fussing with his hair. Tony couldn't blame them, it really was as soft as it looked.
The kitchen and gallery were the usual jumble of avengers and bots; Clint flopped out on the couch, Thor and Bruce putting out lunch stuff, Natasha and Dum-E making intricate towers of nuts.
He settled on a bar stool and nursed his coffee.
"Morning Tony. Doing okay?" Bruce asked, casually putting a plate of deep fried potato croquettes in arms reach. A dangerous move.
"Pretty good. They're really small, it's not that hard."
Bruce sounded unconvinced. "Sure. I'll drop you some energy after lunch, if you stick around."
Tony, mouth half full, thanked him with a thumbs up. "'preciate it."
Steve slid next to him, tsumparents rolling onto the table from his arms. Momstum immediately cuddled up to Tony's coffee mug. She was starting to take on a definite powder blue shade, and her hair was starting to show slightly yellow; she must have settled on Steve to mimic.
Tsumdad still had a vague outline of a white shirt from their previous love, but Tony was starting to suspect that the brown smudge near their mouth was gonna become his beard in a few days.
Thor finished slicing the bread and took the chair next to Tony, helping himself to a croquette. "Fair morning, Stark. You look well!"
Tony shrugged, uncertain. Thor was the only other pouch-male Tony knew, but they'd never talked about it, and he wasn’t sure what horror stories Thor might come out with.
Thor thumped him gently on the back and pulled him into a sideways hug for a quick squeeze that was unfairly nice. “It suits you. Now! I would hear of your exploits against Hydra! How went the fight?”
Tony mumbled something, relieved that he wasn’t about to hear about Thor carrying Slepnir or something, and Thor nodded seriously, as if he’d made some grave statement. Steve chipped in, and the conversation mercifully went ahead without him.
Lunch rapidly gathered the rest of the team from their various exploits, even Dum-e. Nat used his chassis instead of a chair and let him adjust her cutlery until they were perfectly square with absolute north. The angle of the table was apparently irrelevant. Clint leaned over Tony, one hand planted on his shoulder, and also stole a croquette.
"Morning Mom. Can I?" Clint gestured at Tony's bump, wiggling his fingers.
"Maybe later?" Tony said, feeling a vague sense of 'not now' from his pouch. "They're asleep."
"Sure man, just let me know if they're hungry for purple, y'know?"
Tony nodded, and held up the croquette plate in offering. Clint couldn't resist seconds; who would, to be fair. He scooped a couple into his hand and shuffled in next to Nat and Dum-E. Sam stole one of his hoard and they had a brief slap fight that Nat won.
Tony took another for himself then put the plate next to Thor, who, being the chef, should at least get to taste them before Tony ate the rest.
A jaw-creaking yawn snuck up on him, and Tony took another deep drag of his coffee.
Momtsum tottered over, weaving between water glasses and pulling herself onto his plate. He scooped her up and immediately felt brighter when he put her on top of his bump. He wasn't so big that he could use it as a shelf, but she held on anyway, and her impressive levels of chill helped him relax.
Tomato and mozzarella salad passed by and he snagged a few slices for himself. He wasn't particularly hungry, but all these delicious things kept passing by under his nose and he couldn't help himself.
He was more awake by the time everyone was fed and gossiping, and he launched into the technical side of the mission just gone.
His poor suit, sacrificed to act as detonator for the arc reactor, deserved at least that much eulogy.
After lunch, Tony kissed Steve on the cheek and excused himself to the couch, a tablet in hand. Both the tsums had migrated to his shirt, and tumbled gleefully onto the coffee table to play with Dum-e's washer and nut collection. They were almost as bad as the bot when it came to dexterity, but they tried.
Tony emailed Pepper to say he was up and working and started on the reading for the Intellicrops AGM. Less boring than it could have been.
Soon, he had multiple holographic monitors open and was flicking between graphs and tables, while he used the tablet as an input.
"Golden rice?" Bruce murmured in question, after an undetermined amount of time.
Tony nodded. "Vitamin A levels are holding into the third generation, so it looks like we've fixed the crosslinkage degradation."
"Politics working out yet?" Bruce wiggled a mug in Tony's direction and he paused to accept it. Mocha, heck yes.
"Not my department, but we're hoping. You can do a mini tour if you like, slip back into your old haunts and do some education."
Bruce didn't commit, but he did stay and read Tony's homework. The adult tsums got bored of their building eventually, and came over to Bruce for cuddles.
Slowly, Tony noticed his energy dropping, and the incubating tsums start to wake a little, whining through the quiet empathetic transfer.
"Bruce, your offer from earlier still open? I could use a hand if I want to stay awake." He put the tablet down on his chest and rubbed his bump with a firm palm. The tsum furthest up and to the left started purring and it hummed all the way through to Tony's diaphragm, warm and soothing.
