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No Fear

Chapter Text

It had been an exhausting, dangerous, uncomfortable pregnancy, and their fear had been palpable through all of it. Bucky had genuinely almost attacked a few people, including his close friends, when they’d been too close to his omega. Steve had spent a lot of time wondering what would happen to Bucky if something went wrong. Enjoying the time carrying the pups had just not been an option. There was no way to take their time and make this the experience it would’ve been for a healthy omega. Instead, they wallowed in panic and pain, with Bucky desperately tending to his love in the hopes that the omega and pups would all be healthy. Now they had their personal miracle: A family of four. The alpha and omega, and a healthy (albeit small) set of twins. The little boy had nearly died at birth. What they’d felt when Bruce had immediately taken him away, and there had been no sound of crying (that beautiful sound that indicated life) had been horrific. Holding that baby, wriggling and wailing, had been an amazing moment.

Then the baby girl came. She was just as small, but clearly a bit tougher. She screamed from the moment she was born, and while Steve loved it, he was also DYING to hold her. To comfort her. Bruce got her cleaned up and handed her back VERY quickly. Steve couldn’t believe they were here. He held the little girl pup in one arm, and Bucky held the boy pup in his own.

“You did it.” Bucky had said.

“We did it” Steve had replied.

Steve stayed up there as long as he could. He hadn’t wanted to leave the nest, but knew it needed cleaning and care, and for windows to be opened to get rid of the scent of sweat, pain, and panic. It had overwhelmed the room when the first baby had essentially been dead, and couldn’t even be fully banished by the life that was breathed into him. Steve lingered, but the babies were fussy from the scent even under their parents’ care. Bucky helped Steve CAREFULLY down the steps from the nest, into the closet, and out into the bedroom. The alpha had begged to be allowed to carry Steve, but despite the omega being sore and exhausted, he’d wanted to walk. Medicine was retrieved from the adjoined bathroom and given to Steve, along with a LOT of water. Bucky settled the omega and pups down in the bed, making sure all three were comfortable. He covered them carefully with a thick quilted blanket. The pups’ little heads rested on Steve’s chest as they hiccuped and cooed. Steve looked down at them with all the love in the world. He and Bucky were going to show the pups how loved they were.

Bruce and Tony had stood quietly by in the nest, and eventually came down the steps as well. Tony was lost in thought. The pups were fucking GORGEOUS, and seeing the birth had been awful because of the pain filling the room. It had been especially terrible when the first pup hadn’t been breathing or crying. To see Steve tuck his face against Bucky and weep had been a stab wound right through Tony’s heart. The beta had wanted more than anything to help, but he felt so USELESS. The doctor had saved the baby and helped the birth, the alpha had held and comforted the omega, and of course the omega himself handled the worst part. All Tony felt he had done was stand by and look worried.

And now here they were. Two tiny but healthy premie pups, doing as perfectly as full-term babies would! Tony kept his distance from the bed, because Bucky had forced himself away to go gather the blankets and pillows to put in the wash. Arms full, Bucky stopped in front of Tony and said clearly “The doc’s cleanin’ up upstairs. Do me a favor...both of ya keep Stevie an’ the pups safe.”

Shocked by this sign of trust, Tony nodded. “We won’t let anything happen to them. I promise, Alpha.”

“S’just Bucky. Y’both proved a lot today.”

“But I didn’t-”

“We’ll talk about it, Tony. I gotta tell ya what I saw, cause I don’ think ya saw it in y’self.” Bucky padded out with the blankets.

The alpha headed downstairs toward the laundry room, carefully sorting everything out and taking pillowcases off, making sure the right materials were washed together so that nothing would be ruined. He took special care of the knitted items, checking which ones needed immediate care. As he did so, he considered what he’d seen in Tony. What he’d scented of the beta. That Tony had kept near or in front of the door way, as though blocking out danger. That he’d smelled panicked and determined, like he wanted to find a way to help even if it was far beyond his expertise. That at one point, Bucky had thought he’d heard a noise from downstairs and Tony had turned to posture, just in case. He’d seen Tony make a move as though to help Bruce with the second pup, but think better of touching a newborn with Bucky so protective. He’d seen respect, kindness, and a ruthless desire to fight anyone who fucked with this family.

And then there was Bruce. Bruce, who had been at their beck and call 24/7 for months now. Bruce, who had told them realities that may have gotten him attacked. Bruce, who had saved their pup and had helped the other. Bruce, who had kept his cool when the rest of them were falling apart. Good men, and good betas. Bucky trusted them both now more than ever.

Once everything was sorted and the important stuff was in the wash, he hurried back upstairs and into the bedroom. He found Tony watching from the doorway, tense. The beta relaxed as soon as he saw it was Bucky, and stepped out of the way.

Bucky was there in time to see Bruce coming out of the nest with his bag of equipment and a biohazard container for the towels used. The doctor paused and said “We’ll give you four a little time. Let me know when you’re prepared for a checkup.” Bucky patted Bruce’s arm and gave Tony a hug before they left. With Natasha, Clint, and their pups gone...it was just the Rogers-Barnes family left in the house. Bucky hurried down to lock the door, and returned at a run. He entered the room and took a good look at his omega and their pups.

The first thing he did was take a deep inhale of the scent of them. The soft baby smell was overwhelming, and their scent was a beautiful combination of both alpha and omega. With time, the pups would gain their own unique smell, but for now it was Them. It was Us. It was Family. Bucky crawled into bed beside them. Steve looked up at him and asked “D’you wanna hold our pups?”

“Just one” said Bucky softly, glancing at his metal arm. “Just one, Stevie…”

“No Buck. You need to hold them both.”

“My arm...it’s not a good arm, Stevie. It’s dangerous. It’s a weapon.” Bucky shook his head “I can’t touch them with this arm.”

“They’ll know that their dad has the most unique, amazing arm in the world. And that their dad will protect them. And that arm will keep them safe. It’ll fight away monsters…” Steve was smiling “and it’ll put bandaids on them when they fall. And when they run to you they’ll know you’ll always catch them. Put both your arms against your body, Bucky.” The omega’s voice was gentle. “You won’t drop them. I promise.”

Bucky took a shaky breath and cradled both his arms against his body. Their son was slipped into his right arm. Their daughter into his left. For the first time, Bucky held them both. He looked down at those two babies and knew that everything had changed. Everything was different. He looked over at Steve and said softly “They’re beautiful.”

And Steve replied “So are you.”

Chapter Text

“Sophia? No no, that’s not right…”

“What about Charlie?” Bucky groaned “Tha’s wrong too.”

“Why the hell can’t we decide on names for our pups?”

Bucky and Steve were in the nursery. Steve was trying to find a way to put the pups in their crib, but he just wasn’t ready yet...and honestly, neither was Bucky. So far, the pups had slept in their arms at all times, being bottle-fed and cuddled, given all the love in the world. Bucky and Steve both knew they were spoiling their babies...but they didn’t care. The pups deserved to be spoiled, at least in their eyes! Especially with how dangerous the pregnancy had been, and how close they’d come to having no family at all. Steve, through the pregnancy, had taken some coaxing to accept help, but now he was glad for it. Bucky was feeding the babies just as much as Steve, and the pups clearly didn't have a preference for their parents. One thing Bucky still struggled with was his arm. He was afraid the babies would be uncomfortable, or hurt. Clint had knitted Bucky a little pad to go around his arm so that the babies could rest on it, which eased the alpha's mind.

Clint, Natasha, Bruce, and Tony were over pretty much all the time. Recently, Clint and Natasha had integrated another omega and a beta into their pack, which was lovely to see. Laura was very fond of both of them, and Pepper (the beta) was constantly caring for all three of the others. Natasha wouldn't really let the omegas do things for her, but Pepper was the 'no-nonsense' sort, so Natasha bit the bullet and found she LIKED being cared for. All four of them doted on the babies, and Nat was surprisingly trusting of the two new individuals. She and Clint had at first supervised, but now would leave the pups with the other omega and the beta for hours on end while they worked. Laura and Pepper had met Steve and Bucky briefly, but as the two new parents didn't know them well, they only stayed for a short time. Steve commented that he quite liked them! Bucky felt the same. And then there was the matter of Steve and Bucky's betas. They hadn't talked about it, but Steve DEFINITELY noticed how much Tony and Bruce both seemed to like Bucky! Bucky noticed the same about Steve. But neither of them saw it in themselves.

