The TV blared the Christmas music channel with its piano version of Jingle Bells. The fireplace in the living room was lit and crackling; the wood snug and warm in the hearth. TJ sat at the kitchen island, running his fingers roughly through his hair and groaning as he stared at the recipes for either baked holiday ham with a honey glaze topped with almond garnish or a smoked turkey with bourbon. He stared at several other side dish recipes, deciding if caramel glazed streamed carrots would go better with the turkey or ham or maybe the green bean casserole would only be appropriate if he went with the turkey.
“Ah fuck this!” he groaned, dropping his head to the island as the song on the TV ended. “I’m not cut out to be Martha Stewart.”
He sat up, sighing and snatching his glass of eggnog (he’d refrained from dumping rum into it because Steve made his oh so passive aggressive ‘well if you really want to’ comment before he’d ran out of the door with Bucky). They claimed there was something going on at the White House they needed to help with but TJ grew up in the White House. That kind of power was only brought out when aliens were attacking or terrorists. TJ let it slide but he was pretty sure he knew exactly what was happening. Steve and Bucky were searching for a gift for him.
He’d dropped some hints. Nothing fancy. A new car. A 1944 mint condition Captain America comic he could frame above the fireplace to match the other two (he’d gone into collecting Captain America comics, much to Steve’s chagrin). TJ laughed to himself as he thought on his requests. Okay, so not entirely ‘not fancy.’
Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is the new bird,
He sings a love song as we go along
Walking in a winter wonderland.
TJ bobbed his head to the tune, looking over all the recipes he’d printed out to create a dinner spread for. It was the first holiday in their new house and damn it, he wanted everything perfect. He’d already invited his family, Steve invited the Avengers, Bucky even tracked down some of the Howling Commandos and were flying them in to stay in the guest rooms. Christ, speaking of guest rooms, TJ had to get the beds made and make sure there were enough towels and toiletries in the bathrooms. Sighing again, TJ lurched from the island and hauled himself around the island to snatch the remote from where it lay next to the small food prep sink. He turned off the TV, wincing when the silence filled the air like water flashing into ice, abrupt and nerve-wracking.
Sometimes, having a rather large house made TJ feel there were too many places for someone to hide. Ever since they’d gotten that letter from HYDRA back in October, TJ always felt a bit nervous home alone. Tony had personally come over to install a security system, so TJ knew he had no reason to be scared but it was always lurking in the back of his mind, like a shadow he couldn’t dissipate no matter how much light he shed atop it.
He walked through the room, stepping from the small ledge that separated the kitchen with its cool sparkling black tile and the living room’s plush carpet. He set the remote down on the coffee table, and with a lingering look outside at the setting sun, moved to close the curtains over the French backdoors. “Get a grip, TJ.”
About facing, TJ made his way up the curving staircase and down the long hall to the master suite. He went about getting bedsheets, towels, checking if they had spare shampoo and conditioner and then spruced up the two guest bedrooms.
Once he was finished, TJ went back into the master suite to fall onto the bed. He pressed his fingers against his temples, moaning pathetically as he thought of all the recipes downstairs. He needed to pick out the salad, the main dish, the side dishes and the dessert spread. This was all his fault though. How was paring foods together so hard? His mom made it look so easy, and she’s the front runner to be the next president!
Who’s strong and brave, here to save the American Way?
Who vows to fight like a man for what’s right night and day?
TJ smiled to himself, knowing exactly who was calling from the ring tone. He swiped at the accept button before pressing it to his hear. “Well hello gorgeous.”
“Hey! Do you…you like doing outdoorsy stuff right? Ice skating and stuff?”
TJ furrowed his brow, sitting up. “Uh, maybe? Why?”
“Buck saw ads for the ice rink near the art museum. We wanna take you to it on a date?”
TJ laughed, running a finger over his toenails. “Sure, baby. Oh, wait! When’re you coming home? I need help picking out side dishes. I think I’ll be safe with a cranberry salad and balsamic dressing but–”
“TJ!” Bucky said into the phone. “Ease up. It’s just food, ya goof.”
TJ rolled his eyes, slamming his torso back into the bed. “Says you. You didn’t say you’d take care of everything.”
“You and I can go over some recipes later Teej!” Steve said, clearly near the phone but not at the receiver.
“There ya go. Don’t flip your wig, baby. How you doin’ other than that?” Bucky asked, the play draining from his voice and replaced with a lower tone of concern.
“I’m fine,” TJ stated, staring out the window. “Just got the guest rooms all fixed up for Dugan and Jones.”
“You’re a peach, baby,” Bucky responded. “And they’re gonna love anything you make, so don’t worry so much.”
“Honestly, they’re the least of my worries. We’ve got Pepper Potts and my mother coming.”
Bucky snorted. “Ah, so it’s about impressing your mom.”
“Well, she is predicted to be the next president of the United States.” TJ rolled over onto his stomach, wincing when the leg he’d injured back in October turned the wrong way a little.
“She’s gonna love it, baby,” Bucky said seriously. “You know she’s so proud of you. But I gotta go. Steve’s callin’ me over to see somethin’.”
“Oh yeah? Is it a new car? I’m fond of Audi.”
“Alright wise guy, we got the hint. Love you so much.” Bucky didn’t wait for TJ to say it back. He clicked off the phone and TJ was left to himself again.
TJ got off the bed, sighing because nothing was left to distract him from picking out the holiday meal. Dropping his shoulders, he trudged down the hallway, making sure to flip on every light switch just in case some HYDRA agent decided it was smart to hide in the shadows. TJ knew he wouldn’t stand a chance if a real HYDRA agent was around, but that didn’t stop him from lighting the house up like the Christmas tree he still needed to put up in the living room.
He needed Steve to go chop down a tree still. Or Bucky. Honestly, he just wanted to see either of them pull the thing from the damn roots out in an impressive display of supersoldier strength but he’d settle to watch Steve take an axe to a pine.
Oh that was a lovely image and TJ would fantasize of his lumberjack Captain America until he finally came home that night.
“I hate peas,” Bucky stated as he sat at the table, feet up on it and coffee secure in his palms. “So no peas.”
“Okay fine, that’s easy,” TJ said as he scribbled something over at the island. Steve was behind him, pressing kisses into his shoulder and sending little chills of pleasure down TJ’s spine. He wanted nothing more than to turn around and fold into his lover, maybe get Bucky over here to warm up his other side and they’d forget all about this stupid Christmas Eve dinner. They had one week before Christmas and everything needed to be ordered and arranged. TJ’s mother was picky about her ham, and TJ needed to order either the ham or turkey from a local butcher she liked. The butcher always liked it if people preordered as opposed to just showing up. TJ respected that, so here he was, trying to figure out what to make with his boyfriends (or could he technically call them husbands at this point? That’s what they all considered each other anyway).
“So do we want ham or turkey? That decides most of the side dishes,” TJ detailed as he turned to place a quick peck on Steve’s jawline. “And you’re pretty.”
Steve hummed, squeezing TJ’s hips lightly before pressing another kiss to the side of TJ’s neck. “You’re pretty.”
“Why not both?” Bucky asked as he stood up and moved over to his lovers. He kissed TJ on the shoulder before leaning against the island to snatch some of the recipes. “I can cook turkey pretty well.”
“Seriously?” TJ gasped, his mouth dropping open. “You’d help?”
Steve laughed, dropping his head between TJ’s shoulders. “That’s kind of the point of us all hosting this, Teej.”
“Well I thought,” TJ fumbled. “You’ve still got work and I gotta get the Commandos from the airport for you and you’ve got that stupid press release with the Avengers about that thing that happened in New York last week–”
“TJ,” Steve said, pulling TJ’s hand to his face to kiss the palm. “We’re gonna help you cook.”
“Oh. Well that solves about…most of my problems.”
“So I’ll cook a turkey and you can do the ham, Steve?” Bucky asked, grabbing one of the farthest recipes scribbled onto a post it note. “What’s yam yam ham?”
“Don’t asks. It’s sweet potatoes and caramel glazed ham but it’s too complicated for me.”
“Why don’t they just call it that?” Bucky asked, his face clearly perplexed.
“Because marketing,” TJ explained as he felt Steve’s fingers start to knead at his shoulders. “Mmmm yes please, Steve.”
Bucky laughed, moving over to the double oven and pulling it open. “It’ll be fun. We could fit, what, a twenty pound turkey in here? I mean, Steve and I can probably devour a whole turkey ourselves and then there’s your family and…shit, Thor’s coming isn’t he?”
“With Jane,” Steve explained, moving his fingers up to massage at TJ’s neck.
“Oh my God,” TJ whimpered. “We’re gonna need more food.”
“Relax,” Steve soothed, still massaging TJ, moving along his spine. “We’ve got this.”
“I don’t even know what sides. And I haven’t picked out the desserts. We’ve gotta order that shit now if I can’t make some of it.”
“I’m an excellent baker. I got it. Let me be in charge of desserts,” Steve explained.
“TJ Hammond-Rogers-Barnes!” It was their personal joke and they only used it when they were trying to make a point, whether it be funny or serious. TJ wasn’t sure which one Steve was doing. Probably a mix of both. “Let me be in charge of desserts.”
“Stevie does bake real good, TJ,” Bucky illustrated. “He and Sarah use’ta make me all kinds of things.”
TJ dropped his head, purring as Steve continued to knead up his back. “Fine. You win.”
“Good,” Steve said before abruptly stopping his massage. “Okay so we’re doing turkey and ham. Do you want to do honey or caramel ham? What about pineapple ham? If you go too sweet I can’t get too sugary on the desserts.”
“Who are you and what did you do with Steve Rogers?” TJ teased, receiving a playful jab in the rib.
“I like baking. After I thawed out, I spent some time at a secluded cabin and just…baked and thought.”
TJ saw the way Bucky’s jaw went tight and the wince that etched into the crinkles around his eyes but he wouldn’t say anything about it. “So…the turkey?”
Bucky nodded, tucking a strand of hair behind his ear. “I’m thinkin’ smoked with cranberries and you wanted the almond garnish right? I can butterfly it.”
“Do what?” TJ asked bluntly.
“You kinda split it down the middle. Like a butterfly.”
“When did I marry a baker and a chef? What is this?” TJ exclaimed, throwing his hands up. He couldn’t deny he was relieved they were helping out (and had way more talent in this area than he did) but he never honestly knew how well they could cook. Steve hadn’t baked once since they started dating except for the occasional brownie and cake and Bucky almost always asked for takeout unless it was something relatively simple. Part of TJ was concerned they were lying.
“Marry?” Steve echoed, nudging his nose against TJ. “Love when you say that.”
TJ dipped his chin, feeling naked as his supersoldiers wrapped themselves around him, Bucky nibbling on his neck and Steve licking at his ear. “O-okay, we can’t fuck in the kitchen right now. I’ve gotta get a meal set so I can send out the invitations.”
“Everyone knows already?” Bucky said, pulling back.
“I’m pleasing my mother, remember?”
“Right,” Bucky stated, his eyes narrowing. “Fine. But once those invitations are sent out, I’m bending you over the island.”
TJ couldn’t hold back the moan that ripped from his throat even if he wanted to. He pressed his hips into Bucky, feeling Steve pull back. He watched as Steve moved over to the island and started arranging the recipes.
TJ pried himself from Bucky’s metal arm, moving over to Steve and peering over his shoulder. “What’re you doing?”
“Looking,” Steve lilted. “If we’re doing both turkey and ham then we need mostly neutral side dishes. Mashed potatoes is always a solid choice.”
“Probably wanna make a chicken broth gravy in case it gets on the ham,” Bucky admitted as he moved over Steve’s other shoulder. “Green bean casserole is out. Too heavy for both meats.”
“Who are you people?” TJ gasped, his mouth hanging unsophisticatedly open.
Bucky covered his mouth with his own, swiping his tongue in, quick as a flash before pulling back and closing TJ’s gaping mouth. “We’re your soulmates and we were waiting for you to ask us to finally help you with this.”
“Seriously? I’ve been stressing about this for a week!”
“You kept saying you needed to do it,” Steve detailed. “So we waited till you came to us.”
“I’m supposed to be the domestic one. You two are supposed to know how to…I don’t know, make bombs and shoot people.”
Bucky snorted, flicking TJ’s nose. “We were civilians once too, baby. And Steve doesn’t make bombs.”
TJ bobbed his head from side to side, laughing at Bucky’s inadvertent joke. “Right. So, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy and?”
“Stringed beans and bacon, cranberry sauce, homemade, not that shit from a can– cornbread casserole, let’s switch out the cranberry salad to a pomegranate salad with the balsamic and yellow tomatoes. Should probably do some stuffing and kugel?”
“Oh please let me make kugel,” Bucky pleaded, his eyes round and innocent as he stared intently at TJ. “I’m so good at it, I swear to God. I was a Jew once!”
TJ laughed, holding his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay! I’ll…I don’t know. Salt shit or something.”
“Oh you’re cooking,” Steve ordered playfully, a twinkle in his eye. “You should do a honey glaze ham with walnuts. That’ll pair it with the almonds on the turkey.”
“Christ, please start selling recipe books. We’d make a killing.”
“Then major in English when you go back to school,” Bucky teased, kissing TJ’s shoulder before moving to the refrigerator and pulling the double doors open to start investigating what they already had (which wasn’t much). “You could be our publisher.”
“That’s…not a bad idea…” TJ professed, running his fingers through his hair.
“I’ll make a marble cheesecake with a raspberry drizzle, some sugar cookies with green and red icing and a red velvet cake with raspberry icing. Gotta keep it consistent,” Steve said as he jotted it down on a list. “We can order the meat tomorrow before we get the Christmas tree.”
“We finally cutting it down?” TJ asked as he leaned against the deep country sink. “Please wear plaid and jeans that are a little too snug on you. Please?”
Bucky howled on his barstool, grinning ear to ear. “I second this!”
“I don’t think you realize how badly I need lumberjack Steve,” TJ detailed. “Oh, and don’t shave. Please.”
Steve’s ears were turning pink as he smiles sheepishly at both his loves. He raised his hands up to silence Bucky’s laughter and TJ’s repetitive pleas. “Fine, fine! But Bucky’s gotta do it too.”
“Got some lumberjack fantasies of me too, doll?” Bucky giggled. “Can I get in on this? I just want you both in panties and on the bed ready for me.”
TJ barked out a laugh, dropping his face against Steve’s shoulder. “You buy ‘em and I’ll wear ‘em.”
“Christ, seriously? It’s that easy to convince you?” Bucky gasped.
TJ shrugged, waggling his brow. “You never asked.”
Bucky’s mouth dropped open, his cheeks reddening softy. “I love you.”
“Aww, how cute,” TJ said, moving to wedge himself between Bucky’s knees and grab the man’s face to pucker his lips unwillingly.
“Hey!” Bucky protested, swatting TJ’s hand away. “Alright, wise guy.”
“Okay, so tomorrow,” Steve began, reeling everyone back to the topic at hand. “Stop at the butcher, order the turkey and ham, go to the Christmas tree farm, get a tree, bring it back and we can start decorating the house.”
“Uhh, Steve?” Bucky drawled. “What about that other thing we were supposed to do?”
TJ raised a brow, looking between his lovers. “What other thing?”
They ignored TJ, both exchanging those silent conversations that TJ was usually good at picking up now, but this one was more frantic and they looked to TJ a few times.
“Right,” Steve said. “We can drop TJ off, get the tree set up and he can start decorating and then we’ll do that thing and then come back and help.”
“What thing?” TJ professed. He dropped his face into Bucky’s metal shoulder pushing his forehead against it.
Bucky’s hand came to intertwine with his hair. “Don’t worry about it, baby,” he cooed.
“It’s a present isn’t it?” TJ pressed, pulling off Bucky’s shoulder to stare at him.
Bucky closed the distance, pressing a kiss to TJ’s lips. “You’ll find out,” Bucky whispered with a devilish smirk.
“I hate you,” TJ laughed softly, pressing several quick kisses against Bucky’s lips.
Steve laughed, looking back down to continue writing down what they needed to get from the store. They had a few more days before they needed to actually get all the ingredients, but TJ knew Steve. He liked being prepared.
“When are we gonna go shopping for Steve?” TJ whispered into Bucky’s ear, pressing a kiss against that bristly jawline.
Bucky answered with a kiss to TJ’s lips, not taking his eyes off their blond lover. “Day after tomorrow?”
“Oh that’s smart,” TJ responded. “When he’s doing that stupid press release.”
“I can hear you both, you know,” Steve reminded, cocking a brow at them. “You’re not subtle.”
“Wasn’t trying to be,” TJ answered. He undraped himself from Bucky and moved over to wrap his arms around Steve to press kisses right under his ear.
Steve hummed approvingly. “You’re getting Dugan and Jones on Monday, right?”
“Yup,” TJ answered. “Sad you won’t be here to see them.”
Steve made a sour face, leaning back. “Yeah I know. I told Pepper this was a bad time but Tony was pretty pushy about making sure the world knows why we brought down a building in Manhattan. I swear, ever since Sokovia and the government is on us for everything.”
“I mean,” Bucky began. “No one died, but a lot of people got hurt, Steve. And Sokovia was a big deal.”
“Yeah, because of Tesseract technology. No one should have that shit anymore!”
“You’re right,” TJ soothed, running his palm up and down Steve’s stomach. “It’s gonna be okay, baby.”
Steve whined, dropping his head. “I’m just pissed.”
“You’re pissed because the government may put a collar on you. I’m collared.”
“Yeah, and you just love it so much,” Steve snapped. “We don’t need governmental supervision. If we do we can’t respond as fast to situations and people are gonna die.”
“Baby,” TJ whispered, licking the shell of Steve’s ear. “One step at a time. Press release, then Christmas. No one is making any decisions now.”
Steve turned into TJ’s embrace, pressing a kiss to TJ’s forehead. “Yeah, you’re right.”
TJ flicked Steve’s nose casually, giggling when the man feigned a shocked expression. “You’re cute when you’re being a little shit.”
Steve pulled TJ into a headlock, scrubbing his fingers against TJ’s scalp playfully. “So are you, dope!”
After they ordered the meats for the Christmas Eve party, the triad set off to chop down a Christmas tree. Steve was in a red flannel and puffy vest to match. Bucky adorned something similar except he was in a blue flannel with a brown leather jacket. TJ was taking as many pictures as his phone could handle. Steve even left his stubble on his face. It wasn’t enough to be a beard, but it was good enough for TJ’s lumberjack fantasies.
“Which tree?” Steve asked as they perused down the line of pine trees. He had the axe casually resting over one shoulder. TJ made sure to snap a picture of his posterior. The jeans Steve wore were snug around his thighs and ass. TJ was practically drooling and didn’t give a damn if anyone saw it.