"Of course, here." Bruce held his hand out and let Tony put it where he wanted. After a brief internal debate, he put it high up, well away from any scars. A chlorophyll-green light swelled under Bruce's palm and Tony felt his own energy contribution tail off as Bruce took over. The temptation to nap was strong though, ironically, so he relaxed back into the couch cushions with a sigh. Momtsum sneaked over from Bruce's lap and snuggled up against the reactor, on the curve of his bump, pushing his tablet off and into the cushions.
But his email notification popped and he picked the tablet back up. Pepper had work for him, and he'd done enough reading up to know it was important. Momtsum watched him work, commenting with little peeps and a vague feeling that she approved of Bruce.
He got back to it, typing his orders on the tablet, then shifting to his phone to talk to the Intellicrops manager. Bruce flicked and scrolled through the results for him, highlighting useful numbers as he went, and it took a lot of the strain out of the process.
At some point, Bruce's palm pulled away, and he got back to work on a water treatment for filtering out arsenic. He looked tired out, and Tony's pouch felt full and heavy with the extra energy. The tsums hummed gently, and he could feel them glowing, now, though he couldn't see it in the bright afternoon light.
"Right," Bruce said, eventually, picking tsumdad off his lap and putting them on Tony's shoulder. "Can't do any more theoretical today, I need to start the permissivity tests. See you at dinner?"
Tony looked away from all the screens and blinked up at him. "Uh yeah, should do? No engineering for me today. Thanks for the top up."
"Any time, Tony." He yawned massively, back of his hand over his mouth.
"Go, Bruce, start your tests and take a nap, okay? Seriously. I'll put a tsum after you if you don't rest up." Momtsum, who was looking even more like Cap by the hour, peeped and waggled her front legs at Bruce.
"I'll nap, I promise." He waggled his fingers back at her.
Tony went back to work, hammering out the details of the production chain. Damn subcontractors had pulled out in northern Bangladesh, so he needed to replace them, ideally with some kind of co-op group.
Later, Clint stopped by and did something similar, leaning in and pouring a huge dollop of energy right into the mix. His hands were hotter than Bruce's, rougher with calluses, but the tsums liked the vibrant purple and Tony didn't mind it when Clint settled in with his feet on the coffee table and fell asleep.
The energy kept trickling over, even as he started snoring.
Steve checked in at...some point; Tony had dropped off himself during an email-lull.
"Hey honey. Need anything?" Steve asked, leaning on the back of the couch and dropping a kiss on the top of Tony's head.
"I could snack. Popcorn?"
Tony grinned. "Spicy. Gotta protect my assets."
Steve snorted. "I'll make Clint his own bowl, if you don't want to share. No need for drastic measures."
Tony squinted suspiciously but his stomach won out. "Oh fine, salted caramel then. With black pepper."
Steve kissed him deep enough to make him slightly breathless. "You're disgusting and I love you."
Tony licked his lips in a daze before gathering up the usual righteous indignation. "You try it and then tell me that, you heathen. I'll take you to a Michelin star popcorn bar one day, and then you'll understand."
Steve grinned wickedly. "You'll never take me alive, Stark," he growled, then kissed him again and danced away on his stupid stealth mode tippy toes; like their flirting hadn't already woken Clint up.
Tony helped Clint shove himself upright, and resigned himself to being a pillow while he slowly blinked himself awake.
Tony patted his thigh. "Yup, thank you for helping out. You can go back to sleep if you want, but you should probably stop there, okay?"
Clint flexed backwards into a long stretch, toes pointed, and the purple glow cut off. Without ever really waking up, Clint crawled along the couch cushions and face-planted the throw pillows at the far end.
His tummy definitely felt bigger now, and the tsums were inching towards waking up. He rubbed, low and on the right, at a tsum who was wiggling it's little feet. It gave off a faint feeling of relief at the petting, and was able to go back to sleep. The parents were nearby, Tony could hear them peeping happily at each other. Maybe under the couch, it was hard to say.
Popping started from the kitchen and Clint briefly lifted his head like a dog smelling pizza. Tony leaned over and patted him on the ankle. "He's making you some too, chill."
He flopped back down and curled into a ball facing the back of the couch. Tony huffed a laugh at him, was completely ignored, and went back to his emails. Pepper seemed to be working on wrap-up, thank god for that. He answered a couple of questions and suggested she come up to join them.
No reply, which meant they probably had about an hour before she just appeared, possibly dressed down to shorts and a tee. A Tony could always hope, anyway.
He put the work files away and stretched, arching his back all the way and feeling his tummy strain. Oof. Unsatisfied, he slid sideways enough to stretch out with his back against the armrest. He flopped back and stretched himself as tall as he could go. The tsums shifted in protest, so he dropped his arms back down with a huff and rubbed over them gently. The purring started up and his belly glowed just enough to show through the giant sweater. He grinned down at them and gave them a final pat.