For the past three days since their birth, Steve and Bucky's pups were just Baby Boy and Baby Girl, but that couldn’t last forever. It especially couldn’t last because Bruce was coming over to sign off on birth certificates and bill of health in...two hours? Bucky was holding the little boy while Steve held the little girl. The boy was making little grabby hands at Bucky, who leaned down so he could feel the alpha’s stubble. Meanwhile, the little girl babbled happily in her half-asleep state. Bucky often hummed them to sleep while Steve rested. Steve told them about how he and Bucky met, and how in love they were, while Bucky slept. It was a good system, but it couldn’t last forever.

The alpha and omega had been going back and forth on names, but no matter what they suggested, it didn’t sound right to either of them! They wanted whatever the names were to be perfect, and not ‘settled’ on. “What about…” Steve looked down at the little girl. “Sarah?”

There was a long silence as a smile grew on Bucky’s face. “Sarah ‘s perfect! After your ma!” He felt a rising sense of euphoria at the idea of this perfect, wonderful name that suited their sweet little girl so well!

“Sarah Winifred” suggested Steve “Sarah Winifred Rogers-Barnes. After your mom. They should both have a spot there.”

Bucky went to stand beside where Steve was near the crib. “Hello Sarah” he said to the baby girl. “Hello sweetheart. I love it Stevie. S’ just right for her.” He touched the baby’s nose lightly, and she scrunched it up. “And what about this little boy?” He bounced the pup gently in his arms. “Peter?” he suggested “Peter...Benjamin?” The name clicked in his head, and he felt an immediate sense of RIGHTNESS.

Steve blinked. His hormones were in full tilt, surrounded by the scent of PUP and ALPHA and HOME. He looked up at Bucky. “That’s amazing. Sarah Winifred and Peter Benjamin.” He couldn’t believe they were here! They’d known each other less than a year and they had tiny pups and a home and a wonderful life upcoming. “They’re gonna be so spoiled, Buck. They’ll have a perfect life with us.”

But everything was about to change.

There was a knock on the front door.

Bucky frowned, his instincts kicking into gear as he went downstairs to check who was there. He was stunned by what he saw. He opened the door quickly. “Doc, Tony, Clint...hey pups! What’s going on? Where’s...where’s Nat? Clint...you okay?” He could scent the panic on the omega, saw how grim Bruce looked, how worried and angry Tony did. “Come in, all of ya. Quick.” The three adults stepped through the door with pups in their stroller, and Bucky hastily locked it behind them. “C’mon, sit down. He led them into the sitting room and looked between the two betas and the omega. “What...what exactly is happening?” He was bristling with worry, and searched for answers on each of their faces. He started to panic when Clint burst into tears. “A’right, a’right...jus’ tell me what’s up.” He was feeling protective, and got up to look out the window. Logically he knew that nobody could get through the massive fence with its indestructible gate but...logic didn’t stop him from being upset. He turned to watch and Tony and Bruce got the pups out of the stroller and intro Clint’s arms.

It ended up being Bruce that spoke. “There’s some sort of pack war going on in the city” he said quietly. “Rogue alphas running together, clashing at random. They broke into the cafe, and Natasha got the pups and Clint out just in time. She’s okay...but she went to volunteer to get everything under control. She and some other bonded alphas are teaming up with the police force. Whole chunks of the city are on lockdown.” He shook his head. “It’s all unbonded alphas doing this, and omega compounds are under constant guard to make sure...nothing happens. So far, so good. As good as this can be.”

Tony put an arm around Clint as he carefully held the three pups and sobbed. The babies were fussy and upset from the lack of their mother and the crying of their father. Bucky was standing there in mute horror. “I want everyone upstairs” he said calmly once he’d gathered himself. “All of ya. I’m sure we’ve got enough extra beds for everyone. You’re all stayin’ here, at least for a few nights. I’m gonna go to Tony’s and get your two’s stuff, seein’ as Bruce is still stayin’ there. I’m gonna go help Nat and the others. Go on. I’ll be righ’ back. Got some extra baby stuff if y’don’ have enough Clint, and we’ll rustle up some clothes…”

"Bucky...there's something you should know" said Bruce. Tony hadn't spoken. He seemed dead in the eyes. "Their new omega, Laura...as well as the beta, Pepper...they're locked away somewhere in the city. With cellphone towers overloaded, we have no idea where they are. Not even Tony can find them. Natasha's trying to track them down, but with the scent of angry alpha everywhere...there's not much she can do."

"You have to find them" Begged Clint "Please. They're our pack, you just...you have to!"

“Bucky?” The voice came from the top of the stairs. “What’s going on?”

Bucky took a deep breath. He could tell this was not going to be well received. He went back to the foot of the stairs and said “S’Clint and the betas. I’m comin’ up. We gotta talk.”

Chapter Text

Just a a month into the pregnancy, things had been next to impossible. Steve was pale and thin, devastated and tired. He had random bouts of bleeding that always scared the hell out of both him and Bucky. Bruce was always, ALWAYS there...at this point, he’d essentially moved in. He of course went back to Tony’s at nights, but a lot of the days he was hanging around Bucky and Steve’s. He didn’t like to leave them alone for long. And Bucky? Every day he felt like he might start SCREAMING. He was scared out of his mind, and just wanted to hold Steve and sob. Bucky took him to the bath every day, and washed him clean. It became habit, his fingers tracing the ridges of Steve’s ribs down to his baby bump, the soap cleaning away sweat and the hot water soothing muscle aches. Hair washing was done very carefully, because Steve couldn’t go under long due to his bad lungs. Instead, one of the detachable shower heads was used to wet hair and rinse away shampoo. Painkillers and other medications were taken daily, and a high dose of prenatal vitamins. Steve HATED taking medication, but it was pointed out that this would help the pups, and Steve had finally (begrudgingly) agreed. It had gone something like this.

Month One.

“No. You know how I feel about medication, Buck. I won’t take more than I have to.” Steve was practically teetering on his feet, looking weak as a kitten and unwilling to admit it. He would NEVER admit weakness, he REFUSED. He was too stubborn. Too strong-willd.

“Honey, please…” Bucky was practically pleading. “It don’t make ya any less of m’strong omega. Y’gotta take care o’ y’self. This ain’t a game. I’m beggin’ ya.” Normally, an alpha would get pissed and use a firm tone. Bucky would hold off on that as long as he could. He didn’t like telling Steve what to do, but if it came to that, he would.

“No” said Steve firmly. “I can do this on my own. I’m not weak, Buck! I’m not weak!”

“Stevie, I know’at, but this ain’t just ‘bout you-”

“I know Buck! But I c’n-”

“Omega.” Bucky’s voice was low and firm, his wording formal. “You will take your medication, not just for me or you, but for our pups. It’s not just you anymore. You have pups depending on you, and I trust you to carry them, but you MUST meet me halfway. You will take your medication which the doctor prescribed you every day, at the right time. You will. Do you understand?”

Steve sighed, and his shoulders sagged as he nodded. “Yes alpha.” he said quietly.

Bucky sighed, and made himself look much smaller as he approached, his scent soothing and soft. “Honey, sweetheart, darlin’...listen, I jus’ want ya safe. Y’know I hate that alpha voice, y’know I do. But I need ya to listen to me. My strong, amazin’ omega. This ‘s about all ‘o us. Our fam’ly. Please jus’...jus’ meet me halfway. Y’know I love how stupid tough ya are, but please baby...like I said, I’m beggin’ ya. I’ll get on my knees if I gotta.”

Steve sighed heavily. “I’m used to doing stuff on my own. I’m sorry, I’ll…” He trailed off.