“Our ceilings are twelve feet,” Bucky detailed, meandering around one tree. “Probably get one nine feet?”
TJ stumbled into a pothole, most likely where a tree used to be. He winced, his knee buckling and getting some snow in his boot. Steve was at his side in a second, the concern so heavily knit in those eyes it was almost tangible. “I’m okay,” TJ said, brushing the snow off but accepting Steve’s hand.
“Maybe if you weren’t taking pictures of Captain America’s ass, you wouldn’t be falling on your ass,” Bucky teased, a smug grin on his face.
“You’re just jealous he’s not taking pictures of you,” Steve countered.
Bucky’s brows shot up his forehead. “Oh! Smart guy, huh?!”
“Children,” TJ quipped, laughing softly. “There’s plenty of me to go around. No need for a dick standoff.” He walked over to another tree, wondering if it was around nine feet. Usually his parents always had trees delivered to them but TJ was much more thrilled at the prospect of seeing Bucky and Steve display some good ol’ superhero strength out in the bitter cold and snowy Christmas fields.
“A dick standoff?” Steve questioned, following behind TJ. “My dick is firmly in my pants, wishing it was firmly under seven blankets.”
Bucky snorted. “I wish my dick was firmly buried in your ass.” He moved behind Steve, pulling him against his chest to press a kiss on his cheek.
“You whore,” TJ teased, nudging a shoulder against Bucky as they both watched Steve’s ears go several shades of red. “So, this tree?”
Bucky looked at the tree, grabbing a few branches and feeling its pine needles. “Looks full enough.”
“It’s probably a little taller than nine feet but that’s okay,” Steve analyzed. “I like it.”
“Cut it down, lumberboy,” TJ ordered playfully, stepping back behind Bucky.
Steve rolled his shoulders, leaning down to check out the trunk before lining the axe up like a damn golf club. He took one swing and–
“Timber!” Bucky laughed out, following the falling tree with his gaze.
“Wow!” someone else gasped with his family. “Nice swing!”
TJ hadn’t realized there were other people around, children too. He was suddenly nervous if anyone heard them talk about dick. Not that talking about dick was wrong, but in front of kids? TJ did have some moral standards.
“Eh,” Steve shrugged, watching Bucky lift the tree over his shoulder.
“Wait a sec,” the guy said, squinting. “You’re Captain Rogers and…Sergeant Barnes?”
Steve scratched at the back of his neck, shrugging as he looked back at Bucky. “You got that, baby boy?”
Bucky cracked a wide grin. “It’s trying to cut into my skin.”
“Yeah, that’s us,” Steve finally answered. “You need any help cutting your tree down?”
TJ laughed, rolling his eyes. Of course Steve would offer to help out. He walked up to Bucky, listening to the snow crunch beneath his boots. “You think he called you ‘baby boy’ on purpose?”
TJ wasn’t sure if it was the cold wind whipping at Bucky’s face or if the man was genuinely blushing.
“Dunno, but the guy didn’t bat a damn eye, so that’s nice.”
“Yeah,” TJ agreed. They hadn’t hidden their relationship since moving into the new house together. The neighbors became accustomed to seeing the triad out or the goodbye kisses when Steve or Bucky went on missions, but that was really it. The media hadn’t caught wind yet, or if they did, maybe they didn’t care. TJ honestly hoped that’s what it was, but he had a strong inkling it wasn’t. Ever since gay people could legally marry nation-wide, poly relationships because the new thing to hate on in legislation.
TJ helped haul the tree out over to the guys who’d wrap it up and put it atop their car while Steve ended up helping around four or five families cut down trees. He lingered around for some kids to get pictures with him, but TJ didn’t mind. It was nice seeing Steve smiling so proudly. Steve had the biggest soft spot for children. No matter how he felt, if a kid came up to him all bright-eyed and astonished, Steve was a melted heart, all gooey and warm.
“He’s good with ‘em,” Bucky observed as he slung the tree atop the SUV and started tying it down.
“Do what?” TJ replied, turning to watch Bucky.
“Kids,” Bucky stated. “Always has been, even when he was small.”
“Kids always looked up to him back then. He was smaller than most men, but little kids? He was always bigger and they looked up to him. He’d draw them pictures and tell them stupid stories.”
“Is this a hint that we’re supposed to start thinking about kids soon?” TJ inquired, feeling his heart fill with rocks. He liked kids. But he was still unsure of how the whole triad-thing would work with them. Bucky and Steve were a lot older than TJ. They had much more life experience, even Steve who slept in the ice for seventy years. TJ was finally learning how to take care of himself but these men already knew how to do that. Of course they’d want children.
Bucky shrugged, looking over to Steve giving a kid a high-five. “Nah. I still want that dog first.”
TJ laughed, leaning against the SUV. “I can handle some dogs.”
Getting the tree up and ready to decorate was almost disgustingly easy. TJ was beginning to wonder how anyone survived without two supersoldiers around. But true to their word, once the tree was up and all the boxes of Christmas decorations were brought out of the basement, both Steve and Bucky were giving TJ goodbye kisses and heading out into the snow again to do ‘that thing.’
TJ turned on the TV, finding the Christmas music station and blasting it from the surround sound.
Santa Buddy, a ‘65 convertible too–
Steel blue. I’ll wait up for you, dude.
Santa buddy, a-hurry down the chimney tonight!
“What a weird rendition,” TJ observed as he popped open the lid of the Christmas decorations. A lot of these were from Bucky’s family. It was to be expected– the second Bucky was announced as alive, his sister contacted them and brought over a lot of stuff from when Steve and Bucky were growing up. That included a box of meager ornaments that Steve and Bucky used when they were living in their apartment together, an old radio (that had Steve’s name etched into it) and a ratty old blanket that made Bucky cry. Apparently Bucky got Steve that blanket when he thought he was going to die. TJ promptly put that blanket in the back of the wash closet upstairs. He didn’t like the negativity around that thing.
“Oh shit! Rebecca!” TJ ran over to the guest list in the kitchen, stubbing his toe as he moved to step up the little ledge that separated the two rooms. His limp was completely gone and his leg completely healed (even if his eye was still blurry, but he corrected that with contacts nowadays). Despite that, he still was clumsy when in a panic.
He scanned over the guest list, not seeing Rebecca’s name (though he’d made the list in the first place). He wasn’t sure if asking Bucky if it was a good idea or if it was a given that they’d be inviting Rebecca and her family. “I mean…they’re actually family.” Groaning, TJ pulled out his phone and checked the date. Rebecca still lived in New York. They’d have to fly her and her family out to DC and Christmas was this Friday.
TJ punched in Bucky’s number and waited for him to pick up.
“What part of me and Steve are doing a thing do you not understand?” Bucky laughed into the phone.
“Your sister and her family. Did we invite them? Are they invited? Can they be invited?”
“Woah, sailor,” Bucky began, sounding completely at ease. TJ was jealous, he was practically sizzling out of his nerves. “Of course Becky can come. I’ll call her.”
“Isn’t it short notice? I mean, today’s Saturday. I don’t wanna appear rude.”
“Baby, it’s not rude. I know my sister. I’ll call.”
“What if she needs a place to stay? We’ve only got the basement left and I don’t think we can shove Dugan or Jones down there. I think Dugan had a hip replacement last month?”
“Baby! It’s okay. I can always transform the study into a bedroom for Becky.”
“What about your niece and nephew? Oh! What about your niece’s kids? Oh my God, when did you get such a big family?!”
“TJ! Stop panicking!” Bucky laughed into the phone. “We’ve got plenty of room for everyone and one step at a time! Jim and Abby may already be busy with their in-laws.”
TJ’s heart was going a mile a minute in his chest and he was pretty sure he was sweating. Did he turn the fireplace on too high? Why was it so stuffy in here? “O-okay,” he stammered. “I just– if you want them, that’s great and I’d love to have them here, but– we’ve got like– over thirty people.”
“Baby, you’re panicking. We can go back to the butcher and order more meats and hell, maybe Abby will help out in the kitchen. She’s a great cook. Lemme call ‘em and we’ll see. You may be freaking out for no reason.”
TJ collapsed onto the couch, letting out a big sigh. “Okay. Yeah. Call and let me know.”
“Keep decorating the tree, sweetheart. It’s okay.”
“Do you think Steve would hate me if I had a glass of wine?”
There was a long enough pause TJ was wincing and wishing he could eat those words up and never say them again. Soon enough, Bucky was responding with, “One glass, baby, and I ain’t tellin’ Steve.”
TJ closed his eyes, already trying to think of the largest cup they had in the house. Did it count as a glass if he just chugged the whole bottle? “Thanks, Bucky.”
“Go decorate the tree. You’re gonna throw an amazing party. It’s just like your club opening.”
TJ wasn’t sure if it was the memory of the club’s opening or the fact that Bucky seemed to have so much belief in him, but TJ was already calming down and breathing at a regular pace again. He hung up the phone, muttering goodbye and went to work on the tree.
He started with the lights, the multicolored ones that Bucky liked so much despite Steve’s protesting that the crystal blue ones looked best at night. After those were set up, he grabbed the footstool from the closet under the stairs and went to start putting ornaments up at the top of the tree to work his way down. He didn’t care which one went where for the most part, but he did keep the ones from the 1930’s closer to the bottom of the tree so if they fell, they wouldn’t break.
He was almost finished with the tree (and half a bottle of wine) when Steve and Bucky came home with several bags in their hands. They zoomed up the stairs with Bucky yelling something over his shoulder (“Nothing to see but us chickens!” “Seriously, Bucky? Ya wanna be more suspicious?” “Shove it, Stevie.”)
They came back down, Bucky swinging over the couch to plop down and Steve came right up to the tree to look at the ornaments.
“Oh my God!” Steve exclaimed, cupping one of the older ornaments from the base of the tree. “Bucky, I made this for you in fourth grade!”
“Ah yes, your stick figure stage. I remember it fondly.” Bucky hauled himself up to look at the ornament, pressing a kiss to Steve’s cheek.
“They were good stick figures,” Steve pouted. “You’ve done great, Teej.”
TJ felt his cheeks heat up. He shrugged, stepping away from the tree. “Yeah, it’s been nice to set up and forget about the ten million people coming here for Christmas Eve.”
Steve clicked his tongue. “We didn’t have to.”
“I want to,” TJ defended, though his voice didn’t offer much conviction. “It’s just stressful– planning a big party with family and stuff.”
“Yeah,” Bucky drawled. “Will you have a conniption fit if I tell you that we’re flyin’ in my sister and Jim and his kids?”
“What about Abby?” TJ asked as he started already planning on where to put the kids up for the time they were here. They could probably be in the basement just fine. It was finished after all except for the storage section. There was a nice home theater down there too so they could play video games or watch movies to their hearts’ content.
“She’s gonna be with her husband’s family in North Carolina.”
“So,” TJ drawled. “Rebecca, Jim, his wife– what’s her name again? And Kim and Scott?”
“Lily– and yeah, if that’s okay? Scott and Kim really wanna hang out with me,” Bucky responded, shrugging sheepishly.
“Yeah that’s great, Bucky!” TJ exclaimed, looking over to Steve as he listened patiently, his face calm, which led TJ to believe he needed to be calm too. It wasn’t the end of the world– having all these people here. TJ loved chaos. It was just the pressure of impressing all these people. They were Bucky’s family. TJ had met Rebecca but the others he only knew by name. Pair that with his own family (his father especially) and he was worried he’d be doing damage control all night over actually enjoying himself. But hey, the holidays were the most stressful times, right?
“We already offered to fly them out,” Steve detailed, picking up an ornament and putting it on the tree. “The kids’ll stay in the basement, Becky in the study and Jim and his wife can sleep here on the pull out.”
“We’re gonna be such a full house,” TJ professed as he sat down on the sofa. He noticed his wine bottle on the coffee table and winced, knowing full well Steve had to know already but wasn’t saying anything. “It’ll be fun.”
“Yeah,” Bucky agreed, kissing TJ on the cheek. “I’m really excited to see my family.”
Steve’s smile faltered at the word and TJ’s heart was tugging in his direction. He moved to wrap his arms around Steve’s middle and buried his face against Steve’s chest. “They’re your family too,” he whispered.
Steve huffed out a gentle laugh through his nose. He kissed the top of TJ’s head before gently nudging him away. “I know. Your crazy family are my in-laws too. I’ve got a damn big family.”
TJ smiled, but no matter the words Steve said, TJ could hear the slight tint of regret behind each vowel. If Steve had it his way, TJ was pretty sure he’d have married Peggy and they’d have a beautiful family each Christmas, but that’s not how life played out for Steve. TJ wanted to give Steve that family he always wanted but never had, but for now, this was as close as they could get, or rather, this was as close as TJ was ready for. “Is there anyone else you wanna invite, Steve?” TJ ventured.
Steve waved a hand dismissively. “Nah. I’ve already got an Asguardian on the guest list.”
“Shit, Kim and Scott are gonna freak out when they see Thor,” Bucky mused. He snuck behind Steve, wrapping his arms around the man’s middle. “And yeah, Becky has always been your family.”
Steve’s smile finally flittered back to his face. He leaned back against Bucky, sighing. “Yeah I know. She taught me how to braid hair.”
Bucky snorted, giving Steve a quick peck on the cheek before pulling away to pick up another ornament to plop on the tree. “This’ll be fun, having a chaotic house.”
“Better than a chaotic mission,” Steve chimed.
TJ rolled his eyes. “Oh please. Give me a gunfight any day over in-laws meeting.”
Steve and Bucky were silent for a few seconds before bursting out laughing.
“What about this one?” TJ asked as he held up a watch in Bucky’s direction. They’d gone Christmas shopping for Steve when he flew out for the Avengers press conference. They had a few hours till they needed to get to the airport to pick up Dugan, Jones and Bucky’s family and TJ wasn’t sure they’d be able to get back to the mall without hauling two elderly men and some overly excited kids around– so TJ was determined to find something and find it now.
Bucky cocked his brow, looking down at the watch. “Steve would wear a boring-ass watch too.”
“That didn’t answer my question at all,” TJ laughed. “But fine, no boring-ass watches.”
“No!” Bucky cried, snatching the watch and flipping it over. “Maybe we can get it engraved with our anniversary date.”
TJ smiled, looking down at the watch again. “I like that.”
“Me too,” Bucky whispered, kissing TJ’s temple. “Buy it.”
TJ went over to the sales associate, looking down at some of the other watches before she finally came up to him.
“May I help you?”
“I’d like to buy this watch,” TJ said, offering out the watch. “D’you know where I can get it engraved?”
“There’s an engraving store next to Khols, by the food court,” she explained as she rang him out. “That’ll be $2500.”
TJ held out Bucky’s debit card, looking over his shoulder as Bucky looked over a section of ties. He furrowed his brow, watching the man tie knots into them. “What on earth?”
Once he was finished with the sales associate, he walked over to Bucky, eyeing him suspiciously. “Do I wanna know?”
“You can’t break out of these can you?” Bucky asked, a devil’s grin on his face.
“Do you ever think of anything that’s not sex?”
“Nope,” Bucky shrugged. “So the answer is?”
“No, I can’t.”
Bucky smiled triumphantly, placing a kiss on TJ’s lips before sliding his hand to the small of TJ’s back and leading them in the direction of the rest of the mall. “So we got him a watch, some sweaters, new jeans that are suspiciously too small for him-”
“A new treadmill and bench press set and oh, when’s that Everlast punching bag gonna come in?” Bucky turned around, cocking his brow inquisitively.
“Should be here any day now. Hoping it’s today so he doesn’t see the giant refrigerator-like box on the porch.”
“God for real,” Bucky agreed, flicking his brow up once. “Would you kill me if I asked to go to Spencer’s?”
“The not-sex-store-that-pretends-to-be-a-sex-store? No, let’s go.”
Bucky smiled a large toothy grin, tugging on TJ’s hand in the direction of the other store.
The mall was crowded. Couples, families and individuals alike getting the rest of their holiday shopping finished before the big day. TJ looked down at his hand, secure and firmly in Bucky’s. He smiled, biting his lip softly.
Ever since HYDRA left their dramatic note on the doorstep, TJ had a nagging worry in the back of his mind. Bucky promised that no matter the reason they looked identical, it wouldn’t change anything, but that was easier said when they didn’t know why TJ looked like Bucky. What if they were actually related? TJ wasn’t even sure incest was something he could jump on board with. Bucky may– but TJ wasn’t so sure.
“You hungry?” Bucky asked as they walked by the pretzel shop, the smell of cinnamon and dough wafting into the air.
“I could eat a pretzel,” TJ agreed, letting Bucky lead him over to the line. “Hey Bucky?”
“Hey TJ,” Bucky teased, smirking.
TJ rolled his eyes. “You worried at all about HYDRA?”
Bucky sucked his lips in, staring with unreadable eyes at TJ as they shuffled forward in line. “Why?”
“I dunno. I just– I’ve been worried.”
“I told you,” Bucky began. “Ain’t none of that gonna change how I feel about you.”
“No I know. I mean, aside from that. What if HYDRA tries to get you again? They know where you live.”
Bucky looked at his shoes, tapping his heel against the floor. “I’m not runnin’. I ain’t scared of them and if they want me, they better bring their fuckin’ A game because I’m not rollin’ over.”
TJ clicked his tongue, nodding. “What about me? What if– What if they try to take me?”
Bucky grabbed TJ’s shoulders. His metal hand digging into TJ even through his peacoat. “TJ, not even God could tear you away from me.”
“What can we get you?” the clerk asked.
Bucky turned back around, putting his token smirk on his face as if the conversation hadn’t occurred. “Uh, two pretzels, one with cheddar cheese and the other with nacho. Oh! And a large lemonade.”
TJ liked at his lips, sucking on his bottom lip as he contemplated Bucky’s words. They’d be fine. They’d be perfectly fine. TJ was protected by Captain America and Sergeant Bucky Barnes. This wasn’t some walk in the park for HYDRA or they’d have done something by now. It’d been months since they sent that letter and nothing happened. Maybe it was joke? Maybe it wasn’t even real?
“Here.” Bucky offered the warm pretzel to TJ. “And here’s your nacho cheese.”
“Thanks,” TJ mumbled before dipping some of the pretzel into the gooey cheese.
“TJ,” Bucky sighed. “I mean it. You’re safe with me.”
“I know,” TJ replied. “I just– I really love our family.”
Bucky smiled, though his eyes were still cool. “I love our family too.”
“Spencer’s?” TJ asked, rising his brows and kicking the deep conversation aside. Yeah– he was absolutely fine. Bucky and Steve would tear the world apart to protect him.
“Yes!” Bucky cheered, rising a fist into the air. “I’m gonna embarrass the shit out of Steve in front of his friends.”