"You look suspiciously happy," Nat said from behind him.
Tony craned his head around, and she was standing with tsumdad in her arms, looking at him quizzically. "Feeling pretty good, yeah,” Tony answered. “Tsums are happy."
She quirked her head and came over to the couch, peering down at Clint. "I think I see. Topped up?"
Tony nodded. "And got the SI stuff squared away. Pep's being nice: suspicious."
Nat laughed at him, curls bouncing and eye glimmering with all the things she knew but Tony didn't. It made him want to tickle her brutally, which was a fun feeling. "Pepper is always too nice to you, Tony."
Tony huffed. "She is exactly as mean as she needs to be. I know when I'm beat."
Nat rolled her eyes and swung her legs over the back of the couch to join them. She landed on his feet so Tony shuffled to tuck his toes under her thigh. She didn't make any kind of gesture, but his belly started purring, so he wriggled his toes to bother her, until she smacked him on the shin. He subsided and leaned over the side of the couch to scoop momtsum out from under the coffee table. She and tsumdad bumbled onto Nat’s lap and booped noses in greeting.
Once Steve returned from his snack assignment, Clint sat up, and all four of them ended up squished onto the one section of couch, mutually ignoring the TV in favour of denigrating AIM and complaining about their dreadful sense of timing.
Chapter 3: Out
Tony gets the Tsums out of his pouch and tries not to cry over them.
(additional warnings for: slime, birth-like description, mood swings, and FeElS
Late that night, curled up with Steve snoring at his back, Tony felt the kicking of small feet. He rubbed his tummy, mostly asleep still, but they refused to calm down, radiating an almost anxious energy. Curling close and lifting his borrowed shirt, he tried to soothe the restless tsum and blinked himself awake. Momtsum peeped from the pillow and wobbled down to his belly, looking at him with a serious expression.
His eyes widened and then he felt it, his pouch squeezing tight over the tsums beneath.
"Time to come out, mom?"
She reared up to put her front feet on his skin. Warmth spread from where she touched and she gifted him a little thread of the energy she'd absorbed from Steve. That was a solid 'yes'.
Tony elbowed Steve in the ribs, gently, and he came awake with a bed-shaking lurch and an incoherent mumble.
"Steve, Steve, I--" Tony, being a complete novice at using his pouch, flailed helplessly. "I'm doing the... The thing. It's time, now."
Steve grunted and folded back down until he was half squishing Tony's upper body into the mattress and snuffled in the crook of his neck. Tony was winding up to elbow him properly, the useless sleepy bastard, but then Steve started petting his bare stomach. His warmer body temperature soothed some of the ache, and Tony felt himself going limp again.
"They're done, ready to come out."
Steve hugged him tighter to his chest and hummed in question, fingers just shy of touching the pouch opening. Tony nodded and swallowed nervously when Steve's fingertips skimmed over the sealed slit down the middle of his belly.
Another contraction rippled through the muscles and he struggled to breathe for a second.
Steve hummed again, fingers probing. "We should get you some warm water, and ointment. It'll sting a bit."
Tony hissed, curling in over his belly protectively. "Steven Rogers have you been researching?"
"You-- yes, Tony; I YouTubed how to help your partner depouch tsums." Steve said it with such flat irony that Tony did actually elbow him again. "No, I helped my mom sometimes."
Tony had very mixed feelings about this, and they churned through him uncomfortably, right along with the next contraction. On the one hand; Tony's body. He should know what he was doing. On the other hand; warm water and ointment were great ideas and he was annoyed he hadn't thought of it himself. "Fine, go fetch."
Steve started clambering out of bed and kissed Tony on the temple on the way past. Tony bristled indignantly. "Thor would definitely be here for you if you want him."
Tony burrowed down into his pillow in dislike. “No thanks, this is private.”
Steve, now in a tee and with socks in one hand, leaned back down and smoothed his hair back for a forehead kiss. "Alright, boss. But he’d be good at it, y’know?"
Tony subsided, tilting his head to kiss Steve back. "He really would... I'll keep it in mind. Now shoo. I wanna steal all your pillows."
Steve chuckled at him and went, pausing at the door frame to pull his socks on. Once the door swung closed, Tony and momtsum surveyed the bed with very similar frowns.
Aching and keeping one hand on his belly, Tony kicked the blankets down out of his way and beat the pillows into a nest he could flop comfortably amongst. Momtsum climbed onto his shoulder and tucked up under his chin, lending him a tiny thread of energy again. Tsumdad stayed on the headboard.
"You'll wear yourself out, stop it,” he told her. She wasn’t exactly fat with energy yet.