“Doll…” Bucky smiled gently “You aren’t alone anymore.”

`````````````

“I’m coming with you”

“Baby-”

“I’m coming with you!”

“Baby, it’s a pack war. They see an omega, they’ll tear you apart on the spot, or worse. We’ve got pups now, little guys who need us. Sarah and Peter, they need you especially. They need their dad.”

“They need you too!” said Steve sharply, trying not to disturb the little ones asleep in their crib. “You can’t go, you CAN’T!”

“I gotta Stevie-”

“Not without me! You can’t do it alone! You’re not alone, remember? That’s what you said to me!” Steve had tears in his blue eyes, his pupils pinpoints of fear. “We need you HERE!”

“Stevie, please jus’ listen…” He shook his head “It ain’t just the pack war. Nat’s out there, and Laura n’ Pep are missin’. The Doc and Tony’ll be here to help you n’ Clint with the pups. I’ll come back t’you, alrigh’?” He shook his head “You understand me dolly? I’m righ’ here” he tapped Steve’s chest over the omega’s heart. “Righ’ here always, and soon I’ll come back n’ be at your side again. For now though, we gotta think of all the innocent people who ain’t as safe as we are here.”

Steve chewed his lower lip. He knew that he couldn’t change Bucky’s mind. The ‘alpha’ voice had happened once in their relationship, months ago. Steve was also pretty sure that if HE gave the alpha an order, Bucky would obey. But it didn’t feel right, even though Steve wanted to tell Bucky to get in bed and stay there until this whole thing blew over. “Laura, Natasha, and Pepper?” he asked hollowly.

“Cell towers’re overloaded. Nothin’ for it but to go find Nat an’ help ‘er look for the other two. S’pretty bad, honey. I gotta help. And I’ll bring Laura and Pep back here as soon as we got ‘em. I’ll take a satellite phone from Tony’s to keep in touch, a’right? It’ll be okay.”

“Promise?”

“I promise, Stevie. I’ll come home, a’right? I won’t leave ya for good.”

Chapter Text

“Something hurts…”

Steve had woken up about a month and a half into the pregnancy from a nap. It was mid-day, and he was really REALLY tired lately. Bruce had encouraged him to sleep, eat, drink, and shower whenever he felt the need. It was important that the omega pay attention to the signals his body was sending him, and that he not push himself beyond his limits. Steve had always had trouble with that, which is alpha knew, and so Bucky kept careful attention on the omega’s scents and behaviors. Bucky had slept lightly these past weeks, and as soon as he heard Steve’s whimper, he sat bolt upright.

“Lay back” he ordered, his voice tight with fear “Lay pack and pull up your shirt, let me see. Please?” His chest was rising and falling rapidly, panic inherent in ever smell and action of his.

Steve, who had been up on his elbows, lay back and pulled up his shirt. He had gained a LITTLE weight aside from the small baby bump, but you could still see his ribs; count them, trace their edges. It horrified Bucky any time he saw it, and now he pressed his ear to Steve’s abdomen, listening. He felt little twitches and spasms, and pressed his lips to his love’s abdomen. “Honey, stay righ’ here, a’right? I’m gonna go call th’ Doc, and see wha’ we c’n do.”

Bucky touched Steve’s cheek, ran his thumb over the omega’s lips, leaned down to kiss him. “Sit tight” he said clearly “I’ll be righ’ back. I promise.” And then he was gone, grabbing his phone and rushing down the stairs. The daylight was streaming through the windows, and Bucky had decided now to ask Bruce to live here at least part time. He’d be paid of course. Bucky got the call in, and Bruce reassured the alpha he’d be over soon. Bucky paced by the door, needing to be there when someone came in.

There was a knock at the door, and Bucky checked the window before quickly opening it “C’mon in Doc. Hey Tony. Gotta hurry, he’s all twitchy and cramped up. He couldn’ be miscarrying, could he?”

“I don’t know, Bucky” admitted Bruce “But I brought something to stop any contractions that may be happening, so...let’s find out. Can you take me up to your room? I know that’s near his nest, but to be honest, it’s likely not a good idea to move him.”

Bucky hesitated. GET OVER YOURSELF BARNES. Bruce won’t hurt Steve, and anyway, this is the best chance for everything. Of course, Bucky hated to see Steve in pain and struggling with carrying the pups...but knew that it would be incredibly traumatic and horrific for both him and Steve if they lost the pups.

So, Bucky led the way up to the bedroom. He could smell Steve’s distress and immediately broke into a run, skidding into the room and crossing the room to see Steve curled into a ball and just whispering “Please...please...please…”

“Stevie...Bruce is here, c’mere.” Bucky sat with his back against the headboard and pulled Steve between his legs, with the omega’s back to the alpha’s chest. “S’okay, let Bruce check ya over.”

The doctor approached slowly, taking his time and making sure Steve could see him. He carefully listened to Steve’s abdomen, palpating gently, occasionally eyeing the alpha and omega to make sure they weren’t about to attack him. Bucky looked close, but managed to maintain his composure.

“Steve” Bruce finally rummaged in his bag, taking out a small packet of pills. “I need you to take all of these...immediately. It’s very important that you do so, do you understand? You’re experiencing contractions, which to some degree is normal. Braxton-Hicks are painful but not serious. However, I am concerned with the strength of these. Please...take them, and we’ll go back to Tony’s.”

Tony had remained silent, pale, and drawn through all of this as he watched.

Bucky spoke up “Actually...Doc, Tony...I was wondering if um...you two might stay here at least part time, durin’ the day. I’d pay ya o’ course. We could jus’...we need the help. An’ we’re...we’re scared.” It was difficult for the alpha to admit something like that. To admit fear, panic. But his scent was horrifically scared, his posture defensive and strained, his heart rocketing and his eyes downcast.

Bruce glanced over at Tony, who nodded. “Of course we’ll stay” responded Bruce gently. He could see that the alpha was afraid, and would never leave Bucky hanging. It wasn’t in the doctor’s nature to do so.

Bucky took a glass of water off the end table and handed it to Steve, who immediately took the pills while the alpha spoke. “I’ll set up th’ rooms so that ya have somewhere tha’s your own.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Steve stood by the door, watching Bucky sling a backpack onto his shoulder and put on combat boots. He had a knife at his hip, and gear in his bag. All ready for a fight or 10. Steve watched in mute horror, holding a twin in each arm. “Come back safely” he ordered, his scent desperate and pained.

Bucky turned to him, smiling sadly “I promise Steve. Nothin’s gonna happen to me, and as soon as I find Pepper and Laura, I’ll send ‘em back here while Nat and I deal with the turf wars.” He came forward and nosed at Steve’s neck, taking a deep pull of his scent. “I’ll be careful, yeah? I promise.”

Steve nodded, and watched as Bucky leaned down to kiss Peter and Sarah. “Hey little ones” said the alpha in a sweet and gentle voice “Hey there. Y’take good care of your dad now, a’right? An’ he’ll take good care o’ you.” He gave each of the pups another kiss, and stood up straight, turning to Tony and Bruce and pointing to them. “Got plenty o’ groceries here, and in a week I’ll bring back more if I can, but y’should have enough for a month. I’ll handle this. Stay right here, a’right? I don’ want anyone gettin’ hurt.”

Tony and Bruce nodded, and said together “Yes alpha.”

Tony looked on the verge of tears, and Bucky approached him “Tony, honey...I’ll be alright. Trust me, okay? I’ll be fine, and I’ll come back t’ all five of ya.”

Tony nodded, and gruffly wiped his eyes “Don’t do anything stupid...er than usual.”

“Ah shut up” laughed Bucky, before returning to Steve. Leaning down, he kissed his omega, and then nosed at his neck again to commit that scent to memory until he saw them all again. “Keep here, Stevie. They need you” he indicated the pups. “And I need you safe when I come back, y’understand?”

Steve nodded “Yeah. I understand, Bucky.”

“I love ya Stevie. Always will.”

“I love you too.”

“See ya soon.”

“Goodbye.”

As Steve walked down the front path, Steve started to cry. He started, and couldn’t stop as Bruce and Tony stood on either side of him and gave him a careful hug, minding the pups, and murmuring soft comforting words in his ear.

Chapter Text

“BUCKY WAKE UP!”

It was three and a half months into the pregnancy, and the alpha sat bolt upright in bed, scrambling to turn on the light. In the process, he knocked over the lamp, managing to catch it just before it hit the floor. Setting it back on the nightstand (hard enough to chip the wooden base) and flicking it on, he turned to face Steve, who was sitting up in bed with his hands on his belly.

“Stevie! Wha’s wrong, are the pups okay? Are you okay?!” Bucky sounded worried, his hands hovering over Steve’s body as though trying to figure out what hurt so he could try to fix it. “I’ll get th’ doc, I’ll-”

“Buck, shut up! They’re moving!” Steve’s blue eyes were wide as he looked down at his slightly swollen belly, grabbing Bucky’s hand and pulling it down to touch. “Feel, FEEL!” Steve couldn’t believe it; typically it was between week 16 and 25, and now they were on week 18 and they could FEEL the pups. Or at least...Steve could. He wondered if the alpha understood, if he sensed it, if he felt the slight flurry of movement. Steve’s hands rested over Bucky’s, keeping the alpha’s palms flat over the baby bump. “Do you...do you feel them?”

Bucky blinked very quickly, trying to stem any of those stupid tears as he felt movements that he was SURE wasn’t Steve’s own body. Movements that were barely there, small and feeble as a little one’s would be. “I...I f-f-feel…” He shifted so that he could rest his cheek against Steve’s bump, careful not to put any pressure. “I feel them” he managed, his voice choking with happiness. He felt soft touches in his hair, and knew Steve was petting him.

Steve smiled as he carded his fingers through his love’s dark hair. “They’re going to be fine” he reassured “I’m going to be fine. I know it feels like a long time away before we hold them, but it won’t be bad. And I’ll be okay. I promise.”