“Whi’e er’ephan ‘ift?” TJ asked around a mouthful of pretzel.
Bucky laughed, nudging his shoulder lightly into TJ. “Yes, white elephant gift. Thinkin’ maybe going to Victoria’s Secret to get him some panties too.”
“Please?” TJ asked, his eyes rounding. “I fit into their mediums.” He flashed Bucky a sinister smile.
“You tryin’ to get me to shove you against the wall right here, right now?” Bucky growled, stealing a bite of TJ’s pretzel. He’d already wolfed his down.
“Maybe,” TJ giggled. “Steve’ll probably be an XL.”
Bucky purred under his breath, grabbing TJ’s hand again. “God, I’m so in love with you.”
“What a coincidence,” TJ smirked. “Because I’m so in love with you too.”
Bucky’s cheeks went slightly pink. He tugged on TJ’s hand, walking faster into the gag gift store. They walked around the cramped isles, looking at stupid shirts that said things like: Show me your Kitties, Fucks I give? Nun! and Have a nice trip, all acid-trip designed.
“I didn’t realize they had so many sex toys,” TJ analyzed, looking over the personal massagers. He smiled awkwardly at a woman walking by who merely giggled at him.
“You like any?” Bucky asked as he crouched down to look at some of the shot glasses. “God, back in my day– Holy shit! I just said, ‘back in my day!’” He laughed at himself, earning a nice eye roll form TJ.
“You were saying old man?” TJ pried.
“We didn’t have funny shit like this,” Bucky concluded. “I mean, the shirts n’ shot glasses. Or sex toys in malls. We didn’t even have malls.”
“Ah, the simpler times,” TJ sighed before cracking a shit-eating grin. “I’d have been bored outta my mind.”
“Sure would. Hell, I was even bored half the time,” Bucky explained as he came up behind TJ, his chest pressing against TJ’s back. “Like any?”
“You and sex,” TJ laughed. He pointed to a personal massager, pink with a white tip that had pronounced rivets and dots against it.
Bucky hummed, his brows flicking up quickly before pressing several kisses to TJ’s cheekbone. “That’d be fun to play it. I could strip you n’ Steve naked and get you both so touch starved with it you’d be screaming the second I let it really slip against your cock.”
TJ shivered, leaning back into Bucky, uncaring that people were looking at them. They looked like twins but they behaved like puppy-love-sick teenagers. He’d never be able to really explain it to anyone but to him, Bucky didn’t look like him. They had different eyes, Bucky had a sharper jaw– more bristly too and TJ’s hair was even lighter. They weren’t identical. But people saw it that way when they weren’t really looking.
“Um, excuse me,” a blonde said as she looked to her friend excitedly. “You’re Sergeant Barnes, right?”
Bucky held onto TJ tighter, something TJ hadn’t expected. He looked down at Bucky’s arms around his waist and placed his hands atop them.
“Last I checked,” Bucky responded, flashing a smile.
The girls noticed the way TJ was cradled in Bucky’s arms and TJ was sure they were having some form of silent conversation of their own.
This was one of those moments where TJ realized how different Bucky and Steve were and yet how flawlessly they complimented each other. Bucky was a provider. It was grooved into his bones and part of his soul. It went beyond just simply protecting. It was his whole life to look after others. He looked after Steve, fed him, bathed him and kept him healthy for years. Kept Steve alive in the war and kept Steve safe now. Steve was a protector. A literal shield for everyone. That shield often got distracted. It didn’t always make its way back and had Steve been in this situation with TJ, Steve would’ve backed off TJ to turn to these girls. Not Bucky. Bucky provided for his own and his alone. Steve was the shield of everyone. Bucky only looked after his own– and he wasn’t afraid to show you that you didn’t mean as much to him as the ones he loved.
TJ liked that. About both of them. They fit together in that sense like a glove, trading off and on when needed.
“D-do you think you could take a selfie with us?” the blonde asked again.
It was only then that Bucky pried himself off TJ, flashing a charming smile at the girls and letting them stand beside him to take the picture.
“Aren’t you dating Captain America?” One of the girls asked. “You’re TJ, right?”
TJ’s face heated up. He looked to Bucky and then back to the brunette with dark olive skin. “Yeah, I’m with Steve.” He wasn’t dating him anymore. At least, that’s not how they saw it. They saw themselves as a family. It didn’t matter what the law said. They were married in their hearts.
“It was nice meeting you two,” Bucky quipped before tugging on TJ’s peacoat and moving further into the store.
TJ looked up, wincing at the steel gaze that Bucky sported. His lips were pressed tightly together and TJ was sure those were the eyes of an assassin and not his warm and overly-sexual life partner.
“Hey,” TJ cooed, reaching up to cup Bucky’s face. “We coulda told them about you.”
“No. It’s not that,” Bucky deflected, pushing TJ’s hands back down. “I won’t do that to Steve.”
“So what? You’ll just make me look like a cheater?” TJ cocked a brow.
“What? No!” Bucky exclaimed. “Well. Fuck. Shit, I did do that didn’t I?”
TJ laughed, watching Bucky run his fingers through his hair– over and over again.
“It’s okay,” TJ began. “They probably won’t really have anyone to tell. And if they do, then we just explain that yeah, I’m with you too.”
“Yeah, but then Steve–”
“I don’t think Steve cares as much as he used to. All our neighbors know.”
Bucky licked his lips, turning to look at a shirt that said I would cuddle you so HARD. “That’s kinda funny.”
TJ eyed the shirt before rolling his eyes. “I’d let you wear it as pajamas.”
Bucky chuckled, nodding. “I just don’t wanna make Steve upset.”
TJ’s brow furrowed slightly. He pulled Bucky into a hug, feeling that broad chest pressing against his own despite the layers they were wearing. Bucky was so solid. TJ wondered if he could ever get that solid if he tried.
“You’re never gonna upset Steve,” TJ consoled. “I honestly think it’d be okay if it just came out naturally. I think that’s all he’s trying for this time.”
Bucky nodded, looking back over at the sex toys. “Still wanna buy you that massager.”
TJ laughed, playfully punching Bucky’s chest. “Make sure it’s the pink one.”
They’d stopped at the engraving shop before finally taking off toward the airport. Bucky’s previously nervous mood completely obliterated as he bounced in his seat talking about Dugan and Jones. He regaled story after story about his time with them. How they’d stolen Steve’s pants once and made him walk through a bombed out portion of London in nothing but his underwear. How Dugan was the first one to figure out Steve and Bucky were together. How Jones was the smartest sonuvabitch Bucky’d ever met. Story after beautiful story.
TJ was so excited to meet them.
They pulled up into the visitor parking and made their way through the airport to baggage claim. Bucky took a few pictures with some children while TJ watched the landing flights listing up on the screens. He looked over when he heard a kid laughing and nearly dislodged his jaw from how it hung open. Bucky was holding a kid up with just his metal arm and had several other kids around his waist as they smiled for pictures.
“And you said you’d be fine with just a dog…” TJ grumbled through a smile.
They’d erected a statue after WWII of Steve and Bucky in their honor. Bucky was just as famous as Steve was and now he was the shiny new superhero on the block and it honestly warmed TJ’s heart to see all these kids climbing over Bucky. It warmed his heart more to see them smile and look up at Bucky with awe and admiration when he showed them his arm. And it almost made his heart simply melt when he’d smile at them– the warmest, real smile TJ had ever seen on that face. The smile that said ‘My name is James Buchanan Barnes,’ not the Winter Soldier. Of course, no one knew he’d been the Winter Soldier. That was locked up and sealed by the government and TJ wasn’t sure which was worse. The fact that Bucky had to lie to the world about his past or the fact that America was lying to the world about how close the bad guys could really get to them. Bucky was– is– a war hero. A legend. The Winter Soldier? A nightmare that still haunts America’s minds. To them, he’s still out there. To them, he’s not the man they let their children climb all over and take pictures with. He’s the man they warn their kids about.
If they only knew Bucky was the Winter Soldier. Would those kids be climbing all over him? Would those parents be taking pictures with him and shaking his metal hand?
Of course, the Winter Soldier files were suspiciously void off the data dump when Black Widow tossed all of HYDRA’s files– and S.H.I.E.L.D’s onto the internet. The world didn’t really see the Winter Soldier in all those newscasts. They saw a deadly assassin after Captain America.
TJ wasn’t too sure why the public accepted Bucky and his metal arm, but he wouldn’t complain. He got to see Bucky’s face light up as if he’d never known pain– and if that meant lying to the world, then TJ would lie the most. He’d protect Bucky in his own way. He’d take that lie to his fucking grave.
“Barnes! You sack of shit– look at you!” a gravelly man’s voice called.
TJ turned to see a man with a white, obscenely large mustache moving as fast as his elderly legs would let him over to Bucky. Bucky’s eyes rounded and he was jogging toward the man and clapping him on the back. Another man came up to them, he didn’t look as old but TJ knew that was Gabe Jones. These were some of the last Howling Commandos left alive. Morita and Falsworth both passed away and Dernier was in France and too old to travel internationally.
“Who are they, mom?” TJ heard someone ask.
“Those are some of the Howlies!”
TJ smirked, watching Jones and Dugan hug Bucky so hard, TJ was surprised they didn’t suffer a heart attack from it. His smirk faded when he saw Bucky’s face. Eyes wet, shimmering with tears and cheeks red. He looked so much younger suddenly. His jawline softer, his eyes less tormented. He looked at peace.
TJ sniffed, feeling tears of his own as he watched the men clap each other on the back and cuss at each other as if they weren’t surrounded by children and families recording the event.
What kind of life did TJ fall into when older men were more famous than he was?
He decided it was a good one.
They’d gone to a late lunch while they all waited for Rebecca and her family to land. Dum Dum (as he insisted on being called) told TJ he was a spitting image of “their Buckster” from back in the day. They’d apparently not taken any surprise when they learned Steve was dating TJ and they weren’t the least bit surprised when Bucky told them he was seeing both TJ and Steve.
“I’m pissed you didn’t pick up a damn phone and tell us sooner!” Dum Dum had boomed with his croaking voice, but TJ hadn’t minded. He loved how loud this man was.
Once lunch was over and Bucky paid the bill, they’d shuffled back over to the baggage claims where kids once again attacked Bucky and his arm, climbing all over him and asking questions about how it worked.
“Ah look at that shithead,” Dum Dum sighed happily. “He looks great for a guy a few years shy of me.”
TJ laughed, watching as a little girl was lifted up onto Bucky’s shoulders for a picture.
“I’m surprised he’s so calm,” Gabe commented. “Children used to make him nervous.”
“Seriously?” TJ asked.
“Yeah, we did a mission back in Belgium where we came across some orphans. Steve was great with them– the sonuvabitch. Bucky was always tryin’tgit away from ‘em,” Dum Dum explained.
“Guess thing’s changed,” TJ offered, nibbling his lip.
“Or HYDRA permanently screwed with his brain,” Dum Dum shot back.
TJ winced at the joke. He knew Dum Dum was crass from the movies they’d made about the Howlies and all the interviews but he wasn’t expecting HYDRA jokes.
TJ watched Bucky go up to an elderly woman and immediately take her carry on. He smiled once he saw her. Yeah, that was Rebecca. He’d met her before when they’d traveled to her home with Bucky after they got “married.” She’d cried when she saw TJ and welcomed her into her arms as if he was one of her own.
She was old and politics didn’t interest her, so she’d never known of TJ’s existence. In fact, even people who did know of TJ never made the connection about Bucky and his looks. No one seemed to really think about it till the two were getting their pictures taken at senator galas and charity events.
He saw two younger teens at Bucky’s side, yapping their mouths and laughing away and then a wife and husband. He assumed them to be Jim, Bucky’s nephew and his wife Lily with their two kids Scott and Kim. It was nice, seeing Bucky with blood family. No matter how many times TJ tried to tell Steve he had a family, his bloodline was dead– at least for now. TJ wasn’t opposed to finding some female surrogate or friend willing to give Steve what he’d always longed for. A real legacy. Not just the name of Captain America but evidence that he– Steve Rogers– existed. Bucky had that already. TJ had Doug who’d have children with Anne and that was good enough for him. Steve didn’t have anyone. Maybe. Maybe one day, Steve would have a son or daughter of his own. TJ wanted it for him, even if he wasn’t ready to figure out what that meant for him or Bucky.
“TJ!” Bucky called out, escorting his family over to Gabe, TJ and Dum Dum. “You remember my sis, Becky.”
“Nice to see you again, Rebecca,” TJ greeted, giving her a gentle hug. She returned it with a lot more force than he was expecting.
“This is Kim and Scott and that’s Jim, my nephew and Lily.”
“Thank you for having us,” Lilysaid, clutching onto her carry on against her stomach. She had brown hair cut into a bob around her head and big brown eyes. TJ thought she was quite pretty.
“No problem,” TJ laughed, shaking hands with Jim and Lily. “It’ll be great.” He’d pretend he wasn’t completely terrified about these people meeting his family for the time being. They didn’t need to see him fall into an anxiety attack.
“Okay, let’s head out,” Bucky instructed as he helped Gabe stand up and grab his cane for him.
They couldn’t fit everyone into TJ’s SUV, so Bucky took a cab with his family while Gabe and Dum Dum rode with TJ. They tossed stories back and forth about Bucky and Steve. Like how they’d never stop making ‘goo-goo’ eyes at each other and how ‘we’ll scout ahead’ was really code for ‘we’re going to go off and fuck.’
TJ liked these stories. He was sure he’d use them against Steve one day and he was vastly excited for the shocked expression he’d bring on that man’s face.
“Hey! Is Peg comin’?” Dum Dum asked as he sat in the passenger seat. “It’d be nice to see that trio back together again.”
TJ wanted to ignore the hint of jealousy that bruised against his heart. “No. She’s not healthy enough to leave the nursing home. Steve and Bucky visit her when they can though.”
“Well shit, I’d like to visit her while I’m here too,” Dum Dum continued. “God, what a woman.”
“What a woman,” Gabe agreed.
TJ smiled softly, turning into his neighborhood, looking in the rear mirror to see the cab following behind.
“So uh,” TJ ventured. “Has Bucky talked to you two? About HYDRA?” The world thought Bucky fell into ice like Steve. For the longest time the government kept Bucky wearing a gloved hand until one day he finally had enough of it and jogged down the street with his metal arm. He became a bigger national icon for the injured and handicapped overnight despite the government’s desire to damage control it. When they couldn’t, they just let it go and that’s how the world came to know Bucky had his metal arm– but he wasn’t sure what Dum Dum and Gabe knew.
“You mean that he was HYDRA’s for about as long as Steve was nappin’?” Dum Dum roughed back. “We know.”
“We know not to say anything,” Gabe added. “We’re just glad he’s safe now.”
TJ nodded as he pulled up the long driveway and parked in front of the doors. He got out, focusing on helping Gabe out while Bucky assisted Rebecca at the curbside from the cab.
Once they ushered everyone in, TJ went about showing everyone where they’d be staying and helped set up the cot for Rebecca in the study. The kids of course went to the basement to check out the home theater and Lily and Jim found themselves in the kitchen with Bucky and the Howlies to crack open a beer.
TJ looked around, listening to the barks of laughter from the kitchen, the creaking in the study as Rebecca set out her things and the rumble at his feet as the kids started to play some video games. He liked a loud house. He liked it a lot.
Steve arrived home around dinner time on Tuesday– which was late considering he’d told them he’d be home bright and early. He was greeted by the sounds of Dugan and Jones, Rebecca’s laughter, and kisses from both TJ and Bucky. Rebecca had ushered him into the kitchen to discuss everything that happened at the press release while Dugan and Jones teased him for having such a ‘girly waist.’
TJ stood behind the island, watching everyone gather around the breakfast nook as Steve discussed the deal the Avengers made with New York that from now on, Tony buys the buildings he breaks and they can’t claim governmental liability if anyone gets killed. It wasn’t a perfect solution, as Steve was still flustered about it but at least the city wasn’t suing them.
“Jesus Christ!” Bucky exclaimed. “How many glasses of whisky have you had, Dum Dum!?”
“No’ enough!” the man slurred back, pouring himself another glass and wavering.
“He’s gonna piss himself,” Gabe laughed, sticking to his single glass of wine TJ had poured him earlier.
“Christ, just don’t get it on my floor, Dugan!” Bucky complained through a smile.
TJ felt a shoulder nudge him and he turned to see Rebecca. Her eyes were so similar to his own it was almost terrifying. “You need help, sweetie?” she asked.
TJ looked down at the vegetables he was cutting and then back to her. “Oh no. Do you want anything? I can get you some wine or beer?”
“Pff.” She waved a dismissive hand. “Why don’t you sit with your husbands and listen to their stories.”
TJ couldn’t hide the blush that exploded against his cheeks. Husbands. Husbands. Whether it was recognized by the world or not, TJ didn’t care. It was recognized by this family and that’s all he needed. Even his father was calling the supersoldiers TJ’s husbands.
“I don’t mind cooking. I gotta practice for Christmas Eve anyway.” He tugged at his necklace– the one Steve got him when he was overseas with the shield and the star.
Rebecca rolled her eyes but sighed nevertheless and helped herself to some gin and tonic. TJ liked her drink of choice.
“You should’a seen ‘em! These bastards were about seven feet tall and uglier than a saggy asshole!” Dum Dum explained dramatically, waving his hands and wavering in his seat.
Kim and Scott’s eyes went wide.
Bucky buried his face in Steve’s shoulder. “Saggy asshole!” he laughed out. Even Steve was laughing despite his blushing face.
TJ bit his lip, watching Dugan detail his stories as he cut up the onions for the casserole. It was amazing, seeing the generations in this room– the ages that didn’t make sense and yet made such sense to TJ. Steve and Bucky should’ve been as old as Dugan and Jones. Maybe they’d have died by now. Steve sure as hell would have if it weren’t for Project Rebirth. He may not have made it past his forties back then, yet here they all were. Bucky’s sister with gray hair and wrinkles all over her face, Dugan with his white mustache and Kim and Scott– already turning into such beautiful adults.
TJ jumped when he felt someone press a kiss to his face. Steve was standing there, smiling with watery eyes and one of those hard root beers in his hand. He liked the taste.
“You doing okay?”
“Yeah,” TJ sighed out, looking back over to the group as they erupted in laughter again– Bucky banging on the table and howling. “I really love seeing you with them.”
Steve looked over, his gaze going slightly unfocused, like he was traveling back in time and seeing Dugan and Jones as he remembered them. “Yeah,” he agreed. “This was such a treat to come home to.”
TJ wrapped an arm around Steve, resting his head against Steve’s beating heart. “I love you.”
Steve kissed the top of his head. “I love you too, Teej.”