She ignored him; not exactly surprising since she was taking on Steve's colours.
Another contraction rippled through his belly, pulling at the seal and making it ache. The old tissue adhesion that ran through his pouch to deep by his hip was aching and Tony shifted so the stretch was more on his right side than the injured left. Damn thing. After this, he was going to get it released, even if it hurt.
The next contraction hit just as Steve returned, so Tony ignored him while he focused.
When it was done, Steve was kneeling by his pile of pillows, holding a steaming cloth.
"Here, try this."
Tony accepted it and draped it over his pouch, the heat instantly welcome. "Thanks Steve, that was a good call."
Warmed up, Tony shucked off his shirt and handed it to his new minion. Steve tucked a blanket over his shoulders instead, and that was much more comfortable. He clutched the ends in both hands as the next contraction hit and--
The faint feeling of looseness, wetness, was quickly overwhelmed by the sharp sting of tearing skin. He yelped and put both hands to his belly.
"Ow! Oh, ouch!" His pouch was definitely open now, damnit. Completely new sensation, having it break open like this; he'd never sealed it closed to begin with before.
"Oof, sorry honey." Steve shuffled closer so he could wrap an arm around Tony's back, and Tony leaned into it gratefully, feeling floppy and weak. Steve lifted off the hot towel and used it to dab gently at a thin thread of blood near the apex of his pouch.
Tony looked away, and tucked his face against momtsum. He could feel the seal tearing from apex downward, a hot, electric kind of pain, but small enough to bear without biting anything. Something cool and slick arrived on Steve's fingers and that helped even more than the gentle dabs of the hot towel. He felt his pouch shudder and there...it was done, unsealed the whole way. He peeked down and watched Steve line the sore edges with the promised ointment.
"Feels better," Tony concedes, pushing Steve's hands away and curling around his belly so his blanket covered it.
"There. All ready…Contractions should relax now." Steve mused. "We can get them out and bathe them, see who we've got?"
"You make it sound so easy." Tony, belly aching and pouch membrane pulling at itself, grumbled.
"You want to do it yourself?" Steve asked, like anything else is an option.
"Yes?! Hands off!" Tony felt this was possibly an irrational response but now his pouch was open he desperately wanted to kick Steve out of the room. He fussed with the blanket, wanting to cover up and hide, but the slit of his pouch felt wet and messy and frankly awful.
"Towel. Steve, that's your job, I'll-- I'll hand them to you, and, and, you-- bathe them. Yeah."
Steve backed away, hands up.
Tony squinted at him but it didn't last for long; he curled on his side and pressed gently on his now-slack pouch membrane. The tsums were smooth and soft inside, but one was wriggling more than any of the rest. He weathered a contraction and it was more of an emotional surge than a physical sensation, now. A rush of something like pain, but also like grief and it sucked.
He pulled back his pouch, the skin soft and velvety stretchy, and reached inside. The tsums were covered over with their egg shells, a clear gel that glowed softly with Tony's soul colour. Underneath, he could just see the black and teal lines of his undersuit. He curled tighter around his belly, tears prickling and throat tight.
Gently, he rubbed his thumb over the egg shell, rocking it a little. It stuck to him, perfectly normal, yup, and each movement felt a little like pulling off a bandage, or medical tape, but in a good way, in a 'ready' way. He shuddered with an unfamiliar instinct, though, and knew to be slow, careful, delicate. The shell started to pull away, the tsums little feet kicking in frustration, and ahhh...there it went.
He relaxed all over, the egg slipping out of his pouch and onto his palm. It wriggled, the tsum inside nosing at the rubbery shell, and Tony cupped them in both hands. The egg tooth caught eventually and the shell tore open, letting the little one kick their way free in a rush of clear gel.
The little tsum was bigger than any of them had been going in, round and plump and patterned like Tony in the undersuit. Their little gemstone eyes blinked open and they wriggled to try and stand, but slipped over, back into Tony's palms. He kept it scooped close and pushed the eggshell away, letting Steve take that but stubbornly ignoring him otherwise.
Against his chest, he stroked their little back and fed them a last little bit of energy and then-- there. They started purring, independent again, and Tony flipped them over gently to rub their bellybutton clean, where the egg had been attached.
"There you go, little one. All better, all fat," he mumbled, curling down to nuzzle at it. The slime of the eggshell was wet and cooling, so he finally looked for Steve.
He was sitting at the edge of the bed, watching quietly, and Tony held the tsum out. Steve took it, and almost as soon as it left his hand, Tony was doubled over his pouch again, feeling the next one kick and wriggle.