~~~~~~~~~

Bucky had pulled his car over a few blocks from the city limits. Already he could hear the chaos, see smoke rising from various areas of the city, and knew that whatever this was was BAD. He’d touched base with his parents and siblings on the drive; they had, luckily enough, been at Bucky’s grandparents an hour away from the trouble, so they were safe. It did Bucky’s heart good, and now that he knew Steve, Sarah, Peter, Tony, Bruce, Clint, and the triplets were safe as well...he could focus on the task at hand. Finding Natasha, Pepper, and Laura was his job before he started working on helping the city as a whole. Holding his knife at the ready, he locked his car and started hoofing it toward the city center.

He could scent the panic, the pain, the stress in the air. Looking around, he saw cars pulled at odd angles to the side of the road. There was shouting to his left and he heard siren blaring as a cop car raced by. At least the police seemed relatively sane, doing their job despite the riled scent of aggressive alphas. He couldn’t imagine the fear omegas were going through. He could scent some of them, barricaded into apartments and buildings he was passing. He knew their panic made sense, because where-ever those rogue alphas were, destruction must follow. The sour scent made him want to rip any alpha he came into contact with apart. He spun the knife in hand, ready for anything. Or so he thought.

Nothing could quite prepare you for turning onto a block and catching the fresh scent of fighting. Bucky didn’t freeze; he’d been to war, and he knew full well how to handle himself. He broke into a sprint toward the scents and sounds of fighting. It made him sick to think of all the innocent people caught in the crossfire, and later he was sure to find some sleepless nights and panic. For now though, he needed to focus. He stopped for a moment as he came into sight. It was 7 alphas, most of them looking to be loan (though two were teamed up) and they seemed about to attack. What had triggered it? What had started this? Bucky needed to assess the situation before he did anything else.

Oh. That was why.

The bus parked lengthwise across the street nearby reeked of panicked omega and beta; clearly they were stuck inside, afraid to step into the open and get somewhere more safe. The other alphas involved in this strange turf war were going insane, and Bucky couldn’t let any of them win. They likely wouldn’t do anything terribly sinister to the innocents; it was more the emotional toll it was already taking. On the other hand, if one of the alphas did start attacking omegas, it would destroy lives.

The fight broke out just as Bucky started forward and he snarled, sheathing his knife and leaping forward. They seemed to simply accept him into the fray, unaware that they had a military man up against them, and that he was in his fairly right mind. Bucky started knocking many of them, aside, his metal arm dealing horrible damage but not killing or really maiming. Bucky wasn’t judge and jury; he was simply trying to keep people safe, particularly the three women he was looking for.

Speaking of whom.

He turned around when he heard an unearthly screech, seeing an alpha looming over him being body-slammed by another. He noticed, as the woman whaled on the threatening alpha, that it was…

“NAT! NATASHA, HE’S DOWN! Hey hey, look at me! It’s Bucky, it’s James! Breathe!”

“I know it’s you you IDIOT! What, did you decide to turn your back on an aggressive alpha for fun! SHUT UP! We need to find Laura and Pepper.”

“Nat...honey, deep breaths. We’ll find ‘em, alright? We’ll find ‘em together, but first we need to get those people into a safer place. They can’t stay in the bus, I can smell pregnancy on some of ‘em…”

Nat’s lower lip wobbled alarmingly, and she stumbled forward to hug him. Surprised at this sign of affection from an alpha feeling so much pressure, Bucky didn’t hesitate to reward her for her vulnerability. He hugged her in response. “S’okay, Nat. I’ve got ya…” While he spoke, he made sure to keep his eyes and ears open for approaching alphas with ill intentions.

“How’s Clint and our pups?” she asked, her voice more stubbornly calm than before “Your pups? Tony, Bruce, Steve?”

“All good, all safe at our place. S’gated and far off; nobody’ll get to ‘em, I promise.” He stroked her hair gently “Now c’mon, they’re gonna be touchy wi’ alphas, but a woman’s gonna have a better shot to get everyone out safely.”

Natasha nodded, and together they headed toward the bus.

Chapter Text

Tony had informed everyone in the building that the cell towers were still overloaded. EVERYONE wanted to reach out to the people they loved, and EVERYONE was having the worst time. It was Bruce that really maintained his composure, as was his task both as a beta and a doctor. Betas were meant to be more level-headed, more sensible, and certainly less prone to being overcome by whatever the situation was. Bruce had put himself to work.

He knew this house pretty well, as he’d basically lived here when Steve was going through his pregnancy, so he didn’t have to scout much to find what he needed. Bruce ran his fingers through his curly hair as he trotted up the stairs. Every one of his senses were in distress over the pain ripping through the house. He NEEDED to fix it. Tea, making some cookies, stuff like that would be good. First though, he needed a safe space, particularly for the omegas and their pups. Tony was also on his mind, but they were adult betas! They weren’t in a position to be helpless. Omegas and pups could DIE if they were under too much stress, and it’d be easy to lose Steve or Clint if one or both of their alphas were killed. It had been known to happen. And with the loss of parents, pups that young had next to no chance. Bruce needed to keep them sane.

Going into the linen closet, he pulled out as many blankets and pillows as he could carry and dragged them downstairs. Tony, seeing what was going on, sprang to his feet to go get more. Together, they headed into one of the small public spaces. They started pushing the couches into a configuration that left an open space between them all. Tony passed Bruce pillows and blankets he asked for while Bruce arranged everything. The genius tended to be a little messy, and his counterpart was a much more meticulous man. Bruce made sure that there were spaces for everyone. Blankets were draped on the walls and ceilings, and almost every pillow outside of the Rogers-Barnes rooms were used.

Meanwhile, Clint, Steve, and all five pups remained where they were. Steve was doing most of the comforting. Clint had never felt weaker. “They’ll be okay” Steve reassured his friend. “Never known a more stubborn ass than Nat, and my alpha promised to come back. He’ll bring all of them back safe. And Pepper...you guys told me she’s not the normal type. She’ll keep Laura safe, I know it. I’m sure of it.”