“Oh get a room!” Dum Dum joked, eliciting another cacophony of laughter.
Steve picked TJ up, wrapping TJ’s legs around his middle and sitting him on the quartz countertop before he kissed him hard– shoving his tongue into TJ’s mouth, sweet from the alcoholic root beer.
“Yeah!” Bucky cheered. “Get it, Stevie!”
“What is happening?!” Kim exclaimed through laughter.
“You shoulda seen ‘im when it was just him and your granduncle!” Dum Dum laughed out. “They fucked like rabbits!”
“Oh my God! Dugan!” Rebecca shouted in surprise, pressing her hand to hear heart.
Jim was seven shades darker than a tomato and Lily looked like she was having the time of her life.
“I love your family,” TJ said as Steve brushed his nose over TJ’s.
“Me too,” Steve agreed before picking TJ up and carrying him out of the room.
Bucky trailed behind not too shortly after.
“Do you,” TJ groaned as he felt Steve slip up inside him. “Do you think someone’ll take care of dinner?”
Steve laughed, sucking TJ’s earlobe into his mouth. “I’m sure Becky’s got it,” he whispered, rocking his hips softly.
“Ah…f-fuck,” TJ gasped. “Bucky, Bucky please get in me too.”
Bucky had been under TJ as he sucked on his cock, keeping TJ up on all fours while Steve was behind TJ, rocking his hips back and forth. He laughed, licking at TJ’s slit one more time before rolling out from under TJ and scooting back beneath him with their faces level. “Gotta lower yourself a bit, baby.”
TJ nodded, shivering as sweat chilled against his spine. He arched back into Steve, bouncing his ass off the man as they rocked back and forth into each other. “F-f-fuck,” he whined. “Bucky please now!”
“Okay, okay!” Bucky laughed, pulling TJ’s face to his so he could kiss him roughly.
TJ spread out his thighs, letting his ass dip down against the line of Bucky’s cock. He felt the man hiss loudly against his ear before turning in to kiss TJ’s face a few times.
Steve was panting behind him, keeping his hips steady, fucking TJ slowly so Bucky could join him.
TJ loved this. Feeling full. He didn’t mind having a cock in his mouth while someone fucked him from behind but when they made love like this– it was a whole other ballpark. It wasn’t just about getting off and doing something ‘kinky.’ It made sense for them to have sex like this. So as more and more time went on, more and more frequently did both Steve and Bucky enter him when they made love. Steve still got the occasional pounding from Bucky, but they were salacious enough that once that was over, Steve would climb atop TJ and slip up in him with ease.
TJ whined, desperate and shaky as Bucky pushed up into him. His limbs trembled violently and he slipped further down against Bucky, taking more of the man into him. “G-God! Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!”
“Shh,” Steve cooed behind him, petting down his spine. “If Dugan hears we’ll never hear the end of it.”
Bucky laughed, jerking his hips up and smacking into TJ’s prostate.
“Christ!” TJ gasped out, dropping his head against Bucky’s shoulder. “Fuck you, Bucky.”
“Mmm,” Bucky hummed, kissing TJ’s face. “I love you.”
“Oh God,” Steve moaned softly, rocking back and forth a bit faster now. “Fuck I love you against me like this, Bucky.”
Bucky purred, undulating his hips with Steve’s pace, letting their cocks slip back and forth against each other as TJ’s ass engulfed them greedily.
“Ah…ah…ah…” TJ panted before pushing his face into Bucky’s neck and biting.
Bucky yelped, jerking his hips up into TJ painfully.
TJ shrieked, snapping back up into Steve. Steve’s arm came around him to secure him against his chest. “Fuck!”
“You’re okay,” Steve soothed, stroking his other hand down TJ’s chest and abs. “You’re doin’ so good, baby. You feel so good.”
TJ keened, dropping his head forward and rolling back into Steve, feeling Bucky’s cock push up into him while Steve’s angled slightly down. He felt jolts of pleasure skitter across his body like feathers ensnared in the wind. “Guh! God, I’m gonna come,” he groaned, smacking his head back so Steve could kiss him deeply.
Steve rolled into him like they fit together as forgotten pieces of a puzzle– finally reunited and complete. He sucked on TJ’s bottom lip, his hand snaking down to curl around TJ’s cock and squeeze.
TJ moaned into Steve’s mouth, his body convulsing and his ass fluttering around his lovers as his orgasm built up in his stomach. He rocked faster against them, feeling their cocks slip in and out of his body. He squeezed his ass around them, feeling their tips brush back into him and press into his prostate.
He whined, long and needy as his orgasm pushed out of his balls and sprayed onto Bucky’s stomach. He collapsed forward, trembling and panting as his nerves seared out in heated pleasure.
Bucky caught him, kissing him despite how loud TJ was moaning into his mouth, almost painfully.
Steve groaned, thrusting with quick bursts as he drilled into TJ’s abused hole. He folded over TJ, panting into his ear and kissing his shoulders over and over before nibbling softly.
TJ felt something slick running down his inner thigh and whined, circling his hips back.
“Oh fuck!” Bucky growled. “God I love when you do that. Don’t stop, TJ. You’re so good, baby. So fuckin’ sexy and perfect.”
TJ laughed, pushing his lips into Bucky’s again. “I love you,” he said against those saliva-coated lips. “I fucking love you.”
Steve hummed, pressing more kisses against TJ’s back.
Bucky rocked up into TJ, his eyes hazing over as his mouth dropped open. TJ loved seeing it when he came. He loved seeing the way Bucky’s eyes rounded, how his pink tongue pressed against the back of his teeth and pushed against them as his climax zinged down his spine and out his cock.
TJ felt more liquid run down his leg before he felt Bucky’s body trembling beneath him.
Bucky mewled, lifting his head up and kissing TJ, over and over, sloppy and loud.
Steve slipped out, walking on his knees up to join them in their kiss. Three way kissing was never easy, but they enjoyed it. Lips clashed everywhere, chins got messy and saliva soaked and teeth clattered but not one of them would ever call it a bad kiss. It was theirs.
Bucky groaned again, rocking his hips once more time before curling his fingers into TJ’s hips painfully. “Gonna clean you out baby,” he said, his voice hoarse.
TJ nodded, slipping off Bucky’s dick and shivering from how open he felt. He swung around, letting Bucky guide him back onto Bucky’s face so Bucky’s tongue could swipe out and catch the rest of the cum from TJ’s body.
Steve pressed kisses to TJ’s face, tracing his tongue along swollen lips and laughing when TJ gasped. “He feel good, Teej?”
TJ nodded, nibbling against Steve’s lips. “I fuckin’ love gettin’ eaten out.”
Steve laughed softly through his nose before tenderly kissing TJ, stroking his fingers over tears that TJ didn’t even realize he’d shed. He cupped the back of TJ’s head, brushing his nose against TJ’s. He pulled back, looking at TJ with those eyes that spoke more than Steve could ever say. They spoke of eternal devotion, so much love it was almost dizzying and how proud he was of TJ.
TJ felt Bucky’s tongue curl in his ass and he whimpered out, pulling Steve back into a kiss as he rocked his ass softly over Bucky’s face.
Someone knocked at the door.
Bucky immediately pushed TJ up and Steve snapped his head in the door’s direction.
“Grandma told me to tell you that when you’re done fucking that she’s hungry!” Kim called through the door.
Bucky howled out a laugh but Steve looked so mortified he could die.
TJ loved this family.
TJ was almost finished cooking up everyone waffles and sausage for breakfast when he heard barking laughter and shrieks outside. He took his mixing bowl, still swirling the wooden spoon through the mixture as he walked into the dining room to peek out of the curtains. Steve, Bucky, Gabe, Dum Dum and the kids were outside all throwing snowballs at each other. Dum Dum and Gabe were sitting on camping chairs, easy targets, but they seemed to be the snowball producers for the respective teams.
Bucky jumped over Kim (literally) and smashed a large snowball in Steve’s face. The kids howled in laughter, Scott actually falling over. Steve responded by shoving wet snow down Bucky’s jacket, laughing when Bucky squirmed and shrieked from the cold. TJ remembered Bucky confessing that Steve and Bucky felt both pain and pleasure more. He assumed Bucky could feel the cold bite harder against his nerves but it didn’t wipe the smile from his face.
TJ rolled his eyes, curling his toes into the plush rug that centered the room beneath the long dining table. He was glad he was warm and inside.
He was setting the table when everyone came in, loud and obnoxious– and dripping snow everywhere. “Hey, hey, hey!” TJ snapped. “Boots off by the door, take your coats off and I’ll throw ‘em in the dryer for a bit.”
“Okay mom,” Bucky teased, turning on his heel and going back to the front of the house.
“You bought me a house and I intend on keeping it nice!” TJ shouted happily. He brought over the waffles, greeting Rebecca silently as she tucked herself in for breakfast.
“Okay, so the game plan today is ice skating, some more shopping and a movie tonight?” Bucky asked as he served himself about six waffles.
TJ cringed. That many waffles would leave him in a sugar coma.
“I wanna go to the liquor store with Cap. Gonna see how far we can push this serum, aye?” Dum Dum gruffly laughed out. Gabe simply rolled his eyes as he munched on a sausage.
“I really don’t want to watch my friend die of alcohol poisoning before New Year’s,” Steve laughed as he passed the sausage over to Lily.
“Nonsense!” Dum Dum barked. “I’ve got a liver as young as a boy still sucking on the teat!”
“Oh Jesus, Dugan,” Bucky exclaimed. “My great niece and nephew are here!”
“I think he’s funny,” Kim giggled. “He’s told us all sorts’a stories. ‘Bout the war and when they took Uncle Bucky and Steve’s–”
“Hey, woah! Wait! You ain’t tellin’ my niece ‘bout the shit we used ta get up to without me around!” Bucky threatened playfully. He pointed a knife at Dugan for additional effect.
Dum Dum put up his hands in surrender. “Ya’ll were screwin’ as loud as schoolgirl virgins! We had’ta talk ‘bout somethin’!”
Steve dropped his silverware, his face going redder than Rebecca’s painted lipstick. “Oh Christ.”
TJ snorted, his gaze flicking around the table at everyone’s expressions. Rebecca seemed positively unfazed as she continued to eat her waffles. Lily was blushing and giggling against her husband’s shoulder. Kim and Scott were of course enjoying everything.
“We’re kickin’ you out the second Christmas is over, Dugan!” Bucky laughed.
“Oh piss on that. You love me!”
TJ stood up, taking his finished plate into the kitchen and rinsing it off.
“Hey,” Steve greeted smoothly as he came up behind TJ to place a kiss at the back of his neck. “Leave it. You cooked.”
“No it’s okay,” TJ responded, turning on the water and rinsing the syrup off the plate. “I want you to enjoy your friends.”
“I want you to enjoy them too,” Steve countered, pulling the dish from TJ’s hands and setting it in the sink. “I’ll do the dishes when you go out ice skating.”
TJ’s face soured. “You’re not coming?”
Steve sighed heavily, leaning against the island. “Avengers business.”
“You’re shitting me,” TJ exclaimed, tossing his hands up in agitation. “Steve, you’re on holiday vacation. That’s bullshit! Even the government’s letting Bucky have the whole week off!”
“I know, I know!” Steve admitted. “It’s just a conference call. The UN wants a statement and we all have to say something. I’ll catch up with everyone.”
TJ ran his fingers through his hair, scoffing. “Can’t Pepper just take a statement for you? Or Tony make some shit up?”
Steve looked genuinely apologetic, shrugging and looking up at TJ with his big puppy eyes. “I tried, baby. I really did.”
TJ shoved his face into Steve’s chest, sighing happily as he felt that steady heartbeat against his forehead. “I love you so fucking much, Steve.”
“I know, Teej,” Steve responded, kissing TJ’s head. “I love you too.”
“I don’t want you to miss anything,” TJ mumbled, wrapping his arms around Steve. His heart was tugging against its tubes, pulling forcefully as it tried to clamor right up against Steve and hold him here forever. TJ hated that the world didn’t give a rat’s ass that Steve was trying his hardest at starting a family. Sure, they didn’t have kids yet but this was the start of a damn family and anyone who knew Steve knew it. There’d be dogs soon and Bucky had his family here. Dum Dum and Gabe were here and they were just as much family as anyone else. The triad got the closest thing they could to a marriage with the wills, trusts and healthcare directives. They bought an actual house, refused housing with the Avengers Tower and stayed close to TJ’s family. This was the beginnings of a family, and the world didn’t care.
The world would never care that Steve was trying so hard to have a life that didn’t include bullets, pain, and villains. The world would never care when Steve adopted his first child. They’d coo on national TV but expect him at a press conference on their child’s first birthday. That’s the world they lived in. The world Steve died for.
“TJ,” Steve called, pulling the man from his thoughts. “I’ll just be late. Don’t cry.”
TJ’s eyes widened as he realized the cooling tear tracks on his face. “Oh.”
“I didn’t–” TJ stepped back, brushing the wetness from his face. “I didn’t even realize.”
Steve smiled sympathetically, reaching out to thumb away over the last of the tear tracks. “Where’d you go?”
TJ laughed, jumping up to sit on the quartz countertop. “Just thinking about how the world will never let you go.”
Steve cocked a brow, crossing his arms. There was an eruption of laughter from the dining room, but neither Steve nor TJ looked that way.
“You n’ Bucky. The world’s never gonna let you stop. It’ll always need saving.”
Steve sighed through his nose, nodding curtly.
“You want kids don’t you?”
Steve’s eyes widened as his lips parted silently. “TJ–”
“Bucky kinda mentioned it. How you want kids. I’m not ready for that…maybe. I dunno. But– one day. One day we’re gonna want kids and what do we do? I can’t…” TJ’s voice broke off, fresh tears welling in his eyes. “I can’t watch their daddies go off to war and wonder if I’ll suddenly have to raise them on my own.”
“TJ,” Steve breathed, grabbing TJ’s hands and looking at him so intensely it was like Steve was bypassing TJ’s eyes and looking right into his soul. “If we have children. If. Then that’ll change everything. I won’t do that to them. Not to you.”
“You do it to me now,” TJ pouted, sounding far younger than he meant to. “Every time you go on a mission I’m scared you’re not coming back.”
“Hey you two,” Bucky interrupted, his face blissfully ignorant and smiling as he walked in with a rack of syrup-covered dishes. “Whatcha two talkin’ about?”
Steve bit his lip, looking down.
Bucky then understood, his face going serious. “Do you want me to leave?”
“No!” TJ cried out, wincing at how loud he’d been. “I mean. No. But– maybe we should talk about this later? It concerns both of you.”
Bucky looked to Steve, cocking his brow. He was searching for some insight and TJ could see it in the way his stormy eyes flickered against the light.
Steve nodded, offering a solo shrugging shoulder at Bucky. “We’ll talk later. I gotta get ready for my skype conference.”
Bucky set the plates down, kissing Steve on the cheek. “I love you, pal.”
“I love you too,” Steve replied, offering a small smile. “I’ll catch up with you all. I’ll call.”
With that, he snuck a quick peck on the lips from TJ and then crossed the kitchen toward the front of the house.
Bucky crossed his arms, biting his lower lip. “Can I get a hint?”
“We were talking about how if we have kids, I can’t deal with you two leaving me all the time.”
Bucky’s mouth dropped into a small round shape, his brows going up his forehead. “Oh.”
“Yeah, so we’ll talk later. I gotta do the dishes–”
“Absolutely not!” Bucky barked out, his brow heavy against his forehead. “You get your ass ready to go skating and shopping. I’ll take care of this.”
TJ rolled his eyes. “It’s just rinsing and putting them in the dishwasher!”
“Git!” Bucky ordered, snapping a dish towel at TJ.
TJ yelped, laughing away as he avoided the dish towel. That shit hurt if it cracked against his ass. And Bucky’s aim was impeccable.
TJ forgot how bad he was at ice skating. After several falls, two awkward collisions into random strangers and a freezing ass, he was much happier to fold himself into Bucky’s arms and let himself be pushed along as they slowly skated the outskirts of the rink. People whizzed by them, Kim and Scott especially. Dum Dum and Gabe were seated along the outside of the rink and each time the pair went by them, they were greeted with hoots and friendly banter.
TJ noticed a few people taking their phones out to snap pictures of him and Bucky. A few parents with their kids came up to Bucky for photos but other than that, it was mostly a quiet media day. Still, people were taking pictures and Steve wasn’t here and now everyone knew Bucky was alive. The media was so captivated by TJ and Bucky’s twin-like appearance that their cozy ice skating now had to raise some brows. Bucky didn’t care, and TJ wasn’t going to risk anything by being overly-cautious so– whatever happened would just happen and that’d be that.
Carolers were singing Silent Night near the rink, their harmonious voices carrying over the ice right up to Bucky and TJ. TJ rested his head back against Bucky’s chest, humming along to the tune.
Bucky chuckled, kissing TJ on the side of the face. “You like this one, baby?”
“Yeah. I’m not one for much Christian music, but this one’s too pretty.”
Bucky started humming along too, his chest vibrating even through his puffy parka. TJ smiled wider.
“This has been nice. Just wish Steve were here,” TJ admitted sullenly. “Everyone’s having such a good time and he’s working.”
Bucky was quiet for a few beats, his gaze looking around the rink. He clicked his tongue, nodding. “I know, baby. I wish he was here too.”
“Do you think we got enough presents for him? I mean, I just want him to know how much he means to us.”
Bucky laughed, kissing TJ’s cheek. “We’ve got plenty for him. ‘Sides, I got you both some extra little things I think you’ll enjoy.”
TJ laughed, turning around and letting Bucky push him backwards on the ice. “Sex toys. You got us sex toys.”
Bucky’s eyes widened as he let out a profound gasp. “TJ! Now where would you get an idea like that? I’m an honest man, ain’t I?!”
TJ rolled his eyes, feeling the rink wall hit his butt gently. He turned around, seeing they were at the edge. Bucky’s hands were gripping the wall, boxing TJ in. TJ leaned back against the wall, digging one of his skates into the ice so he didn’t slip pathetically out between Bucky’s legs.
“Honest man my ass,” TJ grumbled playfully. “You’re a scoundrel.”
Bucky scoffed, cupping his metal hand over his heart. “TJ! You wound me!”
“He knows you too well, Sarge!” Gabe called to them. “Smart boy if you ask me!”
Bucky rolled his eyes over the sound of Gabe and Dum Dum’s laughter. “Those old geezers,” he muttered through a smile. He turned around, skating over to them and continuing on with their happy banter.
TJ walked awkwardly over to them, keeping his grip on the railing.
“Oh come on, Uncle TJ!” Scott laughed as he zipped by. “It’s not that hard!”
“Just one foot in front of the other!” Kim sang as she too flew by.