Tony felt the urge to kick Steve out growing again, slightly sick to his stomach with all the conflicting hormones. He gritted his teeth and rolled away from Steve, tucking himself on his side and holding his palms over the gaping edges of his pouch. The slick, stretchy skin didn't look… quite right. The scars made it a little bit uneven, and Tony felt a deep stab of shame just looking at them.
He knew this was weird hormones, he did, but that didn't really make a dent in the torrent of feelings. He sniffed away moisture and helped the next wiggling egg to come loose from his pouch.
This one, kicking and wriggling to break free of their shell, was Ironman red and yellow, the details still blurred by the shell, and Tony really was going to cry if any more of them took after him. The Irontsum managed to nick the shell a little and Tony helped them out and onto his chest, where they rested while they remembered how to be on their own again. Their little feet were warm, and when Tony turned them gently onto their back, the tiny repulsors on their feet glowed a gentle sunshine-yellow.
"Oh, you're going to be trouble, aren't you?" He whispered, touching noses with them.
Number three was slower to start, and Tony lay in the cushions for a minute, holding onto Irontsum and listening to Steve murmur to the first one. They'd have to think of a name for that one, soon.
"Would you like them back, Tony? Swap you."
Reluctantly, and curling his blanket over himself for privacy, Tony sat up and held out Irontsum for Steve to wash. They deserved to be clean, warm and dry, and instincts be damned Tony was not licking them clean. Anxiety throbbed in his throat, but his hand stayed steady and Steve plopped undersuit Tsum in his palm.
Warm, dry and very awake, the little tsum glowed in pulses along the lines of the undersuit they'd copied. "Yes, you are adorable, look at your pretty blue," Tony mumbled to them, stroking along their back until the purring was loud enough to hear as well as feel.
"You gonna be a good tsum and hold on to me, okay? Got your siblings to fetch out."
They settled in the crook of Tony's neck, bumping against his earlobe and peeping quietly in excitement. Feeling buoyed, and less overwhelmed, Tony smoothed over the outside of his pouch. Quietly and with intense internal focus, he found the next in line.
They were fuzzy and indistinct, almost echoey when he finally heard them purr, but purr they did. He had to slide his fingers into his pouch for this one, settled deeper on the left side. Inside, where his skin turned to pouch skin, it was so delicate that his fingernails felt rough and uncomfortable. He pushed carefully, feeling around the egg and slowly loosening it from its warm home. The tsum inside let loose a sorrowful feeling, enough to make Tony pause, but then the egg was free and he drew it out.
It was big, twice the size of the first two, and the sensation of it pulling free was a deep but satisfying ache, a necessary thing that felt good when it was over.
Through the clear shell, the pattern of colours was jumbled and confusing, black and red and white, with gunmetal grey, but soon the shell was tearing and a small face with its eyes scrunched closed popped out.
Sam. Specifically, Sam as Falcon. The tsum fell out of the egg in a rush, coat slick, and a second, black and red, tumbled out after them. Falcon and Widow, twinsies. Tony felt a bubble of delighted mirth rise in his chest and finally, finally, turned to Steve of his own accord. He held his hands out, full of sneezy, wet tsum, and presented them to Steve with a smile.
"They're twins! I knew Nat liked him! Ah-!"
The Widowtsum launched themselves out of Tony's hands, and Steve had to lunge forward to catch them. Tony clutched Falctsum to his chest, eyes wide in alarm, and felt the tsums little wingpack engage in sympathy.
Tony hushed them. "They're fine, gosh, just a fright, Steve has em."
Tony focused of Falctsum for a minute, petting their back and letting them show off their wingpack proudly, but then Steve swore and Tony jerked to attention in alarm.
He looked up just in time to see Widowtsum disappear over the edge of the bed, dark body disappearing into the nighttime gloom. Tony was half way to his knees before he even realised what had happened, and Steve lunged forward to catch him when his body wouldn't hold him up. With two tsums clutched to his chest, and three more ready in his pouch, Tony collapsed back onto the bed, craning his neck to look for the escapee. His legs felt a long way away.
"JARVIS," he croaked, plucking Irontsum off Steve's shirt. "Track that Tsum. Steve--"
JARVIS pinged a notification and Tony's mouth clicked shut to listen. "Tsum intercepted, sirs. Ms. Romanov was in position at the door, and has successfully calmed them.”
Tony let his head drop back to the pillows, deeply relieved; the Tsum just wanted to be with their likeness. Oh thank fuck.
His stomach ached, deeply, and he rubbed over his scars with a huffed breath. Sudden lurches like that were obviously not allowed. Steve's big, hot hands felt more welcome now, the urge to hide and burrow and hiss was almost completely gone. He let Steve fuss over him, touching and checking his pouch, even, and just focused on admiring Irontsums glossy sheen. They, and the undersuit Tsum, greeted Falctsum who still needed a bath, with wrinkled noses.