Clint nodded, looking down at the three pups held carefully. His hands were splayed out, supporting their heads, while his legs kept their bodies safe. “I just want our family back the way it should be. All of us, including you, Bucky, the pups, and your betas.”

Steve didn’t argue with Bruce and Tony being called ‘theirs’. It was pretty much true, just without an official question. Steve just too distracted to really think about it right now. “Everyone’ll be okay, Clint. I know it.” His voice was very stubborn because...well...they had to be! He looked down at the pups snoozing softly in his arms. Peter and Sarah. “How did this happen?” he whispered “The good and the bad. How did it happen? If you two hadn’t been worried about me, you wouldn’t have gone to my old place. You wouldn’t have offered me a job. I’d never have met Bucky. We wouldn’t have our pups. I wouldn’t know Bruce or Tony. My hearing aids might still be out. There’s so much, and I don’t understand…” No no, Steve Rogers doesn’t cry. “I don’t understand how this happened. How any of it happened! I should be out there, finding Bucky. I should be out there helping with your family, and watching my alpha’s back.”

“Stevie...you’re where you’re supposed to be. With Peter and Sarah, keeping them safe, okay? You’re there protector here. We need to wait it out. If you and Bucky are…” He let out a slow breath “If something happens to both of you, your pups stand no chance. None. Okay?”

Steve nodded quickly, and smiled sadly at the babies. “How did this happen Clint?”

“I dunno. But it’ll get better Stevie. I know it will.”

`
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Bucky and Nat had flagged down the police, and waited until some first responders could get there. Bucky had spoken to them calmly, trying to keep his instincts in check against these beta and alpha officers. His urge was to defend the omegas and betas in the bus from these strangers. 'DANGER!' His head was screaming it. 'KEEP THEM AWAY!' His scent was probably defensive and angry, but he kept his cool as he walked them through what had happened.

“Before you go…I have some questions." Bucky wasn't brooking any nonsense as he looked at the officers. He needed to help Natasha. Bucky's omega, pups, and tw close friends were all safe...he was going to work on the task at hand. Getting Natasha, Pepper, and Laura home. "We’re looking for two people: an omega named Laura, and a beta named Pepper. Laura has hazel eyes and long brown hair; she’s slender and-”

“She smells like coconut.” said Natasha, approaching. “She’s my pack. Is there anywhere we could find her or Pepper?”

The beta officers looked a little tense at the sight of two alphas who were plainly on the same side. Their anxiety made sense; all day they’d been working to capture and calm alphas. He spoke clearly “I know the woman you’re talking about, and we know where she is. What about the beta? Red hair, pale skin, strong bone structure, smells like ink pens and-?”

“And chamomile tea! Pepper.” responded Natasha with relief “Yes, do you know where she is?”

The officer had to resist laughing “Yes, actually. Not even an officer, and she’s running on the front lines, helping coordinate the efforts to calm alphas that’re caught and start to weed out the instigators from those who got caught up in all the sounds and scents. Look, I can tell you where she is, but she’s emotionally fine, and for the moment, physically too. It’s the omega we’re worried about, but we can’t get to her.”

“Where is she?” asked Bucky, because Natasha was vibrating with anxiety and frustration. There was a choice to be made here, and Natasha wouldn’t have been able to make it if Laura and Pepper were in comparable positions. But they weren’t. Laura was trapped somewhere, known but not letting anyone near, and Pepper was doing what Pepper did best: Leading from the front. It maddened Natasha, knowing that even if Pepper were the only one out there, the beta wouldn’t leave the task at hand. So Natasha listened as the office spoke.

“Three blocks over. She’s holed up alone in the 5th floor of the old Staver Apartments-”

“Wait a minute” Bucky grabbed Natasha’s arm impulsively “Tony owned those until the day there was a structural issue and they shut down. They’re stable, just not with 700 people living in them. Whatever way she’s sealed in, I know any way possible to get to her. Let’s go. Thanks man!” He released Natasha, and off they went at a sprint, with Bucky in the lead.

Chapter Text

“Bucky?” Steve’s voice was very clear in the quiet room, curled up against his love. He could scent the alpha’s strong and intoxicating scent, and was sure it would be in his mind forever. “Do you ever wonder what would’ve happened if we hadn’t met?” He sounded so lost at the very thought; he could feel Bucky’s hand going back and forth across his baby bump, and Steve smiled at the sensation, even though the topic matter was incredibly heavy. Steve was trying not to bristle at the idea of Bucky with some other omega, but quickly recovered at the alpha’s answer.

“Don’ like t’wonder” replied Bucky “Don’ really matter at this point, do it?” He smiled a little bit. “We got each other, yeah? S’not about t’change any time soon, and we’ll have a coupla pups not long from now.” He looked down at his partner, and smiled softly. He was so fond of Steve, and soon they’d have a little family! His hand continued to move in slow circles, and he adjusted to sniff at Steve’s hair. He already knew that scent by heart, but still loved to take it in afresh.

Steve smiled in response. He couldn’t agree more! They were made for each other, and they had their whole lives ahead side by side. He could feel the puff of Bucky’s breath and the light pressure of his hand, the reassuring scent and the perfect touch. “I know we agreed not to know their gender but…”

“But?” Bucky raised his eyebrows, but Steve’s eyes were closed so the omega couldn’t see. Bucky could tell, however, that Steve could scent his surprise.

“Do you ever wish we knew?” Steve sounded very focused.

“Sometimes” admitted Bucky, who didn’t really sugarcoat things. He would never lie, especially since maybe Steve wanted to know! It sure sounded like it. “I mean, part of me wanna, but another part wants it t’be a surprise. What d’you think? I’ll leave it up t’ya. Can’t really decide m’self.”

Steve paused “I’m not sure” he admitted “I think I’d like to know when they’re born. A surprise would be good.” He sat up slowly, and Bucky hastily supported him in doing so. Steve rolled his eyes and swatted gently at Bucky. Being treated with kidgloves wasn’t the stubborn omega’s favorite, but he knew it kept Bucky sane to do so. Alphas NEEDED to do some tending to their omegas, especially during pregnancy, or they could emotionally collapse from the stress. Steve knew this, hated it, but took one for the team. That plus his health problems meant that help COULD be useful.

Steve stood up, and grabbed his phone. Putting on some music, he smiled at Bucky and extended a hand. He loved doing stuff like this, even pregnant. It brought such a big smile to his face to do just a little dancing.

Bucky whooped eagerly, hopping out of bed and going around to his love. He lay a hand on Steve’s side and took hold of his other one. Steve’s free hand came up to Bucky’s shoulder.

“You know I suck at leadin’, right?” Bucky shook his head ruefully. “Can’t believe y’can dance so well…” He loved that. Loved the way his omega was still a stubborn ass, still bold and brave. Sure, it was pretty bad to get him to take medicine and in general get help, but Steve’s resistance to weakness was what made him...him!

“It’s funny you should mention leading…” hummed Steve “Because I seem to remember a certain sap leading the entire way through this relationship. At least I can do the dancing.” He always wished he played more of a part, but he still wasn’t wholly convinced that this was real. It felt like a dream. It felt like he’d seen Bucky in the shop, fallen asleep, and this was some extended hopeful vision.

As they moved, Bucky laughed fondly “Seem t’remember yer the one who invited me t’bed. Thought I was gonna have t’ work off all my energy at the gym…” He shivered at the very thought. If things had turned out differently...how would they be now? They wouldn’t have pups on the way, in all likelihood, because if Bucky hadn’t gone into rut he probably would’ve checked the tea. They might not be nearly so close. On the other hand, they might be bonded...

“Well, we got more than we bargained for.” hummed Steve. “Does it…”

“No, it don’t bother me. Makes me happy y’pregnant, though I wish it’d be easier on ya. I can tell it’s hurtin’...’specially ya back.”

“No, that’s not…” He sighed “Does it bother you we’re not bonded during this?”

“Ah…” Bucky sighed “Honestly? Yeah, it do a little. Bu’ not bad. S’ just that I’d like t’ have you smell jus’ like me, and me like you. Since we can’t properly bond now, we just gotta be patient, y’know? It’ll happen. I promise.”