TJ chuckled, but he kept his focus on the railing to go over to Bucky, Gabe and Dum Dum.
They were all shooting insults at each other when TJ finally got up to them. Something about how Dum Dum’s first wife left him because she couldn’t deal with all the hair she had to shave off his ass.
“You doing okay there, TJ?” Gabe asked, his lips curled up in amusement.
“I’m shit at ice skating,” TJ professed, offering a lopsided grin. “And my anchor left me defenseless. That was a terrifying fifteen feet I just had to travel!”
“Oh-hoooh!” Gabe squealed, looking over to Bucky. “He’s got some sass in him!”
Bucky nodded, pulling TJ into him and slinging an arm around his shoulder. “Yeah. Kinda reminds me of someone.”
TJ clicked his tongue. “Yeah, you.”
“Oh no,” Gabe chuckled. “Steve. Steve was always the sassy one. Sarge was just vulgar.”
TJ raised a brow, looking to both Dum Dum and Bucky for some insight.
“Steve’s the smart one,” Bucky clarified. “I’m just here to look pretty. You somehow got best of both worlds. I think your parents sold someone’s soul to the devil.” Bucky nudged TJ playfully, flashing a dopey smile.
Dum Dum laughed gruffly before coughing a bit. Of course, he just took that as a sign to pull out another cigar and light it up.
“You’re gonna kill yourself with those, ya’know,” Gabe griped.
“Horse piss!” Dum Dum spat back, puffing on the cigar. “Keeps me young.”
TJ smiled, watching the man indulge in an old habit.
“Oh hey, look who’s here finally!” Gabe said, waving to someone.
TJ turned around, seeing Steve walking along the outside of the rink. He was stopped only twice for pictures. It was nice seeing people adore him again. How could they not? He was kind, selfless, beautiful and charming. The media preyed upon him, hung him out to dry and it almost caused him to become a recluse. It was damn magic that Steve finally got over his fear and started showing his face again. Interestingly enough, when he started saving the world again was when people started to adore him once more. Go figure.
“Well if it ain’t the two prettiest men on the planet,” Steve greeted, leaning over the rink to press kisses to both Bucky and TJ’s cheeks.
“Kiss-ass,” Bucky taunted. “How’d the UN thing go?”
Steve nodded, looking at Gabe and Dum Dum before looking back up at Bucky. “It’s rough, but the Avengers aren’t in any danger of getting collared.”
Bucky grunted, grabbing the rink and pushing back and forth, letting the skates glide casually. “And why’s your face like that?”
“Like what?” Steve asked, blinking a few times.
Bucky scoffed, rolling his eyes. “C’mon doll, I know you better than that.”
TJ’s gaze flicked back and forth between his husbands.
“Let’s just add it to the list of things we need to talk about later,” Steve mumbled, making sure Gabe and Dum Dum didn’t hear him. “Have you had lunch yet?”
“Uh no,” TJ answered, looking around a bit awkwardly. “Thought we’d just get some pizza or something.”
“What about heading over to Georgetown? Get some food there?” Steve suggested. “We could go shopping around there too.”
“That’s a lot of walking,” Bucky whispered, looking over to Dugan and Jones. “Sure that’s a good idea?”
“I’ve got an idea,” Steve said as he turned toward his Howling Commandos. “Okay, so Georgetown has food and a few shops I’d like to go into. You’ve got three choices. Come with us to eat and I drive you home. Come with us the entire time. Or come with us and I’ll take you home whenever you feel like it.”
Gabe and Dum Dum looked to each other, shrugging.
“I’m not the best walker anymore,” Gabe admitted, patting his cane. “I can come for lunch and then yeah I’ll take that ride home.”
“Ah hell,” Dum Dum exclaimed. “Yeah same. I did all my shopping on the internet already. I’m damn good at that.”
“I’ll bet you are,” Bucky humored, kicking off from the ice to swing his legs over the rink. His skates clattered into the pavement but he casually slipped them off to put his boots back on. “Imma ask Becky what she wants to do too.”
“Sure thing,” Steve replied, picking TJ up and pulling him over the railing.
Once they switched into their regular shoes again and rounded up their group, they made the drive over to Georgetown. They stopped Clyde’s. The pub was crowded and they had to break up their party into two tables but they were close enough to each other that everyone could hear each other. Lunch was a good time. Dum Dum regaled more war stories. Gabe always corrected him when Dum Dum made himself out to be the hero (it was usually Steve who was the hero). The French onion soup was delicious. Kim and Scott were completely enamored with Dum Dum’s stories still and Steve kept playing footsie with TJ under the table. They shared so much laughter TJ’s sides were hurting by the time Steve and Bucky left to drop off Rebecca, Dum Dum and Gabe back at the house.
TJ decided to stay in Georgetown, walking the streets with Lily, Jim and the kids. They treated him just like family– the kids referring to him as ‘uncle’ and Lily making sure to always include TJ in conversation. They walked into a few stores geared more for women, but TJ didn’t mind. He found a nice silver chain necklace with a vintage pendant and decided to get it for Rebecca. He needed to get something for all of Bucky’s extended family– Dum Dum and Gabe included.
“You almost ready?” Lily asked as she came up to him. “Oh! That’s beautiful.”
“Thought I’d get it for Rebecca,” TJ shrugged, watching the cashier put it into a little silver box and then the bag. He took it, thanked the cashier silently and then they headed out. “Speaking of, your kids– what’re they into?”
“You mean for gifts? Oh you don’t have to–”
“I want to,” TJ pressed, laughing as they walked side-by-side. Jim had the kids up a bit further, pointing to the bank on the main strip with the unique copper roofing. They posed in front of the building for a few family pictures.
“Well,” Lily began. “Kim really likes infinity scarves and Vera Bradley. Scott could use a new pair of dress shoes? But, you don’t have to buy him any fancy brands.”
“I like fancy brands,” TJ spoke through a smile. “And Vera Bradley is also an excellent designer.”
Lily laughed softly, sounding like wind chimes. TJ liked her. She had a kind soul. “Please don’t think you need to get anything for me or Jim. You flew us out here and–”
“Lily Proctor!” TJ exclaimed. “I have to confess something. I’m selfish. And since I’m selfish and this is my first Christmas in my own home with my two beautiful husbands, I want it to be perfect. So I’m going to get you and your husband presents. Because I’m selfish.”
She laughed again, her face pink. “O-okay. But…please just like– socks or something.”
“Sure, socks or something,” TJ indulged. He’d get her a new designer purse and Jim a nice scotch. Maybe even a couple’s massage package.
They went to a few more stores before Steve and Bucky caught back up. TJ pulled his husbands off with him to go buy the Proctors their gifts but Bucky eventually went into a store with Scott, leaving Steve and TJ to look over a few last minute presents for Bucky.
“Do you think he’d want any new clothes?” TJ mused as they walked through the store. “I mean, spoiler alert, but we got you a shit ton of clothes. I just feel he wears the same damn shit all the time.”
Steve chuckled, looking over a few sweaters. “Bucky likes to be comfortable. Maybe some sports stuff? He loves sweatpants, hoodies, ball caps, socks.”
“So he really does enjoy looking like a bum.”
Steve barked out a laugh, picking up a plain black hoodie. “Yes, he does. And we love him for it.”
“God, I married a hobo and a school teacher.”
“I thought khakis were a good idea today! Because it’s a special occasion!” Steve defended, looking down at his khakis with his tucked in plaid shirt.
“You’re the hottest grandpa I’ve ever seen,” TJ teased, leaning in for a kiss that Steve happily obliged.
They ended up purchasing Bucky several pairs of sweatpants, a few hoodies with his favorite sports teams, three pairs of gym shoes because the man burns through them like racecar drivers burn through tires and some new Calvin Klein briefs because Steve destroys his briefs when they start getting rough during sex (TJ got them both an absurd amount of briefs actually for that specific reason).
They met back up with the Proctors and Bucky around four.
“Do we need anything else?” Bucky asked, looking to the names of stores on the bags TJ had.
“Hey!” TJ laughed. “No peeking!”
“Did you get anything for your family yet, TJ?” Steve asked. “I remember you got your mom something but your dad?”
“Ah hell,” TJ grumbled, kicking the street light lightly. “I totally forgot about my jackass of a father.”
“Oh come on, TJ,” Steve pleaded. “He’s not that bad.”
“You didn’t live with him as long as I did,” TJ countered.
“We can go get him something. Is that okay?” Bucky asked, looking at the Proctors.
“That’s fine with us,” Jim said, shrugging. “I’d like to head over to the cigar store anyway for Dum Dum’s present.”
“That’s a good idea, dad!” Kim exclaimed.
“Okay so, split up? Meet back here?” Bucky offered, looking at both his families.
“Fine with us,” Lily answered.
“Be back in a half hour,” TJ detailed, spinning on his heel and heading for the liquor store. He already got Jim scotch but he knew his dad was a whisky kind of guy and truth be told, TJ didn’t care to get his father anything fancier than that or more personal. He was still a bit salty with him over their past struggles with the club and Bud’s erratic behavior.
“You’re getting him alcohol?” Steve surmised as they walked in the direction of the store. “Really, Teej?”
“What else do you get the ex president of the United States? I can’t get him a suit. I’m not five anymore so I can’t get him a coffee mug.”
“Well, what about something special? Does he have hobbies?”
“Of course he has hobbies,” TJ responded. “He likes books, geography, politics, but go figure.”
“So,” Steve drawled. “Any of that able to be a gift idea?”
TJ sighed, rubbing at his face. “I dunno. Maybe?”
“Does he like the stars? Planets or anything?” Bucky asked as they looked into a store with a telescope in the window. “Could get him a telescope.”
“Actually,” TJ whispered as he peered into the store. “I’ve got an idea.”
He walked inside, going right up to a hand carved marble chess board. He ran his fingers over the smooth board before picking up one of the delicately crafted pawns.
“That’s beautiful,” Steve complimented, kissing TJ on the neck. “He’ll love it.”
“I’ll still get him some whisky too.”
Steve snorted, kissing TJ on the neck again. “Anything you what, Teej.”
TJ woke up on Christmas Eve to the sound of a piano and terrible singing. He sat up, looking at the disheveled bed. He heard the shower running and then the wafting of that terrible singing again. “Oh fuck,” he groaned, giving his asshole an expletory squeeze. They’d made love every night and TJ’s ass was starting to really pay for it. He rolled over, sliding from the bed and crawling a few paces before standing up and crossing the large masters suite over to the bathroom. He heard humming in the shower– knowing it was Steve instantly. Bucky full on belted in the shower, never hummed.
He stripped out of his gym shorts and slipped into the oversized shower. That was one of the nicer things about the house, a huge shower stall so they could all take one together.
“Mornin’, Sinatra,” TJ greeted.
Steve rolled his eyes, but he turned around to press a kiss to TJ’s lips. “Today’s the day,” Steve lilted, flashing a smile.
TJ sighed heavily. “Today’s the day my family meets Bucky’s family, which means Bucky’s sister meets my grandma, which means there’s probably not enough alcohol in this house. Dugan drinks like Thor.” TJ’s eyes rounded. “Oh no. We’ll have Thor here too! We’ll have my grandma and Dugan and my grandma!”
Steve laughed, full and loud. He wrapped his arms around TJ’ dropping his head against the man’s shoulder. “You’re so cute.”
“Hush it,” TJ grumbled. “Oh my God, are liquor stores even open today?!”
Steve barked out more laughter, his shoulders shaking along with his glee. “TJ,” he cooed, turning TJ around to massage his shoulders. “Relax. We bought plenty.”
“We’ll have Thor! And two of the biggest alcoholics I know!”
“TJ,” Steve whispered, pressing kiss after kiss against TJ’s neck. “You’re okay. You just need to relax and trust me and Bucky.”
“I trust you. Bucky I’m scared will blow up something with Gabe and Dum Dum.”
Steve snorted, slipping his hands around TJ’s waist. He brought his hands up to cup at TJ’s chest, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Relax.”
“My ass hurts, Steve,” TJ whined. “I don’t think I’m gonna have a solid shit for weeks.”
Steve howled, pulling back to double over in laughter.
“I may have said that to be funny, but I didn’t think it was that funny! It’s kind of serious too!” TJ grabbed at the shampoo, working it roughly into his hair. “Maybe we could switch it up. You used to bottom.”
Steve scrubbed at his body nodding. “I did.”
“Are you opposed to it?” TJ asked, holding one eye closed as he tried to cry out some shampoo that got into his eye.
“Nope,” Steve responded, squirting some conditioner into his hand. “Whatever you want, Teej. I’ll do anything to make you happy.”
“So if I asked you to lie down on the tile and bring your feet above your head?” TJ tested, looking at Steve with a sly smile.
“I’d do it once you got Bucky up here.”
“But I’m already naked,” TJ complained.
Steve chuckled again, finishing up getting the conditioner out of his hair. “We made an agreement. No sex except with the three of us.”
“Does a blow job count?” TJ pressed, stepping up close to Steve and purposefully slipping their dicks up against each other. “You want me to relax right?” He whined, pitchy and needy before pressing kisses to Steve’s face.
Steve purred, nipping at TJ’s nose. “I’m sure a blow job is fine.”
“Then get on your knees,” TJ ordered, grabbing Steve’s hair and tugging so he fell to his knees. TJ knew it had nothing to do with the force of his hand. Steve moved on his own, but it was nice to pretend that TJ had some kind of power over the supersoldier. He leaned back against the shower, letting the water run down his sides.
Steve kissed at TJ’s thighs; wet little echoes reverberating around the shower stall. He scooped up TJ’s dick into his mouth, sucking softly to get it to stiffen. He curled his fingers around TJ’s sides, thumbing over his hips.
TJ’s eyes fluttered shut as his head hit the tile wall. He stroked his fingers through Steve’s wet hair, rocking his hips back and forth into Steve’s hot mouth. “Mmm, this is nice.”
Steve hummed in response, lapping at the underside of TJ’s cock. He pulled back, little sucking sounds echoing into the shower as his lips glazed over TJ’s now erect cock to take TJ back into his mouth again. He bobbed slowly, swirling his tongue and making sure TJ was buried as deep as he could get him into his mouth with each bob.
TJ was gasping, his eyes mere slits as he shivered from the warmth of the water and how good Steve’s mouth was wrapped around his cock.
Steve pulled back, using just his tongue to lick at the cockhead, his gaze peering out from under dark lashes up at TJ.
“God, you’re a fucking beauty, Steve,” TJ appraised, stroking a hand over Steve’s jaw. “I love you.”
Steve smiled before placing the most adorable kiss to the tip of TJ’s cock he’d ever seen. It was chaste, innocent and soft but it got TJ’s muscles clenching and his heart pounding against his eardrums.
Steve swallowed TJ back into his mouth, pulling him into the back of his throat and gagging around TJ’s cock, letting TJ fuck himself into Steve’s mouth. TJ rocked back and forth, listening to those soft gagging sounds. It felt so good, Steve’s muscles fluttering around his cock like this, pulling him deeper as his trachea desperately tried to swallow TJ’s dick down. Steve then reached around TJ, fingering at his whole, circling the pad of his finger round and around.
TJ whined, biting down on his lip as he picked up the pace, fucking himself almost ruthlessly into Steve's mouth, feeling Steve's finger playing at his hole. "Oh G-God, Steve. Fuck yeah." Growing impatient (and more aware that he had way too much to do today). He fucked into Steve’s mouth, rough enough to hiss when he grazed his cock against one of Steve’s canines.
Steve pulled back, lapping at TJ’s cock, careful to go over where his tooth scratched against TJ. It stung, but TJ wouldn’t call it a deal breaker. It was kind of nice, mixing pain and pleasure like this. Steve was working hard to make the pain go away, his excited tongue dancing across TJ’s length, the way he cupped at TJ’s balls and massaged at them gently, almost mindlessly– just for comfort.
He sucked TJ back into his mouth, bobbing along the length and swirling his tongue. He flattened out his tongue, sucking hard against TJ’s tip and letting his tongue slip back and forth on the underside. His finger pressed into TJ, making the man shiver and almost double over.
TJ groaned, banging his head back against the tile again. “Oh fuck, Steve. Fuck you’re mouth’s so pretty. So fucking pretty,” he babbled, panting.
Steve hollowed out his cheeks, moving his head back and forth faster now, wet sucking sounds echoing into the stall as he went. He pushed TJ back into the tile, his ass pressing against the cool stall each time Steve would push off his hips a bit to close his lips over TJ’s tip.
“God!” TJ gasped out. “Fuck, Steve, fuck, fuck, fuck!”
He was so warm as Steve’s mouth continued to envelop his cock, slipping back and forth. His muscles relaxed despite the stress of the day ahead. He kept curling his toes against the floor, feeling the water tickle against his toes. So warm and cared for as Steve gave him all he could– because he’d do anything for TJ. Anything. Steve wasn’t doing this because they had time, but because TJ needed it.
“Steve, I’m gonna come, Steve I’m gonna come,” TJ whined as Steve focused on his tip, pressing his tongue around it and over the slit, using his hand to pump as quick as possible so TJ would come into his mouth.
TJ doubled over Steve, grabbing the man’s shoulders as he came. He cried out, feeling his balls press up against his body as his orgasm clamored out of him into Steve’s awaiting mouth. He gasped, slamming his teeth against his tongue as he fought the long mewling whine that forced its way from his throat despite how hard he tried to keep it away.
Steve slowed his bobbing, lazily working up and down TJ’s cock now, using his hand to circle soft ministrations into TJ’s balls now. He lapped at TJ’s slit, looking up at TJ, searching for any cue whether to stop or keep going. And Steve would keep going.
That was the beautiful part about Steve. He wasn’t the best husband. He was often gone or had to flake on more dates than TJ would like to admit. He was forgetful and never remembered to bring milk home, but none of that mattered when Steve assured TJ how he’d literally die for him, how he’d do anything for TJ. It was the way he was looking up at TJ now with those round eyes that told TJ everything he ever needed to know.
“I love you,” TJ whispered out, dropping to his knees to press kisses against Steve’s swollen lips. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Steve chuckled, kissing TJ back, wrapping his arms around TJ’s shoulders and pulling him so close. “I love you too, Teej.”
TJ sighed, dropping his head against Steve’s shoulder. “We should get out. Are you okay? Do you need me to–”
“No baby,” Steve replied, brushing his fingers through TJ’s hair. “I’m fine.”
TJ looked down anyway, noting Steve’s flaccid cock. “I should be insulted.”
“It wasn’t about me,” Steve illustrated. “It was for you.” He kissed TJ on the lips, tender and slow.
TJ melted into that kiss– so warm and loving that it sent waves of reassurance, love and adoration down from his lips and into his body, filling him up like a ship sinking in the ocean.