"I'm fine, Steve, look after this one for me?" He held out Falcon, who flared his wings to show off.
Steve's hands slowed, one resting on each side of Tony's waist, and they held a long moment of deep eye contact. Tony tilted his mouth apologetically, for his prickly mood, and Steve let out a relieved huff of air.
Tony jiggled Falcon gently, one eyebrow popped up. "I'm fine, just floppy. Please, make this one shiny too?"
Steve scooped him up obediently. “You didn't pull anything, did you? I looked it up with Bruce, I can get you the TENS machine."
Tony blinked, and felt his cheeks warm pleasantly. "It's fine, but thank you for being prepared. Come here." He pulled Steve down by his sleeve and kissed him on the cheek. "I mean it, thank you. And sorry for the mood swings."
Steve returned the kiss, on Tony's forehead, before he sat back to wash Falcon in the warm water. "It's fine, I know this is a lot, all at once."
Tony grumbled, one hand running over the three tsums still to go. "It's important, and gross, and thank you for being here."
Steve hummed and put a towel-wrapped Falcon on his chest. Tony, still dizzy, fumbled with the towel to dry him off.
"I'm going to check on Tiny Nat, do you want me to get you anything?"
Tony waved him away, and focused on the towel, clumsily making Falcon purr from somewhere inside the bundle.
Steve leaned in the doorway to talk to Nat, never going out of sight, and Tony fuzzily appreciated that. And his butt in those pyjamas. The three tsums wobbling about his bed soon caught his attention, though, and he made them a little nest next to him in the bedding. He extracted momtsum from the pillow pile, and tsumdad from by the headboard and plopped them into the middle, too. One by one he shuffled the babies into the nest, and they packed in next to each other like puppies. They snuffled to sleep while he watched, little purring hums a comforting kind of white noise. Soon, another egg started peeping, and tony turned his attention back to his pouch.
Tony was still working out who wanted out next when Steve returned. "She's fine, she's going to take her dopple and go to bed. Clint and Thor are playing rummy in the hallway."
Tony wrinkled his nose up at Steve. "How does everyone know, Steve?"
Steve blushed. "I worked out how to group text, aren't you proud?"
Tony snorted and poked at his pouch, feeling like the one in the right lower edge was most awake. "I am proud, but rummy? With two players."
"It's three, JARVIS is playing."
A contraction tugged at the sore edges of his pouch then they were off again. Tony got distracted by the deep focus of depouching another egg and the rush of empathetic transfer as the little one came wide awake.
This one was definitely a Tony, beard and welding goggles, red shirt, and a mind racing at mach two. Their messy, wild hair refused to calm down even when Steve washed them, so they earned the name 'WorkshopTsum'. Tony shortened it to Shoptsum almost before they were decided, and they settled into the stack of siblings.
Number six came easily, smooth and calm and glowing sunset orange in the arcs and twists of JARVIS’ mainframe render.
Tony breath hitched.
"JARVIS," He croaked, the wet tsum held cupped in both hands against the arc reactor. "JARVIS, look, camera Pk34."
"I...see." He sounded deeply uncertain, little humms of binary in the airspace after his words.
"JARVIS, this-- did you build, grow-- a soul?" He turned the tsum over and they blinked up at him was a solemn calm that suited JARVIS to a T. Their eyes were deeper, with little sparks of orange code hiding in the depths. “You must have been lending me energy this whole time, just tiny little bits...”
"I did not intend-- We will have to run tests, sir."
Tony, thrumming with exhausted glee, hugged JARtsum to his cheek and closed his eyes to feel the tsums happiness. “Yeah... yeah, of course. I love you JARVIS, thank you for being...whatever you are.”
“Yours, sir. Always.”
Tony sniffed and squeezed his eyes tight, chest feeling hot and full. “Yeah.”
Eventually, feeling deeply tired and distant from the world outside, Tony heard Steve shift on the edge of the bed. "C'mon, Tony, they'll get cold, pass em over."
Tony blinked himself awake, and let JARtsum bounce over to Steve under his own power. At some point during this kerfuffle, Tony had ended up flat on his back and he blinked up at the ceiling while he resisted the powerful temptation to nap. His belly and chest were cold though, sticky with gel and slime. His skin prickled.
"Just one more, Tony, come on."
He flapped a limp hand at Steve, exhausted and slow. "You do it. I'm...suuuuper tired."
"Are you...sure? That's quite a turnabout."
Tony wrinkled his nose at the ceiling, weighing up the pros and cons of not having to move again. "Yep, totally sure. Nurse Steve, your mission, should you choose to accept it…" he trailed off, too lazy to make up a piece to complete the quote.
"Here goes then, nice and gentle."