 

````````````

Steve was frustrated. PISSED. OFF. It was in his nature to fight, to kick ass, to not balk. He knew the pups needed him, but his instincts were warring with him between staying to tend to them and going to save his alpha. He remembered so much; the first moment they’d seen each other across the garage. Steve knowing he was in too deep, too panicked, too afraid. Knowing he couldn’t DEAL with this, knowing that if he didn’t have Bucky his heart would break and be unfixable. In the end, it hadn’t mattered. “How did this happen?” He whispered again, cradling the pups close to himself. Sarah seemed fussy, and Peter followed his sister’s lead. Bucky wasn’t there for the first fucking time, and Steve could’ve burst into tears all over again. He was dying; his eyes were puffy from withholding more tears, his blond hair was a mess, his chest ached and his breath was raspy. Clint seemed to know that all of this was from stress, and was about to say something when Tony came back into the room.

Tony approached slowly, hands up in a submissive gesture. “Hey...can you all come in here? Bring the pups too. We made something for ya, we thought it might help.” Tony didn’t like this; he was wary about Bucky being out there, and while he wasn’t NEARLY as close to the others, he knew how bad this was. He felt for all the victims, and knew that anyone he would’ve mobilized to help was already out there. There was nothing Tony could do, but right now he was inches from going out there. In fact, Tony had decided he would go. He had something in mind to help them out. He couldn’t leave the alpha, HIS alpha, alone out there. It just...wouldn’t happen. Tony indicated that they should follow. He walked slowly, making sure the two omegas with their pups had full sight of him at all times.

Steve trusted Tony, but still, going to an unknown location with pups made him EXTREMELY uneasy. He kept his cool and walked behind, tense as a coiled spring, scenting the air and trying to figure out what was coming. He could smell the familiar coffee scent of Tony, and something like cotton mingling with Bruce’s usual. They both smelled stressed, but were clearly holding it together better than Clint and Steve, who were gradually switching places as Steve got closer to hysterics and Clint calmed down.

Clint was, by now, an expert at carrying his three pups. He managed it with a fair amount of ease, supporting them perfectly as they headed into one of the smaller common areas to find it a massive pillow fort. Bruce was standing awkwardly in the doorway, shifting from foot to foot, seeming nervous about the approval of the omegas. The doorway was draped with blankets that slipped lower into a soft cavelike area full of pillows and blankets, and the couches and chairs provided supports. As Tony was involved, with his engineering mind, and Bruce with his attention to detail, it was absolutely perfect.

“We er...want you all to feel safe. All seven of you” Bruce indicated both omegas and their pups. “So we thought this might help. I’ll make some food, and Tony’s going to take care of a few things too…” He ran his fingers through his dark curls and said “Hope...hope that’s okay.”

Together, the omegas approached and lay a gentle kiss on Bruce’s cheeks, one on each side, before taking their pups into the fort. Bruce had smiled shyly and went to put together some cookies and a fresh pizza, with Tony behind.

Bruce was silent for a moment in the kitchen, and just as Tony was about to speak the doctor said “You’re going after him, aren’t you?” Bruce’s shoulders slumped, because he knew the answer. He knew his life was being turned upside down and there was absolutely nothing he could do to stop it. “Tony...please…”

Tony sighed heavily. “Lookit me honey. Lookit me. You know full well what’s going on. Bucky and Nat are gonna pack together, live here t’keep everyone safe. You and Pepper are going to be their betas, both of ya helpin’ out everyone. You’re all gonna have a beautiful family...and that can’t be me.” He looked away, seeming bitter. “I’m an alcoholic. Still having cravings for...other habits, ones you and Bucky helped me deal with. I can’t go a day without working in my lab, I can’t go a minute without feeling alone. If I get hurt, I do. I can’t get pregnant, betas need to be into it for a mark to stick. I’ll be fine, and if the worst happens, at least I-”

“SHUT UP!” Bruce had exploded with the force of a bomb, and Tony looked stunned. “Don’t talk like that, NEVER say that again. I can’t stop you from going out after them, you’re too stubborn and I know it would destroy you to sit around. But you WILL come back to us, and so will alpha and Natasha and Laura and Pepper. Hell, I don’t know anyone but you and Bucky well but I CARE because Steve cares and Bucky cares and Clint cares. It’s not FINE, it’s not OKAY, NONE OF THIS IS OKAY! For a genius you’re so STUPID and I INSIST you come back. PROMISE ME!”

Tony was standing there, staring at Bruce, dumbfounded. They were practically nose-to-nose, with tension between them of MANY kinds, and Tony couldn’t refuse even if that promise was impossible to make for sure. He just nodded and said quietly “I promise.”

Bruce let out a slow breath “Alright. Good. I’m going to...go back to making food now.” He looked over at everything, his eyes stinging. He hated that he’d just lost his temper, and wanted to apologize. He was about to do so when he felt a soft touch on his hips. Tony’s hands slid around, wrapping about the other genius as though to keep him safe.

“I’ll come back” muttered Tony. “I promise.”

////////////

 

Clint and Steve had heard Bruce shouting, and could gather what it was about. Clint was nosing up against Steve, trying to bring comfort both to himself and the other omega. His mind was racing. He could scent Steve’s distress, knew his own was obvious, and knew that if they didn’t get it under control, the little ones would take notice. Clint’s pups were laid out sleeping on one of the cushions, with him between them and the entry to the pillowfort room. It was a habit; he trusted Steve, and everyone here, but the knowledge of what was going on in the city gave him an overwhelming urge to stand between the entrance and the pups. He brushed some of Steve’s blonde hair aside, and listened to Steve taking slow, wheezy breaths. The omega’s glasses were slipping down his nose, and Clint carefully pushed them back up. “Maybe you should sleep for a while?” suggested Clint gently “I’ll keep watch.”

“Can’t” muttered Steve, despite still being sore from birth just days before, and being exhausted from the emotions of today “I’ll stay up with you all. Now that Tony’s going too...I won’t be able to sleep until everyone’s back.”

“M’right here Steve.” Clint’s humor and laughter was gone. “I’ll be here always. They’ll be okay.”

They had to be.

But Steve knew that everyone was making promises that they may not be able to keep.

//////////

Laura had never been this scared. Her life had been relatively calm and easy; supportive parents, very traditional family dynamic, she was an only child with a strong work ethic and plenty of hope for the future. In fact, between Natasha, Clint, Pepper, and herself, she had arguably the sanest story. She had been brought up in New Jersey to an omega mother and alpha father. She’s been raised to protect herself, to be skilled in many areas and to know exactly how to stay safe. This, however? This was a whole other ball game.

She and Pepper had been in the city getting groceries; it was needed. They were running low, and anyway, Laura enjoyed going out and about and being a little domestic. She especially enjoyed taking care of the group that had accepted her. It was in her nature. She’d dressed simply in a clear floral blouse, a pair of jeans, and a set of flats that let her move freely and look nice in the process. Pepper held her hand as they moved, right up until the point that they separated to go to two different shops. Pepper was two blocks over when the first riot struck, right between the omega and the beta. Pepper hadn’t panicked externally, but internally she was desperate to find out what happened to Laura. Laura had joined the pack at the same time as Pepper, and they were all very close. Pepper also felt it was her responsibility to get in touch; this was HER omega. She could get in touch with Clint, Nat, and the pups in a minute; she just prayed they weren’t out and about. There was so much to worry about, but Laura was unmarked and alone...that was the worst issue of all.

Thankfully, as the rioting had just started, she was able to get a call through just long enough to confirm that the omega was okay.

“LAURA!”

“P-Pepper, please…” Laura was clearly scared out of her mind, and distantly over the line Pepper could hear a car alarm and police sirens. Laura was curled up somewhere, shaking and practically sobbing with fear.

“Laura, where are you? I need to know where you are, I’ll come get you!” Pepper was pacing now, her heels clicking gently on the floor. “Hold on, alright, just tell me where you are.”