Steve pulled back, offering out his hands to help TJ stand up. “Ready to meet the madness?”
“Can we just go back to bed? I’m totally fine with just going back to bed.”
Steve kissed TJ on the forehead. “It’ll all be over soon.”
TJ laughed. Their first Christmas party in their own home with their friends and family. HYDRA couldn’t even stop this party from being the best damn party TJ ever had. He’d make damn sure of it.
Downstairs was exactly as TJ expected. A nightmare. The L-shaped sectional was pulled out into the bed, pillows were tossed about and the blankets kicked all over. The kids were blaring something in the basement, Dum Dum was smoking in the house (Bucky was already yelling at him about it), Gabe was fussing about finding his cane, Rebecca was in the study probably hiding for her life and Lily and Jim were arguing over something TJ didn’t have the slightest clue about.
“Okay…” TJ sighed, looking around at the chaos. “Okay. I can do this.”
Steve walked into the kitchen, forcibly taking Dum Dum’s cigar and snuffing it out. The man roared his complaints until Bucky was ushering him outside with him so they could smoke together. Jim found Gabe’s cane and for a split second, Lily wasn’t yelling at Jim.
Till suddenly she was again and they were moving into the dining room to continue their fight.
“TJ,” Steve said, snapping TJ out of his daze. “We’ve gotta clean up.”
“Yeah,” TJ whispered. “Okay, I need– um. I need–”
“A list,” Steve suggested. “I’ll make up one. First we clean, then we’ll start the turkeys, ham, and cooking. We’ll get everyone’s presents all around the tree. We got this. I’ll make up the bar for later and get ice. We’ll have a lovely party, Teej.” He was behind TJ, holding him close to his chest and running a hand up and down TJ’s arm.
TJ was still staring at the disaster in the living room. “I’ll start in here. You clean the kitchen.”
“Yes sir.” Steve winked, kissing TJ’s cheek.
They set about their duties. TJ straightening the living room and putting away all the pillows and blankets. By then, Lily and Jim were finished fighting and Lily was dusting despite TJ’s protests that she didn’t have to.
Kim and Scott got roped into helping Bucky ice the sidewalk and driveway despite their protests.
Dum Dum and Gabe both went down for a nap and TJ was pretty damn sure it was because Bucky slipped them alcohol in their coffees but he couldn’t know for certain.
Once the house was clean, TJ went into the kitchen to start prepping the turkeys. He took them out of the refrigerator, wincing at how heavy they were.
“Woah, sailor,” Bucky said as he slipped into the room, all snow-soaked and red faced from the cold. “Lemme help, babe.”
Bucky took the turkeys out of the packaging, using his flesh hand to reach into the carcasses and pull out the neck and giblets. He set them into the deep-set country sink and went about prepping them.
“Get out the seasoning and almonds.” Bucky took out a large cutting knife, going slowly as he made an incision down the middle of the turkey to butterfly cut it. “Hey Steve!” he yelled. “Can you start the smoker?”
“Sure!” Steve shouted back from another room.
TJ heard the French doors to the patio open in the living room and assumed he’d gone out that way. “Okay so, almonds, all the seasoning. Anything else?”
“Yup,” Bucky replied, putting the turkey onto a pan. “C’mere and kiss me.”
TJ rolled his eyes, but he walked over to Bucky and pressed a kiss to his lover’s lips. “You’re a sap.”
“You bet your sweet ass I am.”
TJ rolled his eyes, moving to pull out the potatoes and the rest of the dinner spread. They had hors d’oeuvres to still cook but those wouldn’t take too long. Luckily, Steve spent most of the day yesterday pre-cooking most of everything in that department. He’d also baked up a storm of cookies with Rebecca. TJ still couldn’t get over how much Steve enjoyed baking and yet had never voiced it before. He was allowed to enjoy things that didn’t require a shield in his hands and a tact vest. He was allowed to want to retire or get a civilian job if he wanted. He’d be damn good at private security. Maybe when they had kids…
Fuck, TJ was astounded that he was actually entertaining the idea of children. Growling, TJ went over to the quiches to bring them out and heat them up in the oven. It wasn’t that TJ was against children. He liked children! He just was worried about a triad raising kids. Especially this triad. Two supersoldiers and then an addict, well ex-addict, but once an addict always an addict in TJ’s mind. Or at least that’s how the world would always see TJ.
“Fuck it’s cold out,” Steve said as he came into the room, rubbing his hands together. He placed a kiss on both Bucky and TJ’s cheeks before moving around them to the fridge to get out the cheese spreads, the grapes and started setting everything on serving platters. “So I’m gonna just put everything together and we can bring all this out when it’s about five minutes before people should show up?”
“Sounds good to me,” Bucky said as he finished butterflying the other turkey. “Which oven are you cooking the ham in, TJ?”
“The bottom one,” TJ replied as he set the top oven to warm up. “How do we wanna do the warm appetizers?”
“If they need cookin’ then cook ‘em now and we can stick them next to the ham to warm up later,” Bucky answered.
“Okay, cool,” TJ chimed. They silently worked around each other, dancing around, occasionally bumping into hips and giggling but for the most part they were all in their own worlds. TJ looked up from the cutting board, pausing from his carrots. “So question.”
Steve and Bucky both looked up at him.
“Can I drink tonight? I mean, it’s a party.”
The two looked at each other, sharing one of their silent conversations before looking back at TJ.
“Wine,” Steve instructed. “You can have wine.”
TJ nodded, licking at his lips. “How much?”
“TJ,” Bucky sighed. “We’re not your parents. Just be smart about it, okay? We trust you.”
TJ gulped, clenching his toes against the hardwood. He felt foolish. To a degree, Bucky was right. They weren’t his parents. They were his partners. It mattered to him what they thought and the last thing TJ wanted to do was disappoint them. He sighed through his nose, looking back down to cut up the carrots once more.
“TJ,” Steve began. “We trust you.”
TJ smiled awkwardly, giving a shrug in response. He finished up cutting the carrots and put them into the steamer and then back into the fridge. They’d cook these later with the mashed potatoes.
“So uh, is everything good then? House is clean, bar stocked and the lights on the house are on?”
“Scott turned the lights on, the tree’s on and we’ve got everything going. It’ll be a great party,” Steve affirmed.
“Okay,” TJ responded, still feeling a bit embarrassed. He just didn’t want to make a fool of himself. If he hadn’t asked and just assumed it was okay, and it wasn’t okay, well he’d feel even worse than he felt now. Alcohol was never his problem, but that didn’t matter when it came to being an addict. Anything that could fuck your body up was off limits when you were trying to go clean and he’d already downed almost a full bottle of wine this week when Steve and Bucky went Christmas shopping. Steve never said anything to TJ, but TJ saw the way he looked at the bottle. It was disappointment. TJ didn’t want to live like this, always feeling ashamed for wanting to partake in something that practically all adults did. He wasn’t asking to get wasted– he just wanted to indulge in a little holiday celebration. Just like everyone else.
TJ did a final walk through of the house. Candles were lit, lights were twinkling on the tree, all the presents beneath the tree and the stockings full of little goodies, the lights were on outside and the driveway lit so people could easily navigate it. The party spread was on the buffet in the dining room, the bar was stocked, open and ready. TJ was wearing a black suit, white button down and black tie. Steve of course was in a blue button down and Bucky in red. They looked sharper than the edge of a carving knife and TJ had to make sure he wasn’t drooling when he looked their way. Bucky’s extended family were dotted in the living room, already with glasses of various alcoholic beverages in their hands (the teens had soda). TJ wanted to just pick up a Coke and just guzzle soda down all night but he felt foolish. He felt that people would know why he had a soda and not anything else despite actually really just wanting a soda right now.
Narrowing his eyes, he marched into the kitchen, taking one of the sodas from the lineup of non-alcoholic beverages and popping the top. So what if people thought he was only drinking it because he was a recovering addict. Fuck them, he wanted a damn soda right now.
Then the doorbell rang.
TJ chugged the soda, throwing it into the recycling as he made his way through the house. Rebecca was already up and ushering in Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. Behind them was Thor and Jane Foster. TJ’s eyes rounded. Jane was probably the prettiest woman he’d ever met and if he wasn’t utterly and pathetically so gay, he’d gladly go bisexual for that woman. Behind them, a man with purple skin, Colonel James Rhodes and a woman with flowing brown hair trailed behind.
TJ knew the man was the Vision. He wasn’t entirely sure if he should be described as a ‘man’ but he looked like one and didn’t seem to mind the male pronouns, so TJ was going to roll with it.
“I’m TJ, welcome,” TJ said as he offered out his hand to the Vision.
The Vision smiled, gently taking TJ’s hand and shaking it. “A pleasure.”
“I’m Wanda,” the female introduced, also offering out her hand for TJ to shake.
“Nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you two from Steve.”
“I’m Colonel Rhodes,” Rhodes said, offering his hand to TJ.
“He’s lying. His name is Rhodey,” Tony quipped.
“Excuse me for trying to be professional!” Rhodey shot back.
TJ laughed, licking his lips. He knew best friends when he saw them. “Well, welcome Colonel Rhodey.”
“Alright, alright,” Rhodey sang. “Colonel Rhodey is a good compromise.”
“He also goes by War Machine,” Tony inputted, winking.
Steve and Bucky came down, hugging and greeting everyone. Bucky gave Pepper a kiss on the cheek and Steve pulled Tony in for one of his rather painful bear hugs. TJ smirked, Tony took it like a champ. He was probably used to them though to be honest.
“TJ!” Pepper chimed, walking toward him in her silken red dress. “It’s so good to see you!”
“Hey,” TJ greeted, pulling Pepper into a light hug. She kissed his cheek and pulled back to cup his face.
“You look so good! I always worry these two are going to break you!”
TJ rolled his eyes, scoffing. “Oh please. I’ve got them wrapped around my pinky finger.”
She winked, doing a little sashay with her hips. “I’ll bet. You are a damn prince, TJ.”
TJ laughed waving a hand dismissively. “Do you want a drink? Tony? Drink? Anyone?”
“Single malt scotch, two ice cubes in Steve Rogers’ best tumbler,” Tony said as he handed his coat to Bucky (well more like flung it at him). “Pepper will have the finest white wine you have in your best crystal.”
“Tony,” Pepper chastised lovingly.
“So, Tony will have a beer and Pepper will have some of the moscato we picked up at the grocery,” Bucky clarified, laughing. “We’re uncultured swine, Stark. I’m so sorry.”
“Heathens,” Tony responded, shivering in repulsion. “How do you live?”
TJ watched Bucky go into the kitchen to grab them a drink. Before he could follow, Steve was ushering Thor and Jane up to TJ. He smiled, looking from Thor and all his height to Jane– dainty and lithe. He’d forgotten how big Thor was.
“Teej, this is Dr. Jane Foster,” Steve introduced.
“Just Jane is fine,” she said, offering out her hand. “It’s so great to finally meet you.”
“You too,” TJ said smiling. “Nice to see you again, Thor.”
“Well met, TJ. You’ve been well?”
TJ nodded, gesturing around the house. “You did a great job helping move us in and yeah. Life’s been real good. Quiet, oddly.”
Thor chuckled, his blue eyes sparking. TJ liked that about him– he radiated kindness despite his intimidating size.
They all gathered around the buffet in the dining room, making small talk. Tony finally declared his goal of the night was to piss off TJ’s dad. Apparently getting punched by a former president was on his bucket list. TJ thought it funny. Steve didn’t.
The door rang not too long after and Natasha, Clint, Sam and some guy named Scott Lang all came in. They had presents in their hands, smiles on their faces and Scott brought single malt scotch to Tony’s absolute delight. (“Steve who is that?” “Ant-Man.” “Ohhhh! That guy!”).
Sam of course brought the biggest smile to Steve’s face. TJ knew how much Steve missed seeing Sam on a regular basis. Sam was still living in DC, but Steve’s crazy work schedule kept him pretty locked to odd home hours and he often just wanted to crawl into bed and make love with Bucky and TJ. Not that TJ minded, but TJ knew how important it was that Steve keep his friends close. Sam was training to be an Avenger, and was often on missions but according to Steve, it wasn’t the same.
Natasha and Sam were probably the best friends Steve had– next to Bucky of course. But Bucky was different, he was a lover. Best friends were a whole other level and TJ knew how important they were because he didn’t have any. All he had was Steve and Bucky and truth be told, he’d love to find a friend that he could talk about Steve and Bucky to. Sometimes venting about how Bucky takes up most of the bed and his snoring only goes so far with Steve, especially when Steve turns around and does the whole ‘well I’ve endured it most of my life, blah blah blah.’ TJ wanted a best friend. So of course the second Sam came in the door, TJ was pulling Sam right to Steve and handing them bottles of beer and leaving them to talk to each other.
“TJ,” Natasha greeted, kissing him on the cheek. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” TJ responded.
“Where’s your family?”
“They’ll be late. It’s Hammond tradition,” TJ shrugged.
“I got something for you. It’s not something that should be opened in present company though,” she said, pulling TJ away from the growing party and into the study. She carefully stepped over Rebecca’s luggage and lifted the small bag she’d been holding.
TJ cocked a brow, eyeing it suspiciously. “It’s not a bomb right?”
Natasha responded by tilting her head to the side, a smirk on her plump lips.
“Okay fine, fine.” TJ took the present, his eyes widening at the weight. “The fuck?” He pulled out the wrapping and gasped at what he saw.
“S.H.I.E.L.D designed them to contain Steve after his defrosting. They never needed them but…” She shrugged. “Thought you could find a use for ‘em.”
“These are supersoldier handcuffs,” TJ stated in awe. “Motherfucking supersoldier handcuffs.”
“Yup. Sometimes it’s nice to get a little control in the bedroom, right? I just know Steve’ll turn to goo in your arms for these.”
TJ eyed her suspiciously. “Something you wanna confess, Romanov?”
Natasha chuckled, shrugging. “I don’t kiss and tell.”
“If you had sex with Steve and you don’t tell me, I’ll literally die.”
Natasha gestured to the handcuffs again, smirking. “Enjoy.”
“Oh my God,” TJ sighed in disbelief. “My life is a damn circus.” He’d ask Steve later. He had to know if they’d had sex before or not. It would eat at him for eternity.
When TJ came back, the Avengers, Bucky’s extended family, Dum Dum and Gabe were all gathered around the living room and spilling into the dining room. TJ knew the open floorplan would pay off for hosting large parties and here was the absolute evidence. He walked around, greeting people again, putting his two cents into random conversations and snapping selfies and pictures of everyone.
“TJ!” Thor called from his spot on the couch. “Bucky says I need your permission to try to get him drunk!”
Bucky shrugged, looking sheepishly at TJ. “He’s got Asgardian liquor and Steve refuses to drink it, so…”
TJ licked his lips, looking from the shot glass in Thor’s hand to Bucky again. He wanted to say no. If TJ couldn’t get drunk, then why should Bucky? Where was the fairness? Then TJ remembered Bucky had been pumped with drugs, tortured, experimented on and brainwashed for most of his life and in the game of ‘fairness’ he was given the shortest stick possible. TJ was a dick to deny him the simplest pleasure a man could have.
“Go for it, baby,” TJ stated. “Just don’t get him black-out drunk. Okay, Thor?”
Thor laughed loudly, his eyes squinting as his whole face lit up in joy. “Of course not!”
TJ felt someone bump his shoulder lightly. He looked up at Steve, seeing the knowing smirk on those red lips. “What?”
“Proud of you,” Steve replied. “I could see what you were thinking.”
“Am I really that transparent?”
Steve took a sip of his Coke, shrugging. “Maybe, but I like being able to tell what you’re thinking.” He leaned over, pressing a soft kiss to TJ’s face, lingering for just a few seconds more until Sam came up to them.
“TJ! You look good, man.”
“Thanks,” TJ replied, looking down at himself. “I go jogging with Bucky sometimes.”
Sam nodded, flicking his brow up briefly. “Don’t go with Steve. Steve’s a douche when it comes to jogging partners.”
“Oh come on! It was one time!” Steve groveled, flailing his free hand.
“On your left!” Sam shouted. “On your left! Hey sucker with the grey sweatshirt, on your left!”
“Oh shut up,” Steve laughed, playfully punching Sam in the shoulder. “You thought it was funny.”
“I thought I was gonna die tryin’ to keep up with you. Now look at me. I’m still a sonuvabitch tryin’ to keep up with you.”
“Ehh,” TJ drawled. “You’re giving Steve too much credit. You did have to show him how to work a Lenovo.”
“I used a Mac first!” Steve defended. “We’re done. C’mon, Sam. I wanna show you the poker table.”
TJ kissed Steve on the cheek before he watched the two grab Natasha, Clint and Vision to head into the basement for poker.
TJ went to check on the hams and turkeys before he heard his grandma’s voice. He was all the way in the back of the house in the kitchen and he could still pick out that woman’s voice. Running into the front of the house, he saw his family, dusted with sparkling snow, removing their jackets and smiles on their faces.
“Mom!” TJ shouted, coming to hug his mother. She hugged him tightly, humming in excitement.
“You’re too skinny,” she commented jokingly, jabbing a finger into his ribs.
“TJ,” Nana cooed, bringing him in for a hug. “Get your old grandma a screwdriver, huh?”
“Course, Nana,” TJ laughed. “Dougie!”
“Merry Christmas!” Doug said, pulling out a box from behind his back. “Saw this and instantly thought of you and your husbands.”
TJ’s smile broadened. He loved it when people acknowledged the commitment TJ had with Steve and Bucky. He took the present, hugging his twin with as much strength as he could. Doug groaned into the hug, squeezing TJ back just as tightly.
“Jesus, it’s been too long,” Doug whispered. “We live in the same city and it’s still been too long.”
“It’s okay,” TJ said, brushing it off. “You’ve been campaigning with Mom.”
“Open the present. I can’t wait till later,” Doug said, practically bouncing on his toes.
TJ rolled his eyes, but he opened the box, pulling out three shirts. Two said, ‘I’m dating Captain America’ and the last one said, ‘I’m Captain America.’
“Douggie!” TJ laughed. “Holy fuck this is amazing!”
“I hope they fit. I didn’t know how big to get, so I got them XL and you a medium.”
“That’ll be fine. Steve’ll have a shirt that actually fits for once.”
“Oh my God!” Bucky exclaimed, running up to TJ’s family. “I’m mildly inebriated because Asgard is the best place on the planet–”
“It’s another realm, Bucky!” Thor attempted to correct. Jane slammed her head into Thor’s chest, giggling.
“Right, best place in the whole realm!”
“Bucky,” TJ said, grabbing Bucky’s face. “You’re drunk.”
“Oh my God!” Bucky breathed out, his eyes round in amazement. “I am. I should stop drinkin’ now.”