Steve's hand on, in his pouch was very, very intimate, the soft press of his fingers so much more than the nice, predictable sensation of his own hands. He felt his skin raise into goosebumps all over, and his eyes pricked with how intensely naked it felt, but Tony had turned to jelly with exhaustion, and didn't feel the need to stop him. Steve was even more gentle than he had been himself, his fingertips smoothing away the connection between skin and egg very slowly. His other hand, huge and warm and very welcome, spanned Tony’s flank from hip bone to rib cage, and his thumb rubbed gentle circles over one of the scars in a way that felt worshipful and tender.
Soon the last tsum was kicking its way out of its shell with squeaky peeps of rage, and Tony covered his face with both hands, eyes tightly shut against a wave of hormonal tears.
The tsum, full of grumbly feelings, went out of ‘range’ and Tony was left with an empty empathic space around his tummy region and a certainty that the last tsum was one hundred percent ready to biff Steve in the face.
Steve mumbled entreaties at the tsum, but going by Steve's little huff of pain, it didn’t work. Tony pulled his hands down his face to scrub the tears away and peered across the rumpled bedding at them. The last and smallest tsum was a Steve, skinny and wearing braces. A pre-serum Steven Rogers. Still very small, and very angry; how dare big Steve help him out! He was a strong Tsum!
Tony's heart swelled in delight and Steve, spotting him, dropped the feisty little guy on his chest for him to deal with. Tony used a corner of one of the towels to clear the wet off their face and the tsum puffed up angrily. “Oh my god, you’re adorable. Hello little one, aren’t you fierce?”
Stevetsum peeped and managed to make it sound like he was spoiling for a fight; he could do this all day.
“Oh really?” Tony mumbled, adoringly, nuzzling the little nose and getting a solemn purr in return. “You gonna fight all the villains, biff em all in the nose?”
The tsum wobbled, slippery with egg goo, and waved a front paw energetically. Their little righteous expression was lovely, but they were messy and obviously not ready to let Steve wash them.
“Alright, but little crime fighters need to be clean and well rested,” Tony told em, dopy and rubbing at their head of blond hair with his thumb. “You gonna let Steve get you clean? Why would you bite him anyway...” Tony mused, eyes drooping closed. Tinysteve snuggled under his palm, soggy but determined. A feeling of envy, towards their siblings explained a few things, and then a noble sense of self sacrifice followed. The tsum wiggled back out from under Tony’s palm and peeped demandingly at Steve.
Tony thanked them quietly and Steve scooped them up, the quiet sounds of the water just barely louder than Tony’s breathing. Half naked, cold, and his pouch messy and slack, Tony was torn between getting a shower and just going right to sleep, like the pile of tsums in the nest beside him. He levered his head up enough to check on them, piled up in a comfortable tumble, and that was more than enough exertion for the day. He flopped back down and groped ineffectively for the blanket, intent on just going to sleep.
A towel wrapped tsum returned to his chest, and he cuddled it absently.
Steve sat back on his heels beside the bed, one elbow on the mattress. Bits of rubbery eggshell littered the sheet, which was splattered here and there with egg goop and soggy tsum footprints. Damp hand towels from washing up the babies had left wet marks on the blanket, and the basin of water had gone milky. He really wanted to change out the sheet, at least, and some of the blankets too, but Tony...
Tony was clammy and limp, part way to sleep. He looked exhausted, and cold. Steve didn’t want to cover him up with a soggy blanket though, and his pouch was slick and messy. The little bit of blood from unsealing had stained the edges red and it looked sore, still, and trails of egg goop were starting to dry on Tony’s skin.
“Hey, honey? Tony, love?” Steve murmured, pushing himself up onto the bed and scooping bits of eggshell into the basin. Tony mumbled a reply, more asleep than awake. The angry tsum, still in their little towel cocoon, peeked out at Steve with a drowsy rage.
“Would you like a bath, Tones? Get you cleaned up?”
Tony drew a deeper breath and blinked up at him. “You calling me dirty, Rogers?”
Steve grinned and leaned in for a quick kiss. “The best kind.”
Tony huffed and shut his eyes, snuggling back into the pillows. “Too tired. Inna mornin’.”
Steve wrinkled his nose. “I think future Tony is gonna smack me if I let you do that. I’ll carry you over?”
Tony seemed to consider this, humming gently and petting Angry Steve. “You gonna join me?”
Steve laughed quietly. “Yeah sure. I gotta change the sheets though.”
Tony flushed a little, embarrassed, and Steve winced. It was no worse mess than they made having really great sex, but obviously Tony felt awkward about it. “It’ll be really nice to climb into fresh ones, don’t you think?”
Tony accepted this, thankfully.
“Alright, little one, sleepy time,” Tony told the smallest tsum, tucking it into the nest with its siblings. His hands moved slowly though, and his wrists were limp with exhaustion. The damp towel stayed draped over his chest awkwardly and he just stopped moving, after sorting the tsum out, like a coin operated robot.