“Pepper, I don’t know where I am...I lost track, I just started running…”

“Are you safe?” Pepper could sense the panic in the omega’s voice, and it killed her. “I’ll find you, it’s okay. Just get somewhere safe.”

“I sealed myself into an old building. I really don’t know where I am, Pepper, I’m so so sorry.” Laura was close to tears. She knew how to protect herself, but she was unmarked, she was alone, and there were God only knew how many alphas out there. Internally, she feared what would happen to her relationship with her pack if she got marked. She needed to stay safe.

“It’s okay, it’s alright. Deep breaths, Laura, it’s going to be okay. Look out the window and-”

The call disconnected. Pepper swore quietly and tried to call again, but could tell immediately that the phone lines were overloaded. What was she supposed to do? She knew the general area Laura had last been, but there were so many buildings she could be in. Pepper decided then and there that she would join the frontlines and in the process do everything she could to find the omega, even at the expense of Pepper’s own life.

-----------

“LAURA!” Natasha was ahead of Bucky, sprinting toward the building that she could see up ahead. It was a huge thing, multiple stories with thousands of hiding places and plenty of doors to lock. Nat knew full well it’d take ages to search the entire place, but she wasn’t going to give up on the omega. Once Laura was safely headed back to the estate, Natasha would go looking for Pepper as well. As stubborn as the beta was, she was still vulnerable. Natasha reached the front door and immediately knew it had been barricaded. She turned to the other alpha. “How do we get in?” she demanded.

“I’ll show you. C’mon, there’s a back way; it’s typically a security door, but I have the code.” He’d never been so grateful for Tony’s files. Of course, he was ALWAYS grateful for Tony, but the files were a current matter of life and death. Bucky led the way around the building, spotting the security door and saying to Natasha “Stand guard. We’ll need to seal it as soon as we’re inside to keep other alphas out.”

Bucky turned and flipped up the panel that hid the keypad, and looked carefully at the keys.

‘Think Barnes, think. You know this, you damn well know...RIGHT! It’s the anniversary of the day Tony and I met. What a goddamn sap.’

Bucky keyed it in, listening and scenting the air for a sign of approaching alphas. He glanced over his shoulder to see Natasha standing in a posturing position, ready for anything. The door clicked, and Bucky said sharply “Nat, let’s go.”

Natasha backed into the doorway, and when both alphas slammed the door, they turned to face the darkness. Time to find the omega.

Chapter Text

Tony was on the move. He’d made his way into the city with all the speed he could, knowing that this was stupid and dangerous at best. He knew Bruce was mad, that Steve was panicking, that if he wasn’t careful he was going to leave them behind. Still, it wasn’t as though he could get marked or pregnant. Tony was of the mindset that if he could do something, ANYTHING to help Bucky, he would. And he was going to help, damnit. He’d taken his least noticeable car, which was still a fire red four door sedan. Pulling it into an alley was the best he could do to conceal it, and beyond that he would just need to hope for the best. Grabbing a briefcase from the passenger side, he set off into the city. Time to find his alpha. His alpha, who had put himself in danger as only Bucky would. The selfless bastard would do anything for the sake of just about anyone and it pissed Tony off to no end...but it was also why they were close.

Tony hoofed it along the city streets, keeping quiet. It was as quiet as New York had ever been; cars abandoned on the street, some of them with people easily scented and hiding inside. Tony passed them, knowing better than to approach to try to talk. He could scent a few alphas and betas in some of the cars that would get damn defensive, and most of them could handle themselves. Tony needed to stay standing long enough to find and help Bucky, and involving himself in strange alpha’s desire for self preservation was a good way to get Instinct Murdered.

Tony didn’t look like he was wandering; he walked with a purpose, kept scenting the air (he had a pretty damn good sense of smell, especially for a beta), but still couldn’t catch a scent of Bucky over the aggressive smell of alphas. Tony knew full well that if he got caught in the open, he was in trouble, especially if his backup plan failed. He clutched the briefcase tighter, considering using it now but deciding against it. He didn’t want to freak anyone out if he could avoid it.

Meanwhile, Bucky had his phone out. He still had absolutely no ability to make calls, but the flashlight function worked great in the abandoned building. Natasha was walking slightly ahead of him; actually, she was prowling. She was tense, ready to fight and kill if needed. She wasn’t going to let ANYTHING happen to Laura; she was anxious enough about Pepper being on the frontlines. Natasha kept pausing by doors, pressing her palm to them, listening, scenting the cracks at the edges, and sometimes trying them. Many of them were barricaded. Sometimes her light push led to hearing sobs and gasps inside. Immediately, Natasha backed off. No amount of two alphas reassuring a bunch of omegas that they could come out would be believed. They moved on. The second floor. Third. Fourth. They reached the fifth and stopped by a door, and Natasha really hesitated here. She listened, sniffed, gently knocked. There was no sound, but Nat could feel the being inside.

Bucky stood facing the hall from which they’d come, ready to fight and defend, ready to kick ass while Natasha figured out how to get in. He split his attention between the other alpha and the place any threats would come from. And God, the chances of coming under fire were significant. He listened, inhaled, processed. He needed to be sure Natasha and Laura were safe. Speaking of whom…

“Omega? Laura? It’s me, it’s Natasha. I’m right here. I know you’re in there; it’s okay, I’ll keep you safe. James is out here too; he came with me to find you, alright? You’re safe now” Natasha could sense the panic and was tempted to just break down the door and hope for the best. Her voice shook and her eyes stung with anger at the situation, at the fear in her omega, and agt all the omegas she couldn’t help. Her scent was protective and intense, and it permeated the room, setting Bucky’s teeth on edge despite the logic of it all. He could SENSE that she’d attack him if he moved too quickly, so he stayed still, continuing to face the hall they’d come from and listening for anyone approaching.

Natasha was tempted to break in the door, wrap the omega up in her arms, and reassure her as best she could. But that’d cause stress and panic, and enough of that could permanently damage an omega. So Natasha kept talking. “James and I are going to get you home and keep you safe; nobody will hurt you, I promise. You understand Laura? I promise that nobody will get the chance to hurt you.”

Laura sat in there for a long while, her breathing coming in short bursts but gradually slowing as she listened to her alpha talk. The soothing voice curled around Laura, sliding through the cracks of the barricaded door and warming the omega’s shaking body. Laura stood slowly, moving to pull the blockages away from the door. Her movements became more urgent as she really caught Natasha’s scent fully, tearing away chairs and a desk until finally, FINALLY, she got the door open. She spotted Natasha on the other side, stumbled forward, and collapsed into her arms.

Natasha whispered softly in Russian “это верно. Я здесь. У меня есть ты, дорогая.” She felt sick with relief, noting that Laura had scrapes all over her hands and knees (likely from falling) and reeked of panic and pain. Despite this, the alpha leaned in to take deep pulls of one of her omega’s scent. Natasha lifted up Laura bridal style and turned to Bucky “We need to go” she said quietly “We need to get her back to the house. She can’t stay under this much stress.”

“Let’s go” said Bucky firmly “I don’ hear anythin’ going on where we came. Le’s head back to th’ car.”

“What about Pepper? Can’t you take Laura back and I’ll go get her?” Natasha sounded desperate; not self-assured for once, but just plain panicked.

“Nat, listen. I can do that, I really can. I’ll leave that up to you. But if you go after Pepper, you won’t be bringing her back; you’ll be staying here with her. In another life she’d have been an alpha. She’s not going to listen to any orders you give. That’s why you like her”

“I know you’re right” huffed Natasha as they moved. “But I can’t leave her alone. Come on, let’s get you and Laura to the car. Take her home. I’ll go find and help Pepper, and I want you to stay there and guard the house and everyone in it. Please James. I’m begging you.” Natasha did sound pretty desperate, and the fact that she seemed about to beg on her knees had Bucky agreeing.