“Yeah,” TJ encouraged, kissing Bucky on the lips. “Eat something, baby.”
“Nonsense!” Nana exclaimed. “Bucky, c’mon and let’s go make some screwdrivers.”
Bucky hugged TJ’s grandma, giggling into her ear. “I knew you were my favorite!” They parted from the group, headed over to the kitchen.
“Where’s Anne?” TJ asked.
“She’s on the phone with her parents,” Doug explained. “She’ll be in soon.”
TJ nodded, looking back at his mom. This was his house. He was hosting a party in his house with his husbands and his mom was here and his brother and TJ had never been so proud of himself in his entire life. He wasn’t the fuck up anymore. He was solidified and whole again. It wasn’t just because he had two hulking supersoldiers in his life. They taught him to respect himself again. It wasn’t just them he went sober for. It was himself. They just showed him he could do it.
“Madame Secretary,” Tony greeted, offering out his hand. “I presume you got my donation?”
“Yes I did,” Mom responded, looking positively thrilled. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you actually.”
TJ rolled his eyes. Of course. “Mom, can we talk later?”
“Sure sweetie,” Mom said, cupping TJ’s face before walking over to Pepper with Tony.
“Hey, TJ,” Doug said, tugging TJ out onto the porch. “Wanna tell you something before we make an announcement about it.”
TJ cocked his brow, but he followed his brother out into the bitter cold. His suit jacket was nothing when it came to the biting wind but he dealt with it. He turned around quickly, dropping the shirts Doug had gifted him next to the door before closing it.
“Anne and I are gonna have a baby,” Doug revealed, a smile spreading on his face, eyes twinkling like stars in the sky.
“You’re shitting me!” TJ gasped.
“No, man! I’m serious! We just found out a few days ago!”
“Dougie!” TJ exclaimed, pulling his brother into a hug. “Oh my God, I’m so happy for you! Does Mom know yet?”
“Nope,” Doug responded, looking at Anne still in the car. “She’s telling her parents now.”
“God, Doug. That’s amazing. That’s so fucking amazing, man!” He pulled Doug in for another hug. Doug squealed in delight, his body practically trembling from excitement. TJ felt like he was weightless, like he’d snorted coke except– he hadn’t. He hadn’t touched drugs since he went through detox back almost half a year ago. But he felt like he was swimming and fuzzy all over. He was so proud of his brother. So happy that he found Anne and so happy that they were finally starting a family.
“Hi TJ!” Anne said as she skittered over to the door. “It’s freezing and I’m going inside!”
TJ laughed, following his brother and his wife inside.
The party went by smoothly. TJ’s dad showed up about an hour after his brother and mom. Bud of course instantly hated Tony and of course Tony instantly hated him, but no punches happened. Dum Dum got so drunk he passed out mid-sentence. Bucky sobered up pretty fast, helping TJ in the kitchen with TJ’s mother who refused to just ‘sit and do nothing’ despite being the most sought after female in the room.
Steve finally came back up to put some finishing touches on the desserts before putting them back in the fridge and then went to play ping pong with Sam, Scott Lang, Scott (Bucky’s grandnephew) and Kim.
TJ was leaning on the kitchen counter, Bucky at his side and his grandma and mother at the breakfast nook. It was a little warm from having both ovens on and the burners all on but the smells wafting around made it perfect and tolerable.
“You think you’ll play the piano tonight?” Nana asked over her third screwdriver.
Bucky looked to TJ expectantly, a smile threatening to spread across his lips.
“Oh please!” Mom begged. “I miss your playing.”
TJ sighed, looking around at them pathetically. “I hate stealing all the attention.”
“Since when?” Anne said as she walked into the room to open up another bottle of wine. “Also TJ, I’m very disappointed you kept Pepper away from me this long. We’ve decided we’re biffles.”
“Biffles?” Bucky asked.
“Best friends,” TJ clarified.
“Wow, what a word,” Bucky joked. TJ elbowed him.
“TJ, I may not be around next Christmas. Play something!” Nana pleaded.
Anne took a sip from her freshly poured soda (TJ noted she was pouring Doug a glass of wine and not one for herself), nodding as she swallowed it down. “Play something! Demand that attention!”
“Anne!” TJ exclaimed. “You need the attention though!”
Anne’s eyes went round as she looked over at Nana and TJ’s mom.
“What?” Mom asked, looking at Anne expectantly.
“Uh, we’ll tell you at dinner,” Anne explained as she shot TJ a threatening look.
“Uh oh,” Bucky commented. “She’s gonna kill you in your sleep.”
“What?!” Mom asked again, her voice pitchy. She hated being left in the dark.
“At dinner, Mom,” TJ promised. He leaned against Bucky, resting his head against the man’s shoulder.
“I used to think you two were twins,” Nana observed. “But now I think I see it.”
Mom looked over at them, her gaze flicking back and forth. “Yeah,” she commented. “Yeah I see it too.”
Bucky snorted, kissing TJ on the forehead before peeling himself off from against the counter. “I’m gonna check on Steve. Play the piano later!”
TJ rolled his eyes. He walked out of the kitchen, seeing two new faces in his living room. He walked up to them, his eyes widening as he realized who they were.
“Nick Fury,” he gasped. “I thought you were dead.”
Fury looked up at him, his gaze menacing, heightened in its intensity by the eye patch. “Thought wrong.”
“Oh play nice!” Pepper scolded from her perch next to Tony. “TJ, have you met Maria Hill before?”
TJ turned to the brunette, assuming Pepper was referring to her. “No I haven’t. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Maria. You’re the wonderful little husband I’ve heard so much about.”
TJ’s heart fluttered. Steve talked about him at work? TJ assumed this woman was work-related to Steve. Steve didn’t really have friends outside of the Avengers. TJ wasn’t judging though. At least Steve had friends.
“Yeah that’s me. You work with Steve?”
Maria bobbed her head from side to side, scrunching up her nose. “Work with, avoid death with, help stop the world from ending. I don’t like to put a label on it.”
TJ laughed, nodding. “Understandable. Well enjoy the party. There’s a full bar in the kitchen and we’ll eat dinner in an hour.”
“Thank you,” Maria said with a smile, though her eyes were still cold. TJ assumed that’s just how her face was though– always a little cold. The women in Steve’s life weren’t anything to shake a stick at. Each one of them was a powerhouse and something wonderful all on her own. Pepper with her grace and CEO power. Natasha with her terrifying talents. Jane with all her accomplishments. Not a single woman in this room was just a regular women. TJ was beginning to think there was no such thing as ‘a regular woman.’ Even Anne was extremely talented and strong– overcoming bulimia and putting up with Douggie.
TJ headed for the basement stairs, thumping down them to see Steve, Natasha, Clint, Scott Lang, Vision and Sam all around the poker table. Kim and Scott were behind Steve, whispering in his ear.
“Cheating!” Scott Lang announced. “Cheating, cheating, cheating!”
“We are not!” Steve laughed. “They’re telling me–uh, stories!”
“Yeah, stories about how shitty my hand is,” Sam grumbled.
“You’re still a terrible liar, Steve,” Natasha commented, plopping a few chips into the center of the table.
“I’m learning,” Steve countered, dipping his chin.
“I do not lie,” the Vision stated, blinking.
“No,” Sam agreed. “But you’ve got one hell of a poker face.”
The Vision simply shrugged. “Thank you.”
TJ came behind Steve, squeezing his shoulders and pressing a kiss to his neck.
“Mmm,” Steve hummed. “Hey good luck charm.”
“Ha. Ha.” TJ nuzzled his nose against Steve’s cheek. “You winning?”
“Losing pathetically, but we’re not playing for real money so it’s fine.”
“He’s lying,” Sam laughed. “He bet your house and lost it to me. Just doesn’t know how to break it to you.”
TJ gasped sarcastically, clinking his tongue. “Steve! What did I say about gambling away our house? You’re supposed to gamble me away first!”
“Now why would I do that?” Steve asked, pulling TJ into his lap. “You’re too priceless to give away.” He kissed TJ on the cheek several times, tickling at his ribs lightly.
TJ giggled, squirming on Steve’s lap to the sounds of everyone laughing softly around them. He looked at Steve’s hand then back at the table. “You’re not entirely hopeless.”
“Vision is kicking our asses,” Steve supplied, placing a few chips in the center. “Ruthlessly.”
“I am just playing the game,” the Vision stated. “Is it not the point to win?”
“He’s not wrong,” Clint shrugged. “I fold.”
“Loser,” Nat teased, nudging her shoulder into Clint.
TJ watched them interact, momentarily lost to the world. He’d heard Clint had a family. Kids and a wife. But there was a chemistry between him and Natasha that was undeniable. Like ying and yang. They completed each other like Steve and Bucky did and yet Clint had chosen to marry someone else? It was perplexing, but TJ wouldn’t begin to understand the inner-workings of Natasha’s mind. Maybe she’d turned Clint down. Maybe Clint had turned her down. There was a story there though. One TJ was curious to know but terrified to ask about.
“Ah shit!” Steve grumbled. “I suck at this game.”
“Another round?” Sam asked.
“One more, than we should probably go back upstairs and be social,” Steve instructed.
“Being social is overrated,” Natasha commented as she shuffled the cards.
“Love you,” TJ whispered before kissing Steve on the cheek and slipping from his lap.
Steve grabbed TJ’s wrist lightly, pulling TJ back to him. “Another kiss.”
TJ laughed, but he leaned down to kiss Steve on the lips.
“Ya’ll make me wanna puke,” Sam joked.
“It’s quite disgusting. I mean, what the fuck is Steve doing happy? Wipe that smile off your face, Rogers!” Natasha teased as she threw a card at Steve.
Steve shot Natasha a pointed look. “Imma come over this table, Romanov.”
“I dare you!”
“Oh-hoh, you break the table and you’re sleeping on the couch, Steve!” TJ threatened through a laugh. He walked back up the stairs to the sounds of playful banter and howls of laughter.
Upstairs, Dum Dum and Gabe were sucking back beer after beer with Thor and Jane, Nana was over by the piano, looking at TJ with pleading eyes (she really wanted to sing apparently), and Mom and Dad were over with Tony. Tony wasn’t doing very well with getting Dad to punch him but TJ was honestly relieved. Why Tony wanted to piss off a former president was beyond TJ.
“Hey TJ!” Dad shouted, waving TJ over.
TJ walked over, dipping his chin as he looked up at his father. The man wrapped his arm around TJ, leading him away from Tony, Pepper and his mother and over into a corner in the room.
“I just wanted to say somethin’,” Dad began. “I’m proud of you, TJ. Real proud. You’ve got a beautiful home and a beautiful family.”
“Thanks, Dad,” TJ sighed, running his fingers through his hair.
“I ain’t done yet,” Dad quipped. “I didn’t want this for you. I thought– well I thought it was wrong. I don’t care that you’re gay, but I do care about your health and I didn’t think shacking up with two men was healthy–”
“But I’m glad you did. They’re good for you. Both of ‘em.” He nodded, pausing to take a sip of his brandy. “Steve’s a great man and Bucky’s not such a piss-poor guy like I thought he was.”
“I’m tryin’ ta say I was wrong, TJ. Don’t get me off track!” It was a light tone– joking but TJ still couldn’t help but feel his heart race in his chest. Hearing anyone say anything negative about Bucky instantly got TJ’s blood boiling.
“I was worried is all. I was worried because unlike the rest of America, we know Bucky was that assassin on the bridge with Steve and I saw the way you looked when you thought that assassin killed Steve.”
“He’s not that assassin anymore, Dad,” TJ whispered, desperately attempting to keep his voice hushed.
“I know that. That’s why I’m here to tell you I was a pimple on a dog’s ass and I’m sorry.”
TJ smiled, rolling his eyes. His dad was ever so eloquent. He pulled his father into a hug, whispering into his hear, “Thanks, Dad.”
“No problem, son.”
TJ found Bucky in the kitchen, bringing in the smoked turkeys and adding the garnishes. He slipped right into his lover’s arms, pressing kisses against Bucky’s jaw.
Bucky hummed deeply, still sprinkling the almonds atop the turkey. “What’s all this for?”
“I’m proud of you.”
“For not burning the turkeys? Thanks babydoll.”
TJ rolled his eyes, but he pressed his face into Bucky’s collar bone, breathing in the smell of aftershave. “When’s dinner?”
“Soon. We should gather everyone up and start opening presents.”
“I can do that,” TJ chimed, kissing Bucky on the cheek again.
He broke away from Bucky and went about telling everyone to gather up in the living room. Once everyone was making their way into the room, he snagged both Bucky and Steve, pulling them onto the floor in front of the sectional with him. He sat between Steve’s legs and laced his fingers in with Bucky’s. Bucky lay his head against Steve’s shoulder.
“They’re so cute,” TJ heard Anne say as she sat in the recliner with Doug.
He craned his neck back, kissing Steve softly.
Steve smiled into the kiss, his tongue flicking out flirtatiously before pulling back. “I love you, Teej.”
“I love you too.” It was an automatic response at this point, trained into TJ’s soul from Steve’s constant desire to never let his husbands go without that assurance. Steve loved them and he was completely free with how he gave his feelings. They weren’t perfect. Steve often got on TJ about how he could be lazy sometimes. Bucky often yelled at Steve for being a stubborn idiot and not thinking before acting. TJ griped about Bucky’s obnoxious propensity to try to play both lover and father to TJ. They weren’t perfect. But they were.
“Okay, since we all know I’m everyone’s favorite,” Tony began. He put a Santa hat on his head, setting down his scotch. “I’ll be Santa. The rules are simple. You wait for your present, you get it, you open it and you don’t leave your wrapping paper for Steve to clean up later. Crumpling it up and throwing it at him is fair game though.”
“You declaring war over there, Stark?” Bucky taunted.
Tony grimaced sarcastically, ducking a bit behind the tree and pulling out a gift. “How about we start with giving Bucky a present first. Calm the beast and all that.”
Bucky snorted but nevertheless, accepted the present addressed to him from Tony and Pepper. It was Fitbit, and TJ would never have guessed Bucky would want one, but he was actually extremely happy with it, crawling over to Pepper to have her help him set it up.
The gift exchange went smoothly. Everyone still dropped the wrapping paper right to the floor with the intention of gathering it back up but TJ didn’t care. Steve received countless gag gifts from the Avengers like books called How To Give a Man a Blowjob to Dating For the Elderly. Bucky got some World War II memorabilia from Dugan and Jones which made him get misty eyed and TJ received three tickets to the playhouse for any show they wanted, an e-cig (Bucky got one too, apparently Steve was sick of washing smoke smell out of his clothes) and a few scarves from his mom.
Everyone was appreciative, hugging each other, taking pictures and expressing their gratitude. TJ was pretty sure he could officially call this party a success. The kids were happily content with the Playstation 4 Bucky got them and the video games that accompanied it. Thor received countless art pieces from various cultures around the world (he was apparently starting a collection) and Vision even got a top of the line laptop that Tony of course made a joke about ‘living in’ if he ever got tired of his body.
Once the gift exchange was over, everyone trickled into the dining room. Steve, Bucky and TJ went about getting everything on serving platters and bringing it out. Anne snuck into the kitchen to try to help but TJ shooed her out. TJ snapped some selfies with Steve and Bucky in the kitchen and then took some pictures of everyone out in the dining room. He hadn’t updated his Instagram account in a hard minute, but he wasn’t about to put up any pictures without Steve’s permission. Technically, Steve wasn’t out as poly to the world yet even if he wasn’t really hiding it.
With the food all on the table and some silly jokes about ‘saying grace’ which resulted in everyone around the table literally saying ‘grace’ (except Bucky who said ‘shalom’), everyone set about filling their plates up. The ham was passed around following the turkey. The chicken gravy was officially a good choice when Scott Lang accidently spilled the gravy all over his plate. Mashed potatoes of course were a hit and the string beans were actually polished off on the first round. TJ was also happy he managed to sneak in some caramelized carrots because those were getting eaten up as fast as the biscuits.
“So uh, TJ,” Doug whispered into his ear. “D’you think it’d be okay if we make the announcement?”
TJ laughed softly through his nose. “Go for it, man.”
Doug stood up, a crooked smile on his face as he lightly tapped his fork on his wine glass. Everyone went silent. “So I just wanted to take a moment to thank our kind hosts for the wonderful evening. TJ, I always hoped for today but I honestly never thought I’d see it. I’m glad you found Steve and Bucky and I’m glad you two whipped him into shape.”
“TJ!” Bucky gasped. “I thought we weren’t supposed to tell anyone you liked whips!”
Everyone roared with laughter. Steve dropped his face into his hands, flushing red.
“So,” Doug continued. “With my thanks to the hosts, I just wanted to give a little announcement since it’s impossible to get a proper Hammond-Barrish gathering these days.”
Anne stood up, taking Doug’s hand.
“We’re expecting,” Anne announced, giving a little excited dance in her spot.
Mom gasped and Dad’s eyes went wide.
“Congratulations!” Pepper sang.
“How long have you known?” Jane asked, scooting closer to Thor.
“We found out not too long ago.”
“Well congrats!” Dad boomed, raising his glass. “Anne, still a treasure. I hope that kid looks just like you.”
“Dad!” Doug exclaimed. “I’m not that ugly!”
Steve pressed a kiss against TJ’s face to the background noise of chuckles and more baby talk. TJ leaned into him, slipping his hand into Steve’s.
“This is wonderful, TJ,” Steve praised. “You throw one hell of a party.”
“Pff, you and Bucky did most of it.”
“Nah,” Steve deflected, pulling TJ’s hand up to kiss his knuckles. “Merry Christmas, baby.”
TJ smiled, unsure at first and eyes full of a slight moment of fear. He almost expected the scene to shatter and he’d wake up in rehab or a hospital bed but it didn’t. It kept playing out. Laughter echoed into the room, dinner plates clacked and Thor told stories about feasts from Asgard. Life kept going and it was real. TJ’s eyes lit up, smiling fully and laughing softly in his throat.
He felt Bucky’s arm around him as he sat between his two husbands. Throughout his entire life, he never imagined this. He expected death from an overdose or to be alone. He never expected a huge family around a Christmas table, two husbands and a family that looked at him like he was someone and not just a time bomb.
TJ hummed, looking around the table at everyone before finally deciding to take a bite of the turkey. He nodded once more– a soft little affirmation. This was his life. These people were his family whether by blood or extension and this was his life.
He eventually did play the piano that night with his Nana singing, couples dancing and Steve and Bucky smiling.
TJ woke to the wettest kiss he’d ever experienced in his life. He groaned, swatting away whoever it was but they just came back, breathing loudly in his ear and lapping at his ear. “Ew, Bucky– what the fuck!”