Steve kneeled up on the bed and gathered Tony and his blanket up into a neat bundle, so he could scoop him into his arms. He was so limp that he was practically dead weight, though he did hold his head up, and tuck it into Steve’s neck. Usually, an armful of Tony was a wiggly, kissy mess, that did it’s best octopus impression, but this time he lay there peacefully and a little cool.
“Jarvis, run us a bath, please? Nice and hot.”
JARVIS pinged an acknowledgment, but didn’t say anything to interrupt the sleepy quiet. Steve set Tony in the armchair for a second, and kneeled in front of him to pull off his pyjamas. Then, he made the bed as quickly as was reasonable. The nest of tsums he carefully installed in the clean laundry basket; they seemed to enjoy wriggling down into and messing up the carefully folded laundry, so Steve was gonna call that a success.
“Steeeve, lemme see...” Tony mumbled from the chair, his toes wiggling against each other. Steve couldn’t deny that face, so he brought the basket over to show Tony the cozy pile, all nine jumbled on top of each other in a cheerful riot of colours.
“Fat,” Tony said, approvingly. His jaw cracked on a yawn.
“Yeah, you did a great job, Tony. One last thing, then you can go back to sleep okay? Up you come.”
Tony draped himself around Steve’s neck, leaving the blanket on the chair, and Steve carried him through into the bathroom.
The tub was steaming and full, the air smelling faintly of salts, and Steve lowered Tony onto the edge of the bath so his feet settled in the water.
Tony hummed and reached down to swish one hand through the water. “Feels nice.” He was soft and limp all over, every part of him relaxing with the warmth. His belly, and Tony would be embarrassed about this any other time, his belly was soft and wrinkled, and Steve wanted to stroke it. He resisted.
Tony shuffled his feet and slid down into the hot water. “Steve, c’mon. In.”
Steve kissed him on the forehead and nodded. Sliding in behind him was a luxurious moment; hot, slick skin and relaxed, snuggly Tony. They shuffled into a comfortable arrangement together, with Tony safely wrapped up in Steve’s arms.
Steve stuck to his hands rather than getting a cloth out, because Tony’s tummy would be very delicate, and rubbed in gentle circles under the surface to smooth away the sweat and mess. The muscles of his pouch shifted in unfamiliar ways under his hands, seperated from Tony’s tummy and stretched by looking after the tsums.
“Do it properly, Steve,” Tony mumbled, tipping his head back onto Steve’s shoulder.
Steve nuzzled a kiss along Tony’s jawline. “If you’re sure.”
Okay then. He touched the lip of the pouch with his fingertips, smoothing down over the edges and making Tony gasp a half-breath. “Okay?”
“Yeah. Half way between sore and good. Keep going.”
Steve kissed him again and pressed his fingers inside. It’s so soft that Steve had to pause again, worried, but Tony’s muscles shivered under his palm and around his fingers. He took a deep breath and slid in further. Tony arched his belly toward the touch, hands flailing slightly until they landed on Steve’s thighs and gripped, hard.
“Okay, we’re good... I got you, Tony. You’re okay..” Steve mumbled to him, moving slowly to wash away the last traces of the eggs. The shivers that wracked Tony started at his toes and worked their way up his limp body until they emerged as shaky breaths, puffed against Steve’s cheek.
“There you go, all done, all safe, okay?” Steve told him, softly and reassuringly. He pulled his hand free, immediately missing the blood-warmth of the connection, and Tony’s shivers died down again.
They lay together for long minutes, just breathing.
Tony mumbled something and Steve had to rouse himself from near-sleep to ask him to repeat himself.
“I was sayin... This was good. Weird, but good. Good to know it-- I still work. Properly.”
Steve curled his arms tighter around Tony’s ribs. “Yeah, I’m glad. Not knowing must have been pretty uncomfortable. I’d love you anyway though. Few old battle scars is nothin’.”
Tony snorted and slaped him on the knee, splashing the wall. “A-grade dork, Steve Rogers.” He paused to make space for a giant yawn. “Let’s go to bed, hmm?”
By the time they were dried and wrapped back up in the blankets, Tony was so dozy that Steve couldn’t tell when he fell asleep for good.
Steve checked on the tsums one last time before turning in himself and they were all sleeping in a pile, bracketed by their parents. They were going to have to rename momtsum ‘Cap’, for sure; she was all the way blue, now, and the star crisp white. They might have to change pronouns too, darn.
Tsumdad was less obvious, but definitely taking after someone; nondescript with purple-ish ‘clothes’. Steve petted his little tuft of dark hair and the tsum blinked up at him with one eye, then fell back asleep.
Steve followed suit.