“Doubt Steve would let me leave again anyway. I mean...he w’s pissed enough when I left th’ first time. Look, Nat...le’s jus’ get back t’the car, an’ we’ll figure out how t’get you t’Pep.”

They headed down toward the doorway, with Natasha protectively holding Laura and Bucky keeping his head on the swivel. He knew full well there were omegas hidden here, and also knew it was best he didn’t try to help. He was technically unbonded and smelled of it, and that plus the general stench of aggressive alpha throughout the city made him an instinctive threat and danger to strange omegas and betas. He’d leave them be, and let any official forces know what was going on here.

As they stepped out, Bucky became immediately aware that something was off. He could FEEL it, could sense it, KNEW it. Something was wrong, and every part of him was screaming to investigate. But he had a responsibility here. A responsibility to Natasha and Laura.

“C’mon” he said clearly “Car’s this way. We gotta move” He started off, pulling the keys out of his pocket. He knew that the moment they got there, they’d be in and driving away. He hated to leave Natasha here; knew Steve would be pissed, but also knew better than to try to order another alpha around. They were nearly there. So close...so…

“TONY!” Bucky bolted forward, running to a huddled form on the sidewalk, bloody and beaten. He rolled the beta onto his back, feeling for a pulse. He’d almost missed the beta through the heavy scent of aggression in the air, but had caught the smell of blood and pain just as he saw the small figure curled into a ball. “Tony? Tony, baby, hey! What the hell…”

Tony groaned, his eyes opening. His head was swimming and he looked like shit, a gash on his forehead and his lip split, his knuckles bruised and bleeding. He blinked at HIS alpha. “There you are you bastard.”

“T-Tony, what the HELL are you DOING out here?!” Bucky looked to Natasha, and realized his mistake. They were sitting ducks. “I’m picking y’up you fucking ASSHOLE. What, were ya lookin’ t’get attacked? Cause congrats, y’did it. C’mon, the car’s not far n’ we’re gettin’ you and Laura home”

“What about Red?”

“She’s staying cause she’s as dumb as you” huffed Bucky as they headed toward the vehicle. Laura was put in the back; she’d be more comfortable back there, being able to duck down while still seeing everything. Tony was in the front seat, buckled in and muttering complaints (a good indicator that he’d be fine). Bucky turned to Natasha, holding up his hands placatingly “Be safe” he half-begged “Y’know y’re important t’us. Y’re pack. Yeah?”

“I know, James” Her voice was a little gentler “I’ll be alright. I promise.”

Chapter Text

The car ride back was quiet but for Tony’s soft cursing and Laura’s occasional whimpers. It was clear the omega was under a lot of strain and pressure, which was why Bucky was driving like a lunatic. Bucky was desperate to get Laura home before the stress caused permanent damage. He couldn’t let that happen. He could never let that happen. She was part of their family, and Natasha was relying on him! Clint was, the triplets were! He’d keep her safe.

“What’s in th’ briefcase?” Bucky asked, indicating one-handed the case that Tony had clutched when the alpha picked him up. Bucky knew Tony liked to invent so he figured it was something helpful, but clearly Tony hadn’t gotten it working before he got jumped. It pissed Bucky off. He wanted to go back and shred any aggressive alpha he found. He wanted to go back and absolutely lose it. But no...he had a responsibility to his pack. To Steve, the pups, Tony, Bruce, Clint, Laura, Natasha, Pepper. He NEEDED to keep them as safe as he could, and that meant getting the omega and beta back to the house.

“Ah, it’s a suit thing. Armor, meant to let me fly and protect me. The case was new but uh...didn’t work out the way I hoped it would. Kinda left me vulnerable.” Tony sounded sheepish, shrugging his shoulders without much visible care.

“No shit” muttered Bucky. They were well out of the city and headed toward the house now. “Ya dumb bastard, ya didn’t consider how th’ rest of us would feel if ya got y’self killed? This ain’t…” He blinked quickly, but kept driving. “This ain’t a game. People are hurtin’, people might die, I can’t lose any of ya a’right?” He slammed his hand against the steering wheel, causing Laura to sob in shock and Tony to jump in surprise. “DAMN YOU!” exploded Bucky “Y’COULD’VE DIED TONY! I can’t...I can’t live through that. You, Stevie, the pups, everyone. Y’re all pack and I can’t lose any of ya and Pepper’s out there an’ now Nat is too. What the hell am I gonne do? I’m not strong enough t’lose any of ya. And Stevie is jus’ sittin’ at home waiting for us. Don’ get me wrong, I care ‘bout Bruce too. But Stevie...he’s my omega. The pups are my babies. And you’re our family so NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!”

A heavy silence fell over the car. Laura wasn’t sobbing anymore, she was just curled up in a ball in the back. Bucky wasn’t in his right mind enough to feel bad. His scent wasn’t aggressive...just pained. Tony finally spoke. “I love you too, Bucky.” He said quietly. “We all do. I couldn’t leave you alone out there. Don’t you get that?”

They were pulling up to the house now. Tony’s shoulders sagged. “I’m sorry, okay? I’m sorry, Bucky.”

Bucky leaned over through the window and tapped the code in, causing the gate to swing open. He didn’t answer as they pulled up toward the house, the gate closing behind them. They were nearing the garage, and Bucky finally stopped the car and looked over at Tony with something anguished in his eyes “Pack normally sticks together. This time I need you to just...be safe. Please.”

Tony nodded, rubbing the back of his neck. Together, they got out of the car.

“Laura…?” Bucky carefully opened the back door. “Can ya walk?” He felt a bit guilty now for his outburst. But he didn’t have much time to because there was a shout from behind them.

“LAURA!”

Bucky wheeled around, but relaxed immediately as he saw Clint sprinting toward the car. The male omega didn’t seem to give a shit that he was barrelling toward a defensive alpha. What he cared about was Laura. She gave a relieved sob and staggered out of the car into his arms.

Now, Clint wasn’t exactly a bodybuilder, but he also wasn’t the weak link in the chain. He lifted Laura up and held her close. As he did, he glanced over at Bucky and Tony. “Steve uh….you need t’go see him”

Bucky blinked, before grabbing Tony’s hand and making a run for the building. Tony pulled his hand free and patted Bucky’s arm. “Go.” he said “This isn’t a me thing.”

Bucky nodded, and scented the air, knowing immediately where his omega and the twin pups were. He climbed the steps as quick as he could, finding his way to the entry to the nest. “Stevie? Honey? C’n I come up…?”

There came a soft whimper from the nest. Bucky couldn’t wait for proper permission. He climbed the short flight and walked into the nest room to find Steve looking up at him, holding the twins. The nest had been compulsive cleaned and scent marked by the omega in the short time Bucky had been gone. It was neat and tidy, and the pups were laid out in the soft padding of the dip in the floor.

“Baby, hey hey...it’s okay, it’s okay…” Bucky bent low and started to move forward. “S’okay Stevie, I’m righ’ here. We’re safe. Laura n’ Clint are downstairs…”

The babies started fussing at the scent and sound of their alpha father, and it was KILLING Bucky to move slow, killing him to not run over and throw his arms around his family. He looked pleadingly at Steve when he was about three feet away. Steve stood and moved to him, collapsing into his arms. Bucky held him close and whispered “S’okay baby, I’m home. I’m home, m’right here. Not leavin’ again” Because as much as he loved Nat and wanted to help, he couldn’t. Now that he was home, he felt weak with panic and pain and frustration; weak with relief at being here, holding his mate. He nipped gently (not breaking skin) at Steve’s neck, and soothed the red skin with his tongue. It was a posessive gesture that reinforced that he was back.

Steve clung to him, feeling weak as all hell as he finally met his alpha’s eyes. “Thank God you’re back” he whispered “I was terrified…” His scent was MADDENING, relieved and anguished as he gripped his partner so tight it must’ve hurt. He was still sore, still in pain, still aching from the birth of their twins but he didn’t CARE.

Bucky scooped Steve up and carried him over to the nest, laying the omega down beside the twins. The alpha leaned down to snuffle at the pups; they smelled clean, warm, and new. They immediately stopped fussing as he got close, and Bucky scooped each pup into his arms and settled back in the nest. “I’m home” he whispered as Steve curled against him. “I’m home.”