Except it wasn’t Bucky. TJ sat up, yelping when he saw a large St. Bernard in his bed, staring at him as curiously as TJ was looking at the dog. “The fuck?!”
Then he saw the blue bow on the dog’s collar. “Looks like Bucky got his dog,” TJ appraised, giving the dog a few head scratches. He wasn’t a puppy, and TJ was a little disappointed there’d be no puppy in a little basket by the tree but after looking this dog in the face one more time– he was completely sold.
“You’re a cutie,” TJ cooed. “So soft n’ fluffy, huh?”
TJ untangled himself from the bedsheets, listening to the dog scramble behind him. He got to the foot of the stairs and watched the dog trot down them heavily. TJ flicked up his brow once before grabbing the railing and heading down as well.
He scratched at his head, messing up the pretty disheveled curly locks atop his head. Steve was at the breakfast nook with a newspaper and Bucky was cooking eggs and bacon.
“Merry Christmas,” TJ mumbled. “I see we got a dog.”
“Yeah!” Bucky announced, sounding entirely too enthusiastic. “Steve got him from a rescue foundation for me.”
“What’s his name?” TJ asked, leaning down to pet the dog behind the ears.
“Oscar,” Bucky responded.
“Hey Oscar,” TJ cooed. The dog’s ears perked up a bit. TJ laughed, scrubbing his fingers through the thick fur. “He’s so soft.”
“Me and Sam gave him a bath. He’s been living at Sam’s this week so I could surprise Bucky with him,” Steve explained.
“And I was so very much surprised,” Bucky crooned, leaning over Steve to place a wet kiss atop those red lips. Steve reached up, furling his fingers into Bucky’s hair and deepening their kiss. Bucky moaned, slipping his hand down Steve’s chest.
“You two gonna fuck in the kitchen?” TJ laughed, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
“If you join us,” Steve answered, giving TJ a hazy love-sick gaze.
“Too early,” TJ commented. “And my ass hurts from last night.”
Bucky snorted, peeling himself off Steve to wrap around TJ. He picked TJ up, slipping between the man’s thighs as he plopped him on the quartz counter tops. “Ride you too hard, babydoll?”
TJ groaned softly, picking up his coffee mug. “Need creamer.”
“I’ll get it for you,” Bucky said, turning on his heel to get creamer out of the refrigerator.
“Where is everyone?” TJ asked, tilting his head to the side.
“Becky, Lily, Jim and the kids went to a movie. Dum Dum and Gabe are sleeping off hangovers,” Steve lilted, offering a crooked smile. He reached down to pet the dog as Bucky brought over his eggs. “Thanks baby boy.”
Bucky whimpered softly at the nickname. TJ loved how he melted for Steve over that nickname. He’d been there to see why it mattered so much to Bucky and boy did it matter.
Bucky moved to sit in Steve’s lap, picking up Steve’s fork and feeding him some of the eggs. “Tasty?”
Steve laughed, nodding. “You put an ungodly amount of cheese in these.”
“Absolutely,” Bucky laughed before feeding Steve another spoonful. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Steve responded.
TJ couldn’t help but smile like a dope at his husbands as they looked at each other like the rest of the world didn’t exist. Once upon a time, that look would’ve made TJ livid with jealousy but not anymore. No not anymore. They looked at him like that too. They all looked at each other like that. The world didn’t exist when it was just the three of them and TJ couldn’t be happier about it. His life started out fine, then it went rough, then it got rougher and now it was here. Happy. Solidified. He had his husbands, a dog and a yard. He had some goals to accomplish and some dreams to still figure out. He wanted to go back to school and do something with his life. He’d already made up the decision to remove himself from the club. It wasn’t the best career for him and being surrounded by drugs and booze wasn’t the best idea.
“Hey,” TJ blurted, his eyes rounding innocently.
His lovers looked up at him, Bucky’s fingers lazily threading through Steve’s blond hairs.
“I didn’t drink last night,” TJ said, more of a realization to himself. “Holy shit. I didn’t drink once last night.”
Bucky smiled broadly and Steve sighed happily.
“We’re proud of you,” Steve chimed. “C’mere, Teej.”
TJ slipped from the counter top and straddled Bucky, laughing when Steve made an involuntary sound from being crushed by both Bucky and TJ’s weight.
Bucky’s lips found TJ in an instant, locking with him and wrapping his arms around TJ so tightly it hurt to breathe.
TJ moaned into the kiss, rocking his hips softly– not because he was aroused but because he felt safe.
“I hate to break up this moment but I just realized how badly I need to pee,” Steve laughed.
Bucky swirled his hips atop Steve, pressing his weight down to make Steve howl out a protest.
“Bucky! I’m gonna piss myself!”
Bucky snorted, but slipped off with TJ still wrapped around his waist. He carried TJ over to the counter again, taking a fork out and offering it to TJ. “Eat.”
TJ nodded, opening his mouth instead of taking the utensil.
“Okay,” Bucky replied. He scooped up some of the eggs and brought the fork to TJ’s mouth.
TJ took the eggs into his mouth, closing his lips around the fork and sucking softly against it. There really was an absurd amount of cheese in the eggs but it was delicious. He moaned as his taste buds lavished his breakfast. “S’good.”
Bucky hummed happily, offering another scoop to TJ.
When Steve got back, they were taking turns feeding each other bacon and doing the most obscene gestures with their tongues around the meat.
“I’m married to children,” Steve laughed hopelessly. “Children.”
“Don’t lie Steve,” Bucky retorted. “You like a good stick of meat shoved down your throat.” He moved over to Steve, offering out a piece of bacon.
The glint in Steve’s eyes was salacious. “You promising me something?”
Bucky barked out a laugh.
After they cleaned up from breakfast, they took a walk down the street with their new dog. The sun was up in the sky and most of the roads and sidewalks were now clear of snow. Oscar happily skipped along, eating the snow as he went and getting his furry coat all wet.
Steve kept his arms wrapped firmly around his husbands as they walked with Bucky holding Oscar’s leash. A few cars passed by but nothing out of the ordinary.
“Hey Steve,” TJ ventured, licking his lips apprehensively.
“You think people know yet?” he asked.
Steve bit his bottom lip. He didn’t look nervous or uncertain– just pensive. “Dunno.”
“Haven’t heard anything on the news yet,” Bucky supplied as he untangled his arm from Oscar’s leash.
“Do you think it’s, ya know– time to say something?” TJ inquired, feeling his heart slow to a barely there rhythm in his chest.
Steve looked at both his husbands, pausing abruptly.
TJ was halted by Steve’s arm around his shoulders but Bucky kept walking, turning on his heel to look back at Steve and usher the dog back to them. Oscar huffed impatiently but then went to chomp down on the snow.
“Do you think it is?” Steve asked, looking directly at Bucky.
Bucky sucked in his lips, looking into the road. “Steve,” he sighed. “I don’t hide it. I tell my team about us. I tell my CO about us. I couldn’t stop talkin’ about our Christmas Eve party to them and none of them gave a shit.”
“So you think we should tell people?”
Bucky shrugged. “I dunno. I used ta think we had to make it some big reveal. Like a press release or somethin’ cause you’re Captain fucking America. Well I’m Bucky fucking Barnes and apparently I’m pretty important to this country too. There’s a fucking statue in New York with my name on it.”
Steve cocked a brow, but he waited patiently for Bucky to finish. TJ wasn’t sure where this was going either, but he wasn’t about to interrupt Bucky fucking Barnes.
“I’m gonna get shit for it too, Steve,” Bucky continued. “I’m gonna get strung out to dry too and I don’t give a shit. Let them. If the media wants to waste time on how we live our lives then let them. We should be worried about TJ and our lives. About where we’ll be in five years or ten. We should be worried about gettin’ more dogs or hell– kids.”
TJ laughed. Of course Bucky wanted more dogs.
“I don’t think we need to tell the world in some big fancy way, no,” Bucky explained. “But I do think we need to be freer with our relationship. Mention me when people ask. Kiss me when we’re together in public, and then neck the fuck out of TJ too. Let ‘im post all his pictures of us on his Insta-whatever.”
“Instagram,” TJ inputted.
Bucky laughed softly. “Yeah that. Let us just live our lives without feelin’ we gotta censor it. It’s not anyone else’s but ours and I don’t want us lookin’ back goin’ ‘wow, if only we’d loved each other a little harder.’ I want us goin, ‘wow, we loved each other to death.’”
Steve pulled Bucky into him by the hips, clashing their lips together messily. Oscar barked in surprise but stood there, panting loudly.
TJ watched them, a smug smile on his face. Bucky wasn’t one for big speeches. He was pretty talkative nowadays but it wasn’t always that way. Still, that was the most he’d said in one sitting in a long time and that just made it all the more obvious how much he meant it.
“TJ,” Bucky said, offering out his arm.
TJ slipped into it, feeling warm and safe between his supersoldiers as they pressed kisses into his face. TJ turned into each of them, messily kissing their lips.
“This is a lot of PDA,” TJ laughed, kissing Steve one last time. He pulled back, smoothing out his jacket. “We should keep walking.”
“Okay,” Steve laughed, clicking his tongue and taking the leash from Bucky. He jogged back to the house with the dog.
TJ chuckled, watching the lumbering animal with his bulky coat bounce and jiggle around his body.
“He had to pick one of the largest breeds available,” TJ evaluated.
“I like ‘im,” Bucky chimed. “He’s a big loveball. Kinda like Steve.”
TJ nodded. He didn’t think of that before, but the description was entirely accurate.
When they got back to the house and warmed up, it was present time. Bucky was positively vibrating with excitement as he sat on the couch with Oscar splayed atop his body. Steve was sitting cross-legged on the floor by the tree and TJ decided to plop down in front of the couch at Bucky’s feet.
“So,” TJ began. “Can I take the most shameful selfie of us with our new dog near the tree?”
Bucky groaned. “You’re gonna make us move!”
“Please! It’s for Instagram!”
Bucky pushed the dog off gently, bringing him over to sit with him by the tree next to Steve. “You’re lucky I love you.”
TJ hummed before settling between Steve and Bucky, the dog licking at Bucky’s jaw. He took a couple shots like that. Then they let the dog hop back onto the couch.
“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Steve said as he took the cell phone. He turned to kiss Bucky, taking a picture and then tugged TJ over to him to kiss TJ as well. “Put that on Instagram.”
“You whore,” TJ teased.
“Rude,” Steve shot back but his eyes were swimming with mirth.
TJ opened up his photoeditor, making a little collage of their Christmas selfies. “This is gonna go viral.”
“I kinda want an Instagram,” Bucky mused. “I think it’d be funny.”
“Your Instagram would be full of sleeping pictures of me n’ Steve or sex toys.”
“Yup,” Bucky agreed. “That sounds beautiful.”
“Christ,” Steve groaned. “Shut up and get on the couch with your dog.”
“Sir yes sir!” Bucky saluted, scrambling back to the couch. He let the dog readjust himself, plopping his head in Bucky’s lap.
“So,” TJ began. “Where’s Oscar sleeping?”
“With us?” Bucky answered, sounding like the question was absurd.
“Yeah but, what if we wanna have sex?”
Steve plopped a tiny box with gold wrapping paper over it into TJ’s lap. “Then we’ll politely ask Oscar if he’ll take the couch that night.” He put another box with the same wrapping into Bucky’s hands.
Satisfied with the answer, TJ went to unwrapping the small box. His eyes widened as he saw the gold band nestled in the cotton. “Steve,” TJ gasped.
“We never thought to get proper wedding bands,” Steve explained. “I mean, we had our little ceremony but it was all signing papers. So.”
“Stevie,” Bucky whispered out. “This was real good of you.”
Steve shrugged, but TJ saw the blush creep up his face. “Yeah well. Sometimes I’m smart.”
“There’s two?” TJ asked, noticing the other but skinnier band with tiny white diamonds embedded into it.
“You married two guys, TJ.”
TJ snapped his head around to look at Bucky’s gift. He had the same two bands. “Where’s yours?!”
“Upstairs in my dopp kit.”
“You little shit,” Bucky exclaimed.
Steve chuckled, looking positively pleased with himself, radiant and shining with the light dusty rose against his cheeks.
TJ sat up on his knees, scooting over to Steve to press a kiss to his lips. “Thank you.”
“So now that the sappy present is outta the way,” Bucky joked. “You two should open the blue bags over in the corner.”
TJ eyed them suspiciously, having a good idea of what they were. He went over to snag the gifts, dropping one of them in Steve’s lap. “Our Bucky. Such a romantic.”
“Tell me about it,” Steve added as he pulled out the white tissue paper. “Oh wow, a marble dildo.”
“It vibrates,” Bucky added.
TJ pulled his out, also a marble dildo. Steve’s was blue whereas TJ’s was black. “Wow Bucky. You just know how to woo your husbands.”
Bucky winked. “I know right.”
They went about opening their gifts to each other. Bucky squealed in delight at his assortments of comfy clothes and sportswear. Steve of course loved all his new cardigans, khakis and button downs. Each time he opened a gift, he kissed whoever’s name was on the tag. TJ thought it was adorable.
There were even a few gifts from Steve to Oscar under the tree so they played with a bone for a bit, getting the dog all excited until he was trembling in anticipation for the rawhide. Bucky tossed it into the corner of the room and the dog happily went to munch down.
Steve, of course, loved his watch with the engraving of their “wedding” date on the back. Bucky got a gold chain with SR and TJ golden pendants. He tried to pull it off that he wasn’t touched but once Steve put it around his neck, he couldn’t stop but clutching the little initials like they meant the entire world to him.
There were also a few presents that TJ was shocked to see. Steve got Bucky new throwing knives, a bomb diffuser and a few handguns. Bucky of course said he’d put a handgun in each room, locked and loaded in the event they needed to use it. TJ hated knowing that they probably would have to use it one day. He’d probably have to use a gun one day.
TJ received some new suits, a gold bracelet, simple and elegant, and the Kitchen-Aid mixer he’d been asking for (so he was a little too domestic, sue him). He in fact did get the few vintage Captain America comics he’d asked for– already in the frames and ready to be hung up. There were also a few other sex toy presents that had Steve and TJ laughing: silk rope, flavored lube, a few vibrating cockrings and a remote controlled butt plug that Bucky swore up and down he’d only use on Steve. TJ was actually surprised Bucky remembered TJ had a slight aversion to butt plugs. Surprised and also comforted. TJ was also shocked when he pulled out the massager he’d said he liked at Spencer’s. He never saw Bucky purchase it, unless he went back. It was a sex toy, but TJ was still touched.
Once all the presents were open and wrapping paper was displayed all over, TJ was resigned to cleaning up and probably getting roped into using some of the new sex toys since of course Bucky would want Christmas sex. He stood up, crumbling all the paper together and putting bags into bigger bags.
“Hey TJ,” Steve called from the front door. “You forgot a present.”
TJ cocked a brow, walking uncertainly over to the front door. Bucky was standing by the coat hanger, a knowing smile on his lips.
“I swear, if this is a joke I’ll hit you both.”
“Look outside, babydoll.”
TJ stood in the doorway, his lips parting silently. “You got me a car.”
“You asked for it,” Steve commented, shrugging.
“It’s a motherfucking Audi. Steve! Bucky! You got me a fucking car!” he squealed, excitement vibrating into his bones and lapping at his heart.
Sam stood next to the car, swinging the keys around his finger. “Merry Christmas, TJ!” he called.
“Holy shit…” TJ sighed. “It’s an Audi. It’s a fucking Audi.”
It wasn’t a sports car, flashy or red, but it was indeed an Audi. A silver SQ5 SUV to be exact and TJ was in tears.
“We love you, TJ,” Bucky said, coming up behind him to pull him into a hug, kissing his ear.
“Very much,” Steve added, kissing TJ’s forehead and joining the hug.
“I hate you both!” TJ cried, tears streaming down his face. It wasn’t the SUV he was crying over. He was crying because of how loved he felt. No one had ever done this for him. No one had ever believed in him like they did. No one was as patient, loving, diligent and supportive as they were. His mother, maybe, but there was always that hole she couldn’t fill. TJ’s heart was too big and it took more than one person to fill that hole. It took two supersoldiers with giant hearts of their own. Impossible men who did impossible things– like surviving seventy-year ice naps or falls from speeding trains. Men who loved TJ more than life itself and TJ loved them so much it hurt. It overstimulated his senses, shorted out his nerves and fogged his brain.
He loved them. He loved them. He loved them.
He sobbed, feeling kisses at his throat and cheeks. Feeling arms squeezing tight and chests breathing against him. He was cocooned so safely and not even God could tear them apart.
“I love you,” TJ choked out. “Thank you so much.”
Steve smiled, warm and loving– just like always. A literal shield that would give himself up over and over again if it meant keeping TJ safe.
Bucky chuckled, gruff and raspy, like slightly burnt coffee in the morning. A protector, shimmering in silver and the most knowing eyes on this earth.
These were the people who decided to call TJ theirs.
“D- d’you wanna go for a ride? We can bring Oscar.”
“You sure you want a dog in it?” Steve asked.
“Oscar’s clean,” Bucky defended.
“I want our whole family,” TJ explained, wiping the tears from his eyes.
They piled into the car. Sam was on the phone, talking to someone about getting a cab.
“Uh, excuse me,” TJ said from the driver’s seat. “I said my whole family.”
The look on Sam’s face was positively priceless.
“Get in, Sam!” TJ shouted, honking for dramatic effect.
Sam scrambled in, scratching Oscar behind the ears as TJ pulled out of the driveway.
TJ drove down the street, slowly at first as he kept side glancing at Steve in the passenger seat. He looked relaxed and completely unguarded. It was rare to see Steve let all his walls down. He was always carrying the weight of the world atop his shoulders. From small countries falling from the sky, evil organizations haunting them and the ever-impending threat of aliens attacking again, Steve didn’t have much time to just relax. But he was now, sitting with his legs wide and arm on the door rest with a smile on his face.
TJ looked in the review mirror, smiling at Bucky. He had the window open despite how cold it was outside. His dog was pressed up against him, slobber flying out into the air as Oscar stuck his nose out the window. Bucky was laughing, an uninhibited sound free of pain and torment. Free.
And Sam, Sam was rolling his eyes and scoffing at how silly Bucky was being. He was making jokes and occasionally looking at TJ with a sense of bewilderment. TJ assumed it was because he called him family. Wasn’t he? He was Steve’s best friend. Literal life-saver and the guy who let a St. Bernard hang out on his couch for a week while Steve kept Oscar a surprise from Bucky. So yes. Sam was family.
They were all family. You didn’t need blood or fancy wedding ceremonies to be family. It was a promise to each other. A silent understanding and they all knew it. They were family and always would be.
Merry Christmas, indeed.